Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Parenting is Bipolar

Parenting is a bipolar job. It includes extreme highs and extreme lows and lots of moments in the middle. I mostly think I'm a pretty good mom, but I would be lying if I didn't tell you I second guess myself about something every day. Every single day at some point I wonder if I'm actually failing miserably as a mom.

I don't read parenting books or websites or generally listen to advice from others because every kid is different. Every parenting style is different. I truly think moms should scrap the advice and do whatever works for them. My kid is two and a half and still loves his pacifier. He won't forever. I'm not sweating that. 

I do sweat the fact that he's not a great eater. It's been the bane of my existence since we switched to solid foods. It's getting better after we saw a pediatric nutritionist. But I hate when people give me advice about feeding my kid. We've talked to the pediatrician. He's healthy. We've talked to the nutritionist. We're on a strict feeding schedule, and some days he eats like a champ. Some days he barely eats at all. And every day he still drinks a bottle of milk before bed. I look forward to the days when we're done with that bottle. I know it won't be forever. Sometimes it stresses me out, but it won't be like this for long. 

My kid is super talkative, he's a great traveler, he's funny, energetic, and sweet. Those are all part of the extreme highs. Then there are the lows. Every single day he fights me to get dressed, and by the time I get out the door some days I am desperate to crawl back into bed. He loves to be naked, and putting on clothes is our biggest fight. Sometimes he hits me when I make him do things he doesn't want to do. He watches more TV than I'd like. He rarely eats fruit or vegetables. Every single day these things worry me at some point. I think about one or a combination of these things and think I'm doing nothing right. 

Will is very active and loves running. I obviously encourage this interest because running is amazing. I ran a 5k on the 4th of July, and he was so excited to cheer on the runners. Last weekend I ran the Run for Fame 5k in downtown Lansing, a race we can walk to from our house. I've run it before, and it's a small and fun out and back course on the Lansing River Trail. 

It was my third 5k in as many weeks, and it was another really hot and humid race. I was faster than I was in Chicago (27:39) but still slow. But again I'm feeling like I'm getting back to myself. As I rounded the corner to the finish I saw my husband and son. My son was so excited, and he jumped onto the (basically empty) course to run to the finish with me. He was so excited and loved it so much. As we walked the 3/4 of a mile home he kept running and saying, "I'm so fast. You can't catch me Mom!" I love his passion for running. I don't always think I'm getting everything right, but on that moment in that day I felt like I was an amazing mom. Those highs make it all worth it. 

Post 5k running
We will screw our kid up like every parent does, and I will continue to doubt myself on a regular basis. But this job, even though it's bipolar, is the best job I've ever had. It's magical, and I wouldn't trade a moment (even the daily fights to get dressed). I waited a long time for this job, and the hard moments just make me appreciate the easier ones even more. Who knew the lows would be so sweet?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How Slow Can you Go?

This year my blog has been less about running and cities and more about Crohn's and mommyhood. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but it has meant I'm off my game a bit. Given my extreme focus on both running and cities over the last few years, it was probably good to take a break; gain a little perspective. My break wasn't intentional, but I finally got to the place where I realized it was necessary. Now I'm slowly getting back into running, and I really had no idea just how slow the process would be. I've been working out a lot over the last eight months, but it's been a lot of yoga and cross training. Running is a different animal, and I was kidding myself to think I could simply jump right back into it. Falling in love again with my favorite cities, however, remains really easy.

Last week my husband had a conference in Chicago, so I decided to join for a few days. In my last job I traveled overnight relatively frequently, but the last year I've been home quite a bit. I've gotten used to being home all the time with our small human, so leaving him for three nights left me feeling pretty vulnerable even though he loves being at Grandma's house. It was made easier by the fact that I love Chicago (it's my third favorite city after the two Portlands, Maine and Oregon, tie for first). I also decided to register for a 5k and run every day I was there. No excuses. I was looking for me again.

We flew out of Detroit's Metro airport late on Wednesday evening after a several hour delay. We spent the time drinking cocktails and then drank more when upgraded to first class. I slept until 7:45 local time on Thursday morning (I never sleep that late) and felt like myself again getting up to go for a run. I walked out the door and into a wall of humidity. It was nearly 90 degrees and nearly 100 percent humidity, but I didn't let that stop me. I ran onto the river trail and admired the quaint restaurants along the river. I turned onto the trail near the marina and enjoyed the view. It was muggy, but it was a gorgeous morning for a run.

A beautiful view on a muggy morning
My husband and I walked to breakfast at Yolk where I had the best corned beef hash I've ever eaten. It was necessary to replace all those calories I burned running in humidity. As we walked back I was reminded why I love Chicago so much. Despite it being the nation's third largest city, it feels intimate. I told my husband, "I love it here. A good city should feel like it's giving you a hug." Three to four lanes of traffic are framed by large buildings and charming storefronts. Chicago feels like an old lover. 

I shopped a lot of the day before we met friends for drinks at Three Dots and a Dash, an underground tiki bar. It was weird and amazing. We followed it with more drinks at Untitled (I highly recommend The First Word) before dinner at Siena Tavern


The next morning I hit the streets to run off the cocktail induced cobwebs. I ran down Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park and Grant Park, two of my favorite places in the city. I ran by the infamous Cloud Gate statue (aka the Bean), as always awed by the way this fantastic piece of art engages the community - both residents and visitors. 

My husband ended up busy for lunch, so I read a book and enjoyed a pastrami sandwich and Sauvignon Blanc at SideDoor a block from the hotel. The sandwich and wine were both phenomenal. My husband was finished shortly after my late lunch, so we ventured to the Tortoise Supper Club where I decided it would be a great idea to switch to champagne. We had fun bartenders and were later joined by several friends. It was pretty easy to fall in love with Chicago again. 

Afternoon cocktail selfies at the Tortoise Supper Club
We headed to Navy Pier for my husband's work reception and then ambled through Exhibitionism, a great Rolling Stones exhibit the company my husband works for is sponsoring. Our final evening in Chicago concluded with dinner at Riva on Navy Pier. As we walked the mile back to the hotel (naturally I was in four inch wedges), I found myself wavering on running the 5k in the morning. It wasn't necessary right? 


I rallied, waking up at 5:45 am to prep for the race. I had yogurt and a cappuccino in the hotel lobby and then walked 1.5 miles to Grant Park to join thousands of others running the Rock 'n Roll 5k. Much like the week before I ran in hot weather with very little shade. The view, however, was amazing. At different points we looked at the marina with Navy Pier in the background. The city skyline stood at attention behind the entire race. And I moved at a snail's pace. Last year I set my PR at 23:04. On Saturday I ran 29 minutes even, my slowest 5k in years. The worst part was that I had very little left. I comforted myself a bit by the narrow path and large crowd, making it hard to break away and get much faster. But really my body is learning to trust itself again, and I'm going to be slow for a while. 

Pre-race with the Willis Tower in the background

Post race at the Bean
A few hours later I was upgraded to first class again, and I sat reading and drinking a cocktail in first class reflecting on how much I felt like me again. I missed our son madly, but I loved having time alone with his dad. I loved exploring one of my favorite cities and running even if I was slower than I'm used to. I've missed myself. It's nice to be back. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Heat of the 1,675 Moments

I have run three 5ks this year. I'm used to running multiple half marathons and lots of 5ks and 10ks, but this year has been a challenge. Back in March I ran the Run for the House. I won my age group and thought I was back on track to begin running again. But my body had other plans, and I decided that in order to heal I needed to take a serious running hiatus. 

It's been weird both physically and mentally. I'm used to logging lots of miles and as a result eating and drinking whatever I want without gaining weight. It turns out running burns lots of calories, so if I want delicious things like ice cream and wine I've got to burn it off. I'm at my heaviest weight ever, and it's all settled in my butt. Thankfully people are into that. 

Mentally not running means I've lost my biggest way to relieve stress and a huge part of my identity. It's weird sleeping in on the weekends instead of lacing up my shoes and hitting the river trail. I see social media posts of friends running races, and I feel wistful. Usually that's me, and it's been an adjustment.

Thanks to new meds I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that is this absurd infection. I've slowly started running again...emphasis on the slowly. I ran my usual three mile route several times before deciding I was back in 5k shape. A year ago I could run a 5k in my sleep. This would be easy right? 

My husband and I traditionally travel the week of July 4th. We've been to Mt. Rushmore on Independence Day. We've traveled to Maine, the mountains of West Virginia, Quebec City, and Jamaica. Now my husband's job makes traveling this week a bit of a challenge, so we decided to do a quick overnight in one of Michigan's tourist trap towns, Frankenmuth, where I'd run the Volkslaufe 5k on the 4th of July.

We arrived in Frankenmuth late Monday afternoon and walked around downtown. We headed to the hotel pool which is the only thing our toddler is interested in seeing. We had dinner at Frankenmuth Brewery and went to pick up my race packet. It was a pretty relaxing evening getaway.

This kid loves a good cutout 
The 5k race didn't start until 10 am. Our toddler is fond of waking up before 6 am in hotels which meant we had several hours to kill. We ate breakfast, walked around downtown again and headed over to the start. The 10k and 20k were already underway. I've done a lot of races, and I can unequivocally say I've never seen a less enthusiastic group of spectators anywhere. People weren't even cheering. The 5k start was next to where the 10k and 20k races were heading to the finish, and nobody was cheering for them. At all. I stood there and cheered because they deserve it people. It was so weird.

The race started on time and we were off. Here's the thing about a 10 am start on July 4th: it's too late. It's too hot, and it's miserable. There was very little shade, and by mile two I felt like I was going to pass out from heat. I ran through a hose in the neighborhood and under water being sprayed by a fire truck, but it didn't help. For the first time ever I walked during a 5k - for about 20 seconds. I needed a few seconds because I felt so overheated. 

Love seeing my boys at the start
I rounded the corner to the finish with absolutely nothing left. Usually I can sprint to the finish, but I was done. I saw my husband and son as I rounded the corner, and that gave me motivation to at least smile. I crossed the finish line in 27:55, nearly five minutes slower than the PR I set last year. I grabbed an ice soaked rag and a bottle of water and walked back to my boys. My son immediately exclaimed, "Mommy I run just like you!" Worth the 1,675 seconds of heat for that statement.


My goal is at least a 5k every month for rest of the year and pushing to get myself back into half marathon shape for the new year. I turn 40(!) in 2018, so I've got some big running plans. For now it's back into running shape and maybe fitting into my pants a little better. And still eating lots of ice cream. 

All smiles once it's done