Why I Don’t Blog Much (Scratch That And Make It “Almost At All”) Anymore

A post a long time in the making, I’d say.  It’s not the be-all and end-all, but an explanation… if not just to others (because really, who is reading anymore?) then to myself.

And here goes:

–Because life’s busy and it’s fun to just live it.  That’s some tiring business, let me tell you.

–Because I spend all day with other people and, when I finally get time to myself, I don’t feel like talking talking talking TALKING anymore.

–Because I don’t get excited at the prospect of rehashing what I’ve done lately for the sake of getting a blog post out of it.

–Because I think my life is really fun, and really interesting–to ME.  But how fun and interesting is it to others? I’m not always sure.  So of course I think of ways to make it read more fun and interesting, and then I get to thinking that it might not be all that fun and interesting… Which is silly, because things are great right now–even if sometimes they’re great in a more low-key, non-monumental way.  A not truly blogworthy way, if you will.  I don’t want to second-guess my life on the basis of blogworthy-ness.

–Because a lot of my life is mine to tell about, but a lot of it isn’t anymore.  It’s other people’s business, even if those other people don’t care that I tell (husband) or are too little to object or approve (Miss Tiny Child).

–Because my baby is fascinating and awesome–and it’s really, really hard to write about her precisely because she’s fascinating and awesome (especially given the point directly above).  If she were a snarly hyena baby, it would be a different story… a story probably worth me getting my snark on and telling.

–Because my writing mojo got replaced by a regularly recurring foggy brain some time in the near recent past.  When it DOES come back to me, I just don’t have the time to write the kinds of posts or pieces that I want to write, the ones I feel proud about, the ones that I cackle through as I write them.  Then I get frustrated, and then the mojo goes away.  Back to square one.  Argh.

–Because, for months and months, I felt guilty that I didn’t miss writing more.  And now, finally, I’m OK with not missing writing more than I actually do (which is really “not much at all”).

The most telling part is that I wrote all those words up above, the meat and bones of this post, OVER TWO WEEKS AGO.  Did I once in that time think “Hey, maybe I need to polish this off and hit “publish”? Nope, can’t say I have.  I actually forgot this was there.  That has never happened before.

It’s not that I’m upset about not writing more often, but in a way, it’s tough to get my head around what that means about my identity.  I saw myself as a writer (I know, seeing it written makes me want to irrationally roll my eyes) for a long time, even before I started this blog.  And then I blogged–mostly consistently–for three years.  But now, I can’t quite think of myself as being a writer if I don’t actually write on a regular basis (notes to myself or others don’t count), whereas before, that wasn’t an issue.

And herein lies my problem. I feel like I can’t let go of being a writer, because it’s what I’ve mostly thought of myself as (and it’s what lots of people think of me as), regardless of what my job has been, over a whole lot of years.  Can you be a writer that doesn’t write?  And even if others can, can I be a writer that doesn’t write? And if so, why am I still not OK with it?

It goes back to an issue of identity.  When you have a baby, your identity markers shift–not all of them, and not necessarily drastically, and not necessarily because you want them to.  They just do, in subtle and shifty and wonderful and incredibly frustrating ways.  Mine have gotten blurry indeed, and it’s hard to let go, or pull back, from one of the very few identity markers (“I am a writer a writer A WRITER DAGNAMIT!!”) that I actually have some control over.  I just want to hang on to it for dear life because it holds what was “me” for so long.

But then, it doesn’t.  I wasn’t “me” because I wrote about stuff–I was “me” because of how I saw the things I ended up writing about.  That’s where this “me”–this non-static, acting and reacting, ever-changing “me”–lives.  And once I can get used to seeing it that way, I can get on with the business of continuing to be me… writing (hopefully regularly again) or not.

Thank you for being patient–I’d bet you’re about a million times more patient with me than I am with myself–and coming back to read even when there wasn’t anything new on this spot.  This isn’t goodbye, just an acknowledgement of the “see ya later” that was waaaay overdue.

 

 

 

 

The Little Half Marathoner That Could

This post was written two days after the race.  All I had to do was download my pictures and add them in.  And then aliens abducted me because they thought my baby should rule the universe, given that she’s become such a good walker and has real mussable hair and sits in big girl deck chairs and shit, and I had to negotiate to get sent back to Earth and they didn’t give me back my pictures (or my laptop) until today.

Of course, I’m lying.  But the lie is so much better than the usual and lame “things got so busy with a baby wah wah wah,” isn’t it?  So here’s the recap with some thoughts, this many days after the fact.

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Done.  DONE!!

All those people are clapping for meeee! (Actually, NO.  They were clapping for the first female full marathoner coming through just behind me).

I’m going so fast I’m blurry and all those people are clapping for meeee! (Actually, NO. They were clapping for the first female full marathoner coming through just behind me).

I know that, objectively speaking, my first half was the hardest to train for physically (the one I didn’t get to run, remember that one?) and I know that the one I ran as a solo race with my Nike+ might have been the hardest to actually complete (because running in mile and a half circles for two and a half hours while the world goes on its merry way is pretty rough).

But this was, in some ways, the hardest race to get done.  Weather shenanigans, baby shenanigans, being ultra busy (both on my part and on the part of the trusty baby walker/baby watcher), exhaustion, several pulled muscles (completely unrelated to running), and some personal stuff that really messed with my usually happy head-space (the death of a friend, work stresses)… At times it felt like training for this race was the stupidest thing I ever decided to do.

And yet it got done, somehow.  And it got done with a big stupid grin on my face for the entire race, despite the three things that can make runner-me go crazy all happening (achy-for-no-reason muscles that refused to warm up, my iPod/Nike+ crapping out, and one very annoying bathroom stop).  I was that runner that thanked all the volunteers and the people cheering on the route TOO profusely, to the point of silliness.

Without taking into account pauses for resetting the Nike+ and the bathroom break that I didn’t attempt to hurry up, my pace was 11:08 per mile even with a few walk breaks at the end–waaaaaay under my hopeful 11:14/mile for a 2:25 finish and my acceptable-to-me 11:27/mile for a 2:30 finish.  However, my chip time per mile sucked big-time (actually, “sucked big-time ass” would be much more accurate), due to the aforementioned nonsense, but that’s fine by me.

And also, the course wasn’t as ugly as I expected–in fact, the first seven or so miles were awesome and some parts were totally gorgeous.  Still, I didn’t appreciate going up and down highway on and off ramps and running through deserted industrial estates, so I don’t see myself doing this half again unless the Niagara-on-the-Lake half is off the cards.

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Edited to add:  And speaking of that lovely Niagara half…  Guess who is a sucker and is going to run it*.  Just guess. 

*”Going to run it” as long as the baby’s cold clears up enough for us both to rest more than four hours a night and I can therefore put in the long runs needed and can leave her happily liming with family (or husband, when he gets back from a conference) while I do long runs–all of which has proved daunting up to now.  At least I never expect it to be easy, huh?

Home… And Such

So we’re home!  The other home, that is.  The Buffalo home.  “Home” always seems to be where I’m not and where I’m headed, except for the first two weeks that I’m there, when it’s actually where I am.  And these are great and lucky problems to have.

Other good problems to have:

The fact that my child had no shoes that fit her, and then we went to the consignment store and got her six pairs (two for now, four for growing into until the next time we come “home” meaning Buffalo home).  I came back from the store to try and find out how to clean baby shoes that have been used by rich babies that had ten pairs of shoes per shoe size (because no way would a baby that had just one pair leave them so pristine).  Oh, and to discover a goddamn, motha@uck***, hair-raisingly annoying squeaker set in one pair, which I promptly pried out with tweezers.  When did squeaky baby shoes become the thing? And you mean that, apart from dealing with stretch marks from the pregnancy, chronic tiredness, an inability to eat a meal in peace thanks to her active shenanigans, AND having to keep a clean house for her to crawl in, I must now be tortured (and torture others) one squeak at a time, emanating from her otherwise darling feet?  Nah man.

The fact that my child is adored by aunts and uncles and grandmother, and therefore does not touch the playpen for her allocated daily jail time.  We can’t have her thinking that 100% freedom to roam 24/7 is the new name of the game, can we?  Girl does not have AT & T yet, sheesh.  However, it’s tough to pry her out of adoring hands.  I’ve got to work on a balance on this one.

I need new sandals.  There are too many stores here.  I hate shopping, but I’m cheap and therefore end up price-comparing and buying stuff and taking it back.  This is a problem that I don’t have in T and T, because I don’t shop there.  Sigh, such first world problems.

The half marathon is on Sunday and I think I finally feel ready.  I know rationally that I am physically ready (not to bust out any kind of respectable time–just to finish feeling good and probably feeling halfway decent about my pace), but last night’s awesome eight-miler makes me feel it, finally–despite not having been able to get in a good 11 or 12 mile run during this training cycle and skimping on much-needed strength training.  It’s going to be OK. I think.

I can’t work my mom’s grill. I feel like a wuss.  What will I do if my sister is out and I need to grill and she’s not around to get it going for me?  Sigh, once again.

Who bought the twelve pack of English muffins and put it in my mom’s kitchen?  Did they not know what they were doing to me? How am I supposed to want to eat all the fruit from the market when that kind of potentially crispy goodness is hanging around, taunting me?  There is only so much blaming on the baby you can do when the package starts dwindling and people do the math–because no baby (no, not even MY chompy baby) can have three of them in one day.

Life’s good, as you can tell… and it will be even better when my better half joins us this Friday.

 

Long Run Truths: Nine Miles

Last Sunday, I had the worst long run I’ve had in recent memory.  Instead of celebrating and feeling elated when I was done, I wanted to slump on the couch and cry.  It was THAT bad.*

Here’s what I learned about running long distances during that horrid run (which I hope fills the quota of “one hellacious run-that-makes-you-want-to-give-up-this-running-foolishness per half marathon training cycle” this time around):

Putting off the start of the run will NOT make the run be done sooner.

Loading up your iPod with really great podcasts and music will NOT make the run be done sooner.

Taking two bathroom breaks (in which you dawdle and hope that you get some catastrophic-seeming stomach ailment that will make you call off the run… when all you needed to do was maybe pee and blow your nose) will NOT make the run be done sooner.

Maniacally looping around your husband and child as set upon the business of their calm, content walk in the hopes that seeing them will make you be done sooner (with no logical explanation of how that might work out) will NOT make the run be done sooner.

In a corollary of the above, obsessively checking your perfectly-content child in her stroller and looking for signs that she needs her mother imminently and solely, in ways that only YOU can understand (nay, even wishing that she regress to the point of needing constant nursing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and trying your best to emanate hormones that will immediately remind her of the delights of cluster feeding thisverysecond) when she could truly care less (because she’s munching on her favorite crackers and you’re just her sweaty boring mother and she just looks at you like, “whatEVER”) will NOT make the run be done sooner.

Hoping that your iPod/Nike +/sneakers will conk out, knowing that you either have extras of these or you can very well run without them, will NOT make the run be done sooner.

Cursing profusely, loudly, publicly (and therefore, for Trinidad and Tobago, illegally) when you find out that your highly-optimistic and totally off-the-cuff calculations of how many times you have to go up and down your damn street to get done with the run were EXTREMELY wrong (and you have to go up and down your street two more damn times) will NOT make the run be done sooner.

And, finally…

Wondering whether laying down in the middle of the street and waiting (waiting for what, I have no idea–the run fairies to finish this shit for you? A car to put you out of your misery? A dog to carry you away, either to be mauled or to live in a land where half marathons don’t exist?) to make the run end sooner will NOT make the run be done sooner.

Hard truths to learn, my friends.  Very, very hard truths.

*By “bad,” I mean my stomach hurt in a vague, unspecific, non-catastrophic way.  It felt off, but not off enough to make me think I couldn’t run with it.  And run I did, without catastrophic effects before or during or after–other than hating every second of every single mile and questioning why I was doing any of this.

Life (And What Happens Between Blog Posts)

Embarrassment:  When you write a blog post about how absent you’ve been from the blog for the last few weeks–and then think you posted it when all you did was save it to drafts, and find this out a whole week-ish later when you go back to write a new post.  I don’t deserve a blog.  Sigh.

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Last time I showed my mug around here, I was whining about a wonky knee and how I was worried it might mess with my half-marathon training plans.

And then… Boston.

I won’t write at length about it because it’s all been said by now.  But I will say that it shocked and saddened me more terribly, and that I felt almost guilty (hear me out) that it did, given that people die every day in this world in horrible and unexpected circumstances, in bigger numbers, in worse ways, and here I was completely shell-shocked in a way that I didn’t expect–how could I hear news about civil war in Syria all day and feel upset, but ultimately move on, and yet get hit so hard by this?  It felt as wrenching as when so much other bad stuff happens, but it also felt so much more real, because it IS that much more real, when you’ve been at the start line of races and when you have spectated races… and, even more, when your family and dearest people have done so for you over and over again.

So it felt silly to pop up, go “hey, guess what? My knee is fine! (Oh yeah, and there was a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon)”  It still does, a bit.  But anyway.

(Is this what happens when I say I won’t write at length about something?  Sheesh).

In other news, my knee is much better.  I think I discovered the culprit of the knee wackiness, and I can lay the blame firmly on one 13-month old child.  Gee, I wonder how carrying 23 pounds of solid delightfulness on my right hip day in and day out (using my left knee as leverage and pivot) could POSSIBLY mess up my knee?  Who’d have thought that keeping a baby from executing kamikaze moves upon my person, moves that could land her on the floor, would twist my knee around?  Who knew, indeed.  I’m now making a concerted effort to be more mindful of how I stand when I’m holding her… and of encouraging this crawl-loving child of mine to take some steps so we can vary the range of injuries I can get while handling her.

Also, I’ve just come to the end of my first stint as the solo parent.  Four whole days–I know, hardly that long, but long enough to make me appreciate how lucky I am that I don’t go this alone.  Let me tell you:  nothing but huge big-ups to the people that parent solo full time (or part-time, for that matter).  It wasn’t as crazy as I thought it would be in some ways, but it was tougher in others.  She was an angel for three whole days and a bit cranky for one of them.  Plus, I managed to do it while nursing a pretty bad case of food poisoning on Sunday and Monday, from which I’m still recovering…

… Hence, no running.  At ALL.  I last ran on Friday, and the six miles went amazingly well.  I was all kinds of ecstatic  and singing the praises of half marathon training when I was done, and I felt so great that I would have happily gone out to run the next day.  But  nope.  Bad belly.  No running.  Gah–and the story of this training cycle so far.

So that’s what happens in between blog posts, at least this time.

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Edited to add: 

I finally got a great long run in again–7 miles.  But it was a pain to get it done as I both pulled a neck muscle the night before the scheduled run and then it monsooned all weekend long.  The second it stopped raining on Sunday, I dashed out the door, completely unprepared for the run and ready to get poured on again.  Thankfully, I managed it rain free.  Scheduling the one this week is proving tough, what with some events for both the husband and me this week, and it looks like I’ll be spending another Sunday afternoon loop-de-looping–which is totally not what I want to spend my Sunday afternoons doing, but whatever.  I’m trying not to take my silly injuries/tweaks and the hell that has been scheduling runs as a sign that I shouldn’t be running this half marathon… but man, I get to wondering sometimes.

What I’m Doing On This Lovely Friday Instead of Doing My Long Run

The answer to the above question, in its most succinct terms, is this:  NOT RUNNING.

On this lovely Friday, instead of doing my long run, I’ll be burning orzo and rice for the baby’s lunches and dinners (done on the orzo, no doubt going to be done on the rice).  I’ll be unpicking triple rows of tiny stitches on stretch fabric, stitches so tiny that I need my reading glasses, stitches so hard to remove that I’ll be doing one foul word per three stitches pulled out.

I’ll be staying home when the husband and baby go for their daily walk–the walk that coincides with run time for me on most days.  I’ll be sulking. I may even sleep a bit during that time; at the very least, I’ll read my book (that book that I was so excited to have started) but I won’t be as absorbed as I was two days ago, because my mind will wander back to sulking.

I’ll be ordering Chinese food, but it won’t taste as good because I think it tastes better after six miles.

I’ll be keeping myself from Googling things like “torn ACL” and “ruptured meniscus” and “half marathon disaster.”  Instead, I’ll ask my husband to Google it for me.  He probably won’t, but he WILL tell me that I’d know if I had any of these on my hands… or rather, in my knee.

Because I won’t be running.

Because yesterday, after a truly awful day of domestic stress and bad moods all around to cap what has been a truly dismal-mooded week around these parts for all, I came back from my three-mile run with the baby in the stroller (the run in which my iPod and Nike+ decided to beef–AGAIN) to find that my knee was not right. Because your knee should not feel like it’s been turned backwards on you, and because even though it’s oddly pain-free to have this feeling, I know that this is, for lack of more cogent and unemotional speech, some buuuuullshit.  Some buuuuulshit I need to now deal with.

It is not the end of the world–especially in a week where things have been, emotionally, kind of rough (for reasons that fall very much out of the purview of my business to tell).  It  means I will climb the walls during daily run time (6-7 p.m.) until this straightens out.  It means I will not be wearing grown-up heels on our first date (baby free!) in AGES, to take place this Saturday night.  It means I will spend the next few days with a bag of peas in a state of semi-defrosting soppiness on my knee, feeling pitifully useless to chase after my sweet little baby explorer as I usually do.

It does not mean that my half marathon is not happening.  That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.

 

 

 

 

Half Marathoning Again!

I had been batting the idea of training for a half marathon around for the last few months or so, with varying degrees of seriousness.  After the great experience I had training for the TTUTA 10K, and realizing that the summer is coming up FAST, I decided to find me a race, so I picked…

I’ll be running the Buffalo Half Marathon on May 26!  Wheeeee!!!

I had originally wanted to run the Niagara-on-the-Lake Half Marathon (the same one I trained for and ran in 2011–and which I loved for the race support and the course) but it’s on the same date as this year’s Ride for Roswell, which my sisters and I have tried to do each year (in 2010 and 2011, anyway).  We’re not 100% sure we’re doing it this year (we had the house bikes stolen in 2011 and haven’t replaced them fully since then).  However, I didn’t want to bank on doing the Niagara half and then having to jump ship on the training once we figure out the bike situation to make Ride for Roswell happen.  It wouldn’t leave me enough time to properly train for the Buffalo half as a backup.

I’m pretty excited to run this race in Buffalo.  I get giddy to think I’ll be running around my neighborhood… and then not so giddy to think of all the not-so-pretty areas this race goes through.  It IS, after all, Buffalo–no one can argue that it’s in any way prettier than Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I’ll deal, though. And not having to coordinate stuff to travel at the crack of dawn to get to the race is going to be a real relief.

So.  Onto the training.  This will be my fourth half marathon training cycle (I trained for one I didn’t run because I got horribly sick, I ran one that I made up, and then I ran a real one at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Half) so I decided that maybe the Hal Higdon Novice 1 plan (which used to be the only “Novice” plan and which I used when I trained for the previous races) was a bit too beginner for me.  Instead, I’m going to use his Novice 2 plan (whoa, big departure!), which incorporates a day of pace running.  I’ll be running four days a week (which I’ve been doing since January) but I won’t be running three consecutive days like his plan says.  Running two days in a row has been working really well for me, so I’m not about to mess with it if I can shuffle my running days around.

I’ll be cross training with Zumba or the bike this time (again), and I’ll probably do my long runs on Fridays rather than on the weekend–the weekends are for fun things with family and friends, not for slogging through long runs (if I can help it).  As for the timing of most of my runs, including my long runs, they’ll all be happening in the afternoon (which I did as well for the Niagara-on-the-Lake half).  The mere thought of being a functioning parent / worker / human being after running ten miles at 6 a.m. would make training a non-starter–it was hard enough last time around, minus the baby.  So I’ll be running in the afternoons, mostly without the stroller; that way, there are less hours in the day for me to be exhausted in after the long runs.

I’ll strength train, too.  With squats, lunges, and some core work.  I pinky promise.

I have a loose goal of running it in under 2:30; I’d love to run it under 2:25, to be honest.  Not exactly speedy, I know.  I’ll be happy just to finish, but I can’t deny that a not-so-little part of me really, REALLY wants to run it at what I feel is a fast-ish long run pace for me.  I ran the Niagara-on-the-Lake half at what the Nike+ said was a 10:15/mile pace, but I know that wasn’t accurate–I was probably closer to 11:15.  And while I think I may have been in better shape back then, I know I’m much tougher and grittier now when it comes to running and training.

So:  the A goal is under 2:25 (11:04), the B goal is under 2:30 (11:27/mile), and the minimum goal is to enjoy myself (both in training and during the race). I’m hoping the cool (to me!) Buffalo May weather will put a bit of extra pep in me and help me shave off a few seconds from those times.

And there you have it.  Half marathoning after the baby… like I’ve looked forward to for so long.

I’m so excited I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it–or talking about it–it since I decided to run it.

But man, my poor husband.

Not only does he already support me by walking with the baby during my runs (so I can run in the cooler late afternoon and kinda-dark early evening) but he’ll be doing MORE of it.  And now he’s preparing for the inevitable weeks of pace analysis over fifteen seconds of difference here and there, the endless and pointless comparisons of the merits of all the running clothes I have for each kind of run, and the continual asking of “Am I crazy to be doing this?” while begging him to bring me another bag of frozen peas for my shins at 11:00 p.m.  Oh, and of course, he’ll once again witness the unseemly hanging of sweaty workout clothes over any and all available doorknobs to air before washing.

Heaven help this soon-to-be beleaguered man.  Someone needs to make a trophy for Half Marathon Husbands.  Or I’ll just have to give him mine once I cross the finish line–it’s only fair, you know.