Monday, May 24, 2010

On my way home tonight I dared to believe I'm in a precious balanced moment. There I was, still sweating from taekwondo, a tiny pink pair of ballet slippers resting on a pair of ticket stubs from the local musical in the console in front of me, my lifeguarding manual on the seat beside me, library books, bathing suits and workout gear in the back, a husband and daughters I adore at home, a beautiful house and property that takes my breath away every morning. I feel so blessed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Whidbey Island Half Marathon - AKA My First Race

It was so fun! I so didn't expect it to be so fun! Coming into this run I felt like I'd been totally distracted and definitely not well-trained so it was a truly lovely surprise to realize that I was having a ball out there last Sunday.

Nick and I headed off-island for the race the evening before, leaving the girls in the capable (though somewhat anxious) hands of my dad. It was our first night on our own since the Bunny was born and as soon as we hopped in the car it felt like a special treat. Anyway, we picked up our race numbers and whatnot at the little expo and had some BBQ for dinner (it was fine but not great - when relying on Yelp you have to keep in mind that reviews are relative to the area you're in - let's just say Oak Harbor isn't a bastion of culinary delights). Our hotel was comfy and we slept really well with a bit of help from Mommy's Little Blue Helpers (AdvilPM). In the morning we were up and at the breakfast bar bright and early and I forced down a bagel with pb and a banana which felt like way too much food but was probably ideal. Since I had a plane to catch later in the day I was already thinking less about wanting to just finish and more about wanting to finish in less than 2:30. I knew my runs had been getting a tad quicker recently but they were with other runners and not so far so I wasn't counting on being able to sustain a faster pace on my own. And, my last half marathon had been harder than I'd anticipated and I'd injured myself in the process so I wasn't taking anything for granted.

We got to the start with plenty of time to hit the portapotties and mill around (happily I had tp left over from my last long run in my trusty running windbreaker since there was none to be had there). I don't spend a lot of running time with dh since we generally trade off on childcare and other than last year's Turkey Trot we've never started a race together so I hadn't thought much about how it would be. Turns out that he was typically tight-lipped and stoic which is fine but it did make me feel a little self-conscious that my inclination was to chat. Was I just feeling chatty because I was nervous? Or because everyone else around us was? Or because that's just how I am? Whatever the case it reminded me of a run we did together when he asked if we could not talk because he was trying to concentrate on running and my enthusiasm to see if I could keep pace with him and his vastly longer legs faded away. It wasn't a bad thing, I just realized that if I'm running with someone I'd rather feel free to talk (and listen when they reply) but I'm just as happy to run quietly on my own so that helped me set my pace as soon as we touched off of the starting mat. Dh immediately started moving ahead more quickly than I wanted to, I've been swept up in the salmon run starting line paces just enough times to be wary of getting ahead of my abilities, so I let him inch farther and farther ahead until he was lost in the crowd ahead of me.

The first mile was mainly a gentle rise and some flat, then the second mile was a long descent which really got everyone moving along. I was doing my best to keep it reined in tight for the downhill remembering clearly how my unconscious downhill on the Golden Gate Bridge was my marathon's undoing last year. But by the time we reached sea level for miles 3 and 4 I clearly got caught up in the group's energy and I logged the fastest 2 miles of my life at 18:06. When I saw that lap time I was so shocked at myself I dialed it back to a more normal pace, 10:32 for mile 5 and then forced myself to walk for 30 seconds at the 6 mile marker and also tried to pace along with an old guy who looked like he'd been running for 100 years and was totally comfortable with his slow and steady pace (he also had a big honking Garmin on that he was paying attention to). I was feeling pretty good but by the time I decided to take the walk break I had started to notice a little tweaky thing going on on my inner thigh which was new and since I'd woken up with a nasty crick in my neck and anticipated a week full of lugging and bending with a big emotional load on top it seemed nuts to risk killing myself on the run. So for miles 6, 7 and 8 my pace was quite a bit slower, 11:51, 11:30 and 11:00 respectively. Miles 6-9 were also steadily uphill and so even though my pace slowed down, everyone else's did too so by the time we hit Mile 8 I was flying past people who had smoked my way back in the first descent. I can't deny that I get great joy from passing people going uphill. It just feels so satisfying, especially when you overhear them gasping and choking and begging for mercy as you call out "On your left!" Slowbies like me have to savor every moment like that, it's not like I"ll ever be in any danger of placing so I don't feel at all guilty about a touch of schadenfreude.

Anyway, on the way up the three mile hill I'd decided that when I got to mile 10 I was going to push it hard and figured that even if I bonked then at least I'd be close enough to limp it in and still catch my flight. The scenery at this point of the route was really lovely, pretty farms with sea and snow-capped mountains in the distance. The sun was out, the marathoners had just caught up with us and since it was a dog-leg there was plenty to watch. I tried to be sure to hoot and holler for each marathoner that I passed (or that passed me) and it was energizing to see them flash a little smile as they heard me. And now and then the view and the sun and the breeze and the general vibe would just be too fun and I'd give a whoop of running joy and then someone would laugh or nod or flash a thumbs up and it was like this little feedback loop of joy that kept pushing me on down the road.

Now, the last three miles were all downhill and I'd made up my mind to toss caution to the wind and just let myself flow with it but I definitely had a little voice white-knuckling on my shoulder that kept imagining what I'd look like if I tripped. Road-kill essentially. But happily I stayed on my feet and my knees stayed strong, my IT band kept it zipped and the Hannah Montana song I couldn't shake out of my brain was well-suited to my breathing. It was just all pretty excellent.

By the time I hit the 13 Mile marker I was feeling the oxygen debt and it was took conscious effort to get my knees up. I really had to focus to keep pushing, it was like someone had attached a bungee cord to me and it would have been so. much. easier. to just slow down. So it was a little demoralizing to find a series of turns in that last .1 mile that kept the finish line just out of view, I don't know if it was intentional or just necessary to make up the full distance but I did hear myself cursing about it. But then - finally - it was there and all clear so I just doused the thought that I could totally puke and ran it in. Whew. It felt great to be able to stop and I felt totally elated that not only had I blown my goal time of 2:30 out of the water at 2:16 but I was even in early enough to get back to the hotel and take a quick shower before heading off to catch the plane.

And that's the way it was. Mommy's first race. :)

Go Fellow Runner! Woot! Woot!

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Take 2 Take 2?

Well, how glad am I that when I wrote the last post I didn't know that at nearly the same moment in time my favorite pet, Ninj, was being chased off the second floor balcony railing and hitting the first floor hard enough to shatter his elbow into smithereens. At least I had a few days (the time it took for him to come out of hiding and then for the housesitters to see the damage and then get to a vet and then get a hold of me) before things took a turn for the grim and worried again. I realized the night I talked to K and she asked what course I wanted to pursue for his care that when people shell out crazy sums for emergency pet care it's only partly for the pet, for me I was willing to pay any price not to be consumed in grief, here of all places. I knew, viscerally, that if he died while I was away here I would not return to San Miguel for years, maybe ever. It would just be the final straw of pain.
But, he's okay. The surgery wasn't exactly successful but he did well and they are hopeful that he'll heal as well as he can so that the limb can remain useful to him. I've stepped down from red alert on that front although I do worry and I do wish I was just there.

The Bunny has had ups and downs at school this month, culminating in her bullying the boy in her class when he paid attention to her friend who is visiting. She dutifully apologized, I believe sincerely but the whole episode took weeks of gnashing teeth and questioning motives and basic drama.

This second run at a Happy New Year hasn't really gotten much momentum going has it? In addition to our poor housesitters' ordeal with the septic pump and the cat and the rooster who apparently is attacking everyone, my friend also had a miscarriage in January. It hurts me to think about how much I'm adding to her already heavy burden by just not being there myself and I feel like a louse for being incapable of taking real pleasure in San Miguel. Christ, this is so not how I had imagined this trip to be! I was totally unprepared for how hard being here would be.
Alison gave me a book about a couple recovering from losing their first child in the final days of pregnancy in France. Someone commented to them, "How sad, now France will be ruined for you" and I wonder is San Miguel ruined for me? It seems a character weakness for that to be as simple as that but I keep circling back to how it hurts to be here. Will my home be ruined for my friend? How could it not be after the series of calamities she's endured in such a short time! Will our friendship be ruined for her? How I hope not! It will be devastating and understandable, I don't even like to think about it but like everything dark and sad these days, it's all I can seem to focus on.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy New Year take 2

Okay, I need to start 2010 over because it was off to a particularly gnarly start. You'd think that being technically on vacation in Mexico in January things would be pretty sweet but no. Some combination of the gringo chisme of cheating husbands, kidnapped rich guys, cold rain, spare furnishings and oh yeah, my dead daughter's birthday anniversary all conspired to put me into the worst frame of mind I can remember being in since the dark days before we left Mexico. Ick ick ick! I kept telling myself to snap out of it, look on the bright side, count my blessings, be grateful, get over it, chill the fuck out - but it didn't work! Unbelievable! Next time I give the Bunny those commands when she's in a funk maybe I'll remember that sometimes it just doesn't work.
But today I woke up and felt okay again. Like a totally normal version of me being fine and generally happy, even though it is still POURING rain and it's chilly and our side of the house is not only sparsely furnished with spotty internet signal but it's also been taken over by Augustine who's chipping holes in the walls all over the place. Thank God huh? Seriously, if I'd woken up in the same mood I was in yesterday I don't want to think about how ugly it would have been especially without access to a treadmill. I only managed to remain even moderately sustainable for the past month because I've been getting so much exercise here but today it's looking like a day off, what with the flood outside and Auggie monopolizing our living space.

So phew. And this time like we mean it, cue 2010 -

2010 - Go.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010, Go.

Welcome 2010.
Twenty ten seems simpler than two thousand ten and it also avoids comparison to where we

thought we'd be at this point in the future which is good since I'm nowhere near owning a

jetpack. Although I guess the present deserves some credit, all our internet/wireless/touch

screen technology is pretty cool.

Anyway, here we are in the New Year, finally past all the holiday cheer and otherwise. This

Chiristmas the Bunny finally figured out that Santa isn't really the guy with the sled but

just us grown-ups. I had totally forgotten to fill the stockings and then we'd used

wrapping paper that she'd seen in my mom's closet so that was that. At first she was upset

and angry that we'd lied to her but after a bit she agreed that it was more fun to have had

the time to believe in the magic and that she could just adjust her outlook to accept that

grownups aren't lying so much as trying to live up to the standard of Santa. In the end she

agreed to be a member of Team Elf and keep the story going for Alison. Phew.

Our visit with Mom was pretty tolerable. She was really good with the girls and didn't pull

any pouty moments that we've seen in the past. She's still pretty nuts and gets wrapped up

in these far-fetched solutions to her problems as a way to avoid making hard bbut effective

decisions. But Other than wanting us to meet her financial advisor to give her our sense of

whether he could be trusted or not (he can we think) she wasn't really looking for much

input from us and tat made everything a little smoother.

And now we're back in San Miguel for the next 6 weeks. It's okay so far. It's fun to see

old friends and new babies and eat old favorite foods. But I feel totally untethered and

aimless. I need a project. I wish I was able to focus in on each moment with my kids and

relish these moments we have to be together but sadly, I find it pretty exhausting to be

constantly looking at each little squiggle of drawing and watch and approve of every odd

little dance step and laugh at every dopey joke. I miss the structure of my life at home,

time at the gym where I feel like I'm at least staying fit as opposed to feeling older and

achier by the minute as I am here, the weekly flow of classes and whatnot. And I miss my

cat who I hear has taken to the upstairs and won't come down. He's just old enough that I

worry about his health taking the toll from all the strangeness. I miss the sense of being

a part of a community that I want to be part of. I know, wah wah wah. What a cranky way to

start of the year's blogging! But whatever, maybe it's just this morning, it's grey and

cold and yet another holiday (Three Kings).

I will go try to readjust my attitude with some yoga (pfff!) or at least to loosen up my

back which feels like it belongs to an 80 year old.