Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just Do It!

The most annoying thing to me is hearing someone say, “I can’t run” or better yet, “I just don’t have time to run!”. That last one gets an internal eye roll from me. Why? Because I am the queen of “I don’t have time”. Let’s be clear on this…


Whether it’s running, swimming, biking, kick boxing, yoga or zumba…if you really want to incorporate it into your life, you have to find the time. And finding the time might mean making a few sacrifices. I read a great quote someplace on the Internet about how one runner compares working out to brushing her teeth. It’s just a normal part of her daily routine. You wouldn’t go weeks or months without brushing your teeth, right? You have to think about working out the same way.

How do I do it?
(When I am training…which is not at the moment.)

First of all, I do have a full-time job. A job with a 45 minute – 1 hour commute. My job is not super important, but it can be demanding and require hours outside of the normal 8 am – 5 pm schedule. Then, you add in kids and the Hubby. Yes, I would like to spend time with them as often as possible. Kids have homework, they make messes and they need to be fed and bathed. And in my case, the Hubby has workouts to do, too. Add in other things like Church and other family members (yes, I have parents). Plus, I know some of you coach, volunteer, and have other hobbies like gardening or baking…that probably doesn’t leave in extra time for much. Sometimes other things start to take less priority. Things that aren’t as important to us as family and working out.

Let’s just say that if you come to my house unannounced, the toilet seat might be up (thank you 3 year old son), there will be toys scattered all over the floor, the kitchen counter may be cluttered with art work and junk mail, there may be streaks on my granite counter tops and crumbs on the breakfast table, and there will more than likely be a mountain of laundry in the laundry room waiting to be folded. So be it. And, I don’t watch much TV. Make that almost none. I listen to the news as I get ready for work and I have HGTV on in the bedroom when I am getting ready to go to sleep. And, there are two shows I try my best to make room for – Mad Men and more recently, Walking Dead – but that’s it. And, I missed all of last season’s Walking Dead and only just got caught up this week because I can’t workout as much (dang hip!).  Honestly, I don't miss wasting time on shows like Dancing with the Stars or The Bachelor at all.

What works for me?

Well, for years I was strictly a runner. At the time, that seemed difficult enough to fit into my schedule. I would wait until the Kiddo went to bed and I would hop on the treadmill. Sometimes this even meant I was running during the 10 o’clock news depending on what other household stuff I needed to do. I did nighttime treadmill running for years! Even during grad school, I managed to get on my treadmill a few times a week and then try to fit in a longer run outdoors on the weekends. Treadmill training isn’t as exciting as running outdoors, but at the time it was my best option. You gotta do, what you gotta do! All that I knew was that I was addicted to the endorphins created by running and it was the best form of stress relief for me…I needed to do it no matter what.

About a year ago, I was having a difficult time balancing triathlon training and family time. Part of me wanted to give up on the whole idea of training for triathlons. It was taking time away from my family and my days were hectic and stressful. This made me cranky. You know what they say – “When Momma’s not happy….”

I see this graffiti on the days that I drive to kinda makes me chuckle! (Little did I know, this is done by a local graffiti artist who calls himself give up!)

Finally, I decided to try something different to help minimize my training’s impact on my family time. I decided to begin running in wee hours of the morning, a/k/a “Stupid Thirty”. Waking up before 5 am was something I swear I’d never seemed, well, stupid. To figure out how early I had to wake up, I had to work backwards…I need to be at work by 8 am (and I try to get there a bit earlier if possible), which means I need to be at the bus stop by 7:00 just in case there was traffic. That means I need to leave the house with the kids by 6:30 / 6:40 am in time to drop them off at daycare and head to the bus stop. I have to be in the shower by 5:15, because the Hubs also needs to get ready for work (he leaves at 6am) and I have to dress both kiddos. So that means I had to wake up anytime between 4 am and 4:40 am depending on the distance on the training schedule. Again, not fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

But you know what? I went from dreading my alarm clock to enjoying those early morning runs. Funny thing - there were a few others out running at that hour, too! I wasn’t crazy to be up that early…well that, or we were all crazy! What’s not to like – it’s peaceful, it’s calming, it’s invigorating…all before 5 am! My favorite mornings are in the winter when the air is crisp and it’s just me under the stars with the sound of my breathing and footsteps in my ears. Awesomeness. Honestly, this is what I miss most about not being able to work out.

For my bike rides, I try to squeeze in a lunchtime spin class and get in a long bike starting at dawn, typically on Saturdays. And, I don’t mind starting my long runs on the weekend before sunrise, since I usually run on sidewalks where I don’t have to worry as much about cars. Sunday breakfast with the family is a big deal for me, so if I time things right I can usually get back home early enough to keep that tradition going. This means that swimming is the only thing that truly conflicts with my evening family time…and I only have to do it 2x per week. Unfortunately, the pool doesn’t open until 5 am, so I try to squeeze in my swims after work and still get home in time to help put the kids to bed. If I really time things right, I can do a longer spin class right before my swim and get in a brick (even if it is backwards).

And yes, I make lunches for me and the kids the night before.  I get everyone's clothes ready the night before.  I sometimes put snack foods in baggies on Sunday for the entire week, so I only have to grab a bag each night and toss it in a lunch box.  I try to make use of my crockpot and cook meals that will feed us for a couple of days.  I make lists and I live by my calendar.  Sometimes we do the next day's homework, just to get ahead a little.  And, I have an incredibly supportive Hubby who is pretty good at doing all of this as well.  We tag team the laundry and cleaning, so that it gets done faster and leaves more time for relaxing or hanging out.  A supportive hubby can make all the difference in the world!  And, the Hubby just started this triathlon/running thing last year...having to work around two workout schedules can be tough, but at least now he totally understands the importance of getting the workouts in!  (And he understands my insanity and mood issues because I can't workout right now.)

Of course, I know that what works for me doesn't work for everyone.  I have friends who are stay at home moms and do all their weekday workouts at the gym where they have access to childcare. I have friends who pay the neighbor to babysit so they can go out for an hour long run a few days per week. I have friends whose kids come along on their runs either in a jog stroller, on a bike or even jogging alongside their parent. I have single friends without kids who have demanding jobs or care for elderly parents who somehow still find time for fitness. I have friends who run laps around the soccer field while their kids practice.  I have friends who are single mothers and amaze me with how well they juggle everything (including workouts).

My point? If you really want to, it can be done.

You can make excuses or you can make it happen, but you can't do both.

Never give up!  I realize that there will be a day when my kids and their activities consume my life.  I look forward to it!  No, I may not be training for marathons or a 70.3 at that time, but I imagine that if nothing else, I will still be getting up at stupid thirty to get a workout in.

So how do you fit it all in? Have you ever been tempted to give up?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Week in Pictures

Last week was Spring Break for pretty much all of the Houston area schools.  The Hubby and I managed to take a few days off from work to spend some quality time with the kids.  We didn't go anywhere tropical or exotic.  Instead, we made use of all that Houston has to offer.

Spring Break - Day 1 - Houston Zoo
As you can see, we had a great time at the zoo.  The weather was nice and while the zoo was crowded, it wasn't horrible.  We went to the park afterwards for a picnic lunch and ended our trip with a ride on the train that circles the park and zoo.

Spring Break Day 2 - The Lorax
We loved seeing The Lorax!  Super cute movie with a great message.  My favorite quote - "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not." 

Spring Break Day 3 - Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Carnival
If you're not from Houston, you probably don't know about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  It's a big deal y'all!  It's basically a huge scholarship disguised as a rodeo - lots of kids show animals and receive scholarship money, but there's lots of bucking broncos, bull riders, barrel racing, etc.  Oh, and there's Mutton Bustin and pig races, too.  Really!  And each night, with all the regular rodeo events, there's also a huge concert - mostly country music entertainers (most of which I've never heard of), but there's a rock night (like Kid Rock), a Tejano night and a R&B night.  Oh, and there's usually a show geared toward a younger audience (this year it was Big Time Rush).  We're not really big rodeo goers, but the kids love going to the Livestock Show and the carnival.  It's a great outing for the family...and the food is good, too!

This, my friends, is a fried Oreo....

Oh yes she did!!!  I ate the entire thing and it was delicious!

Spring Break Day 4 - St. Patty's Day Parade
The weather was great, so we decided to head to Downtown to see the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.  Unlike the Thanksgiving Parade we attend every year, this parade is much more laid back - the crowds aren't quite as huge and it's very eclectic.  You see the local Irish Lawyer's Association playing bag pipes, over a dozen Deloreans (Back to the Future, anyone?), several art cars, a party bus complete with disco music and dancers, etc.  Afterwards, we hit our favorite Downtown pizza stop for a slice of NY-style pizza.  Good times!

Spring Break Day #5 - Hang out
We vowed to not get out of our pajamas the entire day, but we gave in and did eventually get dressed.  The kids did a lot of this....

This was not taken on Day 5, but I had to post it....I love it when they get along like this!

Plus we watched movies, played board games and ran around like heathens outside (well, I walked...gotta take care of that hip!).  I did manage to get in two very good upper body workouts during the week thanks to my friend, Tony Horton.  And, I did some core work twice.  Thank goodness, because not only did I eat more than I should have during Spring Break, I also drank a little of this every night after the kiddos were in bed...

Have you had Spring Break yet?  If so, what do did you do?

Monday, March 19, 2012

When life gives you doggie doo...

Make the dog your workout partner!

My incentive to not do "girlie" pushups like these...every time I went to my knees, the puppy jumped on my back!

Ever just have one of those mornings?  First, you have a hard time getting out of bed.  Then, the kids don't want to cooperate.  And then, it all goes to sh*t.  Literally.

As you know, we have a new puppy.  One we are trying to potty train.  Just when I thought my potty training days were behind me!  As always, I was running late getting me and the kids out the door.  I was working on getting the Munchkin's teeth brushed when the Kiddo went downstairs.  In all the excitement of having the new puppy chase her around, the Kiddo stepped right into fresh doggie doo.  It's brown, the rug is's kinda hard to see.  Never mind that the Hubby just put the pup outside before he left for work...guess the Pup has no control over when he needs to do his "business" just yet.  Not only did the Kiddo step in fresh doggie doo, she then proceeded to run across the rug and jump onto the couch where the puppy couldn't reach her.  Shoes and all. 

Guess what I got to spend the next 10 minutes doing?

Luckily, the day improved.  Work was not as crazy and I went to the gym during lunch for the first time since January.  Want to know the lamest cardio workout ever?  (Besides Aqua Jogging?)  It's this...

The hand cycle machine.  When I was researching hip injuries, I came across a post on either or that suggested using this contraption for a cardio workout when you can't use your legs.  Then, it was mentioned again over at swimbikemom.  So I decided to see if either of my gyms had one...hooray, there was one at the gym at work!  Yes, it's lame.  I felt very silly on this thing.  No, it's not the same as running.  But, I did get my heart rate into zone 2 (for the 1st time in awhile) and I actually broke a sweat.  Looks like this will keep me busy for the next week or two, then I can hopefully get back into the pool! 

Ever try the handcycle?  What's the lamest cardio workout you've ever done?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Week in Pictures

All work and no play makes this Runner Mom a nutso, crazed lunatic!  This is pretty much what it looked like Downtown when I left work every night last week.  Even the theater-goers are already at home!

Okay, so at least the view is nice from the office!  Needless to say, there weren't many workouts happening this week.

This little cutie is finally at home with us.  I forgot what it was like to have a puppy in the's a little harder with kids (and the toys we have to make sure are NOT on the floor!

In my attempt to incorporate more veggies into my day, I picked up a few of these at the grocery store.  Single servings...yummo!

I visited the Orthopedic for another opinion of my MRI (at the suggestion by Dr. Chiro)...two hours that I will never get back.  But hey, nice view!

The kids celebrating St. Patty's day a little early!

The Hubs made this yummy chicken/spinach/tortillini soup...I am grateful that he is picking up the slack while I am at work.  And, he's attempting to keep things healthy!

What I picked up on the way home from work on Friday night!  And, the boss picked up the tab!

The Munchkin had a birthday party to attend on Saturday....I felt like the week had been just as blurry as this picture!

Nasty, rainy weekend + old bed sheets = a fun time for the kids!  They played in here all day on Sunday.

Kids entertaining themselves + nasty, rainy weekend = Mommy gets to do some spring cleaning!  Here's my very 1st "In Training" t-shirt from my half marathon.  Yes, I've held onto it forever - armpit holes and all!  Ironic that the sponsor of the race is now my employer.  See ya t-shirt, you served me well!

Getting rid of some of these was tough...I bought this one from NYCRR in 2001 after 9/11.

This is the race where I PRed my 5k time...and it took me 9 years to PR again!  This race doesn't even exist anymore.

So, that's my week in pictures. Happy Monday!!!

Do you find it hard to get rid of momentos from races?  What types of things do you like to do when the weather is bad?

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Green Eyed Monster

i.e. Envy

No, not this green eyed monster!
There was a great post last week over at Meredith was training for New Orleans 70.3 and with just weeks to go before her race, she broke her foot. Her post was about choosing to be happy, even when your plans and hard work have been derailed.  I could totally relate to her post, because I have been going through all kind of ups and downs emotionally in the past couple of months thanks to my injury.

It's a lot like the Kubler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, from Psych 101....

Remember this?  It brings back all kinds of memories from my college pysch classes!

First, there was disbelief (or denial). I had been running for 10 years with only minor injuries, and now this? I have an injury that could keep me from training for 4 months or possibly longer???? And I was hoping to celebrate my 40th year by doing something I never thought I would do – a half-ironman distance race. It was a bit surreal to be sidelined.  I asked myself, "What if I had done that 3 miler in the morning?"  or "What if I had just blown off that 3-miler?  But nooooo, you can't let yourself miss a workout!".  Or there's the "Why did this happen?" or "What did I do to deserve this?"

Then, there was anger. I was pissed off that I had to miss the Houston Marathon (and that amazing 4-0 medal). Then, I had to cross the Woodlands ½ Marathon and Texas 70.3 off my to-do list. I was pissed that I had to miss my coveted early morning runs. I was pissed that I no longer had my “me-time” or my stress relief.  Add to that my overzealous, newbie Hubby...first of all, it was hard to see him head out for a run or a bike ride when I couldn’t do the same. And then to discuss the breakdown of EVERY FREAKING WORKOUT and share e-mails from Coach about each workout...I am sure I was the same way when I first started running and tri-ing, but still, every little thing would set me off. And then, the minute he found out that I could not do the 70.3, he and a friend created a team for something I’ve been trying to do for 4 years but couldn’t due to family and other race conflicts – the Texas Independence Relay. Talk about salt in the wound! I know this makes me sound like a huge bitch, but really, it was hard to hear that he was doing a race I really, really wanted to do. And yes, I am working on my attitude toward this.

There may have been some bargaining in there as well.

Then, there was that depressed feeling. I mean, why in the hell did it seem like I was getting soooo many freaking e-mails about races all of a sudden?

FB post about the frenzy of race e-mails...

And, then there’s Facebook…a majority of my friends are runners and triathletes, so seeing posts multiple times daily about workouts and races was not helping. It made me sad to miss out on the fun of group runs and group rides.  Everytime the weather was actually nice and cool, I'd think about how great it'd be to be out there running.

And now, there is acceptance.

Sort of.

I still get angry, depressed and have my moments of denial. But it is getting a little easier. I am keeping myself plenty busy with work and family, and I am doing other workouts. It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing. I’m not really good at “nothing”.

This weekend was the ultimate test. The Hubby and a lot of friends were running The Woodlands Marathon and Half-Marathon (I had planned to do the 1/2). I was going to be a good sport, put on my happy face and cheer for them. And you know what? I did feel a pang of envy. And, I almost felt the urge to cry when friends hugged me and told me they were sorry I wasn’t running, too. But, overall it was fun to cheer for friends (and strangers). I had my cowbell and was yelling to the runners…it felt good to see people smile and even say thanks as they passed.

I was so proud of the Hubby, because he worked his ass off for the past 3 months training for this race and it paid off – he had a 26 minute PR over his 1st half last year in Austin. Twenty-Six Minutes! He finished in 2:01! He was happy, because he was hoping for a 2:05 or less. But, on the other hand, he was a little disappointed because his ultimate goal (for now) is to finish in sub 2…and he was so stinking close. As the day went on, I think he began to realize that he should be pretty darn proud of himself.  I know he will get the sub-2 on his next half with no problem and will probably be even faster than that before long!

Here's the Hubby after his awesome PR!  And, here we are with Coach after the race.
 And, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and nephew ran the 5k, so that just made the day even better. This was the 1st time my sister and brother in law had ever run a 5k straight through, so I was super proud of them. They are already planning to do a 10k next! And my nephew, well he ran in high school, so I was proud to see that he still had it. Who knows, eventually we may all be running a ½ together!

My Sister-in-Law and Brother-in-Law after the race (L), My nephew all smiles after a great run (R)
 Moral of the story? Sometimes you just have to tell yourself – “Get over yourself!” and “It’s not always about you!” Let’s face it, people are facing much bigger challenges every day.

I have an injury. So what?

I will heal. Eventually. And in the process, I can make the choice to be supportive to those who are still out there swimming, biking and running – trust me, it’s much more therapeutic than sulking! I can make the choice to focus on what I can do and stop whining about what I can't.

Right now I have another choice – I can stay home with the kids during the Texas Independence Relay and hear all the stories from the Hubby…or, I can be the team's driver and be a part of the madness. I still haven’t decided on this. There are other factors involved in this decision, but I am thinking about it!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Don't Smash Your Face!

In case you've been wondering what I've been doing in my downtime...

1.  Work!
I just joked with the Hubs last night that it might be a good thing that I'm not able to workout right is extremely busy and I've been working late.  It would be hard trying to fit in time at the pool or even a lunchtime spin class...I remember missing a lot of workouts at this time last year, too.  I mean, looking at the picture below, you can see that I haven't even had time to finish any of these...

You know you're busy've started 4 different drinks throughout the day and finished none.  During a normal day, I've finished at least 4 of those tumblers full of water (and 1 coffee and 1 diet coke).

2.  Tony...
I am using this time to get reacquainted with my workout boyfriend, Tony Horton.  Okay, so I can't do legs from the Legs and Back workout. And I can't do Yoga, Plyo, Kenpo X, Ab Ripper X or Core Synergistics, but I can do all the upper body I want!  The pic below is a shot from today's workout - Shoulders and Arms.  This is my absolute favorite P90X workout, because it uses free weights to workout the shoulders, biceps and triceps...while doing "lying down tricep extensions" Tony's tip of the day is "DON'T SMASH YOUR FACE!"  Truth be told, I fast forward through most of the chit chat and finish this workout in about 45 minutes.  I've also been doing some traditional crunches and planks to work on my core.

Bicep curls...oh the fun!

3.  Decorating
You didn't know I was a decorator, did you?  Well actually, I'm not.  In fact, I suck at decorating.  We've been in our house for 4 years this month and I still have lots of empty wall space because I can't decide what I want to put there.  But, when it comes to the kid's rooms, I love decorating!  We just bought the Munchkin his "big boy" furniture...that was an adventure in itself!

We went into the store thinking we'd be buying this lower profile bunk bed....but the upper bed was so low, we thought the Munchkin would bump his head every morning.

We loved that this was low (in case one of the kids though it'd be fun to jump off the top) and it has steps instead of the ladder!
So, then the Munchkin spotted this can imagine how much he really, really wanted it!  Lesson learned - never take your kids shopping for their bedroom furniture!  We actually did entertain the idea of buying this one, but let's face it...he'd outgrow the Cars theme in only a few short years!

So cute, but so impractical!

Next, we spotted this!  We figured it would take the Munchkin through his teen years and it included the wardrobe, drawers and even a desk all as a part of the bed.  But, this sucker is huge!  Our bedroom aren't tiny, but this sucker would take up a lot of space.  Not to mention that I could totally see one of the kids thinking that it would be cool to jump from the top bed to the bottom bed...and us making a trip to the ER.

Awesome, but potentially dangerous!
So what did we decide?  For me, practicality always wins...boring, I know!  We ended up going with something that I hope lasts for the next 10 - 12 years...a twin sleigh bed with a trundle, a dresser and nightstand.  Here are some pics of the kids trying it out for the 1st time.  I'll post better pics once we've finish his room makeover..can you guess the theme???

The Munchkin in his new bed - sideways

The Kiddo testing the trundle

4.  Family Time
The past weekend was full of activity...from re-organizing the Munchkin's room, cleaning out the kid's closets, to shopping for new room stuff, to birthday parties...crazy, I tell you!  The Hubs and I had to divide and conquer - I took the Munchkin with me to shop for room stuff (as if I didn't learn my lesson from the furniture shopping) and the Hubs took the Kiddo to her first roller skating party.

The Hubs said the Kiddo caught on pretty quickly!

Yes, I feed my kids McDonald's...but only occasionally.  And hey, now the Happy Meal comes with a smaller portion of fries and apple slices!

So for now, that's it from me.  The upside to not being able to workout is that I can squeeze in some time to do some of those pesky projects around the house that I never seem to get around to.  And, I get to spend more time with the kids...and I am not worn out from a long run/bike and too tired to play!  Of course, this is only true when things are more calm at work (right now, I am lucky to see my kids when they're awake!) 

Hope you have an amazing weekend!

So, are you a decorator?  Would you buy the Lightening McQueen bed?  What's in the plan for your weekend?