Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back and forth, up and down

The past week has brought with it an intense roller coaster of information, stress and emotions. Whew! Hanging on for dear life over here. All of it is surrounding Iris and some learning/school stuff, so while I wish I could lay it all out on my blog, it's a matter of finding that line where I want to respect her privacy, so I am going to be vague.

The short and relatively non-privacy invading explanation is that we recently got a lot of information that is helping us to make the best choices for Iris for school next year. I will most likely not be homeschooling her again, but we know it is always an option if nothing else is the perfect fit. I have already been around a bit with the public school system about finding the right fit for her but it doesn't look like there will be one, at least not for the coming school year. I am honestly bummed about that because, first, hello free schooling!, but public school is also easy and close to home and it did appear on the surface that there would be some wonderful options available to us. Alas, not meant to be.

I was ready to throw in the towel on getting Iris back in to a traditional school until we found out about one particular private school that seriously seems like it will be absolutely wonderful. I am crossing all of my fingers and toes, but not holding my breath quite yet. If the past few days have taught me anything, it's that schooling options could be eliminated or opened up to us around every corner. Tonight I went to visit this particular school and the director was wonderful. She, and the school, really embraces kids like Iris. When I told her I am just not feeling like the perfect fit for teaching Iris and her particular learning issues she offered to help work with Iris. Um, hello, yes please. It is funny that this happened with her, today, because earlier in the day I had received an email from someone else who I randomly contacted about working with Iris. I have been feeling kind of lost when it comes to figuring out exactly how to help Iris learn to the best of her abilities and just wishing I had help. Now I have access to it. Voila!

Part of me wonders if THAT is the answer to our educational puzzle. Maybe we can home school with help? I have always said, in my ideal world, my kids would go to a traditional school part time and home school part time. Since I haven't figured out how to make that utopia work, I have to find ways for the traditional school bubble and the home school bubble to flex and bend and work for our family. Neither is perfect as is.

Oh, so along on that tangent . . . . right now the Seattle Public School system is asking (asking who, I forget) if they can just ignore the fact that they lost two days of school for the snow a couple of weeks and not make it up at the end of the year. It would save the district half a million dollars, they say. Now, these kids get a lot of time off. It honestly feels like there is a day off, or a half day off most weeks of the school year, plus over two weeks off for winter break, a mid-winter, a spring break . . . anyways, parents are getting pissed. They want their kids in school, darn it! How can kids learn if they aren't in school?!?! Um, excuse me? Now, I get it, if you are a household with two work-outside-the-home parents, you hate school breaks as it means figuring out child care. Fortunately for us, we are not one of those households. My job is to manage the needs of our family and that means always being home for the girls. But needing school so your kids will learn? I don't think so. Kids can, will, and should be learning when they aren't inside the four walls of their school building. I LOVE when Eloise has off school or has a short day. I am mentally crossing off the days until mid-winter break. I was sad when she went back to school after winter break. I hands-down guarantee you she learned at least as much being home as she would have if she were at school. I *gasp* think kids are in school too much as it is. My opinion is in the minority, I totally get it. But let it be known that I support the school district's request and am praying for more snow days we won't have to make up!

Okay, sort of a long brain dump tonight. At least it wasn't running related, right?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Longest run yet!

My 1/2 marathon training was supposed to officially start tomorrow, but I decided to do my long run today instead of Sunday because I am going to be working outside, on my feet, for several hours tomorrow. Starting before the crack of dawn. I thought it best to play it safe and make sure I could get the long run in before all of that work. That said, I may be hobbling all over the place tomorrow!

My goal was to run for 75 minutes. I knew that if I kept it to a 10:00 pace I would cover 7.5 miles, and I did that almost exactly:

I was kind of hoping to keep my pace at around 9:30, but I also didn't want to burn myself out. I think I could have done 9:30 in hindsight. Well, my right hamstring started to hurt around mile 5, so maybe not. Anyways.

Part of today's run was for the Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K, hosted by The Boring Runner (who is anything but!) I didn't really plan before hand which miles would be my 5K, though! Whoops! So I am going to give it my best three miles in the middle ( plus .1) which comes out to be 30:58. Not my fastest 5K, but whatever. It works!

It was a good run. I went from my house up to the Alki Trail and ran around the Alki Point and back. Not too much to note about the run, though there were a fair amount of people out. Including a clueless group of women who stepped on to the trail right in front of me and then yak-yak-yakked super loudly. At least it gave me a good motivation to speed around them and take off so I didn't have to hear them! On the way back I started passing some very fast runners heading the other direction. It seemed odd, like they must have been a part of something, but I couldn't tell what. Finally after passing maybe 25 or so of these runners a guy quipped to me "on your way back already?" and I said "what are you running?" to which he answered "the Tukwila to Alki 1/2 marathon". Ah. I ran past lots more of the 1/2 marathoners on the rest of my run, which was nice. Usually it's pretty quiet on the last stretch. My fastest mile was when I was passing the 1/2 marathoners, I definitely got a little boost of excitement!

I ran with my water belt today, which always makes me feel a little dorky, but I really need it. I keep thinking maybe I should "learn" to run without the water, but that seems stupid, too. Aren't runners supposed to keep hydrated?

All in all it was a great first training run. I never felt really exhausted, which I was scared of happening. I wish I could have had an ice bath when I got home, but we don't own a bathtub! I need to research how to do one without a tub. Hmmmm. I did buy some KT tape, but I forgot to use it on my right hamstring before the run.

Looking forward to a healthy and fun few weeks of training to come!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Training schedules and races

I spent Saturday night really living it up. And by living it up, I mean I hunkered down on the couch and worked out my race and training schedule through the end of June, which is when I will run the Seattle Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon.

I have been itching to do some "formal" training for my upcoming half . . . I know, I know, I obviously can run my little heart out whenever I would like, whether or not the run was part of a training schedule. However, I like the rigidity and predictability and challenge of a schedule. I like calendars and charts and graphs and all of that stuff (so yes, my training schedule is mapped out on a calendar that I will hang by my desk.). Most, no, make that all, of the training schedules I found were for about 10-14 weeks of training before a half, assuming you could start with a base mileage anywhere from 3-6 miles in a run. 10-14 weeks out put my training for the R-n-R half to start somewhere around March-April-ish. Blech. I decided I would do what any semi-sane new runner would do and threw in another half marathon to my race schedule. Oh yes, I did. I am considering it my "practice" half. THAT will be the one I run to get the feel for racing at that distance. The R-n-R half will be a wee bit more serious in that I will go in to it with more of a plan and a definite goal time.

So, drum roll please, my training officially starts this Sunday! My fitness coach recommends training by minutes, not miles, so my first run will be 75 minutes. To date my longest run has been about 67 minutes and I have had several hover more closely around the hour mark, so 75 is going to be good. My longest training run will be 120 minutes, which I will do twice.

In order, I have coming up on my race schedule: a 10K in Feb, 10K in March, St. Paddy's Day 10K (that my friend is coming down from Canada to run with me!!!! Squeee!!!!), and then a half marathon at the end of April. After that half I will do a 5K "fun run" and a 15K in May before running the R-n-R half in June.

I am so excited I could puke. No, really. No, seriously, really.

I don't know what my running will look like after the R-n-R half. I am not going to plan it quite yet as summer will probably bring with it a crazy schedule and lots of travel.

Tonight I got a massage. A good massage. My last one was not so good. I am thinking while I am in training I will go back to her once every other month, or so. My legs, especially, appreciated the TLC!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Today the snow is melting. Or rather, being washed away by rain. I'll take it. I have to say, I'm a little over it now and am looking forward to non-snowy weather. So thankful that we had power, food, good health, etc etc during this storm. I read that over 200,000 people in the Puget Sound region were without power, some for quite a while! I don't even know what we would have done, as we have no fireplace or anything to keep us warm. It's also kind of nice that the snow is behind us, as I spend all year hoping and praying for snow and now have had my fix for a while!

Yesterday and today we had playdates with our friend Holli and her adorable children. Yesterday they came to our house and we all went sledding and then today the girls and I walked to their house and played (indoors) there. So much fun to have friends in the 'hood to share snowy days with!

Here are some pics Holli captured on the snow hill.

 All four kids.

Me flying down the icy hill. 

We got dumped on all day Wednesday but on Thursday we woke up to all of the snow having turned to ice. It was raining a good portion of the day but then the rain turned to snow. We headed up to the sledding hill at about 4:00 and the hill was fast. Like REALLY fast. I stood at the bottom and literally threw myself on the kids as they shot past on the sleds so that they didn't slam in to the trees and bushes that are way down at the bottom. On Wednesday when the girls and I were sledding our sleds stopped on their own well before these trees. My outer thighs are a little sore today from jumping on to the sleds, ha! I took a turn on the sled and I have to say, it was a wee bit scary. I honestly couldn't believe that none of the kids were scared! Holli brought her childhood sled, it was the kind with the metal ski-like thingies on the bottom (I forget what those are called!) and we knew that it would be too fast for the big hill and instead sent the kids down a lower part of the hill on it.

I shared this pic yesterday, but those are the trees at the bottom of the hill. 
On Wednesday the sleds stopped about where Eloise is in this shot.

My kids completely fell apart by the time we left, but overall it was still pretty fun. I took some pictures with my phone but somehow they didn't save, as none of them were there when I looked this morning. Boo!

I not-so-secretly can't wait until the girls are older and we can sled down the middle of the street near our house that is a long, steep hill. Probably at least 5-6 times bigger than this hill! 

Today I pulled the girls down the sidewalk in the sled (they didn't want to go back to the hill) and it rained on us the whole time. I suspect by tomorrow afternoon there will be little snow left around these parts. 

Au Revior, Snowmaggedon 2012!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SnOMG! Snowmaggedon! Snowpocalypse!

It kind of cracks me up how every snow "storm" we get in Seattle, all of these funny tags are assigned to it. Seattlites are so dang silly.

Heading back up the sledding hill.

Right now Matt is enjoying sun and warmer weather in San Francisco. He left on his work trip before this current round of snow hit and the way it looks, he will return after it is mostly melted. Bummer for him, I think! I have come to really enjoy his travelling. Everything around the house stays just as I like it (i.e. clean and organized!) for a few days and somehow, randomly, the girls are overall so much better behaved. They have this thing where when both Matt and I are home they have to ratchet up the noise, fighting and mess about 18 notches. So with the snow and Matt on a work trip, it has been like a mini-vacation around here!

On their way down!  

I feel like our neighborhood looks like scenery in a movie or a play when it snows.

Yesterday we hit the sledding hill around lunch time and had an absolute blast. I personally was loving that I have the energy to run back up the sledding hill every time! Woo Hoo! Workout for Mama! We brought Heidi, our dog, and she found a buddy to chase all over the sledding hill, too.

I love this picture, though it betrays the fun Iris was actually having.

After the sledding hill we stopped by the park and played for a bit before coming home to warm up/dry off and drink hot chocolate. Later in the afternoon we decided to make a snack run and walked up to the mini mart near our house before returning home to do some school and watch another movie. I ended up actually purchasing my shopping cart full of stuff from Target.com. I bought the girls each new snow pants for next year, a snow coat for Eloise for next year, two pairs of leggings for Iris, a shirt for Iris and a pair of running shorts for me . . . all for $59! Good sales combined with 20% off on the site combined with free shipping combined with an EBates gift card made for a cheap shopping spree. Oh darn, writing that reminded me I didn't make this current purchase through EBates. Still getting the hang of it, I think!

Heidi (the dog) chasing her new friend on the sledding hill.

Side note: OMG Iris is growing SO much right now. I feel like every time I look at her she is busting out of her clothes! The poor girl is going to be eight feet tall :(

Winter wonderland!

Today is shaping up to be kind of lame for outdoor activities. Our winter wonderland has turned in to a frozen wonderland. The snow is still there, but liquid drops of ice are falling from the sky right now. Seriously. I don't know why it isn't snowing, because it should be, but instead it is raining ice. All of our snow is frozen solid. Of course, Eloise thinks this would make PERFECT sledding snow. Crazy kid.

Fun at the park.

My secret hope is that school is closed again tomorrow (it was yesterday and is today). If it is, then Eloise will have gone to school for a grand total of TWO hours this whole week. Love it! Home school isn't closed, however. I would love to take the snow days 100% off of formal school, but we have so many lessons to make up so we don't have tons to do come summer break. Yesterday we did a couple of lessons for about an hour, so nothing big.

Look at those red cheeks!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Taking a snow day

This is the scene out of my window. Interestingly, my phone didn't really capture all of the blowing snow. I can't really tell how much of the snow in the sky is stuff that is still falling or if it is just stuff blowing around. Either way, dang it's purty! 

Seattle has been bracing for what some have been calling the biggest snow storm in decades. Of course, the reports started backpedaling a bit as the hours wore on yesterday, so it remains to be seen what kind of snow this will be!

Since we so rarely get snow in Seattle the city mostly shuts down. We are hunkered down at home with a new movie, legos, hot chocolate and internet shopping (or, as I do it, internet "putting things in my shopping cart but not buying") ((does anyone else do that? spend hours "shopping" and then never pull the trigger?)). 

In a little while we will venture out to sled. Then we will come back in and do more of the movie/playing/drinking/psuedo-shopping some more. 

The thing I love about snow days is they force us to slow to a screeching halt. I suppose, technically, home school doesn't need to stop, and all of my stay-at-home mama duties don't need to stop, but they still do. Eloise is off on a snow day, so darn it, we are all off! 

Hopefully I can wield kids, sleds, the dog AND my camera later, and will report back with some fantabulous sledding photos.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

10K at Magnuson Park

This morning I ran a 10K at Seattle's Magnuson Park. When I signed up for it I didn't realize the weather was going to, well, be about as bad as Seattle's weather gets. BUT! If I ran through that, I am a true bad ass, right?

First things first, I PR'd (got a personal record)! 58:39, which was about 4 1/2 minutes faster than my Santa Runs Tacoma 10K. At this rate it won't take long for me to check off one of my resolutions, to run a 10K race in under 55:00.

In the back of my head I am aware of negative splits, but I don't really put TOO much thought in to making them happen. I was really pleased when I got my splits off of my watch and saw that my last mile was my fastest, and my first was my slowest! Yay! I need to find out if, when running something like a 10K if every mile should get progressively faster or how that works. Will ask my running coach.

Speaking of my running coach, I saw her before the race . . . . then she promptly announced she needed to "go warm up" and walked away! I saw her once on the course and that was it. Turns out I wasn't that far behind her, though she was running the 5K. Bummer. I was also supposed to meet at least one gal from the running group I am part of online, but I couldn't find her. That was pretty disappointing, as seeing those girls was a big part of why I ran in this race, but "oh, well!" (as Eloise would say!)

I knew it was going to be cold and rainy (and perhaps even snowy)  but I wasn't prepared for the wind. Yuck. I kept my head down a lot of the time to keep my hat from blowing off. The course was about 1/2 on gravelly/muddy trails, which was awful, too. My shoes are trashed from running through mud and I hope I can clean them adequately. 

The 5K folks ran one lap and the 10K folks ran two (there was even a group who ran a 15K!) and it was a nice tour through a huge city park. If it had been sunny it would have been downright gorgeous, as the park is right on Lake Washington. 

My last gripe about the race was that there wasn't any water on the course for those of us running further than a 5K! At the end we got a container of coconut water, which was yummy, but hello, no water?!?! Next time I will carry my own. I didn't take Gu I was carrying, either, since they are hard for me to choke down without water. Of course, not stopping at a water station meant I never once stopped running, so that helped with my overall time (silver lining, right?)

My biggest stroke of genius for the day, however, was putting hand warmers in each of my gloves. It wasn't until part way in to the second lap that I threw them out.

Now I am looking forward to relaxing the rest of the day and having a Girls' Night with my friends!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How much difference a year makes

I thought this might be fun. 

The picture below is of me one year ago this month, when I set out to lose an unspecified amount of weight before Maui. 

This is me today. I have lost about 20 pounds, depending, of course, on the time of day I weigh myself and what I am wearing! I am wearing that same belt today, though you can't see it in the picture. I have it notched a few notches smaller. Woo Hoo! I would have let my hair down to see how much it has grown, but alas, it hasn't been washed in a few days. 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Runs with friends

Today I got drove down to Kent to meet Karla and Zoe (Zoe has a picture of us on her blog!) for a run on the Soos Creek Trail. Yes, it was a long drive, yes it wasn't a run that challenged my speed or added more distance, but it was so very wonderful to be able to run with other ladies in a beautiful new (to me) location. That sort of run is good for the spirit and soul. Maybe some day I can get them to come up to Seattle to join me for a run on Alki!

On my way home I realized that I wanted to somehow make this an unofficial goal for the new year, to make more of an effort to run with other people. Not that I haven't wanted to-- I have really, really, wanted to find "my tribe" so to speak-- but I don't think I have worked as hard at it as I could have. I think if I fit in a couple good runs a month with other people I will be very happy. Of course, I still have my weekly running and bootcamp classes where I get to hang out with awesome, inspiring ladies!

The other thing I have been wondering about is how to move ahead with this time between now and June, when I do my first planned 1/2 marathon. If I started working now I could be ready for a 1/2 in about eight weeks (without setbacks), I think. It certainly won't take me five months to train. When talking with the gals today I learned that one thing I could do is just keep running and increasing mileage to wherever it may end up, likely more than 13.1, and still run my first official 1/2 in June. Seems kind of obvious now, but honestly I have had my visors on and have been stuck thinking I couldn't run ever 13.1 before the race! *smacking my forehead*

The other thing I can do is find another 1/2 to do before the one in June. I don't know which one I would do (maybe a destination race????), and honestly, I am a wee bit nervous at the prospect of registering for TWO 1/2s before ever running one!

The last thing that I thought today was that I can put any increase in mileage on hold until April-ish and focus more on my speed goals-- specifically, getting speedy enough to hit my PR goals for a 5K and a 10K this year. This option is kind of my least favorite right now, though not exactly sure why.

Looking forward to sneaking in one more run tomorrow before our busy week starts back up!

Monday, January 02, 2012

My list of 2012 resolutions

I decided to do a "bucket list" for the year. Here is what I want to accomplish:

1. Run a sub 25:00 5K race (which is an 8:03 pace).

2. Run a sub 55:00 10K race (which is an 8:52 pace) .

3. Run a 1/2 Marathon (no specific time goal, just finish and feel good and have fun!)

4. Run a "destination" race of a 10K or (preferably) 1/2 Marathon distance. To me, that means a race that is far enough away from my home that I have to spend the night there in order to run AND it has to be somewhere that is truly a destination-- not just some random crappy town.

5. Take ALL of my supplements at least five days a week.

6. Re-name my blog (again) to something that more represents all of the parts of who I am, not just being a mother (added to the fact that I ((after five plus straight years!!)) no longer am nursing).

7. Re-design my blog to give it a little pizzazz. I can't do this myself, and don't even want to learn how, but I would gladly pay someone to do it (if you or someone you know is a blog designer!)

Not terribly fascinating, but goals all the same!

2011 in review

I tend to have a pretty selective memory, which can be a good or bad, so as far as I can tell 2011 was a pretty amazing year.

As I read back through a few of my posts from 2011 it appears that I also thought 2010 was a great year, as well. Quite a streak I have going!

January 2011 brought many home improvements, the start to my commitment to becoming fit, and major stress over our schooling options for the 2011-2012 school year.

February 2011 brought more of the same in terms of school stress. I started school tours that month and found the school we *hoped* Eloise would get in to. Man, if I had known then what I know now I could have saved myself an ulcer or two in the stress of waiting. We didn't find out until the first week of JUNE that she got in! We also were reaching an incredibly difficult spot with Iris that would take us on quite a journey for help and answers (side note: we are still on that journey, but life isn't anywhere near as rough right now as it was a year ago).

In March 2011 I discovered that I really could eat gluten after having stayed away from it for a year. That was, uh, interesting. I solo parented while Matt was away for an eleven day work trip. I jumped in to creating more solid routines for the girls in order to help lend some order to our days.

April 2011 was all about the parenting class that Matt and I took. I wrote a re-cap for each week, the first being right here (I wrote a re-cap for every week, all of the classes were in April and May). We learned quite a bit in the class, mostly that the issues we have weren't able to be solved in a weekly parenting class. Ha! I also started learning quite a bit about why all of my exercising and eating well wasn't paying off in terms of losing weight. In April we had our world shaken quite a bit by a neighbor girl whom we loved and trusted stealing something that belonged to our girls.

May 2011 ended with a Maui vacation. It seems like we slogged through a lot that month to get to that point, though. In May we pulled Iris out of school, we continued to work hard with the new skills from parenting class and we also had some fun enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

Here are my Maui posts, in order: ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE.

In June 2011 Iris turned seven. I started burning out on Iris's therapy.

In July 2011 the girls and I spent basically the whole month in Michigan.

In August 2011 Eloise turned five. She also tried rock climbing for the first time, joined a soccer team and had her last day of preschool. It was a busy month for her! We had fun comparing our zoo trip to the previous time we had visited the same zoo.

September 2011. Oh, my. Eloise started Kindergarten and Iris started home school. I started a new blog specifically about our schooling adventures.

In October 2011 we got drop-kicked from the homeschooling group we were in. Ouch. I accidentally started running. The girls and I went apple picking. It was Halloween.

In November 2011 we had to say goodbye to Iris's hamster, Cheddar. I kicked up my running and hit a personal running record of 5.6 miles. I also ended up injured.

And that brings us to December 2011. My family joined me for a 5K I ran. I ran my first ever 10K. We had a wonderful, amazing Christmas break.

Happy New Year! I am still working on my resolution (or resolutions perhaps? It might be a 2012 bucket list, of sorts) and should solidify those before too long. We are all jumping right back in to school tomorrow and will look forward to mid-winter break next month!