Friday, June 20, 2008

Scheduled Absence

Hello Loyal Readers!

As you may have started to realize with the chaos of the last posting (including the inexcusable spelling error Nitmos caught - I wrote "son" when I should have typed "sun" - duh, I've been keen with homonyms for YEARS and even taught the darn things to third graders!) and my plea with myself to find some life balance . . . I'm a bit bogged down with stress right now. That's really more of an understatement, as my husband will tell you that my stress levels when I was teaching, finishing my thesis, taking comps AND 8 months pregnant with our first child were LOWER than my current levels.

Why am I feeling so much pressure? I'm a perfectionist who needs some R & R. And with the gas prices where they are, I'm not likely to make it to any beaches or exotic retreats anytime soon, BUT, I am instituting a self-imposed vacation from blogging. I'm going to TRY to stay away for at least a week. Minimum. I think.

I can't promise that I won't be reading your blogs and leaving some comments here and there, but I WILL be a less-frequent visitor and you won't have any of my ramblings to read until nearly July (I think). Just please don't forget about my humble little blog and promise to check back and say hi when I return!

Rest asured that while I'm "gone" I'll be:

- practicing yoga (like I did last night - hooray!)
- sleeping (hopefully!)
- running (maybe even doing some speedwork - *oooooooh!*)
- playing with kids
- planning a hike for my son's birthday party
- cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, keeping the dog from eating (or urinating on) any veggies that finally grow in our garden
- trying to keep the house from burning down
- finding my sanity
- doing a little book promo here and there (but trying desparately not to stress about it!)
- relaxing in the Father's Day hammock
- reading books (the library should have a summer program for adults, too, don't you think?)!

Wishing you well as your summer gets started! Happy running!

See you in a week . . . or so.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Burnin' Down the House

We nearly had a fire at our house today.

The kids were sleeping after a full morning of sun and fun at the park with some friends so I took a break from checking email so I could put in a load of laundry without "help".

When I walked in the bedroom to retrieve the overflowing pile of darks, I noticed a burning smell. I opened our window to see if the smell was coming from outside. Nope. Just fresh air from that source (which I then decided to leave open to take advantage of the nice breeze).

Maybe the smell was coming from downstairs thinking that because Big Brother was examining the lint trap in the dryer earlier something could be awry there. I also need to get said dirty clothes down to the laundry room.

Nope. Nothing burning there.

The smell really was contined in my bedroom/bathroom. Hmmmm . . .

*visualize wide eyes and disbelief here*

It was the medicine cabinet in my bathroom BURNING. Really, burning. Today is sunny (probably the 12th sunny day this calendar year, no joke) and we have a rather large and wonderful sky light in the bathroom. I also have a small make-up mirror on the counter in the bathroom. Turns out that little mirror was tilted at JUST THE RIGHT angle to bounce powerful, direct light from the son onto the wooden cabinet. What are the chances of that happening? I'm not even sure I could venture to guess . . . but I do know that we haven't had any other "fire" instances in the 3.5 years we've lived here with that mirror on the counter.

We now have some lovely charring details adorning the cabinet. Any ideas for how to make the big black spots in the middle of the cabinet look asthetically pleasing? I'll post a photo by the end of the day. It's going to take something miraculous to cover up this near-house-fire detail!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Balance? What's THAT?

Today was the first day of summer vacation from preschool. I'm thrilled to report that we survived it and even had a pretty good day, too. I'm sure the lucious sunshine had a role to play in our upbeat day, as it allowed us to get outside to play several times. We just love our sandbox and park times!

It is slowly dawing on me, though, that the great balance I worked so hard for the last few months to achieve is now gone. I had whittled out some variables and was able to rearrange my days to make way for the biggest priorities, taking out a few of my favorites, but overall it worked okay. But now . . . vacation is getting going and I'm totally off kilter again!

Things that got squeezed out and I need to encourage back into my days:

- yoga (which will hopefully return with Date Night in July)
- date night (we've taken a hiatus for some family visitors at my parents' house)
- book reading (I've only neglected it for a week, but I miss it! I have read 3 magazines cover-to-cover twice, though)
- book promotion (I was fried and intentionally let this one go for about 2 weeks, but NEED to get back on it!)
- strength training (OK, you caught me - I've never been good at having this in my routine - other than yoga - so this is a new one that I'm wanting and needing to inject into my life. Are you proud, MizFit?)

Things that are new to my days and not going anywhere:

- having my son home all day, every day (LOVE him, but I'm not used to having him here all day!)
- my daughter's morning nap is getting later and later, sending me the red flag that the morning nap is about to become obsolete (AGH!!!!!!)
- sunshine (at least I hope this one is here to stay for at least one whole season!)

I'm thankful that other than ditching the 10K and replacing it with a short run on Saturday, my running has been a constant during the past few months. We have some "new" toys (translation: a freebie toy kitchen from a garage sale and the food toys that used to be without a cooking area) near the treadmill, so I'm thinking of having the kids explore their gourmet talents (translation: lick the plastic foods and then pass them to one another in plastic pots, open and close all of the doors a million times, stir around matchbox cars in the pots and flick the microwave "dinger" until it just won't ding anymore) one morning a week while I make like a hamster and log my miles in the house. I can run outside the other days in the evenings when my husband is home, but this gives the kids some toy variety and insures that I stick with my increase in milage.

That all being said, I'm off to relax. I think that's something else that gets neglected. Don't you think we'd all be a bit better off if we just took the time to breathe (and I don't mean on a run or practicing yoga, I just mean while doing nothing . . . or curling up with a book . . . ) and just BE. I'm so much of a "Type A" person that I forget that it is healthy to have rest, too.

How often do you find yourself revamping your plans for life balance?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Energy

So I managed to hold off the kids from waking up my husband until about 7:45, which was a whole hour after they got up and nearly 2 hours later than he gets up on weekdays. Though I wish they could have waited a little bit longer, they really just couldn't contain themselves as it was FATHER'S DAY and they had cards to give him (the cards have been hidden for nearly 2 weeks - a lifetime for little ones!)!

I called my dad at what I thought was a time when he would be awake to get ready for church (I was wrong, it seems, proving that some things never change - and making my husband laugh that my dad was woken by his kid, too) so I could wish him a happy day. I was also calling to see if we could retrieve my husband's gift (a hammock and stand!) from hiding at my parents' house. I ended up getting it later in the day when my dad was NOT home, so I still have yet to pass along a true message of gratitude for his nearly 30 years of being my dad. Hopefully the double chocolate cake I made for dessert will help drive home the message.

That will change shortly when we head up to his house for dinner. My mom is in CA visiting her brother with her sisiters (the first time the 4 of them have been together in YEARS - like maybe a dozen or more), so it is just the four of us and my dad. I offered to make his favorite mac & cheese from scratch (this isn't the box stuff, folks!) to go with some grill stuff, but he just called and insisted that I not make anything. He's doing the whole dinner for us . . . which has me totally flabbergasted that HE is making HIS Father's Day dinner (to which he responded, "Let me do this for the father of my grandkids" and you don't have to worry)! That's my dad. Always giving. Always.

So . . . here's to a day that ended up being just lovely all around for my two favorite men (even though they were forced out of their slumber earlier than they would have liked)! You can see how their days are something to celebrate:

My husband:
- cards from the kids
- a hammock (he's wanted one for YEARS)
- 15 minutes of relaxing in hammock
- a new pair of trail running shoes
- a 5 mile run in new shoes on the trail
- the kids napped at the SAME TIME!

My dad (photo to be added as soon as I can get it from my husband's computer to mine):

- a new mower blade (don't ask)
- lunch with some friends
- dinner with his daughter (that's me!) and son-in-law (the son he never had) and grandkids (who ADORE him and push past everyone else to get to him for hugs)

I hope they both know how loved they are.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Change of Plans . . .

So, this week was one that required us all to hang on tight and just ride out. I'm happy to report that we made it, but it was touch and go there for awhile.

- We opted out of school for my son on Monday due to a raspy/barky cough (which is still lingering, but not as bad as it was Monday morning)
- I took my daughter to the doc on Monday afternoon due to a head-smacked-into-door-jamb incident (all okay, but there's a nice bruise there still)
- my husband is sick
- my daughter is sick (requiring 1 sheet/jammie change through half-open eyes in the middle of the night . . . among other things)
- our son has been up every night (but one - and then I was awake out of habit - grrrr) this week for one reason or another
- I only ran one day

SO . . . mix that in with lots of good things:
- my mom's sisters are both visiting (think silliness, sewing, wine, visiting, eating, etc.)
- the sun has come out to peek at us twice
- the end-of-year school-wide field day and family picnic (think silliness, visiting, eating, running, sloshing through muddy fields to go to the bathroom, picture taking, crying when time to go home)
- the Symphony with the kids and my dad!
- playdates

And you get ONE WHIPPED PUPPY (that's me) and maybe even a somewhat neglected real pup! My plan to do a 10K tomorrow morning is OUT. I don't even think we'll downgrade to the 5K (and my still-sick husband has thrown in the towel, too). I think the plan for tomorrow is:

- sleep as long as the children will allow
- play the remainder of the day by ear
- be sure to fit in a trip to REI to get my dad's Father's Day present (one part is already taken care of, but won't be here by Sunday, so it is ESSENTIAL to have this other part on hand for our Father's Day cookout on Sunday).
- pray that BOTH children nap at the SAME time in the afternoon so that we can kick back and either nap or just veg out
- if everyone feels well, go for a casual run in the afternoon together with the double jogger

Wishing you dads out there a great Father's Day! May you find the weekend to be rejuvinating (that's what we're hoping for on this end)!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Game of Tag

Boy, oh, boy. I've been tagged by Erin to take part in a bit of Q & A about my running life. But, like Nitmos, who violated the rules and tagged one fellow running blogger, I'll just ponder it for a bit and go for just two or three.

But before I follow-through with that fun, I have to brag a bit. You know how I mentioned that my mom has started adding some running to her walking? And how she completed her first ever 5K on Saturday (in the cold RAIN, no less - this woman wasn't going to let a muddy trail get in the way of her goal!)? Well, I'm so very excited to report that she finished THIRD in her age group!!!!!! How's THAT?!!!! Go, Mom, Go!

Borrowing the rules from above mentioned speedy Nitmos:

Each player answers the 5 questions on their own blog. At the end of your post you tag 5 other people and post their names. Go to their blogs and leave a comment on their blogs telling them they've been tagged and to look at your blog for details. When they've answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you. (My edit: Or any version that works for you. It's fun to break the rules once and a while, right?)

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Ha! I didn't know ANYTHING about running except that it scared me and there was no way in the world you'd get me to do it. Well, wait a minute . . . I'm doing the math and having some flashbacks . . . I think about 11 or 12 years ago I HAD dabbled in it a bit and knew that it wasn't a good fit because I hadn't unlocked the mystery of breathing while running (an essential piece, don't you think?). I tried to like it, really I did. And I had a crush on a soccer player who loved to run, which was somewhat motivating . . . but, it didn't stick. So, yes, 10 years ago, I didn't run.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

My worst run experience was 3 years ago when my husband and I took our son (then 9 months old) on a trail run with us. The problem wasn't really with the run itself, but rather due to the fact that he had a delayed allergic reaction to his first dairy experience that afternoon. So, once we noticed the problem (pretty obvious hives and facial swelling - that weren't there when we started, I should note), we high tailed it back to our car and straight to the ER. Thankfully all was well, but we felt rather shameful that we were out for a run while our son was having an allergic reaction, and a bit gross in our sweaty gear as we hung out in the hospital. It was hard for me to get back to running after that because every time I saw my shoes I felt guilty.

I don't know that I can pinpoint a BEST experience, but my Turkey Trot run of 2007 was pretty fabulous (and also my FIRST blog post!) and my race on Saturday was pretty good, despite the rain! It sure helps that they are hometown races. There's a special element to a run in your community that isn't there when you run out of town (those have their own special excitement!).

3. Why do you run?

I could write about this all day. In fact, I spent 3 years writing and publishing a book about it (and since then, a good number of interviews, etc. about it): We Are Girls Who Love to Run. Haven't read it yet? See the bar to the left of your screen with the book's cover? Click on it and order it through or, better yet . . . ask for it at your local running specialty store! If they don't have it, request that they order it to carry it in their store. Sorry . . . shameless little plug there!

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

Holy moly. That's a big question! I think that having shoes custom fit is the best advice I've followed. I'm sure there are some other good pieces I've picked-up along the way, too, but the shoes one really sticks with me. AND, I think it is good to be re-fit for shoes occasionally, too. I ran in the same style of shoes for 5 years (New Balance) and though I love them and all of the time they supported me in my running, I just had a fitting last month. Turns out, my new pair of Brooks are a better fit for me in my current phase of foot-shape, how my foot strikes, my stride, etc. I love them, but know that I never would have found them if I hadn't gone to have them professionally fit!

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

Well, you all know about my love of cookies and more cookies . . . and that in a previous life I was a pom pon girl (sorry, no pics of that!) . . . so, what could possibly be left?

OK, here's something totally random for ya. I have an adversion to foods that have a yogurt-like or cottage cheese-like texture. Tapioca pudding is out, sour cream is out (unless it is mixed into something) and of course yogurt and cottage cheese themselves. I realize this is a bit sad, as it keeps me from the great benefits of yogurt and some other potentially fun flavors, but since I was a kid, I haven't been able to stomach even the thought of swallowing those foods. I keep hoping it will change, but it hasn't yet!

Tag . . . you're it:
1) Michelle (who is currently wilting in the heat, like many of you!)
2) Sarah (who runs faster than I can ever hope to run)
3) Holly (a Marine Corps Marathon entrant!)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Duvall Days 10K Race Report

I just finished up with an easy 30 minutes on the treadmill while my kids miraculously played happily beside me. Hooray! It was apparently so much fun playing with trucks and with the dog that when we were finished my daughter walked over to her crib to request a nap. My son is happy to relax and watch Word World for a bit (which is good because he's home from school today with a nasty cough and needs the down time) while I finally get to post my race report from Saturday morning's 10K.

To get an idea of what the run is like, here's the elevation for the race (it'll make your eyes pop!). Somehow the route map isn't available anymore.

The weather here has been pretty constant for the last 2 weeks: drizzly and in the 50s & sometimes low 60s. Blah. For the race, it was much the same. My husband and I hadn't considered packing gloves as we packed up the kids to drop at my parents' house, but thankfully I had a pair hanging out in the car (hooray for me, though sad I didn't have a pair for hubs) - I think they made a BIG difference for me, though they were fleece and got pretty heavy by the end.

So, we left the kids with my dad and picked up my mom so she could do her first 5K. Though she pre-registered and we were doing race day registration, we made it through the line first and then ran back to the car to drop off the race bag and do a bit of a warm-up (and potty break!). Before we knew it, it was time to GO!

The race started fairly flat for about a tenth of a mile, but then started the assent up the first hill. Though we got caught up in a fast start, our first mile was right around 10:20. Not terrible, but slower than I really wanted. Mile 2 clocked SLOWER (agh!) at 10:40, but that's really where we were primarily UPHILL. Things picked up for Mile 3 (though now 2 days later I can't recall what it was . . . somewhere around 9:50, I think). I forced my husband to take a few mini walk breaks with me (he would have pounded out 8:30 minutes uphill, if he was doing this on his own), but they were really rejuvinating and helped me find a good groove as we continued on.

My parents' neighborhood is right at the top of our final big hill, which was the PERFECT place for my dad and our kids to plant themselves (in the pouring rain!) to cheer on the runners. It was thrilling to have our very own chering squad. We saw their lone umbrella as we made our way up the hill - us with our arms over our heads waving to them to see us. We could see that Dad recognized us and he had the kids start waving harder than they already were. "Go, runners!" yelled our son, until he spotted us and started dancing around, "Go, Mama!" "Hooray, Dad!" Little Sister flapped her arms and squealed as their treasured "Papa" worked to get a few photos of us in action. It was really the highlight of the race. And from there on out, we did manage to pick-up the pace with happy hearts and soaked (but warmed-up) bodies. Sorry the photo is so blurry - it is hard to take a good pic while holding a wet toddler and umbrella in the rain! And, yes, for those of you who "know me" - that IS a yellow hat I'm wearing (see, Running Knitter, you don't have to worry!).

Mile 4 was at a 9:40 pace - and the flat part was coming, followed by the fast downhill. I forgot to mention that they had a photographer planted near the crest of the MONSTER hill to capture our survival. It was nice to see that they got photos of us on the way DOWN, too. I can't wait to compare the two to check out the difference in facial expressions. We did Mile 5 at a 8:something pace, with Mile 6 sprinting down toward the finish at an 8:20 pace. Talk about a day of negative splits! Edit: The results are now posted and as it turns out, when all was said and run, I finished in 58:46.77 (7 out of 14 for my age group).

I overheard that there were about 100 runners for the 10K, which is amazing since there were only about 30 the first year (3 years ago). Only a handful of folks passed us and we managed to pass some of them in the second half of the race. I may not be the strongest runner on the hills, but I'm getting better. AND, I do have the endurance, so even if they were faster on the hills, the hills wiped them out and we were able to keep going strong. That part made me smile.

The kick into the finish was great. I felt so strong that we sprinted past the "crowd" of 5K finishers and folks arriving for the Duvall Days Parade/festivities. It was a bit crazy with people milling about, and I did have to yell out "On your right!" to zip safely past some 5K finishers (they ran on a different course - a trail run - but our finish lines were the same). It was fun to see that in just under 59 minutes we were able to pass the 5K runners who started 15 minutes after our start. AND, I was excited that my mom crossed the line ahead of us, probably at around a 37 minute finish for her FIRST EVER 5K - hooray, Mom! Sadly we forgot to get photos to prove she was there, but one of her friends did note that "we were walking together, but your mom was much faster, so I told her to go on ahead and run. She just blasted right past me!" That's so cool!

Anyway, we finised the morning by quickly heading back to my parents' house to retrieve the children (peeling Little Sister out of her crib from her 20 minute nap) so my dad could take his van and piano to the parade line-up. We rushed home, changed out of our sloshy shoes and wet clothes, threw the kids in the double jogger and hoofed it 2 miles into town to see the parade (downhill). After enjoying the bands, horses, seeing my parents in the parade, etc., we made the 2 mile uphill walk back home, rounding out our milage to 10 for the day. What a FULL morning!

I could probably write more, but Mr. Music is desperately seeking a snack and Little Sister is waking. I'll post the photos ASAP. They're fun!

Oh, and did I mention I like the 10K distance so much that I'm doing it again this Saturday? A flat one this time, so maybe I'll PR (easy to do since this week was my first - ha!).

And while I'm actually thinking about photos, I'll go ahead and throw in one from the in-person Book Launch Party in May. From left to right: My mom, my aunt, Maria (the lovely hostess!), me, my husband. My dad was the photographer (as usual, it seems!) and took care of documenting the start of the party before we all forgot to take pictures when the guests started to arrive (which is what always seems to happen to me - just like I tend to forget to get a fork at the start of a buffet line - it is inevitable!)!
Have a great week!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Nearing My Goal

I've been writing for a good couple of months in anticipation for my first 10K race. Guess what? It is TOMORROW!

I've been doing well for the last month or so with my goal to get in at least 3 runs/week into my crazy life. Today's treadmill session and tomorrow's race will bring me to my goal this week. I haven't been on the treadmill in a few weeks . . . it made me realize how much I've been enjoying my outdoor runs. But, with the rain pouring down and our odd evening schedules of late, my quick 20 minute hamster run was better than no run at all.

I think tomorrow's race will be in the rain (the theme for this year, it seems), but that is just some good incentive to go, go, go! I just hope that my mom can share that same optimism as she runs her FIRST EVER 5K (the 5K is thankfully under a bit more cover because it is a flat trail run with plenty of tree canopies - out and back, whereas the 10K is a road race). Be strong and have fun, Mom!

If you are looking to confirm that there are some amazing, positive-natured folks in this world, I invite you to read about the life work of Trevor Romain, the creative genius behind the Trevor Romain Company. His blog is FILLED with heart-tugging, yet optimistic stories of his life experiences. His books (which I had in my classroom for my 3rd & 4th graders to enjoy) provide comical and reassuring support for kids as they face challenges in their lives: homework, bullies, tests, death, stress, etc. You may recognize his best selling title: How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up. I haven't seen his videos yet, but if they are anything like his books, they are bound to be GREAT. Good stuff, all around! Thanks to MizFit for reminding me of Mr. Romain's work!

Tonight I'll have to decide between reading more of Marathon Woman (Kathrine Switzer's book) or Dreaming the Mississippi (by Katherine Fischer, my writing professor from my freshman year of college). Both are GREAT and will be just the distraction I need on the night before my first race this season.

Off to read with my son . . . such a great thing to do on a rainy day!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Author Visit Details!

As promised . . . with a fair night's sleep, I now bring you a run-down (no pun intended!) of yesterday's visit:

I visited with 2 groups of 4th & 5th graders yesterday at Lewis & Clark Elementary School in Wenatchee, WA. I was amazed to see that the school was established in the 1800s. No worries, it has had PLENTY of updates and is a lovely place for kids to spend their days learning. Another impressive aspect of the school is that it is bilingual. The kids are truly immersed in both English and Spanish, with days designated as "English Learning" or "Spanish Learning". I was there on a Spanish day and YES, as I passed through the halls, I did hear that the students were being instructed in Spanish. It was fantastic! I am not a fluent Spanish speaker, so I was thankful that the students' library time (during which I was the guest) yesterday was an English speaking time. Whew!

As a former educator, I know how important it is for students' experiences to be as interactive as possible. I spent just 30 minutes with each class, but filled it with what I hope are memorable events. First I talked about why I wrote the book and how running became something I embrace instead of how I intitially shied away from it. Then I read the book (you could have heard a pin drop in there - SERIOUSLY, these kids were very attentive!) and shared some "insider secrets" behind the illustrations. After a few amazing questions from the students (for example: "When you share your writing with others and they tell you that they don't like a part of it, what do you do? How does it make you feel?" - This out of the mouth of a 4th grader!!!) I took them outside for a run with me.

I hope you've had a chance to visit the site that Carol Goodrow maintains. It is a great resource for parents/teachers/mentors who are introducting youth to our favorite sport. I'm really impressed by the selection of running games she has for people to use and have found myself sharing it with people who ask ME how they might engage their children in running in a fun, playful way.

For my visit yesterday, I combined 2 of the running games on to create one that I thought would be better received by "older" kids. I love the element of choice that the Butterfly Training provides kids and the variety of speeds the kids try out with the Triangle Training, so I combined them to create the Mountain Training (appropriate out here with our numerous mountains!). I was my intention for the Mountain option to help the older kids learn that they can run different speeds and identify how the various paces make them feel - and how recovery time is helpful, too! And guess what? That's JUST what happened.

Here's how the mountains look:

I drew something similar to Carol's butterfly, but instead of wings, I drew two non-symmetrical triangles to represent mountains (the lack of symmetry also helps kids avoid comparing how fast the kids on the "other mountain" are going). At the "peak" at each mountain, I have the kids do 10 jumping jacks (my time with the kids is limited, so I won't have a chance to do a song or anything more complicated like is suggested with the Triangle Training - but that's a super option for an after-school or summer running club to incorporate!). For the left-hand mountain, the kids "hike" (walk) to the peak and then jog down the other side. The right-hand mountain offers the kids the chance to run to the top and jog down. The space between the mountains is the Valley Sprint for the kids to run ALL OUT!

The first class I spoke and ran with was a group of 5th graders. When they first arrived to meet me in the library, I swear they were all half asleep. It WAS just 8:30, afterall! They perked up a bit as I read and were thrilled for the opportunity to go outside (even though it was super windy). I provided them all with a "map" that showed the kids which "mountain" was the hiking moutain and the running mountain and where they'd be doing their jumping jacks. I had an adult posted at each jumping jack cone to serve as cheerleaders (my mom was along for the trip, afterall, she IS my business partner, and she joined the kids for jumping jacks at one of the cones - GO MOM!). One of the adults was the woman who made my visit possible. She paid for the experience with her husband's memorial fund, which was dedicated to helping youth lead active lives. AND, though her grand-daughter is a second grade student at the school, she was able to have her join the first class to meet me and do the run (she loved it, too!).

After about 10 minutes of the Mountain Training course (during which their librarian joined in the run - how great is THAT?!), we gathered for some debreifing and conversation. We talked about what they like to read, what things they write about, and how the run made them feel. At this point they were all wide awake, they had smiles on their faces, and even though some of the students were still catching their breath, they all agreed that the run felt GREAT. They also shared that having the opportunity to take a walk break made the run more fun and helped them feel successful.

"Can we do it AGAIN?" one boy asked.

I was happy that we had a few minutes, so they all sprinted on down the Valley to run 3 more "laps of their choice" before heading back into the school. What FUN! These kids CHOSE to run more and did it with exuberance and laughter. That was not MY elementary school running experience - and for that I'm grateful. That was my goal!

The visit with the 4th grade class was similar. The kids were tired when they arrived, but full of smiles and energy by the time they had to return to their class. They were really proud of themselves for taking part in the run and there wasn't a single person who asked if they could sit out and watch. It was really very impowering.

I could probably go on and on and on . . . but I'll stop here. Just know that it was a powerful day and it had such a great reaction from the newspaper folks that were there (I'm still having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that I'm a "celebrity" of sorts) and the kids/teachers/etc. that there's a strong possibility that they'll be bringing me back to the school for a FULL day so I can visit with all of their classes next year. WOW!

You can read more about the other presentations I've developed for author visits on our Balanced Steps website. We're also in the process of finalizing the descriptions of the hands-on teacher workshops we offer . . . there is NEVER a dull moment in this business. And it is quite rewarding.

**Edit: You can read the article (and see photos of the kids and me in ACTION!) in the Wenatchee World here. I'm pretty excited to have made the Wenatchee World Home Page for the day!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Eyelids . . . closing

Hello, loyal readers.

I'd love to stay and chat a bit tonight, but this happy blogger is tttt (too tired to type). My 4:30 wake-up was a good 2 hours earlier than my usual day starts, but with good reason - I drove to Wenatchee, WA to visit with 4th & 5th graders at Lewis & Clark Elementary School (it is a bilingual school!). It went REALLY well (my visit included a running game), but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to read about it because even my fingers are tired and my eyes are yelling at me to back away from the bright computer monitor already and head to bed!!!!

Fear not, body of mine. I give in! Off to bed I go . . .

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Night Running

Last week I broke my month-long streak of 3 runs/week by only getting in 2 runs (they were strong ones, though). Instead of getting too bent out of shape about it, I'm just getting back on track and making an effort to stick with it this week.
The band R.E.M. recently released a new album and they played at The Gorge with some other great "80's bands" Memorial Day weekend, so their music (old and new) has been on the radio nearly daily. I couldn't help but think of "Night Swimming" song from the 1992 album Automatic For the People when I went for my run last night at 8:30, singing "Night Running deserves a quiet night . . . " as I ran along with my dog, Albus. I'm usually a morning run kind of gal, but life makes you try new things. I can definitely say that the timing was right when I laced up my shoes and headed out.
Top 5 things about last night's run:
- The kids went to bed without a fuss, so I was relaxed and happy to start
- For safety (and because he loves it!) I took our dog with me
- I ran for just 20 minutes, but covered the same amount of distance that has taken me 25-27 minutes in the past!
- I felt strong and could have run further if I wanted
- My new shoes felt great
Tonight I'm off to Vinyasa while my poor husband works another late night and my kids have an overnight at my parents' house. Tomorrow morning it is up and at 'em early for me with a road trip to Wenatchee, WA for an author visit with nearly 200 4th & 5th graders - I'll read them my book and then get them running a fun little path I designed to make running fun for all abilities. More on that when I return! A light run is in order on Thursday and then a rest day before the big 10K race on Saturday morning - what a full week!
I hope you are having a great week, everyone!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hooray - it isn't broken!

I've been planning to share my excitement about getting a new pair of running kicks a week ago and how I've been enjoying some longer runs in them to prepare for this Saturday's 10K. But for now that little teaser will have to suffice, because life has been busier than I expected over the last week.
Mostly, I'm happy to report that my son's foot isn't broken. He (and his little sister, of course!) spent the morning with my dad and the afternoon with a friend while my mom and I took a day-long business trip to Portland ( a "quick" 3-4 hour drive). The day went well for the kids and for us and we even made it back home in time to meet my dad and the kids for dinner out. But by the time I got the kids home to play in the yard a bit before bedtime, my son was acting more cranky than usual at the end of a busy day and my daughter could have gone to bed about an hour early after all the fun of the day.
As it turns out, the bottom of my son's foot was a bit bruised and red, so it wasn't comfortable for him to play. I got the kids their evening snacks, iced his foot, went on with the bedtime routine and then welcomed my husband home from work at 8:10 (nearly 3 hours later than usual - talk about a LONG day!). When we checked on the kids at 10:00 before we headed to bed to crash after our busy days, my husband took our son to the potty. This is when we knew something wasn't right.
He wouldn't put any weight on his foot to go potty and started screaming in pain. His footed jammies posed a bit of a time delay for us to see what was going on with his foot, but once we were able to get his writhing little self out of the jammies and hold him still to look, we discovered that in less than 3 hours the red area had nearly doubled, his toes looked stiff and his foot was swollen to nearly twice the normal size. With a bit of a cut on the top of our son's foot, our husband feared that somehow his foot might be broken. Broken or not, this kid needed his foot checked - right away!!
Off they went to the ER while I stayed home with Little Sister (who woke up in the midst of all the chaos - she usually sleeps through any minor crying incidents, but there was just no way that anyone could sleep through his wailing . . . I half expected knocks on our door from the neighbors checking to be sure we were all okay). She did manage to fall asleep almost immediately after the boys headed out. Whew!
I called our night owl friends who had watched the kids to see if they remembered anything unusual about their "shift" with the kids. There was really nothing out of the ordinary to report other than a brief nude moment when their son and ours decided to play "bathtub" in the sandbox and strip down completely - really. As shocking as it sounds, I can't even imagine what it was like for my friend to peer out into the yard and see these blindingly white bodies dancing around in the sandbox . . . silliness that only 3 and 4 year olds (and their parents) can appreciate. Unable to relax and uninterested in any drivel that might be on TV, I spent the next few hours reading Kathrine Switzer's Marathon Woman. It was a good distraction.
3 X-rays and a few exams later (and nervous phone calls from me, anxiously waiting for a report) my husband called at 1AM to tell me that our son's foot was NOT BROKEN!!!! The problem was cellucitis, an infection most-likely caused by a cut or bug bite that was re-wounded (though we're not sure when EITHER happened). Easy for something like that to happen when you're a 3 year old boy who lives for adventure. The doc drew a line around the infection line for us to monitor the retraction/spread of the infection and sent them on their way to the 24 hour pharmacy so we could get the broad spectrum antibiotic working right away. They returned home at 2AM to a mom who had fallen sound asleep almost immediately after the call, relieved at the encouraging prognosis.
Today, nearly 3 days later, you'd never know we had the foot infection chaos on Friday night (aside from the still tired parents and the half-dollar sized bruise on the instep of his foot). We'll get a follow-up check at his regular pediatrician this afternoon and finish out the meds over the next week. Whew!
Though Big Brother couldn't be out and about playing this weekend, we did put the two kids in the jogger and went for a 5 mile run on Saturday. Fresh air for all without worrying about bothering the foot.
Here's to a smooth-going week, everyone! Happy running and life-juggling! And thanks for continuing your support by voting for the Kids' ESPYs!