Georgia Runs

Today I am 35. Today I am five days out from running my first half marathon. In the three months I’ve been training for this event, I’ve learnt some lessons that I hadn’t learnt in my almost 35 years prior. The physical training has been intense. Hard. Painful. But I think it’s the mental training that’s come with it that has made me a stronger person. Usually when I mention to someone new that I am training for a half marathon, I met with ‘wow! I could never do that’. The thing is, three months ago, I didn’t think I could do it either.

In February, on the spur of the moment, I decided to enter the HBF Run for a Reason half marathon. At the time, I was struggling to run 5kms. I didn’t actually think I could run a half marathon.

But here I am, knowing I can, and excited that I will be running 21.1kms in less than a week.

Some of the biggest things I’ve learnt on this journey have been vital to getting me where I am now.

  1. Having a goal to work towards is really important. The absolute turning point in my running journey was having an end goal to work towards. I signed over my money, and signed up for raising money for my nominated charity. When people started donating money, I absolutely had to make sure I did everything I could to make sure that I make the start, and finish line.

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  2. Support is vital. My husband is also a runner, so he gets it. But I know that even if he didn’t run, he would still support me on this journey. Around the time I signed up for the half marathon, I also joined a national running group for mothers. The support from these women for all members of the group has been invaluable.
  3. Training your body is really important. Working on your form, the way you foot hits the ground, and where it lands under your body prevents injury. Building your endurance through frequent runs and increasing distance, but also through rest and recovery is important. Fueling your body with good food (for me it’s low carb, healthy fat, but you have to work out what works best for you), paying attention to your hydration, and getting decent sleep are all vital to becoming a better runner.
  4. Training your body is only half the challenge. Training your legs to carry, building muscle, learning how to breathe, improving your form, fueling your body for endurance? There’s science for that. Training your mind is harder. I’ve run 18kms non-stop. But there have absolutely been some runs where my head has beaten my body, where I’ve struggled, and where I’ve cut my run short.

    I find the first 3kms the hardest. I’ve read that it’s not uncommon, and is due to your respiratory and circulatory system needing to catch up with the increased oxygen demands your body is placing. Once I hit 3kms, I start to settle, my form smooths out and my breathing feels easier. By 5kms, I’m usually feeling pretty good. But getting through those first 3 – 5kms is a real battle with myself, lots of mental self talk happens. I actually find longer distances easier, and more enjoyable.

    During my long runs, me self talk sounds something like this:

    Starting out: ‘Just get through the first 3kms, they’re always the hardest. You have to do this if you want to run a half marathon, so just do it. Shut up, you’re not quitting. Just get to 3kms, or 5kms. If it’s still hard at 5kms you can go home’.

    3-5kms: ‘You’ve hit 3kms, is it getting easier yet? It should be getting easier. Just get to 5kms, that’s only 2 more’.

    5-8kms: ‘Just do another 3kms and see how you feel, you’re running really well at the moment’.

    8kms: ‘Round it out to 10, that’s only 2kms away’.

    10kms: ’10kms already. You’ve got this. What’s another 8kms when you’ve already run 10? You’re more than half way’.

    10-18kms: ‘I wonder what I’m thinking about? Oh, my legs are handling this hill really well. Now what was I thinking about again? It doesn’t matter.’

    18kms: ’18kms already? I could keep going for another 18kms. An extra 3.1kms on the day will be nothing’.

    When I stop and walk: ‘Yep, I just ran 18kms. I don’t know if my legs will be able to walk the 100m home’.

    black-and-white-field-jogger-jogging

  5. I run better in the early morning, even better when it’s cold. This is something I struggle with. I am a night owl. I feel more creative and more productive late at night. There have been a few weekends when my husband has been working, so I’ve had to go to bed early so I can go for an early morning run. I feel great for the whole run, and for the rest of the day. But after this, I fall back into my habit of late nights, and this usually feeds my crappy runs. A late night doing something, followed by getting up early with the kids and not having enough sleep leads to struggle town when I run.This is something I’m trying to work on. Sunday’s run starts at 6.45am, which means I will have to be up before 5am. I’ll make myself go to bed early because I know I have to in order to run a decent race on Sunday, I just need to transfer this to the rest of my life.
  6. I love my body more now than at any other time in my life. My body’s not perfect. I still have abdominal diastisis from when I was pregnant with the boys, I still look pregnant over 2.5 years on from having twins. I have no boobs, I had none prior to children, but having and breastfeeding 4 children have left them worse for wear. But it’s hard to dislike your body when you realise what it is capable of. I can run 18kms! In 5 days it will have run 21.1kms non-stop. My legs feel strong, they have serious muscle definition. I feel strong, I feel good. My mind can handle 18kms of running when 3 months ago it could barely handle 5. What’s not to love?
  7. Finally, I love active wear.

 

Image sources: pexel.

The sounds of sleep

I crawl into bed in the dark, on a cold winter’s night. I listen to the sound of my husband snoring softly beside me. I can hear the faint sound of the twin’s sleep music in their room across the hall. I hear my youngest sigh in his sleep, his fingers grapple with the flip-lid on his sippy-cup that he closed earlier as he drifted off. I hear him sip, and sigh as he falls back into slumber. I hear his brother in the cot beside him cough with the dregs of a drawn out cold that finally seems to be leaving. 

My husband rolls over, and for a while his snoring stops. I hear a siren speed past on the main road at the end of our street. My husband rolls again, and his breathing deepens. Another siren, then a truck rumbles past.

I hear the beep of my eldest son’s swatch. I didn’t know his watch beeps. It’s analogue. It’s dark and I want sleep and I don’t know what I’m hearing. I don’t hear my daughter, she sleeps as silent as the night, at the end of the house in the room next to her brother’s with the silent analogue watch that beeps in the night. 

And the house settles, the traffic stops, my family sleeps. All I hear is the sounds of the night, and my husband snoring softly beside me. And I stare at the ceiling in the dark, wishing for sleep, and thinking these thoughts that I know I won’t remember in the morning. 

And I get up and write these words in the dark about the sounds of sleep that I hear while lying awake in the dark wishing for sleep. 

Big kids need attention too.

When you have babies and toddlers, it is so easy to get caught up in their needs, what they’re doing, how much they’re not sleeping, or how often they’re waking at night. Sometimes you get so caught up in the bone wearying exhaustion that goes along with parenting that happens in the early years, that you miss other things that are going on around you.

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Image Source

Yesterday I realised how much I’ve missed while I’ve been busy parenting twins who still wake at night. Dylan and Mahalia are beyond helpful with Harry and Zach. They play with them in the morning while I have a shower, entertain them while I clean up dinner, let me know when someone has a nappy bomb, and are generally just awesome with them.

We’ve been lax with bedtimes over the holidays, and there’s been lots of hanging out and watching movies on tv. But one on one attention from me has fallen short, and in my sleep deprived exhaustion, I’ve been grumpier than usual.

Yesterday, while eating a snack, Mahalia started crying, without seeming to know why. After lots of cuddles, she eventually calmed down, and told me she was crying because she thought she would get in trouble for getting something to eat without asking. Now, I prefer if the kids ask first before raiding the cupboard as they’re known for snacking just before lunch or dinner, but at other times it doesn’t bother me. It made me realise though that Mahalia’s hanging out for some quality time with me, without toddlers interrupting.

The afternoon was filled with tantrums that only an overtired six year old can produce. She may no longer nap during the day, and we may be taking it pretty easy these holidays, but Mahalia is still up at the crack of dawn, and I think I need to be a bit more strict with bedtime. Both Dylan and Mahalia like to read in bed after being tucked in, but from tonight I’ll be setting a time limit before lights off.

Harry and Zach go back to day care next week, so the last few weeks of the school holidays will be spent doing stuff that’s fun for the big kids so I can fill up their love tanks. Ngala is only two weeks away, so hopefully it won’t be long until everyone is sleeping through the night and I can get rid of might sleep deprived grump.

Looking after myself – sleep

So we’re a week into the new year already, and for a change, I’m still sticking to my plan for achieving my 2015 goals. My goals that involve uni are still in the planning stages – I can’t really do too much with them until uni goes back next month. But I think planning plays a huge part in whether or not I achieve my goals.

What I have been sticking to is looking after myself, making changes to my lifestyle so that I feel and look better. I tend to take my health for granted, and when I startling self-care slide, I pretend to ignore how bleurgh I’m feeling until I can’t ignore it any longer. And I’ve hit the point where I can’t ignore it. There a few different changes I’m making to become a healthier version of me, so I’m going to write it out in two parts.

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When I was pregnant with Dylan and Mahalia, I usually only woke once a night to pee. I was pretty lucky. With Harry and Zach’s pregnancy, the night waking started pretty early and I’d be up multiple times a night. As frustrating as it was, I didn’t mind too much because there were two! babies growing inside of me. When they were newborn, and I was living surviving on 1-2 hours sleep a night, as I tired and emotional as I was, I knew that there was a reason for them to be waking and feeding so frequently and for such long times. It’s just that having two of them made the whole process take longer. And when they were six months old, as much as I longer for sleep, I knew it wasn’t unusual for babies that age to still be waking at night. And when they were nine months old they were teething and learning to crawl and had just started day care, and I knew all these things could impact their sleep. And from 9 until 16 months, we were on the never-ending cycle of day care colds, ear infections, teething, a couple of bouts of gastro, and learning to walk. We had a few good nights where one would sleep through. Usually they’d take it in turns having a good night, waking only once, while the other would wake two or three times. And with two toddlers, having existed without a full night’s sleep in almost two years, it’s easier to spend 5 minutes feeding a baby/toddler during the night than trying other means of settling that could end up waking the other one and having two crying children to deal with.

I told myself that if Harry and Zach could finally get rid of their colds, their sleep would get better. If we could just make it to the Christmas holidays, they’d have a break from day care, their immune systems could recover, and they’d start sleeping through the night. Except it didn’t happen like that. If anything, their sleep got worse. Not wanting to go to sleep at night, more frequent waking, until we had a run of about four nights where I spent the best part of the night just trying to get them back to sleep.

I woke up on Monday morning and realised that I’m almost at the end of my reserves. I can’t keep functioning on broken sleep. Being up for hours at a time during the night brings out the worst in me. If I want to be a better, happier parent and wife, I need sleep. If I want to enjoy my family, I need sleep. If I want to do well in my final year of uni, I need sleep. So I rang Ngala and told them I need help. I should have rung months ago, but every time I thought about it, I always told myself that there are other people who need their help more than me, and after all, what did I expect having twins? Except, if we need help, we need help. Just because other parent’s might be getting even less sleep than me, doesn’t mean that I don’t need help too.

We’ve been offered a date at the end of the month to go in for a day stay to sort out the our sleep issues. And in the mean time, the lovely nurse I spoke with gave me some tips to try to help get me through until we go in. I tried them Monday night, and it was shit. Absolute shit. It was probably the worst night we’d had in a week, and it had been a shitty week. But I gave it another try on Tuesday night. And hallelujah! BOTH Harry and Zach self-settled, and they BOTH slept through the night. I know they’re not miraculously cured of the cases of waking in the night. But having had my first night of uninterrupted sleep in 22 months, and knowing that they can actually sleep through the night? It’s topped up my reserves enough that it doesn’t seem like such a long wait for our Ngala day stay. The light at the end of the tunnel is shinning with strength of a thousand suns.

This year I will sleep.

Blogging and (lack of) sleep

I’m finding it really difficult to find time to write blog posts at the moment. I usually try and write blog posts when Harry and Zach are sleeping during the day. Since being sick, their sleep patterns are all over the shop. They get put down for a nap at the same time, but one will take a lot longer to fall asleep than the other, and by the time the second has fallen asleep, and I’ve managed to go to the loo, have coffee, spend time with the older kids, the first twin is waking. Resettling is really hit and miss. I’ve got so many half-written posts that I have grand plans for, but by the time I get back to them, they no longer seem relevant.

Nights aren’t much better than days. More frequent wakings, and waking at different times to each other. I’m so tired at the moment that by the time I get some time to myself at night, I struggle to write anything. Its pretty much veg in front of the tv for a bit, then off to bed before someone wakes (if I’m lucky, sometimes they wake before I get to bed). I haven’t run in weeks, I’m lacking motivation for just about everything and I’m just feeling blah. Oh, and my sinuses are STILL congested.

I’m hoping that the sleep thing improves soon, my brain needs it, my body needs it, and so does this blog.

And with that, someone has just woken from their nap.

I hope you have a wonderful easter, and that you’re getting more sleep than me.

Down to my bones.

I am so tired. I didn’t realise just how tired I was until this weekend.

It’s been about 12 months since I last had a full night’s sleep. Part and parcel of having a new baby, or two as the case may be, in the home. The boys are only six months old, but I haven’t slept through the night since I was about three months pregnant with them. The rapidly growing belly, and the squished bladder meant I was waking at least twice a night, usually more, especially at the end.

Harry and Zach usually sleep pretty well at night, going to bed at 7pm, and waking twice for a quick feed, back to bed, and starting the day around 6.30am. I usually have enough in me to get through the day, plus run or do strength training four or five nights a week, before collapsing into bed every night, my head barely touching the pillow before I am asleep. I could go to bed earlier, but I wouldn’t have time to run. Running gives me my me time, and when my days are filled with caring for two little babes, I need that time for myself, to be myself.

Six month vaccinations were on Thursday, which means, going by the last lot of vaccinations, a week or so of more frequent night wakings, and a need to be held more, and less sleeping during the day. We’re about halfway in. I am getting through the day just. I’ve felt guilty for not tying my shoe laces and hitting the pavement the last few nights, I’ve just not had it in me. I’m tired down to my bones.

It hit me over the weekend, I’m running on empty.  12  months of broken sleep, and six months of mothering two babies, plus two school age children, mean I’ve got nothing left in reserve. So when and already low sleep tank is depleted more than usual, something has got to give. That something, this week, is working out. And that’s okay, because this too, shall pass. This too, shall pass.