Tuesday, September 30, 2008


This last month, I've really struggled to get my running act in gear.  Like everyone, I've had a few challenges.  Want to hear them?  Oh, yes, of course you do.

First, I moved the family to a new state.  And I mean that literally.  Since my husband was working crazy hours, I pulled off a one-woman show packing nearly the entire house, single-handedly loading the ABF truck.....and then upon arriving, unloading and unpacking.  

Second, all previous running experience had been in flat terrain.  I think I moved to the Alps, by mistake.  Every workout seems like a hill workout.

Third, I went from knowing 75% of people out my hometown trail, to not knowing anyone.  Luckily, I know this great website to hook me up with some running partners, but my call to arms legs has yielded zero running buddies.  I have faith.  Hey - if you're in Austin, looking for a Sunday morning running partner, join my new group.

But, I've been here 6 weeks now and things are turning around.  Thanks to a Meetup.com mom's group, I found one daytime running partner who has shown me trails that gently roll up and down rather than the others where I need crampons & harnesses.  She, however, presents a new challenge: I swear she has roller skates on.  I love it though - I'm moving faster than I ever thought I could.

Finally, this week, the locals felt like they could finally let me in on a little secret about this amazing town.  Turns out, not only is it the "Live Music Capital," it's ranks the "Worst City for Allergies," too!   Didn't know I had allergies until recently.  Locals just looked at my puffy eyes and hacking green phlegm and simply chuckled "You must be new around here."

But - come Hell or Highly Swollen Glands, I am a runnin'.  I'm a running and a running and a running.  And if I survive then next 4 days, then I'll survive the Army 10 Miler.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trust the Process

Has anybody seen Pink's new video?

This is really a confession: I haven't been giving everything my all. I've been lazy. But I'm giving it a push-ungh-you know, the kind of push you give when you are determined to pass the runner in front of you, the kind of push you give when you are determined to cross the finish line at full speed. The book I'm writing, the padding around my waist and belly, I'm sick of not getting it done.

I'm rocking some jeans I couldn't get into two months ago (because of the vegan thing, because I'm adding time and mileage to my runs) and the book is becoming something more beautiful than I could have imagined (because I'm allowing it to evolve rather than forcing it to become what I think it should be).

My new mantra: Trust the process.

Tell me about your everyday 'ungh's.

Fall Frenzy

It has been forever since I've blogged. I'm hoping I'm not the only mom here who is feeling the frazzled effects of September and all it brings. The start of a new school year is always a hectic time but this year it seems I've been running around like a crazy person more than 'normal'. I've now got two kids in elementary school - my youngest now in kindergarten and my oldest in 3rd grade - which is great but brings along a routine totally new to me. Feed the kindergartner lunch at 10:30? That alone is a strange thing for both of us to get used to. Also this year, both boys are involved in sports. I have a very crazy (and I must say time consuming) baseball schedule for my older son and a soccer schedule for my youngest taped to the fridge. Oh, then there is the homework that seems to have doubled in size from second to third grade and I think they are 'easing' us into it. Then there is the running. I have a half marathon to run in two and a half weeks. Must fit those miles in! Nothing like an extra bit of stress to get you through the day. Fortunately, the running helps keep my head (somewhat) clear. Getting out there on the trail helps me organize all my thoughts and mental 'to-do list'. Until I'm done...then it all comes rushing back at me and that old feeling of panic sets in. Hope you all are enjoying your September!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Illusion of Choice

Back to my blog's original mission: how to get your kids to sit in the jogging stroller! Dealing with children and adults alike, the most persuasive of people understand that you have to give the illusion of choice. Make them come to believe it was their idea all along. The key factor is only giving choices with outcomes that you are happy with.
Imagine! I sometimes meet some resistance from my 2-year-old when we are loading up the stroller for a run. I offer, "Spencer, do you want the big streets or little streets?" He answers, "Big streets!" Do you want to bring Goldfish or Cheerios? OK, we're off.
Now, the most likely pitfall is that your child will change his or her mind. Don't show a minute's hesitation. Be firm. No changing.
What other choices do your kids like to make for themselves?

Good Morning

It's 6:15 am.  I'm waiting for the coffee that I prepped last night to brew.  My house doesn't usually wake up for another hour and a half or so, but today is Sunday: my long, slow run day.

It's my ultimate "Me time".  This morning it's 12 miles listening to my feet plod down the street.   I hate the first 2 minutes of waking up, but then my mind is ready to shuffle out the door.  All my stuff is laid out, all I have to do is finish my coffee and put it on.

By mile 6 my head will come up with brilliant things to write on here.  Too bad I'll forget them by mile 10.

One last sip.  Bye.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Case You Need Some Inspiration:

Check out the blog of 29 year old Triathlete, Rebecca. She just completed the Duke 1/2 Ironman, coming in 2nd in her age with the AMAZING time of 5 hours 21 minutes, a personal best even.
Cool, huh?
Did I mention she gave birth to her daughter in January 2008?

A race like that is pretty time consuming. But she has some great posts describing how she squeezes sessions in.

"...if I need to do a run longer than 30min, I do the first part outside and once I get home I put her down for a nap and then hop on the treadmill with the baby monitor."
"I start my ride during her first nap of the day. Once she wakes up, she starts her own session in the Jumperoo which sits next to me in the garage while I bike. Her Jumperoo tolerance has decreased from 40min to 20min so most of my rides are only about an hour long. I did go longer today though and got 1hr 27min. My trick was to haul the Pack 'n Play out to the garage so she played in that for about 20 mins. It helps that I have playlists on YouTube of all her favorite kid music such as Laurie Berkner and the theme to WonderPets."

Anyhow, I dig this Ironmanmom.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Texas mamas

Texas mamas - how are you holding up?  I'm worried about you and the uninvited guest you've had recently.

Mind Over Hills

The October 2008 Runner's World Magazine ranks "The greatest, most daunting hills in U.S. races". I can't find it on their web page so I will list them for you:

1. Heartbreak Hill, Boston Marathon (Boston, MA)
2. Hayes Street Hill, Bay to Breakers 12K (San Francisco, CA)
3. Queensboro Bridge, NYC Marathon (New York, NY)
4. Doomsday Hill, Lilac Bloomsday 12K (Spokane, WA)
5. Mt. Washington Auto Road, Mt. Washington Road Race (Gorham, NH)
6. Cardiac Hill, Peachtree 10K (Atlanta, GA)
7. Hospital Hill, Hospital Hill Half-Marathon (Kansas City, MO)
8. Gallows Lane, Litchfield Hills Road Race (Litchfield, CT)
9. Diamond Head Avenue, Honolulu Marathon (Honolulu, HI)
10. Hurricane Point, Big Sur Internat'l Marathon (Big Sur, CA)

Whoa! Have you been to Mt. Washington? That is not even on the same scale as these other hills! I understand that there is a big mental component to "daunting" beyond simple elevation gain or percent grade, but only #5? Really? Admittedly, I've never had to run up Heartbreak Hill at mile 20, but my CAR could barely DRIVE up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. (Side note: NH's Presidential Range is where I got engaged.) So that is almost 8 miles, rising 4,650 feet. Mt. Washington averages 12% grade vs only 4.5% for Heartbreak Hill (less than 90 foot elevation gain over 0.37 miles).

I've run over Diamond Head Ave (#9) many times both with and without my jogging stroller too and that it ranks a measly 4 places after Mt. Washington also baffles me. It just isn't that hard. In the marathon, it is dark the first time you go over, so that barely counts. Perhaps that I have run over it so many times with Maddie in the stroller, makes the races over it that much easier. At least I was by myself!

So run big hills with your jogging stroller! It will be much easier when you are racing later and not pushing those extra pounds on wheels! But who will hold your water?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What's the name of that book?

Runningfor3's recent post has gotten the little hamster in my mind racing in crazy hamster wheel circles. I cannot find that book I read. Let's see, if I was sixteen, then the year was 1986...I found a book similar in title, but it was first published 10 years after I allegedly read it. I say allegedly because I am seriously beginning to question my own sanity.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Book Recommendations

This could also be called "How to Get Motivated to Do Crazy Hard Athletic Stuff".

You probably don't have tons of time for pleasure reading, but if you can squeeze a page in while on the elliptical machine at the gym or one chapter at a time after the kids go to bed, I highly recommend these books I've read recently:

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb
Ultimate Fitness by Gina Kolata
Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-night Runner by Dean Karnazes

None of the are how-to books. There are no training plans or diets. Just stories about athletes. I'm sure there are many others that I just can't think of at the moment.

What books you would recommend to inspire one's inner athlete?

New! Improved!

The crazy zoning in this town required that my girl change schools. She was really apprehensive about. It seems that some kids had painted a picture of bullying and rampant drug use for her. None of it true. It is an amazing school and she loves it. The best part is that she gets to ride her bike everyday to and from. Daddy took her shopping and she hooked herself up with this really great red retro Huffy with white fenders and white wall tires. It is so rockin, the only bike like it at the bike rack. She has to cross two major streets and, since the cross guards aren't yet on duty, ol' Mom here laces up and runs with her. Not much of a run as far as distance, but the speed...let me tell you, when she feels like she's behind schedule then, hooboy, Mama's got to get some game on.

Also, we have become vegetarians and are on our way to being vegans. Our original reasons were for health, but we now find ourselves settling quite nicely into this wonderful and inspiring lifestyle. Last night I made the most delicious portobello burgers ever. The daughter was not excited in the beginning. She definitely played the part of victim with relish (no pun intended--get it, I'll have a victim with relish--okay, not funny. I've been pushing my brain to put together a plot all day and this fatigue of thought is the result) I'd really like to blog about the whole vegetarian thing and I will as soon as I get this darn book that I've been working on finished. In November I'll have been working on it for four years. It's funny the route a book takes to get written. I am such a slow writer.

I'm babbling.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Home Sweet Home

If I had to list features of what I considered important in creating my ideal town, it would look something like this:
  • Hot (or at least warm - 80+ F) most of the year
  • Enough cool coffee shops/bakeries around that the staff don't say: "Wow - I've never seen anyone fill up their frequent user card in 3 days before!"
  • Townies who will say hello when you look them in the eyes
  • Bike lanes ...and riders of all shapes & sizes who actually use them
  • Drivers who allow pedestrians to cross at crosswalks and elsewhere
  • Band fliers stapled to light posts (honestly, that's a real standard for me)
  • Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
  • Creeks or rivers without a single alligator
  • Police aren't summoned when there is a guy on the main drag in drag.
  • Restaurants and other businesses in old houses (I'm a sucker for it).
  • Really creative graffiti. 
  • And of course, lots of runners.
You can see why I have settled down nicely in Austin, Texas and why my husband will need back up from the National Guard to pry me away from this incredible town when his two year grad program at UT is over.

Of course, I have been humbled.  My pace on these mountains* has gone from "slow" to "She's mighty sweaty for a walker."   I met up with a group last night for their "Slow run," for which their website description is as follows: 
You know you're a slow runner if:
* Your shih tzu is waiting for you at the next water station.
* The dust from your grandma's walker has already settled.
* Your 8GB iPod starts repeating the same songs.
* You started at 5 o'clock and the bats have already flown.

Unfortunately, their prose is more entertaining than accurate, for I ended up huffing and puffing a mile behind them, trying to signal "I'm okay! I'll catch up!" in between hills.   But that's fine.  It's good for me to try harder and check out the scenery.  Besides, without the distraction of a group, I was able to people watch and read from the flier whose playing at Stubb's tonight.

*Okay, I know locals call them "hills", but this former Miami runner begs to differ.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008