Tag Archives: personal reflection

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.

Race Recap: Houston Half Marathon 2014

24 Jan Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Last May I encouraged two of my closest friends to throw their names in with mine for the Houston lottery.  At the time, I imagined myself toodling along the course with my friends for an easy run in between target races.  Fast forward to race day- “easy” pace, yes… toodling, not so much.

Houston isn’t foreign to me as a former resident (it’s where The Hubs and I met).  The course topography wasn’t foreign to me because my urban nomad of a husband- then boyfriend- had uprooted me every six months to move somewhere newer and more interesting within a 5 mile radius in the city (so, as you can imagine, the course just became a guided running tour of “places Jenn used to live” for my running partners).  What was foreign to me was actually running the terrain since when I lived there I avoided running at all costs because I thought it was horrible… and painful… and boring… and crazy.

So at 4 am on Sunday morning, The Hubs and I got up to do something that I had previously deemed horrible, painful, boring, and crazy ( and have since classified as sanity saving, painful, euphoric, and crazy)- we were going to run around it while most of the people we still knew who were living there were sound asleep or nursing killer hangovers after celebrating at a friend’s going away party.  Guess who didn’t make it to that party… Any guesses? Yes, the couple with the long flowing locks and adorable little toddler who had a race to run.  That’s me and The Hubs for the sake of clarification.

By 5 am we were joined by my brother in law Derek (running his first half marathon), Rachel (looking for a PR at this race), Casey (running her first half marathon and who I have already established is no freaking joke), and Casey’s husband Jasen (a former steeplechaser who is also, as you might expect, no freaking joke) ready to make the trek from where we were all staying in the ‘burbs into the city.  If you were doing mental math, you may have noticed there were six of us.   So we logically took one car.  What else would six full grown adults do?

Jasen, Casey, Rachel and I folded ourselves into the back seat before I had a chance to actually put my shoes on which quickly became problematic for me because it was far too packed in the back for me to put them on en route but wearing no shoes in the car dramatically interfered with my habit of checking my shoelace tension from the third to the last eyelet obsessively every 10 minutes only to untie them every third time to try to fix a nonexistent wrinkle in my sock having to reboot to entire process and start over from the laces once again.

I have a few rituals I like to adhere to- the shoelace thing, peeing at least three times before a run, and wearing an unnecessary number of “backup hairbands” around my wrist.  It’s a process of self soothing.  Calming nerves.  Obviously I know nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do those things.  Yet I didn’t check my shoelaces multiple times and The Hubs ended up with an untied shoelace less than two miles into his run so obviously the universe was punishing me.  Not really.  But it’s not a totally crazy thought…

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Meet Team Clown Car- the focus is just as blurry as my mind felt at the time.

When we made it into Houston- and the four of us unfolded ourselves from the origami chain of slightly antsy arms and legs we had inevitably created in the backseat- I got a moment to focus on my shoes.  Unfortunately, in the process of testing the tensile strength of my laces, I forgot to put an assortment of items I was carrying in the trunk so later I would have to deal with the fact that I was holding onto ear warmers (it was not cold) and enough chews to fuel the entirety of B corral.

While I’m making fun of my unnecessary pre-run habits, it’s worth mentioning the major score of hanging out in the lobby of the Westin pre race since we had arrived downtown so early.  I can’t even begin to describe how much better this was than standing in a windy line for a porta potty.  Three times.  It also provided us all a place to sit and decompress momentarily before heading to our corrals and getting a nervous energy contact high. Thanks, Westin!

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Relaxing in the lobby of The Westin prerace

This would also be the perfect opportunity to own up to the fact that I broke another cardinal rule- “Nothing New on Race Day”- by wearing and entirely new outfit that I had picked out at lululemon with Casey the day before the race.  I’m continually on the hunt for the perfect sports bra and, although I’ve found several almost perfect options, I haven’t married myself off to anything as of yet.  Lulu recently introduced the Bitty Bracer which is an awesomely fitted and supportive sports bra for those of us who are… ahem… modestly endowed.  I was pretty obsessed with the Ta Ta Tamer when my DD nursing boomies kept me in the appropriate size, but once I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding anymore I shrunk out of the size range of my fave sports bra.  I had a Christmas gift card to burn and was itching to give the Bitty Bracer a try (Thanks, Bro.  You unwillingly bought me a bra for Christmas.  Sorry!) so I decided to go ahead and break the race day apparel rule and wear it to run. After all, what’s one more broken rule for a girl who forgot to train for a race?!

Around 6:35 we all parted ways for our corrals.  The Hubs was in A, Jasen and I were assigned B, Casey and Rachel were in C, and Derek was in D.  I corralled myself back with Casey and Rachel and the three of us began a game of “beef spotting” to pass the minutes until gun time.  The Texas Beef Council has a team of ambassador runners that all wear shirts that say “Fueled by Beef” which always cracks me up.  Maybe it’s the former raw vegan in me, but I just end up picturing someone blending up a steak smoothie post race every time I see that shirt.  It’s funny- omnivore or not- and it’s a slogan that sticks with you so that marketing team has earned its gold star.  It’s also one of those things that can help break you out of long run delirium- there were several times when one of us was mentally withdrawing and hearing your friend shout “Over there… Beef!” was a welcome distraction.  Beef spotting.  It’s a thing.

With Rachel wanting to better her 2:24:55 half time, Casey claiming to only care about running the whole time and staying under 2:30, and the fact that my training has been laughable the plan was to run with the 4:45 marathon pace group until the turn off at mile 8 so I could take it easy without having to think much until I took over pacing duties for the group.  No such luck.  We discovered that the 4:45 pace group were run/walkers which meant my dreams of a mindless early 8 miles were shattered and I’d actually have to think the whole time because staying consistent requires thinking for me.  Because we don’t walk. And because I’m consistently inconsistent when running.  Realllly inconsistent.  Like, this is my most consistent run in my history as a runner until Houston…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Look at the pretty curvy green line! Wait… what? It’s supposed to be a straight line? Crap.

Houston Marathon did a great job with the corral organization, and the three of us passed over the starting line only 13 minutes after gun time which seems pretty quick for a large race.  Even though the first four miles aren’t very scenic or interesting, the streets were nice and wide and the pavement was even at that point which was a good way to start so I only had to focus on being consistent.

Looking back at our 5k, 10k, etc splits after the fact makes it seem like I did a pretty good job of pacing this one… like we almost pulled off negative splits until the 20k mark.  Seems pretty consistent:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Pretty good attempt, huh?

Knowing Rachel’s goal, I wanted us to start super easy and keep it under 10:55 per mile to get us in at 2:23 or better.  Looks like I did a great job, right?  But this is what it really looked like mile by mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yep… that’s more like it. It looks far less consistent.

But wait… it get’s worse.  Check out our first mile broken down by half mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Here is the first mile as it played out in my brain: ‘Why are we running this pace…Quick… Slow the sprinter down… Wait… Now why are we going so slowly!?’  Clearly the kind of thoughts you want the person pacing to be thinking instead of being in some overrated Zen-like state in which your feet simply propel you forward at the correct speed.

So I think we have established that the fact that Rachel refers to me as her “pacer” is completely outlandish.  Moral support… just call me moral support.  It wasn’t a perfect even run, but it was a fabulous improvement for me which was my personal goal- to run more consistently.  And look y’all, I’ve got a new “most consistent” race…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Only teeny squiggles.  (See the aforementioned dip in our pace early on)

Run wise, this was a pretty good race.  The miles were well marked and , although they were manned by volunteers shouting out “current” paces based on the gun and corral start times which is totally useless and distracting if you don’t start on the gun or at the front of your corral, I appreciated that the flags and clocks were so easily visible.  The water stops were also well manned by a surplus of friendly and supportive volunteers and there were lots of spectators- all in all a great showing for the friendly people of Houston.

Being a remarkably “average” runner who spends the bulk of her time amongst the cattle drive that is the median speed distance runner on race day, I’m pretty used to having to navigate around others with poor running etiquette.  Tutu runners jogging arm in arm who corralled themselves ahead of where they should have been, mid-race mid-course instagramers and tweeters, walkers on the left, and the shoelace tiers who dead stop in the middle of the course with NO VERBAL WARNING.  Houston?  You had no problems!  Congratulations for hosting a race that attracts people who are more interested in running than marathoning through a town dressed as a condom or some such nonsense while live tweeting photos of themselves with spectators at every mile marker.

The three of us ran a relatively quiet race aside from the beef spotting, momentary outbursts of song, and my half mile check in’s with Casey.  “How we doing Casey?  You okay?”  When she said nothing, I knew she was fine; when she said she had a side stitch or the like, I knew she was surviving; and when she answered with “good…good…” I figured she was hating me for convincing her to do this.  I know her code.  I mostly got silence and a nod, so I knew things were going really well.  Then I got quite a few good’s in a row so I started to get a little concerned.  And that’s when the hip flexor talk started… a very dangerous game.

If you’ve given birth without a c-section, your hip flexors are a constant problem.  Even sleeping with your hips stacked incorrectly can lead to a miserable day, so when three moms start checking in with their hip flexors at the midpoint of a half marathon things can get dicey.

Luckily, we were due for a pick me up at mile 9!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yes, sir. Your Mommy is insanely fast!

At just the right time we heard a happy little voice… “Go Mommy!  Go Miss Jenn!”  Casey’s son and parents were there to cheer her to through the end of her first distance race- which for me is always tear inducing.  There is nothing that can motivate me the way that my child can and knowing the impact her love has on my well being makes me feel warm and fuzzy anytime I see a kiddo cheering on a parent at a race.  I can still remember vividly how sad I was on the marathon leg of last year’s Goofy each time I passed a point where I just might have seen my little one but she wasn’t there.  Main Street Magic Kingdom?  No.  Polynesian Resort? No.  And I remember even more clearly how overwhelmed with happiness I was when I rounded the bend into Epcot World Showcase at mile 25 and I heard an unexpected, exuberant “Mama… How is your run!?!”  So when we passed Casey’s son I may or may not have shed a tear… and picked up the pace just a bit.

By mile 10 our group seemed steady once again so  I made the mistake of mentally checking in with myself to see how I was holding up with my lack of of training and I realized that my IT bands had quickly trumped my hip flexor pain.  It’s something I should have expected because for me under training = immediate IT band problems.  I decided to hyper obsess about our pace to take my mind off of it, but I needed an outside push.

As we reentered downtown at mile 12, Rachel stared inquiring about where we were in terms of her goal time.  I reported that we had been running slightly slower than our actual pace because I knew what would happen and that it would give me the push I was looking for that everyone else could totally handle- Rachel instinctively picked up our pace with her PR in question.

And just like that I wasn’t leading anymore, thankful to pass off motivation duties to a friend.  When my watch rolled over to 12.5 miles, I let everyone know and all of a sudden we were pulling 8:38 per mile.  Then, for some stupid reason, I let them know when we were 2/10ths of a mile out (as though it is some important milestone) and Casey took off.

Awesome.

The choice at this point was chase the fastest white American female sprinter in history for .2 miles or miss the opportunity to cross the finish with my two dearest friends.  She knew which one I would choose, because she wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.  We worked our way through an insanely narrow finisher’s chute, weaving our way to the finish through a difficult to navigate maze of slowing runners.  Casey was all smiles and Rachel looked happy but still hadn’t realized her finish time.  2:19:12.

We made our way into the reunion area to find mine and Casey’s husbands who had finished long before us (1:23:27 and 1:28:50 respectively) and to wait for Derek to cross the finish as well.  Everyone felt good.  No injuries.  And my new sports bra was still feeling amazing.  You can’t ask for much more than that!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

And I’ve received a gentle reminder of why we continually train in the form of a slightly achey IT Band.

Excuses are uncomfortable.  Continual effort feels so much better in the end.

Hooray for the return of race season!

Aramoco Houston Half Marathon

Race/Course Highlights:

  • The corrals are organized and efficient.
  • Water stops were well staffed with friendly volunteers.
  • Great race etiquette from the majority of runners.
  • Shady course.
  • Finishing beside Discovery Green is a lovely ending.
  • Well organized post race and reunion area.
  • Well known race with well know elites- a great dose of inspiration!

Race/Course Challenges:

  • Several water stops at course narrows leading to excessive bottlenecks.
  • The pavement is harder here than elsewhere.  (All six of us felt this way- there is no way we are all crazy.)  Plan your footwear accordingly.
  • Volunteers at most mile markers were shouting out “pace times” in an attempt to be helpful… but those paces only hold true for those who started with the gun.  While this isn’t a problem for people with a pace group or using a watch, it could be very misleading and discouraging for novice runners.
  • Quite a few stretches of course with uneven pavement and potholes.
  • The finish line chute is WAY to narrow for runners who come in at the median finish time- it felt a little unsafe trying to maneuver around those who had slowed down.

Following the Leader

17 Jan

Following the Leader- My first run back after a break; Go Running, Mama!

Sunday I’ll run my first race for the year- 13.1 miles through the flat streets of Houston.  In my short time as a runner, this is the longest I’ve gone without running an organized race.  It’s also the least I’ve ever trained for a race.  It’s incredibly disappointing.

It’s disappointing because I’ve basically nullified all of my progress from last year.  It’s even more disappointing because I know that, despite all the challenges, I could have just gotten up one day and said “screw it, I’m doing this for me again.  Now.” But I didn’t.  It’s most disappointing because I encouraged two of my good friends- Rachel and Casey- to run this one with me, confidently assuring them that I would get them through the entire race.

When we put our names in the lottery for Houston in May, I was on a major training binge and doing fabulously.  They both expressed concern that they would hold me back on such a flat, fast course.  Over and over I heard “just run ahead if you need to” and over and over I assured my friends that I would run with them and encourage them the entire way.  That I would sing songs or tell jokes.  That I would keep a slower pace if needed.  That I would pee my pants instead of stopping at a porta potty so that we didn’t run a step apart.

Each time they said it, I know they knew it was pointless.  I would never take off on my own.  I wanted to be there for Rachel’s inevitable PR and the first time Casey crossed the finish line of a half.  But they would say it anyways.  And I knew that they meant it just as much as they knew I would never do it.

Here we are two days before the race and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they are both now better trained for this race than me.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be the one holding everybody back.

And that feeling sucks.

Rachel has drastically improved as a runner and ran her second half in December pacing a friend at a much slower pace.  I know she would like to put her training to good use at this race.

Casey, despite her insistence that she is slow and undertrained, paced the end of my PR half last year like it was no biggie after running a 5k… and is “undertrained” enough that she ran 10 miles last weekend (which I’m pretty sure is a reverse taper)… and, oh yeah, holds arguably the fastest 100 meter time for a white American female ever (thank you, internets).  So no big deal at all there.

So on Sunday I’ll tell them to just run ahead of me if they need to.

And I’ll mean it too.  But I already know that those words will be wasted words.

They aren’t going to leave me.

They are going to run with me and encourage me the entire way.

They are going to sing songs or tell jokes.

They are going to run a slower pace for me.

And they’ll probably pee their pants with me just so we don’t have to stop running.

But they wont leave me.  No matter how many times I say it.

All three of us are teachers, moms, and runners- it’s a trifecta of humanity that breeds a Soldier’s Creed mentality.  No one is getting left behind.

Until the final stretch that is.

Because Casey is going to smoke us on that last 100 meters.

I’m looking forward to it.

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!

Top 13 in 2013

2 Jan My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

This blog has been a new adventure for me and, even though it only covered the second half of the year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at my 13 most popular posts of 2013.

It’s been a lot of fun sharing, and I’m excited about another year with y’all!

Top 13 posts in 2013- Go Running, Mama!

13. Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick Me Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors (September)- Forgetting water during a high altitude half marathon, finding out I had mono, and the smoothies that got me through the ordeal!

12. Carrot Top Tacos (July)- Spiced carrots and beans with carrot top chimichurri.  Never, ever waste your carrot tops again.

11. Maple Bacon Biscuits (September)-  Maple.  Bacon. Biscuit.  Trifecta.

10. Gifts from the Heart: Apple Cinnamon Ornaments (December)- An ultra non-toxic clay that makes heavenly scented ornaments or an amazing material for sensory play.

9.  #FirstontheFirst Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Penuche Frosting (October)- We were supposed to make candy, but I cheated and frosted a very yummy cake with this praline-esque frosting.

8. #FirstontheFirst Gateau Larsson (September)- My Scandinavian twist on a traditional Basque dessert.

7.  Gifts from the Heart: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments (December)- These smooth ornaments are an inexpensive (and toddler friendly) alternative to a trip to a ceramics studio.

6. Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta (July)- A probiotic packed easy meal.

5. Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars (August)- Lunchbox snacks don’t get much healthier.

4. Meeska… Mooska… Mouseka Cakes: Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties (August)- Healthy food tastes even better in Mickey Mouse form.

3. #FirstontheFirst Candy Canes for Cheaters (December)- Once again, we were supposed to make candy.  And I didn’t.  But I think you’ll forgive me when you taste these cookies.

2. Frosty the Cheese Man: Snowman Cheese Ball with Hand Cut Tortilla Chips (December)- The most adorable, toddler friendly appetizer you’ll ever bring to a gathering.

1. Gifts from the Heart: Homemade Ornaments– Salt dough ornaments are a classic go-to holiday activity.

Looking for even more fun?  Here are my five favorite posts you may have missed this year…

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

Breaking Bread and Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

24 Sep Go Running, Mama: Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “The best parents are those without kids” right? Man is that ever true! I’m not meaning it is a catty way here- I’m sure every parent can rattle off a dozen instances that a well meaning childless friend has yammered on in platitudes about how to raise the ideal, well adjusted child- and instead am thinking of all the ways I set myself up for parenting failures, disappointments and otherwise mega-frazzled moments by constructing rigid rules based on what “all the experts and research say” makes the best kid.

By now I’ve learned that the “best kid” is a well adjusted child with a mom who isn’t totally freaking out about how every little detail might derail her future trajectory to multilingual, violin playing, eco-sensitive rocket scientist success.  There is nothing more contagious than stress and anxiety, but I had my share of early parenting moments where I was thinking micro instead of macro.

For starters- We were a “cloth diaper or die” family. Honestly it wasn’t too much extra work in our everyday lives since I’m a stay at home mom, but it did make traveling tough. I was still at a point where I couldn’t allow myself to move away from not cloth diapering for a brief moment in time. It’s what is best for my child. I kept fretting. It’s what’s best for the environment. For some reason, I was convinced that using a disposable diaper would condemn me to early parenting failure. I would be a quitter.

And the last thing a hyper-hormonal, post partum woman needs is to feel like a quitter.

So when we moved from Chicago to Austin and the washer and dryer didn’t arrive for over a week, I insisted on hand washing and line drying all of our diapers while caring for an infant. I nearly lost my mind. More importantly, I think I also nearly drove my husband out of his. Boxes to unpack, damaged items to catalogue, 110 degree temperatures, and a crazy woman greeting him at the end of each day wearing a baby in a carrier and silently weeping over the fact that the diapers weren’t soft enough when they line dried. In reality, it probably wasn’t as bad as I’m picturing… but then again maybe it was.

It didn’t matter. I couldn’t give myself a break or cut myself some slack. I wasn’t ready for that yet. I wasn’t confident enough in my mothering abilities to realize that giving myself the flexibility to make changes in my style and unrealistic expectations wasn’t going to ruin my child. But time progressed… and I learned to relax. We took a few vacations during which I allowed myself to use disposable diapers. When Baby Bird moved up to trainers and the cloth ones we purchased were too big for her little thigh, I allowed myself to switch to disposables. Now she would fit into cloth trainers, but I’ve kept her in Honest Company training pants (which makes me feel less bad about my cloth diaper divorce) because I’m okay with not having to do the extra load of laundry.

Okay… so I could be swayed on types of diapers, but there was no way I was going to fold on my next parenting ideal- facilitating Baby Bird growing up in a world devoid of pink washing.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread- Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Growing up without gender biases ROCKS!

When we found out we were having a girl, I declared that we would remain gender neutral and not impose traditional roles and gender expectations. Nothing pink… nothing rhinestone… nothing princess… which worked for awhile. We were even able to manage a very gender neutral “SXSW” themed first birthday. Shortly after said birthday Baby Bird’s independent personality arrived which, as it turns out, is pink with sparkles and a tiara on top.  Eeek!

Thankfully this wasn’t my first go round with allowing myself flexibility on my staunchly decided upon parenting methods, and I quickly realized that allowing Baby Bird the opportunity to be who she wanted to be from day to day was far better and wiser than the alternative- denying her personality in the name of keeping pink zebra light up shoes away from a formative little girl.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread- Cheddar Drop Biscuits

When Baby Bird has her say in celebration terms…

And her preferred footwear is still sneakers- pink… but sneakers none the less.  Because she loved to run and jump and dig and build and poke things with sticks.  And even though this year’s Halloween costume wish list reads like the cast of a Disney Princess movie, she asked to be “a runner like Daddy” for Halloween last year.

Go Running, Mama: Breaking Bread and Cheddar Drop Biscuits

We were also a screen free family. When we moved into our home, there was no television. Well… there was a television that was only hooked up to a computer or antenna for Olympics or similar sporting events. I was determined that Baby Bird would grow up with an authentically Waldorf early childhood. When we purchased her an Innotab for a flight, I felt phenomenally guilty. When I learned that she could navigate my iPhone just from watching me and select the music she preferred I was distraught- obviously I relied too much on technology.

One day when she wasn’t feeling well and I had a mountain of email and product review blogging to catch up on, I snuggled Baby Bird on my lap, opened two separate windows on the monitor and let her watch an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. That day she fell in love with Mickey Mouse and learned to count to twelve… from a television program. I was simultaneously horrified, aggravated, and relieved.  I little bit of the right kind of screen time wasn’t going to ruin my child.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread and Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Baby Bird meets her hero

After that, the iPhone wasn’t off limits all the time.  iPads weren’t evil.  Computers are positive tools.  And television? I allowed Baby Bird to watch a program here or there. Her brain didn’t rot. She didn’t become commercially dependent, media obsessed, inactive, or uncreative.

Though we didn’t go all in and subscribe to cable or satellite, we plugged the television back in and bought a Roku box. It hasn’t kept us from engaging in activities as a family. Every meal isn’t spent glued to a program. We are still happy, healthy people. We break bread together in a civilized manner.

And the hubs and I aren’t above binge watching a series every now and then when Baby Bird is otherwise disposed… which is how we became Breaking Bad devotees. And how we ended up glued to our television at 6 am on Monday morning watching “Granite Slate”- because we can’t watch it live without cable, so we had to wait until the moment it was available on Amazon Prime the next morning. So… I’d call that pretty darn devoted for “screen free” folks.

Devoted enough that when Baby Bird sees the series promo photos pop up in the corner of Amazon Prime each time we open it she will exclaim “That’s Breaking Bread!”

Yes, Baby Bird… yes. That is Breaking Bread.

I’m not going to correct her. I’d far prefer she think I’m watching a show about eating meals together than a show about meth.

In the end, that’s just good parenting, right?

And below? A gratuitous drop biscuit recipe. Because a post about “Breaking Bread” requires the world’s easiest- and tastiest- carbohydrate option.

If Heisenberg wrote a drop biscuit recipe, this would be it.

Go Running, Mama: Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp traditional Herbes de Provence (excluding the lavander often included in Americanized versions)
  • 3 tbs palm shortening
  • 4 tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes + more for to brish baked biscuits
  • 1 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 c whole milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pulse dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add the shortening and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter forms pea sized chunks.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in cheese and milk and mix until well combined taking care not to overwork the dough.

Drop scant 1/4 cup portions onto a baking sheet lined in parchment. Bake 13-17 minutes, until golden.

If desired, melt 2 tbs butter and brush tops of baked biscuits with a pastry brush.

Makes a dozen biscuits.

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!

Relax, Mama: Sun, Run & Fun

29 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Run, Sun, Fun during family vacations

It’s summer.

It feels like summer outside, but it doesn’t feel like summer in my mind.

Does that make sense?  It probably makes sense to most moms.

I started the summer with a sizable list of things I wanted to accomplish, and the list has grown instead of receding.  Not only are the to-do’s piling up, but I feel like I haven’t managed to squeeze in any of the fun summery things that make me love Austin oh-so-much.

*sigh*

During summer weekdays, the Baby Bird and I have only managed to make it to the pool once, Deep Eddy once, and Barton Springs once.  We haven’t made it to Art Park at all this summer.  We’ve squeezed in a bare minimum of green market visits.  We’ve yet to make it to visit the dairy goats to see “other mama’s who make milky.” (Oh yeah, I’m still nursing a toddler.  I may have neglected to mention that previously.)

It’s possible that my little scheduling blip while I had surgery several weeks ago is partially to blame.  It’s also possible that I’m learning to let go of all my highly idealized view of immersing my daughter in every experience under the sun to ensure she has the “best childhood possible” and instead am living in the moment with her more and more each day.  If we don’t get to take a “zoom zoom bus” ride through downtown to go see the “Texas Castle” (Capital building) and I don’t manage to have pictures of this fantastical journey to someday artfully arrange in her baby book we will all survive.  After all, you don’t have to have plans to make memories.

Relaaaaaax, Mama.

It’s a lesson both Baby Bird and the hubs are working hard to drive home for me which is good… because I’m a planner over-planner.

Sometimes my type-A tendencies can beat my hippie lala leanings into submission.

The hubs and I had a beautiful, organic, dog-friendly, earth-friendly, locally sourced wedding.  I planned it.  And the entire wedding party may have had color-coded schedules telling them where to be by the minute for three whole days.  And some of the guys still drank too much (that was NOT on the schedule) and were late to the rehearsal… and the wedding.  Guess what, Mama (See how I’m talking to myself here!?)? It didn’t detract from the experience or the memories at all.

Go Running, Mama- Sun, Run & Fun

When Baby Bird turned two I decided to scale back from the soiree I threw for her first birthday and just have a little play date lunch party at home. I made individual sized pizza crusts in the shape of Mickey silhouettes in that each child could customize for lunch (you know… totally laid back), created a craft, and made four dozen Mickey silhouette cookies iced in plain-white so that kiddos could decorate their own cookie with food markers. For an hour and a half long lunch party.  For two year olds.  The kiddos slapped together pizzas, ravenously gulped down Mickey faces, and then had playtime free for all.  Not a single cookie was decorated by a toddler.  No one left with their craft.  Guess what, Mama (reminder to me, once more)? It was fabulously fun and the Baby Bird still talks about it.

Go Running, Mama- Sun, Run & Fun

Even when we visited Walt Disney World for Marathon Weekend- a place where hyper planning with a toddler in tow makes you a genius instead of a nuisance- I managed to go a bit overboard with excel files, itineraries, and an ADR schedule truly unrivaled in quality and value (How do I know, you ask?  I created a spreadsheet, studied menus and costs, and basically became a WDW ADR actuary.  Is that a thing?  It should totally be a thing!).  And though the memories created by my countless hours of planning are priceless, I’ve come to realize that the little one would have been just as happy waving at characters in passing and the parking herself on a curb near the castle to spend the day watching stage shows and passing parades.  And those memories would have been just as magical (although not nearly as tasty and value-packed).

Go Running, Mama- Sun, Run & Fun

I’m letting go of the schedule reins just a bit.  I promise.

Thankfully, the people I love most give me little pauses here and there that help me remember how fabulous life can be when we get to enjoy just being.  The past weekend, my little fam got the chance to join my parents at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort for a mini-vacation… and a chance to refocus on such moments.

Having grandparents with us also gave us the added bonus of couple time without having to take a “couple” trip- we could hang out withe Baby Bird but also spend time on our own while the little one napped or needed quiet time.

I, of course, prepared for the weekend by creating a mental checklist of everything I wanted to do while there- run such-and-such distance at such-and-such pace each day, workout early each morning, study my French, menu plan for our big vacation trip, menu plan for the next few weeks……….

Go Running, Mama!- Run, Sun, Fun during family vacations

What actually took place on vacation strayed from my list just a bit.  I didn’t menu plan.  At all.

I didn’t study a single French term.  Or even read.

I didn’t write.

I didn’t even run all of my runs the way they were set on my training plan.

Go Running, Mama!

I did run though.

I ran once once treadmill (Yuck! I had forgotten how much I hate treadmills!) because of the temperature and once with my husband (HUGE luxury we don’t frequently get with a toddler at home). We also enjoyed the opportunity to work out in a gym each day while grandparents played with Baby Bird on the beach at the pool.

Beyond that, I spent a good deal of time enjoying the company of my daughter and husband in the sun (which for me means frequent layers of SPF 70 , a sunhat, a nice shady spot given my Melanoma situation.)  I closed out the weekend blissfully slowed down.

Go Running, Mama!- Run, Sun, Fun during family vacations

Perfect timing too, because this week is a “dead” week for us.  No playgroup, no dance camp, no parties to plan- just time with the Baby Bird!  Normally it’s the type of week where I would be inspired to dust off the list of things we haven’t accomplished yet this summer, but thanks to my weekend reminder of the beauty of each moment I’m planning for our week off to be a bit different.

We aren’t going to be held hostage by anything- today that means Baby Bird is building castles around her beagles and sporting pink training panties, I’m fitting in exercises amidst spontaneous activities,  and I’ll be running in the evening instead of the morning.

Tomorrow?  Who knows.

All I know is that it should be glorious.

And memorable.

I’m planning on it 😉

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.