Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Challenges to a Mother's Heart

Picture it: Saturday. San Francisco. Achingly blue sky. Streaming sunshine. Golden Gate Bridge resplendent over the bay. Merrell Oyster urban adventure race. Five super-fun jockettes + me, running, cycling, and scavenging our way around my most favorite city.

We were having a blast, on a rollercoaster of adrenaline and activity. With our 6-woman team (including professional adventure racer Robyn Benincasa), we could alternate challenges because only three teammates had to do each one. Lindsey, Kerry, and I kicked race off by running along Marina Green to find something called the Wave Organ, then dashing back to the “home base” of Crissy Field so that Robyn, Dana, and Kerry could pedal to the Ferry Building to buy veggies beginning with letters O, Y, S, T, E, and R.

When they returned, three of us ran off, and I got the thrill of swimming in the bay to a kayaker to retrieve our next task, which involved indoor rock climbing. You get the picture: multi-sport activities plus zany challenges. Triathlon meets the “Amazing Race.”

Yet amidst all this glory, after my teammates had set out on their bikes again, melancholy washed over me. I marveled at my surroundings and wondered what was bringing me down. Oh, yeah: I’d idiotically checked my iPhone and had read an email from the twins’ preschool teacher, who told me John, 4, has been telling other children he’d “kill them” if they didn’t give him the puzzle or fairy wings he wanted to play with. And every time the children are to embark on a new activity, John asks, “is this going to kill me?” The teacher said this behavior seemed to stem from him seeing part of a movie on the computer of our babysitter’s daughter.

Sigh. I’ve never had to confront such behavior or really any inappropriate words or actions before, as big-sis Phoebe is the consummate rule-follower. (Classic first child.) I don’t want to say the rest of the 4.5-hour race was ruined for me, but after that I carried sadness and concern with me as surely as the pack on my back.

I guess when you’re a mom, you can run, but you can’t hide.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


Given Kanye West's latest appalling behavior, I apologize for naming this post as I did, but it sums up how I've been feeling lately. Like realizing my hair went from all-over golden to having 3" grow-out overnight (honestly!), I suddenly noticed my regular running pace is speedier than it used to be. Without trying, my maintenance runs are now done at what used to be my marathon tempo pace. And my tempo runs are now sub-8:00, even with hills. What's up with that!?

On my runs, I keep debating what it is that's making me faster. Here's what I've come up with:

-Hill repeats. In preparation for Nike Women's Half Marathon, I've shifted several track workouts to hill ones, including one monster hill I tackle twice in an hour-long trail run. If you read about Dimity and me running the full Nike Women's in 2007, you know the hills were my nemesis. I know better now, and I'm prepping my legs for the challenge. Now I realize the hills are helping me on the flats as well.

-Yoga for Runners. I've been taking this class once a week at my gym since mid-summer, and my body is thanking me for it. I'm not a yogini by any means--I'm still far from limberl, and yoga usually makes me say, "yawn," instead of "om"--but I always feel infinitely looser and less achy after an hour of twisting and bending. Prior to committing to the class, my left glute used to groan most of the time, and my left Achilles tendon often chimed in with a painful hum, but now both areas are relatively silent.

-Core work. My rowing team has a new coach, an Olympic sculler, who is whipping us into shape. Part of the required regimen is four core workouts a week, totalling 1,000 core reps (variety of exercises). Like my oldest daughter, I'm a rule follower, so I'm crunching, planking, bicycling, and grunting after my runs or rows. I'm not expecting a call from the photographer for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue anytime soon, but I feel significantly stronger through my midsection.

Or who knows what may be making me for fleet-footed. Whatever it is, I'm liking it.