November 14, 2010

Things I learned running 13.1 miles

Today I ran my first half-marathon. I must admit, I chose the Silver Strand Half Marathon because it must be the flattest half marathon on earth. I mean, I’m not stupid. If I’m going to run 13.1 miles, I’m going to make sure it’s as easy as possible.

In preparation for the race I followed a standard plan that had me running, during my longest runs, about 10-12 miles. My monthly mileage doubled from about 55 miles per month to 105-110 miles a month and my 39 year old legs were feeling it. Knees creaked, my right arch seemed to always be sore, and my morning hobble down the stairs made me grateful for the sturdy hand rail I leaned on heavily.

When I first started my training, my goal was to just finish. However, as my training progressed I realized that finishing wouldn’t be the problem I thought it would be so I began to focus on times. I changed my goal three times during my training. First goal: Under 2 hours. Second goal: 1 hour, fifty minutes. Final Goal: 1 hour, 48 minutes. To do this I would need to average 8:15 miles – a pace I’d never done on my long runs during training.

But that’s where the tapering (running less miles the last few weeks of training) came in. The two best parts about training for a half marathon are this: The tapering and the carbo loading the 2 days before the race. Mmmmm… carbs…

Race day came and I was ready. And well hydrated. Which meant, quite frankly, lots of peeing. Let’s just say that I learned that porta-potties smell a lot better before hundreds of antsy, nervous runners have used them.

I also learned that it’s damn cold at 5:30 a.m. along the coast of San Diego. It was so cold that my goose bumps had goose bumps. I had worn a “throw away” shirt which means, in running lingo, a shirt you wear to the start of the race but discard before the race (The race then collects the shirts and gives them to charity). I wore that throwaway shirt right up until they started the race. Funny, but only a few minutes into the race, I no longer felt the cold. Although I still had to pee.

I also learned that lots of slow people like to get close to the starting line. It took me a lot longer than I would have liked to weave through all the slowpokes and get into a pace I was comfortable with. Which turned out to be about 8:05-8:10 mile pace. I settled into my pace and focused on passing people in front of me. Not bad.

I then learned that it’s very hard to drink water from a small dixie cup while running. I didn’t do well at this and, in retrospect, could have spent a few more seconds to make sure I was taking in enough liquids. I did try and walk through the water stations but I got caught up in the race and ended up jogging away quickly – before finishing the water.

But still I ran. And I kept passing people – only a few people passed me the entire race so I obviously started too far back in the pack at the start line – which made my ego feel a lot better than my legs did at mile 11. But I had 2 miles left and I focused on keeping my form and my legs going. I was cruising. And as I turned the last corner and faced the last half mile towards the finish line with crowds cheering on both sides, I told my body, “It’s time to get up and go! Let’s sprint in now!”

And that’s when I learned that no one sprints in the last half mile of a 13.1 mile run. Immediately my hamstrings tightened up. I had to slow considerably and gingerly run forward. I even had to stop for my first time to quickly stretch out the hamstrings. Once I got them stretched I resumed my run and finished running as smoothly as I could. I finished in 1 hour, 47 minutes, 0 seconds. I did it. I beat my goal of 1:48:00.

I crossed the finish line and made my way through the chute and then stopped at the buffet of bananas and oranges and muffins and water and began gulping water and eating food. A blueberry muffin never tasted so good. But what did taste better was after making my way home, I showered and we went to IHOP where I ate a stack of pancakes, eggs, sausage and hash browns. It was so good that I might have licked the plate clean.

In fact, as I write this I am suddenly hungry again. It turns out, half marathons make you hungry.

November 10, 2010

Everything she’s learned is not enough to pass Kindergarten

I am tucking Swee’Pea into bed and we begin to talk about school. She must have been thinking about this because all of a sudden she launches into a conversation that must have begun in her head. “But Daddy,” Swee’Pea begins, “I am going to miss Fabian when he goes to first grade.” Since I can see the flaw in her logic, I point out that she too will be going to first grade along with this little punk boy.

“Nuh-uh! Fabian already knows all his kindergarten words and all of his first grade words and I don’t know all of my kindergarten words yet!” She says this with all of the certainty that only a five-year-old can muster. In her mind, she is certain she will remain in kindergarten for possibly the rest of her life.

As her mother and I assure her that she is plenty smart (her first parent-teacher conference showed that she’s already one of the best in her class – at least that’s how I heard it) and that whatever words she doesn’t know she’ll learn before the end of the school year.

Swee’Pea, as we kissed her goodnight and shut the door, remained unconvinced, I’m sure. But I’m sure she’ll forget all about this in a short while. Now if only she’d forget about this Fabian kid…

November 9, 2010

Sick Little Man

You are the best sick person I’ve ever seen. You are clearly miserable and you look at me with the puppy dog eyes and the slight pout but you don’t complain. Oh sure, sometimes you’ll get frustrated with being sick and announce how much you don’t like being sick but even then, when tears well up in your eyes and you look at me to solve the one thing that I can’t so easily solve, you are still just a little boy who wants to be held.

You like snuggles and, when energy permits, playing Angry Birds on the iTouch. You don’t want to eat, you don’t want to sleep but then, without any warning, you’ll snuggle up in the comfy chair and fall asleep while watching Olivia on Nick Jr.

And even when you’re so sick that the doctor knows you have strep just by listing your symptoms, the idea of eating at McDonalds while we wait for your prescription to be filled is better than actually eating the food. And the idea of getting a fun toy in your Happy Meal is better than actually getting the toy. But you don’t complain.

I try to remember this when I don’t feel particularly well and I get cranky and want to bite off someone’s head at a moment’s notice. I remember how you just accept the illness and trust that this too shall pass. I learn a lot from you and I’m hopeful that you learn as much from me as I do from you.

Get well, Little Man.

November 8, 2010


TheMonk is sick and staying home – his first missed school day of his scholastic career – so to calm your fears of going to school alone, I offer to drive you to school this morning. You are apprehensive about going to school without your brother but once we get in the car, you quickly revert to your chatty little self.

But what strikes me most as you point out landmarks, flags, cars and even the bus you usually ride (which we pass so you can get a closer look), is how much I enjoy the rare moments where we get to spend one-on-one time. It’s the curse of twins, I suppose, that you have to share so many things – even attention from your parents. And as I hear you chatting away in your sweet, little-girl voice, with the word “Daddy” interspersed throughout your one-side conversation, I am reminded how much I love you and how much I love you for being you.

I glance back in the rear-view mirror and see you looking out the window from your elevated car seat while chatting about the flags blowing in the wind and I smile. And I make a mental note to try just a little bit harder to schedule some one on one time with both you and your brother.

Parenting. One of these days I might figure it out.

November 7, 2010

This sick little boy likes to cuddle

TheMonk woke up today with a fever. He also had a bloody nose in the middle of the night, woke up three times in all and then woke up an hour early due to Day Light Savings Time. It was not a good day. Or, as TheMonk himself told me, “This is my worst day ever, Daddy.”

And while that may be true, whenever TheMonk is sick he likes to snuggle with Mommy or Daddy. Today I got to watch football and snuggle with my little guy all at once. So for me, it wasn’t my worst day. But looking at the little guy it’s hard to imagine him feeling worse. Get better little guy.

Sick Snuggles

November 6, 2010


About 13 months ago I had a bet with my friend Tania over at Chicky Chicky Baby to see who could lose the most weight before Thanksgiving. In those 6 weeks, I lost 15.5 pounds but STILL LOST! But the one thing it did do was inspire me to continue to get down to a weight that I could be proud of. In order to do that I had to lose another 10 pounds.

So over the last year I’ve continued to run. I’m training for a half-marathon now and the running has become easier and easier. Five mile runs are an easy 42 minutes and I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. In fact, this week I got on the scale and I weighed 165 – my goal weight. Booya! I’ve lost 25 pounds now. Picking up the 25 pound dumbell in my living room and feeling how much weight I was carrying around amazes me.

I now only weigh 10 pounds more than I did when I graduated from college (I was a sprinter on the track team so I was in good shape then). Granted, the fat to muscle ratio isn’t what it used to be but I’ll take it. Now my goal is to maintain this. I had to buy some new pants and my suits have to be altered – so maybe that will be my motivation for keeping the weight off. I’m fairly frugal when it comes to clothes buying so staying in the size 32′s will be motivation enough.

After next week’s half-marathon I’ll try and maintain a 20-25 mile a week running schedule and run in a 5k or 10k every couple of months. One of the best things that has come through all of this is that Swee’Pea and TheMonk have been seeing Mommy and Daddy exercising regularly. In fact, whenever we go to the park they want to go running just like Mommy and Daddy. It makes me proud and happy that my habits are rubbing off on those two. Maybe they won’t ever get to the point where they have to lose 25 pounds.

November 5, 2010

One Day

Dear Little Ones,

One day you will spend too much time worrying about what others think.
Stop. As Dr. Seuss, one of the greatest authors of our time, so eloquently stated, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

You owe it to yourself to be you. Only then can you achieve your fullest potential. Living a life that you feel others want you to live only keeps you boxed in.

One day you will not do something you really want to do because of an irrational anxiety.
Some call it fear, but it’s really anxiety. Most of the time, those anxieties that manifest themselves as negative voices in our head are irrational and will never come to fruition. They are there to keep you from achieving your goals or fulfilling your dreams. Don’t let the voices win.

All the excuses running through your head that tell you that you can’t do what you really want to do are just that: excuses. If you want to be the person you envision yourself being, you have to look the anxiety in the eye and laugh. And then be the amazing person you want to be.

I want you to learn what took me so long to finally grasp. The gifts you have locked inside need to come out to be shared and enjoyed by others. Those who you imagine would react negatively to you being the awesome person you want to be most likely will love the amazing person you are even more. Don’t hold back. The world needs more people who embrace life and accept who they are.

I love you and I know you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. And I’ll be there whenever you need some help.


November 4, 2010

I gotta work on my delivery

We are getting ready for bed and TheMonk is putting on his Red, White and Blue striped Jammies while singing a new ditty that, I assume, he picked up at school: “Row, Row, Row your boat gently down the stream… Ha, Ha, fooled ya, I’m a submarine!”

The only problem with this scenario is that TheMonk is seriously lacking in the multi-tasking department. Halfway through the song, there is one leg in his jammies and one leg out. The top is halfway on his head and the shirt drapes down his back like long flowing hair.

After a third round of “Row Your Boat,” I redirect him to continue getting dressed for bed. “Monkey, please get dressed. It’s time to focus, buddy. C’mon now.” And with that, TheMonk turns to me and asks, “Daddy, how does a baby get in a mommy’s tummy?”

Wha? Huh? Weren’t we just singing about submarines? Anyway, a million possible answers race through my mind, ranging from Aliens to Magic and I struggled to begin – “Uh, you see, Son, when a man and a woman love each other… They, uh, hmmmm, they, uh, hug and, uh, love each other…” Finally, I look my son in the eye to see what he’s thinking and he interrupts me… “I thought God put it there.”

“YES! God!” I laugh with a sense of relief as I quickly help the boy finish getting dressed. Now, let’s go brush those teeth.

Bullet dodged, I breath a sigh of relief but in the back of my mind I know the question will be asked again soon. I should probably practice this or something.

November 3, 2010

Our Morning Ritual

Every day I walk you to the bus. Before that, I make sure you’re dressed, feed you breakfast, pack your lunches, and get you out the door in time to catch the bus.

But walking to the bus in my favorite part.

It’s really the only time of day that it’s just us. Sometimes you hold my hand. Other times you run ahead and point out little things that only 5 year old’s can see. A dried up worm. A hummingbird. A snail that has climbed the side of a house.

Our walk is only about 2-3 minutes long but I savor every second. When we get to the bus stop, we are usually one of the first ones there but soon enough there are over 30 kids waiting for the bus.

Kindergartners board first and you two are two of three or four kindergartners that ride the bus. As the bus arrives I say good morning to the bus driver, kiss you both on the cheek and turn you loose to board the bus and you get on and sit in the first seat on the passenger side, oftentimes with a neighborhood girl who Swee’Pea is friendly with.

It is then that our real ritual begins. TheMonk turns to look at me and starts making silly faces. Not to be outdone, I’ll make silly faces back as kids board the bus around us. We stick our tongues out, we make antlers with our fingers, we roll our eyes and contort our faces, making each other giggle. I savor this moment because I know one day soon you won’t want to make silly faces at your daddy. But I’ll take it now.

And I know the other parents see us. I have never spoken to another parent about our routine so I don’t know what they think. I do know that some of the kids on the bus like it because, along with Swee’Pea’s occasional silly face, her seatmate will join in along with the kids in the first few rows on the passenger side of the bus.

But it’s TheMonk who loves it the the most. And as the door closes and the bus begins to pull away our silly faces turn to finger waves and we make eye contact until the bus is too far to see.

And then I turn to head back to the house to begin my day and I smile at how the day has begun. Dried up worms and silly faces.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

November 2, 2010

Not Many Kitty Princesses

You wanted to be a Princess for Halloween. No surprise there, I suppose. You picked out the purple gown with gold trim and were excited to see it when it arrived via mail a few days later. You begged to put it on but we resisted so you wouldn’t rip it or damage it before Halloween actually arrived.

We relented earlier this month and let you wear it to costume day at YMCA camp but the staff helped you out of the costume once the festivities were done and you dutifully put it away until this weekend.

And as we prepared to wear your costume on Saturday evening to go to the school carnival you suddenly came up with an inspired idea. You would combine your two favorite things in the world. Kitties and Princesses. And just like that your Mommy was painting on a nose and whiskers with eye-liner.

You were the only Kitty Princess we saw the entire weekend. And as I sit here and reflect on how you never cease to amaze me, I keep thinking of the shy little girl who takes a some time to warm up to people and new things. But then I see the little girl who is so creative and imaginative that I pray you never lose that.

You see, my fear is that you’ll learn someday soon, no doubt from some mean girls at school, that thinking differently or worse, being different, will lead to heartache and pain. I dread the day you no longer want to wear whiskers on your face because of what others might think. I hope that I can help give you the confidence to be the one who continues to take her own path and not the path chosen for her by others.

And I hope that years from now, you’ll look back on this photo and smile. As I am doing now.

Happy Halloween!

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