Call Me Ishmael

I have exciting news! I finally broke 30:00 in a 5K!

I’ll write a race recap soon (heh… maybe! Since it took me almost a year to write my last one…) but I wanted to get it in writing here on the ol’ blog while the excitement is fresh, since I’ve written so much before about my Moby Dick PR and my goal of finishing in under 30 minutes, which has been a goal since 2014!

It was starting to feel like getting under 30 might just be out of my grasp. I beat the Moby Dick PR when conditions were ~perfect~ : flat-as-a-pancake course, exquisite running weather, and I was in prime pre-Bairn shape. I also remember wanting to die at the end of that race, and couldn’t fathom recreating that scenario with my post-Bairn self.

But I did! Yesterday!

It was a beautiful day for a race – temps in the mid- to upper-50s and partly sunny for the mid-morning start. I wasn’t expecting to PR at all, knowing a) that it was my first race in almost a year, b) I’ve been doing only a bit of training, and c) I knew the course had hills, which tend to slow me down quite a bit.

Apparently my bit of training helped… weekly Expresso Bike rides of a handful of miles followed by 1-1.5 miles on the treadmill at a ~10:00 pace, plus almost weekly runs with the Shammies.

Starting a bit further up the mob of runners might have helped too. There were a bunch of walkers and many of them placed themselves pretty far up, so I put myself significantly further up than I normally would, because I knew the course was narrow and I didn’t want to get stuck behind people. That meant I found myself cruising at about 9:10 for the first bit of the race, and the weird part was, it felt like I was running slow! I mean, I knew that pace wouldn’t feel slow for long, and keeping that pace for the whole course would not be sustainable, but I was chuffed that such a pace felt easy(ish) at all!

I took 2 or 3 walk breaks – one at the water stop and one or two along the course when I felt myself flagging enough that mental pep talks were doing nothing. But for the rest of the race, those mental pep talks carried me along, and I mostly felt strong and capable.

Man, imagine how I’d feel if I actually trained properly?! I should really give that a try sometime.

Anyway, like my last 5k PR, I didn’t feel the best in the last stretch, but I didn’t feel quite as miserable and pukey. I also remember the last time I had no energy to sprint to the end, whereas this time I was able to kick it in, and then kick even harder when I saw 29:– on the clock. I really wanted to break 30:00!

Reaching for a Bairn high-five in the final stretch

My official time ended up being 29:38, almost a minute faster than my previous PR of 30:26.

I was so pumped, but also so wiped and had to sit propped up against a Walgreens for a few minutes before I could walk again. I also told Drew “well, I just ruined race season by doing too well in the first one! It can only go down from here.”

Or can it? Only time and my questionable motivation will tell!

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In Pointless* Pursuit of the Pace Bunny

Every year, my running club launches a 1000-mile club challenge. Any runner who runs 1000 miles in the calendar year gets a special prize (last year was fancy running hats with the running club logo on it) and plenty of street cred.

Anyone participating in the challenge signs up to track their mileage online, and each run entered pushes their little avatar closer to the virtual finish line. There’s also a little avatar for the Pace Bunny, who sets the suggested pace of ~2.75 miles per day. Friends have joked in the past about how wild rabbits would show up in their yards to taunt them as they struggled to chase the Pace Bunny.

Since becoming a Shammie, I’ve toyed with the idea of signing up to chase the Bunny myself, but have always decided not to since I know I’ll fall well short of the 1000-mile goal.

Until this year.

Yep, that’s my wee avatar at the very bottom (although, as of this morning, someone leapfrogged me and I’m now at the top of page 3). Even though I know 1000 miles is still a bit of out of my wheelhouse, I decided to take the plunge this year.

Pursuing the Pace Bunny feels a little pointless if I think of it as trying to meet the big goal. But I’m opting to see it as a fun(ish) way to track my running progress and see how far I can get in a year.

Previous attempts at tracking my yearly mileage haven’t gone so well, as there have been times I’ve forgotten my Garmin, or my Garmin will die in the middle of a run, or my runs are tracked partly at MapMyRun and partly at GarminConnect and partly on some scraps of paper I swear I left around here somewhere. Drinking the Pace Bunny kool-aid gives me one single place to track my mileage… just as long as I can ignore all my fellow Shammies as they surpass the Bunny and make me look pathetic. This kind of comparison is also what’s kept me from joining in in the past – not wanting to see myself publicly being the weakest link in the club – but I’m past the point of worrying how I look now, at least to others. I’m logging my miles, in whatever tiny amounts I can get them in, and as long as I can keep my focus on my own avatar, then pursuing the Pace Bunny won’t be so pointless after all.

How do you track your yearly mileage, if that’s something you do?

Toddler Tuesdays

Guess what? I have a workout routine that I’ve been sticking with for three (count ’em, 3!) whole weeks now! I say this with some grains of salt, because anyone who’s read this blog knows these sorts of things don’t stick with me. But. I was reflecting on it while running today and it felt worthy of a blog post, so here I am.

Quick background: as I’ve mentioned at some point on this space before, I work part-time and am home part-time with the Bairn. I’ve managed this set-up since returning from maternity leave, and it’s been a pretty great compromise. I know I don’t want to work full-time, at least now while the Bairn is wee (props to full-time working moms out there!), but I also don’t know if I have it in me to be a full-time stay-at-home mom either (equal props to SAHMs!) All moms rock (dads too), and I’m a firm believer that we all need to do what works best for us and our families. Right now, my part-time situation is doing the trick, though it’s not without its challenges. But that’s not for now.

What is for now? Tuesdays. Reader, since the Bairn became a toddler, I’ve struggled with Tuesdays. Tuesday is the cusp day, the last day we’re home together before he goes back to daycare. Tuesday is the day my well of patience seems to run dry, and the day the Bairn tends to get a little stir-crazy. Not the best combination.

Tuesdays aren’t all bad. My Bairn has a talent for making me laugh, which helps!

Scheduling Tuesday playdates helps sometimes. Going to Tuesday storytimes helps sometimes. But not always, and neither of those helps my lack of patience and/or quiets the nasty voice in my head that calls me an awful mom for having a lack of patience. When the weather was nice pre-winter, long stroller walks would help sometimes. When I’m having a tough day when Drew’s around, sometimes I’ll escape for a run and that will help too. But I’m embarrassed to say it took multiple people suggesting that I try to work exercise into my Tuesdays before I finally realized it might help the Toddler Tuesday blues.

I mentioned in my 2018 recap that I had met my goal of bringing the Bairn to the gym with me… albeit it was a measly twice all year. Well, I had enough success those two times that I figured I’d make the gym my Toddler Tuesday destination.

For the past 3 weeks, the Bairn has hung out in the childcare center at the gym, up to his giddy eyeballs in toy trucks while I’ve hit the Expresso bikes and treadmills. Since I haven’t been great with the whole working out thing, I’ve started slow – first 1 mile on the bike and 1 mile on the treadmill, and today was 2.5 miles on the bike and 1.5 on the ‘mill.

Expresso Bike selfie from a few sessions ago

And you know what? It’s been feeling pretty good! It gets me off my butt, gets me out of the house, gives me a big ol’ endorphin kick, and makes me feel like I’m making a bit of progress in both my goal of establishing a mileage base and in my training for upcoming races (more on these later). It also gives me about an hour of Bairn-free time to clear my head. All of that together has been making our Tuesdays less tantrumy, for both of us! I just can’t believe it took me this long to figure out a solution.

I’m hoping that, when it starts to warm up a bit more and the sidewalks are more clear, I can add some stroller runs to our Toddler Tuesday workout fandangos. I also am hoping that I can be inspired by this workout success and maybe, you know, make it more than one day a week that I move my body around a bit. But it’s a start!

Now, what did I say about races? Ah yes. So in addition to running and exercising for my mental health / toddler help, I also find myself signed up for a few races that I want to be in relative shape for. A few coworkers and I will be running a 5K together in May, and one of those coworkers also roped me into signing up for a half with her in September. Plus, on a whim, I threw my name into the lottery for one of my bucket list races and actually got in. So there’s that. More on that another time!

Fingers crossed I can keep this routine going for a while…

What helps you stick to a workout routine?

Ch-ch-ch-changes 

Has it seriously been 3 months since I last posted? Oh dear. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

My blogging never really got back on the rails after the Bairn arrived and I got sucked into the world of parenthood, where priorities take on whole new shapes. Or maybe shapes take on whole new priorities? 

Anyway, in addition to wandering through the new adventure of parenthood, I also started a new job a few months ago. After 12(!) years at my last job, it was time to move on. I landed a part time gig at a public library and it’s been great! I have a few days home with the Bairn and a few days working with awesome people at a beautiful library and getting the nerdy high I get from helping people find books and information all day. 

It’s also way more frenetic than my last job, which was chill and predictable for the most part. I’m on my feet almost constantly and I never know what spanners will get thrown into my day, which keeps things interesting. It also means I spend my lunch breaks generally sitting and reading, or going for walks in the sunshine, to clear my head and recover a bit, leaving no blogging time like I used to have. And when I get home, well, I’ve got a Bairn to wrangle before collapsing on the couch with a cider. 

So, all that to say, I’ve been neglecting the ol’ blog once again, but now as I’m settling into new routines, I hope to start posting again here and there. I have 2 race recaps that are overdue (including one that featured the debut of the Jogging Stroller!), so look for those soon(ish)!

In the meantime, here’s a not-great action shot of the Jogging Stroller in action several weeks ago:


Til next time, turn and face those ch-ch-changes!

More Naptime Rambles

I’ve been delinquent with blog posts lately. I think I’m going through one of those phases where I don’t think I have anything interesting to write about, and not enough energy to make myself write regardless. And so the radio silence. 

My half marathon training has been all over the place. I dialed it way back and intended to do a repeat week or two but really I’m just off the training wagon. Two weeks ago I managed 2 runs – a weekday 2-miler on a random gorgeous spring-like day, and a weekend 4-miler. Then last week I got a 5-miler in. But that’s it. No cross training (other than lots of walking at work). The road to Fort Hill Brewery is paved with good intentions. 

I did make my glorious return to the Sunday Morning Shammies last weekend, and it was glorious indeed… at least to see people! I set out for some solo miles and then met up at Shammies HQ, because I wasn’t sure if I’d actually run with anyone (I’m very self conscious right now about my speed and my need to take walk breaks as often as I do… I don’t want to slow anyone else down). I got to chat with my peeps, pet a doggo, and someone took pics and caught me getting some welcome-back hugs:

Feeling the love!


Doggo!

I ran about a mile with K before I was totally winded and had to split off to finish my run alone. But those Shammies warm fuzzies carried me for a few more miles, and I hit the distance I wanted without wanting to die too much. Yay!

So at this point, my half marathon that I signed up for to force me back into training will now likely just be an excuse to take a family trip to Western Mass. And you know what? I’m okay with that. My boss told me about a park near the race that has a train you can ride, and a museum that has dinosaur fossils, so we can have some fun with the Bairn and hopefully I won’t fail at running too badly. I figure if I can survive a really hot, hilly half while pregnant with no training, I should be able to survive this one. 

We had a nor’easter this week that dropped a bunch of snow and now the sidewalks are impassable again. It’s depressing. Especially after we had a few 60-degree days in February. Mother Nature is a cruel lady. 

I’m stuck in a book rut right now. The last book I finished was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which I read for the social justice book club at my local library. It was a hard read, one that made me angry and broke my heart over and over again and made me feel helpless. The next book for the book club is pretty long so I feel like I should get a jump-start, but I really need something light and/or funny before I dive in. Nothing I try is really fitting that bill, or if it does I’m finding I just can’t get into it. I took Readers Advisory in library school- why can’t I work that magic on myself??

And the Bairn is stirring… until next time!

How is the weather where you are?

What are you reading? Any nice light books you’d recommend?

2017 in Review

Hello and Happy New Year!

I know I’ve been writing a lot lately about how fast time is going by, but I had a “get off my lawn!” moment this morning when I realized it’s freaking 2018. U wot m8? How is it this far into the future already? I can still clearly remember having trouble writing “1996” at the top of my papers in middle school when a new year started. This year will be 20 years since I started high school. How did I get so old??

Let’s look back at last year before I start screaming into the void, yeah?

2017 Goals Recap

I listed five goals/things to focus on in my post from last year. They weren’t all the sorts of things I could just do and check off, but let’s see how things went:

1) Get this baby out safely and make his little world as cozy, safe, and full of love as possible.

Okay, get the baby out safely – check! He took us by surprise, arriving 3 weeks early and only 4 days after I learned he was breech. That didn’t leave much time for me to try all the old wives’ tales, so my efforts to flip him the right way ’round were unsuccessful:

upsidedown

Two days before the Bairn arrived, I was hanging upside-down(ish) off the couch (pictured), putting ice packs on his head, and playing his favorite songs down lower, where I wanted his head to be. No dice.

His stubborn breechiness meant a c-section after I realized I was in labor. Even though his arrival wasn’t at all how I’d imagined it, he got here safely, and I like to think we’ve made his life cozy and full of love since that day.

2) As soon as I get the OK from my midwife, jump back on the running wagon. I’ve been missing running like crazy, and the new jogging stroller is all assembled and ready to go!

Hmm, yes. The running wagon. I’ve hopped on a few times this year, but couldn’t manage to stay on for too long. More on that below. Also, it’s fun to look back and smile fondly at pre-baby Dana who was so excited to run with the jogging stroller, not knowing that the bairn’s little neck muscles wouldn’t be strong enough for that kind of malarky until much later! (Once his neck could actually support his head, he was still such a little peanut that he never really looked fully comfortable in the jogger. I’m now hoping to take him on an inaugural run once the snow melts and it warms up a bit.)

3) Related to above, I’m hoping to be fit enough to run the Worcester Firefighters race in June. I’d like to keep that streak going!

Hehehehe, oh pre-baby me. Such optimism! To be fair, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable goal. What I didn’t know is how tricky it can be to plan things like this when there are bairns involved (see this post), or that it would be unreasonably hot that particular day. My streak got cut shorter than I would have liked, but that’s okay. I can always start another one!

4) Read. Read for fun, read to learn, read fiction, read non-fiction, read newspapers. Try to balance staying informed with staying sane.

I read more post-bairn than I thought I would! Actual, physical books didn’t happen too often, but my mother-in-law gave me a Kindle, and that bad boy saw me through SO many naptimes back when the bairn would only sleep on me. (Ahh, the good old days when he would take multiple 3-hour naps a day and I could sit and relax and plow through books like no one’s business.) I read fiction, I read non-fiction, I read (online) newspapers. I read for fun, I read to learn, I read to get woke. I even joined a social justice book club at my local library, which is pretty awesome. I hope I can keep this all up in 2018!

As for balancing staying informed with staying sane… that one was a little tougher. I quit Twitter, which helped a little, but that just turned down the flow of the hose a little. I’m still working on figuring this one out.

5) Do good, no matter how small, whenever and wherever I can.

This one is hard to quantify, but I can say that I did my best. I fell short sometimes, but it’s still a constant desire to do good.

My 2016 in Numbers (Running)

Total miles: 15.84 (down from ~106.84 in 2016… hey, 15 miles is better than no miles!)

Races completed: 0 (down from 8 in 2016)

States raced in: 0 (down from 3 in 2016)

MA towns raced in: 0 (down from 3 in 2016)

Countries raced in: 0 (down from 2 in 2016)

PRs beaten: none

DNSs: 1 (Kick in 4 Kids, read about it here)

Firsts and Milestones (Running)

Not much to report this year, as you probably figured out from the stats up there. However, I did enter my running club’s marathon lottery for the first time, and thankfully I was unsuccessful!

Firsts and Milestones (Personal)

  • I had a baby! That was probably the biggest first and milestone this year.
    img_0836
  • I traveled to Florida for the first time, if you don’t count the time I had a layover in the Miami airport.
  • …I’m sure there were more, but honestly the mombrain has taken over and I can barely remember things these days. I could tell you all about the Bairn’s milestones, but mine? 🤔

Last year I ended my post a bit bleakly, as I was feeling bleak about the state of the world I was about to bring a child into. I still feel pretty bleak, to be honest, but the constant tiredness and mombrain allow me to switch my brain off sometimes and just focus on the task at hand. So that’s handy. It all also makes me determined to do my best to raise a good man, and a good human.

In terms of short-term goals, here are mine for 2018:

  1. Get the Bairn registered at the gym so he can hang at their daycare while I work out. 
  2. I’m registered for a half marathon in April; while I ran a half in 2016 without properly training, I’d like to NOT make that a habit. So, I’d like to train for this race. 
  3. Continue reading. Read more books by People of Color and from backgrounds not like mine. Continue reading to the Bairn as often as he’ll let me. 
  4. Actually use the jogging stroller for jogging!
  5. Get out and about with the Bairn more. I was scared to drive with him for quite a while, and also scared to mess with his fragile nap schedule. But Drew and I realized we didn’t do a whole lot with him in his first year. His grandparents got him memberships to the aquarium and Children’s Museum, so putting those to good use will be a start!

How was your 2017?

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

Naptime Rambles

Um, since when is it the last day of November? Where did this year go?? How will I have a one year old in a mere matter of weeks?!


I honestly feel like I was still pregnant a few weeks ago. It’s totally cliche to say it, but I feel like I blinked and the Wee Bairn is practically grown up. (Cliche and hyperbole for the price of one!) That’s a bit of an exaggeration but still. He’s crawling, cruising, walking while holding onto us… he’ll be off running in no time!

Speaking of time flying, I recently hit my Larry Bird year:

Source: Wikimedia


Say what, now?! The world needs to slow its spin, dude. Two minutes ago I was in my early 20s. What the heck. 

I had “planned” on running a race on my birthday (“planned” because, well, read my post-baby running posts for context), one that my run club was going to have a massive presence at. And I think it was that run club connection that kept me from running it in the end. It was a 5k, and I still haven’t run more than a mile post-Bairn. Even though my club is full of supportive, wonderful people, I couldn’t get over the thought that it would take me forever to complete those miles, long after everyone else would be enjoying post-race beers. I’m just not ready for racing yet, as much as I’m dying to get back to the fun race-day atmosphere. It’ll happen one of these days. 

So instead of running, I opted for a family walk at the pond. It was surprisingly chilly, so it was s quick walk, but it was nice to get out and back down the pond again. 


Going against my better judgement, I bit the bullet and signed up for a spring half marathon (!). I need a goal to work toward and a reason to get out the door running again, and this one will also provide a reason for a family jaunt to western Mass. We’ve got a little cottage booked via Airbnb and I’m looking forward to an adventure with the Bairn!

Speaking of, I hear him waking up, so it’s time to cut these rambles off! Til next time, whenever that may be…

What have you been up to? Tell me something rambly!