Sunday, April 13, 2014

Summer travel, tortillas, & my longest run since the boys were born

We are still in Mexico, our time is winding down and we leave at the end of the week.  It's bittersweet. Being here for this long, together, has been a crazy awesome experience and one that I will never forget.  I get a lot of questions and some comment about how we are able to do the kind of summer travel we do over the summers.  We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to travel and spend so much time together over the summer, but it's not without sacrifice.  The academic year is a tough time for our family, especially this past year when we had Braxton and Caden's births and two newborns.  Brian still had to teach, coach, and travel.   However, we do that for what we are able to get in the summers and it's worth it to us.  We made the decision for Brian to take his paternity leave this semester instead of the last semester and, yes, it meant he wasn't home as much as we both would have liked after the boys were born.  But it also means we are able to go to Mexico for a month.  And then spend time with each of our families.  We have loved being here, but are also looking forward to having our feet on US soil.  

Our days here look differently than when we would travel just the two of us.  The boys keep us more house-bound than before we had them, but  they give us good smiles, it allows both of us to get good workouts in, and Brian can get some time to work.  Beyond our workouts, we try to get out once a day…normally to go get tacos and ice cream for a late lunch….and we try to get down to the beach to see the sunset.  There is a good sports bar in town where we got to watch some March Madness games and the Pacquiao-Bradley fight (Brian is a huge boxing fan…which means I am by default).  Fortunately our boys are really adaptable and two babies are always a ridiculously big hit here!  

The other thing about being in Mexico is that I have grown incredibly fond of tortillas.  And let me tell you, there is a notable difference between tortillas you buy at the grocery store and the kind you get in Mexico.  When I think about what I can do with tortillas, I feel like Forrest Gump when he talks about everything you can do with shrimp…breakfast tacos, lunch tacos, dinner tacos, dessert tacos (they sell Nutella in Mexico!), egg scramble tacos, chicken tacos, shrimp tacos, fruit tacos, cheesy tacos…..tortillas pre-run….tortillas post-run….snack tortillas….you get the idea.  If I'm hungry, I just get a tortilla :-D 

This is what our nights looks like.  We put the boys to bed and sit on our porch with this view and the ocean in the background.  Yes, it will be missed.

The great thing about being here with Brian is that it has been easy for me to build my mileage back up again because we take turns and he can watch them when I run.   I like to *try* to get out early before the boys wake up and get my run in during the sunrise.  I love being out running at that time and it's so much easier because otherwise neither of us get out before about 9:00 and then we are both running in the heat.

I've had a total of 32 miles for each of the past 2 weeks.  I'm happy with that, although I still want to get my weekly mileage a little higher before I start working on speed work.  I wanted to do 14 on Saturday.  Before leaving for my run, I briefly wondered when the last time I did 14 or more was.  I looked it up….on August 25th I did 16.  Two days before Braxton was born!  My heart actually skipped a beat when I saw the date and then I briefly wondered if it was correct…did I really go out and do a 16 mile run two days before Braxton was born?  Yes, because I wasn't carrying him and he came 2 weeks early and we had NO idea he was about to be born.  Then it brought back all the emotion of finding out his birthmom was going into labor and packing in a flash and getting on the first flight we could…amazing memories.

Back to my long run.  I did 14 miles in the sun, heat, sand, and trails.  It was...H.A.R.D.  Additionally, I made such a rookie mistake and completely fouled up my water and fuel situation.  Long story short, I ran out of water by 6 miles and had no fuel with me. I know, I know.  I actually came back home at 13.5 (no, I could not go .25 further and turn around to get 14) and sat down and gulped some water.  Then I managed to go back out and get the last half mile to make it 14….with Brian's *gentle* encouragement.  I ended up running 14.01 and was so mad about that extra .01.  I could've stopped sooner!  Anyway, I got it done and then got a 6 mile run done on Sunday morning, even though my legs felt like toast.  Good training for Ragnar :-D

The 6 miler felt great….after a gentle warm-up that was low and slow. Every mile for the first 4 was about 10 seconds faster, then I evened out for the last 2 miles.

When was the last time you misjudged your water/fuel on a long run?

What are your favorite fillings for a tortilla?

What sacrifices do you/your family make for things that are important to you?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Life lately

So it's been awhile, hasn't it?  Yeah, a little bit.  It's always so hard to know what to say when I haven't posted recently.  And now I have done the obligatory way-too-long post to make up for that….my bad….

The motto for the past month (and upcoming months) is: have baby(s), will travel.  The itinerary is as follows: Florida, Mexico, Jersey, Michigan

Our first trip with both boys (Braxton's 2nd trip, he's got the whole flying thing down) was in mid-March to Florida to watch Brian coach the Razorback hockey team in the national tournament.  The team played well, but ultimately came up one goal short of moving onto the semi-finals - picture the format of a March Madness bracket.  The boys seemed to manage being absolutely smothered with love and attention from all four grandparents and Brian's aunt and uncle (their grand-aunt and grand-uncle?).

Brian is currently on a sabbatical (also his paternity leave) this semester and it has long been our plan that he would use his sabbatical after we had a baby and take the opportunity to travel and plant our feet somewhere for awhile.  After adopting the boys, we didn't know if it we would still be able to do it since we had two babies instead of one, but lo and behold, here we are…making our home a little 'casita' in Mexico with both boys for about a month!

Fortunately the boys are pretty adaptable and have adjusted well to to all the changes we've thrown at them.

Other "life" things include that our house is completely empty and all of our belongings are in storage…as in we are mid-move.  We've been hunting around for awhile and have had two contracts on homes that didn't work out, but right now time is on our side and we check in with Zillow during our morning coffee for new listings.

I haven't been doing a ton of cooking while in Mexico, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing a ton of eating!  We are staying in Todos Santos, which is a little rustic town on the Pacific side of Mexico, about an north of Cabo.  There are more Americans here than it initially appears, but it is still true to its roots and authentic.  It's also not overly touristy or commercialized, which we love.  I've never been one who would put Mexican food at the top of my favorites, but it's our 3rd time in Mexico and, each time, I can't get enough.  Every meal seems better than the previous, everything is fresh, I could eat the guacamole with a spoon it's so good, and it's all cheap.   We have also discovered a delicious little ice cream shop with the creamiest ice cream ever.  Wouldn't.Change.A.Thing.

All things running have been going really well.  As in I can't get enough, I am feeling great, I am motivated and energized, and it's nice to be back to my old running self.

The only exception would be that the Kinvara 5s are seemingly taking forever to be released.  As an aside, is it bad that I Google them to see if photos have been released so I know what the color options will be?  Okay, maybe we should keep that quiet….everyone might not understand.

Back to running, it's not easy going in Mexico.  It actually makes running with a double stroller look easy.  I have a love-hate relationship with the running trails where we are.  I love them, but I wish there were other options to switch it up some.  Basically, the single option is running in trails that are sand.  Yep, trail running in sand.  To be fair, some are true single path trails and some are roads, but there isn't much difference, it's all sand….some parts hard packed sand and some parts sandy sand.  The views are gorgeous, the ocean breeze is great, and I have come to LOVE the (sandy) trail running.  But there is one part, when I go from one trail to another, where I am on pavement for a brief time and I feel like my legs spring into action, can finally breathe, and as if I bouncing along the road….that's when I miss the road.  And, to put it in perspective, that section is quit hilly, as in roller-coaster style hills….but it still feels amazingly good.

Speedwork or pace-specific runs just aren't an option - sand is just not friends with speed :-D  It's okay for me, my goals right now are all about building my base and building a strong base, so I love it.  I can just run.  That's it and it's all I'm doing and I love it.  Some days are on the fast side and some days are on the slow side and it's all okay.  It's a little more stressful for Brian because his training calls for more specific speed work and pace-specific runs right now, but we are coming up with a plan B to meet his goals.

I ran two local races before leaving and PR-ed in both….to be fair, one was a new race distance, so it was a guaranteed PR.

First, I ran the Valentine's Day 8K, which was the guaranteed PR, but I was still happy with my time.  I crossed in 40:30, 3rd female for my age group.  This race had some sweet bonus swag and included a long sleeve quarter zip tech shirt!

The second race was the Kiss Me I'm Irish 10K where I crossed in 52:02…but I need to add the course ran long - as stated by the course organization, not just Beth's Garmin.  I know I'm being petty, but it's been really exciting for me to watch my paces go down and get back to where I was before and every second counts.

Upcoming races include the NJ half marathon, Broad Street Run, Ragnar Cape Cod relay, possibly the Charlevoix half marathon, and Cherry Festival 15K.   Beyond that, I am hoping to get into the Chicago marathon for the fall.

I've kept up with yoga and try to go 2 or 3 times a week.  I find I always benefit from it, mentally and physically, regardless of the type of class.  I fell in love with the classes I was going to back home -  power flow classes in a heated room; however what I've found in Mexico are slower classes.  At first I thought I might be bored or not challenged, but I have found that I get drawn in and feel great afterward.  Plus you can't beat the setting - the classes are held outside, under a palapa roof overlooking palm trees.

As you can see, I'm not blogging as regularly (and then I make up for that with a ridiculously long post catching up on everything from the past few months….again, my bad).  Truth be told, two babies is a lot of work and my days just go quickly.  Every time I feel like I am finding my ground and can start to create some form of structure or balance, everything changes.  Blogging continues to be important to me and it is something I want to continue.  Especially now.  My running is picking up momentum and, to me, that's the most exciting time to be blogging.  I have goals I want to reach, I think they are obtainable, and I would love for the journey to be documented.  Additionally, I personally benefit from the reflection and insight I gain by writing it all out.  And making a few friends along the way sweetens the deal :D

What's your favorite type of food?  

Trail running - yay or nay?

Any travel plans for the summer?

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

BOB Ironman Duallie Review & stroller running in general

Disclaimer: All of these opinions are my own, I did not receive any product or compensation for this review and BOB does not know I am even writing it.  Also, I did not run with the boys until I received permission from our pediatrician based on his evaluation of their head and neck control.  
I mentioned here that the BOB Ironman Duallie is one of my favorite baby items and that I would be doing a full review of the stroller.  Deciding what strollers to get was not a decision I took lightly…..some might even say I put a little too much into the decision…and they might have a case.  But, in my defense, when I read stroller reviews, so many of them would start off listing all the strollers they had previously owned that didn't work and how they wish they had just gotten "x" stroller in the beginning.  Brian has a motto that we applied to picking strollers for the boys: Do it right the first time.

I knew I wanted a BOB because of the reputation, so I was choosing between the Ironman Duallie and the Revolution SE Duallie.  I struggled wanting to get the Ironman because it is an expensive stroller and, since the front wheel is locked, it doesn't really double up as an everyday stroller and is really just an expensive stroller that you can only use for running.  And while I looked forward to running with the boys, I didn't actually know if I would enjoy it.  No pressure, right?

What made me decide on the BOB Ironman Duallie?
In short my analysis went like this:  Running with a stroller is harder than running without a stroller.  Running with two babies is harder than with one baby.  Running with them will only continue to get harder as they get bigger.  If it is too hard to run with the stroller, then I will lose the motivation to do so.  Therefore, I want the stroller that makes stroller running as easy as it can be so I will want to do it and so it will be enjoyable.  Plus, I wanted to be able to go on longer runs with them and to run with them regularly, as opposed to occasional shorter runs.

In all honesty, the Revolution Duallie didn't have much appeal to me as an everyday stroller anyway since it is so big and bulky.  The single Revolution may have more utility as an everyday stroller, but the Duallie was just too big and bulky to really use as an everyday stroller anyway.  So if I weren't using the stroller as an everyday one too, I figured I should get the stroller intended specifically for running.  That basically sums up my thought process.  See, I told you I put *a lot* of thought into this.

I should note here that I may not have debated so much between the two strollers if we were only having one baby and I would likely have gotten the Revolution SE.  I think the single Revolution can double up as an everyday stroller much easier than the double.

Running with the Ironman Duallie is great and I cannot imagine a better jogging stroller.  I am going to avoid the technical features like that it has pneumatic tires or describing the suspension system because I don't know what they mean and, instead, I'll tell you what I like about it in everyday terms.  Here's my list:
  • It has tires similar to a bicycle and, I don't know why exactly, but it makes a huge difference.  The stroller feels like it is floating and it is honestly not as hard to push as you would think, especially when you consider I'm pushing 60 extra pounds (the stroller is 34lbs and the boys are over 30lbs together).
  • I was a little nervous about the fixed wheel and wondered if it would be hard or awkward to turn.  It's not.  It was easy to adjust to and it is easy to turn the stroller by adjusting your weight or pushing on one side.  To make a 90 degree turn, I normally pop the front tire up and turn on the back wheels.  
  • Another benefit about the wheels and construction (this is probably where the suspension system comes in), it is a very smooth ride for the boys….even when I pop that front tire up or go over bumps.  
  • Each seat independently reclines and has its own sun shade, which I personally think is a good size.  
  • A weather shield is available which is at the top of my wish list for next winter (we have to be almost done with the cold this year, right?!).  I think this would allow me to be able run with the boys in cooler temps and if it were drizzling (obviously I would use judgment here…I am imagining the grandparents cringing right now).
  • The shades each have a large viewing window I can open and am able to check on the boys.
  • I use a head and body insert (found here) to help support the boys since they are still young and small.

Cons (note all of these things apply to all BOB strollers and I personally think the size and weight contribute to what makes the strollers so great):
  • It's heavy (but that's true of all double strollers)
  • It's bulky
  • It's expensive and does not come with any accessories, all accessories (console, car seat adapter, weather or sun shield, snack tray) are extra

What I like about stroller running
I honestly love running with the boys more than I thought I would and I can't wait for it to warm up so I can run with them more regularly.  We are going to be traveling for several months starting in the spring and one of my biggest disappointments is that I might not be able to bring the stroller (first world problems, I know).

My first run was a 4 miler and I felt as if I could keep going when it was over.  The best way to describe my initial impression was that it felt comparable to swimming with a kick board.  The next run was 6 miles and then 8 miles.  I am not worried about working my mileage up with the stroller at all, my biggest concern is actually having to go to the bathroom while I have the stroller with me.  I don't really have a good solution there yet, it would be too big to get in anywhere with me.  

What I don't like about stroller running
Now it is not all puppies and rainbows when you run with a stroller.  There are two things that can be hard to begin with, but are a whole new world when pushing a stroller.  Wind and hills.  And you might as well forget about trying to go uphill in the wind with a stroller!   It is also a lot of extra work to push the stroller while running.  However, I hope it will pay off in the way running with a weighted vest pays off and I'll end up being surprisingly fast when I'm stroller free in races :-D

 Parents - do you run with a stroller?  What models or features are your favorite?

Does anyone have warm weather right now?  ANYONE???

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