Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Feature

Who doesn't love John Legend, right? I mean, so, so handsome, and of course, that voice. His gorgeous supermodel wife is lovely, too, especially because she's hilarious and goofy in addition to totally sexy (do you follow her on Instagram?). Oh, and she admitted their relationship started with a hook-up, which is kind of awesome and honest, don't you think? Anyway, I'm off on a tangent.

On the set of Legend's music video for You & I -- which is awesome in and of itself -- the crew asked 63 women what they see when they look in the mirror and then produced this mini-documentary to share their answers. It's sweet, honest, and at moments uncomfortable. It's provocative.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Back when we counted Henry's age in days instead of weeks or months, I wrote notes in my phone when something struck me as interesting or profound or funny. One of the notes said this:
I looked in the mirror at 4 am, wearing a nursing tank and 10-year old sweats, scrubbed clean with my hair piled atop my head and thought to myself, man, you look great. Healthy, happily exhausted, and uninhibited 'you'.
So, I'll ask again: what do you see? Wishing you a confident, beautiful, embrace-it-cause-its-what-you-got weekend.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Walking... wait, no... Running on Sunshine

I've had a very encouraging couple of days and am in a really great mood about it.

After coming down with an infection last week that left me with a 102 fever and feeling hit by a bus, the weekend found me in better spirits and just generally feeling much better. When my sister came over to spend the day with Henry and I on Friday, I suggested she bring workout clothes. We can take Henry for a run in the stroller, I proposed.

Oh my gosh, it was so much fun.

When Nik and I were deciding on the baby gear we needed and wanted, we debated quite a bit when it came to the stroller. I was staunchly anti-stuff from the get-go and only wanted one stroller: a jogger. It seemed silly and expensive to invest in a jogging stroller and an everyday affair when they both run in the several-hundred-dollars range. When we decided to go with the Bob Revolution SE, I sort of silently vowed to make sure I got sufficient use out of it. So far, so good.

Luckily, it's been warmish the past few days, with temps in the low 40's, making for beautiful running weather. We took off late morning, around my now-usual walking route. It was Corey's first run in awhile and I reminded her to go easy on me, pushing a 24-pound stroller, 11-pound car seat, and 13-pound baby and all! After running the first two miles, we walked the last one home. Afterwards, Corey quickly signed up for the New Jersey Half Marathon this spring, which means I'll be justified in bullying her to run with us even more over the next few months.

Afterwards, we napped.

And I took selfies.

I took the next two days off from running in an effort to take it slow and take it easy. Even though I feel fully recovered from birthing our little dude and more or less recovered from last week's illness, I'm still extra cautious to ease back in, since the last thing I want is to be sidelined with an injury. Still, I rolled out of bed really early Sunday morning and made my way south to Raynham, Mass. to volunteer at a half marathon my running club put on. I'm trying to get a jump start on my New Year's Resolution to get more involved with my running club. Plus, when you can't run, support runners, right?!

Yesterday, Corey and I were back at it. Corey came to babysit Henry while I was at the doctors in the morning, but we suited up and headed out in the early afternoon. I'm finding it really fun now that Henry is almost three-months old that he spends more time awake in general, and that during that awake time, he's usually happy to be hanging out and checking out his surroundings. I feel strongly about getting him outside for fresh air as much as possible and it's fun to think that during our walks and runs that he's seeing new things each and every time. We went with the same route yesterday, but ran even more (and faster!) than on Friday.

Finally, this morning I had the most encouraging and exciting run of all. It seemed like Henry was about ready for a nap around 10:30, so I got him into his hat, mittens, and sweater, loaded him into his car seat and got myself ready to run.

It was a little lonely without Corey as my sidekick, but I got into my groove pretty quickly, especially after Henry fell asleep (at the end of our driveway), therefore eliminating my only [adorable] distraction. While we were out yesterday, Corey mentioned that running with the stroller must be difficult considering I didn't have my arms available to help propel me. I agreed, but then this morning found myself thinking about it. Why not? I had bragged that the stroller basically drives itself, so why did I need both arms to steer?

So, this morning I worked on running while using one arm to pump/propel and the other to drive/steer. My splits were instantly quicker and my exertion was more comfortable, too. I kept adding little bits onto my route because I felt really good and ended up running just over 3.5 miles at a 9:27 pace. A 9:27 pace, people! To complete my workout, feel really good, and realize I had run so well (for me), I couldn't have been happier.

Okay, so I don't look totally thrilled there, but all the same.

The best part is that it just makes me want to get up and go even more. Just as a tough workout can sometimes defeat in irrational ways, a good one has a way of conjuring up sunshine and rainbows that are a bit over the top. Still, on a grey December day when it's only getting darker and colder, I'll take it.

Now it's your turn: tell me about your victories this week!

Also, I'm committing to including some more "educational" content to the blog (think what to wear in winter, how to write a training plan, how to fuel for a long run). What are you interested in hearing more about?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Feature

When I started practicing yoga, I thought a little bit about what I perceived to be a conundrum: how could I really pour myself into a yoga practice while still remaining a believing and practicing Christian?

As I deepened my practice, creating my own WTFasana Challenge and attending the Wanderlust Festival in Stratton, Vermont, I realized yoga is not a religion at all. It can be spiritual, sure, and the history of yoga incorporates some Hindu stories, but it also never felt at odds with my personal beliefs. Furthermore, as I learned to tune in on my mat, my attention, reflection, and prayer actually sharpened. In time, I forgot I had ever worried at all.

Early this year I started working for a religious organization and on my first day, human resources had me fill out a questionnaire about my professional background and personal interests. On each of the three lines for my interests, I listed running, reading, and yoga. Later in the day, when my official welcome email was distributed only two of my hobbies were included. Oh my goodness, I thought, in disbelief. They don't think yoga is Christian. Later, my assumption was more or less confirmed when I heard that there was a group who practiced "spiritual stretching" on Thursday nights after work in one of the conference rooms. Secret yoga, they called it. I love my job and my colleagues, but I passed.

It turns out, I'm not the only one debating the issue. Earlier in the week I received a weekly roundup in my inbox from Mind Body Green featuring a column titled "Just Because I'm Christian Doesn't Mean I Can't Practice Yoga". True that, sistah.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Walk in the Park

Tonight, my husband's family who has been visiting for the past three weeks will head back to India. They arrived when Henry was eight weeks old and have now witnessed more than a quarter of his little life. During this time, he has started to "talk" much more, recognize faces, and smile almost all the time. He was baptized and celebrated his first Thanksgiving, had his two-month immunizations, and unless my eyes are fooling me, his eyelashes are growing longer every day. It has been a sweet time.

Of course, before they arrived, I wondered what our days would look like. In our short time together, Henry and I quickly established a routine, but a routine that revolved around the two of us alone (and Daddy, of course, when he returned from work and on weekends). I worried a little that we might lose one of my favorite hours of each day, the time during which we take our walk (and the surefire way to kick off Henry's afternoon nap). Fall is my favorite season -- it is still officially fall, right? -- and it's a beautiful time for cool, crisp air, not to mention a welcome reprieve from days spent mostly inside with an infant.

Throughout their visit, Mother Nature threw us a couple of cruel curve balls, with temperatures that made it difficult to defend my "best weather" pitch. Nonetheless, my sister-in-law, Nicole, was motivated to get out and move each day, too, and as often as we could manage, we bundled Henry into his stroller and headed out for fresh air. Since my in-laws live overseas we aren't able to visit often, which made the walks -- and more importantly, the talks -- so much better than social media or occasional phone calls allow. It felt special to have someone so close to my husband along for what has quickly become one of me and Henry's very best rituals.

Last week, on one of our flukey warm afternoons, we scrapped the usual neighborhood route so we could walk in one of my favorite parks. Nik and I used to frequent the park when we lived just a touch closer and it's a mile-and-a-half loop I still run regularly (well, ran regularly?) when tacking mileage onto a nearby eight-mile route. It felt sentimental and sweet to me, especially with my little one riding along, and fun to share such a special place. We are family after all, right?

There's no moral to the story today, I guess, just the perspective of looking back and recognizing the things that made a visit special as the sun sets and it comes to a close.

Are there any habits or rituals or experiences you've been hesitant, and then happy, to share? Do your family or friends, have a special place or activity that's even sweeter when experienced together?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Feature

Soon after completing my first marathon back in 2006, a friend I had known for years and who had been wholly supportive of my marathon mission asked if I planned to keep running marathons. She remarked with the assumption I wouldn't because people like you and me weren't built to run. She meant that I was short and top-heavy. True then, true now. I'm no Shalane Flanagan, that's for sure.

I agreed with her, I think, feeling a little put off and confused, but I've run another five marathons since.

Around the same time (in the prime-time of AOL Instant Messager -- does it even still exist?!), I was chatting with a former high school classmate I hadn't seen since graduation four years earlier. He had always been ridiculously fit and athletic and, in hindsight, probably placed more value on thin than kind when choosing his lady-friends.

In our chat I mentioned I had recently run a marathon, had moved to Southern California, was doing well. Blah, blah, yada, yada. His response? Wow, you must be really tiny now. Hmm.

I'm still short, have boobs, wasn't tiny then and am not tiny now, but the fact that I actually remember having these exchanges in the first place makes me think it is a topic for discussion. Megan Birch-McMichael, a blogger for Zelle, Runner's World's new web-home for women, thought so too. For this Friday's Feature, I wanted to share her commentary called But You Don't Look Like A Runner.

Have you faced conversations like these? Have a wonderful weekend and RUN, no matter what you look like.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

24: A day in the life with a 10-week old

Henry turned 10-weeks old yesterday, which seems absolutely impossible. Double digits (weeks, not months or years, I know) already?! He's a wonderful baby -- happy and healthy and absolutely melting my heart on a daily basis, so earlier in the week I decided to share another "day in the life" post to bring you all up to speed. 

Nik's parents and sister have been visiting from India for the past few weeks, so we've had a full house and Henry has had even more snuggles and attention than usual. He's a charmer and is loving his grandparents -- Mom and Mini -- and auntie Nicole.

When I decided to log Tuesday's activities to mark 10-weeks of motherhood, I had no idea it would be the most tiring 24 hours I've had so far. That said, I do believe the blogosphere is often in need of a bit more real talk and let me tell you, yesterday was REAL.

Tuesday, December 2.

This face is just a little foreshadowing to get things started:

1:50something AM, wake up because Henry is going to town eating his hands and it is LOUD! Try to go back to sleep, but alas! 

2:04 AM, decide to nurse Henry. I can't tell if he's actually awake, but he was turbo fussy last night. I mean, I'm awake at 2 in the morning, so I decide to go for it instead of waiting until he cries now or in a few hours. 

2:34 AM, dude was hungry! Finish nursing and snuggle for awhile, since he isn't burping in his sleep. Still nothing sweeter than having this little guy asleep on my chest. 

2:54 AM, back to bed. 

3:39 AM, ummmmm. He's up. And he's angry. This is especially weird because for the past two weeks, Henry's been sleeping through the night from about 9 PM until 6:30 AM. Waking up twice in the night basically hasn't happened since week one. We rock, we walk, we bicycle his legs, take gas drops, wail-wail-wail, bounce...

4:37 AM, it's been two hours, so I try feeding to calm him down. 

5:20 AM, okay, he's out. I'm near tears. Back to bed. 

9:04 AM, daytime this time. Change an insane diaper and nurse Henry. He's much happier this time around. 

9:30 AM, burping turns into playtime. Burping alone could be a full time job and he almost always spits up anyway. In the past two weeks, playtime has become so much more fun as Henry has become so much more expressive. He knows Nik and I now and recognizes our voices from different rooms in the house and our faces from a good distance. His smiling reaction when he sees me is pretty much my favorite.

10:28 AM, attempt a nap when Henry starts to fuss and yawn. He's been rocked to sleep nearly exclusively so I'm starting to work on having him soothe himself. It's brutal. 

10:58 AM, experiment over. No sleep, but no screaming either. 

11:00 AM, we head out on a walk with Auntie Nicole. Beautiful, warm weather! We've been going nearly every day and Henry and I are both loving it. Henry sleeps until we hit the driveway after, but still managed a nice 45-minutes of a fresh air nap. 

12:12-14 PM, tummy time... Short lived! Henry has really strong legs, but hasn't quite figured out how to use his arms and shoulders. Since he starts getting cranky about laying on his tummy, Mama flips him over for play time instead. We play with rattles and puppets and make funny sounds with Mama and Nicole. Things go a bit downhill from here.

1:05 PM, baby's lunch time. I pray he will take a nap. Instead he pees on me. I swear, I'm so soaked it's like I wet my own pants. Nice going, Henry.

1:40 PM, Henry goes into the Mamaroo for a nap. Fingers crossed. 

2:05 PM, after staring and entertaining himself for 15 minutes or so, Henry starts whimpering. I can tell he's exhausted, but resisting. Since I'm probably just as tired, I pick him up and rock him. He falls asleep on my chest instantly. 

2:26 PM, oh my gosh, he's awake. Again. Trying the Mamaroo. Again. 

2:46 PM, nope. 

3:03 PM, desperate for him to calm down and rest, I feed him again. 

3:45 PM, more desperate, we go for a drive. 15 minutes in he falls asleep. On the way home I stop at Dunkin Donuts in case the nap doesn't stick. I'm exhausted. 

4:19 PM, nap time for real this time?

4:21 PM, nope.

4:22-5:45 PM, instead of napping, Henry and I play in bed. We make noises (calling it talking would be a bit of a stretch), smile and stare at the fan and our photo frames. He kicks a lot, stretches his arms, and practices sucking his thumb (whole hand). Thanks to my Dunks and this insanely cute baby, I almost forget how tired I am. 


6:03-6:34 PM, we nurse again. Holy hell. This time, he eats and passes out. Thank goodness. I skip burping and let him rest. I nap, too, until Nik comes home and calls out my name when he doesn't see me asleep in our chair in the bedroom (yes, really). Henry sleeps through dinner and while Nik and I decorate the Christmas tree with his parents and sister, until 8:00. 

8:00 PM, Henry wakes and is UNhappy. I should have burped him! After a bit of rocking and a diaper change, he chills out. He's excited to see Daddy and to check out the lights on the Christmas tree. Since we got the tree on Sunday, he definitely has a what's that doing here look when we're in the living room. 

9:09 PM, we head upstairs. I pray tonight goes better than last. 

9:19-57 PM, bedtime feed. Henry is kind of jumpy while I burp him, but settles down and falls asleep. I'm actually really nervous tonight! I've been so lucky that Henry has slept well that I'm generally really well rested myself. The lack of sleep today has me jittery and I can't imagine how I'd function if he slept this little every day.

10:24 PM, he's down. I'm down. Hoping (praying!) this is the last update until 6:30 tomorrow morning. 

Since I promised real talk, I should share that in typing out these notes and reflecting on the day yesterday, I realize it really wasn't a "bad" day. Over the past 24 hours, I've counted my blessings lots that Henry is such an easygoing guy. On a normal day, or with a little more rest overnight, the lack of naps wouldn't have fazed me at all. A month of so after Henry was born, my sister remarked that she thought being a new mom meant I was supposed to be way more tired all the time. I completely agreed and after yesterday, could see what she meant. We are really, really lucky.

And again, real talk: this kid has more than made up for a tough day in the 24 hours that followed. He still woke up to nurse around 3 AM or so, but went right back down and slept until morning. Nik changed his diaper before leaving for work and I nursed him around 7, but then he went back to sleep in bed with me (I know, I know) until 10 AM... and went BACK down for nap almost three hours ago. In between, he was a delight.

In conclusion, I guess, Henry continues to keep us on our toes, but not without a great deal of laughter, thousands of cell phone photos, and now, baby babble conversation. We have lots to be thankful for this year, for sure.

How is YOUR week going?

And, if you're interested here's 24: A day in the life with a three-week old.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Beginnings

It's two in the morning and I should have written this two days ago, at least, if I wanted to truly capture the excitement I felt at the time. Regardless, Saturday morning I embarked on my first run since giving birth in September. 

Of course, as will happen in eight weeks time over the fall in New England, it was much, much colder than last time I ran, and windy too, but certainly just as joyful. The first steps felt really deliberate and strange, the uphills felt hard, and the wind was sharp in my throat and lungs, but it all felt wonderful. 

Refreshed from my hiatus, I have rose-colored glasses firmly affixed on my head. 

I ran three miles in 27 minutes and 13 seconds along neighborhood streets so familiar now that my legs and body navigate them without a second thought. This time I moved faster than I have in more than two months and solo instead of with a pregnant belly or behind our jogger, though I plan for the route to be as familiar to Henry as it is to me in time. 

Now I plan to continue to ease in, every few days at first and with scaled back effort. It would be easy to let my excitement get the best of me (I've been so tempted to join the winter version of the Runner's World run streak beginning Thanksgiving day), but I want to continue uninjured and with the real enjoyment I discovered over the past nine-plus months.

While I sort of plan to add some races to the calendar in spring -- a marathon, I really hope -- for now I'm trying hard to keep my runner's high and optimism in check, simply running because of the happiness it brings me and the fitness it provides, rather than as an exclusive means to achieve a goal. I still desire a fit body and quicker PRs, but hope they will be within reach by running with... passion?... desire?... all of these words sound dramatic and overblown... instead of to check a workout off the schedule: to savor the miles and the course instead of counting down to the finish line. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Feature

In the beginning: registered 11.22.05

In honor of "Flashback Friday" and tomorrow, which is my nine-year RUNiversary, here's a throwback post from last year. Interestingly, it documents some of accomplishments over the previous eight years and includes goals for the year to come, including:
I aspire to add a half Ironman to the list in 2014 and one day, an actual whole-shebang Ironman. I'd like to run at least 10 marathons, to get my marathon time under 4:00, and one day, run (safely) throughout a pregnancy. It would be really, really cool to run the Comrades Ultramarathon, too. Put it on the list.
2014 hasn't included a half Ironman, but only because it instead included running safely throughout a pregnancy. What a year indeed.

Have a wonderful weekend, checking off some goals while setting yourself up to go after others. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A whole new understanding of child's pose.

You guys! You guys! I MADE IT. Henry turned six weeks old last week, so off we schlepped to the lady doc for my postpartum check-up. The appointment went just okay -- I'm not quite as recovered as I hoped or they expected -- but I'm cleared to ease back into exercise. I would have said JUMP, but the just okay part will scale me back to ease. I'll take it.

Since Henry's arrival I've really been missing yoga, both for the absolute presence of mind and the well-stretched, relaxed and gently worked muscles. All of the nursing, burping, and carrying has the left side of my neck, shoulder, and back feeling mangled.

The afternoon of my all-clear, I unrolled my mat in the living room, popped a Rodney Yee DVD into the system and plopped Henry in his boppy at the top of my mat. Let's see how this goes, I thought to myself. A new normal is right. Truth be told, we only made it 21 minutes before Henry was over it, but in the meantime, he was a champ and kept me laughing. The DVD was super slow paced (I wouldn't use that one again) but it was sort of great for a reintroduction with a baby on my mat. Henry seemed to get a kick out of it, cooing and smiling whenever the vinyasa took me through plank pose and up-dog (Hello, Henry! I'd remark, kissing his feet on the way through) and then getting distracted when I wasn't calling his attention. It worked.

A few nights later, Nik was home from work a bit early for an appointment so I decided to take the plunge and venture out solo for a class at a local studio, Dancing Crow Yoga. I've been there off and on before (more off than on, but including my prenatal classes), and decided to try the Flow then Slow community class. It couldn't have been more perfect for my first real night back.

First of all, the teacher, Megan, was really sweet and chill. There were only four of us in the class, so it was nice and low key and intimate, too. Before class Megan asked if there was anything in particular we wanted to focus on and I piped right up to mention my shoulders and another woman said her low back, so I knew I should walk away feeling good. We started with a nice, easy flowing vinyasa and I was surprised it felt even moderately challenging, but then I've been away awhile. I settled into my body and breath and worked really hard to be present, especially considering just how aware I was that my little guy was home without me!

Megan talked us calmly and methodically through class, talking through poses and intermittently adding a thought about the body or practice. When she told us the beauty of yoga was to work with the body we are in right now, I wouldn't have been totally shocked if an actual light bulb turned on over my head. What a perfect reminder for this new mom.

Halfway through class we switched from vinyasa to restorative (flow, then slow), which was heavenly. I used to be kind of skeptical about piles of props in yoga class -- and yes, I was the naive and snotty one who sort of poo-pooed blocks until I realized how much deeper they help you work -- but now I embrace them completely. In this class, my truly blissful moment was thanks to supported child's pose.

It went like this: two blocks were places on the lowest setting with one at the top of the mat and one about halfway down. Our bolsters were places on top (like a bridge) and blankets went on top of the bolsters. Then, we eased into a child's pose, with our arms wrapped around the bolster and blanket like a hug. With my legs tucked behind me, my torso stretched out, and my face resting on one cheek I realized just how much I was laying like my infant son... and why he likes that position so much. Bliss!

One of these days he'll be old enough and aware enough of his extremities to demonstrate happy baby, I'm sure.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Mustache You Some Questions

I'm hanging my head in shame. I really am. It's been ages again, but I'm real-life working on another post to come shortly -- Days away! I promise! -- and in the meantime, this survey from Kailey's blog seemed like fun. [Bonjour, Kailey!] Some fluff for now and more regular blog material shortly.

Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

  • J-bird
  • Dr. J
  • Jill-Chachi (auntie in Hindi)
  • Bhabi (sister-in-law in Hindi)

Four jobs I've had:

  • I've been basically everything at The Arbors, my family's independent living home: server, housekeeper, dishwasher, stand-in boss when filling in for my grandmother who runs the place
  • I worked as a dishwasher in the dining hall on a whim before Christmas one year. I made a ton of money really quick and actually didn't mind the work at all.
  • My first job after college graduation was as a sales manager with Hyatt Hotels, where I worked for four years at the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort, Hyatt Regency Boston, and Hyatt Boston Harbor, where I later got married.
  • For the past several years I've worked in development, as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, and now, Catholic Charities.

Four movies I've watched more than once:

  • The Italian Job (the Marky-Mark one)
  • Any of the Daniel Craig James Bond films
  • Finding Neverland (love, love, love it)
  • Rushmore

Four books I'd recommend:

  • Another Country by James Baldwin
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Four places I've lived:

  • The Jersey Shore (the real one, not the show)
  • Durham, Newmarket, and North Hampton, New Hampshire
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Boston

Four places I've been:

  • Montreal
  • Stratton, VT
  • India
  • Ireland

Four places I'd rather be right now:

  • Goa!
  • Bermuda
  • Paris
  • My parents' house

Four things I don't eat:

  • Lamb
  • Chinese food, for the most part
  • Coffee
  • Peppers

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Sushi, especially tuna
  • Mexican food
  • Mueller's crumb buns
  • Green juice

Four TV shows that I watch:

  • NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
  • NCIS -- DC and LA
  • Suits
  • Sports! Football, golf, Formula 1, baseball!

Four things that I'm looking forward to this year:

  • My first post-baby run... soon, I hope!
  • The Runner's World Winter Run Streak
  • Bringing my in-laws to my parents' house for Thanksgiving
  • The holidays, especially Henry's baptism and first Christmas

Four things I'm always saying:

  • I say hello to my baby in a nerdy Mom voice about a hundred times a day
  • "Tell me something good."
  • Lately, "do you want to burp him or should I?"
  • "Want to walk?"
Pick a question and play along in the comments, or share on your blog and post a link!