Monday, April 26, 2010

My Brain is Still in California

My last post was on the 10th, which is . . . how many days ago? What day is today? Who am I? Where do I live?

In a nut shell since the 10th, I've:

- Had an amazing book signing with fellow-author, Sarah Bowen Shea (photos to post when I can figure out what "safe" place I tucked them in)
- nursed a sick kid back to health
- hosted my mother-in-law for 4 days
- done the regular "Mom" stuff
- nursed a hurt foot
- traveled to Ojai, CA for 3 days of BodyHoops Teacher Training (ie., hours and hours of hoop dancing/move learning/lesson plan learning/etc.)

I got home from the last adventure sometime after 11PM last night. Based on how well today has gone, I do believe I left my brain in California.

Despite the fatigue and the challenge of getting back into "mom mode" after a long weekend away, I'm really quite excited about things to come. My plan is to arrange several 6-session hoop classes for children starting in the fall. I'll likely organize to hold some adult classes, too, depending upon how things unfold these next few months. First I need to polish my hoop moves, but since I'm now hooping daily, I'm hopeful that my skills will be up to par by the time I get all of the business details worked out (insurance, location, costs, etc.).

I can't say enough about how amazing the weekend in Ojai was. It was the first time for as long as I can remember that I was truly out on my own from start to finish - including driving myself to and from the airport. I'm over 30, but I haven't ever done the rental car thing on my own (either my husband or one of my parents has been along for any rental car excursions with me), driven down a 12 lane highway in California, stayed in a hotel on my own or eaten more than one meal a week at a restaurant alone. But last weekend I did it all. And thanks to my GPS (awesome "little" invention), I navigated from Burbank to Ojai and back without fail, slipping in some dining adventures along the way.

The teacher training (I did Level 1 & Level 2) was fantastic. Diana Lopez, the founder of BodyHoops, was our instructor, and she really has this all figured out. She ran the weekend as a series of mock classes so we could get a true sense of how classes are paced, develop our own hooping skills, and get a handle on the terminology. We had group discussions, she helped us troubleshoot, and all the while worked with us at our own experience levels cheerfully and encouragingly (is that even a word? See? Brain hasn't caught up with body yet). The training manual has it ALL written out so that I can remember it all in a week or so when I'm all caught up with being back home and can really focus on moving forward. I do look forward to practicing every day to get better. Seriously, daily. Can you think of a better way to coax a smile . . . better yet, a full belly laugh, out of yourself at the end of a long than hula hooping? Maybe one day in the not-so-distant future I'll even get my Level 3 license. It is totally on my dream list now! And maybe even fire hooping. OK, definitely fire hooping. Yes, fire hooping. I'm getting in touch with my fun self and I'm loving it.

Interested in learning more about hooping? Want to order your own awesome, weighted hoop (these aren't the hoops from your youth)? Leave me a message and I'll get you a coupon code to save you $5 on your order!

Next up . . . the very delayed run-down of the book signing (which, too, was a positive experience). With that post, look for info about how you can WIN a copy of Run Like a Mother. I'm timing it just right with Mother's Day. So maybe you won't have it in hand for Mother's Day, but really mothers should be celebrated and appreciated more than one day a year, right?

Happy running, happy reading and happy hooping!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Signing Tomorrow!

Last week I mentioned that we just hit the 2 year milestone for We Are Girls Who Love to Run. Tomorrow I'll be celebrating that in style with a book signing. I'm already getting that excited fluttery feeling in my stomach thinking about it because it is a joint event with the co-author of Run Like a Mother, Sarah Bowen Shea. Sarah writes for Runner's World and Shape Magazine. I cannot tell you how totally wound up I am to be part of this experience with her!

I'll likely be too excited to post anything tomorrow night, but I do promise to do a posting ASAP with photos of the two of us and a run-down of the whole thing. I've had a few book signings before, but really folks, this is a big one for me.

If you live in the Seattle/Eastside area of Washington State, come on over to Title Nine in Bellevue to meet Sarah and me, buy our books and have us sign them! Here are all the details you need:

Who: Runners or friends of runners, parents, girls . . . the list really is endless.
What: A fabulous book signing event
Where: Title Nine - Bellevue
When: Sunday, April 11th, 3-5PM
How: Bring a friend!
Why: You don't have many opportunities to meet 2 running authors at once, especially one who wrote for moms and one who wrote for daughters.

Will I see you there? I hope so!

I ran this morning, weeded half the yard (BIG chore) and chased kiddos, but still have plenty of energy. I'm off to put it to good use by getting the books ready for tomorrow and laying out all of the clothes in my closet to see what to wear. I might work on my sister-in-law's wedding quilt some, too, for some distraction. I'll likely "sneak in" a longer run tomorrow morning to make sure I have my jitters out. How appropriate that this whole thing is running-centric.

Happy running & happy reading!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Celebrate Your Favorite Little Girl

Last week I mentioned that We Are Girls Who Love to Run will be available to shoppers at the web store A Closet of Her Own. Head on over there today to see how you can win a copy of the book with a bunch of other rockin' books/shirts for girls.

A Closet of Her Own is having a Virtual Grand Opening this Wednesday, April 7th! You can win the grand prize (which is amazing, folks - you'd have your whole year's gift shopping done for one special little girl) or one of four fantastic smaller prizes. Go check it out!

Happy running & reading & contest winning!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two Years of We Are Girls Who Love to Run

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, We Are Girls Who Love to Run!

While we had the actual book in hand in January 2008, We Are Girls Who Love to Run's actual release date was April 2, 2008. That's two years ago today! Here's the birthday girl:

This week I've been processing what this "birthday" means, in much the same way that I contemplate my children's development and milestones around their birthdays. I often joke that this book is my third child, and in all seriousness it could be. Writing and publishing a book takes blood, sweat, tears and money, just like kids do. And as children's successes are your successes, so it is with the book. When people connect with your book, they connect with you.

I'm honored to have the following women celebrate this "third child" of mine since she came along. Our little business, Balanced Steps, has sold over 1,000 copies of the book, thanks to the support of runners/women like those I've highlighted below:

Early in the book's life I connected with fellow running author Carol Goodrow. At the time she came to know and support We Are Girls Who Love to Run through her work as editor of While she isn't editor anymore, I'm honored to have her continued support through her author site and in the work she's doing bringing children to fitness through a series she's writing for Newspapers in Education. I hope to be using her books, Happy Feet, Healthy Food, and Kids Running with groups of students in a running club next year.

The life of We Are Girls Who Love to Run has crossed my e-mail path with some amazing women runners: Kathrine Switzer, Kristin Armstrong, Deena Kastor and lesser-known, but equally as driven local leaders in the running world. Glowing reviews from educators, moms, dads, non-parental runners and parental non-runners alike continue to spread the word about the book and the importance of celebrating girls and their strengths.

Being the author of a running book has kept me steady on my running path. I firmly believe in living my passion and that in doing so I am doing a service to my readers. This year I'm even kicking my running up a notch by diving more into long distances (closer to 20 miles/week and more 10K races on the calendar than 5K). I'm also keeping things playful (as the book encourages) by heading off to hula hoop teacher training next month. A strong core and a happy heart can only help my running (and parenting).

Last year I connected with local running enthusiast Maria Milsap from Banana Blossom Press. I've mentioned her before, too. She's been great about getting the book into the hands of runners she meets at big Expos that our little company just can't afford to be at. And I'm enjoying spreading the word about her athletic greeting cards and witty shirts. (That's my daughter proudly displaying her "running. it's a family thing" shirt.)

My mom (my business partner!) and I were honored that a local runner approached us about using the book to help her with her fundraising for Team in Training. She sold enough books that we were able to donate over $150 in her name (and a few of her teammates sold a few copies, too). She was thrilled that she could use the book to spread her passion for running while raising money for a good cause. We're happy to work with others who are raising funds for non-profits.

Marketing and selling a book is not always fun and games. But persistence pays off. I'm honored that a fellow-mom entrepreneur feels so strongly about We Are Girls Who Love to Run that she has figured out how to offer it to her customers through her on-line clothing store, A Closet of Her Own. In addition to selling it through her website along side her "Run" shirt for young girls, she'll be taking the book with her to expos and trade shows. If you know a little girl who loves to run or loves dinos or firetrucks, you simply MUST visit this store.

In February I had the honor of getting to know Sarah Bowen Shea, co-author of the newly-released and fabulous Run Like a Mother. Through our quick emails, the Run Like a Mother: The Book blog, and her book, I feel like I've known Sarah for years. Truth be told, I'll meet her for the first time next month when we meet up to sign our books together at Title9 in Bellevue when she's in my 'hood. I'm already counting down the days . . . just 9 to go! And if I can swing it (ie, have someone watch the kids) I'll head out to do a run with Sarah on Friday, April 9th at Super Jock n' Jill in Seattle. If not, well, I'll just have to do a treadmill run in my new Vibrams. That's for another post, though.

And YOU, kind reader, thank YOU for continuing to visit this little blog. If you haven't yet read We Are Girls Who Love to Run, I hope you find a copy of it soon to share with your favorite running girl - whether she be two, twelve, twenty-two, or even one hundred and two! You can order signed copies by mail using the order form on the Balanced Steps website, at the Title9 event next week in Bellevue, WA, at Dragonfly Secrets in O'Fallon, IL, at an assortment of specialty running stores across the country, soon at A Closet of Her Own, and of course through Asking for the book at your local or school library is another great way to read it!

Happy running & happy reading!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Running Makes Me Feel . . . Tall

Let's get something straight: I'm not tall, I've never been tall and I will soon be overshadowed by the height of my children. As my 5 year old son likes to point out, "Mom, I'm getting taller every day and by the time I'm 7, I'll be as tall as YOU!" Ah, the exaggerations of an enthusiastic, competitive son. He likely won't make it that far by 7, but I'm sure he'll be there by 11. On a good day, I measure at 5'4.5" (and sometimes round up to 5' 5", you know, to keep it easy). But that doesn't mean I can't FEEL tall.

I think my self-perception stems from two life experiences:

1. I married a man who is 6' 4" on a short day. Just hanging out with him makes me feel tall, except when he reaches the things on the top shelf for me.

2. Runners who pass me tend to be tall. Including that tall husband of mine. (Or at least, he USED to pass me.)

So now that I'm becoming a stronger runner, I'm feeling taller. If I'm passing runners who are tall, then I must be tall, right? It FEELS that way to me. Until I get home and see in the mirror that I haven't grown at all, except for the improved posture and more confident twinkle in my eye. Yup, running makes me feel tall - and I like it.

Some of you were wondering how the Mercer Island 10K went on Sunday. Birthday Girl Christine and I didn't quite make her goal, but considering we underestimated the power of the hills (climbs at the start of each mile - AND, here's the kicker . . . a final climb to the finish line!) our finish in under 55:00 was strong. At an average pace of 8:45, I can't complain. And after today's 4 miler in the sunshine where I kept slipping into a 7:30 pace . . . Holy cow, did MY legs really do that? . . . I think that race was a good base-line for the season. And since I'm taller now (haha), I should be able to keep up the speed, right? We'll see in June when I do the Duvall Days 10K.

How about YOU? How does running make YOU feel?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Your Mark . . .

Tomorrow I'll be peeling myself out of bed early to celebrate my friend Christine's birthday with her, runner-style. We're meeting up in our local grocery store parking lot at 6:50AM to carpool to the Mercer Island 10K. The trick is to get to the Park 'n Ride before it fills, but late enough that we don't have to wait around forever before the race starts at 8:30. Funny, but in the fall she was saying she didn't think she'd ever get up to run before 7. I guess she's been hanging around ME too much.

This is my first race of the season, and the race that will let me know if a half marathon really is a realistic consideration for 2010. Last year's race season was a great one - I ran consistently faster and even broke 25:00 for 5K. This year I've built up my mileage base steadily and my legs are feeling strong. I'm feeling ready to run!

Will my story be the same tomorrow? Not sure! There are a few things that have me feeling a bit uneasy (but not bad, just anxious I guess):

- Today was a sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s. Not bad for the 1st official day of Spring! Tomorrow is another beast entirely with the high forecast to be in the mid-50s and a 70-80% chance of rain all day.

- Christine and I previewed portions of the race course this afternoon after we picked up our packets. Let's just say I'm glad I did some hilly runs with her. *gulp*

- I'm not quite sure what to wear. Capri pants for sure, but the sleeve length is still up for a vote. Injinji socks (rainbow with toes!) were another easy choice, though - they are festive & comfortable.

My goals should put everything in perspective for me, though:

1. Have fun. This is a birthday run, after all and I'm there to support my friend and make sure she starts off this next year with a bang!

2. Settle into a good pace. This will take some steady breathing and some strong reminders for my controlling brain to BACK OFF and let my body take over and go for it. I know once I settle in that the run will be a good one. I have trained pretty well for this and need to put faith in my preparation.

3. While Christine has a definite time goal in mind, I'm approaching this as the starting point for my season. It'll be my baseline for the 10K I run in June. If I finish too fast in this race (say, under 50 minutes), I'll just get myself all competitive and crazy for June so I need to remember that this is the start. If I can keep going with Christine the whole race, I certainly will. But if I sense that she's ready to push a bit harder and I'm not . . . I'll wave her on with a smile and be happy to see her again at the finish line.

Get set . . . GO! Happy running!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Born to Run Like a Mother

On Sunday I finished Christopher McDougall's intricately-woven masterpiece Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. McDougall's style of writing is so powerful that I actually convinced myself that I, too, can become an ultra runner and that I should run barefoot. OK, so the first idea was a fleeting one, but I did give the second one a try. Barefoot running is great - my "easy trial run" quickly turned into a rabbit-speed 5K and I've penciled in regular barefoot runs into my running schedule. I'm not crazy enough to go all-out barefoot, but I like the concept and the reasoning behind it. I'm also seriously considering eating salads for breakfast. Those of you who haven't read the book will now have to head out to your local library or bookstore to read for yourself what the heck I'm talking about and that I haven't lost my mind . . . entirely.

This week I'm starting the NEWLY RELEASED - that's right, HOT OFF THE PRESS . . . Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving - and Not Lose Your Family, Jo, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea.

In true mother form, I absorbed the first 50 pages last night while I was "setting a good example for my daughter" by reading next to her in her bed while she was supposed to be doing the same. In other words, Run Like a Mother was just the distraction I needed to keep my sanity while she did everything BUT read a book and stay in her bed. Bedtime has become a HUGE struggle with my favorite little redheaded girl (she's 3 - need I say more?), but with this book in hand, this phase of her might actually seem so bad. With Dimity & Sarah at my side, I know I can conquer this challenge and still get up in the morning for my runs. These women are real moms, real runners, and just plain real. And funny. I'd run with them any day. Another great thing about Run Like a Mother is the blog that goes with it. The blog seems to pick up where the book ends (presumably, though I haven't gotten to the end of the book yet). The gals also do giveaways every Wednesday. I can attest to the fact that these are REAL giveaways, since I had the sheer pleasure of winning last week's and already received the goods in the mail. Sweet stuff.

I'll post a real review of Run Like a Mother once I finish it. This could be very soon, at the rate my daughter is going with her anti-bedtime antics. On a related note, with any luck I will be running with author Sarah Bowen Shea next month when she's in my neck of the woods promoting the book. Count on another review of sorts after THAT amazing experience. The week after that I'll be heading down to California for a hula hooping teacher training. I kid you not! I'll be realizing two life goals of mine within a two week time period. Life is becoming more colorful, in an awesome kind of way.

Don't sit and wait around for me to finish and post my review, though. Go get your hands on these great books now! And why not round out your purchase with a kids' running book, too? I know of one or two good ones you could add to your cart - and you don't have to take MY word for it. See what Rachel from A Closet of Her Own has to say about them.
Wishing you happy reading and running . . . and reading about running!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Starting International Women's Day with a Thankful Heart

I have a daughter with a faucet for a nose (home from school so I can nag her to pu-leez use a tissue and help bring down her low-grade fever), but there is still plenty to be thankful as we kick-off this work week.

March 8th is set aside to commemorate the achievements of women in politics, science and social change as International Women's Day. As great as the "big name" women are in our world who have enabled the women of today to shine, I think it is important for us to recognize the strength and gifts of the women who touch our lives at a local, community level.

In honor of International Women's Day, I give you a list of strong women in my life for whom I am thankful:

1. The great Jennifer Tai, photographer extraordinaire - Saturday marked my fourth photo session with her. This woman has an incredible eye for composition, a laid-back personality to put her clients at total ease, and a contagious laugh. Though I know she misses her homeland of Malaysia, I think she's finding Western Washington to be a decent second home. I'm honored to live in the same community with her and count her among my friends. When she's not capturing our community's lives with her lens she's working on the Board with me at our girls' preschool. When I asked her how she does "it all" she replied, "I don't sleep!" I think she's telling the truth.

2. Maria Millsap of Banana Blossom Press - Not only does Maria create fitness-related greeting cards and shirts (both of my kids have the shirt pictured below - "Running. It's a family thing"), but she visits countless fitness expos to generate a positive vibe in the fitness community with her products. She has an encouraging attitude and welcoming sense of humor. A supporter of fellow-local business women, Maria also sells We Are Girls Who Love to Run at her booth! I am so thankful for her energy and support of the book. Thanks for bringing my book to the masses, Maria. Oh, and she has lots of Seattle fitness goodness to share on her blog Hills & Hammies. Send her some bloggy love!

3. My friend, Christine. Our little girls are good friends, her older daughter and my son hit it off beautifully and she and I both love to run. Christine is new to the sport, her true love is volleyball (she's a coach). Yet in the last year, she has discovered that her legs were made to GO. I first coaxed her out for an early Saturday morning trail run in the fall after I found out that she was a runner. We're now training for the Mercer Island 10K on the 21st - at an amazingly fast clip for me (8:30 miles!). Thanks to her I'm doing more outdoor runs and facing my fear of hills. After our long hilly runs, I can now breathe all the way to the top. That's huge. We're going to rock this thing, Christine.

4. The women of my Saturday morning trail run - I started this thing last spring and it is still going. I wouldn't say it is going strong yet, but it looks like we're turning a corner and numbers are increasing. I had two women join me for 5K (give or take) at 7:30 this last Saturday morning. Funny thing is they thought I had hit the trail early without them because there was a car identical to mine in the parking lot. So off the went - before I arrived! I eventually caught up with them near the turn-around spot and enjoyed running back to the lot with them. They now have my license plate memorized so it won't happen again (and I'll do my best to get there a few minutes earlier!). I expect to have at least 6 more women to join in the trail run adventure with me next weekend and more as we get closer to summer. Spring is in the air and fair weather runners are getting excited to get back out. The Saturday group has spurred some interest in some of the group meeting up during the week, too. Just what I hoped would happen!

5. My mom - I don't think a single paragraph in a blog is sufficient for summing up this woman's gifts. So I'll just let you know that she's great and that I appreciate all she's done to pave the way for me and my little girl.

And representing the next generation of strong women:

6. My daughter (who is a LONG way from becoming a woman, but she's a STRONG girl!) - This three year old has a way about her. She can hike up Diamond Head, sprint up-hill for a quarter mile, bicycle around a 1.5 mile lake loop without batting an eye, play "Angel Robin" along side her "Batman Brother" in her white angel costume with handcuffs she made to haul the bad guys off to jail, and set up a "fancy shoe party" with her tea set and stuffed ponies. She is perhaps her daddy's biggest fan, but is thrilled to give me occasional kudos like the night she deemed me "Best Sunggler in the House". She inspires me to set new goals and work toward them. Always one to stop what she's doing for a good spin (think arms spread, head thrown back, dizzy-making, fall-over spinning!), this carefree girl also makes sure I stay in touch with my inner girl and take time to play. Yes, that's her on the Diamond Head trail last month, stopping to show me her muscles. :)

How about YOU? Who is one strong woman that inspires you?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10 Things that Make Me Happy

I was tagged by RunningDivaMom back in January to list some things that make me happy and pass it on to other bloggers. If you know me, I'm a fan of lists. They help me think straight and keep me from veering too far off course.

So, on this first Tuesday in March, I give you:

10 Things that Make Me Happy

1. Sunshine (like the nearly 5 days of it we had on Oahu last month - THAT'S where I was!)

2. Music from my high school days (I'm sure the list would surprise you . . . )

3. Empty laundry baskets (SO satisfying!)

4. A full workout clothes laundry basket (Yes, that's the opposite of #3, but it means I've been running!)

5. Phone calls/letters from friends

6. Tomatoes fresh out of the garden

7. My children singing

8. Book reviews from like-minded folks who celebrate the power of girlhood (and running)

9. Date night with my husband

10. Outdoor family adventures

Now I'm asking YOU to make your own list. Or just feel free to leave one or two of your favorites in the comments below. I'd love to see lists from my fellow redheaded gals (who count for #5):

Celeste of The Freckled Forest

Beth at A Sweaty Quest for Enlightenment

Erin C of The Connolly Clan (who I just now realized hasn't blogged in over a year . . . seems Facebook is her new fav. But she still makes my list because I wouldn't be where I am without her!)

Oh, and Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss. We read Fox in Socks and The Sneeches in your honor tonight! His books make me happy, too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Where's She Been?

I've been away from my blog for a few weeks. So WHERE have I been? Here are a few clues . . .

Here's my son, doing what all 5 year old boys think they should do to retrieve the yummy goodness from the top of this tree when shaking it with all your might doesn't pan out.

Yes, this is REAL!

I DID manage to get my running shoes on for a sunny 2.25 mile run one afternoon.

You'll notice that my yellow running hat DOES go with me everywhere! I rarely run without it.
We took the kids (and my parents came along, too) to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Go ahead and post your guesses about where we were!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Because I'm Crazy . . .

I made 13 pillowcases instead of 12.
Yup, that's right - a baker's dozen.

My son's school has an annual auction, for which each family is required to procure something (or a combo of somethings) worth a minimum of $100. Last year we put together a basket of running-related items: a copy of my book, a gift certificate to a running store, & an entry for a local 5K. You know, one hundred bucks worth of good stuff. This year, in keeping with my pillowcase obsession from Christmas, I decided to create "A Year of Sweet Dreams," AKA 12 pillowcases to celebrate the year. For kicks I threw in an extra - everyone should have a special birthday pillowcase, right? What better way to celebrate the year! I think I've mentioned before that I'm Type A . . . and a little bit crazy.

The value of the pillowcases is $260. Why pay so much for pillowcases, you ask? Let me share:

1. They're one of a kind.
2. They're handmade.
3. They jazz up any old set of sheets.

4. They can be used to gift wrap a present, giving the recipient two gifts for the price of one!

5. They can be used for YEARS.
6. Your child's pillow won't get confused with another at a sleepover.
I already have one person who is willing to duke it out in a bidding war to win the set. Her favorite one is the orange one for November and she's already visualizing it on her bed and plotting which ones she'll use as gifts and which her family will keep. Best wishes to the bidders and to the school for raising money to support our children's education!
As for next year's auction contribution? I'll host a party to teach 4 people how to make their own!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting in Touch with my Inner Teacher

Every now and then I get hit with a case of writer's block. Even my Facebook status updates and tweets have been lacking flavor or intrigue. But secretly (or not so secretly now) I like having bouts of writer's block - they give me an excuse to do more of the other things I like. This time the block coincided with a case of tendinitis in my right hand, limiting my non-writing time choices. Reading was not only the most appealing activity, but it became the best for my hand healing, too . . . as long as I held the book with my left hand.

I read the entire Twilight series in 2 weeks. My husband caught me reading in the kitchen while "making dinner" - or rather, just hoping dinner would make itself while I devoured the book. Thankfully he's a voracious reader, too, so he just gave me the "I knew this would happen when you started those books" look and started getting out the ingredients while I oversaw the preheating of the oven. He also let me take charge of holding down the couch while he did dishes.

Thankfully I finished the series and my obsession with reading isn't quite as lustful. Now I'm pacing myself by heading to bed early to read The Art of Racing in the Rain. My college roommate (now a vet) warned me I'll need tissues for this one - hopefully not as many as when I read Merle's Door, but I'll have them handy, just in case.

The reading thing was catching for our kids. We always read several times throughout the day, but with a mom who is unwilling to put down a book at breakfast for conversation, my three year-old and kindergartner turned to books more frequently, too. Stacks of books started appearing around the house and various corners turned into book nooks with pillows and blankets and stuffed friends.

Mr. Music, as you've seen me call him, is a strong reader who could sit down and read The Magic Tree House series on his own. If I read with him, he's willing to read the entire thing in one sitting. If he tries it on his own, he gets frustrated 3 pages in. That was the case until yesterday when I channeled my inner teacher.

We've been reading Marvin Redpost Kidnapped at Birth together for the past 2 days and I noticed that he gets frustrated when his eyes pick up words from the line beneath the one he's reading. This doesn't happen with EVERY line, but often enough that it slows him down. This kid wants to know what comes next in the story, so any obstruction or distraction is upsetting. Following the line with his finger (or my finger) isn't enough to nip the problem, but I'm a former elementary school teacher, so I whipped out the good 'ol bookmark trick.

Holding the bookmark horizontally to underline, or isolate, one line of text at a time immediately improved his fluency. With the bookmark in place, the words from lower lines can no longer jump up into the line he's reading. Words from upper lines on the page were never distracting, so we don't have to worry about covering them. He glides smoothly through the sentences now, even adding inflection.

Initially I was worried that he might see this simple tool as babyish (his term, not mine), but when I asked what he thought about it, he remarked, "That's great! I LOVE bookmarks!" And so tonight he and I sat down to enjoy the conclusion of Marvin Redpost (4 chapters worth) without so much as a "Can we stop now?" or "Let's just read it tomorrow." Come to think of it, I believe his exact words were "Let's keep going so we can see how it ends!"

As I type this, our night owl daughter is "reading" to herself in her bedroom. We gave up fighting with her to go to bed at the same time as her early bird brother. Now she has a choice: read quietly in her room or go to sleep. She reads for a bit and then comes to get me to tuck her in when she's ready. This solution has made EVERYONE happier. Our bedtime routine is now struggle-free and she gets lots of book time. This is every author's dream, right?

My wrist is still in a brace (slowing me down considerably), but my writer's block is lifting. The new found consistency in my running (a steady 15 miles/week now) is also encouraging. Those things, combined with all of the reading happening in the house, make for a very content me. Let's see how long this period of balance lasts! Even if it doesn't last long, I can revel in the fact that it DID happen.

What are YOU reading now? Something good, I hope. Let me know!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just one Mile

A few weeks ago I left a comment on my friend's blog that I was thrilled 3 miles away from reaching my goal of running 15 miles that week - a task that would be easy to accomplish the next day, Saturday. It sure is easy to be smug . . . and a bit more of a challenge to bring to fruition.

The next day rolled around and before I knew it I had slept past 8AM (RARE!) - a full hour past when I planned to wake to knock out those easy 3 miles.

By 9:30 I had consumed the delicious big breakfast my husband so lovingly made. You know, the works: eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, toast, & OJ. Clearly the run wasn't going to happen before noon after THAT.

A post-breakfast shower and afternoon outing with the family made this "easy" goal further and further out of reach. I'm a morning runner, without a doubt, and by 4:30 when we dropped off the kiddos for an overnight at their grandparents' house, I still had not laced up those Brooks.

Rounding out a wonderful day of food, my husband and I had an actual date at a Thai restaurant. It was quite possibly the best Thai dinner we've ever had. I was pleased to have some to take home with me for lunch the next day, but my stomach was definitely full. Clock read 7:30 when we got home from our outing.

At this point my Type A personality started to twitch. Not only had I set the 15 mile goal for myself the previous Sunday, but I had bragged about it to a fellow runner (and dear friend). The goal was out in the world, ready to be reached. I made a deal with myself that if I just cranked out 1 mile, I'd be satisfied. So I laced up.

And I ran 1 mile. And my Type A personality reared its ugly head. I picked up the pace and made my way through a second mile.

By this time there was no stopping me. And my husband began laughing. "I knew you couldn't run 'just one mile,'" he poked.

That's when I smiled sweetly, blew him a kiss and went another mile and a half. He was right, clearly. Once I set my mind on a goal, anything less than 100% just doesn't feel right. And sometimes it feels good to prove to yourself that you can make it just a smidge further, hence that bonus half mile.

Funny, but up until that night I've been apprehensive about night running. At some point in my running life I had trouble calming myself after evening workouts and found it hard to sleep. But I found that at this point in my life the satisfaction of reaching a goal and staying true to myself was *just* what my body and mind needed to have one of the best night's sleep I've had in a good month.

Last week I ran into a morning that had no room for a run, so I got it in that evening. Same thing - the sense of accomplishment satisfied my spirit and I slept well.

This opens the doors WIDE for this runner gal. Knowing that my body and mind are now willing to go "the extra mile" anytime of day really gives me a boost. As a mom I treasure this new found flexibility. And as a wife whose husband is returning to the world of running after a bit of a break, I look forward to making running part of our date night experiences without worrying that I'll have to pay the "consequence" for running with my best friend in the evening with a sleepless night.

Happy running!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Starting Wet, but with a Thankful Heart

When I'm feeling overwhelmed or frustrated negativity can seep into my brain and set up camp there. So today I'm going to play a little game as I start the week with a thankful heart. I'm looking for the upside of negative thoughts in effort to push the negativity OUT!
1. The rain returned last night (and hasn't stopped all day) . . . but we took advantage of a string of nice days and filled them with park time and even a trip to the beach. We've stored up the outdoor activities like squirrels so the next stretch of inside days will have their own flavor of fun.

Here's me running in jeans and Keens with sweet ol' Albus Dumblepup on the beach. This dog loves to run and saw the sandy beach as his opportunity to GO!

2. My running mileage for last week was shy of my weekly goal . . . but I did an extra day of yoga, which relieved my tight hamstrings and made it possible for me to end the week with a good run. And my legs feel great this week!

3. My husband and I didn't make it to the Watershed Preserve in time for a hike on our date night (darn early sunset!) . . . but we made it to our favorite restaurant (45 minutes away) for a delicious dinner over which we did some preliminary planning for summer adventures. We also made the HARD decision about what to do for our children's schooling next year. It really was a good night and now we know for the next date night to head out just a little bit earlier to get in that hike.

4. The late winter sunrises make my Saturday morning running group hard to motivate . . . but we're taking the next month or so off. I hope the break will bring people back feeling fresh and motivated in April when the sun is up. This also gives me a chance to reach out invitations for others in the community to join us with the goal of running the June 5K/10K Duvall Days races. Sometimes fresh starts can make all the difference.
5. The kids were horrible in the car on our way home from the beach . . . but they did have a few bright moments that let us know the trip was worthwhile overall (see photos below - even the dog is smiling).
How about you? Can you find the positive outcome from an otherwise disappointing situation?
Have a great week - and happy running!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The sun came out today for the first time in probably a week. For my own personal sanity I try not to count the sunless days, so I'm not sure exactly how long. Today also happens to be the day my daughter attends the oo-op preschool without me. This created the perfect equation:

Sunshine (and warmer temperatures, too!) + both children at school = TRAIL RUN!

With new shoes and a new long-sleeved running shirt on, I was ready to head out for my first trail run of the year promptly at 9:40AM. Apparently my mind, legs, lungs, and spirit all had a different start time in mind, because for the first 3.5 miles of my 4.4 mile run, they were all out of sync. Big time. And my self-pity whining kicked in, or "st-run-ggling" (a play on "struggling", ya know?) as I decided to call it.

"I haven't run the trail in a month. I'm slower than I run when I'm with the group on Saturday mornings. I had to stop and walk. My left hamstring is tight. I should have stayed home to fold the mountains of laundry waiting for me. If I can't run well today, what makes me think a half-marathon should be in my plan for the year?" . . . on and on the excuses and complaints went. And on and on my body and mind fought.

I nearly turned around at the 5K half-way mark, but my brain tricked my legs into staying the course.

At the 2 mile marker my brain was ready to give in, but my spirit took over and noticed that the sun was shining and I had the trail to myself. It would be a shame to give up and not make it the last stretch to the 2.2 mile turn around point (a major Roundabout that leads to "the city") when no rain was pelting my face and no children were whining.

At 2.2 miles I had no choice but to run another 2.2 miles back to my car, so after quick hamstring stretch and a deep breath, I got going again.

Somewhere between mile 3 and 3.5 I came to the realization that how I felt about this run was up to ME. So I began asking myself some important questions:

Why do I run? (It is time for myself, it makes me feel strong, I'm less stressed afterward, it is the only time that I feel beautiful while sweating)

Why did I choose the trail this morning? (The sun was shining, I wanted to test out my new shoes on the trail, my children were at school)

Why am I whining? (FOR NO GOOD REASON!!!)

And with that, everything fell into place. I found my stride, I lifted my chin, my steady breathing rhythm hit and off I went to finish the remaining 0.9 mile stretch.

When I reached the end of the trail and checked my watch, I realized the joke was on me. Despite the fact that I felt slower, stopped to watch some ducks duke it out in the river, took a stretch break and took several walk breaks . . . I still finished in under 40 minutes, which put me at under a 10:00 pace. Not bad considering all of the mental commotion.

So if someone asks me about my run today I can now say that it was a sunny, eye-opening run filled with self-reflection. Not my best run, but definitely not my worst. And now that I've faced my whining demons, I'm sure my next run WILL be a good one. It is all about perspective.

What do YOU do when your body-mind-spirit are out of whack on a run?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Starting with a Thankful Heart in 2010

Welcome 2010.

I kicked off the year on January 1st with 3.5 miles on my trusty ol' treadmill. After two weeks of not running, it was fabulous. Delicious even, if a treadmill could be considered such. I went the next step and even recorded my mileage! That's right, this year I'm going to track it. I suppose that could be considered one of my New Year's resolutions - write down the good things!

Remember the running calendar I told you about in December, Carol Goodrow's What a Day for Running!? Well, I bought one when they came out and a running pal of mine gave me a copy for Christmas. We're using one to keep track of family stuff and I'm using the other to track my mileage. I think I'll hang the second one by the treadmill for ease of recording since I use the treadmill year-round (I DO get outside for runs, too, don't worry).

Though the year is still quite new, it has been full. A local friend of mine welcomed her second son into the world at noon on the 1st and my college roommate said goodbye to her mom for the last time the night of the 3rd. These two life-changing experiences prompted me to return to my Starting with a Thankful Heart posts. Life is too precious and too short not to take notice of the little things that make life full and rich and worth sharing.

So, on this first Monday of 2010, I give you a short list of things that make my heart happy.

1. I am thankful for my daughter's question as I tucked her into bed tonight: "Can I hold yours hand?" While her nearly-three year-old self can sure push me over the edge sometimes, she does know what to say to melt her mama's heart.

2. I am thankful that I cranked out 2.5 miles this morning before getting back into the groove of post-holiday reality. One day at a time I'm getting back to my workout routine and it feels GREAT!

3. I am thankful that others reach out to share their passion with the world. A high school friend of mine is kicking-off her 2010 in grand running style. Please take a minute to visit my Beth on her Sweaty Quest for Enlightenment blog. She's a strong, smart, sassy go-getter of a redhead who is using running to get her life back after several years of serious illness and time taking care of everyone but herself. Please join me in supporting her on her quest and enjoying her new found passion for running! And I do have to toot my own horn here, too, in mentioning that she's a big supporter of my book, for which I am forever grateful.

4. I am thankful that after the stressful holidays we managed to squeeze in a day trip to Camano Island yesterday before my husband's vacation was over. We practically had the beach to ourselves and even brought along dear ol' Albus Dumblepup. There were many treasures to be found, as you can tell from my son's bursting arms.

How about YOU? Is there something big or small that makes you thankful today?