Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nas-ty Momma

Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I fancy I’m a moderately hip mom. I wear clothes from H&M, I’m an avid Facebook user, I go to happy hour with my gal-pals (okay, so they happen to all be my running or rowing buddies but, still, the evening involves cocktails, dressy tops, and rubbing elbows with Portland hipsters!), and I read Entertainment Weekly cover-to-cover. But over the weekend I ventured to a completely new level of cool.

In Park City, Utah, on business, a group of us writers and editors got to go to a Pharrell and Nas concert. Yes, a rap concert. In Park City. During Sundance Film Festival. And did I mention it started at 11 p.m.?!? My writer-friend Dana and I were fish out of water—our tresses didn’t look like white-blonde sheets of paper hanging to the middle of our backs, our breasts weren’t over-inflated like bike tires ready to burst, and the make-up on our faces weighed mere grams, not pounds. But our group had a rowdy sense of fun, and we were ready to roll.

The evening defies description, so let me put it this way: The night was a far cry from the Cowboy Junkies and Indigo Girls concert I saw last summer--at the Oregon Zoo, outdoors, during twilight hours. And I drank in every minute of it! (I’ve even downloaded some Nas onto my iPod for running inspiration: Go with “The World Is Yours” and “Get Down.”)

Okay, so this posting has nothing to do with running…except that this morning, as I was doing 10 snowy hill repeats, I thought about how the concert had thrust me out of my usual world. And how much I dug it. I’ve felt innervated ever since. I decided there’s an athletic lesson here: I need to venture beyond my limits more often. I like the results.

(photo is of me, a gal-pal and, well, don't ask...)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Return of the Nap

As some of you may recall, a few months ago I was lamenting the end of an era at our house: No more naps. Not the twins, and thus not me. Well, like Bush standing on the aircraft carrier in 2003, I called the end too early. After a few months of no naps, John has resumed snoozing every afternoon. He actually seems “mature” enough to realize the necessity of a nap—otherwise he’s shattered by late afternoon. (Dear Daphne, on the other hand, is a bundle of joyful energy from morning until night, then she falls asleep soundly and speedily.)

That said, he needs coaxing to fall asleep midday. Who knows, maybe he’s just playing his babysitter and me, but he demands being soothed to sleep during the day. And while I’m never one to coddle my kids (it’s a shocker, I know!), I have quickly grown to love holding him close as he drifts off. Like last Sunday: I got back from my half-marathon at about 1:15 (race didn’t start until 9:30, and it was an hour+ south of Portland). Almost immediately, I carried John up to his room. Wrapping him in a blanket, I sank into my old nursing rocker, and he rested his adorable big noggin’ on my shoulder.

It was heavenly, really, rocking back and forth as I hummed and patted John on the back. Instead of fretting about hopping in the shower or getting changed into stink-free clothes, I luxuriated in the rare one-on-one time with my twin boy. For a second I fretted, thinking of countless other things I should be doing, but I reminded myself the sanity of our family depended on John recharging his batteries. I had nothing better to do than to sit there. I closed my eyes and a delicious calm pervaded my taxed body.

Thanks, John, for forcing your mom to take a break.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SBS Half-Marathon PR Playlist

One of you asked, so here it is. Playlist runs 2+ hours--thankfully, I didn't!
1. "When You're Falling" by Afro Celt Soundsystem
2. "The Moth" by Aimee Mann
3. "Saving Face" by KT Tunstall
4. "Here Comes the Hotstepper" by Ini Kamoze
5. "Lump" by Prez of USA
6. "Going Thru the Motions" from Buffy the Vampire musical (what can I say--I'm a Buffy addict!)
7. "Just Wanna Be with You" from HSM (ditto--addict)
8. "Complicated" by Averil Lavigne
9. "Used to Love Her" by Guns N' Roses
10. "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution" by Black Crowes
11. "Freeway" by Aimee Mann
12. "Silent House" by Dixie Chicks (hit "replay" during the half)
13. "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
14. "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen (great recommendation, Joanne!)
15. "Hard Sun" by Eddie Vedder
16. "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin
17. "Suddenly I see" by KT Tunstall (for pipitbird)
18. "Give Me a Beat" by Girl Talk (search for Illegal Arts for this downloadable "album"--awesome, but NC-17 rated!)
19. "Dig In" by Lenny Kravitz (might have to be my new power song!)
20. "Fool in the Rain" by Zeppelin
21. "Under Pressure" by Bowie & Queen
22. "Hands in the Air" by Girl Talk
23. "Makes Me Wonder" by Maroon 5
24. "Supernatural Superserious" by REM
25. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem
26. "The Best" by Tina Turner (fantastic workout song!)
27. "Stronger" by Britney Spears
28. "In Step" by Girl Talk
29. "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley
30. "Funplex" by B-52s
31. "All These Things I've Done" by The Killers
32. "Everybody Knows" by Dixie Chicks
33. "I'm Going to Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers


Monday, January 12, 2009

Smiles All Around

As I type this, I’m listening to the playlist from my half marathon yesterday. Just like post-race, I have a big smile on my face, remembering my effort. I was a majorly happy camper yesterday. My goal was to break 1:50, something I hadn’t done in a half. Best halves thus far: Last year I ran the same race in 1:52:05, and the summer before I got pregnant with the twins, I ran another tabletop-flat half in 1:51-something.

Fueled by a carbo-load dinner of spaghetti and turkey meatballs and Phoebe birthday cake (she turned 7 on Saturday!), a solid training plan, and an almost the perfectly compiled playlist, I felt good the entire race—and ran 1:49:55. (By my watch—no chip.) Woo-hoo! Five seconds ain’t much, but that counts—sub-1:50! Perhaps best of all, I passed numerous runners in the second half of the race, reeling in many of them between miles 10 and 13. If the course, set on quiet country roads in exposed farmland as flat as the Netherlands, hadn’t been somewhat windy, who knows what I could have pulled off. I was—and still am—ecstatic!

But when I got home, my joy multiplied: While I was off racing, Jack and his buddies had delivered and set up the second-hand play structure we had bought on craigslist. A big wooden one complete with monkey bars, swings, a faux rock wall, slide, and double-decker playhouse. If you live where large lots are the rule, this might not be such thrilling news, but for those of us with small city yards, this is big-time excitement. Running in our neighborhood, I’d looking longingly at houses set on rare double lots complete with play structures, wishing we had space for one. Finally I decided enough with the envy: We’d tear out the lovely but useless shade garden in our sideyard and plant a play structure there. Who needs lily of the valley, hydrangea, and hellebore when there are three darling, rambunctious kids living here? (Including Daphne, named after one of the two plants we did keep in the sideyard!)

Yup, I feel elated about my speedy half, but the thing that’s going to keep this mother happy in the long run is that play structure.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Step Lively

If I do well this Sunday in my half-marathon, I might have the snow to thank. We’ve had a freak series of snowstorms in the past three weeks, but I didn’t let the white stuff stop me from running most days. Instead I followed the advice of an awesome runner-friend, who told me to, “take smaller steps, keep your weight centered.”

As I picked along on a tempo run last Friday, hopscotching on a crust of new snow, I realized my shorter, livelier steps might actually be helping me maintain a speedier pace. I had a flashback to the 2007 Nike Women’s Marathon, when my coach, Paula Harkin, was urging me to run faster. “Take quick, short steps! Quick steps! Quick steps!” she chirped.

Sigh…it did me no good in that race, but with all my practice on snowy, slushy roads, I think I might have laid down some new pathways in my brain, allowing me to call upon that stride mid-race.

And Daphne, almost 3.5 years, has certainly been getting me in the mood: Every time I walk in the door, sweaty and clothed in running garb, she yells out, “Momma, you run a fast race? I want to run a fast race with you!,” and then she peels off, doing laps around the first floor. Now if only I had her boundless energy....