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April 14, 2011

Warrior parents: Ashley and her husband, Andrew, with the kiddos after a Warrior Dash

One of the 26,000+ runners lining up on the start line of the venerable Boston Marathon next Monday, Ashley Shaddy, a 35-year-old mother of two, stands out because of her bright smile, generous spirit, strong faith, and warm friendliness. I’ve been fortunate enough to stand at a few start lines with her, and she (along with an awesome group of running moms in Vancouver, Wash.) has been instrumental in organizing a few local events for Run Like a Mother. She’s awesome, and I can wait for her to shine on Monday on the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

Best Recent Run: After having a nasty chest infection that held on for a month right in the middle of my Boston training, I had a 20-miler on my training schedule haunting me with all kinds of self-doubt. A new, amazing running buddy of mine (Megan), who has run Boston, committed to doing 15 miles of the run with me and took me on a new “kick butt” hill route. It was such a selfless act from a friend: She had no reason to have to run THAT far and was giving up precious fuel for a race she had the next week. Her encouragement during that run was the point I got mentally back in the game for Boston. I remember coming to the top of a really hard hill and her saying, “That hill was harder than Heartbreak Hill and you just did it.” Thank you, God, for running buddies!

Boston bound: I am on a roller coaster of emotions with less than a week away from Boston–excitement, fear, anticipation, doubt (knowing I had some obstacles during my training), but mostly feeling blessed to be part of such an amazing race. A few years ago the Boston Marathon wasn’t even on my radar of adding to my running accomplishments. Honestly, I am lucky to be distracted by my “to do” list I have to get ready to leave the kiddos behind. My husband (the best cheerleader ever, even when he holds up signs asking if I pee’d myself), dad, and stepmom are coming along!!

A friend indeed: Julie–my best running buddy, my BFF. I didn’t know friends like this existed. When we became friends, we immediatelyconnected on many things and soon found out we both wanted to run our first half marathon. So we did it. Since then, life and running has brought us closer than ever. The day before we ran our first half, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Julie ran beside me that day and in the months and years to follow. Her beautiful daughter was born on the day my mom passed, which can only be one of those incredible timings God had planned. Boston will actually be the first race I have done in years without her. I look forward to our future finish lines together–running and otherwise!

Tutu-much love: Ashley (left) and Julie at start of Skirt Chaser last year!

Miles for mom: Strength: I didn’t know the true meaning of the word until I walked beside my sweet mom during her battle with cancer. In life, as with running, our finish lines are not always as we dreamed they would be. When her battle ended a few years ago, I gained new perspective and inspiration. I carry my many beautiful memories of her, her determination, her joy for life, her love, and even her stubbornness on every mile I take on. I learned I can either use a loss like this to halt me, or to grab onto the pieces of it that make me a better person, that give me inspiration and strength–and keep on RUNNING. What better way to honor such an amazing woman?

Ashley and her dad before she ran 26.2 in a BQ time

Miles with dad: I am, and forever will be, a daddy’s girl. My earliest memories of running are with my dad around our neighborhood. He has been one of my biggest fans and was running by my side when my first marathon (Seattle Rock n Roll) last year ended at mile 25 in the medic tent due to hyponatremia. I think my dad’s heart was more broken than mine, but I still knew he couldn’t have been any prouder. So a few months later, when he and my husband got to watch me cross that finish line and tell me I qualified for Boston, oh, what a moment!! [EDITOR’S NOTE: Ashley needed a 3:45:59 or better; she ran 3:43:25.] We are appropriately running the Vancouver USA half marathon together on Father’s Day.

On the way in from Hopkinton: My approach to this race is different because I feel the pressure of not truly knowing if I will ever be back on the Boston course again. I can tend to get in a zone but I really want to take it all in, even the hills: I think being a little distracted by all that is going on during this race will be well worth it. Life threw a few kinks in my training plan this time around, so I am going to take a more conservative approach to my pace. Music is certainly a motivation that I use during races, but I am planning to turn it off several times during Boston to hear the excitement of the day!

Follow this mother at:  http://inspiredmilesofamom.blogspot.com/

Ashley and me at RLAMiversary Run last week

Hump Day Giveaway: Springing Forward

April 13, 2011
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Pure + simple: spring.

I’ll spare you the picture, but my closet is a mess. I’ve got summer skirts mixed with wool sweaters mixed with yoga pants. None are in neat piles, let alone even folded well. Back in the day, I used to change over my closet seasonally, but somewhere between Ben being potty-trained and Amelia reading the Ivy + Bean series, it’s become a mash-up of all seasons, all styles.

But spring always gives me a little kick to clean out–and add to it. Who doesn’t love a new white tee (no more pit stains!); a new summer weight pair of jeans (no more sprung out knees!); a pair of shorts that show off how badass your legs are, thanks to how many miles you’ve logged?

Better yet, who doesn’t love a piece of running gear that celebrates spring and is totally cute and functional at the same time?

Spring has sprung, and it's time to dress up for your run!

Enter Nuu-Muu dresses, a company whose tagline I love:
We believe in strong girls and women.
We believe in real bodies and real friends.
We believe in trying really, really hard.
We believe in having fun along the way.

The dresses, which come in a variety of pick-me-up prints, are multifunctional: they go on a run, they go on a ride, they go into Warrior pose. Ranging in sizes from XS to XXL, they fit and flatter nearly every body, and because they don’t have any liners, you can put your choice of compression shorts or leggings, as well as your own sports bra underneath.

In honor of the sprouting daffodils and warming temps, we’re giving away a Nuu-Muu dress of your choice; you can pick the original style or a Ruu-Muu, which has a helpful back storage pocket. In order to for a chance to spruce up your closet (and with it, maybe the motivation to do some spring closet cleaning), you just have to answer this question: if you had a tagline, what would it be?

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p.s. From fun florals to basic black: the random winner of the 110% compression capris is Beth Jensen, who, like many of you, voted for the jogging stroller as the best invention for mother runners. Beth writes:

I also think the jogging stroller. There is no way I would have found time or energy to train for 3 marathons (and maintain my sanity) since becoming a mom with out it. Also, the kids love it because they know that usually runs mean a stop at the playground!

E-mail us at run mother at gmail dot com, Beth, to claim your cargo capris! Congrats!

Silencing My Little Brute Family

April 12, 2011

My kids argue like The Little Brute Family kids, but at least mine can swim and sled

As a child, one of my favorite books was The Little Brute Family by Russell Hoban (the genius, IMHO, who wrote the Frances series). It’s a witty, ultimately touching story about a snaggletooth family of little brutes (named, aptly enough, the Brutes) who, as it says on the back cover, “ate sand and gravel for porridge for breakfast and stick and stone stew for dinner. When they tried to fly kites, the kites bumped on the ground. No wonder they snarled and howled and grumbled and groaned…”

I fancy I cook more appetizing food than stick-and-stone stew and we haven’t tried flying kites yet this spring, but I swear my family is the real-life version of the Brutes–only with slightly better teeth. The snarling, howling, and groaning starts before they are fully awake: Our three children share a full-size bed by choice (so there must be some mutual love, right?!), which can get pretty crowded with stuffed animals, Pillow Pets, and miscellaneous blankets. Daphne, our 5.5-year-old girl twin, splays out in her sleep and wakes up grumpy; John, her twin, usually wakes up chipper and active. The first sounds out of their room, then, are often Daphne griping at John for shaking the bed or pulling the covers off. Then comes the arguing over who stands where while they brush their teeth, comb their hair, or stand in the shower. By the time they leapfrog down the stairs for a non-porridge breakfast, the arguing has reached a fevered pitch—and there’s me, in the kitchen making lunches post-run, trying to restore peace.

Instead, within minutes, I’m sucked into the vortex-of-volatility. If tears somehow haven’t flown upstairs, they are sure to fall during breakfast time. This morning it was John and 9-year-old Phoebe tustling over a jelly-like toy frog that sticks to the ceiling. The frog is Phoebe’s, but John “had it first.” (Geez, can you hear the echoes in space of that argument?! I still can…) Then Daphne had to turn on Phoebe, nagging her about why her big sis was wearing a shirt the kindergartner insisted was hers. And on and on it goes, reaching a crescendo for all our neighbors to hear when the kids fight like literal cats and dogs, snarling and clawing each other for preferred seats in the minivan. Is it any wonder I’ve dubbed us The Bickersons?

Happier Brutes, but still in need of orthodontia

The solution for the original Brute family came in the form of “a little wandering lost good feeling in a field of daisies” Baby Brute found one spring morning. We only have daffodils in our yard: While they smell divine and look beautiful (and the kids and I recently enjoyed a few bicker-free minutes discussing which varieties were our favorites), that flower patch doesn’t offer up any long-term solution.

But last week I found one way to quell the squabbles: have mom go mute. I lost my voice chatting to women at a race expo, then racing. Worried I wouldn’t be able to talk at the RLAMiversary event this past weekend, I imposed a day of silence on myself. It was incredibly tough—and poor Daphne worried I’d never speak again—but it made the children stop what they were doing and “listen” to me. Instead of resorting to shouting, when the kids were misbehaving, I snapped my fingers or clapped my hands to get their attention. The first few times that was enough to distract them and quiet them down. After that novelty wore off, I stepped up my game, and starting miming what I wanted them to do or what they needed to stop doing. This impromptu charades calmed the brewing storms.

At the end of The Little Brute Family, after “the little good feeling” stuck around for a year, that family “changed their name to Nice.” I’m not ready to hit my mute button for a year, but I am trying to remain above the fray and stay quieter during the inevitable conflicts. I’m curious to hear what works for you to banish the bickering.

A Human Race

April 11, 2011
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Not quite the exuberant smile I was hoping for.

I’ve been composing this post in my head all week; Grant, my husband, ran the Platte River Half Marathon this morning, and I wanted to write about being on the other side. It’s been so long since I wrangled kids and felt dizzy from looking for one specific runner on a race course, I was excited to write–and think–from a fresh perspective.

After we drop him off at the starting line this morning, I sugar up the kids with hot chocolate and shortbread cookies from Starbucks, and we head out to mile 10. We got there around 9:30, and Grant thought he’d be passing through around 10:20. So I chat with the aid station volunteers, I try to discourage Amelia from using the port-a-potty but she really has to go, and I help the kids gather sticks for a made-up game I don’t really get.

But mostly, I worry about the wind. The wind feels crazy strong to me standing still, and worst of all, it’s a headwind. Because it’s a point-to-point course, I imagine the runners battling the wind for all 13. 1 miles, and I know what kind of mood that will understandably put Grant in.

Trying to show how strong the wind was. *Really* strong.

Grant, a devotee of Run Less, Run Faster, is primed for this race. He usually runs at lunchtime, and when I ask him at the end of the day how is run was, his reply is typically something in the good/great/amazing category, and then, because I can’t resist, I ask him what his splits were. “I held 7-minute miles for a 4 mile tempo run,” he reports in a contented tone. I’m a bit jealous: Running seems to come so easily to him, but I’m mostly proud.

Back to race day. 10:15 comes, and I pull the kids over to the side of the path I’m on, and get them ready to cheer. I put my camera on sports mode, and hope I don’t miss him; he, like most of the males out there, is wearing mostly black (maybe they think it makes them more stealthy?).

10:17. 10:18. “Just two more minutes, and he should be here,” I tell the kids, who are anxious to get back to their stick project. 10:20. No sign. His “A” goal is a 1:40 finish, and his “B” is 1:50. I know 8-minute-miles land him in that range, but I’m not sure how far over 8 he can go.

10:22, 10:23, and no tall guy in black fighting the wind. Ugh.

Where is he? Finally, around 10:25, we see him off to the side of the path.

Walking.

Which is, of course, way worse than a headwind. I tell him to run for the camera, and he takes a couple steps, but is wincing in pain. His knee buckled at mile 9, and he walked from 9 to 10. “I tried to keep running,” he says, “But it just hurts too much.” He doesn’t want to walk the last 3 miles, so we pile in the car.

And even though I want to cry for him, I also realize his (smart, yet painful) decision is why we’re such a good pair. I would’ve kept running with a very screwed-up gait and likely done major damage. “I’ve got another half of my life to live,” he tells me later. “It’s not worth screwing  up my body just for one race.” Grant naturally thinks long-term, whereas I can barely think through a week. He is patient to my haste, mellow to my manic. Even though I wish I organically had his perspective, the fact that his thoughtful presence will be forever in my life makes me feel at peace.

He was obviously bummed, though, especially when he starting clicking around on his Garmin as I drive us home. I rub the back of his neck as he reads off his splits: 7:23, 7:17, 7:30…he was on pace for a 1:40, even with the crazy wind. “You ran 9 amazing miles,” I say, trying to soften the blow, but I know he’s not buying it. I wouldn’t either. I can tell he mentally replays the race all day long. “Sweetness, I was running so fast,” he says over dinner.

Instead of a nice neat ending like “hey: I can’t wait to be back racing again! it’s much easier!” there is no simple one for this unexpected entry. The plan for now is to take a break from running, let his knee heal, then ride his bike, strength train, and see where that lands him. Hopefully in a good place.

For my part, all I can say is that I’m anticipating writing that entry I thought I would write; the three of us will be back out there cheering for you, speedy guy, when you and your knee are ready.

Follow This Mother!

April 7, 2011

Adrienne and her first baby: Now this new mom (10 wks post-partum) preps for Boston Marathon

In the lead-up to April 18’s Boston Marathon , we knew we wanted to follow a few mommas running the illustrious race. When I found Adrienne Ramsey, 32, of Hingham, Mass., I knew we had to profile her: She’s run Boston several times…but this year she’ll be less than three months post-partum. Yup, you read that right: Adrienne gave birth to her first baby, Jack, on January 22. If she’s not inspiring, we’re not sure who is!

Best recent run: Because my training for the Boston Marathon started late this year, I was nervous about my 20-miler. With my running club’s support and my friend Leann as my sherpa, I ran from Ashland to Boston College. Running the course brought back happy memories of last year’s race, and it motivated me. Finishing, I realized that completing Boston was in reach and I felt gratitude for how far I have come in these ten weeks.

Oh, baby: I ran until I was 38 weeks pregnant, maintaining some fitness. Ten days after Jack was born, I ran the hardest five miles of my life.

Adrienne chugging along at 29 weeks

 After working so hard to improve my speed, at times it’s a bit frustrating as I claw my way back. Then I remind myself that Jack did not emerge into this world until after four hours of pushing, and reclaiming my running is much easier than that!

What Would Mary Do? I first met my coach, Mary, through her blog. When I realized I wanted to try to run Boston after having the baby, I asked Mary to coach me so I wouldn’t injure myself. She is my first coach in my six marathons, and the best gift I have ever given myself. With my life being so unpredictable now, I love logging into Training Peaks and seeing the orderliness and consistency of the training plan.

Where in the world…: Traveling a lot for work, I’ve run all over the world. The Eiffel Tower to Versailles race is the highlight of my running career. I happened to be in Paris for work and decided to sign up. I loved the children on the sidelines holding signs that read “Courez!” [“run”]–I felt a part of something bigger than myself.

Getting over the hurt: I became pregnant with Jack a week after running Boston last year. Many think I planned it that way, but truthfully, I didn’t think I could stay pregnant. I had miscarriages in December of 2008 and ’09, and I threw myself into Boston training after each. It was the ONLY thing that got me through two years of trying to conceive and the losses. My body had failed me, and marathon training allowed me to stop hating my body.

Can’t run without: I will only run marathons in a running skirt. My years of wearing a kilt in high school have convinced me skirts are more

Skirting the issue at last year's Boston

comfortable.

I just need to sleep: The first six weeks of Jack’s life, running was my caffeine. I have MS [multiple sclerosis] and typically need 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night to function. Clearly, my little newborn did not allow for this. However, I found I was functioning better on less sleep if I exercised. I knew the day would be better if the run was completed.

Follow this mother at: http://runninginhingham.blogspot.com/

Hump Day Giveaway: Compress Yourself

April 6, 2011
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Not coming to a store near you soon: Baby Mop Clothing. But I do like the idea.

I love new gear as much as, well, all of you, but I rarely gush about it. Warning: I’m gonna gush now. I’m not even going to do an introduction about this week’s giveaway because I just want to gush.

I got a pair of these 110% capris–or knickers, as they’re called–to test-drive a few weeks ago. Before I even put them on, I loved the idea: compression fabric–really tightly woven material that encourages healing blood flow to your muscles–that has strategically placed, large pockets over the knees, back, quadriceps, hamstrings, and lower back.

Which leads to you ask: what are those pockets for?
To that I would answer: to hold the slim sheets of ice packets that come with the capris.

So you go for a run in these capris, you come home, you slip in the ice packets over any areas that might need it, and–this is the genius part–you can go on about your multitasking life, making school lunches, helping with homework, feeding a bottle, folding the laundry. In order to properly take care of your muscles and joints, you don’t have to park yourself on the couch for 20 helpless minutes and bark orders to your kids. (“Feed me grapes! Now!”)

For moms, these cargo running capris rank up there with the sippy cup, the minivan,  macaroni and cheese, and Pull-Ups: They simply make life easier.

Capris built for the Inspector Gadgets--or mother runners--of the world.

I’ve worn them three times so far, and love how supportive they felt during my runs. Like Spanx, they kept jiggling and extra movement to a minimum. Once, I was really unmotivated to get up and run (big surprise right?), and then I thought, “Oh, but my cargo capris are clean!” I immediately got up. After each run I stuffed all the pockets with ice and did the normal a.m. routine. I noticed my knees, usually achy in the afternoon after a morning run, weren’t hurting and the rest of my lower body wasn’t quite so angry, either.

The only complaint I have about them, other than I don’t have a pair for every run, are they’re (necessarily) thick—they have two layers of compression—so I probably won’t be donning them in the summer. Then again, maybe I’ll just run with the ice packs in them…

I’ll stop my infomercial now so you can have a chance to win  a a pair of your own. All you have to do is answer this question: What do you think is the best invention for either mothers or mother runners?

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P.S. The winner of the Dansko clogs is Heidi Shepard, who takes care of her feet this way:

Being the Northeastern ‘yankee’ (as in bargain huntress, not baseball fan, I am a Red Sox fan!) that I am, I’ve tried several, inexpensive knock-offs that have worn down, out and even hurt my feet. So Dansko’s are my clog of choice. And a far too infrequent pedicure on the end of my size 10 toes is a oh so worth-it expense and joy!

Heidi: your toes (and wallet) will surely appreciate the new clogs. E-mail us at runmother at gmail dot com and we’ll get you and your size 10’s set up!

Secrets of a Successful Race

April 5, 2011

Rosy cheeks: my twin, Molly, me, and Linda Williams after the finish

For Molly and me, the Race for the Roses was dang near perfect from the weather (34 degrees and sunny at the start) to the outcome (she ran 1:56:54 and I crossed the finish line 14 seconds later). Here are the elements that cemented our strong finish (Molly’s first sub-2:00 half—and a PR by nearly 6 minutes. Woot-hoot: Give it up for Molly!):

Tunes: Our playlist was–wait as I contort to pat myself on the back–spot on. The opening song, Brendan James’ “The Lucky Ones,” set the ideal pitch for the race. The refrain, “This moment is yours,/This moment is mine,/And we’re gonna be fine,” got me a bit choked up as we scurried across the Broadway Bridge. Then, near mile 4 and about halfway up a long climb when I was doubting my ability to lead our charge, Katy Perry started singing, “Teenage Dream” in my ear. Game back on! Toward mile 12, after struggling mentally for about a mile, back-to-back Black Eyed Peas and Enrique Inglesias rekindled the fire under my feet.

Camaraderie: Molly’s pre-race excitement was infectious. By Saturday, I couldn’t remember how I ever got hopped up for a race by myself. Instead of fretting about the exertion, I simply looked forward to being by Molly’s side and helping her reach her goal. Making the race be about her did wonders for me. And along the way we bonded with a RLAM fan I first met the day before the 2010 Nike Women’s Marathon, Linda Williams. We passed her going up the long hill, but when we stopped for a GU at the top, she must have zipped past us. Lead by Linda, the three of us staged an impromptu dance party in a downtown intersection around mile 6. As I congratulated Linda on a strong race so far, she said, “I better enjoy it now as I’ll flame out by the end.” Wrong! Despite us trying to gain on her in the final 5K, she finished a near full minute ahead of me, a PR for her. (Woot-hoot: Raise your hands in the air for Linda now!!)

The Badass twins (in front of, natch, the minivan) pre-race, pre-dawn

Matching outfits: Okay, so the race had very few spectators, but the few there were loved our look! One diehard fan (perhaps a TNT volunteer?), who we passed twice during the race, yelled out, “Go, twins!” For this actual mom of twins, it got me going—and laughing. I was able to see us through her eyes: Suddenly we were, “those gals in matching outfits.” It was a label I never thought I’d wear…but it sure felt comfy. Like I could get used to it. (Watch out Rock n Roll Nashville, here come the dynamic-matching duo of Sarah and Dimity!!)

Sense of humor: One of the many reasons I love Molly is her quirky wit. My laughing muscles had been primed at the pump by some eps of “Modern Family” the night before, so Molly and I traded a few favorite scenes while waiting at the start line. (Like Cameron introducing Lily to Mitchell’s family to the strains of, “Circle of Life.” Perfection!) We kept it going during the first few miles, recounting great lines. We segued into quips about places we were passing. Me pointing at main post office and asking Molly if she needed any stamps—and her funnier retort, “No, but I need to get my passport renewed.” As we all know, jokes are 10x funnier in the moment, while exercising, than recounted later, so I’ll spare you the rest.

An inspirational message (and finisher's rose) in Molly's house

A little healthy competition: Maybe I’m projecting and getting all Type A on this one, but I sensed Molly gained confidence—and pride—by keeping up with me. It was ideal: I felt like I was setting the pace, but I rarely, if ever, felt like I was pulling her along. (Okay, maybe near mile 8.5…) Molly had run the race twice before so she was more familiar with the course, especially the final miles. I could feel myself flagging, but my tunes near mile 12 helped. Then a steady climb up a bridge on-ramp proved a little too much for me. Molly got a few steps ahead of me, and a simple, “Go for it, Mol” was all she needed to cruise up and away. I tried to catch her when it flattened out, but I ran out of time—the finish line was right around the corner. We agreed (maybe for the sake of my oversized sports ego!) that if there’d been another half-mile, I would have caught up with her. Instead she finished 14 seconds ahead of me—and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Handing over the reins

April 4, 2011
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I can't blame my awful sleep last night on a full moon, but the universe definitely asserted its pull on my run today. (Photo from Boston Globe photographer Jim Davis.)

Last night, I had a tough time falling asleep. Among the many things swirling around in my mind were two things: if–and where–I’d do my ten-mile run today and what I’d blog about tonight.

My husband was out of town this weekend, so I had hired a babysitter for two hours on Sunday morning so I could run. Problem was, my motivation level was pathetic. Not complaining about some time in the Sunshine State, but I had a vacation hangover, which stems from too much time in a cramped airplane seat, kids that are totally out of whack from a two-hour time change, way too much laundry, an empty fridge and the general malaise that sets in when something you’ve looked forward to for so long is over. Plus, lying wide awake at 11:30 last night in bed, I knew I was going to feel wiped before I even started.

But I had a new Fuel Belt to try and it was warm enough for a skirt. Nothing like some superficial motivation. I decided to do the easiest run, both mentally and physically, I could think of. Ten miles of out-and-back on the Highline Canal, a gravel path that is as flat as my chest was at age thirteen. I’d bring my wallet, just in case I, um, for whatever reason just couldn’t finish ten miles; I could end the run early and head to the grocery store. (See above: cavernous fridge.)

Babysitter came, I drove over to the Canal. Crazy weather was coming in–it was in the 80’s yesterday, and snow was coming this afternoon–and the winds were kicking up and dark clouds were moving in. I parked on a slight incline, put my key in the Fuel Belt pocket. Pushed the lock on the door. Stepped out to tie my shoes. Bent down, out of the way of the open door. Bad decision. The combination of the fierce wind and the slight incline blew the door shut. Sh*(.

So I run back to my house, which takes about 25 minutes one way. No gels, no water in my new belt, no music. Actually, not so bad, except that there’s a freakin’ 1-mile hill I have to climb to get there and the wind isn’t playing nice. So much for my flat, chill run.

I arrive home, grab another key and have to will myself back out the front door, even though I know I have to get the van.  The whole way back to it, I pretty much have to talk myself out of just quitting at the car and heading to the store, where I could get a latte and shop, kid-free, at my leisure. At a minimum, we needed eggs, chocolate chips, butter, and some jelly beans. I’ve had chocolate chip cookies on my brain for days, and what’s a trip to the store around Easter without some love from Brach’s?

The only thing that countered my argument is that I had already run for almost 60 minutes, and had 35-40 more to get to 10 miles.  If I quit, I’d have to run those six again, plus four more. And when was I going to do that? I made up a really sophisticated training schedule for the Country Music Half-Marathon, which adds one mile to my long runs every weekend, so I am up for 11 this coming weekend. Was I going to get up way early Tuesday morning to get in 10 again? Not likely.

I took a longer route back to the car, getting me there around 65 minutes. Put the new keys between my teeth as I put on the new Fuel Belt and keyed up my tunes. Then I hit the trail I meant to be on all along and ran, through the rain, for about 95 minutes total, which puts me somewhere between 9-10 miles. (I forgot to charge my Garmin: another speed bump in today’s run.)

As I pulled up to the car again, with two different keys to open it (so many options!), I was chilly, nauseous and had no runner’s-high to speak of. Still, I was psyched that I had hung in there; I feel like I gained an important ounce of mental toughness today.

More importantly, I had an a-ha moment that will hopefully ease any future sleepless nights: when I don’t have a plan, the universe usually does.

Wonder Twin Race Outfits

April 1, 2011

Molly and I are going to be *so* cute on Sunday!

We have our goal: Molly’s first sub-2 hour half-marathon. We have our playlist. And now we have our race outfits for Sunday’s Race for the Roses. Knee socks were Molly’s idea, but purple ones (to match the mom’s shoes on our Badass Mother Runner shirts) was my suggestion. I’m in love with the flowered runningskirts.com skirt (this new spring print is coming soon to the site). Molly took hers on a test run today. She’s new to a skirt with briefs, and she said she felt a tad bit concerned she was going to flash her “derriere” in the breeze. But a 20-something guy told her she was “beautiful,” so she’s raring to go now. Seriously, though, during a 3-mile tempo run on Tuesday morning, she turned to me with a big grin and said, “I’m so excited about the race–aren’t you?” Her enthusiasm is infectuous. 

If you’re running Race for the Roses, please try to plan your bib pick-up with my 11 a.m. reading. Or swing by the table at the expo–I’ll be there from after the reading (so 11:30-ish) until 3 p.m. And if you see grinning Molly and me at the start or during the race, please say hi. And for all you gals doing Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, one of several Ohio marathons, or any other race this weekend, have a blast! Let’s compare notes on Facebook next week.

Follow These Mothers!

March 31, 2011
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Kara, one of today's mothers, coming out of the swim at a triathlon waving like a crazy woman to her kids. "Yes," she says, "I think I go faster when my kids are watching."

Today’s mother duo is a special one: Kara Thom, a triathlete, and Laurie Kocanda, an ultrarunner. The Minneapolis-based pair are not just fit moms; they also are leading the crusade for moms to realize how important it is to take care of themselves so they can take care of their families. (Amen to that!) The two just co-authored a book called Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life As a Fit Mom. Read about them, and then enter below to win one of five copies of their book!

Best recent run
Laurie: Running with my husband over spring break was a real treat. In addition to parenting, we are both busy with our own work and school pursuits, which makes running dates more difficult lately. Our last long run in Walt Disney World included some mystery, sleuthing, and just a teensy bit of trespassing (shhhh!). Adventurous runs remind me of being a kid and are always at the top of my list.

Kara: Easy. My family spent the last week vacationing on Lake Travis, just north of Austin, Texas. I was able to run several times with one of my dearest friends and pre-kid training partners. Scenery and weather was great, but the company was better.

 

 

Out just two days ago, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas is hot off the presses.

Bookin’ it
Kara: I hope the women who read Hot (Sweaty) Mamas feel their fitness options expand by book’s end; that having children doesn’t limit their exercise options, but in many ways expands them. When it comes to getting fit, there isn’t a finish line. Like the laundry, it will never be done (but unlike the laundry, this is a good thing). And what I’ve enjoyed most about the journey of balancing motherhood and fitness is I know I’m showing my children fitness is a family value. When we work out it really isn’t “me time” anymore, we’re setting a good example for our children.

 

Laurie: Motherhood is both unifying and isolating. Focus your attention on the kids and you’ll be flanked by other moms who want to discuss organic baby food, kindergarten roundup, and soccer league stats; turn your attention to fitness, however, and it can get lonely. I hope our book helps moms realize that being a “good mom” doesn’t always mean putting yourself second. Self-care is essential in realizing one’s full potential—even as a mom.

Favorite way to get sweaty
Laurie: For me, there’s nothing like getting dirty with my husband… on the trails, that is. I particularly like running when it’s hot and humid in areas where I can get a glimpse of some wildlife while out on my run. In a perfect scenario, we are out exploring new terrain where there are lots of roots, rocks, and mud puddles along they way. I always finish these runs feeling more connected and enthusiastic about life in general.

Kara: This winter it’s been on the snowshoes I got for my birthday. But in general, I have no favorites. I have exercise ADD.

It’s a stretch
Laurie: After running somewhere around 40 marathons, I’m definitely not what you’d call a limber yogi. But I do love the physical and mental challenge of yoga—it’s like stretching but wrapped in beautiful paper. My original plan was to work both strength and flexibility in the yoga studio, but after four consistent weeks I added in a more demanding strength component. What can I say? I’m a runner. Patience has never been a virtue of mine!

(Cross)Fit’ing it in
Kara: I’ve been going to CrossFit when I can. Usually just once a week when the stars are aligned, but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. It’s the perfect mom workout: efficient. Plus, I discovered Olympic lifting gives me an endorphin high similar to running. I keep going because now I can pick up my kids and not hurt my back. I do rather love all the comments I get about my arms.

 

Laurie, with her girls Maggie and Cady, at the finish line of the 2009 North Face Endurance Challenge, where she ran a whopping 50 miles. She'll take on 50 again this summer.

Thought chunking
Laurie: When I’m mentally zonked and not sure I can muster a sweat, I break up my workout into chunks of time or distance and delegate mental tasks for each chunk. During a long run I dedicate each mile to a family member or friend. Swim workouts are my trip down memory lane, one lap for each year of my life. At its simplest level, I use thought chunking to triage my day and figure out what needs to get done first.

Next on race calendar
Laurie: The Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra on July 30. I’m psyched, but a little intimidated, too. It will be my second 50-mile trail run but on much more difficult terrain than my first. After that I’ll do my hometown favorite, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Kara: I have several races in my sights this summer, including the Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis and the Bloomington Iron Girl Duathlon. But I’m most eager about running a local 5K at a nearby high school. Last year I was definitely the first mom across the finish line (which was my goal) but this year, I want to see if I can’t catch one or two of those high school cross country runners!

Follow these mothers at: hotsweatymamas.com or here on facebook.

Want to win one of five copies of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas that we’re giving away? Answer this easy question: What was your best recent run?