Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nearly a Week Without Running . . . but still Thankful

(Rainbow over the Puget Sound after a rainstorm on Camano Island this weekend while we were camping - photo was taken right from our campsite!)

It is nearly midnight, but my brain is racing. I'm blogging in attempt to purge my thoughts and thus calm myself. No, no, I'm not awake worrying about anything and no, my redheaded temper isn't fired up about anything I can't change. I'm simply overwhelmed (in a good way) by some pretty simple things, for which I am thankful:

1. I am thankful that my mom was able to fly ALL the way from WA to MA for a weekend with the extended family of her youth. She gathered with her three siblings (just that part is amazing) and their dad to celebrate the life of her uncle with their countless cousins and, and, and . . . from what I hear, it was QUITE the gathering in honor of an amazing man. While there, my mom and her siblings also celebrated my grandpa's 85th birthday and were able to spend Father's Day with him. Today was likely the first Father's Day all 4 of them were with their dad in a few decades. Isn't that remarkable? I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. Wow.

2. I am honored that my high school AP Chemistry teacher somehow remembered me after all these years and friended me on Facebook (along with a number of my memorable and colorful classmates). Her class and her talents as a teacher (beyond just the material) were important parts of my Senior year and her passion for teaching inspired me in my years as a teacher. It turns out she recently bought a copy of We Are Girls Who Love to Run. The book, and my regular FB status updates about my runs and silly anecdotes about my little family, are now helping to inspire HER as she enters the world of running and trains for her first triathlon in August. Inspiration truly is circular. OK, now my eyes are getting a bit blurry.

3. I have not run a step since last Wednesday (I think it was Wednesday, anyhow). Our family took off on Thursday for a long weekend of camping at Camano Island State Park and it was amazing. We did come home a day early, but ended up exploring another State Park this morning instead, so we didn't really lose much outside time with the switch in plans. We gained a bit of extra sleep and a fun movie night, though. The weekend away from computers, and telephones was just what this gal needed . . . and the weekend away from grass pollen and whatever else is triggering his allergies is just what this gal's husband needed. The beach, with rocks, driftwood, forts, crabs of all sizes and colors, wind, rain, rainbows, coin showers, and amazing clouds welcomed us. My daughter roasted her first marshmallow and my son enjoyed at least three fire-roasted blueberry pies with the mountain pie maker (in one night).
(This is the view from our camper on our camping trip this weekend - literally the best spot in the whole campground - talk about having a room with a view!)

4. I am thankful for the promise of a playful summer. This weekend reminded me that my children's childhoods are precious and short - I will be limiting screen time across the board. Our mission for the summer is to explore and experience while the getting is good. The kids can do without TV on a daily basis (though I think Saturday family movie nights will become part of our fun when we're not camping) and I can do without FB/Twitter/blogs on a daily basis. I will definitely check-in and post from time to time, but not with the regularity that you've seen from me in the past. Summer in the Pacific NW is too short!

(Here's my Boy Who Loves to Wiggle in his best form!)

5. I am thankful for readers and runners who have the book We Are Girls Who Love to Run on their shelves. I am thankful that they are sharing their passion for running/living a vivid life by recommending the book to others and by encouraging others to reach their goals (running or otherwise!). You can even find the book on Facebook and become a fan! The blog posts I do write over the summer will be running/book publishing related. I'll update you with info about where the book is headed, where you can find it to buy a copy (if you don't already have one!), and additional ways you can share your love of books and running with youth. This is, after all, my passion. I will also continue to share pertinent book reviews about similar, uplifting books.

(This is my 2 year-old Girl Who Loves to Run, doing what she does best . . . go, go, going!)

And with that, dear reader, I am feeling less fidgety and my brain is getting the message that it is okay to slow for the night. Tomorrow I will return to my love of running - refreshed & energized by the time spent with my family and the new perspective I have on what my place is in this world at this point in time.

Wishing you happy running and precious time with your loved ones this summer,


Monday, June 15, 2009

Starting the last week of school with a Thankful Heart

The kids are down & out with the double whammy of environmental allergies & croup, but that doesn't mean there aren't things for which to be thankful! As this last week of school gets going (well, it will get going for us on Wednesday when he's not contagious anymore), I am thankful for:

1. The wonderful educational foundation my son has received in his two years of Montessori preschool. Wouldn't trade it for anything and I look forward to my daughter enjoying her years there when it is her turn.

2. The friends I've made through my son's school. At least two of them have joined me for runs, so you know they are amazing women (even the non-runners are great)! Yes, parents can make friends at school, too.

3. My 25:51 PR at the Duvall Days 5K on June 6th (and placing 14th out of 220 women)! Thanks to the combination of group runs, Sane Fitness strength training, and a little "kick in the pants" from my husband (more like a dare, really), I discovered that YES, this body can go a bit faster and actually enjoys the challenge. Think I can break 25:00 by the end of summer? Hmmm . . .

4. The promise of the lazy days of summer. Our family calendar is filling quickly with camping/hiking/music filled adventures. In fact, last weekend we managed to ride 2 ferries, visit 2 State Parks and I still got in my Saturday morning run. As my son says, "This summer I want to spend A LOT of time outside. Outside, outside, outside." Done!

5. The honor of being the author of a successful book. I'll write more about this later in the week, but in these days of struggle for the book publishing world, I'm thankful for the readers who spread the word about We Are Girls Who Love to Run and encourage others to make it part of their treasured book collection. For an independent publishing company with a minuscule budget, Balanced Steps is really having a positive impact on young readers and their families!

Wishing you health, sunshine and happy running!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lost in the Pages: Review of Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

I picked up Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle at our local drug store on a whim one day. As an author, I'm a total sucker for books, especially picture books, and even more especially picture books for girls that somehow incorporate healthy living. Usually I think about them longer than 5 seconds before purchasing them, though. But this time the cover grabbed me, I totally forgot the purpose of my stop at the store, and off I went to the check-out to make it mine (under the guise that the book is for my daughter). Kudos to illustrators Mike & Carl Gordon for their whimsical artwork that truly stopped me in my tracks.

Things that make this book shine:

1. The author's daughter is credited for asking the question that created the book.

2. The book is a dialogue between a mother and daughter.

3. The girl's dog joins her on her questioning adventure ("Do princesses climb trees?" one page reads. The illustration shows the girl dangling from her knees on a branch. Her dog is doing the same with its back legs on the next branch over!).

4. The mother's answers to her daughter's questions are both playful and real.

5. This book celebrates the joy of life with healthy balance of adventure and responsibility (the girl has chores and goes to school - what more could a mom ask for?).

The only thing that I would change about the book is to make the main character a redhead. But only because my favorite little girl is a redhead (that would be my daughter), not for any REAL reason. But, since the mom is a redhead (like me), I really can't complain.

Without saying too much more (like giving away the surprise ending - which adds icing to the already wonderful cake of a book), I do have to add that I think this book has some great parallels with We Are Girls Who Love to Run and another book I reviewed just a little while ago, Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen. All three books encourage girls to embrace the many facets of girlhood, let their inner selves shine, and to follow their hearts. Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? is truly a gift from the author and illustrators to the world of little girls. I look forward to sharing this book with my daughter as I help her recognize her inner strengths and explore the beauty of our day-to-day world.
How about you? Is there a book that really grabbed YOU recently? Do tell!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Checking the Numbers

I posted at the start of May that I would be tracking my mileage on the calendar. This is the first time I've really charted my distance since marathon training in 2003 (yikes, that was a long time ago!), so it was a true learning experience. I had to get back in the groove of remembering to transfer the happy little number from my Garmin to the calendar AND I had to get over the shock of how much lower my mileage was than I expected.

I was pleased to see that I really did get in 3-4 runs/week, which isn't bad when you consider we also got in a 4 day trip to CA to visit Yosemite and family and that I also did 18 miles on my bike (towing my daughter in the trailer, no less!) and we hiked countless miles. But 39.2 miles over the course of a month was lower than I thought it would be. If the Run Like Hell Half in Portland this October is going to be a successful reality, these feet have some more running to do!

How will I get my mileage up this month?

- My Saturday group runs really will turn into long runs now that more ladies are participating. At least two of the gals are also planning for the Half, so instead of 2-4 miles on Saturday, we'll be logging 5-6 to start and then increasing our mileage from there.

- My amazingly talented singer/songwriter friend, Loni Rose, is now joining me for a run on Wednesdays while our sons are in school (and maybe the boys can bike beside us when school is out!) and she likes to run a good distance. We celebrated National Running Day with a 5K run and were pleased to discover that our paces are similar and that we really had fun together (even though we were a bit slower than either of us would run with our husbands - less chatting with the guys, is my guess!). 2 loops around the lake is 5K, so next week we're adding a third loop.

- Now that my pace is a bit faster (when not talking too much!), I can get in more distance in a shorter time while pushing my daughter in the jogger. She's also happy to go now, especially if we can stop at a park mid-way or post-run. The park "carrot" also enables us to go for a bit longer.

- My son will be in a YMCA soccer/t-ball camp in the mornings the last week of June, allowing me to keep with our usual weekly routine for the month. July will be a different story, but I'm just taking things one month at a time.

How about YOU? What do you do to increase your mileage? Any challenges you have to work around?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Starting with a Thankful Heart returns . . .

It is too pretty of a day to be sitting at the computer (for which I am most thankful!), so I'll keep this post short.
I'm starting this week with a smile in my heart because I'm thankful for:

1. The 5 women that joined me to run on Saturday morning (and one brought along her daughter to ride her bike along side her!). This women's running group is really picking up momentum! It is great to see people come together to share their passion and support one another, no matter their speed.

2. The beauty of Camano Island, WA. We spent Memorial Day there and went back again yesterday. I haven't felt so connected with a place since living in Italy for a summer. Although the day was a bit hazy, we could still see the Olympic Mountains and enjoyed a picnic and walk along the rocky shore of Camano Island State Park.

3. The excitement of running this week to prep for Saturday's Duvall Days 5K. I'm thinking that with all of the weight training and more frequent runs I'm doing that this could be a PR race for me! I ran the Duvall Days 10K last year (brutal hills!!!), so it should be fun to do the flat 5K route for a change of pace this year.

4. I remembered to use sun screen today! Sunscreen is almost part of our daily routine now. It took some getting used to once the weather improved, but now even the kids think to ask about it.

5. The house has been purged of baby gear. That's right - 2 SUV loads of stuff (in good shape, no junk!) went to the Duvall Co-op Preschool to help raise money at their garage sale next weekend in conjunction with the big Fire fighter's Pancake Breakfast event next door to the preschool. This is BIG time stuff in our little town. :) There's actually room to park a car in our garage now - and should I want, I can twirl around in just about any room in our house without knocking my shins into excess toys.

I do thank you for stopping by to visit, but I must encourage you to please leave a quick comment and then step away from your computer and get outside to enjoy your day/evening! What about me, you ask? I'm following my own advice by relaxing in our hammock before the kids get up from their naps and we head to the park.

Happy June and happy running!