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.