Friday, October 31, 2014

All Things Running: Emcee (yikes!), Boston Marathon Thoughts, Healing Trail Runs, Trail Fun and More

It's Halloween day and I've yet to put a costume together.  My husband and I try to get in the spirit and make memories by dressing up with our kids and it often means coming up with a costume idea last minute.  Except last year when Whiplash from Ironman 2 was part of our family for the night. I won't say how excited my electrical engineer husband got about creating that costume.  Let's just say there were several nights of work (electrical work included) involved.  And boy was it authentic! So, we have about four hours to pull something together.  We're thinking a modern Luke and Leia--if we can't find a blonde wig for him then it will be an older Luke that has started buzzing his hair off (since it's much sexier than a comb over).

Running Running Running!  Lots of running thoughts lately.  The summer is officially over and this girl is settling into her running season.  I'm not sure what this winter holds for me with running but I'm getting excited to think of some plans.

Road Running vs. Trails
I ran on sidewalks today for one of the first times since we moved here.  Almost all my running has been on dirt, rocks, hills, and winding trails through the trees and along the river.  I'm not complaining one bit.  I'll take trails any day over the road.  However, I try not to pay much attention to my watch when I run on the trails since pace is MUCH slower.  Today I dropped my son off at his Montessori school and then ran to a meeting downtown.  It was a pleasant surprise to see what my pace was on sidewalks/road compared to the trail!  In fact, I rarely run with a watch these days on the trails now that I know the distance of most my routes.

Something New That Makes Me Nervous: EMCEE
Yikes yikes yikes!  So, I agreed to be the Emcee for the Sister's Happy Girls Half Marathon and 5k (put on  by Lay It Out Events).  I'm a mix between excited for the opportunity and nervous as all heck! Public speaking is something I'm not bad at once I'm comfortable (after all, I was a teacher for almost 10 years) but the first time for anything is just a little scary.  I'm kicking fear to the curb and trying something that scares me.  I think each time we say "YES!" and put ourselves out there (even if it means stepping outside of our comfort zones), we open doors that lead to new possibilities and connections. As soon as I agreed to do this, I sent a text my friend Sarah Bowen Shea (Love this gal!) and she gave me a short text pep talk and gave me the link to her article about her own Emcee experiences:  Fun at the Finish Line.  For any of you at this event, I'm warning you now that my voice might be ten octaves higher than usual until I relax.

Boston Marathon Indecisiveness 
Boston Boston Boston.  The Boston Marathon is in April.  That means many people start training in December.  Some like shorter training plans and start in January.  In the past, I've used October to December to build a strong base and get my mileage up before using a specific plan.  This year brings up a whole bag of indecisiveness:

  1. First thing I'm questioning is if it is even in my best interest to run Boston this year.  It's expensive to get there, I've already done it four times, and it just might not be the best idea on a number of levels.
  2. If I do run Boston, I need to decide how I'll run it and how I'll train for it. The Boston Marathon weekend is so much more than just a race weekend.  It's a weekend where I get to see some of my closest friends as well as be involved with the running/marathon community on one of the most exciting race weekends out there.  Nothing quite like Boston when it comes to the marathon.  Talk about ENERGY!  I can certainly train in a way where I just log miles and don't train specifically for any time goal.  This would allow me to run Boston for fun and possibly use it as a training run for an ultra marathon.  I'm also looking into different training plans that I might use if I do decide to train a bit harder.  Another option is finding a coach to work with (maybe even someone new to coaching (or just wanting to grow their coaching business) and wanting a guinea pig and someone to help them advertise/market through my blog.  However, with the latter, I'm not so sure I'd want just anyone telling me what do when it comes to running/training so it would have to be a seasoned runner who knows their stuff!  My gut tells me I'm going to go with training myself and possibly carrying my training over to an ultra marathon.  Of course, it all depends on this body of mine and how well it holds up! Oh, and who knows what a Bend winter holds.   
Trail Run Fun
Many of us have seen the Instagram pics of runners running on trails. One of my favorite Instagram feeds to follow is Speedy Mama Jess here in Sisters, Oregon.  I love seeing these kinds of shots! They are inspiring AND I get to see all the beautiful spots people run while seeing them enjoying doing what they love.  However, I admit, I always wonder how much time they took to set up their camera timers to snap the perfect shot.  It makes me laugh but I also think it's fun and I enjoy the pics as much as they enjoyed taking them!  I suppose this is part of what blogging and instagramming is all about:  capturing moments and sharing our lives with others.  On Tuesday, my husband and I hit up the trails for 11 miles.  It was such a gorgeous day so we decided to try one of those timed running pictures.  We'd never done it before and it made for some good laughs.  Our dog thought we were a little weird with our running back and forth for a few minutes while getting our shot.  But I think he kind of liked the game.  When we were ready to run on and not try for another shot, he actually turned around again thinking it was picture time. Ha!  Made me laugh.  

Deschutes River Trail taking off from Meadow Camp

Healing Trails
If you asked me about my favorite trails to run on here in Bend, Oregon, I'd have to say Shevlin Park would be the first place that comes to mind.  Now, I've only been here since August and I haven't even begun to discover all the trails there are around here but for now, Shevlin Park is where I go when I want to get lost in the trees and be alone with my thoughts and the beauty surrounding me.  It's GORGEOUS!  A bit less on the high dessert feel and more of the lush GREEN that I love.  Tumalo Creek trail is one of the easier trails in Shevlin Park--just what I needed for my Thursday run this week.  I won't go into details (yes, I'm allowed to be vague on here--it's my blog after all) but I will say that there were a few days this week that proved to be rather difficult and deeply painful on an emotional level--related to some news I received about a friend.  Running in the forest was just the medicine/comfort I needed. It was a time to be wrapped up in all the forest has to offer:
old, wise trees
fall colors
still and white waters from the creek
soft dirt
shaded paths
steep climbs that take you above some of the tallest trees
the perfect rocks on which to sit.

Plenty of tears and conversations/prayer on this run.  But also an incredible amount of peace, healing and hope in my heart once I finished.  Thankful for the gift of the run.  And beyond thankful for these forest trails I have at my fingertips.
Much wisdom and peace to be found on a trail run in the woods. Beautiful how these forest walls with their still and white waters, old towering trees and winding trails can pull us in so deeply and bring us so gently back to ourselves--telling us stories, whispering answers, and listening to our heart's every word. I'm so thankful for the gift of running. 

I have much more to say about running but this post is getting way too long so I'll leave some for next time.  I want to ask about recommendations for running pants, share some of the things I'm loving lately with running stuff, and put some potential races out there.  Oh, and I plan on trying this hands-free leash with my dog (honestly, I'm not sure what to expect with this type of leash...part of me fears falling on my face!) and then writing a review and giving one away to one of you!

Happy Friday!  And Happy Halloween to those of you who take part in it.

Laying it on thick with the questions today but lots I want to ask:
1.  Have you ever been an emcee at a race or somewhere else?  Would this make you  nervous?
2.  What are your favorite marathon plans that you'd recommend if I decide to use a plan for Boston?  
3.  Do you have a running coach you'd recommend?  
4.  Do you find healing and comfort through running?  
5.  Are you dressing up for Halloween?  Your kids?  What will you be?  


Friday, October 24, 2014

Mirror of Erised: What Would You See?

"The Mirror of Erised is an ancient, ornate mirror. It has clawed feet and a gold frame inscribed with the phrase " Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi." The mirror shows the most desperate desire of a person's heart, a vision that has been known to drive men mad."

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."
Albus Dumbledore, when he discovers that Harry has been using the Mirror. (source)

Harry Potter.  Even after ten years of teaching elementary school and having many a student who was a fan, I still hadn't read the Harry Potter books until last summer.  Not being one who cares too much about the fantasy genre, I just never quite caught the Harry Potter bug. But last summer my girls went from disliking bedtime to begging for bedtime early just so that they could get extra read aloud time from Harry Potter.  They were so. into. it!  And when I stopped reading for the night, there was almost always an "AWW, MOM!  Just a little more?!" chorus that filled our house.  So, thank you J.K Rowling.  You gave my kids a new level of passion for books and an added layer to their huge imaginations.  A walk through the forest last summer wasn't just about nature was an opportunity to shop for wands and find the perfect stick to use for their Quidditch broom stick.  There was magic around every corner and possibility in every moment.

My kids weren't the only ones entertained by Harry Potter.  There were many parts in the story that had me intrigued or entertained too!  I recall one chapter in particular that has stuck with me:   The Mirror of Erised.  Those of you that haven't read the story, the Mirror of Erised is a mirror that Harry finds by accident one night. Erised is DESIRE spelled backwards. Dumbledore explains that the Mirror of Erised shows the "deepest and most desperate desire of our hearts" and it reveals neither truth nor knowledge.  When Harry looks into it, he sees his parents (who both died when he was a baby) and family he had never known smiling at him with love.  When he sees them, it is as if they are really there surrounding him. He is so deeply drawn to this mirror night after night.  It's all he can think of and he can't wait to get back to it again and again.

"And there were his mother and father smiling at him again, and one of his grandfathers nodding happily. Harry sank down to sit on the floor in front of the mirror. There was nothing to stop him from staying here all night with his family. Nothing at all.” 

Harry does this until one night Dumbledore tells him that he is going to move the mirror and he didn't want Harry going to look for it.  He explained that he had seen many a person get lost or go crazy with that mirror. They spend so much time staring at the mirage of what their hearts most long for in life that they miss out on their REAL life. Dumbledore's words:

"It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible....It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

I related to Harry a bit in this part of the story.  For most of my life, the deepest and most desperate desires of my heart would stem from having my dad die when I was four. If I looked into the Mirror of Erised as a child, I would have seen him or the idea of him.  I can remember when my each of my kids had just turned four and thinking back to what I must have been like at the same age before my dad died.  I saw how deeply they adored their dad (still do) but more than that: how much he adored them. Such an incredible relationship--then and now.  Although it made (makes) me so incredibly happy and grateful to see this loving and lasting bond between my kids and their dad, for a long time, I'd feel that dull ache from my childhood desires.  It used be embarrassing to admit, but I spent much of my life longing for this kind of adoration, love and comfort that I lost with my dad dying. At the same time, I'd feel like I somehow didn't have the right to miss or ache for something I could hardly remember and that many in the world never had. This deepest desire sometimes felt like a missing piece to my heart and kept me from living whole heartedly.  Staring into my Mirror of Erised--dwelling on an idea of something I never knew-- held me back and almost left me looking too much into other people, achievements, or cirumstances for what was within and around me all along: Love and Worthiness. It took me years to hide the mirror and start living with and owning the message of :  You are enough just as you are.  

Since reading this chapter in Harry Potter, I've often thought of what I would see if I found a real Mirror of Erised today.  What would be my heart's deepest desire? Would I just see myself as I am right now like the happiest people that found the Mirror of Erised?  If I looked into the mirror today...this moment.. I think yes, yes for the most part, I would see my right now as I am and the steps just ahead of me. Overall, I'm happy.  Life is good.  Most things are on track and moving along in amazing ways!  However, I don't think we always see the same thing because our life is continually changing.  We aren't always in the happiest of times.  And there are definitely desires, "pulls", or old longings that are stronger than others and hard to shake.  They creep up at the most unexpected times.

I'm pretty sure we all have something at our core that pulls at us.  Our hearts most deepest and desperate desires.  Maybe these desires are things we will never have (and not good for us anyway), maybe we are living them now, and maybe they will be fulfilled in some unexpected form later down the road if we remember to be present and intentional with our life NOW and not "dwell on dreams and forget to live" 

*  What would you see if you looked into the Mirror of Erised (the most desperate desire of your heart)? What would you have seen five years ago?  Power? Love?  Freedom? Closeness to God or spirituality?  Success? Family?  I'm sure for most of you, this might be too personal to share. I mean, the deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts?  Might not be something you're going to throw out in a blog comment...ha!  I didn't go into detail of what I would have seen if I saw something other than my life now. Again, if I looked in that mirror today, I'd hope to see just what I am right now...staring back at me. For the most part, I think I would.  But I have a hunch I'm still not 100% to that point... Happy, yes.  But if I'm honest, I know there are some loose heart strings still there.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Using the Tools in Our Tool Belt

It was especially quiet in the car on the way to school today.  Then I heard my five-year-old son say,

"Mom, I used a tool from my tool belt this morning."  

At first I didn't know what he was talking about. When I asked him what he meant, he said

  "When you said I couldn't wear those black shoes, I was really mad.  So, I came to the car where it was quiet so I could calm down and be in control of my choices. I used a tool."  

Huge smiles this morning!  Times like this are so affirming as mothers...reminders that we really ARE making a difference. The words and lessons we share with our kids ARE sinking in.  The past few weeks I've used the analogy of tools in a tool belt to fix things when it comes to helping my son make better choices and take control of his actions/words that stem from strong emotions.

Some of his tools:  

  1. Go to a quiet place to calm down. 
  2. Take a deep breath and count to 10 when he gets angry.
  3. Ask friends and family for space.  
  4. Use his words in a way where others can hear him (sharing his words with respect instead of throwing his words at others.  It's not always what we say but HOW we say it.) 
  5. Express emotions and fears.  
  6. Focus on the many things that make him happy rather than the one or two things making him unhappy.  
  7. Try to let things go when you aren't getting what you want by focusing on something else you like to do.  The "Oh well, maybe later." tool.

Tools fix things. They help us accomplish a task and work towards something constructive rather than destructive.  This analogy isn't just helpful for my's helpful for me.  We all have tools. We have the tools to respond and act in the ways that compliment how we want our life to be.

If I think of all the tools I have in my tool belt that are unique to me, I'd say many of them are similar to the tools I've been helping my son use.  I truly understand this little guy with his box full of strong emotions and quirks (fear, anger, worry, frustration, getting overwhelmed easily, wanting to be in control, a little obsessive...) and I hope we can keep working together to make our days what we want them to be.  Parenting him has most definitely helped me grow into a stronger person.  Helping him work through his fears and emotions has meant having to do the same for myself.

 So, yes, kids, use your tools in life!  Mom will her hers too!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Anabelle's Glow Run: 5k with my Daughter and 3k Family Fun Run

"I just ran my second 5k!  It was so cold and windy.  When I got to the end, I looked at my score.  I got 4th place out of 0 to 10 year olds!!  I was so so so proud of myself!  ..."
Naomi, age 7

"I was number 210 Sparrow.  I ran with my dad. We had a lot of glow sticks.  We also had lots of treats and cookies after the race.  We even had hot chocolate.  My first race was so fun!"
Sam, age 5

Not too long ago I published this post:

 Running and Racing with Our Kids: Lasting Benefits and Things to Consider.

In this post I shared that my middle daughter Naomi and I were hoping to race a 5k together for her second 5k.  Well, we did it!  And I can honestly say that our race - her race -will go down as one of my MOST special running memories in my 20 plus years of running.  This is true for so many reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is because of how inspired I was by her and another was because I got to see how incredibly proud she was of herself. It was an experience that affirmed my belief that running (and running with our kids) has so much to offer. The lessons we learn through running carry over into life in some powerful ways!  

This last Friday, our whole family of five headed down to the Les Schwab Amplitheater in Bend, OR for an evening of bouncy houses, face paint, glow sticks, live music and RUNNING!  We all registered for the Anabelle's Angel Glow Run for the 5k and 3k fun run (Naomi and I for the 5k and the others came along to support her and to run the 3k fun run.)  What a fantastic event!  Not only did it support an important cause (read more here) but it was FUN, FAMILY FRIENDLY, and AFFORDABLE.  As most of us know, races can be expensive these days and the idea of shelling out $25-30 (or more) for a 5k entry fee for ourselves AND our kids can seem absurd! Thank goodness that we are seeing community events like this being offered in more and more places. Family Fitness all across the country is growing because of it.  And with events like this, the community is coming together to support causes that are near and dear to their hearts as well.  We will be back next year!

Gearing up. 
Getting ready for this race was so much fun!  Since it was a glow run, the goal was to get GLOWY!  I finally found a good use for all my old neon race shirts!!  Score!  My husband went to the store and bought a ton of glow gear to add to our neon race clothes.  For my son (age 5) this would be the first race he can remember.  So fun to see him so excited!

I have so many neon/glowy race shirts and gear in my closet!  It was nice to use some of it for this race .

 Before we left the house, I made sure Naomi knew that this was her race to run whatever way she wanted.  Even though we've been running together when we can and working up to running a 5k, I didn't want her to feel any pressure.  She just responded, "Mom, I'm racing this one faster.  I ran my first one really slow and for fun but this one will be fun and I want to run my best."

Note:  Not once in our running together has the finishing time or time on a watch with mile splits been mentioned.  In fact, Naomi has never even been aware that I've had a watch on (mostly just my Garmin to keep track of our distance.)  Our runs have been and will continue to be about fun and quality time together.  This race was the first time Naomi connected a time on the clock with her running since it was a timed race and she wanted to see her name on the results. Finishing in 28:40 for her 5k was exciting to her mostly because she saw how she ranked with the other kids (and LOTS of kids in this 5k!!)   

The 5k

Before the race.  She was so excited! And there was a beautiful (and full) rainbow stretching across the sky. 

Naomi's race was special from the beginning to the very end.  Every step running next to my sweet girl was food for my soul.  Her's too.  She told jokes and made me laugh, commented on the people and scenery around her, and revealed such a positive and self-loving spirit with the words she spoke out loud to herself.  It's amazing how much we can learn from our children if we stop to observe and listen.  

Some highlights about Naomi's race:
  • She had a smile on her face for most of the race.
  • This was truly fun.
  • We took walk breaks in every mile. 
  • She led the way and decided how she wanted to run it. 
  • I talked to her lots and reminded her the whole way of how special this was, how proud I was of her, and how much she inspired me!
  • One of the first things Naomi noticed was just how much easier it was running on pavement compared to the dirt river trail next to our house. 
  • She wanted an age group award so she kept asking me if she though she'd get one.  I just reminded her to do her best.  At the time I didn't realize her age group was up to 10.  (Note: Again, time or place has never been a focus for us.  However, Naomi has been involved in running for long enough (her own races at a much younger age and in seeing her parents race) that age group and race time are very familiar terms to her. To her, this was a fun goal. 
  • Near the end of the race, she finally looked up at me and said "Mom, I'm tired.  This kind of hurts.  How much longer."  When I told her we only had about a half mile to go, she smiled and said, "Well, good to know! I can do this!"  Yes! Yes, you can!
Some mental tricks/strategies we used:
  • We broke the race up into parts.  For each mile, we took a short walk break to recharge for the next one.  
  • Looking ahead at the different colored shirts and making it a game.  25 points for blue shirts, 10 points for yellow...  This was all in fun and for awhile she tried counting them up but it ended up just being a fun little mental strategy for moving forward.  And no, she didn't count out loud when she passed until we were out of ear shot.  
  • Imagining a rope attached to us and a runner ahead of us, pulling us ahead.  This worked especially well when her older sister was right ahead of us.  
  • Relaxing the body.  Whenever I looked over and she had her little fists clenched, I'd just remind her to relax her hands and body and run naturally.  
  • Small reminders that helped her focus on her running and keeping it fun:  quick steps, lean forward, look ahead, smile. Note:   I think most kids have naturally beautiful running strides.  I don't think we need to teach them proper running form. This is my opinion but from what I can see, most kids just run...we don't need to make it something they think too much about when it comes to form, pace, stride -- just run and have fun! The rest comes naturally!  These reminders were just to distract her from being tired.  Gosh, what I'd give for her stride and form!
  • Self Talk.  Naomi did an incredible job telling herself positive things along the way.  
Exhausted, Happy, Proud! 

At the end of the race, Naomi was exhausted but BEAMING with pride.  She did it!  She ran hard, had fun, and gave her all at the end.  The other kids had fun too!  As I mentioned, I didn't run with them but I know they had a blast.  At once point during our 5k, I saw my oldest daughter racing past us and on to her 3k finish.  This was a huge boost for all of us to see each other! After the race, we waiting for awards and prizes, danced to the music in our glowiness and enjoyed the first of many races together as an entire family!

As soon as we got home from the race, Naomi grabbed her journal, glued her race bib in and wrote about her race.  Before bed, she looked up at me and said, "Mom, I'm so PROUD of myself!  I ran hard.  And I was 4th out of 0 to 10 year olds!" How can this not carry over into her life in positive ways?  She gained self confidence and experienced what it's like to push herself and give her best all the way to the end.  She discovered that even if something is hard and hurts, it can still be fun and rewarding.  And she realized that she is capable of so much more than she thought.  There are no doubts in my mind that this race will be something that carries over to her life in incredibly positive ways.  

My kids have naturally taken an interest in running because they see us make it part of our daily lives and LOVE doing it.  They've actually been the ones to ask us if they can tag along.  Eventually, my kids wanted to run because they saw it as something that provided them with special time with us.  Now, I can honestly say that they have come to genuinely love running too!  I hope this continues.  

When I run with my kids, I try to keep what I call the Four F's in mind:  

The Four F's of Running with Kids:
  1. Fun. Keep it fun!
  2. Follow their lead. Let the child decide what they want running to be.  Maybe they will want to race and maybe they just want running to be about spending time together or playing a game.  
  3. Foster a love for running.  Model a love for running and help keep running positive so your child grows to love running too.  
  4. Family friendly.  Try to find ways to include the whole family in running as a way to promote family fitness and bonding.  

Have you ever done a glow run? 
Does your community offer family friendly and affordable races like this?  So far, I'm seeing that Bend has so much to offer the family!  I'm especially looking forward to this race series for kids put on my Lay It Our Events:  Kids Rock the Races.