We Got a New Toy

And my kid loves it!

And frankly, so do I!  Anything that makes my little Eva get excited and smile at me like this gets an A-plus in my book.

Weekend 10 miler

Determined to get my last long run in before the race, regardless of whether or not I got the rest of the week's training runs in, I set out yesterday morning around 11am for a 10 miler.  I wasn't concerned about the cold, as I made sure to put the appropriate light layers on which would keep me warm without making it too hot.  I donned Gary the Garmin to help me keep track of the distance and Shufalufagus (my Ipod shuffle) to keep me entertained.  I promised myself that I would only keep track of my distance with Gary and pay no mind to the pace.  I knew I need to take this slow and steady if I was going to make it the full 10 miles and still have some energy left for the rest of the day.  I even brought along a small granola bar to eat during the run, to help keep me going.

Things started off nicely.  Although it was mostly cloudy, there was enough sun peaking through to lift my spirits and give me a positive vibe.  Although I had no particular order the songs playing on Shufalufagus, it seemed like they were hand picked to help me keep that slow but steady pace I was striving for.  I believed that my breakfast of oatmeal, orange juice, and a couple of cups of joe an hour or so before setting out were really fueling my stride.  I was glad to be out on this run.  I was enjoying the time to myself and refused to think about the miles that lay ahead.  I was just running to be running and feeling good.

Somewhere around mile 2, I checked Gary to make sure I was where I thought I was mileage-wise when I saw the low battery warning.  Uh oh.  It was hard not to think about the miles that lay ahead when I was afraid that Gary was going to give out on me at some point during the run.  I had never run a 10 mile route before, so I had no way of truly gaging how far I needed to go to make it past about 7.25 miles.  I decided to stick to my known 7.25 mile route just in case, and then I could figure out the rest from there, even if it meant finishing up on the treadmill. 

It took me about another mile to get that worked out in my head, and things were still going pretty well otherwise.  As I neared a gas station and I figured it'd be a good idea to take a potty break since I was close to being halfway done (about 4 miles in) and I wouldn't be near another restroom for at least another 3 or 4 miles.  I also decided to have my granola bar around the 5 mile mark.

Gary hung in there and when I checked to see if I had hit 5 miles yet (I couldn't hear the beep that denotes a completed lap due to the sleeves on my heavy running jacket) I saw that I had hit 5.17 miles so now would be a good time to walk and eat my snack. I was not hungry and I could have used some water to wash that granola bar down.  It was dry and chewy and I wasn't enjoying eating it all.  This tiny granola bar seemed to be taking forever to get chewed and swallowed. 

I finally got it down and started running again only to find that now my legs suddenly felt like lead.  I thought that walking break was going to refresh me, but all it seemed to do was alert my body that I was tired.  Then I started thinking about how I was barely halfway done.  I slowed my pace way down, trying to conserve what little energy I had and hoped that the granola bar would kick in soon.

Around mile 6.5 it kicked in, but not in the way I had hoped.  My stomach started cramping up and I cursed the fact that I was in a residential neighborhood a good 1.5 miles away from my own house.  Add to that, I was trying to run uphill.  I decided to walk the hill, give my stomach a chance to relax, and then pick up running again on the downhill.  I ended up having to alternate running and walking just to get through the digestive discomfort and none of the walking breaks seemed to give me the rest I needed to prevent my feet from feeling like cinder blocks when I picked up running again. 

Somewhere around 7.5 miles, I started to feel a little lighter.  My stomach was still a bit of an issue, but I felt like I had a blast of energy and I wondered if I had passed the "wall" and gotten my 2nd wind.  At this point, I was back in my own neighborhood and Gary was still alive and kicking.  I started thinking that maybe I could finish this run strong after all and kept pushing.  At about 8.5 miles, I was just down the street from my house and I knew that I could take another loop around the neighborhood and get pretty darn close to 10 miles while ending up right at my own driveway. 

Then I turned the corner and saw my house.  My stomach clenched again and I gave up.  I decided to just go home.  I was worn out and cursing that stupid granola bar.  My legs were heavy and I just wanted to be done with it.  I had been running for 2 hours and still wasn't finished with my 10 mile run.  Thoughts of not finishing the half marathon filled my head as I walked up the front steps and into the front door.  8.75 miles done. Home.

I told Kyle about my run and that I was not happy with it.  I got a drink of water and debated whether or not I would just give up on the idea of doing this particular half marathon.  Then I decided I was going to try to finish the 10 miler on the treadmill.  I am a bit of a perfectionist and man I hate giving up on something.

So I went downstairs, jumped on the treadmill and churned out the slowest 1.25 miles I think I have ever done.  But I finished it. 

And I was pretty tired and sore for a few hours afterward.  But I took a nap and rested with my feet up for a little while and I'll tell you what--I felt fine.

Today, I feel fine.  I have no injury, no lingering exhaustion, nothing to remind me of the 10 miles I slogged through yesterday.  I feel okay and I truly think that I could have knocked out yesterday's long run with less pain and fatigue if I had eaten a bigger breakfast and drank more water beforehand.  I know part of my sluggishness was due to missed training runs, but I didn't have anywhere near this difficulty when running my 9 miler a week before. 

So I think I am going to take a stab at that half after all.  I really want to race the distance and I have a game plan, thanks to some advice from my sister, who has completed several 10 mile races and half marathons in the past.  I have the support of Kyle and my friends.  And I am pretty darn stubborn, so giving up is not really an option. 

Wish me luck.

Half Update

No I didn't get a training run in last night.  Perhaps tonight.

So after whining yesterday about my lack of training for the upcoming half I am signed up for, today I am trying to catch up on other folks' blogs.   Not one, but TWO different bloggers that I have followed for some time now wrote similar entries talking about how they were getting down on themselves for slacking on training and dreading their upcoming races or training requirements. 

The difference between their blogs and mine was that BOTH of these bloggers pointed out how lucky they are that they even have the opportunity to participate in these races or the sport in general.  There are folks out there who would love to be able to move their body, to use their legs, to see, or to have nothing more serious to worry about than finding the time to pursue a hobby.  Boy, does that put things into perspective for me.   

Here I am, worried about feeling like a failure just because I may have to walk during my race.  How lucky am I that I even get to run in this race?  How much of a failure can I really be by participating in something that I have wanted to do and worked towards mentally and well as physically for a while now?  Even if I decide to drop down to the 10K, isn't that just being smart about what my physical limits might be at this time?  Does it mean I can never train for and successfully complete a half marathon?  Of course, it doesn't.

And then I think back to those many months that I was unable to run due to pregnancy.  Boy how I longed to get out on those beautiful autumn days and run an easy 4 miler.  I couldn't wait to get back at it and was very disappointed that at 6 weeks post partum, I still wasn't ready to dive back into running like I had thought I would be.  I promised myself that when the time came to start running again, I would remember how it felt not to be able to run as motivation on those lazy days when getting a run in was a low priority.

So, with these things in mind, while I still haven't decided for sure whether or not I am going to run the half or drop down to the 10k, I have decided not to be down about it.  I signed up for this race because I like running and I find races to be fun experiences.  I am going to have fun with what training I do have left and if things don't go as planned, I am not going to stress about it.  There's just no real reason to. 

To Half or Not to Half

My first ever half marathon is the Rock the Parkway Half here in Kansas City next Saturday, April 2nd.  I had signed up to do this one last year, but discovered I was pregnant shortly after signing up.  While I wouldn't have been very far along at the time of the race and I did continue running short to moderate distances through the first 4 months of my pregnancy, I just didn't think running my first half was a good idea at that time. So, instead I dropped my race entry down to the 5K and completed that instead. 

This year, I decided a couple of months post-baby, I should be able to get back in the saddle and aim to do that half that I missed last year.  It took me longer than I anticipated to fully recoup after my delivery, so I didn't really get to get back into running until nearly 3 months post-partum.  To my dismay, I was running a much, much slower pace than I had been running prior to becoming pregnant.  Yes, I knew this would happen, but part of me figured it would only take me a month or so to get back to my old pace.  So not true!  Do I beat myself up about this?  Well, not much but it is hard to reconcile the fact that what my best effort is now pales in comparison to what it was before.

My biggest problem with my slower pace is that it takes me so much longer to complete my training runs.  During the work week, this is a big issue for me because of working and Eva.  Originally, I had planned to get up early to get the training in before work.  Well, I get up early, but mostly so I have time to do all that needs to be done before work and to spend some quality time with Eva.  After work, I am usually exhausted and I'd rather spend my time with Kyle and Eva before heading off to bed.  And when you are training for a half marathan, often times those weekday training runs increase to 4, 5, and 6 milers as the race nears.  Well, I have a hard time justifying spending over an hour on a training run on a weeknight.  Shoot, by the time I'd get done and showered, it'd be time to get Eva to bed and we'd be eating dinner at 10pm.

So needless to say, I have missed at least one training run every week.  I also have done zero cross-training.  But, I reasoned with myself, the most important training run of each week is the long run and I can do that on the weekend.  I was doing really well in getting those long runs completed every week, even though they were physically wearing me out at times. 

Then I got sick.  For 10 straight days, I felt horrible and with only one sick day available to me since coming back from maternity leave, I struggled just to get to work and take care of Eva.  That means I did no training runs, no long run...nothing at all until the Westport St. Patrick's Day 4 miler on Saturday the 12th.  For my first race after having the baby, I think I did well.  I ran the whole of it, albeit a bit slower than I expected.  And, I realized about 3 miles in that I needed new running shoes, as my knee and ankle started to hurt.  But I did it and finished it and then realized that my half marathon was going to be 3 times as long of a race.

Can I really do this?  Should I really do this?  Last week, I got back into the training groove and did the majority of my training miles, including my long run on Saturday.  That success was due mostly to the beautiful weather we had all week and the fact that I was able to work 8 to 5 every day last week instead of my normal 12 to 9 and 9 to 6pm shifts.  But this week has been back to norm and I haven't logged any miles yet.  Next week is my taper week. 

The question isn't whether or not I can finish the 13.1 miles because I can walk some of it and I am sure, no matter how hard I am dragging, I can complete it.  But how satisfied will I be if I have to walk some of it?  Knowing that, if would have trained better, I could have finished it running?  I don't think I would feel very accomplished.

But if I drop down to the 10k, am I just giving up?

I probably should have realized, in my zeal to get back into running and signing up for races, that I don't have the time that I used to have and that's okay.  I should have planned my races accordingly then, focusing on shorter distances that require less time intensive training.  Now I know.

So I have continued to delay my decision on whether or not to really go for the half or just do the 10k and move on.  I guess I've got another week to decide...

Blog the 3rd--Ahh the Mondays.

Yesterday, I worked from noon to 9pm at the library.  That is my normal work schedule for Mondays, since all of us have to work one evening shift each week and one Saturday shift every month.  I have never really cared for working nights and weekends, but its required of the job and it really isn’t bad only doing it every so often. 

Now that I have Eva, I really do have a love/hate relationship with that noon to 9 shift.  I love that I get to have the morning to spend with Eva.  She is usually in her best mood of the day in the morning, so its nice to be around to play with her and get her dressed for the day.  She always takes a morning nap, so I get to spend that time getting some housework done and getting ready for work. 

It is a little bit harder to leave her on Mondays though, since I’ve gotten to spend all weekend and then all morning with her.  And on a beautiful weather day like yesterday, all I really wanted to do was take Eva outside for the afternoon. 

And I so hate having to be at work until 9!  Since Eva usually won’t go to sleep at night without me there to nurse her and get her swaddled and lulled off to sleep, Kyle can only get her in her pjs, turn down the lights, and get her prepared for sleep while I am gone.  That means she is often pretty fussy and tired by the time I get there (and sometimes, so is Kyle). 

Selfishly, I am glad that I get to see her when I get home from work, but I know this is something we need to try to change if we want to get her on a good napping and nighttime schedule.  Add to that the fact that I am going out of town overnight at the end of April for my sister’s bachelorette party in Chicago, and Kyle will need to be able to get Eva to sleep that night, for everyone’s sake.

So basically, I miss being there in the evening.

Also, when I get home at 9, it means that I have limited time to get things in order for the next morning before heading off to bed.  That makes for a hectic Tuesday morning, as I try to figure out what I am going to wear, make sure all the bottles are washed and ready for the day, get the coffee going, eat breakfast, pump, shower and get dressed, and nurse all before heading into work for the day.

Nonetheless, at this time, I am not looking to change my work situation.  I like my job and the fact that it’s something I worked toward professionally and educationally, so I guess I just have to continue to deal with my Mondays.  If you think about it, I guess it’s like getting an extra half day added onto the weekend.

Eva's First Trip to the Zoo

Today was a beautiful first day of spring here in the Kansas City area.  The temps got up into the 70s and although there was some pesky wind gusts every now and then, the sun was out and it was all in all a gorgeous afternoon.

About a month ago, Kyle and I decided to become Friends of the Zoo, or FOTZ.  Upon paying a modest membership fee, we now have a free pass to go to the zoo anytime we want.  We figured that Eva, even at her young age, would like to see the animals since she gets such a kick out of watching our two dogs running around the house.

Today, we decided, would be Eva's first trip to the zoo.  We didn't plan on spending more than a couple of hours there because we figured that Eva would lose patience and get tired after a while.  So around 1 o'clock, I picked out a little dress for Eva and we packed up and headed out.

We first went to check out the new polar bear, Nikita.  Eva didn't seem to really see the polar bear, although it was swimming around quite a bit right in front of her.  She did seem entranced by the water though.

Then we went to see the llamas.

Eva seemed to be more excited to look at me than the llamas.

On our way to see the kangaroos, about 20 minutes into the trip, Eva just couldn't keep her eyes open any longer.

I had to get a photo with her though.  It's her first zoo trip after all!

After awhile, Eva did wake up though.  And she was in a good mood even, so we went over to the orangutans, and she watched the baby orangutan while Kyle held her. 

I think Eva really liked being out of her stroller.  She looked around a lot, mostly at the other people, and did a lot of babbling.  It was really cute.

To commemorate her inaugural trip to the zoo, we picked up a little stuffed orangutan as a souvenir.  Eva played with it on the way home.

All in all, I think Eva really liked her first zoo visit.  I am glad that we decided to become FOTZ, and I can't wait to take Eva again.

The First Post!

So, I have been contemplating starting a blog for many months now, but just haven’t gotten around to it.  I am a new mom of 4 ½ month old Eva, I work full-time as an Assistant Branch Manager at a public library, I am a runner currently trying to train for my first half marathon, a wife, a friend, and so on.  I am a busy lady and I couldn’t figure out when on earth I would ever fit in time to blog.

But, I love to read blogs.  I like to read my friends’ blogs to keep up with what’s going on with them, especially since I live far away from many of them.  I also like to read blogs of other moms that work and run.  I feel kind of bad that I read everyone else’s blogs and never post any of my own.  Not that I think folks are clamoring to find out what’s going on in my life, but I expect some people would read it.  At least, I decided to put it out there just in case there is someone interested.  And really, I hope it will help me sort out my own thoughts about the many roles I juggle in my new life as a mom.  

A little background on how I named this blog.  It took me a good week just to come up with the name because I was overthinking it, like I do many things.  I wanted a name that represented the fact that the only thing really consistent in my life at this point is that I am a work in progress.    I am learning how to be a working, running mother who still sees her friends and continues to enjoy life.  I want to be a good mom to Eva but I don’t want to lose those parts of myself that contributed to my identity before she was born.   As I realized when I went back to work after maternity leave, I don’t want to just be Eva’s mom.  I want to be myself but now with a beautiful, healthy, well-adjusted daughter.  And I gotta tell you, that does not come easy.  It takes a lot of work.  

Putting those thoughts into a concise title didn’t come easy either until one day last week.  I was in a meeting at my library’s headquarters and listening to my library director speak about new directions we are going as a library system.  He talked about how our library’s web site and online catalog are in what’s called “perpetual beta” meaning that we have launched them to the public but continue to make efforts to improve them.  Essentially, this software will never be finished because we will always be striving to make it better.  I have been approaching my life in much the same way as the library has approached our online presence and I knew that “perpetual beta,” while technically computer –speak, would be a great name for my blog.

So here it is.  I hope it is interesting and relatable enough to keep you coming back to read it.  And just in case you need some incentive, here is a sneak peak at something you will likely see a lot of in forthcoming posts: