Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Vortex

If I get up early enough I can get out on the roads before anyone in the house wakes up. It's a Mission Impossible-type exercise though, which entails a very particular chain of events falling into place with the choreography of a John Woo film.

It all hinges on the coffee maker. I set it the evening before to start brewing exactly three minutes before I set my alarm to go off. I leave the bedroom door open when we go to bed, so we can hear the kids and also so I can hear the coffee start in time to cancel my alarm, which allows Kiera to keep sleeping (the watch wakes her up but the coffee maker percolating doesn't for some reason). Next comes the silent creeping, out of bed and into the kitchen. I close the door behind me, open my laptop on the desk off the kitchen, then race to the coffee maker where I try to find the golden moment to turn it off between when the last drop falls into the carafe and when the five annoying beeps sound, announcing the completion of the brewing cycle. I turn it off just in time, pour myself a mugful along with a glass of water and check the computer while sitting silently in the dark. I even try to dampen the sound of my keystrokes. A quick clothes change, then tiptoe past their doors in my running socks. Only when I close the garage door behind me do I know I've made it.

You have to understand that while I love them dearly, the kids are ticking timebombs of diaper changes, damp sheets, waffles-syrup-cheerios on the floor, sippy cups, stories and baby wipes, and the slightest sound could set them off. Negotiations between what clothes are clean and which are dirty, what can and can't be worn to school, and wondering aloud just why a 20-month-old still wants to eat his shoes are only the beginning of what happens when the house comes to life.

Sometimes I get it just right and miss it all. I return from my run and my wife is still waiting for five minutes of privacy for a shower, and the kids are fed/scrubbed/dressed. Often I skip the game entirely and get the kids going with breakfast and clothes before Kiera even wakes up. During the few times where it's imperative that I get out early I usually end up blowing it by sleeping through the start of the coffee and not being able to find my beeping watch on the floor next to the bed, or catching the end of the brewing cycle a bit too late and sounding the "COFFEE IS DONE!!!" alarm, which creeps under doors and into childrens' ears. A stray clink of the coffee mug, a sneeze, anything I do can wake up the kids.

Today I did about ten things wrong, so I fully expected to get sucked into the vortex that is the family morning routine. The blender blowing out while making a "special milkshake" for me and Haiden yesterday found me turning off the power to the kitchen, which threw off the time on the coffee maker. It sounded at 2:30 this morning instead of 5:30. It just got worse from here. Suffice it to say I was nowhere near ready to go when the kids awoke, and my planned 12 miles was quickly cut to 10 along with a quick negotiation with Haiden where I traded a muffin with her and Finn at the grocery store on the way to school for the bike ride to school I had promised. This way I could handle both kids while Kiera went for a run and I could still get to work on time. It never works the way I plan it, but things usually get done and that's enough.

The run went quite well this morning. In fact it might have gone a little too well. I was set to take it relatively easy for a second day after the race in preparation for a workout tomorrow, but for some reason the idle was set a bit high and I got moving early. By the time I first checked the pace at 4 miles I was already at 6:40, and I decided from this point I would just try to keep easing into the run mile by mile, ignoring the pace until the end. At just under nine miles I started to tire a bit, but I kept the pressure up and finished off the run at a pretty good clip. Hopefully I'll feel this good tomorrow.

Training: 10 miles, 1:03:38, 6:22 pace


Eric said...

Nice run today. Feelin' it!

That post really brings the reader into your home. Since we're all here, can Kiera make us some scones?

Mystery Coach said...

The perfect example of moving the "Steady State" upward.

Martin said...

If you only knew how close that was to my routine you would laugh!

My trouble is there 1 squeaky floor board by the coffee machine and I always worry if I forgot to mute the laptop last time I used it.

Love2Run said...

Sneaking around in your own home is so funny. I don't have small kids but have a routine that reminds me of this. Nice cruising, it must be nice to have dry roads.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

mmm, scones..

good job getting things done while in the vortex :)

Thomas said...

As someone who's trying to balance running, full-time employment and three young children, I can only wonder how you managed to come up with such an accurate description of my own early morning routine (apart from the fact that I don't use the computer in the morning)

John W said...

From your post and the comments following I have an idea of what my life is going to be like in 3-4 years. Sounds spectacular.

Scooter said...

I've gotten erratic in my reading, so first, let me congratulate you on your recent win. Glad to know you continue to progress. It's always fun to read your descriptions, and this one was one of the better.
My best wishes,

Marc said...

A wonderful post, I was quiet as a mouse as I was reading as to not wake anyone.