Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The packing continues

Perhaps afraid of being forgotten during our impending move, Miller continues to pack himself.

Outgrown onesies: the new packing material.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Race Report: Kayla O'Mara Memorial 5K

Yesterday's Kayla Run was supposed to be my first race post-baby. I'd been planning it since before having the little whippersnapper. Put on by my friend Erin, in memory of her sister and benefiting the scholarship fund in her name, the Kayla Run is a cannot miss event on my schedule each year. I volunteered in 2013 when I was injured and I walked the 5K last year while pregnant. So this year I was super stoked to make it my comeback race. But, you know how these things happen. The husband says "Wanna do (insert race here)?" and I'm all "Sure! Why not?" despite being totally out of shape. And then it happens again and before you know it your planned first race back is now your third. It's all good though, because this way I was able to actually track some progress.

Going into the race I was thinking that I'd really like to break 20:00, but I quickly realized that a sub-20 at my current fitness level was probably a little ambitious, especially considering the big hill in the first mile followed by two more not so flat miles. On second thought I decided that I'd be happy with anything faster than the 20:38 I ran at Volkslaufe on July 4th.

I did mention there is a big hill in the first mile, right? And the other hills? Yes, two sentences ago. Well, that's about how long it took me to forget that fact once the race started and I went blasting out at 5:58. That whole first mile I was watching my friends Tammy and Sue, both super fit right now, up ahead of me thinking that I was waaaay too close to them. I hit the first mile marker just past the top of the hill, did a mental face palm, and dialed it back. The surprising part of it all was that I didn't feel completely spent from my first sub-6 mile post-baby. I did pay for that (still astoundingly stupid) first mile with a side stitch the rest of the race, but I actually felt strong coming off the hill (apparently all those hills I've been running in my parents' neighborhood when my mom can watch the little scamp for me are paying off. And by the way, he sat up in bed this morning for the first time! I watched it happen on the monitor and when I went into his room, there he was, sitting up in his crib, smiling, all "what took you so long, mommy.")

One thing I've always noticed about coming back from a long break is that it takes me a long time and a lot of training and racing to get back any sense of what pace I'm running. That 5:58 mile? I was prepared to see a fast first mile time due to the alarming lack of distance between myself and Tammy and Sue, but without those two to gage off of, I could have been running a 6:30 for all I knew. I have no innate feel for pace right now. Which is why when I dialed it back for the second mile, I unintentionally dialed it back a little too much and hit the second mile in 6:38. Felt a lot faster than that to me. Oops. On the plus side, an inadvertently sandbagged mile allowed me to pick it back up for a fast finish. I hit the third mile mark in 6:08 to round out some seriously all over the place splits (and this time I can't blame it on messed up mile markers). Add in the change and my final time was 19:28. Really? REALLY! I was second in my Age Group, good for an awesome Mizuno running hat (Erin always has the best AG awards), and 9th overall female. It was a very fast field, including a 13 year old phenom who ran 18:22 for 4th place (I swear they're growing girls faster these days).

My new favorite post-race pose
When I first considered my pre-race delusional on target goal I was thinking if anything I could maybe just squeeze in under 20 minutes. I certainly didn't expect to crush it like that, so I'm really happy with today's race. I'd be stupid not to be. Bit by bit it's coming back. Sort of almost by leaps and bounds actually. No question, I am definitely starting to feel like a runner again. Next stop: sub-19. Ha, that's funny. Though come to think of it, that's not as absurd as it sounds because I don't imagine I'll be running another 5K anytime soon, probably not until next year. So if I'm not breaking 19 by then something is seriously wrong. Who knows if I'll ever break 18 again.

Up next is the Crim 10 Mile on August 22. This, on the other hand, is maybe a little absurd. Maybe not. My long run is up to 10 miles, which I've done the past three Sundays, including today. I'll do 12 milers the next two weekends (complicated post-baby running schedule permitting) and hopefully I'll be ready for a reasonably strong race on the 22nd. It's a tough course, though, and more often than not it falls on a really hot day. I have to remember that I did have a baby seven months ago, I've only been running for four of those, and a 10 mile is a whole other ball of wax than a 5K. If I go out too fast in a 5K there's generally not all that much race left to suck it up and finish. Go out too fast in a 10 mile, especially one that doesn't get hilly until halfway through, and I could be seriously screwed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I'm sure it was a miracle, complete with sparkles

I really ought to start carrying my phone during my runs so when I come across the scene of a miracle I can take a picture as proof. Unfortunately today you'll just have to take my word for it.

This morning, 6:30ish, I was about a mile and a half into my 8 miler when there by the side of the sidewalk I saw evidence of a spontaneous healing. Two crutches, abandoned in the weeds, no houses or businesses all that nearby. I can only assume that some lucky soul was crutching along, perhaps feeling down about their plight, when suddenly they found themselves levitating, rotating in the air and engulfed in sparkles (for some reason I envision a miraculous healing as something like the Beast's transformation at the end of Beauty and the Beast). When the shiny light gently placed this person on the ground they found their pain had disappeared, their need for walking aids completely gone. The crutches are still lying forgotten where they fell as he or she skipped off in happiness and disbelief, no doubt trailing residual sparkles.

That's what I like to think happened.

Or perhaps those crutches are there in the event that some unlucky person suddenly comes up lame (probably no sparkles involved in this case). We've already established that I don't run with my phone so it's nice to think that if I strained a calf muscle or something mid-run I could just look off to the side and find a handy means of hauling my injured body home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The creepiest children's book ever

Anyone else out there think the children's book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is totally creepy? I had never read or even heard of this book prior to receiving it as a gift at my baby shower (and thank goodness for that because it probably would have scarred me for life if I'd read it as a child). It was given to me and the little peanut pie by my friend Erin who admitted that she only picked it because she remembered having it when she was young.

Throughout my pregnancy I'd periodically pick out a book we'd been given and read it. I have to say that when I got around to Love You Forever I was a little horrified. Apparently it's one of the best selling children's books of all time, ranked 4th by Publisher's Weekly back in 2001, according to Wikipedia. And Maria Shriver can't read it without crying (also Wikipedia), so maybe it's just me.

If you're not familiar with the story it begins with a mother holding her newborn baby while singing a lullaby:

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

Not such a bad start. Quite sweet actually. But then the crawling across the room starts. Now I've tiptoed into the little guy's room to watch him sleep a time or two, but I've never felt the need to crawl across the room, pick him up out of his crib and rock him back and forth (doesn't this lady know you're supposed to let sleeping babies SLEEP?). I'm quite sure I won't be doing it when he's 2 years old, or 9 years old, or a teenager. And I'm sure as shit not going to drive across town, sneak into my grown son's bedroom window, crawl across the floor and pick him up to rock him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Now each time the mother is rocking her increasingly older son back and forth, back and forth, she sings the lullaby. But before each new trek across her kid's floor she's basically talking about what a horrible child he is. He runs around the house, he flushes her watch down the toilet, he never wants to take a bath, he swears like a sailor when grandma is around, he has strange friends and listens to strange music. She never has anything good to say about him. He drives her crazy! He belongs in a zoo! But she loves him anyway and across his floor she goes. And then he up and leaves her. Grows up and moves all the way across town. How dare he?! I feel sorry for whoever this poor sap marries. Talk about the helicopter mother-in-law from hell.

And then this poor guy, probably in therapy because he keeps waking up to find his mother crawling across his bedroom floor, gets a call from her one day. She says, "You better come and see me because I'm very old and sick." So now she's totally guilt-tripping him. He goes over, dutiful son that he is, and it's supposed to be all poignant because this time he's the one rocking her back and forth, back and forth, and singing his version of the lullaby. And then she dies. Or it's at least implied that she dies. SERIOUSLY? Like I'm going to read my young son a book about his mother (ME!) dying? I don't think so.

The son returns home only to pick up his newborn daughter, rock her back and forth, yadda yadda, singing his mother's lullaby and the twisted cycle starts all over again. At least he doesn't crawl across the floor.

Before I started this post I did a little research into the book, which according to the author's website is very popular with the retirement community set. It turns out that Love You Forever was inspired by the author's two stillborn babies. Now that made me feel a little bad about what I was planning to write about it, but I can't help it. IT CREEPS ME OUT!

Incidentally, I also saw on Wikipedia that Love You Forever was featured in a Friends episode in which Joey does a dramatic reading of it. I must have missed that one but I bet is was hilarious.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

I'm bringing Gingerbread back

So I'm a little wistful and sad this weekend because for the third year in a row I'm missing the Great Lakes Relay. GLR, only the greatest weekend of running in Michigan, or anywhere really, is a 3-day, 300 (or thereabouts) mile relay race across northern Michigan. 10 person teams leapfrog across the state from Lake Huron (more or less, even less these past 2 years since the start has been at Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula) to Lake Michigan (always Lake Michigan, no more or less about it, right on the beach in Empire, MI). 

I met my husband and two of my best friends at GLR so it means a lot more to me than just the running. 2008, 2009 and 2010 I ran on a coed team with Leo in which we won the Mixed Division all three years. I took 2011 off by choice and came back in 2012 with an absolutely stellar all-girl Open team, the Gingerbread Girls, made up of sub-three hour marathoners, including two 2012 Olympic Trials qualifiers, wicked fast college/just post-college girls, and sick masters runners (Peggy, over 50 and running sub-20 5Ks, gives us mad handicap). We finished in second place (after handicap), thirty seconds ahead of Leo's all-guy team (oh how they wept!). I couldn't run in 2013 because I had stupidly listened to my doctor when he said I'd have an easier time getting pregnant if I backed off my running, which I did and then promptly got hurt. Yes, I know that sounds backwards, people normally get hurt when suddenly boosting their training, but I'm also the one who managed to get the horrible anti-depressant side effect that only 1% of people on it get (still can't wait to tell that story). So that year I was hurt and out of shape. In 2014 I was pregnant and out of shape and this year I'm just plain out of shape. Plus, with Leo running (he lives for GLR weekend) someone had to stay home with the little schnitzel fritz (I have no idea what that means, but my mom said that's what her (not the slightest bit German) mother called babies and I think it's cute. [pause for googling] Ah! Apparently it's a German restaurant in Colorado. Somehow I don't think that's what my grandmother had in mind).

I've just now decided that I want to run one more Great Lakes Relay, but there's only two ways I'll be happy doing it. First choice would be with the Gingerbread Girls, but only if it's actually ALL GIRLS. They've had to add some guys the past two years because it's really really really really REALLY really hard to find ten fit and healthy runner girls, all willing and available that weekend and not already committed to a coed team. It's a very popular wedding weekend; Leo lost one of his best guys to a wedding this year. Apparently it's also a very popular family vacation weekend (talking to you, Tammy). Or I'd be happy running on a coed team with Leo, but I know there's no way he's going to leave his 2013 & 2014 champion all-guys team (he just called as they finished Day 1 and his team was first across the line, one minute and 40 seconds ahead of the second place team, which happens to have his brother on it).

So now I'm on a mission to return the Gingerbread Girls (none of this Gingerbread People crap like this year, no offense to the guys on the team. I'm sure you're very nice gentlemen, I just don't want you on my team) back to their original glory. My friend Erin swears this is her last year (she said that last year too) but I refuse to let her retire from relay. I can't imagine running GLR without her. Yes, I know, she's run it 3 times without me, but she's a stronger, much less co-dependent person than I am. I would love it if we could put together the fastest, strongest team possible for one final killer GLR. And by then I'll probably be emotionally able to leave the little angel pikey (that one's my mom's) with my parents for a weekend. I think.    

The original Gingerbread Girls, 2012  

Monday, July 13, 2015

On the gender inequality of diaper character licensing

So this is the type of thing I think about now that I'm a mom.

The little pipsqueak and I watch Sesame Street together nearly every weekday as he winds down for his morning nap and maybe sometimes I keep watching, or at least have it on in the background, while he's sleeping. I've become quite a fan of "Abby's Flying Fairy School" and you never know what random guest stars will show up and have to act with puppet chickens.

What I want to know is when is Abby Cadabby going to make it onto Pampers Little Swaddlers or Cruisers? Or Zoe? Or Rosita? I think the folks over at Proctor & Gamble need to have themselves a serious *twinkle think* about the gender inequality represented in their diapers. I refuse to believe that these kid-loving ladies turned down the endorsement deal. I'm guessing they were never even given the offer, unlike their male counterparts on Sesame Street. Maybe the makers of Pampers are worried that parents won't want to put their little boys in diapers with girly characters on them. Well, why the heck not? Lots of little girls wear diapers with Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch on them.

Just me?

Puppet ladies represent!
(photo courtesy of Muppet Wiki)
Update (July 17, 2015): As it turns out, Zoe does appear on Pampers Baby Dry diapers (we hadn't tried these yet). I promise more thorough research the next time I decide to accuse folks in the diaper industry of raging sexism.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Race Report: Bastille Day 5K

Apparently I'm just going to race myself back into shape. This was another last minute, day before game race day decision. I kind of like this spur-of-the-moment, whimsical, sure why not, what the heck method of race planning. That, combined with my wretched state of fitness, make for race mornings completely free of pre-race jitters and a wonderfully nonchalant attitude towards my actual performance. It's those races you plan for months in advance and actually train for that can really gut you.

My lackadaisical attitude was a good one for today since the course was all kinds of messed up. Evidently lots of tinkering with the course to work around construction in downtown Fenton, MI caused some incorrectly placed mile markers. Or since there is also an art festival in town today, perhaps they were going for an abstract or post-modern 5K. Either way it made for some very amusing mile splits.

6:14 for mile one. I would love to say I was running that fast but I am very aware that I wasn't. I purposely started out slower than last week (6:24 or so for that first mile) because I knew it was a hillier course, I hadn't done much of a warm up, and I just plain didn't feel like trying to run that fast. I wasn't wearing my Garmin but there is no way that mile wasn't short. 

That's okay because the second mile was long. Really long. Possibly the longest mile I've ever run. That split was 8:39. Mile two was basically one long climb so I know I slowed down, but I didn't slow down that much. I didn't suddenly lose a limb. I was not attacked by sloths. 

Have no fear though because I was about to come raging back with a 6:09 third mile. Yes, this did have a nice downhill finish but, again, I just wasn't running that fast. Another short mile. Or something. Add in the final .1reallyitcouldhavebeenanything and I finished in 21:52. 

Now that was a little depressing. After all, I ran last weekend's 5K in 20:38. Yes, this course was hillier and it was a hotter morning and I wasn't trying as hard, but really? Barely breaking 22:00? I haven't run a 5K that slowly since high school. Come to think of it I haven't run a 5K over 20 minutes since high school, but I'd really rather not pull on that thread right now. However, before I could hang my head in shame, my friend who won the race, bearer of happy news, told me that her Garmin measured the course a quarter mile long and that made me feel loads better. Phew. I didn't have to retire on the spot.

Leo ran the 15K and he said those mile markers were equally art deco. Unless he really did run that 5:02 ninth mile and was just being modest. All in all it was a fun morning. We both won our age groups. I think I was 5th female overall but I'm not sure. Leo took 3rd overall. 

The best part of everything was that my 13 year old niece ran her first official road race. She's getting ready to start high school in the fall, will be running cross county, and has so much potential it's sick. She ran just under 25 minutes (remember the course was .25 long), finished with a smile on her face and loved the hills. She didn't even break a sweat! Imagine what she could do if she actually worked at it a little bit!! She did tell me she knows that she could run faster. Up until now, and mostly evident during her one year of middle school cross country, she hasn't had a competitive bone in her body. I think that's changing. And it won't hurt that today she snuck in her first age group win. By a week! Her age group today was 13 and under and she turns 14 this coming Friday. I am kicking myself now for not getting a post-race picture of the two of us, but hopefully there will be lots of opportunities for those in the future. Preferably ones where she's sweating a bit too. 

The little monkey had a blast at his second race (read: he did not cry once).