Thursday, August 10, 2006

Death by Double Jogger--Part II

After I narrowly avoided death and pulled the jogging stroller down from the garage, I loaded up the kids and their snacks so we could head out.

I am not sure why I feel compelled to bring snacks for a 45-minute outing. It is not like they are suddenly going to get hunger pangs or something because I feed them on a regular basis. More than anything, it's an activity to keep them occupied and avoid dialogue since I can't talk anyway when my heart rate is in the 170s.

We rolled down our street onto the gravel paths in our neighborhood. Just as we had gotten past the point of no return, I noticed that the back right tire was quite low. Flat is probably a more accurate description. The metal wheel wasn't touching the ground or anything, but almost. And my 45-pound son slumped on that side wasn't exactly helping matters.

This was the perfect time to quit the workout! I can't keep going on a flat! However, I knew that at home I wouldn't be able to use the bike pump to resolve this situation. (I am not super dumb as I know most 8 year-olds can use a bike pump. However, I am married to Tim The-Tool-Man Taylor and he uses an air compressor suitable for a 747 to blow up ducky intertubes, so I would be risking life and limb to hook it up). And Brad and I have a triathlon coming up so I need to be in good shape to avoid drowning in the swim, thus forfeiting the competition (and life).

So, onward we trek. The first 15-20 minutes of the run is decidedly uphill. I am working just to put one foot in front of the other while Lilly is working to make sure we don't see any snakes. When she sees a stick longer than 6 inches, she screams in fear and Jackson is ready to push her out of the jogger because the shrieking noises were 3 inches from his ear. Unfortunately, I couldn't mediate the situation because I couldn't make eye contact with the perps and shouting is out of the question due to reduced lung capacity.

Just as we get near the top of the hill and I'm officially breathing for the whole neighborhood to hear, my cherubs start asking for snacks. I'm using my right arm to singlehandedly support this 105-pound deflating mass while using my teeth to rip open some Mini M&M's and Rescue Hero Snacks earned during room clean up. Passing water bottles and sippy cups to the front of the jogger is throwing me off-balance and cars are slowing because the situation looks like it might end in disaster.

Then it hits me--shouldn't they be handing me, the athlete, some snacks!? Shouldn't there be an aid station with Gu Packs and Gatorade readily available? This is all backwards.

Just like motherhood. There are so many days when I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually spent, but the demands of the kids remain. That's when I am so grateful that I can rely on God's love to fill me when I'm empty and His strength to literally hold me up. I am so limited and He is so limitless. Nothing like physical pain to clearly paint the picture of God's sufficiency despite my weakness.

I realize that sacrifice requires the strength of God. If I am capable of sacrificially giving of myself on my own terms, it is probably less than sacrificial.

I do attribute the remainder of our run home to God's grace. Although my right arm was throbbing and I was fantasizing about Aleve for the last half-mile, I managed to limp the stroller back into the garage. The difficulty of the situation was compounded by my pride demanding that we run the last 200 yards uphill on our street, lest our neighbors think we were out sightseeing or doing something fun.

Due to my weakened condition, the jogger is still sitting, flat tire and all, in the garage. But Brad just got home, so I am leaving the tire inflation to him.

Thought you might like to see a picture of the notorious double jogger, complete with Lilly covered in chocolate ice cream due to her reluctance to hand over the cone before she fell asleep.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Death by Double Jogger--Part I

At the beginning of this blog, I promised to talk about running, my calorie-burner of choice, but haven't gotten back to the subject lately. Actually, as you may have noticed, I haven't blogged at all in many, many, many months, so I thought writing about running would be a good re-entry to my blog.

(Oddly enough, while I am outside running, I think about what I would be writing in my blog that day. There is just a small disconnect between dreaming up witty prose and purposefully sitting down & actually typing something. Maybe that's where the busyness of having two kids comes in. Except that I can't use that excuse for the past 9 months. Anyway.)

Well, today I loaded up my precious Boy and Girl Bearcubs in our faithful double jogger. Wait, I should go back. I'm feeling compelled to give my opinion on jogging strollers, their usefuleness, what you should pay for them and their lifespan. Then I will tell you about today.

I acquired this Blue Chariot at one of my neighbor's garage sales. I talked her down from $50 to $35, as any earnest garage-saler would do. (She also flattered me by telling me I looked great for just having a baby--never mind that Lilly was 6 months old at the time and I was wearing a large t-shirt. But as you will see, I am the sucker because the I should get paid to push this thing.)

That said, I would still purchase said stroller at a garage sale. The single jogging stroller we bought new is great. (Before those of you with only one child think I am crazy for owning multiple strollers, bear in mind you will own at least 6 varieties during your childbearing years) It was top of the line, brand-spanking new, shipped directly to me after I won an eBay auction. The tires were big, the stroller was light, the ride was easy. However, I only used this over-priced Cadillac of baby joggers for 3 months. Between the time when Jackson could dutifully sit up without risking brain damage and the time I became pregnant with Lilly, therefore excusing myself from exercise for another 9 months, I in no way recovered the full value of this stroller.

So, two children later, I felt a certain savviness when I handed over mere pennies to my neighbor in exchange for a lifetime of torture.

There are certain ironies about double joggers that cannot be escaped. Primarily, the reality that once your children are old enough to sit contentedly for more than 20 minutes, their combined weight (plus the 25-pound jogger) makes it feel like you are pushing a boulder up an endless hill. The stroller companies, of course, do not tell you this, because otherwise no one would buy one. In fact, I read several reviews in "Runner's World" last month that made it seem like buying a stroller made running more fun. The reviewer even claimed to have run with one, but based on personal experience, I highly doubt it.

The biggest ailment of our stroller is that the left tire kind of tilts inward. It has even come off and rolled down the street in mid-run, but that is before I did some pounding on it to make it stay put. Turning, therefore, requires the strength of Hercules and my entire 6-pack that is hiding under a layer of flab.

Running uphill pushing around 100 pounds is painful. No one needs to testify to that. Yet another irony about the double jogger is that running downhill is also incredibly difficult. Bear in mind that I live in Colorado and the term "hill" is relative. This 100 pound beast on wheels virtually pulls me out of control down the hill once we pick up even the smallest amount of speed. My stride increases to unnatural lengths and I try to decide if I should let the kids crash head-on into the dog run or if I should tip them over sideways into the dirt and hope for a skiing-esque wipeout. Neither, I know, are good options, but I am trying to share with you how scary it is to run downhill with this thing.

Moms purchase these joggers, of course, because it is our only chance to work out. I either sit at home and try to get motivated by Gilad or go out and pound the pavement with my entrouage riding in front of me. The problem is that my pace slows so dramatically that I am not sure if it is still a good workout. My heart rate is elevated, but it seems my arms, not legs, are doing all the work. In fact, just yesterday, I had a guy on a unicycle pass me. I did not even make that up for effect. I was barely rolling along and here he comes, just riding around all leisurely while I was straining for every breath.

Jackson always asks me why I breathe so funny while I run. But I cannot explain it to him because I cannot breathe. Irony number three.

Also, most baby jogger manufacturers don't have a suggestion about where you should store your jogger. If you are very lucky, you have a 3-car garage or neighbors who don't mind if you leave things out in the front yard. Otherwise, you will probably have to hang up this beast. Be careful getting it down, though, because my husband hung ours so high that I can barely reach it and I still have a 4-inch scar on my shin bone where it fell on me last summer. Unlikely, I know, but just a word of warning.

So here is my summary of the baby jogger experience: Do not do what I did. The tires were small, the stroller was heavy, and the ride was bumpy. Buy a used single jogger since you might use it for such a short window of time. Save all your Benjamins for the double jogger, because you need all the bells & whistles you can get. And even then, it will still be harder than you ever imagined.

This is taking longer than I thought, so I'll continue the portion about today's actual run, tomorrow.