Friday, January 31, 2014

Random Fact Friday ...

1. My kids have only been in school two of the last 14 days. Perhaps the best part of this situation is that the district has 90 or so hours of extra instruction built into the school year (in essence the school day is longer than it needs to be). This means that school could be canceled for another week before the girls would have to make up any of the missed time.  As awesome as I think this is, the impression I get from my Facebook feed is that a lot of my friends want nothing more than for the kids to be back at school. I find myself wishing for the opposite. I was actually disappointed when they announced an hour delay last night. I really love having them home with me.

2. Wanting to have my kids home with me does not mean that I love every minute with them. It fact, it's quite the opposite. For example, just last Thursday, I took them to Jumpology to burn off some energy. When we got home, I asked them to occupy themselves for 50 minutes so I could run. In the first 20 minutes alone, I had to get off the treadmill and discipline them three times. Then there was that time on Wednesday, when Doodle simply did not want to do her homework. She screamed and cried for a good 45 minutes (Note: the assignment should have taken 10), repeatedly telling me that I always make her do things she doesn't want to. I politely reminded her that it was in fact her teacher who was making her do homework, but she wasn't buying it.

3. Those crazy moments aside, having the girls at home with me is awesome. Sometimes, they occupy themselves for hours and do things like this ...

Yes, that is an entire room fort.

4. After a brief lull in December/Early January, J is back to traveling non-stop. He left here on Tuesday, arrives home today around 1 and then is leaving again at dinnertime. It's just awesome. And when I say awesome, I mean completely not awesome. However, at this rate he should earn 1K with United and Platinum with Marriott by the end of the quarter.

5. On Saturday, Dizzle had her first swim meet. Her relay team won and she swam solid times in the 25 Free, 25 Back and 50 Back.

Despite the long hours of the meet, Doodle has decided she wants in on the action. Dilly is considering it too. When you add the fact that I swim constantly and J is dabbling in the sport and you can probably figure out that our home constantly has a hint of chlorine odor to it. Thankful, I have an awesome sponsor, SBR Sports, who make TriSwim and Foggies (my favorite swim related product EVER!). If it wasn't for the TriSwim line, no one would want to be around us. But at the rate we are going, I think it's time to upgrade to the 64oz containers.

6. I try to be a good example to my children. I do my best to speak positively in front of them. I attempt to give them a model to live by. I try to show them that you can live your passions without taking away from the people you love. Like when I multitask, training and playing with them at the same time.

And I always try to show them how to eat healthy. On Tuesday, I learned that my hard work is paying off. I told Dilly we could go eat anywhere she wanted to for her birthday lunch. She told me that she would rather "have a tea party and eat peppers, tomatoes, carrots, hummus, raspberries, chicken and a PB&J sandwich."

It melted my heart.

7. Don't let Dilly's lunch fool you. The girls had cupcakes on Sunday and Monday (Dilly's party and her celebration at school) and we've been finishing off this cake all week.

Gluten free chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting ...
It's all about moderation, right?

8. I am planning on running a marathon this year. In the past, I have been motivated to tackle this distance to prove that I could and to improve my times. However, things have changed. I have already proved I can cover 26.2. I've proved that I can race two marathons in a week. I've proved I can cut almost an hour off my time. This go round (which will be a full three years since my last marathon), I'm not proving anything. I just really miss marathon training. I miss the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it and I really miss bragging that I "just ran 20 miles". Plus, if I am going to continue eating as much cake as we did this week, I'm really going to need to run 20 miles.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

And then you were 5 ...

Dear Dilly,

I know I've said this before, but with each passing year I am left with a sense of loss. As the moments slip past, I want to grab as many as I can and hit the pause button. I want to live them again. I want to take in all the details I missed and to relish in all the ones I didn't. I know it's because you're my baby. Deep down, that's why your birthday hits me harder than everyone else's, even my own.

Dilly, one day old.
As my baby, I know that all your first are often my lasts. Soon, I'll send you to your first day of Kindergarten and while you'll be starting your academic career, I'll be losing my preschooler who spends day after day by my side. Soon, you'll lose your first tooth and I'll see the excitement of that milestone for the last time. So much of me cannot wait for all these things and so much more, but I can't ignore the fact that it will be bittersweet.

Dilly, on her 5th birthday.
Over the past five years, I have gotten to know you and all your quirks. I've learned that you are the most pleasant child I have ever met. You go with the flow. You can occupy yourself. You can wait with the best of them. You love fully and completely and you've never met a person you wouldn't hug. Simply put, there is a vibrancy about you. You radiate love and happiness and I am better to have had you by my side all this time.

Dilly, I am truly blessed to call you my daughter. I can't get enough of all the little things that make you exactly who you are. It is my hope for you that you never lose sight of all those little things that make you special. Cherish them. It's important. But if you ever forget, know that I will be there to remind you because I love every last one of them.

I'm sure as you grow, the things that comprise the essence of you will change. But right now, as you enter your sixth year, these are my favorite parts of you. I love that you are a Southern girl with a Boston accent - a combination on you could pull off. (Sure it might be nice to be able to pronounce the letter "r", but who really needs it?) I love the way you sneak into my bed in the morning and snuggle up to me, putting your back next to mine in away that fits perfectly. And I love that your first instinct when you do something wrong is not to apologize but you yell out "I love you!" like it might help me ignore your shortcomings.

Dilly, even if I wrote an entire book about you and all the ways I love you, I would never be able to fully express my love or how imperfectly perfect you are. So, instead, I will just wish you the happiest of birthdays. May you continue to show the strength, love and compassion beyond your years and may all your wishes come true.

I love you to infinity and beyond!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Snow Day Part Three - As I mentioned yesterday, the girls haven't had school all week due to approximately two inches of snowfall. (Yes, we are wimpy in these parts). Last night around 6 p.m., we got the call that school was canceled yet again. Rather than sit indoors all day, we met up with some friends for an hour of trampoline fun at Jumpology.

scared to jump hand-in-hand ...
The girls had a blast. They ran, or really jumped, around like crazy. They found themselves stuck in the foam pit. And they exhausted themselves thoroughly.

like quicksand, only softer ...
I, however, am less of a fan. It was fun to watch them and I even got in on the jumping for a few minutes, but something about all that bouncing sends me straight to the bathroom. Yet another thing I can blame on my children ...

Uke 'N Roll - Earlier this week, Dizzle was interviewed by USA Today for an article they were writing about the ukulele and more specifically, her instructor and the program he has developed. On Sunday, her class was photographed and videotaped and yesterday the article and video were released online HERE.

photo credit: Jack Gruber, USA Today
She is super excited by the whole thing. Plus, now she can brag to all of her friends that she's been in both USA Today and Runner's World. Not something most people can say.

Workout Date -  One of my New Year's resolutions is to go on a date once a month with J. We have been horrible about making time for us in the past. I hate to spend money to go out and then still have to pay a sitter. The few times (and I am talking 1-2 times per year) that we have gone out without the girls, we have relied on friends and family to watch them. That's great and all, but I hate to abuse their generosity. Even if we ultimately swap babysitting.

Then there is the fact that J travels a lot and most of that travel is on the weekends. When you add in all the evenings we have activities with the kids, there aren't many days left to go out.

So, this month, we got inventive. On Monday, the girls had off of school and J was off from work. Instead of spending money on a date, J and I went to the gym. We dropped the girls off at Kid Watch and spent the next hour and a half swimming and lifting.

I love us ...
I had a blast. However, I think it was more fun for me than J, since he continually told me I was trying to torture him (I swear I wasn't). So what if he had trouble walking for the next two days ...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moments ...

The girls are home from school today.
A two inch snowfall has once again caused all of the surrounding area to be shut down. The second day in a row, despite the fact that it didn't actually start snowing until 2 p.m. yesterday. With the holiday on Monday, it's been a while since I had a break from my kids.

I'm not sure if I appeared agitated or if she was really just wondering, but this morning as I ran for an hour on the treadmill, Doodle said, "Mom, would you rather us be at school today? Or do you want us home with you?"

I didn't have to think about the answer.

"Of course, I'd prefer it if you were home with me, Doodle. I always prefer when you are home."

And I was being 100% honest. In fact, I can't remember a time when I really wanted to be away from them. Sure, there are those moments when I think that I cannot take another second of their attitudes, behavior or overall loudness. But, when that happens, I want 10 minutes to regroup, nothing more.

I miss them when they're out of the house. The thought of experiencing anything in this life without them pains me. I want to see all their moments. I want to see the excitement in their eyes over the things I've come to find mundane. I want to watch that lightbulb flick on when they discover something new. I want to be there, not to catch them when they fall, but to help them stand back up again.

It's so easy to get caught up in life. All the rushing around, multitasking and stressing can take away your ability to really capture those moments. I know I'm guilty of it. I do eight things at once never giving my full attention to any. But then something happens to bring you back to reality. Something that makes you remember how our moments are finite. And how you should relish in every single one you get.

So, yes Doodle, I always want you home with me. I want nothing more.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Swim Team - When Dizzle was little, she hated the water. She cried every time we tried to wash her hair. She puked during swim lessons. She wouldn't approach a pool without multiple floatation devices strapped to her. For a long time, I thought she might be the only teenager not going to pool parties because she still needed water wings.

But then something changed. She slowly became braver. She would sometimes let water touch her face (as long as she had goggles). We decided to take hold of this new found bravery and signed her (and her sisters) up for swim lessons again. This past Summer, they spent 30 minutes a day, four days a week learning how to swim. By the end of the summer, all my girls were swimming on their own without fear.

When school started, Dizzle decided that she wanted to join the swim team. But, since she had never done it before, she needed to test out of two more levels of lessons before she could. We talked about it and told her that if she could do it before the first of the year, she could join the team for the winter season.

And Dizzle did just that.

On Monday, she had her first swim team practice. She was beyond nervous, even if she tried to hide it.
waiting for her lane assignment ...
The workout kicked her butt. When she got out of the pool, the first thing she said was, "That was exhausting!" But even so, she was so proud of herself.

Tired but exhilarated ... 
The following day, she came home and told me that she had to write about her hero at school. Then she said she chose me because, "I hope that one day I can swim and run awesome like you." I'm thinking she's totally caught the bug.

New Math - So, the other day, Dizzle came home with this worksheet.

I looked at it and couldn't understand why all these questions, with proper and correct answers were marked wrong. The last time I checked, multiplication was subject to the commutative property, yet her paper was covered in red.

new math is stupid ...
At second glance, I realized that her problems were "wrong" because her teacher wanted them written in a certain manner. I get it. She wants them to follow her directions. But, I have to sit here and wonder why you would let a child feel like they were wrong and not grasping the concept just because it didn't read the way you wanted it to? Either way, the answer and the way she presented it is correct. And she knows it. Dizzle even said to me, "I sat there wondering why it mattered. It was right either way. I wanted to say something to her, but I was afraid I would get in trouble."

I'm just baffled. This isn't the first time Dizzle has had math work marked wrong when she answered correctly, but presented her work "incorrectly". Isn't the point that the child learn the material? Why does the method matter all that much?

Rev3 Excitement - If you haven't heard, Rev3 is expanding it's race series to Mexico and earlier this week, the location and date of the event was finally announced.

Ixtapa, Mexico. October 24th. Talk about awesome. I think a destination race weekend is in store.

In other Rev3 news, a sneak peek of our team kits, which were produced by Pearl Izumi, was released today.

I am in love. I thought last year's kits were amazing, but these are even better (plus, black is slimming). I can't wait to race in it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

avoidance ...

Most of the time, I am a go-getter. I am proactive. And I don't let anything stand in my way. Others remind me daily that I attempt things they would never consider or be able to do (to which I say, "Not really. You're just as capable.")
  • Want to finish a 70.3 even though you can't swim? Sure. Sounds great. I can always learn.
  • Want to earn an Ivy League degree in three years? Why not? So what if that means never having a summer break.
  • Want to run a marathon immediately after your first 5K? Of course, is there any other way to do it?
All joking aside, I usually have no problem trying new things. I'm not afraid of new foods. I'm all about doing crazy things to my hair. I couldn't care less about what others think of me. I truly believe that if you're not true to yourself, you're living up to your potential. I think we could all benefit from embracing our inner Honey Badger.

But, even though I am usually able to find and embrace mine, there are times when I get in my own way. In fact, it happens more often than you might think.

Over the years, I have become very aware of my strengths and I do everything in my power to play to them. And by doing so, it probably comes across that there isn't much I can't handle. Sure, I can juggle a million things that I'm comfortable with, but what about all those things that fall outside my comfort zone?

I'm positive that there are people out there who fear spiders or heights or water or wild animals. Most days, I wish I was afraid of something like that. But, I'm not.

What I fear more than anything else is not living up to my own (often times, outrageous) standards. My mind is my own worst enemy.

Do you know why I will try anything once? Because the first time I try something, I have no expectations. An attempt is a success. But, that second go round changes it all. Suddenly, I have a picture in my mind of what I can do or "should be" doing. Usually, I am able to reach that picture in my mind. I find my strengths and like always, I play to them.

But every so often, I position the bar so high that sometimes it's unreachable. Yet, rather than adjust that bar and cut myself some slack, I just avoid the situation. I get it in my head that it's better to go untested than to chance disappointing myself if I fail to meet my own standards. (Note: It's not lost on me that I can completely brush off what others might think of me, but at the same time I can be crippled by my own opinions. As absurd as that might be.)

That avoidance is the number one reason I haven't run a 10K since 2009.

It's not that I haven't been able to fit it in. It's not that I haven't wanted to run one. It's just that I don't think that I can live up to the standard in my own mind about what my 10K race should look like. And rather than test my theory, I just avoid it. It's easier that way.

But, I'm trying to stop taking the easy way out. When I mentioned to my wise running wife, G, that I needed to add a spring road race to my schedule she said, "Then run the 10K. If nothing else, it will give you a reason to run. Plus, you haven't run one in forever."

And you know what, she's right. It will force me to train to race and I haven't run one in so long that I don't really know what I'm capable of. Maybe it will suck and I'll blow up on the course. Or maybe everything will go perfectly and I'll shock myself. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter. When it comes down to it, I'm the only one who really cares. My friends and family aren't disappointed if I run slow. They only seek to support me in whatever I tackle. Now, all I need to do is figure out how to support myself.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Baby Face -  Today got off to an epic start. Just after 1 a.m., my sister gave birth to the cutest, chubby-cheeked boy, I've ever seen.

M Dubs, 8lb 9oz, 21"
Although the delivery wasn't what she hoped for, everyone is healthy and that's all that really matters. The girls are so excited to meet their new cousin and I can't wait to cover him in a million kisses.

Upgrade Anxiety - Right before (like 8 hours before) we left for RI last month, our dishwasher died. Like refused to turn on, died. It was exactly how I wanted to start my vacation. Because I LOVE washing an entire load of dishes by hand at 9 o'clock at night.

When we got back, we immediately went out and found a replacement and while we were at it, we figured that we would also replace our old microwave (a first step in our kitchen renovation). If we bought both, we would get free delivery and haul-away, so it just made sense.

But somehow, the day we ordered everything, just so happened to be the day a 60" Sharp Smart TV was on serious discount. And somehow, J managed get that thrown into our order as well. (Note: I'm not really bitter about this. We were going to get a new TV this year. I just wasn't planning on it so soon.)

This morning, everything was delivered and although we asked for installation, the salesman failed to add that to our order. So, here we are, left install everything ourselves. Not a huge deal. We managed to uninstall all the old appliances and are pretty confident that we can install the new ones (at least with YouTube's help). But, since they came midday and J couldn't stick around to get everything done, my house is in disarray. And it's making me crazy anxious.

J thinks my distress is funny. I have to disagree. Sure, my distress is irrational, but funny. Nope. Not one bit.

Run Fun - As I mentioned before, 2014 is about to be the year of the run. After two years of running 2, maybe 3, days per week, I am stepping up my game. This week is the first that I have four days of running on my schedule in a long time. And despite my fear that this increase in running was going to epically suck, it really hasn't. In fact, I'm kind of loving it.

Sure, I'm not as fast as I used to be and obviously, any distance over 6 miles scares me, but I know that in no time, I'll be throwing out my old favorites, "I only ran 15 miles today," and "That was my easy pace." And that, my friends, is total awesomesauce.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 To Do List ...

Some people make resolutions.

Some people make goals.

And others, like me, embrace all of their OCD and Type-A tendencies and make a to-do list instead.

For me, a list gives me something to check off. It's an easy way to monitor my progress and it allows me to remove any doubt I have about tackling what lies ahead. There is just something about having a checklist that gives everything on it importance. Each individual item is as critical as the next and nothing gets left undone. Well, usually. Sometimes, life just throws you a curveball and you have to roll with it.

My to-do list for 2014 is different than in years past. There is nothing insanely daunting on it. I'm not looking to breaking records or push myself further than ever before. I think the focus has shifted away from me proving to myself that I can do something extraordinary to proving to myself that I can do something fulfilling and rewarding without stressing endlessly, making my family sacrifice or losing one aspect of my life for another. I guess what I am saying is that my 2014 to-do list is about balance.

Balance within my family.
Balance within my mind.
Balance within my body.
Balance throughout my life.

So here it goes:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Run 1,400 miles. A huge jump from 2013, but far less than what I used to run.
  • 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.
  • Swim 140 miles. Pretty much where I finished up in 2013. This will probably be the most challenging mileage to hit.
  • 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.
  • Run a negative split marathon. I'm not looking for a PR. Just a well executed race.
  • 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.
  • Take a picture a day for a year.
  • Read 150 books.
  • Go the entire year without cutting my hair (unless I start to get a mullet, at which point a trim is required).
  • Relearn Spanish. Just letting that Rosetta Stone course sit on the shelf isn't helping anyone.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Friday, January 3, 2014

December and 2013 Goals Rewind ...

Miles Run: 45.06 miles. About the same as in November, but look for that to change this month. Off season is officially over and I am bringing the run back ...

Bike Miles Rode: 133.35 miles. My bike trainer and I are so totally BFFs ...
Swim Meters Completed: 8500m or 5.28 miles. Super low for me. I hate to get the in pool when it's cold outside.
Rest Days Taken: 11.
Highest Run Mileage Week: 12/16-12/22: 14.5 miles
Highest Bike Mileage Week: 12/16-12/22: 38.4 miles
Highest Swim Volume Week: 12/2-12/8: 4500m or 2.79 miles
Long Runs Completed (1 hr+ miles): 0
Current Book: Right now, I am reading Darkfever by Moning. But, I finished a few other books in December. (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.) 
  • The Fiery Heart by Mead
  • Eve & Adam by Grant
  • The Bone Season by Shannon
  • The Boyfriend List by Lockhart
  • Fated by Noel
  • Echo by Noel
  • Mystic by Noel
  • Horizon by Noel
  • Elixir by Duff
  • Runaway by Cabot
  • Being Nikki by Cabot
  • Cruel Summer by Noel
  • Devoted by Duff
  • The Pledge by Derting
  • Underworld by Cabot
  • Abandon by Cabot
  • Shiver by Stiefvater
  • Linger by Stiefvater
  • Forever by Stiefvater
Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Dunkin Donuts Peppermint Mocha Coffee with an extra shot of mocha. Being in New England over the holidays where there is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner may have been my undoing ...

Current Colors: Orange and Gray. Just like my new North Face vest!
Current Drink: I'm pretty sure we covered this already ...
Current Song: Stay the Night - Zedd and Hailey Williams
Current Triumph: I think that overall I had a pretty good year. I spent more time doing what I love and less time stressing about the things I don't. I'm proud of how I lived my 2013 and am excited to see what 2014 has in store for us.
Current Goal: Be a better me. Each and every day. And start tackling my 2014 goals ...
Current Blessing: Health, happiness and love. I've got all three.
Current Excitement: My birthday is 35 days away and my sister is expecting her first child any day now. Can't wait for both of those big days!
2013 To Do List:
  • 140.6. That is all. - Didn't happen. And honestly, I am 100% OK with that.
  • Make time for strength training. Don't let training loads eliminate strength workouts completely. And stick to strength training in a group, it keeps you accountable. - I added this mid-year to my list. I definitely did a decent job, but hope to be more consistent in 2014.
  • Switch to time-based/HR training. Despite my knowledge of training paces, I have a hard time sticking to them. I'm hoping this will help me train more effectively. - I have to admit, I hated this. I didn't really see any results and I'm not eager to try this again.
  • Log 4,500 cumulative run, bike and swim miles. Up 485 from 2012. - As of January 1st, 2957.78 miles logged. Not what I hoped for, but not too shabby either.
  • 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. - No progress on this one. But, it does look like I will run one in 2014.
  • Set a new PR in the Half Marathon, currently 1:57:06. I totally blew this one in 2012 and will likely only have one good shot at it in 2013.- Fail. Epic fail.
  • Run a 5K with Dizzle and Doodle, even if that means tricking them into it. - This didn't happen either. Hopefully, we can make this happen in 2014.
  • Eat like a gluten-free athlete. After struggling with health issues much of 2012, removing the gluten has been key in alleviating the symptoms. Don't be swayed by the lure of wheat. Or cake.- On point, like usual.
  • Find the race day (and training) nutrition plan that works for me.- Ding, ding, ding!
  • Consume no more than 18 desserts from Shyndigz. This number worked well in 2012 and helped me cut back on my serious cake addiction. Plus, their gluten-free menu is limited, so I shouldn't be tempted as often. - As of January 1st, 19 desserts consumed. Oops! But really, this is not my fault. The last time I visited there the owner sent me away with a box of gluten free goodies. I had no choice but to eat them.
  • Drink at least 100oz of water per day.- Oh, heck yeah.
  • Only say yes to the projects you REALLY want to work on. An honest no is much better than a halfhearted yes. - Check.
  • Stick to our budget. We've lived credit card (and credit card debt) free for 13 months. No reason to go back now. - Double Check.
  • Ignore your impulses. Take time to process the true value of the things you are filling your space/life with. - Yes and no. Definitely something to keep working on.
  • Figure out what to do with my hair. Keep the mohawk or grow it out. I'm taking opinions on this one.- Nothing but trims to help my hair grow in a normal pattern since May! And it looks horrible.
  • Continue to balance family life, training and now, work.- Check.
  • Prioritize and be a good example for the people in your life. - Like quadruple check!
  • 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.- I would never waiver on this one!