Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Zooma Zoom

Today marked the first official day of training for the Zooma Half Marathon. I hadn't planned on running today, but it was so sunny and warm that I couldn't resist. After a great session of intervals on Monday, I was itching to get out and see what I could push myself to do in terms of speed and endurance. In my mind, I decided I'd be happy to sustain a 10:30 pace for the 2-3 miles that I intended to run with Rowan in the jogger. I was so pleased with what I was able to do:

9:55?! And it felt amazing! I think mentally I've finally gotten past the obsession with where I used to be, and I've settled into where I am and how I can continue to improve. This is a nice place to be-- it's about being present, and I love that I can see how much I am able to do when I'm not focused on past accomplishments.

Here is what I have devised as a training plan for the half. I'm sure I will have to be flexible; life at home with a one year old isn't exactly predictable, but I think that most days, I'll be able to stick with it.

My long runs will be on Sundays because it means that I can run with my BFF on the trails, which alleviates boredom and also provides some hilly action to deal with. I am so looking forward to this time each week!

I love that I can still continue with my triathlon training while I incorporate extra running mileage because even though I'm not going to be doing Breezy Point, I found another awesome triathlon in OBX in September to add to my list.

I know I said this in my last post, but I really just can't get over how much better I feel now that I am back to being very active again-- active with a purpose beyond fitness (even though that is very important on its own). I think that is where I started to lose motivation a few years ago. Simply going to the gym with no other reason other than burning calories was not enough for me. I missed this rush, the rush of setting goals and meeting them, of pushing myself physically and mentally, of knowing that I accomplished something pretty awesome.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shamrock 8k Recap

This is a week late, but I need to talk about how great the Shamrock 8k was!

I look ready to kick some a$$!

The race morning was beautiful and unseasonably warm for mid-March. The sun was peeking over the coastline as I drove into the resort area. I was very nervous for my first race back, but I felt cautiously optimistic. I knew that I had trained enough to make it through the race even if I wasn't going to post my best time. My goal was to simply be present during the race and finish strong.

Oops, excuse the extreme close-up of my finger!

This was also the first longer race or event that I've done all alone. I went to packet pick-up alone, I drove to the race alone alone, stood in line for the bathrooms alone (but I did chat with a really nice lady!), found my corral alone, ran alone, and finished alone... Poor hubby and the kids were stuck driving around looking for a parking spot as I crossed the finish line! That was a very different feeling. I was missing my best friend, the person I've done just about every triathlon, 5k, half-marathon, duathlon with, but it was also an opportunity for me to be courageous and independent, to push myself before and during the race. It was a good experience for me.

I could feel my nerves setting in as each corral started the race, but I tried to keep my breathing even, and I settled into an easy pace. Looking back, I feel like I could have possibly pushed myself a little more, but I was afraid of my breathing getting too tight, and I didn't have my inhaler with me. The first three miles were pretty easy. At mile 3.5, I stopped for water, which was probably a mistake because then I battled a cramp for the next 1.5 miles.

I have to admit, I did stop to walk once because I was getting a bad cramp and starting to feel mentally defeated. Thankfully, an older lady running with an American flag, put her hand on my back, pushed me forward a bit, and told me, "Don't stop! Rock on, girl!" That was all I needed; I thanked her, and I pushed and found my way to the finish line.

Here are my splits from my Garmin. Not my best (I need to stop saying this), but pretty good considering I only trained for about a month or so.


I am pleased-- my official race time was 54:29, about 2:30 over my initial goal of 52:00.

For a while, I've been toying with the idea of registering for the Rock and Roll half, but I haven't committed to it because I am not sure how I can get good runs in with the heat of the summer and all three kiddos home all summer. After some encouragement from my friend over at A Balanced Fit today, I decided to forgo the Breezy Point Tri in June (still aiming for the Patriot in September), and instead I registered for the ZOOMA half in Annapolis! 

That gives me just about 10 weeks to get back to half-marathon form, which is very doable.  What's great is that I can still incorporate my triathlon training into this plan, so that I will still be on track for a strong Patriot Sprint in September. 

Just a closing note-- I am so thrilled to be back into training, back into ME again. I've been to the pool twice in the last week, and while it is really challenging swimming again after such a long break, it is empowering. Advice to moms, to anyone? Find what makes you buzz, what makes you feel alive, what makes you feel like YOU, and immerse yourself in it. There is nothing else like it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One Year

Dear Brown Baby,
Today you turn one, and I find myself at a loss for how this time has slipped away so quickly. It doesn't seem so long ago that we found out we were having a baby and now I look down, and you are running all over the house.
There was a time when I fully believed that I was finished having babies. I couldn't see going back to this place, this world of little sleep and constant need. But one day that changed, and I knew you were waiting to become a part of this family.

You are a spirited girl. You've taught me to be patient, to be flexible, to be responsive. I've become a better mom to all of my kids because of the presence you've encouraged me to maintain.

I've learned to slow down. I now know just how fleeting babyhood is. So I linger. I sometimes hold you while you nap, ignoring the dishes in the sink and the laundry piles, knowing all too well that soon, too soon, these quiet moments will only be a painful longing, a sweet memory.

You've united our blended family- you are the common ground, the link we all share. We find joy in you and your shenanigans; we exchange smiles, we share laughter. We have come to know a shared love that is often a challenge to achieve when you come from varied pasts. That may sound like a hefty weight for someone so small, but it requires no work on your part. It is part of the blessing of having you in our lives.
I often marvel at this chance, this privilege to be your mama. I look at you, see your round face, your sweet lips, your happy eyes, and I thank God for this second chance. I thank God that he brought you to us, that he knew that I wasn't finished just yet.

As we close this chapter of your life, as you say goodbye to babyhood, and you leap into toddlerhood, I am ambivalent. I miss the curled up, cuddly baby you once were, but I'm so in love with the floppy, independent toddler you are becoming.

Right now, you have given me a gift, a sweet glimpse at your younger days- you have nestled in for an unscheduled nursing nap. I sit here on the couch and take you in. Your even breaths, the weight of your head on my arm. There is no place I'd rather be, nothing I'd rather be doing than holding you right now, being your safe place to sleep.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl! I look forward to all of our adventures.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Always Learning

It's amazing where you find inspiration if you are open and paying attention. Over the weekend we were at the doctor's, and during the extremely long wait, I picked up a catalog for ridiculously overpriced baby furniture. On the first page, I found this:

How incredible and filled with truth! This simple, yet meaningful statement has caused me to reflect quite a bit on how I've changed over the past ten years of being a mother, and I've been filled with a deep sense of gratitude for my children. They have inspired me to continually strive to be a better person. I could get caught up in so many regrets, absorbed in so many times that I was selfish. I was quite a different person and mother at 22 than I am now at 32. But I'm not going to get stuck in a cycle of regrets, instead I've focused on being present, and looking back, I know that I was the best mother I was able to be at the time. I know I provided a loving presence to my boys, and I know that I owe so much to them in terms of how I've grown. They remind me to laugh, to be present, and to relax. For someone who gets stuck in her head all of the time, it's perfect, and I am learning to be more open to it.

We went for a walk yesterday, and as Rowan and I watched the boys zoom ahead on their scooters, I wistfully thought to a time when they would have stayed right beside me. I'm learning to let them go a little at a time, to urge them exercise their independence, and to encourage them to be brave and courageous. I had to fight back the urge to shout their names and tell them to come back, they were going too far ahead. But that would have been selfish, that would have been thinking of my needs instead of theirs. I saw our timeline lay out before me... Pacey in the front, Gage in the middle, Rowan still close, and I realized there is beauty in these moments of struggle. I could hang back and watch the grown boys that they've become, I could let go of what I felt they should be doing and just watch them be. That is a wonderful feeling of release, to loosen the control and to trust and be present in my parenting of them. To me, this is part of living a better life for them and filling our experiences with love, beauty, and goodness.

And even more beautiful was the moment when Pacey slowed down just a bit and allowed me and Rowan to catch up with him, so he could walk with us for the last stretch.

I turned to the next chapter in my Momfulness book this morning, and I realized I was practicing the next meditation yesterday without even knowing it. The practice of being present and just watching my children play. Without interfering, without controlling, without guiding the experience to be what I think it should be. To delight in their selves, to see the world from their vantage point. To trust and to know that if they go on ahead, they will come back for snuggles, for reassurance, for affirmation. And because I haven't been absorbed with my own agenda, because I haven't created stress, I am more available to give them what they need in those moments-- to be present with them, enjoy them, nurture them, and continue to learn from them.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Today marks the week anniversary of my new journey of being a stay at home mom. I've avoided posting for the past week because I wanted to settle into my new reality without overthinking things too much, which I tend to do when I write. Sometimes that's good. This past week, though, I just wanted to focus on the transition from being working mom to just being mom.

It's been a great transition, and Hubby has commented that I seem more at ease, calmer. I've found such a sense of fulfillment and peace (yes, already!) in caring for my family. I said to someone yesterday, "I've finally found what I want to be when I grow up!"

Reflecting on the past week has gotten me thinking about trust. Trusting in my decision-making. Trusting that even though this was a huge life change, which I fretted about for many months, I knew in my heart the right decision to make. And now that I am a week in, I can say without a doubt that it was. What I'd like to learn to do more readily is to trust before I have the proof. To believe the whispers of my heart more immediately, rather than questioning everything endlessly. To live courageously. And most importantly to share this outlook with my children.

This kind of trust goes hand-in-hand with presence. Through my ramblings with the Buddhist faith, several years ago, I learned this:

Consider the trees which allow the birds to perch and fly away without either inviting them to stay or desiring them never to depart.

To me this is the very definition of presence. Use any metaphor you want here for the birds and you can put this idea into practice for living in the moment. Living in the moment and being present requires trust. Trust that everything is in perfect order. Just as it is. I've posted before about having no regrets, and this is why, this is one of those great practices that I found in my journey that I can apply wherever I am in my life.

How can I look at this and not think everything is in perfect order?
So how else am I practicing trust and presence? In my training. My last post talked about my struggles with being present in this venue. I've done much better this week. I'm working on trusting my body to do what it can do right now. Today I ran 3.5 miles, and I ended up walking part of mile 2-3 because I was going head into 20ish mph winds. Instead of getting frustrated with myself and the weather, I just walked until I felt I was able to run again. And then I ran the last mile and finished strong.

Mile 1: 10:48
Mile 2: 11:23
Mile 3: 12:37
Last .5: 11:12

I'm trusting the process of building towards the 8k in about a week. When I get there, I'll run the best race that I can run, and I will celebrate another small victory. Then I will reset and look towards Breezy Point Tri in June.

Some wisdom from my Lululemon bag. I love every one of these!