Down to the Wire

I was so close to throwing in the blogging towel the other day and walking away from this site.

I haven’t written a thing for 2 months, my WordPress domain was set to expire on the 28th, and it takes time to think up content. It seemed easier to just ride out the rest of the year and to let the treadmill diaries disappear into the sunset.

And then, at the last second, I realized that the reason I feel it takes too much time to keep up the site is that I started over thinking it. What do readers want to see? What should I write about this week? Do I have pictures that go with the post? And so on..

I started this site as a record of my progress against my goals ..and then I decided to take on more than that. No offense – but I don’t care if anyone but me reads these posts. The purpose is to write things down, to let them serve as lessons, and to use them to steer progress down new (and hopefully good) life paths.

So, basically, it’s an electronic journal.  It’s as simple as that. And, if I keep to that, it won’t be hard. It’ll be quick and the posts can serve their intended purpose. If people want to read them, great. If not, that’s okay too.

So there, you have it. The treadmill diaries will move into 2013 and will serve to chronicle the happenings of my year.

Speaking of 2013, I’ve decided to make a few other commitments:

  • I’m back to using the bodybugg and will until I reach my goal of fitting into all the clothes in my closet.  It was off my arm for weeks because of a bad strap.  If I kept it off any longer, I doubt it would have come back and I need it.
  • I signed myself up for Weight Watchers – starting today.  I’ve tried to exercise and eat right on my own and have been on a major plateau for months.  It’s worked for me before so I’m guessing it can work for me again.  I want to get back to my 2010 pre-pregnancy size and I will.  I’m less concerned with the number I end up at.
  • I want to focus on living a good life and being a good person.  This means enjoying the family, the moments, making good memories, continuing to experience/learn new things and to do some good deeds (big and small).

And, of course, to be there for these guys:

AllMyGuys

Happy  New Year!

 

 

Feeling Accomplished

Excited Before the Race

After working up to it for more than 2 years, I’m proud to say that I finished my first 13.1 mi road race this year at the Bay State Half Marathon out of Lowell, Ma.  And, on top of that, this was also my longest run EVER… by almost 2 miles.  Not bad, right?

I’m quite pleased with what my body was able to do that day.  And now I know that it can handle whatever I decide to dish it.

But, back to the race…and some of what went down.

First, I have to say that this was the most organized event I’ve ever attended. 

It started on time down to the second.  Routes were clearly marked.  There were plenty of volunteers.  They spoiled us with runners’ services like bag check +a wide mix of post-race yummies.  It might be because this marathon and half marathon are Boston qualifiers.  Not exactly sure, but I was a fan of how it was managed. 

As for the race, my goals were first and foremost to finish it. To run the entire distance.  To come in between 11:30 – 12:00 average pace. 

To make sure that happened, my strategy was to keep the pace at 11:30 the first 8 miles and then to use whatever was left in the tank to finish out the distance.  So, did it go as planned?

NOPE.

I was afraid that this might happen and it totally did.  I got so excited about being there and about being surround by other runners that I started off much faster than I had planned. 

Here are my splits:

Mile Average Pace Fastest Pace During Mile Total Run Time
1 0:10:41 0:10:03 0:10:41
2 0:10:45 0:09:37 0:21:26
3 0:10:39 0:09:25 0:32:06
4 0:10:22 0:08:24 0:42:28
5 0:10:52 0:09:46 0:53:20
6 0:10:14 0:07:59 1:03:34
7 0:10:50 0:08:49 1:14:24
8 0:11:24 0:09:06 1:25:48
9 0:11:43 0:10:17 1:37:31
10 0:11:38 0:08:54 1:49:09
11 0:11:57 0:10:30 2:01:07
12 0:12:25 0:09:32 2:13:32
13 0:12:00 0:09:31 2:25:31
13.25 0:10:15 0:09:34 2:28:07

Coming off the starting blocks a little faster than I wanted, I started feeling it and slowing down after mile 8.  To make it to the end, I had to mentally keep myself psyched up and ignore my tired legs as much as possible.

Fortunately, I was able to hang in there and make it to the end with these results:

Let me tell you…I felt soooo accomplished going over that finish line.  13.1 miles.   A distance I had never run before in my life.  At a pace better than my training times. 

Ok – so it’s not my fastest pace but it’s not bad considering I had a c-section 4.5 months earlier and I had only 3+ months of training for the year. 

As my husband so logically put it when I complained about only beating out 150 people (1100 people were faster and some even walked parts), I had just beat Di’s best time and I beat everyone who didn’t and hasn’t run a half marathon.  Damn, that guy is smart. 

And here’s the moment of sweet success captured by my husband who was waiting for me with my boys at the finish line. ❤

I’d like to close with a few memorable moments from this road race.  Once again, I’m amazed by the sense of community among runners and how we’re there for each other. 

  • Thanks to the young lady who happened to cross my path at mile 4 while going uphill.  She threw out a “you’re doing great” as she went by and then settled in front of me with a shirt that said Don’t Be Last.  It’s like she knew that would bring the point and the finish home for me.  I kept plugging for miles because of that.
  • Props to a spectator at mile 3 who was holding up a sign that said “Keeping going …it’s all about spirit.”  I used that after mile 8 when I started to get tired along with “your mind will quit long before your body ever will”.
  • Love the young kids sprinkled throughout the 13 miles who threw out their hands for high 5’s.  They made the run fun and threw me a boost of energy with every slap!
  • And finally a HUGE CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH to a female runner who came across me at mile 12.5 where I started slowing down and was thinking about walking.  She grabbed my arm just in time and said “Oh no! Keep going…you can’t do this when you’re less than a mile away from the end.”  And, she was right.  I would never have forgiven myself.  She paced with me until we hit mile 13 – where she knew the excitement would carry me the rest of the way.  I owe her a lot. 

All in all, this was a fantastic experience and I’m so glad I decided to do it this year -whether I was ready or not.  The good news is….I was ready!  Learn from me..and do that thing you’ve been putting off for whatever reason.  You’ll feel great about it after it’s done.

Breaking the Silence

This week marked a key date for those of us who have felt the joy of being pregnant with a child and then had that happiness along with our hopes & dreams for them shattered by the loss of one or more of our children.  October 15th was Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day and it got me thinking. 

Though I’ve touched upon the loss of our identical twin boys – Micah & Julian – a few times via this blog, it hasn’t really been a venue where I’ve wanted to speak about this very sad event in our lives. 

We weren’t comfortable talking about it or telling our story.  And, most people were more than happy to avoid the subject at all costs.

I mean..what do you say or do for a grieving parent?  Who wants to think about the fact that babies sometimes die?  No one.

So I and many of the people around me dug in and set into survival mode.  We didn’t (usually) discuss what happened.  I publicly put on a front that everything was okay.  I speculated about what people thought or said about our circumstances.  And, I grieved.  A lot. 

I was lucky to have several people in our lives who would check-in.  Who kept me connected to others and to the day-to-day. Who ultimately had a part in helping me heal. 

Then, in October 2011, I was pregnant again.  And, wow, I can’t describe the mix of feelings and thoughts that ran through my head – from the moment I found out…all the way through delivery.  It was scary.  It was terrific.  It swung from being real to surreal. 

I took the pregnancy one day at a time (again with a lot of help from good people) and was blessed with two amazing little boys on June 1, 2012. 

Gavin and Quinn aren’t replacements for their big brothers but instead are special little guys who have helped to heal my heart and fill the void that was placed there in May of 2011.  And, I believe whole-heartedly that Micah and Julian are with them and us in spirit. Always.

Now that Gavin and Quinn have entered our lives, they’ve opened the door to breaking the silence.  Friends, coworkers, & even acquaintances -armed with this happy occasion – have made an effort to connect and to let us know how they’re feeling.  To extend their congratulations.  To ask about the boys.  To share that they too were saddened by our loss.

What I’m realizing is that our experience and all of our boys not only touched our lives in many ways – the good, the bad – but they’ve also had an impact on others around us.  Though people may not have talked about it, they were moved to feel something.  And, in their own way, they were supporting us from a distance without us even knowing it.  That realization is comforting. 

This post is not about dwelling in the past or focusing on our loss – though as parents we will NEVER forget about Micah & Julian and the fact they’re not here with us – but it’s about the outpouring of kindness that I’ve experienced about the arrival of Gavin & Quinn.

Each of the exchanges where people have gone out of their way to stop and tell me how they’re feeling are captured in my mind:

  • “you have no idea how my heart sings for you”
  • “I was so sincerely happy for you & Jon when I heard you delivered your boys”
  • “After the loss of your boys, I included your family in our prayer group so we could help” – the receptionist at my doctor’s office
  • “When I heard you were pregnant again, I prayed for you every day” – from a stranger who had heard about our situation
  • “I was thrilled when I heard your good news”

And, we’ve had so many people wanting to meet our little guys and being so generous with them.  It’s been absolutely amazing. 

So, thank you.  To everyone who has been with us on this journey.  Whether supporting us during or after our loss, sending/giving us strength from near or far, or extending any form of kindness our way. 

You’ve helped.  You’ve shown that you care.  You, too, honor the memory of our older boys.  You join us in celebrating the blessing that is Gavin & Quinn.  You’ve made it okay to open up and break the silence.

For all these things, I am and will be forever grateful.

Categories: Anecdotes / Thoughts

New Traditions

Before the 2010 Race..Brrr.

Back in 2010, I ran my first road race on Thanksgiving Day – the Feaster Five in Andover, Massachusetts.

Thousands of people turned out that day with their families to take part in the event.  Adults, young children, babies in strollers, even pets.

You had the option of walking or running a 5K or 5 mile course and at the end of it all…you got an apple pie for your efforts.  Now that’s an incentive! 🙂

I was amazed by how many people set aside the time to participate on a pretty big holiday.  And, now I realize how great an activity this really is for any family. 

You’re together.

It’s healthy for everyone involved.

And, most importantly, it’s a ton of fun.

So this year, my husband is joining me in the event and next year we plan to bring along our boys in a jogging stroller.  (Though I’ll need to get in some hill practice before that day comes)

There you have it – the start of a new family tradition.  One that hopefully sticks with us for a very long time. 

And the big BONUS – you don’t feel so bad about the delicous turkey day feast you’ll enjoy after burning off a few calories in the morning. 

Question – have you started any new traditions recently?

Sweet & Sour Chicken, Italian-Style

Most of us are familiar with Sweet & Sour Chicken that’s served up on your local Chinese Food restaurant’s menu.  Hunks of deep-fried chicken.  Coated in a sticky, sweet sauce.  Throw in a side of fried rice. 

Well, this is nothing like that.  -No offense to those who dig the Chinese food version. 

Instead, this recipe borrowed from my Sicilian Momma gives you a contrast of sweet, sour and salty bites through a mix of flavor-packed ingredients.  Relatively easy to pull off, the dish is ready in about an hour and is well worth the wait. 

You’ll need (for 4 servings):

  • 1 lb chicken (mix of dark and white pieces)
  • 12 green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2/3 cup flour (wheat or white)
  • 1/8 c capers
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil & cooking spray
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Making the dish:

  1. Preheat frying pan with oil over medium-high heat
  2. Roll chicken through flour & place in pan. 
  3. Cook 3-4 min per side.  Then pour in vinegar & sugar.
  4. Simmer until liquid evaporates.  Cover & set aside.
  5. Heat saucepan over medium-high heat with cooking spray.
  6. Saute onion, celery, olives & capers for 5 min.
  7. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Once veggies have softened, add chicken mixture to pan.
  9. Cook through for 20 minutes.
  10. Pour white wine in and cook it off for 2-3 min. 
  11. Your dish is ready to serve

This entree goes well alongside either a side of simple mashed potatoes or a rice of your choice.  And, if you’re feeling adventurous, the sauce also tastes great over wide noodles or pasta.

The Nutritional info per serving:

  • Calories – 360
  • Fat – 13.9 g
  • Fiber – .8 g
  • Protein – 29.7 g
  • Carbs – 19.3 g

Hope you get a chance to try this out.  It’s mighty tasty!

Categories: Food/Recipes

Reentry

Two weeks ago, I returned to work from maternity leave.  The first week, I worked from home.  The second week, I was at the office.

Going in, I expected it would be hard to leave my boys.  I anticipated that I would get a little (or very) emotional about it.  I was warned there would be an adjustment period. 

So, it wasn’t a big surprise when all these things turned out to be true. 

Yes, it’s an adjustment.  Heck – it’s a big shift in the day-to-day routine.  And though I’m all for  change, I’m also a creature who loves her habits.

Fortunately, a little upfront planning and the support of several good people have helped me to quickly work through the process of reentry. 

  • Our childcare is great.  Knowing that Gavin & Quinn are well-cared for puts my mind at ease.  And it lets me head out the door in the mornings.
  • Family has been supportive.  From checking in, chipping in to help, or just being there to talk.
  • My coworkers have been wonderful.  Welcoming me back, sharing their congratulations/well-wishes, asking how I’m doing & talking through the changes with me.
  • Other parents have been a helpful resource.  Reassuring me that things work out, providing advice, and talking about how they enjoy a balance between family and work.
  • My obsession with lists & tasks pays off.  Planning & prepping meals for the week, scheduling chores/household activities outside of work hours, deferring non-essential items to later. 

Here’s the bottom line.  I love my family.  I love to work.  It’s important to me that these two things can coexist.

After working through the past 2 weeks, I believe it’s possible.  In fact, I’m comforted by the fact that other families do it ALL the time.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for other parents and all they do. 

And, though this post is about returning to work, there’s another lesson that’s reinforced here.  One that has held true no matter what the situation.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

It’s early.  I’ve just started down this path.  But, I know it’s doable.  Therefore, I will.

The Training Wheels Come Off

Beaming with pride after finishing my first race in 9:15’s

Last week, I jumped straight into the Hal Higdon half marathon training program at week 6/7 trying to crash course my way to a 13+ mile road race on October 21st. 

Though committed to crossing the finish line no matter what, there was still a question about whether the training time would be enough to run the entire thing – due to my injuries and only having 5 weeks to prepare. 

I knew the first week of the program would be telling and would set the tone for the rest of my training. 

I’m happy to report – ecstatic in fact – that week 1 went REALLY well.  First and foremost, my toe and my hip feel good.  Fingers crossed that they stay that way.

Second, I had respectable runs last week – where I focused only on distance and ignored pace. 

  • 3.5 mi on Monday
  • 4 mi on Wednesday
  • 4.5 mi on Friday
  • 8 mi on Sunday

The 8-miler confirmed it for me.  I can run long distance.  I’m not exhausted when I’m done.  And, my legs don’t feel like they’re going to fall off. 

I’m not looking to jinx it but I think I can do this.  Be ready for the half marathon in the time I have available. 

So, I’m not going in tentative anymore.  Instead, I’m going in with the finish line in mind. Wish me luck.

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