Friday, May 23, 2014

There's totally enough time

Awhile back I was running on the treadmill and listening to the Another Mother Runner podcast.  The guest that day was Jill Farmer, author of "There's Not Enough Time… and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves." The basic gist I got from her was that her philosophy was less about how to do things faster  to save time and more about changing the whole IDEA of time. And since I am a big proponent on changing one's perspective and definitions of things in order to make life saner/happier/better, this book sounded right up my alley. I checked my library and they didn't own it, so I went to Amazon and on a whim I bought the e-book right before I left for Ragnar. I read most of it in the van and then finished it back home. I was right, it was totally up my alley.

I'm not going to do a real book review here because I do book reviews over here and I'm not interested in being even remotely professional on this blog.

The biggest things I got from the book is that we like to make ourselves be busier than we are so that we can have excuses for not doing things, and so that we feel "important." I think the latter is the biggest culprit for those of us who take care of our kids all day and don't work anywhere else (yes, I still hate the SAHM label and avoid using it). If I can appear to be as crazy busy and frazzled as working moms than surely I must be doing something of value. You get the idea. I am guilty of putting so many things on my to do list that it's impossible to get it all done and then I wonder why I can't get it all done and knowing I can't get it all done I avoid starting anything and waste more time on Facebook and twitter because why start if you can't finish? (Sidenote: SkyWalker's favorite argument for not wanting to start his school projects is "I can't finish it in one day!" Apple. Tree). Farmer has some good tips for distinguishing what really belongs on your to do list, your calendar, and a 2 minute list. If you need to call the dentist it doesn't need to be on your to do list. It takes 2 minutes. She recommends your to do list be no more than 5 items and one way of whittling it down is to get all those 2 minute tasks off it. Redoing my to do list has been a major help. I printed up a new Monday-Sunday page with a separate section for 2 minute tasks and Bigger Projects. Every day I have dishes and laundry to do and put that under the appropriate day. I don't REALLY have to put dishes there because I know I have to do it, but I like crossing it off. Things like grocery shopping, particular cleaning, planting the garden are all on the to do list. Calling people, responding to birthday invitations, mailing things, are 2 minute tasks. On my Bigger Projects list I had things like clean off my craft table, pack up the baby toys, pull the girls too small clothes. Things that would take a while but I didn't know which day I would be able to get to them. Appointments and exercise go on the calendar.

I have gotten ALL of my bigger projects done this week. Sure, I have more, but all of the ones I listed, ones that have been in my mind and just not done and bugging me for months are ALL DONE. I've been planning on calling the dentist for MONTHS and just never got around to it. But seeing it on the 2 minute list and knowing it would be done in 2 minutes was good motivation. BOOM. Productivity.

Of course I haven't been running or exercising much this week so the true test will be when I ramp that up again.

The other big thing I got from the book was more philosophical. If you think there's not enough time, you will sabotage yourself. You'll be stressed and frazzled and make mistakes. I have taken wrong turns and missed my road so many times when I'm late for something. Or you're rushing and drop things and then have to stop and clean that up. Now, if you've given yourself 5 minutes to get to preschool and it takes 20, well, no, there's not enough time to get there in time. But if you chill out and just think hey, I've got plenty of time to get it done, you'll relax, make fewer mistakes and you'll be 15 minutes late instead of 25. Simply changing HOW you think can change how you react and that can indeed save you time.

Also, it's okay to take breaks--lots of them--and do whatever you want to do. Breaks are good. You don't have to be busy busy every second of the day. I always think that if I sit to read a book when there are dishes in the sink that I lose my credibility… but taking breaks even before all your work is done can help you get motivated to finish up.

I am a big believer in self fulfilling prophecies. If you think this day is going to suck, it will. If you think the universe is out to get you, it is. Thing negative, get negative. Think positive, get positive. This book takes that idea and applies it to time and productivity. If you're one of those people who think you can't get it all done (whatever it is) or that there just isn't enough time, you should read it. There are plenty of tips in there I haven't even mentioned.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bia sport watch review

UPDATE 3/20/2015: It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that Bia is "ceasing its operations." As of April 3, we can no longer use the Bia as it exists now. If all you want is a GPS distance/time tracker, you're fine. But if you want mile splits, elevation, SOS and all of things we've come to love about Bia, you'll have to get a different watch. 

Watch, Go Stick, charger & cool packaging
I've been meaning to post a review of my Bia for a while but I thought it would be a good idea to wait until after Ragnar and see how it performed then. Before I get to the review, a little history:

I buy almost everything after reading tons of reviews and getting input and doing research. 80% of the internet research I do is product reviews. I bought my first sports watch, the Garmin Forerunner 305 based on reviews of friends. 

Over a year ago I heard about a kickstarter campaign for a new sports watch and I was intrigued. The watch would have a really cool piece that no others have had-- an SOS alert or "panic button." For a paranoid runner like me who often runs alone down country roads and thinks every white unmarked van is going to kidnap me, this panic button idea was awesome. I checked out the kickstarter and a bunch of other people must have thought it was awesome too because they were fully funded pretty quickly. I didn't add my 2 cents because I didn't really have it to add. 

A little while later I heard they were looking for product testers and in a rare move I actually applied. I didn't get picked, but I was given the opportunity to buy the watch at a cheaper price than what the retail price would be. I decided I believed in the watch so much and the company behind it, that I would go ahead and buy it without reviews, without the product even completed! It was a total leap of faith for me. It took a bit longer than we all thought to get the watch ready, but Bia was very honest and forthcoming and communicated everything to us early adopters. 

The watch is shipped in a cool cylinder with a little drawstring bag to keep it safe. There are two components-- the watch that you wear on your wrist and the Go Stick that you clip anywhere. It should be on the same side of your body as the watch so it can communicate better. The Go Stick is what communicates with the GPS and has a "cell phone" chip in it which enables it to: immediately upload your run as soon as you hit stop & send the SOS text message alert. I haven't had the Go Stick fall off me yet and it picks up the satellite about 3 days faster than my Garmin. The Go Stick is the only thing that needs to be charged. There's a USB cable included that you can hook up to your computer or a wall outlet or a portable charger in a van down by the river. Right now the battery last roughly 6 hours, but they are rolling out an update this week with a 17 hour battery life! I'm not sure how long the battery lasts on stand by. 

The watch fits nicely and is shaped so differently than any other watch I've worn. I've had no problems with the fit. Once I think some of the velcro strap attached itself to something I was wearing and the watch was yanked a bit, but once I realigned the velcro better it didn't happen again. 

There's one button and only one button on the watch. It's large and easy to press. You can choose between run, swim or bike. There are some options listed that aren't available yet. But because of the handy dandy cell phone chip, this watch updates itself! You don't have to go run out and buy a new one when they add a new feature. Already since I got it I have had it update to include mile splits. Unless they change a hardware feature, there shouldn't be a reason to need a new watch for a while. Which is AWESOME. The directions on the watch are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. When your run is done it also gives you a little compliment ("Badassery") or motivation ("Just one more?") or instructions ("Breathe," "Go Shower"). 

The one button is on the left.
I used my Bia during the Ragnar and had no problems. I brought a portable charger with me just in case and charged it but I don't think I really needed to. I was concerned about my night time run because there's no backlight on the watch, but if it's dark enough for me to need a backlight I probably have my headlamp on, which was the case at Ragnar and I had no problem seeing the watch with the headlamp. Once I got in the car and there was no light I couldn't see the screen but I didn't really need to. It was so convenient having my runs automatically uploaded when I was sitting in the van. I brought my Garmin as a backup but never used it.

I love the look of the watch, I love the feel, I love the SOS (it sends a text message to phone numbers you input. In a later update it will also notify emergency services. The text includes a map of your location!). I love the instant uploading. I use Running Ahead as my log so I still have to input it there, but I can download the raw data and upload it there if I don't want to do it manually. Right now it will automatically send info to its own Bia site, Strava, and Map My Run. I love so many things about this watch and I am so glad I took the risk and pre-ordered it.

There are some things I would improve (and some of these may be addressed in future updates):

1. It's impossible to see the lights on the Go Stick when you're in sunlight. I wasn't sure if it was awake the first time and had to go in the garage to check. Minor quibble.
2. The only way to know if it needs to be charged is to start a run. While you're running you can see a battery indicator, but I would like to be able to look at it (either the watch or the Go Stick) the night before and know whether or not I should plug it in.
3. There's no auto-pause (yet) so when I stop and pee I have to manually press the button. You then have the option to continue your run or stop it and save. But if you get distracted and don't save your run right away the only option is to continue. Hopefully auto-pause will fix that.
4. It would be nice to hear a louder beep at each mile. If there's any sound I haven't heard it yet.

It seems to be pretty accurate with the mileage and pace. I used it at the same time as my Garmin and the only difference was because of the auto-pause of the Garmin. It doesn't have as many bells and whistles as the Garmin does--right now it doesn't do intervals. But they are adding features as we speak. They are very responsive to feedback, whether it be through email, Facebook or twitter, and they take customer suggestions very seriously. The company was created by women and run by women and that's an added bonus. You get the sense that they really want to offer a great product and they are willing to take the time to make it right. The bottom line really seems to be customer satisfaction and not just money.

I'm holding on to my Garmin for now but my kids are using it more than me. But I don't see myself giving up the Bia any time in the foreseeable future.

**If you want to buy one, you can here:
edited to include link on 5/22

I bought the Bia with my own money (okay, birthday money) and was not compensated in any way for this review. This is my honest, unsolicited review.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2014 Ragnar Cape Cod

It seems like just yesterday and forever since I wrote about going to Ragnar. My sense of time is all screwy now.

Our van. Van captain Rachel, me, Cindy, Sara, Jen, our driver Jenny, Allison

We started our adventure on Thursday night driving out to MA, near the starting point of the race. We got to the hotel relatively "late" and prepared for the next day. Our Van 1s were starting at 9 am but the Van 2s (mine) weren't starting until later so we could eat breakfast and "relax" before we headed out at 11. We took over for Van 1 at Exchange 6. They made good time so I wound up doing my first leg about 15 minutes early. It was supposed to be 3.6 but they cut it to 3.2, without actually telling us. I had been shooting for 10 minute miles for all 3 runs, but I got a little excited and my average pace for the first leg wound up being 9:19. I probably would have gone faster had I known it was 3.2 and not 3.6 so it's probably good I didn't know. I still had 2 more legs and no sleep to get to.

After finishing my first leg.
Note who's on my shirt.
My name is on the back too!

I passed the slap bracelet to Sara who had to run 12.8 miles for her first leg. Yup. Pretty much a half marathon which is why she got an extra medal for doing it! She totally rocked it. She's only been running for about a year and has come so amazingly far. The very best part was that I was able to give her the special medal.

Me and Sara

One of our runners has a house out there (her mom rents it out) so we were lucky enough to be invited to stay there after our first legs were over. We only had a couple of hours and tired as I was I couldn't sleep for long. Sara insists I slept something, so I must have bypassed the REM stage and gone straight to passed out. We got up at midnight and headed out again. That was when I thought "never again." My next leg was supposed to start at 3:30 but running at night sucks so got delayed a bit. I started out at 4:00 am. At first I was okay but then I started having a strange pain in my stomach/abdomen area. I knew I wasn't dehydrated since I had been drinking tons of water and monitoring my pee color at every stop. I attributed it to not having defecated in a couple of days but it wasn't quite right. I kept going and finished 5.6 with a 10:21 pace. I immediately went to the bathroom and produced nothing but pee. As I was sitting in the van I felt the oddest pinching sensation um, in my urethra. Then I felt so much pressure I thought I was one of those high school girls who didn't know she was pregnant and was going to deliver a baby in the van. It finally dawned on me that I was probably passing a kidney stone! As soon as the pain peaked, it kind of went away. I think I fell asleep in the van for 15 minutes or so.

Our van finished our second legs sometime in the morning and we headed to a local school gym to sleep on the floor. The other runners were WICKED LOUD so we didn't really do much sleeping. But I got as much rest as I could. We still had one more leg to go and for me it was going to be my longest distance. I hoped it would be easier than my night time run since I would, hopefully, not be passing another kidney stone. 

I was wrong. About it being easier, not passing any more stones. My 7.3 miles were nothing but rolling hills the entire way. We started out going up a big ol' hill and I thought okay, that's over. But no, oh no. Every time I thought there couldn't possibly be another hill, there it was! My van had said they would stop around mile 5 to see if I needed water or anything. I was happy to see them before mile 5, not because I needed water but because I was going to use it as an excuse to stop. I saw my van and snagged some shot bloks because I had forgotten my own. Then a little ways after I saw the other van 2, which was so nice because they didn't have to stop for me and they just did just because. Then I saw one of our van 1s and was shocked because they TOTALLY didn't have to stop for me, but they had passed me on the highway and decided to find a spot to pull over to cheer for me. I might have seen them first actually, it all kind of blends together. I know that immediately after passing them I wanted to just cry. I had been wanting to cry the entire run actually because of the damn hills, but this time I wanted to cry because I was just so touched that they stopped to cheer and see if I needed anything. If it hadn't been for all of them, all 3 vans, cheering along the way I don't know if I could have made it. I wanted to give up so many times but I kept saying (out loud) "just keep going." It would have been a hard run anyway because I am not good with hills, but on no sleep and junk food and probable kidney stone passing and my 3rd run in less than 24 hours, it was the hardest run I have ever had. I let myself walk a couple of times while I was eating the shot bloks and then when I was close to the end there was another damn hill. I made a deal that I could walk up the hill but only if I was going to fly down the other side. So that's what I did. I flew. I ran as fast as I possibly could once I passed that hill and then it was done. I wound up with a 10:22 average pace and I am wicked psyched about that. It was a hard run and I just kept going when I wanted to quit and I was only 20 seconds over my anticipated pace. 

Sara, Jen, me, Melissa & Tracy.
I couldn't have done this without them (and wouldn't have wanted to!)

I passed the bracelet to Sara who finished up her 3 miles & change and then Jen did her last 4.5. She too had rolling hills and her last mile was on sand. Loose beach sand. Which would be hard for anybody but is especially hard when you're 5 months pregnant! She could have switched legs and done a shorter distance but she wanted to finish her run. She did so amazing and was so strong and inspirational! I nominated her for the Ragnar moms contest but sadly they didn't pick her. Doesn't matter though, she will always be the strongest Bad Ass Mom to me! I can't even imagine doing all of that--running, no sleep, confined to a van for hours--pregnant. It was hard on all of us, but she didn't complain any more than we did. She was a total rock star and I am so honored I was on her team. 

24 Bad Ass Moms

We all crossed the finish line together in our Wonder Woman shirts (I had NOTHING to do with that) 32 hours and 40 minutes after we started. The big question everyone is asking is will I do it again? I said this was a bucket list, one time only deal. They're getting a team together for Reach the Beach in September but I can't do another one in just 4 months without getting divorced. Vader said once a year would be okay. During my 4 am run I would have said no way in hell, but just like childbirth, the end result was worth all the pain and discomfort and constipation. I think I could probably be talked into another one… 

The coveted Ragnar medal

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The next adventure

So, just FYI, if Lauren Fleshman shares your blog post with her followers you get 400 hits in one day instead of in 6 months.

You might think I'd take it easy this week after racing a 5K last week. Wrong. On Friday morning 27 women and I will take part in the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay. I have never met some of them. Others are some of my closest friends. We will run a total of 200 miles from Hull to Provincetown, sleeping in vans along the way.

It is quite possibly the craziest thing I have ever, or will ever, do.

I am runner 9 (which also means 21 and 33). My legs are 3.6, 5.6 and 7.3. Nothing crazy, except I wish the longest was first and not last. My first leg should be about 5 pm on Friday, my second at 3:30 Saturday wicked early morning, and my last at 1 pm Saturday afternoon. All things considered, it's really not that bad.

I am worried about:

  • My contacts. Do I sleep with them in because I may not be able to get them out & back in comfortably in the van? 
  • Sleep. I likes my sleep! I won't sleep much in the van to begin with because I don't do well sleeping in cars. And because my second leg is at 3:30 in the morning. 
  • Bathrooms. Did I mention the van part? I'm supposed to drink a ton of water all day. I need to pee every hour or so. 
  • Getting lost. I wasn't worried about the actual running until I read something today suggesting that runners know their leg maps because sometimes signs can get knocked down or stolen. I don't have a good sense of direction at all. Especially at 3:30 in the morning. I'm hoping that my running partner is better than me! (Yeah, we all have partners. No way would I run by myself at 3:30 in the morning.)
  • Eating. 
  • Doing something wrong that causes a safety violation--my headlamp going out, whatever--or losing the baton to pass to the next runner. 

I know that once I am there I will be fine. I know that once it is over it will be great. I know that I am so  so grateful to be doing this with such awesome wonderful friends. Who will hopefully still be friends after a couple of days in the van with no showers.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Worked hard = win

I didn't do it. I didn't break my PR. Didn't come close. 

And I'm okay with that (now).

But let's rewind to the day of the race--the race I have been pinning all of my PR dreams on. Vader took the kids to soccer (where the Princess got a goal & Chewie did fantastic at her very first game) & I got a ride with two good friends who were also running the 5K. We got there with plenty of time, but parking and having to bring our swag back to the car took up a good chunk of it. We peed & got to the start with just 5 minutes to spare.

Before the race: Melissa, Sara, me & Elisa. 

I started out okay & did my first mile right on target but then I just slowed down. I thought about Lauren Fleshman telling me to go get it:

and I sped up. But it just wasn't quite enough to get the time I wanted. I finished in 28:06, no where near the 26:30 I had been hoping for. But faster than the 28:30 I have been getting. I was disappointed with my time but tried not to beat myself up about it too much. For whatever reason, I just don't have it in me right now and the more I think about it & analyze it the more stressed out I will be and this is supposed to be a stress-reliever not a stress-inducer. After the race we stuck around for the awards ceremony because we were pretty sure that my speedy friends had placed. And sure enough, they had. They both finished in 23:26 which is just amazing and one got the trophy for 3rd female finisher and the other got a gold medal for first in her age group. I'm not quite sure why we didn't leave right then, but we didn't, so when they announced the next age group awards (mine) and the 3rd place winner had a slower time than me, I looked at Sara and she looked at me, and we wondered if I would get second. But they didn't call my name for second. They called it for first and I got the gold medal for the 34-39 age group. I've looked at the race results and there are only 3 people in that age group. Ha! But, when I change it to 30-39 there are 6 people and I am second (with Sara first), ahead of a couple of young 31 year olds! Ha ha! It kind of took the sting out of not getting the overall PR. I was 36th out of 109 finishers and 1st in my age group. That's not bad. Ironically the last time I was 1st in my age group was when I set my PR, nearly three years ago. 

Darlene, Sara, me, Elisa & Melissa with her big-ass trophy.

I told my new pal Lauren Fleshman (okay, we're not pals, but how cool would that be?) that I didn't break my overall PR and had disappointed her. She unknowingly gave me the best advice ever with her response. She said I didn't let her down and that "worked hard=win." I have been obsessing over numbers and paces and competing with someone 3 years younger, with fewer kids, no awareness of kidney stones (maybe no stones at all!), no hydration issues. I will try to get as close as I can to that 26:30, but from now I am going to leave the past behind and just be the best runner I can be TODAY. I am going to stop stressing over times and paces and just do the best I can and remember that this is supposed to be fun. When I set my last PR I wasn't expecting it, I wasn't trying to, all I was doing was trying to do the best I could. As long as I work hard, I win. It doesn't matter what the time on my watch says.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring Runoff goals

This is it. Tomorrow is my goal race. Naturally I have pulled a muscle in both my neck and lower back. At first I thought it was my hip and I was not excited about that prospect at all. But after some stretching and rolling and icing it's definitely my lower back and not my hip. There is a pretty good chance I just pulled something picking up children or doing absolutely nothing at all. I ran Wednesday and although I took it really slow and added walking breaks, it didn't bother my running. Hopefully it won't bother me tomorrow.

The race is supposed to be fast and flat. It won't be too hot or too cold. It's at 10 am so I'll have lots of time to eat and drink and prepare. I pretty much have NO excuses not to do my best. (There's one actually. The city double booked the route and there will be a fundraising walk going on at the same time. They are giving us 20 minutes before they start. Ugh.) A couple of my speedy friends are doing it and I am planning on using them as the "rabbit" so to speak. I won't be able to catch them completely but if I can keep them in my sights it'll motivate me to move faster.

Last week I attempted mile repeats on the treadmill while the Princess was coming down with strep throat. I got one mile done, she threw up, I cleaned up, started the second mile, she threw up again, I called quits. I was so disappointed because I have had mile repeats on a training plan 3 times and I have never been able to do them. But I didn't give up this time. Vader came home a smidge earlier than usual the next day and I went to the high school track and did them there. I had planned on doing 3 repeats at an 8:30 pace. The first one I did 8:44, the second was 9:00 and the last was 8:40. So not quite 8:30 but I didn't stop to walk during each mile like I would have wanted to do on the treadmill. I did walk in between each mile. I did my half mile repeats and quarter mile repeats just fine, so I'm hoping I am ready and the adrenaline of the race will give me that extra boost.


C. For the love of all that's holy beat 28:30
B. Better than 27:35
A. 26:30 (or really anywhere in the 26 range)

The only downside is that I will be missing Chewie's very first soccer game. Her game last week was cancelled. I will also be missing her game next weekend because of the Ragnar. I know she'll be playing lots of games but there's nothing like the first. If I'm sacrificing that I'd better do the best I can do.