Limping toward the finish line

We are, literally and figuratively, limping toward the finish line of this school year. God, it’s been a rough one. I thought last year was bad. Apparently this year saw last year and said, “Here, hold my beer.” This Herd is DONE. Toast. Finis. Exhausted. Drained. And oh yeah, I am limping.

You see, two days after the Bigs finish school, Big Man and I will run the Rock n Roll Half in San Diego again. My training was a bit derailed last week. I headed out for a four-mile easy run Thursday. I immediately felt pain in the left side of my left knee, and my left Achilles tightened up too. I tried to work through it, slowed down, and then stopped to stretch, but it just hurt. I made it all of .88 miles before I caved. At just over four weeks til race day, I wasn’t going to risk injury. And it really freaking hurt.

I hate when I have to stop a run because of pain. My whole day goes downhill. I was able to get out and finish four miles on Friday morning, but it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t any pain, but there was discomfort. I had to mentally fight to the end. Same happened on this morning’s 5-mile easy run. I was super slow, my muscles didn’t loosen up until mile 3. I will admit, I was tense, afraid the pain from last Thursday would return. I’m so not where I want to be mentally and emotionally with running right now. I’m afraid for this race, afraid I’ve put too much pressure on myself. I’m a little scared.

As for school…we’re usually beat up by this point. That’s nothing new. What is new is the level of being drained we are all at. It’s bad. The Bigs have four more weeks of school – 18 more school days. Big Man just finished the second of two AP exams this morning. The Princess has hers this Friday. In a few weeks, they face final exams. Blessedly they don’t seem to have the level of end-of-school-year projects they’ve had in recent years, thank the  Good Lord. It’s been a brutal year for both of them – academically for Big Man, socially and emotionally for P. We’re all ready to be done, to put this year behind us, chalk it up to life lessons and growing pains, and kiss it goodbye. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, 16/17 school year.

Little Man has 6.5 weeks of school. Yep, you read that right. He isn’t out until June 20th. I can’t remember when my kids were in school that late – past my birthday this year. Insanity. That’s 18 days AFTER the older two finish. Utterly ridiculous. I’ve been whining about it since the calendar was released last year. Then, get this, because they are aligning the middle and elementary school calendar with the  high school calendar, he will have just eight weeks of summer, as opposed to ten or eleven. Again, absolutely ridiculous.

He’s struggling right now, again. His SAI sent me an email the other day he’s back to leaving the classroom quite a bit again, spending a significant amount of time in the great room rather than in his class, doing what he’s supposed to be doing. She said he seems more stressed but he can’t express why. We have seen an increase in his anxiety level at home. I have no idea what the source is for his stress. He does tend to go a little sideways the closer we get to the end of the school year, but who knows.

I have no energy. I’m tired. I’m over the morning routine and homework battles. I’m tired of thinking about carpools, 6am cheer, and test scores. The kids are tired too.

You know, some years we come sliding across that finish line with a bang. We’re beat up, but we fight to the end. We might make it by the skin of our teeth, phoning it in on whatever we can. But this year, we’re limping. It’ll be a close thing. I know we’ll get there, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Commit

Since our kids were little, we’ve spoken consistently on commitment – if you say you’re going to do something, you do it; you finish what you start, and you don’t half-ass it. If you can’t or won’t abide those rules, you don’t even start. You can’t tell your kids one thing and do something else, so we do our very best to live this out. This means that even when we’re tired, or overwhelmed, we have to suck it up.

I’m training for two races right now, with the goal of finishing the half marathon in June at or just under two hours. That means work, because I have to take over 8 minutes off my best time. I have a training plan I’m doing my best to stick with. Travel and illness have derailed it a bit, but I’m back in the saddle this week, getting miles in. I’m even doing speed work, which I completely detest. More shocking, I’ve run in the rain. I’ve always been a fair-weather runner. I hate being out in the rain. But I have to put the miles in, so I shove a hat on my head, put on sunglasses to keep the rain out of my eyes, and get out there. I’ve also never run back-to-back days, much less three days in a row, but I’m doing it. I actually feel stronger, and have fewer issues with my hip and IT band than when  I was just running three days a week. It helps to have a friend holding me accountable, but I’ve committed to a goal, and it’s on me to finish it. That means there are nights I don’t go out because I have a long run early the next morning. That means getting up on a Saturday morning when I’d much rather sleep in. That means squeezing in runs even when I have a billion other things to get done. That means taking care of my body so it can carry me through 13.1 miles/

Big Man had some struggles with fully committing earlier this school year. He was out there at practice, but man, talk about phoning it in. Granted, he was struggling with growing pains, but he just would not push through. It came back to haunt him, and he learned a valuable lesson, one that didn’t come from us.

The Princess has been about commitment for years. When she chose dance over competitive soccer, she was mid-way through a soccer season. She knew she had to carry it out, finish the season with her team. Her soccer family was relying on her. They needed her to remain fully engaged until the end. It was rough….she was exhausted, but she fought until the very end of the very last game of her very last tournament. She decided to cheer in high school, so for nearly a year, she’s been at school almost every weekday morning at 6am to practice. That doesn’t begin to cover all the extra hours at camp, cheering at games, making posters and putting together gifts for athletes, working hard on pep rally routines. In the midst of all this, she’s done her best to maintain  her dance schedule.

Here’s the deal – your kids are going to learn to be committed to things if you aren’t showing them how. You can’t tell them to commit if you aren’t committed to whatever you’re doing. Some days it’s much harder than others, but you do it, even when it’s difficult, and you’re tired, and you’d much rather sit on the couch watching baseball movies all day.

It Isn’t About the Race

My Dear Son –

In nine days, we will run the Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon. It’s been a rough training season, much like your first year of high school has been an ongoing battle. I want you to understand, this isn’t about the race. I want you to understand why we’ve been pushing you so hard this year.

Think of this race, and training for this race, as a metaphor of a life lesson we want you to learn sooner than later. When you’re training for a race, you  need to get up and get your runs in, even when it’s dripping rain, warm, or you’re tired. And you can’t ditch your run the minute you feel uncomfortable. You have to fight the mental battle, and push through. If you don’t train, race day will be much more difficult than it needs to be. Put the time in, do the work, prepare your mind and body.

I can’t run this race for you. I’ll be there by your side, but you have to do it. You have to run. I’ll support you as much as I can, but this is your gig. You’ll reach a point you’ll need to fight yourself, the desire to stop, to give in, to give up. We all get to that place at some point in every race. It’s then you need to draw out your own inner strength, pull from the people running alongside you, gather energy from the spectators along the race route cheering you on. Keep fighting. Keep running. The finish line isn’t that far away. The reward is in sight, but you have to keep fighting. You’ll get there; I know you will, and I can’t wait to see your face when that medal is placed around your neck, a sign of accomplishment.

Now take all that, and apply it to life. This is what we want you to learn….We can’t do life for you, but we’re here, supporting you and cheering you on, every step of the way. But you have to fight through. You have to reach down inside yourself, and learn to push even when you want to stop. Minimal effort does not equal maximum outcome. You can skate through, but you don’t win that way. Successful people are not those who’ve given the least of themselves. This is why we’ve been pushing you so much this year – pushing you to be accountable, to do the work, to live up to the potential you’ve shown, do what we know you’re capable of. This is why we aren’t letting you slide on minimal effort, excuses, or quitting.

There will be a day, all too soon, we aren’t able to be there constantly watching, prodding, managing. You need to do this. You need to be that fighter we know you have within. You have to motivate yourself. You  have to push yourself, even when you want to stop, give in, give up. The sooner you learn this and live it, the easier your life will be, and success will come, in whatever form is meant for your life. The time for coasting is over. Reach deep inside yourself, and learn again to battle. Run the race. Fight through. We’ll be there, watching, cheering, encouraging, and, yes, pushing.

I’m proud to be your mom. I can’t wait to cross that finish line with you.

This grand vision

Big Man and I are training for a half marathon, which we will run on June 5th. I have this grand vision of us crossing the finish line, hand-in-hand, arms raised in a big, “Take that, prematurity!” kind of gesture. In all likelihood, he will hit that finish line at least ten minutes ahead of me, if not more. I won’t even be able to witness him finishing his first half marathon. For some odd reason, that makes me as emotional as it makes me proud.

We spend most of our training runs with him way out in front of me. It’s definitely pushed my pace, trying to at least keep him in my sights. But let’s face it, he’s 31 years younger, and a good deal lighter. He’s just going to be faster. He does walk more than I, but he doesn’t have the advantage of having trained for six half marathons under his belt as I do. He’s learning, but that means he takes off at his cross country training pace, and then has to walk a bit. I’m worried about him pushing it race day. The adrenaline flows so easily then. He will be running with his cousin, B, who is 9 months older than he, and who’s run a half before. I’m thinking B will help keep him reined in enough to get him to the finish.

Part of me wants to tell him to wait for me so we can finish together, but I won’t do that. I want him to run this race on his terms. He deserves that chance. He deserves to run it his way, finish it his way. I won’t hold him back, no matter how much I long for that memorable moment. There will be plenty of photo ops after the race is done.

Friday Favorites 4.1.16

Hey! Bet you thought (had hoped?) you’d never see another Friday Favorites from me, right? It seems strange to me that this time last week, I was sitting on our lanai in Kauai, celebrating Little Man’s 12th birthday (let that post slip by, didn’t I?). Did that trip really happen? But for the slightly tanned skin, a heap of laundry still sitting in my suitcase on my bedroom floor, and some sand in my flip flops, I could almost be convinced it didn’t happen. Oh yeah, the the 3.5 solid days of work I’ve had to do in order to catch up. To top all that off, it’s been kind of a weird week with Big Man back in school, but the younger two still out. I’m all out of whack, waiting for Monday to get back to our real routine. The next couple of months are going to be a whirl.

For your Friday enjoyment, here are my favs of the day:

  • I’m in the midst of training for a half marathon. That meant my running gear went with me to Hawaii. And yes, I actually did break from zip lining, beach time, and coastal hikes to get a few runs in, two of them long. The last one was SWAMPY! Warm, sunny, and super humid. I felt like I was running underwater, and I struggled. But I made a commitment to training this time, so I fought through. The first long run there, I’d gotten rained on towards the end. But I carried on. So when I ran across Running on Healthy’s (see what I did there?) post today, it definitely clicked. Are  you a runner? Do you run in weather? I used to be a fair-weather runner. I still don’t particularly like to run in the rain, but I’ll do it. I just keep thinking about race day, on which you never know what you’re going to get.
  • I know I link to Jason’s posts a lot, but in this time of election frenzy, this post of his today really struck me. I’m soooooo tired of this whole election already. I was tired of it six months ago, and we have six more months to go. It’s disgusting to me all the rhetoric that goes on while we need things to get done. Sigh. Opinionated Man states it way better than I ever could. Check it out.
  • I know Big Man’s story is not the only story of prematurity, nor of pregnancy gone wrong, yet somehow I’m surprised when someone I’ve known or followed for awhile shares their journey. Just goes to show, you never know, so ask, and listen. Linda G Hill began the story of her son’s journey today. I think she’s kind of amazing, and so is her Alex.
  • Yeah, it’s April Fool’s Day. I woke up with fear in my heart, although it seriously helps the level of shenanigans that two of the three aren’t in school today. Whew. Laura of Riddle in the Middle writes about the day, and her feelings on it. I love her post, because I feel exactly the same way.
  • This one made me smile. It was the first post I read today.  Hope it makes you smile too. Please come back and share your ATM.
  • I have yet to find a replacement for Cute Overload, but I do follow more than a few blogs involving pets, and cute pictures of pets. So here’s your weekly animal share, courtesy of So Many Books.

Happy Friday!

Focused Determination

Big Man made the Varsity golf team at his high school. We’re so proud of him and excited for him. He will earn his letter as a Freshman. That’s pretty cool. The years of lessons are paying off.

It’s all things golf around our house these days…weekends spent playing rounds at the club, hours spent watching the PGA tour, trips to the golf shop for a new wedge, a new 3-wood, a hitting net, a tee mat, new golf shoes, etc., etc., etc. He has practice with the team Monday through Thursday for two hours a day. Then he comes home and, after homework  is done, heads out to the backyard to practice hitting, putting, and chipping for at least another hour. He has focused determination to prove he deserves his spot.

He will be like this for a couple of months, and then the energy will run out. First, he’ll shorten his time in the backyard. Then, he’ll balk at going to the club Friday afternoon AND Saturday.  Then he will start to complain about practice. At some point, he will announce he can’t wait until the season is over.

I guess we all kind of go through this to some extent. I know I do it when I’m in a race training cycle. In the beginning, you’re so excited, so happy to try out new shoes, a new water bottle, new running clothes. You can’t wait to get out there for speed work, hill work, and your long run is the highlight of the week. But somewhere in the middle, you start to just do that heavy sigh on long-run morning. Maybe you could just skip this week. Or you make up an excuse to cut a run short. Then towards the end,  you’re just DONE and want race day to be here/over so you can take a few guilt-free days off of running or thinking about running.

I’m proud of his determination. I’m proud of his effort. I’m extremely proud my little Freshman is on the Varsity team.  Here’s to endurance enough to last the season.

Wrapping my mind back around it

I am finally back on my full running schedule, without pain, which is awesome. I’m trying to ramp the miles back up slowly, and am taking care to really stretch completely afterwards, as well as foam rolling pre-run.  I am so happy to be out there again, especially without any knee, hip, IT, or Achilles pain.

The thing I didn’t count on was the mental drain. I have yet to go over five miles, and that was a struggle mentally the last 1.5.  I was bored. I was mentally tired. I have plans to go for six tomorrow morning, and already my mind is going, “uhhhhhhh……”  This part of running distance sucks – getting your mind to go along with it while you’re in it. It truly is a mental challenge.

I think it’s time to completely revamp my running playlist. It’s old. I’ve added and subtracted some over the last few years, but I believe I need to ditch it and, with a few exceptions, start all over again. Maybe that will help with the mental drag?

I used to become more mentally focused as I ran, writing blog posts in my head. Now, my mind scatters, and I can’t grasp on to even a wisp of a thought.  The mind is a muscle, apparently, and it’ll have to get back up to speed just like the body.  It’s going to take some work.

Music suggestions welcomed, as are any training tips to get the mind to stick it out for long distances.