Monday, February 28, 2011

time, time

It's Monday, and today because of the weather I ended up aborting my drive to work and coming home. Like everyone, I'm sure, I'm ready for Spring: for warmer days and lighter mornings, for roads that aren't ice covered with a layer of snow atop. I'm feeling desperate to run without hat, gloves, mask, coat and countless other layers. But here we are with 3 storms in 4 days, and I'm wondering how I'll get my workouts in this week.

Tomorrow it promises to be cold and windy, and since I have to leave the house before 7am I don't know that I'll get my run in because it will be very dark at 5:30, and with frozen rain and snow today I don't fancy like running outside when I can't see underfoot. Perhaps I'll shoot for tomorrow afternoon - maybe after a swim. But you know I have work to fit in, too, and the fact that I have 49 long papers to grade by Monday I realize it's going to be a challenging week. And I need to be home by 3... ! Oh dear, things aren't looking good.

I suppose I'm writing here in a vain attempt to materialize more time than I have; as though if I wrote about it and planned it more, I'd suddenly find some extra time. Oh, there you are swimming hour, I didn't see you before now.

Alas, if I carry on as I am - procrastinating as I attempt to grade these papers - I'll be lucky to get any sort of training in.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Another week is over, work looms ahead, and I'm writing after another nice weekend. On Friday we had a snow day, and I have to say, probably to state the obvious, that we are very ready for winter to be over. On Thursday, realizing that we'd be in for a horrible weather weekend, we headed out into the late afternoon for a 10 mile run. It was difficult and challenging and all I wanted to do was to go home and sit in my pajamas, drinking hot chocolate while watching bad TV. Yet we knew we'd feel good for going, that we'd feel relief that we wouldn't have to drag ourselves out of the door to push Raf through slushy, cold, wet streets.

Yes.. more snow!

It was just as well we went out as since then I've been dealing with some bug, or something. I've been feeling nauseous and tired and just downright fatigued. I talked myself into thinking it was something much more alarming like early signs of a heart attack (I'm not usually known for hypochondria!)... Whatever it is, though, it's gotten in the way of doing much of anything. I have done some cycling and a bit of rowing, but not much else.

Until today. Well, I still didn't do much but I did attend a Total Immersion class. It was really helpful. The instructor managed not to snicker when she saw me swim, and we spent the hour working on some drills to help with my stroke timing, etc. You begin by trying to balance your body with 'superman', then you work on titling your body, and then recovery position, hand placement, etc. Breathing is next. Somewhat alarmingly the instructor tapes you and then shows you to see how you're doing. Seeing myself in a swimming costume, flailing in the water was enough to motivate me to practice, practice, practice. That said, if I do say so myself, I was looking nice and long and 'tall' in the water! Now let's see if that translates into long and 'tall' when I take an actual proper, full stroke.

Aside from warm-up I didn't really swim any laps, just up and down half a lane. She did say that my swimming wasn't awful (I am sure she was being kind) but I really think the changes will help. I didn't get to the point of having a new 'stroke' where I could go and swim lots of laps, but I think in a class or two I might be able to swim a lap with a TI stroke. Here's hoping, anyway.

This week I meet with Rob, the guy who is helping me put my schedule together for the season. I'm excited to begin my next training cycle. This past few weeks i've been winging it as my schedule has been crazy and it's not been possible to meet to sort anything out. I'm meant to be doing a bike test next Saturday and also a swim test (well, last week, but I was feeling poorly so I'll try and so it the early part of this week).

Here's what I'm hoping for this week re: work and training:
1) that I feel less awful tomorrow morning.
2) that I get my swim test done by Tuesday
3) that I finally get in to the Dean's office the schedule for the Spring semester (2012)
4) that I mark the 50 long papers that I have coming in tomorrow by the end of the week (I'm almost touched by my own optimism here)
5) that I get in at least 3 runs

And, to finish... to borrow an idea from a dear friend, I'm going to start writing a 'lulu list'. In short, a list of thanks, gratitude, appreciation, and so forth.

1) Raf squealing in delight as he chased Rich around the kitchen this evening.
2) An early morning Friday walk in the quiet with the pups before the worst of the storm appeared.
3) The Red Cardinal in our garden each day.
4) The leek and potato soup Rich made for me twice last week.
5) Rafi shrieking 'Mama Mama' as I came through the door last week, and him throwing his arms around my neck.
6) Eating dried pineapple in the store after our long run.
7) My new friends on Daily Mile, who I really just like a lot.
8) This little fella... through and through.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Daily Whine

I'm not a good blogger. I always have lots of things I want to write about, but if I did I may have to rename the blog 'The Daily Whine", or something similar.I don't lose sight of the good things, I really rarely do. I'm a tenured, associate professor and so a pretty steady and stable job, I have a great little boy, a happy marriage, friends, training, and so forth. But i'm Chair of the department, I'm working a more than full time job, our family lives overseas, and there are only 24 hours in any one day.

I like my job. I do. I enjoy teaching, I enjoy researching and writing, and there are even elements of being chair that I find interesting. It's just that I would prefer to spend my days with Raf. I'd prefer to play with him, I'd prefer to teach him words and watch him as he negotiates his world and finds his way in the world.

And yet of course I do get meaning from my work. I spent time embarking on a PhD, and, really, given how awful that entire experience is I really ought to get some sort of meaning from my work! My research is meaningful, at least to me, and there is a part of me that is invigorated and bettered for engaging in the world in that way, but the balance of my life is really feeling off kilter. I often work from home but I spend so much of my time returning email, composing messages to deal with ongoing and new problems. I prepare classes and grade on the weekends, and being chair makes everything just much, much more intense.

Today I spent a good portion of my time on the verge of crying, feeling overwhelmed by all the things I haven't done and all the things I have yet to do and don't even know about. I feel such enormous envy for women who stay home, or who at least make a choice to go to work or stay home. My 'choice' is compelled. Compelled by the fact I have tenure (who can walk away from a job like that?), by the economy, by the cultural norm that 'women like me' remain at work (I don't think it's an accident that most female academics I know are married WITHOUT kids, which is different from the male academics who mostly do have children).

When I feel this unbalanced and stretched and utterly overloaded, my patience is thin and my capacity to integrate all these part of my life just falls away. I'm at this point this evening, despite a nice weekend (perhaps because of the weekend), heading to bed with some dread as the week stretches out before me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taking Stock

Rich has taken Raf to bed and I'm sitting on the couch watching 'Heavy' on TV. It's showcasing a woman whose son committed suicide, and as I sit here watching, my own heart shattering for her, I'm reminded by how grateful I am for this life: for Rafi, for Rich, for my puppies, and family overseas, for my 'too-busy' job and my body which can move and be strong, and which has done an amazing thing in bringing into the world this little boy who I adore.

Raf is such a precious little soul: he loves to dance, clap, squeal in delight. He loves to run around the kitchen chasing his Daddy, chasing the pups, and I sometimes feel like I will literally burst with pride when I watch him and see who he is becoming.

I've mentioned before, but one thing that we all love to do is to go for a family run. Today we headed out in the afternoon, hoping that the roads would be in better condition after the ice and snow we had overnight. Raf is a complete trooper. He goes into the Chariot without protest, gets his snacks and books and toys and sits back for the ride, Even today in the slushy, bumpy conditions he was happy as could be, and both Rich and I remarked how lucky we are to have a little guy who can put up with us, and, indeed, a little boy who seems to really like being with us on our runs. He likes the dried mango and pineapple we stop off and buy from the grocery store when we finnish our run, too, so it's as if he's running right along with us.

I've had a pretty good week of training, as it happens. No swims (snowstorm really got in the way), but 3 runs,3 rows, and 5 bike rides (of various lengths). I have Rich and Rafi to thank for helping me get workouts in, especially this weekend....

Indeed we've had a lovely weekend. I'm sad about going to work tomorrow (it's going to be a long day and I won't be home until 10pm) but we are going to Orlando on Wednesday morning for a conference. Well, I'm going to a conference and Rich and Rafi are coming with me. We're going to attempt to take the Chariot with us. We'll see how that goes. It's going to be a spotty week in terms of training, probably, but I'm going to attempt to swim in the morning and then perhaps row/bike on Tuesday as should be able to run when Florida... and perhaps swim, too. I'm looking forward to some nice warm weather... without the slushy roads.

Friday, February 4, 2011

busy busy

As usual life is busy. It's too easy for me to reflect negatively and to reflect on what I haven't done. Work is really demanding, at the moment. I haven't been Chair of the department for very long, and I have to say that it's a steep learning curve. Each time I step onto campus it's a whirlwind of meetings, meetings, and more meetings. If not meetings I'm in class or responding to tens of emails a day wanting things from me. It's not a role that is natural to me; I don't like saying 'no' to people, I'm not especially organized, and, really, I'm an academic. I'm pretty introverted, I like my own space and time and so this is a new role for me which is challenging on many levels.

And then I go home to my boys (Rafi, Rich, and our two pups) and I have a small person who needs me very much, and a husband and pups, too. It's all very positive stuff; I feel incredibly fortunate and lucky and, really, I am. Raf is a dream of a boy (except, you know, when it comes to sleep), Rich and I have been together very happily for 16 years...

But what makes life wonderful and a life worth-living are the things and elements which are challenging, difficult, and stressful. There aren't many moments when you can stop and pause and take stock, it's a busy, convoluted life where I wear several hats - sometimes at the same time - as I move from being a mum to academic to administrator to partner to puppy mum to want-to-be athlete.

Here's how my last couple of days stacked up...

Wednesday night
9pm Bed, Rafi up at 9:30, 11:45, 12:30, 1:30, 3:30, 4:45....
Thursday morning
I sneak up at 5:30am to have a bit of time to myself, make breakfasts and lunch for Rich, and just as I sit down to drink some tea Rich is up with Raf, who hasn't gotten back to sleep. Give Raf his breakfast at 6:30am and then sneak onto the rower for a quick hour workout. Shower and then attempt to get out the door with Raf. Our nanny is away so I'm "working from home". Raf has other ideas and falls asleep on me as I nurse him. While he's asleep on me I respond to work email, check in with my secretary to email me documents, call the travel agent to make flight arrangements for a trip next week, respond to more work email... Raf stirs at 10:30. Give him snack, get him changed and then we're out for a haircut by 11am. By 12:15 we;re at the store doing grocery shopping. Schleping Raf around with me I unpack the shopping, check work email, respond to email as I make lunch (thank goodness for laptops), put a load of laundry on, give Raf his lunch, eat my lunch whilst feeding Raf who is not wanting to focus on eating, clear up dishes, put the rest of the shopping away, take Raf upstairs to his nursery to play with some of his other toys. I chat with my sister whilst I put clothes away and play with Raf, then all of a sudden Raf falls asleep on me as we play on the bean bag. I have some reading up there, thank goodness, so read while he sleeps and respond to email on my phone. Rich comes home just after 4pm and so I go downstairs to email adjuncts and work on the academic schedule for next year, 45 minutes later I realize Rich isn't going to start dinner as he's still upstairs and so I make dinner, eat it quickly, and while Raf is in the bath I jump on the bike for 30 minutes. Rich leaves at 6:45 for an evening class, and at 7:30 I take Raf upstairs. The afternoon nap was a disaster and it takes him until 9pm to get to sleep... Gah. It's my bed time so it's bed time for me, too...
Not too many wake ups last night (tooth finally through. But Raf up at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30...) and I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 for the same breakfast routine. This morning I headed out for a quick run when Raf got up, came home, showered, nursed Raf, went to work, late for a meeting, a meeting at 10, another at 11, another at 12, another at 12:30, another at 2:30, which I missed. Worked on last minute budget items and came home at 4:15pm...

It's a lot to juggle. Sometimes I feel as though I am doing an okay job and then I realize that I am always-already behind in at least one aspect of my life. Tri training is a blessing but it;s also, sometimes, a reminder of how I'm failing to get everything done. This was another week of no swimming. Wednesday's snowstorm meant that everything was closed, and this afternoon I had planned to go after my 12;30 meeting but I had so much to get through on my desk so I chose to get admin done and ditched the swim.

It's all about making choices, about reviewing what needs to get done, about whose needs are most pressing and trying to respond accordingly. But did I mention that this is hard (as it is for everyone, I am guessing), that it's trying to find what is perhaps an untenable balance because the truth is we ask a lot of ourselves; we try to cram much too much into our days and something has to give. Sometimes I feel lost in the busyness of it all, I feel as though I am subsumed by others' needs, and when I run, cycle, row, swim, and more it feels like one of the few times when I feel a bit free. Perhaps, more particularly, it's one of the few times when I feel unleashed from others' needs. I hope that doesn't make me sound like a self-centered person but with Raf's sleeping issues I don't really get to reset at night. indeed I have a little boy lying on top of me or next to me with his arms tightly hugging me around the neck. It's lovely but like any good introvert I need some space and time which is my own.

here's to a wonderful weekend!

Raf's new haircut!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


January is over and I'm sitting here on the eve of a massive snowstorm. This month proved to be really challenging for me - not just in terms of training but also getting back into work-mode, Rafi's continued difficulties with sleeping, and also the inclement weather. On paper, when I'm planning out my family, work, training week, it seems doable, but sleepless nights - night after night after night - combined with working full-time and being a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, attachment parenting sort of mum makes the idea of triathlon training a bit of a joke.

Yet I do get training in. I workout when I haven't had much sleep, Rich really helps me to get some movement in, and somehow - while it might not be the training I want or plan - I usually get something in.

The month started well with a beautiful and unexpected bike ride outside. 28 miles to begin the year felt like a wonderful way to ring in the triathlon season. Unfortunately my time in the pool, in spite of promises to myself that things would be different, was pretty poor. Just 3 miles of swimming. I know, I know.. my very worst sport and I spend virtually no time doing it. I find it difficult to motivate myself to get to the pool, but I really must break the cycle because the more I don't go the more I dread it. To be fair to me, the snowstorms have really conspired to keep me away since the pool shuts down when the college closes and on days swims are scheduled (like tomorrow) a snow storm seems to appear.

MUST. DO. BETTER. Goal for February...? AT least DOUBLE that. At least.

Running was not that much better with just 54 miles, but, again, a lot of inclement weather, a hip injury, and general fatigue.

I did, though, quite well with cycling, and spun, spun, spun for over 19 hours during January. I also did 34 miles of rowing...

I'm afraid that core/strength training was awful, but, there are only so many hours in the day...

Not an awful month but not the best month, either. I was planning on 80 miles of running, MUCH more swimming and at least some strength and core work.

Goals for this month?

To get to the pool. Next week I'm heading with the crew to Orlando for a conference. Raf and Rich will be coming with me and I'm hoping I can get some good runs in as well as some swims. We're staying for an extra night at another hotel which has a lap pool so I'm really hoping to get some swim time in.

But, you know, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen and I'll remember what's most important.