Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking forward, again

Every year I claim I'm not the sort of person to do New Year's resolutions. Every year I give in to the temptation to make some anyway.

Here's a little look back at a few simple goals for 2015:

1. Produce, love, and look after a healthy, happy baby.

Mission accomplished! He seems to be doing fine... I think I'll keep him.

Hello, squirt!

2. Keep up my work projects and find a job in our new city.

After slacking off enjoying four and a half months of maternity leave, I got right back to work. It's sort of a part-time thing. I'm thinking that this is the year I really ought to try and crack the North American freelance journalism market. It's still a thrill to see my name in print - well, digitally, mostly.

I did not find a job. I'm not too torn up about that at the moment.

3. Reconnect with friends there.

Did I mention that my best friend from college lived here for about five years, and then moved to Maine for her fiance's work this very summer? /weeps
I did reconnect with a couple of friends, and made several new ones. There's an entire subset of friends here who have only ever seen me looking frazzled and dishevelled with a wiggly baby trying to leap out of my arms or eat my glasses.

Also, somewhere along the way, I found a virtual running tribe - one that's not purchased, but that has kind of organically sprung up around me by way of blogs, social media, and fellow (previously) pregnant runners. I don't think it's the sort of thing I could buy anyway - it has to be earned, by reaching out, taking some emotional risks, trusting people. When you reduce that sort of social interaction to a financial transaction (buy your way into the club! get a t-shirt!) the expectations and atmosphere just seem...different.

But I really would like some local running friends for long runs. Now taking applications...must like early wake-up calls. 

4. Slowly ease back into running by the end of the year; do at least one postpartum race of any distance.

At least one? Try 'just one': the Somerville Road Runners Race to the Row 5K. New (only) post-baby PR! Benchmark set! I finally know my speedwork paces!

It's been a hairy rollercoaster ride, though. I eased back into running and then fell off that wagon, clambered up on it again, fell back out, and ended the year clinging on to the wagon wheel for dear life as it thundered uncontrollably down a rocky, overgrown trail. I think I ran 11 miles the whole of last week. I might have run 11 miles the whole of the previous month, due to travel, work, sickness* and sleep deprivation.

*You get a cold! And you get a cold! And the baby gets a cold! Everyone gets a cold!

5. Complete my Coursera data science specialisation work, and actually practice it. 

Gulp. I have definitely been slacking off on this. Oops. The less said the better.

6. Learn to make something that isn't food. 

I made this Christmas tree from painter's tape and washi tape! Does that count? When you live in 400 square feet of grad student family housing and have no room for a tree... #tinyapartmentlife

Well, GC, what about 2016? 

Funny you should ask, I was just thinking about that.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon training is under way. This past week I've run thrice for a total of 11 miles. This morning I did a little speed workout concocted by the coach for my running group - sadly, the sessions coincide precisely with putting-the-baby-to-bed-time, and after that I tend to conk out, and I have never been a nighttime runner anyway. But what works for me right now is doing the set on my own. I don't have to overthink what I'm going to do. I don't have to make a plan to stick to. All I have to do is show up with the set written down and do it. That and convert treadmill mile measurements to meters in my head.

I'm cobbling together my own common-sense training plan. Speed Mondays. Easy 6 miles Tuesdays. Rest Wednesday. Tempo Thursday. Easy 3-5 or cross-training Fridays. Long run Saturdays. Rest Sundays.

At the end of a hard race I often tell myself, you can do anything for a minute. Why shouldn't the same apply to the scut-work of training, the stuff I personally find most tedious? Especially if it makes the difference between injured and healthy. You can do anything for a minute. Even if I have the attention span of a gerbil, I can commit to two minutes a side of hip/glute strength exercises after each run...one minute at a time. I can commit to two minutes of stretching...one minute at a time. You can do anything for a minute.

If Pittsburgh goes well - and that's a rather big if! - I'm eyeing the Baystate Marathon in October, which I hear is pretty well-organised. And I like to shop local.

Meanwhile. I have a friend who is remarkably talented in all kinds of ways, from running really, really fast to taking gorgeous trail photos. Recently she posted a photo of her New Year's treat to herself: a long, beautiful trail run. It reminded me to treat running as a reward - not a chore. Not even if I have to take an hour out of a day that's so busy I'm losing my mind. It's never a chore; it's never been a chore; it's a treat to myself, isn't it?

And those are my two main things in store this year. I'm looking forward to it.


  1. That plan sounds smart. I have a kind of similar weekly plan that works for me. Squirt is cute!

    1. Thanks! You know how one of your resolutions is to avoid surgery? One of mine is to avoid illness - mainly all those stupid little rhinoviruses that leave you feeling just a bit crappy, a day here, a couple days there, but take a toll on your life and training time. So that means sleep and self-care. Gah.

  2. Can't wait to see how you do! Running a half would be a dream at this point, but I admit -- I'm still so tired!

    1. You definitely have it tougher! I have a somewhat flexible schedule that means I can run during the day and do a lot of work at night. The first couple of weeks of training are OK, but I'm not sure how it'll work as the weekday runs start to stretch over an hour... and that's just the run. Maybe I'll have to resort to doubles.

  3. Woohoo! Sounds like you had a pretty darn good 2015 & some cool things set up for this year! Good luck as you ease back into race training. :)

  4. You get 99.99% for your resolution-keeping for 2015. That's pretty impressive for your first year of parenthood. Actually, showering regularly and brushing your hair can also be pretty impressive for that first year so yours is above and beyond. 2016 is going to be great!

  5. We still need Team Clamshell shirts! Good luck with your goals this year. And you're right - we should acknowledge that we "get to" run, not "have to" run.