Athletic Mom

Today I ran Wildwood Park’s inaugural RunWild 5K.  It was a great point to point course with some small rolling hills that somehow managed to end with almost a half mile of downhill.  It got me thinking about my high school cross country coach, Loyal Kaeding, who taught me how to run hills.  At the time, the lesson was strictly about running, but I’ve heard the words of his lessons play through my head many times over the past 18 years.

Coach Kaeding’s methods for running uphill were simple:  Pump your arms, bend your knees, dig in with your toes. If you are running on a trail and the hill is steep enough, use your hands to pull yourself up the hill. Living in Central Arkansas, I still run up literal hills quite often, but I also have faced many a figurative hill in my life.  Even for the figurative kind of hill, Coach’s advice still rings true.

As a freshman, I remember hating to run/crawl up and down the hills through the woods behind our high school, or slip-sliding up the gravel on Woolsey Road during practice.  But, as the racing season started and I heard runners from other schools curse and whine about the hills on our cross-country course, I became proud of my ability to dash up those hills.  Running up hills is hard work, and sometimes it’s an unwelcome challenge, but like many things in life, it’s 50% mental.  And just as I was proud that I knew how to run those hills, I’m proud that my life experiences have left me well equipped to face challenges, both good and bad.

Coach K’s method for running downhill made pretty good sense too:  Drop your arms, relax, and let gravity and momentum help you.  Today in the 5K, when we got to that huge last downhill stretch, I did exactly that.  I was half way down and had already passed three people when I realized that no one else was using this downhill attack method.  The runners around me still held their arms tight, kept their gait the same, and some of them were even leaning back to prevent themselves from going faster down the hill.  The only other person who was making the same progress as me was a dad running behind a double jog stroller.  He had a little extra weight and momentum to help his downhill speed!

The figurative downhill lesson that I’ve learned from Coach Kaeding’s advice is to use the tools you have available to you.  When the situation changes, whether it gets easier or harder, don’t just keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing.  You’ve gotta look around, take stock, and use your resources.  When you’re in a race, don’t be afraid to let gravity and momentum help you.  You might end up with results that are your personal best, like I did today.

Post Note:  I can’t write a “life lessons” post with Coach Kaeding in it without mentioning the Six P’s: “Proper Prior Preparedness Prevents Poor Performance.”  Start with the small hills (literal and figurative) and work your way up.

Thanks Coach.


This year's shirt design.

I got my Race for the Cure shirt in the mail yesterday, which means it’s almost time for the big event.  This year’s event is October 16th.  It is my third year to run in the Little Rock Race for the Cure, a race that I am absolutely in love with.  I’ve blogged about it before here and here. The big draw for me is the purpose of the event (fighting breast cancer via screenings and research), which creates an electricity in the crowd that is palpable.  Over 40,000 women came downtown last year to take part.   You’ll float from the race expo with tons of cool giveaways (and the fanciest port-a-potties you’ll ever see), to the stage with the bands, through the mass of estrogen at the starting line, past three miles of men (including firemen, bikers, shriners, musicians, and of course all those kids and daddies) cheering along the way, and on to the grand finale: the pink wave of the survivors’ parade moving down Broadway.

This year I’m running as part of the KTHV/ team.  It’s a great opportunity to join up with other moms for a great cause.  I’ll be running the race, but other team members will be jogging or walking the 3.1 mile course, and others will be doing the 2k family walk/run with their kiddos in strollers.  If you’d like to join the team, you can get more information here, and register for the event here.  If large events aren’t your thing, or you just can’t make it, you can also donate to the Komen Race for the Cure through my fundraising page.

There are tons of other fun events surrounding Little Rock’s Race for the Cure.  Here are a couple you might like to know about:

Wednesday, September 22nd 6:30-8:30 @ Go! Running: GET YOUR PINK ON! Ladies Night Out.  Come on out to the Go! Running store for a fun evening of fashion, food, and facts (about Race for the Cure)  Go! Running will be offering some great discounts on their apparel and shoes, and you’ll even have a chance to win a pair of New Balance shoes!  If you’re on Facebook, you can learn more and RSVP here.

So, maybe you’re not into running or walking, but we can all spit, right?  Spit for the Cure recruits females 18 years and older to contribute a DNA sample (by spitting into a tube) and answer a short questionnaire.  This will be used to create a “bank” of information for future studies.  You can Spit for the Cure at the race, or you can contact Dr. Martha Phillips if you would like to participate via phone at 501-526-6413 or via email at mmphillips at uams dot edu.

Dillards is hosting Fit for the Cure at various locations across the state.  A $2 donation  will be made for every Wacoal & b.tempt’d bra fitting, plus an additional $2 donation for every bra or shape wear sold.  Check with your local Dillards to see if they are participating.  In Central Arkansas, the McCain Mall Dillards’ event will be October 7th.  Park Plaza Dillards’ event will be October 8th.

As you might recall, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to complete  a triathlon this summer.  I’ve begun training, and have a couple potential races picked out, but I’ve been extremely underwhelmed by the presence of a triathlete “community” in Arkansas.  Luckily, I have found one great resource: Go! Running, a new local running store here in Little Rock.

Lauren modeling an Orca tri suit

I was surprised when I stopped in at Go! Running several weeks ago for a look-around. I found one corner of the store stocked with triathlon apparel, and tri racing shoes winked at me from the middle of the well-stocked shoe wall. Turns out that the owners, Gary and Erin Taylor, are both phenomenal runners who ran at the collegiate level for University of Arkansas.  Gary is a certified USA Triathlon coach, and is very passionate about the sport. Go! Running’s mission is to help people find success and happiness in a healthy lifestyle. They have great brands including Nike, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, Saucony, K-Swiss, and my new favorite, Moving Comfort. More importantly, they have expertise, and truly strive to support all levels of runners, walkers, and triathletes.

Last weekend, LUNA Moms Club had a moms night out at Go! Running.  Owner Erin Taylor graciously hosted us with refreshments, a full-on fashion show, and great information on running and fitness gear.  In addition to showing us the latest fashions, gear, and technology for our workouts, Erin taught us how to pick out, put on, and properly fit our sports bras.  Afterward, there was a retail-therapy feeding frenzy, with moms hunting down the “perfect run skort” they had seen in the fashion show, getting fitted for shoes, overflowing the dressing room and two restrooms in the stock room, crowding one another at the full length mirror, and even a few brave ladies who tried on clothes right out in the middle of the store.

Ready for the Fashion Show

Last weekend was also Go! Running’s “Triathlon Weekend”, and Erin invited any LUNA Moms interested in triathlon to arrive early for the moms night out event so they could meet with Gary.  I thought that was super thoughtful of her, and also very generous of Gary to stay after hours for us.  I learned more about the different resources that Go! running offers runners and triathletes in addition to gear.  Gary coaches an open-water swim every Friday morning at Spring Valley Lake, as well as various seminars and workshops (he was teaching a workshop on transitions the morning following our moms night out).  Gary also promised to get me on the local “triathalon email list” which

Erin Taylor educating us on technical gear

apparently is an organic sort of thing, and the closest Little Rock gets to a triathlon club.  Go! Running also has a Tuesday night run that is open to all ages and paces (jog strollers welcome!).  With the two kiddos, it will be hard to fit in the Friday swims and the Tuesday runs on a regular basis, but I certainly do hope to get out for both every once in a while.

Erin, whose career background is in Marketing, likes to sponsor community fitness events.  I first met Erin at the Dino Dash, a huge 5K event benefiting the Museum of Discovery.  She told me how she remembers bringing her kids to the very first Dino Dash years ago when there were just 50-some participants.  Now, she’s happy to see the event has grown to 1200 participants, and proud that Go! Running is a part of that success.  I have a feeling that Go! Running is going to be part of many successful athletic endeavors (for both individuals and community-wide) in the coming years.

The first day of the new year is coming to a close.  We’ve already said goodbye to 2009.  I hope that you are as excited as I am about the promise of this new year. As that Semisonic song goes, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Normally I am not one to put big stock in New Year’s Resolutions.  However, this year I have some very real goals that I plan to make good on.  I think having this blog to write these goals in actually helped me to think harder about what my goals should be.  Plus, I recently learned that you are 10% more likely to reach a goal if you share that goal with someone else.  So, now you can all hold me accountable.

Buy More Local Food – This year I will make it a priority to utilize local resources for my family’s nutrients.  In addition to providing fresher food with fewer preservatives and other ingredients that I can’t pronounce, locally grown food is better for the environment because fewer resources are used for transportation and processing.  After watching Food, Inc. and listening to Joel Salatin talk, I also feel it is my duty as a consumer to put my “vote” behind real food instead of mass-produced, chemical laden junk.

In addition to the local Farmer’s Markets, Central Arkansas has a great resource for accessing the local food market:  This website offers two wonderful programs.  First, the basket a month program is a subscription program that provides members with a basket full of locally grown food such as produce, meat, eggs, cheese, milk, and rice. The cost is $180 per three months.  The second program is the Online Market, where you can choose which products you would like to receive and order them online each week.  Two amazing services, really.  Before we moved here, I had never heard of such a thing.

Basket a Month Baskets

Spend More One-on-One Time with My Kids – This is the “gimmie” of the bunch.  Carina will be starting official preschool this week. Her hours will be different than Callen’s Parent’s Day Out, so it will give me an opportunity to spend time with each of them separately each week.  The important part will be making sure I fill this one-on-one time with activities that are important to each child. For Carina: arts and crafts, cooking and baking, and playing with puzzles and blocks (Callen eats her crayons and markers, is very dangerous in the kitchen, and is all about scattering puzzle pieces and toppling block towers). For Callen, basically, anything where he doesn’t have to share or take turns, since that is so hard for a person his age to have to do all the time.

Submit My Writing Once a Month – For over 6 months now, I’ve been saying that I’m working on “getting my freelancing career started.”  The problem is I’ve spent a huge amount of time researching freelance writing and very little time actually writing.  I’m sort of famous for that.  So, this year, I will submit my writing for publication or competition at least once per month.  My research tells me that actual publication will be few and far between, but it will be a huge learning process and a step in the right direction.

Back in the Day

Compete in a Triathlon – You can’t have a New Year’s Resolution list without a nod to fitness, right?  Callen is coming up on two years old, and while I feel pretty happy with the way my body has recovered from childbearing, I still have about 5 pounds of flab flabbing around my mid section.  For those of you who didn’t know me pre-kids, I used to compete in sprint distance triathlons. This is a hobby I miss greatly.  So, two negatives are coming together to make a positive goal here.  Fitting in the necessary training will be a challenge, but I know I can do it.  Anyone want to join me?

Happy New Year to all of you!  Do you have any resolutions?

Right at this moment, I should be writing about three different articles that I have floating in my head.  Really, there’s nothing to stop me.  It’s 9:10pm and the rest of my family is in bed… asleep…probably. And therein lies the problem.

Before kids I loved commitment.  If anything, I was over committed.  At work, I took on duties that were not part of my job description.  If I thought of something that would help my coworkers or the organization I worked for, I took it on and made sure it got done.  In my free time, I was committed to training for sprint distance triathalons. And of course, I was committed completely and without competition in my love for my husband.

Now, “after” kids, I have a hard time with commitment.   For small-scale commitments, I often find myself paralyzed by my fear of starting a task or project.  The primary basis of this fear is interruption.  I can’t stand to leave something undone. Being the owner of two toddlers means that life is lived in 15 minute segments.  Anything that cannot be accomplished in that amount of time is a dangerous escapade of recklessness, most often resulting in wailing children, teed-off mommy, or both.  Even within these 15 minute segments, I do not have control at least 50% of the time.  I’m outnumbered. They know it.  I know it. They know I know it and they rub it in by alternating who pushes my buttons in each 15 minute time segment.  Tasks that are nearly un-accomplishable during daylight hours include washing dishes (hence my hatred for the task and the name of this blog), mopping floors, folding laundry, talking on the phone, showering, writing, and many more.

Now, certainly I do have occasions where I go an hour or more without being interrupted.  Nap time, evenings, and the theoretically huge but perceptively small four-hour blocks of time when the kids are at parents day out and I am not working.  The problem there is that my fear of interruption has become a bit irrational.  Sure the kids usually sleep from 8pm to 2am.  However, I still hesitate to start writing because someone might wake up, or my brain is not as sharp at the end of a long day as it should be for my best writing to come out, or if I do get a good draft written, how long will it be before I’ll be able to come back to it, and can I keep my train of thought?

My other commitment issues come from that time-honored scape-goat that all mommies are strapped to (willingly or un): guilt.  As I mentioned, before kids I had three large-scale commitments: hubby, work, and hobby.  Now, the kids, in all their innocent, dependent, defenseless glory, have taken that list and smashed it to bits.  I feel guilty about where this lands hubby on the list, but I love him with all my heart, and feel that raising our children well is one of the best gifts I can give him.  Work has nearly disappeared from the list, and the little amount of work I do makes me feel guilty for taking away from family time, although the extra cash helps a little as we’re currently paying two mortgages.  Anything I do that gets anywhere near hobby-ish (including writing and fitness) immediately gets soaked in guilt, what with all the other commitments I am already not satisfying.  On the other hand, I feel that I’ve earned the right to have some time to myself, and that truly, I need that time in order to be the best mom I can be.

So, I am struggling to strike a balance, to ascertain whether I have too many commitments on my list and what should be scribbled out.  I need to reprogram my brain to work without fear of interruption, to utilize my “me” time to the fullest extent, since “me” time is what gets scribbled off the list first. I love my children to bits, but I don’t want to be one of those moms who lose themselves to the process of mothering. I’m curious as to how other moms do it, and how long  it takes to learn this skill.  I’ve been at it three years and counting.   Isn’t there a class I can take?

water weightI’ve been taking part in a “health challenge” in which you earn points each day for doing certain things like exercising, spending quality time with your kids, journaling, eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies, etc.

Two weeks into the challenge, I noticed that I gained 2 pounds.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I hadn’t gone overboard on Halloween, and I was working out more than normal, pushing myself to be more healthy so that I could earn more points each day.  I’m journaling, eating the fruits and veggies, etc, etc… Still, those two pounds are sticking around.

One of the biggest struggles I have had is the water.  You get 10 points if you drink at least 60 ounces of water per day.  I am not a thirsty person.  Normally, I’m good if I manage 16 ounces a day.  So, as I gulped down my third 20 ounce thermos of water this evening, it hit me.  Water weight.  So I googled it.  Water weighs 0.065 pounds per ounce.  So, 60 ounces weighs about 3.9 pounds!  Subtract the 16 ounces that I was normally drinking each day (1.04 lbs), and surprise!  Almost 3 pounds of extra water floating around inside me.

So, I’m starting to wonder about the true healthfulness of drinking 60 ounces of water.  In addition to my new more liquidy weight, I also have to say that my bladder is getting a workout.  Seems a trip to the restroom is in order nearly once every hour.  Some nights I have to get up in the middle of the night and go, and I KNOW that adding one more interruption to my sleep is not healthy.  And, because I’m not naturally prone to drinking so much, it’s a little bit stressful to make sure I get in my 60 ounces a day.  Now, in addition to keeping track of two kids, I have to keep track of my water bottle too, and make sure the kids don’t drink out of it.  Finally, because 60 ounces of water is all I can manage in a day, I am missing out on my normal servings of milk and fruit juice.  So, less calcium and vitamins from my fluid intake. I still have a sore throat nearly every morning, my skin isn’t any clearer than normal, and I’m not sweating any more or less.

I’m thinking that maybe somewhere between 16 and 60 might be a more appropriate ounce per day goal for me.  Let’s hear it, nutritionists, trainers, athletes, and everyone else:  What do you think is a good amount of fluid intake per day, and how much should be water?

Race For the Cure StartLast weekend I ran in my second Komen Race for the Cure 5k.  I fell in love with this event last year – there is just something so electrical about 45,000 women gathered in one place, for one cause, with one purpose.  There are men and children there too, but it is the girl power that I especially feed off of.  This year, this was doubly true, as I fed off of the girl power of the entire crowd, but also of one specific girl in particular that I did not expect.

I challenged myself to run the 5k in less than 27 minutes, knowing that it would motivate me for training and also get me a spot closer to the starting line (faster runners wear colored race numbers that gain them entry to a “corral” at the front of the massive start).  After eight weeks of helter-skelter training, I found myself standing on the starting line, feeling nervous about whether I would meet my goal or not.  I was intimidated by the other runners around me, who all seemed to be either very tall, very skinny, or both, and many of them were equipped with iPods or GPS units – obviously all somewhat serious runners.  I had visions of the gun going off and all these runners taking off, leaving me trailing behind like a three year old trying to catch the ice cream truck.  I stared down at my $9.99 “sports” watch from target, queuing up the timer function while listening to the conversation around me.  One woman, dressed in a chilly looking red singlet and shorts, was asking the people around her what their goal times were.  It didn’t make me feel better when several answered, “24”, “22”, “23”… But then I heard this woman say that she wasn’t going to go that fast and that she was just getting back into running after having two kids.

I looked up at her, and she asked me what my goal was.  “I’m getting back into running after two kids too. I hope to be at 27 or 28 minutes, ” I said.

“Oh, yes,” she grinned.  “Me too.  Maybe we’ll run together.”

Our conversation was halted by the suddenness of the countdown to the start gun, after which I got lost in the blur of trying to get out fast, not trip on anyone or myself, and trying to squint enough to stop the wind from forcing water out of my eye sockets and down my cheeks while still being able to see where I was going.

After what seemed like only a few short minutes of crossing the bridge over the Arkansas River; under the mayor of North Little Rock, who was hoisted high above the street in the bucket of a “cherry picker” truck; through a pleasant storm of pink and white confetti; and past a couple bands, I became aware of an amplified man’s voice yelling out times in the urgent, yet matter-of-fact style of a high school track coach.  “Seven Eighteen!  Seven NINEteen! Seven Tweeeenntty!”  I wondered why someone would be yelling out run times at this point in the course, until I finally located the voice on the sidelines and saw that he was standing next to a huge banner that said ” 1 MILE”.  I was stupefied.  I had just run the first mile in 7:24?!  I blinked and looked around, shocked again to find that I had just run up next to the woman in red.

“I think we ran that first mile a little fast,” I said.  She agreed, but we didn’t drop our pace.  We continued on, taking in the sights of the race: firefighters dancing atop their trucks, bikers revving their bike engines, karate kids, marching bands, belly dancers and yogis, and of course, the wonderfully enthusiastic “regular” spectators.  We introduced ourselves – her name is Lindsey.  She introduced me to other runners that we passed and who passed us along the way.  We carried each other along in that magical way that only runners know about. I was amazed at our progress when we made the turn onto the last straight stretch of the course.  We ran past Lindsey’s husband and son, who offered her the cutest little dixie cup of water.  I started to wonder where my husband and children were, and then I finally glimpsed them as we neared the finish line.  Waving with both hands to Carina, Callen, and Craig, I crossed the finish line right next to Lindsey with a time of 25:16.

Even though I am trained in communicating through written words, I still can’t find the right ones to explain why I love to run, or the feeling that a great experience like the Race for the Cure gives me as a woman and a runner.  I am so blessed to have my health, my abilities, and most importantly, to be surrounded by wonderful people (family and new running buddies included) to share it all with.

Breast cancer is a scary, scary thing.  It’s hurting our mothers, our sisters, our friends, and therefore, it’s hurting all of us.  The 2009 Race for the Cure is finished, but the battle continues.  You can fight it right at home.  Forward this link on to anyone you know who has breasts, or anyone who loves someone who does.  It’s a form to sign up for a monthly email reminder to do a self breast exam.  Early detection is the best way to ensure survival!

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