Tag Archives: Austin

Loriana’s Inspiration Miles… And A Call For A Marrow Match!

1 Feb I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

My friend Loriana Hernandez began an aggressive dual chemotherapy protocol yesterday that will last 72 solid hours.  Being the warrior that she is, she immediately set a goal to walk the halls of her floor at John Hopkins 26 times each day.  0.04 miles in each lap.  26 laps in a mile.  I know that mile is 100 times more difficult than any distance race I’ve ever run- without question.

Inspiration miles... And A Call For Marrow Donor!

Think running a marathon is tough?  Walking a mile through the hospital ward while toting the machine that is obliterating your immune system is more extreme than any ultra marathon on my bucket list.  Yet Loriana remains dedicated to seeing this goal through, and in the past two days she has fallen only 6 combined laps behind her mile a day goal.

Just .25 miles short.

I think we can make up the deficit for her!

On my running plan this weekend is just six little miles, but I told Loriana that each mile would be filled with positive and intentional thoughts for her victory:

  • Mile One is for HOPE
  • Mile Two is for STRENGTH
  • Mile Three is for RESILIENCE
  • Mile Four is for PATIENCE
  • Mile Five is for TENACITY
  • Mile Six is for ENDURANCE
  • + another .25 miles for good measure

As you strike out on you weekend long run, keep Loriana in mind.  Donate a mile (or six) of your mental miles during your run to intentional throughs for her victory and healing.  Run an extra quarter mile to help her close the goal in her gap.  Or heck, log a PR with her in your heart…. and then take a moment to let her know via social media (see below) that we’ve got her covered.

We have the great privilege of being the running legs for a true warrior right now; don’t take a footfall of your run for granted!

How can you help Loriana’s battle?

I’ll Be Your Strong

29 Jan I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

There is a story I’ve never told, and honestly I never intended to tell it.  It was just going to be one of those little things I kept inside to call upon in the moments I needed it.  It’s a story of struggle and strength.  It’s a story that simultaneously breaks me down and builds me up.  But it’s a story that I was satisfied to keep inside until this weekend.

But now it needs to be told.

I ran my first marathon in October of 2012- Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  When I registered, I only had one half under my belt at which I had scored a pretty severe IT band injury, but I told myself I could do it.  I could do anything because I’d made it through the bumps and challenges of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth and beyond as a mother.  26.2 miles of hilly terrain would be a worthy celebration of all the peaks and valleys I had triumphed through on the road to motherhood.

As I trained, I steeled myself with those thoughts.  I was powerful, determined and equipped with the greatness of unconditional love for a tiny little being.

That was enough.  That got me through.

I could do this.

When The Hubs and I made it San Francisco for the race, he had to go into the office to do some work so I ventured over to the expo myself.  I was immediately overwhelmed.  I was there alone… doing this big thing…  all for me?  Up until that moment, every step I had run was about me- which was fine- but it just didn’t seem like enough anymore.  And though I was venturing into my first marathon with my Team Victorious sisters, that suddenly didn’t seem like enough either.  It wasn’t a feeling I could understand or explain- but later I would understand it as my inspiration paradigm shift.  An understanding that my moments within my miles were far bigger than myself and my little world.

On race morning I dressed methodically, carefully adjusting each item.  When I reached my bib I paused, overwhelmed.  Without much thought or understanding of what I was doing I took  pen out of my bag and scrawled one word on the back before pinning it on my shirt.

One word.

A name.

Carter.

Carter was the husband of a mama acquaintance of mine.  We weren’t exceptionally close, but our children were in the same play co-op and she and I had run together several times with a mutual friend.  Over these runs, I learned a lot about her, her family, and her astounding love for her husband.  We had connected through facebook after that and in the two months leading up to my race I gained miles of hope- and shed buckets of tears- over the raw beauty in her status update about Carter’s battle with stage IV metastatic sarcoma.

For a moment I considered snapping a picture of the back of my bib to send to my friend one day but I quickly shook off the thought feeling simultaneously self conscious and confused- I hadn’t really even fully considered why I had so unconsciously written Carter’s name inside my bib.  After all, I had never even met the man.

I didn’t give it much thought for most of the morning.

At mile 21 I discovered why it was there.

The half marathon runners had peeled off 7 miles before and the course was quite lonely, greatly compounded by the solitary trek around Lake Merced with no spectator encouragement.  The air was heavy with chilly fog, my legs ached, and I had already exhausted all of my “I’m a mom and I’ve done things much harder than this” pick-me-ups because at 21 miles into my phenomenally hilly first marathon I hadn’t done anything harder than that.  And when you’re by yourself and in pain by a drab lake in dense fog you realize really quickly that you aren’t enjoying yourself anymore and you just might start to doubt that you even had the strength to complete such a silly task.

And that’s when I thought of Carter.  Carter was fighting a battle that was far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And regardless of his prognosis, he was winning.  He was winning because he kept fighting.  He was winning because his fight gave those he loved hope.  He was winning because that hope inspired the most transparent love and devotion in his family.  He was winning because that transparent love allowed his wife to share her soul with the world in a way that sent this inspired spirit into the world like a floodlight.

It was certainly bright enough to cut through the fog on a desolate stretch of road beside the Pacific Ocean.

And that got me around Lake Merced back to the Great Highway where The Hubs- glowing with encouragement and his own transparent love- waited to help pace me to the finish.

As I packed to fly back to Austin after the race, I kept my number with the intention of sending it to my friend after sharing how her family so inspired me from afar.

I never really got the chance.

Carter passed away on November 10, 2012.

Then it seemed strange to send such an insignificant thing to her so the bib found a place on my desk and it became my own private story of inner strength derived from the most graceful pain I’d ever witnessed from afar.

How do you tell someone “I didn’t know your husband but your authentic, beautiful expression of his strength has inspired me to keep moving when things are difficult”?

Maybe you say it just like that.

Or maybe you just keep it to yourself until someone needs you to help be their strong.

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

This weekend, I was visiting my parents when Baby Bird spiked a high fever that we couldn’t control.   As a child with a history of febrile seizure, it meant a trip to Children’s Medical Center and- as is always the way in motherhood- my phone was near the end of its battery life and I had no car charger.  As we checked in at the hospital and I went to switch off my phone, the screen opened up to display my facebook feed topped by a post from my friend Loriana Hernandez.

Loriana and I became friends when I brought Bump Club and Beyond to Austin in 2011.  She did a segment for the news called “Get Fit for Free” in which she connected the community with complimentary opportunities to stay fit and, since she was pregnant at the time, she did a segment about BCB’s monthly Beautiful Bellies and Beyond the Belly fitness classes at lululemon.  As likeminded, healthy mamas we hit it off and became friends.  I even invited her over to my house so she could see me do a load of cloth diapers and learn the in’s and out’s- that’s committed green mama bonding!

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

Loriana, Jamie Grayson, and me at a Bump Club Austin event

Loriana recently left her position as a news anchor for Austin’s Fox News station to finally join her husband on the east coast, and I knew she was thrilled to soon get on a plane to permanently have her family in one place so I grazed her post quickly expecting a little pick-me-up of happiness as I situated Baby Bird for what could be a long night at Children’s.

The news was very much the opposite.  From a blood test for an embryo transfer surgery, Loriana received the news that she has acute leukemia.  And she had to start treatment immediately.

Instead of getting on a plane with her son to join her husband in her new home, she now found herself scrambling to book a solo flight to check into Johns Hopkins in 48 hours time.

The news sat like a rock in my stomach.

Shit.

I texted Loriana to see what I could do.  I may have limited funds, but there is no limit to my positive intentions.  And, as I’m continually discovering, there aren’t many limits on the miles in my legs so I asked if I could run my races during her treatment in her honor.

OMG Yes.  Please help me.

I was choking back huge sobs from a 5 word text.

While Loriana is in chemo, I’m going to wake up everyday knowing that I’m keeping myself moving in honor of an active woman who is currently out of commission.  I’ll gladly be her legs.  I’ll run with joy for her.

I’ll harness all of the Carter strong I’ve saved in my heart and share it with her.  I know she will replace it tenfold with her own brand of tenacity that will help to fuel me for my next thousand miles and beyond.

Regardless of the work I might put in in her name, I know that she is fighting a battle that is far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And she is going to win.

Loriana, I’ll be your strong.  Just like everyone else who loves you and is championing your cause.  Because your strength and humanity are already giving us more than we could ever repay in any other way.

Friends, cancer is expensive.  Beyond treatment itself, Loriana is fighting for her life in a city with no friends or loved ones and her family will incur considerable expenses as her husband joins her as her support.  If you are able, please consider donating to help fund her treatment.  If you are unable to donate, please share Loriana’s story through your blog or social media.  If you’re a runner, please consider running a race in her honor.

#BetterGoodThings: Healthy Kale Heart Pops

16 Jan Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama! A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

So there is this blogger in the Austin area that I’ve been following for about two years now who writes Food Good, Laundry Bad.  Her name is Evin.  And obviously you know right off the bat that she is pretty solid because, yes, food is really really good and frankly laundry stinks!

Evin and I are opposites.  The kind of opposites that matter for some reason before you have kids and you actually spend time neatly packaging “the sort of person” you are into a neat box as though it somehow makes life easier.  She’s a country gal; I’m about as urban as a Southern hippie can get y’all.  She swears openly in posts; I swear in the closet.  She hates pumpkins; I think pumpkin flavored everything is one of the best parts of fall (Plus, it’s nature’s appetite suppressant… good to know if you’re ever bitten by a Copperhead, prescribed Prednisone to fight your reaction, and are consumed by an unrighteous desire to eat all the things made from carbs.  All of them.  Ever.)  I’ve seen her rail against the perky, the matchy-patchy, the tragically hip, both the over and under informed, and the awkwardly cute (who rightfully need railing against at times because… seriously) and as a former NFL cheerleader turned yogini foodie yupster I’m pretty sure I fall pretty squarely within one of those categories… or many… but I probably deserve some railing against as well in my Moonbeamesque Causehead moments (PCU reference, for the win!)

Basically, as Evin managed to so simply express it via email to me, she is the Duck Dynasty to my Portlandia.

Verrry different programing.

But a funny thing happens when you become a parent.  All of those things that don’t really matter about who you really are start to not really matter when evaluating who someone else is as well.  As a mom, I have plenty in common with Evin.  The most important things.  Compassion.  Love.  Family.

And we both like to prepare and eat really great food.

More than that, we both feel convicted to feed our families the best quality food our budgets allow in the manner that best suits their individual needs.  (So I guess we are both railing against the FDA and Monsanto.)

Evin is dairy free for part of her family and has banished artificial food dyes from her home.  Additionally, as someone who has lost 180 lbs since 2006 (that’s hero worthy stuff right there) she is focused on trying to keep things healthy and unprocessed without having to drive into Austin for unconventional ingredients that are prohibitively costly compared to mass market processed junk that is readily available.  If you don’t know my story, I’m a vegetarian turned carnivore turned raw vegan turned accidental omnivore turned struggling locavore.  Our house is soy, peanut, GMO, and HFC free. We go organic when financially viable, and dye free as much as possible.  We strive to support our local farmers and ranchers.  And we keep things nutrient dense (because I’m feeding a future olympian and a future CEO- you decide which is which).

Together we made a plan to take a kitchen adventure each month to “better up” something our families found to be desirably good things in ways that better meet their nutritional needs without having to spend more than $5 on ingredients we don’t normally stock in our own kitchens. With that, Better Good Things was born.  We’ll be sharing our experiences the Third Thursday of every month which will seriously challenge my inconsistent habit of writing on whim.

This month, with health vacuum of Valentine’s Day celebrations looming ominously in the coming month, we decided to tackle sweetheart treats to provide some better options for our little ones to snack on and share this holiday.  Evin went with this Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothies- Better Good Things

and I created  Healthy Kale Heart Pops.

Pick your poison.

And enjoy!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Here’s a little more about how I landed on making Healthy Kale Heart Pops…

About six months ago I discovered a cookbook filled with homemade energy bar recipes- Power Hungry by Camila Saulsbury. Camila also has a blog- by the same name- which is super awesome because fabulous food bloggers are really helping me to keep my cookbook purchasing in check by making their creations easily accessible online but when I find a cookbook that is really something special I like to own it to indulge in the cathartic experience of dogearring, thumbing, and page annotating.  And this one is certainly something special! It’s like someone followed my family around to see what we like doing and the sat down to make recipes that would specifically support our frequently snacking, high energy, healthy, on-to-go, gotta run tendencies with no complaints.

Just as any good home cook will do, I adapt even the finest tuned test kitchen recipe to better meet the specific taste of my family (oh the page annotations!) which is what I’ve don’t with the Crispy Kale Bars from Power Hungry that have morphed into my Healthy Kale Heart Pops.

One of the things I love about Power Hungry is that the recipes rely on ingredients that exist natively in my hippielala kitchen.  In sticking with mine and Evin’s pact, I knew I had to work with things I normally have on hand and spend $5 or under on special additions- I needed lollypop sticks ($1.50) and puffed millet  cereal (which I far prefer to puffed rice, $2.49)… $1.09 to spare!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Pretty basic stock ingredients for a yupster kitchen.

Now here’s the true true on this one… please don’t try to pass it off as a lollypop.  It just wont work.  These are totally delicious but they taste nothing like high fructose corn syrup laden bulk treats (thank goodness) and if you’re little one is used to that and you try to pass this off as “the same thing” then everyone is in for disappointment.  Healthy choices start with healthy conversations with honest and positive positioning!

Because, for goodness sake, they obviously contain a green veggie!  And that is a good thing.

Preparing the kale is one of the most important parts of getting this right.  You need to start with fresh, dry kale or else your kale chips end up wrinkled, wilted and sad.  I find that rinsing my kale the night before so it can dry thoroughly and then putting it in a vase the night before ensures it is properly hydrated and full- we’re going back to fourth grade biology, y’all… making sure those vacuoles are full so that the cell walls don’t collapse!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Kale is just gorgeous. In the background? Yep, those are my veggies that make up my “flower arrangements.”

Prepare the kale by cutting it off of the tough ribs and tear it into small pieces then arrange it on a baking sheet to dehydrate fully.  The baking/dehydrating is the second key kale step- you want it completely crisp but not terribly browned.  Kale chips are high art!  This method makes fool proof seasoned kale chips as well- just modify by adding the seasonings of your choice.

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

While your amazingly perfect (seasoning free) kale chips are cooling, toast the grains and then mix with the dried sour cherries and millet cereal.  And here comes the fun part…

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

KALE HANDS!  It’s a great activity for the little ones if they aren’t running around in the nude banging cymbals and singing the Little Einsteins theme song.  Dehydrated kale basically crumbles into kale powder which allows you to easy pull out any remaining tough stems. Stir gently to combine.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

After combining the liquid ingredients on the stove and mixing them with the dry, press them into a prepared baking pan and compact them very firmly.  Pop ’em in the fridge to set so that they hold their shape when you cut them.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Remove from fridge and lift out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.  Cutting the shapes with a cookie cutter uses some decent muscle if you’ve compressed the mixture well.  I like to place a small cutting board on top of my cookie cutter so I can really lay my weight on it without cutting hearts into my hands!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Because the mixture is tightly compacted (as you’ll realize when you tackle the heart shapes), trying to insert  a lollypop stick would just cause it to crumble.  Using metal barbecue skewer gives you a solid starting point.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

From that point, it’s super simple to add the lollypop sticks and wrap it all up!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Et voila!  Eat your heart out, y’all!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Healthy Kale Heart Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of curly leaf kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbs olive oil + more for pan
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas
  • 3 tbs flax seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened puffed millet cereal
  • 1/3 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (I used Justin’s Maple Almond)
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • generous 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the kale to bake. Rinse and dry very well. Cut leaves from stem and tear into small pieces.  Toss kale pieces with with olive oil and spread into a single layer across a baking sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake the kale for 15 minutes.  Toss kale, rotate, and return to oven for 12 more minutes.  Check the kale for dehydrated crispness before removing from the oven.  Return from oven for one to two minutes if needed, watching carefully, to ensure they are crisp but not browned.  Gently remove to a bowl to cool completely.

Return oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper covering the bottom and sides and treat with olive oil.

Spread the oats, pepitas, and flax seeds on the baking sheet lined with new parchment or foil and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, shaking halfway through, until fragrant.  Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the cereal and cherries.

Using your bare hands, crumble the cooled kale leaves into the bowl, picking to remove any fibrous stems that may have remained.  Gently stir to combine ingredients.

Combine the almond butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, stirring frequently.  Heat 5-8 minutes until sugar has dissolved and mixture begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.

Immediately pour into the oat mixture and mix with a spatula until well coated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Press the mixture into the pan to spread into an even layer.  Flatten and firmly compact the mixture.

Refrigerate for at least an hour until firmly set.

Remove from fridge and lift out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.  Using a 3-inch diameter heart cookie cutter, cut into heart shapes.

Using a metal barbecue skewer, poke a hole in the base of each heart.  Using the skewer hole as a guide, insert lollypop stick.

Makes approximately 15 heart pops.

Breakfast on the Run: Baked Egg Cups To Go

15 Jan

The The Hub’s new Team Rogue schedule is a bit of a game changer in our household (not just because they’ve lead him to finally accepting that he has insanely loud feet).  He’s now out the door for the day pre-workout instead of our old routine in which he ran the neighborhood/area, came home to eat breakfast and get ready for work, and then left for the day.  Because it was routine, I found this slightly easier in my mind because the dirty laundry made it in the bathroom immediately and I could worry with his morning nutrition on the spot.  In reality, I’m realizing that it made me less strategic- and also meant The Hubs often made his own eggs while balancing a business call if and when I managed a morning run for myself.  We’re multi-taskers ’round here, y’all!

I’m realizing that pre-prepped breakfast to go is a thing of beauty.  It forces me to be strategic and also means I don’t feel like a lazy bum on the mornings that I sleep in a bit later than I meant… because I was up later than intended… because I took extra time to stop and smell the roses with the little one during the day… (You see the cycle right?)

Last week I created Mango Recovery Muffins for The Hubs to tote along for breakfast and this week I’ve added baked egg cups into the mix.  They are easy enough that you could bake them the morning of if you prefer, but I’m streamlining our morning shenanigans (read as: I’m not waking up at 4:15 am for someone’s track practice until it’s because I have to get up to drive Baby Bird to the track) so I’m baking them the night before and packaging them up neatly for the next morning.

Breakfast on the Run: Bake Egg Cups, fruit skewers, Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins, and Raspberry Refrigerator Jam from Go Running, Mama!

As you can see- via the beauty that is my late night Instagram snapshot- The Hubs left this morning with two baked egg cups, fruit skewers, a Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffin, and a generous scoop of raspberry chia refrigerator jam.  The kiwi blueberry skewers made it easy for him to eat his fruit quickly without having to use utensils or picking up each piece with his fingers.  A little box of balanced, satisfying, premade nutrition designed for him to consume quickly in the transition from workout to work.

Now that is a productive start to the day!

Baked Egg Cups To Go

Ingredients

  • 2-4 jumbo eggs
  • i slice of thick cut bacon; cooked, fattiest part removed, and diced
  • truffle salt
  • butcher’s cut pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

“Grease” silicone muffin cups with olive oil.  Place muffin cups on a baking pan or sheet.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each egg with diced bacon, truffle salt, and pepper.

Place baking sheet and muffin cups in oven and bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating pan each 6 minutes.  Remove when eggs are white and yolks still have a slight wobble.

2013: The Rundown

5 Jan

Even though I didn’t have this platform at the beginning of 2013 to share my goals, I thought it would be fun to look back at the year to see the pluses and deltas (the former inner city educator in me still rules my assessment technique vocabulary).  Reflection is a handy tool when setting yourself up for success in the future.

Resolutions

Running/Fitness

  • 2 Hour Half–  I was thrilled to complete a sub-2 hour marathon in March (at Zooma Texas which gave out PR medals last year… totally sweet perk!), which meant I quickly reloaded this goal to a 4 hour marathon.  Leah (my coach) and I set my training sights on a 4 hour finish at the BCS Marathon in December… which didn’t happen.  The 4 hour marathon goal will show up once again in 2014.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • 25 Miles a Week– I was hoping to put in enough mileage over the year to average at least 25 miles for the year.  My actualization? 623.71 miles for the year which averaged out to 11.9 miles a week.  Weak.  464 of those miles were January-May.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Take Class–  In 2013, I wanted to commit more to taking dance classes instead of just teaching.  I did a great job during the summer when my training was stalled, but I didn’t come close to the diligence I was hoping for… probably because I didn’t really establish a measurable goal.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Personal

  • Personal Blog– I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the interwebs, but before when I was blogging for other people’s sites I really only got to share on a limited scope.  I wanted a platform to simply do my own thing on whatever topics and whatever pace seemed natural.  After I had surgery in June, I found the time to start this blog.  Hooray!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Artisan Bread Baking– I wanted to greatly improve my artisan bread baking skills and push myself to try a new type of bread baking each month.  I had visions of bigas, starters, and soakers. Empty visions.  In reality, I greatly improved my bread baking prowess on my go to bread recipe and did a great job at adapting that recipe to high altitude baking, but I didn’t really push myself out of my comfort zone.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Learn Basic French– Knowing that Baby Bird will start French school Fall of 2014 made me keen to start learning basic French in 2013.  We started working with a French tutor weekly in August and my comprehension has greatly improved, but I frequently defer to The Hubs to speak for me… even in a lesson.  I need to get braver.  I’m a big girl.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Parenting

  • French Vocabulary– So that Baby Bird doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the dual changes of starting school and learning a new language in Fall of 2014, I wanted to help her to learn French in 2013.  She loves her French tutor, sings French nursery songs, and surprises us frequently by incorporating terms into her daily speech so this one feels like a victory!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Number Sense– When I was a teacher, I was shocked by the number of students I would see in middle school who didn’t have a basic understanding of what numbers represented.  It was my goal for 2013 to help Baby Bird develop a basic understanding of numbers and number concepts through play and manipulatives.  I feel that she has an appropriate understanding of numbers for someone with her cognitive development level which she has demonstrated through her basic usage and actions.  Awesome!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Social Skills– More easily put, 2013 was the year of establishing “Don’t be an a-hole” social basics and empathy training.  Obviously, I’m not using the term “a-hole” with my toddler but when we boil it down, that’s what this goal represents.  We worked on empathy, affirmations, and managing and respecting big emotions.  In the end, I have a toddler who can identify and acknowledge many of her emotions, verbalize them, and let me know when she needs a quite time or to have a conversation… most of the time.  And some of the time she still melts down.  Because she is two.  All in all, she is better emotionally equipped for life than I was at 25.  Win.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Race Recap

The first quarter of 2013 was packed with races.  We kicked things off with a bang at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend at which my husband ran the half marathon as an easy training run (1:25:42) and I ran The Goofy Challenge- a back to back half (2:33:01) and full marathon (5:23:57).  They certainly weren’t my fastest finish times, but the name of the game was completing each day’s race with enough remaining energy to enjoy the rest of the at the parks with Baby Bird.

Go Running Mama- WDW Marathon 2013

If you’ve never run a Disney race, I highly recommend it.  Disney puts just as much attention to detail into their race courses as they into everything else- fabulous scenery in and out of the parks, character stops (not my thing when I’m running, but a fun break for many), ample aid and restroom stations, great entertainment and music, fantastic crowd support, and tons of little magical surprises.  Once your running, it’s easy to ignore the fact that you had to get up at 2:30 am to ride the monorail to EPCOT to make your corral call time of 5 am or some such nonsense.

The Goofy was my first back to back race and marked my highest mileage week ever.  And it was HOT for a January race- thankfully I’ve trained through an Austin summer.  I was a little tired and a LOT nervous on marathon day, especially since I realized that the only way I would be able to run comfortably would be in my sports bra since I’d packed running gear for a colder temperature.  That was a big move for a woman who had a baby less than two years prior and a major “shirtless” victory for a lady with some lingering post-partum body image issues.

Additionally, I was corralled back further than I should have been and I didn’t want to wait in the corrections line at the expo because we might have missed our dinner reservations with Mickey so I decided to simply run with the corral I was assigned.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise- since my assigned corral’s start was so delayed I was able to see The Hubs in his final miles as I was within my first five, and two days of having to run around slower people who started ahead of me provided enough of a push to buckle down in my training to start running the paces I was capable of (at least for a good six months).  All in all it was a fabulous experience that I will definitely repeat (next time with a better corral), even if I spent a good portion of down time chilling in Baby Bird’s stroller following the marathon.

WDW Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

One month later, I ran the Austin Half Marathon (2:24:59) pacing my dear friend Rachel through her first race ever (That’s EVER y’all… no 5k or middle school track meet to speak of in her past!).  Her goal was to finish in 2:30 or better, so 2:24 was an awesome result.  I hadn’t had much time since WDW to make any real progress which was fine since that race was about Rachel and not me.  Even better than sharing a personal victory with one of my closest friends was the fact that The Hubs finished the marathon in 3:00:07, securing his BQ for 2014.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Once Austin was over, my amazing coach Leah helped me buckle down and make some serious progress.  My goal was to run a sub 2 hour marathon the next month.  A PR by 23 minutes is totally reasonable, right?  When I joined my girlfriends for Zooma Half Marathon (1:58:34) in March is was ready to make the most of any improvement that could be made from a month of hard work.  My mama friends and I stayed at the Hyatt Lost Pines the night before the race and had a wonderful, relaxing girls’ night out before race morning.  With the support of my good friend Casey who met me on the golf course and paced my last few miles after her 5k, I managed a sub 2 hour finish followed a lot of happy tear and hugs with Casey and a fabulous brunch with the ladies.

Go Running Mama- Run Gorgeous

After my Zooma success, I buckled down ready to try my hand at some night trail races during the summer to vary my training before my fall race schedule, but that didn’t really end up working out as planned.

Bumps in the Road

Once I’d really built up some great training momentum in June, I had a brush with melanoma and had to have surgery.  Total bummer!  My incision was on my abdomen, right where my running shorts rubbed which further delayed my training.  When I could finally start running again it was in the dead heat of Austin summer… pretty oppressive.

In September I was diagnosed with mono and a severe Vitamin D deficiency which once again stopped me in my tracks.  Fall races? Cancelled.

In November, Baby Bird got pretty sick and our family was introduced to febrile seizures.  As every mama knows, the health of your family trumps all “me” time activities so there was no time for stress reliving activities but plenty of stress… which led to some time at the cardiologist for me.  Makes total sense for a marathon running, health conscious (moderately) young woman.

It’s all made it interesting and made us really flexible.  And compared to the hardships faced by multitudes of families these were infinitesimally small challenges.  And they will make the high points of 2014 even sweeter!

Fly High Baby Bird

9 Sep Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird

The new school year has begun and once again my two and a half year old little Baby Bird is home with me. I love it. I absolutely love our time together. This fabulous stay-at-home momminess is what I wanted so badly when I was picturing the ideals of motherhood as I incubated my little one for nine months. Eleven months out of the year I am confident that my decision to stay home and have my daughter at home with me are the right decision for us.

But right now I’m in the midst of that one month that makes me doubt my choice ever so slightly- Back to School month.

My social media, email, text inbox, and even mailbox are flooded once again with “first day” photos taken by other mothers I love and respect of their children- many the same age of Baby Bird- embarking on the journey of education outside of the home with a new lunch tote and big big smile.

My reasons for not enrolling Baby Bird in early education are valid- As a former educator I’m easily qualified to facilitate creative play and scaffold early academic skills. We can work on basic life skills in real situations. I’m always aware of her areas of deficit and advancement through our constant interaction. And we have no shortage of peer group playdates. Rough days can be rough days. Our schedule is ever flexible.

But just as valid are the reasons that other mothers I respect choose to send their children to early childhood programs- Their sons and daughters are learning to accept instruction and feedback from other adults. Their peer group reaches beyond the scope of mom’s hand-selected playgroup. Their growth is monitored through someone else’s lens with a broader perspective. They learn to navigate rough days. Their schedule marches on.

This summer I decided that the ideal compromise would be to enroll Baby Bird in one day of the Mothers’ Day Out performance arts program at the dance studio where I teach class. She is familiar with the location, the teachers, and loves dance and art and I can get some work taken care of one morning a week while watching her dance and play with peers on the studio monitors. Win/win!

And yet, as the beginning of the school year approached I couldn’t help but wonder if I was making the right decision. Could Mothers’ Day Out stand in for a “school” experience? Was she going to get something out of the program, or was it simply for me?

If Baby Bird was going to be involved in a program, I wanted her to be excited and invested in it.  I just could n’t wrap my head around how a 2.5 year old could be genuinely invested in something.  Luckily, the universe has a way of working things out for me.

A week before fall semester was to begin, Baby Bird and I spent a considerable amount of time at the studio helping get everything ready for the new year.  During that time our studio dance company, Push, was present seven hours a day for choreography camp.  Each day, I would sneak Baby Bird into the studios so that she could watch the dancers in person who so captivated her on the monitors and through the studio windows.

Her response made me feel immediately at ease with my decision to enroll her in Mothers’ Day Out at the studio as well as immensely excited about what the art of dance has to offer her in the future.  At the end of the week, I couldn’t help but share my observations with the company directors Kristin and Danielle (edited only to remove Baby Bird’s real name):

Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird

Baby Bird with some of the older Push Company members

Kristin and Danielle-

I know y’all have been working unbelievably hard this week and I wanted to take a moment to share a little something with you from our family’s personal experience.
Baby Bird is no stranger to our studio, nor does she cross paths with many strangers at Balance- most students and parents know her by name at this point. It should come as no surprise that she loves to dance given her continued exposure to studio life and her access to caring, nurturing instruction.
Despite her frequent appearances at the studio year round, this week has provided her a unique opportunity to experience dance through the eyes and emotions of other young dancers- an opportunity normally only experienced by current company members- by being present at the studio in the whirlwind of choreography camp.
And something magical is happening within her little soul.
I’ve taught little ones for many years, so as an instructor I felt up until this week that I understood the depth with which a preschooler could love dance. For them “love” is enjoyment, a pastime, a hobby that consumes them when present but not much beyond that. If you had asked me Monday evening, I would still have told you that a toddler couldn’t be moved by dance. Couldn’t be captivated. Couldn’t be compelled into action by something greater than momentary enjoyment.
I was wrong.
I’ve allowed Baby Bird to stealthily slip into the studio several times throughout the week to watch the PUSH kids (whom she has referred to as “the beautiful dancers” since the first time she was enchanted by watching Mattie rehearse) because I thought she would enjoy it. What I got to witness in my child as a mother/dancer will never leave me.
I watched as your dancers moved her. I watched as their movements captivated her. I watched as the yearning to move consumed her… and has compelled her into a never ending stream of consciousness dance from the moment we arrive at home until the moment it is time for bed each night.
She moves with the honesty and abandon she was able to catch glimpses of as your dancers rehearsed. She is unrestrained and unafraid. She is alive with a very real love for something far greater than us all- the need the express the purpose of the universe through dance.
It’s been a long week for you all. You are tired, sore, and mentally burdened. You’re focused on the improvements that need to be made with time as the season progresses. Rightfully so.
But please know this- the effort, discipline, and passion that is being put forth by your students right now is already giving birth to the next generation. Each movement, however labored it might be from tired muscles, plants a seed for a child looking in from the outside. Each drop of sweat waters it. When you are able to reap what this generation has sown through their effort I know with sincerity that the results will be astounding.
Thank you to your company for silently and unwittingly giving birth to a passionate little dancer this week. Tiny eyes are watching each step they take; the responsibility they carry unintentionally is immense.
Very truly yours-
Jenn
Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird
Confidently, Baby Bird and I both faced her first day of Mothers’ Day Out with a smile.  She wore a brand new leotard and carried a lovingly packed lunch tote… and refused to pull her hair back- that’s the kind of start to be expected from my little redhead.  I know that she loves to dance and that she will stretch her creative side while she learns to take instruction from other adults and interact with her peers.  And she will keep learning from me at home as well.
I’m still doing what’s best for me and my mini-me.
It’s a win/win.
No guilt necessary!
Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird

Baby Bird (left) with her teacher and a favorite toddler friend also embarking on her first day of class without Mommy

Thank you to Shawna Hesketh Photography for the beautiful images at the barre from Balance Dance Studio’s Path to Push program.

Something to Celebrate: My BRF’s Runiversary

20 Aug Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

I’m not a life long runner.  I didn’t start running until after I gave birth to Baby Bird and when I started I hated it.  But I saw results… and I cleared my mind… and I felt like a better person as time wore on and the miles got easier.  As I often say, running made me the person I was always meant to be- it transformed me into me.

Apparently other people could see those changes in me as well.  Over the past two years, I’ve gotten lots of questions about my “running testimonial” from people (most frequently “Why the heck would you choose running!?”) and every once and awhile someone feels moved to give running a shot themselves to see if they too can experience the near transcendence I often describe.

Exactly a year ago, while I was in the thick of training for my first full marathon I received the following text from my very good friend Rachel while she was trying to kill time during a predictably redundant teacher training session:

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Over the course of the next four hours (if you are a veteran teacher who has been subjected to inservice geared towards first year educators, you can totally understand why she had so much time to kill), our text conversation transformed from the idea of Rachel beginning to run to planning to help her train for her first half marathon in six months time.  And that afternoon, Rachel went for a run.

And she hated it.

But she stuck with it.

And she saw results… and she cleared her mind… and she felt like a better mother, wife, friend, and teacher as time wore on and the miles got easier.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

In February, I had the privilege of pacing her through her first half marathon.  She may have sworn at me.  I may have physically drug her up the hill affectionately termed “the big one.”  I may have sort of peed my pants so that I wouldn’t have to stop and throw off her rhythm and momentum.  And she may have finished 10 minutes ahead of her goal time… and 5 minutes faster than my first half marathon.

Because she is awesome, fierce, and powerful… as a mother, wife, friend and teacher.

As a runner.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Happy Runiversary, Rachel!  I’m looking forward to all the miles to come.

 

Getting It Back: #Rogamonth and Virtual Races

16 Aug Go Running, Mama!- #rogamonth and Virtual Races

In January, when I received my bib number for the WDW Goofy Challenge I discovered I had been corralled incorrectly and was starting even further back than my modest times would normally provided.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at Disney World to pick up our bibs at the expo the line for corrections was exceptionally long and we were on the verge of missing our ADR at O’hana which would have been an unacceptable faux pas in the eyes of our exceptionally excited toddler.

Go Running, Mama- #Rogamonth and VIrtual Races

Baby Bird entertains herself (and Grandma) while she waits for Mama to finish the marathon leg of Goofy- there was no way this patient kiddo should have to miss dinner at O’hana!

Oh well… having lost some training time due having the flu over the holidays I figured I would be slower than normal and I was already staring down something near eight hours of running in the two day span so what would it matter if my gun time was an hour behind others?  In truth, it didn’t matter too terribly much except that marathon day ended up being so hot once the sun was out that every extra minute made what seemed like a major difference.  Bobbing and weaving around walkers and lollygaggers was exceptionally aggravating.  Sure, I was further back than I should have been but the extra agitations magnified the situation in my mind as the miles wore on.  Being in the back was starting to suck.

After that race, I decided that I was ready to commit myself training hard enough to get out of the slow corrals.  Two months later, after lots of sweat and a few tears, I rounded a huge corner and finished 13.1 miles of rolling hills with a finish time of 1:58:34, a major feat in that it was 25 minutes faster than my previous half marathon PR.  Success!  I was rolling!

I kept the momentum going as summer approached.  I was running more, training harder, listening to my coach’s feedback and my body’s cues… and I was on cloud nine.  Even as the weather heated up, I kept seeing improvements.

And then I had surgery.  And had to stop all activity for four weeks.

When I returned to running it was in the dead heat of the summer and with stalled momentum after feeling pretty invincible.  Nothing seemed to be going right.  I was slower.  I couldn’t hit my paces.  I was out of the morning run routine.  Ick!

I was having a hard time figuring out how to look beyond my little world and become part of the larger running universe again.  I needed a nugget of the inspiration and public accountability that comes with a race.  Luckily, the month of August provided two great accountability methods for me to get back on track through virtual races and a little insta-accountability!

In an unbelievably timely way, Jost Running offered me the complimentary opportunity to participate in their virtual races for August through October.  The Nike Women’s Virtual Half Marathon was the only other virtual race I’d done and it was an amazing experience because A) it was the first time I’d ever run more than 10 miles B) it was my first race since middle school track and C) it gave birth to the amazingness that is Team Victorious!  Given my previous positive experience, it seemed like an awesome way to bump up my accountability while still training on my own terms to get back to where I knew I could be before we kick off race season here in Austin at the end of September.

A few fine ladies on instagram (Jen from Why I Run, Julia from Running on Om, Susie from Long Run Yoga, Toney from Ultra Toney Trainer, and Humble Beginnings Yoga) also started the month long #rogamonth challenge to get yogis running and runners yogi-ing(?) with the added accountability of an instagram community.  Heck, I can’t avoid it if I need to take a picture of it, can I!?

Go Running, Mama!- #rogamonth and Virtual Races

On the 5th day of Rogamonth, I did the Jost Virtual 5k benefiting ALS.  With a 30:16 finish, it certainly wasn’t my fastest but it was a great way to get myself moving again and to see my finisher stats alongside the other participants for encouragement.  If felt good to step out the door that morning knowing I was accountable for my time- whatever time my body might be ready for that day- and give ownership to my recovery training.  I’ll be doing the August Jost Half Marathon soon with the added challenge of running at high altitude, so I’m sure a hilarious recap will follow.

Additionally, I’ve been keeping up with my Rogamonth challenges.  Feel free to help keep me accountable on instagram… if for no other reason than to watch me yoga it up with my toddler or while vacuuming.  Hey, fit moms make it work!

Just Shut Up and Run!

18 Jul Go Running, Mama!- ready to get moving

One week ago, I decided to share my little idea- Go Running, Mama!– with the world.  On the day that I published the blog, it had two viable pages and one little post aout my smoothie recipe from that morning.  And although, one week later, there still isn’t a vast history of post I’m mighty excited to carve out a little chunk of space in cyberspace that is mine all mine.  Excited… but also a little surprised by my recent posts- pop tarts, smoothies, tacos, harissa, ice cream.  On Go Running, Mama!

Notice what’s missing?  Yep, running posts!  And this is why….

Go Running, Mama!

“What’s the deal, Mama? Let’s go running!”

Five weeks ago I had surgery and was sidelined from all activity until seven days ago.  All activity.  No running… no yoga… and, supposedly, no teaching dance.  I’m not normally the kind of gal to obey doctor’s orders about restricted activity, but this time I had stitches in my abdomen that slightly complicated things (not to mention that they had to potential to leave an insanely ugly scar if I stretched them out too early).

So I mostly obeyed.  I didn’t run so I wouldn’t turn my torso or sweat into my incision.  I didn’t do yoga so I wouldn’t rip though my sutures or elongate my scar.  And I only demonstrated choreography once full out while teaching dance.

After four weeks of rest, I was beside myself with excitement to start running again when cleared.  The night before my first post-surgery run, my running coach emailed me my newly amended training schedule and I couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for me.  When I opened it up I was immediately discouraged- 30 minutes easy, rest, 30 minutes easy and 6 strides, rest, 10 minutes easy + 3×2 medium pace + 10 minutes easy, 6 miles easy, rest– by the nice easy week she had planned. Grrrr!  Coming off of four months of hard workouts and considerable effort, that looked  pretty similar to my four weeks of sitting on my butt.  How would that ever get me back into the swing of things?  Surely four weeks hadn’t set me back so far that 30 minutes of easy running would require any effort, right?!

Wrong.

Go Running, Mama!- ready to get moving

Ready to get moving again…

My first run back was abismal.  It was one of those hot, humid days that is rare even for the searing Austin summer- the kind of day where you feel more like you are swimming forward through the air rather than running through it.  Thirty minutes felt like an eternity.  My easy pace didn’t feel all that easy.  My stats on my GPS watch infuriated me no matter how I rotated thought them.  I arrived home tired and sweaty- which is normally good when it isn’t coupled with frustration and discouragement.

The second run wasn’t much better.  Neither was the third.  Essentially, the entire first week was complete rubbish.  I kept calling them “trash runs” and my husband kept reminding me that every run is better than not running so there aren’t any “trash runs.”  That might be so… but they were  still trash runs.  I would head out on my run alone, get inside my head, and spend the next 30+ minutes berating myself for falling so far behind where I had been just a short four weeks before.  I spent a whole week telling myself with each footfall that it seemed impossible that I will get to the point in December where I can run a sub-4 hour marathon like my coach and I had planned.  In short, it was a bad week.

I needed a way to claw myself out of my self-doubt spiral.  Luckily, assistance arrived in the form of a running buddy!

Earlier this week the hubs was out of town, so my mom and brother came to stay and help out while he was gone.  It’s rare that I get to do a weekday run with anyone other than myself because we have to stagger our early morning runs to ensure someone is always home with the babe.  Even on the rare occasion that we have a grandma in town to help with the little one, my husband runs so much faster than me that it is nearly impossible for us to match up our paces to run together.  Monday morning, however, I got to run with my brother while my mom did baby duty.  Normally, my brother would also be far too fast for me on a short or middle distance run, but this week our circumstances matched up perfectly- he is on leave and in rest mode after some recent military training and I’m in post-surgery recovery mode trying to ease myself back in (begrudgingly).

As we head out to run on an uncharacteristically cool, overcast day I reminded my brother that I was supposed to keep it at a nice, slow 10 minute pace… and that even at that slow pace I might struggle.  He assured me that was fine by him and kept me engaged in conversation from the get go.  The minutes, hills, and miles few by and 30 minutes later we arrived at home slightly under my easy pace. I felt good.  I was smiling.  I was confident.  It was a relief to reclaim my normal post-run self-assuredness that I am improving myself and my life, however gradually, with each footfall of each run.

My brother and I didn’t do anything monumental on that run- it was familiar terrain at a slow, familiar pace- but having someone with me to keep me from listening to and engaging the mental heckler who had taken up residence in my subconscious made all the difference.  We talked about vacation plans, career and life goals, and made fun of ourselves quite a bit.  We talked about simple things which kept my brain quiet.  Through all the chatter and laughter I brought myself back to a place of internal quiet and focus.  Apparently, sometimes it takes good conversation and a great friend to allow you to just shut out negative thoughts so you can shut yourself up and run.

Go Running. Mama- Shut Up and Run

Seven extra sedentary lbs don’t exactly make you excited to run in a sports bra… but it’s summer in ATX people!

So right now I’m slow.  I’m a good seven pounds heavier.  But I’m back in the swing of things.  And I’m running this body again!

It’s time to shut off the self doubt,

Shut up,

And run.