Saturday, November 30, 2013

Training Week 10

Tuesday: 3 miles (9:05 avg. pace)
Wednesday: skip
Thursday: skip
Sunday: 13 miles
Favorite place to run: St. Petersburg
Theme: ambivalence
Favorite song: silence (see my fancy watch)

Violet's little hands

official time

the girliest version I could find

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Training Week 9

Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles
Thursday: skip
Sunday: 10 miles (9:36 avg. pace)
Favorite place to run: Crystal Beach
Theme: relief*
Favorite song: "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine
*my old IT band injury has been resurfacing, so I was grateful to get through my long run without pain. Nervous about next week's half marathon.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Little, Big


     My 16-month-old daughter, Harper, is all belly and has dark eyes and enviable dark, thick lashes, and my (almost) four-year-old, Violet, is a blond with golden skin, bright blue eyes, and a trim waist. Of course, they, like all siblings, and all people, are just as different on the inside. They may grow up in the same house with the same parents, but the way that they experience their childhood, adolescent, and teen years will be different, and they will obviously make different choices throughout their lives, value different things at different times, discover different things about themselves and about others. Each of my girls is unique, and in this month of gratitude, I'm going to do my best to remember that and to honor it.
     During my maternity leave with Harper, I picked up Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Even though I admit that I didn't make it all the way through this dense book, I did learn that telling my girls that I love them equally can have damaging consequences. It might sound counterintuitive, but the idea is that children need to be loved uniquely and treated not fairly, but according to their need. The danger is that this false sense of equality or fairness can leave them feeling unappreciated, and therefore, less loved. Instead, taking the time with each child privately to tell her specifically how special she is will help temper any feelings of competitiveness with her sister and will give her something that she needs most of all: validation.
     There were other tips that the book gave, too, for fostering a positive relationship between siblings and showing each child that you value her just as she is. For example, I learned not to compare one to other, including doing my best to not use "too" or "also" when I'm commenting on a behavior. So instead of saying, "You're cleaning up, too!" I try to make my approval or disapproval specific to the child and to what she is doing (or not doing) and just leave her sister out of the picture. "I see you are cleaning up, Violet. I appreciate your help." I also learned how limiting and stultifying it can be for a child if she is cast into a role, such as "the musician" or "the mathematician." Whether you are just projecting or are trying to motivate either the child being labeled or the one listening, I learned that resisting the urge to label will give my daughters the freedom to explore different interests and to establish their own identities. 
     I know that at different times I feel more connected to one child than another, and this book taught me that acknowledging any bias I feel will help me ensure that I take measures to not betray that bias, keeping the other child protected. I can also help by not insisting that my girls always get along. Instead, I need to remember to acknowledge any negative feelings one has about the other. Last, and this one has been difficult for me because I go a little crazy with babies, I have to try not to be too demonstrative with one child in front of the other. If I give each daughter the one-on-one attention she craves, I know that I'm not contributing to any feelings of jealousy or self-doubt. 
     The list of things that I love about my girls is long. I love how Violet giggles to herself when I allow her to do something on her own, like stir the cookie batter or clean off the table. I love how she likes to sing at the top of her lungs and how she shrugs her shoulders and jerks her legs when she dances. I love how she winds her fingers through my hair when I hold her and how she touches my cheek and says, "It's okay, Mommy," when she knows that I'm upset. I love how protective she is of Harper and how, whenever she's around other kids, she makes sure to tell them,"That's my baby sister."
     I love how no matter what happens, good, bad, or otherwise, Harper always says, "Uh-oh." I love how when I ask her for a kiss, she juts out her jaw, runs over to me, and touches her chin to mine. I love that she gently pinches my upper arm when I carry her on my hip. And I love that she gives new people what we call the "stranger stare," just watching the person's every move without blinking. 
     I could go on and on. These are the things my girls need to know--not how much I love them both or how the pair of them make me so happy. Violet and Harper are two individual parts of my family machine, and they need to be treated with the unique care that each one deserves in order to keep things running smoothly, both day to day and for the long term. I know there's no one else in this world like my Violet or my Harper, and it's my job to make sure that they know it, too.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Training Week 8

Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Sunday: 13 miles (9:51 avg. pace)
Favorite place to run: the beach
Theme: exhilaration
Favorite song: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke (I know, but there it is)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Training Week 7

Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: skip
Saturday: 12 miles (9:39 avg. pace)
Sunday: skip
Favorite place to run: neighborhood
Theme: fear
Favorite song: "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Blame It on the Rain

     woke up this morning listening to the rain. Before I even opened my eyes, I thought about my running clothes I'd left out on my dresser; my coffee maker's on button glowing in the kitchen; the banana I'd placed on the counter; and my running shoes, left neatly by the front door. For once, I'd taken measures to be ready to leave the house by 7 a.m. so that I could be on the trail by 7:30, an attempt to reignite my motivation. Last week, I skipped my long run altogether because I didn't feel well, and this week, I skipped my last three-mile run because, even though my voice finally returned, I've still been congested. No matter what, I'd told myself last night, I was going to get an early start this morning and complete my twelve-mile run as best I could, even if I did feel drained. 
     Yet my warm duvet and the rain's faint crackling outside of my bedroom windows were too seductive, so I rolled over and slept until 8. When I was finally able to push myself out of bed, last night's preparation nagged at me, so I begrudgingly changed into my clothes, sucked down two cups of coffee, and grabbed my banana and bottle of water and headed out the door. I was hopeful that the rain would stop by the time I made it to Dunedin. 
     It didn't. I walked around for a bit outside, trying to gauge whether or not I could brave the rain and run as planned. I decided against it, choosing instead to go to Barnes and Noble for a bagel and magazine. There's nothing wrong with tomorrow, I told myself. I knew Ryan was planning on fishing and writing for most of the day, but what could I do about the rain? If I didn't go today, I could just catch up on Homeland. I could stop by Old Navy and get some loungewear. That's what I needed. The weather would be turning cold for good soon, and I needed to be comfortable in an oversized sweatshirt. Plus, I've been sick. No one can fault me for that. Maybe I could even convince Ryan to take the girls somewhere for a few hours so that I could come home and crawl back into bed. 
     And that's what I did, until the rain cleared at 12:30. The temperature was cool enough that running in the afternoon wouldn't be a problem, so I had to make myself do it. I drank a third cup of coffee and kissed my blankets, which just moments before had been piled on top of me, good-bye. 
     No one was on the trail, which made me nervous. I ran about a mile and a half alone, but when I saw a couple of other runners approaching, I was so relieved that I decided to join them. I learned that John and Caroline were married and training for the Disney marathon. They had ten miles total to cover, with four more to go before they turned around, so I knew I could stay with them for most of my run. John told me that this marathon would be his fifth, and that it was Caroline who got him into running to begin with. He said she was a runner when they met, and he only pretended to be interested in running to impress her. On their next date, she'd suggested a short run, and after a mile of struggling to keep up with her, he'd had to confess. She made him stick with it, though, and he eventually discovered that he liked it. They were headed toward downtown Clearwater. I remembered that Ryan had told me not to go too far in that direction, but I brushed the thought aside. After all, I had John and Caroline. 
     We went through an area with large stray dogs and boarded-up houses. Homeless people were meandering along the trail. Close to our turn-around point, there were three people huddled in a drainage ditch smoking crack. I was terrified. Who was John to protect me anyway? What could John and Caroline do if I got mugged? Plus, they were both running at a slower pace than I was, so they were far enough behind me on the trail that I might look like an easy target. I had to wait for them. 
     At the next stop sign, they offered me Gu Chomps energy chews, which I declined. This was no time for a snack break. They were smiling good-naturedly, and I was imagining my death. Clearly, it was time to part ways. I thanked them for allowing me to crash their couples run and took off. 
     Unfortunately, it was still deserted in the other direction, aside from the occasional man wearing dirty clothes and a backpack. I decided to finish my run on the Dunedin Causeway, just a short drive away. By then, the clouds parted enough that I could appreciate the pink and purple outlines drawn around them by the sun. There were plenty of runners there, along with dog-walkers and moms and dads pushing strollers. I ran my last two miles and jumped into my car, relieved, at last, to have finished. 
     Now, I'm back under the covers, my hair still wet from my shower, my stomach full from a meal I'm not going to admit to. Ryan's with the girls today, and I'll be with them all day tomorrow, so I might just stay in this bed until morning. I'm proud of myself for completing the run, especially considering how much I wanted to avoid it, and I'm also proud of my pace, 9:39/mile. I hope that next week's long run is not met with the same dread that this week's run was, but I won't be surprised if it is. My whole seven weeks of training have been full of highs and lows: I don't want to do the run, whether it's three miles or ten, but after unsuccessfully avoiding it, I do it, and then I am glad for it. I imagine that something is going to go wrong, like I'm going to get hit by a cyclist or happen upon an axe murderer, but then it doesn't. I wouldn't call that motivation, exactly, but if the promise of an oversized sweatshirt and a cozy bed gets me going, I guess that will have to do.