Friday, September 27, 2013

Back to Work?

After Ashley was born, we made the big decision that I would stay home and take care of her. Pros and cons to every decision, but when I shopped around here for daycare and saw just how little I would take home after I paid a sitter, the choice was fairly simple.

When Ashley was two I started my graduate school program in library science with the intention of landing a school librarian job when Ashley started school. 

Instead, I decided to home school Ashley for first and second grade.

When she went into third grade, I thought NOW is the time! Instead I began to find some freelance work with the Lawrenceville Patch, then later with other publications. 

I was at the point that I just wasn't looking anymore when a friend emailed me to let me know about a one month position as a school librarian. The position could not have been more ideal -- it is a 12 minute drive with relatively no traffic; starts late enough that I can see Ashley off on the bus; ends early enough to not be an issue; great staff and faculty; pretty decent kids, too. 

So what is the issue? Why the question mark in the title?

Nothing is ideal. We quickly came to the conclusion that now is not the right time for me to work full-time. Since the position is temporary, I'm still juggling my freelance work. We have a home remodeling project that was scheduled months ago and cannot wait a few more weeks. I'm trying hard to be there for Ashley and Don when I am home, that I have no time to run or take care of the things I normally do. So much is not getting done. So much is getting lost in the shuffle.

Worst of all -- Ashley says I'm grumpy when I'm working. Looking back, she is right. I'm taking today off to prepare for the contractor and realized I'm smiling for the first time in three weeks.

The email and verbal compliments are very sweet, but nothing beats the twinkle in Ashley's eye when I told her I'd be home today.

I'll go back for the week and finish what I started. Perhaps I'd feel better about working if I was earning a teacher's salary with benefits (instead of a sub salary) and could afford to stop my freelance work, or the position was only three days a week instead of five. For now, though, the right decision is to continue building my freelance business and loving my family.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon

The day after rousing at 3:30 for the Wonderland 10K, I decided to sleep in a little and wake at 3:45 instead. Between the race the day before, the heat, and our day trip to the La Brea Tar Pits, I was tired. It felt like a case of "deja vu all over again." 

For the second morning in a row I walked in the dark down Harbor Boulevard, through the esplanade and over to the starting area behind the Disneyland Hotel. 

For the second morning in a row I bumped into the Facebook group PaceBook Running Club for a group photo.

For the second morning in a row I admired costumes (most fresh for the second race). 

For the second morning in a row I followed the herd to the corrals. This time they were better organized and I found my correct corral, which meant losing the group of people I thought I would pace with because they were in Corral C and I was in D. Oh well.

For the second morning in a row I saw Don at the start line and he snapped a picture of me.

This is where our story diverges. Unlike Saturday, Sunday they had us line up super early and we were entertained by Run Disney celebrities (Sean Astin, Jeff Galloway, Allie from the Biggest Loser, etc.). Each told us the same thing -- in this heat HYDRATE. 

The corrals were larger, so we were more spread out. There were 8 minutes (instead of a loose 5) between each corral starting. Twenty-four minutes after the first bunch left, I was off and running. I kept to my 2 minutes run / 1 minute walk for a while. My biggest early disappointment was the lack of water until mile 2 -- about 90 minutes after the last chance I had for water before being ordered to line up.

As we were nearing mile 2, we were also nearing the parks. I know where most of the water fountains were located along the route. The perk to having a race through the parks is that there is indoor plumbing along the route. :)

The next few miles were through the parks. I was pleasantly surprised by how much the route varied from the day before. We still hit most of the same highlights, but in a different order.

All too soon we were hitting the streets of Anaheim. One pleasant change over when I did this two years ago was that around mile 8 they had classic cars stretching on both sides of the street for over a mile. I tried to thank the owners for coming out and cheering up a rather dull section of the race.

My favorite part of this race is mile 9 -- when we run through Anaheim Angels Stadium. This time I caught myself on the jumbo tron (but was not fast enough with the camera). The section is filled with scouts who came out just to cheer us on. 

After mile 9 comes the knowledge that you have now passed the last of the sweeper vans. I later found out that was a myth as some people were swept at mile 12! I was enough ahead of the sweepers that I didn't worry. 

Somewhere along mile 11, while on Disneyland Way, I noticed Tower of Terror and the Matterhorn and knew we were getting close. I think this is when I got a little choked up.

At mile 12 I saw Peggy Sue, Pacebook's most famous cheerleader. This trip I had a chance to meet her and she is just as lovely in person as everyone said she is. Her daughter, Jane, was running both races, too. Peggy Sue comes out to cheer on all runners, especially those in the back of the pack. We all love her.

Well now I was on Disney property, even if it was just back stage. Miles 2 and 12 share the same stretch for a bit, making it feel again as if I was having a case of "deja vu all over again." As I neared Mile 13 we were in the Disney parking lot. Lots of people cheering us to the finish line. Some read our names off of our bibs and encouraged us personally. That is always a huge lift (note to spectators -- it really does help even if it comes from a complete stranger).

Almost there now!

And the medal collection grew!

Again I was slower than hoped. I wanted a 2 as the first digit, but it was 3:06. For a hot day to be 30 seconds per minute isn't too bad. Next up the Perfect 10 Miler, Beauty and the Beach 5-miler, the Princeton Half Marathon, and the Trenton Half Marathon. Oh, and a one-month subbing gig in Princeton.

Wonderland 10K

Last November I signed up for the Princess Half Marathon and mentally made the commitment to run the Disneyland Half Marathon and earn my Coast to Coast medal for running a half or full marathon on each coast in the same calendar year. In the meantime, Disney decided to add a 10K Alice in Wonderland themed race and call the combination of a 10K and half marathon the Dumbo Double Dare. Back in January when registrations filled up in less than an hour, I was swept up by the excitement and signed up for D3, as it quickly became known.

This was my first racing experience where I was handed three medals at the end of one race. Not bad bling for a morning run!

The 10K was held at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday, August 31. I woke at 3:30 a.m., trying to leave the room without rousing Don or Ashley. Don met me at the hotel room while Ashley slept through the race. I dressed as the Mad Hattress. There were a lot of truly amazing and creative costumes. 

I was fortunate to find a group of friends from the PaceBook Running Club (an Facebook running club that offers each other lots of encouragement) and be in their group shot. I also walked around a lot just admiring costumes -- individual and team ones. Naturally many were Wonderland themed.

Southern California was suffering from a massive heatwave complete with humidity. Our entire trip had temps in the upper 90s and 100s with over 50% humidity (yes, not overly humid by East Coast standards, but humid by Southern California ones). I think it was 80 and humid at the start.

Speaking of the start, that was the most chaotic part of the race. The 5K began at 5:30. We could not start lining up for the 10K until after the started. There was a lot of misdirection. By the time I found my corral, it was time to start. Made out fine, and found Don at the start, but it was not the relaxing pace I expected.

The 10K course (6.2 miles) mostly went through Disney property. Much of it was back stage. It also wound through the new Cars Land, Paradise Pier, and Grizzly Peaks sections of California Adventure before winding through the Disneyland side of the esplanade. Frankly, the route is a jumble since we did a similar route the next day during the half-marathon, and a third route two years ago when I completed my first half-marathon.

The route featured many characters -- especially ones from Alice in Wonderland. The Mile 1 marker was from the 5K and featured the Mad Hatter from the Mad Tea Party -- a dance party held evenings in California Adventure.

I also stopped for a picture with the more traditional Alice and the Mad Hatter, ones we know from playing musical chairs at 2:30, and the one I was trying to copy with my style.

It was hot, so I kept my stops to a minimum in the hopes of finishing before it became truly miserable. Don caught me at mile 6 and took this picture of me stopping for a tea party. Not coincidentally, my pace for mile 6 was the worst because by then I was having more fun posing than running. There were plenty of runners behind me (fortunately!).

At the end of this race I collected a medal and another plastic bracelet. The red bracelet would be traded in the next day for the Coast to Coast medal, and the green bracelet would be traded in for the Dumbo Double Dare medal.

In the end my time was pretty slow (1:33), and I "only" took 84 pictures. More importantly, though, I had reserves stored for the half marathon to take place the next day.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Birthdays. Love them or hate them, whether or not we want to admit it we all have them. Yesterday I celebrated another spin around the sun with my two favorite people.

Don and Ashley took me to Leonardo's II, a local restaurant where Lamberti's used to be. We had our favorite server, Marta, and bumped into our neighbors, Bob, Dave and Liz, which added to the local feeling of the night.

Birthdays always make me feel a little nostalgic. I thought about writing this post last year when I interviewed for a job, which I did not get. I thought that year would be marked by my re-entry into the work force. I was only off by a year.

On my birthday I started a new job as a one-month school librarian in the Princeton Public Schools. While it is only for one month (the librarian they hired needed to give her former district 60 days notice, beginning in early August), it is still a huge step for me. This will be my first time going to a job every day since before Ashley was born. It is also my first professional library position since earning my MLIS degree in 2008. My emotions are running from excited to scared stiff, and can shift fairly quickly.

Back to birthdays. Four years ago I was turning a milestone age that ends in a
0. Dave and Lisa made a dream of dining in Club 33 a reality (Club 33 is an invitation only restaurant in Disneyland). On that trip something life-changing happened -- I met a woman who planted the seed in me that I could actually run a half-marathon. Four years ago I didn't even own a pair of sneakers, yet this stranger believed in me. Last weekend I completed the Disneyland Half Marathon for the second time, and also the 10K the day before.

That same year my family and friends threw a "Ladies' Only" surprise tea in my honor at my parents' house. It was a treat seeing everyone so relaxed because they left their kids at home.

Another life altering year was in 2002 when I started graduate school on my birthday with a teacher I later learned was starting her career at Rutgers on her birthday. We've since become birthday buddies. Hard to believe that was 11 years ago.

As with everyone, some birthdays have been better than others. I remember weeping when Princess Diana's funeral took place on my birthday, just as I had cheered when she and Prince Charles got married. It didn't matter that our paths had never crossed. It just was. I also remember going to a viewing on my birthday for someone from our former church.

A truly rough one for me was walking Ashley to kindergarten on my birthday. Ashley and I have a tradition of celebrating my birthday together -- either by going out to breakfast, or out for ice cream depending on whether or not she has school that day. This year she took me out for ice cream at the Purple Cow -- just us two girls.

I remember celebrating with Don in Italy when I turned 30-something. Nearly got run over by a car that day when we walked a couple of miles from our hotel into town (we were on a tour group, but ditched the tour group that day), but had an amazing dinner of gnocchi at a tiny Italian restaurant in the mountains.

Growing up I remember a birthday party at a mini-golf place and a trip to the Statue of Liberty. We always had a family party, too.

I have had a couple of conversations recently with people about the perfect time of year to have a birthday. Late-December is bad because it coincides with Christmas. That sort of idea. In my mind, growing up early September was bad because I never quite new the new school year rules for birthday parties -- do we still have them? What do people bring in? I was always the first birthday of the year. 

On the other hand, I hardly ever went to school on my September 6th birthday because it often coincided with Labor Day weekend. Back in those days, Paramus schools started the Wednesday after Labor Day. I only had three chances out of seven to go to school on my birthday. Not bad odds.

On my 10th birthday I was supposed to go to school on my birthday when Hurricane David hit knocking out our power and blocking us in the house when two separate neighbors had trees knocked into the middle of the street. I remember opening my presents by candlelight. Ironically, I received a tape recorder, but had no way to plug it in. ;) (I think it also ran on batteries, just thought it was a funnier story the first way.)

As the years go by, there will be more birthdays and hopefully many, many more celebrations.