Remember When?

Remember when I used to blog?  

Remember when I used to log miles?

Remember when winter was actually winter?

Well the truth is I can hardly remember any of those things.  Other truths….

Blog:  It’s been busy, the boys have been busy and we’ve been a hustle and bustle of activity, so when I’ve found downtime, I’m pretty much crashing hard.  There hasn’t been too much to say, so I haven’t been saying much.

Log:  My SI joint and hips are still a bit wonky.  It’s not great and it’s not terrible either – it’s still a work in progress.  But I’m still scaling back to just get everything fixed.  This means fewer and slower miles than in recent history and lots of cross training and weight lifting, and trips to the PT.  I’ll write more on the specifics of what I’m doing later this week.

I am the messiest Body Pumper.  140 tricep reps - I died.

I am the messiest Body Pumper. 140 tricep reps – I died.

My mileage has gone down to 10-20 miles a week.  My pace has dropped down 60-90 seconds per mile and I’ve been trying (key word TRYING) to keep it flatter on my runs.  This proves to be difficult in the hilly area where I live.

My last run elevation....pretty much par for the course.

My last run elevation….pretty much par for the course.

That said, I have been able to complete two marathons in 2014.  Too bad they were just How I Met Your Mother marathons on Netflix.

Dear Netflix, I love you and your past season repository....

Dear Netflix, I love you and your past season repository….

I did hit up a local race, but just to voluntear (EAR + Mikey…get it?), not to run at the Run Disney kid’s races last weekend.

So much fun high fiving kids, cheering and handing out these bad boys to little bambinos.

So much fun high fiving kids, cheering and handing out these bad boys to little bambinos.

I’m not going to lie, being around the races made me sad since last year I was in great shape and have avowed my vengeance to Tinkerbell…this year I just feel old, creaky and slow comparatively.

Winter:  Uhhh so compared to the rest of the country, we’ve been unseasonably warm and dry this winter.  This means running at sunset to try and stave off the heat (seriously 80’s mid-day most days lately).  It also means low, slow miles with the boys tagging along on bikes or on their feet.

With no major goals in sight, I’m enjoying being able to spend that workout time with them and not worrying about speed or distance.  It allows time for fabulous conversations like school, life, and wondering about the mysteries of the world such as how much do people fart a day.  Parenting boys is the best.

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What’s your running log been like lately?  



3 mile run
10 mile bike
3 mile run
Strawberry Totin’ Strides

On Thursday night, Strawberry and I had a serious discussion about the upcoming iTryathlon.  He informed me he wants to do the full monte.  I informed him he was crazy.  He informed me it was genetic he was not.  And I challenged him:

Run 3 miles and bike 10 back to back like the race and you can do the Sprint Tri, not the Jr.

Apparently I didn’t take my ginkgo pills that morning because I forgot that stubbornness and tenacity can be passed down from generation to generation with little to no explanation…

Determined say what?

Determined say what?

So Sunday morning, we laced up our shoes, set up a pseudo-transition area in the garage and took off for our first real brick together.


Pseudo-transition area

We had a great time, and I swear the kid hardly complained despite me making the 3 mile run SUPER hilly to mimic the course.  We talked a lot about controlled breathing and I used the slower miles to really focus on my form…which…needs some improvement isn’t the best sucks.

A quick video from our brick can be found here…but mostly I kept gently encouraging him, asking him if he was thirsty and if his legs were sore until he kindly told me to put a sock in it.

One of the best parts had to be coming around our cul-de-sac to see our entourage waiting there with signs encouraging Strawberry on a very difficult training run.  Don’t you wish you had this much support?  I remember coming home from 20-mile runs and no one even lifted their eyes from the TV.  *hrmph*

(Actually this is not true, they would snarkily pick me up in the saggin’ wagon or be waiting to see which carb and sugar goodness I had been dreaming of for hours to indulge us all with).

The best was Chocolate's sign which said, "Run like a man!" - not sure if that was for me or Strawberry...but equally chuckle-worthy.

The best was Chocolate’s sign which said, “Run like a man!” – not sure if that was for me or Strawberry…but equally chuckle-worthy.

We also returned home to find the littles had prepared a delightful recovery plate of beef jerky and milk for us…they must have read my mind to know I was craving both of those items on this hot, sunny morning.

*insert stomach lurching*

I’ve gotta say, I was A: Impressed by how Strawberry really rallied and pulled this training out of his behind and B: Inspired by the support of the family (especially his brothers) as they knew he was pushing it.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if they had the same grace when it came to sharing the sink in the bathroom?

Has a kid ever super impressed you?

What support has meant the most lately?

Confessions of Mother Runner

5 Miles
Sanity Stretching Strides

I often talk about running with the boys and get a lot of head scratches thrown my way, so today I thought I’d share my experience with you.

The Goal:  6 miles around an 8-8:15 pace.

The Start
The boys have been waking up early so I was excited to get a cool, early start while the marine layer was still blessing us with some sweet relief from the sun.  Yet the clock ticked by 6:30, 7, 7:30…until about 8:30 when the last kid woke up.  Seriously dudes, every other day this week you woke up the moment the sun cracked it’s sleepy eyeball awake, but today you choose to sleep in?

Buh-bye marine layer, hello blazin' sun.

Buh-bye marine layer, hello blazin’ sun.

The Wheels
While I was contemplating difficult decisions like which sports bra and shoes to wear, the boys were getting suited up for bike rides.  One kid had a busted bike tire, so I spent a good 5-10 minutes convincing him that scooters are just as awesome as bikes.  I gave it my best Infomercial work and eventually he bought it like a Shamwow!.

The “Run” (let’s use that term loosely)
Mile 1- Somewhere a half mile in (which how we made it this long without a major issue was pretty much a miracle), the two on bikes got their communication chains crossed and one kid ran square into a mail box and went flying off his bike.  Surprisingly the only damage seemed to be a bruised ego.  We recovered & found the bike trail – 1st lecture on bike path etiquette begins.

Mile 2-   Despite my lecture approximately 90 seconds ago (sigh), one child keeps hugging the middle line cheesing off the mega-bikers coming at us.  The “How much longers?” and “Are we going as far as last time’s?” begin.  I start loosing my patience and declare such in a thinly veiled, “Please just listen, I’m losing my patience right now” (I have a knack for subtlety).  After the second “how much further” I resort to bribery #1 – we will stop at the creek and explore for 5 minutes if everyone stops complaining until we get there.

Mile 3- Dead silence until the creek.  Who knew, bribery works?!


Since we didn’t find the Loch Ness monster we opted to head for home and within 30 seconds, Vanilla’s helmet starts losing the plastic layer covering the foam and I wait for his emotional dam to break (he’s not my most patient of the crew).  As I see the cracks form and the whining from all 3 intensify, I bust out bribe #2 – anyone who doesn’t complain the rest of the time can have an ice pop when we get home.

Mile 4:  We’re almost home, but I tell them I want to “show them a new trail” and let them ride their bikes down the wash to buy myself some extra mileage.  I turn around to find Chocolate’s Razor handle twisted the wrong way and have to realign the entire thing while everyone sits on the side of the wash  By the end of the mile, Vanilla is onto my game, “Did you just make us go further by going this way?”.  #busted I pretend to ignore the comment and mutter something about popsicles and being nice to each other.

Mile 5:  In a veiled complaint, one child mentions they would rather be doing something else and I explain sometimes family members should to make sacrifices in their time to help one another.  Visions of ice pops must float through his mind and the conversation ends quickly.

Once gain, the Razor gets misaligned, so we make a pitstop to fix that while I secretly wish my running shorts could fit a wrench because it seems bikes & scooters break down regularly when we’re trying to run together.  I can see we’re losing steam with about .7 mile left to our driveway, so enter Bribe #3.  I promise a nice cold pitcher of iced Nuun when we get home after popsicles – kids choice on the flavor.  I immediately realize I must dash into the door first and pull the caffeinated cherry lime from the box o’ flavas or face the wrath of 3 tasmanian devils tearing through my house for hours on end after imbibing the hydrating goodness.

The Finale:  As promised – popsicles before 10am -desperation to offset the perspiration.

IMG_4146The Finished Product – 40 fingers, 40 toes, 4 heads and zero major injuries.  5.29 miles – and guess what, I accidentally canceled the Map My Run save in my hurry to get the ice pops, so I didn’t even see my splits.  But, from what I had seen we had about 7:45-8:15 splits.  While there were moments of frustration, there were also a lot of giggles, jokes, ridiculous puns and awe-inspired moments as we explored the creek, found birds, and relished in the somewhat complaint laden time with one another.

I know these days where the boys actually are little boys and not grumpy adolescents are slipping through my fingers way too fast.  A little short of my goal for the day, but for a Sunday Runday with kids, we’ll call it a win! 

The End of An Era

5.4 Miles
Sobering Strides

This week has been a hubbub of moving, shaking and general chaos making.  Let’s just say that this lack of sleep, stress, etc. has left me doing crazy things -such as leaving hand prints and butt prints down the windshield of my car from these very late night shennanigans.


Fear not, the car was not in motion. That was the boys’ number one fear when they saw the picture- “How did you hold on Mom!”

I finally got my life pieced together enough (aka I found my underwear – woo hoo!) to head out for a run after about 6 days sans strides.  Since I moved right near a trail (actually the same trail I lived on before, just about 3 miles down from where I used to start), I decided to have the boys grab their bikes for a slow easy run.

I usually spend my time on runs like this going really slow, doubling back and coaxing the boys to bike faster, while I sport some seriously slow splits.

Uh….not today.

IMG_3939This was the closest these little buttheads got to me – they were off running and forcing me to run sub-8 miles in the midday summer heat while I was screaming “SLOW DOWN!” through gasping breaths for 40-some odd delirious minutes…which was not what I was expecting – like at all.

In the end, I realized just how out of shape the last month or so of ‘eh’ attitude have gotten me and collapsed in the front yard of the new place….


This fatigue may have been from the 200 meter race with the kid on the bike and me on my feet, not the actual run. Dang right we tied.

I guess this was evidence that the little boys are growing up.  Soon they’ll be running laps around me, instead of me dragging them down the road….

Have you had any unexpected workouts lately?

First is Worst…

10 Miles
Second Place Strides

First is worst, 
Second is best,
Third is the one…throwing a temper tantrum?

On Monday, the crew and I ran variations of the Laguna Hills Half Marathon, 10k & 5k.

The family that races together....ummm...gets up early together?

The family that races together….ummm…gets up early together?

First Is Worst
Leading up to the event was much dread, anticipation and hype regarding Strawberry running his 5k solo.  After much deliberating, coaxing and coaching…I decided to let him do it.  Mostly because it’s a small local race where he knows the course like the back of his hand and I know a lot of the volunteers.  But also because he was right, he could nail it.

While he didn’t run a PR, to pull off a paced 27 minute 5k solo was amazing.  He was so proud.  He even bumped into Monica on the course who kept him company for a while.  Mostly because gingers have to stick together.

Completely ganked pic from Monica.  Don't worry, I was the photog...

Completely ganked pic from Monica. Don’t worry, I was the photog…

His running solo was the worst….for me!  I was agonizing over it during my race.  Until I felt my phone on my arm (yes it was strapped to my arm) buzz around mile 4 indicating I had a text which I assumed meant one of the targeted friends/family grabbed him at the finish line (instead of a stranger), I was pretty mentally occupied with how he was doing, that and guilt for my behavior at the starting line (see third bold section).

Second is Best
Much to my shock, I pulled a 2nd place overall finish and a PR out of my behind yesterday morning.

Say what?  Who did that?

Say what? Who did that?

Clearly the field wasn’t super deep, so I was able to take advantage of this.  While I didn’t reach my goal of hitting the 42:xx mark – let’s face it, I was lucky to get the 43 and change given I have been basically running with zero speed work for…umm…about 2 months.

Things were peachy keen until about mile 4 when I started to bonk.  Realizing I was solidly in 2nd place didn’t help because I started to slow down a bit more there too easing back from the 6:40-6:50 pace I had been holding (hello 8 minute mile that snuck in there).

At mile 5.5 I asked the volunteer if there was a vomit cleanup ahead.  He laughed thinking I was joking but I was dead serious.  I had spent the whole time regretting the milk in my coffee that morning and whatever else was sloshing around my stomach.

At mile 6 I hated everyone and wondered why 10k’s were invented and why I hadn’t run the 5k and by mile 6.2 I was happy to see the smiling faces of the family at the end watching me gasp for breath like a 3 pack a day smoker climbing up 10 flights of stairs.

Vanilla also nailed a PR on his second race coming with a 32 minute 5k.  He was so thrilled.  We just stood around and kissed our medals to celebrate.  I also won a $15 gift card to Road Runner Sports, so it basically covered almost half my race entry.


Third is the One Throwing a Temper Tantrum
While I have run races with my kids, I have never raced a race while they were running.  This, I learned, falls into the category of bad ideas.  Getting everyone up, to the starting line, while I’m in my jittery mood, was not quite what I expected and I was about as friendly as a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation.  So I may or may not have had a little outburst at the starting line.

My morning' s inspiration: old race coffee mug and a little Stevie Wonder

My morning’ s inspiration: old race coffee mug and a little Stevie Wonder

Long story short, I got everyone ready and jogged 1.5 miles to the start line and couldn’t find anyone as the race was starting.  So I kind of lost it and got snippy about answering cell phones, checking bags on time, etc…you know the important things in life.  Gah! Hindsight really is 20/20.  Whoops.  Luckily the family ignored it and brushed it off as exactly what it was- racetime jitters.

I eventually snagged Strawberry and got him in the 8 minute pace corral (and gave him a 5 minute lecture reminding him of all of the things he knows already) and hopped into my 7 minute part of the corral to set off to race and we all *mostly* survived.

What did you do this Memorial Day Weekend?

Would you ever race and play offensive coordinator for others on race day?

The Zinger

7 miles
Sane Strides

Sometimes you just need a good run with a friend to clear your mind, right?  That was my last run…

Anyway, sometimes life teaches you lessons in short, little, knowledge packed nuggets.  Case in point:  Strawberry has been NAGGING me about running a 5k solo (he’s run about 7 races, so he knows the drill).  I can’t make up my mind about him being ready for it.  So tonight we’re having the 15,238th discussion about said topic.  I am going through all my hesitations (again) and hit one of the biggest ones (yet again).

“What if you blow out of the gate too fast and then burn out and can hardly finish?”


Unhesitatingly he quips out this zinger in a forceful, but emphatic tone:  “Mom, I know what you’ve taught me.  I don’t do that.

Dead silence filled the car as I sit there stunned and speechless (two things that don’t happen very often).

He reinforces the lesson by further explaining, “Mile 1, go comfortable.  Mile 2, get faster.  Mile 3, go even faster and at the end you go as fast as you can.  I can do this mom -you showed me.”

Crap.  Kid’s gotta point.

It’s these kick you in the pants, my kid’s growing up moments that are happening at a quicker pace than I realize and/or want.  For the last 8 years I’ve been next to him guiding, explaining, showing, modeling, and whatever else it takes to prove my point.  But tonight, in this moment, he was reminding me of one thing – he listened – or at least does sometimes, because every time I ask him to clean his room it doesn’t happen.

He’s shuffled next to me running enough times to know exactly what to do and honestly when his little feet hit the pavement, I don’t doubt for a second that he won’t be able to pace himself to get a new PR.

But this goes so far beyond racing, and seeps into every part of life – these precious little bambinos shuffle along beside you and learn (good and bad) how to navigate through this crazy thing called life and at some point, I have to cut the darn cord and let him go out and learn.  I only hope that he doesn’t clink his teeth on his fork like I do, or feel the compulsive need to rant or rave at every driver going under the speed limit…

Some days, he might go out of the gate to fast, other days, he’ll underestimate himself and fall short of his abilities…but the key word here is HE.  He has to do these things and learn.   Me?  I just really have to accept the fact that my role is changing- slowly shifting from doing to coaching.  Exciting?  Yes.  Scary? Worse than a Kardashian thinking of going in front of the camera without makeup.  It’s a slow transition, and I still have a lot of “doing” ahead of me, but these glimpses of the cord cutting, coaching moments only remind me that the days are going too fast.

When was the last time someone zinged you with one sentence?

Are you a too fast out of the gate 5Ker or a chronic underestimator?

How To Ace A Race With Kids – Part II

The other day I discussed the first step in racing with kids – Pick a Race.

Today, we’ll look at the next two steps:  Pick a Place & Pick a Pace

After a mud run...

After a mud run…I thought 3 boys would like this, but they were mostly just cold and didn’t like waiting in line to shower & change before I let them in the car.

Picking a Place
When I talk about “Place” I really mean teaching your kids about race etiquette.  In order for them to really enjoy the experience, I think it’s important for them to have spent some time around races so they know the culture, the crowds, the noise, the expectations.  It helps alleviate the shell shock so when they show up with race day adrenaline pumping through their teeny tiny veins.  They can handle the whole experience better this way.

Potty Talk
One thing I was surprised by (especially as a parent of boys, was the shock of having to stand in line for bathrooms and then…gasp…they smell and are dirty.  Given their propensity to and love for peeing in any bush without question, this was a little surprising.  Also, most racers are willing to let a hippity, hopping, crotch clutching kid cut in line if they really need to go.  Maybe I should bring them to all of my races?

Proof my kids do like each other and get along.  Also at the start of the PCRF 5k Source

Proof my kids do like each other and get along. Also at the start of the PCRF 5k Source

Corral Crowds

By far the most unnerving part is starting in the corral.  In typical fashion, kids just want to go to the front of the line.  This is not the time nor place for you kid to be the line leader (unless it’s a kid’s race or they are running a 14-18 minute 5k).

Yes I know it’s exciting, yes I like being there too, but I usually have a conversation that goes something like this:

“Honey, see that man who looks like a praying mantis he’s so tall and lean and is wearing a pair of shorts that is smaller than most of the diapers you wore? Yes, honey, he’s going to be eyeing the finish line before you even hit mile marker 1, so let’s let him go in front. kthanksbye.”

Vanilla running a kids run

Vanilla running a kids run

It’s also a matter of safety:  the first 1/4 to 1/2 mile of a race is everyone trying to get into their pace, break free from the crowds, etc.  It’s really easy for focused runners to not see the pint-sized competitors and trip over them causing a major safety hazard in a crowded start.

Cool Rules
Also make sure kids know the rules in advance:  stay on the course, don’t dart from side to side tripping up other runners, etc.  By now, I am making this sound like an awful lot of fun, eh?  My writing is probably coming across like Charlie Brown’s teacher, but there are also some other rules I teach my kids as well…

Laguna Hills Marathon Chocolate

Chocolate running a 1k when he was 3

Laugh, Laugh, Laugh – this is fun…make jokes, raise your hands and yell how far you’ve gone at the mile markers (my favorite is to do the Count from Sesame Street at each mile marker….”One! One mile…hah hah hah hah!”)

-Water Days – I’ll never forget the first time my kids each hit a water station and I explained they could take a sip and THROW the cup to the side on the ground.  Then I explained you could even pour the water on your own head (not anyone else’s unless you ask first).  The giggles, smiles and memories that come from the water tables are probably the best of the race (other than the finish line of course).

And now for the last and probably simplest rule:  Pick your Pace.

By nature, kids push boundaries- that’s what they were designed to do.  They will want to go out sprinting and will die about 1/4 of a mile in, and they have a long way to go…ensure that they aren’t going gangbusters too early- especially their first few races.  As Strawberry has gotten more experienced, I’ve noticed he can usually hold his own pace…but sometimes I need to just get him slowed down out of the gate (uh, he clearly gets this from his mother).

Photo courtesy of Heather

Photo courtesy of Heather.  What? You didn’t know there were Team Gab mini-dresses? #mommyneedslongershorts

If you can get another adult to help split kids into groups that run a similar pace – I could not recommend this more.

Push vs. Pull
Now comes the part, I struggle the most with – where do you go from challenging and encouraging your kids to pushing them.  At the PCRF 5k, I was running with two kids who have entirely different abilities.  It was so frustrating.  I was having to hold one back and try not to push the other one too far.  Apparently my “You’re amazing, you can do this, just a little bit further honey’s!” were too much because at mile 2.25 he yells,


At the finish line Source

At the finish line – not annoyed now are we? Source

Each kid is different – some need a little external motivation, others do juuuust fine on their own.  Just remember, at the finish line, you don’t want them to hate you.

Stop vs. Go
Also remember that your kid might want to stop or walk for a few minutes.  Be sure to pull them to the side to do this.  Also, while the event us super memorable, don’t run ahead and stop to take pictures if the course is crowded.  Not only can it annoy some racers, but can actually be very dangerous and create a tripping hazard resulting in a domino effect tripping & falling fiasco.

Do you cheer for kids on the course?

What’s the most amazing kid racing situation you’ve witnessed?

I always like watching kids push it at the end – they truly understand how to give it their all and do it moreso than most adults, so I could watch the last 100 yards of a 5k with kids  I wish I could bottle that tenacity up and pour it in my coffee every morning!