Monday, March 30, 2015


My parents have come into town to play the role of full-time childcare provider while I head to the less chaotic confines of my downtown office. That means two things. First, my children are extremely happy, because my parents are not afraid to hand them a stack of quarters (my dad) or a cookie (my mom). Both are still equally cool.

The second thing it means is that I don't get anything done that is not essential (and I do count my ten-miler on Saturday morning as essential). Rather than tooling around in this space or on Facebook at night, I'm playing cards. Only thing different this time around? Connor has been playing spades on his iPad and was ready to test out live competition. So instead of playing bridge after the little people went to bed, we played spades with Connor and then resumed our usual bridge game. After Connor and Ed got crushed the first night (when Connor learned that bidding something other than 4 is occasionally wise and sorting cards can be helpful), they walked away victors last night - right on the edge of disaster.

Connor was super thrilled.

I'm pretty sure after my parents leave, Connor will start teaching Helen the fine art of cards, because he'd love to keep our  nightly game going!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Boy Scouts

Ed led Connor's Boy Scout troop, and to say he was out of his element would be an understatement. But he did a fantastic job setting up weekly activities for the boys, and making sure they all me tthe requirements to move onto the next level. Finally, he can start coasting, as the end of the year banquet has taken place. And just in time for it, Ed decided to attach patches to his shirt, so now he is the proud owner of his first scouting shirt.

Connor loved having Ed as the troop leader.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Biking Milestone

Ed and I used to bike most of where we went. I think Ed would fill the car up with gas about once a month. But then we had children, and biking everywhere was no longer practical. So we became part of the two-car driving world, ferrying children from place to place.

But last week, I do believe we crossed a big milestone. Ed needed to do some work, so I decided to take the kids on a little trip with me. I tossed some library books that needed to be returned into my backpack, instructed Connor that he was my sweeper and told Helen her job was to keep her bicycle between mine and Connor's.

Both children rode brilliantly. We maneuvered through neighborhood streets with hills, turned onto a pretty busy road with a bike lane, carefully crossed our bikes when we arrived at a crosswalk at the library, and then successfully locked them up - despite the piles of snow blocking the bike racks.

We exchanged our books and then headed another half mile to Connor and Helen's favorite restaurant. For this part of the trip, I did take them on some very wide sidewalks, thinking the road we'd have to travel on was a bit much for Helen.

After dinner, we made it home without incident.

I felt like such a huge milestone had been reached, and Helen's confidence on her bike just soared. She wanted to tool around in a courtyard, but I was worried that the sun would set quickly, and we didn't have the proper lights on our bikes. It had been such a great trip, that I was worried it would get marred at the end by me freaking out because of the lack of light.

I am really looking forward to this summer.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stop. Don't Touch.

There are a few lessons that mothers want to teach their children early. And one of them is to learn to tell people to leave them alone. And so I did a little fist pump in the air when I was volunteering in Helen's class and saw she had made this sign, after a few kids were messing with a craft project she had brought for "fun Friday".

She said it didn't work as well as she had hoped, but she still posts the sign on her desk each Friday as she works on her craft project. And reportedly children are getting better at following it.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Chia...In My Yogurt? Are you sure that's a good idea, Stonyfield?

I think I have finally recovered from last Saturday's marathon, but I'm still trying to be gentle with my body nutritionally (although I did purchase a dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, which I have been enjoying! I just could not resist the 25 percent off coupon that showed up in my inbox for the St. Patrick's Day dozen). I've been trying to eat a LOT of protein, in the hopes that my muscles will forgive me for what I did to them, and for the most part, it seems to be working.

Ed figured out how to smoke a salmon using the Big Green Egg that he is babysitting for a friend. I've been mixing that with some eggs to start my day. I have also been eating peanut M&Ms instead of plain M&Ms, which I realize is not really that smart of a move. And, I've been eating cheese as a bedtime snack, which prompted Ed to remark "are you still eating?" last Saturday. Yes, in fact, I was still eating. Running 26.2 is no joke.

Today, when I walked by Whole Foods on my way to work, I was inspired to pick up some Stonyfield Greek and Chia, which I ate as my mid-morning snack (Stonyfield had given me a few coupons for the product - and I was getting my courage up to actually use them). I was VERY nervous about the texture of these seeds, which appear to be all the rage among my runner friends these days. My friends even put them in their water bottles and no, I will not go there. In yogurt, however, the mystery seeds seem to work. The texture of the product isn't messed up much (no more than having fruit chunks instead of blended fruit in yogurt), and if the seeds have a taste, I cannot tell you what it is because the yogurt masks it.

These wonder seeds are supposed to be packed with nutritional benefits, and they must be the cause of the extra 2 grams of protein over my favorite Petite Creme (12 grams per serving versus 10 grams per serving - 5.3 ounces per serving). Both are about double a slightly larger container of regular yogurt.

Here's to the bajillion grams of protein I am eating daily. I hardly have it in me to tell my muscles that we are most definitely going to try our hand at 26.2 again!


I am part of the Stonyfield Yogetter Club. As a member, they sent me coupons to test the yogurt with chia. I requested this product, rather than others that I already know I love, because I knew I would never be bold enough to try this without a little push. Thank you, Stonyfield! I'm sold! Although my favorite is still Petite Creme.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rock and Roll - First Marathon Recap

When I started training for Rock and Roll, I dreamed of hitting my Boston Qualifying time of 3:45. By race day, I was pretty sure that was out of reach, but I was confident I would come in under 4 hours.

Not so, as it turns out. Yesterday, I ran for 4:13:36 - and it was fantastic.

It rained for the entire race, it was about 45 degrees, and I made my first big splash into a puddle at mile 10. From that point on, I was officially soaked. Things actually were going well until the course went over a bridge. The bridge had two sets of metal grates to cross - and there was no way to avoid them. Typically, I'm told the race organizers will cover these grates with carpet, but they did not (maybe because of the rain?). In any case, those things are scary when they're not wet and I'm not tired. Yesterday, I had a pretty good debate with myself whether I should walk, step gingerly, or just go for it. I chose the middle option, mostly because I did not want to walk at all.

And after the two sets of grates, the course turned down by the river, which I suspect could've been quite beautiful. But the paved path was completely flooded, the course was remarked to go through a muddy patch that reminded me of a mud run Ed and I did several years ago. My legs were covered in mud, my shoes became even more disgusting, and I was officially beaten down. Ed had planned to meet me at mile 20, but after dropping both kids off at separate playdates, driving to the metro, hopping on as quickly as possible - he discovered that the metro was single tracking and he quickly realized there was no way he could get to mile 20 when I should be there. He caught a cab, but the cab was unwilling to even try to get close to the race, given all the road closures and the general mess of traffic. He ended up back on the metro, went to the finish line, and just started running the course backwards until he saw me at mile 23. My watch had stopped running around mile 21, so I had no idea how slowly I was going at this point. It was so nice to see him, but I had given up all time goals and just wanted to finish. The race organizers had started taking down mile markers (which was ridiculous, particularly considering I was in the top half of all marathon finishers - so there were a lot of people behind me who would need those signs). Thankfully, Ed was able to tell me about where we were on the course and what would happen to the finish.

I did sprint at the end, which took a lot.

In the end, I was nowhere near the speed I thought I'd be, but I'm absolutely thrilled. I trained hard going into the race, I ran hard for almost all of the race, and I learned a lot about running marathons.

Participant Detail
Elaine Maag
Arlington, VA
Age: 41 | Gender: F
Finished In:
  • Overall: 1082 out of 2499
  • Division: 36 out of 124
  • Gender: 311 out of 1045
  • 5 km
  • 10 km
  • 10 mile
  • half
  • 20 mile
  • 28:02
  • 57:24
  • 1:29:34
  • 1:58:46
  • 3:06:29
  • Pace
  • Chip Time
  • Clock Time
  • 9:41
  • 04:13:36
  • 04:20:06
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My friend who runs ultras told me that at the end of a marathon, he asked himself "how much further could I go?". That is not what my inner voice said. My inside voice said "holy hell, 26.2 is no joke". And then a few days later, I tossed my name into the lottery for the Marine Corps Marathon and thought - I can totally outdo myself next time.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When All Hope Dies

When a friend is dying, it's very hard to be realistic. Because every part of your self wants to believe that things will get better, that a cure will be found at the 11th hour, that even though nobody else has ever survived what your friend has been stricken with, you somehow believe that your friend will be different. He will be the one that wakes up one day, and for no explainable reason, is able to walk, talk, and breathe independently once more.

But then there comes a point, when prayers and hopes for healing just end. It feels wrong to even silently wish for anything except peace. And so thoughts fade from ones of healing to grace, and instead of turning over in your mind the possibility that this nightmare will end, it seems more appropriate to just think about your friend's children and hope that the trauma is as small as it can be. But then, I look at my own two children and wonder - how in the hell can the loss of a parent be anything except extremely traumatic?

And his wife? Who I have known practically my entire life? She will be left to not only parent these two grief-stricken children, but she will have her own mounds of grief to deal with. Her current nightmare will end and another one will begin.

He will never roll his eyes at her again. He will never burst out laughing at her implausible tales. He will never share her joy thinking about the two children they created.

On Thursday, my friend will take in his last breath. His pain will finally end. So much of him will remain in this dimension, and those who knew him will honor that spirit in our actions and in choosing the company we keep.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Game of Cat and Mouse

A few days ago, I sat in the dining room and noticed a rodent skitter across the floor and disappear under the oven. I alerted Ed in a not very calm manner, and he carefully peered beneath the oven. The rodent did not fear Ed, and charged out of the oven, across the floor, and into one of the many children's play spaces in our home.

I was horrified.

Ed put up a small barrier to the room and suggested we had it cornered. He was willing to go for the kill. But I didn't really want blood on the carpet, and I was so freaked out by the whole thing at this point that I just could not provide any assistance to what Ed was describing as a two-person job.

So we decided to set out traps instead. Every other time we have seen a mouse in our home, the damn thing finds its way into a trap that night.

Not so with this creature. So I called in reinforcements.

A friend of mine offered to bring her cat over. Here, it is important to mention, that I am also terrified of cats, and I was very much fearing an "I don't know why she swallowed the fly" sort of situation with mice, cats, dogs, and who knows what!

In the, I gratefully accepted the cat, and except for one moment during a conference call when she launched herself into my lap, all was well.

The cat sniffed all around, which gave me great hope.

At one point, she paused dramatically, training her sights on...


In the end, no mice were caught, but when Connor and his friend came home, they just about flipped at seeing the cat (since the cat belonged to the friend)! Helen was also thrilled to see the cat.

This mouse is the closest I have ever come to being willing to get a cat - even though I am terrified of them and Helen, Connor, and I are all allergic.

The very worst part about knowing this mouse is in the house is that when I get up to go running at 5:30, I feel there is a very real chance we will come face to face again, and I really do not want that to happen.


The mouse is very clever. Night one, it did not go into the trap. Night two, we set out a peanut butter snap trap, and the mouse ignored it. Night three, the mouse ate the peanut butter so tonight, we will actually set the trap. Please, let it get caught and NOT be making a ruckus when I get up to go running. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tahoe Wrap-Up

We took our annual ski break to Tahoe this year. One of Ed's brothers joined with his family, which meant there were COUSINS to ski with. That was fantastic. Amazingly, Helen kept up with the big kids which at first was causing me great stress as I saw her cruise down hills that I would've thought much too difficult for her, but after I got used to the sight it was pretty fun to watch! At one point, Helen followed others onto a black diamond trail through the trees, and thank goodness she realized she was in over her head and had the good sense to pop her skis off and slide about 10 feet on her bottom. She quickly turned almost-tears into laughter. When we got to a point we could exit the trees, I told Helen I'd ski with her on the main path and she was happy to follow. She told me she had always been curious about what a black diamond was and she was hoping she would get to try one. I'm not sure when she'll try another, but if she decides to, she could make it safely down just about any black diamond out our way. The mountains are just much smaller out here.

It has not been a good snow year at Tahoe, which meant that the mountains we visited were not fully open. It wasn't a big issue since they're so big, and plenty of trails were available. But we still hope we get luckier with fresh snow in the future! We seem to often miss the big snows when we head west. At one point, it was so warm Helen was skiing in a t-shirt!

We were also joined for the first half of our trip by a former au pair which was a huge highlight. She has skied with us twice before, gone skiing one day with friends, and she can totally keep up on the trails. It's pretty impressive, and made the day a lot of fun since everyone could ski together.

We spent a day in Reno, sorting a rental car debacle out and winning stuffed animals at Circus Circus casino. Before the kids had spent they're allotted spending money at the casino, I had to call a stop to it - we wouldn't have had room to take everything home. Plus, I have to deal when the stuffed animals at home, and we just got rid of about 100 of the things last year!!

Travel home at the end of vacation was not pretty due to a storm on the east coast. I am so grateful that Connor and Helen are very good at keeping their sh*t together when we travel. It made a difficult situation bearable, and we ultimately made it back to DC about 12 hours later than expected. It was some very tough travel, lots of negotiating, and the shortest hotel stay of their lives (in lieu of sleeping on a cot in the airport, which I just could not stomach).

Great to see Grandpa Dick on the slopes for another year!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Two Weeks Out

Marathon day is two weeks away. On March 14, I will lace on my lightest pair of shoes, don a tank top, running skirt, and my plushest socks - and I will run. If all goes well, Ed will run me in from mile 20. In all likelihood, I will not meet my goal of qualifying for Boston. But I still believe a sub-4 hour marathon is possible, and I am gunning for it. A lot of things have to go right for that to happen.

My marathon training cycle started 14 weeks ago. In those weeks, I have logged 356 miles. That includes two weeks of almost no running - the week I had the flu and last week when I was in Tahoe. I did sneak in two fantastic, hilly runs in Tahoe - including a 4.5 mile run up an 1100 foot stretch of mountain roadway. I will think about that run when I hit the two substantial hills on course. They are nothing compared to the hills in Tahoe.

I could never add up the hours of my life that have been given to this goal. I try and run very early in the morning to limit the impact my running has on the rest of the household, but some runs just cannot be squeezed in, particularly those that have lasted 3 or more hours!

I have learned so much about myself and about running during this training cycle. I may not be able to meet my original goal, but it is not because I didn't train hard.

Keep it together for two more weeks, legs. We can do this!