Thursday, April 24, 2008

Liam's Progress

At his one year birthday, Liam seemed way behind. But by the time his 'adjusted age" birthday came along five weeks later he was doing everything he was supposed to: he could point, he could talk, and best yet, he could chew!

Our little guy with the lazy jaw couldn't suck at birth, never had enough strength to breastfeed, and gagged himself for months on solid food, but by golly, he's starting to get a hang of this eating thing! Now to get him out of the 10th percentile for weight! (we're not doing so well on that front; he gained only a half a pound in the last two months!).

And while it is nice to put food on his tray and not have to feed him; his verbal explosion is probably more fun to watch. Liam's vocab now includes: cat, kittie, Daaaa (dad), Mum (mom), burd (bird), bu-ba (bye-bye) which is very close to both ba-ba (bottle) and bub-a (bubbles). Plus he signs more ("muh"), food ("fff"), and milk ("wik"), while attempting to say the words. And he will repeat just about anything you say.

Liam's motor skills are coming along, too. He not only flies up the stairs, but he is pretty good at going down once he gets turned around. Megan would have tried to nose dive down the entire flight when she was this age. Also Liam can open doors, which is about a year before Megan did. It is not so much that Megan couldn't, it was just a different attitude. Megan was more like,"ah, the cupboards and drawers are closed, I should probably just let them be." Whereas I can see Liam thinking,"Oooh, if the cupboards and drawers are closed, there MUST be something really good in there, so I should go open them right away."

We're still waiting for him to walk (Megan: 14 months, 3 days). We're taking over/under bets on June 10th (adjusted age: 14.5 months). Once he's got that down, we can probably give up on this adjusted age crap once and for all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Polly Parrot

Sometimes the things you say come back to haunt you.

P:Megan, where are your pants?
Megan: I don't have a clue.

Megan, while coloring: Uh, my muscles are so tired! (maybe I've said that once or twice in the last two weeks)

"There's a frickin' name tag on my sock!" (That one she got from Mac!!)

And then there's a Megan original: "I don't want to share Mommy with Liam."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back to the Kiddos

Ok, now that I've bored you with my running stories, we can get back to kiddos. Mac's mom was here Wednesday through Sunday. Unfortunately, she had to put up with a lot of sickies, but she did manage to get ame good shots of the kids with her new camera.

Look how nicely Liam's three bottom teeth have come in. Where is the fourth one? Good question. Megan had some asymetric dental growth as well, but they eventually all came in.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Geart Graupel!

Friday's weekend weather forecast was for snow and graupel down to 500 feet elevation. We sit around 850 feet. Mac was ever the skeptic:"I'll believe it when I see it; it was nearly 80 degrees last weekend!"

Well, believe it, baby!

Native Oregonians probably learned about graupel somewhere around age 5. Mac and I, as Southern California transplants, only learned this weekend that graupel is the term for a unique form of frozen precipitation, that is something like a cross between hail and snow, with a consistency perfect for "snow castles."

By the afternoon the snow and graupel had melted and the deer came out to play (or at least munch) in our field.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Bad Week

The week started off pretty good with Sunday's race, but the rest of the week went downhill fast.

I knew I'd be sore on Monday; that didn't really bother me. I had to do a kind of penguin waddle to get down stairs, but part of me really likes that soreness. It let's me know I worked out hard, really hard.

But then Monday I was in the dentist's chair getting two cavities filled. I haven't had a cavity in a decade - what gives? My dentist is a warm fun guy, but he is full of cheesy analogies. For my check-up, he kept comparing my teeth and his tests to pathology terms for me. And after telling him about my race, he let me know that one of my cavities was a lot bigger than he had originally thought. "If I were to compare your cavities to running," he started while I regretted telling him about the previous day's race,"the one on your right side would be just like a 5k race, but the one on the left, that one was more like a marathon!" Fabulous. Fortunately, he was able to fill them both in just over an hour. Too bad it wasn't a marathon, because that's be a crazy fast world record!

Thursday, I went home from work sick and got home to find Liam suffering from a similar fate. By 3 am Saturday morning, the bug had made its way to Megan. She made her illness known by vomiting all over me and her bed, requiring a middle of the night linen change. Liam greeted Mac in similar fashion at 5:50 in our bedroom, adding to the rapidly growing laundry pile. By Saturday night my hubris over not needing other doctors came back to bite me when I realized I had strep throat! I managed to avoid this malady in my adolescence, so I wasn't too worried when Megan's preschool reported a couple of cases at school. But somehow the bug got passed to me and I assure you I was NOT making out with the three year olds! Fortunately, a doc friend was able to hook me up with meds so I didn't have to go back on my word about not going to see a physician anytime soon! I'm not being so cavalier with the kids - they are going to the pediatrician's tomorrow.

Because of illness, I ran a lousy three miles this week (not counting the race). Today I was planning to go for a long run, but just couldn't deal with the "graupel" that was coming down (We learned this vocab word from the Salem paper this week. Who knew it could be so educational?!?). Mac and I went to the gym instead, where I decided to run a "pace" workout on the treadmill. I was hoping to do an hour at 8.0 mph, but I didn't make it past six miles. This afternoon, my legs were mildly sore again. This is the soreness I don't like, the soreness that says "you're a big wimp." Yeah, I was tired and sick this week, but I was still disappointed.

I am hoping that vacation (two weeks off starting Monday) and a bottle of antibiotics bring better things in the weeks to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coach, Train Thyself

We've all heard the phrase,"Doctor, heal thyself, a gentle admonishment to physicians to practice what they preach. It might be good advice, but I have an M.D. after my name, too, so why do I need some family practice doc to tell if I am doing alright?! In other words, I don't think there is any reason for scheduling my "annual" check-up any more frequently than my current five year intervals.

On a different topic, any good coach will tell you to work up to a major goal gradually and to make sure you are ready for any major athletic undertaking. I am currently JD's consultant coach for his marathon training and I wouldn't tell him anything different. In fact, I did tell him 16 weeks is not enough, he should start running now to ensure readiness. After January's 10K Get Fit Quickly scheme, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I decided to ignore this advice.

Though I have been pretty diligent about running since the year started, doing five days a week most weeks, my mileage has been quite low. I usually do one 6 mile run a week, that is, if the weather is nice, and everything else is about four miles. A lot of these four mile sessions include some sort of interval work, mostly just because I get bored running the same speed on the treadmill. I did one 7.5 mile run, but that was back in February. So naturally, a 20 mile race seemed like a good idea (actually only a mere 19.5 miles). And, oh yeah, it was going to be on trails, which is something that seems to be lacking in Salem, so I haven't done any trail running. I was feeling a little scared about my preparations, so Monday I ran the nine miles home from work. I managed nine minute mile pace pretty easily, so thought, "How bad could things go? I could walk the last ten miles if I had to."

Hoping NOT to walk much though, I had a goal sequence for myself: Tops on the list: nine minute mile pace or 2 hours, 55 minutes. Barring that, I wanted to break 3 hours. And then between those was the time of 2:58, which based on last year's times, would be good enough for a top ten finish. And then the very scared (and reasonable) part of me was thinking,"It'd be good to just finish."

I spent the latter half of this week with laryngitis and then the Sisters fire department decided to control burn all of the underbrush this weekend, making the air thick with smoke, but neither of those things really seemed to factor in until after tha race was over, when I my lungs felt like it was a smog alert day in Southern California, so I'll skip to my Peterson Ridge Rumble race report:

There was no gun. Just a guy with a bull horn, saying "Ten seconds...three, two, one, GO!" And we all set off. The fast people headed to the front, the slow people crowded in the back, and I found myself in no-man's land, running somewhere in the middle. A little over a mile into the race, a bearded guy with grey hair and a bright orange shirt came up from behind along with his younger running partner. They caught up to a pack of ten or so guys about five yards ahead. I figured it'd be nice to be with a group, and so I caught up and leeched on to the back of the pack. I didn't think the pace changed much at all over the next two miles but slowly the pack dropped off until it was just me, the grey haired guy and his friend. We shared our city of origins at that point (they were from Corvallis), but not our names. As we turned off the dirt road on to the trail, the pair asked me if I wanted to pass. No, I told them, I was very happy behind them. Frankly, I was a bit nervous to be with them at all since they made such quick work of our pack. What pace were we running anyway?

I came out of the first aid station at 40 minutes. Many good runners write the splits they are aiming for on their race number or their arm. While I had calculated out 9-minute mile splits, I thought it'd be a bit pretentious to write them on myself and so I was a bit foggy as to what this split was supposed to be. In my mind it seemed like we were quite a bit ahead of pace.

I left the aid station right behind the Corvallis duo and let them pace up the hilly section to the top at aid station 2. The pair refueled faster than I, but I saw the orange shirted guy signaling me to join them as they were leaving, so I tossed back my water and grabbed a couple of animal crackers for the trail. "Thanks for letting me run with you." I said to them. "No, problem," my companion answered back, "besides we are going to need you to pace us on the way back, I can tell." As he said this my legs felt springy and light. Internally, I joked to myself,"No wonder my morning four miles seems so hard - it takes me eight miles to warm up!" I took the lead for our trio, as we started our 3.4 mile loop around the top of the hill on our way back to the previous aid station (now re-named aid station 3). When the trail went to single track, I was feeling good. I passed three guys; I chatted it up a bit with my new bud, Theo (his friend was falling behind at this point). And then even Theo wasn't hanging with me anymore. I passed two more guys before finishing the loop.

At this point, I gulped down a salt tablet and was immensely amused by this. While most Americans are getting something like five times the recommended dose of sodium from their diets, here I was ingesting salt in pill form. And this wasn't a small pill like I had imagined (sodium and potassium are measured in milligrams after all), this was an electrolyte horse pill. In my mind I jested: "Hey, Tiger, I might not have Gatorade specially formulated for me, but I need extra electrolytes, too!"

With the salt in my belly, I headed out and immediately passed a guy. Then on the downhill, I caught up with a guy and a gal running together. The guy asked if I wanted to pass, but I was ready to have someone else in the lead, so I hung back. A minute or two later he veered off the trail, presumably to the call of nature. The gal immediately picked it up, I figured she didn't like me on her tail. I thought she needn't worry - I was starting to feel tired and her stride looked a lot springier than mine felt at that point. Plus I figured if she paced me to the finish in strong time (for I knew we were ahead of my 2:55 goal), I would gladly let her finish ahead of me. We caught up to another woman about a quarter mile before the next aid station. I recognized her grey singlet with florescent pink piping as someone who had started in the fast pack at the beginning. We ran in line to the aid station - 2:12 - a good deal ahead of schedule, but man, my quads were getting tight fast.

I wolfed down a few candies and gulped a water. The two ladies were still munching when I took off. Less than a mile later we were back on the dirt road; I had passed one more guy. The road was hot and boring. Several wilting people were ahead of me. I passed four more guys as they took walk breaks, but I was slowing down fast. We crossed a road and I knew I was 20 minutes away, at least that is how long it took me to get there from the starting line. I ran six minutes, my thighs burned. Two more I told myself, then you can walk a bit. But with 12 minutes of running left, I thought I should get to the ten minute mark before I walked. At that point, I thought I should just slow down my pace for a few minutes before I needed to walk. It was all mind games, but it was working. A tiny downhill got my legs going a bit faster - keep it going for one more minute. Then let's try a couple more slow jog minutes. One of the wakers had started running again and he passed me back - the only person to pass me the entire race - Run with him for a minute. Ok, two more slow jog minutes. And, then I saw a fence and a building - CIVILIZATION! - you can go a few more minutes, you are almost there. Now you are crossing to the school, can't stop now, people are watching. At that point, there was nothing to do but keep running to the finish.

It took me twenty-seven minutes to get to the finish from the road, but that is because I hadn't considered that the finish was about a half mile past the starting line (with an evil lap around the track at the end). I didn't walk and so probably only lost a couple of minutes. I crossed the line in 2:47:22, ahead of all of my goals (8:35 pace!) and good enough for sixth place. The guy who passed me finished just ahead of me (Joe M.). Springy-legs Girl was seventh in the women's race. Theo finished in 2:50 and change.
After the race with my lime green finisher's socks (no, seriously - they are quite nice and much more practical than a useless finisher's medal) and the Montrail hat I won in the raffle.

Who needs good advice and good training? And don't expect me to make a doctor's appointment anytime soon either!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Accidents happen

This week Megan had a little "accident." She told us she needed to use the potty and then headed off to the bathroom. A few minutes later a blood curdling squeal echoed down the halls, waking Liam from his nap.

In her zealous haste, it seems that Megan forgot to account for the closed lid - a necessity around here now that Liam thinks toilets are for splashing in. In a variation of the Saran wrap on the seat gig, urine flowed over the lid, all over Megan's pants and socks and onto the floor, to Megan's absolute horror.

We calmed her sobs while over her head we agreed this was the most amusing reason for wiping pee off the floor, and then gently reminded Megan that she needs to lift the seat before she goes.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

About Time

For the first time EVER the Smith family sat down together as a family AND everybody ate the SAME thing (kid friendly homemade tuna noodle casserole). The heavens smiled down on this momentous event as the clouds cleared and sun came streaming in the windows. Yes, in reality, I had to feed Liam his food before I even got a bite of mine. Megan picked out her mushrooms, the tuna and the breadcrumb topping, eating only the noodles before demanding yogurt. But for one brief moment, there was the facade of an actual family dinner!

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Little Tease

Have you been waiting around for Hawaii pictures so long that you're not even sure we actually went? Yeah, me, too. So here's a quickie overview.

Hot Lava
Hot Beach
Hot Guys
What more do you need to know??

If you're still pining for more (and you haven't been blinded my Mac's overly bright shirt), let me assure you it is still on my mental list of Things To Do. But since I have been more serious about getting in shape again, many other things have taken a back seat. Like the blog. I have been going to bed early and getting up even earlier (4:30 on Wednesday for a four mile run and an hour of "Group Power"!). In fact, my bedtime isn't much later than Megan's which means almost no kid-free time to do adult things like write about our Hawaiian vacation. On the flip side, I ran a six minute mile for the first time in years this week! Give and take...what are you going to do? (I mean besides win the lottery and quit work).