Maintenance week – April 17 to April 23

WEEK SUMMARY

 

Even though this week was fairly uneventful, it seems like it was a lot longer than typical.  Perhaps because it was the first full five day work week after coming back (last week was short due to Easter).  Maybe it was because I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday, or maybe it’s because during the week, I got minimal sleep.

 

The run plan this week was the same as last week, continue to the unofficial pretraining before SF.  Though I got some good runs in this week, my lack of sleep really hindered my progress.  I’m not one to make excuses or to pat myself on the back too much, but I will say that I am recognizing the limitations of training for a marathon with a new born at home.  I will still be able to do it, but more than anything else, I will be most proud to just complete the marathon training this spring and summer while adjusting to life as a new parent.

 

I went on three runs this week.  Well, technically four (the third one was split into two runs).  The first run was on Wednesday morning.  My plan was to go to a November Project workout at the Lincoln Memorial at 5:25am.  However, I got a little delayed waking up, and I would have been about 10 minutes late, so I decided to go down to the Lincoln anyway but to just do my own workout.  It was a good day actually.  A bit cloudy and drizzling, but there were tons of people out on the Reflecting Pool early that morning.  There was the regular November Project crowd, but there were also drills being performed by the Army, Navy and Air Force.  I don’t know what kind of event it was, but it was a lot of people, seemingly new recruits, from each of those branches.  Maybe they were engaging in some sort of joint physical training or competition?  Anyway, I snapped a few photos:

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The plan then was to run again on Friday.  I actually got up at around 6am to head out.  But I “got up” because I was already awake from a few hours ago.  Mini has been going through a growth spurt, and though she’s been the most chill baby in the world even during this phase, understandably there are going to be times when she’s fussy.  So this week, from Tuesday to Thursday night, Jess and I didn’t get very much sleep at all, but she gave us a generous gift on Saturday letting us sleep until 10:30am!

 

So on Friday, when I awoke, I decided to just go to work instead of going for a run.  My thought was that I’d go into work early and come back home early so that I could enjoy the evening with family and also squeeze in a run.  The first part came through, the second part did not.  When I got home on Friday, I tried to go for a run, but I decided against it as soon as I left the door, mainly because I wanted to spend some time with Mini.  So I turned around after like 0.05 miles.

 

So I picked up the task of running for Saturday.  Only on Saturday it was about 55 degrees and raining.  It wasn’t that big of a deal though, and I decided to head out.  I had also wanted to check out the March for Science events on the Mall.  I was expecting a few hundred people to be there marching down Pennsylvania.  Man, was I wrong.  There were several thousand people.  The area near the monument, around 15th and Constitution was absolutely packed, and the crowds went really far.  I bailed on the plans for a longer run and just observed.  So basically, I ran to the march, walked around and marched for a bit and then ran home after the march started to dissipate.  It was a really cool event though, tons of nerdy signs everywhere.  My kind of people:

 

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A funny moment I witnessed during the march was when someone tried to hit a beach ball that was bouncing around the crowd, they reached up for it and fell as they tried to hit it.  They were fine, not hurt, but talk about a stereotype coming true.

 

On Sunday, I ran a 10 miler called the GW Parkway Classic.  At first I was a little skeptical, but the race was really cool.  Basically, it’s an end to end run from George Washington’s Estate at Mt. Vernon to Old Town Alexandria.  You run on the GW Parkway along the Potomac.  I really enjoyed the race, and the rain held off.  I’ll certainly be running it again next year.

 

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All that to say, this week I ran three times 18.06 miles.

 

 

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TWIR (This Week In Running):

 

As is obvious from the description above, this week was action filled.  And also, it was surprisingly low key.  It actually was the perfect blend of a week.  Busy week with work, plenty of time with my family, friends and personal activities.  On Tuesday, Jess and I celebrated my birthday with a couple of friends..  Ordered in some Chinese food, and Jess got some cake slices from the bakery across the street.  It was a lot of fun, relaxed celebration without any big expectations.  Wednesday through Friday kind of zipped by.  Jess and I did not get very much sleep these three days.  Mini is going through her first “mental leap,” one of ten that she will experience in her first 18 months or so.  It’s really amazing, actually, to watch her go through it.  Her awareness and alertness has changed dramatically, and she’s starting to be more responsive to her environment and to people around her.  It’s such an incredible experience–observing all these changes that she’s going through over the course of weeks, and sometimes days.

 

I try my best to savor every single minute I have.  I understand why people say that “it goes by fast.”  I used to not really understand that–how can a week or a month go by faster just because you have a kid.  I think what people really mean to say is that the changes your baby will experience happen so exponentially, that in a matter of weeks, she is dramatically different.  That makes the time seem to fly by.  If I stop and think about the last five weeks, a lot has happened, and five weeks certainly feels like five weeks.  But when I look at Mini and see how she’s growing into a healthy and happy baby, it feels like it was just one second ago that I was holding her for the first time.  So, I try and slow down the world around me and stop to really embrace every day that Jess and I are with her, to do something to put brakes on life that’s moving at lightning speed.

 

On Friday, Jess, Mini and I went out for pizza with friends.  Saturday was a relaxed day.  Mini let us sleep until 10:30, which was unbelievable.  We lazed around home that morning, and I went for a run to check out the March for Science on the National Mall.  What a site it was.  I was expecting a few hundred people, and instead, I saw several thousand.  For all the uncertainty and anxiety that our political system is in, it was incredibly hopeful to see so many people gathering on the Mall, nerdy posters in hand, to demonstrate the strength and necessity of science in our society.  It’s something that exceeded my expectations.  As sour as things can seem sometimes, I have a lot of hope for the world that Mini is going to grow up in.  Saturday evening was rainy and after a quick trip out, we spent it inside curled up to another movie.

 

On Sunday, I ran the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler.  I wrote about it above briefly and will do a race recap soon.  It was a great race, one that I’ll certainly be adding to my yearly rotation.  In the afternoon, we grilled burgers on our roof and enjoyed the brisk but beautiful spring weather.  Life is really good.

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Race Report: The George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Miler

Finish time:  1:29:53

Placing:  1552 out of 4483 (overall)

962 out of 1848 (male)

163 out of 272 (male division)

 

This race rivals the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, and I will be running it every year when I am able to.  I registered for the race on a whim.  I saw a post about the run on a running website, and I had never heard of the race before.  The last minute registration came at a steep price, $89, and I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to pay that kind of money to run ten miles by the Potomac when I was perfectly ok to do that on my own for free.  I convinced myself otherwise, though, mainly because I read good things about the race online and also figured that I'd give it a shot.  The worse thing that could happen is that I'd run ten miles and be out 90 bucks with a lesson learned.  So I bought the entry and then became even more reluctant when the weather forecast was showing a morning set at the mid 40s with steady rain.  Great.

 

Turns out that the weather forecast was wrong, and the race weather was beautiful and perfect.  Low 50s, no humidity.  Knowing what I know, I would do it even in the rain.  It's a relatively quick course, from one historic site to another, on a tree-lined road just miles outside of DC.  What's not to like?

 

PRE-RACE

 

The interesting thing about this race, what drew my eye to it, is that it's an end to end run.  You start off at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and you run ten miles on the GW Parkway along the Potomac River to Old Town Alexandria.  There are three bus loading stations (in Alexandria and Arlington) to take you to the start line.  The buses run from 5:30am until 7am, depending on the location.  If you miss one of the buses, you miss the race.

 

Being an amateur, I decided that I'd choose the bus shuttle that was closest to the finish line, which was on Fairfax Street in Alexandria.  That way I could just park my car there and I wouldn't have to Uber there and back (and avoid any crazy uber surges).  Great idea, right?  No shit it's a good idea, that's why everyone else decided to do this.  One of the variables I was not accounting for was how many people would be running.  Even if there were a couple thousand, I figured, how long could the wait to get down there be, especially if there are three different pick up points?  Well, there were more than a couple thousand, there were almost 4500 people running this race, and how long could the wait be?  Pretty damn long.  The shuttles ran from 5:30am to 7am, and the organizers (Pacers Running) indicated that the best bet to get on a shuttle without a wait would be to board by 6:15.  Of course, I ignored this advice and decided to just get down there by 6:40.

 

I've said this before, and I'll say this again.  The time it takes getting to the start line of a race moves by at warp speed.  That plan to arrive an hour or 90 minutes before a start quickly erodes and before you know it you're hurrying to get to the line.  It wasn't quite dramatic with this one, but that law certainly proved itself again.  By the time I got to Alexandria, it was about 6:35, but parking in the garage took forever.  And when I got up to the line for the bus, it was wrapped around a city block, several hundred people deep. I randomly ran into a friend from law school, but didn't stop to chat because I was worried that I'd be left behind if I didn't get in line.  It ended up not being too much of a problem, it seemed like everyone got on one of the buses.

 

While in line, I chatted up another runner.  His name was Peter, and while in line and on the bus we talked about a lot of things, from running, to technology, to having kids.  He was a really nice guy, and it's people and conversations like that which bring me back to events like this over and over again.  During our ride on the bus, Peter said something interesting–a book he was reading was describing how early humans would run together in groups on the savanna.  He made a good point:  why is it that we would pay a bunch of money stand in a line hundreds deep to get on a bus and be dropped off ten miles away, just so we can all run back to where we started?  We started talking and postulating that it must be something primordial about our biology and psychology, that we would do all this just to run together in a group, even if we don't know any of the people with whom we are running.

 

We got to the start line, Mt. Vernon, and Peter and I parted ways.  At the start, there were tons of people heading to the bag check and stretching out.

 

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The race started right on time, 8:00am.

 

Miles 1-4

 

9:14 min/mile; 9:01; 8:57; 8:45

 

I don't really remember much mile to mile, but I'll try my best here.  A lot of the run scenery looked the same.  What I do remember is that the first mile has a pretty decent size downhill.  In fact, looking at my run analytics, you go from 95 feet to -25 feet in that first mile.  This course was fast and a good amount of downhill or flat running.  I think I stopped for water once during these four miles.

 

Miles 5-8

 

9:03; 8:44; 8:52; 9:02

 

The climb ascends a little during this stretch, but it's nothing crazy.  It goes back up to about 50 feet above sea level.  I don't really have too much that I remember here, except that starting at mile 5, I decided that I'd try and go for a sub 9 min/mile pace (sub 90 minutes).  When I've been in better shape, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but pushing a pace like that would be the fastest I've run since baby Asha was born.  I figured, what the hell, let's keep it at or under 9 and see what happens.

 

Throughout the race, I was convincing myself that the hardest miles would be miles 7-9.  That was kind of true, but I think that was more psychologically than anything else.  When I hit mile 7, I told myself that mile 8 would actually be the hardest.  When I hit mile 8, I told myself mile 9.

 

Miles 9-10

 

9:01; 8:43

 

When I entered mile 9, I wasn't really thinking about my sub 1:30 goal.  I had stopped in the previous segment to get water and I figured that it cost me enough time to just miss the mark.  I wasn't dead set on getting that goal, so I didn't give it another thought.  When I got to mile 10, I looked at my watch and did some fuzzy math to realize that I'd be close.  So I decided to pick it up a little and just see where I was at when I got close to the finish.
As the finish line approached, with about a 0.15 miles left, my watch hit 1:29.  I knew I could break 1:30 if I just turned the jets on for the last tenth.  I did that (or tried to) and was able to finish across with 7 seconds to spare.

 

POST-RACE

 

I collected my medal, my boxed treats and a muffin from the welcome area, and decided to head back home.  I considered hanging around for a while–it was a beautiful morning–but I was eager to get back home to see Mini.  Also, I didn't want traffic heading out of the parking garage to slow me down.

 

I did really enjoy this race too.  I imagine taking Mini here too, as she gets older.  There was one guy I saw on the ten mile route who was running with a stroller (faster than me, I might add), so I'll have to look into how to set that up next year.

 

Some pictures from during and after the race:

 

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Maintenance week – April 10 to April 16

WEEK SUMMARY

 

So let’s get at it, this week was a pretty good one.  I’m starting to ramp up my training to get ready to start the Higdon 12/55 training plan for the SF Marathon.  That training plan does not start up for a couple more weeks, but I want to increase the runs between now and then so I can handle it.

 

I went on three runs this week.  Jess’s mom was in town this week to help us with the baby, and so I was able to do the first run after work one day and the second one on Saturday morning.  The Thursday run and the Saturday run both felt great.  Both were approximately a 10k in distance, and I felt strong through them after the requisite warm up.

 

Today, I was scheduled to run 13 miles.  I didn’t really check weather here when I woke up this morning, and after spending some time with Asha, I decided to try and get a good long run while she was sleeping and with Jess watching her.  I remembered thinking before I went out there that I was a bit disappointed that I was going to be running in what I assumed was such nice weather.  Weird, I know, but sometimes when it’s perfect running weather, I kind of feel like it’s cheating, like you haven’t really earned it, but that’s kind of dumb.

 

So I headed out with a plan to run to the National Cathedral due to it being Easter Sunday.  I realized quickly that it was pretty f’ing hot out there.  My planned 13 mile run turned into a slow plodding 4ish mile affair, with a million stops on Massachusetts Ave anytime I found any shade along the way.  Overall, the temperature was about 90 degrees, and I had gone running right at noon when the sun was just crushing.  Guess I need to adjust back to the warm weather.

 

I did make it to the National Cathedral, though, and snapped a few pictures (below).  I was pretty beat when I got there, so I thought that I’d uber back, only to realize that the Easter surge would put me out $25.  So I decided that I’d try and run back, given how most of the path back home was downhill.  I probably went about a mile and a half before deciding, screw it, I’m too exhausted to make it.  By then, the uber surge had calmed down, but I was faced with a choice of picking the $4 pool or the $15 individual (and direct) trip.  Guess which one I picked?

 

The funny part of the uber pool ride back home, when the driver picked me up, there was this dude sitting in the back from what I assumed was the first pick up of the pool.  So the driver picks me up, and picks up two more people.  The guy in the back had to slide over and sit next to me, and I felt terrible about being so sweaty.  The funny story is that guy was actually picked up as part of an original uber pool before my ride.  So basically, this guy gets picked up, three others get picked up after that, all three get dropped off, three more people get picked up, and finally he gets dropped off.  He was nice about it, but he must have been pretty pissed.

 

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Saw an Easter Bunny:

 

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And here’s a picture of my not too happy face:

 

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If I ever qualify for Boston, I’ll look back at this run as one of those necessary but terrible running experiences.

 

Got a few other good ones too:

 

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So overall, 17.09 miles over three runs (the third one being split into two separate sessions):

 

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TWIR (This Week In Running):

 

Another great week spent with the best baby on the face of the planet. It’s amazing how quickly Asha is growing up.  I had this very distinct moment on Wednesday this week, when I got back from work and saw her, she just looked bigger.  She’s growing and learning at an incredible rate–I only now am beginning to understand why people say that it all happens so fast.

 

I often think about the things I want to write about her.  Part of me wants to memorialize that all here, but part of me wants to keep that private between me and her, the small and continuous conversations that we’ll have over the months and years.  I feel like I have not written much about her first four weeks here, at least not as much as I am certainly thinking about.  Part of that is because of the time crunch, to find a block of time to sit and write.  But part of that also is because I want to maintain her privacy and allow her to define her experiences in her own way, and as trite as this blog that no one will ever read is, I want to be sure that so many our private family experiences stay that way.  So, I’ll post pictures here, but won’t go overboard.  I will continue to write about her and our experience moving through the different stages.  But if Asha ever reads this–know that from the day I met you, I cannot even close my eyes without thinking about you.  The best analogy I came up with is that every thing I do, even if it’s completely unrelated or indirect to parenthood, is done with her in mind.  It’s almost as if life has defined for me my most important relationship and has put all my waking (and limited sleeping) moments in my life in orbit around that.  And it’s just great.

 

In other new, I was back at work this week, and Jess’s mom came to help us out while we hit that transition.  We were thankful to have that help for us three.  Monday and Tuesday were spent getting back into the swing of things on the job.  In between, life continued on as usual.  On Saturday, we all went for a nice walk down to the mall (wher we saw Tax Day protests) and later, Jess and I went to a going away party for some good friends.

 

 

Maintenance week – April 3 to April 9

WEEK SUMMARY

 

 

I ran twice this week, but I feel like I am able to now get back into somewhat of a regular exercise schedule, at least as regular as Mini will allow.  She’s starting to adjust to life in this world, and she’s been such a sweet and loving baby, Jess and I are so lucky to have her.  On Thursday, I went on a six mile run during my lunch break (I was working from home).  The weather outside was pretty terrible.  It was 59 degrees, but raining like crazy.  At some point, there were small pellets of hail.  It was one of those runs that you go on where you really feel like you’ve earned it.  It was kind of cool, though, to run by the sparse tourists who were walking on the Mall, just to show some badassery.

 

So, this week, I ran twice for 9.32 miles.  Next week, I’m planning on starting some pre-training for the SF marathon.

 

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TWIR (This Week In Running)

 

This was my last week of paternity leave.  My parents were here until Tuesday, and I actually worked quite a bit from home on Wednesday through Friday.  So the back half of the week wasn’t exactly leave.  But it was nice to be at home with Mini during these first few weeks.  I know that career demands puts pressure on people, especially fathers, to abbreviate their leave as much as possible.  Even though I have an onslaught of work ahead of me to catch up on as I get back to work tomorrow, I’m so glad that I took the time to be at home and bond with my daughter.  I think it’s the most important thing to do, to be as present as possible.  I’m happy to have been able to do that early on after her birth, and I am optimistic that I will continue to keep this as my most important life priority.

 

It is so wonderful being a parent.  I’m only three weeks into it, but Jess and I are enjoying every single minute with her.  I recently got some priceless advice from a former (elderly) colleague.  He said to me:  “Enjoy every moment, even the crying times.  The time flies by and there is no instant replay.”  So even in our most tired times, I try to pause and take a mental snapshot of the moment, and to savor each and every second.  I am truly blessed.