Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Running Guilt

When I first started running, I was doing it to get a break from my hours of mommy time. Since going back to work (and even a little before), finding guilt-free running time has been like searching for the one specific Iron Man toy in the super hero aisle at Target......almost impossible.

Liam running his first 1K
Now that I'm back to work, my time with my boys seems far less stressful, but also a lot more precious. I already miss them so much when at work-even though I enjoy my work time more than I ever thought someone could enjoy a "job". As if going back to work wasn't enough to cut my running time down, my cubs and I have been passing around new, debilitating germs, that keep hanging on. What began as sniffles, turned into our first household ear infection, which was exhausting to deal with, and our sleep patterns have yet to return to normal.

Yesterday, we got Nolan on medication for his ear infection as well as his Eczema. He was happy-go-lucky all day....until I put on my running shoes, that is. Then the meltdown occurred and once again, I was rocking and cuddling an inconsolable infant. As I sat, bouncing my Teddy Bear up and down, shushing him, I started to feel guilty all over again. This time it was due to my goals and commitments to running. I have been slacking.

Although I made it through a 10K on Sunday, I somehow feel as though I didn't earn the right to finish it. I haven't been able to run consistently for almost a month, and I feel horrible about it. I committed to running 50 miles by mid-June and 100 by the end. Will I meet that goal? Probably not....and that feeling sucks. I'm proud to call myself a runner, I enjoy my time spent pounding the pavement, but how in the world do working moms do it?

I'm hoping I return to my previous running schedule when school gets out in two weeks, but by then some of my goals will be past due, and I'm worried I will have a lot of ground to make up. I want to run without feeling guilty about leaving my boys, I want there to be a "good" time to leave them, I want to meet my running goals, I want to have "me" time, I don't want to feel guilty for missing out on a workout, or two, or thirty.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Mommy Knows

For a while now, I have thought that there is something going on with Nolan. Something that is physically wrong, that makes him such a sad baby, something other than the acid reflux that we are already treating. I have felt this way for months, but told myself that he's just sensitive, that there is nothing wrong, that I'm just trying to find an excuse for having a harder baby than Liam was. To some extent, I'm sure that this is true, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that Nolan is going through something that makes him feel horrible, that we can't see.

This past few weeks have been extremely taxing on our whole family. First, I got strep throat, then Liam got a cough/cold that was accompanied by a horrible fever, then Nolan got a cough, but there was no fever in sight. After a couple of days, and some progress in the symptom department, I thought that we were finally becoming a healthy family again. Then yesterday happened.

Nolan spent the whole day screaming (not an exaggeration, he only took three, twenty minute naps, other than that, nothing but crying). As the day progressed, I noticed new symptoms popping up. He was drooling more than usual, he wouldn't let me lay him down, wouldn't even nurse laying on my lap, he had to be upright (which was interesting), and his facial rash was much worse. I noticed that he was grabbing at his ears, and assumed that meant he had an ear infection.

Since yesterday was a holiday, our pediatrician's office was closed and so was the local immediate care, so we called the advice nurse, who had us check his temp again and check his breaths per minute. By the end of the conversation, we had an appointment for Nolan for this afternoon. Although the appointment was mainly for the cold/cough/ear infection, I also had some concerns that I wanted to share with the doctor to see if there was anything else that could be causing him so much grief.

At the appointment, I shared my concerns, the doctor checked Nolan's breathing, his ears, and his overall health. After confirming that he does, indeed, have an ear infection, the doctor then paid particular attention to the rash on his face. Our usual pediatrician said that he believed that it was caused by drool that pools under his checks while he sleeps at night, and suggested using Vaseline. This new pediatrician had a new theory. Eczema!

I have Eczema, Liam has Eczema, I know what it looks like (usually), but apparently, there is a baby version that looks very different than the usual rash. As she checked his whole body, she realized that the dry skin that I had noticed, was actually this other version of Eczema. I feel horrible that I, of all people, didn't see this! Fortunately, we now know what has made my Gummy Bear so uncomfortable.

We began the new bedtime routine which includes a bath (no soap), pat drying, Eczema cream from head to toe, then Vaseline all over, and, if needed, a small dose of Benadryl. Already, Nolan is a new man! He was so so so happy in the tub, giggled while being greased up, and went to sleep without any help. I'm so glad that I went with my gut, and pushed for more information. I hope with all my might, that this is the real issue that he has been dealing with, that we won't find something new next month, that my adorable Teddy Bear will flash that mommy-melting smile more than his Mr. Frowny Face.

Yesterday: Not even a good depiction of the rash
Today: Right after his first treatment

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rum Run 2013

Yesterday, I did the second hardest thing I have ever attempted (right behind being a parent). Running my first 10K! It was absolutely awesome!! But my day didn't begin that way. Here is how it went:

Nolan sleeping through it all!
I went to bed early Saturday night, to prepare for my first big race. So I should have been well-rested. Well, if I didn't have a toddler with a hacking cough and a 4 month old that thinks he needs to eat every two hours, I may have been well-rested. Unfortunately for me, not my situation. When Nolan (my littlest guy) woke up at 6 am, I was still pretty exhausted, but my excitement for the day got me up and ready.

Once again, things didn't go as planned. My husband overslept, my three year old was grumpy, and no one was ready to leave when we were supposed to be half way there. You could say I was a tad stressed at this point. I had been preparing, visualizing, and worrying about this day, since I signed up for the Rum Run in March, and I was not about to miss it!

Finally, we arrived at Tualatin Lake, where the race was being held. Nolan nursed, Liam had a snack, Joe packed the boys and the various supplies needed to keep to boys happy and entertained for an hour, into the stroller, and I headed over to check out the area and use the restroom (a must before any big race!). As the starting line began to fill with runners that looked far more prepared than I, my nerves started to get the best of me.

Liam cheering for the runners
My husband and I after the race
As a lifelong, competitive swimmer, I thrive off of the starting line jitters. It was actually kind of comforting that I was going through such familiar emotions. The race was so packed, that it had to have three start times, each a minute after the one before. To decide which wave you were a part of, you had to pick the section which corresponded to your usual pace. The first wave was under 9 minutes, the second 9-10 minutes, and the last wave was for runners whose pace is 10 minutes or longer. Since I have been running with a pace of nine to nine and a half minutes, I chose the second wave of people. I was nervous the whole time, that I made the wrong choice.

The run itself was quite a challenge. It was a mix of paved roads, dirt trails, paved trails, downhill, and uphill (the biggest incline being in the last mile of the race). Throughout the whole race, I had to remind myself that this was my chance, that this is what I have been training for, that I would be so proud if I could just make it to the end, without any walking, and with a time less than an hour. These were my goals. I wasn't sure that I could do it; that they were even possible for this newbie runner, but I was sure going to give it my all!
Liam and I
The race to the finish!

As I rounded the lake that would lead me to the finish line, I was so pumped up and proud of myself, that I was able to full-out sprint the last minute or so. This is shocking considering how exhausted I was. When I came around the last curve, I saw the clock counting closer and closer to the one hour mark. I had made it this far (without even a second of walking), and I was going to reach all three of my goals, even if it meant puking at the finish line. When I stepped over the line, the clock read 59 minutes and some change. I had done it!

But it all got even better! After this particular race, you are treated to a mojito, a beer, and a chicken and rice dish from a local Hawaiian restaurant. It was 9:30 in the morning when I entered the beer garden, and I'm not ashamed to say it! I earned every drop of that drink. I gave my beer to my husband, we all shared the yummy chicken, and Liam got a free smoothie from Jamba Juice.

My yummy reward
Run a 10K......check!
When we got home, I thought that my day couldn't get any better. Then I decided to check the website for my official race time. I had completely forgotten that I was in the second wave of runners, and that my time was actually a whole minute faster than I thought! I ran a 58:41 10K!! That gives me a pace of 9:28 a mile. I was shocked, and proud of my surprising accomplishment.

I decided to rest up today, but I'm even more motivated to keep running, get better, get faster, go longer, do more challenging runs, and smash through more goals! I have my sights set on a half marathon in October (thanks to friends who are forcing me to sign up) and the Hood to Coast next year (maybe this year even-I'm an alternate on a friend's team....eeek!). I can't believe how far I have come since starting this new endevour on March 14th. Running is awesome, and being a runner is one of the best decisions I have ever made!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First 5K Today, First 10K in a Week

Sunday was my first official race. I participated in the first of the seasonal Portland $5 5Ks. It was held at Fernhill Park in NW, and it was amazing! The park was beautiful, there were lots of fun things for the kiddos to do, there was a 1K run for little ones (which Liam participated in), and the run circled the park and required three laps.

Although I was a bit surprised that the run was not paved, I loved every second of it! Trail running is so much more difficult than running on a paved sidewalk, but it also offered some wonderful scenery and a bit more of a challenge. I'm glad that I didn't plan to take Liam in the jogger this time, it would have been a bit of a rough ride.

Speaking of Liam, he did a great job on his first run! He didn't finish the race, but he sure gave it his all, and he was all smiles. I'm so proud of my little man. I will check into the remainder of the $5 5Ks to see which will be run on a paved path, and Liam will join me on those. It was so nice to have the support of my boys today. They positioned themselves in a way that they would see me, wave, and cheer each time I finished a lap, and they were waiting for me at the finish line.

I'm proud of myself for sticking with running as long as I have, and for being an active, healthy role model for my boys. I'm also proud that I ran my first race with a time of 28 minutes flat (way better than I expected)! Next Sunday is my big 10K. I'm a bit nervous for it, as it is twice as long as Sunday's race. However, I have run practice 10Ks several times, this race is mostly paved (if not completely), and once again, my boys will be there cheering me on. I know I can do it!

Being a runner is awesome!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Backyard Renovation

For the past couple of years, my husband and I have thrown around ideas for making our backyard a more enjoyable place for our family and friends. We finally agreed on a couple of projects, and extending the fence was the first one we wanted to get through. We chose to re-do the fence for a couple of reasons.

1. We live on a corner lot and have a HUGE front yard, which can be difficult to keep up on (especially in the Spring). Extending the fence would make front yard maintenance far easier. 2. We had a HUGE side yard which was a waste of space. Our front yard isn't fenced, so our boys couldn't enjoy the space without constant supervision. 3. Our backyard was a great size, but we hope to eventually extend the patio and add a play structure. Doing these two projects would make our original backyard feel cramped, and would not leave us with much grass space.

Once again, we put a call in to my dad, who has his own repair/remodel business. He also helped us with our closet renovation project last spring. See Renovation: Week One and Drum Roll Please......, if you would like to see that project. He came by, took some measurements, and gave us a quote for the project. We got started the next day!

Here is what our backyard looked like before the renovation:

Our fence ended at the back of the house, and only went out about 3 feet. After finding out that we only needed 8 feet of clearance from the sidewalk to the fence, we realized, that we could go out another 8 feet past our original fence placement. It was a no-brainier!

Day One: My Dad tore down the old fence, saving the boards that we still usable. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at this point, but you can tell in the pictures of Day Two how open it made it.

Day Two: Dad put in the posts (all but one), started the retaining wall that would make the additional yard space level with the existing backyard, and the huge mound of compost dirt was delivered. He left out the one post, so that the truck could back into the yard.

Day Three: Dad searched through the old boards to find ones to use on the ends of the fence. This was a difficult and time-consuming project, as the past fence was built with a mismatch of supplies, which we didn't know until he tried to reuse them. Then started on the end by the house, finished the retaining wall, and leveled some of the dirt.

Day Four: He put up the new side of the fence, and continued to fill in the slope of the yard with more dirt.

Day Five: Dad finished up the fence, and leveled the yard, yet again. We finally had a finished fence, and could let Maizy (our dog) out for potty breaks without supervision!

We still have a pretty large mound of dirt, but it is wonderful compost dirt and we will slowly use it in our flower beds. We still have some work to do to finish the project (move the remaining dirt and plant grass), but it looks amazing! Our future backyard projects include putting in a new patio, planting fruit trees in the newly smaller side yard, add a play structure, and put in some sort of patio cover. So stay tuned for more renovations!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

By Hallmark Standards, A Horrible Mother's Day

My Mother's Day was nothing like the commercials that have been on a constant rotation since mid-April. When I was a kid, that's what I thought Mother's Day was. Perfect. Sweet. A day totally devoted to pampering and splurging on the moms of the world. However, this has not been my experience on any of the four Mother's Days that I have experienced since having my oldest boy.

I did not get to sleep in. Instead I woke up to a hungry baby who gave me the biggest grin when I said, "Good Morning, Gummy Bear!"

I wasn't served breakfast in bed. Instead my boys and I went on my favorite long walk with a tasty coffee in hand.

I wasn't given the sparkliest diamond necklace in the store. I was given a charm with Nolan's name on it to go with the "Mom" and "Liam" charms I received on my very first Mother's Day.

I wasn't taken on a surprise plane ride to a remote tropical island. But I did have a delicious lunch with the strong, supportive mommies that inhabit my family tree.

My husband didn't take me out for an expensive dinner on the town. However, he MADE me one of my favorite dinners.

I didn't spend the day being pampered at some fancy salon. But I did get to take a long, quiet bubble bath with a glass of yummy wine.

I didn't get the perfect family photo. But I was able to get a my boys to sit still, and be calm long enough to get a pretty good one.

My day won't end with a flashy new car in the driveway. But both of my boys gave me sweet kisses and hugs and "I love you"'s before they went off to bed.

I didn't even get a Mother's Day card. But my baby boy was relatively happy, and my toddler was a relatively good listener.

I may not have gotten all the things that Hallmark deems important on Mother's Day, but I got everything I could have ever wanted.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shockingly Easy

Before going back to work I was so worried about how my boys would do heading back to childcare. Liam has been spending his time with my mom for the past year, and Nolan has never been left with anyone but my mom (and only a couple of times). I was a little concerned about how attached Nolan is. There are days that he doesn't even like Joe holding him. He's a very different animal than Liam, who could care less if I were near or who was packing him around. Compounding the uncertainty of how my boys would adjust, with my stress about going back to work, having somewhere to be, and a time to be there, made me more than a little anxious about returning.
As for me, I was ready! I love my boys more than anything, but this mommy is not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I am far more stressed when home all day, rather than spending some of my time at work. In a previous post, I discussed how much I admire full time working mommies for holding down the fort on both fronts. Now I feel the same admiration toward stay at home parents. I could NEVER do this full time! Apparently, I have far more patience for 90 preteens that are not mine, than the two monsters (I say this in the most lovingly way) that roam my home.
As Monday approached, my fear of the unknown grew and grew. When Monday came, and it was time to walk away from my boys, Liam said, "Bye Mom!", gave me a hug and kiss, and was off on an adventure with his pals. Nolan smiled at me when I gave him a goodbye kiss, and then refocused on his fist (a new discovery). When I turned my back to walk away, I braced myself for screams and tears, but none came.
When I got to work, I quickly checked my e-mail, to see if my daycare provider was sending out an SOS. Nothing.
An hour later, after my first class, there it was. The e-mail I was waiting for. However, this was great news! Nolan had taken a bottle- no problem and was napping, and Liam was running a muck, apparently already feeling right at home. An hour later, I was feeling so happy to be back to my students, co-workers, and my classroom. Yet another e-mail, more good news. Nolan had woken up happy, and Liam was cracking everyone up with his silliness.
By the end of the day, I felt 100% back to the "grind", in a wonderful way. Boy, had I missed this! It took me less than four hours to realize that we would all be fine, that me going back to work was what was best for everyone, and that this mommy needs to continue to teach. I'm so glad that things worked out this way. I was worried that I would feel guilty for wanting to go back to work, which would be far worse if my 3 month old screamed the whole day. Fortunately for me, this did not, and has not happened. Nolan and Liam have adjusted quickly and happily into our new schedule, and I am one happy mommy again!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Becoming a Runner, After Babies

I have always wanted to be a runner. When I was a kid (like most people), it came easy. I was fast too! But swimming became my sport of choice, and since it is year-round, I never got into running. I tried again about a year before having Liam. It didn't work. I was able to keep it up for a couple of weeks at the most. Once again, I tried after Liam was born, but being a mommy was exhausting and an imbalanced Thyroid was draining any energy I had left. This time, I have stuck with it for almost two months, and I love it!

I started running mainly to get my body back into pre-baby shape/weight after having baby #2, and although this is still a wonderful perk, I now do it because I enjoy it. I can't put my finger on what has made running "easier" to stick with this time around, but there are quite a few things that are different about the situation, and I'm sure they have all contributed to my success.

Here are some things that seem to have helped me to become a runner after having two handsome boys:

Liam and I on our first run together
1. Sign up for races. This has helped me to stay motivated and pick up the pace since the beginning. About a week after starting to run, I signed up for a 10k. I knew it would be hard to go from a non-runner to a 10k in a little over two months, but by reaching for such a high goal, I have been motivated to add more distance to my runs, as well as quicken my pace.

2. Connect with Other Runners. Join running groups, make running dates, sign up for runs together. All of these situations help to hold you accountable, as well as make the workouts fun. Since becoming a runner, I have joined three running groups, which has been invaluable in many ways. They motivate me to be better, they give me advice, and they give me opportunities to run with others.

3. Think of it as a Break. I get ready for my run about a half an hour before my husband gets home. The second he walks in the door, I'm gone! I think of my runs as my baby-free time. Since I go as soon at my husband comes home, I don't have time to talk myself out of it. I think that it was key to my success, that I started this while still being home on maternity leave. This was the time where I felt like I needed the break from my boys the most. Then I got into the pattern, and it has just became the schedule.

4. Start Slow, but Build Up Quickly. My first run was a little over a mile, with 3-4 walking breaks. I was slow and exhausted by the end, but each day I ran just a little bit more and tried to cut out my walking spurts. Within two weeks, I had run a 5k, but still had some walking breaks. In another two weeks, I was going a little less than 5 miles, but with no breaks. And now, about two months into it, I have run several 10ks without stopping.

5. Run Where You will be Kept Accountable. Not everyone can do this, or would want to, but I'm a teacher in the town I live in. I purposefully run in neighborhoods where my students live. You might think I'm crazy, but I do this for two reasons: 1. I will keep my form in check if I know someone may be watching me. 2. When I pass people I know, I work harder. I don't want to look like an idiot, and I don't want to look slow, so seeing people keeps me focused. Also, waving to people as I run, or having co-workers honk as they drive by, makes me feel good about what I'm doing. It's great motivation, if you can get past looking hot, sweaty, and disheveled around people you know.

6. Keep a Schedule. I decided that two days on, one day off, would be the best schedule for me. It worked well for motivation, with my family needs, and keeping my body going. Some days, I replace a run with a long walk with the family, but I'm active both days that I'm scheduled to run.

7. Join I love this site. It's a great tool for tracking progress, keeping to your schedule, sharing your activity, and keeping you motivated. I love seeing my stats go up (or down when it comes to pace). Mapping my runs has been helpful in deciding how far to go, where to go, and how good of a work out it will be or was.

Although keeping with it has been easier this time around, it's still a bit of a battle once I'm out on my runs. Here are my tips to having the best possible runs:

1. Take an ipod. I know, I know.....many of you are thinking, "Duh!". But it really is an important piece for my running success. It keeps your mind off of the run you are on, and makes the time pass much quicker. Also, make sure that the songs you have chosen are motivational to you, and will push you to go farther and faster. I realized that some of my song choices are too slow/just not motivational, and it made that run less successful.

2. Pick a specific place to run to. Break your run up into smaller runs in your mind. I tend to think, "Just get to the school.", then once there, I think, "Just get up the hill". I do this throughout my run to make it seem like less of a struggle. Each time you run, either try to run a little bit faster, cut out a break, or go a little bit farther. But don't wear yourself out! Don't over do it, because it will take longer to recover, ruining your hard work.

3. Look directly in front of you when you run. I try not to actually look ahead while running. I keep my focus on the ground in front of me. For me, this helps me to not think about the obstacles ahead, and I tend to not notice things like elevation change as much as if I were to see the hill coming from a mile away.

4. Drink a cup of water before, and several after your run. I only drink one cup before I go, because having to pee while you run is not fun and can shorten your distance considerably. However, it's important to stay hydrated, so stop for a drink if you need to, and definitely drink a lot when you are done.

5. Get the right equipment! Thanks to my running buddies, I have learned how important it is to have all of the right supplies to be a successful runner. Good shoes can fix almost any ache/pain and the wrong clothing can make your run extremely uncomfortable. This is where having running friends is so helpful! They can give you advice and suggestions of stores, brands, sizes, opinions, and other information needed to make an educated decision.

I will do my first official run in a few short weeks, and I'm so excited. I'm proud of myself for the progress I've made, and can't wait to see what I'm doing in a couple of months more!