Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sewing and Running

Yesterday, I rewarded myself for sticking to my six-week "run for 30 minutes" program with a Nike +. It's mostly a glorified pedometer that is wirelessly linked to your iPod. You can track distances, time, calories and a soothing voice interrupts your music (or in my case audio book) to tell you when you're half-way through. Apparently there are also coaching options, but I'm not that advanced yet.
It has to be attached to your shoe to work and most Nikes have a spot built into the sole where the chip can comfortably sit. I wear New Balance. I looked around the web, however, and found this pattern at the Web Goddess Blog.
I grabbed fabric from my scrap stash and some velcro and did a really down and dirty Nike + holder.
It's not the prettiest thing I've made....

... but I used it this morning and it seems to have done the trick. I might sew closed one end of the tube so it looks a little "neater." Or maybe I'll work on my speed so I can run so fast that no one will notice.
Don't ask why I used chicken fabric. Maybe I was thinking "Chicken Run."

I might see how one in vinyl works for some weather proofing and durability.

Until then: sewing and running, together at last!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Did It!

This morning, the room still middle-of-the-night dark, my husband tapped me on the shoulder.

"It's 6:30," he said.

I rolled over, tried to ignore him.

Then I remembered why he was waking me up. This is the morning, I thought. I've got to get to the track so I can finish this program and run for 30 minutes for the first time ever. (Admittedly, my thought did not link to the Women's Health running program. That only happens on the blog.) I dragged my tired self out of bed and got dressed and watered before driving to the gym.

On the track, I fiddled with my iPod for a little bit, delaying, it would seem, the inevitable. There would be no walking warm up or cool down as part of my 30 minutes (although I did do both just for my own comfort).

I gradually fell into my slow pace. I watched the clock and, for the first time, I actually started counting laps. Rate times time equals distance, I chanted to myself as if I was back in the tiny windowless math room of my elementary school. If I counted laps, I could figure out how fast I was actually running. Rate times time equals distance.

Last night we had a few friends over for dinner. Mary is a marathon runner and her husband, Brad, recently took up running himself. The conversation turned to exercise.

"Are you running, Rhena?" Brad asked.


"You should run the half marathon! I'm doing it. It's June 5th." Brad's better half is currently pretty pregnant and, therefore, not training for anything other then, well, creating a human being and bringing it into the world.

"I don't think I can do a half marathon by June 5th. I'm doing this program and I'm only going to get to about 3 miles tomorrow." It was really only a half-truth. I had no idea how far I was running, only that I was almost running for 30 minutes, but it seemed like a lot to explain.

"That's perfect," Mary said. "Most training programs start with a 3 mile base."

"It starts tomorrow," Brad said.

"I'll think about it. I'm really, really slow, though."

"We're very laid back. Very relaxed," Brad assured me.

"I get smoked by everyone on the track,"

"So do I!" Brad nodded.

The conversation turned towards how women runners are at their peak speed in their thirties, which, for me, is true so far. I mulled over the idea of a half marathon the rest of the evening and checked the website when our friends had left. Could I actually do this?

On the track this morning, mental and physical fatigue were starting to set in about 20 minutes into my run. The first two miles took me about 22 minutes to complete and I knew I wouldn't reach three miles in thirty minutes. Rate times time equals distance. My legs were getting tired. I don't think I can do a half marathon, I thought to myself. I imagined how it would feel to be two miles into a run, outdoors on the hard concrete with hills and the wind and the weather knowing I still had more than 11 miles to go. I can't possibly do that, I thought. I'm not even going to get to a base of 3 miles on an indoor, flat, climate-controlled track.

I watched the clock and then I tried to ignore it. I tried to calculate how long it would take me to finish three miles (34 minutes? 36 minutes?) and then let go of that thought. Five minutes until I hit thirty minutes. Four minutes left. Three minutes. Wait, I realized. I only have two minutes left and only a few more laps to get to three miles. Should I just keep going past the thirty minutes?


I kept going. One extra lap. Another one. Three miles! This is it! I'm done!I did it! I finally slowed down to a walk at 33 minutes.

Three miles.

I had done it.

As I walked an extra lap and then made my way to the stretching room, I thought again about the half marathon. Maybe I can do it. If I can make it to three, I can make it to five. If I can do five, I can do seven and then I'm more than halfway there. I don't know if I'll have the time and the discipline. We'll have to see and I'll decide in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I'm basking in the glow of passing thirty minutes, reaching three miles, and knowing that if and when I decide to run a half marathon, I will get there.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Final Week of Running Program!

A few months ago, I was having shooting pains and soreness in my hips almost everytime I carried Little A around. One day, I carried her out to the car and as I was putting her in the carseat, I nearly cried out in pain. I almost couldn't get myself in and out of the driver's seat because my hips hurt so badly. Having to get her in and our of her car seat felt nearly impossible. I started doing some lower back and hip stretches, but I still felt twinges and soreness at times. It was hard to sleep on my side for any length of time.

Then I started running.

Assuming all goes as scheduled, I'll be running 30 minutes by Monday. I wasn't able to run last weekend, so I'm one day behind on the Women's Health program. I've changed up the program in a couple of other ways. I go to an hour-long class at my gym twice a week instead of doing the at-home work-outs they recommend. I've also supplemented it with two one-hour yoga classes each week.

Thoughts so far?

I feel SO much healthier, stronger, and more energized. Sure, I'm sometimes sleepy in the afternoons, but I think that's just on the 5:30 wake up days. And the hip and lower back pain? Gone. Completely gone. I haven't felt that horrid shooting pain in my hips for weeks because my lower back and hips are stronger and stretchier.

I love doing yoga again regularly. I love the hour of quiet, meditative movement in the mornings. I love that I can really feel a difference in my flexibility and my strength. I can hold plank pose longer and can move from plank into chaturanga in one fluid motion and am close to being able to move from there into up dog without putting my knees on the floor. And I'm almost able to put my heels completely down in down dog and still keep my hips lifted. One of the things I love the most about a regular yoga practice is that there are so many modifications so when I'm having a "recovery" day, I can take an easier pose. There are always options and it's easy to see your progress.

I'm slow on the track. Really, really slow. But I'm learning that there's no shame in that. I get smoked by the other runners all the time, but I'm still running and when someone passes me on the track, I think, "Someday I'll be able to run like that." And I will.

In the first two weeks I was having some problems with a side stitch on my right. It brought me back to 7th and 8th grade when we had to run around the block for PE and I'd end up walking because of getting a side stitch (and out of pure laziness, I'm sure). I looked around on-line to find out how to get rid of them, but I kept running through them. Apparently, it's a pretty common phenomenon for beginning runners. I focused on:
  • drinking loads of water, not just before a run but throughout the day
  • breathing as deeply as I could as I ran
  • not eating anything heavy the hour or so before running
Lo and behold! The stitches have ended. I still feel a slight niggling every now and again, but I think that my diaphragm has figured out what it needs to do.

I'll do another update or two next week when I get to thirty minutes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What's All the Buzz About?

Around this time last year, Eric, Ada, and I went to the Bell Museum for a presentation about bees. I know, I know -- not exactly a wild a crazy night out, but it's close to where Eric works, there was a display about food there at the time that included pictures from Hungry Planet that I wanted to see and, with a new baby, we were taking the opportunity to get out of the house together for short jaunts.

The bee presentation ended up being, well, fascinating. We learned that bees feed over about a 2 square mile area, it takes 2-3 drops of nectar to make one drop of honey, and the queen lays about 1500 - 2000 eggs in a day. The presenter showed us how they extract honey from a hive. Eric loved the science and I loved the honey.

In order to raise bees in Minneapolis, you have to take a course about raising bees. Unfortunately, the next course at the U was full, so we signed up for October. October rolled around, we were starting to hunker down for the winter, and when the reminder about the bee course arrived in my e-mail inbox, we were decidedly unenthusiastic.

It's a weekend-long course! Who can sacrifice an entire weekend? Who can find that much childcare?

Turns out, we can. We switched to the March course and traded off attending -- Eric took the mornings, I took the afternoons. It was a mad dash to exchange information between sessions.

"Quick tell me what you learned before you forget," Eric would tell me.

"Um, the smoker demonstration wasn't very helpful because I couldn't see. I think we'll just have to practice. Raccoons won't bother the bees. We'll just let the parent colony die in the second year. By dividing the colony in the spring, you facilitate a swarm and create two colonies. The second is called a... oh, shoot, what is it called? A divide! That's what it's called."

We were frantic, full of information about bees and our kid as we swapped responsibilities.

It was fun. Once again, Eric loved the science (the adult bees maintain a temperature of 90-95 degrees in the brood nest!) and I loved the honey (we got to sample ones from around the world and I couldn't believe how many different flavors bees could come up with!).

By the end of the day on Saturday, we were texting frantically back and forth trying to figure out if this was something we'd be able to start this spring. Turns out, we should be able to. It's been a mad dash to get the Minneapolis honeybee permit and to buy the bees before the supplier in Stillwater, MN runs out of "packages" of bees, as they're called. We're taking the risk of ordering the bees before we have the neighbors sign off (we have to get 100% of the neighbors right next to our property to sign and 80% of neighbors whose property is within 100 feet of ours). We're also taking the risk in assuming that Eric is not allergic to them. He's never been stung in spite of being a country boy. I, on the other hand, stepped on a bee every summer in various backyards around the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Turns out (as we learned in the course) that bee venom allergies are very rare. A local reaction (including a lot of swelling) is not an allergic reaction.

So we're keeping bees! Watch this spot for more updates as this adventure begins and when we have a subscription to this journal:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Running Through Obstacles

When I started this running program a few weeks ago, I knew that there would be struggles. At the time, I thought the main struggle would be getting myself up and to the gym. I thought I'd just be looking for excuses. I thought that I'd get so tired and winded by the time I was up to running for five-minute stretches, that I'd just lie down in the middle of the track and declare, "Turns out I'm not a runner."

So when Tuesday of this week approached, I was pleasantly surprised that I was still looking forward to getting on the track. I packed up Little A, drove over to the gym, got changed, and took her up to the babysitting room.

When I signed up for a gym membership, a big motivation was the babysitting provided. I thought it would be a good way for her to socialize and for us to have some (very limited) time apart from each other. She did well the first few times, but a few weeks into it, I could see the slightly tortured looks on the babysitters' faces when I returned to pick her up.

"Did she cry the whole time?" I asked.

"Not if I was holding her," they'd answer.

She's a toddler, so technically she's old enough to just take one babysitting slot. They started putting her down for two spots, like an under-one-year old, because she had to be held the whole time.

My husband started calling her "Double Baby." Our needy, needy Double Baby. Still, it seemed a solution.

Then, on one trip to the gym and in the middle of a strength-training class, one of the babysitters found me. She'd been crying the whole time (Ada, not the babysitter). I had to abandon the class.

The next time, I tried to spend more time with her in the babysitting room before I left. I even tried to run around the track pushing her stroller, but she didn't want to ride in the stroller, she wanted to walk. I left the gym, having spent an hour and a half trying to get her to 1) not cling to me or 2) at least do what I wanted her to do, like sit in the stroller. I was disconsolate. I glimpsed flashes of my old life, when I could happily attend a yoga class or go for a walk without having to account for a 23 pound Double Baby.

We were mad at each other the rest of the day.

The next morning, I woke up early and went to a yoga class, leaving Ada in her dad's care. I breathed, I stretched, I laid on the floor and did absolutely nothing. I didn't even think about Ada until the last few moments of class when I sat up for a final "Namaste."

We had a much better day. I'd started out with time for myself so I was better able to focus on her when I was with her. We drew and bought a new toy and read books. I didn't resent that she was "getting in the way" of what I wanted or needed to do. As I walked with her up the stairs for the 50th time, I remembered, "She doesn't have glimpses of her 'life before.' This is all she knows."

My gut tells me that I can't take her to babysitting at the gym for at least a few weeks (maybe a few months). She's learning to walk and teething and is, after all, a Double Baby. And, for the time being, taking her there stresses both of us out more than it's really worth. Dad and I have arranged for how I can still get my alone time each day and, thankfully, a really generous friend who understands that moms sometimes need time away from kids has offered to take her for an hour here or there so that I can keep up with the running.

Was I using her as an excuse to not run that day? Possibly. Regardless, though, we've both worked passed it. Obstacle removed. No more excuses. Run.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Friend Jess and THE Red Coat

At the beginning of winter, I found a few cute items at Once Upon a Child, the second-hand kids store. The items were cute, but kind of plain Jane.

I sent them off to my friend Jess of My Friend Jess (I know confusing: our husbands always say, "We get it! Jess is your friend!" when my sister and I talk about "My Friend Jess"). Anyway, she worked her magic and transformed some cute items into some ridiculously cute items. I had to e-mail her recently and tell her that I get SO MANY comments on this little red coat that some days, if I know I'm going to be in a hurry, I wonder if I should put Little A in it because we'll get stopped so many times. I always end up putting her in it anyway because it's warm and so awesome.

Lately, after we've had some swim time at the Y, she'll practice walking while holding my hand in the lobby (why the lobby at the Y? who knows!) and every third person who walks by comments on the coat. I have to share the love and spread the word about the awesomeness that is My Friend Jess.