Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thank you, Mother Nature.

Over the past year, I have done my share of complaining about the weather.  In the winter, I ran more treadmill runs (4) that I had in the 10 previous years.  The spring had many windy, windy days and, somehow, they all managed to land when I had my long runs.  Summer never really came and, for someone who loves to run in the heat, I was truly disappointed in Mother Nature.
This fall, though, has been great.  Okay, so I had to train for a few downpours which had me looking for Noah's Arc, and I raced on one of the wettest Sundays we had all year, but the fields have been dry for cross-country and we haven't had to cancel a single practice - until Friday.
On Thursday night, the forecast showed a 90% chance of rain and the dreaded lightning bolt.  In schools, that means that practices or any other outdoor activity is cancelled.  I really wanted Friday's after school training to continue; it has become a favorite workout for the kids and I love their enthusiasm from start to end.  On Friday morning, though, the forecast stayed the same; at lunch, the lightning bolt still showed on The Weather Network; by 2:00, we made the decision to cancel practice.  I glared at Mother Nature.
But every cloud has a silver lining and I quickly found it.  My husband had been away for most of the week and we had 3 different teacher nights (mine and the two dudes') so my run time had been minimal all week.  Once I had cancelled cross-country, I realized that I freed up almost 2 hours to get my own run in before I had to pick up Little Ironman at the babysitter's.  After work, then, I rushed home, changed and hit the road during what ended up becoming a light drizzle.  I picked up LI, then Skipper and the rest of the night was quiet family time.
So, thank you, Mother Nature for helping out a fellow mama, this running mama.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hanging Out After School

Little Ironman's attempt at a double selfie.
On our way to school this morning, the boys and I planned our evening around Skipper's schedule.  Since Hubs is away and Skipper was volunteering after school, there was no one around to watch Little Ironman until after dinner.  This meant another night run, as in a dark run, and cooler temperatures - not what I wanted at all.
While at work, I felt myself becoming a bit frustrated whenever I thought of running later in the evening; I really wanted to get out right after school.  At lunch, I realized that I might be able to get a ride home at the end of the day rather than walk, which would get me home half an hour earlier, and the time I needed to run in the warm sunshine.  Thanks to the help of a co-worker, this idea became reality.
I got home, changed and ran a lovely 12K, finishing at Little Ironman's babysitter's house.  LI handed me his backpack, grabbed his skateboard, and we headed home together.
Simple enough. 
I like to think of myself as independent; I have a hard time asking for help.  But I'm slowly learning that it is alright to turn to others when I need to. While it's usually fine for me to run in the evening, it isn't always okay for the boys.  Tonight, getting in at 6:00, with nothing to worry about for the rest of the night, meant that I could spend time with LI.  We ate dinner, baked cookies and curled up to watch the first episode of Marvel: Agents of Shield (which was great, by the way).  By bedtime, he was content; LI had his much needed Mommy-time.  He was so excited about our walk together that he captured the moment on camera.
Today, everything somehow managed to fall into place.  A happy mommy makes for happy kids, and a happy son makes for a happy mom. 
Love these sunshiny days!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When Worlds Collide

The thought of worlds colliding tends to worry people.  There are times, though, when it can lead to something great.  Friday was one of those times.

The worlds that I'm referring to, though, are not planets with human or mysterious life forms; they are my worlds - my family, my job and my running worlds.  On Friday after school, through some careful planning, I was able to bring them together.

Instead of coaching cross-country at lunch that day, I ran an after school practice.  This gave us more time - to warm-up, to do some speedwork and cool-down, all while covering the distance that the kids need in preparation of their meet.  We were joined by parents, co-workers and my son (who met us after he finished school), happy to motivate everyone through the workout. We had an amazing hour and the students and parents were truly grateful for the extra time. 

When I got home, I headed out for my own run.  I was on a high from having such a successful practice and I carried that feeling with me.  When I got home, I felt the excitement that has been missing in my running for a long time.  Suddenly, I was inspired to push myself forward and set new goals.

So, yes, my worlds collided and sparks went off; I am truly excited about running again and it is great!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wacky Wednesday

The other night, I crawled into bed just after midnight.  We were still enjoying the hot summer temperatures so our bedroom window was still open. 
"Eww, what smells?" I asked.  I jumped out of bed to close all of the windows, thinking that one of our neighbourhood skunks was letting his presence be known.  But as I neared the window, I realized that it wasn't a skunk smell.  Disgusted, I crawled back into bed.
"Is that you?" I asked my husband.
"Yes, it is."  I was convinced it was him.  "Did you shower before going to bed?"
"No, you did not.  You absolutely stink."  I wasn't thrilled about having to wash the sheets the next morning.
"It's not me," Dave replied.  "I showered."
"Then what is it?"
Out of bed again, I marched into the bathroom to see if the skunky smell was coming from the backyard and, sure enough, I found it.  I closed the door and crawled back into bed.
"Never mind," I said.  "It's just my running gear from my workout."

How do you protect your clothes from the "sweaty" smell?  Do you use a sports detergent like Sport Suds?  I use Tide Pods but am starting to think that a sports detergent may be in order.  What tricks do you have to prolong the life of your gear?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Making It Work

Some days, it is easy to get through the "to do" list; others, it seems just plain impossible.  On those days, cutting out my run seems like the most logical thing to do.  However, when that happens, I get angry at myself, feel uptight until I get my next workout in and am simply crankier around the house.  My run, then, is rarely missed - unless kids get in the way.

My boys are my priority.  With back to school this month, I've had less time with them.  I realized the impact that this had on LI the other morning when he said, "I like it when you drive us to school because it means we get to have some time together."  Wow!  Those words made it clear that I need to spend more time with the family.  The question, though, is "How?"  How do I work, run, get all of the household tasks done and still have some time set aside with the family?  What has to go?

Nothing.  Life is full of compromises and give and take.  And life is about balance.  Somehow, some way, everything will get done if I juggle things carefully.  Last night was a good example.

My husband was away overnight and Saturday was filled with "kids' stuff", which meant I couldn't run until evening.  By the time we got home, it was 6:00 and the boys needed dinner.  Daylight running time was becoming shorter and my motivation to run was quickly dropping.  I looked at both boys and asked, "Do you want me to do my long run tonight or tomorrow morning?"  I really was hoping for a couple of mama's boys who wanted a quiet Saturday night together.  Instead I got, "I'd prefer that you do it tonight."  The other agreed, "Yeah, tonight.  We're good."

And that was the kick that I needed.  I could have made the decision not to run but I did get it done, albeit at the unusual time of Saturday night.  But the boys realized that I need that time to get out; they knew how important that run was for me.  So I changed, laced up and ran a comfortable, carefree ten miles.  And when I got home, they were "good".

When I think about making time for the things that matter, it can be done.  All you need is (1) a goal to do it, (2) commitment or determination and (3) support from others.  Luckily for me, I have all three.

Looking back, though, I do wonder: just why did they prefer that I run?  Hmmmm....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Packing Lunches

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved going back to school.   The last days of August were filled with the excitement of seeing friends again, getting new pencils and other school supplies and, if I was lucky, buying new shoes to replace the ones that I outgrew during the summer.  I suppose that actually liking school itself also made going back special.

And now, decades later, I still get excited about back to school.  I can see my friends again, get new school supplies but, instead of shopping for new shoes for me, I end up buying them for the boys.  As an adult, though, there is one thing that I really don't enjoy during this time of year: packing lunches.

Skipper and Little Ironman are picky eaters; they come by it naturally.  Unless I put thought and time into their lunches, they are bound to come back home nearly or completely untouched.   Mornings, then, are often spent cooking pasta or rice, baking breads and snacks, and chopping fruit.  Little Ironman has to have goldfish in his and Skipper looks forward to chocolate in any shape or form.  The list of "refusals" is huge.

The boys are getting fairly reasonable lunches, but they are admittedly boring.  This fall, I am going through recipe books and websites in search of new ideas to fuel the dudes' brains.  You can be sure that I'll be sharing new favorites here.

Meanwhile, if you have a favorite recipe of your kiddos, share it in the comments below.  We'd love to give it a try.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Importance of "The Back of the Pack"

Last weekend, my husband and I headed to Guelph, Ontario so that he could participate in the Guelph Tri II.  Now Hubs is not a hotshot tri-head; he likes to participate and he likes to have fun.  At this race, he made a last minute decision to do the Sprint course instead of the try-a-tri and his goal was to finish.  My job was to cheer him on.
We decided that while Dave was warming up and in the water, I should use the time for my own run.  I got back too late to see him head out on the bike, but I was there to cheer him back in - and I did loudly as he came in at the back of the pack, smiling through the transition area.  We expected that his run would be slow and it was but he crossed the finish line smiling, feeling good about himself.  Time didn't matter; personal success did.  Goal accomplished.
This post is not about my husband's success, though.  It is about the attitude towards new triathletes that was conveyed at the event (and, as such, this applies to new participants in duathlons, road-racing and trail racing).  I am referring to specifically to one conversation that Dave had with a man from a respected Ontario triathlon club who had the nerve to say "Some people just don't belong here."  It takes a lot for me to say nothing.  This time, I was speechless.
I was completely dumbfounded by this comment.  He had a medal around his neck for placing in his age group, but it's quite likely that he didn't always place.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  Yes, people may have been slow in the water, on the road or during the run but they were outside and moving.  They were doing something positive for themselves.  I'm pretty sure that it is safe to say that they didn't just wake up in the morning and say, "Hmmm, I think I'll race a triathlon today."  They spent weeks, perhaps months, getting ready for it.  They set a fitness goal and would have had to follow a healthy lifestyle to achieve it. 
Secondly, have you ever considered that our tax dollars are being spent on smokers and other addicts who are supported by our health care system?   Some "newbies" were once a part of this group.  Some were also overweight and their cardiovascular health was at risk, again creating a burden on health care.  Slow?  Maybe.  But not belonging?  Absolutely, they do belong.  They are helping society; they are giving our government a few extra dollars to put towards medical research and development and towards those people who are suffering from tumours, cancer, Alzheimers and other illnesses.
We should also consider the economy of the triathlon.  When more and more people participate in the sport, products become more available to purchase and less expensive for everyone.  Wetsuits, for example, use to cost a small fortune.  Now they are cheaper and much easier to find.  The registration fee for a triathlon would be much higher if there weren't as many participating (for example, think about the number of paid-duty officers needed and how much they have to be paid).  It is simple economics: the more participants there are, the overall cost of the event per participant decreases so the registration fee can stay lower. Putting on a triathlon puts money into the economy in other ways; jobs are created and money goes towards charities.  And, again, the more who participate, the more jobs and funding become available.  So why wouldn't you want to encourage people to "try" a triathlon.
These athletes also show commitment, a valuable trait to possess.  Our society has hundreds of people who simply cannot stick with something that they started and that carries into other areas of their lives, such as jobs and relationships.  When someone makes a commitment to something like a triathlon (or training for another race), they are more likely to see successes in other aspects of their lives.
Lastly, when more people race, there are more likely to be awards which correspond to the numbers.  For example, bigger events will have 5-year age groups but small ones will only have 10-year age groups; I've even seen some with a 20 year spread.  So at the Guelph Lake Tri II, where there were lots and lots of participants, more were able to walk away with medals around their necks.  Sadly, the guy who had the nerve to say "They just don't belong here"  was also wearing one; yes, he worked for it but the sheer numbers of people behind him gave him the chance to brag about his age group win at the office the following Monday.
Everyone has to start somewhere.  Think about your first race.  How did you compare to others then and where are you now?   Because you are answering this question, you realized that you do belong. Anyone who is willing to make the commitment - to do take on a new challenge, try something new and improve themselves - absolutely should be there.   There are so many benefits, whether it is from training, participating or racing, that it is a win-win.