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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With A Little Help From My Friends

troubleFirst-time parents try doing everything for their baby—so they don’t miss any firsts.  Just a head’s up, rolling and crawling is cute, diaper changes are overrated.  Leaving Cristian with someone else was difficult, we started by taking—pardon the pun, baby steps.

We started small.  First each godparent watched him while we ran errands or went to Buy Buy Baby to stock up on supplies.  Both times we knew the baby was fine because we left him with a Baby Whisperer.

In February we had a Valentine’s Dayish date night—we went out for dinner and a movie.  We saw American Sniper—I know what you’re thinking, he’s a romantic.  After seeing the movie we brought dinner home with us.  Although Esther’s sister watched the baby, cutting the chord was difficult.

smiley

In late April my Dad was hospitalized, diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  Managing his healthcare and Mom’s (she has her own health issues) while caring for a baby and juggling a freelance consulting gig is challenging, like juggling three balls, a kitten and a chainsaw.

Cristian has an excellent babysitter who watched him when I visited Dad at the hospital or took mom to doctors’ appointments, but she wasn’t always available. Paying the babysitter got expensive fast, forcing us to expand the babysitting pool.

Esther and I are lucky–Cristian has a big personality—he loves performing for anyone who smiles at him.  We’ve had many offers to watch him, most having no idea of what that entails–not from the baby—but from his parents.

You're dropping me off where?
You’re dropping me off where?

Potential babysitters were screened, kind of like the way the CIA screens new employees. Fingerprints were checked, references verified and they must first handle a blowout, an overflowing diaper that spilled over up his back and down his legs, usually after Cristian ate a high-fiber meal.  Prunes work really well for blowouts.

Dropping the baby off with friends produced new anxiety. Esther kept asking if we should scrub their apartment first with industrial cleaning products like we did at the hospital.  I had to keep reassuring her, they both graduated from Ivy League Schools, and I’m pretty sure their building isn’t a meth lab.

As time passed, things got easier, still not easy but we are getting there.  It reminds me of a piece of advice given to me by a friend years ago.  When someone offers to help you, don’t be too proud to take it.  It’s still good advice, but thinking back, this friend wasn’t a parent.

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