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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

But, I Thought You Didn't Want Kids!

When my blog was in its infancy, I wrote a few posts about how I did not want children. These days, I tend to shy away from blogging about such personal subjects, but I wanted to talk about this one. It's not that I have to explain myself, it's that I want to.

It was 2005 and I was 27. I had converted from thinking that marriage means children, to thinking that marriage means marriage, and children come sometimes, if you want them. Honestly, I had gotten married young - I was 22 when I said "I do" to my ex-husband, and I'd had a plan to go off of birth control and start "seeing what happened" in that area by age 26. However, at 25, a year short of that goal, I started to freak out. I was not ready. My husband wasn't ready. And as a couple, we certainly were not ready. The problem was, I didn't think we'd ever be ready.

As I often do with life choices big and small, I turned to Google to see what advice others had about this, and I discovered a whole community of people out there who don't believe that children are necessary to live a complete life. I started considering the other option - not having children at all - and I liked it. I liked it so much, that instead of just going about living my life and not discussing my childfree status with everyone, I mentioned it to people. I discussed my dilemma and my eventual decision. I was happy with my choice.

The problem was, other people weren't happy with my choice. My family tried to talk me into having kids. My friends desperately tried to understand, and some became down right hostile. On my blog, I listed a lot of reasons why I didn't want to have children, and they were pretty typical of the childfree - I wanted to be able to travel, I wanted to keep working without the stress of daycare, I was concerned about money, I was afraid I would not be a good parent, and I was afraid I would have kids and then regret it and feel resentful towards them. Reaction was mixed.

The real, single biggest reason I didn't want kids in 2005? My marriage was not stable enough to bring a child into. I am a child of divorce, and I will not divorce a man with whom I have a child, and in 2005, I was not willing to commit to my ex-husband for life anymore. We had discussed having children, of course, and our conversations revolved around  the other reasons I mentioned. I don't think we ever really told each other "well, our marriage won't survive kids," but I think we both felt that way. It was all a huge strain - the stress and pressure of being in a not-so-great marriage, combined with the stress and pressure of friends, family and strangers to take that not-so-great marriage to the next level. Obviously, we did the right thing, because our marriage ended in 2006. Like magic, those voices trying so hard to get me to have kids were silenced.

So, now what? It's 2013, I'm 3 1/2 years into another marriage, and I'm almost 6 months pregnant. Clearly, my mind has changed. Eight years have passed since my initial foray into childfree land, and in that time, I have totally redecorated my life. My marriage is happy and strong, and I cannot see myself with anyone else other than Todd, ever. I have eight additional years of travel under my belt, and in that time I've traveled from London to Indonesia to Belize to basically the entire Caribbean, and I feel like I'm ready to start doing that travel with a third person along (yes, I insist that I can travel with a child. Maybe not the same travel we've been doing, but this baby already has a trip planned). I am, for the first time in my career, working at a job where I feel I will be staying for a while, and where I have the flexibility to work and be a mom. I feel financially stable, and I feel old enough and mature enough to take on raising a human. I am in a good place, and I was in such a bad place in 2005, that I couldn't possibly see myself ever getting here.

So, a word of advice for those people who feel concerned or insulted that someone has made the choice to be childfree. Having children is a big deal and not having them is a valid choice. What's more, those people who have chosen to skip child rearing may have some pretty wonderful reasons to have done so, but they may not be sharing all of those reasons with you. Finally, do not, ever, insist that they will change their minds. While I did, and many people do, it's still a rage inducing stance to take. I could have decided to stay with my ex, and if I had done that, I can say with certainty that I would not be pregnant now, or even considering it. Even after I got married to Todd, we still were uncertain if we wanted children. Sure, our marriage was strong, but we still needed to decide if children were what we wanted. And yes, the "when are you having kids" questions started up right away as soon as we said our vows, especially from those who didn't know me during my first marriage.

Just remember, things are not always what they seem.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

My Fast is Your Slow

I would like to comment on a little debate that went on over at Athlinks.com a couple of months ago. I haven't had the time to really return to it until now, but I think it's a really interesting topic.

On November 18, Athlinks sent out this message:

The past four years have seen an alarming decline in U.S. racing performances in distances across the board. 5K times are off by +1:17, that's a 4% decline! Average Ironman times have increased by +21:54, a nearly 3% decline. I ask you - How could we let this happen to this, the Swiftest of Nations?
I urge you to join us along with your fellow American road racers, trail runners, triathletes, cyclists, and swimmers in making a new commitment to restoring the speed to your own community.
The email included a table showing the average race finishing times in 2009 and the average race finishing times in 2012. A little bit of a debate erupted on Facebook, with many people pointing out the obvious: Race times have probably decreased because more people are participating, and those who are new the the sport are quite obviously slower. Plus, there has been an uptick in people joining up simply to have fun and participate, without any sort of time goal.

The Athlinks folks have a great rebuttal to this - why are you using Athlinks, a site which tracks your PRs and race times, if you don't care about your race times? I will answer this: Because there is a difference between "not caring" about speed and not wanting to know what your time was.

What bothers me more than anything about this whole debate is that there is an assumption made by the "fasts" - those that run traditionally fast racing times - that I can't stand. I consider you to be "traditionally fast" if you have a hope of qualifying for Boston someday, if you don't really have to worry about course time limits on any race that you choose to run, or really if you would run a marathon with proper training and reasonable race conditions and see yourself finishing in 4:30 or better (which is above the average in the Athlinks email). The assumption that is frequently made is that if you are slow, below average, worrying about course time limits, etc, then you must not care about your times.

Well, guess what? I do care about my times. I am slow. I have to watch out, especially in a marathon, for the course time limits. I've run 6 marathons and only two of them have been sub 6 hours. The "average" time of 4:33 is still a long way away for me, and I may never see it. I wouldn't expect to have a hope of qualifying for Boston until I am in my 70s. But, I do train. I train hard. I care about my times, and for the most part, I have improved. I've gotten a new PR pretty much every single year that I've been running. That doesn't mean that I'll suddenly be running that 4:33, but it does mean that my marathon time went from 6:35 in 2006 to 5:46 in 2011, and I'm very proud of that. I do realize that the 5:46 would be an embarrassment to some, but to me, that's my PR!

In some ways, I'm still just a "participant." I do have a friend who recently started training crazy-hard, doing multiple runs per day, multiple speed sessions per week, and seriously upping her mileage. Her times have improved drastically and I have no doubt that if I were to suddenly take that approach, I would also see some drastic time improvements. But, what's wrong with just training like I do, improving in small amounts, and seeing myself get better at a pace that is right for me - and keeps be from getting injured?

So, my apologies to the fasts if my poor race performance is getting your running tights in a bunch, but I do have one big rule - never compare yourself to others.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Running and Pregnancy: 2nd Trimester Edition

I'd like to say that I am totally kicking ass, pounding the pavement and proving to everyone that you can run like a badass through your pregnancy. But, I'm not. I'm doing ok, and I continue to work out, but it's not great. I skip runs constantly, on a level like I haven't since 2007, and since I have such a good excuse to do so, I just do. Here are the obstacles that I've encountered that have seriously impacted my running:

  • I have nothing to wear. If this were last year, we would have temps in the 50s on a regular basis. But, it's gotten cold and running in the morning usually results in temperatures in the 20s or 30s. I slowly grew out of my tights, and then I had one pair of running pants that were too big before that I could still wear. I can still wear them a little, but only one pair means that I am constantly washing them, or else wearing them dirty, which I hate. Then, once the pants situation is resolved, I have only a few running tops for winter that will work. My go-to tops of Mizuno Breath Thermo are all too small. My jackets are all too small, and now Todd's jackets are too small. My best option is old Disney Marathon tops that were like nightgowns before, but they're too thin to wear on really cold days. Dressing for running has been a NIGHTMARE. I did purchase a maternity skirt from skirt sports, and I love it and wear it on the treadmill, but that doesn't help me outside in the dead of winter. I know there are maternity running tights out there, but they range between $70 and $80, and I refuse to pay that for pants that I may only wear a few times, especially when it means I also need to invest another $40-70 in tops to go with them.
  • I'm afraid to run in the dark. I probably wouldn't be worried about it if I hadn't fallen down in March and totally messed up my knee. I still have a TERRIBLE scar from that injury, so I'm reminded of it constantly. I cannot risk a fall where I might hurt the baby, and I feel like running in the daylight makes it easier to keep from falling. But, that means I have to either run on the treadmill or in the morning. Mornings are colder, so that brings in the clothing problem that I just mentioned.
  • I'm BUSY. It was the holidays. I was sick for two weeks. We went on vacation. We started touring daycare facilities. We're working on getting estimates to finish our basement. We signed up for childbirth classes... We've had so much going on, I've found myself rushing home from work and staying up late and unable to get up in the morning. Like I said, with the best excuse not to run ever, I have found it difficult to get out there.
  • Running has gotten really hard. I don't know if it's because I've been running a lot of my runs on the treadmill when I do run, but running has gotten pretty difficult. It could also be because I have not been running often enough. But, the last time I ran (on Sunday), I only made it just under 3/4 mile before I had to walk. And, I had to walk slower than I normally would. My lung capacity is reduced, my weight is the highest it's been since 1998, and I have to pee the second I start running. I'm starting to dread and hate my runs. I'm slow anyway, so if I'm running slow enough, I really have no other option than to just walk.
  • Runs wipe me out. Even a short run leaves me wanting a nap, which is another reason why I hesitate to run in the morning if I'm already tired. Trying to run and then suffer through a day at work seems crazy to me. My 5-6 mile runs on the weekends have resulted in 1-2 hour naps afterward, which is what I would normally do after a 14+ mile run.
So, that's where I am. My new plan is to walk, and run a little during the walk when I can. I also want to get myself back into the pool when my schedule opens up a little bit (tomorrow, maybe?). I'm at 22 weeks exactly today, so I'm getting about to the point where a lot of my friends stopped running during their pregnancies. I did snorkel and yoga a lot on my vacation, so that is good.


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Friday, January 18, 2013

2012: Fitness Year in Review

See my 2011 Fitness Year in Review...

And from that:

Goals for 2012:
Diet and Weight Loss - Maintain my weight as best as I can. Be happy with my body and the way I look. Eat what makes me feel good, even if eating what feels good means eating something not-so-good for me. Don't track calories or points. Eat lots of veggies and whole foods, avoid processed. Bake Todd at least one apple pie. Drink wine. As Michael Pollan says: Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants. There you have it - BEST DIET AND WEIGHT LOSS GOALS EVER!
So, this is how this went this year. I did fine with this in January and February. Then, we started trying to get pregnant and my hormones went a bit wacky and I gained some weight. Then, my thyroid medicine was dosed improperly because of the weight gain and I went hypothyroid again, and I gained a LOT of weight. In May, I was diagnosed properly and got my meds right and by August, my thyroid was back under control. But, I decided not to try and lose any weight and to keep it even because if I lost weight, I would go hyperthyroid and that would still be a problem where fertility was concerned. Then, I got pregnant and of course I'm putting on weight (my official doctor scale weight gain is 13 pounds as of today, 21 weeks in). I baked Todd two apple pies, and I drank LOTS of wine before I got pregnant. Since I got pregnant, not so much.

Running - Oh gosh, I'm so conflicted about what I want to do next fall. There's just a lot up in the air. I know I am running a marathon relay in January, and a half marathon in April, possibly one in March. I know I'm probably not doing a full marathon in the fall. But, I might try and captain a Ragnar team. I might do something else, so I guess my goal is to do something awesome in the fall of 2012. 
I knew when I wrote this that I was going to be trying to get pregnant, so that is why fall was so "up in the air." I ended up signing up for the 2013 Disney Marathon because I wanted to focus on something long term, but pregnancy caused me to cancel it. I did sign up for the Wineglass half marathon in the fall and that was my "something awesome." I didn't end up captaining a Ragnar team because, again, I was trying to get pregnant and really didn't want to take that on just to find that I couldn't participate.

Workouts - Get back on the bike and continue to be more comfortable with it. Possibly do a sprint triathlon or a aquathon in June. Keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Get better and faster at swimming. Become more comfortable with the breast stroke. Do a pull up. 
I really didn't bike at all this year, because... I don't know why. Nothing having to do with pregnancy, although that's why I'm not biking now. I kept wanting to try out cages or clipless pedals, and I kept trying to get my bike off the trainer and out to the trail and it just never happened. Maybe part of it was because I was swimming a lot early in the year, and then my dad was sick during the summer and that killed basically everything fun. Plus, my plantar fasciitis in the summer and fall brought me to PT three times per week, and my PT was right next to my gym where I swam, so I spent most of my time swimming and not biking. I'm frustrated and tired of trying to get better at doing a pull up.

Diving - I would like to do 35-40 dives in 2012. We do already have a couple of dive trips planned, but we are not planning to do as much diving during these trips as we have been doing. I'm sure that I will get out to the quarry some, though.
I never, not once, made it to the quarry. I did do 28 scuba dives, which was a little under goal. But, our dive trips were all low on diving, which was totally our choice. I never made it out to the quarry because it was hard for me to commit to assisting with an open water class when I never truly knew if I would be able to dive or not (the pregnancy thing, again). I did get out to the USS Radford in the Atlantic, which was pretty awesome. Now, I am officially done with diving until the baby is born.

Lessons from 2012

  • I knew that I didn't want to do the Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon, but I did it anyway, and I got injured as a result. Lesson: listen to your brain, even if it doesn't logically make sense.
  • And again, never ever do a race because other people want you to.
  • Plantar Fasciitis can be solved without medication or surgery.
  • That bike ain't gonna ride itself!
  • Half marathon in your first trimester? No worries.
Successes for 2012
  • Continued running for another year!
  • Lots of weight training, January through September, with a short break in July due to my dad's illness
  • Jeff Galloway training program, including my fifth year as a group leader.
  • One 5k race - the Mount Dora 5k in December.
  • Two 10k races - the Dreaded Druid Hills 10k in June and the Cold Turkey 10k in November.
  • One Ten Mile Race - the Annapolis Ten Mile Run in August.
  • Four Half Marathons - The Walt Disney World Marathon Relay in January, the Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon in March, the Island to Island Half Marathon in April and the Wineglass Half Marathon in October.
  • Dive con for a bunch of scuba skills update classes.
  • Completed 28 scuba dives, for a total of 245 since becoming certified in 2006.
  • New Personal Record: Half Marathon (2:32:49 at the Island to Island Half Marathon in April)
Goals for 2013
  • Diet and Weight Loss - Continue eating healthy and intuitively through my pregnancy, and when I am nursing after the baby is born (provided I am able to nurse, which I am hopeful about). I'll be honest, I would like to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight (the high weight after my thyroid issues is fine), but I don't want to be crazy dieting to do it. So, hopefully eating intuitively will help me to get where my body needs and wants to be.
  • Running - Continue running as long as I can during my pregnancy, but don't force myself too much. Walk once I can no longer run. Start walking and then running after the baby is born, and promote a healthy lifestyle. I don't expect to do any more races between now and my due date in May, but I would like to maybe do a couple of short easy races in the fall. 
  • Workouts - YOGA. I have decided to replace weight training with yoga. I've been doing ok with it, but I need to be more consistent. Swimming is what I would like to use to replace my running once I can no longer run. So swim, yoga, swim, yoga! I think that my bike will continue collecting dust.
  • Diving - I have a plan to start diving again in late summer. Hopefully, I'll be able to do at least a little bit of diving after the baby is born. I don't think we'll make it to the Caribbean again this year (we already went to the Caribbean in January), but anything is possible with us... you never know.
So, like last year, a lot is up in the air. But, the goals are so much more interesting when I know that it's all about baby now. :)


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Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 By The Numbers

My favorite running photo of the year, Walt Disney World Marathon Relay, January 2012

Injury and pregnancy really brought my numbers down this year..

  • Miles Run: 576.3 miles
  • Time Spent Running: 124 hours, 9 minutes
  • Days where I ran: 123 days
  • Average run length: 4.69 miles
  • New Personal Records: 1 (half marathon)
  • Races Run: 9
  • Distance Swam: 47,240 yards (26.8 miles)
  • Time Spent Swimming: 22 hours, 27 minutes
  • Distance Biked: 0 miles... oops
  • Time Spent Biking: 30 minutes (I did get on the bike on the trainer a little)
  • Total Scuba Dives: 28
  • Longest Scuba Dive: 70 minutes (Bush Gardens, Little Cayman)
  • Books Read: 21
  • Longest Book Read: A Storm of Swords, 1178 pages
  • Jars Canned: 99 (various sizes 1/2 pint to quart)
  • Foreign Countries Visited:  3 (The Netherlands (Saba), Jamaica & The Cayman Islands)


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Friday, January 4, 2013

Mount Dora 5K 2012

Every year, we make sure to visit Todd's parents in Florida sometime during the month of December so that we get some quality time for the holidays. Usually, we run around their neighborhood, which is a retirement community in Central Florida. It's often pretty hot and we have trouble getting out the door to run before sunrise. Since I was in my 17th week of pregnancy and the forecast was calling for high temps in the upper 70s when I'm used to cold, I thought it best to be careful with running outside.

So, I started looking for races in the area on the weekend that we were visiting. I settled on the Mount Dora Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K in Mount Dora, Florida, which was about a 30 minute drive from my in-laws' house. Of course, I do not have the mileage base at the moment to do a marathon or a half marathon, so we signed up to run the 5K. It was an inaugural, which I don't normally like, but it turned out to be a very nice race that I'd recommend.

We went to Mount Dora on Saturday for packet pickup (in-laws in tow), and I must say that Mount Dora is a pretty little town. The race was being sponsored by the Lakeside Inn, a quaint little hotel right on the lake. We had some lunch and shopped a little, then headed home because we were going to see Cirque du Soleil that evening (it was AWESOME!).

Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early and headed out. I was worried about parking, but we found a space on the street and it ended up being not a big deal. We headed to the start line and I had to wait in line for a potty (pregnant ladies have to pee!). The line wasn't too long, I probably waited 20 minutes. I've had worse. We watched the start of the marathon & half marathon and then started our race at 7:20am. The sun was just coming up and it was warm, but not too bad.

The course was very pretty through palm tree lined residential streets. It was, on Central Florida terms, very hilly. On Maryland terms, I would call it rolling or even average. The Floridians, though, were not excited about the hills.

I was pretty tired pretty fast, and I struggled a bit. For me, it was very warm. I did my best, and found it amusing when Todd mentioned I was pregnant and some lady running near us suddenly sped up like she was thinking Omg, I can't get beat by a pregnant lady.

This was a very nice inaugural race. There were bananas, animal crackers, bagels, etc at the finish line, as well as automated finish times on a big board. We needed to get back, so we didn't stick around long, but we did have a great race. Final time: 39:59, not my best, not my worst, but great considering I'm pregnant.

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