Wednesday, June 29, 2022

My evolution and identity as a runner

For many years, "runner" was one of my core identities. But that identity has ebbed and flowed over the last 15 years. I got into running in my mid-20s and ran my first half marathon in June of 2006 and then my first marathon in October of 2006. Then I started grad school in the fall of 2006 and oof, I struggled to find time for running in the midst of working full time and grad school/homework/group project meetings (which were the bain of my existence and unnecessary for part-time MBA students IMO - but I digress!). So I really did not run/workout consistently during my grad school years. I found my way back to running in 2009 after graduating with my MBA that spring. 

Then I ran very consistently from 2009 through 2013. I ran marathons in 2010 and 2012, and a handful of other races. Then I was diagnosed with a stress fracture shortly after moving to Charlotte in the spring of 2013. And then I was diagnosed with RA later that summer - but I will always wonder if the stress fracture was a misdiagnosis and it was actually RA causing my foot pain? I'll never know. My RA was so bad at that time that pretty much everything hurt. It hurt to walk and I couldn't fully extend one of my arms due to pain in my elbow. I was supposed to run the Chicago marathon with some blogger friends that October but ended up spectating. I remember spectating and wondering if I would ever run another marathon.

Luckily, my RA became well managed and I was back to running by the spring of 2014 when I moved back to Minneapolis. I re-joined my running club when I moved back to Minneapolis and ran my 4th marathon in 2015. I also did a sprint triathlon in August of 2015. That winter/early spring, I started to have some awful hip pain and eventually had to have surgery on my hip in May of 2016 to fix a labral tear in my hip. I have an anatomical abnormality so all that running plus the abnormality in my hip joint resulted in a tear in my left hip. 

After that surgery, I knew my marathon days were over. I'm susceptible to another tear on the other side so I've decided it's just not worth it to risk another labral tear and surgery. I wasn't cleared to run until late October 2016 - right in time for our cold weather season to hit! I started to run again in the spring of 2017 and was just starting to get back to a good base level of fitness. And then I got pregnant! I thought I would run during my pregnancy, but early in my pregnancy I had a bleeding issue and while running was likely safe, it would result in more bleeding and that was not good for my mental health so I stopped running. And then my RA got horribly bad during pregnancy so running was out of the question. I got so many steroid injections - 10 total I think - that the guy who gave me my injections had to draw a map of my hands so we could keep track of what we'd injected! 

Paul was born in March of 2018 and I had all these visions of being a mom that runs with her baby. But I could not fit running/working out into my schedule once I returned to work. We leave the house around 6:50 and I just did not have it in me to get up at 4:30-5 to workout before work. I know there are moms who can and will do this, but I have different sleep needs - and a chronic illness that gets worse when I am overtired/stressed. Reading this paragraph, I feel like I am making a lot of excuses for myself, but prioritizing sleep over running/working out was the right decision for me. I tried to do at home workouts when I could and we went on many family stroller walks. 

Flash forward to the spring of 2021. We had Will in December and I saw a pelvic floor PT (highly recommend seeing one to all post-partum women!!) and had her help me safely return to running. This is TMI territory, but I never had any leaking issues - probably because I had c-sections (although I did dilate to 9cm with Paul!). But I injured myself in my abdomen from vigorously bouncing fussy baby Will so that is what prompted seeing this PT. She was incredible and helped me slowly and safely return to running and exercise. I lucked out and my neighbor across the street is also a runner (and a FT working mom whose schedule jived with mine). So we started to run together in April of 2021 and trained for an ran a 10 mile race in October of 2021. I was only able to train for that race because of the flexibility of working from home. So that is one huge positive to come out of Covid! 

Flash forward again to the spring of 2022. I had signed up for a 10 mile race in May during the winter, thinking I could maintain my mileage when/if I returned to the office. My office re-opened in March and we were expected to come in 3 days/week. Unsurprisingly, it has turned out that fitting running in has been hard. For awhile I was able to leave work 1 days/week around 3 to run, but it's too hot at that time of day in the summer to run - at least for me. So I'm back to fitting workouts in Friday-Monday. I personally can't run 4 days in a row, so at most, I'm getting 2 days of running in each week, maybe 3 if I am lucky. Leading up to that 10 mile race, I knew I needed to drop down to the 10k option. And then I got Covid the week before the race so I didn't race at all, of course. 

So what comes next? I've decided to run a 10k race over marathon weekend in October. A 10 mile race is just too much for me right now. It was fine last year but I was sick so much with colds and such leading up to the race that it wasn't exactly the most enjoyable race experience and my time was so slow and depressing. I know no one else cared about my time, but it was just kind of depressing to see how slow I was. I tried to have some grace since I was breastfeeding a baby that turned 10 months the day I ran the race, but as a person susceptible to intense self-criticism, I didn't feel super proud of my accomplishment on race day. 

Looking ahead, one change I'm going to make is shifting down to coming into the office 2 days/week. I don't think anyone really cares how often I am coming in and 2 days feels like enough in-office time for me. 

All this said, I still consider myself a runner - but a runner with different goals. Instead of double-digit long runs, I'll run 5-6 miles on a weekend morning. And that is just fine for this stage of life. What I'm most proud of is that I'm showing my impressionable 4-year old that mommy is active and enjoys running. 

Have you lost touch with a core identity at any point of your life? 

Monday, June 27, 2022

First Summer Weekend + Kitty's Back

Even though we are almost a month into meteorological summer, this was our first actual summer weekend. And it was a good one! 

Friday was a quiet night which is what we prefer. Saturday ended up being a full day, but it was the best day of the weekend. With young kids, it's best to have lots of plans/things to do - at least for us! 

It was Phil's morning to get up with Will, so I slept in until 7. I can't remember the last time that happened - it felt amazing! Once I was up and had breakfast, I took the boys for a walk/scoot to get some of their energy out and to give Phil a break. 

Stage 4 clinger Will would prefer to hold my hand while on a walk. He can't get close enough to mom!

After the walk, we headed to the library for a quick visit. They are always rotating out their toys and right now, the featured toy in this play house is... insects! Paul is terrified of them so won't go near them but Will thought they were cool. I am honestly very squeamish when it comes to bugs so I wouldn't choose to cozy up with insects! But different strokes for different folks! 


The other toy station was an ice cream shop which Paul really enjoyed. 


Our next stop was Paul's first gymnastics class! He had a blast! It's a 30-minute class and they rotate them through 4 stations with different things like a trampoline, balance beam, bar, etc. Phil grocery shops on Saturday morning so I had both boys but we need to change things up because Will was kind of a terror! Phil starts grocery shopping around 9 since that is when Aldi opens and he prefers to go there first to get as much from our list as possible - which makes total sense. But we are going to have to play around with the schedule so I don't have to bring Will with to class.

Then it was lunch-time, followed by nap/quiet time. I was excited/hopeful for a long nap from Will since we had done so much that morning. But unfortunately Will had a night terror one hour into his nap. It's uncommon for night terrors to happen during naptime, but Paul also had naptime night terrors. Night terrors are so scary for us as parents because the child appears to be awake, but they aren't. You can tell they don't know who you are and it's very hard to get them to calm down. On Saturday, it took 45 minutes to get Will out of the night terror. I share this experience in case a reader's child goes through the same thing. We didn't know what it was the first time Paul had one and that was especially scary. Paul has outgrown them, I think/hope. Will had one in early January when he was really sick with an ear infection so they can start very early! They tend to happen when a child is overtired or sick, but they can also happen for no reason.

After Will came out of the night terror, we had a snack and then headed over to Phil's coworker's house for a little play date with another family. They have a hot tub that they have turned into a kid's pool for the summer. The boys had fun splashing around. 


We were all tired at the end of the day on Saturday after our full day! 

Sunday was a bit of a quieter day. I got up with Will at 5. Phil took over around 7:30 and gave me a break until I left for swimming lessons with Will around 8:15. We do a lot of swapping of parenting duties on weekends, especially in the morning. It's what works for this stage of life but I don't think it will always be like this. But toddlers are just exhausting! 

After swimming lessons with Will, 2 college friends came over and we walked/Paul scooted to the Starbucks that is about a mile away. Us girls enjoyed some beverages and Paul got a donut. It was great to catch up with my friends and hear about how their summers are going so far. 

I once again had high expectations for naptime, but they were dashed. Will napped for about 75 minutes which is not enough... but Phil took over Will duty to give me a longer break to read/rest. 

And then Paul and Phil headed to Phil's mom - to bring back our cat, Oscar! 


Newer reader may not realize we have a cat, and long-time readers might have forgotten. She is very much a part-time cat for us these days. Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, she has mostly lived with my MIL. She's a widow so really needed the extra companionship from Oscar during the pandemic. And Oscar is just really not a fan of kids. She would never hurt our boys, but she hates loud noises... so being around a toddler who communicates by screaming is not ideal. Oh and yes, Oscar is a girl cat. We were told orange cats are always boys but it turns out that is wrong! But we didn't find out Oscar was a she until we'd settled on the name. 

She'll be with us for a week or 2 as my MIL will be out of town part of this week. Even though many cats are ok being on their own and just being checked on, that is not the case with Oscar. When we got our cat, we never envisioned that she'd mostly live with my MIL but it's the way things have played out and best for everybody. We did not have kids when we got Oscar in 2014 so we didn't have to take temperament around kids into consideration. She has always been pretty skittish... she LOVES Phil and just kind of tolerates me. ;) 

Keeping this curious kid out of her food and water dish will be interesting. Hopefully he's less excited about her food than he is about the spaghetti he ate on Sunday night. It was definitely a bath-requiring kind of meal!



In closing, another positive development from the weekend is that after months of Paul insisting that we sit in the chair in his room until he falls asleep, he now lets us leave and we just have to check on him every 10-20 minutes until he falls asleep. Which is totally doable for us and one thousand times better than sitting in the room until he falls asleep. He was ok with that all 3 nights of the weekend so hopefully this "sticks." I share this because some of these awful sleep stages can feel endless. But they can correct themselves! Now to get Will to sleep past 5-5:30... starting tonight we are taking our pediatricians advice to leave him in his crib until 6am... Hopefully he quickly learns to fall back asleep. He - and we - need more sleep. 

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 24, 2022

TGIF

It's Friday! This was a short week for us since we had Monday off, so the week went by pretty fast, but it was a good one. Here is how the week shaped up!

The book I'm reading is The Sentence by Louise Erdrich which is my July book club book. This is my 3rd Erdrich novel - I really disliked the previous 2 I read so normally I wouldn't read another book by the author but I had heard this one was different from her others and I am finding that to be true! Erdrich is a local author and bookstore owner, and much of this book takes place in her bookstore - which I am here for! I used to be in a running club that met close to her bookstore so I can really picture the setting.

The high of my week was being on the Best of Both Worlds podcast! It was really fun to share my experience with returning to work after having a baby. 

The low of my week was bad sleep and whining. Will has been waking at 5 this week (way too early!!) and one night he woke screaming at 11:30. The screaming was what we characterize as ear infection screaming, but he has tubes so it can't be that. One tube was almost out when we saw his doctor in June, but he always had bilateral ear infections, so if he had one I would think we'd see drainage out of the ear that still has a tube? Who knows. And then there is the whining from the 4yo on the way back from doing fun things - like when we went to the local wading pool after dinner on Wednesday. It was hard to get him to leave and then he wanted to do other things we usually do, like throw sticks in the creek or visit this culvert that Will loves, but we had just spent an hour at the pool so we didn't have time to do all the other stuff we normally do on family walks. My tolerance for whining is really low when I have gone out of my way to give Paul a fun evening. But I know whining is just part of childhood. 

A recipe I made was this shortcut vegetable ragu which we eat about once a month. You chop the onion, celery and carrots in a food processor so it's a good way to add some veggies to my kids' diet. The recipe also calls for mushrooms but Phil sadly hates mushrooms so I leave them out, although he probably wouldn't be able to taste them if I had included them! I had mine on zoodles and the boys' had theirs on spaghetti.

A show I am watching is still Ted Lasso. I am LOVING this show so so much. Ted is just the most likeable character ever. 

For workouts I did a lower body beach body workout on Monday and will run with my neighbor this morning. I was in the office Tues-Thur so didn't fit any workouts in but I got walks in each day at lunch as well as family walks after dinner. I'm planning to run tomorrow morning but probably by myself. 

The best money spent was on gymnastics classes for Paul. We've been on a waiting list for months but a spot finally opened up. Several families at our daycare take classes at this gym and rave about it so I think Paul will enjoy it. He doesn't necessarily "need" to be in an activity, but we want to start to expose him to some different things. I asked if he wanted try soccer or gymnastics and he chose gymnastics which does not surprise me because he loves doing summersaults and such. 

My plans this weekend include kind of a lot, but it's all good stuff that will entertain the boys. We have no plans tonight. Tomorrow morning Paul has his first gymnastics class and I'll have to bring Will with since Phil will be out grocery shopping. In the afternoon we have a playdate at Phil's former coworker's house which is just a few blocks away. On Sunday morning Will has swimming lessons and then when we get back 2 of my college friends are coming over to get coffee and go for a walk. Phil swims at a local lake on Sunday mornings so I'll have both boys which means the walk will need to be on the shorter side, but I figure we can take a 2 mile walk and then sit outside on our patio while the kids play outside or something like that. My friends kids are much older - like tweens/teens - so they will appreciate being around a toddler and preschooler! 

Brother wrestling has already started!

Phil swam on Tuesday night so I took both boys for a walk/scoot to the local creek since the weather was back in the 80s and less humid. It was a really nice night!


Swimming at our local wading pool on Wednesday night. I'm so glad Paul is loving the water this summer!

How was your week? What was the high of your week?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

I was on a podcast!

I've mentioned before that I have been a long-time listener of Best of Both Worlds (BOBW), hosted by Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger. I've actually listened to every podcast, which is pretty rare for me! The podcast is about being a working parents getting the most out of work and family/fun time. 

I was a guest on the podcast this week (click here to listen)! I never thought I'd be a guest on a podcast, especially one that is as popular as BOBW. But i commented this spring and said I'd be happy to share my experience of returning to work if they thought it might be helpful for other listeners - and I was thrilled when Laura reached out to schedule a time to talk. 

I was pretty open about my struggles with my return to work after I had Paul, so long-time readers of this blog might recall that season of my life. The cliff notes version is that I had a surprisingly hard time returning to work after having Paul. I loved my career before having Paul, but found that I really missed him when I returned to work. I debated whether I was meant to be a working mom but those feelings eventually improved/dissipated around when Paul turned 10 months. Now I can say with certainty that I am meant to be a working mom so I am glad I didn't make any rash decisions. 

I think I would have benefited from hearing from a woman who went through something similar when I was struggling, so hopefully someone else will benefit from hearing about my experience. I didn't think I would be able to listen to the episode because I loathe the sound of my voice, but I managed to listen and think it went pretty well overall! I've read several of Laura's books so it was really cool to have a chance to talk to her!

If you listen, let me know what you think! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

A Wonderful Long Weekend

We had a wonderful long weekend at the lake! We left on Thursday morning and the drive there went much much better than my solo drive with Will 2 weeks before. Having Paul in the back to entertain Will and being able to hand snacks back really helped. The drive home didn't go as well but I have low expectations for drives and it wasn't all that bad. I'm glad we were able to go up there and spend more time with my sister and niece. They are spending 5 weeks at my parents to escape the intense Arizona heat! 

Will loved it when Paul held his hand!

Here are some of the highlights!

Water time: Both boys played in the water although Will was less into it than I expected. The water was still pretty cold so I think that is why he wasn't keen about swimming much. But Paul totally exceeded my expectations and spent lots of time in the water. We had lots of fun on the lily pad (the orange floating thing in the picture below). 






Boating: Friday was a picture-perfect lake day so we went on 2 pontoon rides - we ate lunch on the pontoon and then went for a pre-dinner cruise. Phil, Paul and I also went on a short kayak ride on Friday. It was really windy on Thursday and Saturday so that was the only time we were able to get out. Hopefully there will be less wind when we are there in August so we can go on more kayak rides.






Phil, Paul and my niece Evelyn

My nephew Charlie, my dad, Abby, and Maddy

Heading out for a family kayak ride.

Outdoor play time: The kids spent lots of time playing with toys on the patio and front yard. The cars and trucks are a particularly popular toy with the little ones! Paul really loved getting pushed in the swing on the beach, too. 




My niece Evelyn pushing Paul in the swing

Cousin time: Besides time with my niece Maddy, my niece Evelyn and nephew Charlie spent the day with us on Friday while my older sister took my Godson/nephew James to St. Cloud State for college registration. Evelyn and Charlie played so well with the kids! Then James came back on Friday evening with his girlfriend. Paul is OBSESSED with James and his girlfriend and was their little shadow. We were so impressed by how much James and his girlfriend played with Paul and Will. I don't think many 17yo boys would spend so much time with little kids so it really melted my heart! We went out to dinner on Saturday night and Paul was excited when James asked if he wanted to sit by him. They played tic-tac-toe while we waited for our food.



We left on Sunday morning and came back to HOT weather so we fit in a visit to the neighborhood wading pool to cool off in the afternoon. I am really happy to see how into the water Paul is. Hopefully in a year or so I can get him back in swimming lessons. Will was less enthused by the pool but the water was pretty cold. It felt refreshing to me but he was not into it! 


Phil and I both had the day off on Monday as the markets were closed in recognition of Juneteenth. But daycare was still open so we had a wonderful kid-free day. It was nice to have a quiet day at home after being away. It was a mix of productivity (grocery shopping, meal prep and laundry) and relaxing/doing things we enjoy (I read, did a lower body beach body workout and napped, Phil hit a bucket of balls, and we watched a show together on). 

We are looking forward to our next trip to the lake in August which will be a longer 5 day stay! 

How was your weekend? 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Three Things Thursday

We head to my parents lake home today! Hopefully Will does MUCH better on the drive this time. I think/hope having Paul in the back seat with him will help. I'm excited for some extra time with my sister and niece. And Paul is very very very excited about the trip since he couldn't come with 2 weeks ago. He's been asking how soon we leave for PapaNana's and what time we are leaving and so on. He made a really cute Father's Day card for my dad. I think my dad will love it! Little kid drawings are just the best!

Here are three things on my mind this week!

1. Paul has an imaginary blue cat named Jax. Pete the Cat is blue so I think that's where he got the idea for a blue cat as we've read a lot of those books and he has watched the show on Amazon Prime. He doesn't play with Jax but talks about him all the time and will say "oh Jax has seen/done that" when he hears us talking about something. Jax has 4 homes - two in California, one in Minnesota and one in Arizona so he is quite the real estate mogul! He has a roommate named Snoopy who is also a cat. Jax drives a little blue car to visit Paul sometimes, and recently he told me that Jax's family is from Vietnam. I am certain that I did not know there was a country called Vietnam when I was 4! We think he learned about Vietnam through Wild Kratts or ABC Mouse which is one of his favorite aps on his iPad. I love Paul's vivid imagination! I wonder when Jax will move on and not be part of our lives anymore! It will be a sad day because I love hearing about Jax's shenanigans. 

2. I was back in the office yesterday for the first time since the first week of May! It was nice to see people in person again! I had a really busy, full day and the day ended with happy hour with a client. I don't necessarily LOVE being back in the office, but I can see that there are benefits to being in the office. A couple of things came up during the day and it was nice to walk over to a coworker and ask a question versus sending an email or instant message. 

3. It's going to be HOT while we are at the lake, like upper 90s! I am hoping we can convince Paul to swim/play in the water. Hopefully seeing how much Will enjoys it will help? Will seems to have no fear of the water and just wants to climb right in! The water felt shockingly cold 2 weeks ago but I think it should feel more welcoming this weekend with the warmer weather we've had lately! 


That's all from me today. Did or the kids in your life have an imaginary friend? I vaguely remember having one but don't remember much about her!

Monday, June 13, 2022

The End of Quarantine + Weekend Highlights

The endless quarantine is over! Quarantining with Paul was not all that bad. We just let him have as much screen time as he wanted and I offset that by getting outside with him several times a day. Quarantining was all about doing what I needed to do to be able to work and have him home with me. But he has learned a lot from the aps he uses on his iPad. Like he learned to count by 10s to 100. So screens aren't necessarily the evil thing they are made out to be! Obviously limits are important and we have strict limits on the weekend and no screen time on weekdays. But extra screen time for 10 days is not the end of the world. 

Friday was his last day home with me, so we celebrated with a walk with a neighbor. The moms got coffee, Paul got a donut. 


He got very into memory during quarantine and is very good! One day we played outside after I logged off. He kicked my butt and I was not going easy on him! 


Paul tested negative on Friday morning so I felt comfortable having him around kids again. So we went to a classmates' park party on Saturday morning. I love the park parties that his classmates tend to have. Gifts are not requested/wanted so you just show up and the kids play and eat snacks. With a March birthday, a park party is not possible in Minnesota so I am thinking we will have a half birthday party for him in September. The kids will all go to different schools in Minneapolis so it would be nice to have a party with all his buddies during peak weather season. 


Phil and Paul went to Phil's mom on Saturday afternoon. It was a warm day so Will and I went to the wading pool at our local park. He wasn't sure what to think at first and wouldn't put down his snacks/water to play. But he eventually got into it! 


On Sunday I took Will to swimming lessons. Afterwards I dropped Will off and picked up Paul and headed to the farmer's market/park to meet a friend from school. 

After quiet time, the boys got much-needed haircuts. Will is standing by our dehumidifier and we joke that he's going into dehumidifier sales as it looks like a product placement photo. Ha!


So all in all, it was a pretty good weekend. Will is in the midst of a HORRIBLE sleep regression. I don't recall Paul going through this. He screams at bedtime and sometimes wakes during the night. He's also up around 5-5:45. Phil has better luck putting him to bed than I do, so he's been doing Will's bedtime and I do Paul's. I hope things improve soon, especially since we go back to my parents this weekend and will share a room with Will. Le sigh. 

Speaking of which, Phil somehow dodged covid. He remains negative and healthy! Hurray! It's going to be HOT this week - like upper 90s - so I am glad we can escape to the lake!

How was your weekend?