Monday, August 18, 2014

Has it been this long?


Two years.  Another kid.  Even less sleep.  Way more stress.  Many fewer miles.  And yet, an infinite amount of happiness.

I'm not sure that I can wrap up all that's happened in the span of a single blog post, so I won't even try.  The major highlights included:

  • Zdenek, Ryder, and I welcomed a daughter / little sister in October 2013.  Her name is Clara, she is adorable, and we all love her to pieces.
  • Ryder is growing up much too quickly.  He is full of spunk and personality, and cracks us up many times a day.  Mom and Dad are proud to see that he's becoming quite the little athlete, and he's obsessed with racing (by foot, bike, or vicariously though any sport he can find on tv).
  • Zdenek and I run way less.
  • Zdenek and I don't cycle at all.
  • We are in a terrible state of limbo right now (and have been for some time), which adds a significant amount of stress to our daily life.
  • We are also a happy little family, and, in the grand scheme of things, extremely lucky.
More to come (hopefully).

Monday, August 6, 2012

The long road ahead

I haven't logged onto my blog for many, many weeks; I feel a strange sense of personal guilt about my hiatus, and I didn't want to actually confirm when I last made an entry.  But upon finally taking the plunge today, I see that I haven't visited this site in almost four months.

Since running my half-marathon in March, my miles have gotten slower and much fewer in number.  The weather is often oppressively hot and humid, which doesn't help matters much, but mostly it's just hard for me to find the time and motivation to do much more.   I feel blessed that I have 30-40 minutes each morning for a run -- a claim my poor husband can't share.  I also know that, if only I could tear myself away from Ryder a little more quickly once his nanny walks in our door, I might even have 20 minutes more on the road.  Alas, I cannot.  I simply enjoy every moment I get with Ryder, and especially in the morning, when he's not yet exhausted and either crazy or cranky at the end of a long day.

Watching Le Tour and then the Olympics for the past several weeks, though, has left me yearning to train for a running race and/or get back into good cycling shape.  I feel less like a "runner" these days than simply "someone who runs."  Watching the women's Olympic marathoners collapse after crossing the finish line yesterday actually made me wistful.  It's been a very long time since I've been able to run long and hard enough to "leave it all on the road," and I miss it.

Perhaps my longing to train again is a good sign.  After all, when I asked Zdenek -- a former competitive swimmer -- whether watching the Olympic swimming events made him wish he could be back in the pool, he thought for about two seconds before replying, "Nope."  Yet, I countered, watching Le Tour does make you want to go for a bike ride, right?  He agreed.  It can only mean that he's spent too many years in the pool.  He had a finite number of laps in him, and they're spent.  The bike, on the other hand, is still relatively novel for him (and even more so for me).   When it comes to biking, we still have skills to master, times to improve, and, maybe, races to ride.

The fact that I miss running and cycling so much can only mean that, given the time and freedom once again, I will be back.  There are still a lot of miles left in me.  Perhaps I should be thankful that I'll have something to turn to when Ryder can't wait for me to get out the door.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Recently, Zdenek and I visited one of our local cycling shops in search of a bike helmet for Ryder. A few years ago, we would often spend a few hours on either Saturday or Sunday milling around the cycling shops, checking out the latest models and purchasing unnecessary accessories. Sadly, though, I rode all of twice (I think) last summer on my little red Giant, and Zdenek fared only slightly better. A few weeks ago when a bike catalog arrived in our mailbox, I actually shed a tear in realization of how dearly I miss cycling.  We resolved that night to try to make an effort to cycle at least a few times this summer – with Ryder – by taking advantage of the jogging-stroller-to-bike-trailer conversion feature of our Chariot, but we’re no doubt getting ahead of ourselves. If I’m honest, I bet we’ll cycle once – maybe twice – as a family this entire summer, because it’s going to be a lot of effort to get everyone hitched up and ready to ride:

1. Configure Zdenek’s rear tire to accommodate bike trailer.
2. Zdenek rides elevator down to lobby with his bike while Jodi and Ryder wait in the apartment.
3. Zdenek leaves his bike in the lobby and rides the elevator back up to the apartment.
4. Jodi, Zdenek, and Ryder leave the apartment with Ryder in the bike trailer and Jodi with her bike.
5. Jodi rides elevator down to the lobby with her bike; Zdenek rides in a different elevator with the bike trailer (and hopefully with Ryder still in it).
6. Family reconvenes in lobby. Zdenek hooks up bike trailer (with Ryder in it, assuming he hasn’t been removed due to crappy pants and/or attitude by this time) to his bike.
7. Family rides off together to Central Park and hopefully completes at least one loop.
8. Family returns home, and carries out steps 1-6 in reverse order.

And if that doesn't seem like the most inconvenient 20 minute workout ever designed, consider that the potentially most troublesome step isn’t even outlined: fitting Ryder into his bike helmet.

Like all munchkins his age, Ryder is a fan of patting his head when he hears the word “head,” and retrieving his hat when he hears the word “hat.” He doesn’t, however, like to combine “hat” and “head” together. He seems to prefer the feel of a gentle breeze through his fine blond hair, and hats are always greeted with a (1) toss, and (2) mini-tantrum if a chin strap or other accessory prevents him from tossing it. So despite how bad-ass Ryder’s new little Giro helmet looks with its flaming red design; despite the fact that he knows the word “helmet” and instantly retrieves all three of our helmets (individually) upon hearing it; and despite his obvious amusement at the sight of Zdenek and me wearing our helmets, the kid does not want his helmet on his head for more than a fraction of a second (let’s not even mention the chin strap).

Sadly, though, we won’t be able to cycle unless the little dude’s head is crash-proofed, and I can’t imagine getting him to that state without a lot of crying, kicking, and screaming (by all three of us). I have a feeling that the most difficult thing about cycling together won’t be the early hour at which we need to do it to avoid the crowds, nor the many steps involved in getting our bikes ready to go from our 10th floor apartment. No, the most difficult part about cycling as a family will likely turn out to be the total refusal of the smallest member to wear a simple, but necessary, piece of equipment. It makes me want to bang my head.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My better half

Another long stretch has passed since I’ve had the time and interest to make a post.  Life seems to pretty much consist of the same old stuff each day, and my running has left a lot to be desired.  For the past ten weeks, I’ve been training for the NYC Half-Marathon, and most of my training runs have been below my target pace and definitely lacking energy.  To be sure, I’m thankful for the 30-60 minutes I get three or four times during the week, and for the almost two hours afforded for my long runs every Sunday (thanks entirely to my amazing husband).  But I haven’t been very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve during these runs, and most of the time I’ve finished feeling woefully unprepared and like I’m actually getting in worse and worse shape, if that’s possible.  So by the time last Saturday rolled around, I found myself feeling both nervous and hopeless on the eve of the race.  Fast forward to Sunday post-race, however, and I was basking in the glow of what actually turned out to be one of my most memorable and enjoyable weekends in a long time.

On Friday night, Zdenek and I hobnobbed with the likes of Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, and Desiree Davilia at one of New York’s swankiest residential buildings.  Though I probably drank three glasses of wine too many, it was a wonderful night that served to remind me how much I love this sport and admire those who do it so well.  I also managed to corner Mary Wittenberg, head of the New York Road Runners, and promptly tell her that I would like her job (she didn’t offer it, unfortunately).  

The night before the big race, Zdenek gave me a heartfelt and much-needed pep talk.  I didn’t feel super confident when he was done, but at least I knew that my biggest fan was still there no matter what happened on Sunday morning.

And then, on Sunday morning, I ended up running what I would consider to be one of my best races.  Sure, I didn’t crack 1:40 like I was hoping, but I came awfully close.  I knocked 90 seconds off my half-marathon PR (and all four of my previous times have been within 30 seconds of each other, so this was a big step for me).  But the best part was that I took the first six miles easy (just as my pep talker advised), and I flew (as much as I can fly) for the last half.  From mile nine onwards, I passed 99% of the runners ahead of me.  Several things kept me going:
  • I  thought a lot about the 14 mile treadmill training run I did back in Mexico in January -- two hours in a stifling hot gym, all alone, facing the window with the blazing sun in my eyes.  It was the most unenjoyable run I had over those ten weeks, and no run down the west side of Manhattan could feel worse than that!
  • With four miles to go, I thought, "It's just one middle loop of Central Park."  With three miles, "It's just once around the bridle path from home and back."  With two miles, "Just a little more than one jaunt around the reservoir."  Thank goodness for Central Park and the thousands of runs I've done there over the years!
  • I thought about Zdenek and how much support he offers, and Ryder and how cute he is (because he's not yet that supportive), and the fact that becoming a mother hasn't completely taken running out of my life as I had once feared.
And it worked.  I eeked out 7:10-7:15 minutes/mile for the last four miles, and my last mile (which included an uphill!) was my fastest of the race: 7:08!!   Most amazing of all, I felt strong and fast at the finish, and almost as if I could have cranked out another mile at that pace (fortunately, I didn’t have to find out whether that was true or not).  And as I crossed over the finish line, who was there to say, “Congratulations,” and give me a hug?  Mary Wittenberg!  Amazingly, she recognized me from Friday night among a sea of 15,000 other runners.  I felt like Kara.  Kind of.

I’ve always thought that half-marathons are 75% of the training effort and only 50% of the reward of a full marathon, and so not really worth it.  But last weekend’s experience changed that for me.  I learned that it is possible to run a hard, fast half; that a full marathon probably won’t afford you the chance to finish feeling strong and energetic, which is  a special feeling at the end of a race; and that a great race is 100% of the reward, no matter the distance.  A few days on, I’m left wondering whether I went out too slowly and perhaps didn’t leave it all on the road – after all, if I had energy to run another mile, perhaps I didn’t run hard enough.  Maybe I could have broken 1:40?  Or maybe going out any faster would have backfired in the second half of the race, as it almost always does?  It’s hard to say.  I think  I need to run another one soon to try to figure it out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A rude awakening

While home in Canada over the Christmas break, I purchased a lottery ticket as I do, for some reason, every time I am visiting Canada. I never purchase lottery tickets here in the U.S., and I never purchased them regularly when I lived in Canada. But once or twice a year, I shell out $2 to play my chances at winning millions (tax-free). I never win. I did, however, win a different kind of lottery over the holidays: the New York Road Runners lottery for the NYC half-marathon, March 18.


It's now just over nine weeks until race day, and though I am running 30-40 miles per week, most of those miles are slow, and about half of them are lumped into the weekend. Proper training for a half-marathon demands speedier, longer runs mid-week, and I currently don't have much time for more than four miles before work.  Frankly, I'm not sure I have the energy, either.

In a determined effort to launch my half-marathon training this week with a speedwork session, however, I set my alarm for 5 am on Tuesday (so that, hopefully, I'd be home in time to look after Ryder while Zdenek got ready for work). But my Tuesday morning workout ended up sucking for a number of reasons:
  1. I was totally exhausted. 
  2. I had no time to make/drink coffee, and no time to take an, ahem, "natural break" before leaving the apartment. 
  3. The Park was pitch black and kind of deserted. 
  4. I couldn't run on the reservoir where the distances are marked because it was so dark, so I ran on the road with all of the other hardcore nuts who are out there at 5:20 am.  This meant that I had no idea how far/fast I was running. For all I know, I worked too hard or not hard enough (the latter is more likely). 
  5. About 20 minutes in, I had to take a natural break -- and speedwork is possibly the worst thing to be doing when you have to take natural break -- but the Park's public restrooms weren't yet open and I'll be damned if I was going to go back home after I had gotten up so early. 
  6. I finally headed to the reservoir to finish some of my shorter intervals. Though I could barely see the distance markers, it was far worse that I could barely see the ground, and that path is not completely even.  I was literally fumbling in the dark, and am lucky I didn't twist an ankle. 
  7. I finally returned home, and then Zdenek had to look after Ryder while I took a shower, anyway, so really we didn't save much in terms of time.
I know that I will run 13.1 miles on March 18, but after Tuesday's experience, I'm not holding out hopes for any PRs.  I probably have a better chance of winning millions.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An (almost) announcement

I have a lot of difficulty finding time to make a post these days, and I've considered a few times just shutting down this blog altogether.  I actually poked around for 90 seconds on trying to figure out how to do this, but because it wasn't immediately obvious, I opted to make another post instead.  Might as well keep the blog active in the time it would take me to figure out how to close it down.

It's not that I don't have any free time these days -- indeed, there are usually a few minutes each night between the time that dinner has been eaten and cleaned up (8:30 pm) and when I need to think about getting ready for bed (9:00 pm).  But I have a hard time summoning any creative juices in that window.  (I'm not, of course, suggesting that this blog is at all creative, but composing an entry takes slightly more brainpower than, say, eating a bowl of ice cream while watching a previously recorded episode of "Modern Family.")

Moreover, my life really isn't that interesting these days.  Work is work.  I'm running simply to get in the miles.  I don't go anywhere other than to the swings, the Manhattan Children's Museum, or Whole Foods.  I've had a "date night" with Zdenek but once in the last 11.5 months.  I'm not reading any books, unless you count Your Child's Brain or Toddler 411 (the former actually is pretty interesting, at least to a science nerd such as myself, but the latter reads more like a horror story of what is to come in 2012 and beyond).   I really haven't accomplished anything of significance, and my days are pretty much limited to just trying to get through them.  Besides, Ryder's transition to a straw cup this weekend doesn't really seem to be that important to anyone other than Zdenek, Ryder's nanny, and me.

I do, however, have one small item to report.  I have just entered my first application for a race since 2010: the New York City Half Marathon, March 18, 2012.  I've run this race before, but the first few years I took part it was held in August, so I think I might actually enjoy a March race day.  Indeed, I only remember feeling like part of a herd of sweaty cattle moving through a too-cramped Central Park before pounding the pavement in the blistering sun down the West Side Highway, and that's not an experience I'm anxious to repeat. 

To be sure, this is an insanely popular race, and there's no guarantee that my application will even be successful.  But if it is (and I think I'll find out soon whether or not that's the case), I will have a decision to make in short order: Do I run it just for fun, and not worry about my time?  After all, I'm comfortably running 40 miles per week and finding time/energy (with lots of support from my husband) for 15-16 miles each Saturday.  Or do I actually train for this, and try, despite my usually exhausted state, to run anything approaching a PR?  Am I really willing to get up at 5 am to run intervals and hill repeats in the dark of the morning?  Would that make me happy / proud / satisfied / pleasant to be around?  Or is one more hour of rest the saner choice?  (Note that I didn't say "sleep," because I've found that the crazy mental changes of motherhood have basically rendered me incapable of sleeping past 4:30 or 5:00 am.)

At least for now, this is one decision that I can defer -- until I know whether the New York Road Runners has actually accepted my application and charged my credit card a non-refundable fee of $128.

Watch this space.  (While it's still around.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A tribute

A few days ago, after running 15.5 miles (my longest run since my 2010 marathon), I began writing a post that was intended as a tribute to my husband.  Without Zdenek, I would never be able to run (or cycle) as frequently and far as I do, and I just wanted to give him a public shout-out to let him know that his support does not go unnoticed.  I never finished the post, unfortunately, but today I found a different way of expressing my gratitude.  The picture below represents a word cloud of my blog, life to-date.  This may be a space ostensibly devoted to chronicling my running and cycling adventures, but I think it's pretty obvious where my true passion lies.