Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New TV Shows

Are any of you watching the new show Nashville??  I am really into it!  And I have Jonathan to thank. See, I had no intention of starting another new show this season but he pointed out it seemed right up my alley.  I agreed to watch the pilot just to see...and...HOOKED!  I love Connie Britton (always Coach Taylor's wife in my mind) and I like her character on this show.  I think they've woven some pretty interesting drama into all the interlocking lives.  I'm excited to watch each week to see what happens.  And I love the music!  I told Jonathan the other day that I wish the show were already a season in so I could see each episode without waiting a week in between.  I definitely recommend catching up online with this one if you haven't watched yet (it's only a few weeks in).

We've also tried other new shows this season.

Revolution
I'm pretty into this one as well, although I worry it might be the next The Event or Terra Nova (ie - really interesting concepts that got sillier and sillier with each episode until they were finally cancelled at the end of the first season).  But so far I would say Revolution hasn't gotten sillier each week; they're pretty engaging, actually.  My #1 complaint is about the acting ability of the main girl Charlie.  But we'll see - she's sort of grown on me a little each week.  This show could be the next Lost - the concept is intriguing and has the ability to be really complex, I think.  I would recommend tuning in.

The Mindy Project
We watched this on a whim and were laughing out loud in the first episode.  It's a comedy about an OBGYN and all the drama in her life (including the other doctors and staff in her practice).  A fun watch if you need a new comedy.

Last Resort
I might be done with this.  It's the one about the US submarine that disobeyed orders to blow up Pakistan and is now basically in a standoff with the government about the whole situation.  While it does star Ben from Felicity (which gives it major bonus points), I find it slightly confusing and don't feel all that engaged with the characters or the situation.  In fact, we've only watched the first two episodes and have three more saved on our DVR.  (That might be a sign it's getting the axe from our tv lineup.)

Am I missing anything this year that's awesome?  Have you guys watched any of these shows?

Monday, October 29, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Weeks 4 & 5

Week 4
M - Rest
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - Rest
Th - 4 miles (treadmill)
F - Rest
S - 7 miles
S - walked around the zoo

Week 5
M - Rest
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - Rest
Th - 4 miles (treadmill)
F - Rest
S - 8 miles
S - Rest

I missed my week 4 post - oops!  Life has been a little crazy the past couple weeks.  Actually, with all this running in the mix, sometimes it feels like I don't have much free time.  BUT - even so - I've decided that I really, really like having a training plan to follow.  Adding a mile every week to the long runs has been so nice.

I was worried going into my 8-miler this weekend for a few reasons.  1) 8 seemed like a lot of miles.  2) I had a really, really good 7 mile run the week before; I was worried I couldn't possibly have two good runs, two weeks in a row.  3) It was cooooold out!

But it was awesome!  I had another really, really good run!  For both the 7 & 8 miles, I had great negative splits (starting around an 11-minute mile and working up to a 9:15/9:30 at the end).  My paces for both averaged out around 10:30-ish.

I talked to my marathon guru Patti about tips for drinking and fueling on the run.  Her personal plan is as follows: when running 6 miles and more, drink water every 3 miles.  When running for longer than an hour and a half, fuel with a Gu packet + water after an hour.

So on the 7 and 8 mile runs, I brought a water bottle and drank it during mile 3-4.  I'm not sure what it would feel like to not drink it, but I definitely feel fine in terms of hydration at the end (the cold weather probably helps this).  I think next week I'm going to try having a Gu packet after an hour.  I don't have much experience with Gu, so if anyone has any tips or thoughts about it, I'm all ears.

I'm not really doing as much cross training as is suggested in my training plans, but really, I'm just doing what I can do.  It's hard enough to knock out 4 miles/cool out/shower/eat during Bates' morning naps on T/Th.  I feel accomplished that I'm able to exercise 3-4 days a week.

I'm not hoping to kill any records on half marathon day.  I just want to run the majority and finish. :)

Best podcasts these two weeks: "How McDonalds Works," "This American Life: Near Death Experiences," "What if the Earth Were a Cube," and "Tidally-Locked Perpetual Darkness."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Monitor Love!

When we were registering for baby gear, finding a baby monitor was a little overwhelming.  (Actually - registering for everything was sort of tough since there are 100 different brands/types of EVERYTHING and you have to pour over recommendations and safety reviews and prices; it's a lot to take in.)  But anyway - the monitor part was tricky.

Do you go with the video monitor, which everyone loves but is EXPENSIVE?  Do you go with a normal, sound-only monitor?  Or do you go with one of the motion sensor monitors, which alert you if baby doesn't move for 20 seconds (ie, breathe)?

Our house is only one story and Bates' nursery is about 10 feet from our bedroom, so I thought getting a video monitor seemed unnecessarily expensive.  In my mind, if we needed to see him, we could just walk 10 feet to his room.  Also, I knew he would sleep in our room for awhile.  But I was also terrified of SIDS (since there's sort of a scare campaign going on with new parents about putting your kid "back to rest" and what not), so even though it was a little more expensive than the sound-only one, I wanted the motion-sensing monitor (which still cost a lot less than a video monitor).

We moved Bates into his room at 5 months and to sum things up, the motion sensor caused us so much trouble!  The alarm would go off all the time because he moved around so much in his crib (thus moving away from the sensor pad).  But when you would make the sensitivity of the pad more intense, the air conditioner was enough to trigger movement, so if he stopped breathing we wouldn't know because the wind of the A/C was telling the monitor there was movement.

We ended up turning off the sensor feature after about a week of sleepless nights from the alarm going off so much.  What this did though was make me constantly nervous he would stop breathing while asleep.  So I would go into his room to check on him multiple times a night.  And as you can imagine, this also killed my sleep.  We needed a solution and as much as I hated to buy another one, I knew the solution was a video monitor.

We went with the Summer Infant Baby Touch, which is cool because you can have multiple cameras that feed into the base unit, so if you have more than one kid, you can see them both on the same unit.  (Well, actually, it's cool for a lot of other reasons, too: good night-vision camera, easy-to-use touch screen, good sound quality that can also be muted, movable camera, zoom feature, 2-way talking [ie I can talk from the base unit to Bates in his room], etc.)

The day this came in the mail felt like Christmas, no joke, because I knew I would finally be able to sleep a whole night in my room without getting out of bed to check on the baby.  And seriously, we've had it now for almost 2 months and I still think it is one of the best pieces of baby equipment we own.  I'm soooooo happy we overlooked the price tag and decided to get it.

Here's my advice to soon-to-be parents: register for a video monitor!  You will want one, even if you don't think you need it.  And if it's on your registry, a) someone might buy it for you, or b) if no one does, you can at least get 10% off when you complete the registry.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 3

Week In Review

M - Rest
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - walk
Th - 2.75 miles (treadmill)
F - walk
S - Long Run 6 miles (sort of)
S - 3 miles (treadmill)

This was a baaaaaad week in running.  Lame.

First, my during-the-week 4-miler on Thursday was cut short because Someone Who Won't Be Named took a super short nap.

Then Saturday was just rough - that's all that can be said about it.  I coerced my friend Emily into running with me.  And while it was great to have company, I think it ultimately didn't help my run.  1) It was hot out - hotter than it has been in a few weeks.  2) We were doing a lot of chatting, which is great, but I'm not sure my endurance is ready yet to talk the whole time on a 6-mile run.  In fact, I'd say my endurance might be more at the point of "breath so heavily I might die until I can finally get to the end of the run."  3) Pacing was tricky with another person in tow.  Basically, when I start a long run, I want to be running an 11-minute+ pace (which will hopefully get faster & faster with each mile [negative splits], ideally ending around a 10:30).  Well, 11+ is slow.  And it's really hard even when it's just me to actually start out so slow because in the beginning of a run, you feel good.  In fact, I usually just stare at the Garmin to get my pace right.  With the two of us - feeling good in the beginning and excited to chat - we were faster than we should've been.  And so by the time we got to mile 3, I was feeling rough.  So we walked a lot.

I did 3 miles on Sunday instead of 2 to try to make up a little from the day before.

I don't want to be upset about Saturday, but I'm lying if I say I'm not SUPER scared for this coming long run.  7 is a big number, especially when you haven't officially tackled 6.  We shall see.  The weather report looks promising (ie, a little cooler), so hopefully if I go in really slow in the beginning, I can hold out until the end.

The best Podcasts I listened to this week: "Mother's Milk" (it is some crazy stuff!) and "Recommended Reading" from Stuff to Blow Your Mind (I got some good book recs).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Freeze Frame?

Bates is 7.5 months right now, and man oh man - is it possible for me to stop time??

This is no news flash to anyone, but it's pretty difficult when you first have a baby: the constant feeding, the lack of sleep, the crying, etc.  And it gradually gets easier and easier.  The baby starts to eat less often, sleep more, do more things for himself.  And then there's a point when it gets really good.

I think for me, the point of really good started around 6 months (maybe a week or so after).  Bates was finally (finally!!) sleeping the night, he was able to sit up on his own, he was taking two really solid naps everyday; but also, he was developing a little personality - my days were starting to feel like they'd been spent with another human who could interact with me, not just an unresponsive (but cute!) eating/pooping/sleeping machine.

And it's only gotten better from there.  He's just this sweet little baby boy who loves to play and babble and chew on things and eat his pureed food.  He's so happy all the time.  And he can be so content just sitting on his playmat with some toys.  We were at my in-law's house for lunch last weekend and we set him on the floor with a bunch of toys while we sat at the table and ate.  He was perfectly content.

It dawned on me recently, though: he's not always going to be this sweet little baby.  I'd say he's superclose (maybe a week?) to crawling, which is going to dramatically change our lives.  And then he'll be walking.  And then he'll be talking more and able to express his opinion ("NO!") about certain things.  The next thing I know, he'll be a defiant teenager telling me he hates me and ranting to his girlfriend about how lame his mom is.  Then he'll go to college and do who knows what.  And then he'll be out in the real world searching for a woman to marry and replace his mother.

Can I just freeze time right now?

Occasionally he still wakes up in the middle of the night to eat (maybe once a week?) and last night was one of those nights.  And even though it sort of sucks to have your sleep disrupted at 2:40am, I was in his room rocking him after he ate, his little body snuggled against mine emitting the smell of lavender baby shampoo, and it hit me: I won't always be able to do this.

And I know it's fun to see them get older.  I get that.  But I also want to savor it right now, because even though it might get better, it's pretty darn awesome at the moment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Living Out Of My Head

My book club read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes for our most recent meeting.  And overall, we liked it.  It was a short book about aging, relationships, memories, and the way one perceives history.  I recommend.

There was one line in the book, though, that really jumped out to me.  Note - I forgot to highlight it on my Kindle and don't really have time or desire to try to locate it now, so I'll paraphrase.  It said something like: when you're young, you dream about what your life will become and all the things you will do; when you're old, you look back and dream about what you should have done.

And this stuck with me.  When I was a little kid, there were times when I completely lived in my head.  (This could also be called "having a big imagination.")  But I used to go on solitary walks or hit tennis balls against our garage door for hours and just think.  I'd dream about what I would do "when I grew up" or I'd write multiple novels or movies in my head.  (I had friends, too, mind you.  But I also had no problem being alone.)

When I got a little older, a lot of my dreams centered around "when I get married..."  Or "when I have kids..."

Ummmm - I'm there now.  I'm married and have a child.

And on the flip side actually, now that I am married with a child, occasionally I find myself thinking, "I should've done _______ before Bates was born," or "______ would've been so much easier to accomplish before I got married."  And I'm not that old!  I can't imagine what a lifetime of "I should haves" looks like!

And so here I am now; I want to commit to at least try to get out of my head.  Instead of dreaming, I want to start doing.  And I want to stop using the excuse "now isn't a good time," because really, I'm not sure there will ever be a good time for anything.

The goal now is to figure out what that actually looks like!  What should I do to get out of my head?

Monday, October 8, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 2

Week In Review

M - Rest Day
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - Rest Day
Th - 4 miles (treadmill)
F - Rest Day
S Long Run - 5 miles (outside)
S - 2 mile (treadmill)

Um yeah, I didn't really intend to have 3 rest days this week.  Oops!  Both Wednesday and Friday I was going to go to yoga classes, but time just slipped away.  So that's my big plan for this coming week - I MUST cross train!

Aside from that though, this week wasn't all that dramatic.  It's odd how just a couple weeks can seriously help endurance.  Four miles was easy on Tuesday and Thursday.  And five felt a lot easier this week than it did last.

Also, we got our jog stroller!  Unfortunately it needed some work (a thorough clean and air in the tires), so we actually haven't used it yet.  But that's on the agenda for this week (assuming the weather warms up - we had a major cold front sweep through on Friday night [knocking our power out from 7-11pm, but whatev]).

The best podcasts I listened to this week were: "The Science of Prometheus," "This American Life," and "The Infant's Brain."  Loving the Podcast app!

That's about it.  Sort of a boring week in running.  But boring is good - I'll take that too "really difficult" or "injury-laden" any day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stiiiiiiiil Breastfeeding...

Before Bates was born, I knew I was going to try to breastfeed.  I guess most women at least try nowadays, given how strongly the "breast is best"campaign is forced down everyone's throat.  (Fact: I was not breastfed.  My mom didn't want to.  And I don't have a tail or a third eye or really any lingering problems because of the formula.  But I digress.)

So I was interested in breastfeeding myself for three main reasons.  1) "Breast is best," or so they say - so I figured I needed to give it a shot.  2) I wanted the weight loss element of it.  And 3) It was a lot cheaper than buying formula for a year.  And just to be completely honest, all three were weighted somewhat equally.  I could say Reason One was my main concern and the other two were just nice side effects - but that would be untrue.

And so we breastfed.  And when that didn't work out too well, I started pumping.  But I had no set amount of time in my head.  I've talked to a lot of moms who started with a goal: "I'll breastfeed for 6 months."  Or who started with a smaller goal: "I'll do it for 3 months."  Or who started with a conditional goal: "I'll do it for at least a month and re-evaluate."  But I had no thoughts like that.  And so here we are, 7 months in, and I'm still pumping away.

I think I have a goal now, though.  He'll get breastmilk for a year.  AHHHHHHH!  

At Bates' six-month check up, his weight gain was way down; he'd dropped from the 30th percentile for weight to the 7th.  The doctor surmised it was because he spit up so much.  She wanted to put him on reflux meds, but I preferred to wait until his next check up to do so if necessary.  And in the meantime, we started adding oatmeal to his breastmilk to help keep it down.

It was at this point, I think, that I decided I should probably go ahead and give him breastmilk for the year.  I figured if spitting up was such an issue, he might have a sensitive tummy.  And if he has a sensitive tummy, finding a formula that works might be tough.  Not to mention he might need the sensitive-stomach type of formula which equalled $$$$$$ in my mind.  So breastfeeding it is.  For five. more. months.  Ugh.

Now don't get me wrong, all three of my reasons for breastfeeding still apply.  And in the end, I think this is the best decision for our family.  But there are just some things about the whole process that make five. more. months. seem like a small eternity.

1) Spending so much time at the pump.  Bates certainly doesn't understand what I'm doing.  So in his mind, mommy is just sitting on the sidelines while either he and daddy play or while he plays alone in his exersaucer.

2) Sort of the same as #1, but missing out on family time because I'm sitting at the pump.  Instead of the three of us hanging out all day on the weekends, for example, it ends up being a lot of Jonathan & Bates playing while mommy pumps, and then me & Bates playing while daddy gets some alone time when I'm not pumping.  We were having a lovely Elton John piano sing-along last night (yeah - you heard me) and it had to be cut short because I needed to start pumping before we put him down for bed.

3) The schedule of it.  I have to plan my whole day around when I'll need to pump.  Every decision I make about leaving the house has to take my boobs into consideration.  It's exhausting.  And it's frustrating sometimes.  We'll be all ready to go somewhere and then it will dawn on me, "we're going to be gone for X amount of time, I last pumped at X o'clock, I need to pump before we leave."  And then our trip is postponed for 30 minutes.

4) Washing bottles and pump parts.  I try so hard not to let this bother me too much, because if I did, I think I would've gone insane already.  I have to wash all that stuff sooooo many times a day!  So many times a week!  So many times a month!  It's crazy.

5) How unpredictable it is.  Sometimes it takes a lot longer than other times.  Sometimes it takes forever for them to let down.  Sometimes I'll have 3 letdowns in a pumping session.  Sometimes they feel really full and I think it will be a quick pump, but instead it takes extra long.  Sometimes they won't feel full at all, but I end up having a huge quantity.  You just never know.

But all this to say.  It's ok.  It's worth it.  If I went without sushi for 9 months and without alcohol or caffeine for a year, I can pump for 5 measly more months, right?  Right??

Monday, October 1, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 1

I love a good blog series!  And if that series can have some alliteration in the title?  Sold!

So allow me to introduce.....1/2 Marathon Mondays!

If you recall, I announced a few months ago that Jonathan and I signed up to run the Memphis St. Jude 1/2 Marathon on December 1.  I also mentioned my lack of current fitness in that post.  Well, fast-forward a couple months...and my fitness was still lacking.  I just couldn't get myself interested in running.

In mid-September, Jonathan and I ran a 4-mile race through the artsy neighborhood next to ours, Cooper Young.  And it was rough.  I wasn't signed up until a couple days before the event because I was unsure if I could even run 4 miles.  (Could I?  No.  I did quite a bit of walking during the race.)

So generally, in regards to this half marathon in December, I was feeling overwhelmed and uninterested in running (not the best combo).

But then!  But then I was at a Junior League meeting last week and talked to my friend Anna (who's also running the half).  I don't know what it was about our conversation, but it kicked my brain into gear: If you're going to actually run the 1/2, you need to start training NOW.

The next day she and I emailed back and forth about some training plans and I figured out a plan for myself.  I'm combining a couple different ones I found.  And while most plans call for 12-13 weeks of prep, my prep will be about 10 weeks...because that's when the race is.  Anna reminded me of something that is going to be really important during these 10 weeks, which is: slow and steady wins the race.  (Well, I guess it doesn't win the race in terms of winning the marathon, whatev.)  But basically, she pointed out that if I took my pace way down, I'd definitely be able to do the training runs. In fact, running slower during training runs is what most elite athletes do - there's actually some science behind training slower.

And after all that backstory - I now recap Week One

Long Run: Saturday - 5 miles
Other Runs: Wednesday - 4 miles; Friday - 3 miles; Sunday - 2 miles

Moving forward I will not run on any consecutive days (except the 2 miler on Sunday, which is a cool down from Saturday's long run).  The only reason I did Friday and Saturday this week was because I needed to fit in 2 weekly runs.

So overall, this week was pretty good.  I took my pace down, and wouldn't you know, it wasn't that difficult to run.  My body didn't hurt too much and my cardio was fine.  My major issue on the long run was some serious chaffing right below where my shorts hit on my legs.  (It's kind of a weird place because it's low-ish on my thigh, in a place where my thighs don't rub together - but I guess near the end of the run my stride got a little lazy/weird and made them rub together??)

All runs except for the 5-miler were on a treadmill.  I know - treadmill running isn't the same as outside, but I did them all while Bates was napping, so I think I need to take what time I can get.  I'm excited for this week though, because we're finally getting our jogging stroller!  My sister-in-law said awhile ago we could have hers, but this is the first chance for us to get it (ie, my in-laws drove up to Chicago to visit her and are bringing it back with them).

Question of the week for my runner friends: what are your favorite ways to cross train when training for a big running event?