Days 106-107 – Cheers to running friends

17 04 2010

I have a great group of mom friends who share my need to run. Ironically, I don’t exactly run with them. I love spending time with them, but I also love running solo — with my music, my thoughts, my own pace, and no pressure. Our camaraderie comes in signing up for races together and through sharing our progress, our dread of the distance and the aches, pains and gains that come with training. Race day — the motivation — is always a great girls day out, usually followed by a hard-earned brunch that lingers into the afternoon hours.

A few of these friends do run together, and I envy that. They hold each other accountable and use running time to catch up and support each other. I am so impressed and inspired by their early morning outings and 5:30 a.m. team workout sessions at the Rec Center. I love being an extended part of their group — even though I stick to my solitary runs.

My friends gathered last night to hear Dimity McDowell, author of Run Like a Mother, read from her new book at the Tattered Cover (and to celebrate Ronda’s birthday!). Dimity chose her chapter on running buddies, which is about the friendships inspired by running. Like great writers’ words often do, her insights — especially read in person with my friends beside me — caused tears to well-up among us and made me think more about my own gang.

In various combinations, my friends have met at the starting and finish lines for 5 sprint triathlons, 2 Denver Marathon relays, 4 Mother’s Day runs and a few Turkey Trots and Iron Girl Runs in between. From the early morning, sleepy carpool to the mimosas that follow, these are some of my favorites times. With our cheesy medals, cute (or not-so-cute) race shirts, and goody bags in hand, we share the pride of met goals — whether we just eeked out the distance or broke a personal speed record.

The Title 9 Mother’s Day Run (a 9.9K) has always been a favorite, because our husbands and kids are at the finish to celebrate and picnic at the Boulder Reservoir. There is a cooler-than-most shirt and necklace to wear proudly (like a BFF charm!). I’m sad none of us are doing that race this year. Just a week before my half marathon and two weeks before the Bolder Boulder for others, we’re opting for sleeping in and breakfast in bed.

Over wine last night after the reading, I realized the races, like our birthdays, are treasured milestones we celebrate. I love my mental scrapbook of years of races — my first 5K in Atlanta, finishing a race in the new Olympic Stadium with my sister, first 10K in Austin, triathlons and relays — all featuring my running friends past and present in the photos!

Today – half the family went up for a final ski day while Zach and I enjoyed a rainy day hanging out in our PJs. I did the FIRM Cardio Sculpt video (in my PJs). Yesterday’s 5-mile run was just a warm-up for trying to hit 11 for the first time EVER tomorrow — possibly in the rain…

And my tribute/countdown song for today: #33 – “I’ll be your friend” (radio mix) by Robert Owens — for dancing or running with your friends!


Day 98 – myTunes

8 04 2010

I ran 7 miles this afternoon in perfect shorts weather. Spontaneously decided to take a route that I usually save for my bike, because it goes right by the confirmed coyote headquarters section of open space and in summer has snakes sprawled across the dirt road.

Intimidating on foot, but I was feeling brave and loved the idea of dirt under my feet for a longer run. Like running on pillows compared to my worn out pavement path. And new scenery — including horses like the ones in this picture — made 7 miles float by. I need to keep mixing up my running map, along with my iTunes (those two words — my iTunes — are so weird to say together, so let’s call it “myTunes.” Wow…I have been writing for clients all day — except for the 69-minute run, and my journalistic abilities are clearly drained!).

So in one chapter of Run Like a Mother, co-author Sarah Bowen Shea talks about her “running neurosis” including that the first song on her iPod is sending her a message that she tries to decode on her run.

I laughed when I read this, because I tend to hit the shuffle button until I’m inspired at any given point in my run — but especially for the first song. I always picture the iPod god (who looks like Steve Jobs, right?) determining the next song and telling me to pick up my pace or chill out. Since I tend to lose and/or break electronics, I have the simple, cheapest iPod Shuffle that doesn’t include playlists. Long story to say that today, the first randomly shuffled song was a great version of “One” in which U2 is joined by Mary J. Blige.

I love U2 (we have tickets for June concert at Invesco Field!), but it’s usually too slow to run to. This version adds some R&B groove — blending Mary’s soulful voice with Bono’s familiar sound at a good warm-up pace. So that’s song #39 in my “Top 40 to 40” countdown that sent me off and running in new directions!

Day 97 – Moved by chefs

7 04 2010

I love the Food section in the Denver Post on Wednesdays almost as much as I love food itself. It’s filled with new restaurant reviews and inspirational recipes I clip and save with best intentions to cook.

Today, I read this Associated Press story: Celeb chefs launch healthy food drive about the momentum Jamie Oliver (see my Day 88 – Revolutionary food post), Rachel Ray and others are creating to get people to eat better for a healthier lifestyle.

Another article: “Quiet chef’s book a commanding work,” ironically, opens with: “Before chefs were entertainers and celebrities, they were craftsmen…” got me thinking about how these new, celebrity chefs-on-a-mission are so brilliant for coming out of the kitchen and onto the screens to influence people.

To change the habits of an overly obese nation, you go to where the people are — to West Virginia if you’re Jamie Oliver. Then you go straight to their living rooms where they’re watching the tube: the mother of the TV dinner, fast food commercials and sedentary evenings often blamed as a root cause for our unhealthy nation.

So if they can’t pull the plug on the flat screens, at least they are creating reality shows about overweight people competing to shred the most pounds and entertaining chefs are cooking real, healthy food. Michael Pollen wrote a book about it (see Day 27 – Rules to eat by post), but I’m guessing a lot more people who needed the information saw it on Oprah versus reading the book.

It’s all fine — use the best means, including the first lady and television, to move a nation to move more and eat less junk! Ironically, I turned on the TV tonight to do Classical Stretch for arms, legs and abs. (I admit I really couldn’t live — or exercise as readily — without the idiot box!)

In other electronic-dependence news (a.k.a. my iPod)…and in honor of “40 days to go ’til my 40th,” I’m compiling a list of 40 favorite songs for race day entertainment to get me through approx. 130 minutes (that’s 10-minute miles for the half marathon if all goes well). If you have a suggestion, please send it my way…

My top 40 song of the day is “Prayin’ for Rain” by Soulhat (a favorite band from Austin that I listened — and ran — to in my Atlanta days). I’m dedicating this song to trading the inches of snow we woke up to in Colorado for spring rain showers! And you can run to this song in rain, snow or shine…

Day 96 – 40 days

6 04 2010

I woke up early this morning to rain pattering on the roof – a great, soothing spring sound that is good for my tulips, but not what you want to hear when you need to get outside for a morning run. By the time I got downstairs, it had turned to SNOW — just when I thought my frozen runs were behind me.

I waited a few hours for the sun to peek through and then the only element I had to face was crazy wind. A friend told me yesterday that April is the windiest month in Colorado. You don’t need a kite to prove it, and I was happy I only had to run 2.6 miles per my trusty half-marathon plan. On my run I was thinking about my dear college friend Roshan (who turned 40 today!) and that it must be close to 40 days until my race and 40th birthday. Turns out it’s exactly 40, so the true countdown begins… in Rick Dees fashion (stay tuned!).

I had fun tonight visiting with another friend, Sylvia, who let me tag along to a reception for her friend Dimity McDowell, co-author of Run Like a Mother. Dimity was so nice — cool to meet her in person after getting to know her through her book! Any mom and/or runner can relate to her brilliant — and hilarious — essays about the highs and lows of running, kids, work and life and how they fit (or don’t fit) together. She and her co-author have a fun blog at that link too, where they are building a community of running moms. (See my family photo under “K is for kickin’ a@# moms.”)

Great catching up with Sylvia, who I haven’t seen in a few years. We talked in the car about birthday milestones and how we’ve approached them. When I met Sylvia 10 years ago, SHE was 40 and I couldn’t believe it. She seemed so young (I was just a spring chicken about to turn 30)… Now, at 50, she’s still just as young and more than keeping up with her teenage son with her energy and outlook. She even trained for a marathon last fall – making it to 20 miles when she, sadly, injured her foot.

We agreed with her mom’s shared wisdom that you never feel on the inside the age you are on the outside…as long as you are healthy and have the right attitude. Thanks Sylvia for sharing your famous friends and your inspiration as you run into the next decade so gracefully!

Day 88 – Revolutionary food

30 03 2010

My week started with a “just get-it-done” exercise day — fitting in a Classical Stretch on Monday. I’ve been seeing a lot of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and was surprised to see his reality show that started airing on CBS last Friday is based in Huntington, West Virginia — a few hours from my hometown. He put his first Jamie’s Kitchen in the U.S. there, because it is one of the unhealthiest places in the country. Community members can go there to learn about food and — very importantly — how to COOK. (In defense of WV and my loyal blog-reader friends who live there — not everyone is unhealthy, and I personally grew up eating very fresh vegetables from my mother’s garden and my grandma’s kitchen.)

In the U.K. Jamie’s similar kitchens helped change the eating habits of residents and improve school lunches. I applaud his efforts. And he’s a smart guy for building a brand out of this cause and promoting the fact that unless the government helps out with policies and funding, change won’t be in the picture.

Lots of good info. and recipes on his website — including this quote:
“We just need to rediscover our common sense: if you want to curl up and eat macaroni and cheese every once in a while – that’s alright! Just have a sensible portion next to a fresh salad, and don’t eat a big old helping of chocolate cake afterwards.”

Days 82-83 – Wacky Wednesday

24 03 2010

“It all began with that shoe on the wall. A shoe on a wall…? Shouldn’t be there at all. Then I looked up. And I said, ‘Oh, MAN!’ And that’s how Wacky Wednesday began.” So goes the Dr. Seuss library book we picked up yesterday. Quite fitting for a late March snow that cancelled school and my husband’s flight — but turned to dripping slush in the sun by 4 p.m.

Temperatures tumbled back toward freezing Tuesday with the heavy, wet snow falling all through the night. Thanks to my bothersome cold, I traded a 2-mile run for Pilates — trying out my newly arrived Pilates Plus DVD. An Exhale three-DVD set from Amazon also includes Thighs and Glutes and Body Sculpt. Fifty minutes of Pilates was tough with lots of core work and good stretching.

I finished Born to Run the other night and think anyone who runs should read it. True stories about amazing endurance runners are hard to put down. It also ties in anthropology (why we might literally be born to run) and examines the history of running shoes that may be limiting our ability to run without injuries. It mentions Chi Running and other proponents of mid-foot striking and barefoot running. I’m not ready to chuck my shoes (if it ain’t broke…), but the midfoot strike makes sense to me as I up my mileage and try to limit wear-and-tear on my feet.

Since my husband practically cries walking through the living room after running, I’m obsessed with ways to heal and prevent foot/knee injuries. Finding similar answers is what started author/runner Christopher McDougall’s journey that lead to his book, which is now on Scott’s nightstand. I’m trying to get him to deal with his plantar fasciitis instead of just hoping it goes away. Sent him this Chi Running article that has good info on the subject.

McDougall even brings coyotes into his book listing them among animals that can run up to 40 mph, but don’t have endurance. So I’m thinking if I do see one I just have to chase it until it’s tired the way our carnivorous ancestors may have worn out their food on the hunt. Humans evolved to breathe for the long run, while even the speediest animals will tire out.

We didn’t see any wildlife sledding in the soccer field across the street today. Just our 40 mph lab who chased her tennis ball for two hours straight. Hopefully we wore everyone out on this snow day filled with arts, crafts, forts (indoor and outdoor varieties), hide-and-seek, baking cookies, movies and sledding. I’m now totally out of ideas. The munchkins are on their own for entertainment while I pop in a Firm DVD. Time for an outside run tomorrow assuming there are no more wacky shoes on the wall!

Day 71 – On to higher ground

12 03 2010

As we pack to head to Grand Lake in the mountains for the weekend, I squeezed in a 4-mile run in welcomed sunny weather.

I leave you with a great looking book and website that my friend Sylvia posted on Facebook. She knows one of the authors who is from Denver… Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job or Sanity looks like a hilarious blog and book to check out… Happy weekend!