Monday, July 30, 2012

Roughwater Swim 2012

I did my 5th Roughwater Swim yesterday.  It is the one mile swim around the Flip Flop Wharf, one of my favorite races.  

I was a little nervous going into it.  I think it was more race nerves than anything else...  I was a bit apprehensive about swimming in 58 degree water without a wetsuit, having lost much of my insulating blubber and not having swam in water that cold for about a year.  

I had fun talking to some of my old teammates, especially Ultra-M, who gave me a warm greeting and hug when I saw her, and invited me to join the rest of the team on the beach.  It was a small group, which was nice for an introvert like me.  I was so busy chatting with her, I almost missed the start, only realizing the race was starting when the swimmers ran towards the water.  Luckily I was close to the start line anyways.

It felt good, for the most part. The water was nice and cold, but not painfully so.  The swim was super aggressive.  In particular there was a guy next to me who hit and kicked me hard more than once.  Whenever I looked at him, it looked like his head was out of the water.  He must have been pretty strong, swimming with his head up and keeping up with, well, me.  For what that's worth.  

What do I love about this?  I guess I don't blog much about what it is about this I enjoy.  The cold makes me feel alive.  Swimming in the ocean just makes me feel in touch with something alive and powerful.  I really think we are meant to live near water, it is a source of life for us.  And I always just enjoy the energy of my fellow swimmers, all there sharing that enjoyment I just described.

I swam it hard, and just tried to keep my arms and legs moving fast, although I felt sloppy, like my right arm kept slipping. n At the end I touched sandy bottom with my hand, then I got and ran up to the chute, and saw Rory and Raybon at the end of it.  Rory said to me, like he often does lately "It's me, Rory!"  So cute.  A sweet way of trying to get my attention.

Afterwards I did a run with some old teammates.  I made what might have been a bad choice and tried to keep up with Ultra-M and ended up with heart palpitations. :(  First time since my failed marathon.  She coached me through finishing up about 2.5 more miles left of running/walking/shuffling.  I think we still averaged about 10 minute miles, so I must have gone waaay too fast to begin with.  I say it "might" have been a bad choice, because maybe it wasn't, because at least I got to spend time with friends.  I guess the bad choice was not saying I needed to go slower sooner.  I was pretty tired this morning, but recovered after naptime.  Not sure it was the rest or the electrolytes I took before the nap, but I'm much better now.

After the run, I had to wait a while for Raybon to come pick me up, as he and Rory had left to get lunch.  They didn't have the results posted up, as they were still sorting through them.  I went and asked the race directors how I did and somehow it was figured out that I won my age group.*  Huh?  I went 26:09.  I've gone as fast as 23:41 (2006) in the past and not placed at all, so that was pretty surprising.  I am actually pleased with the 26:09. My second fastest time was 24:40 (2005), and I would have considered myself to be  in shape then.  I'm not as far off as I thought.  Last 3 times I've swam around the wharf post baby, I've gone around 30 minutes.  Ok, I'm not supposed to care about how fast I am or my medals, right, but it makes me happy, and I'm not going to fight that.  

I took the picture below and had it posted on Facebook for like 15 minutes.  Then I took it down, because I thought it was too much like bragging.  Hopefully anyone who cares enough about me to read this blog will be happy for me.  I think I used to tell people (brag) about my accomplishments and expect them to be happy for me.  If they thought it was annoying, I figured that was there problem.  I don't really think that way anymore.  I mean, people shouldn't be jerks about it, but there is no reason to judge people's feelings.  

I think there are a couple things that determine whether someone will be happy for your success or happiness.  One is the degree to which someone is happy with their own life.  It is hard to be happy for other people if you don't have happiness in your own life, or be proud of other people if you aren't happy with where you are at.

I think the other thing is the degree to which someone sees you as part of their circle.  If you are perceived  part of someone's team, family, clique, or circle of friends, people are more likely to be happy for your success and happiness.  I think there are some people who are more open and big hearted and more willing to be happy for someone that they don't know as well, and other people who have those feelings for people in tighter circles.  

I kind of try to remember these things when people aren't as friendly towards me, or if during a workout or race someone is a little petty.  Instead of dismissing them as jerks, I just think "I'm just not part of their team."  (Even if I literally am.)   It kind of helps me to not take things personally without labeling them either.  I do sort of think I have a harder time getting people on my side  than others do.  It bums me out on occasion, but it is just one of those things in life I'll have to deal with.  Mostly life is good, so I can't complain too much, especially when I do have plenty of great people in my life.

* I wrote this blog last night, and checked the results this morning.  It says I got 5th, not 1st, which sounds a bit more reasonable, but still is probably wrong, because at least one of the people above me wore a wetsuit and should have been in a different division.  Not bummed at all about not getting first, but I do admit I enjoyed the medal for a day or two.  Now, like the rest of my medals and ribbons, it is used for putting on Rory's stuffed animals for when we play "Pet Show."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


In general, I try not to use this blog and the internet to express negative thoughts and feelings about other people.  I think of it as being passive aggressive and cowardly.

A couple weeks ago I got an email from Rory's old preschool asking for positive reviews on Yelp.  I went and looked at the reviews and they were all glowing 5 star reviews that had been written over the course of a couple of days.

I didn't have a great experience at Rory's first preschool, which was a co-op school that parents participate in and receive parenting education.  I wrote a private blog about it after I quit, but never published it here.  I didn't like having my parenting criticized, and I felt like the coop obligations were overwhelming.  That's about as much as I can say without sounding more negative than neutral.

I imagined someone reading all the glowing reviews and signing up their child for the school without even doing more research or visiting the school.  That is actually what I did after reading testimonials on the website.  I did it because it was the only preschool around for toddlers that welcomed parents into the classroom, so I figured I didn't have any other options.  So I wrote a 2 star review, where I basically explained the problems I had with it.

All of my other Yelp reviews are 4 or 5 stars.  I never would have written a negative review about the school if it wasn't for all the 5 star reviews that balanced it out.  I really thought I was doing potential parents a favor by writing it.

Rory's teacher wrote me a nice email expressing her surprise at my feelings, saying she really thought I was great with Rory and the other kids at the school, and that she wished I would have felt like I could talk to her about my problems with the school.  I didn't feel comfortable because it was sort of my subjective judgement that she wouldn't have been capable of change.  

I went to look at the reviews, and found that all but one of the glowing reviews had been filtered out, leaving my negative review and one positive review.  I felt kind of bad.  I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think it would just be seen as one perspective among many.  The school is a non-profit, and many families depend on it, because it is much less expensive than other schools, and also many people have kids who don't want to be without their parents at preschool.  It allows for kids to have a preschool experience that includes their parents, which many children and parents need.

I also felt like the review represented me as a negative person.  I wondered what someone from another school would think if they read it.  Would they be afraid to accept Rory into their school because they thought I might write a bad review about them?  Would other friends who read it think I was a negative judgmental person?

So I took my review down, probably mostly for selfish reasons.  The guilt and worry were weighing on my heart.  I guess Yelp wouldn't be a useful website if people only wrote positive reviews, so I feel kind of lame about it.  I guess it is kind of funny, because I think of negativity on the internet as being cowardly and passive aggressive, but maybe I don't have the guts to stand up and say what I think sometimes because I'm afraid of the personal ramifications of being too negative.  This has all been really emotional for me, and it is hard for me to sort out my real motivations.  On the one hand, I feel like it would be a good thing to spare a parent some grief by recommending they research the school more carefully, and on the other hand I feel like I'm leaving my soul out there on the internet by writing a bad review.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Food and Family

4 weeks ago, I started something called a "Whole 30."  Basically, you follow a strict Paleo diet for 30 days.  I've got 2 days to go after today.  The major rules are: no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no sweeteners, no white potatoes, and no MSG, carrageenan, or sulfites.

It was tougher than I thought.  At first I tried to restrict my intake of fruit and starchy vegetables, and was having insomnia pretty badly.  I also got sick:  dizzy and weak.  I decided trying to cut the carbs wasn't worth it, and now eat fruit and starch veggies as much as I want to.  

I do feel better now.  I am sleeping better, feel less hungry, and feel like I recover more quickly from workouts.  Part of the program is that you aren't supposed to weight yourself, but I've cheated...  I have lost a bit of weight, but only 3 or 4 pounds.*

This has been a bit of work, and putting so much effort  into my diet made me start feeling guilty that Rory doesn't eat as well as I'd like.  I got a book called "French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy", which Raybon had heard about it.   Raybon and I both read it.  I really enjoyed the book, as someone who is both a mom and sort of a foodie and health nut.  It's a memoir, a cookbook, and parenting self-help.  A Canadian mom and French dad, who lived in Vancouver with their two young daughters, relocate the entire family to France for a year.  I enjoyed the author's perspective.  She's a Rhodes Scholar and PhD from Oxford, but she doesn't come across as overly intellectual (is there such a thing.)   She's has a humorous take on her own parental shortcomings, and her life as a foreigner trying to fit in living in France.  

She includes a list of rules she discovered for getting kids to eat better.  I'm casually following some of them.  They are meant to be habits rather than rules, anyways, but I can't say I'm making all of them habits.  The one thing that has changed is my expectation of what Rory will like, and what I do when he doesn't like something.  I don't make assumptions that he won't like something, and ask him to try everything we are eating.  He doesn't have to eat anything, but he has to try it.  If he doesn't like it, we try again next time I make it.  I'm surprised how well this has worked, and wish I'd read this along time ago.    

One of my favorite things that has come out of reading this book (besides seeing Rory try and like new foods) is that I feel like the time I spend in the kitchen is more meaningful.  I think there is part of me that feels silly that I spend so much time thinking, talking, preparing, and eating food.  I think there is part of me that thought of it as being too, I don't know, basic or primal, as if that was a bad thing.  I sort of wanted to have more sophisticated interests, like creating art of reading novels, or just doing something more productive and educational with Rory.  Although I'm not French, and am pretty sure I would have an even harder time fitting in in France than the author Le Billon did, it makes me feel better to know that there are people out there who place such a high value on eating well, and consider educating your child's palate to be more important than teaching them how to do multiplication before kindergarten.  It has elevated my idea of the importance of food, which makes me feel better about loving something and spending so much time on it.  

*I'm actually kind of tired of trying to lose weight.  I am a healthy weight, and I think I look pretty good.  I don't look in the mirror and cringe like I sometimes used to.  I think the only time I want to lose weight is when I look at Runner's World and think I'm supposed to look like the women in the magazine.  Supposedly losing weight is supposed to make you faster, but that hasn't worked for me so far anyways.  And why should I care so much about being faster anyways?  I'm healthy,  and I exercise regularly because I enjoy it.  Why does I have to have this inner voice constantly telling me that I'm not enough?  I'm not thin enough, and I'm don't swim or run fast enough.  I'm tired of that.  I have a great life and such a tremendous opportunity to just relax and be happy, I'd rather just be through with all that.  I read somewhere recently (OK, it was a comment on FB) that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  I kind of think this whole idea of comparing myself to others (competing) and feeling like a I fall short just makes me less of a giving person.  I hope with God's help that I can rid myself of this way of being...  Pray for me, if  that is the kind of thing you do.  (Or even try it if it isn't?)