Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fall racing update

I haven’t really felt much like posting lately.  That’s probably evident to anyone who was reading this blog and waiting for a race recap from last week’s half marathon.

So I’m sorry, I guess.  But the last thing I’ve wanted to do this week was sit at the computer.  And I don’t really want to be here today either…

So this one will be short and sweet.

I did enjoy the Quad Cities Half Marathon – I ran most of it with Jen from the LiveUncommon Race Team and we finished in just under 2:00, which was my goal, so I was really happy with that.  And I must have reached a new level in my running, because I didn’t feel like I needed much time to recover at all.  I ran a little bit Tuesday night and was tired, but really wasn’t hurting at all.  This was the last race for our race team, and I think this year was a huge success.  I really enjoyed getting to know this group of runners and they really pushed me in my running this year.

Today I ran in a local 5K for John Deere employees – called the John Deere 5K Fall Classic,  it’s one of my favorite races each year.  It’s limited to employees, family members, and retirees, so it’s not a huge race, and it runs right around the corporate office.   It’s hilly and challenging, and once in a while I even place in my age group!  This year I ran the race in just under 26 minutes, for an 8:17 pace.  I didn’t place this year, I was 5th in my age group – but that’s okay.  This will be my last race in the 30-34 age group, because I turn 35 in a few weeks (yikes!).

I also got to run the 1 mile race with my 7 year old son.  He did great – although suffered again from going out too fast and having to walk more than he would have liked.  Our “stretch” goal was to finish in 10 minutes, and he finished in 11:23.  So, I think it was a success.  We just have to work on pacing…

I’m going to go shower so I can put my feet up and watch some football at least until the youngest wakes up from his nap…oh, and do laundry…

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One Last Plea

I have a favor to ask. I’ve been on an awesome race team this year. We’re all raising money for local charities.  Tomorrow is our last race of the season.

I met my goal long ago, but there are a few people who still need some help. If you have $5 to spare, could you please pick one of these people and donate? For each of you that donate, I’ll match it. Just send me a message or comment here and let me know who you donated to, and I’ll double what you donated.

These are truly amazing people and I want to help them out.

Nick  Villareal

Jay Gates

Stephanie Migawa

Katharine Mulfinger


Exhale…now.

Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of me. At home.

And for the record, tonight I did.

What did I do?

I rocked the little one and sang to him before bed. (I sang Tori Amos, if you must know).

I snuggled with each of the older boys and talked with each about his day before tucking him in.

Everything is as it should be.

Life is good.


Distance Mothering

When you’re a working mom, sometimes the easiest things are a struggle. And the hard things? They can feel impossible.

This has been shown to be true again this week. I’m out of town for work, and when I am out of town, nothing is easy.

Excuse me while I vent about how hard my life is. You can skip the rest if you want to avoid the whining… 

In order to even consider going on a trip, I have to plan ahead. Actually, any change in my schedule requires advance planning, but the amount of work required to prepare for a trip out of town becomes overwhelming.

First I have to figure out where the toddler should go. You see, I work part time, so I don’t work every day. If I need to travel on a day I am not scheduled to work, I have to arrange someone to watch him for that day.

Then I have to figure out how to transport this toddler to and from said babysitter. My husband is unable to take him in the morning, so I have to resort to recruiting the sitter (usually my mom) to come out to our house early in the morning. This way she is there before he has to head to work. This week I even had to ask Grandma to keep the toddler overnight, because there wasn’t a good way to transport him between her house and our house while I was gone.

Usually my husband can take the older boys to school. But sometimes, he has early morning meetings, and so then I have to recruit someone to come even earlier to our house before he leaves (like 6 am) and help get the boys on the school bus. Luckily that is usually only once a week.

But next, I have to figure out where my two older boys should go after school. You see, I work a compressed schedule so that I can be home each evening when they get off the bus. If I can’t be there, I have to figure out who I can bribe ask to meet them after school. This usually involves asking family members to be at our house after school.

Once I have figured out what to do with the boys after school, then I have to check and see what other activities we might have going on. Is there soccer practice one night? Do I need to make sure that any special school projects are done? Does my oldest know where his library book is?

By the time I’ve made all these arrangements, I’m mentally exhausted. And I still haven’t even thought about my trip. Many times I’ve done so much to figure out how to cover my absence that I no longer want to go on the trip.

That’s what happened this week. A week ago, I was convinced that I shouldn’t be gone. The stress of figuring out how to get everyone in the right place, at the right time, with adult supervision, was overwhelming.

But, after a gentle nudge from my boss and assurances from my mom that we were covered, I decided to go ahead and make the trip. And a few hours in, I was already regretting it. Honestly, about 20 minutes into the 6 hour drive, when I realized the rental car had no cruise control, I should have realized that was the first sign that this trip was not going to be “normal.” (whatever that is…)

Two days in and I had already had two crises at home. They were minor crises, nothing that required me to head home, but crises nonetheless. First, I spent 30 minutes on the phone when I should have been enjoying a baseball game. I won’t get into why I was on the phone, because that’s personal. But I can say that I definitely felt awkward having that conversation behind a major league baseball stadium, within earshot of all the smokers, as I tried not to cry and failed.

Then the next day, my meetings were interrupted by a phone call from my husband – my oldest son had been in trouble at school. It’s not an easy task, trying to parent from 425 miles away. I’m in the hallway trying to have a conversation with my 7-year-old, explaining how disappointed I am in him, while he sobs into the phone. So there I am, trying hard not to cry (and failing…there’s nothing quite like hearing your child cry and not being able to even put your arm around him).

Given all this emotional drama, I have been drained of energy. Last night, everyone else was going out for drinks, and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and go to bed. So, that’s basically what I did.

I’m sure that all of this would not feel quite so stressful if I had been running regularly the last few weeks. Running always helps balance out my world, my mental state. It keeps me sane and gives me that time alone to work through my thoughts and emotions. But when I get stressed, all I really want to do is sleep. If I ever start complaining about being so very tired, chances are I am exhausted from stress.

So this week I have been extremely tired. The TV in the hotel room hasn’t come on. Nope, not once. I haven’t opened the book I brought. I haven’t even worked on the hat I’m knitting for my son. I have done nothing productive in this hotel room. All I’ve done is sleep.

Couple my stressed-out-tired-state-of-mind with this week’s conference schedule, and you can bet that I haven’t hit that hotel treadmill. In fact, I haven’t run at all since Saturday. Last week wasn’t exactly a great training week. And if you remember right, I have a half marathon on Sunday, so I’m kind of freaking out about that…

But in the end, I am not trying to win this weekend. I’m just running to have fun. So I don’t really care what my time is, as long as I enjoy myself. And to me, that’s the most important part: that I have fun. Someone remind me of that at mile 10, please?

Luckily, tonight I was able to go out with a few coworkers and have a little fun. I enjoyed some good beer (and no, it wasn’t Coors Light!), and I even got a few free t-shirts from a local sports radio station.

So, I’m more than ready to go home tomorrow. It’s only been a few days, but I miss my boys. I want to sleep in my own bed and wake up next to my husband. Right now, I wouldn’t even mind my youngest waking me up at 3:30 am. I was able to video chat with the boys tonight and all I wanted to do was scoop the little one up and snuggle with him. Every night I rock him before bed. Every night when I’m tucking in the older boys, I talk with them about the best parts of their day. I love hearing what they think was “awesome” that day. These are just a few of the little things I miss when I’m gone.

Luckily, tomorrow I will be able to do all these things, and I am already so grateful for that.


Earth Runners minimalist sandals

It all started quite innocently, like many conversations do these days.  On Twitter.

I got one of those “random” followers, as happens almost every day when your Twitter profile is public.  Usually I don’t pay much notice to them, but this one caught my attention.  So, half joking, I sent them a message:

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a response.  But, to my surprise, shortly afterward I did get a reply!

It turns out that Earth Runners is a new company, and just ramping up on a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce their sandals.  So they were looking for some people to try out the shoes and give them some feedback.

I’m one of those millions (?) of runners who read “Born To Run” and became fascinated by the idea of barefoot, minimalist running.  I had already been following Pete at Runblogger, and the idea of running naturally, the way our bodies were designed, appealed to me on an almost-instinctive level.  I know that some people feel that this is a fad, that things will change, and the minimalist trend will reverse.  I honestly don’t think it will.  This just feels right.  Not necessarily for everyone, some people will always continue to run in padded shoes.  But I think there will be a market segment of those of us who have tried running “minimal” and have found that it works best for them.  I, for one, am encouraged by the diversity of running shoe options out there, and now I really do believe there is a shoe for everyone.  As someone who has in the past been placed in orthotics, in “stability” shoes, and suffered through shin splints and stress fractures, I know that some people will still need to have these options.  But, also as someone who has gone through these, I’m finding that as I have made the slow transition to “less” shoe (it has happened over 5 years), now I can run faster, farther, and (so far) without injury.

Now, I’ve said already.  I am not a barefoot runner.  I don’t know if I ever will be.  I like a little cushion when I run, the pounding of the miles seems to take a toll on my feet.  But I don’t see myself ever going back to the built-up heel, thick padding, and heavy structure of the shoes I used to wear.  I would definitely try barefoot running for short distances (and I have), but for long distances, at least for now, I want shoes.

So back to Earth Runners.  I had long (since reading Born to Run) been fascinated by the idea of the huaraches worn by the runners in the book.  Although I didn’t know if I could run in them, I loved the idea of minimal shoes, and the thought of wearing next to nothing between me and the ground.  So I was thrilled that Earth Runners were willing to send me a pair to try out.

I looked over the list of options on their website – they really do have a multitude of options to fit almost any foot type.  I decided on the Quantum Earth Runners, slim fit, with a brown leather sole, 2mm Vibram tread, and the nylon lacing.   I opted for the Quantum style because it has a bit of arch support, and I felt that as I am still not a “barefoot” person, that little bit of arch support would be really nice.

Ordering was pretty easy – I traced my foot and marked a few key points, then scanned it and emailed it to them.  Within two weeks, the shoes arrived.  I was surprised Thursday when I opened the mailbox and saw a package inside.  Why the surprise?  Well, first of all because it was so small.  I even had to take pictures before I opened it.  I could hardly believe there were shoes in this envelope.

Mail
Can you find the shoes?

I mean really. There are shoes in here?

I wanted to rip the package open right away, but had to wait a few hours until the boys were settled down, then I opened them up.  The first thing I noticed?  The smell.  They smelled good and natural, not like plastic or packaging materials.

Just out of the package

See those little copper circles?  This is supposed to connect your body to the ground and to the earth (it’s called “earthing” or “grounding” – those of us who are electrical engineers understand the concept!)

I tried them on, and they felt, well, good.  I didn’t get to wear them long that night, but already I was excited about the idea of testing out these shoes.

I have worn the shoes virtually nonstop for four days now.  I wore them all day Friday, running errands, taking the boys to the bus stop, and around the house.  I then wore them all day Saturday to a college football game.  Tailgating, the game, and the 1 mile walk from the car, and my feet felt great.  I didn’t feel like I was more tired than normal, my feet and legs weren’t sore.  I felt great.  I wore them more on Sunday (although I didn’t go anywhere Sunday), and they are on my feet again right now.  I really like them.

I like them so much I even posted a picture of them on Twitter.

Ready to test them out!

But you know when I really knew that Earth Runners have gotten something right?  When I found myself wishing I had these shoes on my feet.  Each time I take them off, I instantly wish I had them on again.  They feel that good on.  I’m usually a “shoes off the moment I get in the door” person.  Not with these.  I’d rather wear them all day.  I think that says something.

If you’re interested in learning more about Earth Runners, I would recommend you visit their website(s):

Earth Runners website
Earth Runners Kickstarter website

Note:  These shoes were provided free of charge, and I was not compensated in any way for this review.  These are my opinions and mine alone!

Reverse addiction

Some say running is like an addiction.  Once you start running, you can’t stop.  People get sucked into running and find they must run – every. single. day.  They go through withdrawal when they can’t run, a day or more out of their running shoes and they are going crazy.  They have to run.

It’s kind of true, I suppose.  But I’ve never been one that’s compelled to run every day.  Sure, I’d like to.  But I tend to run more at the opposite end of the spectrum.

You see, not running, for me, is the trigger.   It starts with skipping a run.  Then another.  Then maybe another.  By the time I’ve hit three days of not running, I’m not going crazy with withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve lapsed back into “I don’t wanna” syndrome.

I know this all too well.  Why?  Because it happened to me again this week.  You would think that less than two weeks from a half marathon, I would be trying as hard as humanly possible to hit all my training runs.  But apparently that is not quite how my brain works.  Let’s roll back in time to last weekend.

Initially I planned to head out for a long 11-12 mile run last weekend.  But due to life in general, I ended up with an almost-7 mile run Sunday afternoon instead: “The Run That Almost Didn’t Happen.”  I was literally sitting in the recliner getting ready for an afternoon of football, when I finally convinced myself to just go out for a run, however long or short it would be.

Then soccer practices (which started up this week) hit, and Monday and Tuesday evenings one of us was out with a child at soccer while the other one stayed home: fed, bathed, and put the little one to bed.  Then on Wednesday I needed to take the two older boys out for a walk so they could get credit for their “Walk on Wednesday (WoW)” program at school.  I took them out to the canal (where I usually run).  By the time I got home and they were in bed, the last thing I wanted to do was to drive back out to the canal again.

So I hadn’t run all week when yesterday rolled around.  I wasn’t really optimistic about a great run, but I knew that I wouldn’t be running today (Friday).  One of the jogging stroller tires blew last Friday, and I don’t have it repaired yet.  So running with the littlest one was out of the question.  And it’s not like I could leave him at home, you know?

So last night I headed out for a run, and I was surprised when I felt pretty good.  I typically am not a great evening runner, I just feel better in the mornings.  But it was working for me, and I was able to get a quick 4 miles in.

But again, due to the jogging stroller issue, a run was not in the cards today.  Sure, I could have gone to the gym, paid for babysitting, and run on the treadmill, but I haven’t been to the gym in months, and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to go back yet.  As soon as the weather is too cool or too rainy, I’m sure I’ll be back, but I haven’t hit that point yet.  Combine that with a 2 year old who woke up before 5 am today, and I am enjoying a(nother) day off.

I am not sure exactly where this post is going.  I know where it started, but I’ve already rambled on long enough.  Typical.  If you’ve read this far you must really like me 🙂  I’m not going to try and salvage it, I’m just going to publish and hope that it made some sort of coherent sense.

In other notes, I’m excited to be working on another shoe review, hopefully it will be coming early next week.  And I’m headed out of town on a business trip next week, so perhaps you’ll even get to see some posts from me about that.  Nothing like hotel treadmills to spark deep thoughts.

Half marathon next weekend…

 

 


Rolling like thunder

I was downright moody this morning. Why? Because I woke up and checked the radar, and saw this:

20120907-070839.jpg

Now, I love a good thunderstorm. I was going to say “as much as the next person,” but I think I might like them more than the average person. There is nothing I like better than a rainy night.

But Fridays are my days off. My days that I take out the littlest one in the jogging stroller and run. We’ve been enjoying our morning runs together. So when I saw that giant blob of rain covering the entire state, and a forecast that called for a 70% chance of rain all morning, I was a bit down.

So when we headed up to take the two older boys to the bus stop, and saw a clearing sky, I was excited.

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So shortly after 8 am, with clear(ish) skies and a new outlook, we headed out for a run. And it was a great run, 4.5 miles along the canal. We even got to pass a train of golf carts as they took a “tour” of the bike path.

We finished just as another smaller shower started. Luckily it didn’t last long.

As I was loading the stroller into the car, I noticed that the right rear tire was completely, utterly flat. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t flat when we left. I aired them up two weeks ago, so now I’m wondering if the tube is broken. Guess I will have to look at it closer this weekend.

After the run, we headed into town for coffee and a brownie at the local coffee shop. For the record: The little one ate 95% of the brownie. I think I had one bite.

It really was a good morning.

On another note, I’m frustrated with my Garmin. It is refusing to sync with my computer and it’s starting to make me crazy. I’m an engineer, I need my data! It’s less than a year old, so in my opinion it should just WORK. I’ve emailed tech support and I am hoping that they can help. Fingers crossed!


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