Week Three: Things I Am Good At

This one is difficult! I think about the things that make up the most significant portion of my life, and I struggle to find things I am good at without following with “but” or “even though.”   I am good at making bread even though I am terrible at baking. I struggled to create this list, but I managed to build it.

  1. Being organized. I am ridiculously organized. I can elaborate, but that would make for boring writing. Trust me, I am fabulous at organizing.
  2. Planning and time management. I am a self-proclaimed “pre-crastinator.” I get things done, and I get them done as soon as possible. My entire school year is planned before well before the first day of school, sometimes before the last day of the previous school year. My clothes are planned for the week. Knowing where things are going is one of the easiest ways for me to control my anxiety.

    New Planner Day is one of my favorites!
  3. Setting goals. I often tell Liam that he is not allowed to merely complain. If he doesn’t like something, he needs to either do something about it or accept it. At this point, he finishes complaints by saying he will practice. “I’m not as good at drawing circles as my other friends… I know, I know, I need to practice.” If there is something I want to be able to do, I try to create a plan to make it happen.
  4. Teaching. Teaching is the career I chose at the age of twelve when Mr. Eccelston cemented my love of reading and writing. It was then I decided I wanted to do exactly what he does. I consider myself fortunate that I knew at a young age what I wanted to do with my life. While the road to teaching was a long and winding one, I am thankful life took me down the path it did. After fourteen years, teaching is still something I enjoy. I feel I truly make a difference.                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Liam was younger, he had all the self-confidence in the world. As he gets older, he is beginning to doubt himself, which is sad to watch. I asked him what he thinks he is good at and he, too, struggled to think of real, noteworthy items to put on his list.

  1. Hanging and pull-ups. He just learned to do pull-ups and is very proud of himself, doing them from the swingset and the pull-up bar in our house as often as possible.
  2. Reading. Liam loves to read! He will read just about anything he can get his hands on: magazines, fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels. Right now, he’s devouring the Dog Man and Minecraft series. I love that he loves to read and I love his confidence regarding his ability to do so.
  3.      
  4. Playing outside instead of sitting in front of the TV. I was surprised to head Liam state this one because, like most kids, the struggle to balance screen time is real. Once he said it, I noticed that I can’t remember the last time he even turned on his tablet. He’s been reading his books. He and I had a Saturday morning date. After our classes at Laid-Back Fitness, we went to a new coffee shop then headed to the used bookstore. Liam loves roaming the isles and looking at all of the books. Because we came home with a shopping bag full of books, he has been focused on those over Minecraft and other games on his tablet. The weather has been so beautiful this week that we have been spending a lot of time outside. I’m thankful that he is conscious of his good decisions.

My Week of Firsts

For an average week, I experienced quite a few firsts.

Interval training After spending twelve weeks focusing on increasing my distance, I have been focusing on increasing my speed through interval training. The more I read about it, the more confusing it becomes. 4×400? 4×300? It seems like a lot of science and thinking and I am just not there yet. After doing a bit of Google research on interval training, one minute of running followed by one minute of walking seemed easy enough.  My last session before my half-marathon was my first interval session. It wasn’t too bad; I’d run a minute at a pace in the 10’s then walk. My weekday runs with Banjo have been intervals, but the waist leash belt I wear with Banjo did not properly hold my phone, causing it to fall out every time I increased my pace. I was looking forward to getting out on my own Sunday morning to see what I could accomplish.

#sportbrasquad  I got over my fear during Sunday’s interval session. It was 63 degrees when I started my run but quickly moved up to 70. I was pushing myself. I was dripping with sweat and had thrown up in my mouth a few times. There was a beautiful breeze and decided to shed the shirt. I watched the first few cars that passed, waiting for some sort of judging. Nothing happened. It felt so good! My self-consciousness kept me off the main roads, but it felt amazing!

Big, Run-ending Injury So I was feeling like a badass, running fast and feeling strong. I decided to push myself a little more during a downhill interval. Suddenly, I felt like I had been shot in the left calf; my leg just gave out.  I actually had to call Mike to come get me. It was a humbling reminder of how quickly situations can change. I missed church, staying on the couch alternating ice and heat.

My First Massage I have a weird issue with paying for certain things. If I hadn’t messed up my hair more times than I care to admit, I would not pay someone to touch up my roots every four weeks. I hate paying for manicures and pedicures, counting my lifetime pedicures on one hand.  I didn’t even have one before my wedding. After being in a constant state of recovery between half marathon training and weightlifting, Mike offered to buy me a gift certificate for a massage for Mother’s Day. He was upsold to a package that included a facial and massage and scheduled the appointments to run back to back yesterday.  The massage was fantastic! It is so nice to move my shoulders and back and not feel any knots or stiffness. The facial turned into a sales pitch. The esthetician talked my ear off about all the products she was using, how I should use them, and which of the many facial issues I have would be fixed by these elixirs and creams. I was so annoyed throughout the facial that it was not enjoyable. I will still consider the experience a positive one. I started out very self-conscious but actually dozed off towards the end of the ninety-minute massage.

Pictures of Me I Didn’t Hate This one is huge! Usually, I find something wrong with every picture of myself. I hate the picture of Liam and I from the mother-son dance because my upper arm looks fat, reminding me not to wear sleeveless dresses. One of the instructors at Laid-Back Fitness took a video during our Strength class and posted it on Instagram. When I saw myself, I thought about how strong I looked performing kettlebell swings and real pushups. I was swinging a heavy kettlebell and my form looked pretty good during the pushups. I watched the video loop a few times before the epiphany hit: I didn’t think of any negative as I watched the video several times, proving that my focus is moving from skinny to strong. When another video was posted during Saturday’s class, I wished I had adjusted my pants so I didn’t have a muffin but was overall pleased with how strong I looked.

       

List 2: Routines

Week two asks to list routines in personal life and work. This is totally my jam! Most of my life revolves around routine and organization. It is comforting and helps maintain order in all of our lives.  In random order, here is a list of some of my routines:

Meal planning on Sundays, even if only for lunches. Knowing we do not need to scramble each afternoon or evening makes weekdays less hectic. I simply refill Liam’s lunch box when he gets home from school and put it back in the fridge until the following morning. This week, we made chicken breasts, rice, salad, and whole wheat pasta to mix and match into different meals this week. I made buffalo chicken pasta salad to eat each during lunch.

Setting out mine and Liam’s clothes the night before. Again, knowing that Liam’s clothes are clean and ready to go and I have all the parts of an outfit together makes the mornings easier. Since Liam wears uniforms, his outfit planning is pretty easy. I look at the weather report on Sunday and decide which days to wear skirts versus pants and which days I can run after school.

Ordering Liam’s lunches a month at a time and noting his hot lunch days on the calendar. This makes life so much easier!  I am thankful that Liam’s school allows this service.

Mornings with Banjo. Even Banjo has this down to a science! He knows who takes him out when and whether he is out there for “business” or play. He knows that if he goes out to the backyard, we are going to play with him. If we take him out front, he is to make a deposit and go back in the house.

Mornings in general. I keep a mental list of what time I should be at each step of in my morning. I won’t bore you with the breakdown, but trust me, it’s good.

After school. Come home, play with Banjo, homework, chores, dinner, play.

 

 

 

 

When I asked Liam about his routines, he was too excited to explain his morning routine:

Wake up

Get dressed

Eat breakfast

Clean my plate

Walk Banjo

Play outside with Banjo

Bush our teeth

Give Banjo love

Go to school

I asked him to describe some of his routines a few days ago and let it simmer. This morning, while sitting a the swingset playing with Banjo, he randomly told me, “I have a lot of routines at school, too. Do you want me to tell them to you?” He proceeded to explain his entire day. Liam has always thrived on routine. Even a good surprise, if it changes what he expects is going to happen, makes him uncomfortable. I am beyond thankful for Liam’s teacher, who creates many routines and is very much cultivating the organization skills that will make him successful throughout his academic career.

Staying Safe During Solo Runs

I greatly dislike that this is a concern, but it is.

Many of my runs are completed by myself. While I know the odds of anything happening to me a slim, I know that it is important to be proactive to avoid putting myself in danger. Here are a few things I do to keep myself safe when running on my own.

  1. Let someone know when and where I am going. I know this is kind of a no-brainer, but it is essential. Before heading out, I let Mike know where I will be running. If I am leaving from school, I tell my coworkers where I am headed.
  2. Run is well-populated areas. I love running at local parks, but only venture there on weekend afternoons when they are busier.
  3. Check in during longer runs. When running longer than eight miles my myself, I will usually send Mike a text message with a picture of where I am. It also gives me an excuse to break up a sometimes monotonous run with a quick text.
  4.   
  5. French braids over ponytails. I remember reading this years ago, and it makes sense. I also usually put some deep conditioner in my hair before braiding it. It helps tame flyaways and provides a long conditioning treatment for my hair while I am running. It’s a nice bonus!
  6.     Run Angel.  I discovered Run Angel through one of my running magazines. It is a device that looks similar to a FitBit. You set up your account, providing information of your “angels.” If something ever happens to you, it can hit a button that sets off a 120-decibel alarm and alerts your “angels” that you activated the alarm and your location. Hopefully, I will never need it, but it gives a bit of peace when I am out solo.
  7. Say hello. I say hello to everyone I pass.  This may be silly, but saying hello acknowledges that I see them and are aware of their presence. Because of this practice, there are times I am running on the Boulevard after school and recognize many people I pass along the way.

Get him home safe.

52 Lists for Happiness

I stumbled across a blog mentioning the book 52 Lists for Happiness. The writer is posting entries weekly on her blog. I liked the idea so much that I immediately ordered the book myself and decided to try to follow suit. The next year is bringing a lot of changes, so it seems like a perfect time to prioritize and search for happiness.  I’ve decided to use this exercise as an opportunity to get ideas from Liam as well.  We walk Banjo twice a day, allowing plenty of time for discussions.  These walks are some of my favorite times, even when Liam talks my ear off about Zelda or Minecraft. I’d love to ask Liam to create as many of these lists as possible and share them with him when he gets older.

Week one is pretty straightforward: List what is making you happy.

Mike and Liam: They’re both such great people! I am truly blessed.

Spring: Finally! We will soon be complaining about the heat and humidity, but for now, let’s enjoy the warm weather, open windows, and longer days. This is the first week Liam and I didn’t have to bundle up during our morning walks. Last night, we ate dinner outside. It is such a welcome change!

My friends: Without them, I would never have signed up for a half-marathon, nevermind been excited about it! My friends keep me laughing and trying to be a better person! What more could one ask for?

Fitness Challenges: Last weekend was the half-marathon. I’m also participating in a challenge through Laid-Back Fitness. I’m interested to see how my body changes when I focus on strength over cardio.

And from Liam:

Banjo

Going for walks with Banjo

Playing with Banjo (Do you see a theme?)

You and Dad

Harry Potter

Making my First Communion

I love the idea of focusing on the positive things in our lives. While the next few months will bring a lot of changes, there are a lot of great things going on in all of our lives. Perspective helps keep us all finding the positive things happening in our lives.

First Half-Marathon Recap

I don’t even know where to begin when talking about this weekend!

             

Liam made his first communion Saturday morning. He did such a great job! I am beyond blessed that he is a part of such a fantastic school community. I love his school and the fellow families who attend. After the church service, we went back to our house for a cookout. It was perfect: low-key and casual. Liam was thankful for his day!

I went to bed early Saturday night because the half began at 7:30. I planned to be out of the house by 6. Liam woke up with me at 5:15. We tried to be as quiet as possible. Because he wasn’t sure if he would wake up with me, he left me a note for the morning with the bagels Mike picked up from Panera.

I was trying my best to be organized, but nerves were starting to kick in. In being hopelessly proactive, I applied Tiger Balm to my calves as I got dressed, only to panic when realizing I had not yet put in my contact lenses. Somehow, I managed to put in my toric lenses into my puffy, allergy-hating eyes one handed! My goal of getting out the door by 6 was only off by six minutes.

One the ride down to the race, I decided to listen to Hamilton, my go-to “Let’s do this!” music. The Spotify account was set to the Kitchen Echo. Luckily, people slept through the music blasting through the kitchen speakers for four seconds while I wondered why it wasn’t playing in my car.

The atmosphere before the race was calm and cheerful. We chatted and laughed until it was time to gather by the starting line. The gentleman who coordinates the races explained a few things about the race and the course, beginning with, “I don’t give a sh*t who comes in first as long as everyone finishes.” His cell phone number was on every sign; if you couldn’t finish, he informed us to call for help. He would come get us and provide free admission to any future race.

We started off together, separating by the time we made the first turn. My friend Kerri and I stayed together. We were hauling! My goal was to finish the race in three hours, requiring a 13:42 pace. Kerri assured me I could do that. My first mile was 11:36! I became scared of burning out. We slowed down, clocking our second mile at 12:46.

Our third mile was back in the 11’s.

“Should we slow down?”

“We’re good. Our goal is 2:45. You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are.”

So, three miles in, my goal changed!

The course was beautiful. We ran to Charlestown Beach and back through country roads. Kerri and I stayed together for the first ten miles, then she went ahead. At the next mile, I encountered a girl I “knew” from a Facebook running group. On the way out in the race, I stopped and hugged her, then let my social anxiety kick in, worrying that she thought the worst of the crazy, sweaty random person who hugged her. The next time I checked my phone, I had a friend request from her. I saw her again just after Mile 10. She took pictures and shared them with me, including one of my favorites of Kerri and I high-fiving when we reached double digits!

Just after Mile 12, I hated everything! I was done running, my shoulder was sore, I was gross and sweaty and wanted to be done.  As I turned the corner, I saw two of my Rhode Runner buddies! I have never been happier to see anyone! Ignoring how sweaty I was, I left into each of their arms and expressed my love for them both! I began to cry as I ran up that final hill, overwhelmed by the support and the fact that I was actually about to complete this huge accomplishment. Hold it together, I told myself, you can’t run if you’re sobbing.

After that encounter, I was recharged and ready to finish this race, pushing myself through the last bit. When I turned the corner towards the finish line, my friends cheered me. I was at 2:44, I still had a chance to reach my goal! And I did, finishing in 2:44:59!

I don’t even care if this picture is flattering. It was taken immediately after finishing the race! I was ecstatic!

 

I was deliriously happy! My friends surrounded me and cheered for me. Then I realized the problem with finishing fifteen minutes faster than I planned: Mike and Liam were not yet there. I had told them to get there for 10:30; I finished at 10:15. They arrived a few minutes after I finished.

My friends are amazing! In this entire process of becoming a runner, they are my favorite takeaway! They make terrible runs tolerable and push me.  They are supportive and silly. We gathered and ran in with the rest of our group.  We stayed for over an hour after the end of the race, eating and celebrating.

Many times, I consider running a solo sport. Because of my schedule, the majority of my training was done by myself. However, races are what bring everyone together.  We made friends with others in the parking lot before the race and at the finish line. People we have never before met cheered for and supported us.

I’m still riding the high that comes from reaching a goal. My next half is in October, allowing a few weeks to regroup and decide the next goal. I’d like to work on speed; I think I doubt myself and fear burning out at the end when I need energy the most. It’d be great to take a minute off of my 5K time.

For now, I need to thank my husband and son for supporting me. For screwing up weekends by filling them with long training sessions. I need to thank my running friends, now simply known as my friends, who pushed me out of my comfort, convincing me to accomplish what had previously seemed impossible! I don’t think you will ever understand how much I appreciate your support and friendship!

My New Mantra

Banjo is an excellent addition to the family. After four months, we know each other pretty well. In the beginning, he kept jumping at the door, only to want to do nothing except play when he got outside. He has learned to whine at the door when he needs to go potty. After playing outside, he runs to the door when called, drops his favorite ball, and runs inside for an animal cracker. He’s improving on his walks, although we did have to buy him a harness. Now that he is better on the leash, we are continuing our afterschool runs, stopping on the way to pick up Liam to walk home together.

A few months ago, I was in the kitchen with Mike, explaining that Banjo was “kind of a d**k” on the leash.” The following morning, Liam reminded Banjo  “don’t be a d**k” during our walk.

“Liam, that’s an adult word. You can’t say it.”

“I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t know that. It won’t happen again.”

“Thank you, Buddy. I know you didn’t know.”

“You know, Mama, I know you’re an adult, but you don’t need to say so many adult words.”

Yup. That happened. I talk to my students about a “time and a place” for certain language when they say something inappropriate at school, explaining that my husband works in a shipyard and swears quite a bit at work yet still manages to watch his mouth in front of our son. Yet I was being reminded by my eight-year-old that I had been swearing too often, even if I think he is out of earshot, which can prove difficult in a 900 square foot house.

Mike found this interaction hilarious. “Don’t be a d**k” has taken on a life of its own between Mike and I. However, it’s been sticking in my mind at other times. During our Friday “day of errand errors,” the girl in front of me was blocking the entire condiment area. I stood there for a minute, slightly annoyed that our food was getting cold. I remembered our mantra and changed my demeanor. When the girl turned around, it was someone who attended the last high school where I taught. As we caught up for a few minutes, I was so thankful that I hadn’t begun tapping my feet or sighing. It was good to see her! A nice reminder that teachers make a difference long after students leave out classes.

At the store and it’s busier than usual? Don’t be a d**k.

Kid wants to talk to you about Pokemon while you would rather talk about anything else? Don’t be a d**k.

Traffic? Don’t be a d**k.

It’s been a few weeks since we started this voyage. I have to admit that it has definitely made me calmer.  I should also admit that, while I told Liam I would watch my use of “adult words,” I have only really been watching my use when he is within earshot. In my car, texting, or after he is asleep? All bets are off! Time and a place, right?

Liam asked if I would teach him to play tennis. I am not at all a tennis player, knowing enough to explain the basics of playing on a court and scoring, but it is never something I would express interest in doing on my own. However, because Liam wanted to learn, we bought two rackets and a bag of tennis balls on our last Target run. We experienced several failed attempts at home, the first because Banjo wanted to catch the balls and is much faster than us and the second when we tried playing in the street and spend more time chasing missed balls that managed to travel four houses up the street.

After driving to South County to drive this weekend’s half-marathon route, we stopped at a local high school tennis court to attempt to “play for real.” There were two other moms with their three kids riding bikes nearby. We went to the court. I let Liam practice serving, hitting the dozen balls across the court, heading to the other side, and repeating the process. One of the girls, who looked about Liam’s age, came and stood at the door of the opposite side of the tennis court. “I think she wants to play with you,” I told Liam.

“I wish we had an extra racket. We could let her play, but you and I are playing.”  I considered giving her my racket and letting her play, but Liam made it clear that he wanted me to teach him to serve. The window of time that Liam wants to play with me over his friends is closing; I’m going to take it while I can. Also, Liam learning new things is always tricky; he’s still learning the art of perseverance and isn’t always pleasant during these struggles. It is better not to invite anyone in to witness potential meltdowns.

The girl stooped down, took one of our balls, and walked away. Liam stopped and looked up at me, waiting to see my reaction because generating his own. “We have plenty,” I told him.

The girl’s mother watched the bit as well.  “Put that back.”

“They have a lot of them.”

“Put that back. Give them back their ball.”

She continued to play with the ball. The mother eventually giving up on getting her to return it, allowing her to take it with her. Liam continued to look to me to gauge appropriate reaction.  “We have plenty,” I repeated, “Let her have it.” He followed my lead without question.

Here’s the thing: it wasn’t at all about the tennis ball. The dozen tennis balls set me back $7.49, meaning the missing one cost sixty-two cents. This family was well-dressed and the children had nice bikes and helmets. Unless something recent happened, they could probably also give away a few tennis balls and not have it affect their quality of life. Through this girl stealing one of Liam’s tennis balls, I was able to teach him a few important lessons:

  1. Pick your battles.  Yes, what she did was wrong. But we didn’t need to turn it into a battle and ruin our afternoon.
  2. Do the right thing, even when others around you are not. Liam waited until we got into the car to talk about what happened. Even he noticed that her mother let her steal the ball. We had an honest talk about it.,”What will happen if she tries that at a store and gets into a lot of trouble? A parent’s job is to teach their kids right from wrong. It will catch up at some point.”
  3. You can be right without proving others wrong. This is such a huge lesson. You don’t always have to knock someone down to come out on top.
  4. Don’t be a d**k. This was worded to Liam as “Treat others as you want to be treated,” but they mean the same thing.

What Comes Next?

It’s weird to feel the first half creeping up on me. Tomorrow, I will complete my last long run before the big day. During the following week, I will take advantage of Liam’s first communion rehearsals to get in three runs during the week. When I look at the weather forecast, it tells me that the weather will be cloudy and in the low 60’s on the day of the race. The fact that the ten-day forecast includes half-marathon day is incredible and terrifying!

I’m wondering what that first week after the half will be like, a week without the pressure of training and making sure I fit runs into my schedule. I will admit that I slacked during the week. While I was great about the long runs on the weekends to increase my endurance, I did not get out three times during the week to work on speed. My weekday runs are shorter than the training plan suggests. It is challenging to get the runs in with Liam in school and Banjo running alongside me. The most Banjo can run is two miles; after that, he is exhausted. Poor pup hasn’t learned to pace himself. Those two miles are the fastest miles I run all week, then he wants to walk.

What comes next? My next half is in early October, allowing a short break before beginning another training session in July. This month, I am participating in a challenge through the gym where Liam and I take classes. After months of focusing on running and cardio with one weight-training class mixed in, I am interested in seeing how moving the focus to weight training will affect my body and my ability to run. I know my diet is holding me back, proving that one cannot out exercise a bad diet. My meals are pretty good; it’s mindless eating that counts, even when I don’t count it: the handful of Liam’s Chex Mix, etc.

It’s been a fantastic journey, one that I believe is only beginning.

In the past, I’ve been setting realistic, thoughtful goals, such as a three-hour half-marathon and a thirty-five minute 5K.  Here are a few of my superficial, egotistical goals:

  1. I want to be able to run in a sports bra. Yes, I possess the ability to do so now. Let me clarify: I want to be able to run in a sports bra without feeling judged. It looks so freeing and would love to be able to do so without worrying the entire time that I look like someone who has no business running without wearing at least a tank top.
  2. I want to run and truly zone out. It’s happened a few times during my long runs, and it is glorious. I think the burden of completing the first half will alleviate some of that pressure. During recent runs, I find myself focusing on distance or speed instead of just trying to enjoy the time to myself.
  3. I want to truly not care when people ask me “You’re a runner?” or “You lift weights?” It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it still happens. I want to be able to say, “Yeah,” without following it with a comment about loving food as well as running or not being a fast runner, feeling the need to downplay my hard work.

Liam’s Christmas Trip

This was the first year we struggled to decide what to get Liam for Christmas. Even he couldn’t think of anything he to tell Santa he wanted this year. Because we all had all of the “stuff” we needed, we decided to take Liam to New York City for a weekend. When Mike and I were down there last summer to see Hamilton, we purchased a small “I love NY” teddy bear to wrap up and give Liam.

When we gave him his gift on Christmas, the four months before the trip seemed like years. As life flies by, it arrived in a flash! We took the train, which was so much easier than trying to drive and equal in cost when factoring in the cost of parking a car for three days in the city. It was a comfortable, three-hour ride.

Liam was in awe as soon as we exited Penn Station and stepped foot in the city. He loved the buildings. Our first stop was McGee’s, the bar that inspired McClaren’s in How I Met Your Mother. It was the only place Mike specifically mentioned wanting to visit, so we made sure to get there as soon we arrived, which worked out perfectly because we were starving and they hadn’t become too busy.

As we walked to the restaurant, Liam was able to see Times Square for the first time. On Friday afternoon, it wasn’t too busy. After lunch, we walked by Rockefeller Center on our way towards the subway to check in at our hotel. After a small, panic-inducing mix-up at the first hotel, which was not the one we where we made a reservation, we arrived at the correct hotel and settled in for a little bit. There was nothing scarier than hearing they did not have a room for us. Because there are three Holiday Inns in a small area, they said it happens pretty frequently.

     

After our break, we headed towards Battery Park. I could not wait for Liam to ride the Seaglass Carousel. We walked around, making our way to the 9/11 Memorial.

9/11 is difficult to explain to a child. We told him about a little bit about it at the airport last year. He gets the gist of it but still has many questions. He was incredibly respectful as we walked through the memorial. We stopped for pizza, providing Liam his first New York pizza experience. Like the Seaglass Carousel, it lived up to the hype!

We continued walking along the water, stopping to look at boats and the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, we admitted defeat and headed back to the hotel to crash.

The following morning, we woke up early so we could eat breakfast and head to our reservation to visit the Statue of Liberty and climb to the crown. Our timing was perfect! We got there before it was too busy, being only the third group to reach the crown that day. As I wrote yesterday, Liam was scared but managed to do it anyway. He was so glad he did! The views were amazing! We visited Ellis Island, but, again, a lot of the significance went over Liam’s head.

                    

After leaving Liberty Island, we raced to Times Square to make sure we were there in time to see The Lion King. Mike’s folks bought us the tickets for Christmas. It was such a great surprise! The subway system is much more efficient in New York than it is in Boston; we never waited more than a few minutes for a train, and they seemed to travel much faster. In Boston, we sometimes wait fifteen minutes for trains. The MTA is a nice improvement, which brought us to Times Square with a lot of time to explore!

Times Square on a Saturday was a beast! None of us enjoy crowds and were not overly excited to spend any more time there than we had to. Liam, who is eight, could not wait to eat at the huge McDonalds! While we rarely eat fast food, I was happy he was up for a quick, cheap meal. After lunch, we explored the M&M Store, which instantly made Mike and I queasy with claustrophobia. Liam was happy but eventually got tired of being pushed around.

We made our way to The Lion King, thankful for a chance to sit for a few hours. The show was amazing! It was as great as we hoped. I am eternally grateful for such a great gift!

Liam was such a good sport through our trekking through the city that we decided to make a stop just for him at the Nintendo Store. He was in heaven! Even though we told him we weren’t buying anything, we couldn’t resist buying him a T-shirt.

Done with the crowds, we head back towards our hotel in the financial district. We found a great old pub where we had dinner. By this point, we had been going for twelve hours, walking over ten miles. Liam was tired, but holding up. (Actually, we all felt that way.) Liam asked if we could walk back to the Seaglass Carousel and ride it at night. How often do we get here? When would we be here again? Knowing it was a gamble with an exhausted child, we took the risk.

 

Liam proved he was my child by saying, “The city is so much nicer when there aren’t any other people around!”

 

   

It was one of my favorite moments of the trip! At night, the Seaglass Carousel was even more beautiful! We reached the sweet part of the day where the crowds had gone home. We didn’t have to wait to ride the carousel again. We walked along the water, admiring the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline illuminated. It was a beautiful way to end the evening, bringing our total daily distance walked to twelve miles.

       

By Sunday, we were exhausted. We went downstairs to eat breakfast, then went back to our room until checkout, watching The Discovery Channel and lounging. When it was time to leave, we headed one last time down to Battery Park and wandered around. We discovered a cookie spot that offers warm cookie delivery until 3am! I am a suburban girl at heart, but knowing I could have warm cookies brought to me at all hours of the night might make me rethink my position about cities. We tried our best to explain Wall Street and the Stock Exchange to Liam. While he didn’t fully comprehend the significance, he was happy to see the bull. We stopped to visit Hamilton’s grave.

A childhood friend lives in New York. I was delighted we had the chance to catch up Sunday afternoon. She suggested meeting at Chelsea Market and walking the High Line. These were two events we never would have known about on our own.  Chelsea Market was interesting but crowded. Liam enjoyed some gelato while we waited. The High Line was beautiful! I am so glad that we explored it, giving us a chance to enjoy the city and catch up with Liz.

The weekend was better than I hoped! Liam was an absolute trooper! He walked and stayed with us and made all sorts of safe decisions, making it easier for Mike and me to relax a bit. We made a point of giving him time to be a kid, letting him chase pigeons in a park or burn some energy on a playground. While Liam is not exactly a traveler; he followed along with us great!

This weekend may begin a tradition of weekend trips in lieu Christmas gifts. Liam asked if we could do it again next year, choosing a different city to explore. When we began discussing Philadelphia as a possible destination, Liam asked us to stop talking because he wants it to be a surprise. I am thankful that we were able to travel together. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a great family tradition!

Two Weeks to Go and Wondering about Writing

Two weeks from now, I will have a 13.1 sticker on my car! (Reminder: order 13.1 sticker this afternoon.)

I had high hopes for running last week since I had the week off for April vacation. The universe had other plans. Monday was miserable. Liam and I spent the morning watching the Marathon, amazed at runners who complete the marathon under ideal circumstances, nevermind gale force winds and excessive rain. Thursday also brought rain. Yes, I could have gone out for a run, but I chose not to. I did run four miles on Wednesday, which became my only run of the week. I did not go out for my long weekend run because we were in New York City. I will consider the thirty miles we walked in three days a workout and call it good.

Last week, I submitted a writing piece to She Can & She Did, one of my favorite running blogs. I am part of Kelly Roberts’ Facebook group; I love the positivity and support. I decided to share my story, that I had gone from accepting the fact that I “just wasn’t a runner” to being two weeks away from running my first half. It was the second story she featured on her website!

I decided to share the link on my Facebook page, officially letting my friends, family, and coworkers know that I have been writing. Writing is so personal that I hadn’t told anyone I was writing for three months after I started the blog. There were two fears:

  1. I had no business writing about running
  2. I had no business writing period. (I had nothing new to offer the world.)

The response to my writing has been so positive, yet again proving that magical things happen when stepping out of your comfort zone.

I am thankful for the time and energy to focus on running. I am also thankful to make the time to write. Liam watches me do both; it is good for him to see his mother trying to better herself. It makes him want to do both activities. I love his stories! In challenging myself, I am teaching Liam lessons about perseverance and stepping out of comfort zones.  This weekend, we purchased Crown Access tickets to see the Statue of Liberty. Once we began climbing inside the statue, Liam was scared. There were many spiral flights of stairs in a very tight area. At one point, he began to cry that he didn’t want to go any further. Honestly, I was also claustrophobic and relieved that he could possibly be my ticket out of it. However, I reminded him that being brave means doing things, even when they scare you. We continued to the top of the crown. It was a rare experience; the last separate times Mike and I visited the Statue, access inside Lady Liberty was closed. We were doing this! We were all so happy that we faced our fears. The view was amazing!

Lady Liberty’s face from inside the statue

I also learned another lesson about being brave: the climb down the Statue of Liberty was far worse the climb up. One the way up, we were focused on our goal and looking up (literary.) On the way down, it was difficult not to focus on the significant distance below us. I feel like there is some sort of philosophical meaning or take away from that experience, but I haven’t yet decided how to express it in words, something about the importance of planning after reaching a goal.

Running and writing have created opportunities for me to be a model for Liam, one of the greatest unexpected byproducts of this journey.

 

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