I am dilated to about 4

Like birth stories, I never tire of race stories.  Ever.  I love your gory details of sweat and push and finish.  I want all of it – how was the labor, the big day prep and your spouse?  How did your body and its functions feel?  Take your time, tell me all of it – I have a glass of wine and you have my full attention.  Don’t leave out a thing.

Be careful, if you are a runner or a parent and you come over for happy hour the conversation just may gravitate here.

Not that I am assuming you are as riveted by such a thing or that you have a particular fancy for my stories but if you are at all connected to the ultimate push you might appreciate that I am dilated to about a 4.  I am giving birth to my third marathon in 3 days.  It’s a bit of a long labor but much more fun than the one did for him.

Nickatbat_thumb.jpgAt 8 pounds 13 ounces it felt like he came out this size.  So worth it.  So love my boy.  I learned the hard way that drugs, labor, and me don’t mix so I switch things up and had a mid wife deliver my next 2.

My first marathon was a bust.  Horrible feeling, injured, sick (recovering from pneumonia) but I did it.  It took a very, very, long time but in some ways it was my best one.  It didn’t let anything stop me.  And I gave birth to this.

My fist marathon.  Felt like I had popped out a 26.2 pound baby.  But I had her waiting for me after she rocked her 4th half marathon.  My blessing of a friend since we were 4.  I love her so much.  I wish Dawn could come to Miami.  My family drove 2 hours for the day.  I am so blessed I want to cry.

And cry I did when I  had her:

KathleenpitchingBaby #2.  She came out fierce.  I love her so much.  Worth the labor – not nearly as tough as #1.  I was relaxed and one under my belt.  Just like marathon #2.  Still tough but easier, more fun and I had him to run me in.

That’s not the Incredible Hulk in green.   That’s my incredible husband.  He risked shame and entered the marathon as a bandit at Mile 19 and ran me home.  Sounds like baby delivery.

And the third one was so sweet.  The baby, the delivery without drugs and the afterglow.  Sweet baby, Jane.

Jane10k_thumb.jpg

I am hoping marathon #3 is as smooth.  Dilating to 4 has been a little rough as I have a very sudden onset of the dreaded PF (plantar fasciitis)  but I have the assistance of a most incredible running midwife PT.  An ultra runner herself, she has magic hands and words to boot.  When I thought I was going to give up and require drugs during baby delivery #3, my midwife said:

I know 3 things, Clair.  This is going to hurt.  You can do this.  And you will have a baby in 15 minutes.

Amy said almost the same thing about marathon #3.  She said we can deal with the pain.  The reaction to it is just a mind game.  You will bag another marathon in 3 days and 26.2 miles.  I love her.  And I believe her.

3 babies.  After Sunday, 3 marathons.  No more babies.  God willing many more races.  Thinking about a big, big, boy.  50K.

See you on the other side.  Florida, here I come.

Girls Rule!

bookWhat Would Happen If Women Ruled the World?

Everything could change, according to former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers. Politics would be more collegial. Businesses would be more productive. And communities would be healthier. Empowering women would make the world a better place—not because women are the same as men, but precisely because they are different.

I might guess that yoga would be part of regular PE curriculum in US public schools.  For now:

Total Number of Americans who practice Yoga 15 million
Percent female 72.2%
Percent male 27.8%

Source:   NAMASTA, YIAS, LiveStrong, Yoga Journal

We  have a long way to go but women are taking on more and more powerful positions in politics, business, society, and yes at home.  And that’s where the real change starts.  Further change at home starts with a change of heart – believing in yourself.

There are a million good approaches to elevating self-esteem.  First and foremost: exercise.   Second and foremost: read.  Information is power.  Third and foremost:  roll out your mat!  Pick all 3.

In my house – girls do rule!  My husband and son and male dog are 2,000 miles away for 8 days on a testosterone-filled adventure to hunt birds.  We miss our boys, but daggone-it! parts of this are really fun.  On Friday, my youngest daughter and I had a girls movie night with dinner in front of the TV.  Ketchup sufficed as the vegetable.  It was a girlfest.

Love  my Jane.janeclairkiss Maggie – the real queen – slept with us:

MaggsKathleen and I are staying fierce.

KatclairfierceAnd there are no cleats in the family room or smelly socks on the bathroom floor.  Heaven.  Things are where they should be and there is minimal baseball being watched – although it is the World Series and we are fans.  It’s only day 2.

I know our lives are richer, fuller, better when we co mingle with the ‘other gender’.  But right now.  I am partial to girls.  We rule our world.

When my son was born – my Dad came to visit us in the hospital and stated:

He’s beautiful, Clair – a precious child, but you know I’m partial to girls.

He had 4 girls (and 2 boys).  I was sort of taken aback when he said that but now that I have these 2 girls, for the next 6 days, I get it!!  Maybe we can start a little change in our little corner of the world.

Dee Dee Myers is on to something.

 

 

Poor pigs.

Why is it that whenever anyone is being self-deprecating about being selfish, they bring a pig into?  Here’s what I heard this week:

I am a selfish pig, I am glad my kids are going back to school. (Colorado Athlete Extraordinaire)

I was out  mountain biking and was late picking up my daughter from softball.  I am a selfish pig.  (Virginia Nut Bag)

I did not go meet my son’s teacher because I had an appointment for my highlights.  What a selfish pig, I am.  (Richmond Beauty)  

 

Adopt A Pig

Poor pig.
If you look closely however, the association with selfishness might make a pig proud.
I saw this great article in the paper this morning:  Mother’s self-care helps the whole family.  After receiving sage advice from her mother, Mia Redrick decided to commit to dating herself, spending 90 minutes to 2 hours every week to stay connected to who she is – some activities include having coffee or tea alone at a local coffee shop or book store or going for a walk.  After yourself, the article goes on to say – date your spouse and our children on a regular basis.  In that order.
When a Mom has time to herself… she returns from that time alone with a level of appreciation for her children and her spouse.  It improves her relationships.
Nice pig.
I don’t know about you, but I do try to arrange my time to train for races or practice yoga or ride my bike around my family’s schedule.  But sometimes it isn’t possible.   It’s okay to leave the nest and go to a yoga class.  It’s okay to go for a run when everyone is home and awake.  One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to go for a long run somewhere without the kids.  We reconnect and serve ourselves at the same time.  When we return home, lo and behold! – the house is still standing and we are nicer.  And the children are not plotting emancipation.  They are proud.  It’s good for your children to see you living with passion and engaging in healthy pursuits.
And there is still time for this:
ClairNick10k_thumb.jpgAnd this:
photo.jpg
And this:
 MikeandNick
And this:
ClairandJane
This too:
000_2288.jpg
For me a lot of it is because of this:
426231_4512326243451_1674449887_n2.jpg
(I LOVE my yoga)
And this:
Go ahead.  Be a pig.

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs

Race Report

13.1

Another Half Marathon is in the books – number 7.  Far from my best and a little ways from my worst in terms of time but my aftermath attitude is better than any.  I was scared until the gun went off because I knew I was undertrained by anyone’s standards.  I realized that since my Ashtanga Yoga Retreat in September, I really had not been doing the long runs. I experienced strong short ones and did lots of core work and yoga. But here is no substitute for time on your legs.  So, I dropped my expectations and showed up thinking I knew I would finish.  The rest was up in the air.  And that was okay. 

Because I didn’t wear my Garmin (broken) and had no strict time goals, I enjoyed (almost) every step.  One aspect of race experience I love is reading the signs along the way.  I’ve decided the nicest, most clever, and nastiest (but funny) people make posters and line race courses.   Here are some favorites from Saturday:

 

  • Smile, if you peed a little.  (I saw 2 runners getting their picture taking in front of it when I passed)
  • It this were easy, it would be called:  ‘your mom’.
  • Camel toe check here.
  • Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
  • You don’t sweat brown.  (ewww.)
  • You’re almost finished.  Go faster.  ‘That’s what she said.’

Hand’s down, my very favorite parts were:

ClairRichmondJane

Seeing my youngest, Jane at Mile 10.  (Thanks, Larry!!!)

And:

ClairMegan5

Seeing, Megan

And:

Mike Richmond 2012 a

Knowing my husband (blue shirt/black shorts, nice butt) was rocking his race (way) ahead of me.  (Thanks, Larry!!)

I wasn’t just trying to get through this one.  I was enjoying most aspects of the journey.  So much so I know I have another full marathon left in me.  Just one more.  That’ll be three, to match my children.  And maybe a half ironman.  (There, I said it.  Again.)

Here are some parting thoughts on the 7th 13.1:

  • Marrymemile4 – loved seeing the street where my sister lives
  • Marrymebaldmaninfrontofme – inspired by your tenacity and persistence
  • Marrymefatherdaughterteam – touched by your bonding method
  • Marrymewobble – for being a nasty line dance that gets me going when the lyrics say:  ‘big girl, back it up’
  • Marrymeproffitts – for getting my Jane down there, picking up Nick, having lunch with us and being the greatest friends
  • Marrymedjatmile11 – love you for your funking bass and playlist that makes the pope blush.
  • Marrymepartypeoplegivingoutbeertorunners – love your zest and hospitality.  (No thank you, I waited until the end!!)

I loved 13.1 but I still love yoga more:  Marry Me Yoga?

 

In case you’ve read my last few posts about Amy’s and my journey to Zen meditation – I sat on my zafu the day of and the day after my race and every day for the last 21 days.  Enough to start a new habit.  There’s something special happening here.  The signs are everywhere.

 

Have you gotten a sign lately?

Never too old

Do you ever think you are “too old” for something and not do it?

If you are like me, you qualify your accomplishments or endeavors with the phrase ‘for my age….’  or ‘at my age…’  more often than you’d like to admit.  I need to stop.  So do you.  Age is nothing but a measure of how long you’ve been awake in this body.  The longer the better actually.  The longer you are awake the more you know.  Why do we worship youth as the best state in which to exist.  Take comfort in knowing we are all aging at the same rate – one day at a time.  The older we are the more (not less) we should do.  It may take longer to get there but don’t not do it – because of your age.   It is UTTER PROFANITY.  For that bad habit, I wish there was Nicorette to chew on.

This post was inspired by my musing over starting my Ashtanga Yoga practice, at my age (44).  Am I crazy?  Do I have enough time to coax my body in this:

BKMSAstanga400[1]

Hell, yes.

Am I too old? hell no!

Many of you know that Ashtanga yoga  – like Bikram, Hot Yoga and others – is a particularly rigorous and athletic form of yoga.  But yoga is a chameleon and can meet you where you are serving your own unique needs.  There are so many great approaches.  In Restorative Yoga, for example, the yogi holds poses – often propped – for long, slow, delicious and sometimes profound releases.  I  have experienced great emotional release and cried openly in yoga class because of all the mess an memories held in my hips.  Many others have too.

back_pose[1]

Source:  www.domarcenter.com

Girlfriend, I will never be too old for that.

I believe Ashtanga has found me at this point in my life on purpose.  It takes patience and focus to practice one’s way to to this:

ICP

Source:  www.yoga.sportsxfit.com

And this:

Ashtanga-Yoga[1]

Source:  www.mat-yoga.com

I can virtually feel what this feels like to do this and I like it.  I like it a lot.  We can be attracted to the prize and have not the patience for the process.  Ashtanga yoga – really all yoga – is a process.  For now, I can do this:

000_2247

And this:

000_2252

Apparently I am not the only one who has wondered about Ashtanga and age.  From Ashtanga Yoga Productions, I found this:

David:

I want to ask you if one is 47 years of age and in good health condition is it possible to practice ashtanga yoga even if you’re not that flexible? I have been practicing vinyasa for the last 5 – 6 years. I can do most asanas very well but some like the full-lotus or pigeon I still cannot do fully but I continue to work on them. So is it possible to practice ashtanga (at least finish the entire primary series)?

Thank you for your message. Yes you may benefit from Ashtanga. There is a great benefit to age, maturity. Well most of the time. As we age there is greater understanding as to what we can and cannot do. Typically we gain a better sense of who we are. This is an important characteristic in life in general and certainly is an aid in developing a satisfying yoga practice. I know people that have begun the practice of Ashtanga at the age of 70 or even 80. Everyone may gain benefit whether in the form of increased flexibility, strength or calmness of the mind. The degree to which you experience these things will be unique. Each one of us has different body attributes that have been molded by a unique set of genetics, life experience, physical activities, lifestyle and diet. All of these things combine to form our physical and emotional state of existence. Ashtanga Yoga is an incredible tool that seeks to balance our strength with flexibility and to bring about a sense of wellbeing on an emotional and mental level. A steady and regulated practice over a long period of time is the catalyst to these changes. We must be patient and listen to our body and progress at our own pace. By focusing on the breath and moving with awareness then our yoga body/mind grows like a tree. It requires steadfast care and watering through the avenue of conscious and diligent practice. It is best to learn under the guidance of a teacher if at all possible. Check to see if there are any in your area and begin to practice slowly. If there are no teachers accessible in your area there are many books and other forms of learning as well which could be utilized as a second choice. Whether you practice the Full Primary Series or not does not matter. The real depth of yoga is determined by the focus and intent of the practitioner and not the particular asana or Series that is being done.

I love the last line.  The real depth of yoga is determined by the focus and intent of the practitioner,  not the particular asana or Series being done.  Or, I might add – the AGE or the EGO of the practitioner.  Leave your excuses off the mat.  Bring what you have.  It’s more than enough.  If you have a little age on you, you are lucky.

What has the ‘age excuse’ kept you from?

GIVEAWAY WINNER:  My blogging  and running buddy, over at happilyeveralone won her very own copy of Claire Dederer’s book:  My Life in 23 Yoga Poses.  Send me your information (clairhnorman@aol.com) and I’ll be sure it gets to you

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I think my abs are swollen

I took a Les Mills training this weekend.  Les Mills is a gym-based exercise program that I agreed to learn how to teach because the Y gave me the training as a gift.  And no, I had never heard of it before.  Those of us who teach group exercise – whether it’s yoga (for the more civilized high-minded folk) or Body Pump; training is not cheap. “Free” to me generally means “Yes” or at least “I’ll look at it.”  And so I went.  Thank God I had a Sisterhood of other instructors with me.  It was one of those experiences that is best described over a glass  bottle of wine.  Surreal and funky.

Disclaimer:  I am first and foremost a Yoga teacher.  I love teaching group exercise in a number of formats but my DNA  fibers are woven tightly in and around the Asana and Eight Limbs of Yoga.

After this weekend, the muscle fibers in my middle are so stinking sore – I swear to god they are swollen.  And no, it’s not from cookie dough, (btw, is there a 12-step for that?)

Here is ONE of the many fitness drills we did to see if we were ready worthy of teaching a Les Mills class.

“Hold this for 5 minutes!”

The everlovin’ hover position

This was after we had taken the high intensity Master Class to become familiar with this interesting little cult group.  Don’t even get me started on the ‘walking hover’.  Or this:

For real?

Isn’t this much prettier?  I can promise you it’s harder.  Look at the hand placement.  No, we don’t hold it for 5 minutes but we don’t aim to punish in yoga either.

Chaturanga Dandasana

And punish, he did.  One of our trainers threatened us with a one-minute hover hold if we got out of line, etc.  He was serious.  My team was having a quick off-line meeting when Adonis came over to tell us we were late.  Never mind, how late it started the first day.  This group of fierce fit women who have out lived him by at least a decade each were made to hover in front of the group as penance for our little digression.  I thought they might pass out (ahem) Kool Aid next.

I am not a hater.

I think pieces of the Les Mills approach to making our planet more fit are admirable and very effective.  I think it even might be fun to teach one of these 30-minute, high intensity core strengthening workouts.  But I would have to put my self in another zone, out of my own skin and become a robotic spewer of cues and scripted ‘coaching comments’.  It might be easier not to have to plan a sequence or allow my students into my heart and life.  But this, friends is what I love.

I have left out some critical details about the trainers (think Stepford Wives in workout wear) and their aura and a strange tribal ceremony to close the weekend.  This is much better demonstrated in person.  And, I’m nice like that – I don’t want to beat up on another person’s path.  Maybe the Les Mills path to core strength and fitness is worth a look.  Just don’t make me drink the Kool Aid.  I’d rather hover for 20 minutes.  Why not, my abs couldn’t be more sore.

Overall the training/weekend was:  Strange, challenging, intriguing, fun, surreal, funky, weird, funny, cool, odd, a little sad.

Taught a Yoga class today.  Headed to a Bikram Class tomorrow morning.  All is right with the world.

Have you ever heard of Les Mills?  Have you ever so sore you thought your muscles were swollen?

 

Love and Laundry

I was recently at a friend’s house nosing around the book shelves as I often do.  (You might want to be careful, if you ever invite me over.)  I love to read and I think book inventories are fascinating extensions of their owners.  This quickly caught my eye:

Love, Leo Buscaglia

I read this in college, near the end of my senior year in 1990.  I was mesmerized.  Still am.  So much so back then that I chose a passage from it to read during my Voice and Diction class (yes, my last semester was very demanding: Basic Acting, Human Sexuality, Modern Catholicism, Voice and Diction, and African Dance were among my course load – don’t judge me, I saved my electives for last.)  Here’s the passage  (I remember it well as my roommate couldn’t believe I had the nerve to speak this drippy, sappy piece out loud in front of my college crush who was in the class):

Pages 143 – 144.  Loving yourself also involves the knowledge that only you can be you.  If you try to be like anyone else, you may come very close, but you will always be second best.  But, you are the best you.  It is the easiest, most practical, most rewarding thing to be.  Then it makes sense that you can only be to others what you are to yourself. 

If you know, accept and appreciate yourself and your uniqueness, you will permit others to do so.  If you value and appreciate the discovery of yourself, you will encourage others to engage in self-discovery.  If you recognize your need to be free to discover who you are, you will allow others their freedom to do so also.

Whereas I completely ascribe to this notion, let’s not forget the backdrop – 21 years old, crush in the room.  It went on a little more and got even more syrupy sweet.  Our teacher could’ve cared less of we read the phone book it was about how it sounded.  If the passage I chose says something about me as I believe a bookshelf does about you – would you have asked me out?  My college crush never did.  Dang the Love book.

How about if you knew I did this with my laundry?

Airing my clean laundry

I have a very proper, classy friend who thinks this is one of the most redneck things a person can do.  Mind you, I live on 2.5 acres with mostly woods behind me.  Alas, I am just me.  Leo Buscaglia would tell you to just love it and the world would become a better place.  I believe him which is why I still love his Love book.

Today on this perfect Sunday morning after running 7 miles while my daughters slept and my son pitched a baseball game, I felt called to plank or more yogically chaturanga:

Nothing like chaturanga after a run!

Weird though it may be, it’s just me in the moment.  I wish us all this kind of healthy surrender to Love.  It’s okay my college crush didn’t surrender to my affection, then I wouldn’t have these:

3 (of my many) reasons to breathe

It’s really very simple.  Every moment is full of promise and  hope, don’t waste it being anything but who you are without judgement or you might miss it.  Go ahead air all your laundry wherever you want.

And please don’t gag or roll your eyes.

What book are you reading right now?