Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We've always done it that way ...

Life can be overwhelming at times.

Every morning when I wake up, I run through everything I need to do, everything I should do and everything I want to do. Some days, I think, "I've got this!" and other days, I wish I could pull the comforter over my head and ignore the world around me.

But, I don't. I get up and tackle everything that awaits me.

Am I the busiest person in the world? No. Do I have a hard life? Not at all. Could someone else step in here and do exactly what I do each and every day? Absolutely.

I'm not anything special. And I hate to hand it to you, but neither are you. We all have our challenges, responsibilities and expectations. We have the things we want to do and need to do and even those things we feel like we have no choice in at all.

That's life.

You take what's thrown at you and make the best of it. Or maybe the worst of it, depending on your outlook. Ultimately, you dictate how and what gets done. You choose the path that works for you, whether you forge a new trail each day or click on auto-pilot from the get-go.

Last week, I decided to shut off auto-pilot. I chose to ignore my daily schedule which tends to be dictated by doing things because "we've always done it that way". I let the girls decide how they wanted to spend their spring break. We stayed in bed late, we spent hours upon hours outside, we ate ice cream for lunch.

It was fantastic.

And it got me thinking, why do I do things the way that I do? Why are some things set on auto-pilot? So, I decided to be honest with myself. I evaluated why I go about my life the way I do and do you know what I learned?

Well, I learned that I do a lot of things because "we've always done it that way" and it's just easier to keep it going. And then there are the things I do because I think they are expected of me. There are things in my life that fit me (and my family) at one point, but now the fit is off. And I'm going to change that. I've already started implementing some changes, while others will take a little longer to manifest themselves. But, I know for sure, one thing that's going to change is this blog.

For the past 6 years, I have chronicled our triumphs and tribulations. Our laughter and our tears. But, as the girls get older and our lives get more and more hectic, I find that I have less and less to say here. I no longer need this journal to keep me motivated, the girls don't want me to share as much about them and I find that our life on the go is better captured through pictures and snippets of information that I tend to broadcast elsewhere. With time, my presence here will diminish and eventually, I just won't write at all. And that's just fine, we've evolved as a family and to keep doing what we've always done wouldn't do our story justice.

Oh, and if you're so inclined to continue to follow our journey, we will be here occasionally (at least for the time being), but most of the action will be found on our Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Marathon - Back in 2011, when I ran three marathons including two in one week, I was burned out. I had no desire to ever run another marathon again. I felt like all I ever did was run. And it probably was, logging 45-60 miles per week when you are as slow as I am takes a lot of time.

So, I kicked marathoning to the curb. My focus shifted to triathlon, which in case you didn't know, isn't any less time consuming. Over the past two and a half years, I have watched my friends continue to tackle 26.2 miles and I just sat back and thought, "I'm kind of happy I'm not them." Training (and racing) that distance is draining. And even if you love it, there are days where you just don't. 

But one day last year, I started to miss those high mileage weeks. I wanted to experience running 20 miles in the morning and then rock compression socks all afternoon just to make it through the day. I longed to run for hours with my friends as we prepared for a day of a 1,000 variables and no guaranteed outcome. The grip of the marathon had caught me and was pulling me back in.

So, I did what any logical person would do and I started researching races. When I had it down to three or four options, I took them to my running wife, G, who I knew I could convince rather easily to join me (truth is, she was already thinking 26.2 too). We chose our race, convinced some friends to join us and finally on Tuesday morning, we registered.

Nearly three years to the day since my last 26.2, I will be toeing the line at the Steamtown Marathon. Right now, my only goal is to run a negative split. I'm not the runner (physically or mentally) that I was the last time I did this and I don't really know what a realistic time goal is, so I'm just not going to have one right now. Maybe that will change as the race approaches, maybe it won't. Either way, I'm going to savor the run.

Spring Cleaning - So, I have this thing where I can not sit down and relax in the evening until my house is tidy. Everything needs to be put away. The dishes need to be done. The laundry folded. It's not like I scrub my floors every night, but when things are out of place I feel uneasy, so I make sure nothing is lying around.

What's atypical for me is an undying urge to dust and scrub every surface at 10:30 at night. On Tuesday night, I went upstairs after finishing my book and got ready for bed. Somewhere in the next few minutes, I got it in my head that both the master and hall bathrooms needed to be scrubbed from top to bottom. I tried to stop myself after I did the master bath and even got in bed, but a few minutes later I was back at it in the hall bath. Who does that? Seriously, just thinking about it now makes me want to find something else to scrub.

Plans on Plans on Plans - We are super busy during the school year. The girls have activities every afternoon except Fridays and they have games, meets and rehearsals on the weekends. It's hectic. We love it. During the summer, we usually chill out. The girls have never gone to camp. Our only scheduled activity is usually swim lessons, and that's really a recent occurrence.

This year, however, is completely different. Between vacations to North Carolina and Rhode Island, visits with the grandparents, swim lessons and summer school enrichment programs, we have exactly one week where we will all be in the same place with nothing on the schedule. How does that happen? One day you have a bunch of toddlers vying for your attention 24/7 and the next, they are off doing their own things? And yes, I realize it's only going to get worse.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Rewind ...

Miles Run:  70.68 miles. Running is hard ...

Bike Miles Rode: 112.5 miles. My bike trainer and I are so totally BFFs ...

Swim Meters Completed: 17450 meters or 10.84 miles

Rest Days Taken: 6
Highest Run Mileage Week: 3/3-3/9: 27 miles
Highest Bike Mileage Week: 3/3-3/9: 29.7 miles
Highest Swim Volume Week: 3/3-3/9: 4300 meters or 2.67 miles
Long Runs Completed (1 hr+ miles): 4
Current Book: Right now, I am reading Sacrifice by Kluver. But, I finished a few other books in March. (Note: For those of you who have asked, if it's on this or any of my lists, I would recommend the book. If I don't like the story or the book doesn't grasp my attention, I don't bother finishing it, thus it wouldn't be listed here.) 
  • When It Happens by Colasanti
  • Bitter End by Brown
  • Lemonade Mouth by Hughes
  • Origin by Khoury
  • Marked by Cast
  • Betrayed by Cast
  • Chosen by Cast
  • Untamed by Cast
  • Hunted by Cast
  • Tempted by Cast
  • Burned by Cast
  • Awakened by Cast
  • Destined by Cast
  • Hidden by Cast
  • Revealed by Cast
  • Minders by Jaffe
  • All I Need by Colasanti
  • Vengeance by Miranda
Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Reading food labels. Well, maybe not the reading part, but rather the feeling of utter satisfaction when I get to the end of the list and realize that I can actually eat whatever is in my hand. It's the small things people.

Current Colors: Orange and Gray.

Current Drink: Hot tea with cream and stevia. All day, every day.

Current Song: Ain't It Fun - Paramore
Current Triumph: I haven't had a trace of any of the allergens that I reacted to at my appointment in early March. It may not seem like a huge deal, but I LOVE some of those foods and soy is in freaking EVERYTHING.
Current Goal: Be a better me. Each and every day. And crush 2014 goals ...
Current Blessing: Health, happiness and love. I've got all three.
Current Excitement: There are just 25 days until my first triathlon of the season - RTC Sprint. And yesterday, J and I booked tickets to Texas for a wedding (and kid-free weekend). It's kind of a big deal.
  • Get back to running 30-40 miles per week. For most of 2012 and 2013, I focused on 70.3 training. The only way for me to improve my cycling and swimming was to spend less time running. Eventually, my strongest discipline became my weakest and honestly, I am kind of over it. This year I won't race longer than an Olympic distance triathlon. Hopefully, this will allow me to balance my training loads and life a little better than in the past. - Getting there. I peaked at 28.25 miles last month. And ran 27 miles this month.
  • Strength train two times per week. In the past, I have dropped strength training as my training volume went up. I'm not letting that happen in 2014. - Crushing it! Haven't missed a day.
  • Run 1,400 miles. A huge jump from 2013, but far less than what I used to run. - As of April 1st, 241.77 miles logged.
  • Bike 1,400 miles A huge drop from 2013, but if I am going to find time for those run miles something will have to give. - As of April 1st, 352.2 miles logged.
  • Swim 140 miles. Pretty much where I finished up in 2013. This will probably be the most challenging mileage to hit. - As of March 1st, 48,300m or 30.01 miles logged.
  • Race a 10K with a finish time much faster than your very dated current PR of 53:17. I never managed to register for a 10K in 2012 and I'm not sure where it will fit in this year, but it's on my radar. As it has been since 2009. - I ran the 10K. It was painful and ugly. I may have negated the fact that I have gained 20 pounds of muscle since my last race and I am running much less now. No PR, but it was a good gauge for where I am at. Which is kind of pathetic.
  • Run a negative split marathon. I'm not looking for a PR. Just a well executed race. - Registered!
  • Run a 5K with Dizzle and Doodle. I'm thinking a Rev3 Glow Run for this one.

  • Only say yes to the projects I REALLY want to work on. An honest no is much better than a halfhearted yes.
  • Stick to our budget. We were at about 90% with this last year, but I have a good feeling about 2014. - So far so good.
  • Take a picture a day for a year. - 91 days in and going strong. You can see all my #project365 pictures on my Instagram account HERE
  • Read 150 books. - As of March 3rd, 32 books read.
  • Go the entire year without cutting my hair (unless I start to get a mullet, at which point a trim is required). - Haven't cut it yet! But, it's getting incredibly hard not to!
  • Relearn Spanish. Just letting that Rosetta Stone course sit on the shelf isn't helping anyone. - I started the lessons and am 1/4 of the way through the first level. I realized that I have retained quite a bit of my former knowledge, but I still struggle with pronunciation, which was always my weak spot.
  • Blog at least two times per week. 2013 left me uninspired and stressed when it came to blogging. I'm hoping a new perspective will change this. - I've only missed this one time so far.
  • Have a date night with J, once a month. Considering that we only manage about two dates per year at this point, I'd be super impressed if we pulled this off half of the time. - Three months down and still on track!
  • Continue to balance family life, training and now, work.
  • Prioritize and be a good example for the people in your life.
  • Help and support J and the kids in reaching their goals. We are a team and that must always be the primary focus of our lives. No one should have to sacrifice so that someone else can reach their goal. If a balance can't be found, it's not worth pursuing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

our normal ...


Six days a week, I spend hours devoted to shuttling my kids from one activity to the next. Occasionally, we spend our entire day sitting on a pool deck. Or the soccer field. Or in the audience of a theater. And on the really painful days, we are so busy that I don't get to see any of it. Instead, I drop off one kid, only to get back in my car to pick up another. It's hectic. It's chaotic. It's our normal.

I'm confident that there are people who look at us and think, "That family is crazy. Always jumping from one thing to the next." And I'm sure that's what it looks like. But actually, we are quite focused. Our lives are scheduled and organized and I can say without a doubt that my kids love every second of it.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure it would be fabulous to not run around like mad men every afternoon. And I know my wallet would love all the money we would save if we cut out these extracurriculars. But, ultimately, it is our children's choice to do these things (and trust me, we say no to a lot of other things they want to join). They are finding things they can be passionate about. Things that keep them engaged and that bolster their self confidence. Things they really want to do now and things they talk about continuing as they age - a fact that lets me know we are making the right decision for our kids.

I've learned over the years that as much as you may try to escape it, you ultimately end up parenting a lot like you were parented. Patterns repeat themselves. J and I played sports from a young age. We were academic overachievers from day one. We learned the importance of practice, hard work and commitment early on.

Now, all these years later, I see the same things happening with our children. The characteristics of our youth that we fondly look back on are the ones we foster in our girls. We take pride in their competitive drive. We encourage them to push through when things get tough. We preach about commitment in all aspects of your lives, whether it be in athletics, academics or friendship. They are learning life lessons every time they step out onto the field, jump into the pool or perform in front of an audience. And they are learning even more about themselves in all the moments in between - in the moments when no one is watching.

Yes, we live a life that's hectic and chaotic and perhaps, even overscheduled. Sure, life could be simpler and less stressful. And I know there are a thousand other ways to go about raising your family. But, those other ways just aren't what we are about. This life is what we want. It's our normal.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why long distance triathlon and I are on a break ...

Did you ever meet someone with an addictive personality?

Who am I kidding? If you are reading this you probably have an addictive personality. Those who get involved with endurance sports, don't do it for the leisure time. Or the spontaneity. We venture into this mythical world looking for a challenge. We stay because we are addicted to some aspect of the sport. Maybe it's the feeling of pushing yourself further than you did last time. Maybe it's the chase of a new PR. Maybe it's the overwhelming love of self-torture. Over time, your reason may change, but it's all the same - we stay because the thought of leaving (for good at least) is hard to deal with. There is always something pulling you back in.

For a long time, I have been drawn to endurance sports as a way of proving to myself (and if we're being honest, those around me) that no challenge was too great. If that guy over there could do it, so could I. And that's fantastic. It got me moving. It made me train. But eventually, you run out of "next big things". At some point, you have to ask yourself why you do the things you do. And even tougher, you might have to admit that your reasoning isn't valid.

By the end of last season, I realized that my training had lost it's purpose. I was racing "just because I could". I started to dread race day. And I hated how much time my training was taking away from my family. I hated the guilt I felt if I missed a workout. My hobby was having too much of an effect on my life. I needed to back away.

I started by taking an off-season and it made me realize a few things.
  • I really like to lift weights, yet it's always the first thing that gets cut when my training load increases.
  • I don't need a "goal" to get me to train. I love training. I love it a 1000 times more than I even like racing. If I was never to cross another finish line again, I would be fine with that. It wouldn't stop me from swimming, biking and running each week.
  • Speed isn't all that important to me. I used to get hung up on going faster and beating a younger version of myself. Well, guess what? If I run a 1:55 half marathon or a 2:02 half marathon, I still ran a half marathon. Those few minutes don't change me. I'm not a better or worse person because of it. And it's not like I was ever going to win the race anyway.
  • The pool is my favorite place to be. I constantly wish I had more time to get to the pool.
By the time 2014 started, I knew the direction my endurance sports (specifically triathlon) path would take me.

There would be no 140.6. It's a great goal, it's just not mine.

There would be no 70.3. I don't have the time, or honestly the drive, to train for this the way I want to. Life is about balance. And at this point in my life, I don't have the skill set necessary to balance 70.3 training and my commitment to my family.

I'm going to race strategically. Three sprint triathlons, spread over 6 months. One Olympic triathlon as my "A" race. One fall marathon - because as much as marathoning wiped me out in 2011 (3 marathons in 6 months will do that to you - see? Addiction. It's hard to break). I miss training for that distance and I REALLY WANT TO DO IT.

And that's what it comes down to. You have to really want to do something for you to do it well and for you to feel like nothing else was sacrificed. I'm done sacrificing. And for now, long distance triathlon and I are on a break. Maybe one day we'll reunite. Maybe this is the end. Either way, I know it's the right choice for me.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Rev3 Summit - Last Thursday night, I headed up to Manassas (with my Rev3 spouse, Anne) for our annual team summit. Over the course of three days, we learned the ins and outs of our sponsors (loving me some SBR Sports and PowerBar right now), discussed the future of Rev3 (exciting things lay ahead - if you haven't raced Rev3 yet, now's the time) and bonded with our teammates. There was laughter. There were tears. And there were numerous hijinks that need to say locked up in the "what happens at summit" vault forever.

The majority of the 2014 Rev3 Age Group Team ...
All-in-all it was an amazing weekend. At times it can be hard to feel connected to your teammates when you are spread across the country and don't necessarily race with each other at all during the year. But, having this weekend to kick off the season has an amazing ability to unify and inspire us. I always leaving feeling honored to represent such an amazing company with true family values.

Toothless - I remember being little and being so excited when I had a loose tooth. I would mess with it endlessly and pull it out myself. For me, a loose tooth came with a sense of pride, both because it meant I was growing up and because I was brave enough to handle it on my own.

Doodle has had a loose front tooth for months now. Like 9 months. For a while there, it looked like it would be out within the week, but then it just kind of stalled. No matter how much she messed with it, it never fell out. Eventually, her adult tooth grew in behind it and prohibited her baby tooth from moving much at all.

A few weeks ago, I knew exactly where we were headed with this tooth - to the dentist's chair. So, I called the dentist and asked what they thought we should do. They said to give it two weeks more and then if it didn't fall out to call and make an appointment.

Two weeks passed and nothing.

On Tuesday, I finally took her in. After a quick shot of Novocain and a few tears, not only was her loose tooth gone, but so was her other front tooth, as the dentist felt that if it was not pulled, we were going to be back in the same situation a few months from now.

Poor Doodle. She's lost four teeth and all four have been pulled by the dentist for the same reason. Apparently, she's just really attached to her teeth.

My Pretty - In addition to coming home with epic memories of my Rev3 teammates, I also returned with my new bike - a Quintana Roo CD0.1.

It's a serious upgrade from my entry level Fuji and I am so excited to get her out on the road (a very wide road with no traffic). But, that will have to wait, because right now, she's pedal-less. Yes, I realize that I can take the ones off my old bike, but I am keeping that bike on the trainer and kind of need those to stay where they are. But, next month, I'll budget it and have her ready to race at my season opener on April 26th. And for now, I'll just admire her ...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seven Things ...

Dear Doodle,

I have a hard time remembering my life without you. I can recall my life pre-kids and I distinctly remember becoming a parent. But that 22 months in between? I've got a lot of nothing. Maybe it's because Diz was so little when I was pregnant with you. Or maybe it's because you've been such a handful since day one, that my pre-Doodle life has been pushed aside. Either way, it feels like you've been with us for much longer than your seven years.

Doodle, 3 days old
Over the years we've had our challenges and your seventh year has been no different. We've laughed. We've cried. We've yelled. We've apologized. You challenge me more than any other person I've ever met and some days I'm not sure how we can co-exist. But then, you smile at me and I know we'll find a way.

It would be easy for me to sit here and say that you should conform to the ideals I carry around in my head. And some days, I wish for nothing more. I can imagine a world where we never fight or get angry with each other. But honestly, that isn't fair to you. I would never ask you to squelch who you are just to make my life easier. It's not like I'm going to change who I am just because I am your mother and you shouldn't need to change to be my daughter.

So, today, on your seventh birthday, I want to celebrate the seven things that make you who you are, yet drive me batty at the same time. I want to show them the appreciation they deserve and let you know that even if it doesn't always seem like it, I love these things - because they help make you exactly who you are.

Doodle, age 7
1. Your personal style - I might not want you to wear clashing colors and patterns on picture day, but your style is the ultimate outward display of your personality. It's crazy, adorable, unencumbered, scattered and hectic, yet it somehow always works. No one else could pull it off, but you do. I may not understand it, but I love it.

2. Your smarty pants nature -  I have never met another person who hates being wrong more than you. Everything is happy-go-lucky when you think you are right or you think you know more than everyone else. But the second someone suggests that you may be wrong or that their might be a better way to do something, you can't handle it. You pout. You cry. You storm away. It drives me nuts, but I try to embrace the fact that this will get you far one day. If for no other reason than you want to prove everyone wrong. It will give you the drive to always be improving. And I love that.

3. Your quick temper - If anyone can escalate a situation, it's you. Nine times out of 10, you get in trouble not for what you did, but for how you react when you get caught. I know with age you will learn to absorb and defuse, but I'm sure we have a lot of good fights left before then. Remember that a quick temper just shows that you are passionate. That's something you will never lose. And I love it.

4. Your inability to take a joke - Doodle, you can dish it out with the best of them, but the second the tables are turned, you freak the freak out. It makes me want to tell you to "suck it up," but deep down I know you are just sensitive - a trait that I love.

5. Your messiness - For someone who can be so particular at times, you are incredibly disorganized. If I say, "Everything has it's place", you say, "Everything has a place and I don't care where it is as long as it looks clean." Maybe I'm just high-strung, which would make you totally chill. And I love that about you.

6. Your high-pitched screams - There is no sound I like less than your "angry" scream. It's loud and painful and simply horrible. But is no one I'd rather be stuck with in an emergency situation than you. If nothing else, that scream will get us help and I have to love that.

7. Your tendency to take the easy way out - For a while, I thought your work ethic was defined by laziness. You do just what's required and nothing more. And sometimes, not even that. But then I realized that you're just working smarter, not harder. And who wouldn't love that?

Doodle, you are so much more than the little things that make you who you are and I am blessed to see how you take all those little things and make them into the person you'll become. I love you more than I could ever express and I wish you a very happy seventh birthday.