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!