Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Teal Nightmare

A week ago I ran the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon.  It was my 11th marathon overall-- my 3rd since Will was born and my first since he stopped nursing.  I trained pretty well for it, considering that I'm also working full time, caring for a small child, writing a novel, creating a new framework of Alouatta ontogeny, folding laundry, scrubbing toilets, and cooking everybody's dinner in all my spare time.

Weather on race was perfect, and other than being chronically sleep deprived, everything was great.  I dressed all in teal, as you can see below.  I don't know why.  I didn't really plan it.  I centered my wardrobe around those shorts, just because they are really comfortable.  It turned out that the race number was teal too, which I didn't even find out until the day before when I picked up my packet.  Before the race I even wore a teal fleece, which was also unplanned.  It is just the oldest fleece I own and the one I would be the least sad to lose if I ended up just throwing it down on the side of the road.  I felt like a veritable teal nightmare.

Rob's parents visited us that weekend, and they stayed at home with Will.  Rob and I took the metro downtown before dawn, which was nice and also kind of fun.  The train was packed with runners, and I made friends with a nice lady who was running the half.  We arrived downtown by about 6:30 and then stood out there in the semi-cold for an hour waiting for the start.

Melissa pre-race


Early miles


Enjoying the run


I ran pretty slow in the first miles, kind of just because I had to.  They did a "wave start" (I was in the 6th corral), which probably helped a lot with the conjestion, but it was still fairly congested.  After the first couple miles went by way too slowly, I got a little panicky and started frantically trying to pick up the pace.  The thing is, it actually felt pretty difficult to run any faster, which should have been a bad sign.  You don't want to feel tired at mile 4 of a marathon.  I ignored it and ran faster.  This is a terrible strategy, I know, but it actually worked for me really well at the Indianapolis Marathon in 2008.  I thought I would be okay.  I ran a couple of 8:15's and then kept it steady at 8:35 for a while.  I thought I could pull off a 3:45 finish.

There were hills.  I didn't worry about them.  I just ran.  About mile 8 I thought, something doesn't feel right.  I'd brought my phone with me and had an "Emergency Playlist" of Amy Ray songs to get me through if something terrible happened.  I never ever ever listen to music when I'm running a marathon, but at mile 8, I turned it on.  I thought, I'll just listen to this for a mile or two and then I'll feel better.

Around mile 9, I saw Rob again.  I smiled and gave him a thumbs up, all the while thinking, why am I giving him a thumbs up?  I feel terrible.  I kept running.  I ate some Clif Shot blocks and took some Endurolytes.  I drank water at every aid station.  The energy replacement drink was "Cytomax," which tasted like Lemon Pledge.  Seriously.  As a public service announcement to race directors: Just do Gatorade.  Always.  I guess it is probably more complicated, involving things like sponsorship and money and whatnot, but Cytomax and Melissa did not mix.  I know, I know.  I should have realized Cytomax was the energy drink at this marathon and gone out and found somewhere to buy it so that I could get used to running with it.  But seriously, I just could not deal with that.  Too many loads of laundry to fold, too many crock pots of chili to make.  I can buy Gatorade at Schucks, so that is what I train with.  During the marathon, I got horrible stomach cramps, so I stopped taking any Cytomax.  I thought, I've got my Clif Shot blocks and Endurolytes... I'll be okay."

There were more hills.  There was a big hill at mile 14.  I'd been running 8:35's but I dropped to over 9:00.  The 3:50 pace group passed me.  I remained convinced that their pace leader was running way too fast and they were ahead of schedule.  I picked up my pace again but felt completely dead and I still couldn't catch them.  I then convinced myself that it was actually the 3:40 pace group that had passed me.  (It wasn't).

I felt more and more terrible.  I took an orange slice from somebody in the crowd.  It tasted good, but I felt no better.  I didn't understand why I just had no energy... I'd eaten a whole pack of Shot Blocks by this point (200 calories)-- which is more than I've eaten during some entire marathons.  I wasn't drinking electrolytes, but I had taken a couple of Endurolytes, which I thought would be equivalent.

At mile 16, I saw Rob again.  I'd been listening to Beauty Queen Sister for a while on repeat by this point, completely ignoring all the cover bands out there on the course who were playing things like Sweet Home Alabama. I must have looked bad.  Rob stayed with me for the next 10 miles, riding off to the side on his Bike Friday.

He said he had a banana and did I want it.  I said yes.  I couldn't even say thank you when he handed it to me.  I took a bite and knew it was a mistake.  It felt kind of like when I threw up kale, except with banana instead.  I'd had enough calories, I didn't think I needed to eat, so why did I feel this way?

There were more hills, and a hairpin turn around a cone in Carondelet Park.  I couldn't handle anything but water at the aid stations, and most of the time I ended up coughing up the water because for some reason my throat wasn't working right.  Around mile 18, they were handing out salt packets and I took one.  I've never done that at a marathon before.  I thought, surely, this will help.

At mile 19, I thought I would call my mom.  I tried to get the voice activation thing working on my phone but for some reason it didn't, and I was too exhausted to mess with it.  I just kept listening to Amy Ray, and I kept looking at Rob on his bike.  I thought, I didn't put Dairy Queen on this playlist.  How could I have forgotten?  It was the song I gave birth to.

There were more hills.

Rob said, "You can finish it in 3:55."  But that was only if I could hold my current pace.

At some point after mile 20, there were a couple guys on the road who cheered for me, and said, "You're doing great, young lady!"

I actually laughed, and I said to Rob, "They think I'm young." **

There was more of a crowd as I got closer to the finish.  During the last couple of miles, I remember a short haired lady along the sideline who looked right at me and cheered and gave me too thumbs up.  I started crying and whispered, "Thank you."

Finally I could see the finish.  I was running exactly 10:00 minute pace, which would put me there at exactly 3:56. I thought, if I can just pick it up a little, even just a tiny bit... I can cross the finish line while it is still in the 3:55's.  Even if it is 3:55:59.  I gave it everything I had.  I gave it to glory.  I crossed the finish line at... exactly 3:56:00.  I have no idea what my "official" chip time is.  I've never bothered to look it up.  I don't really care, I guess.

It was an ugly, ugly, marathon for me.  Not my ugliest by far, but definitely in the top 3 of Melissa's Ugly Marathons.  Afterwards, I was so nauseated I felt like I was having a bout of hyperemesis.  We took the metro home and it was all I could do not to puke.  I was pretty sure that I was Mostly Dead.

We got back home (we have to walk up a big hill to get from the metro station to our house).  I think Will may have been napping, or maybe I got to talk to him for a little while, I honestly can't remember.  I was Mostly Dead.  I had made a crock pot of chili the night before, so that everybody would have something to eat for lunch, but I couldn't really eat it.  I tried to tell myself, I was really sick after Indianapolis last year, but I started feeling better after I actually ate food.  I managed a few bites, but felt even worse.  I got myself upstairs and slept (emesis bowl in hand) for maybe 20 minutes or 2 hours, I can't remember which.  Eventually I realized I was going to live, and I was able to eat again and started feeling better.

I really have no complaints about the Rock and Roll Marathon or the race course or organization, per se.  A marathon is a marathon.  It is going to be hard, it is going to be ugly.  There is really no way around that.  The course was definitely hilly, but how do you have a flat marathon in St. Louis?  You don't.  I thought I would be okay with it, considering that I live here and this is where I do all of my training runs.  Rob pointed out that I run a lot in Forest Park, which is essentially flat.  This could be my problem.  I consider Forest Park to be fairly hilly... at least, with a few gently rolling hills.  I thought, training there would be better than nothing.  I'm not sure it was.  I don't know.  There is a giant hill right by my house, that I have to run up everytime I run.  I thought that counted for something.  I guess not.  I've never survived a hilly marathon very well.

I had to work until 8pm the next day, and that kind of sucked, but not as bad as I'd feared.

I am about 99% certain that I am going to run the Go! St. Louis marathon in April.  The website describes the course as challenging and hilly, so I am probably out of my mind.  But here is my rationale:  I'm not going to do well in a spring marathon, period.  It is just too hard to train in the winter when you've got 2 months of ice on the ground and it gets dark at 4:30pm.  So I'm going to suck it up, use it as a training run to keep myself in shape, and finally (hopefully) get my redemption with my 13th marathon next fall, a year from now.  Maybe then I will have finished my novel and the howler chapter, and we can hire someone to deal with our laundry and crock pots of chili so that I can get more rest.  Maybe it will be easier to travel somewhere and run something flat and fast again.  We'll see.

Thanks for reading.


** This references an Arrested Development quote, but I can't find a good website with the line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear William (26 months)

Dear William,

Today you are 26 months old!  You are such a delightful little person.

The biggest thing that happened this month was that you transitioned from your crib to your toddler bed!  It was very exciting.  The first several nights were very rough, actually.  But it seems like you've got the hang of it  now!!  You are so cute in your toddler bed.  I love it because I can crawl in beside you to read stories or kiss you.

You slept in the big bed with mama and daddy a lot during this transition period, and even though none of us really got much sleep throughout that, it was okay because you did incredibly cute and wonderful things such as roll over in your sleep, grasp my hand, smile, and whisper, "Mama."

Slumber party



On the second or third night that you were in your toddler bed in your room, you got up and somehow managed to set your clock/sound machine so that the alarm went off in the middle of the night. That gave us all a little startle.

You have invented some new words this month, such as "NO-KAY."  You say this when you are mad about something or fighting against something that you do not want to do, such as being placed in your high chair.

You still eat next to nothing, but we've had some encouraging reports that you've tried a few foods at daycare.  The most impressive of these was spaghetti with marinara sauce.  Your teachers insisted that you ate some of it, even though at home you will not touch pasta or anything red.


You "direct traffic" a lot.  If you want a person to be at a specific place in the room, you physically move them there.  If you want me to go into the kitchen and get you some milk or crackers, you put your hands on my legs and push me along until I get to where you need me to be.  You are surprisingly strong.  Once I was sitting on the floor trying to play with you, except that you wanted me to move to a different location, so you put your hands under my armpits and tried to pick me up.  You're hilarious.

You love hugs and kisses.  You are constantly hugging me.  I love it.  You have always given good hugs, but you are getting even better at hugging.  Maybe you are growing and your arms are getting longer or something, I don't know.  But you can wrap your arms around me in just the best way.  I hope you always love hugging.

We recently discovered that everything at the zoo is free during the first hour that it is open, so on the weekends we have taken you there a lot and you've ridden the carousel and driven around in cars with girls.



Cruising for chicks at the zoo


Looking forward to what the next month will bring!

Love you always,


Love Mom

The long way home

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Slumber parties

So we got the windows replaced in William's room, which is kind of a long story, but let it suffice to say that during the replacement process, we had to move everything out.  This meant that his crib had to be taken apart because it will not fit through the door of Will's room while it is assembled.  One of us (was it Rob?) had the bright idea that Will would just sleep on his mattress on the floor of our room during this process.  We sort of just wanted to see what would happen, I guess.  Will is often very fussy when we put him to bed, but being in the crib really limits what he can do about that, and generally in a few minutes he falls asleep.  If he was going to sleep on just his mattress, I envisioned that there would be a lot of crying and wandering about the room and eventually he would just join us in our bed, and actually, that is pretty much what has been happening.

When we first got his mattress set up and he noticed it in our room, he was so excited.  He ran to the mattress and lay down on it and smiled and said, "Sleep."  So far so good.  The he stood up and jumped and giggled.  Then he used the mattress as a spring board to climb onto our bed.  The he lept off the mattress and ran around the room in circles.

We tried to get him excited about the whole idea of sleeping in his very own bed in mommy and daddy's room, and he eventually warmed to the idea again.  We read stories and turned off the lights.  We rubbed his back and whispered to him.  He smiled at us, snuggled up with his blankie and said, "Happy."

Good, good.

Well, he fell out of the bed at least 4 times the first night.  Granted, it wasn't far (only like 6 inches off the ground), so he wasn't hurt.  More stunned I guess.  Each time he found himself on the floor instead of the mattress, he looked around like, "How did I get here?" and climbed back onto his bed.

And he did wander a bit during the night.  Every once and a while I would wake up and hear the padding of little feet and then barely see his little shadowed form at our door or elsewhere in the room.  It was kind of creepy but okay.

But then at some point during the night, he got tired of the fun new game of sleeping on his mattress and he started bawling and ran around to my side of the bed and crawled in beside me.  Still, I was proud of him for doing reasonably well on his first night out of the crib.

Last night we tried it again.  He wasn't as surprised, since we'd been through this drill the previous night.  He jumped and jumped and ran and ran and got all hot and sweaty again after his bath.  It was more of a struggle to get him to stay in his bed.  Rob tried to coax him to lie down by lying down himself, and although Will stayed awake, Rob fell asleep.  I had meanwhile gone downstairs because I had some real actual work do to.  As I was sitting there compiling my lecture on Callitrichine reproductive ecology, all of a sudden Will was standing in front of me, saying, "MULK."  He had gotten up, let himself out of the room, and walked downstairs all on his own, all while Rob was sleeping.

I got him his mulk and he was very happy.  I made him brush his teeth again and he was even happy about that too.  Then I brought him back to our room and he willingly crawled into his bed.  He lay down, smiling at me, as I rubbed his back and his head.  Then he reached up, touched my face and said, "Happy."  I kissed him and told him how sweet he was, and we kept giggling and whispering "Happy" to each other until finally he pointed to my bed and said, "MAMA, BED."  So I guess he thought I should go to sleep.  By that time it was almost 9:30, and although that Callitrichine reproductive ecology lecture wasn't going to write itself, I decided to call it a night.

I crawled into bed and tried to go to sleep, but William kept getting up and running around the room.  Probably about 2am, he just got into bed with us, which was fine, except he insisted on lying the wrong way-- so that his feet were in my ribs.

He was exhausted from all this running around, and he slept in until 8:30 this morning (and even then we had to wake him up).

The weird thing is that when Rob got up this morning, he found pee-pee in William's potty.  The most parsimonious explanation is that Will peed either before or after his bath, and we just did not notice it.  I actually find that kind of hard to believe though.  Will makes quite a big deal of it when he pees-- demanding to be given his sticker and insisting that he does the flush himself.  What I kind of think may have happened is that at some point during his nocturnal wanderings, he went into the bathroom, took his diaper off, and peed.  This would mean that he put his diaper back on by himself (which is the most implausible part of this whole scenario) because he was wearing a diaper when he woke up, and although it was full there were no leaks.

I don't know.  It's a mystery.

I'm not sure what tonight will bring.  The windows are replaced, but we just kind of want to go with this thing-- hoping that if we stick it out a few more nights, he will become accustomed to sleeping not in his crib and we can just move him to his toddler bed when we reassemble his room.

We'll see.

Thanks for reading!