Friday, September 23, 2011

The race

This fall my daughter is participating in Girls on the Run. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, GOTR is a voluntary program for preteen girls that is conducted before school. The program goal is to develop self-respect and self-esteem through running. Since I first heard about the program I have been eagerly anticipating the year when my daughter would be old enough to participate and now it's finally here. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. The sessions culminate in a 5k race that we would run together, gimpy, injured leg be damned. So when I mentioned it to my daughter at the beginning of school imagine my chagrin when she told me she had no interest. I was crestfallen since all of her friends were over-the-moon excited for this program. Either my daughter lacks motivation in the area of running, or she is smarter than all her peers because she knows how far a 5k is to run. But eventually she came around (with some bribery) so last weekend she and I made a trip to the running store to get some proper running shoes.

First off she was absolutely giddy at the gait analysis because it involved running on a treadmill, something she had aspired to for quite some time. If only the GOTR program were being run on treadmills I wouldn't have had to resort to bribery. After the excitement of the treadmill came trying on the shoes. After the first pair was laced up I told her to try running on them. My fast-twitch muscle child jumped up and starting sprinting around the store like a bat out of hell. Not surprisingly, she was breathless within a few minutes. When she tried on the second pair I suggested that she try running at a more moderate pace because that was what she would need to do for the 5k race. That she needed to pace herself or she'd burn out before the first mile. Once again she jumped up and starting running around the store like she was on fire. The GOTR coach has her work cut out for her.

Watching my daughter go at full tilt and promptly exhaust herself, only to rest a few minutes and repeat the cycle reminded me of some wise advice that a dear friend gave me when my kids were babies. I had just had my son, my daughter was two and I desperately wanted to have my world return to normal. I fully expected that I would be able to balance the wants and needs of these two little people while simultaneously resuming all my previous activities, plus a few new ones to boot. And I was running myself ragged and was an exhausted, emotional wreck. And still things were not back to normal. Not even close. One day when I was discussing my predicament with my friend she said I needed to slow down and pace myself, it's a marathon, not a sprint. 

That conversation was six years ago and it is my mantra. Now that fall activities are running at full tilt I also find myself volunteering for anything and everything. On top of that I am attempting to sew a rather elaborate costume for my daughter for Halloween and have to spend several days a week at physical therapy appointments and doctor's appointments in an attempt to rehabilitate my leg. I love to be busy. The more the better. I find I can think more clearly, am more organized, and am generally happier. But there is a tipping point, and I never see it coming. With each and every activity I am going at warp speed, trying to get everything done, keep all the balls in the air. And one day I realize I'm exhausted, that my brain has become foggy and my judgment isn't what it should be. The other night I was so tired I accidentally iced the wrong knee until my daughter asked if I had hurt the right one as well. And yet I keep going, ripping through my to do list like my life depended on it. And here it is not even October and I'm already burnt out. So I am going to step back and slow down my pace from a sub-9 minute mile to a 10 or 11minute pace. I will still get everything done, and I will still manage all the commitments I love and care about, but I won't do it at a pace that is unsustainable. Because even though my gimpy leg has prevented me from running an actual marathon this year I still have a mental one to complete.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mistaken Identity (or, The Day I Realized I Needed Glasses)

One of my best friends lives up the street from me. Selfishly, she has returned to work, so the amount of time she has available to gossip talk about critical issues has been reduced. Truth be told, I text her all day long, so I question how much work she is actually getting done.

Due to her schedule we often meet in the afternoon to walk together and collect our daughters from school and catch each other up on what has occurred in the past 24 hours since we last met. I come from one direction and she comes down a large hill from another direction and we meet at the corner. Her house isn't that far away, if I walk out to the curb of our house and look up the hill I can see it. It should be noted that there are no bends in the road to obstruct my vision, no big trees blocking my sight. And it is the middle of the day.

Today I am walking toward our corner and I see the she is already headed down the hill. She has chin length blonde hair and is always fashionably dressed, as does the woman walking down the hill. But wait, she seems to be stumbling a bit. That's odd. But I reason that it must be a combination of the steep grade of the hill and her impossibly high heeled pumps. But wait, she is kind of weaving and stumbling and kind of shuffling along like someone who is trying hard not to weave and stumble. So I have to wonder, is she drunk? It is the middle of the day, but things have been stressful lately. There's a lot going on and she's started a new job and perhaps she needed a cocktail or two? That wouldn't be like her at all, but who am I to judge?

And then she is nearing the corner and I realize it isn't my cute, 40-year-old-who-looks-more-like-she's-35-year-old-friend. Oh no, it is a little old lady. This woman is easily 90 years old. She has snow white hair and is wearing rumpled jeans and a caftan-type shirt. On her feet are some sort of Keds sneakers, and she is indeed weaving and stumbling. Like you do when you are 90 years old and walking down a steep hill.

As she passes me I smile and say good afternoon and she does the same. And to myself I make a mental note to move *appointment with the eye doctor* up on my list from *sometime next year* to *as soon as possible*.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I will never be a contestant on Survivor

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. As a kid we went hiking, did some camping and other nature-y stuff. It wasn't an anomaly, pretty much everyone I knew growing up had been to Mount Ranier National Park, climbed at least part of Mt. Si at some point, biked on the Burke-Gilman trail or the Sammamish River Trail. When I moved out to the the east coast my nature experience was somewhat of a novelty. Perhaps it was because the people in my graduate program where mostly from New York or Boston. I had been to Alaska and hiked a glacier! So somehow I got it in my head that I was a bit of a nature girl. I am sure when he reads this my husband will spit out his coffee laughing. My sister will do the same. I am not a nature girl. It turns out I like going out into nature for brief periods, preferably running or biking by it at a clip fast enough to avoid any bugs landing on me. I don't like to camp because there is no running water and there are bugs, and the ground is lumpy. And there are sketchy plants that may or may not be poison ivy or nettles.

So that is why it is so amusing that I am a Brownie troop leader. But luckily for me, the Brownies of today aren't only interested in camping. Someone in the Girl Scout national organization realized that there are many good women out there who could help the girls learn many things such as leadership skills, philanthropy, and general good citizenship, but you don't need a tent and a canteen to do it.

So this is how I found myself sitting in a circle with my little Brownies, having a discussion about what to do in the event of an emergency. We were working on a badge and they needed to discuss how they could be prepared. We started easy, asking them what they would do if someone got hurt. One of them offered that she would perform CPR. A few others concurred that this is what they would also do. Um, okay girls, but you are *8*, and you don't know CPR. This did not deter them in the slightest. I suggested they should seek help from a grown up. They just scoffed at me and looked at me like that was the stupidest thing they'd ever hear. I was not deterred.

Recently we'd had a bad storm in our area and the power was out for a few days. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss what they learned and asked them what should you do when the power goes out? My daughter's hand shot up so I called on her. Yes Callie, what do you think you should do? She replied: Go to a hotel. Okay, so that is what we did when the power went out, but in my defense, we were already going out of town to go skiing, so even if the power hadn't gone out we would've been at a hotel. But in all honesty, after the first 24 hours without electricity my husband probably would have checked us into one anyway just to stop my whimpering. But then I asked the next questions, If the power goes out what do you do about food? Again, my daughter's was the first hand up so I called on her. We go to Starbucks for breakfast because mommy needs coffee. At that point I just put my face in my hands and vowed that our next badge would be the one on music or maybe art.