Something Amazing

Guys! I did something horribly amazing- I gained ten pounds in a very short amount of time. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even realize it until I was back to my “Oh no” weight. (Does anyone else have a hierarchy of weights? (Mine are happy, okay, watch it, oh no- do something)

After finishing the half, I continued to eat as though I was still running twenty miles a week. Liam decided he did not want to continue with Laid-Back Fitness. (Nothing happened, he just wanted a break.) Without Liam’s parent discount and the time for me to workout while he is in class, it didn’t make sense for me to continue. I hurt my calf doing speedwork and couldn’t run for over two weeks. It got ridiculously hot. Then we went on vacation for a week, following the mantra “do what you want” for eight days.

My view for a week during our annual trip the beach house.

I was up five pounds the day we went away. When we returned, I was up ten. That is what eight days of eating cinnamon rolls and bacon for breakfast will do. I am not a huge drinker, sometimes going weeks without even having a single adult beverage. While on vacation, Mike and I drank beer each night while sitting outside, listening to the waves, watching the stars, and chatting away. With beer came cheese and crackers and, before we knew it, we were indulging in a day’s worth of calories after Liam went to sleep.

When I returned home, I fearfully crept on the scale, learning I was up five pounds in eight days. Time to get back on track! This week marks the official start to training for my second half marathon. Now that I know I can run thirteen miles, I want to focus on getting stronger and faster.

I’ve worked too hard to only come this far. It’s time to hit the reset button and get back on track.

Week Seven: List the Greatest Compliments and Encouragement You Have Ever Been Given

I am a firm believer in compliments. I compliment my students, my family, and my friends as often as possible. I think about compliments that have truly affected me and encouraged me to continue working towards my goals.

              

You’re a good mom. A significant portion of parenting involves worrying.

“Am I too hard on Liam? Are my expectations too high?”

“Am I being too soft? Am I letting him get away with too much?”

“Am I reading to him enough?

“Am I playing enough games with him?”

“Is it okay that he is the only kid he knows without a video game system? Should I just suck it up and buy him one?”

With all of these daily worries, it was a huge confidence booster when my mother-in-law randomly told me I am a good mom.

My “running bully” congratulating me for beating my goal time at our first half!

You are stronger than you think you are. My “running bully” gets the credit for this one. I lovingly refer to my friend Kerri as my “running bully” because she pushes me when I question myself, causing me to PR at the ever-difficult Gaspee 5K and beat my goal time by fifteen minutes at our first half-marathon. I love my running group because we focus on getting out there and getting stronger over being the fastest. That being said, having someone out there pushing you out of your comfort zone is never a bad thing!

I’m so glad you’re my mama. Liam and I have a really good ability to bounce off of each other. We can make up games on the fly, without stopping to decide rules or goals. Mike and I each have activities that are “our things” with Liam. Liam and I go for bike rides, read books, sing Hamilton, and tell each other silly jokes. Every so often, Liam wraps his arms around me and tells me, “I’m so glad you’re my mama.”  It melts my heart.

Week Four: Getting Out of Your Head

This one hits home this week as we have been helping Liam find strategies for managing stress and Mike and I have been dealing with a lot of stress. (I try to focus on the positive so I will keep that to myself. Nobody wants to read about our woes.) I have struggled with anxiety since childhood. It’s been a long journey, but I finally feel I have a good hold on it. Here are my ways I get out of my head:

  1. I have a ritual for worry. I allow myself a certain amount of time to worry, then I make myself file it away. I used to spend sleepless nights worrying about things that were frivolous or beyond my control. Getting an honest grasp on what is worth my worry have been huge.                                       
  2. Running and yoga. What started as activities for my physical health became huge components of my mental health. Since I am still nursing a strained calf muscle and haven’t been able to run in ten days, I am feeling the need in my head as much as in my body.
  3. Spending time with Mike and Liam. Yes, it sounds cheesy and I am not apologizing. They always manage to make me laugh and forget about things that are worrying me.
  4. Reruns. We have Netflix and Amazon Prime yet, whenever I need to shut my brain off, I find myself watching Friends, Big Bang Theory, or How I Met Your Mother reruns. I know them all by heart but refuse to venture into new shows. I stick with what helps me feel better. Maybe they work to shut my mind off because I can half watch them and still follow along with the plot.

I asked Liam how he quiets his mind when feeling stressed. He struggled to find answers. We talked about a few things he does when he is worried.

  1. Play with Banjo                                                                                         
  2. Watch funny TV shows. Liam and I just started watching Fuller House. It is totally cheesy and he loves it. Having traveled to San Francisco to work twice, I earn major coolness points when I able to point out landmarks and pull up pictures on my phone. I’ve even been to Alamo Park and saw the Fuller House house. He asks if we can visit when he gets a bit older. I loved visiting this area and can’t wait to take him in a few years.
  3. Go to the playground. When Liam is getting miserable, we know that we need to get him out of the house. Walking to the nearest playground is a great, free way to burn off energy. He is trying to teach me to cross the monkey bars. I love watching his patience and interest in trying to teach him something that comes so easily to him.
How lucky are we to have this beach a mile from our house?

When is a Good Time to Bounce Back from an Injury?

A week and a half ago, I was having a fantastic run! The weather was warm but not hot. I managed a great pace that was both challenging and sustainable.  After months of focusing on distance and endurance, my focus moved to getting faster. I joined the #sportsbrasquad and was feeling invincible. I was working towards my goal of increasing my speed.  In the middle of an interval, my calf gave out. It was sudden, like someone had whacked it. I couldn’t walk and had to call my husband to come get me. I limped for the next couple of days. It is still painful when I walk, just enough to let you know the pain is still hanging around.

It’s been ten days. I am itching to run. I’ve tried a few times, only to have to immediately stop. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do to help it heal: taping, wrapping, ice, compression socks, massage, foam rolling. It is getting better, but not as quickly as I’d like.

It makes me wonder when I can begin running again. Should I wait until there is no pain at all? Should I head back out when the pain is there but manageable?

Once I get back out there, how do I prevent this from happening again? I stretched before running. I started off slow, walking for a few minutes before beginning intervals. Now, like a scorned lover, I am trying to find the courage to get back out there. The pulled calf happened suddenly, leaving me scared that it will happen again and cause further damage.

Maybe, like recovering from heartbreak, I can put myself out there a little at a time and build up the courage to try again.

 

 

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.