Friday, August 29, 2014

Running and Racing With Our Kids: Lasting Benefits and Things to Consider

I love my time with this little girl!! And love that she enjoys our runs as much as I do! Today we went 3 miles on the Deschutes River Trail with a mix of walking, running (mostly) and talking about life! Her goal today was to go the first mile with all running at a steady pace before she alternated walking and running. She did it with all smiles. I think the most important thing I've learned as a mother when doing things with my children is the value in knowing YOUR child as an individual...What motivates them? What brings them a sense of accomplishment and joy? Every one of my children are different in what is meaningful to them. The most important thing to me when sharing running with my kids is that we get quality bonding time together while still building fitness and successful life skills and habits (healthy living, goal setting, positive self talk, etc.). Thankful for this time.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was heading out the door to register for a 5k that I was trying to find the courage to run.  I knew I wasn't in the best shape and that racing a 5k usually comes with a whole bag of mental challenges for me, but I also knew that this was something I wanted to do for myself for a number of reasons.  Before I left, I called up the stairs to my husband to tell him I was leaving.  Just then, Naomi, my seven year old daughter, came running down to ask me if she could race this 5k with me.  She had just recently run her first 5k in July with a friend and had so much fun that she was excited to try again.  This time, she wanted to do one with me since she'd never raced with me like her older sister.  My initial thoughts were to just scrap my own race and run with her because of the opportunity to spend special time with her.  AND it would be an easy out of facing my 5k fears.  

I thought about it for a few minutes before deciding that I would do this one by myself and we would choose another one to do together.  I knew that letting her just jump into a 5k that day, without much of any running leading up to it, might not be the best set-up for success and coming out of it super eager to try again.  I explained to Naomi that this race was going to be something I did on my own but that we would pick out another race to train for together.  She was so excited and it wasn't long after I got home from my race that night that we chose OUR race--a 5k in November.

In the past, my daughter was at an age and stage where simply running around the block or joining the family track nights down the street was all she needed and wanted when it came to running.  However, now that she is seven and has shown interest and readiness with running longer distances, I know that training for a 5k together will be perfect!  It will give us quality time to share, allow us to set goals and notice progress, and then experience the rewards that come from accomplishing a goal!  

[Note:  I use this term training loosely when it comes to a child.  Training for a seven year old will be drastically different than it would for me.  Training might simply mean running a few times a week while enjoying quality time with a parent and setting a few meaningful and manageable goals.]

The things I'm most excited about with this:

  • This was Naomi's idea.

It is really cool for me to see her eager to run and ask me to share this experience together.

  • The quality time together
Our first run together (since she asked me to do this) was two miles along the trail behind our house takes us along the Deschutes River. Our focus was to run easy enough to talk and enjoy our surroundings. It was about having fun and sharing special time together. I let Naomi lead the way. She would run for half a mile or so and then we would walk for a few minutes before running again. We noticed the beauty around us, talked about how we were feeling about this new move, and shared a few things we were hoping for in the coming school year. 

  • The opportunity to learn life and fitness skills
I know this time together with Naomi is going give us a chance to enjoy special mother/daughter moments. However, if we stick to it and make it a fun way to work towards a goal, it's also going to lead to some big lessons for Naomi: self-confidence, working towards goals, seeing that progress comes from practice, the joy that can come from running, and so much more.

One of the first people I thought of when Naomi asked to actually work more seriously towards a 5k is Tia, Arkansas Runner Mom.  As a coach, incredible runner, and mother to four kids, Tia runs with her kids LOTS.  In fact, Tia recently spoke for the Little Rock RoadRunners Club (the largest roadrunners club in Arkansas) on this topic:  Running With Kids.  She has also shared some good points in a post she wrote called:  Kids and Racing.  Together, we brainstormed things we thought were important to consider when getting started running more with our children.  I got off the phone having a list of things I wanted to be more conscious about.  

Above all, I know I want to focus on making my time with Naomi a priority.  We all get caught up in life going from one scheduled thing to another and getting distracted by all the things that come up throughout the week.  There are classes for our kids, work, school starting, family trips and so much more.  It is easy to push my one-on-one time my kids off to "later" or when we find time.  I am going to have to really be conscious of making the time (even once a week) to invite Naomi to go on a special run with me or be able to stop what I'm doing to go with her when she asks.  If I'm doing something that can wait even thirty minutes, and I'm able to sneak away with just her, I want to make sure I'm doing this.  Otherwise, it might not happen at all.  It doesn't take a lot of time or days but those little moments ADD UP!  As Tia reminded me:  You Find the Time to Make Time!

Some Suggestions Tia and I came up with to to keep in mind when getting started with running with your child:

  • Keep it simple.  Start where you are and with what you have.  
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by details. The most important thing to remember about running with your child is finding joy the time you get to spend together, building fitness, and working towards goals and life skills.   
  • Start small and keep it fun.  Focus on fun, not distance when starting with young runners.  Avoid focusing on time goals or specific race goals right away unless your child is older and has run races in the past.  These things come naturally as your child progresses.  
  • Be present.  Be there for your child- not looking at your phone or thinking about what’s for dinner or what is on your to do list.  
  • Slow down.  Remember they are kids and it’s going to take time.  They don’t know how to pace properly.  Whether they are running 50 meters or one mile they probably have one pace (all out sprint!) so it’s a good time to talk with them about pacing and saving some energy for later.  
  • Be consistent.  Set a time when you can run or do some kind of fun physical activity together and stick to it.  Even if it’s just a few minutes once or twice a week- make it a priority.  However, if you get off track, it’s okay to pick right back up where you left off.

One of the first things I know I want to focus on is: making my time with Naomi a priority.  We all get caught up in life going from one scheduled thing to another and getting distracted by all the things that come up thro Recognizing and acknowledging our child's readiness and interest in running with us is just one of the first steps to enjoying the incredible and lasting benefits that can come from sharing running with our child.  I could have easily dismissed Naomi's desire to run with me as something silly or passing.  Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to spend time with her, help her grow in fitness and build some lasting habits for successful living.  Now to actually make the time to stick with this!

This was from a race back in July where Naomi ran her first 5k with her good friend from school.  She was smiling the entire way and finished already excited to try again.

After our first official "training" run together.  Two miles of a run/walk mix, lots of smiles, and surely a lasting memory for both of us. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Thursday: Running, MESSES, Scattered Thoughts, and Electromagnets

Random quote.  Just because I love these words.  

I had a dream last night that I received four parking tickets in one day and then was issued a court document stating that I needed to practice daily yoga for runners.  Hmmm.  I'm not sure what to think of this dream.  Maybe a few things it's telling me.

  • Find a good yoga video, class or dedicated TIME to be still, breathe and clear my head.  
  • Just as I should pay attention to the parking meter and manage my time when I park downtown or somewhere I am paying for parking, I need to manage my time when it comes to projects.  I've been working on a writing project that will take quite a bit of time and energy.  I just have to remind myself to try not to do it all at once!  This can be hard for me.  A big personal goal for my  present life is to be able to break my work up into manageable increments so I'm still taking time for play, fitness, sleep, and relationships.  A little LESS obsessed and driven and a lot MORE balanced with time management.  
It seems fitting today to write a random bulleted post considering how full and random my mind feels right now.  So here we go with my Random Thursday points:
  • My running today consisted of running next to my three kids while they rode bikes.  This was a first for me where all three of them were riding bikes and I didn't have at least one in a jogger stroller or needing assistance.  New chapters in the life of this running mama!  One of the things I thought about the most on this run was just how fun it was to enjoy being active together.  I was able to join them on their bike ride and they got to see me having fun with running and living an active lifestyle.  This type of family exercise is setting the stage for a future of healthy habits. It is one of the many ways to spark motivation and interest in running and making exercise a lasting part of life for our children.     
  • As I said, my mind is messy right now.  Creative messy, but still messy.  My messes around the house seem to be part of my mind spilling out into my living and working space.  I actually feel kind of sorry for my husband.  Despite the size of our house, I've found a way to spread my work and mess throughout almost every room.  I don't have a specific office where I write/work (he uses that for his work) so I've currently been using the dining room that is yet to be decorated or used as a dining room (we eat in the kitchen).  However, this dining room is just where my sprawl STARTs.  From the pictures below, you can see that I decided to work in the front hallway last night.  I'm not sure why. Random. I think I felt closer to my husband where he was working in the office.  Once I started my work, it was hard to pick it up and move to the table so it made for a very sore back from being slouched in awkward positions. I eventually pulled a stool over to use as a place to type.  I must find a better system.  
It's all cleaned up now, but I woke up to this mess in the front hallway outside my husband's office.  This is just part of what it looked like last night.  Not the best place to work with good posture.  However, I was able to get down and read/write while practicing a revised child's pose position.  Hey, that's yoga, right?  That stool was my desk for some of the time.  And yes, I think it's time to put that mirror on the wall.  

A partially put together dining room that is currently my "office".  I'm thinking I need a better system.  Yes.   Or at least put some wine in that wine holder in the corner!

My husband waited for YEARS to get his own bathroom sink and he finally has one on his own side of our bathroom.  Here's a snap shot of our bathroom sinks.  Can  you guess which one is mine?  I kind of like to think of my current mess as a sign of my creative process.  

  • I was surprised to find that I wasn't sore at all from Hood to Coast!  This makes me feel better about the running shape I must be in.  However, I am sore from my awkward writing positions over the last few days.  I think this is why I need some YOGA! Or better posture. 
  • This morning I was at the table filling out school registration and medical paperwork when I heard "Ouch! It's burning me!"  This is what I found them doing.  Oh, the life of having an electric engineer for a father--teaching them how to make an electromagnet.  Nice.

1.  When your head gets full with a creative process or work of some kind, does your house resemble your mind? 

2.  Is your partner opposite you when it comes to being neat or messy?  Does this work for you or drive the other person crazy? For the most part, we balance each other great!  I go through phases of messy and tidy.  Really, it depends how full my head is.

3.  Do you run with your kids either with a jogger stroller, on a bike ride, or actually running side by side with them?  

4.  Do you do yoga?  



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Family Meeting: Getting Back on Track

It's no secret to anyone that the end of summer vacation usually results in a frazzled, short tempered, and ready-for-routine ME. It almost always takes me a few weeks of feeling crazy before I have to remind myself that feeling this way around this time of year is usually the way it goes.  Then add in a huge life change and a move across the country and these feelings are magnified, by um, a lot. It can make for one bag of feeling guilty for all the things I'm not doing, critical of myself and my kids, and a web of negative thinking.   One of the things that has always worked to help me reset and get back to focusing on what really matters and what I want most in life is to slow down with reflection.

Just the simple act of stopping myself in my tracks, taking a deep breath, clearing my head  and listing the things I AM doing well allows me to then focus on the small steps I can take to move forward and improve. This is especially true when I'm feeling out of control or especially critical of myself and my family.  Bad moods and negative energy are contagious--a domino effect--and if I don't put the breaks on and RESET, the whole family picks up on my energy.

Last night was our first night back from a long weekend away in Portland for Hood to Coast.  We were also making time for final good byes to my husband's work friends in Portland, saying hello to old neighbors and school friends, and visiting with family.  As much as I loved our weekend away, it was incredibly nice to be HOME!

Before bedtime, I called all the kids into my son's room for a last minute family meeting.  I have been meaning to implement this family meeting routine at least once a week but so far it has remained on my parenting wish list.  Last night was the night.  Forget planning or knowing what the meeting would be about.  I just needed to do it.  Once we were all sitting around Sam's bed, I knew we all needed a RESET.  It wasn't just me being grouchy and short tempered.  The kids had been fighting and having attitudes.  There was constant complaining and whining about having to do chores.  We were all just tired from our move and unraveling in a sea of BLAH and lack of direction and focus.

I remembered the cards I had placed on the wall a few days ago:

I grabbed two legos from Sam's lego bin and asked the family to take turns holding the legos and contributing to the conversation.  With the blue lego, I asked them to list something they were doing well and that they were proud of.  Then with the yellow lego, I asked them to list something they wanted to bet better at.

At first the kids came up with some funny things like:

Positives:  I'm good at being a Ninja.
Something I want to be better at:  My pull over on the ninja bars!

After a little bit of modeling and redirecting, all of us came up with things that related to our behavior and interaction with the family.  In the end, I think we all felt a new sense of focus and calm.  At least I did.  And I'm pretty sure they did too because today has been GREAT!  I could tell that all of us were conscious of our intentions and working on treating each other with love and respect.

I'm determined to have a family meeting at least once a week!  And for the first few meetings, I think this Lego Positives and Small Steps Forward exercise will be a great exercise.  Eventually we will add other things like compliments, sharing fears, highlights of our days, etc.  No matter what we do, I know this time together will be nothing but valuable in helping us grow as a family and as individuals.

Here's to more family meetings!

Have you tried family meetings?  
Do you set a time aside for the whole family to be together?  Dinner?  Family Movie Nights?  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Running Lately and Hood To Coast 2014

"Just found out I'm the only woman in my Hood to Coast van. Gross...I've been on enough running teams to know that this van is going to stink!! But I'm also expecting some funny memories with this rowdy bunch! And I get to race with Waylon the entire time!"

The words above were my Facebook status right before the Hood to Coast relay this year.  They certainly  make me laugh now!  Let's just say, I didn't have to worry about the guys in the van one bit when it came to stinky or rowdy.  They might actually be writing this status about me in the future.

What an adventure!  Hood to Coast always is.  To be honest, I didn't think I wanted to do it this year.  After very recently moving from North Carolina to Bend, OR, I kind of wanted to stay home and try to relax a little.  I was sick of traveling, not in the best running shape, and just not in the mood to travel in a van for 200 plus miles with people I didn't know too well (and everything else that comes with this relay:  lack of sleep, limited opportunities to use the bathroom, build up of lactic acid, etc. etc.).

Team No Reason Why 1 and 2

I'm so glad I did this!  I'm glad my husband went ahead and signed us up for this despite my negative naysaying.  I think this was my seventh HTC relay and my third time being on a team with my husband.  This year we were on teams we have run with before: No Reason Why 1 and 2.  Yes, two teams, four vans.  That made it so that each of us was matched up with a compatible runner and we ran with them the entire way.  Always two at a time.  I liked this!  First, I got to run with my best friend and favorite running partner.  I also liked it because it made being out there on the road in the middle of the night feel a little safer (for many being that I have a really hard time seeing in the dark).  The last time I have run with this team was in 2004 when had just found out that I was pregnant with my first child.  It was so weird to come back ten years later when so much has changed but yet it felt like nothing much had changed at all!

It was a gorgeous night for a relay!  This is the skyline at our first pass off from van 2 where we began our second runs.  A perfect night for running.  

Here's the things I loved about Hood to Coast (specifically HTC 14):
  • Being in a van with my husband.  It truly was a date for us.  So nice to have family near now that we are back in Oregon.  

Wahoo!  Right after our first run. What a beautiful climb.  This is when I knew without a doubt that this was going to be fun! Sub 8s came easy. And you can't see, but behind us is a gorgeous view of Mount Hood covered in clouds.  
  • Lots of laughing.  What happens in the van, stays in the van!  I love noticing people and how they interact.  It is always so funny to me to see how perfectly responsible and successful adults/parents can behave when placed far away from responsibility, kids, and reality.  It was so much fun.  Rowdy.  Safe.  Hilarious.  Immature at times.  Sleep deprived fun.  
  • Building relationships with people you would have otherwise never have spent much time with.  Traveling for the better part of 2 days with a group of people can either make you sick to death of them or really kind of connected to them by the end of the trip.  With this group, there was nothing but positive vibes.  Everyone got along.  An easy going group of dudes...and me.  I'm not always easy going (not uptight either...just middle of the road) but it was impossible not to be with this group.  
  • Running for FUN. Finding so much JOY in running.  My words to a friend in email last night:
"Anyway, we made it to the beach and our runs were mostly easy pace and I LOVED the fact that we didn't feel pressure to race.  It was just fun!!  We ran faster than I thought we would though.  In all our legs we had a few faster miles that felt strong!  WE rocked the up hill and the distances were NO PROB!  Very happy with how awesome it felt!  Just a true JOY in running!!  No pressure.  No time goals.  Just fun!  Some really fun and funny stories from these runs." 
  • Leg 5! I was a little worried about this leg considering my low mileage lately but I actually  loved this leg!  It was a combined total of almost 20 miles.  My least favorite run of the three was the middle leg because it was at night and I struggle seeing in the dark even with lamps.  However,at one point there was a guy running next to me trying to give me his name and number.  Little did he know, I was running WITH my husband. ha!  
Our last run was by far the hardest!  But also the most fun.  That first part was INTENSE and the downhill on the second part was thrilling.  After that climb, we were very happy with our 6:42 and 7:09 with a 6:20 pace to finish.  The climb felt tough but I was pleasantly surprised by how much support we had along the way.  We always had our own vans but during this leg, there were so many other runners cheering us up that hill, offering us drinks, and encouraging us.  
  • The party at the end.  Seaside is always so much fun at the end.  We danced to live music, visited with friends, had a few beers and just rode the wave of exhaustion and endorphins...and interesting mix.  
Photo bomb Jason.  
  • Being in a van with people who were older than us made for some great parenting conversations!!  I got some really great advice from a few of them when it comes to how they've handled phones, screens, respect, sports, etc.  Very grateful for this insight!  Parenting is so much easier when we have others to help us along the way.
  • Getting to see friends from other teams.  I ran into my newer running friends from Asheville who were running with the Jus' Runnning team.  They rocked it!  We started at the same time as them but they finished much much faster than our team.  I was going to run with them this year but couldn't pass up the chance to run with my husband this time around.  Maybe next year.   

Things I didn't love:
  • Um, I like to poop when I have to poop.  Nothing is as much of a killjoy as having to poop during a run or while in the van and not being able to!  It changes everything.  Ha!  It made for a very uncomfortable feeling for a bit there!  However, when you finally do get to poop, it calls for a whole van celebration AND a Poop Party Dance on the side of the road with all the other vans creeping to the next exchange.  I wish I had a video of this dance because it was quite fun.  Not being able to stick to my regular schedule?  Not so fun!  I know, I know, TMI.  Whatever...everybody poops!  And everyone knows how much it sucks to not be able to.  
Check out some of the Honey Bucket lines!  Hey, at least it was a beautiful view.  

  • The next day.  Waking up in a house full of people with a lack of sleep/too much running/stiff body hangover of sorts is never my favorite.  I enjoy waking up in my own bed.  But nothing like a cup of coffee and breakfast with people you like that snaps you out of that.
  • I thought I'd come up with more that I didn't like but this year that was about it.  Even the limited sleep didn't bother me so much.  
I have much more to say about Hood to Coast.  I know, I already said quite a bit.  There are good parts and bad parts for sure but in the end, I keep going back for more.  Who knows what next year will bring.  

My running lately:

  • I'm in running trail heaven.  Most of you already know that from my instagram and facebook posts.  Come visit.  Bend has some incredible places to run!  I can be on trails pretty much steps from my door.  Now, I just hope to find more time to get out there and build some mileage.
  • I have been running every other day or so.  Really, my mileage lately as been maybe 20 miles a week.  However, before HTC, I got in a few quality runs. 
  • My quality runs before HTC have been one close to 10 miler with a new running partner Shelley (she is from Portland but we actually met after the Napa Valley Marathon in 2012).  She has a faster marathon time but I think we will have fun running together.  She just had a baby not too long ago and she's already pushing me along.  I felt like was going to die after this truly felt like a marathon for me after such little mileage and the long road trip across the country.  
  • A 5k!  Yes, I did run that Deschutes Twilight 5k.  And surprisingly, I felt pretty good considering I wasn't in 5k shape.  I didn't push to pain like racing racing a 5k feels like but I did push myself and it turned out to be a GREAT workout! Quality.  21:15?  I have to look that up for official seconds.  I also got to see some familiar faces.  Oh, and my Age grouper days might be limited if I'm going to continue to race locally in Bend.  There are some smokin' FAST runners here!!!  Elites. Olympians.  No joke.  They might need to make a new category in Bend called a Sub Age Group Awards. 
Visiting with some fellow Nuun girls after the 5k.  
  • I've enjoyed running a couple times with my friend Marci. What a genuinely awesome lady.  Rock star.  Kind.  Humble.  and FAST!!!  Marci just ran a 2:35 marathon at Grandma's in Duluth this June.  Smokin' fast.  She doesn't run with a Garmin either.  It's just all by feel and heart.  We ran into each other by accident the first time when running in Shevlin Park (so gorgeous!) and then we ran last week on the Deschutes River Trail.  Our 5 miles at 7:54 avg was a nice solid run for me right now...conversational and relatively easy pace (on edge for me right now though when it comes to "easy"...let's just say I was breathing heavier than usual when trying to talk) but SUPER easy for her.  It was her second run for the day (she's training for New York) so a recovery run.  We will run again this Wednesday on a new-to-me trail.  I'm looking forward to spending more time with her AND to seeing a new trail.  Thanks for running with me Marci.  You rock!   
This is Marci (definitely one to watch for the 2016 Olympic trials):

This photo taken from her blog, Runner Marci

  • I'm looking forward to running more now that things are settled.  I don't need to be training for anything right now but that might be coming soon too.  Not so sure I will go to Boston this coming year.  Part of me wants to be there since two of my best friends will be there and I don't know how much longer that will happen.  However, Boston is expensive and it's also a lot to think of training for a spring marathon right now when I don't know what to expect with my schedule, a Bend winter, etc.  Plus, I kind of want to do something other than Boston.  Boston is awesome, yes!  But there is MUCH MUCH more to running than the Boston Marathon!  I have a few weeks to decide. No matter what, I want to run more.  I need the endorphins!  It makes life better all around!!  
  • In November, I hope to be running a 5k with my middle daughter.  I'm really looking forward to working towards this with her.  She asked me to do this...all her idea.  It will be special to spend the quality time with her.  I've come to truly cherish our alone time when we go on little runs together.  We talk about goals, life, our runs, and just all sorts of things.  

Have you run Hood to Coast or a relay like it?  Do you want to?  Why or why not?