Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Next Chapters in Running

I went from mom of toddlers with very little spare time to mom of grade schoolers with much more free time.  I moved from the bay area of northern California to the foothills of the rocky mountains in Colorado.  I've gone from road marathons to trail half marathons as I acclimate to the higher altitude and steeper terrain.

The running community in Boulder valley is widespread for sure but more low key than the bay area, not surprisingly.  Instead of pushing my kids in a stroller, they are now running alongside, ahead and behind me on the trails.  Now I rarely think about my running pace as much as which trails I get to explore next.

Life if good, running keeps me happy and I am soon to be a proud ambassador to Fleet Feet Running Store located in Boulder, CO.  Stay posted!

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Running Story

I consider myself one of those people who have been running her whole life: running around the neighborhood, joining in every sport available, I was the pipsqueak girl who always got the #1 jersey because I was the smallest. Being small and determined has its advantages since you tend to be underestimated.

I don't think I have the inherent muscle fiber makeup, nor VO2 max to be an elite athlete, but I think having practiced the running form for so long without injury is testament to having developed naturally good form. Now I'm pretty sure 90% of my youthful time outside in the Wisconsin was spent barefoot or in flip flops, besides wintertime of course. In fact, I recall my very first pair of running shoes were donated to me by a local running store owner who saw me slip-sliding around the church gymnasium floor on worn out hand me down sneakers.

When I started running track in 8th grade and throughout high school, I certainly did not get a cushy new pair of shoes every year like other teammates running distance. I ran the 100 yd and 300 yd hurdles in racing flats. The fastest 4 x 400 yd leg I recall running was 69 seconds most likely in 3rd position of the relay.

I tried running XC, but did not have the stamina, endurance or speed for it, considering I rarely ran more than 2 miles at a time. I never did get to race at my peak during senior year because I used a hurdling shoulder injury as my excuse to go out for the HS musical instead.

In 1992, my first year out of HS and not running for the first time in my life, I actually did put on 15 lbs as a freshman at UW Madison, mind you I now weighed 115 lbs and could actually give blood/plasma for the first time. My 2nd year I took a marathon training course through the Kinesiology dept, and started doing distance runs along the lake for fun and stress relief, and I loved it.

I surprised myself by medaling in my first road race ever, a 5k in 23:17 at age 19. I then ran my first 20 mile race the next year in 2:56 and finally found the time to train again during grad school (UW Institute for Environmental Studies) for my first full marathon at age 25 in 1999, which I completed in 4:04 (Disney).

I liked taking a year off of serious training to then go for another marathon in 2001 with a time of 3:55 (San Diego RNR), and then my last marathon was in 2003 with a time of 3:48 (Tucson). This time was 3 mins shy of qualifying for Boston, but by this time I had discovered yoga and was heavily into rock climbing every weekend with my newly wedded husband. I was working at a resort in Tucson as a systems analyst which even allowed time for us to start a shotokan karate club which he co-taught and I progressed from white to purple belt.

By 2005, my marathon running interest had waned, though I would still run on occasion with no issues, considering my overall fitness was the highest it had ever been. I did slow down once I started showing with baby #1 in 2005. We then moved to the bay area for his job, and baby #2 came along just 19 months later in 2007. Baby #3 arrived 14 months after that in 2008. All three babies came through with uncomplicated, drug-free natural births. Each time I started running again around 6 months post-partem, my lactating all but shut down, no surprise as my weight would go back from 135 to 110 lbs.

In 2009 with an almost 1 year old baby, I started running and racing again and surprised myself by placing in some of the smaller races. I discovered I could sign up for half marathons and with a very loose training schedule, still run them every other month, and feel great with little to no recovery period. This seemed to fit in well with my lifestyle and balancing my husbands workout schedule on his road bike.

Only now in 2010 is the competitive urge starting to tug at the back of my mind again. I'm entering 1-3 races a month. I ran 4 half marathons last year. I'm starting to place and bring my pace back down to the 8 and 7:30 min/miles I was running when I was 20. The more I hear and read about running ultras, and elite marathoners at age 37 running a 2:30 in the olympics, the more inspired I've become (even dabbling with the thought of triathalons).

As prep for a presentation given at Zombie Runner with olympian Magda Lewy-Boulet, I decided to put on the Vibram five fingers my sister gave me and see how it would feel to run a mile in them on the track after a couple laps of warm up. I had just run 6 miles each of the previous two days at a 7:18 and 7:30 pace without soreness, so I really didn't see how one mile at that pace would be a problem.

Well, the 12 step program to running barefoot or "minimal" handout that I received from runningquest.com came a day too late, as I realized I had skipped up to step/week 8 and foolishly ran a tempo 7:13 mile in them. My calves felt tight in the last lap, and the next day I was hobbling around with really sore calves. Granted, it feels like a good soreness, as if I did too many calf raises, not like I injured them. In fact, I'm excited that such a seemingly simple alteration of my running style for such a short distance can make such a big difference in muscle utilization.

I had just finished reading Born to Run and I had started to feel like my right plantar's was tight and inflamed after my last road race, so I didn't think it would hurt to try something that everyone seems to be talking about. I'm giving the legs a rest now so that I'll be able to run a good 6 mile race in few days. That will be 5 days post-Vibram fiasco.

Vibram, by the way, makes Chaco sandals, which I love and have been wearing continuously since 2003 when I'm not barefoot, or exercising in my running shoes. It's also interesting that I feel much less pain if I wear heels, or walk on my toes, or even jog and play tennis. I guess I'm engaging my plantars/achilles/calves/lower leg more when I do that and feeling the tautness does give a springy sensation to my stride. I would have thought all my time spent in climbing shoes would have built up those same areas, but then again I haven't been climbing regularly of late.

I plan to order ChiRunning and Running with the Whole Body to research this more. I would like to incorporate the mid-forefoot strides more during interval training to increase my strength and speed. I think I already have good posture so I won't mess with that except to be more aware of my stride length/turnover/body alignment. I'm hoping this might even help my husband who stopped running due to back pain and is now in the market for a pair of five fingers. It's expensive to experiment with these new minimal shoes, so that's the next step, as I don't see liking the feel of the five fingers on trails, not to mention my longer 2nd toe : )

Last but not least, as to the Why of why I run, I enjoy the free feeling of being a force of nature, creating my own wind, controlling my breath and heart-rate, relaxing into the meditative spell of being your own locomotion, feeling my muscles work, then settle into a natural pace that becomes almost effortless and peaceful. I can cover more ground and see more nature when I'm on a trail, and when I finish after an hour or so I feel energized, like I could start all over again, at least in my mind. So it's that mind-body connection that I only feel when I'm really exerting myself that can be euphoric. It's an intoxicating drug, those endorphins and adrenaline.

Now all that does not necessarily paint the same stage as what you have with a marathon. I think I ran marathons for the discipline they require to continue to train. It is somewhat contrived motivation to put yourself on a training schedule because you paid for a bib. Whereas my running now is more of my escape to take time for myself and I think that it will more naturally evolve into keeping up a continuous regimen of increased mileage and longer races, time permitting of course. Being a stay at home mom certainly has some advantages, in that I have less to juggle than if I were working with 3 young children. But if that changes, I know I will still need to make time for the endeavors that I call my own because it seems the more energy I put into my day, the more I get out of it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Platonic Friendships (this implies opposite genders)

It's a fairly prevalent notion that once married it is unusual and ill advised to have platonic friendships as individuals. I received two sets of raised eyebrows and curious comments when mentioning I was going to run a race in seattle and visit with my single guy friend from college who I happen to have known since childhood.

Who would not agree with the following? Connectivity is the foundation of a community of human beings. Trust is the foundation of a marriage. Individuality is the foundation of a person's spirit. Isolation is the downfall of a relationship.

So why does it seem that platonic friendships are relegated to the domain of cyberspace via Facebook? Sure it's convenient when you lack time to socialize, but to develop true rapport, there is no substitute for face to face interaction, particularly if babysitters are on short call and two acquaintances have an interest that is nice to share with a friend.

For us, this includes running, cycling, climbing, tennis, salsa dancing, outings with the kids, dining, movies, concerts and other social invitations. Okay, so it's not like these things come up all the time anyway. It's great when we can get a babysitter for both of us to go out, but when we can't, we don't feel the need to sit out every opportunity or stay home, since we all know, stay at home moms get to spend plenty of time doing that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The life of a stay-at-home mom

Now I know why I could never keep a diary - what good is it to pour all that energy into something no one else is supposed to read. Maybe the age of blogospheres has reduced the need for therapy for all those people who used to keep private diaries, when all they really wanted was to share their thoughts with other people - no offense to therapists.

So why am I blogging? Well in the absence of a traditional office where I would otherwise keep busy working and socializing, I spend my days with my two toddlers and baby, who are plenty entertaining, but as far as being good company for conversation, let's just say it's limited. I do have a network of moms that I socialize with of course, but the kids demand so much attention that it is often just snippets of conversation that you can rarely ever wrap up.

Often these interactions get me thinking, and I feel the need to expand on those subjects here. Part of feeling satisfied with the life of a sah mom is to feel your day has as many facets as it did before, when you went to the office. Back then, most days I made time for a workout, work/social time, meal/personal time with my partner, household misc, and reading/personal time & sleep. Proportions not withstanding of course, I think that sah moms should be able to look back on their week and be happy to say that yes life has changed, but we are happy to say it's not unrecognizable from before, and in exchange for office work (in my case in front of a computer) I get to spend that time instead with these amazingly bright, enthusiastic, spirited little people that we're raising.

Sometimes people can have so much going well for them in their lives and yet not seem happy due to a few difficulties here and there. We all run into difficulties, but if you keep it in perspective that it is merely a situation to be dealt with, it doesn't have to change your underlying happiness in yourself as a woman, wife and mother. If you want to raise happy children, just remember they look to you as their primary role model.

Monday, March 23, 2009

who's the one that you want?

Woo-hoo, I have one follower besides myself, thank you! So I guess I should keep blogging now, who needs sleep?

Do you wonder when people talk about "the one?" Some people may be meant to have one love, but I think it's more common to have lived and loved more than that. There were multiple paths that led you to where you are and who you are with, or not with.

If you find you keep missing a person, it's bc you were meant to miss them. If you keep meeting great people or not so great people its bc you were meant to meet them, or not. You put out a cosmic energy that either helps you or prevents you from reaching your destinies.

Do things that are true to your soul and you can have faith in the path you are on. There are two paths to love and they are not about finding a soulmate. Both paths are about finding your love for yourself - your soul. One includes a mate and the other does not. If you love yourself, you may be lucky and find someone who loves you for who you are. Or, you could love yourself and be lucky not to be with the wrong person, and instead be just fine on your own, with friends who support you.

Who is the real you? You are your thoughts, deeds and dreams. It shines through in your personality. If you truly want happiness, you will find it. Some people deep down don't believe they deserve happiness and therefore will never find it. How simple to change this. Let go of the past and realize there are countless paths going forward and it's up to you to strike out on the most promising one simply by believing you have something to offer the universe. Make it happen, whether it's finding a new job or being good at your current job, making a new friend, listening to an old friend, helping a stranger, writing a nice note to a random person, start a blog : )

Thursday, March 5, 2009

give dads a break

I hear a lot of comments about how "daddy doesn't do it right," but let's give dads a break and put it in context. How much practice did your husband have with kids before becoming a father? I have a male friend who used to be a nanny, and he is great with kids. He felt pressure to get a "manly" job because people would say "I've never heard of a male nanny." I think a good response would be, "I'm getting great practice at being a father." Plus, if the job pays better than a conventional 9-5, why switch to a job you enjoy less?

There certainly is a double standard that men can't be just as good at childcare as women. Well, maybe if we encourage our sons to practice more at a younger age there will eventually be more men with experience in childcare.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When your 3 year old tells you "I love you so much"

Just before bedtime, my 3 yo out of the blue says "I love you so much." Now, how many of us just smile and accept that as - my children are lucky to have such a great mom? That's what we should be reminding ourselves. Not that you haven't finished their baby book, or the laundry, or the other dozen things on your to-do list that you wish you had time for.