Tuesday, October 26, 2010

my littlest running buddy

This is my littlest running buddy (a.k.a. my son, Jaron).  His training wheels came off in July and he has been riding his bike almost every day since.  He especially loves to ride next to me while I run.  I especially love this too!  For one, it allows me to get a little workout in during the day, before hubby and big sis get home.  For two, I allows me to be right next to him as he rides and correct his steering when he gets a little distracted (like when he looks straight up into the sky to see a bird, or to the left to see a dog, or to the right to see what's in the ditch, or straight down to swerve around a pine cone...).

Don't let his 12-inch rims fool you, he has already biked over 30 miles this month!

P.S. Is there anything more adorable than the sound effects of a 4-year old boy on his motorcycletruck, trainbike?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Should I give him the credit?


A few weeks ago, I ran the You Go Girl 10K in Tacoma, WA placing 2nd in my age group, 7th overall, and with the fastest race pace I’ve ever ran, scored myself this adorable pearl bracelet!

I was quickly humbled, however, for the following reasons:

1) The race officials misspelled my last name, so the race results have no record of me running by my real name.
2) My personal info. (City & State) was not included in the results listing, either.
3) When searching my bib number, there is not a single race photo of me (This one is my fault. I overdressed, as usual, and took my top layer displaying my number off in the 2nd mile…tying it around my waist and out of camera shot for the rest of the race).
4) Lastly, my husband was late getting to the finish line (so I don’t even have an eyewitness that I finished!).

If it wasn’t for the bracelet (and a sore hamstring), I might think the whole thing was just a dream! I mean, honestly, if I had a Google-stalker, he (or she) wouldn’t even know I ran this race…and certainly wouldn’t know to be proud of me and want to Google-stalk me all the more. How frustrating!

Anyway, getting back on track: I spent the majority of the summer running sporadically, with very little direction. With 6 weeks to go before the race, I asked my hubby, Dave, to write me a training program that could whip my butt into shape, quickly! He did just that. He wrote me a killer workout schedule (I mean, it almost killed me). But, it also helped me focus, kept me motivated and even got me excited to work hard!

So, should he get the credit for the end result? He’s a teacher, so he would probably expect partial credit, at least. Yeah, I’ll give him that. I’ll give him partial credit…but I won’t give him my bracelet.

btw:  The 6-week 10K workout is posted on a tab above.  That's not like sharing test answers, is it? I can't get in trouble for this, right?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let's hear it for "the girls!"

The idea for this post came to me today, partly because October is breast cancer awareness month and partly because I watched the movie Footloose last night and have been humming “Let’s hear it for the boy” most of the day (never mind that Kevin Bacon’s co-star, Lori Singer, doesn’t appear to own a bra during the filming of that slightly controversial, very sweaty blockbuster hit). Myth #1: Wearing a bra causes breast cancer. Myth #2: Wearing deodorant causes breast cancer.

I think that everyone who has seen the film would agree that there is an awful lot of moving going on and not enough hydrating (unless you count the few scenes where the actors are drinking beer). Myth #3: Drinking water from plastic bottles (especially those left in a hot car) causes breast cancer. Myth #4: Drinking red wine can prevent breast cancer.

Like the well-intentioned folks of Beaumont, TX, we tend to create our own solutions to hard-to-answer problems. In Footloose, the town made it illegal to dance, believing this was the solution that would keep the youth of the community from becoming corrupt. Similarly, it is out of fear that we create our own myths and rumors about how to prevent a disease we feel we have very little control over. In both cases, the plan backfires. Myth #5: A diagnosis of breast cancer is an automatic death sentence.

In the movie, corruption spreads throughout the town. Teachers are burning books and teens are driving across the state line to party. Even the pastor’s daughter “has been kissed a lot.” Myth #6: Birth control pills cause breast cancer. Myth #7: Breast cancer is determined by breast size.

It’s true that many of the risk factors associated with the development of breast cancer are out of our control to prevent (genetics, age, etc…). However, there are a few things every person (Myth #8: Only women can develop breast cancer) can do to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer as well as other forms of disease:

Eat healthy
Control your weight
Don’t smoke
Limit alcohol intake
Routine screening (Myth #9: Mammograms cause breast cancer)

Seems fairly obvious, right? If you want to be healthy, act healthy. That’s not a guilt-trip, nor is it a demand or command. It’s an invitation to get up…it’s our time to dance!

Oh yeah and one last thing, having a risk factor for breast cancer does not mean you will get the disease (that’s myth #10 and my personal favorite to debunk!).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Honey Bucket...what a lie.

I can’t believe I am starting my blog up again with a post about port-o-pots. I can’t help it. I live near a bunch of berry fields sprinkled with bright blue pot-o-pots. Everywhere I look I see them, and as they say, “in sight, in mind” or is it, “out of sight, out of mind,” either way.

I hate port-o-pots just as much as the next person, but sometimes I also kind of love them. This is honestly a love- hate (mostly hate) relationship and here’s why:

Hate reason #1: They always smell like rotting colon. Even the blue disinfectant seems to amplify the stench.

Hate reason #2: People always forget to move the little slider on the door to ‘occupied’ when they are ‘occupying them’ and I always seem to be the idiot who opens the door on these unsuspecting people. What I hate the most, though, is that I immediately apologize to them every time, taking total responsibility for their lack of attention to detail.

Hate reason #3: I was the victim of a terrible port-o-pot prank at the emotionally-tender age of 13. Sorry, I can’t go into detail…doctor’s orders.

Hate reason #4: I suffer from a mild case of claustrophobia (probably due to hate reason #3), and if you haven’t noticed, one can barely turn around inside the standard-sized port-o-pot.

Hate reason #5: Flies.

Hate reason #6: The stuff that comes out of people is gross and, try as I might to avoid looking directly into “the pot”, I can’t resist a quick glance, sometimes even a gaze! I don’t know why I do this, but I think it may be due to an irrational fear that if I don’t, something or someone might grab me from out of the poopy-blue murk below and pull me in or (and this is gross) jump straight into my butt hole.

With those reasons being said, I also love the port-o-pot, but for only one reason and one reason alone: because when you gotta go, you gotta go! And, the urgency of this fact can easily negate any and all hate reasons to not use it… plain and simple.

A little advice to my fellow female runners out there: If you avoid fun runs, races, and other activities where port-o-pots are the only facilities available, look for “all girl” events (no offense, boys). I ran in the You Go Girl 10K today and even at the end of the race the port-o-pots were impressively clean.

A question: Are all port-o-pots fair game for usage (construction sites, school yards,…berry fields)? Sometimes I wonder, but not long enough to stop me from using one in a pinch (no pun intended).

One can never be too prepared before entering.
I'm ashamed of this post.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Is painting the same as running?

Let's see...I'm tired, sweaty, smelly, slightly sun-burned and ready for bed by 9:00.  Yep, painting sounds a lot like running!

So, maybe I shouldn't feel so guilty about taking a break from running, while I am consumed with summer projects around the house.  And, maybe there's no need to join an expensive gym or embark on a complicated exercise schedule when there are hundreds of chores to do right here at home.  Just be sure that when you're doing everyday tasks, you're performing them with conviction... you know, with some real vim and vigor!

Here is a list of chores and the corresponding calories you can burn by doing about 30 minutes of activity:
Making the bed:  94 calories
Washing the dishes: 144 Calories
Vacuuming: 196 Calories (How many people actually move the furniture?  I'm curious.) 
Raking the lawn: 206 Calories
Grocery shopping (and my personal favorite chore): 190 calories (Unless you're at Costco, eating samples the entire time!).

Here's my husband showing some serious vim and vigor...and no shame!

Have a great week doing whatever you do to burn calories.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This first-time gardener is too easily impressed.

Our family started our first vegetable garden this year and although the spring started out cold and wet and nothing seemed to want to grow, after just a few days of summer sunshine and warmer temps our garden burst into life!

This is Faith's sugar pie pumpkin plant.  Yep, that is just one plant! 

Do you know what plant this flower blooms from?  An eggplant!

Yellow summer squash!

My kids love beets.  I know, they're weird!

Faith's carrots.

Kids eat more vegetables when they grow them! Try it.  Oh yeah, and my daughter says her favorite chore is weeding!

The jury is still out on the Topsy Turvy tomato planter.  My poor plant spends all it's time trying to be upright.

I planted this tomato plant at the same time as the Topsy Turvy.  He seems happier, don't you think?

Almost knee-high by the 13th of July? Hummm....

Green beans!

Baby fennel is so cute!  I have no idea what I'll do with it when it grows up. 

Did you know that chives deter aphids?  I planted several plants in my rose garden.  Plus, they are great on baked potatoes and come back year after year!
What's your favorite vegetable to grow?  I'm already planning for next year...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sorry I've been blogged down lately...

…but enough is enough already! I hope I haven’t lost all my “running buddies” as a result of my unexcused absence from the wonderful world of blogging. I’ve had some wonderful post ideas over the past 4 weeks, but haven’t been able to find the time to actually write/post them. I started this blog as a way to stay in touch with friends and fellow runners as well as provide a place of encouragement and motivation for everyone who might read it. I’m sorry I’ve been slacking on the job blog lately. I am hoping to resume posting to at least once a week. Let me know if you have a post topic you’d like to see on the blog or any other ideas on how to make the blog better.

Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Breaking the cycle (with something short and hopefully sweet).

I usually start running to get back into shape. Then I think, “why not train for a race of some kind?” Then I run a race and think, “why not train for a longer race?” Then I complete a longer race and think, “why not train for an even longer race?” At this point, my life is usually becoming somewhat consumed by my running schedule as I train for longer and longer races. At some point, however, I always get too burned out to continue. In many cases, I get injured or just become too busy with “life” to sustain a workout regimen that has morphed into something rather insane. So, I concede and give myself sabbatical from running for a while. Cycle complete.

This summer I’m breaking the cycle and trying something new! I’m training for a race that is short and fast. Exciting, right?! I will be training all summer to run a 10K in the fall…as fast as I can! Instead of increasing my mileage each week, I’ll be working on speed and running in a completely different way, with different goals. My personal trainer/athletic trainer/conditioning coach/husband is stoked about this. I’m hoping his excitement stems from the idea of seeing more of me and not losing me to longer and longer workouts (like he has in the past), but it could also be because he will finally have his very own personal, human “guinea pig” to experiment with (one that he doesn’t have to pay from a research grant or bribe with extra credit). I kind of think it is the later, but I’m a little afraid to ask.

Anyone else feel stuck in a cycle or have any tips on getting faster (sometimes I feel like my legs only have one speed)?  As I eluded, this is an experiment.  I'll prepare my thesis and be ready to defend it after the 10K this fall.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We get to inspire our kids...

I had an interesting conversation with my 6-year old daughter a few days ago. While I was helping her dry her hair after a bath, she said, I don’t think I ever want to get married, but I would like to have a baby. Do you have to get married to have a baby?” A little stunned, I quickly answered Yes.” And that, of course, was immediately followed by a why?” from her. Trying to delay “the talk” in its entirety for another day (or year), I simply explained that God wants children to have both a mom and a dad. She started nodding and said, Oh, I know why. It’s so that if the mom wants to go for a run, there’ll be someone around to watch the kids.” I told her she was exactly right!

Later, after reciting the conversation to my husband (and listening to him laugh out loud), I thought about my daughters logic and couldn’t help but feel pleased, not only because I dodged “the talk”, but because in her little mind, she defined me, at least in part, as a runner. Even more important to me than that, is the fact that she thinks of my running as a normal activity that moms do. It’s apparent, by this example and numerous others, that my actions directly influence the way my daughter thinks and no doubt will also have an impact on the decisions she makes in her future. I’m not saying she’ll be a runner or want to be an athlete of any kind for that matter, I’m just recognizing the incredible responsibility I have as her mom to set a good example. This is a terrifying, challenging and rewarding task for any mom who wishes to encourage her kids, motivate them, and yes… maybe even inspire them!

I'm definitely a work in progress... so excuse me now while I surf the library website for parenting resources. I’m going to need to brief myself several times for the day when she asks me “more serious” questions.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It’s a dog eat dog…I mean, dog eat runner world.

(Cottonwood Creek, Colorado Springs, CO: 2008)

I see the beast heading straight toward me.

My heart starts racing and I look away. Almost immediately, I look back and our eyes lock. Even though he is yards away, I’m positive he can already sense, maybe even smell, the terror that I feel rapidly engulfing my entire body. He’s closer now, so I move to my left. He moves to my left. Like a fool trying to juke him again, I side-step to my right. He mirrors my action with no hesitation. Having no time to sort them, random thoughts and words flood my mind… Is he running faster now? Should I slow down? Should I speed up? Should I grab a stick? A rock? Where is his owner?teeth, slobber, rabies, leash law, pepper spray, pooper scooper, help!  

Stop thinking!

Nevermind, start thinking!



Taking a deep, possibly final breath, I squeeze my eyelids closed and leap (I’d say hurdle, but my form is way off). With relief, I instantly welcome the solid, dirt trail beneath my feet once again and immediately look back. In full stride, the dog hasn’t missed a step... and neither have I.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Loving me some Brown Cow!

Yes, I know...I'm weird.  I'm writing about yogurt.  I've been contemplating whether I should write this post for a few hours now and have finally decided to throw all dignity out the window and go for it (judge me if you want to).  I love this yogurt!!  It has nothing to do with running, pre/post workout consumption, or anything else remotely related to exercise...I just love it and want the whole blog world to know!

A few posts ago, I wrote about healthy, yummy food finds (and buying more natural, organic foods)...well, this is one of those finds!  I stumbled across it on sale at a local grocery store this week and have became an instant fan.  Sweetened with natural honey and maple syrup with nothing else added, it really is "all natural."

I am limiting myself to one Brown Cow a day (vanilla is my favorite) and hiding them from everyone else in my family.  I told you, I'm weird.

Exciting news:  An anonymous reader sent Running Buddies an awesome "little something" for our next give away.  Watch for more details in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, try Brown Cow for yourself and let me know what you think (and forgive me for such a lame post...).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you can't join 'em, write about 'em.

Most runners know that tomorrow is “the big day” in Beantown. Over 25,000 people will attempt to run the 114th edition of the Boston Marathon. I don’t know what my fascination is with this race. It just intrigues me so much! I guess for one, it is the oldest and most prestigious annual marathon around. It was first held in 1897. For two, the legendary race course winds runners through eight Massachusetts cities and towns. That sounds like fun (plus, I’ve never been to Boston)! For three, you have to qualify for this race (which is a lot easier said than done…trust me). And for four, I really want to see a baseball game in Fenway Park! Marathon day always includes a home Red Sox game.

Two years ago, I trained for a marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston. On an absolutely beautiful day in Eugene, OR, in front of a bunch of cheering family and friends, I missed my qualifying time (3:40) by 3 minutes! Since the heartache occurred, I haven’t made any other attempts at reaching this goal. I haven’t given up, I’m just waiting for a time when my schedule will allow crazy long runs again. I’m also waiting to age a bit more. You know… so I can get into a slower qualifying bracket! :)

Some interesting facts:

*There hasn’t been an American winner (male or female) since 1983. Seems we are always chasing the Kenyans, Ethiopians and Russians. Cheer for Ryan Hall or Meb Keflezighi if you want USA to end in front.

*Women were not allowed to run the Boston Marathon until 1971. Several women snuck into the race before they were allowed, running without bib numbers or being disqualified at the end.

*The total prize money distributed among the winners will be $806,000.  There's some motivation.

*Approximately 500,000 spectators line the 26.2-mile course annually. I sure hope there are a lot of port-o-pots... and hand sanitizer!

Go Boston!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shady Sunscreen

Spring is here and summer is on it’s way! For someone who lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest, the mere idea of sunshine couldn’t make me happier. In addition to smiles and better running weather, more sun also means more sunscreen. All summer long, I lather generous amounts on myself, my kids, and even my husband (If he will let me). Recently, I heard a special report on oxybenzone, a chemical found in almost all leading brands of sunscreen. It blocks UVB rays and prevents sunburn, but it has also been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, cell damage, and low birth weight. In addition, it does nothing to block harmful UVA rays. UVA radiation hastens the progression of skin cancer, suppresses the immune system, and ages the skin over time. After hearing the report, I quickly checked the 3 tubes of sunscreen that I could easily access in my house, and sure enough… they all contained oxybenzone. Then, I ran to my car to check a 4th tube I knew I had stashed in the glove box…it also contained oxybenzone. Then, I did what any normal human being would do... I loaded my kids in their car seats, got in my car, and drove to Wal-Mart to buy some new sunscreen.

Anyway, if you are like me and want a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays but don’t want to be contaminated by a chemical that could have harmful long-term health effects, look for a sunscreen that contains the active ingredient Zinc Oxide and use an SPF of at least 30. Be warned, this isn’t easy to find. I looked through every spray, bottle, and tube around the MASSIVE sunscreen island in Wal-Mart and could only find 1 small tube that contained zinc. It may be easier to order online or find at a local pharmacy.  And, remember...it's better to run before 10am and after 4pm, if possible.

Here’s a list of the Top Ten Sunscreens (according to the Environmental Working Group):

1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Sunscreen business aside, is anyone else excited for sunny, warmer days!?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Have seconds

Sometimes it’s funny the little things in life that make you think about really big things in life. Sometimes, it’s just a song…

Before heading out the door for a run this week, I reached for my ipod and, as usual, it was out of juice. So, what choice did I have, but to grab my hubby’s fully charged ipod just sitting there asking to be used! Listening to Dave’s ipod is always a treat for me, not just because it’s charged more often than mine, but because I love his playlist. I love it because… well, because it is just sooo…HIM! From Def Leopard and Journey’s Greatest hits, to stand-up comedy sketches from Jim Gaffigan and full sit-com downloads of Scrubs, I’m never quite sure what I am going to hear, but it’s always guaranteed to be entertaining!

Well, this particular day was no exception, a mile or so into my run, the Relient K song, “Who I am hates who I’ve been” started playing. Everyone should have this song on their playlist…It’s fast and will make you run faster! It’s a fact. I dare you to challenge it! No, I double-dog dare you!! Click here.

Anyway, when the song ended, I immediately played it again and then again. The next couple times I played it, I actually listened to the words (this is where my mind started wondering, my thoughts got a little less coherent, and my run went by a lot faster). The lyrics made me think about a quote I recently read on my nephew’s Facebook page. It said, “Unless life hands you water and sugar, your lemonade is gonna suck!” I thought about all the things that can happen to us in life that “sour” our attitude, poison our behavior, and change the way we see ourselves. Sadly, many of life’s bitter experiences are totally out of our control and may actually be the result of another person’s selfish actions and decisions or the result of an unavoidable personal tragedy, or both. Regardless, it affects us and ultimately helps to shape us into the people who we are. That’s not always a bad thing, but it’s not always a good thing either. It makes me think that a little self-evaluation every now and then might not be a bad idea. You know, just to make sure we’re still loving ourselves…or at least liking ourselves (or not loving ourselves too much…whatever the case may be). This song was somewhat convicting to me. It made me stop (not literally...I was running after all) and ask myself “Who am I? Is this who I want to be? Or better yet…Is this who I was intended to be?”

I won’t go into the personal details of my answers (believe me, you wouldn’t want to read the details), I’ll just say, “who I am IS NOT who I’ve been and who I’ve been will take a second chance….” I was beautifully and wonderfully made…we all were. So, that’s how I want to see myself and that’s how I want others to see me. Thankfully, we get as many chances to change as we are brave enough to take. And, second chances are a good thing…a little bit like water or sugar...kind of like...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Have Asics, Will Travel

As all runners know, there is no better way to explore than by on foot.

Most of the races I have completed have been out-of-state. I've found this to be motivating for a few reasons. First off, if I'm traveling for a race, I better train for it! Also, I tend to enjoy the race route more if it's a surprise and I can be distracted by the adventure of what's behind each turn. Finally, there's no better post-race reward than finding yourself in a fun or relaxing destination!

Outside of races, I've also been fortunate to incorporate running into many of my travels- packing along my trusty Asics and devising my own route. Some of the highlights of my trips include running up the Champs Elysees in Paris, training along the city seawall in Apia, Samoa, and jogging along Hoan Kiem Lake (pictured above) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Here, I witnessed residents lifting weights, doing calisthenics, and performing various routines in time with choreographed music piped through speakers along the shoreline- talk about a cultural experience!

Even in my hometown of Seattle, I've found that by running with no plan other than 'this road looks interesting, I'll turn here', I've come across beautiful neighborhood streets, new businesses (including yummy post-run restaurants), and undiscovered vantage points that have left me with a greater appreciation for where I live. I've often thought it was a shame that running tours aren't more prevalent in major cities.

Now that running buddies are finding their way to this blog from around the country and around the world, I would love to hear from you about a time when you've laced up and set out to explore in your hometown or beyond. Any tips on fun destination races would be appreciated as well- the adventure must go on!