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Hump Day Giveaway: Pull the Wool over Your Thighs

April 20, 2011

Get carried away by wool, like Sarah has.

If you’ve read Run Like a Mother, you know I’m a textile-snob when I work out: If it doesn’t wick, I don’t wear it. Cotton fibers haven’t touched my exercising body in nearly two decades. Heck, I even sleep in sweat-wicking jammies!

Yet, we all know the scientific formula: synthetic fibers + sweat = stink. I have a lot of running buddies but, now that I think about it, they often run slightly upwind from me. Happily, I’ve found an alternative to polyester—wool. Before you start scratching and overheating, hear me out. Several companies now make itch-free wool workout wear. One of them, Icebreaker, debuted a complete line of running duds this spring, everything from the expected—capris and tees—to the wow, really!? (sports bra and running skirt). You might recall I raved about the Rush ¾ Tight (aka “capris”) in February on here. I’ve also been getting some good miles in with the Rush Bra, a pullover bra best suited for us A- and B-cup gals. And when (if??) Portland warms up a bit, I’m going to be sporting the sassy Swift Skort.

The SS Rush Crewe (not a typo--must be Kiwi spelling, as Icebreaker is a NZ company) can be one of the tops you choose

In addition to naturally fighting odor, wool is a wonder-fabric because it keeps you warm when it’s chilly, yet somehow also keeps you cooler when temps climb. Like so many of us, I often have to switch right to mom-mode when I return from a run, which means I jockey around thekitchen for 30 or 45 minutes before I can hit the shower. Wearing the wool bra means my tatas don’t turn to ice-pups before I get a chance to change.

Wondering if wool is for you? You can win top-to-toe Icebreaker running gear—your choice of a tank or tee; tights, capris, skort, or shorts; and running socks—simply by telling us: What’s your fabric of choice to wear while running?

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P.S. From how do you dress to how ’bout this dress: the random winner of the Nuu-Muu dress is MelindaK., a triathlete (from the sounds of it), whose tagline reminds me of one of my favorite jokes about why the dog licks his…. But, wait, I diverge. Here’s what she wrote:

“Because I can!” I get asked by people all the time, why do you bike? why do you run? why swim? why tri? why not is what i asked them back….i am young, strong and able…..who doesn’t want to live life to the fullest! get out there and do it!

MelindaK, email us at run mother at gmail dot com to claim your dress–congratulations!

Two-Video Tuesday

April 19, 2011
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A bit swamped around here, work- and life-wise, so here are two inspirational videos to light a little fire under your feet.

First, a promotional one we did for ZOOMA in Austin this weekend; very AMR-ish in flavor.

Second, in case you didn’t catch the Boston Marathon yesterday, check out this 4-minute recap video of the women’s race. So hard to believe that 26.2 miles can come down to 4 measly little seconds. I love the competitive spirit and athleticism these women show, and would love to be able to run as fast as them for just one mile, just to know what it feels like.

Women’s Mantra, Women’s (Playlist) Mix

April 18, 2011

Christinas World: RLAMer Christinas besties, including Irma (blue shirt), post-13.1 race

This weekend, our ZOOMA journey started with a single step: Okay, more like a single trip. Dimity and I went to Austin, the first in the 6-race, all-women’s series we’re excitedly committed to attend this year. (Two race locales TBA.) The race is where we kicked off our book tour last year, mere days after the publication of Run Like a Mother, so it holds special meaning for us. On Friday, the evening before the race, we gave a talk dubbed, “13.1 Ways to Run Like a Mother,” which was a ton of fun (especially since Dim was working a wee wine buzz) and very well received. Off to a great start!

The great vibe continued the next day, when we met a ton of great RLAMers (hi, Christina and Anne!) and welcomed a bunch of new women into our tribe. All the post-race excitement got me jazzed to run–as did the 80+ degrees, bright sunshine weather. So after the expo I did a quick-change act in the lav and hit the trail–literally: The host resort abuts a nature preserve. I know I should have enjoyed the songbirds, but instead I listened to some favorite mellow music–the Chicks’ Running Mix (see below)–and let my mind wander.

One of the points in our 13.1 Ways talk was, “It’s never too late to find a mantra.” We told the gals about the power a few words can have on your mind–and body. How repeating a word or phrase can help you smooth out a rough patch in a run. How it can invigorate and inspire you. Thinking about the talk as I ran, my mind drifted to all the great women we’d met in our brief time inTexas. Before I knew it, their names became like mantras for me, powering me up the dusty hills. “Irma, Irma, Irma,” (pronounced “air-muh”), one of Christina’s awesome besties. “Arlyne, Arlyne, Arlyne,” a friendly woman who recognized us from our “Marathon Moms” feature in the July 2008 Runner’s World. “Deanna, Deanna, Deanna,” one of three Dimity-tall sisters (and one shorter sister-in-law) who were doing this ZOOMA together for a second time.

As Sarah McLachlan and ADELE serenaded me, despite running solo, I felt surrounded by a sisterhood of runners.

Chicks’ Running Mix
This playlist is in no particular order. At about 100 minutes, it’s more-than-long-enough for an everyday run when I play it on “shuffle” mode.

Sarah McLachlan, looking as happy and friendly as all the running gals we met at ZOOMA race

“Beauty in the World”: Macy Gray
“Freeway”: Aimee Mann
“New Soul”: Yael Naim
“Silence”: Delerium & Sarah McLachlan
“White Flag”: Dido
“No Matter What”: Kerrie Roberts
“Possession”: Sarah McLachlan
“Silent House”: Dixie Chicks
“Glitter in the Air”: Pink
“If I Didn’t Know Any Better”: Alison Krauss & Union Station
“Car Wheels on aGravel Road”: Lucinda Williams
“Only Love”: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
“Gone Gone Gone”: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
“Voices Carry”: Aimee Mann
“When She Loved Me”: Sarah McLachlan
“A Sorta Fairytale”: Tori Amos
“Set Fire to the Rain”: ADELE
“New Beginning”: Tracy Chapman
“Beautiful”: Christina Aguilera
“Already Gone”: Kelly Clarkson
“Heaven Can Wait”: Charlotte Gainsbourg
“King of Anything”: Sara Bareilles
“Dreams”: Brandi Carlile
“Pocketful of Sunshine”: Natasha Betingfield
“Need You Now”: Lady Antebellum

Follow This Mother!

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.