Reader…

Exactly one year ago. Does that kid look like he's going to have a lot of energy or what?

I should probably finish my first book in over a year tonight.  It’s sad but true.  I was in the middle of a really good Margaret Atwood book when I had Jasper.  Needless to say it was so long before I picked it back up, I had forgotten what was going on.  Then I tried to start it over from the beginning and the gaps in between my reading sessions were so great I just couldn’t follow what was going on.  I quit reading for awhile and every time I tried to pick a book back up I was just lost.  So I gave up and resigned myself to the fact that when I finally collapsed in the evenings it was ok to watch some trash tv and consider Runner’s World and various running blogs my foray into fine literature.

Mark lent me Paula Radcliffe’s autobiography and I figured it was good fluff reading and a way to become literate once again.  I really enjoyed it, but she is definitely bit of a weirdo.  Maybe all elite runners are that way.  She comes off as very nice, but uber-hypochondriac and fragile.  She is constantly getting major injuries from things like stepping on a pine cone (no joke).  I guess I’ve had my share of pitiful aches and pains….I once slept funny and actually popped a rib out of place and couldn’t take a deep breath for two days.  Yes, I actually got injured by sleeping…so maybe I am not too far off from an elite runner. Pretty much everything Paula Radcliffe eats seems to give her food poisoning before a race and she is always bumping into things then having to fly in her private physical therapist, for something like banging her knee on the coffee table.   But I did enjoy the book, and I am glad to say I’ll finish it.

Little bags of gummy bears are 75 cents in the hospital gift shop at work.  For about a week now I seem to need a bag everyday to function.  I bet Paula Radcliffe doesn’t do that.

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Here is the little boy at McKinney Falls yesterday.  I love that they have a paved hiking path that goes for a few miles.  If we are on gravel,  Jasper likes to sit down and make a dirt angel, similar to a snow angel, but a much bigger mess.  If he’s on asphalt, there’s a lot less clean up if he attmepts an angel.   I just love how green everything is right now!

I sit here at work, on my break, soooo sore.  Yesterday Mark and I met at 530, as per usual for our 8 mile danish run.   Once again, this run starts and finshes at a bakery, hence the name.   Maybe I was bummed I wasn’t running the Capital 10K, that was here yesterday, or maybe something was in the air, but after we warmed up a mile or so, we just started picking it up.   It seemed like for a very long stretch my Garmin was reading 6:59, and we weren’t talking like we normally do.  I thought, “crap, we are running this too fast”.  But, then realized, hey, if I blow up on a training run, no big deal.  Let me try and keep it up.  We finished in an hour, and had I not whined about needing a warm up mile, we would have broken an hour.  Why do I waste my time writing about such things?  Well, it’s always exciting to see the work you are putting in push a goal in the right direction.  A year ago I was doing this same run at 9 minute miles.  Sometimes I feel silly doing interval runs, and hill repeats, because who I am kidding?  I am really just a running hobbyist who has nothing in common with people who run professionally.  I am really just a jogger when you get right down to it.  So, since I did do these harder runs, it was great to actually start to reap the benefits.  Having a training partner who is pushing things doesn’t hurt either.

I may have been fine today, but I went to my Sunday yoga I always go to and the focus was on building leg strgenth.  A fast run, plus holding Warrior II for something like 5 minutes was a lot for my wimpy little self and now, once again I am super  sore on a Monday.

Ok…my 30 minute break is about over.  I dowloaded a tons of new podcasts this weekend, so maybe I will have some good new training advice soon.

Have a good week…..

Do the chickens have large talons?

Had to take the Owl to see chickens again today.  He loves his chickens.

Mark and I had a fantastic run this morning.  It was a confidence builder run for sure.  We ran Stratford again, and we were so much faster than last week, and felt good the whole way.  I admit I am a little concerned over this upcoming marathon since I’ve never run longer than 9 miles at altitude before, and it has massive hills.  I’ve done massive hills in ultras, but in ultras, no one runs hills.  It’s all about the power walk.  Now that I’ve declared my self a marathoner, it means I have to run everything.   I also have a hilly half marathon in less than a month that I really want to get a good time out of….so I cannot slack on these long runs.  Our weather was pretty good this morning….about 70 degrees.  It is not looking good for being a mild summer though when it is already hitting 90 in March.

The little boy is asleep and I just had one of Mike’s homebrew pale ales.  It was one of those days I was running out of creative things to do to entertain the little boy.  One things is for sure…they days of lazy weekends are gone.  Jasper doesn’t really like to sit around and read or catch up on episodes of The Real Housewives, or find a good nature documentary.   I have to break the day into 2 outings, 2 naps, meals, snacks, 1 activity at home, and 1 walk with a moody border collie.  Then dinner, bath, reading and bed, and it’s no wonder I find myself asking Mike “are there any more of those pale ales in the fridge?”

Ok…time to import some new podcasts.  Check out competitor radio if you want to hear some really good interviews with elite runners.

 

 

I’m so over it…

My shoes at the Vermont 100. You can see why I wouldn't want $400 orthotics in there.

It seems like every weekend at some point in our run Mark or I say “Aren’t you glad we aren’t doing a 30 mile training run?”  Or “The happy thought is we are not running  insert ultra race title here this weekend.”  I knew it would be challenging to fit in my running after Jasper was born, and really challenging to do ultras.  I worried I would never do one again.   I never kept track of my ultras but I guesstimate I did about 15.    I think at this point I can officially say I am retired, and happily so.

I’m glad I did them.  I always wanted to run a 50 miler and a 100 miler and I did that.  I met some awesome people, some of whom will be lifelong friends.  I got to run in some amazing locations.  I did things I didn’t think I could do.

Here’s why I am retiring:

1.  The time commitment.  That’s pretty obvious.  5,6, or even 7 hours out running isn’t even an option for me.

2.  My feet-sies.  When the podiatrist told me I could keep running with arthritis, he was basing it off my current fairly low running mileage of 40-50 miles a week.  That is low compared to ultrarunners or most serious marathoners.  I don’t think going up past that would do much to help my feet.  I also don’t want to destroy my orthotics (which I LOVE by the way, and wish I would have gotten years ago) any quicker that I already am.   I also cannot stub my big toes on roots, rocks, etc.  I need to preserve these ugly little feet as long as I can.

3.  26.2 is enough for me.  Running 26.2 miles as fast as I can is a huge challenge.  Why do I need more?   There is also plenty of challenge within the marathon.  Different courses, pacing, shooting for a PR, and qualifying for Boston.  Besides I love running marathons.

4.  Longevity.  Kinda goes with the whole feet thing.  Down time during and after pregnancy made me really realize I want to keep my running up my whole life.  I don’t want to face a devastating injury from over use.

5.  I have other challenges I want to do.  If I put any more time into exercise I want it to go to yoga.   I would love to build on my yoga practice and maybe even get teacher certified someday, but not anytime soon.

That’s a lot of reasons.  Ultrarunning is one of the few things I actually think I am happier without now that I have Jasper.  I still follow it like crazy since results are now almost instant online, and every ultrarunner seems to have a blog, so I know who’s, who and I know who I really like and enjoy following.  It’s nice to be at peace with giving something up.  I’ve learned to never say never, but I am very happy for now to say “I JUST run marathons!”

Owl in the springtime…

We survived our week of single parenthood.  I was 4 for 4 on my runs while Mike was gone (I take one weekday off running each week).   Major victory.  I had lots work out in my favor:  a little flexibility at work, weather warm enough to take the stroller out (with Owl in it), and it was actually helpful that Jasper woke up early two of the days.   Although the week did set me up to be extra excited to run sans stroller this weekend.  Mark and I met in Hyde Park to run the Scenic loop, with Stratford drive in the middle.  Stratford is a mega hill, and I needed it for the Estes Park marathon training.  Total distance ended up at 14 miles and it was a fantastic run.  We ran into Anna, who I met at yoga, and it looks like she will be joining us in the future.  It’s exciting to add an another person, because I am sure Mark is really sick of listening to me!

Two other really good things happened Saturday.  I searched the foodie sites for Austin restaurants that kids could wander in, after getting tired of going to restaurants and one of us eating while the other walked with Jasper outside the restaurant (a scenario I am sure is familiar to all parents).  I also don’t count crappy fast food, or family dining major chains as options.  Waterloo, though not spectacular food, but a nice local place, with a decent breakfast has a massive outdoor patio, with a playscape.  It was great to dine under the live oaks while Jasper ran to heart’s content.  And, they have yummy beer on tap for our next outing 🙂    The other good thing was we finally got our REI dividend and got a major shopping trip.  We’ve bought everything on our REI Visa, including all new appliances, so this was the dividend to end all dividends.  I’d been putting off getting stuff for months waiting for my chance to get it for free!   We stocked up, but it always seems to go faster than you think it will.   Still, it was fun to get fancy, comfy new gear.

I took Owl to the Nature Center today and he had a blast despite running a 101 fever all day.  He stayed healthy while Mike was out of town, but this week is starting off in jeopardy.  My fingers are crossed we will all make it to our destinations in the morning, but the reality is Owl and I may be at home tomorrow.

 

Success?

We are over half way done with Mike’s week out of town.  So far I am three for three on my runs, and getting myself to work everyday.  I am not exactly breaking any speed records, pushing a stroller in the dark, but I am getting my runs.  I admit it would be impossible if I didn’t have a little flexibility at work, and I have to tell myself over and over not to feel guilty about trying to keep up my runs, when it’s pretty much the only thing for me I can do this week.    Yesterday I took Jasper to daycare early, came home, ran, had a 5 minute shower and went to work, feeling bad all day I took him in early.  Today I managed to run with him in the stroller, shower, get him to daycare and still make it to work by 900.   Plus add in packing lunches for both of us, and getting a moody border collie walked…I felt like I could do anything by the time I got to work.   So far I am calling the week a success, a word that usually doesn’t go with me.  Dumb luck, got a break maybe, but not success.  But maybe, just maybe this week is it.  We still have time for Jasper to get some virus or refuse to cooperate with a run, so it could still go to crap, but for now, I will take that things are working.

I won’t lie…it is so much easier with another person.  Single parents, military wives, or anyone who does this all the time has my respect.  People who do it with more than one kid deserve a special place in heaven.  One little boy and one moody border collie definitely have me looking forward to the weekend, when Mike gets back and I get a little break!

Zen Owl…

Owl at the Japanese Garden in Zilker Park

It was one of those weeks, but salvageable by the weekend.  I felt a little off Tuesday, and on my day off on Wednesday did my interval run, but it was very slow.  By the time I got home, I had developed fever and chills, and it seemed I had some type of 24 hour flu/ stomach bug that really lasted 3 days.  The big bummer was for 3 nights in a row I was in bed at 730, so any type of productivity this week was nil.    I also didn’t do much in the area of eating.

Saturday I was relieved to start getting my appetite back, and Mike and I had made rough plans to get a real baby sitter.  We only gone out together 2 times since Jasper was born.  Jasper’s favorite daycare teacher was going to watch him a couple of hours.   Not eating for a few days had me ready to seriously indulge.  We must have gotten used to eating out at 5pm, because I was starving waiting for food at 830pm at Black Star Co-op, plus every sip of beer was going right to my head.    We also went to Mandola’s for dessert.  Mmmm, gelato.  I don’t think I’ve eaten a full meal in one sitting in the last year….my stomach was not prepared for that much food at once, but I did decide I definitely need to eat more gelato/ ice cream in the future.  Somehow I had not had any in months.

Running was salvaged this weekend too.  I am following my current marathon training plan, and this weekend didn’t really call for anything big.  Mark and I did a pretty casual run on Saturday, but Sunday, Mark made me work hard after running a warm up mile, we blasted the rest of the Danish route.   It felt so good to push a run, even though day light savings made it seem like I was getting up at 330, and it was quite painful.  A bonus was I got to go to my favorite yoga class.

This weekend we also had goals of productivity…clean some stuff, get some stuff that was needed, but not really an exciting shopping trip, etc.  Sometimes you just need weekends like that.  I won’t bore y’all with the details, because after already discussing the fact we often go out to dinner at 5pm, I probably am not really selling to anyone that they should read this blog because I have an exciting life.  But two really good things I did get to do…..get my hair colored and cut, since frumpy mom doesn’t even begin to describe how bad it was looking, and today I took a nap….those are rare.

Ok, just got done making a huge batch of healthied-up eggplant parmesan,  and it is calling.  Challenging week up ahead….I am solo this week, Mike will be in the Great White North eating poutine and drinking coffee at Tim Horton’s….oh, and working.

Good Little Owl…

On my lunch break, so this will be quick.  The little boy ended up being so good all weekend for all of our solo time.  We ran both days, and he was just perfect.  If I keep running in the middle of the day, I actually may get a tan for the first time in years.     This photo is from a birthday party where Owl went nuts over this little push car.  So much so, that we had to leave since he was obsessing on it in a huge way.   He just wanted to run though…I’d got my runs in, now it was his turn!

I also got a couple treats when Mike got home.  He got me an entire pie from Royer’s in Round Top.  These are probably the best pies in the state.  He also let me test his new homebrew Pale Ale.  It was incredible.  Tasted more like an IPA to me, and he said it needed to age a couple more weeks, but it was good.  It lead me to the Beer Runner’s Blog.  I so need to find a way to be a beer runner to watch in 2012.  Mike said I should start my own brewing and maybe that would help, so the next beer may be a collaborative effort.

I started my real Estes Park training this week.  Hill repeats…ouch.  I am excited though, I LOVE having an event on the horizon.

Ok…work calls, gotta run.

Here Chickie, chickie…

Jasper naps…so I can type.

We are solo this weekend.  Mike is out of town.  He is now out of town fairly regularly, and playing single parent is hard.  Real single parents probably don’t complain and manage to get a lot more done than I do.   Even if Mike is gone all day, it’s nice to look forward to a little time in the evening when he can be the primary entertainer for a bit.  Not so when it’s just me.  I try to remember it won’t be this hard forever.  There will be a time he can play a little on his own, at least long enough for me to wash my hair in the shower (didn’t happen today).  Today was just a little extra challenging.  He’s been getting up really early and woke at 445.  It was too cold to take him for a run, so we played in the house until Target opened at 800 when I went to pick up some stuff.  It was a little sad to be right at their door at 800, and the only one in the store not stocking items on shelves.  We will head out for a run a bit when he wakes up, and I think I will feel much calmer, cooler, and collected.  A bonus would be getting to wash my hair after the run, as greasy, stringy hair, and wind burn from yesterday’s 90 mile an hour head winds on our run, is not my best look.

We still manage to have a lot of fun.  I am a strong believer in taking Jasper places, and not having the grocery store, Target, and walks around our block become all that he knows.  We went to Boggy Creek Farm, which will be a much better outing when it gets a little warmer and a little more produce appears.  But for now, the chicken house provides tons of entertainment and Jasper laughed, and laughed at the chickens, since he finds them funny for some reason.  We went to BookPeople, watched some type of hula hoop festival at Whole Foods, got vegan food (thumbs up to vegan peanut butter mousse, thumbs down to vegan grains and veggies, due to gross seaweed in the mix), and managed a 6.5 mile run in insane winds.  Jasper was really good through it all.  I am counting running uphill into a headwind with the stroller as a hill workout towards the Estes Park marathon.

Ok…housework calls.  Gotta cram it all into one nap session, and then we hit the road for miles with MumMums and milk.

Running podcasts…

Ok, a little background.  I started my current job 3 years ago, and it was the first desk job I have ever had.  I quickly found it is challenging to sit all day and not have moments of feeling like I could drift off to sleep.  I started listening to my ipod and Pandora.  That got old quick, so I started podcasts.  I listened to every single This American Life.    10 years worth.  Keep in mind, I worked about 10 hours a day, and it took me a long time to go through them all.  The I started searching for other stuff.  RadioLab is another fave, and American Radio Works.   All three of these have stories so incredible and moving, sometimes it was hard to focus on my work.   So I now save them for times I am not doing very intense work and can let me mind drift a bit.  Another goodie is Splendid Table, but don’t listen to it if you are hungry.

Enter running podcasts.  Mark started me off with Marathon Talk, which led to me search for others like it.  I quickly discovered RunningPodcasts.org.   It lists them all, and I had no idea there were so many out there.  I’ve tried several, and some are really just someone detailing their training, which can be pretty boring.  But some are quite interesting with good interviews.    If you don’t listen at work, a good thing to do is load up your ipod if you have a long run you are doing on your own.  Or, load up a one hour show, and head out, and you’ve got a nice little timer for an easy run.   Here are some of my faves:

1.  Marathon Talk    This one is very well done.  The interviews are excellent with folks from Paula Radcliffe,  to Scott Jurek, to exercise physiologist Tim Noakes.  Excellent training tips, and very entertaining.  Shows are about an hour long.

2.  RunRunLive This is another very professionally done, excellent show.  It’s funny, the interviews are very well done, and it’s all from the mid-pack runner’s perspective.  I love the fact this show interviews people like Dean Karnazes and the director of the Boston marathon, but also very average people too.  This show is about 40 minutes long.

3.  RunVeganRun Some of these can get rambling, and sometimes the audio is bad, but the host, Meghan just seems like someone I would want to hang out with.

4.  This Running Life This show used to be called “Run to Disney”, and I kinda preferred it then.  It chronicles the host’s start into marathoning, with the Disney races being the goal.  I liked it because I was never really sure if the Disney races would be for me, but the show made them sound fun….especially if you have kids, the main reason I would want to do it.  This one can also get a little rambling at times.

5.  Endurance Planet This show recently got new ownership that is not nearly as good as it used to be.  Search the archives for some fantastic interviews with elite athletes and regular people alike doing incredible things.   Interviews with both runners and triathletes.  It’s not very long, so load up a bunch of interviews if you are taking it on a run.

6.  Geeks in Running Shoes This one is from the beginner’s perspective.  The guys that do it are IT guys, so it is well produced.  The manage some pretty good interviews (like Scott Jurek).  Even though it is more for a beginner, they seem genuine and funny, so I really enjoy it.  Plus, they laugh at themselves a lot, which I can appreciate.

That’s the bulk of what I listen to.  Occasionally I hit some of the other stuff on RunningPodcasts.org.  I admit I’ve barely put a dent in it, but I find that many of them are just one person talking while out on a run, which can get boring.  I’ll post some more from time to time.  Enjoy!