So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Duathlon Training, Week 2

This is my peak week.  I would have preferred it to be next week but I can't fit this volume into a normal week.  Monday was a holiday and my mother watched the kids for an extra day (thanks, mom!) so I was able to do an abnormal amount.  It was a great week though - every single workout was fun.

Monday - 2 hour (and 1 minute) bike ride - hit 40 miles!  I am really pleased with that pace because the entire ride was through neighborhoods.  The time elapsed does not include idle time, but it does include all the slowing down required to cross all those intersections.  Bricked with a 25 minute run (3.4 miles).

Tuesday - 6.6 mile run w/1 mile (5:50)
                                        800 x 3 (2:56, 2:50, 2:58), .2 RI
                                        400 (1:22)
                                             bricked with 14 mile bike ride
                                                   bricked with 2 miles @ tempo (7) + one more 400 (1:23 )
-  sidenote:  I did my first mile "blind"...I thought perhaps if I didnt know my pace, I would intuitively pace myself better.  It didn't work, instead I ran my fastest mile ever.  I really need to re-learn pacing.

Wednesday - 28 mile bike easy bike ride (20.4 mph - look how easier it is to go fast when there is no wind!) bricked with 3 miles.

Thursday - 40 minute run with the babies with 16 minutes 6:35 pace.

Friday - South Mountain mock race (blind workout).  27 minute hilly trail loop, 1 hour bike ride (with hills and wind), 27 minute trail loop (same loop in reverse).  Ended up being 3.4 miles run / 19.7 mile ride / 3.4 mile run.

Saturday - Rest day!  Took a yoga class.

Sunday - 12.5 miles @ 7:17 pace.  I did most of the run with the Banditos, but once they dropped down to a 6:50 pace, I only hung on for 2 miles.  Finished the last few miles on my own (which was fine, I rarely get to listen to my music!)

It has been nice getting acquainted with my bicycle once again.
I spent 5 hours cycling (between Mon-Friday, which is a lot for me) and hit 100 miles (which is also a lot for me).
I know people who can cycle 100 miles, in 5 hours, in a single day.   But they are real cyclists.
I may be a better cyclist than I was a year ago, but at the end of the day, I am still a runner playing on bike.

On that note, I do believe that even when cycling 100 miles, training for triathlons is still 100 times easier than parenting twins.

The thing with training, be it running or biking or swimming, is that you are only need to take care of yourself.  My only responsibility is to not get hit by a car or attacked by a coyote.  And since I don't follow a schedule, I do only what I want to do.
Training is very selfish.  It's all about me.

But motherhood?  It's the complete opposite.  It's the most selfless journey that I have ever embarked on.
It doesn't matter if I am tired or frustrated or busy.  It doesn't matter if it's 2am and I am asleep dreaming about cupcakes.  Every minute of every day (except for when I am working or training) is spent keeping my kids alive, healthy and happy.
Honestly, the first two are not hard.  It's that last one that I struggle with.

They push me to my limit and they pull me in opposite directions.
At the end of a day, they make me more exhausted than any workout possibly could.

I can be cliche and say "twice the tantrums but twice the love" or brag about how many sloppy kisses I get.  But you know what is the best?  When I realize that its strangely quiet.
And I look around, and no one is tugging on my pants or throwing books at my face or jumping on the couch.
Instead, I see this:



Not only do they not need me,
they don't even want me.
And, they are happy.

It makes it all worth it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

And So It Continues, Part 2

In case you missed it:  Part One.
Don't worry, there is no high-pitched screaming induced video embedded at the end of this post.

That is not to say that my ears are free from such havoc, unfortunately the battle of getting dressed is something that we still face.  It is getting better, I cannot overlook the fact that sometimes we have peaceful and pleasant mornings.  But alas, every minute of peace equals a minute of pandemonium yet to come.

The problem with the process is that there are so many components involved.  If the challenge was simply to get Brenna to wear a shirt every day, or perhaps shoes, then that would be a piece of cake.   But shirts AND shoes AND socks AND bottoms?  Now we are asking for a lot.

I read that it is very common for toddlers to like to have control.
I find this to be especially true with Brenna.  If I pick out her outfit, she will despise it simply for the fact that I chose it for her.   So, most of the time I encourage her to pick out her own outfit.  I will often provide options. 
Sometimes they are acceptable.
Sometimes they are not.

Here are some of Brenna's recent choices.

She was very excited when she found these gloves in her sock drawer. However, she did not want to detract from them by wearing anything else.

At Costco, she fell in love with a tu-tu skort. I put it in our cart to purchase but that was not good enough. She had to wear it immediately, over her pants.

And then there was the pajamas with gold gladiator sandles.

And perhaps my favorite, the dress and the tu-tu combination:

Although unflattering, at least that covered all body parts.
I allowed her to wear it all day. 
In public.

Yesterday she picked out her shirt and her shoes but denied pants.
(I later convinced her to supplement the look with a tu-tu).

I do feel like we making progress.
Perhaps its two steps forward and one step back, but we are going in the right direction.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Duathlon Training, Week One

In 4 weeks it will be time for THAT race again.
The race that opened up this blog.
The race the provided our first race report.
This race.

I feel like I have been waiting for this race pretty much all year, yet I experienced some trepidation when it was time to sign up.  To my dismay, they made the bike 30 miles (as opposed to 20 miles).  To a non-cyclist, or perhaps a good cyclist, 10 extra miles may seem like no big deal.  But its an extra 30-35 minutes in the saddle - on hills, no less.
For an intermediate cyclist, it IS a big deal
But I have come far on my bike in the last year and I need to be confident in my abilities.
I can bike 30 miles.

Now - I can't remember the last time I did bike 30 miles - but I came close during last week's training.  I used my comments derived my from last race report when deciding what to do (I am not using a schedule of any kind):

I tried to do 2 hour workouts but damn, that is a long time to work out.  I just really dont have the attention span.  I managed to get 2 hours in exactly on Tuesday.  Friday came close (1 hour 50 minutes).
But I did do the reverse brick.  I feel pretty good biking after running, and running after biking.

Monday = 8.1 mile trail run (hills and wind)

Tuesday = 70 min on trainer, bricked w/ 50 minute run:  7.4 miles w / 1 mile x 2 (6:02 / 5:54)..I had a tail wind on the second one...400 x 4 (1:23 [tailwind], 1:29 [headwind], 1:24 [tailwind], 1:32 [headwind]

Wednesday = 1 hour 32 min bike ride (29.5 miles)...I was hoping to reach 30 miles here but it was just too windy.  Bricked with 15 minute/2 mile run.

Thursday = 7.4 miles with the jogging stroller

Friday = Parked at trails and ran 3.4 miles home, bricked w/ 30 minutes on trainer (last 3 minutes of every 10 minutes was a sprint) and 33 minute bike ride back to car (10 miles, MORE WIND) bricked with 3 mile mile trail run.

Saturday = Rest Day (took an easy yoga class)

Sunday = 13.5 miles at 7:26 pace. I did the first 12 with the Banditos and then went to my car to cool down. I started at a 7:45 pace and some how wound up finishing at a 6 pace.  My last mile was 6:45 and I felt my best.  Maybe one day I can feel like that at the end of a half marathon.

I had a lot of fun all week, even at yoga class.  But, it wasn't as much fun as my previous classes because it was my first non-hot yoga class.  It just felt like something was missing.
I definitely enjoy hot yoga more.

But hot yoga is not offered at my gym and that makes it hard to attend classes.  Plus, I think the kids missed the gym daycare.
OK.............they missed the cafe.


Also, hot yoga is expensive!
I am not sure I can justify the cost when I pay a monthly membership to a gym that offers plenty of yoga classes.

Anyway, for the next week I will be glued to my bike.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yes, We Still Do That

Although we are still hitting up the paved road as a dynamite triad, it's been less frequent than usual. This is partly because I have been indulging in my own fitness and partly because we have been busy doing things.  Fun things!

For example, this week we went to the train park to ride the train.


We also went on a playdate with Michael. Here he is being chivalrous and cooking a pasta meal for Brenna:

But of course he is doing it wrong. Poor boy.

I do think with potty-training looming in the foreseable future, that running will become more challenging. I am not sure that I can fit two potties in the stroller, not with all the cheerios and whatnot that we carry.

But I would love to squeeze out one more race.

We did a fartlek style run yesterday.
I find that this is the best kind of speedwork to do with the stroller because it is so random. You can stop and start each interval at your convenience - and sometimes with the stroller, you need to stop at the drop of a hat.

Or should I say at the drop of a sippie cup.

In between stopping to pick things up and cross the street (we do not jay-walk)
2012-02-16_11-50-50_501  patiently waiting...........

we did lots of intervals. The longest was 4:20 and the shortest was 2 minutes. Most were between 2:15-3:15 and our pace hovered under 6:30. We got into the low 6:20s for the shorter intervals.

A sub-20 5K, assuming the course is not long, would require a 6:25 pace. I do think that we could pull this off on the right course. But the "right" course is a tricky thing to find:
- It must be wide
- It must be paved
- It must be flat
- It must not have sharp u-turns
- It must be a small and uncompetitive race where people do not mind of we start in front

I have recently turned my focus to duathlon training - I am not sure I want to divide my focus.
But my kids love to run.

And I think they would like to do one more race.

We will talk about it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Skirt Chaser Race Report - PR (with Pictures)

I really enjoyed this event.  I am not just saying that because I did well, I am saying it because it was sincerely a  fun and unique race - with beer and wine at the end.  Even though it was relatively large (1,100 women and 800 men), it was well executed.  There was never a line to use the restroom nor confusion.  And, for the price of  the race, not only did women get a running skirt, everyone got two free drinks, free food and we were treated to live music.

Per my racing tradition, I got to the race site very early.  I wanted to park as close as possible (I hate the hassle of gear check) and avoid lines and chaos while picking up my bib.  I also managed to score a free chair massage without having to wait.

I find that I can never get to a race "too" early.  I need at least 25 minutes to warm up, 10 minutes to stretch, 10 minutes to socialize, 5 minutes to use the bathroom, 5 minutes for strides, 5 minutes to get into my race zone and at least 5 minutes to secure a reasonable spot on the start line.  I rather have too much time than not enough time because none of those things bode well with being rushed.

I stayed true to my word and ran this race without a Garmin.  Although I did technically wear one, I just kept it on the setup screen, which provides no information whatsoever.

I wanted a watch for a few reasons:
1) So I could keep an eye on the time while I was warming up
2) So I knew my time at the end

Since I didn't look at my watch during the race, I managed to forget it existed and thus forgot to turn it off at the end, deeming it useless. I think perhaps I will invest in a smaller time piece for races. Because yes - this no Garmin thing is officially my new thing.

During my warm up, I noticed two things. First, it was hot (at least to February's standards). Nearly record high temps put the air close to, if not, at 80 degrees. Second, there was that lovely wind (aka, my arch-nemesis) rustling the leaves on the trees. Usually that sound alone puts me in a mental tailspin, but since I was running this race purely for play, I did not care.

It was not until after I changed over to my racing shoes and spent minutes on the start line that I actually felt like running fast. The race adrenaline was irresistible by the time the national anthem was over.

The gun went off and I flew off the start line.
My shoes felt light, my legs felt loose and my lungs felt strong. I can run this way forever!

But one of the benefits of training too fast is that I know precisely what "too fast" feels like. I quickly pulled in the reigns and had everything under control by the first quarter mile.

Since I did not know my pace, I focused on what felt sustainable. I made sure that I was not panting, and that my heart was not beating profusely. I periodically performed 2 self checks:
- can I hear my breathing?
- can I smile effortlessly?

Keeping those checks in place, I allowed myself to race the race and pass a few people:

What followed me:

By the turn-around, I was still able to talk (okay, perhaps more like mutter) to the few ladies who were ahead of me. I enjoy out-and-back races like this because it allows the participants to be spectators. "Good Job!" I told each of them. I enjoyed the same praise from my fellow athletes as I ran opposite the crowd on the way back.

I did start to get tired on the way back but I just stayed true to myself. When spectators encouraged me to catch the woman in front of me, I smiled and shook my head. Perhaps I am not nearly as competitive as I thought, or perhaps a strong finish was simply more important to me.

And my finish was dynamite - unlike so many of my previous races, I had gas left in the tank and a hop left in my step.
And my fury was even more ignited when I saw the clock was under 19:30. Even with the heat and hills, I was going to PR.

It was a 15 second PR:

Making me 5th overall and 2nd in my age group (2/230).

But all that aside, the real victory here is that I ran a smart race with a strong finish. I ran within my physical abilities AND my mental ambition. Lately, finding the middle ground between those two has been a struggle - because I have been fighting it instead of letting my body find it.

The end of the race turned into a block party. And I have the coolest friends, they volunteered to pass out the booze. This makes them very important people!

My Dad was also there to greet me at the finish.

In case you wonder how I get such excellent running photos, it is because of him.

I think this set turned out nicely, with the exception of some man-arms that I am sporting.

This has nothing to do with Dad's photography skills, but instead of the affect of having a 40-pound toddler who often refuses to walk. Like any other two-year old, he enjoys being held. And, like any other mother, I enjoy holding him.

But come on, we would ALL have freak arms if we spent our days lugging around this:
And I mean that in the most loving, endearing way.

I want to say this ends the running season for me because I have two upcoming duathlons which will assimilate into triathlon season.

But I am not going to say that.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Year of Reflection

This blog had its 1-year birthday last week!   Happy birthday to us!
This is nice because now I can go back and compare training.  Since I do not keep a log, this is the closest thing I have to gauge my improvements.  And, sometimes concrete evidence is what it takes to remind yourself of your accomplishments in the midst of setbacks.

I say "setbacks" loosely since I am specifically regarding Monday's speedwork.  I didn't felt great from the get-go but forced my paces anyway.  Midway though I had to stop.
I sat down.
I breathed.
And then I re-strategized, replacing some intervals with hill repeats.  I ended up enjoying the variation and at the end, I felt pretty good.

Not that long ago I was telling David that I do my best runs and races when there are no expectations.  When I just go out and run, I embrace with the elements (hills, wind, heat) instead of fighting them.  I forget about watch, instead of monitoring it.  And I run based on how I feel, not how the watch dictates.  I don't look down mid-way through, see a slow pace and start to degrade myself.  Once you dig yourself into that hole, it's very hard to climb out.

The 5K that I am participating in this weekend has a few curve balls that will make this a slow(er) race for me.
1- It's at 2pm. I never run my best after lunch. 
2- There is a massive hill midway through (which I did my repeats on)

So knowing this, I am going to run without my Garmin.  I will not PR.  I will not even break 20.
But this is a good time to pull back away from the numbers and remind myself Why I Run.

This week in general has been a bit stressful since David went away on a business trip.  For the first time in their lifetime, I was alone with the kids.

I was not sure how this would pan out - David plays an essential role in our routine.  He watches them as I cook dinner, he bathes them and at bedtime, we separate them for individual story time.

The first night went great.  We did storytime on Hayden's bed and he willingly transitioned to his crib. After watching me  tuck in Hayden, Brenna giddly ran into her room, requesting the same. 

I was shocked and yet relieved. I felt like super mom.  Photobucket

On the second night, I decided to pick up the pace -
we did bath.

Each of them had a different reaction to bath time.  Or, perhaps it was a reaction to *me* doing bath time.

I could not keep Brenna in the tub.  I might have managed to clean an arm, a butt cheek and a few strands of hair.

I decided it was not worth pushing through. A key strategy to parenting twin toddlers is to pick your battles.

Hayden did not miss her company. Afterall, he had a cup.

Ultimately, they both made it into bed. Photobucket

And there was a third night - but I don't have pictures of them soundly sleeping in their cribs - partly because Brenna did not sleep in her crib.

After humoring me for two days, she decided that she was ready for her Dad to return home.  She missed him and she got mad at me for not being him.

After hours of soothing, scolding, pleading and ignoring, I called my Mom.

It's a humbling moment when it comes to this.
It's hard not to ask yourself, what is wrong with me? I cannot even handle my own kids?
Once you dig yourself into that hole, its very hard to climb out.

But I am able to look back at this and this and this and remind myself of the traveled path.  Even though I look back on it with rose colored glasses, the truth is that it has not been all rainbows and unicorns - there has been plenty of rocks and unicorn droppings along the way too.

The bottom line:
It's okay to stop, sit down and re- strategize.
It's okay to take a break.
It's okay to be frustrated.
It's okay that it's hard.  After all, no one ever told me that it was going to be easy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gender Roles

I think one of the interesting things about having boy/girl twins is watching them independently fall into their specific gender roles.  David will tell you  that I have coached Brenna to be a typical "girl" by dressing her in pink onsies as a baby - but it's not like I only dressed her in pink.  For example:

Looking lovely in brown: 
And can  you even tell which one she is?
I buy the kids a lot of toys, everything from dolls to matchbox cars to coloring books.  I never dictate who plays with what - but Brenna has never shown interest in a matchbox car, whereas these are Hayden's favorite thing to play with.

The discrepancy has been put into a true light as I have finally gotten around to decorating their rooms.  Being a mom has forced me to get my hands dirty in areas that are not my forte (ie, organizing and room decorating).  I think that is why it has taken me 2.5 years to finally get around to it.

While most moms "nest" during their third trimester by doing laundry, painting walls and buying expensive bedding, I spent my last weeks watching episodes of Rock of Love.

Brenna's room is filled with things that interest her: fake flowers that she picked out at the dollar store gladden her wall, as well as sparkly butterflies in matching colors.  Pictures of ballerinas line her crib for her to look at night, and I dipped my thumb into a metaphysical paint can by applying decals:


Excuse the bad lighting, photography is also one of those inept, yet required, "mom skills" I am working on.

I also made this interesting collage made out of baby shoes:

I just moved onto Hayden's room - shoes and flowers and butterflies will take no place on his walls. His interests include cars, trucks, trains and dinosaurs. He also has a particular fondness for buses, in fact, "school bus" was one of his first words.

When we go on playdates, I often will see a boy playing with a doll or another girl-designated (aka pink) toy. But just like I have never seen Brenna pick up one of the 50 toy dinosaurs we have in our house, I have never seen Hayden show any interest in anything remotely "girly".

Well, I take that back...
a few days ago he did put on Brenna's high heels for a brief second:

But the moment lasted only long enough for me to snap some pictures, and then he took them off and pretended that they were cars.

I guess the saying "Boys will be boys!" is true in our house.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

3rd and 4th Weeks of Training, Sub-6 minute Mile

I’ve never been much of a speed demon, which is probably why I spent my pre-baby running career focusing on longer distances.  Only recently did I wake up one day and discovered that I could run a sub-6 pace.  The only time I have ran a sub-6 pace prior to this was perhaps during some random 400s, and the first  minute of a 5K.

I’ve been doing some haphazard speedwork since then (aka: What-I-Want-to-Do, When-I-Want-to-Do-It) with hesitant plans to do a 5K on February 11th.
Workout 1: 800 (2:54), 1 Mile x 2 (6:12 / 6:09), 800 (2:55)
Workout 2: 1 min “fast” (5:37 pace avg), 45 sec brisk RI x 5
                    2 min “almost fast” (5:53 avg), 90 sec brisk R1 x 3
                    3 min “less fast” (6:05)
                    2 min “5k Pace" (6:10) x 3
Workout 3: 1K x 3 @ 5K Pace, .15 RI (had to cut this short for hot yoga)
Workout 4: 1 Mile (5:54), 2 min RI
                     800 (2:58)…..and I am feeling like a stud at this point.  I recover .25, turn around to do it again in the opposite direction and BAM….headwind!  I am not talking about a crazy headwind but I clearly did my first 1.5 miles too fast, and poor little me could not handle a breeze (and yes, I realize that means I had a slight tailwind before). So instead I did 400 x 4, keeping steady at 1:32, which is my goal 5K pace.
I think, if properly trained, I could run that pace (6:10).  But because I have focused on seeing new numbers on my Garmin, really all I have done is trained myself to run 1 mile too fast – not 3.1 miles consistently and realistically "fast".  On one hand, I am happy about my first sub-6 mile. It’s worth a photo:

On the other hand, I can predict how that 5K next weekend will pan out.  I will start off too fast, run a 6:08….manage to weasle out a 6:15 for Mile 2 and then shuffle in a 6:55 minute mile for Mile 3.  That will bring me close to 20 minutes, give or take a few seconds in either direction.

I know…I know…I should simply avoid this situation by not going out too fast.  For some reason, this logic always escapes me on race day!  On race day, I often forget my limitations…until Mile 2.  Then I get a sobering reminder of who I am.

I always decide after every 5K that this distance is too short and too fast for my liking and that I will not do another one…but ah, how quickly I forget!

The babies have also had a quick turnover from their race.  After a day of recovering, they are past it and back to running.

We have also added cross-training to our repituare. Brenna has a fondness for the jump rope. She gives it a valiant effort, although it's quite a tricky sport.

Meanwhile, Hayden is discovering an inner-gymnast.

But even he has the ability to get up, he still lacks the confidence to get down:


We will work on that.