Sunday, January 31, 2010

More pain, please

My son jumped on the bed at 7:15 a.m. today and looked me over. 
"Daddy," he said. "Why are you just laying there?"
"Well," I answered, "because I don't want to get up."
That's always true. I hate getting up in the morning, even if I almost always rise before 7 a.m. Sunday it was even more true. Sunday, more and more, is becoming The Day After.
In this case, it means the day after my increasingly long runs in training for my marathon. And though the training has gone well, almost too well (making me wonder if I'm doing enough), the miles are adding up. Sunday was the first time I really felt them.
Not only did I run a half marathon Saturday - not a race, just the distance - I ran a hard six Friday evening at marathon race pace. I'm just following the plan, but sometimes the plan hurts, especially when I didn't give myself even 12 hours between those workouts.
When I got up Sunday, I felt as if someone had given the bolts on my joints an extra turn. I'm not a young man anymore. I'm 38. Most athletes not named Favre have long since passed their glory days at my age.
Now understand that I loved those 13 miles Saturday, even if they did wear me out. I have always loved that feeling of sheer exhaustion. It means you've pushed yourself beyond mere discomfort. I was smiling at the end. 
But a marathon plan will humble you at times. Usually those times are the Day After.
Still, I started putting on my running gear Sunday. The plan also calls for a short run the day after you abuse yourself. 
The plan seems to understand that the best way to feel better after something destroys you is to get right back to it.
By mile 3, as I walked in the house, loose, sweaty and with less pain than before, the plan, once again, was right.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Dodged the sickness. It was bad. Boy had to hit the hospital for an IV, or, in his case, "They put water in me." He was a LOT braver about the needle than most adults I know.

And just to answer a question no one asked, why, yes, I probably would buy a Guitar Hero Kiss edition. Or at least I know someone who would. I'd play it for sure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Catching the crud

We don't have death hanging over our house. We're not dramatic. But we do have something almost as bad.
The Sick.
We all know what Death looks like. Hooded, skinny figure (I think he's a runner). Black robe. Carries a sharp thing used by farmers to cut wheat or by movie psychos to cut teens.
But Sick? I dunno. Maybe he's sloppy, with man boobs, and he probably coughs a lot and doesn't smell very good, like he hasn't showered for four days. He's probably got a few bedsores and an unshaven face. And pink eye. And gout. And he wears a shirt with grape jelly on it.
He's already nailed the twins. It's been at least two weeks since they were last sick, so it's apparently time again. I'm home now with Jayden, who has not spilled his cookies just yet (something Andie and Allie already did) but has a fever and just isn't himself. I've worked most of the morning but there's only so much you can do from home. Now I'm watching "Up" with him, which isn't a bad thing at all.
I don't mind nursing the kids through their bugs. What I don't like is getting squashed by the bug myself. That's what I mean by the Sick hanging over our house. I'm believe I"m next. 
And I hate it.
I don't like being sick. Who really does? But I can take it. I honestly hate missing my training a lot more. It always seems to take a couple weeks to get your mojo back, and I need that mojo. Mojo is good for marathon training.
Still. Being a parent pretty much means you're going to share just about everything little crap bug your kids pick up.
"I'd rather it just get it over with," Kate said last night, already resigned to catching the pest.
The waiting is, as always, the hardest part. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

These three words

There are worse things than either one of my girls looking at me, saying "I pooped" and not seeing a toilet anywhere nearby.
Mostly it's just three words.
"Mooommmmy do it!"
In the last few months, I've struggled with those three words more than anything, to the point where it came to a head the other night, when I tossed a toothbrush Kate's way - though to be honest I threw it - when Andie was screaming for Mommy to, you know, do it.
It seems like a Dad's dream. Mommy does everything. Hey, I can't help it, I can say with a shrug of the shoulders, and let her wipe their bottoms.
In fact it's exactly the opposite. They're twins, for one, and that means I've had to be Mom as well as Dad. And I get frustrated with that because I believe, right or wrong, that I've put in a good amount of work. My fair share, at the very least. And I don't like being rewarded by hearing, all the time, that I suck.
Kate's frustrated too, of course, because it puts a burden on her.
Finally, there's a certain joy in helping your little ones put on their pjs, clipping them in their car seats and picking them up when they need a little love. I take pleasure in that. I don't mind feeling needed. I doubt anyone truly minds that. And I'm feeling a bit robbed. Eventually they won't want either one of us to do those things. There are only so many pj days left.
Because of my nature, I tend to take it personally, and I really shouldn't. Toddlers want their mommies, and it's worse with twins because they compete for Kate's attention.
Lately, though, I've taken a couple steps to help curb it.
When the girls at night are in their pjs and on the living room carpet playing with them, I get on the floor, too. I've got the Dad's knack for roughhousing. I'm also giving out more dinosaur rides.
And Friday I took the girls and spent the morning with them. It wasn't much. We went to Target, got some fingerpaint, and I did their nails.
It's hard work. When I put them down for a nap, I was far more tired than I was today after my 8-mile run. But it was good, hard work, much like the run.
Today when Kate told the girls it was Jayden's day to go to church with her, they paused. Then said, "We get special time with Daddy?"
Those are words I want to hear.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The early bird gets an early bedtime and that's about it

Sunday I broke an unwelcome streak: Number of days in a row I got up before 7 a.m.
I slept in until 7:30 a.m.
This, I think, is by far the biggest change I've made in having kids, and it's also the most disturbing. Before Children (B.C.), 6 a.m. was the unholy hour (it's no coincidence that there's a 6 in the time). I got up before then only to climb mountains, which was fun, or when I had to go to an assignment, which was usually not fun (Easter Sunrise Service, for instance). And I was always in a horrible mood either way.
Even when Jayden was born, I'd escape the witching hour more often than not. Kate, a morning person, usually got up early with the boy. I'm actually not proud of that, but that's the way it was.
But now? I'm usually up by 6:45 a.m., and now that I'm training for the marathon, I've strapped on a head lamp and began a run at 6 a.m.*
*I swear, seriously swear and hope to die and stick a needle and all that, that this will not become a marathon blog. I'm sure you're sick of hearing about it. It's basically most of what I've got going on in my life right now, so that's why I'm writing about it. I apologize.
I have to admit, I've enjoy the morning these days. There are sunrises, which turn the sky pink, and there is a certain chill in Colorado that you can only find in the morning, and this chill is annoying and special at the same time. Plus I've seen a few more animals on the run, like a few crazy foxes, and that's pretty cool.
But it's also disturbing to be awake, up and bright-eyed and sorta bushy-tailed because, well, it's another sign that I'm becoming my parents. And I usually go to bed by 10:30 p.m. That's kinda lame. I used to stay up playing video games or with my nose in a book until 2 a.m. sometimes. Now at 2 a.m. I'm dreaming about my flushes getting there in huge, multi-way pots (which is proof that it's really a dream, I don't even get excited in my dreams any longer because I know they're just virtual chips that will disappear the moment the roar of Kate's shower jabs me awake). 
I love running in the morning now. I've got a run scheduled for Saturday with a group at 7:30 a.m.
But I'm not a morning person. I'm just a person who gets up early all the time.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bit by bit

Lately I'm finding my favorite reward for the end of a run isn't a bowl of ice cream (as it was in the past). 
It's the X.
The "X" marks off another day on my marathon schedule.
When I looked at the schedule, I admit I felt a little nervous about it. I mean, it looked like a lot. Every day, there was a task, from "easy" 3-mile runs to more punishing runs in the double-digits (yep, even early in the training; this Sunday I'll run a dozen).
But I'm also surprised at how easy it's gone. I feel good, and I haven't been walloped by any aches and pains, despite the fact that I'm already running as many miles in a week as I did when I was in my training peak for my half marathons last summer.
I'm sure the aches and pains will come - the schedule gets considerably tougher as it goes on, and three 20-mile runs lie in wait - but so far I'm relieved that my only-somewhat athletic body is taking the punishment.
The lesson is I have a tendency to look at a large project as a whole, and when I do that, the monster lurks over my shoulder and stresses me out. Professionally this was never a problem - I've completed stories that took me a year to report and write - but privately I'd always manage to raise my blood pressure with something as simple as, say, getting carpet installed in the basement.
I'm keeping the plan after I've Xed out all the squares and, I hope, completed the marathon. It'll be a nice reminder that huge tasks are tackled a day at a time. As we wonder what we can do to help not only our own hurting country but a devastated Haiti, it's a lesson we'll need to repeat to ourselves a lot these next few months.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

If it were easy....

Nature and/or God, depending on your beliefs, have banded together to send me a simple message this week.
Training for a marathon ain't gonna be easy, boy.
Temperatures this week have been low enough to freeze Mercury (both the planet and the element), the roads look like a Zamboni drove over them, and yesterday yet another storm brought more snow, only this time it was lofted by 30 mph winds.
We've already had more snow by this time than we usually get for an ENTIRE YEAR. I haven't seen grass since Thanksgiving, and my new running style looks like I'm constantly running the three-legged race in the county fair, as I'm trying to make sure I don't slip on the 378 patches of ice per mile.
Any lingering thoughts of running in the winter being a romantic, peaceful, thoughtful activity are being crushed under a cold, icy boot, then flash frozen and stored in a meat locker. The pretty sights of smoky rivers, huddling geese and crystalized trees are lost when your sunglasses have frozen over by the first half-mile and you're desperately shaking out your fingers so they don't get frostbite.
I've even turned to my most hated enemy, the treadmill. I loathe treadmills. Running is a chance for me to get outside, to see things I've never seen before and to get some fresh air. It ain't so I can stare at reruns of Oprah on the TV while a machine beeps at me to run faster like a nagging wife. And fresh air is in low supply in a gym, no matter how clean it is. A treadmill turns a run into a workout, something to be endured rather than enjoyed. But I've already used it twice this week.
This will be a lot of work. Just this week, my first week of the plan, I've run more miles than I run when I'm peaking in training for my half marathons. They've mostly been easy miles. But still. Even on my two easy running days, I'm lifting, too. 
Still, I have hope. January is the coldest month, and the plan doesn't get too hard until this month is over. I'll survive it until then. The sun came out today. It makes things seem warmer, even if the cold continues to crack tiny fractures in my will.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A new goal for a new year

I'm tired of answering why I would rather climb a mountain or run a nice, long race than do just about anything else in the world.
Especially because I can't really tell them perhaps the biggest reason without a long explanation.
Why would I rather push myself to the limit rather than sit on the couch and enjoy the cushions?
Yes, the sights, especially in the peaks, are breathtaking, and the connection with the outdoors is life-affirming. A large part of it is the evenin' breeze touchin' your skin, the gentle sweet singin' of leaves in the wind, the whisper that calls after you in the night and kisses your ear in the early moonlight (thanks Heart). 
But there's something else, there, too, and I'm afraid it's more of a reason than it should be.
I like to feel like a badass.
That sounds so arrogant. In fact, it's the opposite.
Now you can see the need an explanation.
Here goes.
When I was a kid, I was picked on ruthlessly. I still can't tell you why. They picked me last in kickball. It peaked in junior high school. And though it shouldn't, that shit sticks with you.
I remember staring in amazement the first time I hit a ball over the centerfielder's head for a home run. Yes, it was a softball, but me doing anything athletic at all flabbergasted me. As it turns out, I ran the mile in 6:15 in P.E. near the end of my time in junior high hell. It silenced a few, and I began to lift weights, which silenced a few more, and that's probably why high school was actually fun.
Regardless, the shit still sticks, and I scarcely believe in myself when it comes to sports. 
So I have to prove it to myself.
Over and over.
Many times, when I'd climb the toughest peaks, I'd summit and take in the sights, and then I'd smirk a bit. I actually liked it when I scraped myself up. We called those wounds souvenirs. You know, like a badass.
Most of the time, when I cross the finish line, I smirk a bit as well. Pretty good, I'll think, and I feel like a badass.
A couple months ago, I made a decision after years of putting it off. I talked to my closest friends, who are, of course, all badasses. My running partner sent me a schedule. 
Today was the first day of following it. 
Now my life is a series of numbers. Two-a-days. May 9. 26.2.
My first.
I feel like a badass just writing that. 
Maybe, finally, that feeling will last beyond the finish line.