Taper, baby, taper

This Saturday is the North Country Trail Run marathon. I’m excited about another notch in the marathon belt and stoked that my street team (i.e., wife and daughter) will be there to support me.

And I’m totally stoked about the ginormous medal they’ll hang on my neck at the finish line. The race newsletter describes it:

They certainly are not very much like the traditional race medal you receive. We believe the uniqueness of each medal only adds to their beauty and ruggedness. North Country also believes it is important to work with U.S. companies and hope to inspire other races to work with local artists and US labor to bring a greater percentage of race medal production back to the US. Last year’s medal weighed 11.5 ounces while this year’s weighs more than 16 ounces. And, no two medals are alike because each is handcrafted.

Wha? 16 ounces? That’s nuts. This one’s going to make diminutive 3- and 4-ounce medals from my other races. Rock. There are pictures on the race’s Facebook page. These neck-breakers are also American made. Mom would be proud.

Beyond the pre-race anxiousness and jittery feelings of whether I trained enough (or how well so much road training will translate to trails), I’m also excited to get this damn taper overwith. Seriously. I’ve run 3 miles in the last two and a half weeks. I keep thinking, Oh, wouldn’t today be a nice day for a run? And then my taper conscience kicks in. Why don’t you go stretch? Or eat some fruit? That little voice can get so annoying. I just want it to go away, and the only way to do that is to finish Saturday.

As an aside, I wish Daily Mile had a taper toggle so I didn’t get those sad emails asking me where I’ve been.

In non-running news, I’ve been deluged with spam at my blocletters email address. Spammers should die.

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Also, I’m slogging through the Game of Fire and Ice series. About a third of the way through book two, A Clash of Kings. Love it. So much more reading than I’m used to. I read reams at work, so my eyes usually rebel at leisure reading. I’m still reading, and that speaks to how much I enjoy the story.

I can’t wrap up a post without the obligatory shot of girlie. This one’s at a nearby park. I helped her climb this green rope ladder, and she was so self-satisfied I had to snap a picture. I can’t believe she’ll be 3 years old soon. It seems like just yesterday I could easily cradle her in my arms. Now, she’s 3 feet tall and rising.

Running 26 miles will be totally worth it to see her at the finish line screaming “Go daddy go daddy go daddy go!”

Daddy’s pink

I’m pink. Or so says my daughter. She’s brown, mommy’s brown, and I’m pink. The realization of race sets in early: She’s not quite two and a half.

“Are you different?” she asked me the other day. She had just pronounced me pink again.

I stammered, briefly flummoxed. Thanks, fatherhood, for another one of these moments. “Yes, we’re all different in a little way,” I told her. “And that’s a good thing. Would you want everyone to be the same?”

She thought a second and quizzically cocked her head. Then she smiled and jabbed my knee with her little index finger.

“You’re pink,” she said, and giggled.

Odds and ends

I finally feel like I’m much closer to mended than broken. The course of antibiotics ended Tuesday and I stopped having the weakness I think the drugs caused. In fact, I ran 7 miles Wednesday.

So, I’m encouraged. Running makes me happy, and not running or hitting bouts of weakness when I did frustrated me.

Other than that, I’m just trying to get back to the business of life. 20120301-230438.jpg

I found a fun iPhone app, which can make whole comic books a page at a time. Doubt I’d make a whole book, but making single panels is fun. Girlie has starred in a couple of them, like this one. She likes the PBS show “Super Why!” and has taken to wrapping herself in her blanket like a cape. She runs around the house cooing “I’m super!”

The results, of course, are adorable and perfect fodder for ComicBook. The app has a straightforward simplicity, like a comic book. I highly recommend it.

In other ruminations, I look forward to this weekend for not one, but two!, date nights with Mrs. Blocletters. We have a more formal event Friday and another night out planned Saturday. Apart from making our sitter rich, it’ll almost be like those carefree pre-parenthood days. We take ’em as we get ’em.

Oh, and one last thing: I doubt I’d use it, but I halfway want to give these people my money just for proof of concept. It’s another iPhone app, this one called Zombies, Run! It turns exercise into a narrated game based in the zombie apocalypse. How cool is that? I just saw it hit the App Store, and looks like it’s also available for Android. Need a little motivation to run? Being chased by zombies can help. It’s $8, so some may think that’s a little steep. But, I stand firmly in the camp that good software is worth sacrificing a couple Starbucks runs.

Just like dad

With most kids, you can take one look and say, “Oh, she’s just like her mother.” In the genetic lottery children often come out at least looking 60/40, 70/30 or even 100 percent like one parent or the other.
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Not so with girlie. I think she’s a dead-on 50/50 of her mother and myself. This look, that mannerism. She gets a little from mom, a little from dad in what appear to be equal helpings. (Except with the talking with the hands; I don’t know where she gets that from.) But when it comes to sleeping: That seems to be all-dad.

After night shifts I and make a habit of checking on her when I get home. I creep upstairs and pull the comforter up on her if needed, or just watch her for a minute. Yeah, I’m a sappy dad. But anyway, the other night I found her with her blanket, Mack, wrapped tightly around her face. I laughed, hard, and took this picture.

I sleep with a pillow on my head. I don’t know why, and can’t remember ever not doing it. But I do. And, beside the blanket incident, I’ve also caught girlie sleeping with a pillow on her head, and with Bo, her bear (pictured, in back) covering her head as well. So it’s clear she has some natural compunction to bury her head in pillows, bedding, whatever in order to comfortably sleep.

I also, on occasion, sleep with my eyes open. I’m told it’s creepy. Girlie also does this, so it’s not just the pillow thing.

You would think a child would learn sleep peccadilloes. But she seems to have picked these things up naturally. It’s not like I spent nights teaching her these things. So I’m calling it genetics. At least until I’m proven otherwise.

Big girl bed

Girlie has a big girl bed now.

It happened before I knew it. Of course, I couldn’t stop it. She just keeps growing. So last weekend I converted our IKEA crib to a toddler bed. It looks so small, yet it meant such a big change to her. She spent hours in her bedroom in the days after.

Get in bed. Get book from bookshelf. Get back in bed. Out. Grab toy. Back in bed. She was infatuated. I was delighted.

She never tried to climb out of her crib. I feared she would, and suspected she could if she tried. But we were never awakened in the night by a thump, punctuated with a cry for mommy or daddy.

The first night, she went right to bed. I tucked her in and we didn’t hear a peep. The second night, I think I had to put her back in bed three times. Each time, I grew more frustrated. But we did this for a reason: so she could get up, and potty in the night. I tried to keep perspective. We’re sick of washing sheets three, four, five times a week.

On the third night, she slept through, but woke us up at about six. She bypassed the bathroom near her room, came all the way downstairs and wanted to use her potty chair in mommy and daddy’s room. Progress.

Yesterday, I busied myself in the basement as I waited for her to wake up. I came back to the first floor to find she had, soundlessly, made her way from the second floor. She had taken her wet diaper off, and I caught her trying to put on a pair of toddler underwear we keep in her diapering basket. Not quit the progress I expected.

But, I gave her a kiss on the forehead for her efforts, and led her to the potty. Girlie has a big girl bed now. You go, girl.

Big things

This month, I ran a marathon and saw my little girl turn 2. How’s your October been?

I told Mrs. Blocletters recently that I still can’t believe I can run 26.2 miles. I find it surreal. Four years ago this fall, I hadn’t run longer than a half mile. Now, I’m a marathoner three times over and counting. Not trying to brag, but I have trouble believing it myself.

Also in the disbelief department, our girl is 2. How does time travel so fast?

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Girlie, on the warming table minutes after she joined the family.

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Girlie, a few days ago, dressed up as an ice cream cone for a Halloween event. She won a little trophy for funniest costume.

At 2, she:

  • Responds to most directions with “No!”
  • Still isn’t fully potty trained, but whatever.
  • Loves to sing and generally make noise.
  • Likes swings. A lot. And slides.
  • Could probably watch YouTube videos for hours.
  • Has only broken 1 iPad.
  • Has a bigger vocabulary and more sass than I would have thought.

My wife and I are truly blessed to have such a bright young lady in our lives.

Back to running, I have no idea yet about a next goal. I know I want to keep running marathons, and expect to do at least two in 2012.

The biggest goal for next year: run without injury. I got over that pesky stress fracture in time to race Detroit, but a week later have an unexplained pain running through the top back of my left leg. No idea. I don’t think it’s running related. I just woke up a week after the race with an odd pain. It didn’t bother me to run with it Sunday (5 miles, 8-minute pace), but it does hurt like hell to bend at the waist.

Meh, walk it off.

Aside from marathons, I’m intrigued by ultramarathons and triathlons. Running marathons has left me wondering what else is possible with this body of mine, and amazed at potential I didn’t know was there until I looked.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying what life holds, from family to fatherhood to running to whatever. Thanks for reading.

Name a thing, master a thing

Today, girlie proudly announced “poop! poop!” I met her imploring statement with a mix of pride, excitement and relief, and of course a diaper change.

Girlie adds new words and concepts at an alarming rate. This makes me proud. I feel like she — and me by extension — is exceptional, though her vocabulary likely grows at a normal rate. Poop, to me, seems like an advanced concept for someone not even 18 months old. How do you wrap your head around such an event when you can barely use two words together?

If I made a list of the worst aspects of fatherhood, changing diapers would occupy the first, second and third spots. Girlie making her bathroom needs known puts us on the path to potty training. I know, another adventure awaits. But I excitedly welcome the first peek I’ve had in a while of a life without diapers.

That, my friends, is a relief.

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Girlie at library story time

Milestones

I saw a few milestones this week in Rachel’s little life.

Monday, March 28, she put two words together in a very deliberate way, directly to me and in the proper context. “Bye-bye daddy,” she said as I dropped her off at daycare. This wasn’t the first time. On March 19, she kept repeating “Spencer gone” (in her own, mushy pronunciation) when we visited my brother and her cousin, Spencer, left to visit friends. But it was the first time she’d addressed me using two words together to make her point.

The other event marks a subtle shift in independence, a trait she far from lacks. But, I don’t usually see her exercise that independence in strange contexts. I run at the YMCA when it’s cold, since I can’t take her in the jogging stroller and it has child care. A nice woman named Dee helps Rachel feel comfortable while daddy takes to the treadmill.

I’ve taken her to the YMCA child care perhaps a dozen times. Up until the last one or two, she’d hug my leg and whimper if I tried to pry her off. Thursday, we went to the Y and entered the child care room. She ran off without prodding, deposited her bottle and snack cup on a cupboard, and climbed into a rocking chair. “Oh, we’re good,” Dee said. I knew we were.

Rachel gave me and it’s-all-right glance as she rocked, and I made my exit.