Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Addendum on previous post: Elliot is also now crawling! It's not the traditional crawl, but rather something between an army crawl and a traditional crawl. He can cover a good bit of ground pretty quickly these days. Today I saw that I need to take the stereo out of his room, or at least put it on a dresser, as the shiny silver of it attracts him, then the cords overtake his curiosity. He also loves my ladybug slippers (who wouldn't?), the handles on his dresser, and his Jumperoo. I think crawling over to the Jumperoo is his way of telling me that he wants to play. I am loving watching him explore his little world!

I started to make this a post about 2008, but realized that I have a lot to say and that most of it that I want to share is already on this blog elsewhere. I might take up my long lost New Years tradition of curling up with a journal and committing it all to paper. I miss writing, both personal sorts of things and short stories.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Random baby updates

I should REALLY be getting the house ready for Christmas, but talking about Elliot is so much more fun.

1. First up is my new favorite video. It needs no introduction.

2. Elliot has a tooth! One of the two center lower teeth has broken through. It's still very short, but it's there! I'm surprised how sharp it feels. He hasn't been too upset about it, but I know that may change as other teeth follow.

3. The Munchkin bottle brush is great. I just heard about it a few weeks ago when a guy behind me in line at the grocery store was buying one. If you have a baby and you don't own a bottle brush yet, go buy one. It was $4 or so well spent.

4. We finally put up our Christmas tree today. Elliot has enjoyed looking at the lights and attempting to grab at the tree skirt. Today he opened his first, and a very special, Christmas present. His Godparents have helped us to start a tradition of reading the nativity story each Christmas, and of assembling a nativity set for Elliot. Here are two pictures of the event. We also have a video of it (which is adorable), but we took it sideways somehow and haven't figured out how to rotate it just yet.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fish over head

I've been thinking about my life a lot recently. Eventually I want to put some of it on here, but it's too much for one blog post and I'm not sure what of it I'm ready to share. I'm ready to share one part though, which is partly an update on me.

As many of you know, I had been frantically searching for a job since just before Thanksgiving, when I found out that my assistantship funding had run out. It was upsetting not only because it meant I was out of a job, but also because it was a job that I loved. I applied to three positions (and looked at hundreds online). When I showed up to the interview for the first it was abundantly obvious that they'd already chosen someone else. For the second one, I got the notice on a Monday and submitted my materials that Wednesday only to discover that it had already been filled. The third position was posted this past weekend (I think). I applied for it as soon as I saw it, interviewed on Tuesday and was offered the position. I'm really excited about it! It's work that I love doing, with what seems like a great group of researchers.

It was a God moment for me. While telling my husband about the interview and the job, I told him that I was ashamed about how worried I had been. Most of a decade ago one of my best friends shared this with me.

Some years later I heard the expression that fear is the faith that something won't work out. This picture and that phrase have stuck with me for a long time. I've used them both in times where things were uncertain. So when my job situation was resolved, I realized, with shame, that I hadn't held fast to this image. I'd been afraid. I'd had faith that something wouldn't work out.

Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe God uses anxiety as a motivator, to push me to look hard for and strive for something. But I doubt it.

All of this is tied closely to an internal debate that I have, and that I know for a fact some of you have. It's a hard one that I feel like I'm always looking for an answer to. It goes like this: I'm a girl who loves to struggle. I love facing a hard task. I love compelling myself to try something that I only suspect I can do. I'm convinced that God made me this way. Because I'm both a nerd and an overachiever, I'm a PhD student. As my good friends MT, NS, DP, and others will tell you, it's a hard road. There are times when every good graduate student questions how much they want the degree, and how much they are willing to sacrifice to get it. During the hardest points in the program, I wonder whether a) God is trying to test my devotion to the path He laid out for me, b) God is telling me that I belong elsewhere, or c) whether I'm trying to use God as an out. I'm still here and plan to stay here, apparently because I believe that A is the correct answer. And, despite whatever road blocks and frustrations I encounter, I do absolutely LOVE my work. Regardless, when it comes to navigating the everyday, it's just hard to figure out what God is saying when you have your head in a fish.

Friday, December 5, 2008

some things have changed

A lot has passed in the few weeks since my last blog post. Let me update you first on running.

The following weekend I was scheduled for 14 miles. When I got up to feed the baby at 6 on Saturday morning, the weather looked bleak. I decided there was no way I was going to run 14 miles that morning. I would rather do it the following day, when the weather promised to be better, even if it meant running it alone. Later in the day I discovered that my coach had made the same call, rescheduling practice for Sunday morning. So Sunday came and I rolled out of bed, into my winter running gear, and headed to the park, only to find that.....I was the only one there besides our coach! She patiently waited over 2 hours for me to finish the 14 miles. I was proud of myself for doing it, both because of the distance and the weather.

Then I went home and wrote an email to the Team coordinator and told her that I found out that I don't have funding for the spring (I'm working on this), and in conjunction with some other personal reasons, I needed to withdraw from the Disney Marathon. Realizing that it was not feasible for me was heartbreaking. It was also the best thing for my family. The coordinator was completely understanding. For those of you who have donated to my race, I will be emailing you about this. Rest assured that the money you have donated will not only still go toward a great cause, but will also still be supporting my quest to complete a marathon. I am planning to run the Chicago Marathon with the Team next October. It will be glorious.

We spent Thanksgiving in Maryland with our families. Elliot got to spend more time hanging out with his 2-month-old cousin, Nadia (I'll post some pictures when I have access to them), and met some of his Nana's closest friends. I got to see my best friend, and she got to meet Elliot. It was a lovely time.

In other news, Elliot had his 6 month check-up on Wednesday. He weighed 16 lb. 15 oz. and was 26" tall. The doctor said he's a good looking kid, and I have to agree! He seems to be enjoying fruits and vegetables, except peas. Really, who can blame him for refusing pureed peas? He can sit up on his own with no support for long periods of time now, though every here and there he still wobbles just a bit. He has the best smile and laugh I've ever seen or heard. Of course, I'm biased. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I officially have a new favorite biscuit recipe. Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (14th ed.) "Biscuits Supreme." They are flaky and very buttery. They only take 15 minutes to prepare (probably less once you've made them once) and 10 to bake. Let me know if you'd like the recipe. Or if you already have the cookbook, go make them. Now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

hurts so good

Last night was the regular Wednesday night track practice. We did a warm-up, 10x200, and a cool down. I tend to do better with longer intervals, so I really had to work at the 200s (1/8 mile). It went really well! I started out at about 48 seconds and sped up to 45-46 seconds, then maintained that pace throughout. I think that might have been running too hard, but I was glad I did it. Um.. until I woke up this morning. Oh my goodness, I don't know that I've ever seen sore from a track workout before, but man was I sore today. All the muscles through my hips and quads hurt. It's a good thing! This is the area I've been struggling to strengthen. It's finally happening!

I have one more workout tomorrow before my Saturday morning long run. It's supposed to snow on Saturday, so wish me luck. It will be my longest run ever--14 miles!

In other news, things at school have been...exciting? My funding for spring is uncertain, so I have been searching for opportunities on campus and trying to make plans in case nothing comes through. Also, as of today, I can see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel between the qual and the prelim. I think I will be able to schedule it pretty soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

For the dedicated

Yesterday was a test in dedication. It was about 37 degrees, overcast, and windy. Yet we met, a handful of weather-hardy alumni to complete our Saturday run. For those of us training for Disney, we had 12 miles in front of us. I took plenty of breaks and even walked a few minutes of the course. I was proud of our little group for sticking it out! After the run Jaymie and I waited for another teammate to finish. It was fun to sit and talk and catch up. I'm getting used to the idea that I'll be heading inside for most of my mid-week runs from here on out.

On the fundraising front, my husband had a great idea--raffle off a Wii! I've talked to several teammates about this and everyone thinks it's a great idea. I'm working now to nail down a ticket price. Let me know if you are interested in buying a chance on the Wii!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

weather's turning

My beyond crazy schedule is making it ever-more difficult to find the time to get a run in every day. The only way it was going to happen today (which was making up for yesterday's missed run) was to get up early and head out. It was gorgeous. The sky was clear along the horizon during sunrise. I could tell that it would be an overcast morning, but it wasn't yet. It was cool out, maybe 55, but not cold. Shorts and a long-sleeved shirt were all I needed. Then, even by the time I left the house for work the weather had started to turn. Most of the day was vaguely damp and unpleasant. That made me appreciate my early morning run even more. There was a slim piece of beautiful today, and I savored it.

I don't want to make this an Elliot blog, but every now and then I just can't resist. He has a new favorite toy: a shiny silver bow. That's right. As in a bow you would put on a Christmas present. He is completely mesmerized by it.

I love that little boy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

back at it

After Wednesday's track practice I finished the week with a 2.7 mile Friday afternoon run. Feeling pretty good about my gentle return to training after the Indy half, I headed out this morning for my long run. The schedule for today said 8 miles. I was thankful for the cut-back in mileage, since I've been easing back into training. What a beautiful morning! It's November and I was wearing shorts! The leaves were magnificent in the park. It was the perfect long run to get back into things. By early afternoon I was surprisingly sore already. I feel like I'm heading into the long haul now. It feels good.

Fundraising is going more slowly than I had hoped. I had a few nice donations from friends this week, but I haven't heard back from the corporate and institutional contacts I've tried. Hopefully there will be some news this week!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

speed workouts

Wednesday nights, here I come! Tonight I headed back to the track (indoor now) for a speed workout. I went to all of one of these before the Indy half. I'm now committed to going at least every other week, maybe every week for a while if possible. Speed workouts are hard, but great training. Plus, our coaches are two of my favorite people.

Today marked another milestone too--I recommitted to the Team to run the Disney Marathon. The new countdown is until January 11, 2009!! In large part I was able to recommit due to your support. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who responded to my call for support last week for donations. I met the minimum that I needed to continue training, and surpassed it even! Thank you so much. I'm kicking the fundraising campaign into high gear from here on out. I've started contacting local organizations, businesses, and planning events to raise funds. I will keep you posted on my progress. Again, thank you so much to everyone who has helped!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a quick scrapbooking update/question

So I started working on my niece's baby album this past weekend. This is the first time I've worked with a 12x12 post-hinge album. Much to my delight and surprise, I discovered that the "pages" (hemmed in by built-in page protectors) are a true 12x12 size. I don't have to cut 1/2" off of my background sheets! From what I can tell, the biggest upside to the post-bound album is the true size page. Personally, I've always used page protectors, but I can see that it's a con in the sense that it makes it harder to use pockets on pages. Do any of you have much experience with post-bound albums? If so, what do you think of them? Do you prefer post or strap-hinge albums?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Indianapolis Half-Marathon 2008 & Elliot's baptism

This past weekend was a huge one for our little family. This might get long--I want to write it all down and never forget it. Any of it.

The Indianapolis Half-Marathon (13.1 miles)

On Friday afternoon Brendan, Meg, Elliot and I packed up and headed to Indy to pick up our race packets for the half-marathon. After picking up the packets and having a pasta dinner, we headed to the hospital to see my friend Jenn and pick up the key to her apartment. I was glad we got to see her that night for a few minutes. Back at her place that night Meg and I prepared for the race. Elliot seemed a little freaked out about sleeping in a new place, but he calmed down quickly and slept.

On Saturday morning we got up and headed to the race sight about an hour before the start. I spent a large portion of our spare time in line at the port-a-potties. The people in line behind me discussed all sorts of things, my favorite of which was a segment that began with a middle aged man saying, "You know, sometimes I look at women wearing sports bras and think to myself that looks like a good idea. More than once I've considered wearing one. I think they might help, you know?" No, really, I had no idea what that would help for him. Really.

We crossed the start line about 8:35 am. The weather was perfect. The course was nice, though odd in places. Early in the race we were graced by a man in a velour shirt covering a Meatloaf song. We passed him again around mile 11 as he presented the worst cover of a Johnny Cash song I've ever heard. He provided us with some good laughs. Other highlights: after spending some time looking for mile marker 4 we looked up and saw mile marker 5. Score! The portion of the race through the woods was also really nice. It included some serious hills (well, for girls accustomed to running in Illinois) and nice views. Also, we saw our cheering section a few times. Here is a picture of Brendan and Elliot waiting for us to pass them.

We kept a reasonably constant pace, Meg tells me. The race felt pretty good. I didn't feel like I was struggling like I did at our first race. Like any long run, we had periods of faster and slower running. Our training definitely paid off. We ate at a perfect point in the race. Just when I started to feel sluggish my beans kicked in. We also knew not to get carried away early in the race, but to pick a pace we could sustain. I started getting tired around mile 11, but by then we were so close that it wasn't hard to keep up our pace and keep going. At mile 12 we picked up the pace, then at about 100 meters out we started a sprint to the finish. We finished in 2:08:26--three and a half minutes faster than our last race. Woohooo!!! Here is a picture of us approaching the finish line (we're the two people just behind the blue strip). And, true confession, even though training was spotty (no Monday workouts and no speed workouts to speak of), started slow (remember the pain expressed in my posts in July), Elliot isn't even 5 months old, and we said our goal was just to finish, I've been kicking myself since mile 12 for not running this race faster. Secretly, I really want to break that 2 hour mark. And we will. Eventually.

My friend Kate also ran the race. Here's a picture of her on the course (in the middle with her arms up). Her husband, who is also a good friend of ours, was also there to support her. I wish we had taken pictures of all of us! My mother-in-law was also there. She drove all the way from Maryland just to see the race and hang out with us. It was a great day. Also below is a picture of me with my baby post-race. I really wanted a picture with Elliot post-race. I want to always be able to look back at this and show him that I did something I loved and he was part of it. I also want to always be able to look back and know that I did this when he was not quite 5 months old. That's something I'm proud of.

After the race we ate a little bit, then headed back to my friend Jenn's to hang out with her for a little while. Again, I wish I'd thought to take a picture! It was great to hang out with her and introduce her to Elliot a bit more. She's good people. We've promised to make more of a point of getting together, which I'm looking forward to.

After hanging out with Jenn we headed back to Champaign. We spent the evening at home with our parents, then later with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, when they arrived after their drive from Detroit.

Elliot's baptism
Sunday was a HUGE day in Elliot's life. He was baptized! Below is a picture of us with our fabulous Pastor Donna and Elliot's sponsors/Godparents. I want to thank M & J for sponsoring Elliot. We feel incredibly blessed to have a community of faith and such friends supporting us in the Christian upbringing of our son. Not only are they good friends of ours, but are also a family that we respect for their values and deeds to say the least. We are so blessed! We were also thrilled to celebrate this day with our friends that could come to the worship service.

The weekend was also crammed with prime photo opps for the grandparents. Here is Grandpa Paulson with Elliot. As if this weekend weren't sweet enough after all of this, but I also got to meet my niece, Nadia Simone Paulson. She is a tiny little bunch of wonderful! I can't decide which of these pictures I like best, so I'm going to go overboard and include them all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just a few days until the race!

Wow, do I have a lot to update. Saturday a week and a half ago (10/4) we did our 12 mile run. It went really well. It was cool outside when we started, which was nice. Since my legs were cool I didn't notice the muscle tightness that typically comes with the first few miles of a long run. We kept a pretty quick (for us) pace and felt good at the end of it. After that run I felt even more prepared and excited for the race! The following Wednesday I went to track practice, which was fun. I haven't been going as often as I would like, so I really appreciated the chance to go. Also, it was nice to see the fall team before the Chicago Marathon. Meg and I ran about 35 minutes last Friday. We started out a little bit slow, but got up to our normal pace after a while.

And happened. Friday night I got up from feeding Elliot and had incredible pain along the right side of my back. It hurt to walk, to twist at all, to do much of anything. I know this sounds sad, but I think I wrenched it somehow during one of the 100 times a day I pick up his car seat. Saturday morning I was still having acute pain when I moved the wrong way. I still got up at 6am though and got dressed (in jeans and a t-shirt) to go to practice, at least to cheer for everyone else. When Meg pulled up to my house at 6:45 and saw my attire we decided that breakfast at the pancake house would be a better use of our time. I still had pain on Sunday, and Monday and running just don't mix. Today I finally got to the gym for some light cross-training. My lower back is still tight, but nothing hurts any more. It scares me that I missed that last long-ish run before the race, but I have to trust that we're prepared.

That said, I am SO EXCITED about this weekend. Brendan and Elliot are coming along. My mother-in-law is going to try to meet up with us at the race. I may get to see my friend Jenn. My friend Kate is also running the race and her husband is coming for moral support. It should be a really good time. Plus, this weekend is Elliot's baptism! So we'll have other family in town for that.

On the fundraising front, I'm up to $870 I think. I need $1000 by 10/29. I'm going to start writing letters to local businesses and associations and pestering my friends and family.

Other odds and ends: apparently I have fall allergies. I'm going to the doctor in the morning to hopefully get some allergy medicine. This has to stop. In happier news, I finally finished my wedding scrapbook! I love it and am so pleased to have it to look back through. Now, it's onwards to my niece's baby album, then a Christmas stocking for Elliot. Finally, I've had some nice things happen professionally in the last few weeks. After a difficult period in the PhD process, these signs of encouragement are welcome!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The perfect 10-miler

This past Saturday we hit the 10-mile mark in preparation for the Indy half. It was the best 10 mile run ever. The weather was perfect and we felt good. Leading up to that run I was a little bit nervous, but afterwards I'm just excited about the race. So much so that I finally registered! So, two and a half weeks to go. Wooohooo!!!

Someone asked how fundraising is going, so I thought I'd add a bit about that. I ended up selling another $100 worth of stuff from my yard sale. I have a bake sale next week and another one the week after. So I'm up to about $750 and still counting.

And in Elliot news, he was 14.0 lb. at his 4-month check-up. He's doing the things he's supposed to be doing and he's doing well. His baptism is the weekend of the race. We're really looking forward to it. Our families are planning to come out for it. We're also thrilled to have some great sponsors for Elliot. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

many miles in between

There have been many miles in between blog posts. Time has gotten away from me since I started back to work!

Mixing training and going back to work, along with raising Elliot and catching up on various projects, has proven to be a challenge in time management. So far it's going....okay. Not fabulous, but okay. I haven't figured out how to work in a Monday run just yet. Tuesdays I think I'm going to schedule cross-training in the middle of the afternoon, as a break from work (it worked this week). Wednesdays I've accepted that I won't see my son very much, since I run when I get home. Fridays Meg and I are meeting at 4 to run. I lose a little bit of work time with this plan, but so far I've been able to make it up in the evenings at home.

I'm pleased about my return to mid-week workouts (aka speed workouts). Three weeks ago I went to a mid-week workout with the team. The week after that it rained and I had Elliot with me, so I skipped it. Last week and this week (today) I did the mid-week on my own. Tonight I ran a 1.25 mile warm-up then 4x800 followed by a brief cool-down. I ran each of the 800s in 4:15-4:20. I'm going to check my time from last year to see how that compares.

Long runs are coming along too. This past Saturday we hit eight miles. It was HARD, but part of that was the crazy humidity. We're doing eight again this weekend. I'm hopeful that it will be easier. We have only about a month to go until the race!

On the fundraising front, I had a yard sale a week and a half ago that raised $211. I am still working on selling some additional items, like a camera and a nice decorative bench. I expect the final amount to be closer to $300. I'm also planning a bake sale and we're working on a team fundraiser. So, it's coming!

In non-running news, I'm an aunt! Nadia Simone Paulson was born on September 15 at 10:48pm in Detroit. We are very anxiously awaiting pictures! Congratulations Kirsten and Dan!! The morning after Nadia's birth I wanted to send flowers. Not knowing a good florist in their area, I decided to call the hospital for a recommendation.
Me: "Hello. My brother and sister-in-law had a baby there last night. I'd like to send them flowers. Could you recommend a florist? Is there someone you work with?"
Receptionist: "You're calling for your brother? Is he a patient here?"
Me: "No, no. He and his wife had a baby there last night. I'm trying to send some flowers. Do you have any information on a florist I might use?
Receptionist: "What's her name?"
Me: "Kirsten Paulson."
Receptionist: "Ok, I'll connect you to her room."
Me: "No, no, I don't need to talk to her or bother her. I'm just trying to send flowers. Is there a florist the hospital works with?"
Receptionist: "Oh, you want to send flowers. I can give you the phone number for a florist."
Me: "Yeah, thanks."

Also, I am two pages (one spread) and a few captions away from being FINISHED with my wedding scrapbook (finally! three plus years later!). After I finish that, I will be moving on to baby albums for Nadia and Elliot. After that, I'll be knitting a Christmas stocking for Elliot. I have quite the agenda lined up! And I'm looking forward to all of it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Best long run ever

Saturday morning was the best long run ever. I hit the six mile mark with no difficulty AND I got to see some of my old teammates. Two of my former teammates are coaches for the fall TNT Team and my old coach, Harley, is their mentor. The fall and winter teams trained together this Saturday, so I got to see them. A few other alumni I know were there too. I was in such a good mood on the drive to practice and then afterwards. It was great to see everyone. Well, almost everyone. MEG!

I started my fundraising effort in earnest this past week. I've already raised close to $300! Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my initial call for support!! For anyone interested in helping out, my fundraising page can be found here. I'm also organizing a yard sale. I think I'm going to push the date back to September 6 to give myself more time to find donations for the sale. If you're local and have anything you'd like to donate, please let me know!

In other news, it's official: maternity leave is over. Elliot goes to day care in the morning. Even while I feel good about the daycare provider we chose, I can't help but be a little bit anxious. I think it would be unnatural not to be. It hasn't quite sunk in yet that my daily routine of life in Mumford starts again tomorrow as well. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wedding/That'll teach me!

The Wedding

This past weekend we attended a wedding in Sabina (that's with a long i), Ohio. It was great to get to see our friends Kevin and Jamie and celebrate with them. The reception was at Jamie's parents' home just outside of town. They couldn't have asked for a nicer day for their wedding. It was just gorgeous! Here are some pictures.

Sabina is only about 4.5 hours from here, but travelling with baby meant that it took about 6 hours each way. Elliot was mostly pretty well behaved. Here are some family pictures from the wedding and the trip each way. The first was taken at the reception. The second and third were taken at rest stops on the way home.

That'll teach me

I did my weekend long run, about 4.1 miles, on Sunday night. It had been almost a week since I ran. I finished the run and it was fine, but it hurt a little bit that night and yesterday. I'm even a little bit tight this morning still. So, I'm back to the training schedule now! This weekend I'm going to try a six mile long run. Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It got easier!

This week's long run was 4 miles. It was easy!! I really feel like I've rounded a corner here. It was a fun route too. We started out at Hessel Park and ran through some nearby neighborhoods. I also met some of my teammates. I think they will be a fun group to train with. The full body workouts are still hard, but that's a good thing. I'm re-building muscle.

Elliot has two new-ish tricks. He has started to intentionally and consistently roll from his back onto his tummy. He can't roll back to his back though, which sometimes frustrates him. The other trick is that for the last week or two he's taken great joy in his favorite new game--kicking off a blanket.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The D

Last weekend in Detroit was a lovely time. Kirsten had a nice shower. I got to see their new place. I was exhausted when I got home, but it was worth it.

On Sunday Kirsten mapped out a 4.1 mile loop for me to run through nearby neighborhoods. I was a little bit apprehensive, since I didn't know the area and would be alone, but it went smoothly. I ran, map in hand. The neighborhoods all had sidewalks, which isn't always the case here. I had a lot of shade from the trees along the streets. Most importantly, I finished the 4.1 miles and it didn't feel as hard as my "long" runs have the last few weeks. I think I'm starting to turn a corner. When I got back from the run I found Dan (my brother) cleaning my car. The man just can't stand a dirty car. It makes me laugh in that familiar, familial sort of way. I'm enjoying having a clean car!

This week has been hectic. I fit in a cross-training day, but haven't been able to run. I'm planning to run in the coming days. After this weekend I should be able to get back to the training schedule.

On the scrapbooking front, I'm starting to collect patterned paper, ribbon, and accessories for my niece's album. I'm finding such fun things! Last night I bought a pack of pink fabric brads, among other things. I'm starting to think about how the pages will come together. I'm determined to finish my wedding album first (which I'm slowly closing in on), but I'm so anxious to get started on the baby album!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Something of a routine?

This Saturday I repeated my 3.7 mile run. It wasn't any easier, as I'd hoped, but it happened. Yesterday I dutifully ran my 25 minute EZ run. Sometime in the last year my subdivision has added a significant amount of sidewalks, making a trail around the entire subdivision. It's a nice little route.

It's amazing what two months can do. When I was pregnant someone told me that the first month after birth is all about survival, and she was right. Now at the end of two months, though, I feel like I can sort of anticipate how the days will go. That makes running SO much easier! My husband has been phenomenal at working with me to mesh our schedules so that I have time to run and he still has time to do his things. I still worry that it's going to be very difficult to mix parenting with the training schedule once the miles get longer, but so far so good.

This week I'm starting to use a diet plan. Over the weekend I wrote out meals for the week. I'm doing this to help myself eat well, which can only make running easier, and to help myself lose more of the baby weight. I'm using old eDiets menus and some that I got from Dannon's website a few years ago. I will probably post a link to my FitDay account at some point, if anyone is curious. It's nice to eat things I don't normally eat. For instance, last night we had teriyaki salmon, steamed carrots, and sweet potatoes. Yum!

I'm headed to Detroit this weekend for my sister-in-law's baby shower. I want to try a 4-miler for this weekend's long-run. Not sure if I'll try it there or on Sunday when I get back. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ch-ch-ch-changes, and I'm crazy

I was encouraged today by my friends Lisa and Dorie to feel like I can use this space to blog about my crafts projects and the rest of life. I never have because originally this blog was devoted to training and fundraising for my first race. But life has gone on and I'm realizing that this would probably be more interesting for everyone involved if I widened the scope. So here I am.

First though, an update on running. This past Saturday I ran 3.7 miles!! I wasn't sure I would make it that distance, since my longest run before that had been 2.8. The weather was in my favor, which helped, and I was feeling good. I'm starting to feel like maybe I can do this again. But I'm also crazy. I'm going to attempt to run the Disney Marathon in January. I'm working with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training again. This time around I will need to raise over $3,000! Be warned that there will be lots of fundraising in the months to come! So, wish me luck. I might be crazy to try this. All of a sudden, the Indy Half in October has become a training run. I'm really excited about Indy, but still intimidated about Disney. I might just be crazy, but I'm going to give it a try.

In other news, yesterday was Elliot's two month well-baby check-up. It went really well. He weighs 11lb. 11oz. and measured 22.5 inches. He got his immunizations, screaming as all babies do. I planned to feed him right after the shots, which soothed him a lot. After he finished eating he had forgotten the pain. I think the day wore him out though. Last night he slept better than ever. He slept from 11pm to 4:10am, then from 4:40 until almost 9am. It was so nice to get so much sleep!

On the scrapbooking front, I discovered something nifty a few days ago. Some background: a while back my friend N gave me a white pigment ink pad. We both thought it would be great to stamp white shapes onto colored paper. Not so much. Turns out the ink fades about 90% when it dries on regular paper. So for a while I wasn't sure what I could do with my white ink pad. Over the weekend N and I were scrapbooking together. We came up with a layout that involved a printed vellum background page. Unfortunately, I had only one sheet of the printed vellum and I needed two for the two-page spread. I went to the local crafts stores but couldn't find another sheet. On a whim, I tried to "paint" a pattern onto plain vellum using q-tips and the ink from ink pads. I tried a few colors of ink on a test strip to see which looked the best. Much to my surprise, the white ink works beautifully when applied to vellum. Here's a picture of the result. And yes, I'm just now getting around to scrapbooking my 2005 wedding.

Friday, July 11, 2008

baby steps

Last night I added just over half a mile to my route. I can't remember a time when running ~2.5 miles was this difficult. It was also only about 25 minutes after dinner, so it wasn't the best time to run, either. Like the 2 mile loop got easier, this will too. I'm hoping by the end of next week to be up to 5k.

Today I'm going to try Lynn's full body workout plan. I bet that's gonna hurt in the morning! I'm also working with Lynn and some people on this website to get my diet under control. It's fun to work out a healthy diet for someone who is a) trying to shed some fat, b) breastfeeding, and c) training for a half-marathon. It's a bit of a challenge, but will hopefully be a fun one. My husband has been so supportive. We worked out a schedule so I could go run last night. Then he sat down with me to plan some healthy, veggie-packed dinners for this coming week. I'll be honest, I'm a little bit intimidated by how much work is ahead of me, but I'm up to the challenge.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

two new tools and some growing pains

I've recently been introduced to two nifty gadgets for people who, like me, are attempting to get back into reasonable shape.

The first is a pedometer on Google. N told me about this. You can click on a map to enter the route you walk or run and it tells you how long the route is. You can also save your routes. I love this! I like my carry-it-on-me-while-I-run pedometer, but it has to be calibrated separately for running and walking. With the Google pedometer there's no re-calibrating. It's just a simple measure of distance. Check it out:

The second tool is an online site to keep track of what you've eaten. My friend Lynn told me about this. You enter in everything you ate in a day and it breaks down your calorie sources: carbs, fats, and protein. It uses a catalogue of most foods, which simplifies things. For instance, you can just type in "strawberries" and it knows everything, nutritionally, about strawberries, so you don't have to enter anything. Allegedly you can enter recipes, but I haven't figured that part out yet. Entering packaged foods that aren't stored in the database, like specific granola bars, is really easy though.

My bid to get back into running is going well. I've done my 2 mile loop three or four times now. Thankfully it's starting to get easier. I think I might add half a mile next time I go out. It's hard to believe that in a month or so two miles will seem like nothing. I did a full body workout on Sunday (the second half of the yoga dvd I posted about, actually). I was sore, to be honest. With my friend Lynn's help I'm adding more full body weight lifting routines to the mix. I'm going to do the weight lifting for the first time today. I love feeling my body start to pull itself together. I love knowing that slowly I'll get there...slowly.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Joanna runs again, but slowly

I finally had my first post-partum run! This Wednesday morning I laced up my shoes and headed out for what I promised myself would be an easy 20 minute jog. It was 20 minutes, and it was at an "easy" pace, but it wasn't easy! I have a few good excuses--I'm 5 weeks post-partum, it was blazing hot and humid, and it has been two months since I did anything like pretend to run, and that run at 8 months wasn't terribly athletic. So while I didn't expect it to be as hard as it was, I was really pleased with it. While I ran, I got so excited by realizing that the world of fitness is open to me again. I can run, do other cardio, lift weights, do more yoga, etc. I can't wait to get back into decent shape!! And...that's for Indy should be starting here in a few weeks. Meg (my friend and currently-long-distance running partner) and I will probably start to draft a training schedule soon. I'm so excited. Seriously. You have no idea.

yoga dvd

Recently a friend asked for a recommendation on a yoga dvd. Like me, she was afraid of buying something, getting it home, and realizing that it is really lame. I have a dvd called Yoga & Sculpting by Karen Voight that I've really liked. N borrowed it while I was pregnant and enjoyed it. Like all exercise dvds, once you've done it so many times it starts to get easy, or at least easier, as your body adjusts to the routine. Regardless, I like this and have gotten more than enough distance out of it to recommend it. It has 25 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of pilates, and a 40 minute workout that has a short cardio warm-up, followed by legs, butt, arms & back, and ab workouts.


My husband and I welcomed our son, Elliot Finnegan, into the world on May 22, 2008 at 6:14 pm. He weighed 7lb. 15oz. Both Elliot and I were healthy and doing well following the birth. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us!! I'm not going to post details about labor and delivery here; email me if you'd like more information. :)

Life at home with a newborn has been a learning experience. I love watching him figure things out about the world, like the fact that he can control his arms and hands. My husband has been a great father and an amazing source of comfort and support for me over the last five weeks. All told, we're a happy, healthy little family.

Finally, some pictures. The first is (obviously) me right before he was born. This was taken 4 days before, actually. The second picture was taken about 2 minutes after his birth. The third was taken at home maybe a week later. Of course, I have many, many more pictures of him. Let me know if you'd like to see more!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Pregnancy and yoga

A few years ago I was doing a lot of yoga because it kept me limber and kept my arms and upper back toned without using weights. I enjoyed yoga, but didn't regard it as a primary source of exercise. Well, my friends, prenatal yoga is another story.

These days, I look like this:

It's beautiful and I'm a happy pregnant woman, so what I'm about to say is not meant to be a complaint. That said, at 38 weeks there is just a lot of weight to carry around. My back, calves, hamstrings, and especially my hips get very tight. Sometimes I find myself at 3am stretching at the foot of the bed. Prenatal yoga is the solution! I find that if I do about 30 minutes every 3 days or so, and do some walking in the interim, I stay fairly comfortable.

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I'm going to endorse the DVD I use. For Christmas my husband gave me "Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe." I had read reviews of it online before asking him for it. I was afraid of getting a DVD that was, well, frankly, lame. The Jennifer Wolfe DVD is for people who have done yoga before. It's rigorous enough that I think I'll continue to use it after the baby is born. It's also nice in that it demonstrates alternative poses for women in various stages of pregnancy.

My due date is two weeks from today, so it could be any time now! Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A brilliant idea

Tonight while on the phone with my brother I was explaining that I was burning up because I had just consumed a cup of decaf coffee. He asked why I was drinking coffee if it was making me too warm. I told him I'd brewed it because I was thirsty. His response? "You know, I've never considered coffee a thirst quencher. If it were meant to quench thirst there would be a coffee flavored Gatorade."

Why has no one thought of this? It's brilliant. Runners could still (sort of) have their morning coffee, hydrate rather than dehydrate, and get all of those electrolytes. Starbucks could cash in on this.

"What will it be this morning?"
"I'll have a mocha latte Gatorade, please. Hold the whipped cream."
"That will be $4.73."

I'm buying stock now. You'll soon find this in my Catalog of Obscure Running Gear, right after the maternity dry-fit clothing section.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shout out, Nashville edition

Congratulations to Debby Rehn for finishing her first half-marathon this past weekend in Nashville!! Not only did Debby finish, she beat her goal time, finishing in 1 hour 57 minutes 25 seconds. Good job!!

As for my efforts, it isn't even particularly comfortable to walk much anymore. The baby has moved down as far as humanly possible, so there is a good bit of pressure from time to time. I will however be walking and/or doing prenatal yoga tomorrow. It's high time! In either case I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do, but it will feel good to get some exercise.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shout out, Boston Marathon edition

A big congratulations to my TNT coach, Harley Johnson, for completing the Boston Marathon in 2:49:21! That's an average pace of 6 minutes 28 seconds per mile. Way to go!!

I also heard through the grapevine that some of my teammates are gearing up for their next races. It looks like one will be running Indy with Meg and me in October. A few are planning on doing the Chicago Marathon. Two of my former teammates are coaching the TNT fall team. I think they'll be great coaches. The fall team kicks off here in a few weeks. I can't wait to take my baby for early morning strolls and see the team while they train! All around, very exciting news from my little community of runners!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sorry Mom, concerned members of the public

I just couldn't help myself. It was pushing 60. The sky was a beautiful blue with fluffy and lightly scattered clouds. Meg and I are both having light weeks (though admittedly, "light" means entirely different things for us). So we ran. That's right, I said we. We ran.

We ran/walked about 2.9 miles. We walked at least as much of it as we ran, and the running was not particularly fast. Following doctor's orders, I was careful and walked when I felt tired or too heavy. I have to admit, after the fact I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable, but it was worth it. Tomorrow I will do prenatal yoga and loosen my muscles back up again.

I apologize to my mother because I told her that "the last mile" a few weeks ago would be it. She worried about that mile even, and breathed a sigh of relief when it was over. To the concerned members of the public, I apologize because I know it's surprising and odd to see a woman 8 months pregnant running. I understand your confusion and concern and I assure you, I'm being careful and talking regularly with my OB.

Earlier this week I walked and did prenatal yoga. I'm still liking that combination in these final weeks. It keeps me active and maintains some muscle tone without making the muscles too tight. My doctor recommends prenatal yoga, since loose muscles make for easier delivery. Today may really have been the last running I will do; my hips really are not happy about it. Stay tuned though.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Article of interest

It's a really slow day at work, so I'm being rather naughty and posting to this blog. For anyone who cares, my work schedule is 100% flexible, so I'm not actually stealing "company" time. I'm not on a clock. Regardless, it feels sort of naughty.

I just saw this article on MSN and wanted to post it. When I started running in earnest, just about a year ago, I had concerns about my left knee. I had surgery on it in 1995 and was concerned that running would further tear the cartilage. I was concerned enough to talk to my general practitioner about it. She told me that many people have noisy knees and that it's no cause for concern vis-a-vis running. She said that if I start to get an ache, take some glucosamine and ice my knee. In the whole course of training for the CDC last year it never became a problem. As the article mentions, I hear a lot of people use this fear as a reason not to begin running. I'm encouraged that the article advocates responsible running and points out the dangers of sitting on the sideline.

In the world of Joanna, things are going well. I've been mixing walking, light to moderate weight lifting, and prenatal yoga. Never before have my muscles been as consistently tight as they are now (I'm at 34 weeks, for anyone who is curious). The yoga makes a noticeable impact by loosening up my legs, back, and arms. I feel like brisk walking is keeping my cardiovascular strength up somewhat, for which I'm grateful. My doctor gave me the best news of the week, though. As long as I slow down and am careful, I can still go run the occasional mile. Given what the nurse had told me at the last visit, and the fact that my ligaments are loose now, I had thought it was discouraged. There may yet be another mile or two left in this pregnancy. Now that the weather is turning toward spring, it's torture for me not to run a lap here and there.

And finally, I have some commentary on spring runners. When it's 55 or 60 degrees out, you do not need long sleeves to run. Regardless, it makes me happy to see everyone out putting in some miles, enjoying the spring weather.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The last mile

Well, today was the day. I ran my last mile while pregnant. Afterwards I saw a friend of mine. He asked me why today was the day, was I going to induce labor or was something wrong? The simple answer is that the baby now weighs about 4 lb. 5 ounces (I had an ultrasound today, which is how I know this), I've gained 20 lb., and my ligaments/joints are starting to loosen. I'm 32 weeks pregnant. Surprisingly, running actually felt pretty good and wasn't even slow. Part of me says that if I'm enjoying it, I should keep running the occasional mile. The mother in me (wow, that's weird to say) is saying that it's time to take more precautions. So, today was the day. As Meg said, it is sort of bittersweet. In this case, the sweet far outweighs the bitter.

After my mile, I walked for a few minutes then did some weight lifting. It's always awkward to lift in a gym that you're unaccustomed to. For instance, I usually do about 50 lbs. on the tricep pulldown at my regular gym (all I ever do on campus is walk or run. Brendan and I go to a local gym together, where I do other cardio and weights). On campus, I think I had 22 or 27 lbs. on the tricep pulldown. The tension is just different from machine to machine. It's also disorienting not to know where things are in the gym. I'm sure I'll learn the layout better over the coming weeks. It was nice that Meg could keep running and I could work on my upper body. It's a convenient setup.

For the next 3 months or so this blog probably ought to be called "Joanna Walks" or "Joanna Waddles." It's not that I plan to do nothing, it's just that the mix has to change. For a while, you'll get to read about my progress with walking, prenatal yoga, weight lifting (mild), and perhaps the elliptical machine. Yay for fitness during pregnancy! And hopefully the weight will come off afterwards without too much of a fight...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A great cold weather run

My husband and I just got back from a wonderful vacation in sunny Las Vegas. Just a few days ago I was lounging by a pool in a tank top sipping a milkshake. Today I was bundled up in a long-sleeved shirt, a zip-up hoodie, a scarf, gloves, and a winter coat. Needless to say, I'm anxious for spring. All that is beside the point, though.

Meg and I were scheduled to run today. Since today was officially the last day of my vacation, I slept in, left my house in time for lunch with a friend, then went to two meetings (I couldn't really miss them) on campus. In all of my vacationing, I failed to take a snack with me for the afternoon. Having neglected that, I was too hungry to want to run at 4pm. Consequently, we replaced our regular run with a different type of winter run....a drive to the coffee shop. Rather than run, we enjoyed warm beverages and baked goods. And it was great. Thank you Meg for a great "winter run" to end a great week of vacation.

Just for fun, here are a few pictures from our trip (to Vegas, not the coffee shop!). This is part of the south strip at night. You can see New York-New York, the MGM, and Paris.

Here we are basking in the sun!
I love this picture! I took it because I have a picture just like it, except taken during the day and in front of the real Eiffel Tower, from 2002.

Here I am with the Coke Bear, in the Coke Store on the Strip. The store is three stories of Coke merchandise. I know it sounds absurdly commercial, but they do have fun and sometimes whimsical things.

Our last night in Vegas we went to a French restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi, for dinner. We ate on the patio overlooking the Bellagio fountain so we could watch the light and water show. Near the end of our dinner I asked for more decaf. In response, the waiter picked up, along with all the other dishes, both my coffee cup and the cream pitcher. So this is me, clinging to the remaining sugar dispenser, mourning the premature loss of my coffee cup. He did come back with a "fresh cup" (his words) for me a few minutes later.

And finally, here is Brendan with the Bellagio fountain show behind him. What a perfect evening!

Friday, February 22, 2008

News and plans

Welcome back to the blog! I'm aware that I've been on hiatus since sometime late in the fall, making this my most overdue posting ever. Consequently, I have several big updates, so bear with me if this gets a bit long. I'm going to use sub-headings because I like structure just a little bit too much.

Some mandatory changes to the schedule
In September I told my fabulous friend and running partner to expect some changes in my running habits...because I am pregnant! We didn't tell family or friends about the pregnancy until Thanksgiving, but I did tell Meg because she's fabulous and she needed to know, for her sanity and my safety. Before I get into the implications of this development, let me first say that she's been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about the impending birth.

At first I was very aware of my heart rate and tried to keep it in check. I was unsure what was safe and what was too much, and consequently probably veered into the over-cautious in my attempts to be mindful of baby. I also started limiting my long runs to 4-5 miles, again in an effort to keep my calories balanced and keep myself and the baby hydrated enough. Then for a while eating became difficult. I just wasn't taking in enough calories in a day to warrant burning a few hundred by running. So even initially, before many people knew I was pregnant, it had some impact on my life as a runner, but I kept running. I didn't keep a log of miles through most of the late fall, so I can't say with any certainty how regular my runs were.

Over winter break I transitioned to walking several days a week (which I've been doing with a great walking partner since last spring) and doing more cross-training. When Meg got back from winter break I started to work running back into the mix one day per week. So far that combination has worked well for me. I feel like I've been able to maintain a reasonable level of cardiovascular health (my pulse on Monday was 64!!) and have controlled my weight gain fairly well. For the purposes of a church project, not this blog, I've kept a record of my activity since the end of December. I'm hesitant about posting it here but I'm going to. Here goes:

12/30/2007, Walking, 2 miles
1/3/2008, Walking, 25 minutes
1/4/2008, Walking, 2 miles
1/8/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
1/10/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
1/12/2008, Running, 3.7 miles
1/14/2008, Yoga, 60 minutes (prenatal yoga is hard!)
1/17/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
1/19/2008, Elliptical/Biking, 32 minutes
1/22/2008, Walking, 30 minutes; Elliptical, 24 minutes; Weight lifting, 10-15 minutes
1/24/2008, Running, 35 minutes + 5 min cool down
1/25/3008, Running, 35 minutes + 5 min cool down
1/28/2008, Elliptical, 20 minutes; Weight lifting, 10-15 minutes
1/31/2008, Walking, 25 minutes
2/7/2008, Walking, 30 minutes; Running, 45 minutes
2/9/2008, Yoga, 45 minutes
2/12/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
2/14/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
2/15/2008, Running, 40 minutes
2/21/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
2/22/2008, Running, 20 minutes; Walking, 20 minutes

Clearly I ran earlier today. In general, running still feels good. It's easier now to run than it is to walk quickly. People definitely stare at me when I run, but that's ok. People seem surprised when I tell them I'm still running. I have two lines of commentary on this. First, pregnant women need to be physically active! I keep meeting women who say they ate what they wanted during their pregnancies and used pregnancy as an excuse to do nothing. Not cool. Second, people need to understand that it isn't 1950 anymore. It's perfectly safe for pregnant women to work out. That said, there are some catches. For instance, it is not recommended that pregnant women run if they weren't runners before the pregnancy. Certainly there can be complicating physical factors with any pregnancy. I'm not advocating that any pregnant woman work out without first discussing it with her OB, but in general, it's pretty safe. It is also possible to take it too far. Running too much late in pregnancy can result in low birth weight babies, so caution is required. I was just told, for instance, to keep my runs to 3 miles each and no more than 3 times per week. So even for healthy runners, there are limitations as the baby grows. For those of you who are concerned, my winter running has been almost exclusively on an indoor track, for safety's sake.

I thought about renaming this blog "Running Round" but decided that frequent name changes aren't my style. Anyway, for the time being I'll keep chuckling about the responses I get, and will continue to direct naysayers to an article in this month's Runners' World. Paula Radcliffe is officially my current running hero.

An education in winter running
As we got into the winter season in earnest I saw a whole new side of running. It started out with an innocent looking runners' catalog in my mailbox. I thought it would sell a wider range of clothing, but similar in its nature, to what I saw in the local Target and Dick's. Not so. I had no idea how much gear is made for serious winter running. For example, you can buy cleats, essentially, so facilitate running on the snow or ice. Special high-end runners' shoes are made with less mesh, to protect your feet from the cold. There are special gloves, made out of technical fabric. Who knew? Then of course the catalog did sell the range of products I expected: tights, vests, hats, etc. Basically, if you like to run in the cold, there are companies out there that can outfit you (for a hefty price, I might add) for any weather condition. Going into the winter, Runners' World also published a guide to dressing for the elements. It outlined how many layers you should have on your upper and lower body for various temperature ranges. They also host a bulletin board on the topic, for those of you who are interested.

I also learned that among people willing to run in extremely cold weather, there is an appreciable range of education, common sense, and experience. On the high end is my TNT coach. I see him on a fairly regular basis, geared up and leaving for his noon run. Even on days when I'm grumbling about walking from my office to the gym to walk on the indoor track, he has a huge grin on his face as he begins his outdoor run. On the other end of the spectrum are the college-aged guys who run in 15-20 degree weather (I live in the Midwest--it's cold) in shorts and cotton t-shirts. Granted, sometimes they are running very quickly (probably for survival, upon realizing the folly of their ways), but there is no excuse. I watch them and hope that if they keep up with running enough to take it seriously, one day they'll discover the running catalog described in the previous paragraph.

The next race
At some point this winter Meg and I started to discuss our next race. I briefly considered doing the Chicago Distance Classic again, but decided that it is too close to my due date to adequately prepare. A more realistic race has been chosen: the Indianapolis Half-Marathon in October. Having a race on the horizon keeps me motivated. It will also help me transition back into running with more enthusiasm once the baby is born. I've heard great things about this course. Plus, the entry fee is pretty low. I'm already excited about it!! I know it's only February, but I'm excited. At the moment I don't feel like much of a runner. Even if I weren't pregnant, I've done only one race and I'm not currently training. I think training for Indy will help me feel more like a real runner again.

Team in Training News
Finally, I'm VERY happy to report that a friend of mine has decided to train for the Chicago Distance Classic with Team in Training!! She will begin training in early May. She thought I put her on a TNT mailing list to encourage her to sign up. Not the case, as I told her! I didn't even have her correct address at the time. Even after discovering that I didn't sign her up for the team information session, she decided to attend anyway. I'm proud of her for making this commitment, to herself and to a great cause. Yay Erin!!