I'm really not going anywhere morbid here, since we're all one day closer to death every day anyway--no moping in a corner being dreary today. Shorter of breath is a good thing too. It means I'm trying to push myself and get better out there on those runs. It's my birthday, and we're also a week off from my youngest girl's birthday and the start of the school year, so it's kind of a good time to stop and think about where I'm going, and where I want to head in the next year. It's not exactly a "stop and smell the roses. " moment. It's more about the advice on the birthday card from my Dad this year stating to "Never Kick A Fresh Turd On a Hot Day. "
I'm not entirely convinced that Harry Truman really said that, but whoever said it had it right in many ways. I want to focus on finding the most effective ways to deal with challenges and setbacks-whether it's in running, work, family, or any other area. I'm not good at doing anything halfway, so every once in awhile I need to remind myself that turd-kicking out of frustration just makes a bigger mess of things-and I've honestly caught myself in a few of those moments lately. So, here we go with making a hard turn back to thinking about what is important, and choosing those battles over things that really don't matter.
First and foremost, I want this to be a year of being more patient with my kids. I feel like I'm doing that a lot of the time, but you know-I'm human and not a Stepford Wife. I'm in awe of the people who say they never raise their voice at their children and never choose their words poorly. I'm sure they exist-I just know that at times I do take the easy way out and tell them to cut out some behavior without redirecting or guiding them. When it happens, it's always that day when nothing's going right-something in the house has just unexpectedly broken, the dog threw up on the floor, I'm tired from a bad night of sleep, or any number of other little things that can become big if I allow myself to get pissed off.
Even if it takes me half the morning to get some necessary other task finished, I've seen how calm and cooperative the environment can be between me, the kids, and each other if I give MYSELF a time out before approaching a squabble between the kids, or some negative behavior from one child in particular. Things continue to stay calm (or, calmer than they were) when I just let that time with them take precedent, even if I really and truly have a deadline on some paperwork, or need to get something cleaned up or put together in time for some specific activity. There just needs to be more of me doing that, and while it's easier said than done, I know it's worth it and everyone benefits. So, I'm really going to work at being That Zen Mama who takes the big deep breath before "working the problem." It's liberating to write out that I know I'm not her all the time, and exciting to say that I'm going to work on being her as much as possible.
Now, this next part will sound nuts, but I've been sort of down on my running lately. Despite a string this summer of overall and age group podium finishes locally and some respectable runs at regional races , I haven't converted any of those in to wins. I know they say winning isn't everything-and believe me, I appreciate that I've been able to run relatively injury-free and am learning to read my body's warning signs to take it easy a day or two. I'm also fully aware that for your average Josephine Schmo runner girl, I've made good progress in two years' time. I'll fully admit that it's petty and selfish to say "I want to win something!" but there you go. I said it.
Yes, this is just a little thing that doesn't have any impact on the big stuff that truly matters but that little thing would just feel good after being close but just not giving enough to be best. It would be sweet to have that brief moment, doing something I love along with others who love what they are doing as well, and know that on that day in that little group, I was the winner. I want to get there and am more than willing to do the work. I guess I am confounded by trying to figure out what works best for me, and worrying about where my breaking point might be, with Boston on the far horizon. It's a little frustrating and I need to just stop being frustrated and get to the work of branching away from following a plan to the letter, cookie-cutter style.
To that end, "don't be afraid to experiment" is my new motto. I've been trying to mix things up a bit with the running, and really experiment with totally different schedules to see if I can improve my running. I am finding myself shorter on time lately in the evenings, when I used to do most of my weekday running. I know, I know-most people say a trip to the dentist for a root canal sounds more appealing than running in the late afternoon and early evening, but it really fit with the flow of my day. It still fits well some of the time, but I've finally faced the fact that I need to run in the morning some of the time if I want to increase my mileage a bit. Rolling out of bed at that hour is always a suckfest, and isn't easy now, but I'm pleased to say that this is a change I want to stick with as we roll into fall, and even (gasp) switch one or two more days over to early days.
The early trail run is just leaving me more alert from the get-go. I'm less reliant on my second true love, coffee, and it's leaving room for these crazy little things called doubles if I get a day with enough evening time for a short run. Pete Pfitzinger puts doubles on his 18/70 plan, and while I am still kind of making up my own thing for now and not doing them because Pete says so, the two doubles I've been able to do in the past week seem to have the opposite effect from what I expected. I'm feeling fresher the day after a two-easy-runs combo or a tough/easy combo, less rusty and ready to rock and roll. It's like there's zero pressure to do that second one, so therefore I get motivated to do it, thinking "this is just extra! Loosen up and quit when you're loosened up."
Other little changes have been made which I hope will pay big dividends later and get my body more accustomed to picking things up a bit. My general aerobic paces used to be a bit slower, and while they worked well and were appropriate for a long time, I'm thinking that now is the time to shift those paces, and make them a bit more brisk. Think halfway between "la la la la la" and "this sucks!" on the run-on-feel-o-meter. Sometimes I want to dial it back, but am focusing on the Jedi mind trick that really worked for me in both marathons-run the mile you're in. I'm going to jump back into a Pfitz-like plan at about the 12-week mark, and I'm really thinking I'll be as prepared as I've ever been at this point.
While I don't want to keep bringing up my birthday, I do have to add the funny story of that head lamp I had my eye on. Today was Monday-trail day. It was DARK last week. We were starting ten minutes earlier today. The husband had said that he did not believe our small local REI stocked the head lamp, so unbeknownst to him, I dropped in there this weekend so I could at least say I checked, and then scour around for one on the internets. Lo and behold, they had that nifty little head lamp in stock and just feet from the entrance! I came home and showed my husband what I'd gotten, proclaiming "I'm officially a morning runner now!"
He took one look at what was in my hand, and exclaimed "DUDE!" in an exasperated way, before taking me out to the car, opening the hatch on the vehicle I'd just been in to show me a bag in the back with...yeah....um, that head lamp that was supposed to be a birthday present for me. Whoops. I guess I messed that one up. I was just trying to do the old "be prepared" thing, and have something for Monday, although I guess his big plan that I goofed up was to give it to me last night so I would have it today. Still, the sentiment was awesome. He knew I'd been viewing the head lamp as an investment for the committed early morning runner, and had sort of been kicking the idea of one around for awhile.
So I guess I'm committed now-hopefully not in the insane way-and ready to resist the urge to kick a turd whenever the going gets a little tough. (Oh, and for those who were wondering, the head lamp does indeed light the way well without feeling like a gigantic paperweight or making you look like a miner.)