Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reflections on a Life Cut Too Short

 

Last week, I was away in the Virgin Islands.  Lucky me one thousand times over.  The week was perfect.  Baby Jack behaved well, and our little family spent some quality time together.  Reading this blog yesterday, the author summed up how I feel as a busy working mother.  She writes in her “About Me”, “Like most moms, I spend my weekdays in a perpetual state of rush. “  Our time together was a much needed reset from the frantic pace that we operate at.

Oh, and I can FINALLY run consistently again.  For some reason, last month, I needed walking breaks when running.  Perhaps it was an omen that I needed a break in other parts of my life.  But, last week, the magic returned.   I ran at the lovely Westin gym, as I was a little hesitant to run on the crazy roads that the left-side driving St. John’s drivers occupy.  The treadmill was like that old friend though, and I logged slow but consistent running miles on it.

I planned to write a post about this euphoria.  It reminded me that I am still a runner.  But, then on Monday, I learned of the death of a friend whose life was cut way too short.

One of the privileges of my work is that it allows me the opportunity to travel throughout the world. Most often, I travel with a few other schools, and those representatives and I spend almost every waking moment together.  Needless to say, we need to get along for the weeks we are away to be enjoyable.

My friend Jen and I traveled in Europe together visiting high schools.   She was a great travel partner, as she was always willing to find a little adventure even maybe when we only had an hour of our schedule to spare. We celebrated Oktoberfest in Zurich together.  We were whisked around Milan at nighttime on Vespas. 

Unfortunately, Jen lost her battle with cancer this Monday.  The last we had connected earlier in 2012 she was doing much better.  However, in the last month, her health suffered some major setbacks, and the cancer proved just too much for her body. 

I am so angered by her death.  Jen had just turned 35 this December and was not even married 4 years.  She was one of those who have the uncanny ability to be genuinely NICE to everyone.  Perhaps because I am not I appreciated it so much more.  I remember when we were in Switzerland, and one of our other colleagues did not have any Swiss francs for the cab back to his hotel.  Jen immediately opened her wallet and gave the fare to him, rather than having him find an ATM to make it back.  She did so without even thinking about it.  It was an immediate response for her.

I am also angered by her cancer.  Why is it that some women’s cancers are detected so late that they become unmanageable?  Why does cancer rip families apart?  Jen had SO much to look forward to in life, and now her family is left with a gaping void. Why was she so unlucky?

Unfortunately, Jen’s passing was a reminder that we just do not control when our time is up.  Thus, if I want to make the most of it, it is up to me.  I was reading Kristina Pinto’s blog this morning, and it hit home.  Looking at her life, she commented, “ Like a lot of women I know, I spent the early years of Henry’s life waiting for something interesting to happen to me. Running while listening to “Badlands” and the rest of the Bruce oeuvre unlocked my chutzpah, and then I kind of started making interesting things happen.”

To honor Jen, I need to make interesting things happen.  I need to stop getting caught up in the perpetual rush.  And, I need to remember that I am committing to this attitude.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Pregnant Pause- A Running Workout

 

Since I realized I was pregnant in December, I vowed to keep exercising.  My son arrived into the world after hours and hours of labor that I have blocked out and four hours of pushing.  Needless to say, I know that exercise allowed me to keep my birthing experience natural.

I ran miles and miles and well throughout the month of December.  Then January came, and depression about no Boston set in, and motivation was destroyed.  I definitely slacked off of the running during January and February.  I have been confined to the treadmill or running with a partner by the doctor. As much as I love the treadmill, it is hard to slog slow steady miles on it.  I love a good progression run or track workout on it.  However, those were not allowed or feasible for me.  Needless to say, I found myself a little out of running shape.

One might argue that my lack of fitness might be due to the growing stomach.  While it is certainly a factor, I ran when pregnant with my son until 37 weeks or so.  So, I decided to start anew. I realized that I could do intervals on the treadmill to stave off boredom, just with walking instead of running.  It is my pregnant pause!

Here is what I have been doing on the mill.  It is a basic beginner running workout and definitely not specific to 20 week pregnant ladies Smile .

Warmup- Walk 2 minutes

Run 2 minutes

Walk 1 minute

Run 3 minutes

Walk 1 minute

Run 4 Minutes

Walk 1 Minute

Run 5 Minutes

Walk 2 minutes

Repeat as desired

I love the progression, and I love the change of pace.  It has kept me motivated, and I have managed to crank out 6 miles in an hour with this.  It is definitely off my prepregnancy pace, but it is working for me right now!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why I’m NOT Shipping Up to Boston…

 

I have been super quiet on  the blog front, almost eerily so.  My work has been busy, as we worked over the past four months to read and review applications for the incoming class of 2016.  Jack, the crazy little one year old that he is, keeps me busy in a happy way, and who can forget my diva dog Cisco.  The three of us have spent many weekend days enjoying the incredibly balmy winter that we have been enjoying here in New England.  If I can offer any advice, mothers with dogs need to invest in BOB stroller.  It is super stable and gives me the ability to take both boys for a walk. If anyone else has a large dog, you will understand how complicated it can be to push the stroller and handle such an animal.

Typically at this time of year, I have visions of Boston dancing in my head.  Last year, I ran the race less than 12 weeks postpartum.  It was THE hardest thing I have ever done in my life, navigating a newborn and training after being pregnant in a race for a race that was a little too close for comfort.  But this year, I enviously look at my running club’s website and hear about there training runs, and scour the blogs of Amanda, Dorothy, Lauren and many others to vicariously live through their training.  With the great winter we have had hear in New England, it has been really hard.

Arriving at the decision was truly heartbreaking, as I love the Boston marathon.  But, I realized that if I ran it, I was ultimately being selfish.  I also realized that as hard as it was to run so soon postpartum, it would be even more challenging to make it through the  marathon at 24 weeks pregnant.

I have not stopped running.  I ran through my pregnancy with Jack and plan to run as long as I can with this one.  But, 26.2 miles is a long way.  More importantly, 26.2 miles is a long way to take that little baby on the journey with me while my husband worries the whole time how both I and the baby are handling the experience.  I do think I could have done it, and I know that many women have successfully completed a marathon while expecting before.  But for me, it just was not the right decision.  The final factor was a conversation with a friend who actually ran Boston 5 months pregnant last year. She did not know I was pregnant (as I was only 9 weeks or so) and  told me that although it was a great experience and she was fine, but she would not do it again, I realized that it was okay to back off from it. I did not simply need to do it just to prove that I could. 

But what a great lesson about life.  We do not always need to go out and prove ourselves for silly reasons.  I do not have to be Mrs. Superwoman.  I can take a step back and not feel disappointed.

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On a completely separate note, my friend Lisa wrote a great article on Joan Benoit Samuelson  for our running club’s website.  She actually ran parts of the Hyannis Half with Joanie and ended up finishing with her.  Lisa shares how gracious and kind Joanie is, and I am sure that many of you will walk away feeling inspired.