March Marathon Training — Relay Style

My training run this weekend was 19 miles.  19 Miles!  I have discovered something that really helps my long training runs fly by.  I beg/coerce/ask my family members to accompany me.  This week, Shandy, Eden, and Brett did training for  a marathon relay, and I was the baton.

Shandy started out, running 5.5 miles down the canyon with me.  We scared a herd of deer, listened to a flock of wild turkeys, and passed 6 runners running up the canyon.  Then, I ran by myself for a few miles while he and Brett went to collect the car.

Next, Eden ran 4 miles with me along our regular route.  That was a real pick-me-up, because she was fresh and full of energy and I was only halfway through.  She pushed me hard to keep going strong (and keep up with her.)

Finally, Shandy brought Brett out to my turn around point and picked Eden up to take her home.  Brett ran the last 4 miles along with me.  He was very happy, because he said finally he and I had the same energy level on a run!  The only bad thing that happened this whole run was that Shandy forgot my last fuel, so I ran the last 7 miles without any re-fuel or water.  It turned out all right, and really, I think I could have finished a marathon this weekend!  Too bad the one I am scheduled for is so far away.  Here I am at the end:  doesn’t it look like I could run or at least hobble 7 more?

Do you have running partners?  How do you beg/borrow/steal long runs?  Have a great Monday.  Stay tuned tomorrow for a great hiking weekend with kids story.


Marathon-in-a-Month Update and Spring at the Pond

We are nearly halfway through March, and the kids and I completed mile 9 today of their Marathon-in-a-month.  They will need to do some longer “runs” to be able to finish up by the end of March.  Fortunately, the weather has been beautiful the last few days, and they are enjoying their time outside.  We went to do our marathon miles today at a local pond which we haven’t visited since last fall.

It is definitely spring — the first turtle I have ever seen in Utah was sunning himself on a rock.

One of my goals as a parent and homeschooler is to teach my children to be excellent observers, especially of the natural world.  Imagine how happy I was when Lulu and Max raced ahead and then shouted back to me excitedly, “Mom, a turtle!”  We had to throw a little rock toward it in the water to make sure it was really alive.  It scrambled down into the pond, but was up sunbathing again by the time we made our second loop.

Lulu also spotted some cattails that were accessible without getting too muddy, and they had fun blowing them apart.

We also had to do a little tree climbing.

We also saw a beaver corpse.  That was really sad.  We had never seen live beavers at this pond, and we certainly didn’t want to see a dead one.  It was interesting to get a close up view of a beaver tail, however.  I took a picture — but I won’t share it with you.  It was a tiny bit gruesome.

Needless to say, our running time was slow: about 45 minutes for two and a half miles.  The goal however, is enjoyment, and we certainly reached our goal.

Hope you can get outside and enjoy spring!

Kids Running: Our Marathon-in-a-Month

I love running so much, that I have wanted to share the experience with my kids.  Running has helped me manage depression and anxiety, migraine headaches and stress.  It makes me feel good and healthy.  So far, Eden is training for a half marathon, and Brett runs with her on her runs up to 5 miles.  But I wanted the little kids to start running, too.  So we set a goal that during 2012, we would run a “Marathon – in – a – Month.”

The first time Lucy told someone she was going to run a marathon, she got a funny look.  But she is!  26.2 miles in one month.  Since the weather was beautiful, and Lucy got new running shoes last week, we decided to start today.  We went to our favorite walking path, and did 1 1/2 miles running and walking.

I was amazed at how far Max could run before starting to walk.

It was a great start to our mini marathon.  Hope you are enjoying your day!

Running Outside and Fixing Our Nature Deficit

I had a breakthrough moment this morning as I got ready for my run.  I have been reading The Nature Principle by Richard Louv, and he describes people as going out to nature for their exercise, and then dulling their senses by blocking their ears with Ipods or other media.  When I read this, I realized that I was guilty of that myself.  Instead of going on my early morning runs with ears and mind wide open, I have been building a barrier between myself and the restoration that being outside brings by listening to podcasts or a playlist while I run.

I have known for a long time that being outside is restorative for me, but since the days have been shorter and the weather colder, I have been lacking motivation when I go outside for my long runs.  I decided today to try running without any noise in my ears again, although I took along my music and earphones “just in case.”  I had a great run.  I didn’t see any wonderful wildlife, and the birds were not singing, but I was able to listen to the movement of the air, and listen to my breathing as a way to improve my running.  I also was able to concentrate my attention on some work problems that needed resolved.

I will be reviewing The Nature Principle here soon, and telling you more about my thoughts on nature deficit disorder.  In the meantime, let me share some other ideas we have used lately to get outdoors:

  • Walking when the moon is full.  We went on a moonlit walk on Monday at one of our favorite walking paths.  The kids spotted Casseopeia and Orion, and we talked about Betelgeuse and Rigel and why some stars are red and others are blue.  We also scared up a few ducks — literally, they were very scared.
  • Hiking to look at ice at some of our favorite spots.
  • Lunch at the park.  This is wonderful because the park is empty this time of year, so the kids can have the equipment to themselves if they want, or wander around playing hide and seek or other invented games.  I take along a blanket to wrap up in(along with my coat) and a book, and enjoy half an hour of winter sunbathing while the kids run around and enjoy themselves.  This is especially wonderful if you have hot soup to take for lunch.

Hope you are able to be outdoors a little this winter.  Do you have a suggestion for us?  Please leave a comment.

Along with Self Discipline: Live a Life of Exertion

I recently read this poem called “Men Untrained to Comfort” by Wendell Berry.  It made me think about how self sparing our society has become, and how important it is to instead spend oneself in work and play to live a life well.

Jane Addams described the life of ease and idleness which was the fate of most of her class of women as comparable to eating a sweet pastry before breakfast every morning.  In our society, that same life is available to people of all walks of life.   In Addams time, women of a wealthy class were condemned to spending their lives in embroidery, “visiting” and other activities which she did not view as important.  But now, people spend their leisure time, of which most of us have 5 or 6 hours per day, in front of the television, numbing our brains and watching other people live.  Just like eating that sweet pastry before breakfast, it dulls the appetite with unwholesome food and leaves a feeling of inertia and lack of energy.

What, then, would be like a wholesome breakfast that would energize us for the work at hand?  For our family, we have found that physical activity such as running or hiking, leaves us energized to work hard at other tasks.  During the time we are running, the mind “free-wheels” relaxing and brainstorming so that ideas flow freely.  Often, I come home from a run with all sorts of new creative ideas, and the energy to pursue them.  While that may seem counter-intuitive, ask almost any runner and they will tell you the same.  The run actually leaves them with more physical energy.  Hiking does the same thing to a greater extent because being out in nature is rejuvenating in itself, and compounded with the extra physical activity, leads to more energy.

Just as many people in our society do not have an appetite for a breakfast of oatmeal, but would gladly have a donut and coffee on their way to work, it requires self discipline to eat our “wholesome breakfast” of physical activity.  When the alarm rings to roll us out of bed, we have to require of ourselves to get out of bed.  But just as a wholesome breakfast is not enough to carry you through the day, continued self-exertion is at the heart of a happy life.  Of course it takes effort to choose a task and complete it, but the reward is a feeling of satisfaction that is not available in any other way.

What motivates me to self-exertion is thinking about the end of my life.  I think about whether I will be glad to think back on having watched several documentaries about summiting Everest, or if I would rather think about the time I climbed the mountain closest to my home.  Will I be happy to remember the sitcoms that I watched, or would it be better to look back on quilts that I made for my children.  I am convinced that only a life of action will leave me fulfilled at the end.  I imagine a grandchild asking me “What did you do?” and I want to have DONE something.

Are you a stay at home mom?  Lucky you!  Instead of letting the television keep you company and sap your strength and energy, why not choose some extra task you can do  with your children today?  Why not make cookies for Daddy when he comes home from work?  Take the time to play with your children at a park.  Get every room in the house cleaned.  Choose a difficult book to read for your own education, read it sitting at the table and taking notes.  Work hard!

Are you a working mom?  I know you come home tired from work.  But try out the energy building qualities of exertion.  Get started on a task that won’t take too long, and you will find when you have finished, that you have energy to go on to another task.  Set a timer and wash dishes for twenty minutes.  Iron 4 shirts.  Fold one load of laundry.

How much better to spend our time working hard at something!  Jane Addams started Hull House and devoted her life to social reform.  While this may not be an option we would desire to pursue, could we find an activity to work hard at and really give meaning to our lives?  Instead of watching others act, could we act ourselves?

First Marathon Registration

Just a quick post today — I just registered for my first marathon!!!  The Utah Valley Marathon on June 9, 2012.  I am very excited!

Shandy registered for the half marathon the same day.

Come race with us 🙂

Talk to you soon!

The Value of Running Partners — and a Quick Soup Recipe

This is what we looked like after our run today.

This picture should be  called Eden and I and the Non-Participant.  Yes, he ran.  Yes, it was a good run.  No, he doesn’t want you to know about it.  Eden and I ran four miles because she is starting to train for her first half-marathon next summer.  Our mouths are hanging open because we were trying to show you how we could see our breath (it was only 32 degrees) but we couldn’t catch it in the picture.

I guess I was boinging after my run today.  It is wonderful to have a running partner to help get you out of the house.  When you’ve both got up and got dressed for your run, you can kick each other out the door.  As a parent,  I am excited about setting a good exercise example for my kids.  Having them as running partners is a blast.

Yesterday’s run was even better — I ran 11.4 with negative splits (last miles faster than first miles.) If you can get yourself out the door, the temperatures are great to run in right now.

I also made this great soup yesterday.  I got the recipe out of Runner’s World magazine, and juiced it up a little bit.

Tomato Chickpea Soup with Pesto


2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, peeled and chopped

1/2 bunch celery, washed well and chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

64 ounces tomatoes

1 quart water

2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

basil pesto for serving

Saute onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil in a large stock pot until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, water, salt and Italian seasoning and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, then add chickpeas.  Cook for about 10 minutes more, allowing flavors to blend.  Serve with a scoop of basil pesto on top.  This was a delicious, quick, lunchtime soup.

Hope you enjoy your day.

Snow Canyon Half Marathon 2011

Today I ran my first half marathon.  It was a beautiful, fast, downhill course and I ran 1:58:33 — pretty certainly my fastest time for the distance ever, even though I don’t keep good track when I am doing my training runs.

This is me after I found Shandy at the finish line.  I had told him I hoped to finish in two hours, and in the few minutes faster I ran, he missed seeing me cross the finish line.  I was very disappointed, and so was he.

I had a huge blister on my left foot that started to hurt just as I came around the track to the finish line.  I was very pleased with my race and can’t wait to do it again soon!

Why I Love to Run

As I stated in my “About” post, running has been a catalyst for change in my life.  I have always considered myself a fairly fit and strong person.  Before I began running, it was not uncommon for me to hike 10 to 12 miles in a day, and my usual exercise was a 3 mile walk.  I began running thinking it would be a way to get in better shape for backpacking trips, which we started doing last year.  After all, I felt like my walks hardly raised my heart rate.  I started very slowly with a home-made couch to 5k program that worked for me.  I ran my first 5k – that is, not the race, but the distance without stopping – in July of last year.  Running just really took off for me after that.  By November, I was running distances of 10 miles.

The changes came not just in my looks, although I was shocked to drop nearly 20 pounds and 4 dress sizes without dieting.  To the contrary, I was eating more than ever before.  But the desire to properly fuel my runs has really changed my diet.  I completely gave up soft drinks.  I hadn’t been a big pop drinker since college, but I gave it up altogether for lots and lots of water.  Then, I nearly completely gave up alcoholic beverages because I noticed a lack of energy on running mornings after I had alcohol the evening before.  I noticed that meat does not agree with my digestive system if I am running frequently.  We have become 90 percent vegetarian.  The next step is weaning myself off of sugar – that is going to be seriously difficult.

Another change has been in my outlook.  I get far fewer headaches or bouts of depression when I run.  I am excited looking at my pictures because I realize I am making changes every day that help me to be closer to the person I really want to be.  Running has helped me to feel more in control and powerful.  If I can run, I can CHANGE THE WORLD! Or at least my world.

This spring, Shandy and I ran together our first race.  It was a 15k (9.3 miles) in Midway.  The highlight of the race was a mile and a half long pull up Memorial Hill.  It was so exhilarating to make it up the hill passing people who had stopped to walk.  And then we got to fly back down!  We ran a 5k with my work Healthy Lifestyles program along with our two oldest kids in the summer.  And I have had the racing bug badly ever since.

I was not able to train for a marathon this year.  By the time I decided to train, there were few races left nearby, and the one I really wanted to run was on a weekend I really couldn’t run it.  And every time I extended my mileage, I got an injury that needed some time for recovery.  So I put off marathon training for next year.

Today, we ran a 10k in Orem.  It was to benefit the Hale Center Theater in Orem, and it was another fun experience.  We ran down a steep hill to begin the first 2 miles and then had to come back up another part of that hill to the finish line.  Shandy had to run away from me at the end, beating my time by over a minute.  I ran the fastest time I have run yet, averaging an 8:20 mile and finishing in 50:33.  We both finished first in our age group, although I was about 7 minutes behind the overall winners.

Next week we are going to St. George for me to run my first half marathon!  Although I have run the distance many times, I am certainly nervous about finishing.  I have to concentrate on not going out too fast!

Tomorrow: a great race recovery soup recipe:  Vegetarian Mulligatawny.