Sunday, November 14, 2010

I just realized...

I joined a group!

It struck me yesterday morning.  After our training run most of the group went out for coffee.  There was talk and laughter and serious conversation.  Some of it was about running, but most of it was just us getting to know each other.  There we were, about two dozen men and women: doctors, lawyers, salesmen, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, college students, plumbers, even a marine on leave from Afghanistan.  Two dozen completely random people who have no business being in a group together.  Except that we all want to run. 

Each week I get to know my running buddies a little better.  There's N, the former triathlete, now my regular Thursday buddy.  She used to be a buyer for Macy's and now she's a SAHM with three kids.  She has this really low raspy voice and it turns out she has a degenerative disease in her vocal cords.  Her husband also travels a lot, so she could totally relate when my husband was in Japan.

C is a minister's wife.  It turns out our daughters are in the same dance class.

"So that's why you look so familiar!" we both exclaimed.

Her son is autistic, so we traded special ed war stories.

J is another newbie runner.  Her extended family has gotten seriously into running and they're all planning to run a marathon in Nashville next spring as a family reunion event.  This week she brought her mom along and she told us funny stories about being a military wife.

Then there's P and K, both new moms and next door neighbors.  K is loud and over-the-top and is always cracking us up.  P is equally funny, although quieter.  She is also my "fast" running buddy.  I could have kissed her on Saturday when she started joking about wetting her pants while she's running.  Here I thought I was the only one struggling not to pee her pants--only I was too embarrassed to say anything!  Pretty soon the women were all in near hysterics comparing stories and sharing tips (sanitary napkins) and solutions (Kegels).  

I joined a running group because I wanted to learn how to run.  It turns out that I have joined so much more than that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where does exhaustion fit into the plan?

The last week has been super hard from top to bottom.  Honestly, I have been in zombie mode since before Halloween and I'm just hoping we all make it through to the weekend relatively unscathed. 

First, I still haven't recovered from my husband's business trip last week.  Why yes, he was in Japan--why do you ask?  Travel is a regular part of his job, but it's usually spaced out pretty evenly.  This month, not so much.  In fact this was his third major trip of the month.  Usually I can handle it, but he was either gone or preparing to be gone for the entire month.  So, not a lot of help in the parenting department.  I know we should be thankful that he has a good job and blah, blah, blah, but this week I just felt resentful.  Perhaps it was the four hours of sleep I was averaging each night...

As I wrote last week, I was also super stressed about the Halloween costume situation for the daughters.  I had tried to talk myself into giving myself a break and just buying costumes (seriously, I know this is COMPLETELY my issue and that it is lame).  I even went so far as to clean up my sewing room.  But every time I walked by I just felt guilty.  So after one night of zoning out on the couch I unpacked everything and got back to work.  Every night as soon as the girls were in bed I would madly sew and bead and curse myself for letting Diva-girl choose to be Princess Jasmine with all those frickin' sequins on the costume!

But there's a happy ending: All the costumes were finished in time and the girls looked great--especially Jasmine!  But--alas--I did not have a costume for Halloween, so I've blown my chance for 100% Plan success.  I did wear an orange tie-dyed pumpkin shirt that looked surprisingly like a shirt I saw in Harper's Bazaar.  Except, of course, that mine was painted like pumpkins...  Still, not a costume.

Anyway, ever since I think the entire family has been out-of-sorts and exhausted ever since.  Last week we passed around fevers and I've been hearing a lot of sniffle-snuffling lately so I have an idea of what's coming next...  I'm marking time in baby steps this week.

Running has definitely been the high point of the last few weeks.  I know I'm still running little baby intervals and it's hard to see how running 3 minutes at a time is going to get me to a half-marathon, but I'm seeing progress.  I track all my runs with CardioTrainer and each run is just a little bit longer, just a little bit faster.  On Tuesday the coach caught up with us on the trail and was very surprised (in a good way) by our pace.  Well, first she chided us for not "walking like we mean it" on the walk intervals, but then had to concede that we made up for it on the run intervals.

I also went today and got fitted for new running shoes and I have to say that I'm skeptical.  I know that I tend to wear my shoes too small and too tight, but my new shoes are a size 8--two sizes bigger than my last shoes!!  I went to a real running store and got a real fitting and they explained that, especially with longer runs your feet swell and spread in all directions, so you need to have room for that.  Which makes sense, but my feet are now feeling like little guppies in the wide, wide ocean.  Very comfortable, cool little guppies, but guppies nonetheless.

My one concern on the running front is the return of the dreaded shin splints.  From everything that I'm reading, it seems that the number one recommendation is rest.  But to me, rest seems the same as quitting.  So I'm going to be extra conscious of where I run (no concrete), take more ibuprofen and try icing.  At this point it's not too bad once I actually get moving, but the ache is pretty constant throughout the day.  So if anyone has any suggestions that do not involve taking a break, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why details matter

Say you're a business executive planning a trip--let's hypothetically assume to Japan--for a week.  You will be working hard: long hours and lots of seminars and presentations, not to mention the nine to midnight workday expected of a Salaryman in Tokyo.  You're will be tired and stressed.

Your wife will be at home with your four young daughters.  While you are gone, she will be Mommy and Daddy and taxi driver and disciplinarian and cook and cleaner and laundress and negotiator and tutor and activity director, plus about 10,000 other things all rolled into one.  Above all, she will be trying to keep things structured and running smoothly for the kids.  She will be tired and stressed.

Your kids will alternate between going about their day-to-day activities, missing you terribly, and being angry with Mommy for not being Daddy.  They will be tired and stressed. 

But the one thing everyone will be looking forward most of all--yourself included--is the day you return home.  In fact, your family will be making a Big Deal about how many days are left until Daddy comes home.  Seven days, six days...  Until finally it's only one. more. day.

On The Day, your wife will figure out which flight you are supposed to be on based upon what you told her: "It's the only flight from Japan to Los Angeles that day--it lands around one."

She and your daughters will track your flight on FlightAware, watching as your plane arches over the Pacific ("Like a rainbow," PartyGirl will squeal) and down the California coast.  Everyone will cheer as they watch your plane land at LAX.

"Only about two hours now," your wife will tell the girls.  "You can stay up until Daddy gets home."

So will begin the wait.  First the wait for your phone call, telling your family that you've arrived safely.  When that hasn't come after an hour, your wife will try to call you.  When her call goes straight to voice, she'll assume that your battery is dead.

"That's okay,"  she'll reassure the girls.  "He'll be here in another hour or so."

After nearly two hours, the girls will be getting wild with tired anticipation.  Finally, in a fit of pique, your wife will order everyone to nap, even the big girls who really don't need one.

Then she'll be left alone with her one question:  What has happened to you?  Is it too early to be concerned?  Maybe Customs took a long time, maybe the traffic is bad, maybe...?  But no, it's surely too soon to worry and she's being silly.  After all, it's only been three hours since you landed.  She'll try to wait patiently, but she will keep finding herself walking by the front window, hoping to see that airport shuttle pulling up.

When the girls wake up from nap it will be nearly five and, while she will chide herself a little for overreacting, she will know that if she doesn't do something now it will be too late.  Corporate America will shut down for the weekend in 15 minutes.  She searches for the phone numbers you left her of your Japanese contacts.  She will try to call, only to find out that she can't call Japan on her phone.  She will look for the number of your boss, your carpool buddy, anyone...  Should she call the airlines?  The Embassy?  The police?  What do you do when your husband doesn't come home from across the world?

Finally she will call your office.  Your wife will explain her missing husband situation ("What must they think about our relationship?" your wife will think, her cheeks burning).  The receptionist won't know who could help. 

"Can you transfer me to whomever bought the tickets?" your wife will plead.

"I think there's someone still in purchasing," the receptionist will sigh.

Now your wife will have to explain her missing husband situation to a new person.  The burning in her cheeks will be the same. 

The new person, the head of purchasing, will ask a lot of questions that your wife won't have answers for:  Requisition number...? Account number...?  Authorization number...?

Finally an answer:  He is scheduled to return on Saturday, October 30th.

"October 30th," your wife will repeat.  "That's tomorrow."

Your wife will hold her tears until after she's hung up with the head of purchasing.  She will hold them until she tries to explain to your daughters that Daddy isn't coming home today, but he'll be home tomorrow.  She will say it in a hopeful chirpy voice, hoping that they'll all just be like, "Okay, tomorrow it is then."

But they will all wail and cry and scream that it isn't fair and why did Daddy lie to us?

And as your wife also cries, she will tell them that Daddy didn't know, it was a mistake, but he'll be home tomorrow, it's okay, sometimes these things happen and we get to have another girls' night, isn't that fun?

The next day when you land exhausted after your week in Japan, you will probably wonder why your wife doesn't answer the first time you call.  Or the second.  In fact, she will probably not call you back until nearly an hour after you land.

And when she does, her greeting will be, "What day is it?"


So, were you this hypothetical wife (HW) what would you have done?

(As a side note, HW had asked hypothetical husband (HH) numerous times for an actual physical itinerary--you know, in case something happens...  HH was not big on The Details and kept insisting that there was only one flight and he would be on it.)

In this hypothetical situation, HW first composed email after discarded email trying to express how upset she and hypothetical children were by the mistake, but everything she wrote just seemed bitchy and bitter so she gave up. 

She eventually called her mom and whined and complained.  Her mom told her to get over it by the next day when HH came home and HW tried, because, after all it was a mistake and the important thing was that HH husband was okay and he would be home.

But when HW asked HH what day it was, HH answered Friday.  And when HH was told that it was actually Saturday, HH seemed somewhat amused--like, Oh really? That's strange!. 

HW tried to explain just how upset everyone was by the easily preventable mistake, but then she felt all bitchy and bitter again.  So instead of just feeling bitchy and bitter, HW decided to actually be bitchy and bitter and told HH that thanks to his mistake there would be no sex, since her period had started that. very. morning.  (which it had) so... nosexforyou

Then HW proceeded to have very detailed nightmares about what life would be like after HH left her for a less bitchy, less bitter, more sexy wife.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting started

This week was the kick off of my running training program and so far, I am surprisingly in love with it.  Not to say that it's easy--it's not--but I'm loving the effort, loving that I am pushing myself, loving that I am not quitting!

Here's your visual for this week:  Sweaty, overweight, red-faced woman huffing and puffing down the street with a dorky grin plastered on her face.

Each Sunday our trainer emails us the schedule.  Tuesday and Thursday are group training runs; Saturday we have monthly group seminars and weekly long runs with the group; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we cross train on our own; and Sunday is rest day.  I'll post my weekly schedule along with brief notes on the "Running" tab here.

I really had to psych myself up just to show up for the first group training on Tuesday.  I get super stressed in new situations and in groups I tend to be the one standing against the wall.  Plus I had no idea where to meet, what to bring, if I was wearing the right thing...  Which I definitely wasn't, because did I mention the massive thunderstorm that was currently under way?

But Coach said rain or shine, so there I was along with about two dozen other women getting completely drenched.  (There are quite a few men in the group too, but most only come to the Saturday meetings.)

First thing, Coach says, "We've got to get you out of cotton."

I know, I know...  But the running clothes I ordered hadn't arrived yet so I looked like a drowned rat before we even started.

For the run I was paired up with the other run/walkers and a mentor for our intervals: three minutes running at a "conversational" pace alternating with two minutes walking.  Here's the thing about that:  I do not have a conversational pace.  I have a "gasping for air" pace.  Also a "when the hell is this effing interval going to end already" pace, along with a "please let me be struck by the next bolt of lightning" pace.  So it was a good thing that our mentor was chatty.

Nevertheless, I kept going.  See how handy a competitive streak can be?  There was no way I was going to be the first to cry uncle.  But by the end I felt liberated.  Well, mostly exhausted and completely drenched, but liberated too.  For so many years I have been holding on to the belief that I CAN'T run.  I guess I'll have to rethink that...

The next two meetings I switched to a 4/1 run/walk pace.  On Thursday my eyes were practically glued to my stopwatch on each interval and I had to mentally coach myself the whole way (just to the next tree, just to the stop sign, just twenty more seconds...).  But on Saturday my buddy was doing the timing and I really didn't think about how long I was running.  I didn't have that "please let this interval end now" desperation that I did on the previous runs. 

Plus we got to run on the trails and my buddy was pretty cool--she's actually completed triathlons!--so it was a fun day.

So bring it on, Week 2.  I can't wait to see what my body can do this week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Accepting Reality

I am probably not going to get the Halloween costumes done in time this year. 

Drama Queen's (AKA the eldest daughter's) costume is almost complete--I only need to glue on some more trim and make her magic wand and crown, but it there is no reason she won't be Glinda the Good Witch.

But that's it.  I've cut out The Professor's (my youngest daughter's) Snow White costume, but only the bodice is sewn together. Plus I stupidly cut out two left sides of the cape and no right.  And I don't have extra fabric so this means another trip to the fabric store.

Other than the bags of fabric, the other two costumes are not even on the radar at this point.

Here's the thing:  I could do this. 

But I'm not sure I'll actually be able to pull it off in a way that won't make me and my entire family completely insane.

Well, except for my husband, who's in Japan.  Until the day before Halloween.  Oh--and did I mention?--he's invited all his coworkers over for a party on Halloween night?

So I'm feeling super-stressed.  But good news is that I'm not eating it.  And I lost another pound this week!!

I'm planning to do my best and try to be forgiving of myself.  That's the hardest thing, isn't it?


BTW, even if I don't finish sewing costumes, the girls will still have the costumes of their choice--the "homemade" is my own vanity.  Despite it, I will buy, borrow, or barter if necessary.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is serious...

It seems that in some sort of fit of optimism, I have signed myself up for the Carlsbad Half-Marathon on January 23rd. Because apparently a 5K isn't quite ambitious enough for my hyper-competitive self??! Okay then!

So I signed up for the half-/full-marathon training group at our Y.  Last season they trained for the OC Triathlon--remember I said I went and watched it?  I knew as soon as I saw them plunging into the lake before dawn that there was going to be trouble...

Our official training period started today although I missed the official kick-off.  So angry at myself!!!  All week I was planning on 9 at the Y on Saturday.  I even lined up hubs to take the girls to dance class ("So what, I just have to sit there for 5 hours?";  "It's only 1 hour and I do it every single week.").

Then, just as I was getting ready to leave I decided to pull up the info flier online.  Only to find out that it actually started a full hour earlier than I thought!!

I would like to say that I reacted the setback with grace, but I actually had a tantrum to rival the worst any of my childrens'. 

Once I calmed myself, I got in touch with the trainer who gave me absolution and encouraged me to just "JOIN US!" 

I think it was the caps that got me, but I paid my money (significant) and signed up. 

We meet Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with additional core (yoga, Pilates, TRX) training scheduled for the alternate days. 

I'm excited.  And super scared that I won't be able to keep up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This is Halloween, everybody make a scene!

It is precisely two weeks now until the big night and I STILL don't know what I'm going to be.  I have to be something, though--it's on the list!  Annual event means no chance for a redo and I'm not going to concede defeat. 

At first I was super excited because we had just watched The Wizard of Oz and the girls all wanted to be characters.  We had Dorothy, Glinda the Good Witch, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Girl.  Perfect!  I'd round out the cast as the Wicked Witch and hubs could be my minion, an evil flying monkey!  (Sorry Scarecrow, you were out.) 

Then we went to buy the patterns...*

And there were princesses!  And sparkly fabrics!  And crowns!  And magic wands!  And did I mention princesses?

So this year will hereby be officially designated as The Year of the Princess.  We have Princess Snow White, Princess Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, and Glinda the Good Witch, which--while technically not a princess--is the sparkliest, poofiest, glitteriest costume of all!

Should I keep in theme and be a princess?  Ignore all the sparkles and glitter and be a free thinker?  We're hosting my husbands boss and quite a few of his coworkers for Halloween, so it's got to be appropriate for that too.  Okay, off to research princesses...

*Yes, I am one of those insane people who spends the weeks before Halloween sewing costumes from scratch, despite the fact that purchased costumes cost half the price and zero the time.  My costumes are nicer and better quality but I fully recognize that the evenness of my stitching and quality of my fabrics is really not of importance in regards to an outfit that will be worn perhaps once or twice, then end the night completely covered in a smorgasbord of chocolate and goo.