Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Discovering Running...With My Son

Today, I ran a mile with my son, Andrew. We've run together before. He's starting to enjoy running longer distances, and he's even showing signs of improving his form (rather than the pounding of feet most kids do when they run). But today was a special day for him, and I was proud and honored that he asked me to be there. He completed his Marathon Mile, and we ran it together at his lunch recess.

Let me back up a little bit and explain what the "Marathon Mile" is. Our school, Oak Hills Elementary, has a lunchtime running program called "On The Move." The goal and focus of the program is to get kids MOVING. Parent volunteers tally the student's laps around the track, and students are awarded prizes for reaching certain mileage goals. They are just small trinkets (bouncy balls, toe tokens, etc), but they are highly coveted by the kids! If students reach 26 miles during the course of the school year, they are awarded an "On The Move" T-shirt at the monthly all-school assembly. Before our winter break, we had over 60 students who had already earned their T-shirt! Simply amazing. It is such an honor to be involved with this program, and it's so much fun watching the kids run, skip, walk around the track with their buddies. Many of the kids even participated in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, and earned OTM miles for it! We have a community that is very runner-friendly. Many of the parents are involved in running, and are enjoying participating in events with their children.

Last September, Andrew and I ran our first 5K together. We ran the Portland Race for the Cure 5K, and he ran the whole thing. I was honestly hoping for a nice easy "recovery run" since I had just done a 10 mile training run the day before (and my IT Band wasn't really happy about it). Andrew was excited and ready to go, so I hung with him. Barely.

Race For The Cure, September 2011

He was super proud of himself, and I was very proud of him. We had a wonderful morning together, and then went out to breakfast to celebrate. This was his first "real race" (as he called it).

He's done other races, usually the "Kid's Race" that is held along with one of my races. These are usually 1/2 mile fun run races. Last year, in the Jingle Bell Kid's Race he placed 3rd overall! When the Hippie Chick Kids Run started, we were still running across a field to catch up with the start line (thanks to the traffic back-up on Hwy 26). He not only caught up, but he blew right past many of the kids. Talk about a great Mother's Day gift!

Jingle Bell Run, December 2010

Hippie Chick Kids Run, Mother's Day 2011

Then I decided to try my first Triathlon last summer. The most amazing part? Crossing the finish line to see Andrew in his swim cap, and legs marked up...ready to attempt his first Triathlon TOO! He even swam in a lake, and wasn't hesitant at all. He placed 3rd in his age group. AWESOME. He still has that number on his bike. He's very proud of it, and loves when people ask him about it.

Blue Lake Kids Triathlon, July 2011

I love that Andrew started the school year with several goals for On The Move. He told me that his first goal was to earn his Marathon Shirt each year. He has two in his closet (1st and 2nd grade), and he will get his 3rd grade shirt on Monday at the assembly! His second goal was to run more miles than the year before. I was really proud of him for coming up with that goal. It shows a real commitment to training, and sticking with something that is important to him. Some days, he is swayed by his friends to play basketball or wall ball, or just run around the playground. I love that he has so many other activities that he's interested in, and that he loves doing them with his friends! But each day he goes out and runs at least two laps first. He knows that he's not going to accomplish his goal in a day or a month or even several months. It will take the whole year, and it is achieved by adding up all of the little successes. That's a pretty fantastic lesson to already have learned in 3rd grade.

Andrew earns his first Marathon Shirt, 1st grade!

So today, I stayed for his recess, and ran the 4 laps he needed to earn his Marathon Shirt alongside him. We chatted about what he was going to do when he was done (he went straight over to the four-square line), I gave him a little advice (try to land lighter on your feet!), but mostly we just enjoyed the run. I hope that, through my training, I am setting a good example for my children. I love seeing them cheer me on at my races, and I love that Andrew is excited about doing them too. I look forward to many more of these moments with my boy.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Runner Was Born...

Blue Lake Triathlon, July 2011

I’ve always ran. I had never considered myself a “runner.” I was on the track team in high school, ran the 2 mile, but never on the varsity team. It was more of a hobby, or an excuse to run laps around the tennis courts and flirt with my future hubby. I did not run in college, unless you count booking it across campus so I wouldn’t miss yet another statistic class (which I did not pass…maybe if I had been faster…). When teaching in Madison, WI, I participated in the yearly Race for the Cure 5K with my teacher friends. That was more of a social walk/jog than “run.”

Three years after becoming a mother, I was ready to have another baby. After an unexpected miscarriage, and many months of negative pregnancy tests, I needed an outlet for my frustration and unending sadness. My friend, Jill, asked if I wanted to do something crazy and sign up to train for and run a half marathon. Jill, I cannot thank you enough for asking me to do that. The date of the race just happened to be what would have been my due date, April 9th, 2010. That was a very specific SIGN to me. We recruited a few other friends to join us, and met every Sunday morning to run our long runs. The rainy mornings were the best. I felt like I had such purpose. I never got to run that race with my friends. I got pregnant. I was there at the finish line with cookies and hugs for my training pals. Part of me still really wanted to run that race…

And a runner was born.

Race for the Roses with Lynn, April 2011

Since then, I have completed 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, Half Marathons, Triathlons, and even Hood To Coast. I love the excitement of race day, even more so when I'm with friends! I love that my passion for running and completing races has spread to so many others. I hope to continue sharing my love for running with others, and encouraging and helping friends set and achieve new goals along the way. I have struggled through injury (plagued by IT Band issues...), been disappointed with setbacks, and worked through motivation loss. All the while, encouraging others to throw themselves into this crazy running world!

Girlfriends Half Marathon, October 2011 ~ Team "Girlfriends In Training"

My own personal goals for running have changed this year. While I've been working on just completing so many of the races I've run, I now have a desire to take my training to the next level. No longer am I satisfied with simply finishing. I want PRs. (For the non runner folk: Personal Records.) I am excited to learn more about the mechanics of running, nutrition and how it plays a very large role in training, and cross-training so my body doesn't fail me. I am even willing to start incorporating the dreaded "sprint workouts." To a distance runner, those are the stuff of nightmares. I am really looking forward to meeting up with my Girlfriends on the weekends for our training runs, and catching up on life, motherhood, and then hitting Starbucks for some coffee.

Hood To Coast, August 2011 ~ Team "Blood, Sweat, and Beers!"

In addition to shifting much of my focus onto myself and my own training, a very large part of my running plans this year include teaching. I am beyond excited to be coaching a Girls on the Run team at our elementary school this spring. I will be meeting with a group of 3rd-5th grade girls twice a week for 12 weeks, and teaching them about healthy body image, healthy lifestyle choices, working through peer pressure/bully concerns, and training them to run a 5K with a Running Buddy. I was a Running Buddy last year, and the experience was amazing! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to coach a team of girls this year. You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the teacher out of ME!

Starlight Run, June 2011 ~ Girls on the Run Running Buddy with Sayla

So thank you for joining me on my journey this year and beyond. I am excited to see where this blog will take me.