Saturday, September 07, 2013

Cambridge Harriers 10km: not really a race report

I ran a race the other day.  A nice little local 10km on rolling country roads, just 'round the corner from our place. 

It counted as my first RACE race since March 2011- I've done a few "events" since then, but as I was either pregnant or plain old unfit, none of them really felt like races. 

I finished a hair over 53 minutes, which was great as I'd been shooting for 55, but frustrating, as a number starting with 52 would have sounded just a little bit better.  I was happy with the time, but happier with the splits, which were all within about 15 seconds of each other, and involved an overall negative split of about a minute. 
I was happier still to be passing people pretty much the whole way, with a little bit of healthy leapfrogging for good measure.

(I also put my time and current weight into a little weight/age grading calculator, which says it's about the equivalent of a 48 minute 10k at my pre-pregnancy age and weight, not that that means anything).
It rained a lot before and after, but not much during.  The rain was frustrating as it meant the race morning wasn't how I'd envisioned it (jogging over, while the lads biked along later with my stuff) and because no matter how awesome and hardcore you are, running with wet socks is never fun.

I was surprised by how good it felt to be "racing" again.  Turns out that while I'm OK to be in maintenance mode, fitness-wise, a little bit of Old Kate still feels good.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Biking with ba...errr... toddler

Have I talked about our bike seat?  No? Well, I should've, because it's awesome.
We always knew we'd be finding some way to bike with Chip.  We've given up on the long weekend jaunts for the time being, and most of our large stable is sitting unused in the garage, but we still want cycling to play some part in our lives, and we wanted it to play some part in Chip's life from as early as possible.  We ended up waiting until shortly after Chip's first birthday; most advice I've seen recommends waiting until one, on the assumption that toddlers can sit and hold themselves well by that stage, plus we weren't exactly flush after Christmas, especially with the big first birthday also on the horizon.
We did a little bit of research ourselves, but we are fortunate to have a number of Bike Expert friends, including a few with roughly Chip-sized small people in their lives.  Chatting with them and a couple of online searches convinced us that we wanted:
- a seat, not a trailer; and
- mounted on the front, not back, handlebars.
This left us with two frontrunners- the Weeride Kangaroo, and the Ibert.  Most of the people we spoke to couldn't really give us much reason to go for one or the other, other than the Weeride was better if your child was likely to drop off while out riding (HA!).  Since our friends liked their ibert, and it came in a snazzy green, we went with the ibert.
We started off by attaching the seat to Phil's mountain bike.  I was still a tad nervous about riding with the baby, and we were hoping to go down to the forest to christen the seat as soon as we could! .  We found that the various criticisms we'd seen of the seat in online reviews were pretty apt- basically, steering takes a second or two to get used to, and it tends to require you to ride just a weeny bit bowlegged.  But, given our intentions as far as family rides go, these things are no big deal- we're not gnarly enough to take Chip on the kinds of trails that would require steep uphills and technical skillz.
After a few family rides, we moved the seat to Penelope, my town bike. I'm home with the boy two days a week and he was starting to ask for bike rides (by saying "BIKE, BIKE" or by fetching helmets) every afternoon I had him.  I originally wanted to use my mountain bike, as Penelope is rather heavy and clumsy, but Phil persuaded me and I'm glad I listened to him.  There's a lot more room for Chip's legs under the handlebars, and no need for me to adjust my legs much at all.
Chip and I probably go for a ride on 80% of our together days, usually in the mid-afternoon, and I'm guessing for about 40 minutes to an hour at a time.  We both prefer the bike over the stroller (though it's not as good a workout for me); Chip because he likes going that bit faster and sitting that bit higher (I think) and me because it's so very much easier to interact with him.  I can hear him talk and see him sign "more"; I can reach snacks/water in my basket and I can talk to him about what we see, where we're going, and road safety (I do this while jogging too, but we're much closer on the bike).  I feel safe knowing where he is and what he's doing at all times.  The downsides are that we get stuck in traffic/at intersections a little more, which really seems to get up Chip's nose (for this reason, use of the bike for errands has been minimal), and that Chip thinks he should be the one holding the handlebars and I disagree!
All in all, the ibert has been a great purchase and I'd happily recommend it to anyone looking to bike with their little one.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How I'm fitting it in...this week!

From Friday's run fail!

As a (once, and trying to be currently) active Mum, I'm almost obliged to write a post about how I fit exercise in (with the subtext, or not-sub text, "if I can do it, you can TOO!").  I'd love to be writing a post about long runs with the stroller, leg aching naptime spin sessions and early morning swims, about weight loss and half marathon PRs, but as it turns out (and as I have written before) I can't do it.  Or, while I want to quite a bit, I don't want to "enough."

I have a few things which make "fitting it in" easier:
  • a no-longer-breastfeeding baby toddler
  • a super supportive spouse who works fairly normal hours
  • a part-time out-of-the-home job which presently is not particularly busy
  • a wind trainer
  • a headlamp
  • a set of Jillian Michaels DVDs
...and a few things that make "fitting it in" harder:
  •  a  toddler who's been in a bit of a Mummy phase since about 8 months (before that he was a bit more of an equal opportunity employer)
  • a part-time out-of-the-home job, which means I use up my "gran-sitting" allocation every week (!)
  • a part-time out-of-the-home job, which means I carry a hefty dose of Mama-guilt with me on my four non-work days (meaning I'm loathe to have much/any extra time away from him)
  • a toddler who is not not especially enthusiastic about naps, bedtime, staying asleep at night, or stroller time
  • a spouse who has his own fitness goals
  • the combination of baby-toddler and parenting philosophy which led to us becoming a co-sleeping family (on the upside, I get to sleep in for a bit if he sleeps in, on the downside, I can't get up without waking him).
So, with those things in mind, how did I fit some exercise in this week?

Monday: Rest.  My excuse: I had a doctor's appointment in the morning and errands to run at lunchtime.  Toby was sad and clingy when we got home, and I couldn't* go further than the kitchen while he was in the bath.  He wasn't keen on bed, and by the time he went to sleep (9pm) I didn't have the heart to exercise, knowing what chores I had ahead of me.
Tuesday: Run in the morning, about 25 minutes (should have been longer, I can't remember why I didn't get my A into G in time to leave earlier).  Sometimes I stroller this one, but this week Phil left for work a little later as he was travelling directly to Court in a nearby town.  30 Day Shred video in the first part of Toby's nap (I get 40 minutes to myself, but have learnt from experience that it's better for both of us if I sit near Toby for the rest of his nap- I can usually stretch that 40 out to 1:30 or so that way, and guarantee a happier baby for the afternoon).  Stroller walk to and from the park in the afternoon- not really "exercise" but it made for a more active than usual day.
Wednesday: 30 minute lunchtime run.
Thursday: 30 minute lunchtime run.
Friday: 20 minute fail "run" with Toby in the stroller- I gambled and lost on this one! I thought about doing another 30 DS during naptime, but decided the pile of laundry and dishes had to take precedence.
Saturday: 1:15 run while Phil took Toby to swimming (my "Mummy time" of the week)
Sunday: TBD, but the plan is for a 30 minute family run in the morning (we generally don't try for longer with the stroller), and maybe a family bike ride later (again, not really "exercise", but Toby loves it!)

Family trip to the Redwoods (aka Best Day Ever)

Looking back, it's been an OK week.  Most weeks look something like this- a couple of 30 minute lunchtime runs, my Saturday time is pretty sacrosanct, and we usually get out as a family at some point on Sundays.  But it doesn't take a lot to derail it either- a busy day at work, appointments on my non-work days, etc (that's not to say I couldn't work around those things, I just mean that the nice little "routine" falls down pretty easily). I could make better use of evening time- I need to stay close as T tends to wake overnight, but I could ride on the trainer [if I cleared out the backroom, which is currently full of clothes that Toby and I used to fit], or do strength work in the lounge, or kick Phil into the study and put a DVD on. 

*I do wonder often whether I should be a bit bolder about just doing it when Toby's being clingy.  Turns out I'm a sook, especially when you add in that big whack of working Mummy guilt, and just cannot brig myself to leave if he's screaming "Mamamama" with tears running down his face.  I just don't want it enough.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the awesomeness of having a toddler

So, having a toddler is awesome.* Even a toddler who doesn't sleep through the night, often refuses to go to bed until 9pm, and won't sleep longer than 40 minutes for his nap unless I sit with him (which I do- yay snuggles!)

And having had plenty of practice dealing with a busy, no-napping, stubborn and shouty baby, I've been fairly well-prepared for some of the several challenges that arise as a baby moves into the toddler-zone (carseat struggles, nap-resisting, active nappy and clothing changes and the like), and have knocked some of my toddler- mum paths for six.

That doesn't mean it's easy, cos boy is it exhausting, but OH, I am so much better** at it * than I was at having a baby.

What do I love about this age?

1- Burgeoning communication skills
Watching Toby learning to speak and sign is hilarious, delightful and such a privilege.  He is currently in one of those language explosion stages, with new words every day, and seems to have been finding more pride and satisfaction in picking up words over the last week or so.  He's more likely to use words to point something out to us, or request something, or just actually communicate rather than just naming things here and there.  I wish I could bottle the look on his face when we finally get it right. He practices improving his pronunciation ("boos...boods...boords, birds") and his hand movements, which I just adore.  His favourite words today are star, moon, bowl and egg, and he is loving animal noises.

2- Toddler dancing
Baby dancing is cute full-stop, but add walking, squats, and hip wiggles and I'm just dead.

3- Being able to DO stuff
Entertaining T was really tough for awhile (4-7ish months?).  He wasn't content to sit still, but couldn't do anything much else.  Wanted to be carried around so he could grab things we didn't want him grabbing, but didn't want to be worn in a baby carrier.   Was strongly opposed to lying on the mat with other babies, but also opposed to sitting on Mum's knee. Didn't want to sleep, but didn't much want to be awake either.  Things got easier and easier as he got older and more mobile and the sun came out, but now that he's been walking for a few months, things are really pretty good.  He can play on (some) playground equipment, enjoy visiting petting zoos, enjoy the bouncy castles at the indoor playground, dance and sing at Mainly Music, and go for walks.  At home he can hang out in the garden, do "art projects", set up messy play, "help" with chores, "bake", and really play "with" his toys.  This is not only good for the obvious reasons, but also because it makes this control freak Mum feel more in charge of our days.  If I'm feeling a bit afloat, I can de-funk by planning a fun activity for my next Toby-day.  I feel more like a "Mum" than just an exhausted and confused pile of exhausted hopelessness.

4- Affection
Sure, the constant "Mamamamamamamama" gets exhausting, but it's worth it for the sweet "Ma-ma"s, cuddles using his arms, open mouthed kisses, and the pitter patter of wee feet running towards me after a day at work.  I'm also loving seeing him bond with the other people in his life.  He loves telling me about his afternoons at Gran ("Gar") and Opa's ("Bou-pa") house, and looking at his far away relatives in his photobooks. His face lights up when the nanny arrives, and he gives her a big kiss and cuddle when he leaves.

There are more things I love, but that's enough gushing for now.  Please excuse the sunshine and roses post.  It's (definitely) not all like that, but it's nice to enjoy the bright side sometimes.

*so far...
**still not much good at it, but better at least!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One year!


One singular sensation
Every little step he takes.
One thrilling combination
Every move that he makes.
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do;
You know you'll never be lonely with you know who.
One moment in his presence
And you can forget the rest.
For the guy is second best
To none,

Darling son,

Today you are ONE.  Our first year together is over, and the rest of our lives has begun.  

This month has seen you continue the transformation from big baby to small toddler, with a rapid increase in your understanding (or at least your demonstration of it), language that is continuing to improve, and your first steps.  You say "boo" when we lift the flap in the Spot book (under the flap is a mouse saying "Boo"), and you know how to get pretty much whatever we ask for- Monkey, Mr Bunny, books by title, shoes, balls and more.  You know where your stuffed animals' noses and eyes are, and when you cuddle them you give them your dummy.  You aren't walking yet, but you've gone from 3 semi-accidental shuffle steps to 14 more deliberate steps over the past few days, so I'm sure you're not far off.

You have continued to get into everything this month (I think that's called being 11 months old...)  Current obsessions include cupboards and doors, taps, containers and lids.  Our house got a little less childproof when you figures drawers and doors out.  Eek! No longer content to fill the bath with cold water during bathtime, you now prefer to empty it, trying to stop the water from gurgling down the drain after you've swiped the plug.

We cheated and kicked off your birthday celebrations in Wellington over the weekend.  And you, my dear, were a STAR.  From the moment you woke up from your pre-party nap til not too long before we wrapped up the festivities you were excited, and your happy, delightful, best self.  You enjoyed meeting new people, unwrapping presents, playing with the massive bunch of balloons, and swiping food from unattended plates.  The rest of the weekend was more up and down, but included some lovely, snuggly Manduca sleeps, playground fun, lots of hilly running and walking for Mum and Dad, chasing pigeons and Grandma and Poppa's small, patient dogs.  We're looking forward to a low-key birthday day, and a casual party with some of our local friends this weekend. 

It's been a heck of a year, Chip.  We are loving continuing getting to know you, and we know year 2 will be even more wonderful.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finding time

It feels like the best part of the last nearly 9 months has been a battle to find ways to fit exercise in (apart from the few months when I just totally gave up). 

By late October, I wanted to get back into it, but was starting to feel like I was fighting a losing battle.  Not only was Toby awake all night, but he was sleeping in in the mornings with his wee head resting on my arm, removing any motivation I had for a morning sweat session.  I'd looked forward to walks with Toby after cutting down my work hours, but then shortly after I started looking after him again, he decided buggy sleeps were no longer for him. 

THEN, I got my a into g and started post bedtime runs twice a week with a couple of women from my ante-natal group.  But separation anxiety hit.  All of a sudden, he not only needed me to put him to bed (not Phil), but also started waking at random intervals, screaming unless I attended to him quickly.  I gave up on my evening runs after heading out after pumping, when Toby had been asleep for a wee bit, and coming home 20 minutes later to find out he'd been screaming for 19, even when Phil got him out of bed to "play".  Bedtime also went from 7, give or take 10-15 minutes, as it had been for about 6 months, to 7:30-8. 

I was *this* close to giving up again, but fortunately one day I was so desperate for a run I asked Phil if I could head out during Toby's dinner time.  That didn't work, but I did manage to sneak out during bathtime, and my new routine was born. I'm now getting 20 minutes in most weekdays (including some with the jogging stroller, but that is very mood dependent), and I mix it up by including tempo and fartlek efforts in it to make the 20 minutes more "worthwhile".  I'm getting out for slightly longer in the weekends- doing 5km on Saturdays, and a gradually increasing longer run on Sundays (I'm up to 7km now).

It's not much, but it's showing me that every bit counts.  I've taken over 4 minutes off my Saturday 5k over the last few weeks, and my old tempo effort is now my easy pace.  My 3k pace is slower than my marathon pace, so it's not as if I'm running well, but I feel good again, and I think I'm not too slow for a hippo on legs!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Choroid Plexus Cysts: A post I plumb forgot to write

About a year ago, when I was 20 weeks pregnant, I wrote:

The 20 week scan, which confirmed that Chip is healthy and all major organs are present and correct and doing what they should. There was an "incidental finding" which, combined with googling and deciding I could read ultrasounds real good, sent me into a complete tailspin over the weekend, but I am now happy to rely on the medical profession who are unanimous that there is nothing to worry about. 

I always meant to come back to that "incidental finding" later in the pregnancy, or once Chip was born healthy, perfect and in one piece (Apgars of 9 and 10, y'all, you can only get a little more perfect than that), but apart from a false start somewhere along the way, I forgot.

Until yesterday, when I read my buddy Brittney's report of her 19-week scan, and I was transported back in time to the ultrasound room at Angelsea Imaging...

"See here, and here?  These are cysts on the brain... they're sort of pockets of water.  Back before we had the blood tests for Downs they were kind of a big deal, but not anymore....but I have to note them, so they'll show on the report."

At the time, all I heard was "no big deal" and something  that sounded to me like "coroplexis".  We had a healthy baby boy baking away in there, all four chambers of the heart were fine, the blood was moving properly, we had avoided all of the scary things I knew could come up at the 20 week scan (an aquaintance lost her baby after discovered it had anecephaly, another had discovered a missing kidney and a bowel problem requiring major surgery, and so on and so on), and there were cupcakes for sale next door. 

But of course, I am ME, so I went back to the office and started googling.  I soon realised that what we'd seen were "choroid plexus cysts", three words that plagued me for the next 18 weeks and 6 days.  Basically, choroid plexus cysts are nothing to worry about at all, in and of themselves, but (along with a massive number of other things), they can be a "soft marker" of chromosomal disorders; really, one chromosomal disorder, one of the nasty "incompatible with life" ones, trisomy 18.  One article suggested that the finding of a CPC increased my chances of having a baby with Edwards Syndrome eightfold.  If CPCs are combined with other "soft markers", the risk of having a trisomy baby rises exponentially. 

I'd had good blood test results, so my initial risk of having a baby with T-18 was about one in a gazillion (lots of thousands, anyway).  The CPCs took it to one in many hundreds, or fewer thousands; one of those anyway.  I can't remember the detail, and going back into my emails at the time is just soul-destroying.  There were no other soft markers mentioned during my scan, and we'd seen the baby's hands waving (clenched fists is a hallmark sign of T-18).

So, you'd think I'd be OK, right? Wrong.  At first I was just a bit sad, but that night, I decided to google some MORE (slow learner here...), and to have a look at the DVD we got from the scan "for reassurance'.  Reassurance- HA!  This Expert on Ultrasounds here managed to convince herself that the baby had a short femur, a too large head circumference, a munted umbilical cord, and a few other soft markers too.  I also managed to invent some kind of potential problem with my bloods- I can't even remember what it was now! In the space of an hour on google, my baby had gone from a baby with a one in a many many hundreds chance of having an abnormality to a baby who was almost certainly going to DIE.  I knew I was being silly, but I spent the best part of that weekend crying, reading T-18 blogs and preparing for the worst. I read lots of reassuring forum threads, but it still didn't seem like it was something "common", it still felt like it was just me.

I never really got over it, but it got a lot easier.  My midwife told me she pretty much always had a lady whose baby had CPCs (she laughed- good naturedly- when I told her about my googling... somehow she'd predicted that one).  I didn't come across anyone else with CPCs for a little while, but I did learn that a few bloggers I followed had had other soft markers come up during their anatomy scans, and their babies all came out just fine.  Then Lisa had her scan, and found out that the baby who was to become the gorgeous Miss Charlotte had bilateral CPCs like Chip.  And I learned from that that Heather's KB also had them- I hadn't even noticed in Heather's original post, which I'd read a few weeks earlier.  I still worried that my baby would be the exception, but I stopped bawling and planning for the worst, and started worrying about different bad things instead. And then eventually Chip was born, and after a few months of constant worry about SIDS, I'm not worrying so much about random scary catastrophes, and instead worrying about the basic stuff, keeping him fed, slept, healthy and happy.

So why write about this now?  So the next time someone googles Choroid Plexus Cysts, there's just one more good news story coming out in the search results (even if they have to scroll forwards a few hundred pages to get here!)