Sunday, January 28, 2018

In Training: Marathon #6

Starting tomorrow I'm in training for my sixth full marathon. I've only run one spring marathon before (Big Sur in 2016), but I feel optimistic about this. I'm hoping to do most of my training early, so for the duration of the plan I'll be waking early and going to bed early (right around when the toddler hits the hay, actually.) I'm hoping this act of discipline will keep me motivated, in shape, and on track for a good performance. It will be my last full marathon as a father of one, so I'm hoping to put in a good showing.

The training plan kicks off with a really anti-climactic rest day. Oh well. Can't do too much about that. I'll do some core work, maybe, but overall I'm going to try and respect Monday and Friday as my rest days. Thursday is also a rest day in this plan, but I'm thinking I'll work some core strength training in there. Likely body weight exercises, in numerous repetitions.

Just starting to get the hang of this one kid thing, and we'll be embarking on the two kid thing. I am doing so well, in fact, that I managed to cook meals, bake four loaves of bread, and still find time to play and draw with the kiddo this weekend. Admittedly, there was a bit of time where she was with my wife, or playing with her toys. But I feel like as a family we're starting to hit our stride. So, it will be a bit to adjust to with another baby in the house.

I'm excited, but also nervous. The anxious feelings are different from the ones I experienced prior to baby #1's arrival. I was terrified then, not knowing what to expect in all the new dad moments. I was surprised to feel like even though it was a struggle, there were things I had been concerned about that came pretty naturally. Not being afraid of the little things (going without sleep, soothing a baby, changing a diaper, giving baths, and changing tiny clothes) means that I'm less anxious this time around. But the new dynamic in the house remains shrouded in fog for the time being. How will the toddler do? Will this change our relationship with her (in a negative way?) It's that kind of thing I'm worried about.

The marathon training should prove to be a good outlet for these complicated emotions, though, as we barrel towards the Spring, and the arrival of baby #2. Lots of time to work through things, and lots of workouts to drain all the nervous energy. There are some challenges, sure. The days when I have to train, but the toddler wakes up at 4 am (she does this sometimes.) The bad weather days (this is New England, after all.) The days work is particularly tough. I'll have to do my best to get along, and that's part of the journey of training for a full marathon. Its the endless: "what will I do today?" question.

It's the camaraderie with the ancient forefather of all distance runners, "Just you, and me, Pheidippides."

Saturday, January 13, 2018


This week has been tough. Work was demanding, as it often is, and we didn't get much sleep as a family. Managed to get out for a brief 5k on Tuesday, but I got shut down by the fact that the sidewalks were completely obscured due to snow. I wasn't lacking in desire, but in my little neighborhood sidewalks impassable because of snow means running loops around a very small area, and I find that maddening. I've done it, and I will if I really have to, but I wasn't stir crazy enough.

Anyway that problem is mostly settled now, as we've had a couple of days that hit the mid 50s, and even the 60s today. The weather is nuts. I can actually watch the snow banks throwing off vapor because of the heat. We're also getting a bunch of rain, which means tomorrow will be humid as hell, but the snow will be gone and my typical routes will be clear. So I'd really like to get a ten miler in tomorrow.

Then in a couple of days we'll be back into the 20s. Then more snow. I've lived in New England much of my life, so I'm not naive. I know we'll have another big snow storm at some point (most likely in February) but I'm still tired of winter by the end of January.

Feeling a bit of seasonal affective disorder, too, so I'll need to buckle down and start some light treatments. Skipped them last year, but they really help so I'll do them again this year. It's just so dark otherwise, and it's a bummer.

I got a smart scale recently (before the new year started, so as to keep with my resolution of not buying things.) I've been weighing in first thing in the morning, daily. Previously I've done weekly weigh-ins, but as I'm in need of more routine, I threw it in as a daily thing. Plus, the more data I have the more I can see the trend over time, so hopefully it will be helpful there in helping me stick to my goals. Mostly it's a thing of controlling portion, and making sure I'm drinking as much water as I need to. Those are the big challenges.

If all goes well at these goals, I won't quite be at my fighting weight for the marathon in April, but I'll be much closer than I am now.

Parenting-wise things are good. Fun. The toddler is super interactive, and she's very very smart. Starting to talk to her about last names, and starting to notice more language development as she now commonly uses pronouns. She even named a couple of her toys, which was unexpected. We've been reading Dr. Seuss regularly, and she's enjoying pointing out the characters, noticing their characteristics.

We have a long weekend this weekend, although the weather looks pretty lousy. I'm sure we'll get a lot of good family time in.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Time and Potential

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.
--Henry David Thoreau

Towards the end of the last year, I spent some time reviewing my training. 2017 was a rough year, for sure. I logged significantly less miles on the road. I did some impressive stuff, but looking back on it now I can tell how bad the depression I was in was. I hardly ran at all in January or February, things didn't really pick up until races in March. I didn't feel fully "back" until May.

I want to avoid that this year. I haven't run since New Year's Day. Mostly the reason for that is that it's been very cold, and we got an impressive fifteen (15) inches of snow yesterday. So, much of my time was dedicated to shoveling out, and making sure we were prepared if we lost power. I actually thought about going for a run in the storm, but I thought better of it.

Running in this kind of snow means the sidewalks that allow me to run on the heavier trafficked roads will be covered. People never shovel or plow them, or at the very least, not consistently. So until the snow freezes solid I'll be away from my typical running routes, and doomed to run laps around my little neighborhood. Having the polar temps, too, isn't fun. I mean it's fun, but having to carry all the extra gear is a bummer at times.

I am starting to go stir crazy, though. I have run in conditions this cold, when we were up in Vermont. I know I can get out and cover a mile or two, and that probably it wouldn't be a terrible thing for me to do that. Went out for a mile and a half today, and it wasn't terrible, but I just felt like I was working so hard.

I'm starting to look at each day as a potential run on the training calendar -- 365 days in a year, and what will I do with them? It's a sad thing to hit the end of the week and see a bunch of zeros in the distance column. Hopefully knowing that will get me out the door more.

I'd like to think that I'll run every opportunity I'll get. I am very hungry for the miles and the movement. My marathon training starts January 23rd, so there's that. I've got a couple digital challenges on Strava to keep me entertained in the meantime. I've restarted the running journal I used to keep offline, too, so that will take the place of the spreadsheet I used during the streak. Hopefully that muscle memory will keep me going.

Started introducing the toddler to point-and-click adventure games today. Growing up I used to play these games with a close friend, and had some really fun times. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to share these as my own kids grow up. She was pretty interested in the game, but it was post lunch so conked out on my lap after a couple of scenes. Still pretty cool to be able to share something that I loved as a kid with my own kid.

Cold few days. We actually got snowed in during the epic "Bomb Cyclone" and ended up having two days out of work. The first couple of days we spent upstairs reading, watching movies. The second two days I cleaned up the basement so we could use the projector to do some movies. We had a lot of fun, and the change of venue was nice. I also put together a play kitchen a family member had gotten for the kiddo, so she had fun playing with that.

Haven't been hitting my steps because of being house-bound but I'm sure I'll rebound next week when the weather is supposed to be in the mid-30's.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Holiday Run Streak, Day #40

Last official day of the holiday run streak. Feeling triumphant to have finished the streak after disappointing myself last year.

Ended with a 3.3 miler that counted as the NYRR Virtual Resolution Race. Tough to run in such cold conditions, lots of layers, and spiked Tabi boots. Ended up finishing in about 27 minutes, which isn't too bad all considering. All lit by a glorious super moon.

All told I've run 169 miles in the last 40 days. Not too shabby, and beats my previous distance record for the streak of 153 miles.

I'm not sure if I'll keep running after, or not. Typically I don't keep the holiday run streak going into January, but I'll have to make that call tomorrow. I also need to figure out what I'm doing for training for my April marathon, so that will play into the decision.

Now: off to have dinner. I've made a vegan hoppin' john in the crock pot today. It's supposed to be good luck to eat black eyed peas on the first day of the year, so here's to hoping that works out!

Resolutions (Part Two) : 2018

Here are the goals I'd like to meet in 2018, with a focus on each one after the list.

Resolutions for 2018:

  1. Teach my daughter something each week.
  2. Enter no store before March, all stores off limits except the grocery store.
  3. Clear out unnecessary junk.
  4. Consistent social club meetings.
  5. Cook more.
  6. Get down to my "fighting" weight
  7. Run two marathons in one calendar year.
  8. Barefoot a 5k race.
  9. Learn to fuel appropriately again.
  10. Journal more consistently.

I focused on spending time with the family last year. That was a great goal, but it occurs to me in all that times that there is so much teaching and learning that goes on there. Just as a way of seeing what it looks like I'm going to keep a spreadsheet this year (possibly just in the side of my running journal) listing when and what I try to teach the kiddo.

Last year one of the unofficial goals I had was to enter no physical store before March. It meant no more blowing money on crap we didn't need at Target, and it meant a lot more time for myself and my family. This year I want to keep that goal but I'm going to attempt to stretch it into the rest of the year. I'm taking any shopping apps off my phone, I'm going to avoid stores with a couple of caveats. If I need to fix something in the house, I'm going to go to a hardware store. The grocery store will be totally open to me. I'm hoping it will help set me up to be successful in the next goal, which is...

I need to clear out the junk from my life. I mean this literally and metaphorically. I'm encumbered by too much stuff, and I have too many unnecessary attachments. It's changing the way I act, and not in a positive way. So I'll dedicate a fair amount of time to getting my house in order, donating old clothes. I'm going to redefine my boundaries on social media, as I'm tired of work spilling over into my personal life. I'm tired of feeling judged every time I post something. I need some time off of that, so my online presence is going to change quite a bit in the upcoming year.

I want to host more consistent social club meetings. We dropped two or three this last year, and that was a bummer. I'd also like to cook more, be that slow cooker meals or whatever.

With regards to my running goals, some things change, some things stay the same. I'd still like to get down to my "fighting" weight, the weight I PR'd the marathon at. I'm hopeful that with some changes to my diet and a little more discipline around what and when I eat, that I can achieve that goal.

I want to run two marathons in one calendar year. I had this on the list a couple of years ago, and I'm bringing it back. All of the half fanatic stuff has me really admiring the double agents and marathon maniacs, but first I need to see if I can even do two in twelve months.

Barefooting the 5k is a tough thing, because I don't run many 5ks anymore. Maybe that can change a bit in 2018, but at the very least I need more time without shoes in the new year.

I think a big part of my success in anything has been discipline. I was never more disciplined than when I kept a running journal. Strava is awesome, and I love it. But it doesn't really replace the act of writing down exactly what I did and when, so I'm going to go back to my running journal (in addition to Strava.) I'll add to that that I'd like to get back into the habit of posting to the blog twice monthly. Should be pretty doable if everything else falls into place.

Resolutions "in Review" 2017

I have set New Year's Resolutions since I started running. Now I try to mix in some parenting goals, and general happiness goals. 

This gives me a pretty even mix of "succeed" and "did not succeed." I figure it might be fun to look at some of the old resolutions, see what worked and what didn't before laying out my goals for this year. 

Resolutions from 2017:

  1. Return to the marathon
  2. Prioritize the half marathon
  3. Barefoot a 5k
  4. Set and achieve a climbing goal at least 6 months of the year
  5. Lose as much weight as it takes to be efficient
  6. Spend mindful time with family
  7. Re-begin date night with wife
  8. Be a more active part of the online dad community
  9. Write some new music
  10. Learn and archive some terrible dad jokes
Well, I returned to the marathon at the TCS NYC marathon this year. I wouldn't consider it a rip-roaring success of a performance, but it did rejuvenate my soul and rekindle my love for motion. I'm glad I did that race, and I'm glad that running the 26.2 again was a goal I set.

I ran 8 half marathons this year, with friends, on my own, for fun, and two see some new race courses. It was a blast. I joined Half Fanatics and found a whole new way to game-ify my running existence.

I did not barefoot a 5k, and I only met a climbing goal two months out of the year. I'm going to keep the barefoot-ing goal into 2018 to see what I can do with it. As Strava has sort of normalized the climbing challenge, I'm not so worried about setting it up for my long term goals.

With regards to weight loss, I spent the whole year at 180 pounds (with slight fluctuations.) I am amazed I ran so many long distance races at that weight, but I never did get back into my previous shape.

I spent really good quality time with my little family. Mindful time, and I think I'm seeing the results of that in how much fun our toddler has hanging out with us. She's smart, too, which is no doubt a result of all the books, pretend play, and singing that we do. I'll keep that up, of course, but I want to refine it more.

Date night was never a thing we started again as a regular fixture, but we have had a couple of very successful dates. I'm calling that a win, because with a second child on the way, I can't imagine there will be much time for just the two of us. Life comes and goes in waves, I'm sure there will be years in the future where we have more time just us.

I wanted to be a more active part of the online dad community. And I do have a presence on twitter, and I do tweet sometimes. I have around 550 followers now, and I interact with people pretty sporadically on there. I'm not sure what to call on a win on that goal, but again, it's something that can stay as a focus point without being on next year's resolutions.

I wrote and arranged music this year, we performed stuff, we had people over and sang songs in the house. It was a great music year for me. I'm so glad that part of my life is still there and thriving.

And of course the dad jokes.