Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 Strollers

As you may know, I used to be a loyal fan of Dreamer Design strollers, but they no longer manufacture jogging strollers. I believe the company only makes handicapped equipment now. So, I really don't have any useful parts left since most of what people are looking for either broke on my stroller as well or I was unable to remove it without damaging it. Before you send a request for a part, please consider whether the broken part is one that can even be removed if it were not already broken. Many parts are riveted on, for example.

So, if this leaves you in the market for a new (or new-to-you) stroller, the options may have changed since the last time you took a look. Here are some suggestions that are available NOW:

1. Best Mixed-Terrain Running like you are training for something: Bob Ironman Stroller
2. Best Straight and Paved Road Running as fast as you can: Baby Jogger, 25th Anniversary Performance
3. Best I want one stroller to do everything: Joovy Zoom ATS Fixed Wheel Jogging Stroller
4. Best Inexpensive and good enough for real running: Schwinn Joyrider Jogger
5. Honorable Mention for Brand Loyalty: Kelty Speedster Swivel

Generally I have a strong preference for fixed wheel strollers, but in light of EIGHT years (and counting) of loyal service by my Kelty stroller, I have allowed it on the list.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I have read about the effectiveness of mantras, such as in this article in Runner’s World, but I have usually found them limited. I have even scoffed at them.

I live in the very hilly town of Cheverly, Maryland. When I first moved here in 2003, I hated (and complained about) running these relentless hills (“rolling” would be a kind way to describe them). I think the longest flat stretch is a mere half mile. I have come to embrace the gradual uphills as “almost flat.” I am now used to doing regular old runs and long-ish runs here. I figure they make me a stronger runner and racer and I take some pride in running here.

But I am now training for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20. And I have found that, this time around, it seems much easier to do my long runs from my front door instead of driving to Rock Creek Park or the Capital Crescent Trail. By “easier” I mean mentally (I don’t need to think ahead and, say, pack a bag and plan out bathroom or water stops) and temporally (I save almost an hour of round-trip driving), not physically. 

If you drew a circle around the town, it might be four miles around, so I have to do a lot of loops and zig-zags to get a long run in; the longest so far was 18 miles, and those miles included countless hills, from short and steep ones to long and more or less gradual ones and every type in between. I have the bits of my long runs planned out so that I get some recovery and that I don’t have to go up or down the very steepest hills. (I want to conserve some energy and save my knees.)

Last weekend, running a “short” long run of 13 miles, I suddenly thought, “tumble up hill.” And I felt my effort ease as I climbed the who-knows-what-number hill of the run. Today, on a standard run of 7 miles, the mantra popped into my head again, and I felt light, as if gravity were helping me uphill.  "Tumble up hill," not "fall up hill," has energy and movement and helped me keep going (but I'm rather stubborn, so I would keep going anyway).

I have learned that, instead of being “limited,” mantras are useful to me if they are specific. Generic ones such as “rock on” or “pain is temporary” would never work for me. Tumble up hill, people. (This weekend, I'll find out if this helps with my inevitably hilly 20 miler.) 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Remembering a Friend

Dedicated to seeMOMMYrun member KRISTINA from SARAH. 

During the time we spend here in this world friends enter our lives in many different ways, shapes and forms. Accidents happen every day and you never know when they will happen, how they will happen, to whom, or why. This is the story of a friend who came into my life and who left this world, as far as I'm concerned, much too soon.

 I moved to Tucson Arizona in the summer of 2004. I didn't know a soul. I started graduate school and made my first friends. On July 15, 2005 I became a mom and made some more friends. After the birth of my first child I also began my journey of getting in shape and falling in love with running. Little did I know, somewhere else in Tucson, there was a mom I would meet four years later who share the same passion.

 I welcomed my second child into the world in February of 2007. After his birth, I was still focused on staying in shape and running. I registered on a site called SeeMommyRun hoping that maybe I might find another mom in Tucson who liked to run and would want to go running together.

 On May 26, 2009 I got my first - and only - e-mail from someone off of SeeMommyRun. Her name was Kristina.

I just joined seeMOMMYrun and noticed you have been a member for a couple years. Your zip is the same as mine. Your pace is about the same as mine. I was hoping that you`re still interested in running. My son is 3 and I don`t get home until 7pm some nights. I like to take my son along, but am new to jogging with a stroller. I`d like to find someone to join me because I`m always reluctant to go out in the dark alone. Please let me know if you`d like to get together for a jog. Thanks! Kristina
 It turns out Kristina messaged a few ladies, but I was the only one that responded, and little did we know this was the beginning of a great friendship. She and I met, and continued to meet, for runs together. We'd most often meet at the paved 3-mile path at Reid Park with her son Frankie in her single jogging-stroller, and my two children in my double jogging-stroller.

 It wasn't very long after I met Kristina that I introduced her to my friends. My dear friend Jenn who I also ran, drank coffee, and had play dates with quickly and happily welcomed Kristina in on the running dates at Reid Park. I also quickly extended the invitation to Kristina to join the book club we had with a bunch of friends who were also mothers of young ones. Through the book club we met another runner through another one of our friends: Amy. And Amy soon began joining us for our Reid Park runs, too.

 Kristina, Jenn and I all shared the love for a great cup of coffee. Across the street from the 3-mile loop at Reid Park there was a Starbucks, and soon we began incorporating a post-run cup of coffee as a reward. After our runs we'd order our coffee and then we would take the kids to the playground at Reid Park to play as a reward for them sitting through another one of our runs.

 As Kristina and I continued our running dates, we also signed up for several races together. The beautiful thing about running with someone else is that when one of you are having a rough day, you have someone to help motivate you and see you through it, very much like life. Some days we had it, some days we didn't. Some races were great, others were disappointments. But we always stuck it out and were there to support each other.

 The bond we forged over the months, and then years, of running together astounded us both. I remember discussing with Kristina one day, on one of our runs, how her one e-mail from SeeMommyRun changed both of our lives for the better. We were mutually and deeply grateful for our friendship.

 In December 2010 my husband, children and I moved back to my home state of Connecticut. My husband had accepted a position at UConn and we agreed it would be wonderful to live within driving distance of our families again. However the move would prove extremely difficult for me as for a couple of the friendships I had made in Tucson were much like family.

 Team Caffeine (which is what our running group eventually dubbed itself) had its last run together with me on December 16, 2010. I can't begin to tell you how much I miss our runs, post-run coffee, and the kids playing at the park while we drank and caught up on our lives.My homesickness  motivated me to plan a trip to visit them all again. In April 2011 I booked a flight to visit my dear Tucson friends for an extended Labor Day weekend in September.

 Kristina and I had done the Labor Day Saguaro 8-miler last year and I immediately forwarded my itinerary and told her to sign up for the race; I would be there and we would do it again! Little did I know the tragic turn of events that would take place on a Friday evening in July.

 July 15th 2011. Six years ago I welcomed my daughter, my first child, into the world. I could have never expected that on this day of celebration of her birthday I would lose a best friend. Kristina was an amazing, strong and beautiful woman. She had an awesome sense of humor. She had exceptional taste in everything culinary. She always managed to blow me away with her running and her PRs. She was intelligent and witty. She was a creative, silly, imaginative and fun mom. I always admired how she shared her love for reading with her son Frankie, the creative stories and inside jokes they would have, and the incredible lunches she would pack for him. She worked hard and kept her chin up through everything life threw at her. She was such a wonderful friend to me, generous of spirit, and had a huge heart.

 My heart breaks for her, for her family, for all the lives she has touched, for all the lives she will never get the chance to touch. The world lost a beautiful person. Kristina: I will never forget you and the beauty and happiness you brought into my life. Every run I go on, every cup of coffee I drink, every book I read - you will be there.  I'm so sorry you were taken from us. I love you. I miss you. I will never forget you.