In Search of the Zone

This post also appears in North Queens Runner

Esther, Cristian and I after finishing our Hangover Fun Run
Esther, Cristian and I after finishing our Hangover Fun Run

This morning Esther and I continued a family tradition when we took Cristian to Eisenhower Park for the New Year’s Day 5-Mile Hangover Fun Run (can something two-years old be called  a tradition).  For some of you my last sentence is one big oxymoron—New Year’s Day, Hangover, Running, all of the above.

The tradition started last year when our friend Coach Maria sent our team an email suggesting we run this event as a team-building exercise.  Esther and I bundled up our barely three-month old son anxious for the chance to mix activity and socialization.  Although we both ran slow awkward miles it was the spark we both needed to get moving.

Cristian always seems to find a friend
Cristian always seems to find a friend

Wednesday Morning I posted The Road Back on both blogs.  It wasn’t a resolution post, I wrote about setting new goals and creating new habits.  This morning was the first step.  We got up early, bundled up the baby and headed out instead of crashing on the couch with the remote watching a Twilight Zone or Honeymooners Marathon.

Since I started running, I worked to find the zone, the elusive place where the miles are smooth and easy, and excuses are few and far between.  In the Zone, I’ve raced half marathons in 14 degree weather, 18 milers in driving rainstorms and ridden bike tours through flooded roads wondering whether or not I was going to blow a tire.

I’m not suggesting this morning’s slow creaky miles launched either of us into the Zone.  Every year on New Year’s Day, the gyms start filling up with people making resolutions to lose weight or fit into smaller clothes—those resolutions usually die a violent death around Valentine’s Day.

The morning was Day One, a chance to do something I love and reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a few months.  It was a chance to start creating healthy habits and hopefully the beginning of a family tradition.  If it leads to more, so be it.

With our friends and teammates
With our friends and teammates
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The Baby Whisperer

Me finishing the 2010 National Marathon. © Brightroom Photography
Me finishing the 2010 National Marathon. © Brightroom Photography

As a runner it took many races and many training miles until I learned the subtleties of running a marathon.  I’ve run 12 and I’m still learning.  Patience, experience and good coaching are useful—a little luck doesn’t hurt either.

Shortly after Cristian was born I learned parenting coaches exist—Baby Whisperers.  I’ve mentioned them several times since I first wrote about them in March.  Like Coach Maria, my running coach, they offer wisdom and guidance to inexperienced parents.

Not sure if you know one—sure you do—they’ve been helping new parents since the dawn of time.  She’s the aunt or friend sitting on the couch at a family gathering with a baby in her lap.  Multitasking, a Zen-like calm, and an encyclopedic knowledge of all things baby are just a few traits they possess.  Hungry babies, cranky babies and blowouts are dispatched as easily as breathing.

Titi Luisa, the Gold Standard for Baby Whisperers brushing Cristian's hair.
Titi Luisa, the Gold Standard for Baby Whisperers brushing Cristian’s hair.

Esther’s aunt, Titi Luisa is the Baby Whisperer prototype.  Meeting us at the hospital when Cristian was born she instantly put a pair of anxious new parents at ease, dispensing wisdom as she cradled my son, she even brushed his hair into a Baby Mohawk.  (See my last post regarding Cristian’s hair).

She’s babysat for us—instinctually offering a breather when needed.  A crawling toddler getting into everything doesn’t faze her at all.  She’s mastered the ability to cook dinner as Cristian crawls around the kitchen.     Titi Luisa remains the gold standard but since writing my original post I found Baby Whisperers in unexpected places.

Throughout my life, I’ve been a few steps behind the pack—running my first marathon at 44, getting married at 46, and becoming a father at 50.  A lot of my friends were married and had kids in their 20s and 30s.

A few months back my boss called me into work for last-minute training, leaving me scrambling for a babysitter.  My friend Michele stepped up offering to watch baby for the day.  With one son in college, a second planning his freshman year, and a husband whose inner child runs the ranch, she was a perfect choice.

After dropping off Cristian and his supplies, usually resembling a military drop, she assembled his playpen, when I couldn’t before sending me off to work.  She quickly figured out his quirks and habits, texting pictures throughout the day.

Michele and Cristian spending the day together.
Michele and Cristian spending the day together.

Moving back home was an eye-opener.  We moved in so we could help Mom, but she’s helped me with the baby.  Feeding him breakfast and lunch she’s taught me subtleties, like sniffing out a diaper change—literally.  Laughing as he knocks over her walker to play with the wheels, she’s taught me—enjoy this time with him because it passes quickly.  I guess that makes Mom Baby Whisperer Emeritus.

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