Tuesday, January 25, 2022

That Work/MomLife Balance

Yesterday I had the first day to myself in a long while. Like months. Probably July? Has it been 6 months?! Our company had transitioned to 4x 10-hour days over 5 years ago, although a few employees (mostly those with younger kids) opted to work the traditional 5x 8-hour days. With Covid, and a temporary furlough, then maternity leave, I had returned at 28 hours last March with my Mondays off (4x 7-hour days).

Our morning routine: stroller walk with
my girls before daycare and work

It’s taken me a while to figure out how much to work while balancing my new role as Ainsley’s mom. We pay for daycare full-time, so it had been nice to have Monday as a day to myself to run errands, take care of my neck issues (see last post on car vs. bike consequences), and get a guilt-free workout in. 

But I felt overwhelmed at work, like I didn’t have enough hours to get everything done. I jumped to 40 for a few months, and it was too much. Then I backed down to 35, electing to work a few hours on Monday. But recently I’ve realized that I really need that whole Monday off. Between my neck issues and Ainsley’s appointments, I decided that 32 hours/week is what’s best for myself and my family.

It took me too long to accept that it’s okay to not be able to do everything. I’m so used to being a superhero and doing ALL THE THINGS, but it’s okay. Financially 32 hours is fine, and for my own sanity is much better. I need to stop beating myself up for not being able to work 40 hours and also do everything else that I want to do, and be grateful that we can afford for me not to work a full workweek and I have the flexibility at my company to do so!

(Mom’s still learning to dial back on this philosophy)

Speaking of 5 years ago, ironically I had been sent to a work conference back in late 2017 and the speaker there had us write out individual five-year plans. Where did we see ourselves in 5 years? Amongst things like “student loans paid off” and “have 2 children”, I had written that I would cut my work hours down to 30 hours.

So. There you have it. My 35yo self was very wise. (Other than the 2 kids, ha!)

Yesterday, I made a huge list of all the things I wanted to do. Of course we also had Verizon Fios and an electrician coming in the morning. By the time they both left, I decided I wasn’t going to also squeeze in my 10-mile run in addition to running errands at the mall (Christmas gift returns, a Target pick-up for new diapers and other stuff, and my first Trader Joe’s trip in a while).

Me, not doing my Monday long run.

I had already run 3 times over the weekend (Saturday was a split run during 2 short naps, Sunday was a stroller run), after not running for almost 2 weeks due to my neck problems the previous weekend. My left shin had complained the tiniest bit during our short stroller run (a really old high school stress fracture) and I knew not to push for 4 runs in 3 days after almost 2 weeks of not running. 40yo me can be wise too!

In conclusion, I’m continuing to learn how to balance everything, just like this darling is learning to balance on two feet—a little shaky but getting there and super proud of herself!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

bike vs. car consequences

July 3, 2011

July 3, 2017

2 bike vs. car accidents, same day, 6 years apart.

The first accident ultimately led me to retire early from being a pro triathlete. It was pretty dramatic, busting my face into the back of a minivan during Ironman Korea and shattering the rear windshield. I had stitches in my elbow and chin, and damaged one of my quadriceps tendons. Things eventually healed up and I was able to get back into triathlon competition, although never to the same level--but that's for a whole host of other reasons too. The only long term consequence is that I'll have a rogue chin hair pop up every so often that needs to be plucked.

The second accident was much less dramatic but has had more significant long term ramifications. An oncoming car made a left turn into me, and I bounced off the passenger side door into the intersection. I hit my head on the pavement and broke my helmet. My bike frame also split at the seat stay. I've had long term issues with my neck that I manage through regular chiropractic visits and deep tissue massage. When it's not managed well, my neck will inevitably lock up where I can barely turn it side to side and is pretty debilitating. I also can't get as low into an aero position on the tri bike (which is more an ego thing!).

But typically it's managed so well that I forget how lucky I am to have recovered from this second stupid accident. I returned to competing in ultramarathons, triathlons, work full-time with no issues and take care of my big toddler. I even forgot that… oh yeah, that was the other reason I decided to focus on ultras in 2018. When I wrote last week's blog post I had already forgotten that I took a step back from tris in 2018 because biking was a little scary and frustrating, and swimming requires you to turn your head back and forth. That year (2018) my neck locked up a couple times while I was at work, about 6 months apart. Once I figured out how to manage it, I've been able to keep this under control.

Until…it happens again. It happened again on Saturday morning.

When this happens, it stops me in my tracks and I realize how much I take for granted when I’m actually healthy. I can’t do basic tasks like carry my toddler, turn my head to drive, and never mind trying to exercise. Luckily I was able to get a massage Saturday evening and saw my chiropractor on Monday. Things still feel tight but I took the weekend off training and need to revisit my “neck health maintenance plan”.

Stay safe and vigilant on your bikes out there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Hope for Hella Miles

We just said bye to Mom & Dad Wongstar after a solid 7 weeks, and they were so helpful with feeding us, walking Aero and babysitting Ainsley. We actually got have date nights and even extra sleep. Refreshing!

They are back in Cali now and we are back to navigating business as usual without Po Po and Gung Gung’s helpful help.

Sunday was cold and rainy, and after spending December adding 1 mile a week to my weekend long run (starting at a measly 5), I had built up to 8 and was ready to tackle 9. (Note: once I hit 6 miles, that was my longest postpartum run, so every weekend has become my NEW longest postpartum run!)

I put Ainsley down for her nap, Kevin also had a snooze, and I got running on the spanking new treadmill. I had been watching Cruella on Disney+ in tiny 3-mile (30ish-minute) increments, and finally got to finish it! I rarely get to watch movies for fun anymore so while some hate the “dreadmill”, I find that treadmill running to Netflix or Disney+ is a real treat.

Ainsley stirred a couple times but Dad would pat her back to sleep.

I got my 9 miles done, and rehydrated… had a snack… took a shower and WASHED MY HAIR… had lunch with Kevin… and still she napped!

She finally woke up, all happy and giggly, nearly 3 hours later. Which made all of us happy and giggly.

For the rest of the day, I felt this amazing feeling of accomplishment—for my longest run in maybe 1.5 years (I did several 10-milers during first trimester) and longest treadmill run in probably 5 years.

Hella collab between my Cali roots and JFK 50 goals 

But more so, I felt HOPE. Hope for hella miles. Like we could figure out this training thing while she naps like a champ on the weekend. Hope that it’s not a fluke. That we could do this again!

(She later slept like crap at night, waking up multiple times, which has been her MO recently and NOT helped with trying to get a 5am training run in for the past 2 weeks, so we’ll see how next weekend goes. Ha!)

In daycare news, Ainsley’s first month in the toddler room has been super inconsistent between different teachers, a stomach bug, holidays and extra time with Po Po and Gung Gung, then a classroom quarantine post-Christmas after a confirmed COVID case. She recently started crying every time I dropped her off, which I’m so glad she never did during her first 9 months there as it would’ve broken my heart! But we’ve made 3 days without crying so far—one time she was distracted by books (she loves books!), yesterday I dropped her off during breakfast and she tried to steal her friend’s snippy cup full of milk (HAHA), and this morning the usual toddler room craziness was distracting enough. 

We also finally got smiles from the daycare app photos! Yes, I too am impressed that they use apps at daycare. Pretty nifty updating us on diaper changes, what’s for breakfast, lunch and snacks, and nap lengths. They have a weekly theme and a daily agenda on what they’re learning. All the fun stuff she does and learns about, as well as the socialization, has really helped me not have Mom Guilt when I am busy at work. I know some Mamas do well as stay-at-home moms, but I enjoy what I do at work and was not one of those who wished I had a 1- or 2-year maternity leave!

Art projects!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

2022 Plan of Attack

Happy new year! Do we need a 2021 recap? I feel like not really. But okay, here’s a short one… it was basically our first year as parents, and we survived! And Ainsley thrived! That’s all we could ever hope for, right?

Like I mentioned in my “turning 40” post that jump-started this weekly blogging streak, I’m now looking to get back to some athletic adventures again after a year of focusing on keeping the tiny human alive. I’m trying to maintain a sense of identity in motherhood (getting back to blogging has actually helped this!) and you don’t just go from being a crazy fit endurance athlete to not doing very much without feeling like you don’t know who you are any more.

Two of my major goals this year are:

1. Declutter our whole house, à la Dana K White (Decluttering at the Speed of Life), because Marie Kondo didn’t exactly work. (That was #18 on my “19 in 2019” list actually. It’s hard to execute when everything sparks joy…! HAHA!)

2. Kick ass at the JFK 50-miler in November.

Since I have had success getting back into the weekly blogging habit (this will be 6 for 6! Thank you Taryn for being my accountability blogging buddy every #newblogtuesday and die-hard Wongstar blog fan!) I have decided the way to go about having a great year is to establish weekly habits.

Weekly habits/goals:

—donate 1 box of stuff each week, no matter how big or small

—1 treadmill run per week (mid-week, because weekends are easy but weekdays are harder)

—1 date night per week

—1 family outing per week

—update BLOG each Tuesday!

I already posted my 2022 race schedule intentions, and this may shift and change. I spent 2018 focused on training for ultramarathons and it really bit me in the butt. I spectacularly burnt out and got injured doing ultra training 10+ months in a row, running 99% of the time without a specific goal race. JFK 50 in 2018 was actually my goal race, but by the time November rolled around, I was DONE.

I attribute it partially to hiring a coach who was not a great listener at what my needs were, but I also should have known better and listened to my gut on many occasions. I know myself as an athlete, and I had transitioned to triathlons over TWENTY YEARS AGO because my body can’t handle being strictly a runner. I take a generous off season because my body and mind need that downtime. I got caught up in hiring a fancy ultramarathon coach who had an impressive list of elite runners. It just didn’t work for me.

I ran my first JFK 50 in 2016 coaching myself and did surprisingly well, so I’m going to trust my instincts this time, go back to coaching myself, and get fit over the summer by triathlon training (you know, what the runners call “cross training”).

Celebrating 1 year of parenthood! And Ainsley.

We did get a treadmill right around Ainsley’s birthday—I consider it a gift to ourselves for making it to a year of parenthood, haha! I feel like it’s pretty critical in how to fit training back into mom life during the work week, and it’s definitely been working so far. 

Here are some cute Christmas pajama pics to close out 2021! Looking forward to an even better 2022!