This little piggy…aka no foot modeling for me…

Yes, I am putting a picture on here of me in my PJs that I put back on after running.  I know…scary.  But the Owl’s cute smile makes up for how scary I look.  Owl had a good Christmas.  He has a lot of things to ride on, push, or make a lot of noise with…perfect for him.    I got to see Black Swan while Owl mastered his two walkers.   Not sure if I loved it as much as everyone seems to, but I loved going to the movies.  I got a new Garmin (more on that later).  We had a great dinner that I didn’t cook, and watched Treme after Owl went to bed.  It was a good Christmas.

In really, really good news, I get to keep my piggies intact for now!  I had my podiatrist appt today, and I was soooo nervous since before I even went I was told I needed surgery by my family doctor.  I really liked the podiatrist, and I got good news and bad news.  The bad first:  I have degenerative arthritis, and without a doubt I’ll need a joint fusion at some point.  The interesting part is I learned I have an abnormal extra long 1st metatarsal (aka part of the big toe bones), and people with this get a degenerative arthritis 100% of the time.   The doctor said there was nothing I could have done to avoid this…but pregnancy, and more so my running sped things up, and he said it was pretty severe for someone young (his words, not mine).  BUT, the good news is, because it doesn’t hurt, and he said I still seem to use the joint very well, he doesn’t want to operate and fuse the joint…yet.  I am getting custom orthotics to help take a little pressure off my toes.  The doctor said it could buy me a few years or more.  He also said keep running!!!  Now, I am not going to up my mileage, and I doubt if I’ll do any more rugged trail running.  I don’t want to stub my toes as any trauma just adds more arthritis.   And, the orthotics are not cheap.  They basically transform a pair of running shoes into a $400 investment, so probably not a good idea to go running through stinky creeks and mud.  Ok, so now that you are totally sick about reading about my gross feet, I’ll stop.  But, I will gladly trade the ability to wear high heels and any stylish shoes ever again to keep running.    Sad but true.

So, yes I LOVE the Garmin 110.  I got the pink and gray one.  It also has a heart rate monitor.  Anyhow, it is much smaller, when you are not using the GPS it goes into a power saver mode so you can wear it as a watch.  I have never used a heart rate monitor and the sisters have banned them, but since I now own one I might do a little research on heart rate monitor training and try it.  So I am breaking two rules of the sisters…I will have a heart rate monitor and orthotics.

Ok, gotta go, I just discovered we have Pac Man on the X Box.  I only like pre-1984 video games.

Jasper’s daycare made this beautiful book for us with pictures taken while he was at school.  This one is my favorite shot.  The background makes it look like he is at PeeWee’s playhouse.

So, let’s see, so much going on, as it is such a busy time of year.  I worked all week and took today off.   There were a couple of afternoons I was the only one in the office.  Instead of being productive, I was so unfocused and I didn’t seem to get much done at all.  Jasper’s day care is closed until after the New Year, so Mike took off until then, so lots of Owl at home time.   He’s got a pretty good Christmas haul, and tomorrow should be fun for him.  We did give him a couple of things today so he wouldn’t be so overwhelmed tomorrow and so far, trucks still rule as far as he is concerned.

I was all set to make homemade polish food as we do when we spend Christmas at home.  At the last minute, I told Mike I didn’t want to spend all day cooking; I wanted to play with Jasper.  So I ordered an entire meal from one of our fancy grocery stores.  Sooo glad I did.  We went this morning to pick it up…it was a madhouse, but the food looks really good, and it’s pretty cool to have dinner ready.  I like cooking, and I am pretty good with holiday foods, so I know I won’t do this every year, but for a year where I haven’t really rested much at all, it is a real treat.    Plus, Mike will watch Owl while I go see a movie with one of my busy mom friends, Kitty.  Yay!  This will be the 3rd movie I’ve seen since Owl was born.

On the running front, I did a great interval workout this week, and survived it.  I like that the Hanson plan is longer intervals, so I did a mile warm up, ran 2 2.5 mile intervals, then a cool down mile.  7 total, but intervals at 6:55 pace.  I was proud of myself…that is a good time for me.  It did help though that we had a warm front and it was a 60 degree morning.  I don’t know that I could do that in 3o degree weather.  Today I ran 17 with Mark for my long run.  Until I do the long runs as part of the marathon pace team, this is as long as I will go.   So my running is going great, BUT, and this may be premature, there is a chance of time off in the future.  More details later if need be, but pregnancy caused some large, but painless bone spurs on my big toes.  I had a regular check up doctor appt this week, and she said they really need to be removed to preserve my joints down the road.   I certainly don’t want foot surgery, but deep down I know she is right.  So Monday I have a consult with a podiatrist.  I am trying to think positive.  On the plus side, I’ve never had pain or running problems, but I have a feeling at some point my toes will have to go under the knife so I can have “normal” toes again.  It amazes me the havoc pregnancy causes!  I NEVER thought I would have an issue like this.  I am sure I’ll be writing more about this issue if indeed the podiatrist says the same thing my family doctor did.

Ok, Mike is waiting for me to watch Treme.    We are watching season one, and so far it’s really good!   I hope everyone has a good Christmas, and if you get new electronics, please research what you do with your old stuff.  I listened to a podcast on this the other day, and it is heartbreaking that our old computers end up ruining the health of the child workers who they end up with.  It’s heartbreaking that there are child workers in other countries.  Anyhow, just be careful how you get rid of electronics.

Christmas pictures to come…..

Little Christmas Angel…

I love Jasper’s daycare.  They send me text messages and pictures throughout the day to keep me updated, and this was today’s picture.  I love it!

I managed my long run before work again today.  It totally sucks to get up at 4am and do my whole run in the dark, but since Mark meets me for half, that helps a lot.  It’s so nice to be done with it though.   It also forces me to run a little quicker on the second half to get it all in.   I’ve been doing pretty good on the Hanson running plan.  I did a great tempo run this week with 7:46 pace, average, which is really good for me.  I did a marathon pace mid week 9 miler.  I did absolutely no intervals…so gotta work on getting those in.  Turns out I will do a couple long runs with the marathon pace team, so I’ll still end up doing 20+ milers, but I’ll be doing it at 5:00 pace.  But, I guess I am not truly going to be testing the plan as it was written..oh well, I admit no 20 miler made me a little nervous.

Downside of doing your long run before work at 430 am?  I am super sleepy.  So I am off to bed to dream of a way that a busy mom can see some of the upcoming holiday season movies.  I’ve seen 2 movies since Jasper was born.  It might be the first year I’ll end up seeing none of the Oscar contenders.

Christmas cheer, etc…

I swear it doesn't look so Charlie Brown in real life...
Mmmmm, dough-y

I have been very good all holiday season starting back at Halloween about not over indulging in treats.  But now that Christmas cookie season is here, I am slipping.  They seem so small…just a couple bites.   Is it really so bad to eat 10 of them?

I kept reading about doughballs on some of the food blogs I like.  So, I had to try them.  It is a cookie that has the texture of a cake/ cookie dough at the same time.  I made chocolate peanut butter tonight and Mike declared them a success worth repeating…a lot.  As in, they are really good.  I made jam thumbprints Saturday, but Mike won’t eat sweets without chocolate, so most of those were given away.  I don’t need 3 dozen cookies for just me…or do I?

One of the deals about my new schedule at work is a mandatory lunch break.  Don’t ask..it’s a long story, and despite how it sounds, it doesn’t work to my advantage.  But since I have to do it, I’ve been spending the time online planning lots of things…oh and doing all my Christmas shopping.  So, after lots of back and forth, I have my 2011 race plans.  I have decided to stay local.   Traveling to do a race is a sacrifice on Mike and Jasper’s part, and while they’ll do it for me, it’s really not fun to me if I know it takes anything away from them.  I’ll save my travel for Boston (hopefully) and there is a fall race Steve and I both want to do, I’ll write about someday.  Anyways, I just wanted to squeeze in one more marathon before summer.  The one I picked will be small and a one time race.  Mark is friends with the folks putting it on and said it should be fun.  It’s on gentle trails, so it won’t be a fast one, but I am still going to train up like it will be.    Then I picked a half marathon in April at the Lost Pines resort.  I love Bastrop and wanted to do this back in March, but I still couldn’t run that far.  It’s an all womens race and there is a 5K too, so if anyone wants to do a fun race, this would be one to consider.  After that it will be a couple low key months and then start some hills all summer for a little fun run Steve and I are hoping we can get into.

Ok, I gotta go to bed….before I go eat more doughballs…..

Decker Half Marathon and a farewell…

Steve enjoying the ladies at the Dr Pepper 10K a couple years ago

Steve picked me up this morning at 645.  Anytime we do a race together it’s assumed he acts as my driver.   We talked about how nice it was to sleep in this morning, as getting up at 530 is sleeping in to me!    We headed out to the Travis County Exposition Center for the Decker half marathon.   It actually is closer to my house than town lake.  For those not in Austin, Decker is a race that has been around forever just a little bit outside of Austin.  It’s one of just a few local races not on the same downtown loop that every other race is on.  It is a series of rolling hills, and in runner lore is much to do about nothing, in my opinion, as the hills really are not bad, but the fact that the weather almost always is, it is a somewhat notorious race.  It is also one of my favorites, as there are no bands on the course, no cheerleading squads, no cowbells, and themed water stops.  All these have their place, but Decker is just a nice country run on a cold day for the most part ( and you get a great shirt and post race goodies most years).

Anyhow, I decided a while ago to toss any goals out the window and run with Steve as a fun run.  Steve is moving to Tennessee in just a few days for a new job.  It has been a little sudden…I think he just found out less than 2 weeks ago.  To say Steve will be missed by me is an understatement.  We’ve become the best of friends over the years, even if we are a slightly odd pair.  Ever have those friends that just “get you”?  There are many examples.  Steve recently invited me to play a game he and his brother play where they read the NY Times wedding pages and pick the most obnoxious couple.  I’d been playing that game on my own for years!  Little did I know he was doing it all along.  Another example, we both go back and forth on our favorite Woody Allen movie…which is perhaps our all time favorite movie.  He leans a little more towards Annie Hall, and I lean a little more towards Manhattan.  One of my favorite runs with Steve was a couple years ago on New Years Day.  I mentioned I was reading a book I just kinda stumbled on about Cooperstown, a sea monster, a running group, and a young archeologist.   It wasn’t a best seller, it wasn’t on any lists.  Turns out he was reading the same book!  It was a really cold day and we didn’t see any other runners.  Just two friends having an informal book club meeting while covering 14 miles.

We’re both misfits when it comes to the Austin running scene.  We aren’t in anyone’s group, our running clothes don’t quite match, we never have the latest gear, and things like getting shoved at the water stop at town lake or being asked if you run the Daisy 5K each year (an all womens race…a strange thing to ask a man), are the kind of things that happen to us.  But I think our running philosophies are similar:  Forget all the races, the gadgets, and the fancy training groups.  Just give me a nice pretty morning, a few miles and some good conversation with a friend.  Throw in breakfast with some good coffee afterwards, and you have one of life’s greatest pleasures.

So Decker was a really good run.  We engaged in our usual scavenger hunt (on the list this year:  a barefoot runner, a runner in 5 finger shoes, a group of men with terrible bedheads, someone actually visiting the self promoting chiropractor at the race check in, to name a few).  We laughed at inside jokes, and laughed at ourselves and made fun of how silly it seemed to be running into a strong headwind on a 40 degree morning.  Steve appropriately rolled his eyes as I requested a bathroom stop at mile 2,  and I appropriately responded with a laugh when someone asked Steve “Are you Mark Richards?”….I also said, “oh no, Mark is much faster.”  We finished and got out quickly and Steve was kind enough to indulge me in stopping at a Starbucks, even though he would never go to one voluntarily.

So yes, running in Austin will never quite be the same for me.  A few years ago I met Steve through Stephanie who told me she ran with a really fun group of engineers and that I should join them.  I later found out “really fun engineers” is an oxymoron.   Somehow we morphed in “The Sisters”.  The only real criteria to being a sister is the ability to really laugh at yourself…and Steve and I do that more than anything.

I could go on and on.  But I’ll wrap up by saying a good friend really is hard to find, and I look forward to meeting up at our next race.

Good luck in Tennessee, Steve.

One year ago…

I love blogging to look back on things that seem like a long time ago and not at all at the same time.  Dang…was I really that big?  No wonder I threw my back out a couple weeks later.

Let’s see, what is going on?  Well, illness strikes again.  WTF?  I have laryngitis, cold, achey thing again.  For the second time is less than a month.  And why wouldn’t I?  I was well last week, and ever since Jasper went to daycare and I went back to work my body feels the need to test my immune system every other week.    So, yes, this week I was due to get sick.  Today was day 2 and it was the “everything hurts, I am freezing even though it is 75 degrees and I have a jacket on, and my eyeballs feel like they are burning up every time I blink.”  I also love to get sick on race weekends.  Yeah, this is one big whine, but I have lost count at how many times I’ve been sick in the last few months.  Now that Jasper is sleeping it is a little better because I am getting in bed in another hour and hopefully won’t wake up until morning.  It’s not like just a few week ago when I got sick and I was up most the night rocking him while I was shivering with achy joints.

On that note, I was telling Mike that somehow I feel like I had to go through all the really hard months with Jasper.  Now I am so appreciative of the time together and I have a lot of patience.   It really was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I hope we never go back to that point.  It’s kinda like training really hard all summer for  a race, and then when the race happens it seem so much easier than what you put yourself through.  Except the training doesn’t make you sit up night sobbing, or doesn’t reduce your work output by half, and doesn’t make you completely insane.  Ok, bad analogy.  Babies are harder than races.

And speaking of races, I am leaning towards the Big D marathon as my next big goal.  There are a lot of spring ultra/ trail runs, and I just don’t have a huge desire to do them.  My goal this year has been to get faster and an ultra seems like it would be counterproductive.  Plus running for hours with a camelback eating lots of cookies and jelly beans just seems silly now for some reason.  I am not knocking anyone else who does them, I just don’t see myself doing one this year and I am not really sure why.  Maybe I just found something that seems to be working and I don’t want to mess it up.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll hear about friends’ races and get the ultra bug again, but for now I want to focus on running a faster marathon, and I think I can now that I am getting more sleep and it’s cooled off quite a bit.

Ok, got a very busy weekend.  Spending time with the Owl, taking him to try and finish Christmas shopping, trying to hit yoga during his nap, a farewell pub visit, a marathon pacer meeting, and oh yeah, I have a race!  I am off to bed….hope everyone has a good weekend.

Pinkie…

The hardest thing about being a mom who works outside the home are the illnesses.  It means you don’t get to pick your days off, you take them when the baby is sick, and it doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on at work…..if illness strikes, you’re outta there.  Such was the scenario today.  I had so much to do.  Mondays are so busy.  I was actually focused and gung-ho.   But then Jasper’s eyeballs had other plans.  Pink eye.   So home we both went. …and spent the afternoon fighting over letting me wipe goo out of his eyes.    I also have to miss work tomorrow to take him to the doctor.  But this video is really cute…..but I am quite biased.

In other news, congrats to Mark for getting his Boston ticket at the White Rock marathon…yay!!!  Also, I am not sure if the Country Music marathon will happen.  So, I am considering what to use my spring training on.  Have any of my Dallas friends done the Big D marathon?  It is the lead contender.

Ok, time to watch Boardwalk Empire and eat dark chocolate.

Sleeping Owls, Experimental runs, and focusing on the moment…

Lots going on here!  First off, Jasper started sleeping through the night this week.  Tonight will be the 5th night, if it happens again.  Relief doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about this!  He goes down about 630 and has been sleep until at least 5-ish.  He woke up at 4am one day, but Mike got him back down until 700…still that is a full night of sleep.   I am much more productive at work, I have evening time, and most of all I don’t feel like I am losing my mind!  The trade off is less time during the day to be out and about.  The long, very strictly timed naps seem to have been key to creating this sleep, so we will keep doing them, even if it can be a hassle.  So there you have it…at 10 months old, the Owl SLEEPS!

I am very excited about some new developments in my running.  I tried a little experiment this morning to see if I could do my long run before work.  I left about 430am after a 4am wake up.  Mark actually wanted to run at 430, so that helped me bust my butt to be ready to run at 430, not 440, 445 or whatever I would have done on my own.  Getting up at 400 really wasn’t much different from 415 or 430, so dare I say it was doable?  So, I ran 7 with Mark.  On his blog he called it an easy run…I am calling it a tempo since we were at 8:20-ish pace.  Then I said goodbye to Mark, ran into my house for a bathroom break, and kept telling myself it was just like I stopped at Starbucks or Burger King, and not a warm, cozy place with really good coffee brewing and a bunch of new Kashi cereals calling my name.  I dashed back out and was a little pokey for a bit and then dipped my pace down to the 7:50s…yay.  For some reason, I had to pee a couple miles into loop 2…even though I just went, so at 15 miles, I called it a day (the goal was 16-18).  But, I am very pleased.  I ran for 2 hours, and still managed to shower, feed Owl, get him ready, and pack up a lunch.  I did not manage my usual stretching routine, but I had a feeling that would go.   I think had I not been dying to use the bathroom…AGAIN, I could have easily eeked out a couple more miles and still had enough time to get ready.  I am encouraged, because for my next goal race, in April(more on that later), I want to try the Hanson’s marathon plan in the latest Runner’s World.  Long runs are de-emphasized and lots, and lots of mid distance tempo and long intervals, like 3 miles.  I would need to up my weekday runs, and down my weekend run to do this plan.  They claim the really long runs make you slower…which does seem to be the case for me.  My marathon PR was done on one 18 miler and lots of mid-distance.   Cutting the weekend run distance a little will give me some time to get home and play with Owl before he naps…and while he naps, I really want to become a regular at Ashtanga yoga.  I am going again tomorrow, yay!

Once again, I would like to put it out there that yoga is not just slow stretching.  I push it so hard, because for runners who are mileage junkies (most of my friends are, me included), yoga will get you strength training and flexibility all in one….and if you pick a more vigorous style, I promise that you will be extremely challenged.  One reason I love yoga is I am not good at it.  I am such a novice.  Yoga also uses a very non-western concept of not competing.  You go as far as you can go into a pose and don’t force it.  You do not compare yourself to other people in the class.  You don’t think ahead to goals…you focus on the right now.  When I can do this (it’s very hard), it feels fantastic and is so relaxing.  We all have so much chatter in our heads…to get rid of it just a few minutes is so liberating.  AND, clearing your mind and focusing on the right now is a truly awesome skill to tap into for running.

So my next goal race is the Country Music marathon in Nashville in late April.  A dear friend is moving there, and I am already planning a visit.  Out of town racing is hard when the 2 people I want to spend all my free time with are here.  But an occasional break is good, and since the run is on a Saturday, not a Sunday (gotta love those Southern Baptists!), I can fly in on a Friday, run, then fly home Sunday, and not be gone very long at all.   So I have something to look very forward to and a new goal race!!!

Ok, off to bed for me.   I still have a lot of sleep to catch up on!