Sunday, August 19, 2007

8/20/07 Race Thru the Redwoods

An early start today! We dropped Julian and Katrina off at a sitter's house at 7:30am, then zoomed into the mountains with Gabriel.

The idea was that he might want to walk part of the 10K race, or do the whole Kids 1-mile race if we got there in time (it started earlier and we didn't), and that we'd have some time alone with him as a last hurrah before kindergarten. It didn't really work out that way. He was a bit of a pest, and also kept asking about going to a play structure. I think he was just bored. In retrospect, Julian would have enjoyed it more.

But I had a great time!

It was a beautiful course, mostly along dirt hiking trails and through redwood forests and along streams.

There was one steep uphill stretch, which, I knew from my Rancho experience, sounded pretty steep: a 300-foot climb in the space of a mile. And indeed, it was steep, but since I know what "steep" feels like and how to get through it, I liked it. I was surprised to see most of the runners ahead of me walking up the hill. I was determined not to walk, and puffed my way up the inclines. (Later Dave overheard other runners commenting that if you only train flat, then those hills will kill you! Indeed, I can't imagine coming across that in a race if I never ran hills.)

Toward the top, I joked with a woman that I wasn't going to walk if it killed me -- and it was! She and I ended up running and talking together for the rest of the race until I sprinted the end. Later, when I saw the photos, I was shocked to see her RIGHT next to me at the start! (in the pink top, hat and sunglasses, in the photo of me hugging Gabriel).

After our little bunch was reunited and I'd had a short nap, it was back to family business. This afternoon I did a sadly-rare thing: sit in the backyard and just watch and play with Katrina. It's fun to hold her hands and help her stand, and watch her little face light up and make silly sounds. She always sticks a foot or two in the air while sitting down.

Why don't I do this all the time? This is the reward of child-raising, the low-key moments of just being together, enjoying each other purely. So why did I do it this afternoon then? Because, I think, I had a very fulfilling morning. I had a big challenge, I pushed my way through it, and glowed with a sense of accomplishment all day. I was ready for some downtime; my usual antsiness to Do Things was quelled. As a result, I was able to be a Good Mom for a while.

(That is, until a big blowup with Julian ruined it...after being warned twice not to hit a ball while Katrina was out there, I went to take the paddle away from him, and he threw the paddle and hit Katrina!)

This begs the question again: why the heck don't I go back to work? It's already proven from my 6-month stint in 2005: I'm a much better person, and hence, mom, when I'm feeling productive and like I'm learning and growing and overcoming obstacles. I've been semi-ribbed many times in my life about always choosing the hard route. There must be a reason for that. Without something to push against, to reach for, to climb over, to overcome, to achieve -- and the essential natural drug of succeeding -- that drive spreads itself across numerous trivial things, fizzling into caustic bits, never focusing and never being satisfied.

So why haven't I gone back to work? Or is it because of the challenges of child-rearing (and, apparently, contraception), that I continue with the full-time Mom gig? I don't think so, really....child-rearing challenges are ongoing, not nice neat events with a clear beginning and a clear ending and clear accomplishment. I guess I can unleash my full obsessive-compulsive energies onto the hapless professionals and tradespeople who will help us remodel our house. Which had better have a very clear ending!

After an overall nice day (except for the paddle incident with Julian), there was...tonight.

Maybe a new sign of an impending migraine is impatience. I really got mad at the boys tonight -- for good reason, as usual (and, as usual, related to pestering baby) -- but it turns so ugly that I end up hating myself and hating how I feel. Yes, Gabriel deserved a smack for not going upstairs when told, then hitting me when I approached him. Yes, Julian deserved to be picked up and thrown into his room when he screamed after being told several times to go upstairs to his room for taking things away from Katrina. But the shouting, the anger, the intensity....I hate it. It makes me cry to look at Katrina, feeling that she deserves a much better mother, and that I have to get it together in time for her toddlerdom, as she definitely takes after her ornery older brother. And the boys....I swing wildly between remorse, regret, dismay, then back to being instantly infuriated when they offend for the thousandth time.

I wish I could keep it together. It's much harder to stay calm (especially when you're being called "STUPID" in a shockingly venomous tone) but in the end, I'm a lot happier, and on the whole, they're more obedient too. I was on serious edge tonight, partly being tired from a poor night's sleep, an early start, and a tough run; but I also recognize the wary, ready-to-snap feeling too. Could a looming migraine add to my impatience with them? Incredibly, as awful, noisy, obnoxious, defiant and rude as they can be, they're one thing I know don't cause headaches.

Ah, but they're all in bed now, and it's quiet. Slowly, the good feelings from today's run through the mountain forest are taking over. I can still feel the dirt under my shoes and the cool air on my shoulders and the majesty of the redwoods.


p.s Race results are in! I placed 196 (out of 356), I was 15th out of 24 in my division (women 40-44), and I ran it in just over a 10-minute mile. A flat course and no chatting with other runners and I might break an hour. But what fun would that be?

196 15/24 NOEMI DOUDNA 43 F SUNNYVALE 1:02:44 10:06

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