Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"How do you do this?"

I put a countdown on my board for my kids this week.


(On a side note, I also taught about Roosevelt's "Big Stick" diplomacy to 3 classes of 16 year olds. Thank you for your pity. I can still hear the Beavis and Butthead-style chuckles....huh huh....she said carry a big stick...huh huh)

Underneath that, I wrote, 14 WEEKS UNTIL MRS. Z'S TEST. I figured they'd might as well know that I also have something big and intimidating looming in the distance. Something that right about now makes me go, "WHY did I do this to myself?" Kinda like what they are all starting to think, too.

I get asked "why" I do this stuff a lot. To me, it's like asking why I blink my eyeballs every few seconds. It's not a question of why I'm a teacher. A mother. A triathlete. It's just part of me. I wouldn't be me without these things.

But you know what? Sometimes it's not easy.

Actually, lots of times.

Okay. The truth. Pretty much all the time.

I find myself often saying, "How do I do this?"

How will I do this?

How am I going to keep this up until May? And remain sane?

Is it really possible to be a mother, wife, friend, teacher, AND athlete--all at the same time?

Sometimes other people ask me how I do all these things. And the short answer is, I don't really know. Day by day, I guess you could say. There is no secret. There is no recipe. You make it work the best you can. Sometimes, I cry. And sometimes, I cheat like crazy. By cheat, I mean I use meal-assembly places for dinner even though I love to cook and am damn good at it, if I do say so myself. It buys me a few extra minutes to play Buzz Lightyear with Bug. I have a lot of help from my family--I'm lucky to have pretty much one of the most generous and helpful husbands in the universe. He'll "sense" laundry and do it. He'll see that I really need to get a long run in and take control of the fort so I can skip out for a bit. You either make peace with the fact that housework will not get done, or you get some help. I realized that workouts will be less about socializing and more about getting to know myself. And I further appreciate how wonderful it is to have good friends to swimbikerun with--when I had all the time in the world I don't think I realized just how important that is. Now I make an effort to do one "social workout" a week, even though it's pretty hard to schedule. Lately it's been one every-other week and might have to go longer as work is going to pick up. But I know they are out there, and they'll be there, ready to ride and run with me when I can.

This has been a true exercise in letting the small stuff go. That's never been easy for me. I'm getting there, but it's definitely a work in progress.

Bottom line: this is very difficult and often overwhelming. But I love it. I love every second of every part of it, as much as it frustrates me from time to time and as much as I often question whether or not I'm good enough at any of it.

I love watching my students right about this time of the year, when they realize that there's no turning back--it's time to put the proverbial mental miles in, or pay the consequences. And most of them choose to put the miles in. It means extra hours for me after school, but I honestly don't mind. Watching them do what they need to do over the next three months is why I got into this line of work, anyway.

I love watching Bean taking her first steps. When we get home from work, I change as quickly as I can into my PJ pants and we all head downstairs. Bug makes me "dinner" with his kitchen and all the "food" we got him for Christmas, and Bean and I practice walking. Sometimes her little feet go too fast for her body and she spins out of control and starts to fall, face first. But I'm there to catch her. And she always giggles when she falls forward. She can't wait to get back up.

(I know that feeling all too well. Sometimes my feet just can't keep up with everywhere I want to go, either.)

Watching her giggle when she falls reminds me that falling means you are making progress.

Falling means you're going somewhere.

This is one crazy, simply amazing, simply exhausting journey I'm on. I'm not sure if I'm doing this right. I don't know if any of us really ever do.

All I can do is hold on, hope my feet catch up to the rest of me, and keep going.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The New Normal

So I did a heart rate test the other week. I haven't done one of those in quite a while. I'm not a big fan of heart rate training since I have a crazy jack-rabbit-hummingbird-on-crack heart rate to the extreme. My resting heart rate is usually in the 40s, but I've seen my high up around 194 at the end of races. And then there was that time I averaged--yes, AVERAGED--181 during the Cleveland Half Marathon (and felt fabulous, by the way!).

I guess I've resented heart rate training because I feel like it always prescribes me to go slow. SLOOOOOOOOOOOO----OOOOOOOOO--OOOOOW. Like, 27 minute mile slow.

Therefore, I give up, lose my heart rate strap (literally) and go by feel.

But, I'm trying to be good here and be a good little triathlete. And runner. So, heart rate it is. I am determined NOT to let it run me, but use it as another tool in the arsenal. I'm still a rate of perceived exertion girl at heart, I swear.

Good thing Coach Em gets me so well. She nudged me to get on the horse and freaking replace my heart rate strap, which I never would have done. (But I lost it! A convenient reason NEVER to use heart rate training again--yay me!) Amazon delivered, and I did the test on my 'mill.

As usual, my heart rate seems to have about 2 levels: rest and crazytown. My max was, yet again, over the "220-minus-age" standard, but that's nothing new. I feared Coach Em would prescribe me workouts crawling at about a sloth's pace. Sigh.

But HEY! That's not what I saw this week!

I was to run at about a 7-7.3 mph rate for 45-60 minutes this week. And at first I was all, huh? Isn't that too fast? Aren't I supposed to crawl for 45 minutes? But she said that's what the numbers showed, so that's what I was to do.

That is significantly faster than I usually plod along on my dreadmill.

I was a little nervous to try it out.

But you know what? I did it. And it was FINE. I was FINE. It was even (gulp) a little bit fun. I had one of those runs that just felt effortless and like I could keep on truckin'.

One of those runs that is money in the mental bank, for sure (not to mention the physical one).
I'm gonna blame it a bit on the post-pregnancy blood-doping, but I have to admit--I'm a bit shocked. Somehow I've turned into a chick that clips out 8:30s for a 6 mile training run without any problem. I didn't really think that was possible. I sort of thought I was a 9+ for-lifer.

Maybe that strap ain't the devil after all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Past Two Weeks

I had a really funny post all ready to type up on January 2nd, about how I jumped in frozen Lake Erie with a bunch of my equally crazy friends. I literally was going to sit down and create it. And then I checked the answering machine.

I heard two messages both with the same words: "tragedy," and "student."

We lost a student to suicide on January 2nd. It has been a very, very difficult two weeks. I've held it together at school for the most part, and then just melted down when I get home. This happened in my school six years ago, too. I'm finding it's a whole new dynamic this time around, now that I have a little boy of my own. I can't even imagine the grief that this family must be going through. It has kept me up at night. It has me breaking down crying while I'm trying to make dinner or give Emery a bath. Several times last week, it had me run upstairs to my room to slam the door shut so I could just sit in the dark and cry for a minute. Partially because I was angry, and partially because I was so, so saddened.

This week was better. The students seemed better, too. The rest of the school year will not be the same, but each day gets a little easier to walk by that locker or for the students to see the empty chair in their classroom.

Needless to say, I haven't had much time to write anything training-related as I just haven't been myself here the past two weeks. I've been running and biking like crazy, but also running myself into the ground a bit as the lack of sleep thing catches up with me by about Thursday. Hopefully that will subside any day now.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share something I posted on my blog for Bug. At the wake, I walked by all the pictures of Micah as a little boy, with his brothers and sisters and parents. And it reminded me that we all start out this way--with chubby cheeks and a big smile. Every student has that inside somewhere. My heart still hurts for his family as they deal with the loss of their little boy.

I know that the days of you calling me "Mama" are numbered, Bug.

This week, we registered you for preschool.

Two weeks ago, we finally moved you into your "big boy bed."

Dare I say it...? Potty training seems to be almost done.

But you still call me "Mama." And I love it more than you know. I want to bottle it up and record it and play it over and over again when you are bigger than me...when you are in Middle School and want nothing to do with me...and when, inevitably, someday you are upset with me because I'm telling you that you can't do something you want to do.

(I mean, I do that now, too. But when you're screaming and throwing a fit, you still scream, "NO I DON'T WANNA DO THAT RIGHT NOW MAMA!" Still "Mama," see? Even in a meltdown, it melts me.)

Tonight I was the one to put you to bed, which I've kind of been loving lately. Even though it takes about 18 hours to get you to put on your PJ's, go upstairs, brush your teeth, and actually LAY DOWN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, eventually we get to the point where you say, "I just want you to lay with me a little bit Mama" and, of course, I do. Immediately.

Usually we read a book or two. You always pick this really annoying Power Rangers book full of made-up words. I tried to BS my way through it tonight and you caught me. I was skimming and just describing the characters on a page that they had their ridiculous introductions with made up words, and you said, "No, Mama, you didn't say that the red guy's name was NICK."

And wouldn't you know it? On that very page, Nick the Red Mystic Power Ranger introduced himself.


Anyway, I read most of the book despite my futile attempts to outsmart you, and then it was time for me to go. But you begged me to stay a bit more. So I did.

After about a minute, you put your arm around me and said, "I love you, Mama."

And I can't help it--anytime I hear you say that, it makes me immediately tear up. But you went one step further.

"Thank you, Mama."

I told you thank you for being a sweet Bug. You sighed and closed your eyes and then said it again.

"I love you, Mama. Thank you, Mama."


And then you said it one last time.

"I love you, Mama. Thank you, Mama."

Then you said the phrase we always say when we're trying to get YOU to go to sleep:

"You need your sleep so we can play tomorrow, Mama."

And with that, I kissed your cheek, told you I loved you to the moon and back, and tried not to bawl as I tiptoed to your door to slowly shut it while you snuggled with your monkey and blanket.

These moments are passing too fast. You bring me such joy and I can't even begin to put it into words.

Thank you, Bugaboo.

I love you,