Wednesday, May 6, 2015

All the Bells and None of the Whistles

A half-smile is still better than a lot of
smiles I've seen
Seriously where did the last 4 weeks go? What happened? I honestly feel like I fell off the face of the planet a bit. Maybe that's not always a bad thing though. Sometimes a bit of a break from everything is good for the soul. That's of course aside from the crazy workload I've had at work, a desperate attempt to get ready for Cheyenne Mountain 50k, a pending IEP, countless feet of snow, and what month would be complete without a frantic trip to the ER when you're supposed to be getting on a flight to help deliver your nephew? 

Just as I finished loading the car, printing boarding passes and double checking we had everything I was carrying James across the house when I noticed his smile...I always notice his smile...except that this time it was only half a smile. The right half of his mouth wasn't moving, his right eye wasn't moving other than an occasional blink...I desperately tried to hold it together, but facial paralysis that could not be a good thing. He was still running. I watched his arms, still moving both arms, okay it can't be that bad...right? I called the pediatrician panicked as James fell head first into a chair, which may not seem that unusual but it was more clumsy than a typical James fall. Add massive egg to left eye to the growing list of ailments. Needless to say rather than getting on that plane we were sitting in the ER at Children's fingers crossed. James got to experience his first head CT, hopefully an experience we don't need to repeat. Keep in mind for a head CT you need to lie perfectly still...James doesn't lie perfectly still when he sleeps. And low muscle tone be damned...that kid pulled out of the restraints, ripped off the chin strap and wriggled out of the head strap in about 30 seconds. Gotta love Children's though and the doctors who understand 2 year olds have no concept of laying still. Head CT cleared, cleared by nuero, cleared by infectious disease and sent home with a Bells Palsy diagnosis as a result from a recent ear infection. It was definitely better than other options, but now to deal with a kid who could only use half his face. 
Post ER hike

After a week we finally noticed some progress with the paralysis diminishing. It was a long hard week. I felt like every time we went out in public we got stares, the pity looks, because now it was screamingly obvious there was something going on. Food and drinks spilled out of his mouth and James reverted back to primarily signing and barely speaking. It was frustrating. And we had no idea how long it would last. But James is a champion, so he figured out how to position is water bottle to keep milk from dribbling out, he figured out how to make new sounds that don't require him to use his lips and he did it all without complaining...or at least not too much. 

Aside from the Bells my April training has been going fairly well. I ramped up well for Cheyenne, then did my typical jump-off-a-cliff style taper and just try to hang in there. I was super crazy busy with work and my long runs definitely suffered as a result, but I was pretty happy to have kept my mileage up as much as I was able to. April also brought with it the snow we missed all winter. So it felt like this constant dodging of snow storms. We barely got out for any stroller runs either. I'm really ready for the snow to be done so I can just run on some nice dry trails. 

Week March 30 - April 5

Miles Running: 47
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.0

Week April 6 - 12

Miles Running: 61
Hours Hiking and Running: 11.5

Week April 13 - 19

Miles Running: 41
Hours Hiking and Running: 7

Snow day sensory fun with flour

Snow day baking
"enjoying" the snow...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Never Quit...Ever

You train for not weakening in the big moments by not weakening in the little ones. You’ll forget how to quit if you don’t, and you’ll never know how to push through big uncomfortable moments if you don’t do it every single day. I fail lots and get beaten lots, but not because I give up. -Will Gadd
Park time!

I've been frustrated with my training lately. I guess this is nothing really new for me for this time of year, but still it's frustrating. My times aren't where they were at in the fall, my body doesn't feel as strong and my mind doesn't feel as strong. I constantly wonder if I'll be anywhere near ready for my next race. Even when I realize that I've logged 115 miles more than this time last year, that I've doubled the number of long runs I've done and I've even added speed work. I know I'm ready for my next race, but I have to convince myself. 

When I got done with my run today Dan had left an article up on my computer...Will Glad's Ten Training Thoughts. And I realized that every spring is like this, but I don't give up. I keep moving and training and pushing myself...and every fall I'm running better than I was the year before. So I'm heading into April with a focus on moving away from speed work and towards endurance, building up the miles, and really, really hoping this warm spring weather is here to stay. 

PVR long run
Aside from turning into a mental case when the temperatures dropped and the snow fell on Wednesday I had a great training week. Dan and I got in lots of runs together, including a good 20+ at Pine Valley. The trails were in great shape and I was stoked to be back out there. I'm slowly finding a good balance between running and working. The step up in demands that I've been working with the past few months at work have kind of left me spinning and trying to figure out how to balance it again. It seems like just when you get your routine down things change. I'm slowly getting there though and my weekday runs seem to be creeping back from 5 miles to 7s. So we're getting there. 

It was a busy week for James as well, which always makes things a bit more difficult. Therapies three different mornings may not sound like that much but it really cuts into your day. But its worth it and he's the priority so no use complaining. His speech therapist is floored at his progress lately. My favorite of the week was he started singing the ABCs and by singing I mean mostly humming and saying "q" and "r". Overall a good week and a good reminder that even during these slow training months not to ever quit or get down. Just keep moving...
2 minutes of getting gas during a freak snow storm

Week March 23 - 29

Miles Running: 52.2
Hours Hiking and Running: 10.5

Monday: 6.5 miles: easy run at Apex

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 7.7 miles: moderate run at Apex with Dan

Friday: 20.5 miles: Pine Valley Ranch long run with Dan, got really hot, but good to be back in the old stomping grounds

Saturday: 7.5 miles: Bear Creek with the boys

Sunday: 10.0 miles: Bear Creek with the boys and neighborhood laps during naptime

Baby deer at Apex

PVR long run

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Day In The Life of Down Syndrome

James halfway through his 0.321 mile run
I realized true strength comes when you persevere and appreciate life instead of complaining about all the things that didn't go your way. Letting go of trying to control the outcome and just living in the moment didn't bring me to where I had initially dreamed of going, but rather a place that will make me a stronger and better person. -Aliza Lapierre

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day I thought I would give a little peak into a day in the life with Ds. Keep in mind James is a nearly 3 year old, so this is not just a day in the life of a child with Ds, but a day in the life of a toddler. While James goes through more on a daily basis than a lot of kids do I think a typical day for James is a lot more like a typical day for any other toddler. 

Each morning I quietly raise the blinds on his window as he sits up quietly in his bed. I savor these first few moments every morning. Its quiet...James is quiet...he's peaceful...sometimes this lasts for a full 5 minutes...

Good morrrrnnnning Rocky Mountains! I cheer out and a smile explodes across his face as he lifts his arms up, eyes twinkling in the little bit of light streaming through the window. Are you ready for a woooonderful day? I question as I turn off his oxygen tank and remove his cannula. Then as soon as I reach out my arms he's engulfed me in a neck hug that I will never be able to get enough of. I hope that our little morning ritual will last forever. 

And then the peace is over. No, no, no James calls out as I try to give him his meds. How about yes? I question back, he smiles and signs yes reluctantly taking his meds. On the weekends we sometimes cuddle on the couch for another 10 minutes while he drinks his morning milk...okay this happens maybe once or twice a month, but in my head I like to pretend this is how every morning goes. More often James runs around yelling no and throwing toys as I try to chase him down. 

Several mornings each week are punctuated with various therapy appointments and James well, sometimes he cooperates but more often he doesn't anymore. After over 2 years he has finally taken to his EI speech therapist and he'll have fun with her. He has a new private speech therapist that we're still working to get to know so that doesn't always go well. And some days we do therapy at daycare, which is again hit or miss. I try to schedule all his therapy in the morning since those are when he's the most cooperative. Unfortunately I don't have as much say over doctors appointments, but those are getting less frequent, usually 2-4 trips to Children's a month, not counting therapy. 

On just daycare days we drive down the hill rocking out to Let It Go, no not Elsa, but rather Michael Franti...James actually is maybe the only kid who could care less about Frozen. But put on some Franti and this kid will dance like a mad man and he's even starting to sign-a-long. I have no idea what anyone passing us might think of the sight as I sign-a-long and James dances...every morning non-stop for the 20 minute drive. James has always handled drop off fairly well and usually charges straight to one of his two favorite teachers wrapping them in the same neck hug he gave me when I woke him up. 

Because I have now forgotten to bring his lunch on enough occasions (thank you Whole Foods for your boundless supply of gluten free products) I now keep sunbutter and jelly and a loaf of gf bread in my freezer at work so I can make a quick sandwich and run it back to daycare on the days I forget. This seems to happen a couple times a month, but at least daycare is close. 

And then you begin to understand why I run after work so much. James will be ready to go at 4:30 whether I'm there or not. I think he's getting more used to my spring/summer schedule where pickup inches closer to 5:30 every day. As soon as he hears me he charges straight for me wrapping me in another neck hug. I usually have to carry him out of daycare because he's embedded himself in my collarbone. As soon as we get into the car any glimpses of that sweet little boy evaporate. He immediately signs juice followed by incessant whining, no matter what you do you can't do it fast enough. I have a water bottle of juice (because he refuses to drink juice from anything else) ready and waiting. I have also taken to keeping crackers in the car for him on the chance that he is extra hungry and we can't make it home without a snack. Approximately 6.3 meltdowns and 25 minutes later we arrive home where ready or not James is racing to the table and climbing into his chair. James is usually in tantrum mode at this point. An hour later, yes that's how long it takes to stop throwing tantrums and then slowing, very slowly eat dinner, we clean avocado, sour cream, pasta sauce of whatever other goodness we had for dinner out of hair, curtains, booster seats, rugs, walls...basically anything within a mile radius of the kitchen table. Exhausted and deflated I pray we can pass the next 30 minutes or so quickly. 

James only gets a bath every other night because his skin is too sensitive to handle nightly baths, but thankfully he doesn't need a bath for his night time ritual. Oh no as soon as we have gotten on pjs, brushed our teeth and taken our meds James runs straight for the couch signing run, picks up the remote control and desperately tries to start his Leadville video. Oh how we have created a monster. I swear he can hear that first chord from miles away and immediately knows what time it is. After a cup of milk and some good running its finally bedtime. And then time to repeat it all over again. James struggles when his routine is broken so even on the weekends we stick to the daycare schedule for meals, naps etc. and we rarely break routine. Also why there isn't a whole lot of variety to our days. This is our day...every day...but its certainly not a bad way to spend your days.

There are a lot of things that nearly 3 years old do that James doesn't quite do, he doesn't jump or walk up stairs, he doesn't talk or feed himself with a fork. But he can throw a tantrum with the best of them, he carries his dishes to the kitchen after every meal, he puts himself to bed, he tells a great story, he loves to give hugs and kisses, and he understands more than he lets on. This little kid who has created so much chaos and catastrophe around our house has taught me more about strength and love then I ever thought there was to know. He works his butt off to learn things and accomplish new tasks, he is so proud of himself when he does something new and he loves like its the only thing there is. Maybe he's actually the one that is smarter than everyone else. Without courage, strength and love what do you really have. At 2 James might just have it all figured out. 

Full disclosure, as soon as I finished writing this James woke up from his nap and within 10 minutes had pooped in my lap...potty training fail. A few minutes later I hear whining from the sliding glass door as James tries to play with the dog through the door desperately trying to get outside, while I hear James just bit my lip from Dan. Ah life with a toddler...

Additional phrases conversations often heard in our household...

"no" "no what?" "no"

"stop pulling the dogs ear, no, no hitting the dog, no not his eye either, no gouging the dogs eyes out"

"no the potty is in here..."

"3, 2, 1...boom...go..."

"help with what? you don't know, well I can't help you if you don't know what you want"

"cheese? you want to eat cheese" "no" "what do you want with cheese?" "no"

"hot" "yes mom's coffee is hot" goes the cup of milk "yes hot coffee on mom's lap"

"oh thank you for the hug, oh yes great hug...can we eat now though?"

"sit please...sit...turn around and sit..."

Week March 16 - 22

Miles Running: 56.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 10.5
Vertical: 8,475

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 10.1 miles: after running the car to the dealership and back (literally) met Sandra at Apex for a good run

Wednesday: 6.9 miles: 7x1.5 min hill sprints at the top of Apex, felt good on sprints, last one the fastest

Thursday: 9.0 miles: met Sandra for another good run at Green, so nice to run on nearly dry trails

Friday: 15.0 miles: sluggish run in 3:21 at Falcon, haven't climbed that much in awhile 

Saturday: 7.5 miles: Bear Creek WDSD run with the boys

Sunday: 8.0 miles: Bear Creek with the boys

Friday, March 20, 2015

Four Letter Words

My running this week was overshadowed by the two boys in the house. It always seems easier to swallow another low mileage week when you watch your boys race well. Dan raced to an amazing 30 min PR at the Salida marathon and James ran his first race. Throw into the mix some cheese fries, burgers and pizza and we had a perfect Salida weekend. Salida seems to always mark the beginning of spring and the start of training season. Salida certainly delivered this year with a perfect day for racing and spectating. The sun shined brilliantly...maybe a bit too much as we all returned home with rosy cheeks and noses. 

I was nervous signing James up for his race. Was I pushing him too hard to do this? Was I trying to push inclusion too much? What would happen when he came in last? Would he even run or know what to do? But James loves his Leadville videos, loves watching races and I'll be damned if I don't let him participate in inclusive sports when I'm working so hard to get him in an inclusive classroom. I mean what's the difference right? And how would I know if it was too much if I didn't try. So I lined James up at the side of the starting line and when they said go all the other kids went. I looked at James, did our countdown and signed run. He knew immediately and took off running and signing run. I think he took a whole 5 steps before he reached out for my hand, but that was okay we were still moving forward. Plus one kid had already sat down apparently debating his first DNF. James and I kept going. We stopped to play with 5 of the course marking flags, I got 3 hugs and he only fell once. He was starting to lose it around 300 m into the race when one of the older kids helping out noticed. All the other kids, including the one who had decided not to DNF, had already finished. This boy watched James and came running out to cheer him on. He cheered and ran backwards to the finish line coaxing James the whole way. James finally let go of my hands, broke out in his wide mouth toothy grin and followed the boy all the way to the finish line. It was all I could do not to wrap this boy up and give him the biggest hug of his life. James was immediately overwhelmed by the cheering and crowds so I scooped him up and helped put his medal around his neck. 

Anyone who knows me knows despite my sailors mouth there is one four letter word that I hate, I despise, and I refuse to let kids use around me...the four letter c-word...can't. There is no can't only won't. And there is still no can't in James' dictionary. He may not always want to race and I will absolutely not push it if he doesn't want to do it, but it's one of the things I love most about running. Anyone can do it...special needs or not. Runners are some of the most accepting groups I've been a part of and I really hope they accept James as well...and never let him use that damn c-word. James just raced his very first 400m dash at 2.5 years old! He was the youngest runner, but easily had the biggest smile. 

As we hung out at the finish line after the race the little kids race director came up to me saying how ridiculously cute James is. Then she asked if she could give him one of the t-shirts from the older kids race since they had a bunch of extras. As she handed the shirt to me she started thanking me for letting James race and for sharing him with her. It was a little thing but reassured me that all the nervous questions that ran through my head earlier that morning when I signed him up for the race were just nervous questions and James CAN do whatever typical kids just might take him a little longer to get there.

Week March 9 - 15

Miles Running: 38.7
Hours Hiking and Running: 6.5

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 7.3 miles: still a lot of snow at Apex; 10 x 1 min hill sprints on the longest dryish patch I could find

Wednesday: 7.9 miles: Bear Creek; felt really good and kept a decent pace

Thursday: 12 miles: Bear Creek; slow and didn't feel great, cut a bit short

Friday: OFF 

Saturday: 6 miles: pushing James up to the road crossing on the course and around Salida

Sunday: 5.5 miles: Bear Creek; pushing James, crazy hot (well it felt crazy hot to those of us acclimated to 30F)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Just Another Week

Training this week was a bit lack luster, but I managed to get the miles in somehow. The week started off with miserable snow, ice and freezing temperatures...again. By the end of the week, aside from the wretched time change that apparently only early morning runners and parents to kids under 5 absolutely despise, it was finally clear that while more snow would come we had at least gotten out of the frigid temperatures of winter. 

I ended up spending way more time at Bear Creek than I would normally like but conditions everywhere were pretty miserable. I met Sandra at Apex for some of my only climbing of the week. The main trail wasn't bad, but as soon as you got off the front side we were stumbling through some deep snow. I'm pretty sure we were actually running slower that we could have walked the trail. Dan and I also got in another long run at Bear Creek. Looking forward to the day we can do a long run on some real trails. 

Overall it was a pretty unmonumental week. James had a follow-up appointment with the dermatologist to try a new cream for his dermatitis. He also wooed the nurse into giving him a new blanket that he has yet to put down. Dan laid new tile in the entry way which I think turned out really well. I'm also pretty sure that because the first tile job went so well we should jump right on some other tiling around the house. If we could get rid of all the brass and tie-dyed tile in the house I would be a pretty happy camper. We're getting there though. 

Week March 2 - 8

Miles Running: 47
Hours Hiking and Running:7.75

Monday: 6.5 miles; Bear Creek bike path: forgot socks so feet blistered pretty good

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 5.5 miles; Apex: met Sandra for a 'fun' run in the snow, thankfully had microspikes and even then there were some unrunnable sections

Friday: 19.5 miles; Bear Creek bike paths: met Dan for a long run, long runs getting easier, but still a struggle to go around in circles without someone to keep you from going crazy at BC

Saturday: 5.5 miles; Bear Creek bike paths: took James out for a run while Dan finished the tile

Sunday: 10 miles; neighborhood laps while James napped, seemed to be the only way I could get in some vertical this week
James and his new blankie

Post-long run treat

New entry way complete!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bring On Spring

Favorite book ever...Giraffes Can't Dance
What happened to spring? motivation? mileage? February has been nothing short of a struggle. I knew the beautiful 70F week in January would come back to haunt me and it certainly has. It's now the middle of the umpteenth snow storm in as many days, its cold and foggy and the motivation to keep the mileage up has been going by the wayside. The positive though is that I've really stuck to keeping my priority runs. So the last couple weeks I have gotten in my long runs and speed work....its just those moderate in between runs that are falling by the wayside. 

Despite my lackluster running my speed work still seems to be improving. And my long runs getting a bit easier. Its amazing how hard a 20 mile run seems to get when you take 2 months off from them. In the middle of summer 20 miles sounds easy, just another day at the park. Lately 20 feels like a colossal effort. That might also be due in part to the fact that the summer trails for 20 milers aren't so runnable right now. Longs runs now are mostly on Green Mountain or at Bear Creek. Or this past week I did repeats on the hill in our neighborhood. I got 20 miles and 3000 ft of vertical but that was a lot of laps and most of the neighbors probably think I'm absolutely crazy by now. 

Aside from that we now have a mostly remodeled master bath (we still have to redo the tile), I repainted my desk, baked an ungodly amount of cookies and loaves of bread, cleared out the arts and crafts aisle at King Soopers for snow day activities which led to a massive pile of paintings laying on my desk, have had daily dance parties and are finally through February. Not that March means less snow, but it usually means more sunshine and warmer temps. And maybe a few more open trails!

Remodel fun
I think James took February just as hard as I did. He's an outside kid and even the indoor playroom I built isn't doing it anymore. He's ready to get back to playing in the park and going for family runs. I have also been working really hard with him at learning to 'dip' his food. I know that sounds like such a small thing and it is. But don't all kids dip chicken nuggets in ketchup? Its a kid thing he should learn to do it. Well as is James we finally learned to dip our food...but oh no not ketchup. Sour cream please! Apparently sour cream goes well on everything and is even good enough to dip your thumb into and lick it off. Now I can officially check off dipping foods from the bucket list! The best part of the last couple weeks was James and I made heart shaped cookies to send to Auntie Cait, sorry Cait we ate them all but I promise to make more and really send you the next batch. James of course refuses to eat them because they're made with sugar, but he held one up and out of nowhere goes haaa-rrrrt, haaa-rrrrt.  I figured they were talking about hearts for Valentine's at daycare because we don't really use the word heart too much. So add heart to James' list of verbal words. Its an eclectic list and there are a few words like heart that you just look at and go really?

Week February 16 - 22

Miles Running: 50.8
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.0
Vertical: 6875 ft

Week February 23 - March 1

Miles Running: 36
Hours Hiking and Running: 5.0
Vertical: 5300 ft

Face painting

Winter Park fun

Too cool for school

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Skinned Knees

4:30 am...time for hillsprints
I swear Mother Nature is out to test me on Sundays. Every week its this constant tease to see if I can suck it up and finish my week's training or if I'm just going to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a book. After yet another Sunday blizzard run, my eyes frozen shut, the front of my pants no longer looking black and my pony tail a frozen icicle slapping my neck, my miles are in and while today's tempo run lacked anything that even remotely resembled a tempo I can proudly say I beat Mother Nature for another week. 

This week was painful. I recovered more slowly from last weekends race than I expected, I'm sure the lack of sleep I've been running on had nothing to do with that. I battled through my training runs though. Another 4:30 am hill sprint workout. For some reason at 4:30 in the morning a foot of snow doesn't look so deep and it seems reasonable that you would tie your shoes on the edge of the treadmill and head outside. It honestly did sound like a good idea when I walked out the door. I slogged my way through mud and glaring sun on Green. And Dan and I went for a 19 mile date run on Friday. Friday was actually the best I felt all week. And then Saturday was nice enough to go for a family run. All in all it was a good week of training, I hit my miles and workouts, but it was not an easy week. My legs just felt like they had a lot more taken out of them then I expected from the race. I'm already ahead of last year in terms of miles and vertical so I'm pretty happy with where my training is at right now. Especially since I have a late race this year.
snowy morning run

The past couple weeks I've been thinking a lot about one of my dear friends. She has always been this source of strength for me. She's handled every challenge that comes her way with grace, confidence and a smile. She has held my hand through every step of my journey with James. She made me realize that sometimes its not about hoping or praying for a healthy kid or for things to go your way. Its about having the strength to handle the unexpected. Its not that I don't wish every day James was healthy and I didn't worry about his heart or his immune system, but that was the card he was dealt, all that matters is how I handle it. No one sails through life down the easy road. And if you do you're probably missing out on a lot of things. So instead of continuously looking for things to get better if you look for the strength to handle these situations the rocky bumps will be better. You'll learn to love the look of skinned knees and scars, the oxygen tanks will one day make you laugh and you'll learn to cherish little moments in hospitals when you glued red hearts to your faces with vasoline. I know right now she is a pillar of strength as she waits for decisions to be made and that no matter what the outcome she will continue to be strong for herself and her family because if there is one thing I know about this amazing woman...she is strong. And I will continue to always look to her for strength. 

Mr Attitude
So Friday when I got the news that James didn't get into daycare I had my short-lived pity party before I told myself to suck it up. We weren't getting anywhere by being upset about it. It's just hard not to feel like you didn't let him down. Because I didn't want to inconvenience myself to camp out overnight James didn't get in. I know in some ways that sounds totally ridiculous, but at the same time there just aren't a lot of options that work for us. Getting in to this one preschool was about the only option that I could make work. Now I'm left to figure out how we're going to get James enough therapy. It's just not my personality to pray for James to get into a certain school. That's just not me and not something I'm comfortable doing. Instead I'll buck up and figure out a way to get him the therapy he needs and give him the same opportunities he would have in a public preschool. It's not the easy road and will definitely take some fighting and finagling on my end, but I'm determined to find a way to do it. 

you're better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can -Ken Chlouber

Week February 9 - 15

Miles Running: 50.8
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.0
Vertical: 7200 

Monday: 5 miles, recovery run with Dan at Matt-Winters

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: 4 miles hill sprints 10 x 30 sec in an early morning blizzard

Thursday: 7.3 miles, Green Mountain

Friday: 19 miles, with Dan, Green Mountain, hogback and Matt-Winters, legs felt much better

Saturday: 7.5 family run at Bear Creek

Sunday: AM: 4 miles family run at Bear Creek; PM: 4 miles of neighborhood laps in another blizzard
Ralston Creek Half Marathon finish line

Green Mountain summit

Green Mountain summit...again

Valentine's fish and chips