Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Embarrassed at Myself

 It's 12:54pm and I'm wishing it was bed time.

Of all that has happened so far today, it's the generous outpouring and the near collision with the reckless driver at the grade school that has me thinking.

We live in a low-income neighborhood.  About half of our neighbors are home owners, with the other half being high turnover rentals and a couple of crazy college houses on the block to make life interesting.  Our grade school has an 87% qualification for free/reduced lunches. I sometimes feel badly.  We drive a very old car, I coupon and cook from scratch.  We wait til the last possible moment to hit the thrift store when the seasons change because money is just always that tight.  Christmas is quite stressful, car insurance is due that month also, so - you know.

I get jealous, though I know I should not, of our peers that seem to do so much better.  We have more children, less education and at least as much debt than many people we know.  We are working on the debt thing and doing well, it just takes time.  It's very disheartening to work and work and never have anything except the necessities.

And just as that pity party really got going full throttle, I see one of them.  The guy that wears winter weather gear in summer to keep it from being stolen.  The "Duck Dynasty" looking guy on the corner with a small cardboard sign that says NEED FOOD.  The woman that walks her young child to school in every kind of weather because they don't have a car.  She speaks little English.  Did she come here alone with her son to get away from a terrible life?

I see them and it makes me cry.  I cry because I'm EMBARRASSED.  How could I feel sorry for myself living in a low income neighborhood, when I'm wearing $150 running shoes?  Okay, yes, I had to buy them used from eBay for $50 - but I have a computer at home, a job to save money from and a checking account with which to even do that.  How could I feel sorry for myself when I have a loving husband, a safe and warm house, food to eat, and clothing to wear.  I'm such a spoiled, rotten, ungrateful brat sometimes.  I can't even stand myself.

Just as everything sanctioned by God, this is FOR MY GOOD.  And - for our children's good.

Our school is 63% minority.  Yep, our little white kids are the minority precentage.  I went to school in a very white, middle class neighborhood and was sort of scared of other races.  Our kids don't even see colors of skin.  It's absolutely beautiful.  Had I ever come home with a non-white boyfriend, my Dad would have killed me.  Our kids will never know that bias.  They are free to choose friends based on mutual interest and, hopefully, love of Christ!  What a wonderful world that opens to them.

I'm rambling a bit now - but I'm just so glad to have been slapped around a little.  I still get jealous of others' seemingly easy time of things.  I guess God just knows that I have enough faith in Him that I can handle this.  It's a dubious honor.  Sort of like when you are really good at doing something distasteful at work that nobody else wants to do.  And...then that's your job from then on.  Yeah.  That's what having a large family on a small income is like.

Only with a much better Boss.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Failing Upward

The longer that I am a Mother, the more I realize that I don't know anything.

My skin gets a little tougher and I'm not as easily rattled, but I am no closer to knowing how to figure out my kids.

One thing I do know, is that they need even more attention as they grow older.  You would think that a two-year-old is at the pinnacle of need.  They need to be diapered, dressed, bathed and fed all by your hands.  They no longer sleep 20 hours per day and that afternoon nap is all you get for a break.  Food must be cut in to appropriate sized pieces, gates must be secured, doors latched and bodies of water observed with hawk-like attentiveness.

I always felt like things would get easier when the kids got older.  Don't get me wrong, it's really nice to have all four of them able to feed, dress, wash and toilet independently.  What I'm finding is that parenting is way more than my physical time investment.  Even after the day is done, as they get older, I think and plan my life around their doings and issues.
Not a fan of this sentiment.  (source)
Simply having three of them in three different schools is enough.  I feel like I am failing more and more as we are not even near the end of 1st Semester and I have already faltered on enforcing AWANA studies and we can't seem to get out the door without forgetting something, having to rush or not eating.  I need to get better about having them gather things at night!

Maybe feeling like a failure in parenting is a good sign.  If I was confident that David and I had it all together, then we might really be in trouble.  This principle is also how I know that I'm not really insane yet.  I know that I'm potentially not right in the head, and thereby I'm okay.

Right?  Right.

Being a parent does automatically make you a badass.  But if you have to wear a headband or shirt that says so, it negates it.  Don't do it.  Also, wearing the word "ass" in any form on your shirt is a no-no as a parent.  Even if they can't read yet, this will make you look like you crawled out of the gutter, over the wrong side of the tracks and hung out with the escaped cons during your pregnancy.  Which might mean you really are a badass.  No, just a dumbass.  Never mind.

Really - if you like the Badass Mother Runner stuff - we can still be friends.  Just understand that this is my blog, with my opinions.  I am the last person to suck in my breath when someone says a curse word (I'm a virtual compendium of "been there, done that"), I just think it's kinda tacky.

Okay.  Now that I've lost the 4 readers that I had...gotta go.  Baby just pooped his whole outfit and puked on the floor.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ladies Retreat Weekend

Yesterday, I had David pick me up short from from a long run. :(  The weekend was very full and I, erroneously, thought that after all that I could run 8 miles with no problem.  Hmm.  I turned early on my route to shorten in because I was feeling tired.  Then as I neared the zoo (about 1.25mi from home) I called for a pick up.  I then saw this sign, which made me laugh and think of my little sister and her sharp wit.

Where does one get a sticker that even says that!?
Looking at my stats, I could see that I was barely trudging along.  I made it about 3.75 miles - so at least I burned off some weekend calories!

Our church's Ladies Retreat was Friday night through Saturday afternoon.  My husband took Friday off to do my job and I went up early in the afternoon to help set up. Several of the gals had arrived even earlier and had it mostly done.  Our theme this year was "From Pieces to Peace" so the table decorations were quilts and puzzle pieces...with Reese's thrown in for good measure.  We have a very talented group of gals on our planning committee!

The table centerpieces.
I am Emcee of the event, so I get to be a goofball with a microphone and do what my buddy Sylvana (the committee chair and all around planner extraordinaire) asks me to do.  She's pretty amazing and a tireless champion of Christ.  Good, good person.  Very cool.

Early arrivals to the retreat dining in the local coffee shop.
We have a talented team of women that lead the music, a professional speaker, a woman from the congregation that gives their testimony, snacks, games, prayer, group's really wonderful!  It is, however, extremely emotional and void of sleep.  My roommate for the second year in a row was a real pleasure.  She is very easy going about light and temperature - and brings me my favorite candy!
Dark chocolate and peanut butter for breakfast?  Yes!
Our speaker was Lora Jones from Kansas.  She spoke on what questions are okay to ask God and how to live with a heart full of pain.  I wish everyone could hear her speak.  She concentrated on how to live with pain and that we need to let joy enter in.  She never eluded that one needs to "get over it" and even said that it's okay to admit that the pain is still there.  I really liked the visual aid she used as she spoke.  It began with a heart all broken up and she stuck the various pieces on while she spoke. 

Let joy in, let hope buffer the pain, have peace like a river.
So a great weekend, but very tiring.  I feel like I'm starting this week behind the 8 ball on rest.  My insomnia has evolved, now, into not being able to fall asleep for hours after I go to bed.  I take my Ambien and wait.  The pills DO allow me to sleep through the night...all 5-6 hours of it.  Unfortunately, my insurance has decided to only cover 10 pills per month, soooo we will have to see what happens.  At this point, I'm willing to pay for a month of it, outright, just to get another month's sleep.  I would really like to start doing yoga before bed, but it's hard to give up more time with my sweet husband.  Especially at the end of the day when most of the kids are in bed.

So it goes.  Life is all about choices.  

This coming Saturday is the Market to Market Relay.  Except for Sunday's busted long run, I'm feeling exceptionally fit and prepared.  Bring on the run - stop - run, van full of stinky boys, eating on the run, delirious Omaha to Lincoln via our legs, fun!  Somehow, I think that will be LESS tiring than 24 hours of heart wrenching emotional drive-by diarrhea at the Ladies Retreat.  

I know, for sure, it will be easier!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Running Solace

This week has been hard.  I had a shot of Lupron Depo on Friday of last week, and by Sunday the pain was ON.  It's actually gotten better since then, but I'm still experiencing a level of pain that ibuprofen cannot handle.  Now, I'm not crazy and I'm certainly not any tougher than anyone else, really - but I have continued to run.  It doesn't make it any worse, and in fact it makes my brain feel better.  I do have to lose a little sleep to get it done - but there is something wondrous about that quiet time in the early morning all to myself.

I have a couple of events coming up and am glad to be run focused again.  I really like triathlon, but my first love will always be running.  The Governor's Cup on October 19th marks the 7th anniversary of the first race  that I ever ran.  I did the 5k back then and ran it in 32:23.  I don't remember following a training plan but I do remember running around my neighborhood keeping time on my watch.  I had no idea how far I was running - all I knew was that I regretted all the years I spent smoking!  This year I am doing the 15k of that same event.  Seven years ago I couldn't even imagine running 9.3 miles.  Pretty cool how things change.

The week before that I will be running in the Market to Market Relay.  Our church has an 8-man team that was all dialed in and ready to run.  I had contacted the team Captain a couple of months ago and asked if there was a slot available, which there was not.  Two weeks ago, my buddy Aaron called and told me they had someone bow out.  I'm IN!  I kind of felt like when I was to sick to run Last Blast that I had built my fitness level up for nothing.  I guess it wasn't for nothing after all.  Been tuning up a little with completing three runs within 24 hours in addition to a long run of 8-10 miles on weekends.

I love running and planning to run.  I love comparing running shoes, talking to other runners, reading about it, charting courses, calculating nutrition needs.  Something about it just takes my mind off of regular life and struggles of health and money and kids.  When I can't sleep, I imagine that I'm running and it relaxes me.  I don't know why - but I guess it's good to have something like that.

It may sound kind of sick, but I'm excited to run again tonight.  I have to run on the treadmill in the mornings to be home for the kids, so when I get to run at night it's a treat!  Something about running twice in one day (and not dying!) that makes me feel super tough.  I probably won't feel so tough after my run tonight. And especially after I do hills tomorrow morning.  That what doesn't kill me...doesn't kill me!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fish Oil Experiment Results

During the month of September, I started taking 6g  fish oil per day.  I took 2 pills (2g) at each meal.  I didn't change much else - I noticed that my weight was creeping up, so I did cut out some treats.  September was a hard month with my health - and I missed most of my workouts in the 1st and 2nd weeks of the month.  My motivation for trying the fish oil was to see if I could cut some body fat.  I'm slightly less concerned about the number on the scale at this point.  I guess I will play the "genetics" card when it comes to that.  Sounds like BS, probably is.

I should probably note that I eat about 1700 calories per day, eat lots of whole grains, low fat dairy and fruit and veg - and drink plenty of water.  I was pretty pleased with my results - especially given that I had less than perfect adherence to my workout schedule.  I actually missed my "A" race of the Triathlon season due to illness.  Okay on to my findings:

Weight: -3 pounds
Hip Measurement: -1 inch
Waist Measurement: -.5 inch
Body Fat %: +.5%
Muscle Comp %: +.5%

I'm not entirely sure the body fat detection on my scale is accurate.  I get a wildly different reading if I step on it several times in a row.  For these purposes, I averaged several.  The weight reading is fairly consistent, so we will go with that one.  And...the tape measure never, never lies.  I have been trying to make those numbers change for over a year.  I'm really excited to see the scale move, and to shed an inch from my hips and 1/2 inch from my waist..!?!  Pretty exciting, indeed.

Another side benefit of the fish oil is the possibility that I will be able to wear contact lenses again.  It seems that my Optometrist never told me of the widespread recommendation of fish oil for chronic dry eye.  I tried drops and different lenses and even was recommended a prescription to take (to which I just conceded to be be-spectacled).  Nothing worked.  Now, after a month of taking a high dosage of fish oil, I wore my contact lenses for a few hours with no problems.  Definitely not the last word on the subject, but there is hope.

I will continue to take fish oil and hope to see the positive trend continue.  I have some work to do these next three months if I want to make my 2013 mileage goals.  I'm way ahead on cycling, slightly ahead on running and about 10% behind on swimming.  Anybody want to hit the pool?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last Blast Lincoln Y Tri Race Report

Sunday September 15th was my one and only Triathlon for the season.  An Olympic distance, Last Blast was out at the Branched Oak Reservoir and had about 76 participants in that distance and another 35 in the Super Sprint.  An added 15 people rounded out the day competing as 3 man teams.

I had trained with my husband, using a free, 12 week plan from Garmin, and added my own strength training plan. David and I both felt that our fitness increased and we were challenged but not impossibly overwhelmed by the Intermediate plan.  Unfortunately, I was very sick the two days prior and the day of the race.  I was more sad to miss the experience with my husband than to miss the raceitself. :(  

David was nice enough to write up a race report for the blog.  Here it is, my husband David guest posting today and giving us his take on the Last Blast Lincoln Y Tri!

Last Blast Olympic Triathlon

Well, perhaps I should call this First Blast as this was actually my very first organized triathlon event/race.  It did not seem odd to me to just skip right to the Olympic distance for my first event, I’m not entirely sure if that was the best decision.

With any outdoor event, people tend, or you think they would, watch the weather forecasts to try and plan or have some expectations about the weather.  Well, I’m kind of a weather fan so I watch it on a regular basis pretty closely and for an event like this I start checking it out 15 days in advance.  The weather was looking grim.  Very cold and rainy.  As it turned out, we had thunderstorms starting in the early morning and temperatures around 60 degrees.   There was quite a fear of a delayed start, but around 6:30 the rain stopped and didn’t represent itself throughout the day thankfully and we started on-time at 8:00 am.

1500 Meter Swim

Because of the cooler weather, the water temperature was 76 which made it wetsuit legal, wish I’d had one.  Perhaps a little less than half of the participants did for the Olympic distance (there was also a separate Super Sprint distance event).  It was a mass-start for the our event, though wasn’t too bad as there were only about 80 participants total.  We waded out to about knee deep to the water to prepare for the start.  

The horn sounded and everyone trudged to deeper water.  Initially, as I’ve read in other reports, people being close together have a tendency to swim in to each other and flail some arms and legs at each other.  There wasn’t too much of this, but everyone was all like “excuse me”, or “oh, pardon me”.  That was very considerate.  

After about ten minutes is when I began to have some difficulties.  I won’t pull anything here, I totally had a panic attack during the swim.  This was really my first open water swim.  I’ve swam in lakes before, in the designated swim area.  These areas are deemed “safe” and being tall, I could always touch the bottom.  As I swam out away from the shore the marker buoys seemed so far away that they were even hard to see.  I’ve swam well over this distance countless times in the pool, but here out in the middle of the lake I started to freak out, badly.  I came seriously close to waving in a kayak and calling the day to a quick end.  I stopped and back stroked, and breast stroked, and let my heart settle.  I decided to keep going.

Finally I made it around the first turn and regrouped.  I began to swim and was doing ok.  I made it to the next buoy and though the swim course was a giant triangle, this was instead just a sight buoy and I had to continue on again for another couple hundred yards before I could turn back toward home.  I made it to the next fairly well and turned finally back toward to shore.  About halfway back to shore I was feeling very bad about my bad swim performance that was really a mental issue.  I just wanted to be done with the swim.  I struggled in to shore, I had made it without calling the race, but with a horrible time.  

Still, this race will instantly be a PR for me as it is my first!  Here are some good things that came out of the swim:  I did not drown, I encountered zero lake inhabitants, the other racers were nicer than I expected.  I will be MUCH more prepared mentally next time (yes, I’ll do it again).

26 Mile Bike

After a pretty good transition, I made it out on the bike.  I don’t have a fancy bike but I’ve had it for a while and it has served me very well for what I paid for it.  It’s not exactly a road bike, but a straight-bar bike with road tires.  Having just crawling out of the lake, I was cold.  It was about 59 degrees and the wind was picking up.  I passed on grabbing my jacket and a little uncomfortably cold.  

The bike course was two times around the Branched Oak Lake reservoir.  My wife and I had been saying for a couple of weeks that we should go out and at least drive the course if not ride it, but we didn’t make it.  This was a bummer.   I found the bike course surprisingly hilly.  The best part was that having two loops, you get to repeat the same hills again!  The hills weren’t too high, but they were fairly regular.  

I like riding my bike and passed a couple of people, which made me feel much better after the previous segment.  The second time around the wind really started to pick up which adds to the fun when climbing hills.  As everyone knows, when riding a bike, the wind is always in your face!  I warmed up on the bike, and dried off too and was feeling better.  

I had planned my fluids and nutrition on hot weather that didn’t come, so I had lots of fortified water.  Still I knew that I was expending a lot of effort so tried to take in as much as I could.  I didn’t have any equipment failures, flats or other malfunctions on the bike.  Riding around the lake was beautiful, even on an overcast day.  Because this was a weekend in a State Park, it wasn’t a closed course so we had to try and avoid being hit by RVs, gigantic trucks pulling trailers and boats.  Fun stuff.  

10K Run

So, enter sub-event three of the day, the run.  I had fully recovered after my disappointing swim and felt much better on the bike.  Still, the bike course was pretty hilly.  I was starting to feel the fatigue of the day, and perhaps some age.  I had a very successful transition, in fact I was very pleased with both of them.  I strapped on my cap, running shoes, swallowed a drink of water, grabbed a gel and took off.  I had about a 100 yard run on grass to get to the street.  The grass was still wet and slippery from the rain a couple of hours earlier.  Starting on the run was a little bit of a struggle getting my legs moving, but I was pleased that I didn’t suffer much.  The run course soon branched off of the main paved road to a side gravel out-and-back.  Well, it was supposed to be graveled, but the rock was sparse and the earlier downpours had left it very muddy and quite disappointing.   There were also a couple of sizable hills in the first half too.  During the entire run there were others returning on the same route (on the other side) and they were all very encouraging to “Keep Going,” “You’re doing great!” and “Almost there.”  In all three legs, the other participants were the best part of the event.  

After the completing half of the run on the hilly dirt road, the rest returned to the paved route.  There were two water-only stops on the run course, once halfway through the mud slog and the other at the last turn around spot about mile 4.  

I was most pleased that I didn’t stop and walk once during the run, despite the tiredness, hills, mud and the whole day.  I trudged on, my run time wasn’t fabulous, but it wasn’t a disaster either.

When returning to the transition area at the end of the run there were a disappointing number of bikes remaining still.  Oh well.  Like I knew at the beginning, this was a PR Baby!   I was very thankful that I had not suffered any injury nor significant pain throughout the day.  I didn’t even drown!  Shortly after completing and stopping the Garmin Tracking app on my phone I got some very wonderful messages from my wonderful wife.   I missed her throughout the day as she was supposed to have competed as well, but had been in significant pain recently and could not participate or even able to spectate.  

I think next year we will both be in better shape to take on the Last Blast Lincoln Triathlon at Branched Oak Reservoir.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Food Shaming

Sugar is poison.  Aspartame is poison.  Fat is bad for you, carbs are bad for you.  You should only eat organic produce, meat and dairy.  You should never eat meat and dairy.  Vegan, Vegetarian, Omivorous, Paleo, Low-Carb, Locavore.  
What you eat, says more about you than it ever should.  What you feed your kids and what you choose for your family can even make you the subject of other people's conversations.
I admit it.  I've done it.  I've seen the woman in the grocery store, pushing a cart full of sugared cereal, TV dinners, bottles of pop and bags of chips with her children grabbing candy bars and sodas at the check out.  I have judged that woman and felt like she wasn't giving herself or her children a chance in life by eating that way.  I've even gone so far in my mind as accusing her of neglecting her duties as a mother by feeding her family that way.

No matter what the situation is, we all have a thoughts on food choices.  In fact, what other people put in their grocery carts, and in their mouths is a multi-million dollar topic of interest to us.  We watch shows about cooking, we buy cook books and diet books and there's always a new set of  rules on the right way to eat.  Even folks who never count calories or monitor their nutrition, likely have opinions about the freaky people that do.

The problem arises when we start to feel somewhat superior for the choices that we make.  We look at others, not in our "group" with pity or even disdain.  We shake our heads and sigh, knowing that our way is the best way.  We may even make passive-aggressive clip art to try to get our point across.  Food is much like money, in that it is an inanimate object.  It is neither good nor is it bad.  It is what it is until you consume it.  And consuming such doesn't change the worth of the person just as the amount of money a person has is not indicative of their worth.

Since losing weight and quitting smoking several years ago, I have become a tireless supporter of good health.  I have tried every eating plan and can safely tell you that, for me, good old-fashioned moderation seems to work out best.  I eat a ton of fruit and veg, drink gallons of water, lots of whole grains and a small portion of meat and dairy each day.  I eat real butter, real sugar, and the least refined versions of oils and the like that I can afford.  I also can't afford organics.  I'm sure they really are all they are cracked up to be - but it's just outrageously expensive to shop that way.

Even these, seemingly healthy and moderate choices, come under fire from one source or another.  There is always some school of thought that argues with you.  I've even seen arguments for my Moderation Diet that say eating very strictly 6 days per week with one "cheat" day is better.  I guess in the end it's about the same, right?

When we aren't feeling superior about our food choices, we are busy trying to shock people into eating differently.  I've never seen the documentary Meet Your Meat, and I don't need to.  I understand that eating meat involves killing it.  Killing a living creature involves blood.  I'm okay with that.  The only thing watching that film would do, is make me feel that I was a bad person for wanting to eat meat.  I can pick something else to feel bad about.  Cheeseburgers taste to good to feel bad.

Other that superiority complexes and shock tactics, there is plain overt shaming.  Articles, photos, headlines and books all designed to make you feel like an out of control freak for eating out of the lines on the diet of the month.  Words like responsibleconscientious, thoughtful, kind and clean all serve to remind us that if your food hasn't been harvested, massaged, sang to and raised less than 10 miles away, you are a filthy, irresponsible, inconsiderate, jackass.

"WHAT!?  You eat processed, non-organic carbs!?  *breath sucking in*  I can't believe it, I thought you were a healthy eater!  Don't you know that those will make your blood boil, your bones turn to chalk and your all your hair fall out?  And worst of all it makes you stupid and MEAN!  We can no longer be friends."

I realize that's a bit of a stretch - but it's the attitude we convey on a whole.  In a world that works so hard to accept every color, creed, professional path and lifestyle choice, I'm sorry to observe that we are psychotic jerks about something as simple as food.   

For myself, I do it on my own.  I perceive being judged and feel sad about it.  I think that others are thinking about what I'm thinking and think that they think I'm bad.  

Wait.  What?

Exactly.  No more.  I refuse to make myself feel bad, or let any other person, media or idea make me feel bad for fueling my body.  I will maintain a positive attitude AND endeavor to uplift others in their nutrition decisions.  After all, change starts with me!