A passion for trail running, ultras, mountaineering, snowshoeing, hiking, and other outdoor adventures

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fatherhood and Fifty (or Big Life Changes Come in Bunches!)

The last few months have been a whirlwind!  The trip to Ethiopia in June to meet Mihiret and travel around and have our adoption hearing.  The trip to Wyoming a week later for Bighorn and the cathartic effort there.  A summer of totaling reorganizing our place, putting up a new wall to create a nursey, throwing away tons of stuff, putting a ton of stuff in storage, and generally trying to get our place ready for the new addition!  Then after also squeezing in Escarpment 30K and NYC Tri and mostly tri-oriented training in, we got the call to go back to Ethiopia in mid-August!

After 5 days of bonding with her and our embassy appointment to finalize everything and get the US visa, we finally got to bring her home (after a trip of nearly 24 hours) on August 25th!  Five years of trying to adopt, 10 years trying to become parents.....Mihiret is WONDERUFL--social, inquisitive, walking, beautiful, into everything, just like a one year old should be (her first was last Friday !).  But she also had a urinary tract infection, which involved two trips to ER, four days in hospital, and now a third antibiotic we administer at home via chest catheter they inserted as she finishes up fighting the infection.  At its worst, it gave her high fevers, but never totally laid her low or sapped her energy.  Amazingly resilient creature she is! 

Of course, our arrival back in the States coincided with....Hurricane Irene...my 50th birthday...the start of the semester and my busiest time of year....but the East Coast quake came a few days later than we got back!  Oh yeah, and trying to squeeze in as much tri training as possible (quality over quantity) after the time away, in preparation for SOS Survival of the Shawangunks which took place today.  But alas Irene closed Minnewaska Preserve and the organizers chose (much to the disappointment of many of us) to cut the race in half by cutting out four of the eight segments.  I might still have gone, but with Mihiret still needing a lot of special attention and the daily IV meds and such, it just made no sense to go up to New Paltz for the Sat. pre-race briefing and the shortened Sun. race.  So the best-laid plans of man...and about 10 weeks of training focussed on that one race....oh well, you can't have everything!  It was an amazingly EASY decision to give up on the race.  I can see how parenthood changes your priorities! I usually HATE to cancel out on a big goal race!

Anyway, she's been a joy, and parenting is this incredible force that just upends and transforms your life and I still feel like we haven't had a chance to settle into any normalcy with schedules.  Just how, I wonder, do parents ever get ANY work done?  !So much still to sort out with her routine medical testing issues coming from a developing country, childcare to figure once Esperanza goes back to work (not so easy to do with oversubscribed daycare in Manhattan), etc., etc.  But it's a joyous ride and we're just hanging on for dear life and trying to roll with it and enjoy it!

Back to the Trails

Well, what took a hit this summer was any time for the trails, especially post-Escarpment 30K in late July.  It was hard enough to squeeze in the multi-sport training and then the logistics-heavy NYC tri (briefing Friday, take bike to transition Sunday, get up at 4Am for race Sunday, all for an Olympic distance event!).  It's a little frustrating not to be able to take advantage of the modest amount of biking and greater amount of swimming I did since June.  I was decently prepared if not ideally trained.  Like being all dressed up and the party is canceled!  But on the other hand, I feel strong aerobically from getting hard workouts in three sports and the bike hill training I think kept the legs in decent climbing form for the trails.  So it wasn't a total waste at all.

I briefly just now flirted with doing a late-season half Ironman, like last year. But I can't really get motivated by that, and have been itching for the post-SOS change of gears back to the trails and at least shorter ultras for the fall.  Now I got an earlier start on that, and don't have the post-SOS recovery to worry about. So, game on with the fall running program!

So....I think I've set up some interesting, shorter races I can sink my teeth into and get me back to the trails--Pfalz Point 10 miler, Mountain Madness 25K, Bimbler's Bluff50K as sort of my focal race for fall, and Delaware Water Gap 50K fat ass in November.  BB and PP will both be new for me, and I've been wanting to try out.  Great that Garth and Paul and maybe Lesley will join for some or all. 

I've been thinking for a while I will try to race BB all out, and train accordingly for it, including some taper.  I've very seldom all-out raced a 50K, as they've always been steppingstone races to longer distances.  But this time I can afford the luxury of doing that.  And it looks like the kind of course where a PR is possible, and I might be able to fare decently in my age group. 

So all that re-focussing brings back some renewed vitality to my training these past few days, and something to focus on the next couple months.  I'm psyched!  After getting out to Palisades for two glorious hours on my birthday, Sept. 1st, I managed to get up to Harriman for a run/swim/run on Labor Day, when I thought SOS was still in the cards.  Yesterday we had our first little re-grouping of the training group, as Garth and Paul and I were enjoyed also by Steph Case, who is back in Manhattan and just happened to contact me out of the blue looking for people to train with this weekend. 

I felt strong despite the humidity, and good on the climbs, out in the Palisades  The trail muscle memory is back and I could let it go a little on the descents again--nice feeling!  We covered 15.4 pretty rugged miles in 3:45, counting stoppage time, and it was a good challenge to keep up with Steph, though I'm sure she could have gone faster (and she was adding in miles on both ends of her run, as she ran the 14 or so miles back to downtown after we finished--wow!).  I felt like I could have gone on for a couple more hours, which is a good feeling to have when you haven't been on your feet that long for a while!

Today I went out for a hoped-for 10 miles in the Park, as a sort of back to backer.  Carried the GPS for a little "pace accountability"!  As serendipity would have it, ran into superelite Glenn Redpath at mile 1.3 or so (14th at Western States this year).  He said "run with me" to chat a bit, I managed to for about a mile before he surged ahead.  But it really forced me into a decent pace I might not have otherwise gotten to on tired legs, and I was able to sort of stay within the 8:00-8:30 range for another 9 miles, finish a little under 8s, get in 11 miles in 1:30, and generally sort of treat it as a long tempo run.  Thanks Glen! 

So combined with the 9 or so on Friday mostly with Garth and in the Park and yesterday, it was a nice haul of 35 miles or so and maybe 6.5-7 hours on my feet over 3 days--sweet feeling!  Especially with the very light schedule and days off with the time spent in the hospital (which probably had me feeling unsually fresh, I guess).

So now I've gotta keep re-tooling..add back in at least once weekly yoga (after giving up since spring for time) and getting back into weights twice a week (been lax this summer).  As I cut back or cut out the swimming and biking and pick up the quality and focus of the mileage.  Nice to be back to the focus of a single sport, and the one I know best!

Can't tell you how nice it feels to be back on the trails, and back into focusing on ultras, even if shorter than my usual focus!  The multisport thing is fun and everything, but my heart is really out there in the woods and on the steep terrain.  Like with the buck and wild turkey we saw yesterday.  And the beautiful views we had out over the river. And the camaraderie of the woods!  Nothing quite like it! 

But there's also a new sense of longing to get back home and see my darling little daughter, not to mention relieve Esperanza who's been tireless so far on her maternity leave!  Hopefully I can become more structured and efficient with my training time, especially once Esperanza goes back to work.  I now marvel at the parents who are able to continue training and competing while keeping their priorities in order, and strive to become one of them!

Oh yeah, what's it feel like to be 50, Garth was asking yesterday?  No different really, I guess.  I think I've internalized it for a while and well before the day, and becoming a daddy finally took out any sting, and made it feel pretty secondary as a life change.  Plus I feel healthy and reasonably fit and motivated.  So I'm looking forward to the new decade of running...as a daddy! And many thanks to all the good friends who came out, on short notice, on the day to celebrate with me! It was really great, and Esperanza showing up by surprise with Mihiret was really the icing on the cake!

Many good times lie ahead, I'm feeling!  It's great when positive life changes come in bunches!  Let the 50s roll!

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