Moms RUN San Jose

For Moms who run, by Moms who run…Moms RUN this Town!

Making the time…

Life is so busy and pulls you in so many directions it is easy to feel guilty about taking time to go for a run. Take it from this running mama it is worth the time!  Exercise is not just important for my physical well-being…I find that I’m a better mom, wife, friend, and employee — more energetic, more patient, less stressed, generally just happier — when I make time for running in my life.

When my daughters were little, running was a way to be sure that I got in some much-needed alone time on longer runs and something we could share on shorter runs. Whether they were in the jogger stroller, enjoying time in the park as I ran circles around them, “playing” water station for me or cheering for me at the end of the race I was happy that they were part of my running journey.   It has been and continues to be very important to me to be a role model for them so that they learn the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. It makes me happy to see them incorporating exercise and outdoor activities as a part of their “adulting”.

I love it when my daughters start talking about childhood memories that include:

Mom, remember when we ran that 5k and you carried B on your back most of the way?”

“Remember that race when it rained the whole time and we wore trash bags and we got so cold we couldn’t feel our fingers?”

Running also opens the door to experience a special connection with other runners and running communities like MRTT. Words cannot express how important this has been in my life. Running has been a conversation starter on so many occasions. Runners love to talk to runners even if we do not know them. It feels like an automatic kinship is created. Seeing other runners makes me smile and yes I am one of those dorky running mamas that gives a wave, thumbs up, or shout out of encouragement.  For me running has built closer bonds with friends I run with, my husband, and my daughters.

Making the time when there was not time was often my saving grace to hang on to my sanity. Sometimes it is important to just pound the pavement, track or trails and BREATHE!

Now it is a goal, something to reach for and keep me on the road to recovery so that I can experience the feel of the run again. The determination that pushes you to complete 26.2 comes in handy now as I take on rehabilitation from a hip fracture and spinal fusion. Never say Never!

Excuse me now as I make the time for my daily walk to recovery!

Run Smiling!

 

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It’s been so long…I can’t even think of a good title….

Hello and Welcome to the 1st blog post of 2014!!

Are you still out there, oh, loyal followers?  I hope so!

It’s been 9 months since I had my 3rd child and 9 months since the San Jose Chapter of MRTT celebrated it’s 1 year birthday (yeah, I timed it that way!  =) And I gave myself 9 months to get “adjusted” to life as a mom of 3…well,the time has come so I am BACK!!

But changed…being a mom of 3 is definitely harder than being a mom of 2…don’t let your friends fool you! They say the transition from 1 to 2 is the most difficult but I beg to differ. I’ve definitely had to rearrange priorities to accommodate having two school age children and an infant.  And yes, the baby does just go everywhere – ballet class, gymnastics class, piano class, art class – and he probably doesn’t get as much floor time or reading time as my older kids, but I like to think he is still learning things and having fun.

I’ve been back to running since I was about 3 months postpartum due to having a c-section.  But even that hasn’t been the same. I’ve run a few 5Ks , did the Title 9K again (great race!) and did the Mermaid Serena 10-miler.  I even did the Warrior Dash again! However my “Inner Competitor” seems to be missing.  All those races I did “just because” – just because a bunch of my lovely running mamas were also running it, just because I had committed to it last year, just because the price was right to do a race I hadn’t done before.

But I haven’t felt the need improve my speed or increase my distance.  With all the hormone changes that comes with pregnancy, not to mention all the stress of daily life, running has been enjoyable but not FUN!!  Like life with 3 kids – enjoyable but not FUN!!  It’s become something I “have” to do. And yes, when I do it, I like it.  But if it wasn’t for my Moms RUN this Town group, I wouldn’t have run as many miles as I have postpartum.

Now some of you might say, “That’s OK! Just enjoy the run!”  You are probably the same people who say, “Don’t worry about the dishes or laundry! Just enjoy the time you  have with your kids!”  And while I do feel/think this way for the most part, I also know that the dishes need to get washed and the laundry needs to be done – it’s hard to enjoy your kids when they don’t have any underwear….

So, with 2014 already underway, I am on a quest to find my Inner Competitor…not because I am a competitive person, but because I want to my “drive” back!  I want to find that passion that I had when I first started running.  So with that being said….

I signed up for a marathon!!  Oh yes…I am BACK!!!

How true! Now to figure out that name of this little baby….

How true! Now to figure out that name of this little baby….

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Books from Bug Virtual Race

Virtual races seem all the rage right now.  You can run a virtual race any time, any where – that’s the beauty of it! If you’re going to run the distance anyway, might as well get a medal for it, right?  One of my favorite sites for virtual races is the Fit4Life Race Series – great bling and they have tons of virtual races to keep you motivated if bling is your thing!

This past Thursday, August 15, 2013, the San Jose Chapter of Moms RUN this Town participated in a virtual race started by one of our virtual members.  I call her a virtual member because she lives in Washington, but really, Crissy is a true San Jose Mother Runner!  She’s one of those runners who travels for races and she’s been down to the SJ area enough that she qualifies to be one of us.  Now, if you ask her, Crissy will tell you she’s “just a wogger” but Crissy is much more than that!  Crissy is one of our most inspirational members! She created the Books from Bug Virtual Race to honor the memory of her daughter, Halleigh, who passed away due to epilepsy when she was 14 years old after battling the disease from the age of 8.  Crissy has also run 34 half marathons in 22 months to remember her precious, Bug.  All the proceeds from this virtual go to buying books which are then donated to hospitals, schools, libraries, shelters and other places to benefit kids age 3-14.  Since Crissy started the Books from Bug Virtual Race, books have been donated to facilities in 8 states and 2 countries.  Such is the power of a mother runner’s love!

As a mom who has also lost children, I know how devastating it can be….the sadness of losing  someone who you birthed can be paralyzing and numbing.  For me, running was what started me moving again. The simple “left foot, right foot” movement kept my sadness from totally consuming me and allowing me to move forward – not running away from the pain, but each footstep a way to honor my babies, my empty arms and make meaning of that pain.

For our Books from Bug Virtual Run, we had 7 mamas come out and run.  It was a beautiful summer day and we met at great park with an out and back running trail.  We each went our own pace, did our own miles and in our own way, honored Halleigh and all the babies and children who have left us too soon.

Our lovely mamas and kiddos after our run! Plus, the awesome medal and swag.

Our lovely mamas and kiddos after our run! Plus, the awesome medal and swag.

“Running in the New Normal”   for Lucas and Larissa, written Sept 2006.

Running through the Fall

Leaves crunch under my feet

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot

Steady rhythm

Like a heartbeat

or the flap of (angel) wings.

I think about my babies

Born too early, born too small.

They will never feel the crisp autumn air

Or see the brilliant golds and reds against

a cloudless blue sky.

I have to see for them

Feel for them

A memory of lost opportunities

Lost What Ifs

Lost Possibilities

Lost Little Lives

How can I go on?

Left right, left right

Through the pain

Left right, left right

Through the sad beauty of death

Lack-luster red and gold beneath my feet.

I look up, I look ahead

Trusting that this season will pass

Leaves crunch under my feet

Left right, left right

And I move forward.

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From the mouth of babes…

I was putting my 4 year old daughter to bed last night and we had this conversation:

Me: OK, time to sleep. You have school tomorrow.

Her: Why do I have to go to school tomorrow?

Me: Because that’s what kids do.  Kids go to school and grown ups go to work.

Her: You don’t go to work.

Me: I go to work. I just work in the home. Some grown ups work outside the home like in the office, but I work in the home.  I clean and do laundry and go grocery shopping. I make sure our  family has everything it needs to do all the fun things we do. Like going to school.

Her: No, Mom. You just go running.

********

OK…so….

Several thoughts run through my head during this exchange:

1) Maybe I should stop doing all my cleaning, cooking, etc. “behind the scenes” i.e. when my kids aren’t around so they know that I am actually the one doing these things and not some magical elves.

2) This is the response I get for not going back to work after moving to CA. Am I not being a good role model – that a woman can work IN the home and still have value?

3) My daughter sees me as a runner – YES!!!

4) But she thinks that all I do is running – hmmmm…

I am much more than a runner.  But truth be told, I would rather run than clean the bathroom or do laundry or go grocery shopping.  And there have been days when I have decided to extend my run and my family ended up eating leftovers for dinner.  I think I am a much better runner than I am a housekeeper or cook.

Runner, however, does make me a better mom and wife. My mood is better after a run and I have more energy to do all the cleaning and cooking and listening and caring and driving and everything else that comes with the title of “mom and wife”.

One of my favorite things about running is being able to enter a race and get a medal or some other type of recognition, for all the time and effort I had put in to prepare for the race and finish it on my own terms.

Maybe when my kids are grown, they’ll give me a medal and say, “Great job, Mom!”

And maybe if I finish 1st in my age group, they’ll even give me a tech shirt…

 

 

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It’s the end of the world as we know it….

And I feel fine….(REM, “It’s the End of the World”)

It is officially midnight on 12/21/12 EST…and nothing has happened…yet…

While I don’t think the entire world is going to blow-up today, I do know that feeling of the world changing around you and feeling overwhelmed by it – of realizing that the world, as I knew it, is no more.

This has happened a few times in my life.

Some were like that rogue wave in “A Perfect Storm”, engulfing and obliterating me. Like after the death of my daughter and son, twins born at 22 weeks; beautiful children born too early who couldn’t breathe on their own due to their premature lungs.

Some were more like an epiphany that changed how I saw myself, my life. Like the first time I was able to run for 5 miles without stopping and actually enjoying the run.  It was the first time that I told people, “Yeah, I went for a run today”. The first time someone called me a “runner”.

I think being a runner is a good way to prepare for end of the world – especially if the end of the world involves a zombie invasion.  (Don’t believe me – check out this article from ZombiePreparedness.org.  Yeah, I know – I didn’t realize there was even such a site as this until I googled it for this blog!!)

I know being a runner helped me to get through the death of my kids.  Being a runner also helped me to rebuild my life after moving across the country (thanks, Moms RUN this Town! Don’t believe me – check out this article from Timeout with T9)

So, whatever this day brings, I know that I will eventually lace up my sneakers and make my way outside for a run. It might be a run through the ruins of my part of the world, or to search for food, or to elude the zombies that have made their way into my house.

Or (hopefully, most likely) it would be a slow, thoughtful, grateful run for all the things that have happened in my life to get me to the place I am at this moment in time.

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The Treadmill – A Love/Hate Relationship

Did you notice how I left you kinda hanging at the end of that last post?  That’s because my mom always told me, “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!”

It’s not that I don’t have any nice things to say about running on the treadmill. I do. It’s just that there isn’t much for me to say.

[I have would included a picture of a treadmill here,

but I couldn’t find one that I liked.]

When I first started running it was on a treadmill at a local gym…because I was too embarrassed to be seen running outdoors. And by running I mean, walking really fast and then stopping to catch my breath.  I remember having a tape of military cadences that I would listen to on my walkman and trying to match my stride to the beat. It was inspiring to think that other people – in my mind, strong, determined soldiers – would run miles hearing these cadences. I would pretend that I was one of them instead of an overweight newlywed.

Eventually, I did transition to running outdoors and fell in love with the feel of air on my skin, the smell of grass and cows, the sight of the blue sky playing peekaboo between branches of tall trees, and hearing my footsteps thud against hard packed earth.

Even though, sometimes, the “scenery” at the gym can be good to look at, the smells, the heat, the sounds (you know what I mean!), the monotony of running on the treadmill, just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

I do still run on the treadmill but only under certain circumstances:

  1. I have to be at the gym to do another type of work out (like weights or a group class like yoga).
  2. I am not familiar enough (or comfortable enough) with an area to run outside by myself.

Notice how bad weather isn’t one of those circumstances?

I am in awe of people who can run mile after mile, hour after hour on a treadmill. Secrets of a Running Mom blogged about another mom, Kathy Sebright who ran for eight (8!!) hours on a treadmill while her son was having brain surgery.  That is strength and determination personified.

As a runner who became a mother, I’ve learned, you don’t really need some drill sergeant yelling at you to get you moving one foot in front of the other.  We find our inspiration and motivation from the parts of our lives that matter.

 

 

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Blame it on rain…yeah, yeah….

(Ok – for those of you who are not Children of the 80s, it’s lyrics from a Milli Vanilli song.)

It has been raining here in SJ, pretty steadily since Wednesday.  So, what does that mean?

Water to make our brown hills green? Yes!

The beginning of California’s version of “winter”? Yes!

This mama running her usual weekly mileage? Heck no!

No running in the rain for me!  Last time, I went running in the rain, I ended up with chafing so bad that I swore, I would never run in the rain unless it started to rain after I started to run.  And if that happened, I would promptly end my run, look for cover and call for a ride home.

Can you tell I am not that hard-core?

It looks like it's all fun and games splashing in the rain but try running 5+ miles in it...

It looks like it’s all fun and games splashing in the rain but try running 5+ miles in it…

Yes, I know, I have some of you fooled (or at least I like to think I do), but since becoming a mom, I find it somewhat difficult to be “hard-core” about anything.

Now, I know there are moms out there who are hard-core runners.  These moms get up at 4 AM, rain or shine, to run their 5-10-15 miles before their family wakes up.  These moms bring their running gear on vacation.  These moms run an 8 minute mile…with the double jogger.  I know some of these moms and they totally AMAZE and INSPIRE me.

But, I’ve come to accept that I am not that type of mother runner.  Yes – I have brought my running gear on vacation, but they have usually stayed in my luggage.  I’ve even been up in the wee hours of the morning to run, but that’s like a once a week thing (although my record for early morning runs was 3 in the same week. I did feel like a hard-core runner that week, then realized that some people might not consider 6:30 as a “wee hour of the morning”).

I love to run, but I love other things more.  Like sleeping in. Or spending time with my family. Or chocolate. Or staying dry, watching the rain fall against the window while sipping a warm cup of strawberry tea.

But what about the treadmill, you ask?  Good question!!

Did I tell you about that beautiful rainbow I saw?

Somewhere over the rainbow, there's a treadmill waiting for me...

Somewhere over the rainbow, there’s a treadmill waiting for me…

 

 

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Daylight Savings Time

Today we turn our clocks back and gain an extra hour.  What did you do with that extra hour?

As a mom and runner – there are SO many things that I could have done with that extra hour.

  • I could have run 5 easy miles.
  • I could have cleaned my bathrooms and done a load of laundry.
  • I could sorted through some of my kids’ clothes and gotten at least three bags to give away to charity.
  • I could have baked cookies.
  • I could have done some a half hour of strength training and a half hour of yoga.
  • I could have called/emailed some friends who I haven’t connected with in a while.
  • I could have played tea party bowling with my kids.

The list could go on and on! Did I do any of those things? NOPE! I slept in!

That’s not really a picture of me sleeping. If it was, there would be drool and much messier hair!

Now, I could feel guilty about this, but I’ve had somewhat of a difficult month between having visitors for practically all of October, being sick AND doing the Rock n Roll half marathon and the Warrior Dash.

For some people, that might not be a lot.  And after the devastation that Hurricane Sandy left on the East Coast, I know that in the grand scheme of things, this month is really not a hardship compared to having no electricity or being flooded out of my home.  But for me,  this was a particularly exhausting month.

So I rested and regrouped and like the clocks today – I reset.

 

 

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It’s not a tumor!

I’ve always loved that line from “Kindergarten Cop” said in typical Arnold Schwarzenegger fashion.

I’ve come to appreciate it more now as a mom.  We’ve all had one (or more) of those headache-y days!

So, I’ve been MIA.  It’s not a tumor, but for a runner and mother, it might be considered something much worse.

It’s the “post race slump” (hereinafter referred to as “PRS”) – you know, that time after a race, where you feel totally unmotivated to run.  And unmotivated to do anything else for that matter – like laundry or making dinner.

Maybe it’s just me, but…

I’m in it…deep…

It’s been almost 2 weeks since the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon.  And I finished in great time (only 4 minutes off my goal off 2:30, even with a 1 minute walk at every mile)!  But since then I’ve only run 8 miles (2 -4 mile runs).

Those runs were last week when I felt like I was still recovering from the race and enjoying some low mileage easy runs. I took a break from my usual routine of cleaning/laundry for the week as a “reward to myself” for running a half marathon.  I made easy dinners as part of that reward (you know, the kind using “phone and delivery helper” – kind of like “hamburger helper” but without the cooking).

Also, you may recall that the few weeks prior to the race was difficult for me after my “Week of Gluttony” and then trying to “cram” two weeks of training into one.  Now, that I have accomplished my goal, I feel as if I am entering the “Week of Sloth”.  Without a race to train for, I feel all my energy and motivation have gone.  It’s like reaching the top of a mountain and not even having the energy to roll back down the other side or even stand there and enjoy the view.

True, I have the Nor-Cal Warrior Dash at the end of the month.  And I did sign up for it because

(1) I haven’t done an obstacle course mud run before

(2) I heard it was a lot of fun AND you get a cool Viking Helmet AND it’s for St. Jude hospital

(3) Did I mention the furry Viking hat with HORNS?

(4) I knew that if I didn’t have another race, I would get the PRS

However, a mud run, doesn’t have the same training requirements as a half marathon does.  OK – the obstacles do look tough, but hey – I ran 13.1 miles, I can crawl under barbed wire, no problem!

Maybe it’s because doing laundry, making spaghetti and refereeing between a 2 and a 4 year old doesn’t give the same adrenalin boast as running does.

Being a mom does require mental toughness and physical endurance, but it’s on-going and seemingly, never ending.  Completing a race gives that sense of accomplishment – once you cross the finish line and check you time, you are done.  You can rest.

There is no mom finish line. There is never a time when you are “done”.  There is no “rest”.

Maybe PRS exists for me because having a “post mom slump” isn’t an option.  Maybe my body is tired and telling me I deserve to take a break. Or maybe it’s just an excuse to sit on my butt and eat Beard Papa cream puffs.

Whatever it is – I hope it ends soon.  I actually like running and being active and having energy. I like making home-cooked meals and having clean clothes.  I like playing football-tea party-dress up-school with my kids.

Any suggestions for a cure? ‘Cuz these Beard Papa cream puffs are totally not the cure-all I thought they would be.

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Becoming Brave

Yes – B is the 2nd letter of the alphabet!

It’s taken me a while to write this post, even though I’ve had the idea (and the title) for a while. I don’t usually think of myself as being brave.  I’ve reserved that word for soldiers, police officers, fire fighters (actually, anyone in emergency services), and explorers.  And on this, the eve of the 11th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I don’t want to take lightly those who are truly Brave.  These are the ones who run towards danger instead of away from it, risking their lives to save others – those people exhibit true Bravery.

But for the sake of this blog post, please allow me to continue with this “becoming brave” – with a little b – theme.

A Google search revealed this:

brave/brāv/

Adjective:
Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
Noun:
People who are ready to face and endure danger or pain.
Verb:
Endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear: “we had to brave the heat”.
Synonyms:
adjective.  courageous – gallant – valiant – bold – plucky – valorous
verb.  defy – dare – challenge – face – beard

As a runner, I can definitely say that I have been “ready to face and endure pain”.  Just ask anyone who just started a C25K program.  Or someone who is following a training plan and sees that their long run for the week is in the double digits.

Although the word “ready” can be subjective.  Are we ever “ready” to face unpleasant conditions?  Especially ones that we may not know the exact nature of what they may be?

Being a mother is like this.  Sure you can read all the “What to expect” books, but you never really know what being in labor would be like or what having a c-section would be like.  You never really know what pain and joy you will endure – that you are willing to endure for the rest of your life – when that little person is placed in your arms for the 1st time.  Being a parent requires bravery to love despite hurts, to set limits, to be a good example of what it means to be a contributing member to our society.  It takes courage to be a good parent.

Being a runner requires courage as well, but in a different form since self-discipline is often harder to enforce than discipling others.  (Yes, I am talking about myself and how I would tell the kids no cookie butter before dinner than sneak a spoonful myself.  I’ve confessed but I don’t know if I am really repentant…)

I went out for my first double digit run 2 weeks ago.  I met with two lovely ladies from the San Jose Moms RUN this Town  at 6 AM to run on the Los Gatos Creek Trail, following the “Dammit Run” route and then over to Vasona Lake Park.  We hadn’t run this route before and started off excited to finally break the double digits (our goal was 10-11 miles that day).  That excitement wore off when we  got to the hills part – not because the hills were steep (which they were) but because of a sign that read:

Ok – this wasn’t the exact sign we saw. The one we saw had more words. I think the pictures on this sign sums it up nicely, though! This isn’t the kind of kitty you want to run into at 6:30 AM.

Did we run back to our cars?  Nope! We ran up that hill, making as much noise as we could to ward of any mountain lions, then ran down the hill and completed our 11 miles on relatively flat ground.  My legs were burning and I did walk quite a bit (I don’t know who had the great idea to do hills AND a long run! Junella!) but, I did it. I overcame that double digit barrier. I faced and endured pain and danger without showing fear.  In fact, we laughed at fear, we laughed at doubt, we laughed at pain, and we laughed loudly to make sure that mountain lion would stay away from us.

So, this is becoming brave with a little “b”.  I am not running into battle or a burning building, but I am running towards a place where my fears are – the fear of failure, the fear of getting hurt (physically, emotionally, mentally), the fear of realizing that I am not the person, the runner, the mother, who I thought I was.  Every time I run through these fears, I become a little braver, the doubt becomes less, the fear loses its hold.

Running becomes fun.

If you’ve laced up a sneaker after not running for years, or never running in your life, you are becoming brave.

If you’ve run 1 mile, you are becoming brave.

If you have run 11 miles, you are becoming brave.

If you have run 25 miles, you are becoming brave.

If you have run, then bike and/or swim, you are becoming brave.

If you sign up for a race, you are becoming brave.

If you cross the finish line, you are becoming brave.

If you commit to a person, to a child, to a cause, to yourself, you are becoming brave.

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