Monday, December 19, 2011

Have A Merry Running Christmas

‘Tis the season for celebrating — for parties, decorations, and for rejoicing. In all the holiday hub-bub, it may be hard to make time to run, but running can be a festive activity too! Here are some tips for making your next run a merry ole’ time:
  • Run wearing a Santa hat – Bring a smile to the faces of your neighbors and drivers alike!
  • Run with bells on – String a few little bells on your shoelaces or add some sleigh bells to the jogging stroller (just a little warning – this could be a tad overwhelming on long runs)!
  • Run with Christmas tunes – Rock out to some upbeat carols and spread some joy by bursting into song every mile or so!
  • Run at night to see the lights – Sometimes it’s a bit intimidating to run at night. But there’s no better time to give it a go than at Christmas when white and colorful lights adorn the neighborhood. Just don’t forget to don your own reflective gear!
  • Run and rejoice in the reason for the season – Read the Christmas story in Luke before heading out and reflect on Jesus’ birth as you run. It’s a great way to refresh your spirit and put Christmas back in the right perspective.
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Friday, December 9, 2011

Little Red Running Fleece

Nestled in the hills of West Virginia is a little town called Rachel, home to a post office, Downs United Methodist Church and my parents. During a visit in early December, I had a choice between running along the winding back roads or along the rocky defunct train tracks. I usually avoid the roads because of the narrowness and frequent blind bends. My main concern about the trail following the old train tracks was hunters; it was the height of hunting season after-all. When I expressed my concern about running along the old train rails, my mother said, “Oh they aren’t hunting along the trail.” Great! I made my decision.
As I reached the start of the trail, heading towards me in a bright, neon orange vest carrying a rifle in one hand was a bearded man. Ha! I was right and Mom was wrong! But my inner gloating was interrupted by a gunshot echoing in the air. Well, while my original worry had just been confirmed, nothing short of a giant black bear standing on the path was going to stop my momentum. I was wearing my red fleece pull-over and matching red fleece hat so even if it was an overcast dreary day, a hunter wasn’t likely to mistake me for a deer. I figured the odds were in my favor and continued to run.
Unlike most rails-to-trails, this trail was not paved; instead, it was lined with fist-sized chunks of gravel –most definitely not ideal running terrain, but if I was careful and watched my feet, I could lower my chances of twisting my ankle or falling. I ran slowly and carefully along the rough path enjoying the peace and quiet.
Eventually, I made it to the neighboring town and increased my pace. I ran along residential streets past the library, the school, and churches until I made it back to the wooded trail that would lead me back to my parent’s house. My mind was wandering ahead already –imagining a hot bath in a large claw-foot bathtub. Startling me out of my thoughts, a four-wheeler roared past me, not slowing down or seeming to care if I managed to get out of its way.
Fuming at the driver’s rudeness, I resumed running while contemplating hurling a hunk of gravel at the driver’s head. As I turned a bend in the trail, the first tingle of fear tickled my spine. Ahead of me, pulled off a little to the side was the four-wheeler and driver. My pace slowed as I considered my options. Maybe the driver was having mechanical difficulties; maybe the driver wanted to apologize for being a jerk; maybe the driver was waiting to attack me, or kidnap me!
Awareness of my vulnerable situation struck me like a red brick through a glass window, shattering the peaceful solitude and any illusions I had of safety. I was completely alone in the woods of rural West Virginia. I didn’t have my cell phone or anything to use as a weapon. On my left was the steep side of a hill and on my right was an embankment leading to a creek. If I had to, I could jump into the water to escape, but it was early December and the temperatures would be freezing. Would the driver follow me and try to drown me?
As I got closer to the four-wheeler, my heart-rate tripled and I prayed fervently that I was overreacting. I ran by and noticed a couple things about the driver: he was wearing an orange jumpsuit and a helmet with a tinted visor –well protected from pepper spray or a large rock. He didn’t acknowledge me in any way and didn’t immediately follow me. I breathed a sigh of relief and my fear subsided. Phew! It was just my overactive imagination fueled by too many crime dramas.
Or at least I thought so for a few minutes until the four-wheeler passed me again and again stopped as if to wait for me. I didn’t see any rifles or a bow, so while the driver was dressed for hunting, he didn’t appear to be actively hunting –at least not actively hunting an animal, but according to a recent episode of CSI: Miami I’d watched, men did hunt humans for sport. This time I was sure the driver was playing with me.
As I prepared to pass him for a second time –only because I had no other choice –I braced myself for whatever he might say. As a long time runner, I’ve experienced come-ons, insults and threats while running –not often and rarely intimidating, but it has happened. As I ran past him, he said nothing. His silence was more threatening than any comment I’d heard in the past.
By this point, the end of the trail was close and I ran as fast as I could until finally the trees gave way to houses. As my fear fully evaporated, I debated whether to share the experience with my family. I knew my husband would scold me. He always tells me to take my cell phone and I nearly always forget it. It wouldn’t have done me much good anyway in this situation; the driver of the four-wheeler would have finished with me or carried me off way before the police could have reached me; however, if the crime shows I watch are right, they could have tracked me through my cell phone had I actually been kidnapped; regardless, my husband was going to be a tad irate with me if I told him what had happened.
However, the upside was that this incident had succeeded in convincing me of what my husband couldn’t – running alone can be dangerous. It’s important to take precautions, like carrying a cell phone and even some pepper spray. It’s also a good idea to let someone know how long I plan to run and to map out my route so that someone knows where to look for me if I’m late.
Despite the scary episode in the backwoods of West Virginia, I’m not scared to run alone or on wooded trails, but I am smarter about safety. There are big bad wolfs out there and a girl’s got to be prepared.
I was very fortunate that nothing happened to me on that run. I’m still thanking God for protecting me. My prayers are with missing runner Sherry Arnold’s family and friends.

*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

4 Reasons To Run With A Jogging Stroller

I used to think satisfaction came at the end, at the finish line. Now I know that what I see or smell or do on the way is much more significant than the distance we covered or how fast we did it. Susan Williams, A Mother And Son As Training Partners
Honestly, my jogging stroller is heavy! Monkey is now 30 pounds and I don’t know what the stroller weighs, but whatever it is -it’s weighty. Today, as I was running past a couple of my neighbors, they joked, “The speed limit is 25mph through here!”
For a second it bothered me that I was slow enough that my neighbors felt compelled to make a joke about it, but I’m not that fast without the stroller, except on the days after I’ve run with the jogging stroller – I feel so light and free without the extra weight that I do go faster. So while, I may have been going slow today, I’ll be going faster tomorrow.
Photo Credit - Faith Laces
Not every run has to be a race. And there are benefits to running (slowly) with a jogging stroller.
  • Form. When I run sans stroller I tend to focus on my feet and my shoulders hunch. I have to keep reminding myself to straighten up, but with the stroller, I always look ahead and my grip on the stroller keeps my shoulders straight and my posture erect.
  • Hill Training. Pushing a stroller, up even slight and moderate hills, has made running up hill on my own seem like a breeze — most of the time.
  • Quality Time. I cherish every moment of running with Monkey. Seeing the world through her eyes is magical. She has so many questions and so much she wants to do. Her excitement bubbles over and captures me as well.
  • A Different Perspective. Racing, chasing, holding hands, laughing, shuffling through piles of leaves, the sun on her skin, the lights in her eyes, the joy vibrating around her – all reminders that running is just pure fun, no matter how slow or fast I go.
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chasing Shadows

Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
Today was simply beautiful. The temperature was warm in the 60s with no wind and the sun shone brightly in the baby blue sky -perfect conditions for a lovely fall run with Monkey.
On the track today we ran together holding hands and crossing the finish line together so we both ‘won.’ We chased our shadows, stepped on each other’s shadow, and merged our shadows into one ‘monster’ shadow. Monkey also picked the few remaining dandelions.
On our way to the creek, she fell asleep and napped for maybe 15 minutes. She woke up in time to stop at the creek and toss sticks into the water.
I got a great workout pushing Monkey in her jogging stroller up a hill because our regular route was blocked by big tree limbs that fell down during the snow we had a week ago.
A metaphorical tree limb fell in my path on Friday and rather than turn to God for the strength and wisdom to navigate, I panicked. I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I blamed God for putting the tree in my way as punishment. I stumbled over the limb, tripped and got trapped in the tiny branches. Only when I was completely helpless did I realize that I was blaming God because I didn’t trust him as much as I thought.
It’s a challenge for me to trust God when something bad happens, but I desperately want to trust in God as Job did - “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). I have to stop obsessing over what has happened. I’ve been living with it, enduring it, but not accepting it and trusting God to take care of it. It’s time to stop chasing shadows of why, what if and what will. It’s time to start admitting my own powerlessness and recognizing who is all powerful. 
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When The Running Ain't Easy

As a long time runner, I know there are going to be days when my legs feel like dead weight, when one mile feels like ten, and when the weather makes me want to stay in bed. Monday was one of those days.
The Bad and Ugly of Monday’s Run
  • My cold.
  • An almost flat right back tire on the stroller.
  • Rain.
The Good of Monday’s Run
  • My daughter’s peeling laughter as she ran beside me.
  • My daughter’s hand firmly holding onto my pants.
  • My daughter shouting, “This is fun!”
  • My daughter saying, “We both win,” as we finish our last lap around the track.
  • Remembering to bring along the rain shield for the stroller.
  • Sprinting through the rain.
Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
Every time I go out there, I win. Every time I finish the task that I’ve set before myself, I win again. ~ David James Elliott, Actor
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Monday, September 19, 2011

10 Jogging Stroller Safety Tips

When I first ran with the jogging stroller, I was nervous. I worried it was too big and cumbersome to control or maneuver easily around cars and pedestrians, but after just a couple of runs, the stroller started feeling like a natural extension of my body and even helped to improve my form by keeping me standing straight and looking ahead.
Despite feeling comfortable, I still feel a little nervous when I run with the stroller because it’s carrying precious cargo, so I do everything I can to make my runs with Monkey enjoyable and safe.

Ten Tips to Protect Your Little Running Partner:

  1. Don’t run with your infant unless he or she is able to sit up on their own, usually around 6 months old. Before I began running with Monkey in the jogging stroller, I checked with her pediatrician to make sure it was safe to do so.
  2. Run during daylight hours. Although I don’t take the jogging stroller at night or early morning, my jogging stroller has a reflective light on the wheels, as most jogging strollers do. My husband added additional strips of reflective tape on both sides of the stroller to make sure it was visible in the dark. It’s a precaution that comes in handy when it’s cloudy or foggy.
  3. Avoid running on narrow streets and busy roads. I’ll run along a main road if there are sidewalks; otherwise, I run through residential developments with wide streets and low traffic or on the campus of a nearby school.
  4. Avoid running in extreme temperatures. Now that she’s a toddler, Monkey lets me know when it’s too cold or hot to accompany me on a run, but when she was an infant, it was harder to know when the temperature was uncomfortable for her. At the time, I asked my doctor and he told me that she could handle temperatures as well as I could if she was dressed appropriately. I was comfortable taking infant Monkey in the jogging stroller in temperatures as low as 30 degrees as long as there was no wind chill, the run was short and she was bundled up. I’ve since read that it’s best to take infants running in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees.
  5. Dress appropriately. I always remember that running generates heat in my body, but not in Monkey’s. If I step outside and feel chilly, I dress Monkey warmly with a hat and coat, even if I’m wearing shorts. I use sun block year round and apply it to Monkey’s skin too.
  6. Use the wrist strap. I keep a death grip on the handlebar of my jogging stroller, but just in case something unforeseen happened, I attach the wrist strap too.
  7. Buckle your child in the stroller.
  8. Have a first aid kit on board, including Neosporin, alcohol swabs, band-aids, Tylenol, and teething gel for babies.
  9. Keep a stroller bag, including wipes, diapers/spare underwear, a towel, a blanket, and a change of clothes.
  10. Take along snacks, juice/bottle, and a toy or two. When Monkey was an infant, the scenery was enough of a distraction, but now that she’s older, I allow her to bring along a toy. I try and limit it to one or two, but some days I end up pushing a stroller filled with baby dolls, books and Scooby-Doo figurines just to get out the door!
Run. Rejoice. Be safe.
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough


I can still hear you say you will never break the chain ~ Fleetwood Mac The Chain.
Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
At the risk of being labeled a bad mother, I confess that I did not feel joy on the day I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital. I was grateful and happy to have a healthy baby girl, but I was severely depressed and majorly terrified –overwhelmed with the magnitude of the responsibility I was facing.
My confidence wavered as I tried unsuccessfully to wake a sleeping newborn to nurse. My nerves were shot and my hormones were going haywire. I couldn’t help feeling like a part of me was missing. She wasn’t missing –she was in my arms, but it wasn’t the same, and I mourned the feeling of life moving within me.
Even though I’d anxiously waited for my due date for nine months and longed to hold my baby, I ached with emptiness. Any joy I felt at holding my newborn drowned under the sorrow I felt at losing our physical bond.
Thankfully breastfeeding reestablished the physical connection I needed to move past the ‘post-partum depression’ or ‘baby blues’ I experienced after Monkey was born. Although two weeks after we’d been home, when the remainder of her umbilical cord fell off (the last tangible evidence of our physical connection), I cried –a lot.
When Monkey stopped breastfeeding, the sense of loss and detachment returned, although not as fiercely as before since she clung to me 24/7, or so it seemed at the time. Monkey made it easy to remember she needed me. I was blessed and fortunate enough to be home with her and if we were ever apart, her daddy or grandparents were there to watch her and would fill me in (whether willingly or with endless questioning) on every cute and rotten thing she did.
Last Tuesday Monkey started preschool and for the first time in her life I wasn’t there to observe everything she said and did, nor was I able to wring out every detail from her nursery school teacher. This turned out to be more difficult for me to handle than I had expected. I cried when I left her in her classroom. I cried when I got home. I felt alone. The house seemed so empty and lonely. Something was missing. It was the same feeling I had when I got home from the hospital three years ago, only this time, there was no infant snuggled against my chest. I cried harder. This was it. Our lives had diverged and our bond was gone.
I truly felt too miserable to go for a run, especially since Monkey had been joining me on Tuesdays in the stroller. But when I’m miserable, that’s the perfect time for a run, so out the door I went.
It had been raining and dark clouds hovered overhead. As my body relaxed into the rhythm of running, thoughts about Monkey moved through my mind: how inseparable we’d been for the last three years; how it seemed like the chain of family members that had always linked us together had been cut; imagining there was a chain hanging heavy around my waist, a swinging, severed end banging against my leg as I ran.
Digging deep I searched for something positive. Well, at least the pre-school was at the church and her grandparents were across the hall at choir practice. It was some consolation. As I contemplated the church, I heard God whisper to me, “I am the link in the chain between you that can never be broken.”
I looked at my watch; it was 11:00 A.M. A powerful surge of love and faith revived and strengthened our invisible bond.  I imagined being a fly on the wall of the preschool classroom and hearing Monkey say, “I want ‘bobo’(her security blanket). Where’s my ‘bobo’?”
For the first time since my daughter was born, I understood that we would always be united in Christ and experienced the power of that union.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for comforting me with your words in my time of need. I feel so unworthy, so blessed and so humbled. May I always find time to open myself to Your whispers. Amen.
This story is a perfect illustration of why I run. Running is the only way to silence the obsessive voices in my head, to clear my mind, to open myself to God’s presence. If I’d sat at home feeling sorry for myself, my thoughts would have been raging too loud for God’s whisper to be heard.
How do you clear your mind to hear God’s whispers?

*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Friday, September 16, 2011

How Running Makes Me A Better Mother

The strength I develop through running has benefits that go beyond physical. For me, running is like meditation, a way to connect to nature, grow closer to God, find inspiration and stimulate creativity. Anne Audain credits movement.
By moving the body itself, you are moving not just air, food , and blood but even thought through the body. If you let things sit still, you’ll get cobwebs. Movement gives you so much more energy (Anne Audain, cofounder of the Idaho Women’s Fitness Celebration, as told to Dagny Scott in The Complete Book of Women’s Running, p. 155).
This energy carries over to other aspects of my life, especially being a mother to a three-year-old who is constantly on the move herself. Some days even after a good-night’s sleep I’m still tired, and when a cheerful little voice says, “Sun is up, Mommy! You play with me now,” I just want to roll over and pull a pillow over my head. But after a run, I’m revived and energized with plenty of pep to play hide and seek, build a castle with blocks, read a few stories, make worms out of Play-Doh and run races in the yard.
Besides this wonderful energy, running also releases feelings of accomplishment, affirmation and confidence that make me a happier, more positive mother.  It also gives me the opportunity to plan out our daily schedule and stay organized. Keeping on top of everything makes me feel more secure about my parenting skills and makes it easier to accomplish goals while still having time for fun.
It’s important to me that my daughter associate running and having fun so when I take her in the jogging stroller, we go off road and into the woods where we stop for a break and throw stones or sticks into the water, which is something she loves to do. I also use this quality time together as an opportunity to point out and count the different animals and the many beauties of God’s creation. This past Tuesday on our run we saw squirrels, groundhogs, geese, a deer and a blue heron. Sitting on a rock with our feet dangling over the water, we both looked up and admired the way the sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees. I’m so grateful for that special moment with my daughter surrounded by God’s presence.
Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
My goal is to set a positive example for my daughter through running by encouraging her to follow an active lifestyle. So far, so good. Just the other day when I was eavesdropping on her as she played with her Disney Princess figurines, I heard her say, “We’ll go to the track and we’ll go to the water, then we’ll come home and play outside okay, baby?” Since running is such an important part of my daily life, it’s become a daily routine to my daughter. To her, it’s something done every day, like taking a bath and brushing her teeth.
She’s already learning lessons from running that took me years to learn. While we were on vacation she started racing her father and I. When she finished, she yelled, “I won!” And as we finished behind her, she congratulated each of us on winning too. Finishing is winning; it doesn’t matter whether you finish first or last. 

*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making The Most Of Running With My Daughter

Photo Credit - Faith Laces
One of the joys of running for me is spending quality time with my daughter. Monkey is three now and joins me in the jogging stroller for two runs a week. Here’s how I make the most out of our running time together:
Pray – Before running I pray that God will keep us safe, help us to run our best, and open our senses to his presence.
Practice God Sightings – I feel closer to God when running; I’m hoping Monkey will someday know the same closeness.
During our runs, I point out God’s wonderful and beautiful creations like the blue sky, fluffy white clouds, flowing water, green grass, fine sand, heavy rocks, tiny pebbles, the variety of creatures like the birds, ducks, geese, groundhogs, squirrels, and turtles. Highlighting all of the different textures, smells, sounds, and sights around us, I say, “God made that.”
Later when I’m making dinner and overhear Monkey say, “God made water or God made macaroni and cheese;” My heart swells and I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving that my efforts made an impression.
Practice running – At various spots along my route, I park the stroller and encourage Monkey to get out and run around with me or on her own, although I don’t push; if she doesn’t want to run, I don’t force her.
There is a track along my route, but Monkey got bored running in circles. (I can’t blame her – five laps and I can’t take it anymore.) Now she likes to run around the pond occasionally chasing geese and pointing out all the neat stuff God made, trying to be like her mommy.
Practice teaching – While running I count how many squirrels we see, how many geese are on the water, and how many laps I do on the track. There are plenty of opportunities to teach counting, colors and shapes.
There are woods and a stream along the route, which provide the opportunity to teach Monkey about nature. This summer she’s learned, among other things, that spiders make webs to catch other bugs to eat; that squirrels eat acorns; that acorns grow on trees; that fish breathe in the water and that turtles can disappear inside their shells.
Pray – I end our runs together just as we began – in prayer. I thank Him for keeping us safe, for speaking to us through His creation, and for the ability to run. I also pray that our time together has nurtured and strengthened my daughter’s faith.
Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you…
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Deuteronomy 4:1a, 9b (NIV)
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tails of Rails To Trails

I like to think I got my drive and discipline for running from my father. He’s not a runner, but while I was growing up he was active in multiple sports. Mondays he played tennis. Tuesdays and Thursdays he played basketball. Wednesdays he golfed. Fridays he bowled and during the spring and summer he played softball.
These days my father stays active through bike riding. About a year ago, a client ‘paid’ my father with his bicycle. He told my dad it was worth around $500, when it actually was worth less than $200. But my father accepted his payment because that’s the kind of lawyer he is. In a profession with an ugly and dark reputation, my daddy shines like the sun -I’m a daddy’s girl if you couldn’t tell ;)
Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
My mom told me about the bike and how my dad came to own one, but I didn’t realize how often my dad was riding until Christmas of last year. He kept talking about riding along the Rails to Trails, how uncomfortable his bike seat was and how frequently a stray dog chased behind him. His best story was seeing a longhorn steer on the trail coming towards him. Quite an unusual sight I’m sure, but the funny part was my dad asking the woman jogger behind the steer, “Is that your cow?”
His adventures on the Rails to Trails had me so entertained and curious I asked if I could tag along for a run. It was the first of the year and warm as a spring day when we went. I was dressed appropriately in leggings, running shoes and a moisture-wicking long-sleeved shirt. My dad on the other hand was wearing a cumbersome flannel coat and casual slip-on shoes. “Where’s your helmet?” I asked because the sign on the trail said it was the law. “I’m not wearing a stupid helmet,” he answered curtly.  There’s no point arguing with my father, law or no law.
That run ranks among the best runs ever because it was with my daddy. So when I was home over the 4th of July holiday, I couldn’t wait to run the Rails to Trails while my dad biked. He still didn’t wear a helmet, but he did have a new bike, which he carefully researched through Consumer Reports. Unlike the last time, I couldn’t keep my dad in sight the whole time. Either he got faster or I got slower! But just like last time, he would stop and wait for me at different spots on the trail.
The first time I met up with him, he said suspiciously, “Some guy just popped out of the bushes up here. I don’t know what he’s up to.” I looked over at the elderly man holding a tin bucket and immediately assumed he was picking raspberries and dismissed him as a threat, but instead of pointing that out to my dad, I just laughed and reveled in his protectiveness.
At the five mile marker we turned around and started back. As I was running, I heard a voice behind me say, “lady jogger on left.” Then four bicyclists, wearing helmets and proper clothing, passed me. I smiled to myself and thought, “I wonder if The Tour de France will pass my dad?”
With about a mile left to go, I caught up to my dad who was waiting on the side of the trail. “I just got passed by the Tour de France,” he said immediately. I just laughed. Like father like daughter!
Apparently, I got my sense of humor as well as my athleticism from my dad! 
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Run Like A Princess

Photo Credit - Faith Laces
My Daughter's Guide To Running Like A Princess:
  • A princess runs in dresses, skirts or tutus – no shorts and definitely no sweats!
  • A princess favors pink in all clothing.
  • A princess wears running shoes as long as they are pink and sparkly.
  • A princess runs with one hand holding out her skirt as if she is Belle ball-dancing with the Beast.
  • A princess is free to take frequent rest breaks and be pushed by her mother/servant (is there a difference?) until she feels up to running again.
  • A princess is also free to interrupt a run with a spontaneous ballet recital of sorts.
  • A princess can add dancing at any point during a run.
  • A princess enjoys a short nap after a long run.
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fashionable Running

My typical summer running outfit includes a pair of shorts, a tank top, a sports bra, socks and a handkerchief to wipe away sweat.
This morning I put on a pair of black shorts and a loose black and white sleeveless Champion® top from Target that my hubby bought for me. When I walked out to the kitchen to put Monkey’s shoes on she said, “Yuck!”
“What? My shirt?” I asked.
“Yes. I don’t like that.”
“You don’t? It’s not pretty?”
“No. It’s yucky.”
So I changed.
To make Monkey really happy I’m going to have to invest in a running skirt.
So what does the always fashionable Monkey wear to run? A pretty princess dress, of course.
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Monday, May 16, 2011

Running With My Daughter

I had hoped to post my race report for the Shad Bloom 10K I ran on Saturday, but I’m still trying to get everything settled after returning from our week-long getaway. I’m afraid that the race report will have to be postponed until next Monday.
My jogging stroller is great for the most part, except it doesn’t travel well. It takes up a lot of room so I didn’t take it to Block Island. This meant a week of running on my own. I’m not complaining; it was a fabulous week of long runs on sandy trails with ocean views. But I regretted not being able to share those views with my little monkey.
This morning I pulled the stroller out and brushed off a few cobwebs. I’m amazed how quickly spiders can make themselves at home! Monkey eagerly hopped in, so I could tell she’d missed running with me too. Of course, she’d had to bring a ‘few’ things, like every Disney Princess Barbie doll she has. I guess they needed a little fresh air!
Not quite a mile from our house is a track. Once we got there, I parked the stroller and unbuckled Monkey so she could get out and run ‘with’ me. I hadn’t tried that in while, but while we were on vacation, she started racing us along the path to the beach. She’d run ahead saying, “I’m going to win!” When she reached the end, she turned around and said, “Yay! You win!” to each of us as we finished. Winning is finishing what you set out to do. At least that is the lesson I hope Monkey was teaching.
Back home on the track, she ran along behind me. I ran an easy pace, but didn’t hold back to stay beside her. Occasionally, I jogged back to her and she was just running and smiling! Her breathing was heavy and I could tell she was really trying. I ran backwards to keep an eye on her and encourage her to keep it up, but then she tried to run backwards too! It seems like just yesterday she was learning to walk!
After one full lap, she ran a little and walked a little. Then she started running back and forth in the grass in the middle of the track. When I finished my laps, she was waiting for me in the stroller guzzling apple juice from her cup.
I buckled her up again and set off to continue the run. Surprisingly, Monkey talked the entire time! Usually she quietly observed her surroundings and eventually drifted off for a short nap. Not today. Today she carried on conversations with herself and gave me orders: “Faster. Stop. I wanna go down there. Stop bumping me. Hurry.” I have to admit I missed the usual quiet!
While off road on the run, we stopped at the creek, climbed down to the rocks, and took a moment to enjoy the view. I was sad to leave the beauty of Block Island, but there is plenty of beauty in my backyard. The creek flowed gently in front of us before falling into a faster current. Birds twittered and chirped and the insects buzzed and hummed.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” I asked Monkey.
“Yes. Booteefull.”
I put my arm around her and pulled her close. “Do you see the water?”
She nodded.
“The trees? See how green they are?”
She looked up and around her.
“There are a lot of them aren’t there?”
She nodded again.
“God made them all.”
After such a profound statement I expected an “oooh” or an “awww”; instead, she said, “Let’s go.”
She just can’t sit still for long! So much for quality time soaking in the peace and beauty of nature. So much for quality time illuminating God’s greatness.
Oh well. I’m not deterred. She’s only three. She’s only just taken her first real ‘running’ steps. She’s just learning. One day she’ll sit, listen and ask questions. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to reinforce the joy of running and the greatness of God.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough

Monday, May 9, 2011

Support Is Key To Success

The number 2 item on my ‘Running’ packing list is a sports bra. So it boggles my mind how on a recent trip, I forgot to pack one. On the other hand, I had remembered to pack my Ace bandage in case I injured my ankle.
I was at my parent’s house and my always resourceful mother suggested using the bandage as a suitable bra replacement. She did the honors of wrapping me up. I remember it like the scene where Mammy ties Scarlett O’Hara’s corset.
If a sports bra, is number 2 on my ‘Running’ list, then number 1 has to be my shoes. Not just any old pair of sneakers will do. A good pair of running shoes are essential to keep injuries at bay. A good running shoe helps absorb the shock of pounding the pavement and prevents sore knees and painful joints.
As far as gear goes, those are the only two essential items a female runner needs.  But to be a runner, to enjoy running, to make it a part of your lifestyle, you need a lot of support from your family and friends, especially your spouse.
Running, especially long distance running, which I enjoy, takes a lot of time. My family knows and understands that any events, parties, lunches, or dinners need to be planned with my running schedule in mind. Well, maybe they just tolerate me because I’m family! Regardless, I appreciate all their consideration. With their support, I can make time to run and keep it a priority.
Keeping running a priority with a baby is not an easy thing to do. Before my daughter, I could pretty much run whenever and for however long I wanted. Now my runs are scheduled around Makayla. At first, when I ran was determined by her nursing schedule. When she was a little older, I ran during her naptime so she would sleep and not fuss in the stroller.
Now that she is three, she decides when we go for a run or even whether she wants to go with me or not. When she does go, it takes me an hour to make it out the door, but when she doesn’t go, I have to find someone to sit with her while I run –an extra challenge during the winter months.
I prefer to run in daylight. I just feel safer, but I’m not opposed to running in the dark. When the hours of daylight dwindled, my sister would sit with Makayla after she got off work at 4pm so that I could get a run in before it was really dark. I know my sister was anxious to get home and unwind after a long day, but she understands how much running means to me and this was her way of supporting me.
On Saturdays, my husband supports my three hour long runs by taking Makayla with him on errands. He realizes the benefits to running beyond the physical including more energy, a positive attitude, and confidence in all areas of my life. Running helps me be a better wife, mother and woman. I’m blessed with a husband who generously encourages me.
He is even willing to plan a vacation around a race I want to run! Now that’s a supportive husband! I know that no matter how fast I run, my husband and daughter will be cheering me on and waiting with open arms and huge smiles at the finish line. Without their support, I couldn’t indulge my passion for running like I do. I’m extremely grateful!
I’m also really looking forward to a 10k (6.2 miles) course over magnificent, rolling, protected hiking trails on the scenic south end of Block Island this Saturday. 
*Originally posted on Pocketful of Playdough