Sunday, February 24, 2013

A few observations on my training

Four runs this week, three of which were work-outs:

-5 X mile averaging 6:22
-5 X 1 km averaging 3:43
-10 km tempo 41:57

I thought I was going to just bounce right back into race shape but it looks like instead I will scratch and claw my way there. This is fine, having as I do not, any imminent racing goals.

I've noticed two things about my body lately, it is craving salt and when I say craving salt, I mean I am finishing off a jar of green olives and then DRINKING THE BRINE after work-outs. I am downing dill pickles and pretty much anything salty I can find. I almost shook the salt shaker into my mouth today before I talked myself down. As one of my friends used to call it "les rages de sel". Weird.

Also, you know how when you have owned a piece of running clothing long enough that you have run about ten thousand miles in it and it simply isn't possible to get it unstinky anymore? No matter how many times you wash it in hot water with extra soap it still comes out smelling slightly sweaty? That phenomenon is happening to me, only not with my clothing, with my actual body. Sexy.

Finally, unrelated aside, today on my run whilst pushing Thing 1 in the running stroller, she turned around to ask me why I was running. I told her simply because I like to run. She said, with her classic french grammar applied to english sentences: "I like not to run." Yeah, sometimes me neither. But today, rolling along at zero degrees celsius, listening to Thing 1 singing Le roi, la reine et le petit prince who was, best of all, THERE BY CHOICE, running was pretty sweet.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Race Report: About what I thought

About what I thought the best case scenario would be.
Slight negative split (20:18, 20:10).
Rather cold, -12 deg C with thankfully only a small wind.

A few observations:
-running a 40:30 is just as hard as running a 36:30 if, in both cases, one is running to fitness.
-I forgot that winning is fun (has been awhile I guess). Yay win.
-Running makes me tired (a good tired)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Race preview: If you can't run fast, run smart

First off, sleep has been much, much better. Alternating night has brought me two nights of eight hours of sleep each (after the second, I hugged many of my co-workers upon arriving at the office and told them they could ask me for anything!). Also, I have not used any sleeping pills for the past three nights and so far, so good. Finally, on at least three occasions, Thing 2 woke up and put herself back to sleep in the middle of the night. So I am feeling optimistic on the sleep front. And to any new or prospective parent I might have scared or discouraged... I am sorry! I loathed being discouraged about sleep deprivation when I was pregnant and then a new mom and I hesitated writing about it just to avoid discouraging others (though I guess there is a difference btwn writing about it on one's blog and having someone come up to you and say "Congratulations on your new baby, are you ready to never sleep again?" which happened on more than one occasion). Anyhow my take home from this is that there is almost always a solution to problems like these, the solution inevitably comes with trade offs (not sleeping with hubby) but it is good to know that there are work-arounds. My other take home is that no matter how discouraging a particular behaviour is (waking up every 90 minutes or stripping naked and rolling on the floor in the subway), 99% of the time these behaviours are phases that pass.

So, 10 km race tomorrow - same one I do every year pregnant or not. After a foot injury, the flu, a cracked rib (torn intercoastal?) which still hurts and sleep deprivation I really have no idea what kind of 10 km shape I am in. And so, I did a "find my 10 km pace" work-out on Friday in which I ran 5 km warm-up followed by 4 km at a pace I felt I could hold for 10 km. That pace wound up being 6:36/mile otherwise known as 41 minutes for 10 km. Yikes. My guess is this is probably right around where I am at at the moment though if the stars lined up, I could perhaps pull off 40:30 and if things get ugly, it could go more like 42:30. It's a little discouraging but it's a start and as I said in the title, if I can't run fast (relative to my PB... sorry that title is really snooty... I mean fast relative to what I have run) I'll have to settle for running smart and trying to beat as many people as possible so I can win this series and get free entries again for next year!

Finally, random treadmill question: I have an amazing treadmill. It goes to 12.5 miles/hour and it a fitness club quality machine. Here's the problem, increasingly when I touch the panel at all during the run (i.e. to change speed or incline) the whole machine just dies, belt stops, display goes blank, as if I am shorting it out. It is much worse in the winter when the air is dry due to our heating system. It makes running intervals pretty much impossible or at least I have to re-start the treadmill after every interval. Also it means I have to commit to a speed and incline for the entire length of my run (which is actually a good thing in some ways since I tend to run too fast on my easy days on the treadmill out of sheer boredom). Anyone else have this issue? I figure I need to ground the treadmill but have no idea how. Just curious if this is a common problem.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's amazing how...

... the suggestions and support of people on the internet can be so comforting and helpful. Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions yesterday. I slept in the basement, alone last night. It was bliss. I probably got about 8 hours of sleep. Heaven. Tonight is hubby's turn. We will continue in alternation until this "phase" is over.

Meanwhile I am also trying some other things - NO caffeine after 11 am. Loading up Thing 2 on cereal right before bed. Putting a bottle of milk in her crib so perhaps she could feed herself if she woke up (go ahead and laugh... I did too but there is a father at our daycare who swears that his 11 month old self feeds from a bottle in the middle of the night). Going to bed immediately after Thing 2 goes to bed to maximize amount of possible time for sleep. Speaking of which, bedtime.

Thanks again for the support.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One time thing

So yeah, that sleeping through the night was a one time thing and the next two night she made up for it with a vengence such that I have now had a total of 10 hours of sleep over the past two nights which would not be so bad in itself except for that the longest stretch was just over two hours.

So... please stop reading now if you don't want to hear me whine AGAIN about sleep deprivation. Please stop reading if you have real problems and you don't want to hear me wallowing...

I don't know how I can do this. Not sleeping is, with no exageration, makes me a shitty, grumpy, impatient parent (who uses words like shitty). It makes me ineffective at my challenging job. It endangers the life of my children, my life and the life of others as I drive them to the places they need to go (I try to take public transport but when I am only sleeping minimally I often grab that extra 45 minutes of sleep in the morning rather than haul myself out of bed early enough to get the bus or subway). Where was I? Right. Sleep deprivation. Shit mother. Life threatening. Shit employee. And don't get me started on running... or on intimacy (or someplete lack thereof) with hubby.

I don't know what to do. How can I get this baby to sleep? It's beyond ridiculous. She's 11 months old and she's sleeping like a 2 month old.

And here's the other bad part. I am becoming addicted to sleeping pills. I use them because once Thing 2 wakes me up it takes me anywhere from 60-90 minutes to fall back asleep again by which time, you guessed it, she is waking up again. I started by using 12.5 mg of diphenhydramine hydrochloride (essentially what is in gravol) once a week to help me fall back to sleep more quickly. Now I am up to 30-50 mg DAILY and it is often ineffective. At my annual physical last week I actually asked my doctor if he could perscribe something and he (thank god) said no. Glad one of us was thinking. He said anything he would perscribe would be extremely habit forming and he didn't want to turn a perfectly healthy 38 year old mother of two into a sleeping pill junkie. He did not seem concerned about what I am currently using but did mention I would find it increasingless less effective (check).

Argh. That little taste of 7 hours of sleep in a row three nights ago was total torture. It gave me a glimpse of what I can do and feel like if I am allowed to sleep. I know that I cannot work full time at a challenging job, be the kind of mother I want to be, be the kind of wife I want to be, be the kind of PERSON I want to be and yes, run, on this little sleep. Something is going to give and I am kind of waiting around in morbid fascination to see what it will be.

Ok. Call me a WAaaaahmbulance. I'm done whining. I know that this phase will pass (if one can call it a phase when it has been going on for 11 months) and I know I am super fortunate in many ways.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Heavenly choir of angels

Did you hear the heavenly choir of angels singing hallelujah this morning over Montreal? Thing 2 slept through the night for the second time ever. I got 7 hours, SEVEN hours of uninterrupted sleep and I feel like I have wings. I cannot even believe what a positive impact 7 hours of uniterrupted sleep is having on my energy levels, mindframe, sense of optimisim about returning to work tomorrow. Truly a hallelujah moment. Unfortunately I think she slept through the night because she is getting sick not because this is a new phase in good sleeping but for the moment I am revelling in the absence of a crushing sleep deprivation headache.

Also finally got a decent week of training in including:

work-out 1: 5 X 1 mile averaging 6:32, followed by 10 minutes at marathon pace (7:03)

work-out 2: 6 X 1 km averaging 3:45, followed by 15 minutes at marathon pace

work-out 3: 5 miles at marathon pace

Slower than before but not bad given I am coming off a knee injury, flu and still have a cracked rib (or torn inter-costal... whatever). I note that although I have not committed to Milwaukee on paper I find myself doing a little bit of marathon pace work (with a goal marathon of 3:05) just to remember and think about how marathon pace feels. It's way to early to be training for Milwaukee anyway but it had been so long since I tried marathon pace I decided to give it a roll and see how it feels. After the 5 miles at marathon pace my pulse was at 176 (toohigh to be sustainable for a marathon I think) and I don't think it is quite my marathon but I could definitely see running a half marathon at that pace (right now). Still thinking about it...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thoughts on running the Milwaukee Marathon

First of all, damn if that marathon is not filling fast. They are adding about 50 runners every 2-3 days. Currently they are at 835 runners or slightly more than 1/4 of their 3,100 cap. I was hoping that by postponing until they had > 2000 runners, I would have a few more weeks if not months to decide but she's a filling up!

On the plus side, who doesn't love a fall marathon? Train through the brutal summer and than have a somewhat guarantee of a nice cool day (though the 20,000 runners who did not get the chance to finish the Chicago Marathon on the same week-end in 2007 because it was cancelled MID-RACE due to extreme heat and humidity might disagree on this point). It would be beyond wonderful to meet fellow bloggers SeaLegsGirl (who I note is occupying one of the 835 spots), Ingrid and Marathon Mom. Geographically it makes sense as we could easily tack on a trip to visit hubby's family in rural Wisconsin before and after the event. The timing is great because it falls on Thanksgiving (Canadian) so I would only have to take one additional day off of work to make it a worthwhile trip. The course seems really fast. Also, I drank the best beer of my life once in Milwaukee on a business trip at the Lakefront Brewery, So: probably good weather, meet cool women, visit hubby's family, not use too much vacation, fast course, good beer.

On the downside, I was kind of mentally done with marathons for awhile. I can't phathom doing the training while working 40 hours a week in an office, with two small children one of whom who doesn't even sleep through a sitcom let alone the night. (Marathon training on no sleep ... so not tempting). The training will inevitably have a large, negative impact on my family, something I promised I would avoid. There are other factors at play which make this perhaps not the best idea right now. I think there is likely no PB in it for me... I ran my marathon PB in Chicago in 2006 while running 90-115 km/week. I cannot really imagine putting in more than 60-70 km per week and that just won't add up to a PB for me. Investing a lot of training in a race where there is no chance of a PB might feel unrewarding (though if I am honest, my PB days are pretty much behind me at this point... I have run one PB in the past  5 years and that was by 1 second in the half marathon so this issue is something I have to deal with in all of my running, not just this particular race).
So: exhaustion, impact on family, other factors, no PB.

But it is so tempting to go. The siren call of the marathon remains compelling and the draw of meeting SLG, Ingrid and MM is strong. I suppose I could do "marathon training on a diet" i.e. do the least amount of training that will allow me to finish injury free. This will minimize the exhaustion and family impact factor and might put me in the right mindset so I am not in angst over not trying for a PB.

It's $75. For a marathon that is cheap. I might as well just register and leave my options open. The worst that happens is that I waste $75... it's 3 days worth of groceries.

A ridiculous 6 weeks of (not) running

Back to work full-time on Feb. 11th. Plan had been to hammer the heck out of December, January & February as a sort of good-bye to being able to run (sort of) as much as I wanted. Instead, here are my past several weeks of "running":

Dec. 15th - great 3 km indoor race

Dec. 16th - 15 km run

Dec. 17th - Jan. 1st - off, injured one of ligaments in knee. promised myself I would be mature and patient and give the knee time to heal. I did. Yay mature me.

Jan. 2nd - Jan. 12th - cross training and running to the tune of approx 65 km/week. Coming back slowly. Yay mature me.

Jan. 13th - Jan. 26th - off, worst flu of my life. With my great wisdom realize there is no point in running through this and patiently wait for the fever, aches, coughing to subside.

Jan. 27th - Jan. 31st - resume easy running, gradually easing back in. So smart I is.

Feb. 1st - crack a rib after being caught with sail-like car seat in a huge wind gust and being whipped around (rib no doubt already vulnerable after 2 weeks of hard core coughing).

Feb. 2nd - off, will patiently and wisely wait until rib is better to resume training, because really, how silly would I be to not have learned anything from 2 years of running and injury?

Feb. 3rd - F**K maturity! F**K patience! Tape rib (thanks Anna-Maria for introducing me to KT tape), take 3 ibuprofen and go for a 20 km run. Longest since Thing 2's birth..

Anyone know if it is okay to run with a cracked rib?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Across the threshold

If on December 18, 2012, you had found yourself in the Peel subway station in downtown Montreal at anytime between 4.45 pm - 5.20 pm (or so) you might have noticed the woman sitting on the ground underneath the payphones on your way in. She had a baby in a marsupial strapped to her chest and, what you certainly could not have missed, was the mostly naked 3 year old (t-shirt, underwear, socks and boots) rolling on the slushy, muddy, disgusting floor screaming "no! no! no!". Perhaps you, unlike the masses who walked by without exception avoiding eye contact though occasionally offering spare change, would have stopped and exclaimed "Piccola Pine Cone, WHY are you sitting on the floor? And why is Thing 1 naked when it is -10 degrees outside?". And the answer would have been because in that moment, having run out of ideas, patience, creativity and voice, I had very consciously decided to just give the f**k up for a brief interlude.

It is difficult to determine when one hits the absolute bottom of the valley floor until you have climbed up sufficiently high enough up the other side of the valley to gain perspective. Now, perched safely 2000 feet up with a clear view up and down the valley I can say with certainty that that moment was the absolute low in terrible toddlerhood.

I would also hesitantly add, we seem to have crossed some sort of important threshold in terms of maturity and behaviour. I say this without an ounce of smugness because I truly give myself zero credit for this patch of shiny, happy, sunny behaviour we seem to find ourselves currently basking in. It seems impossible to believe that that moment was only 7 weeks ago. Thing 1 is just so completely, utterly transformed. It is as if all the frustrating, hair-tearing-out aspects of her personality have melted away leaving behind a deliciously sweet pre-schooler. I can't even begin to describe... she comes when she is called, she helps out around the house (without me asking!), she puts on her boots and coat when I ask, I can go grocery shopping with Thing 1 & 2 without any back-up. If I tell her "no" in response to her request to buy a specific item in a store she turns around and puts it back. Can I just say that again: She turns around and puts it back! (The first time that happened I was so overjoyed, I seriously considered buying the item for her as a reward for being so good but then realized that might be hopelessly confusing for both of us.)

The parenting books. I read them all. "Easy to love, difficult to discipline", "Setting limits for your spirited child", "The happiest toddler on the block", "The explosive child", "You're a terrible mother and you're raising a monster" (ok, I might have dreamt that last one). The more I read parenting books, the less time I had to parent and really that's about all I can say for them. Sick of the smug authors, their complicated advice that they take over 300 pages to give. In the end for us,... it was just time. Not time outs, time ins, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, sweet talk, hand checks, clap growls etc. etc. etc. Just time passing by. Thing 1's brain had to reach a certain stage of development and then it clicked (and yes of course we had to love her, refrain from beating her, etc. etc.) but my point is that I feel parenting.... barring egregiously bad parenting, changes little in behaviour as long as it falls within broad acceptable guidelines. The kid is going to calm down when they're ready. (Yes, of course I am generalizing based on my experience of one so the "advice" I am giving is worth about what you're paying for it :) ).

Anyway I want to stick a straw in this time and suck it all up. It is seriously delicious.

Though just in case I am annoying other parents with my happy fairy tales... first, of course all of this happened just in time for Thing 2 to start throwing tantrums so really, we are between valleys... not quite on the ridgeline. Second, lest I paint too much sunshine and rainbows, I do want to mention that in 11 months, Thing 2 has slept throught the night ONCE. That's right, ONCE! And that was after her flu shot and I am pretty sure that giving her a flu shot every day so that I can get some sleep is outside the "broad acceptable guidelines" of good parenting. (Is it weird that I just used quote marks to quote myself??). And not only has she only slept through the night once, her longest stretch of sleep is still only about 2.5 hours, oh except for lately when it seems to be down to 90 minutes. So yeah, always a challenge or two to grapple with.

Friday, February 1, 2013


It's magic. That moment when you know, without a doubt. that your baby is expressing herself verbally in an understandable way. When you realize that there is a comprehending brain inside that impossibly large, adorable head. I remember distinctly with Thing 1, the first time I heard her use a word in a reproducable way was one October morning when she was 1 year and 2 months old (no doubt she was using words or syllables in meaningful ways prior to this and I was too obtuse to notice). Anyway she was lying on her belly next to the couch in her room, her arm stretched as far as it could go under the couch plaintively calling "nounou nounou nounou". I had suspected for awhile she was using the word nounou to refer to her pacifier and sure enough, there an agonizing few centimeters from the tips of her probing fingers was the wayward pacifier she could not quite reach. So I picked it up, dusted it off (the days of paranoid sterilizing long over by then) and declared nounou her first word. And given that she still sleeps with the nounou (though not the same one) at three and a half years of age, a very appropriate word to signify the beginning of a long love affair. But it was magic to know, with absolute certainty, that she was verbally communicating in a way I could decipher.

The next moment came about a month later in the bath one evening. I had been quizzing her about body parts on and off for the past several months with no discernable success. That evening, all of a sudden... she just knew, knew it all. Out of nowhere, she could point to her head, her arms, her legs, her nose, her eyes and more amazing still she could point to mine meaning not only did she have a vocabulary but she was able to generalize concepts and recognized the difference between self and other. It was simply mind blowing.

Thing 2's magic moment happened tonight. For awhile she has been saying "bah bah bah" when people leave our house or when she leaves the daycare at the end of the day. "Bah", kind of like "bye" said with a string southern accent. The scientist in me, who needs tons of reproducible data before believing, dismissed it as coincidence. Tonight was the tipping point, one of my mommy friends was leaving with her son and sure enough Thing 2 enthusiastically repeated "Bah! Bah! Bah!" at the door and accompanied it with a very definite wave. The first time I noticed this happen (but dismissed it as random) was on Christmas, so... I am backdating her first word to 9.5 months. I now know with certainly that she said "bye" to my family as they were leaving on Christmas. I don't think I will ever be done feeling grateful for the gift of that memory.