Saturday, September 25, 2010

A day in the life

So, granted I have chosen to chronicle a tougher than average day-in-the-life, but for what it's worth, here was my Wednesday last week... this is a follow up to my last post in which I figured I could make it work.

5:00 am: alarm goes off, went to bed at 9 pm the night before but only slept about 6 hours total b/c of sick baby
5:15 am: out the door for my run, 14 km later wind up at work
6:25 am: shower, eat breakfast, change (yes, at work)
6:45 am: at my desk working
6:45 am - 4:15 pm: work
4:15 pm - leave work. decide to stick to my "body as car" philosophy and "drive" my 1974 PiccolaPineCone home, the PiccolaPineCone has 80,000 kilometers on her but she has brand new Reebok tires so the ride is pretty smooth.
4:35 pm - arrive home to relieve hubby who has been home all day with sick baby and has yet to do any work.
4:35 - 8:30 pm- play, fix dinner, feed baby, play some more, bath time, pajama time.
8:30 pm - return to work. contemplate "driving" again but am feeling pretty bagged so I take the bus.
8:50 pm - 11:10 pm - work.
11: 10 pm - take the bus home. don't even think about "driving".

Hours worked: 12 (compensating for the days I got almost no work done while taking care of sick baby)
Kilometers ran: 18.4 km
Waking hours spent with la cocotte: 4

The take home message is that as busy as things are when la cocotte is in daycare and we are both working, they are much more so when she is home sick, though it does give us more time with her which is nice in a weird way.

This was in sharp contrast to Thursday when it was my turn to take care of la cocotte. She came with me to work, attended a departmental meeting where she sat in my lap and hid her face for the first third, played near me for the second third and started toddling around for the final portion. After the meeting I took her to a nearby park until she was ready to nap and then we went back to work and she napped in a conference room for an hour while I worked. When she woke, we both went home and I had a great day with her (which included a blissful two hour nap together in the afternoon, necessitated no doubt by the endeavors of the day before - is there any guilty pleasure greater than a daytime nap on a weekday???). I feel a bit guilty for liking it when my baby is sick b/c I get more time with her... but it's not like she's miserable, just too sick to be admitted to daycare.

So, yes, I am figuring out how to be a working, running mom, figuring out the routine all the while recognizing that there is no such thing as a routine really with a baby on board. I am trying not to stress out about things not getting done - I'm doing the best I can and things will fall where they do (literally and figuratively).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's all good.

No Cheese Chase for me today. La Cocotte was up much of the night with frighteningly high fever. We spent much of the night nursing, so much so that I was tempted to volunteer myself at the milking competition that is part of Cheese Festival we are attending. Instead of the race, I went for a tempo run on the Badger State Trail which is an oasis of FLAT, soft ground in a rural sea of staggeringly hilly, asphalt roads. Is anyplace more beautiful than Wisconsin in the early fall? This trails cuts a linear swath through rolling farm land with gorgeous wild flowers and dramatic cloudscapes. Sure maybe some places are more stunning, like the in-your-face gorgeous Sierra Nevadas but Wisconsin has a quiet, modest beauty that moves me.

Anyhoo I took advantage of the tranquility to figure out how this next chapter of my life is going to work:

Running - I have to stop thinking of running as a way to burn off all the excess calories I don't need to be consuming in the first place. Sure I ran high mileage (for me) last year because I was preparing for a marathon but it also supported my terrible habit of eating WAY more than I need to. I was a stay-at-home mom, around amazing Italian food ALL the time and I picked up some horrible habits. Time to eat what I need. Eat when I am hungry and kick the food addiction habit. I am nursing far less. I will be sitting at a desk 8-10 hours a day and running waaayyyy less mileage. My daily calorie requirement is going to fall. I have to be cognizant of that and act accordingly.

I also have to consider my running goals. No marathon on the horizon. I want to run a sub-17:30 5 km and a sub-36:30 10 km in the next year. I don't need to run 100 km per week to accomplish this. I need to stop thinking of a 75 km week as a failure and consider it the new normal. Focussed, quality running is my new mantra. Also, "body as car". I simply don't have the luxury to just up and go for a run anymore. I need to use my body as a car to get to work, daycare, etc. that is how I will get my easy mileage in without sacrificing too much time.

Family life - no more crappy TV. I got into the habit of not watching TV in Italy because it was too much work. I need to maintain that habit and reclaim the pointless hours otherwise spent rotting in front of the TV. I only have 3-4 waking hours a day with la cocotte during the week (god that is so depressing to think about). Every single one of them has to count.

Work - New role. Have to wrap my head around it. The only way forward is with confidence. I don't have confidence so, time to fake it. People with self confidence and an authoritative manner succeed (provided of course they have genuine talent and ability to back it up). In the absence of confidence, I just have to fake it until I make it. Sounds like the slogan on a cheesy poster that hangs over a coffee pot containing foul-smelling, burnt coffee in the office kitchen (you know right next to the poster with the cat hanging from a bar by one paw with "Hang in there" written above). But kitschy though "fake it 'till you make it" may be, there is a great deal of wisdom therein.

So, to sum up: food as fuel, not as entertainment. quality, focussed running. 75 km as the new normal. no hours spent rotting in front of the TV, realize how precious every hour of family time is. fake confidence and the rest will follow.

Seemed much more insightful against the backdrop of the Badger Trail.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hello Wisconsin

I read somewhere recently that women tend to seek experiential blogs; that women love to read their story being re-told by another who is essentially living the same story. This works because let's face it, at their essential most people's lives are terribly common. This makes me think about the story I have been telling, initially it was new running mom discovering the wonders of her new baby and clawing her way back into pre-pregnancy fitness. Sure it was with the twist that I was also living in a new country that happens to be a country that seems to capture the romantic imagination of people around the world... but at its heart it was new mom loves and baby and tries to get back into shape.

Now my story has changed. Now it goes something like this: mother of one year old baby adjusts to the new reality of her life as a working mom at an incredibly demanding job while baby tries to adjust to daycare (and oh yeah whole family adjusts to being back in North America and mommy continues to try to run...). Ho hum... does anyone really need to hear this particular story being told AGAIN? Are any of the following truths/sentiments at all unique and worth re-telling: my baby is sick with daycare colds all the time, I have almost zero time to myself, I have no idea when I am going to fit in running, my husband and I have no quality time together, I feel like I am doing a crappy job at EVERYTHING. Should I even take the time to blog about all this when it is clear there are so, so many other things I should/need/want to be doing? (emphasis on the should and need). Well, I think telling the story keeps me sane. Not as sane as a ten mile run, but really is there anything more mind-clearing than a 10 mile? Ok. Maybe an 11 mile run.

I am still figuring out the experience that is my new life. Absolutely everything in my little world has changed. I feel myself, my reactions, my person shifting and squirming and trying to adjust. I am frantically trying to figure out how not to suck at all the various things I am trying to accomplish and be. I think I will get there. Where is there? Somewhere probably not too far from here but where I feel slightly more comfortably in my own skin. And where I do a better job at... my various jobs, even if only a slightly better job.

But, to end a rather heavy post on a more light hearted note, now all I am thinking about is - should I run the Cheese Chase 10 km tomorrow? I am in Wisconsin to visit family and attend a cheese festival and only found out today (after a very hard & hilly 11.5 mile run) that there is a 10 km run tomorrow. The entry fee is a little steep $30 - nothing small town about that price! On the other hand it goes towards youth hockey, as a Canadian I am essentially obliged to support them. Plus after coming to this town for the past many years, it would be kind of neat to actually a run race here. And the prizes, of course, are very cheesy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Guess what we bought today.

Baby's first running shoes. My marathon flats are included just for scale.

Everybody all together now: "Awwwwwwwwwwww"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Race Report: What happened?

Well first let me correct some misinformation. There are rumors circulating that I finished 4th and 2nd Canadian. Actually the "live" (now dead?) results are incomplete. I ran 3:08:14 which netted me 6th woman overall and 3rd Canadian. I am sure will have the full & final results up soon.

I'm honestly not quite sure what happened. I felt okay for the first 14 km. I never felt awesome. I never had the feeling I normally get in the first 1/3 of a marathon where I have to consciously slow myself down. At 15 km I realized I felt far too tired for only 15 km. I was still hanging in at the 1/2 way point (1:27:28) and then things started to unravel. I took my first walking break at the 23 km mark and realized that a 2:55 and even possibly a 3:00 were not looking likely. I had a brief conference with, well, me. I tabled the proposition that we close up shop for the day and look for another marathon in a month when perhaps I would have a better day. This proposition was unanimously rejected. There is no way I will have time to train & travel to another marathon this month. I am coming off a 3 week taper and therefore fitness is declining not increasing. But mostly, it felt very important to me to finish this marathon. Even if it took 3:20 which was kind of the worst case scenario I was calculating at that point.
Decision made I soldiered on. La cocotte was waiting with hubby, parents and a friend at 26 km. Seeing them was a HUGE boost. I took the time for a quick chat and to kiss la cocotte. I figured 30 seconds was not going to be meaningful at the finish line at this point.

From 26 km - 37 km I had a hell of a time. I tried to only take walking breaks every 2 km. Sometimes I could go 4 km and sometimes I could only go a few minutes. I felt like an ass walking past the elite table at the 30 km mark and picking up my special bottle which had been so carefully transported there. To underscore the situation, mine was the last, sad elite bottle left. All the others has been long since picked up. All in all I walked 8 times for a total, I would guess, of about 12 minutes of walking. Eek. The thought of seeing la cocotte & family at km 37 kept me going. And they did not dissapoint! No easy task navigating from km 26 to km 37 on the Montreal subway with a sleeping baby!

I again felt like an ass at the 40 km aid station as the amazing volunteers scrambled to get me my special bottle when they saw bib #13 moving towards them at geologic pace. They couldn't find the bottle to their great consternation and I heartily reassured them it was okay. I was beyond the help of flat coca cola and gummy bears by this point. I did motivate myself a little with the thought that even if it took me 12 minutes to finish I could still break 3:10. Sigh.

The finish of the Montreal Marathon is a real treat as the last km is a huge downhill (4:15 - fastest one since the 1/2 way point) and then the last 200 m are run in the 1976 Olympic Stadium with HUGE crowd support. I managed to put on a show and run a 48 second last 200 m despite my calves which were cramping with every footfall.

So... what the heck happened? SLG suggests it was the move through 7 time zones. Steveq suggests that the nursing and also the move should be factored in. What do I think? Mostly I think I could really go for some take-out thai food but I would hate to disappoint Fast Bastard by not overanalyzing this.

Some possibilities:

1. Started out too fast - I went through 10 km in 41:00 which is 2:53 pace. It's quicker than realistic pace for me but not, I would have thought, egregiously so. I really feel that I did not do anything overtly stupid today so... REJECTED.

2. Hyped this up too much and therefore chocked - REJECTED out of the gate. I was relaxed and calm and really having a ball for the first 14 km. It wasn't nerves.

3. Weather - the temperature dropped 15 degrees between Friday and race day. Furthermore with the collision of two fronts, it was pretty darn windy out there (40 kph). And I was mostly alone, there being a dearth of 3:00 marathoners at this race. Maybe this might have caused a few minutes but others ran stellar races despite, perhaps they were more sheltered in the pack... I'll blame the weather, particularly the wind, partially.

4. Stomach issues leading up the race - the heat & humidity in the days before the race gave me absorption issues. My weight actually hit close to an all-time adult low a few days before the race. I was eating and drink loads to compensate but clearly much of it was passing through unabsorbed. But if this had been the problem I would have expected to feel low blood sugar and drained. This was not the case. I felt tight, tired and like everything was more effort than it should be. Similar but subtly different. Maybe this factor is partially to blame.

5. Training - Yup. It was all SteveQ's fault.
Ok. Obviously I don't feel that way. I was given a brilliant training program that was, as per my request, extremely flexible. Meaning that the work-outs were smart but there were loads to chose from and the execution of the training program was left up to me. Here are the mistakes I made: 1. too much mileage too soon, I think I was in better shape at the end of June than I was today. 2. Deficity of long, long runs. My longest were 36, 36 and 34 and two of these were done a little early in the progression. My weakness as a runner is endurance. I am naturally speedy but not endurant and I did not pay enough heed to that. 3. Not enough mileage overall. 4. Not enough running at marathon pace. SteveQ emphasized this both in his e-mails to me and on his blog and I did not pay enough attention to getting it done.

I'm done with the marathon for awhile. It is clearly not my strength, even disregarding today, my marathon performances are simply not as good as my 5 km - 1/2 marathon. The investment to prepare is too demanding given my current situation. I am thinking about what is coming next but it likely boils down to a massive reduction in mileage (maybe as low at 65 km per week) and seeing if I can run a sub-17:30 5km and a sub-36:30 10 km.

The strange thing is, I am not actually that dissapointed. More curious than dissapointed. I have very few marathons under my belt; today was #7. This is few enough that finishing still feels like an accomplisment.

So thank you everyone. I really appreciate your support & comments. And thanks SteveQ for the training program. I should have executed it better.

42.2 km is a long way to self-propel.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The field

There are five women in the elite field tomorrow of which I am one, which makes me want to put quotation marks around the word elite but I'll save the self-effasiveness for someday which is NOT the day before a goal race. Toe-ing the line are:

1. Irene Cherop, Kenya - last year's winner in 2:39:31. She is will no doubt be motivated by the $10 G for first place, $2 G for a new course record, $500 for fastest split at the half marathon and (this is my favorite) $20 PER SECOND under the current course record. Cool! Even if she runs one second faster than last year, she is potentially looking at a purse of $12,520. Not bad for a Canadian marathon. And I love the quasi-infinite cash potential of the $20/second bonus. It's a risky prize, 5 minutes translates to $6 G.

but she does not necessarily have it locked up as also returning is

2. Abrha Serkalem, Ethiopia - third place last year in 2:43:07.

3. Myriam Grenon - my former teammate from when I ran for a local club in Montreal. She is the super speedy local runner who beat me at the last 5 km I ran. She has a marathon PR of 2:48 run in May and was 5th last year at the Montreal Marathon in 2:53. She has set PRs in every distance between 5 km and the marathon over the last year including a sub-1:20 half and a sub-36 10 km. Oh, did I mention she has FOUR children? Yeah, she's a bit of a hero and inspiration to me. I don't think beating her is in the cards but it will be fun to run near her for a few kms.

4. Mystery runner who I cannot track down.

5. Moi

Now, here's the fun part. According to rumor, one of the international elites was "lost in transit". What does that even mean? How does that happen? I am not sure which of the 3 runners who are not Myriam and myself is lost. 

In  addition, Irene Cherop does not actually appear in the confirmed list of runners right now but the local paper claimed she was back SO this means that other fast people from last year could be back and they are just not officially listed yet. Anyway it doesn't matter *that* much to me, I just think it is interesting, adds an element of suspense.

Thanks everyone for your support and cheering. I will tie my shoes tightly, drink lots of fluids today, try to be intelligent (always a struggle when moving over 14 kph) and have a little fun along the way.

Friday, September 3, 2010

All systems reporting GO.

My legs are heavy.
My hamstrings are tight.
I am exhausted, drained, totally low energy.
My stomach is upset.
I have what feels like constant ovulation pain.

Sounds just about right for the final week before a marathon when the massive reduction in volume makes me sluggish, irritable and prone to obsessive self-monitoring. Honestly if I felt energetic, had springy legs and was raring to go, I would be concerned.

The temperature is still predicted to drop by 11 degrees from today's daytime high of 31 to tomorrow which will give me two nights of sleeping in cool temperatures before the marathon on Sunday. All systems are reporting GO.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Scenes from a transatlantic move with baby

Standing at the check-in counter of Swiss airlines in the Venice airport in front of incredibly patient and kind airlines employees with our 108 kg of checked baggage divided into 6 pieces, our 4 carry on pieces which clearly exceed weight limits and our carry-on stroller. No, not a dainty umbrella stroller that collapses with a flick of the wrist. The Bob. To add to the mountain of baggage and chaos, we brought the Bob as our gate checked stroller. I wanted to affix a sign to the top of our mountain, actually mountains because 11 pieces of luggage do not fit onto one luggage cart, stating "moving home after one year abroad" lest people think this is how we pack for a 2-3 week vacation.

Walking the aisle of the Swiss airbus 320-300 over and over with la cocotte who, not surprisingly, did not want to spend 8 hours on mommy and daddy's laps. Watching the same aisle-dwelling people, patiently and repeatedly moving their legs, elbows and drinks out of tripping, poking and swiping range of la cocotte.

Feeling dumbfounded when the Canadian Customs guy asked us what we were bringing back from our "trip". How does one sum up a year's worth of acquisitions in 10 seconds as the rest of the airplane waits behind us (because baby privilege dictated that despite being last off the plane, we were moved to the front of the line - LOVE the baby privilege). Chocolate, coffee, some books, a car seat and 14 extra pounds of baby made of the finest Italian food.

Not remembering how to say the address of our apartment in french to the taxi driver.

Walking into our tidy but dusty apartment and feeling oddly disoriented. 24 hours later seeing same apartment with aforementioned 10 suitcases spewing their contents from various frantic searches everywhere.

Realizing just how incredibly un-baby proof our apartment is.

Heart attack at the grocery store when we saw the cost of food. Seriously I felt like I was in one of those time-travel Hollywood movies where the heroine wakes up and 15 years have gone by because $50/kg for cheese? Really? Not even yummy cheese, the cheese I buy because it normally doesn't require taking out a second mortgage on the house. All the lovely, affordable food that la cocotte has grown to love in Italy is, well, less lovely and way less affordable.

Not having every person on the sidewalk stop and admire our toddler. Those who do, seem strangely shocked when I engage in conversation with them, almost as if they are thinking "I was talking to HER not you lady, I don't KNOW you.".

Melting in the 32 deg C heat (40 deg with the humidex everyone LOVES to proudly add as if it is some kind of accomplishment) of a late summer Montreal heat wave.

8 visits to see different daycares. 3 trips to IKEA. 1 trip to Babies 'R Us. 2 trips to Beau Bebe.

Living surrounded by university students and the inevitable noise. Seriously, what are these people thinking making god awful noise at .... oh.... 8:30 pm. I guess expecting pin-drop silence in the student ghetto at 8:30 pm is setting the bar a little high. Somehow though the evening bark on our street in Trieste was more palatable.