Monthly Archives: May 2013

Dear Kindergarten Teachers,

I am writing to lodge a complaint.

It’s May.  As in, school will be out in one month.  So, as a somewhat whiny mother who has volunteered countless hours of her precious few days off in your classroom, I just want to know:  can we slow it down a little?

I have sent my child to school every Monday with her homework folder completed, even if it meant waging battle with said child on both Saturday AND Sunday morning, before I was even adequately caffeinated.  Show and Tell?  For 26 weeks, we came up with an item to share with the class, something that starts with the Letter of the Week, even when the letter was X, and when the final letter item was stowed in the little backpack and I had breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to use high levels of thinking anymore to help find age-appropriate show and tell items, you threw me a curve ball:  now we’re sending sh*t that starts with a SOUND, like ‘th’ or ‘sh’.  Well played, my friend.  I didn’t see that coming.  You know what starts with ‘wh’?  Whiskey.  You’re lucky I didn’t send in a poster board of inappropriate words that start with ‘sh’.  Can we stop the Show and Tell madness?  I’m tired.

And thanks ever so much for starting the new tradition–ONE MONTH OUT FROM THE END OF SCHOOL–of math homework every. night.  Because it’s not hard enough to convince a squirrely six year old to go to bed when it’s still daylight…now I have to practically sit on her while yelling ‘you can’t play outside, you have HOMEWORK’ every weeknight.  I’m not going to lie, I was hoping I could delay this nightly-homework-ritual for a few more years.  It takes her approximately 27 seconds to complete the worksheet, once she starts.  It takes upwards of 27 minutes to get her to sit down and start.  I feel there are better ways I could be spending these 30 minutes every evening.  Like drinking wine.  OH WAIT.  Math homework and wine drinking go hand in hand.

I’m almost done, I promise.

Just to remind you, we’ve done a lot for these kids this year.  You’ve prepped fine, smart, almost-first-graders.  I’ve sent endless cupcakes and paper cups and large boxes of Goldfish crackers to help keep your classroom running.  I’ve sat in tiny plastic chairs and cut out large scarecrow body parts and Johnny Appleseed body parts and other paper body parts that were destined for the recycle bin before I even finished snipping them from the page.  We’ve endured countless emails from the Room Mom regarding everything from volunteer schedules to field trip schedules to school auction donation schedules.  I’ve sent my child dressed up for every theme you ever dreamed up, and trust me, there was a stretch near the beginning of the year when you had a theme for EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY.  I want you to know, my standards are much lower than this.  If my child shows up at school fully clothed, I’ve done my job.  Bonus points if the clothing she’s wearing actually matches.  An every-Friday-theme added a level of stress to my life I hadn’t stopped to consider prior to sending my child off to elementary school.   I somehow missed the Farm Day theme and felt briefly guilty until my daughter asked me ‘what’s farm wear, anyway?’  But don’t worry, I made up for it on Silly Slipper Day and School Pride Day and Color War Day and even Camouflage Day.  I hate camouflage.  My grandmother bought her a $7 camo shirt from WalMart so she could wear it exactly once.  You’re welcome.

I think what I’m saying here is that we’re all tired.  The moms are tired.  The kids just want to play outside all the damn time.  YOU have to be tired.  So feel free to slow it down.  Together, we’ve raised 19 kids who can read and do simple addition and subtraction.  They can mostly keep their mouths shut when they’re supposed to and, thanks to your handy classroom chart, they only use the bathroom four times a day.  Call it a victory and let’s just coast thru this last month of school, shall we?

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Laundry

Can we just talk about laundry for a moment?

Running five days a week has put a serious toll on the washers and dryers living in our houses.  Especially when it comes to sports bras and running shorts…you might think I am constantly running these machines because I am keeping up with my six year old who changes her clothes on a whim, but you would be wrong.  She, naturally, has enough clothing stuffed in her closet to last until the end of third grade.  Her mother, on the other hand, has twos pairs of running shorts and only one running skirt she feels comfortable wearing in public at the moment.

And sports bras.

Amy and I both own a hierarchy of sports bras, ranging in fit and comfort from super-snug-and-supportive to why-bother.  It costs a lot of money to keep the girls from swinging up and punching me in the face, so my rotation contains only three bras.  The oldest, and most stretched, resides on the bottom of the pile, so that when I pull it out and buckle it on (yes, buckle, as in 11 hooks from top to bottom), I know it’s time to run another load of laundry.  Way back in February, I swear I never even reached the bottom of the bra pile.  Now, thanks to a training plan and unexpectedly gorgeous weather early in the year, I’m wearing my why-bother bra more often than I would like.

So, when you come to visit my house, and you hear the hum of the washing machine in the background, take pity on the machine.  It’s been so overworked lately.

Race pace, tempo, interval. Three terms for ‘just run fast’.

Tuesday night workouts are fast becoming the sessions Amy and I love to hate.  Last night wasn’t much different.  We dragged our sad, tired selves to the park at 6:30 and, as usual, Dash was the only one of our trio who hopped happily from the car and spun himself in to circles of excitement at the prospect of running.  Amy and I should probably try peeing on multiple trees during our warm-up…maybe that’s the key to boosting running enthusiasm? 

(Side note:  Dash becomes borderline psychotic at home when he senses a run might be in his near future.  He whips himself in to such a frenzy, banging everything in his path with the Tail of Death, that Amy can’t even get dressed for a run until she’s literally ready to walk out the door.  Last night, I got a photo text as I was leaving, a blurry image of Dash with socks in his mouth, and the caption ‘here’s your sock!  Please can we go now!’  It’s seriously a level of excitement that shames the both of us.)

We set off for our one-mile-ish warm up, toward the high school track.  On tap for the evening:  after a warm up, run two laps around the track at race pace, followed by one lap of recovery jogging.  Repeat three times.  Cool down.

I’m noticing, three weeks in to this plan, that interval training can be disguised as tempo runs or the term ‘run at race pace’.  I’ve done plenty of reading and flipping through dog-eared pages of TLAM, only to reach the same conclusion each time…you need to run fast.  You need to run fast, and hard, until your chest burns and, until you think you can’t go any further, and then you need to keep going for another lap, or another 30 seconds, or until your knees buckle.  

“These runs teach you to run through fatigue.”

So very true.  Tuesday evenings are dreaded only in part because they challenge or push our physical fitness.  The bigger challenge is in our mental fitness.  Because let me tell you, after one lap of a two lap race pace/interval/tempo/sprint, it’s my mind that is telling me I need to slow down, not necessarily my legs or my lungs.  My brain is crying ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU CRAZY PERSON?  SLOW.  DOWN.’  But, when pushed, my body can almost always give a little bit more.  It’s tapping in to that mental reserve that is the greatest challenge. 

We finished our four speed-up-slow-down rotations although, as usual, I was ready to quit after the first one.  I gasped out as we ‘recovered’ at a very, VERY slow trot, “you mean…we have to do…THREE. MORE. OF. THOSE?!” Amy assured me we could.  And, as usual, we felt badass and accomplished when it was finally time to walk off the track.  Happily spent, we joked that, between the two of us, we are the perfect runner…I go out fast and pull ahead in the first lap, but lose steam quickly.  Amy builds up to her speed slower but can finish faster because she hasn’t used all the gas in her tank.  We used our cool down time to slowly walk back to our cars, chatting about the upcoming Rainier to Ruston relay, stopping to let Dash sniff and pee as he chose.  

And, while I always love to check another box off the training plan hanging on my fridge, I am particularly proud to check off the Tuesday boxes. 

Decode the following:

Tuesday’s workout:

1-2 mile WU; H: 8 x 1 min in Z4; 1-2 mile CD.

Yes, that’s right.  We’ve completed week #2 in our training plan, a slightly less exhausting 7 days than the previous week, emphasis on slightly.  Tuesday was our one challenging workout, partly because it required some studying of different sections in TLAM to figure out what, exactly, we were supposed to be doing.

Hill repeats.  That’s what it basically boiled down to.  We ran about a mile and a half to warm up, arriving at one of our ‘favorite’ hills so we could run up/walk down it 8 times.  This, to me, seemed only slightly more bearable than the sprinting workout from the week before, although Amy W strongly disagreed.  We ran full bore up that hill, in Zone 4, the first time.  (Zone 4, according to TLAM, should feel “slightly less uncomfortable than a root canal”).  We walked back down.  Again.  Maybe in Zone 3.75.  Walked back down.  Again.  By Repeat #6, we were struggling.  Repeat #8 was Zone get-this-the-f**k-over-with.  

Oh.  And then we got to run 1.5 miles back to our cars.  THAT wasn’t pretty.

Amy had to give me a serious pep talk as we hobbled back to the library, where we had parked.  My legs were aching and I was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable.  My mind seemed to be the only over-active organ in my body, and NOT in a positive way.  It’s a mile and half!  THIS should be easy!  You run this all the time, why are you dragging?!

Well.  

As Amy reminded me, I was dragging because our bodies weren’t used to this level of intensity in our workouts.  I was dragging because it was 85 degrees in May in Washington.  I was dragging because I had been on my feet all day and, instead of opting for an easy 4 or 5 miles like I usually do on a Tuesday evening, I had chosen to run up and down a stupid hill over and over and over again.  

Right.

Hill repeats left my body and mind feeling spent.  I fell in to bed that night and slept like a log. (So, you see, better than interval training.  I may not have felt that fabulous runner’s high, but I also didn’t lie in my bed for hours, trying to find a comfy spot for my achy knees and hips.  Not a bad trade-off.)

So, after feeling pretty awful following our Tuesday billy-goat work out, you can see why I wasn’t super excited to arrive at Amy’s house Wednesday morning after our kids went to school.  On tap for the day was a ‘fun workout’.  We translated this to ‘easy run’, and set out for one of the local neighborhoods with long stretches of flat sidewalk.

It was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s run.  First of all, we were starting out early in the day, with overcast skies and cool temperatures.  We climbed exactly zero hills.  We ran at our normal, easy pace, very conducive to gossip and chitchat.  My legs felt light and five miles passed by quickly.  We happily ended our run with a trip to Starbucks and a sense of relief because, finally, we had gone for a run and enjoyed ourselves.

 

I didn’t die during the first week of our training plan…it’s a miracle.

I almost started this post with the line “Amy and I decided we needed to start a rather intense training plan because our running life has been a little ho-hum lately…” but I knew she would be quick to correct the statement by saying WHATEVER LADY, THIS WAS ALL YOUR IDEA.  She would be right.  I was re-reading one of my running bibles, Train Like a Mother, and I stumbled across the ’10k: Own It!’ plan and thought hmmm….THIS sounds like a good idea!

That was a few weeks ago.  We’ve completed Week One, and it’s been an exhausting (and achy) week.  My favorite day so far has been Friday, which was the freaking rest day.

Monday wasn’t bad.  An easy three miles.  No sweat.  We came home from work, grabbed the kiddos and their bikes, and hit the trail.  Interval training was on tap for Tuesday but we’ve done that before, right?  Yeah.  Right.  We started with the one mile warm up, chatting as usual while Dash stopped to pee on every twig and branch he saw, slowly making our way toward the local high school track.  And that’s when things turned painful.  We were supposed to all-out sprint for one minute, followed by a one minute recovery of a slow jog or walk.  AND THEN REPEAT THAT TEN TIMES.  I’ll let you guess how many recovery minutes were spent jogging and how many were a feeble, stumbling walk as we attempted to catch our breath.  Oh, and guess what, you’re supposed to cool down with a one mile slow run, which we couldn’t skip because we had to get back to our cars.  Probably best, now that I think of it, because if we had parked at the track we would have surely collapsed in our vehicles as soon as the awful sprinting was over.

HOWEVER.  I must say, I felt a runner’s high that I haven’t felt in a long while, the high that comes from pushing yourself farther than you thought you could go.  I didn’t even care that I was stinky and sweaty and headed to Winco to go grocery shopping.  So that’s saying something.

The real problem came a few hours later, when I tried to go to bed.  My body was exhausted but my achy hips and knees wouldn’t let me settle in to sleep. I had the same problem Wednesday night, even though we only did an easy three miles that day.  My body seemed to be in a constant state of WTF-are-you-doing-to-me?  It couldn’t get comfy enough to rest.

And then we got to Thursday.  I can’t remember the last time I so desperately wanted to skip a run.  Amy and I worked in the procedure room together that day, which meant we were on our feet from 7 am to 4 pm.  Then we were off to the Orting Trail for our first ever tempo run.  The term tempo run was a little confusing to me up to that point.  I had read about them, understood the general concept.  Run a set portion of your workout at 75-85% of your max effort.  Run hard enough that you’re barely able to talk, but not so hard that your lungs feel like they might cave in.  So…somewhere in between a fun run and a sprint?  I had to actually get out and do it in order for it to make sense, but trust me, I wasn’t wanting Thursday to be that day.

But we did it anyway.  4 pm:  time to switch the Dansko clogs for the running shoes.

I’m pretty sure I was driving Amy nuts by constantly looking at my phone (I run using the Map My Run app), because normally I strap it to my arm and don’t check it again until we’re all done.  But I’m neurotic and for some reason, I had to make sure we were doing this workout ‘right’.  Also, I won’t lie, I wanted to be CERTAIN we didn’t go one measly stride over the prescribed four miles.  1-2 mile warm up, 1 mile at tempo pace, 1-2 mile cool down.

It turns out, running at a tempo pace was pretty much what I expected–far less fun than our typical run, where the gift of gab flows freely, but far less painful than sprinting.  AND, while checking the Map My Run stats later on, I discovered our tempo pace was 9:15!  Very impressive for two 10-11 minute mile girls.

Also, after completing four days in a row of training, I did not feel one bit guilty for my huge dinner and early bedtime on Thursday night.  Because by that night, exhaustion won out, and I slept like a rock.  And now here we are at Sunday, and after two rest days in a row, I’m definitely ready to tackle our six mile long run.

Dear Zoey,

Ahhh, my six year old child.

How sweet and thoughtful you are at this age.  I’m sitting here at the Y, patiently waiting for the end of your beloved gymnastics class, and watching from the corner of my eye what appears to be a mother-grandmother duo engaged in battle with several unruly/hungry/tired children.  And I’m just thinking…wow.  How lucky I am.

(Not that you haven’t BEEN that unruly/hungry/tired child in the not-so-distant past, let me be clear.  It’s just that today you’re not and I’m feeling thankful.)

Kindergarten is wrapping up and I’m reflecting on all you’ve learned and become interested in this year.  I am only half joking when I tell my friends you are destined to be my sweet little nerd.  Two hours ago I had to guide you by the shoulder through a parking lot as I balanced your latest stack of library books in my arms, because your newest Judy Moody selection just couldn’t wait until you got to the car.  In the past month, you have passed through brief but intense fascinations with the following:  our solar system, collecting state quarters, and looking at life through the small lens of a magnifying glass Gigi bought you two weeks ago.  You have an irritating habit of demanding perfect phrasing from me at all times and are quick to correct what I consider to be my few grammatical errors.  You can not seem to get enough food, EVER, and I’m certain we could wallpaper a room in our house with all the reading awards you have collected this school year.

You ask great, funny, random questions, all the time.  Mommy, wouldn’t it be great if we could see Neptune, except we can’t because it’s the farthest from the sun?  Mommy, can we go to Maine one day?  How many plane rides will it take to get there?  Mommy, do you think Gigi will trade me three state quarters for my three regular quarters?  Mommy.  Are people supposed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend?  (Yes, sure, at least two, she’ll probably give them to you, and NO.)  My favorite part of having a six year old may be that you have no filters whatsoever.  Whatever you think comes straight out your mouth.

Your patience and bike riding skills and ability to fall asleep quickly in your own bed have all improved so dramatically over the past year, it’s hard to recognize who you were at age five compared to this new, mature, grown up six year old in front of me.  And yet you are still my Goldfish-cracker-loving, hopelessly-attached-to-your-mama, please-read-to-me little Zo Bug.

I just wanted to record this snapshot of your life right now, who you are, what you love, because I’m afraid that someday I will have forgotten how delightful you were at this age.  That you will ask me your new favorite question, “tell me a story from when I was two, or five, or six”, and I won’t be able to remember.  Also, I want something down in writing to look back on one day, the day that is coming when you don’t want to share your every waking moment and thought with your mom.