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Thursday, June 30, 2011

vacation

dancing on the shore at sunrise
"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea."
 -Isak Dinesen

Summers in the DC area are hot, humid and sticky.  Miserable, right?  YES.  But, when you have the beach only a few hours away and your in-laws live right on the ocean, it is not so bad. 

Every summer since my husband and I started dating over 12 years ago, we spend as much time as we can visiting his parents in Virginia Beach.  Today we leave for our first trip of the summer and I cannot wait.  Everyone in my house is a-buzz with excitement and anticipation.  We've been dreaming about having sand in our toes and salt water on our skin for days.  We can't wait to eat fresh summer peaches - so juicy that they drip down our arms to our elbows.  We're looking forward to picking green beans right from the garden for a snack on our way to an afternoon nap in the hammock under the deck. 
 
I love the beach and plan to live there some day.  I dream about having a little cottage near the ocean and falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves and ocean breezes.   Life is simple at the beach.   No matter what changes have happened in my life, what challenges I have faced or griefs I have struggled to overcome ... the sea has been my place for healing, for happiness and for renewal.  Even when I'm not at the beach, when I need to still my busy mind or come to terms with loss or sadness or just connect with God, I close my eyes and breath in and out just as the ocean ebbs and flows to the shore.  I imagine the healing saltwater washing over my inner turmoil, cleansing me.  Renewing me.  Healing me. 

I've been thinking about this trip for a while and have come up with a list of things I plan to do while we're there over the next 10 days...

1. RUN ~ Virginia Beach is one of my very favorite places to run.  Whether I'm running on the concrete boardwalk along the ocean, through charming neighborhood streets or in beautiful Seashore State Park, I am in running heaven.

2.  PLAY ~ I plan to play with my kids with reckless abandon each and every day we are at the beach.  I want to ride waves, chase ghost crabs, build sand castles and drip castles, dig really deep holes to "see if we can go all the way to China", bury and get buried in the sand, and laugh like crazy.  I want to totally let go and have FUN with my little people.

3. SLEEP ~ I love naps.  Especially in a hammock all cozied up with my snuggly little baby.  I plan to nap with baby Gus every afternoon that I am at the beach.  If possible I may even take a snooze on the beach by myself at some point, but of course I'll have to negotiate that little idea with my husband.

4. EAT ~ Summer food in Virginia means local fresh deliciousness.  Juicy peaches, ripe blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, watermelon, green beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumber...the list goes on and on and on.  I plan to eat massive amounts of it all while at the beach, and to pick a lot of it myself whether at a local farm or right from my mother-in-law's incredible garden.  Also as someone who eats mostly a vegan diet there is one time of year that I make an exception to that and that is summer at the beach.  I will probably partake in some freshly caught fish as well.
bucket o' berries
5. CONNECT ~ I feel like chaos of my life sometimes leaves me a bit disconnected from myself, from my husband and from God.  I'm looking forward to this time at the beach to unplug myself from some of the craziness and to take time every day to look inward and feel peace inside of myself.  To open my eyes and my heart to the blessings that abound in my life.  I love my husband so much and am so thankful for the life we share.  Sometimes I think our regular routine has us missing out on one another a bit.  We both are looking forward to taking walks on the beach together and maybe even going for a bike ride or out to breakfast or dinner with one another.
I am so grateful for this vacation.  Each person in my family (well maybe not the baby!) is in need of this time, this change in routine.  What about you?  Will you take time this summer to live a simpler life, to renew yourself and to spend time with your family and the ones you love?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

rising

Tomorrow morning at 4:50 I will rise and slink quietly out of my bed and tiptoe to my bathroom to get dressed in my running clothes while all of my sweet loves slumber peacefully.  The dog who usually is a wild ball of energy will open one eye to notice me, but will not move an inch from her soft warm bed.  I'll slither down the stairs in my running socks and make it to the kitchen to start my coffee.  My sister will send me a text that will say something like "rise n' shine, sistah!" and I will know she is up doing the same thing I am.  I will smile as her message reminds me of our deep connection and the love we have for one another,  as well as our shared love of running.  The time alone in my kitchen will go by quickly and before I know it I will be heading out the door to pick up my sister.  The sun will be rising as we meet our training buddies and our coach at the track.

Something about the track makes me feel like a real athlete.  A real runner.  Being there is my way of saying that this 35 year old mom of three is not just built to pack lunches, pick up toys, draw pictures, change diapers, drive a minivan and settle sibling disputes, etc (though, make no mistake, I am proud and grateful to be doing these things).  This body of mine can do so much more than that.  This spirit of mine is strong and determined.  I decide who I am and what I will do on that track.  I define my SELF.  With each circle I complete, I am renewed and fulfilled and reminded of the strength that lies within me.  It is peaceful, yet exhilarating.  Though the workout will be tiring and challenging somehow I will go home with more energy and life - more of myself - to share with my beautiful children and my wonderful husband.

There is work to be done on that track, and I will rise to meet it.  I will be a better me, a truer me, because of it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

little runners

My kids think running is awesome.  They've been enthusiastic supporters of my running for a few years but Saturday's race results took it to a whole new level.  Every time I bring home a race medal they are interested in it and take turns wearing and holding it and pretending it belongs to them.  They love to have little "races" in our driveway and pretend that they come in first place.  A couple of years ago I remember telling them that I have never come in first - that the real prize with running races is doing my best and having fun.  It's not about winning.  They looked at me in total confusion at the time, but since then I think they get it at least to some degree and they usually ask me if I did my best when I come home from a race, not whether or not I won it.  This Saturday I came in first in my age group and won a "trophy" which happens to be a lava lamp.  I have rocketed into a whole new universe of "cool" in my kids' eyes and I must say, it is pretty fun.  Not only am I way "awesomer" to them but running is, too.  They both want to train for their first 5K and I am so excited about this.
playing with mommy's trophy
Yesterday morning before my 6 mile recovery run I took the kids out for one loop around the neighborhood as their first "training run."  It was a blast.  The loop is 3/4 of a mile. I think it took us about 20 minutes.  We had to take walk breaks and "stop breaks" as Abby called them, but we were all smiles and laughter the whole way. 

It amazed me how much their running styles fit their personalities.  Will goes full force in life and does everything with an abundance of confidence and passion.  With his running, he sprints (and he is FAST!) and then comes to a screeching halt after a couple of minutes and says "THAT was AWESOME.  I AM SO AWESOME!"  No shortage of ego in this guy.  He cracks himself up the whole way. 

Abby is much more conservative and calculating with everything she does.  She is careful and thoughtful and talks things through at great length.  If you have a conversation with Abby, be prepared to talk with her for a while.  She is funny and sweet and has A LOT to say, always.  With her running, the whole time she was moving she was observing herself.  Not really complaining (I'm sure that will come at some point during our training!), but noticing and commenting on everything.  She takes it all in and likes to share everything that is on her mind.  She also continually reminded her brother that he needs to PACE HIMSELF or he will get too tired.  She had it all figured out.

I love sharing my joy for running with my two big kids.  I love that they are inspired to exercise and to do their best and do it together.  One of the MANY reasons that running is so important to me is because of the message it sends my children.  About caring for our bodies and souls and making time for ourselves.  About doing our best, only competing with ourselves.  I'm not hoping they will be track stars or cross country runners necessarily, though that would be great.  What I'm hoping is that they will always get great joy out moving their bodies and being healthy.  I can't wait for our next training run together.  Now, I just need to find a race for us :o)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Feelin' Groovy - Women's Distance Festival 5K Race Report

I learned a lot about myself today.  I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought possible.  I learned that I need to trust in my abilities and let myself go there ... that I thrive on finding out what I'm made of and that I love sharing this feeling with other women who run and with my family. 

Today I set a new 5K PR by nearly two minutes and I finished first in my age group.  This has never happened for me before.  And - ohmygosh - was it FUN!  When I crossed the finish line with what I'm sure was a seriously goofy grin on my face I was smiling because I had just had so much fun running, because I was happy with my time and because I felt good and I felt strong.  I knew I could do even better - and I believe without question that I will.  I can feel my potential and it is exciting to me.
After getting my award.  No way!!

So ... without further adieu here is my very first ever, as official as it gets for me, Race Report:

~ RACE BASICS ~

Race: Women's Distance Festival 5K
Date: June 25, 2011
Location: Reston, VA 

Weather: Hotttt.  But not too humid thankfully.  Very sunny.  Not much shade at all.


Course: Mostly along the W&OD trail with some out/back loop portions and hairpin turns.  The terrain was mostly pavement but there were also some gravelly and woodsy trail sections.  A few hills - not killer, but definite inclines!  This was not a simple out-and-back course as one might have assumed since it is marketed as being along the W&OD trail.

Groovy Facts: This is a women-only event!  There were men volunteering along the course though - manning the water stations and telling us where to turn and what our splits were.  Lots of men cheering us in at the finish too and even one man offering "hugs" in the finishing chute (this I found weird and next time I will try to spot him sooner so as to avoid the hug.  Kinda creepy if you ask me).  There were about 500 women registered today.  The youngest participant was 5 years old and the oldest was 76.  Many women also walked and there were awards for the walkers as well as for the runners, which I think is pretty cool.  The race had a 60's theme and everything was very groovy - peace signs everywhere, tie dye balloons and beach balls for the kids, 60s music playing at the finish.  The trophies were lava lamps - soo fun!  There was a whole lotta love going on.  You just couldn't help but smile - the atmosphere was totally fun.



 Tips: If you want to run this race, make sure that you start towards the front since there are a lot of run/walkers and walkers.  The race is on the trail so it is a narrow lane and passing can be tough.  Also, if it is a sunny day be sure to protect yourself from the sun - hat and/or sunglasses and sunscreen a must if you don't want to get a sunburn.  If you are a mom and live nearby - have your husband bring the kids to cheer you on!  It is a very family-friendly race and my kids had a lot of fun today.  Oh and stay for the awards even if you didn't place because there are a bunch of pretty great raffle prizes that you are only eligible to win if you are there when your number is called.

~ HOW IT WENT DOWN FOR ME ~

Finish Time: 23:08
Avg Pace/Mile: 7:27
Bonus!!: 1st in my Age Group (35-39)
Jodi and me feeling post-race happy!
My goal going into this race was to PR - because I knew I could.  My previous PR was 24:52 and that was set last month at the We've Got Your Back 5K also here in Reston.  I wanted to have a sub-8:00 pace per mile but wasn't sure how far under that I could be.  I was thinking 7:30s should be do-able because the other night at the track I ran 4 miles at that pace.  (There were 3-minute rest periods between my reps on the track, but I was not going "all out" that night and felt that for a 5K race I should be able to hold that pace without killing myself.  I was right.)  I maintained a steady pace of around 7:15 for the first two miles even with the sharp turns, hot sun and gravelly/woodsy terrain sections.  Mile three was just plain HOT and I slowed down a little over the last hill but never gave in and felt strong.  The last stretch was fun - I gave it more ooomph and pushed to the finish.  When I was done I wondered though if perhaps I should have pushed harder that last mile because I felt like I had more in me when I crossed the finish.  I do this a lot - especially when I see people crossing and nearly collapsing or puking - should I have pushed myself to that point?  I think the answer is NO, not unless I wanted to!  Which I did not.  I was super-happy with my time and my performance and I was glad I wasn't feeling like I could hurl because I got to see my husband and my kids and celebrate with them!
me and Abby getting our groove on
me and baby Gus feelin' the love



















When it came time for the awards I asked my husband if we could stick around because I thought maybe, just maybe, I may have placed in the top three in my age group.  When they announced that I was FIRST in my age group I was completely surprised.  It was a total thrill for me!

My "trophy" is a groovy lava lamp and it is BEYOND cool.  Just ask my kids.  I think the best part of it for me is their reaction.  Although I'm pretty sure they're more in awe of the lava lamp than they are of the reason I won it, I don't care.  It just makes me happy.  I'm enjoying their compliments and praises of my "awesome" award.  I love listening to them play with it - they aren't allowed to touch it because it is fragile and it gets hot - but they stand around it and pretend they are wizards and it is their magical, mysterious lamp.  Sort of like a crystal ball, I think.  If I had to list things in this life that make me happy very near the top would be the sound of my kids using their imaginations together happily.  So, I'm thankful for this lava lamp because it is inspiring my kids to get along and be creative.  And it is inspiring me to keep running.

lava lamp in action






Tuesday, June 21, 2011

summer sun protection

ready to run in the sun!
I LOVE the sun.

From the time I was a baby I lived at the pool and the beach all summer long.  My parents bought our Bethany Beach townhouse when I was just one year old.  My mom was a teacher and every year after school got out, we would all hop in the car to relocate to the beach until Labor Day.   Whether I was at the beach or the pool, playing tennis or shuffleboard, riding my bike or going for a run, I would be outside all day, every day -- in the sun -- all summer long.  Summer is without a doubt my very favorite time of year.

As an adult I'm a freckle-faced sun lover who now is extremely careful about protecting my skin whenever I am outside.  This includes when I am running.  This summer I'm heading out for my long runs at 6:30 in the morning before it is very sunny.  I put sunscreen on anyway because I know that in a short while it will likely be blazing hot and sunny and I don't want to leave unprepared.  I am loving Kiss My Face's all natural sport SPF 50 clear spray this season.  It smells SO good, goes on easily and doesn't leave a sticky-icky or greasy residue on my skin or hands.  For my face I just spray a puddle of it into my hands and gently apply it to my face and my ears.

My favorite lip SPF is by Fresh.  It comes in three colors and my favorites for running are the Rose and the Honey.  They also smell soo nice, feel super light, protect my lips and have a pretty tint to them.  I keep them with me at all times (not just when running) and got them at Sephora.

I also never leave for a summer run without my hat (almost always my white Nike hat) and sunglasses.  Unless it is raining, these are always part of my morning get-ready routine.  If I'm driving to a race or to meet up with my running group I will throw them in my bag for the car (along with my flip flops, a towel and a fresh clean shirt to change into after my run).  You can never be too prepared!

How do you protect yourself from the sun while running?

where fashion meets function?

The other day I was reading through the latest issue of Running Times magazine when I came across this ad.  I was mightily confused by what I saw.  And, I must say, rather disturbed as well ....


Please tell me I am not the only one who finds this strange?

Monday, June 20, 2011

and training begins!

Saturday marked the beginning of my marathon training.  10 sweaty miles along my favorite trail.  We were about 100 people strong and it was pretty cool to see all of us up and at 'em at 6:30 in the morning.  Looking to our coaches for guidance, advice and encouragement and looking to each other to share in the excitement, insanity and passion for running.  Ready to dream big and strive for our goals. 

Saturday's run was sort of up to us distance-wise.  They suggested doing 6-10 miles and since Jodi and I did 10 last weekend we did 10 again this weekend.  The weather was pleasant with some humidity but overcast skies and a nice breeze tempered the thick air just enough to keep us comfortable.  We averaged a 9:30 pace which was probably faster than we should have run but I'm not going to worry about it.  It felt good.  The only issue I had was with my stomach.  I ate my dinner too late the night before and felt like there was a rock in my stomach the whole way.  I will have to be better about that next time.  Ahh the joys of ironing out kinks like that!

We haven't gotten our full training plan yet but should expect it today.  I love looking at mapping out training plans so I am really anxious to get my hands on it.  I do know that we're going to have speed work sessions at the local high school track on Thursday nights at 6:30 and that starts this week.  I think Wednesdays would have been better since we are running long on Saturdays but the track is being used on Wednesdays so we have to adapt and roll with it.   As a result it looks like a rest day will be in order for me on Fridays this season most likely.

I haven't had a chance to really get to know my coaches too well yet, but there will be plenty of time for that over the next 4 months!  I'm super-excited about the head coach though.  Her name is Caitlyn and we know each other from our RRCA certification class last year!  I'm so inspired by what she has done with her coaching certification and feel I have so much to learn from her both as a runner and as a coach.  I can't wait to get to know her better and to learn from her.
Coach Caitlyn & Me
From the looks of it so far, this training group is going to be stellar and SO worth it.  =PR= is a great running store and fosters a wonderful community of people who love to run.  Thursday night at the store was lots of fun.  We enjoyed chatting with fellow runners and of course took advantage of our discount and bought some gear and apparel.  That could get dangerous for this shopper...
shopping at =PR=
Anyway, now I'm off to take my son to his first day of camp and then head to the gym with my other two monkeys for some strength training and a short 3 mile treadmill run on this rainy morning.  Hello, Monday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

three things

1.  Saturday is the first official day of marathon training!!  I am so excited, I can hardly stand it.  I'm doing my training this year with Potomac River Running store's Distance Training Program.  I've never been coached as a runner before and I am so excited for the experience.  Tonight the store is hosting all of us for a little party to meet the coaches and fellow runners, learn more details about the program and get some of our program schwag (water bottle, t-shirt).  I. cannot. wait.

2. I have been very good about using the foam roller on my hips, hammies and IT bands these past few weeks.  I usually am only sort of good about rolling things out and stretching after a long hard run but lately I've just been making myself use it no matter what, after any run.  It's not the most pleasant feeling endeavor while doing it, but wow it makes a big difference!  I'm going to remain dedicated to the foam roller this marathon season and also be good about stretching.   Especially my hamstrings.  Those suckers are tight.

3. This week I did my first spinning class since before I was pregnant, over a year ago!  I forgot how much I love spinning.  It is awesome exercise and really makes me sweat.  I love that I can completely get in "the zone" while on the bike and push myself to those limits.  My favorite teacher does a Tuesday morning class that should fit nicely with my schedule through the summer and even into the fall, so I'm planning to make it a regular part of my routine.  Biking should build up my quad strength and of course help with cardiovascular fitness.  Plus, it's fun.  The only downside is my poor butt hurts from that darn seat, but I will get used to it and that side-effect should fizzle out soon. 

What are you doing for cross-training?  How do you keep your muscles supple and stretched?  Do you use the foam roller or stick regularly?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

wake up call

Yesterday I was reminded of the fragility of life, and how in an instant things can spin out of control.  How we can never be too prepared in the event of an emergency...

While I was working out at the gym on the weight training equipment yesterday morning a man in his 60s and his wife were working out together on the equipment next to me.  All of a sudden the man had a stroke and passed out right in the middle of doing an exercise.  He went unconscious and fell limp onto the machine.  His wife asked if someone could please call 911 and that is when I looked over and saw what was happening.  We called 911 right away and a few of us worked together to lay him down on the floor.  He was breathing but was completely unresponsive.  His breath was shallow on the inhale and very forceful on the exhale.  It was unsettling and scary.  We were waiting for rescue to arrive and none of us were sure what to do to help him.  It seemed like time was moving way too slowly and we were living in a twilight zone.  At that point a firefighter/paramedic who was lifting weights on the other side of the gym noticed what was happening and ran over.  Thank God he was there because this HERO took control and knew what to do to stabilize the man until the ambulance arrived about 10 (long) minutes later.  He was taken to the hospital and I do not know how he is doing.  I have been saying prayers and when I go to the gym today I will ask if anyone knows anything.

The gym is full of personal trainers and exercise instructors (including myself) - all of us certified in First Aid and CPR - but truthfully that 4 hour class does not truly prepare you for saving a life in my opinion.  How can you accomplish that in a matter of hours, sitting in a classroom setting??  I was certified a year ago as part of my RRCA coach certification and I am definitely ready for a refresher.  Yesterday was my wake up call.  The only thing I knew I was capable of yesterday was grabbing scissors for the EMT to cut open the man's shirt and consoling the wife and making sure she was okay.  Not that this wasn't helpful, I'm sure it was, but it made me realize that I want to be better prepared in case of situations like this.  I want to feel confident in my ability to be helpful and stabilize a situation until help can arrive.  As an athlete, coach and mother and honestly just as a citizen, this is important to me.  I'm sure every trainer and instructor in the gym yesterday morning felt the same way.

Are you certified in First Aid and CPR?  Do you feel confident that you would be able to take control in a situation like this until medical help could arrive?  Other than a refresher course, what do you think we can do to better prepare ourselves for honing these skills in the event of an emergency?

Friday, June 10, 2011

manage the moment

This is my mantra right now, in running and in life: manage the moment.  It's all about being in the present, focusing on the now rather than dwelling on the past or obsessing about what is next.

I'm getting used to being the mom of three kids and each day new challenges are thrown at me.  My confidence grows but the ease with which I handle things ebbs and flows ... there are so many variables in any given day.  I cannot let a temper tantrum, a nasty remark, an allergic reaction, a scrape on the knee, or whining derail my day.  I literally cannot cry over spilled milk.  I have to keep my head up high and deal with the task at hand because there are three little people that need me.  Sometimes when things get crazy I want to put myself in a timeout rather than one of the kids.  Go to my room and have some quiet time!  This would be nice, but I know that's not the responsible thing to do.  When I feel that way I tell myself to take a deep breath, refocus and adjust.  I will have my quiet time later - once everyone is in bed, or once I can get my run in, etc...but right now I need to be present for my kids.

Managing the moment is also something I'm thinking about as it relates to my running.  Yesterday I pushed myself for a hard 5 miler on the treadmill at the gym.  I was running a 7:18 mile (sooo much harder on the mill than on the track, I must say) for miles 3 and 4.  Every time I found myself thinking this is hard and wanting to slow it down, I reminded myself to manage the moment.  To stick with it.  It will be time to slow down when it is time to slow down, and that is after these two miles are DONE.  The funny thing is, that the more I said that to myself and the longer I stuck with it, the easier it got for me to maintain that pace.  When those two miles were done I didn't feel so much like I needed to slow down anymore.  My body got used to it.  I had adjusted.

The past is a valuable thing if you make it a positive place of reflection.  If I am going to go there, I cannot put myself down (no should haves, could haves, why didn't I's, poor me's...) I must observe it and be grateful for it.  Learn from it.  I don't dwell there.  I can be, however, quite obsessive about the future.  I am a planner and a dreamer so I can get anxious about making things happen for me and my family down the road.  This sometimes really irritates my husband - he worries that I dream too much and that I will be disappointed with the realities of life if they don't match my dreams.  I disagree with him (mostly) - I think being a dreamer is a good thing - but I know it can be dangerous for me if I lose sight of the NOW.  Of THIS moment.  So that is something I am working on.  I have faith that if I focus on the now, on this moment, dreams will come true.  I believe that if I come to the moment with good intentions and an open heart, things will work out.  Maybe not exactly as I hope, but I believe chances are the result could be even better and bigger than I ever would have dreamed on my own.  That is something I've learned from reflecting on my past.  When I look at the way things have gone over the last 35 years of my life and the way things are woven together, there is no question that good things are in store for me.  I just have to manage each moment, one at a time.



Thursday, June 9, 2011

three things

1. It is going to be a L O N G summer for my two "big" kids if they keep treating one another the way they have been these last few days.  They love one another and are the best of friends one minute (laughing, hugging, using their imaginations to create awesome fun games) and then in an instant, seemingly out of nowhere, they are SO mean and nasty.  Yikes!  My gosh, talk about a volatile relationship.  I know it's normal sibling stuff.  I have three sisters and I remember the bickering and the hair pulling.  I also remember the security and the fun.  Knowing I could just BE ME with them, and it was always safe to do that.  Still is.  BUT...as the mother of my kids let me just say there is no better sound then hearing the two of them playing nicely and there is nothing that irritates me more than hearing them be nasty to one another.  It makes me crazy.

2. Summer heat has arrived in VA.  Today's run will be 5 miles on the treadmill.  Having all three kids at home and not owning a triple stroller pretty much requires that I either do my summer runs on the 'mill or before or after my husband gets home from work.  The balancing act continues....

3. I did a track workout on Monday night with the Women's Training Program (WTP) of my running club.  It was a "lead and follow" with 6 sets of 800 repeats at a "comfortably hard" pace (which for me was a 7:18/mile pace).  It was hot and humid out, but I love the track and really enjoyed running with all those ladies.  For the two days that followed though I was sooo sore (in a good way) in my obliques.  I concentrated on my form/posture and pelvic stability while I ran.  I love feeling sore like this after a hard workout.  It is reassurance that I am doing something right and that strength and speed will come...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

how i feel about sugar

For the better part of 6 weeks (with some setbacks and exceptions) I held strong and avoided eating processed sugar.  It was a roller coaster ride for me.  Some days it was insanely easy to avoid the temptations.  Other days, not so much.  The cravings were so strong that I would have to leave the kitchen and remove myself from anything sugary.  I felt SO good when I wasn't eating it.  One day when I caved and ate a cupcake at Will's class party, I felt sick to my stomach and then wanted another one and ate it despite feeling like I was going to gag. WHAT is up with that?!? 

I'll tell you what's up with that: Sugar. Is. EVIL.

The stuff is so addictive.  I know it's bad for me.  It makes me feel sick and sleepy and bloated. Yet I go back for more and more.  The more I eat it, the more my body craves it.  The worse I feel about myself.

Still, for the most part of 6 whole weeks I resisted eating it.  I've lost 10 pounds since the end of May.  I feel strong and healthy and my clothes fit me again.  I'm grateful for all of this, but still I'm irritated by the feeling of not having control over cravings for sugar and I can't get it off my mind.  Yesterday I made a homemade sugary vegan cake for my daughter's 6th birthday.  I turned off whatever part of my brain decides what to put into my mouth and I ate so much sugar while making the cake (testing batter, testing icing) and then ate a giant piece after dinner last night.  I told myself WHO CARES!?  It is Abby's birthday!  You can go back to eating well again tomorrow.  I think that was the right thing to tell myself and I have no problem with that AT ALL.  The problem I have is that TODAY I have already eaten a huge piece of the leftover birthday cake.  I have to get rid of that thing.

The 6 weeks of (mostly) not eating sugar taught me a few things:
  • If I have processed sugary stuff (cookies, cupcakes, brownies, etc) around my house I will eat them.  And If I eat even just one bite, that will quickly turn into massive amounts of consumption basically until whatever sugary item it is I am eating is gone.
  • Any time I want to lose a few pounds, I should stop eating processed sugar.
  • Whoever said that fruits and veggies are "nature's candy" is right - as long as you are not eating the junky stuff.  Fresh fruits and veggies taste INCREDIBLY yummy and sweet and flavorful when you are not eating processed foods.  I think processed foods make our taste buds stupid.
  • Your body will perform with the same quality as the foods you put in it.  If you eat junk, your body will perform slow and sluggishly.  If you eat natural whole foods grown in the earth your body will feel ALIVE!
  • It is not just the body that will perform better from said foods, but the mind as well.  You will think more clearly and feel less stressed out when you eat right.
Even though my experiment with avoiding sugar has come to an end, all of these lessons have made me realize that limiting sugar is going to take a conscious effort on my part, but there is no question that it will be worth it. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6

Today my little girl turned 6 years old.  Six Years ago tonight, I became a mother.  


I fell hard.  In the deepest, most glorious, most precious, most unconditional and indescribable LOVE.  

Thank you, Abby, for the most amazing years of my life. 

From the words of A.A. Milne:

When I was One, 
I had just begun.


When I was Two,
I was nearly new.


When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.


When I was Four,
I was not much more.


When I was Five,
I was just alive.


But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six for ever and ever.


Happy Birthday to the Sweetest of the Sweet.  I cannot imagine this world without you in it.  
You are my Sunshine and I love you more than I can possibly explain.  
Thank you for being YOU...you sure are great at it.
Love, Mommy











Monday, June 6, 2011

contemplating two fall marathons

I trained hard for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon and was in excellent shape heading into that race.  Race day came though and something went wrong.  I completely fell apart about halfway through.  Pain settled in and had me stopping to stretch a bunch along the course.  When I realized I wasn't going to make my time goal I let it get the best of me.  The race wasn't going the way I wanted it to.  Emotionally, mentally...I was a mess.  It was not one of my shining moments.  I let disappointment overshadow my achievements of the day, of my journey.   

I will never let that happen again.  

I am smarter than that.  I am stronger.  I am a fighter.  I am worth it.

A few weeks later, I ran the Richmond Half Marathon.  I remember thinking I wished I had signed up for the full, so I could give it another shot and potentially redeem myself after MCM.  Never having run two marathons so close together though, I decided to stick with the half.  My goal was to break two hours and I missed it by a little over a minute but truly didn't care.  I did my best and enjoyed myself and the serenely beautiful and challenging course.  It was a great day.


So, here's the thing.  For some crazy reason I'm contemplating a second fall marathon.  I've been hemming and hawing about it for weeks and this is what I think I've decided -- sign up for the full and I can always switch to the half if necessary.  No matter what though, I am going to enjoy myself and do my best.

Have you ever done two marathons just weeks apart?  Have you ever planned on a full and switched to the half or vice-versa?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

a happy 10 and a new friend

This morning I was planning to meet up with my local running club at 7am for a 7 mile run.  I fed the baby at 5am though and knew he was going to need to eat again around 8 or 8:30, so I decided to let myself "sleep in" a little longer so I wouldn't have to worry about pumping or anything.

I am SO HAPPY I decided to do this.

I begin marathon training in 2 weeks and the group I'm training with (=PR= Distance Training Program) will meet on Saturday mornings at 6:30am for long runs, so I won't have the flexibility to go whenever I want at that point (unless of course I want to run alone which would certainly defeat the purpose of joining a marathon training program!).  So I figured today I would take advantage of the freedom and go a little later.  Instead I left my house around 8:30, just after nursing the baby.  I ran 10 miles instead of the 7 the club had planned.  And it was delightful.

indigo bunting
It was the **perfect** morning for a long run.  Coolish (around 70 degrees) and cloudy.  The trail was absolutely blooming and beautiful.  I saw an indigo bunting perched on a branch around mile 8.  It was the most stunning shade of blue.  I had to stop, stare and smile at this gorgeous, delicate and vibrant bird.  I saw several chipmunks, a couple of cotton tail bunnies and two frogs.  Thankfully I did NOT see any snakes (copperheads are everywhere this time of year) - they completely freak me out and give me the heebie-jeebies.

At mile two a nice man in his early seventies came up and starting running next to me.  At first I was a little stunned when he just started running right next to me and chatting me up, but I quickly realized that he was just a nice person looking for a little company on his long run.  His name is Mike and he is a grandfather of 6 kids ages 8 - 15.  He and his wife love to garden and they used to live in the foothills of Utah.  He is getting ready to train for the Baltimore Marathon.  I really enjoyed talking with him and it made the two miles we ran together whiz by even though they were my two slowest paced miles today.  After Mike and I parted ways, it got me thinking....About all the stories behind all of the people out on that trail.  What brought us each out there today?  Who are we and what thoughts were filling our heads, welling up in our hearts?  I am not the kind of runner to just randomly start chatting with someone on the trail, but I do smile and nod or say hello when I pass a fellow runner.  I appreciate the gesture from others, too.

What about you -- have you ever made a random friend out on the trails?  Do you make an effort to say good morning or hello to your fellow runners?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

whatever it takes

Today baby Gus is 4 months old.  Wow how time flies when you're having fun!  This little soul has increased the joy in my heart by leaps and bounds.  My, how I love him.

 
The past 4 months have been filled with so many smiles and tons of laughter over this sweet little baby boy.  I cannot believe how blessed I am to be his momma.

He is doing great.  Laughing, smiling, cooing and rolling over - almost.  He gets to his side and hangs out there for a bit before flopping back onto his back.  He thinks it's great fun and I have to admit so do I.  I love watching him figure stuff out and connect with the world around him.  Realize what he can do.  It is totally awesome!!

In the last month though, something has been going on with my little man's skin and his tummy.  I have seen it before, in his older brother Will when he was a baby.  Oozy red patches of skin that look uncomfortable and itchy.  A LOT of spit up, more than the average baby.  I tried everything I knew to help him (aquafor, diaper creams, cortisone, neosporin, coconut oil, breast milk applied topically...) but finally after things only sort of working and then not, this week I decided it was time to take him to the doctor.  Because of everything I went through with Will, I knew what the story would be.  It turns out baby G has bad eczema, a bacterial skin infection (on his face, behind his ear and in his belly button), a yeast infection in his neck folds and in his diaper area...BOO.  And all of this may or may not be linked to food and/or environmental allergies.  Chances are, this little guy will be like his big brother and have lots of both.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant last year I considered this and remembered all I went through with Will and felt strong in my heart that we will handle whatever comes our way.  I still feel that way, but it stinks.  I am nursing Gus and am not going to stop as it is hands down the best nutrition for him and nursing is going so well, but this means I have to track what I'm eating and try to determine what may be causing these outbreaks and upsets.  Once he starts to eat foods (in about 2 months) we'll have to watch carefully and be prepared for reactions.  It is tough stuff, but I always tell myself it could be worse.  And my husband and I are a good team and we will make it work.  Just like we did and do for Mr. Will.  But it makes me sad to see my baby suffer and I wish I could just make it go away.

So for now, I'm tracking my foods and seeing how he responds to what is and isn't in my diet.  My hope is that this detective work will give us some possible answers and will help us determine when we should (or what we shouldn't) introduce into his diet when he begins eating solids.  At least this time around I know what I'm dealing with - the road ahead will have allergies and asthma most likely.

I need to remember to believe in myself as his mother.  When I look into those sweet eyes, I know he believes in me and he trusts me so completely.  I will do whatever it takes.

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