Tag Archives: running buddy

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?

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.


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.

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.



  • 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 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!


  • 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!

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.

Maple Bacon Biscuits

12 Sep Go Running, Mama!: Maple Bacon Biscuits

Hi, my name is Jenn and I’m about to make your weekend breakfast awesome. Legitimately awesome. Objectively awesome.

Maybe not healthy… but awesome.

Around here, weekends are about the long run. Which also means Sundays are about the equally important “post long run breakfast.” Usually that means pancakes, but that is a serious undertaking in our household because I strongly believe the only classic pancakes worth making are those with stiffly beaten egg whites incorporated throughout which means that they are only good straight off the skillet- no pre-making, early prepping, or-gasp- freezing excess for the next weekend allowed… because that would make pancakes with beaten egg whites just terrible. Flat, mealy, gritty….Ick! And this makes me sad because pre-making, early prepping, and freezing leftovers for easy breakfasts later in the week are basically the first three bullet points on my Mommy Kitchen Creed.

Last weekend I had biscuits on the brain after receiving a heavy dose of undeserved praise the previous night for the ultra easy cheddar biscuits I toted to accompany minestrone soup at our best-running-family-freinds’ house along with some thick cut apple cinnamon smoked bacon that was a prime candidate for post long run breakfast. Bacon biscuits and scrambled eggs seemed like an obvious conclusion to reach. It took about thiry seconds to find a recipe on Joy the Baker for Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuits that was an ideal jumping off point. And Joy was onto something that makes me really happy- the combo of baconiness and sweetness.

Yep, I’m one of those cliche individuals who loves the idea of bacon and sweets… as an occasional treat, of course I love the Vogues Bacon Chocolate bar. At the donut shop, I opt for a maple bacon donut. One of my running teams has a “bacon challenge” during marathons (Endurance Sports Connection/Run Disney so I can Eat Disney shout-out!). I own both smoked bacon sugar and maple salt. Because those things make sense together. They are good- cliches, trends, and faux hipness aside.

Sweet/salty combinations are undeniably amazing. The king and queen of this regal pairing? Bacon and maple syrup.

Okay, so bacon and maple syrup it is.

I played around with the inspiration recipe just a bit in order to form my own perfect marriage of maple and bacon in biscuit. And, as I said before, it’s awesome.

Please run before you eat these- because chances are you aren’t stopping with just one!

Go Running, Mama!: Maple Bacon Biscuits

Maple Bacon Biscuits

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 tbs brown sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • butcher’s cut pepper (very coarsely ground)
  • 3/4 c cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c + 1/2 c grade B maple syrup
  • 3/4 c buttermilk

Directions: Preheat oven to 370 degrees F.

Line baking sheet with foil and spread slices of bacon into a single layer. Sprinkle with pepper and bake until crisp, 15-17 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

Remove to layered paper towels to cool and drain. When cool to the touch, chop into medium chunks and set aside.

Add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and a generous 1/2 tsp butcher’s cut pepper to the bowl on a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until flour mixture resembles a very coarse meal and butter has broken into pea-sized chunks. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, maple syrup, and egg. Add to four mixture and stir to incorporate, adding bacon immediately after buttermilk mixture.

Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead several times just to incorporate, being careful not to overwork dough.

Roll or at dough into 1.5 inch thickness and cut into circles using a biscuit cutter. Reshape dough to make additional biscuits with scraps, being careful not to manipulate dough to the point that the butter begins to melt (shape biscuits away from the oven!).

Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Remove biscuits from baking sheet to a cooling rack placed over parchment and drizzle each with 1/2 tsp grade B maple syrup before serving.

Makes about two dozen biscuits.

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?!


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.