Monday, October 31, 2011

Running Bat Mama

Um, that strange line on my face that looks like sagging skin is actually a strand of hair.  At first I thought my face was falling.  Ah, gravity.  

This bat mama just might be going on a run after this trick or treating business going on!  Garmin is on, stress ready to be released into the Halloween night, running shoes tied tight, and I'm already preparing to be running off the copious amounts of processed sugar that I will be consuming over the next few hours.  Okay, I won't be indulging that much but the run will still feel nice.  

In my last post, I talked about increasing mileage, strength training, training plans for Boston and really knowing myself as a runner.  I think the key here with me will be to really determine how I respond to an increase in mileage and I need to keep reminding myself to do this GRADUALLY.  I get really excited about something and then that sometimes leads to obsessing about it and then that leads to getting unbalanced....and...well, you get the picture.  
Gradual increase.  
Continued learning.  
Listening to my body!  
Figuring out what works for me.  

Inspiring Woman Inspiring Women (IWIW)
I'm excited to see some of you get in on the IWIW action!  This is a great way for all of us to find other blogs worth visiting and other women worth getting to know!  I hope to get my IWIW #2 out soon.  In the meantime, go check out the inspiring women that Lisa and Ashley write about!  

Who will be "running off" some candy this week?  Or do you have amazing will power to resist all the sugary sweets floating around this time of year?  Having three kids makes it difficult to avoid the candy completely.  Although I try really hard to provide my kids with healthy food choices daily, I do allow them to indulge in some treats!  And this time of year, that's just part of the fun.  A good lesson in moderation and balance!  


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Increasing Mileage, Training Plans, and Knowing Myself as a Runner.

Lots on my mind here as I've been spending some time with my running books as I prepare for Boston training.  The next couple of months will mostly be about building a base, increasing miles gradually and safely and reflecting on myself as a runner.  I have many years of running under my belt but I think I've overlooked a lot of the lessons I've learned and the knowledge I've gained about myself as a runner. With my training plan in the works, I think the most important thing for me to do is to adapt my plan based on how I'm performing, feeling and what I know about myself as a runner...what works best for Amanda.  I'm going to try really hard to be as reflective with my running as I am with other areas of my life...trying to trust myself more than any plan I can follow.  By now, so many of us know that a plan is just a framework and what works for one runner might not work so well for another.  Reading Run Faster, e-mails from friends, and the Jack Daniel's Running Formula this week have just been a reminder of this.  So here are some things I'm thinking about right now:

MIleage:  I've always claimed that I do well off of 60 miles and under when it comes to weekly mileage.  But the truth is, I don't really know how I do with higher mileage (when increased wisely) because I've never tried it out.  I think I'd like to attempt a higher peak mileage with this coming Boston training.  However, I am perfectly aware that it is important to gradually increase mileage and to NOT make too big of a jump from previous training.  I'd love to be able to peak at 80 miles for this training plan but this is a big jump for me and I am keeping this in mind. It will also involve a lot of time commitment that I may or may not be able to devote. I very well might have to reevaluate this goal as my base continues to build and as I see how my body responds to the increase in mileage.  70 might be a more realistic goal.  I won't know this until I see how it goes.  My gut tells me that I will be okay since a lot of my running will be slow miles and just going through the motions.  With a treadmill (that we are getting in a week or so), I will be able to manage my time more efficiently and incorporate 2 a days into my routine like I did in college.  Since I'm not a morning runner (hate running in the early mornings), I will most likely do some slow and easy runs on some of the mornings so that I can just get some miles in.  And then I will save more of my key workouts for later in the day.  This will all be learning for me and being VERY in-tune and responsive to the messages that my body sends me.  

Strength Training:  I want to incorporate at least one day a week of something like Jillian MIchaels where I can work on my core and do certain exercises to build strength in my legs and arms.  I'd also like to read more about the hill sprints that Hudson (From Run Faster) and so many others incorporate into plans in lieu of leg strength training.  Another thing I've been reflecting on is the idea of incorporating some of the weights/strength training that my coaches had me doing in high school and college. I won't be doing it all...just want to find something that works best for me.  We'll see what happens and what I have time for.  Running will be first priority.  Not so sure what I'll have time for. Staying injury free is the goal!  

Plan:  I am certain that no matter what plan I choose, I will find success and reach my goals.  However, I do want to take time in planning and finding a plan that I prefer.  As of now, my husband is helping me write my plan based off of a modified Jack Daniel's plan.  However, as I read more and more of this Run Faster book, I am liking what I see and it just makes sense to me.  We shall see.  I'm not too worried about it since I have plenty of time!  It is fun to think about though.  

Jillian, Treadmill Running, and Learning! 
I'm just focusing on learning, thinking of myself as a runner and looking back on the things that have worked for me in the past, and enjoying this time of just slow and easy base building...WISELY and Gradually!  Not so wise would be doing a full Jillian Michael's trouble zone workout when I haven't done any strength training for awhile.  I couldn't walk normally for a good four days!  OUCH!  She did a number on me.  

It has been an enjoyable and easy week of running.  Unfortunately, most of my running has been on a treadmill so I've been in "poke my eyes out" mode.  Base running on the treadmill without the distraction of speed work or fartleks of some kind make for the time to just drag on.  

This week in running since Sunday:
10//23/11  10.4 mile trail run.  7:48 average.  Felt Amazing!

10/24/11 Jillian Michaels and 4 mile double jogger run
10/25/11  6 miles @ 8:40 pace (trying to keep my base runs around this pace per my plan).
10/26        7 miles @ 8:40 pace.  1 mile @ 7:15 pace.  last .1 at 6:55 pace.  Finished strong and felt great.  Trying to trust the slower pace for my easy runs.
10/27    4 miles with double jogger.  Feeling sore from Jillian STILL.  Man oh Man, she did a number on me!   32 miles so far since Sunday.  Feeling good!
10/28  10 miles on TM at 8:34 pace.  Last mile at 7:45.

10/29  A slow base run up to 8 miles (probably 5) down in Corvallis, Oregon near Oregon State University.  I'm so excited to run down always brings me back to the days when I met my husband.  

I'm off to get away with my family for a Rugby alumni game and reunion of sorts.  My husband was a rugby player so this is a fun weekend for all of us!  Fortunately, he has given up his need to play every year.  This saves trips to the emergency room and keeps this worrying wife chill!  I'm really not too fond of seeing him split his forehead and other body parts open.  Running is so much safer for him. 

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!  Can't wait to read race reports!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspiring Woman Inspiring Women #1

Recently I was asked to tell about women that inspire me.  The first person that I thought of was my mom.  This was for so many reasons.  Her strength, resilience and beautifully creative spirit.  Her courage to dream big and use her gifts.  So much.  After writing a bit about my mom, my mind went to so many of the women I've come to know through the blog world.  Women runners, writers, artists and mothers.  So many of you have inspired me in some way and I feel like my life is richer since I've "known" you.  I'm inspired by the stories you share, the windows into your life that you tell with your words and photographs, and the big and small accomplishments I read about.  I'm inspired by those of you that come back from injury and hold true to your passion for running.  I'm inspired by the many mothers that train, set goals and work hard to be their best self so that they can not only fulfill their dreams and be true to themselves but so that they can be a model of strength for their children. So much inspiration from you!  Women bloggers who are sharing their life, reflections, thoughts, and lessons with other women (and men).

When I was teaching, one of the things I used to do at least once a week was to take time to write a few sentences or a short paragraph about my students. I wouldn't get to the whole class at once.  In fact, it was usually five or six students at a time. I'd write to them on a sticky note and put it in their writer's notebook or desk.  It didn't take long but it went a LONG way.  And it was so easy because they were words from my heart.  I wrote things that I noticed about them or things I was proud of them for.  Sometimes I told them how much I liked their work or that I noticed something they did that they thought went unnoticed.  I knew that these notes were of value because when I would read their notebooks, I could see that they saved their notes in little collections.  Sometimes they would save them in the back of their desks or pencil cases but I rarely saw one thrown away.

This got me thinking of how nice it is to hear from those that value you.  It is nice to hear how you've inspired or influenced someone.  Or even just to know that someone appreciates you for something you do.  This gave me the idea to devote a few posts to some of YOU...The Women Bloggers that inspire me or touch my life in some way. It might be that I simply love seeing your photographs or that your blog is a good place to go if I need a laugh or a smile.

The purpose of this is to KEEP IT SIMPLE but MEANINGFUL.  Just a short "NOTE" to let people know that they are making an impact...that they are inspiring others.  I'd love it if you'd join me in this...feel free to grab the picture above and list a few women that INSPIRE YOU!

There are too many inspirational women bloggers out there for me to possibly be able to decide who to start with so...
1.   I started by making a list.  
2.  Then I cut the names up and put them in a hat.  
3.  I will randomly be drawing 4-6 women at a time so that it is SIMPLE.  Just as I did when I wrote notes to my students.  
4.  Please know that if you don't see yourself on this first list that it means nothing more than your name wasn't one of the first to be drawn.  
5.  This is a great way to share inspiration with you and hope that some of you decide to grab the picture at the top or bottom and play along so you can share your inspirational women with us!  Even if it is just their name and link.  

Meg is the one on the right. And I'm sure she would hate that I'm drawing attention to her.  Sorry Meg, you're just that special!  Your fault for inspiring me.  
Meg is one of the first women runners that I came to know when I started my running blog.  She inspires me on so many levels.  Her spirit shines through in all she does and What a BEAUTIFUL spirit it is!  She inspires me with the way she is as a kindergarten teacher, a grandma, a wife, and a runner.  I always come away from her posts feeling a sense of peace and more love for myself, the world, and those around me.  She also inspires me to see the JOY in running, the words of a child, and the relationships in my life.  Thank you for inspiring me Meg!

I'm actually fairly new to Shannon's blog but just from what I have seen so far, Shannon is a kindred spirit.  Every one of her posts inspire me to live deeply, freely, and creatively.  Her most recent post was a reminder to slow down and really savor this wonderful and amazing life.  I'm so thankful that I found Shannon's blog.  I am looking forward to getting to know her on a more personal level as I continue to read her posts.  Thank you for inspiring me to get in touch with my creative spirit Shannon!

When I first found Briana's blog, I was instantly hooked.  I felt like I had discovered such a precious and amazing person to read about.  Over the past year, I have come to look forward to reading about Briana's life but also getting a window into her world and way of seeing her life through her BEAUTIFUL and inspiring photography.  Her life is full of color, a style unique to her (and that I love), and a passion for living.  Briana is a talented runner but isn't currently training for anything because she is expecting her first child!  I am so very happy for her!!  She will make an extraordinary mother!  Thank you for sharing your life with me Briana!

When Nicole called me on the phone not too many months ago and explained that she had heard about my blog and thought we'd be good running partners, I didn't know what to think. I am Amanda and I run alone, right?  Ha!  I was hesitant to let my guard down and I didn't know what to think.  I had no idea that she would come to be such a dear friend to me.  Nicole is a beautiful soul.  Resilient, strong, sensitive, and DRIVEN.  She is loyal and real.  And she wears her  heart on her sleeve.  It didn't take long for me to let my guard down with Nicole and realize what a positive influence she would have on me.  She inspires me to believe in myself, not be afraid to put myself in pain, and embrace the beautiful woman that I am.  Thank you Nicole.  You are so gifted and I know you will go far!  You inspire many.

Char has come to be a blog friend that I have learned from and been inspired by in several ways.  Char shares her life as a runner, a mother, and a wife and her stories teach me about dedication, love for family, being true to your passions, and being a loyal mother and friend.  Char has followed a path of doing what she loves and using her gifts to create some amazing uniforms and outfits for all kinds of sports teams, dancers, etc.  She also has some crazy awesome baking least form the look and sound of her cupcakes.  My mouth is watering just thinking of them.  Her love for her sons inspires me on such a deep level.  She is obviously there for them always...through the good and bad.  Thank you for being a blog friend Char.  I learn from and am inspired by you!

This is only the beginning of these Inspiring Woman Inspiring Women posts.  This was fun for me to do and by drawing random people out of my "Inspiring Women Hat", it made it so easy.  Otherwise, I would have way too hard of a time deciding on who to write a little paragraph about first.

So, here's my invitation to you to join me!  Grab this picture and link up (until I figure out how to create a button...anybody??)  and choose a few women bloggers that have inspired you and that you are willing to share with US!  Even posting a picture, or just a sentence about these inspiring women in your life...easy, meaningful, AND the rest of us get to meet new and inspiring women in the blog world. Let me know if you do it so that I can link you on my next IWIW post!


Taking the LOAD Off!

I'm up early this morning trying to catch even thirty minutes to myself before the whirlwind of a day starts.  It really isn't that early but lately I've been staying up super late trying to write and fit things in for myself that I didn't get to during the day. This makes is really hard for me, a person that already has a difficult time waking up early, to get my butt out of bed.    I don't know how you early morning runners do it.  I suppose I'm going to have to find out soon since I'm really not going to have much of a choice if I want to fit my mileage in.  

My. Head. Is. So. FULL!  
I mean scattered full.  
I have a million different thoughts 
To-DO Lists.
Deadlines, no matter how simple of a task, all due this week.
They've been piled on my counter
staring at me every morning.
The list getting
And I'm feeling more and more spread thin.
And more like eating my kids for dinner.  
My hat goes off to women that have a full-time job in addition to all the home stuff, kids stuff, and other stuff going on.  I suppose I wouldn't have this other stuff if I was working but there would always be STUFF!    

It is one of those weeks or several weeks that I'm feeling like I'm doing a lot of things just "okay" and nothing really
I know this isn't true and it is that part of my brain that comes out and wants to tell me that I'm not enough and that I need to be better.  That I'm falling behind and need to step up my game.  
I'm working on this people!  I know, I know....seriously I don't need to hear it from one more person that I'm too hard on myself.  Please don't.  If anyone knows how hard I am on myself, it's me.  Trust me, I know. I go to bed with a long list running through my head every night of ways I feel like I'm falling in the cracks. 

And the more my plates start spinning, The HARDER I am on myself.  

This morning I woke up with so much stuff in my head.  
To-Do Lists (we hall have them),
Tired mind,
Hurdles that I've already set up for myself to jump. 
Stuff that is keeping me from being that

I'm missing that part of me that just says whatever is really going on in my head and my life and lays it out there. Raw. That piece of me seems to be so darn guarded the past few weeks.  Not sure why I've all of a sudden decided to use my "filter" since I've come this far in life without it.  Not sure when I forgot that this is a blog where I share my REAL self and let people take me as I am.  Not sure why I haven't told you MOTHERS (the hood part of Runninghood) out there all about my crazy raging two-year old boy stories that make ME a CRAZY raging almost 33 year old, or the funny things that my kids say and do, the mini-me of a daughter that I have that is like looking in a mirror with the things she says, does, and how she looks, or the ALREADY pressure I feel in trying to keep up with the homework coming home and making sure I do the things that will help my kids stay on top of the crazy rat race of a game here in SUBURBIA.  I'm not quite sure why I've been so darn

Harder on myself 
it seems.  

I'm looking at the clock: 7:15.  I still have to make lunches, get my kids up and dressed and out the door by 7:55.  And here I am writing a blog.  But I feel like it is something I need to write this morning.  A public processing.  
A "putting it out there" blog to tell myself that I'm going to:

  1. Have GRACE with myself.  I'm going to end the day telling myself one or two things that I did GREAT at.  And I'm going to love myself for that.  
  2. Stop feeling so darn guilty for the things that I'm NOT getting to.  It's okay.  My kids won't grow up emotionally damaged because I didn't sit down with them and look in their eyes and tell them that I love them.  They won't grow up to be losers because I didn't read to them for one day or teach them something new.  THEY WILL BE FINE and they WILL LOVE me anyway. In fact, they will be better off without a mom that feels pick up on this stuff and it is NO good.  
  3. Get back to that filter-lacking, say it like it is and not care so much about what others think Amanda!  I miss this Amanda.  Greatly.  That is part of what makes Runninghood REAL.  
  4. Share more of the SHIT in my life...the crazy, shitty, hair pulling, screaming parts of motherhood that we all have and that MIGHT, just might make you feel better about yours.  
  5. NOT wear my Zensah compression tights on backwards when I go run my 8 miles at the gym today.  Yup, they are on the right way this time and they feel  SO GOOD after doing Jillian Michaels and a double jogger hill run yesterday.
  6. Get to what I can get to today and try to get finished with one or two things off my list instead of looking at the WHOLE picture.  If I can just tie up one writing project and then move on to the next then maybe, just maybe I'll have more clarity with the rest of the little things floating around on my mental and physical to-do lists.
  7. Go wake up my daughter and get this ball rolling.  I already feel better!  

Random Questions that I really want to know YOUR answer to:
1.  Tell me 1-3 women that inspire you. 
2.  What is a crazy motherhood moment you had recently?  Yesterday I let my 2 year old son skip a nap.  Bad news.  He wanted something for a snack and I was only offering him vegetables so he ripped the salad dressing from the the fridge door and smashed it on the ground.  Fun times.  And no, I didn't react the way all those perfect parenting books tell you that you should.  I did, however, react.  I may have a bald spot on the side of my head.
3.  What marathon training plan do you use if you are a marathon runner?  I'm thinking more and more of just letting my husband write my plan from the Jack Daniel's book.  He would also incorporate aspects from other plans.  I might also follow the plan in the Run Faster book by Hudson and Fitzgerald.  


Monday, October 24, 2011

Nurturing the Whole Athlete

Balance.  It isn't anything new.  So many of us seek it and it is never something we end up having for too long before we lose it and start seeking it out again.  There are so many roles we lead in life.  Mother, wife, friend, athlete, teacher...the list goes on.  So many parts to us that need nurturing in order to be our best self.  Our whole self.  And this is true as an athlete too.

As I finish up here with my Monday strength training, a new routine to get my soon-to-be Boston Marathon training off to a great start, my head is full of dreams and possibilities.  I'm thinking of the treadmill I'm going to get, lofty goals of getting up to 80 miles a week and how I'm going to fit it all in.  My mind is spinning with what training plan I should choose, how to plug it all in a chart, and what books I should read.  I'm thinking of threshold pace, tempo runs, base pace, VDOT (whatever that means), and so many other terms that I am trying to wrap my head around in hopes of being on track for running the best marathon of my life.

With every push-up and lunge in my living room this morning, I was hyper aware of all the thoughts spinning around in my head and I realized just how easy it is to get off balance with the rest of our life.  As athletes we are so used to focusing on our goals that we sometimes lose sight of all the non-running/athletic aspects of our life that are equally important in living a a balanced life and nurturing the WHOLE us and essentially...


Having big running and athletic goals requires consistent and focused physical training.  Dedication.  Mileage, speed work, long runs and injury prevention.  So much.  But just as with anything in our life, we are best at what we do when we are giving to other areas of our life, our brain, and our being.  We thrive when we are BALANCED.   As cliche as it is, that Mind-Body-Spirit connection isn't anything to stop seeking.  I'm convinced that it is what will be KEY to reaching my running goals.

So, how do I find balance?  What areas of my life will I have to be ultra-conscious of taking time for when I get immersed in the depths of marathon training?  In addition to fitting in mileage and workouts, here's a list of some of the things I will be working into my marathon training plan to make sure that I am nurturing my whole self...all of my brain, spirit, and mind, in addition to my body.

*  Added later in response to a couple of comments.  I'd like to clarify that these things are only things that I will be drawing from.  Think of it like having a bucket that I might draw BALANCE Bucket!  I find that when I am immersed in marathon training, I am too tired to reflect and be super aware of all of the other things I'm letting go.  Because of this, important things like family, relationships and nurturing my spirit tend to go to the wayside and this ISN'T okay with me.  Yes, I want to do it all...wouldn't that be nice but most of all I want to make sure that I don't get in a one track mindset and become obsessed with this one marathon goal.  I know myself enough to know how obsessive I can be.  These are all things that I will put in my balance bucket to draw from here and there as I train.  Certainly, I won't be filling all of these things every day or week but they will be reminders of things I don't want to forget!  Maybe I will even put them on paper and place them in a basket or bucket so that I can occasionally draw them out and read them...something tangible!  So, I hope these don't overwhelm you...they are only meant to be reminders and not things that I will be doing ALL THE TIME!  I'm not superhuman nor do I want to be.  

  • Focused Time With My Kids--intentional one-on-one time with my kids when I try to shut off my running brain and NOT think/obsess over my goals.  This will be important for me to make an active goal because it is so easy to let opportunities pass me by when I am focused on a big goal.  
  • Nutrition--I'm going to HAVE to plan better meals that will feed and fuel my marathon training self.  The good thing is that my husband will be training for a marathon as well so we will can help each other with this.  Our kids will benefit from from this too!  Bring on the quinoa, protein shakes, brown rice, kale, etc.  We are pretty healthy already but I'm not the best at making sure I'm getting all my nutrients when I'm not training. 
  • Spiritual Time--This is different for everyone.  For me this will come from reflecting, praying, and really thinking about my life and my world from an outside perspective.  Being Still with myself.
  • Using my gifts to GIVE to others--It is always rewarding and energizing when we are sharing our gifts with others and making a difference.  I'd like to find a way to take time to volunteer, be part of a group, or find a leadership role where I can make a difference.  This might mean just accepting the job of doing the once a month mommy-and-me story hour.  I can certainly put on my teacher hat and read some stories and get a group of preschoolers movin' and groovin'.  Perhaps I'll finally get that women's running/writing/journal group going!  
  • Time for Learning--Learning about things other than just Running!  
  • Relationships--It will be important for me to be conscious of making time for my girlfriends, husband, mom, etc.  So easy to just be all about me, me, me but I can't just let my relationships fall to the wayside for the next 24 weeks.  BALANCE Amanda!  
  • Relaxation--Imagine that, relaxation is good for us?!  I will make time to just sit on the couch and watch a movie or read a mindless magazine!  This is hard for me since I rarely slow down.  
  • Creative Expression.  I've said it many times before and I'll say it again and again, I strongly believe that despite our insistence that we don't have a creative bone in our body, we all have some way that we can tap into the creative parts of our brain.  It is different for everyone.  And it doesn't have to be conventional.  I think this is just one way to nurture our whole brain since we are doing so much of the analytical stuff when we are processing paces, numbers, charts, and time goals.  I might choose to do this by doing art with my kids, writing, journal collages, maybe even cooking. Definitely spending time in my FORT!
  • Yoga--We see it all the time.  Runners who are super motivated and excited to train train train only to hit the wall with injury or overtraining.  One of the ways I want to make sure to fit in body, mind, spirit balance and keeping my body stretched and relaxed.  
  • Personal Journal Dates--As you all know, I connect with myself the most deeply through reflection and time in my journal.  This is where I really dig deep with Amanda!  I spend time listing gratitude, setting goals, reevaluating, and processing.  I HAVE to make time for this at least once a week if not every morning.  My blog time sometimes gets in the way of that but it is important for me to not let that go.  I have many journals...marriage journals, kid journals, running journals but my personal journal is essential for making sure this WHOLE Self nurturing really happens!  

There are so many other things I could add to this list.  Balance isn't easy.  Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many of us trying to attain it.  What do you want to make more time for in order to nurture your WHOLE Self or WHOLE Athlete?  

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trail Running Date...I Think I'm HOOKED!

What a perfect day!  Fall at its finest!  Trail running, crisp air, colorful leaves, choosing a pumpkin from Papa's pumpkin patch (our greatest fall tradition), and carving pumpkins with cousins!  

As some of you remember from my last post, last night was not only a date night for my husband and I but it was also a spontaneous stop for some Brooks Cascadia Trail Shoes. I have never had any desire for trail shoes but my husband insisted that I get some so that he could take me out on his favorite trail near our house for a morning trail run date. It didn't take too much convincing.  He had me at Brooks. I couldn't wait to try them on and get a feel for them! Nobody in the northwest Portland area seemed to think that a woman in heels and jeans trying on trail shoes in the middle of the sidewalk was out of the ordinary. 

I didn't remember or expect to love trail running as much as I do after today!  We headed out to Wildwood trail in Forest Park.  It is 30 miles of GORGEOUS winding trail through lush forest right in Portland city limits and close to downtown.  Such a gift! 

It turned out to be one of the best dates EVER!  
10.4 miles of gentle hills and winding path.
7:48 average.
Second half was 7:22 average and last mile had to be close to sub 7.  
Talk about feeling
Life all around us.
We talked,
set goals,
and put our hands up to the sky in 

Note to Self:

I think this is me "getting my trail groove on".

And the video I promised.....

You have to turn your head to the side if you really care enough to watch it.  Just some trail running.  I even grab my butt for you.

I don't always include pictures of my family but today was such a special day.  It is a yearly tradition to go to Grammy and Papa's house every fall and all the cousins get to choose their pumpkin from Papa's pumpkin patch.  He drives them around on his little tractor and they eventually wind up at the PATCH.  

This year, I even got to drive the tractor.  Wahoo!

I'm looking forward to catching up with so many of you tonight!  It is long overdue!  

1.  Do you like trail running?  Have you ever been?
2.  What are your fall traditions?  
3.  Please share treadmill advice!  We are in the market and I'm really excited!  It will make Boston training so much easier with time management and fitting in high mileage.
4.  Go check out my friend Barbora's giveaway that is helping to raise money for her Team Whole In The Wall and get ready for the New York Marathon, her first 26.2!    

New Brooks Trail Shoes! Trail Run Coming...

Hot date last night.  Yup, we don't get too terribly dressed up for hot dates here in Portland, Oregon.  Well, at least I don't.  Jeans, a tight shirt and some heels work just fine.  Oh, and we made a stop at REI for some Brooks trail shoes.  I couldn't wait to try them on before our next stop.  Funny thing about the Northwest Portland neighborhood we were in...nobody even thought it odd to find my sitting in the middle of the sidewalk as I tried on my shoes and filled the night air with my cackle of a laugh.  

So now, I'm just back here pretending to use the bathroom again before my husband and I head out to the Wildwood Trail for a long and beautiful trail run in our new Brooks!  I. Love. Brooks.  And alone time with my husband.  His parents are the BEST to take the kids for the night.  I'm running out of time back isn't believable anymore so here are some random bullets:

  • I really did write for hours in my running fort yesterday.  It was pretty great.  I even made some new goals as a runner and got some BIG dreaming in.  I'm so excited for Boston training.
  • Met lots of runners last night from a running group called the Red Lizards and the Nike Run Club.  Charging!
  • We might get a treadmill for our garage. Can only imagine how this will help me fit in the miles for solid Boston training.  I want a nice one.  Any suggestions?
  • Who is racing today?  Please fill me in.  
We are off for as long of a trail run as we can fit in.  I've already cut into it by at least five minutes with my "Fake Pooping" back here.  And here I thought that once my fort came, the bathroom writing days would be over. 

Pictures and Video of trail run will come soon so you too can feel like you are running in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest but here is a picture:


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Creativity Fort--A Place for Athletes, Writers, Dreamers, Readers and Creative Spirits of All Kinds!

Okay, so I didn't get away with taking over the fort all to myself but I wasn't joking when I told you that I would be using the fort that my husband built last week for my creative escape.  And if yesterday and the day before were days of creative constipation and blockage, today was
Poop of a Day!

Wow!  Creative energy and inspiration was flowing like never before.  My three kids and I spent the entire day making messes, creating, coming up with ideas, reading, writing, and "being" with our imaginations.  It was the most colorful, calm (but messy), "ideas flowing" day I've had in...well...ever! 

As soon as I started decorating the walls of in "my fort", my kids were very intersted in making the fort theirs too.  So we spent the afternoon claiming our walls, making signs, drawing pictures, painting and getting lost in our creativity! 

You might be asking yourself:

"Is she seriously going to spend time in that fort?!"


In fact, I plan to have my coffee in there every morning while I write, or read.  It is quiet, inspiring, warm, cozy, and I feel focused on what I'm doing as opposed to being distracted by everything and my kitchen sink (literally since it is full of dishes).  It is my place as writer, athlete, dreamer and learner.  I'm so stinking excited about it. 

We set up some rules about the Creativity Fort:
  • It is a quiet, sacred place for reading, writing, creating, and being with our thoughts.
  • Not a place to play with friends.  If a friend is over and they use it for reading or quiet time then that is allowed but only if it is respected. 
  • No touching our playing with the things on each others' designated wall.
  • RESPECT the space and keep it nice. 

    I just might be writing my first book in this fort! Figures that it would take something this unconvential to tap the deepest into my creative spirit.  I'm certain this fort will help me as an athlete as well.  When I using my creative energy, all the other areas of my life benefit from it!  This fort will be a place for me to be surrounded by goals, affirmations, medals and visions for how I want my life to writer, mother, runner ,etc. 

    Now my husband is home after being gone for three days and I am heading out on a nice and easy run!  Hoping to come back with more inspiration and direction for all the ideas I have flowing. 

    My oldest daughter's wall.

    I truly and whole heartedly am convinced that when we allow ourselves to create in whatever way that means for us (writing, cooking, gardening, decorating, etc.), we energize our life in other areas.  For myself, it is tremendously important for me to nurture my creative spirit.  This helps me as athlete, mother, writer...self. 

    So, again, I challenge you to find your creative spirit.  Find someting, even if it is small, that gives your life a spark and gets your creative energy flowing.  Even if it is painting your finger nails!  I can almost guarantee that it will charge another area of your life. Even Running.

    Happy Weekend!  Good luck Racers!  Who is racing this weekend??

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Kid Fort Turned Writer's Retreat. And Getting Unblocked!

     Okay, so I'm blocked up.  Creatively constipated if you will.  Maybe I have too many ideas swirling around in this crazy head at once.  Or maybe there really is nothing good going on upstairs.  Whatever it is, I can't find my words.  And now isn't a good time for the creative BLAHS.  I have a few things that I've been trying to work on and they all happen to be due at the end of this month.  Maybe that's it...too much going on a one time. Or maybe I'm trying too hard. I've tried desperately to take my own advice and reread some of my past blogs.  I've been:

    • Trying to see the world through the eyes of a child.
    • Writing and saying my lists of gratitude
    • Journaling
    • Writing my ideas out in stream of consciousness
    • Smiling often (this is a load of crock.  I've been TRYING.  But more like snarling often).
    Last night I realized that I hadn't run for three straight days since my half marathon on Sunday.  Well, duh!  No wonder I can't poop, um, I mean write and get creative.  It has definitely played a part in this creative block.  After my run, things started coming back to me.  I came home feeling full and ready to get cracking with my creative self.  Again, too much going on at once so today I find myself still....STUCK.  

    I even tried sitting inside the little fort that my husband recently built for the kids. He was actually building it on Sunday when I came home from my race.  Yes, it is in our living room.  It helped a little.  My son thought it was a game and he sat next to me and played quietly.  In fact, I might just have to make it MY writer's fort.  Maybe I'll even tape up some vision collages and inspirational quotes.  I'll even include some paintings, a throw pillow and a place for books, journals and other writing materials.  Yes!  Who says that mamas can't have their own fort in the living room?  I can even paint a big sign that says "Keep Out!  No Kids Allowed!"  What do you say?  

    Help!  What do you do to get your creative juices flowing when they are blocked? How do you break through writer's block when you have a deadline on something?   Usually running, journaling, music, dancing around the house, and spending time getting out with friends does this for me!  But when I'm recovering from a race and I can't just get away with three little kids that need me, I'm feeling a little stuck.

    A side note from yesterday's half marathon report:  I am very happy with my race.  :)  I'm owning it!  And as soon as those negative feelings came to me and I started being too hard on myself, I was able to get rid of them and remind myself to celebrate.  It was a great race off of minimal training and I'm proud of myself.  So, no worries...I'm not over here punishing myself and making myself feel bad.  Thank you for your kind and supportive comments.  And for those that haven't given up on my blog even though I'm a horrible blogger right now as far as commenting and responding.  There is just a lot going on so thanks for not "blog dumping" me.  


    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Girlfriends Half Marathon 2011

    Race:  Girlfriend's Half Marathon
    When:  October 16, 2011; 9 a.m
    What:  A race for just women to support breast cancer research and support
    Weather:  Perfect,  50's, cool, comfortable, cloudy.
    Size:  1,920 finishers; over 3,000 registered
    Official Time/Place: 10/1920  1:34:13
    Garmin Stats: 1:34:17 and my garmin didn't register a full course.  It said 12.96. Not sure what this was about but I don't care too much.  
    Perks:  Awesome shirts, names on bibs, race bags that we can reuse again and again, great volunteers, fudge samples and massages/adjustments at the end, music, samples, a necklace for our medal (love it), GREAT energy! 

    I came home after my Girlfriend's Half Marathon with a negative cloud over my head.  All I could focus on were all the things I wasn't happy about.  As usual, I was being WAY TOO HARD on myself.  Instead of focusing on all the things that went right (a lot!), I thought of the things I could have done better.  I wasn't seriously upset but I joked about feeling like a pansy and there was definitely truth to my joking.  The following is my e-mail to a friend in response to asking me about my race:  

    "I'm such a pussy at the end of races!  Seriously, I need to get some "Eat it Suckah!" mentality instead of cheering on my competitors at miles 11, 12, and 13 of a half marathon.  I'm such a pansy!  Not sure where that dig deepness is with me.  I ran okay.  1:34:17...happy with my time...just wish I would have pushed myself more at the end and went to that place of doesn't last long...not sure why I can't push myself.  Seriously, thinking about cuddles with my kids and a latte at mile 12.  What??!"

    Although I was half-joking and meant this to be more funny than anything, I was feeling a little bummed.  But as usual, many of my friends helped to give me new perspective so that all I can see from this race now is that it was success!  Just what I had planned for.  Thank you friends.  

    My goals for this race were met!  I didn't go into this race expecting a PR or an "A Game" race.  I've got to keep reminding myself to celebrate and look for what went right in a race.  And 
    Let myself off the hook!
    Stop being so hard on Amanda for not being in "A Game" mode when I didn't do "A Game" training.  

    So here is what did go right:

    I met all of my goals:

    1. Have fun--Check, check!  This was one of the most fun races yet!  I met so many great girls, some bloggers and some not.  Thank you to Julie D. for organizing an after-race girlfriend brunch.  And great to meet Kim as we passed off the porto potty door.  Also got to see Meredith, Ashley, Tasha (she was 8th woman overall...go read her race report!), Jill, and Sarah Bowen Shea. 
    2. Enjoy feeling strong--Check, check!  I felt strong for the entire race.  I was consistent with my paces and felt strong and capable.  Although I had a side stitch and felt a little out of sorts, my legs were strong.  
    3. Try to push myself a little past comfortable--check!  Although I didn't bring out the "big guns" like I know I have in me most of the time, I did do some mental talk and I managed to convince myself to at least pick up the pace and give my last half mile a good sub 6:30 pace kick.  This is one step in the right direction.  Eventually I will want my last  5k in a half marathon to be the "dig deep" and give it all I've got mentality.  Today it started with a half-mile and that is reason to celebrate.  I even got over my "make friends with my competitor" problem and passed a woman at the end.  She passed me back but still, I passed her without hugging ,saying sorry or some crap like that.  Ha!  Okay, I'm not that bad.  I just become a little soft when I'm racing.  Instead of getting all hard core, I end up cheering them on.  I'm convinced I can do both next time...kick their ass and tell them their ass looks good in those tempo shorts.  All with a smile.  
    Other Celebrations:
    • I said I'd be thrilled with a 1:35 or under.  I did this!  And on minimal training. This makes me feel confident.
    • Started off slow like I planned.  Usually I go out much faster but I ran a 7:25 for my first mile.  It felt so slow but I wanted to try this.  Next time I think I will start faster or at the pace that I'd like to run the entire race.  I see the pros and cons of starting slow but I think as long as I don't start too fast then I'll be okay with starting at pace.  I'm not so sure the slow start helped me out so much.  In fact, I think that I still would have felt strong if I started at a 7:15 or 7:10 and I also would have had more time to spare at the end.  
    • I felt strong.  At least my legs and cardio felt great!  I got a side stitch and felt a little out of mental focus though.  
    • I kicked the last half mile.  
    Things I'm less than thrilled about but NOT going to be too hard on myself about.  Just things to learn from and reflect on for next time:  
    •  I slowed way down/stopped even @ water stations.  Since I wasn't so set on a specific time, this was fine for me but I'm wondering if this ever works beneficially for people.  I know that Jeff Galloway talks about walk breaks and I had him in mind.  Although I did slow down and take a very very short rest/drink, I felt strong when I picked back up again. 
    • When I had opportunities to get aggressive, get the girl in front of me and surge the last miles, I became too soft and friendly.  This is a race.  Remember that Amanda.  
    • Fuel.  Not sure I have this figured out.  I tried a PowerBar Gel (really liked it!) at mile 6.  This gel was more watery than the GU gel and I liked how easily it went down.  I only took one gel and I think this is enough for me but I'd like to experiment.  
    • No plan with music.  I wasn't totally in the zone with this race.  Just kind of messing around mentally.  I tried music for the first time in a half marathon but I couldn't make up my mind so I took my ear buds in and out and felt distracted even.  Not so sure I'll try music again but then again, maybe so.  I think I might have been more in the mental zone if I would have just started with no music and went inside my head like I usually do. 
    7:21 (side stitch. struggle.  Figures this was on my way back when a sea of women on the other side waving and cheering when all I wanted to do was stop for a sec and hold my side.  I guess, the good thing about them was that I kept going and trying to look strong even though it hurt like heck.)
    7:32 (uphill)
    7:34 (uphill)
    7:11 (Still slightly uphill. Again, my Garmin only registered 12.96 miles so this is what I was on track for.)

    I know this isn't the best race report.  I'm tired.  My kids need me and I need to just finish this up and get on with my day.  There was more to the day...chatting with runners, eating brunch with some great girls and lots of laughter. Maybe I'll save those stories for another day.  Go read Tasha's report from Healthy Diva for a better report!  And besides, you really should find her blog anyway.  She's an amazing runner who hasn't even begun to tap into her potential in my opinion.  She's gearing up for the CIM where she hopes to run a sub 3:15 and I have no doubts that she is capable of this.  Go Tasha!  

    Time to LEARN!
    Later after I got home, Jill sent me a great e-mail in response to my vent about feeling unable to push myself and get tough even when it means being in pain for a bit. She suggested reading chapter 8 of Brain Training For Runners by Matt Fitzgerald.  It is called Mastering The Experience and all about finding ways to increase our tolerance for pain and fatigue and accepting pain as part of the reward.  Thanks Jill!  Just the direction I needed. I'm excited to learn.  Not sure why I skipped this chapter before.  Another friend wrote this week about an awesome metaphor in helping us accept and deal with see ourselves as a container and being big enough to hold all the pain as it comes.  This visual she used really clicked with me!  

    I'm in learning mode!  I've got my running journal, highlighters and pens ready and whenever I find free time in this crazy life of mine, I do plan on putting my student hat on and reading a ton to gear up for Boston training.  Bring it!  

     Here are some pics.  I'm posting them because they are proof to myself that I did dig deep at the end.  It may have only been for the last half mile but I still met my goal.  Baby Steps.  And you'll notice that the first picture is just a look of "I'm in control and will be slow for my first mile."

    Start. Slow and steady.

    Mid race? 

    End of race.