1000 Miles for 2014: September, October, and a last minute half

I accidentally skipped September’s post, but I am proud to say that I logged 108.0 miles that month,  pulling me well away from the pace bunny.  October has been a little more difficult in getting runs in because my husband is in fire school which is every other weekend. He leaves at 6am and gets back around 6pm. And it’s been getting darker, causing me to skip runs in favor of safety. Still, I did manage to pull out 90.9 miles for the month of October.

I also learned about a local half marathon that was held on the Airline Trail about three weeks ago. I decided at the last minute to do it.  I was a little nervous about not actually training or preparing for it, and the fact that I could only pull off long runs every other week, I still went for it.  I calmed my nerves by trying to tell myself that it was an up tempo long run that I would be doing anyway…I would just be doing it with other people. As much as my competitive side wanted to win, I knew that having never raced a half marathon before would be difficult.  I decided that my goal time would be an hour forty,  with an ideal time of an hour thirty. My strategy was to go fairly easy for the first ten (around 7:30 mile pace) and kick out the last three.  The course was advertised as being flat and fast since the trail was an old rail road bed.  Should be easy, right?

Weeelll…..I started out comfortably near the back of the front pack. I was a little boxed in, but felt fine. I blistered through the first mile marker at 6:30.  Oops. I tried to slow down. The second marker came and went at 12:38.  Agk! I got through the five mile mark at exactly 35:00.  I still felt fine, and it was flat, so I we t with it. But just has the sixth mile marker came up I lost my footing on a rock and yanked my left hamstring.  I felt it all the way up into my back.  Then at mile seven the hill started.  It was a hill that took me all the way up to the finish line! So much for flat and fast!  Despite my soreness and fatigue, I was able to pull out a moderate kick and finish strong.

I am still waiting for official results to be posted online but I came through with a 1:35:47! Not too bad for my first time. I believe I finished 28th over all, and as the 5th female. I was 3rd inthe female submasters group and got a nifty wooden train whistle as my trophy. 

RACE RESULTS
Overall, I finished 28th out of 256.
I was the 5th female out of 130.
In the 30-39 age group, I finished 3rd out of 39.

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I do have to say that the race management was amazing! The towns of Hebron, Colchester, and East Haddam were fantastic. All along the trail, at every street crossing, there was police presence,  flashing lights, stop signs, yellow vests…everything to keep the runners safe.  There were also a ton of spectators that I wasn’t anticipating.  Whistles and bells, hand made signs, water stations….it was very encouraging.  There was a great post race party going on a thte finish line as well.  The finish line was at the East Haddam elementary school, so the kids got to play with my dad while I ran. The  when I crossed the line, we went to the big tent where they had a DJ, snacks & Gatorade, and hot dogs & chilly for all!  I even got a wicked cool day glow long sleeve (IN A SIZE SMALL!).  It really doesn’t get any better than that.

All in all the race was a great experience and I’m excited to come back next year to do better.
I’m also excited to be so close to the end of my 1000 mile goal! I’m currently at 896.6 miles with two months to go.
Keep on running, friends!

A Mother’s Curse

We have all been cursed by our mothers.  You know the one, when, as a child we’ve tested the edge of her patience and she’s blurted out angrily how someday we’d end up having children just like ourselves.  And then we would roll our eyes at her (because we were never having children, duh!) and maybe utter a half apology.  Some of us grow up to indeed have kids just like ourselves; bratty, emotional, stubborn, or tantrum prone.  But some of us grow up not to necessarily be cursed by the kid, so much as a thing.  For me, it is the curse of a spare plate that has been handed down.

It was the late 1950s and my grandmother had a set of sunny yellow melamine dishes.  She also had a single blue plate.  It was an ugly blue plate and no one knew where exactly it had come from.  But, grandmother also had five daughters, which meant that her setting for six in yellow wasn’t enough to set the table with.  Every evening someone had to use the awful blue plate.  Which ever sister set the table that night would place it in front of the chair of the girl she had the most beef with at the moment.  Then of course arguements would ensue.  No one wanted the hideous blue plate and night after night, my poor grandmother had to listen to the squawking and wailing of her daughters fighting over it.  One day she was able to replace the blue plate. I’m not sure if she was able to get another setting of yellow dishes or what, but I’m sure whatever she paid was worth the peace at meal times.  The blue plate was slipped into the trash can, never to be fought over again.

When I was a child, around 8 or 9 years old maybe, my mother had a set of Corelle dishes.  They were cream coloured with a sage green ribbon that ran around the edge.   They were strong and practical.  She also had a few odd pieces from an older set that we no longer used, including one stonewear plate. It was white with a scalloped edge.  The three of us kids called it the Up And Down Plate.  It was a special plate.  It was a coveted plate.  We fought like cats and dogs over this plate. We whined about how unfair it was or pleaded that it our turn to use it.  Which ever one of us that got to set the table would always place it by our own chair, only to be stolen, swapped out, and reset at some other kid’s chair.  It was downright torturous to watch a grimey little brother eating off of it.  That up and down plate drove my parents bonkers, too.  No matter what they said or how vehemently they threatened,  we wouldn’t stop fighting over the dumb plate.  One day my parents finally snapped.  It was the sudden crash that brought my brother and I downstairs.   Then it was the eerie,  gleeful cackle from my mother that made us stop.  My father had smashed the plate in the middle of the kitchen floor.  I’m pretty sure he had done it on purpose because my mother was jumping up and down on the pieces. After they swept it up, the special, beautiful up and down plate was never spoken of again.

My husband and I bought our dishes from Ikea.  We got a nifty set of charcoal grey ones that looked cool and hip on our high top table with the white table cloth and red napkins.  But, as a plate broke here and a bowl smashed there, not to mention going from one kid to three, we had to go back for more dishes.  Unfortunately, Ikea has stopped carrying our particular charcoal grey dishes, so we got a set of standard white.  They are plain and practicle and actually look really awesome when mixed and matched with the grey ones.  Except, now we are down to three small plates.  Those are the ones the kids use for dinner, and one of them has a chip in it.  It is called The Broken Plate.  My children love the broken plate!  They race to be the first one to request it and sulk if they don’t get it.  Every single meal time is a fighting-pleading-whine-fest over someone else having the plate and at least one kid declaring a hunger strike over it.  Last night my oldest got the plate and my middle child began that painful high pitched scream that makes you sure your ears are bleeding.  I asked him very nicely to quiet down.  I explained that it was just a plate and his fish would still taste just as good.  I begged my eldest to give it up, however the mere suggestion nearly caused a tantrum.  I demanded my son to stop screaming.  At this point all three of my children were crying and no one was eating.  I lived with the ear piercing noise for eight and a half minutes before I calmly slid my son’s food onto a plastic plate that was stashed in the back of the cupboard.  Without a word, I stepped into the middle of the dining room and let the chipped plate drop.  Ah, what a satisfying sound!  The smash was liberating and the immediate silence from my stunned children that followed was delightful. The rest of the meal was eaten in peace.  And during tonight’s dinner, which was served on all white plates, no one felt the need to mention it.

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So, how bad will my kids have it when they become parents?  Will the curse of the plate continue for them?  A part of me really hopes so.

Delete the Facebook App

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Two weeks ago I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. There were several reasons for it, #1 being my phone just flat out wasn’t working properly, #2 being Facebook was addictive and dangerous.

For the past several months something was terribly wrong with my smartphone. I could almost never send or receive calls or texts, but voicemails would come in just fine. Even though I would have full bars indicating a decent reception, I would continually get “out of network” errors. I also noticed that my phone kept trying to wake itself up.  It would be sitting on the kitchen counter while I’d be doing other things and I would see the screen light up and try to unlock itself. Sometimes when I would attempt to unlock my phone I would be forced to wait because it had already had 10 incorrect attempts to open the screen. Contacting T-Mobile didn’t help either; they suggested I upgrade my device since my warrenty was up. Sorry, not doing that! When my phone’s memory was used up because of my picture taking addiction, I had to clear out some space. After emptying out my gallery, I then looked into apps that were taking up space but didn’t really need. Since I don’t have games,  Facebook was the only one left.

I thought about the time I spent on Facebook and how desperate I was for time. Even though I tried making “black outs”, periods where Facebook was off limits like meal times or while the kids were awake, it was still so tempting to check it. I checked it constantly. I found myself getting annoyed at the kids for interrupting me while reading “just this one article”. I kept catching myself thinking of how I’d caption a particular photo, even if I didn’t even take the picture. I was always coming up with witty status updates, or even wishing something would happen so I could update about it. I wasn’t exactly glued to my phone, but I knew it wouldn’t be long until I was. I had to break the addiction before it got worse.

Aside from the ridiculous amount of time spent on the app, I was also concerned with safety. There was a big hullabaloo over the Facebook Messenger app and I could only assume the same questionable security issues were a part of the regular Facebook app. I had already downloaded and removed the messenger app before everyone made a big stink about it simply because I hated the constant pinging updates from people sending me messages. I simply didn’t have time to text-chat all day, and found it annoying.

I went back into Google Play to redownload the app to check out what permissions Facebook actually asked for, and sure enough, they request access to everything. 
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However, if you check out their terms of service, they require you to agree to protect other user’s security, identities, and information yet they don’t even do that themselves. They also request you to agree to not use your timeline for financial gain (authors, you can’t self promote, and moms you can’t peddle your Avon stuff) yet they surely gain financially by feeding you advertisements based on your profile and browser search history. You also have to agree to use your real, legal name and to keep your contact info accurate and up-to-date.  Why?! I just can’t agree to this kind of a relationship.

Now, I didn’t completely ditch Facebook. I was using my account through the web browser, but I can no longer upload pictures, so I’ve added the app to my tablet, yet log out when not in use. Sure, it’s a pain in the butt, but the inconvenience of it helps to keep me off of it. Also, my phone began working properly almost instantly after the app was removed. Calls come in like they should, the network is always accessible, and the camera no longer spontaneously turns on. Coincidence?  Perhaps. I’ll keep an eye on my tablet to see if anything strange starts happening there. If it does, I’ll probably delete my account altogether.

1000 Miles for 2014: August (and a win!)

Ok, I’m two days late, but I’ve got good news: I’m ahead again!  I finished up the month of August feeling really good with 116.4 miles.  That means that after my trail run on Sunday morning I was at a total of 684.6 miles out of the 663.9  Eat my dust Pace Bunny!

I also had a 10K race earlier in the month.  I was super excited to participate in the Hop River Run here in Andover, CT. At first I was a little nervous because I hadn’t been training at all and was afraid that I would either a) take it a little too easy and end up disappointed in my finish or b) take it too hard and end up hurting myself.  There was an option of a 5K, which was run last year and the previous year’s results looked like I’d do well, or a 10K which would be a first time race. I had a hard time deciding; do I opt for the shorter but faster race or the longer but slower race?  In the end I went for the 10K and I’m glad I did!  I easily set out with the lead pack and before the second mile had pulled away from the crowd.  Two men were ahead of me in sight until the turn around.  I remained in third place, running all alone, until the finish.  I held a solid pace the entire way.  I finished third over all and first for the women.  I was about 30 or so seconds ahead of 4th place and about a minute to a minute and a half ahead of the second female.  My time was 44:26.  Not great, but a solid run and not bad for a first time event.  It certainly boosted my ego and reignited that fire to get me out the door and running.  I needed that more than anything. I also won a nifty running cap with LED lights in the brim in lieu of a trophy.  Super cool.

It’s been hot, it’s been humid, but I’m going to push on through the rest of this year and complete my goal.  Only 4 more months to go!

1000 Miles for 2014: July

I’ve slacked this month. I was tired. I was injured. I was hot. And now I’m playing catch up with the Pace Bunny. PB is at 579.2 miles as of this morning, while my four mile trail run put me at 568.2.

It’s hard to stay with your goals, especially if you fall behind.  I’ve always been a sore loser and usually would come up with all kinds of reasons and excuses to quit right now. But this time I’m not going to.  11 miles behind isn’t an impossible gap. But I know I’ll never close it and ultimately fail if I don’t keep at it. And every day that I don’t run puts almost 3 more miles between us.

2014 ain’t over yet!  If you’ve fallen off the horse with your New Year’s Resolutions, get back up, renew your attitude, and push on!

Let’s do this!

1000 Miles for 2014: June

Believe it or not but I’m still at it! While I’m a measly half mile ahead of the “pace bunny”, I am ahead nonetheless.  I’m now at 504.5 miles!

I’ve also loafed the Sworkit app into my smartphone and have been doing workouts (most core and yoga) on there. I like the app because it has a social networking vibe (you can follow and “like” users and workouts, this post to your profile like a “wall”, & you can comment in forums), you can create your own workouts,  and you can search workouts based on target areas or type. I also like that a lot of workouts are about ten minutes so I can fit them in randomly throughout my day… if the kids are busy I can do two or three, if not, one for now and another later on.

Keep on keepin’ on!

It’s Not Me, It’s You: Break Ups in a Surrogacy

If you are  on the giving end or receiving end, it doesn’t really matter; break ups are sucky for everyone.  And whatever the reasons are, it feels like it’s not enough, as if there needs to be more explaining, and closure can be hard to find for a lot of people. Breaking up a surrogacy relationship isn’t any different.  In fact, in some ways it’s more difficult than dumping that creep from college.  Emotions are already running full throttle during a surrogacy, so when wrinkles turn into speed bumps (or even all out spike strips), putting on the breaks and calling it quits before spinning out of control is often the best option.

The relationship with my Intended Parents wasn’t going well.  Even before the embryo transfer, things just didn’t feel right.  At first it was the interpreter, Wayne.  I didn’t like him personally.  I cringed whenever I had to speak with him or spend time with him.  He was just a jerk; making the situation all about him, flashing the Armani tag in his shirt, trash-talking his own wife, and bragging about money and a job he didn’t even have.  Then there was the fight the night before the transfer.  I witnessed Wayne wrestling the Intended Father, Steve, in the hallway of the hotel right after I had heard him throw an iPad at his own wife (which hit the wall between our rooms).  Then after our stay we discovered some tidbits of info about the family that left me feeling a bit uneasy.  For one, Wayne is not anyone’s brother-in-law since he’s NOT married.  Oh, and his “wife” ISN’T the sister to the Intended Mother, Sara, but, maybe a cousin…they weren’t real clear on giving us the rest of that story.  And if that wasn’t enough, I learned that Sara had NEVER had a miscarriage.  The three (or ten as reported in some places) miscarriages that were reported to the fertility clinic were in fact elected abortions because at the time she and her husband “weren’t financially ready for children”.  And, they used the fact that they had never had a miscarriage as the reason why my miscarriage of their embryo had to be solely MY fault.  They were very hurt by the miscarriage, as any parent would be, however, the way it was handled was borderline abusive.  They would go weeks without speaking to me at all, to then randomly call me (or show up at my house) to demand to know what I did to cause the miscarriage.  As a gestational carrier it was horrible.  It was anxiety inducing.  It was torturous.  On one side I knew that it wasn’t me, that I didn’t do anything.  The doctors told me so.  Statistics told me so.  It was normal, actually, it was almost expected.  But on the other side I felt like a huge failure.  I had failed.  I wondered if my running had caused it, if I had picked up my daughter weird, if I had missed something important.  I agonized over the why of that miscarriage.  Despite how they made me feel, I planned on trying again once my cycles returned.  But, then things escalated.

The Intended Parents and Wayne came over for a visit.  They were supposed to stay in town for a few days and I was a bit excited to show them around where we lived.  But during dinner they announced that they were leaving that night.  We understood that they had things to do (and a second surrogate carrier to visit in PA) so we didn’t want to take it personally.  When the check came at the end of the meal, my husband handed over cash and paid the bill.  He figured that they had paid last time, so he’d pay this time.  Also, he was the one that brought along our three kids, ordered a ton of food including appetizers, and picked the restaurant.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  The IPs and Wayne threw a huge fit and our table became the center of attention in this packed restaurant.  There was lots of yelling and pointing and carrying on.  The waiter was yelled at.  Managers were called over and yelled at.  There was a loud discussion over who got to pay.  In the end my husband’s cash won out over their credit cards.  Then the argument continued out in the lobby when Wayne squared off with my husband.  “You’re lucky you’ve got kids with you,” he spat at him, “otherwise I’d knock you out right now!”  Poor Hubs.  He tried to diffuse the situation by explaining that he was just trying to be friendly by taking his turn with the bill.  But Wayne responded with “You have three kids!  You don’t have the money for this!  If I’d known you’d insist to pay then I would have made sure we went to McDonald’s cause that’s what you can afford.”  And that was the last I heard from him.

I contacted my agency and told them the situation and that I no longer felt safe working with this family.  I kept getting “Are you sure?” type Emails back in response.  Being both polite and firm with the agency was more difficult than I had anticipated.  I finally made it clear to them that I would not be continuing with the family.  The response back from the agency was strange.  First I was told that I was at fault because I was misinterpreting their motives and their culture.  I was urged to reconsider because they had been so nice to me, giving me money and buying me things.  I was told that I was lucky because no other set of parents would be so nice or tolerate so much.  But, once I was firm about the break up I  was told I wouldn’t be put back on the surrogate roster because my “medical history was incomplete due to my previous homebirths”.  Later, almost two weeks later, I was finally asked for a termination letter from my lawyer.  Also, between those two weeks I received phone calls from the family’s fertility clinic wanting to know when I was ready to come back in for a second transfer!

I’ve been trying to break up with this family for nearly two months now and I’m honestly not sure if they fully get it yet.   I keep getting mixed messages from everyone from my agency to their doctors to the lawyers which indicate that they may not have even been told.  And every time I tell someone that I’m terminating the contract I get a shocked response, as if surrogates never break up with IPs, which only makes me feel worse.  Throughout the process I’ve constantly been second guessing my choices and constantly being bullied into making new ones.   But, I’ve come to realize that any relationship that is this difficult to get out of is an unhealthy one, be it that creep from college, Intended Parents in a surrogacy arrangement, or a boss.  You should never have to repeat yourself or your reasons for breaking it off, and someone who keeps coming back for more explanation, more closure, more you is not getting over it or moving on, and that’s not healthy.  Get away from these people fast, and don’t look back!

I’ve contacted my lawyers about the situation and (I think) they are handling it, though I don’t get much feedback from anyone.  I’ve since moved on from everyone involved and am starting over with a new agency, new doctors and will be using a new lawyer.  I’m jaded now and I’ve told the new agency so.  I’ve also closed off some doors on who I’ll consider being a surrogate for.  But I’ve also learned a lot about the surrogacy process as well as people in general.

Number One: Ask questions, even the straightforward ones.  Even the embarrassing ones.  Ask them.  And keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers. Make people explain themselves and expand on their answers until you have the full story.
Number Two: It’s ok to set limits, to have expectations, and to be selective.  It doesn’t make you a bad person to say no or to turn someone down.  It doesn’t make you a bad person to keep searching for that person or situation that matches your morals, ideals, and dreams.
Number Three: Trust your gut.  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Act on your gut immediately because letting things drag out makes everything ten times worse for everyone.