Friday Fete

Yesterday I drove to Utah for work, a nearly 200 mile drive each way. My kid woke up exactly 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off, so I was up at 3:30 trying to calm her down. Then it was pointless going back to sleep, so I just got ready and then I started my drive. And realized when it was too late to turn around if I was still going to make my 8:30 AM meeting… I forgot my wallet. And suddenly I felt so vulnerable. No license, no credit cards… Fortunately my mommy works with me (for a little longer until she retires this summer – Boo for me and everyone at work, Yay for her!) and she was able to help me out. I had meetings, I was a guest lecturer and I drove home still in time to pick #AwesomeA up from school… but we couldn’t go directly to a park. I was in dress clothes and my work shoes had been munching up my Achilles tendon all day. I needed to go home and bandage those up!

Some random thoughts floating through my head as I drove…

I love peanut M&M’s… I mean, I REALLY love them. I lived 34 years of my life thinking “Peanut M&M’s… they’re tasty enough to eat a couple sometimes.” And then for the past 2.5 years my thinking became “Peanut M&M’s are the best thing in the whole world. I NEED them now!” I wonder if having a kid had something to do with my addiction surge? Like the way some mothers use wine to make it through?

peanut-m-m

I recently finished the book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. It was well-written, easy to read… but I’m starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t read any books that have anything to do with parenting.

  • One, it made me really nervous about the teen years (and my kid is two! I have a way to go here!)
  • Two, it made me discredit the book when I read the teen year info. What do you mean they can’t think about future ramifications of their actions?! That’s all I thought about when I was a teen!
  • Three, it made my resentment toward my husband increase. It discusses how most men say they split childcare duties 50/50 with their wives but research shows that it’s actually more weighted to women doing the work. (Like 60/40 or something, I don’t recall the exact numbers.) And all I could think was “Who are these men doing 40% of the childcare?!” Because… the vast load of childcare falls to me in my household and I frequently look at it as a 95/5 split! Maybe 90/10 if I’m having a pleasant day!

But it was interesting how modern parenting has changed. Compared to my grandmother’s time, when women didn’t work as much to now… parents actually spend more time one-on-one with their kids. We live in a world where we can’t just say “Go outside to play and don’t come back until it’s dark.” like was possible in the past. So now we stress ourselves out with making sure that we’re super employees and super parents, thus we’re not having any fun despite thinking our children are our greatest joys. (And yeah… #AwesomeA is pretty much the best thing in my life… while also the hardest thing in my life!)

The author did a TED talk, if you’d rather just spare 18 minutes on the subject as opposed to the whole book:

I also read The Girl on the Train. At least in that book I didn’t find myself comparing my domestic life to the ones in the book. But I’ve decided I’m tired of book reviews saying “It’s the next Gone Girl!” No… it’s not. There is only one of those and that’s the way it should be. It was a good book, but I think that led me to think it would be more explosive than it was thus leaving the book to feel a little like a let down. But if I hadn’t been given that pre-conceived expectation, I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed the book a lot more.

I’m ready to taper. Next week… my taper starts. I don’t think I’ll even have any taper madness. I’m just looking forward to it! I’m going to throw a taper party. No I’m not… I don’t throw parties. But I’m going to be relieved! This tweet made me feel better about my current level of exhaustion:

Balance: Is this a real thing?

what-is-balance

This month Stonyfield wanted those of us on Team Stonyfield to talk about how we balance everything as we train for the Boston Marathon. And I gotta say… some days I feel like the whole idea of having balance in your life is a myth. Like a unicorn.*

There are days where I feel like the wheels are turning and I’ve got it all going smoothly.

  • Get up early and run 8 miles before work. CHECK
  • Shower and eat. CHECK
  • Get the kid dressed with no battles. CHECK
  • Food in the kid. CHECK
  • Productive day of work. CHECK
  • Take the kid to a park and have a lot of fun. CHECK
  • Make dinner that the kid eats cheerfully. CHECK
  • Give the kid a bath and get her in jammies with smiles. CHECK
  • Bed time with hugs and kisses and stories and cuddles. CHECK
  • Make the kid her lunch for the following day. CHECK
  • Husband is home in time to watch The Walking Dead on Netflix with me. CHECK

But then we have days that feel more like this:

  • Get up super early to run, as I’m on my way out the door I hear a wail, “Mommy…. I need you.” Soothe the kid, get her back to sleep and go run half my planned distance.
  • Get home, kid is waking up and crying. Go into her room and she is happy until I tell her she needs to get her uniform on, then we have a meltdown.
  • Kid is finally dressed, take her downstairs to get breakfast and she refuses everything. Instead she just wants to watch videos on the iPad, which isn’t allowed before school.
  • Strap the kid into her carseat so husband can drive her to school, go back inside and realize I am a good 45 minutes late for work, still gross from my run and haven’t eaten. Grab something simple to nosh and sit at my desk. Go take a shower when my co-workers are usually going on break.
  • Every project at work decides to take a left-turn on direction. Months of work is kind of thrown aside like it was nothing. Finish the work day feeling like I want to scream.
  • Pick the kid up from school. Go play at a park, but the park I take her to is the wrong one so she’s not happy.
  • Kid doesn’t eat anything for dinner.
  • Kid won’t read stories. Jammies are all wrong. The blankets are all wrong in her bed. There are no happy faces when the kid goes to sleep, an hour past bedtime.
  • Husband strolls in from work about 10 minutes after the battles have subsided, getting to miss it all.
  • I go to bed annoyed at everything then toss/turn all night long.

So is the simple fact that I get up each day and do it all again and hope for scenario number one “balance”? I guess so…  I just need to keep in mind that when there are the frustrating moments, “it is what it is” and “this too shall pass” and “days are long but years are short.” Are there other cliches that are applicable? Because I certainly don’t ever feel like I’ve got a balance going, I feel like I’m just careening through the days, mostly out of control.

It’s been an adventure training for the Boston Marathon, that’s for sure. I’m thrilled that I get this opportunity (Thank you Stonyfield… every day, Thank you so much!), but I have decided that I am not going to do anymore races that are out of town in the months of January-May as long as my husband is still in public accounting.

*Speaking of unicorns… my daughter started saying yesterday she wanted to “go to the unicorns” and she almost cried this morning when she asked if she could go to the unicorns instead of school. So I promised her a “unicorn adventure” after school… trying to figure that all out while I work. Wish me luck!

Oh… and while searching for unicorn stuff online for this “unicorn adventure” I stumbled upon this picture and it reminded me of when my daughter turned me into a potato and then I laughed! So… the fact that I can still laugh, that’s balance?

unitato

Kid Day

Yesterday, this happened:

Just had to share… she’s learned the joy and excitement of new running shoes a lot younger than I did! :-)

Today I had to take the day off work because my daughter’s school was closed for parent-teacher conferences. (BTW – she’s brilliant and has “mastered” everything at school!) There was no discussion about who would take the day off, there never is. It’s just always assumed that I will. It’s a good thing that the massive work projects are delayed a couple of weeks, not because I’m failing on any of my parts in the project. I always have my tasks done on time!

But school closed = no kid care. So I’m hanging out with #AwesomeA today. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some work today, responding to emails all day and assigning tasks/approving things while playing at the park and actually sitting down with my computer while she watched some kids music videos for an hour as “quiet time.” But we’ve been to a couple different parks today, had lunch with a friend of mine where “A” got to have an ice cream cone for the first time. (Jason’s Deli… you rock for having tiny cones!)

The next couple weeks may be my undoing though! Marathon training is peaking, work projects will be peaking, my daughter’s school has a week where there is no school for spring break so she’s enrolled in spring camp for the week, but that’s just 6 hours a day, and my perennially busy spousal work schedule… my head may implode. I actually bought these from Swanson’s Vitamins:

Swanson's Stress Burnout & Exhaustion Relief

I hope they do something to help me, because truthfully… my heart starts to race when I think about everything I have on my plate and I feel my chest start to constrict.

But aside from feeling anxiety about missing out on stuff, I do enjoy having time with my daughter. She wanted to go buy nail polish and paint her nails. We bought this blue nail polish by Sally Hansen that she picked out herself… after I directed her to those Insta-dri ones because it’s impossible to get a 2-year-old to sit still long enough to let nail polish dry.

And aside from the fact that I haven’t been able to figure out how to appease her constant request today for “frogs riding bicycles” – it’s been a pretty chill day. I decided I wasn’t going to do any household chores, so no laundry or grocery shopping. Just hanging out and playing with her (with little spurts of work inserted throughout the day!) and that’s been good.

I’m a Potato!

Being a potato sounds so nice right now… you just lie there, until someone mashes you up. Or roasts you. Or bakes you…. Wait, that is what work is like now. Except you just sit there and voice your opinions until someone mashes or roasts or bakes them. But then they try to form the original idea back into a potato, so it becomes twice-baked? This is one messed up metaphor. Maybe it’s my brain that is a potato now.

Sigh…

Also… why did my kid decide she was turning me into a potato? Of all the things to turn someone into, why a tuber? That cracked me up!

a potato

Mixing in a little Tabata

Long distance running… it can be high intensity, but not the same type of intensity as a sprint. It can be high intensity, but not the same as lifting weights. It can be high intensity, but not the same as mobility drills. High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) has been gaining ground and popularity for the past few years.

That’s where Tabata comes in. The basic backstory: Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team ran a study where they divided participants into two groups. The moderate exercise group worked out 5 days a week for an hour. The high intensity group worked out 4 days for 4 minutes, 20 seconds. The moderate group gained cardiovascular fitness, but not much muscle fitness. The high intensity group experienced gains in both areas.
[Source]

So… how do runners use it? Well, building a strength-focused Tabata workout can help build key muscles, muscles that can help our running by keeping us more upright and our glutes firing. Doing exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups for 20 seconds, with a 10 second recovery in between each. Lateral squats are great because as runners, we tend to move so much in a forward direction. It’s great to hit more planes of motion.

Or we can hit the track and do Tabata sprints, 20 seconds sprinting followed up with 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times. This isn’t a workout for the newbie though, the sudden stopping can be harder on joints and

I’m partnering with HumanX by Harbinger to help spread the #TabataTuesday word and educate people about the amazing benefits of adding some Tabata to your life. They make a wide range of gear (find out how you can win some, just keep reading!) that can help power the burn in your Tabata workouts. (Of course, many Tabata workouts can be done gear-free too!)

humanx-gear.jpg

HumanX is giving away gear every Tuesday during March. Here’s their full post on the details, but to enter you just need to use the hashtag #TabataTuesday on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook and you’ll be entered to win a weekly prize, as well as earn entry toward the #TotalTabata grand prize pack at the end of the month. Each post or tweet is an entry, so you can enter on lots of platforms and enter multiple times.

This week’s giveaway is for Kettlebell Arm Guards from HumanX Gear. Kettlebells are a fun strength training tool, but they can scratch/scrape/bruise your arms. These help protect you, so that the evidence of your workouts isn’t based on how many bruises you have. (Unless you’re like me and you just bruise for seemingly no reason at all!)

humanx-kettlebell-guards.jpg

I’ll make sure to let you know what the next #TabataTuesday giveaway is as well! Follow me on all my social platforms for updates too! Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Check out this video for some starting ideas:

Friday Fête

Well… I’m off to a race this weekend! The following text was all written when I thought I was going to a race… I actually started on my way to the race. But my kid puked in the car twice within 30 minutes of home and I knew I couldn’t handle at least 2 more hours in the car with that on my own. So… like I said, what follows was all written when I THOUGHT was leaving town to run a race. But once you read the final lines of this post, they feel even more important to me now!


I’m super excited to run the Zion Half Marathon this weekend (it will be good for me to practice pacing myself in a race environment, since marathon pace is not the same as half marathon pace) and experience the event once more. This was the first half marathon I ran postpartum, when #AwesomeA was 6.5 months old. Now she’s 2.5 years-old and life is a whole lot different!

2013 Zion Half Marathon - Alex and Mommy

Throwback pick to the 2013 Zion Half marathon, one of my favorite race related photos EVER! #AwesomeA is almost 7-months-old here.

When I did the race in 2013 I was a stressed out mess because I forgot a part for my pump, so I had to wake my baby up and feed her before I left and then hope she was all good when I finished. She was sooooo hungry when I finished and I felt like a selfish jerk.

This year, at least I don’t have that worry, but I have all new stressors. I’m driving north to my mother’s house in Utah, “A” and I will stay there overnight and then I’ll wake up at some insane hour in the morning to drive an hour to the start line. Then I’ll do the race, catch a shuttle back to my car and drive back north to my mom’s place so I can get my kid and then drive back home. I just stress because I have so much work to do (seriously, this site gets pushed further and further down my priority list because… well, it has to. It’s not my job and it’s not my family!) and I thought I would have to take today away from work to drive to packet pick-up, but they are offering that at the start line race morning. But my mom had plans tomorrow and her husband had surgery yesterday, so I felt like an imposition asking them to watch my rambunctious little girl. I am sure it will be okay and they are excited to see us, I just hate feeling this overwhelmed.

Fortunately I was able to still send my kid to school today and I was able to get a lot of work done this morning (probably because the rest of my co-workers are OFF today for a holiday… so I had gloriously uninterrupted time to be productive). And now I need to go fill my car up with gas, make some sandwiches for the road and double-check that I have everything I need packed up.

Hope you have fun plans for the weekend! And that you aren’t as stressed as me.

Remind me to not do races January-May in the future, okay? And tell my work to not decide to do huge projects during this time period when I’ve signed up for races too, okay?

Run Run Head Games

This weekend I had a dreadful run. Like, just really really awful where I don’t want to get into the gory specifics… but it’s one of those runs where you’re passing a construction zone and think, “I could totally hop that fence to get to that porta potty.” And where you end up with chafe wounds, despite using some kind of product to prevent that type of injury. And where you feel completely depleted emotionally and can’t bear to go on any more, so your planned 18-19 miles turned into 10. And where you may have cried a little in frustration.

This run sucked! Oh well… Another day, another time. #shoeselfie #runselfie #teamstonyfield

A photo posted by Jill (@jillwillrun) on

And this kind of run, combined with the previous week of zero running because of a sick kid and a sick myself, starts messing with your brain. “Why am I doing this? Why was I even selected for this journey? I so don’t belong on the team with these other amazing women. I was a wee baby of 29-30 last time I ran this distance. Now I’m so old* and just can’t do all of this now.”

*I’m not old.

I feel like I’m failing at training, I feel like I’m failing at being a mother, I feel overwhelmed by stupid decisions at work, I feel unsupported in daily life and I’m just tired. Basically, to use a direct quote from my 2-year-old… “I have too much in my hands.” Except in my case, it’s that I have too much in my brain.

I start to compare myself to the other ladies on Team Stonyfield and wonder why on earth I was selected to be with them. But then, we all bring slightly different perspectives to the training. Mine is that of the woman with a 2-year-old kid, a busy more-than-full-time job with completely unrealistic deadlines right now, a spouse that works a bazillion hours from January to May, trying to train for a race distance that bested her and forced her to face her eating disorder once upon a time. And in looking at my teammates blogs, they all have their own issues that crop up and play head games with them too.

But there are good things to remember:

Despite the terrible run and feeling kind of beat up, I actually did feel like I could have kept going to complete those remaining miles… assuming I hadn’t been bleeding from open sores on my back and running on complete empty from being sick.

I finally booked my flights for Boston!

Cute AND comfortable new compression socks from Lily Trotters!

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I basically “paid” for some other woman’s yogurt at the grocery store the other day because I saw her looking at the Stonyfield yogurts and gave her a coupon for a free big container of greek yogurt. Share the love!

My kid is freakin’ awesome… and no matter how hard things are when taking care of a kid, my heart melts a little with all the cute things she says and does. For a woman who loathed her entire pregnancy and didn’t want to have a kid, I sure have turned into a sap when it comes to her.

A photo posted by Jill (@jillwillrun) on

No Cow Bars

I was really excited when I was offered the chance to try these new No Cow bars by D’s Naturals.

no-cow-bars.jpg

Reasons to be impressed:

  • Things that are not included: Dairy, GMOs, Gluten, Sugars, Artificial Sweeteners, Soy
  • Fun Flavors: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: Mint Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Cobbler, Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • High protein: 20 or 21g of protein per bar
  • A story: The founder/CEO is an 18-year-old … that is pretty remarkable!

I was very intrigued when I read most of those stats… and when I got the bars I was pleased when the first bite had really good flavor for most flavors. The blueberry was kind of “meh” for me.

So… are you getting the impression that there is a BUT here? Cause there is one small caveat. But it’s also kind of a big caveat too.

The texture.

Even with a good flavor, I found the texture undesirable. It just felt dry and laborious to muster a will to want to keep chewing.

no-cow-bar-bite.jpg

I prefer my food-in-bar-form to remind me of actual food. I like seeing visual cues of familiar items like nuts and fruits and oats. So overall, these were not a success for me.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Life Outside the Oval Office [Book Review]


Life Outside the Oval Office: The Track Less Traveled
by Nick Symmonds
800m Olympic Runner/World Championship Medalist

Prior to reading this book I knew of Nick Symmonds. I knew he was an Olympic athlete, I knew he was a champion for pro runners and their sponsors to have fair opportunity apart from the control of the USATF and I knew that he was pretty good-looking because it seems like most pictures I’ve seen of him are presented in such a way as to say “Hey… this is a good-looking man! Check him out!” Reading the book was a fun opportunity to peek inside his mind and learn more about him.

It was amazing to read about some of the big races in Nick’s life. He runs the 800m… it’s two laps around the track. But I’m pretty sure there is more emotion and thought and strategy that is going through his head in that than I have in my brain during a marathon. It was INTENSE. Just reading it made me feel the intensity of the race. Part of me is glad that I will never be a competitor at that level and have to think about that much in a race environment, or the fact that somebody could misstep and cause others to fall and ruin their whole race. (Yes… I fell in a marathon and got my awesome DNF and a chin full of stitches, but that didn’t ruin other competitors’ race.)

Life Outside the Oval Office by Nick Symmonds

Nick Symmonds’ book had A LOT of info that just fascinated me. The information about how they are tested to make sure they’re not doping was just insane to me. Even though I don’t have to live through that process, I’m kind of pissed off that there are people who dope and make it so that organizations feel the need to test all pro athletes this way. Listen to this:

“If they want urine, then a DCO (doping control officer) follows me into the bathroom and asks me to wash my hands. The DCO then asks me to pull my pants down to my ankles and lift my shirt up to my armpits while he stands inches away to watch the urine leave my body and enter the little plastic cup they have provided me with. Needless to say, this can take some getting used to. I absolutely hate this part of my job. I find it to be a huge invasion of my privacy.”

Can you imagine? He also details some of the ways people have been known to cheat the tests, but I really respected this statement:

“There are times when I lament the fact that I have never been ranked number one in the world, but never once have I considered cheating to get there. I take pride in the fact that at night I can collapse onto my bed after a hard, honest day’s work. I also take much joy in the fact that when I lie down in my bed, I don’t have a fake penis hidden in my underwear along with a bag of someone else’s urine strapped to my leg.”

Shudder…..

Nick is good at marketing himself, he is firmly entrenched in the social media scene and has built an impressive following. And he needs to… while he is a “professional runner” he is also in the business of marketing. He’s marketing himself, the sport, his sponsors, etc. Sadly most pro runners aren’t allowed to give their sponsors the exposure they should get because of USATF rules about what logos can be displayed and where and how big… I hope it’s changing in a positive way. Athletes like Nick who are vocal about these needed changes (and others, but I won’t direct the spotlight in this post away from Mr. Symmonds) are getting the spotlight and I hope things change.

There are so many pages in the book I folded over with the thought, “I need to mention this on my site. And share this. And this too.” But if I put all of them in this post I’d probably end up re-writing the book and then I’d get sued. I really enjoyed this book… Nick Symmonds is more than that vocal good-looking athlete who goes on dates with Paris Hilton. Yes, he’s those things… but more. Take the chance to get to know him by reading this book. I highly recommend this book!

Oh… and I feel special because my copy of the book is signed. Sure… I’m certain I was part of an assembly line while Nick had to autograph books, but it still is kind of cool to see inside the front cover! Big big big thanks to Brooks Running for sending me this book!

Nick signed my book!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Rock My Run Giveaway

Putting a little music to your run can go a long way to improving your performance. If I know I’m feeling a little down, the right music on my run (or during work! or during a drive! or just while hanging out!) can turn my mood around. And sometimes, if I’m going out for a run and know I need to run slower (such as for a recovery effort) I’ll make sure I listen to either slow music or I will listen to a news podcast to hold me back. There are even experts who devote their lives to researching the power of music!

See: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music

Putting your device on shuffle can work, but then you may be running and end up with something really random that is on your phone only because you have a 2-year-old. (Or maybe that’s just me?) And making a custom playlist can be awesome… but it can also be time-consuming. Or that song you just love when making your list is a real downer when you start to run. (I had that moment years back when listening to Maroon 5’s Harder To Breathe. I didn’t need to be reminded that “it’s getting harder and harder to breathe!”)

rock-my-run

Rock My Run has worked out all the kinks so that you can have a “playlist” all built to perfectly mesh together and last your entire run. They build them based upon certain genres and tempos and lengths so there is probably a perfect mix for just about everyone out there. The coolest thing about Rock My Run? It’s a FREE service. FREE! As in…. zero dollars.

That’s pretty sweet, but there is also a premium version, or the Rockstar version, as it’s called. So what do you get if you upgrade? For as low as $2.99 a month you can have access to mixes that are up to 4 hours long, add-free content, continuous play in the app for workouts that are longer than just one mix, etc.

Phone-Search_Genre_Screen

I played with the app when they first released it, but I hadn’t kept it on my phone since I’m constantly rotating running-related apps in and out of my phone. One of the coolest enhancements they’ve made is the myBeats feature. You can manually change the tempo of a mix to match your running pace. But if you have an iOS device (coming soon to Android) you can use the accelerometer in the device to adjust the mix BPM or you can connect a heart rate monitor to adapt the beat.

NowPlaying-HR-i5

They offer a 7-day free trial of Rockstar status for anyone through the app, but 7 days isn’t that much time… right? So I’ve got a code to get one free month of Rockstar access on Rock My Run: RMR3I

What about a year? Want a year of premium access to Rock My Run? Yes, you do…. I’ve got a year to give away. And it comes with a sweet pair of JLab Audio’s Fit 2.0 Sport Earbuds. Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget, the giveaway will run March 3-10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway