Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Not What You Think

I just finished reading this post, where Outside blogger (and Runner's World editor) Peter Vigneron questions whether getting pregnant makes female runners get faster.  Vigneron admits that, after contemplating this question, his gut response is no - women will not return to their pre-pregnancy levels of competition.  However, after choosing ten female runners and studying their pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy performances, he finds that several of these women have been able to better their race times after having a baby.

Obviously, there are other factors in the lives of these women that could result in faster running, including harder or different training and the increased confidence or experience that comes with age.  So the questions remain - is there something that happens in a woman's body when she gets pregnant that helps her with her running?  Or is it motherhood itself that promotes these changes?  How is it for women who adopt children?

While my race times are not quite what they were in college, they are pretty darn close.  It amazes me to think that my 35-year-old body can nearly replicate what it could do at 18.  Over the last several years, my fastest race times and marathon finishes all occurred AK ("after kids"), and not BK ("before kids").  All this despite the frustrated moments that occur frequently during life AK - those times when I feel restricted in what I can accomplish due to my role in caring for my kids.   Even as I attempt to complete this post, I'm interrupted by requests for food, attention, and potty help (hence the scattered thoughts here).  But I it possible that my kids are helping me with my running, and lots of other things too, without me realizing it?

Whether or not you're a "mom" in the traditional sense, I would love to hear your thoughts.  It would be great to hear from men too - how has fatherhood impacted your running?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

R.I.P. Triscuit

The birth of Triscuit the dinosaur was a labor of love.  Andrew was just a little guy in preschool.  His teachers introduced a project where they would learn about recycling -- using old boxes, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, scrap paper, and other "trash" to make something new.  No doubt this project required much planning and effort from the classroom teachers.  But the result was a marvelous creation: Andrew's very own dinosaur fashioned out of a Triscuit box.

Andrew and Triscuit were fast friends.  A T-rex, Triscuit was strong and fierce.  He had sharp teeth and a scary, screeching yell.  When we saw Andrew with Triscuit, we would hide, or dash out of the way to avoid biting or worse injury.  Creativity and imagination blossomed in the games that ensued with this paper and cardboard plaything.  

Andrew had a connection, a relationship, with Triscuit.  The problem with Triscuit is that, after a while, he aged.  The tacky glue and tape didn't hold as well as in the beginning.  His tail was torn off.  To Andrew, he was the same old Triscuit, up for adventure and fighting and eating.  But to me, he was looking more and more like a piece of trash.  Gone was the first love and initial pride that I have for most of Andrew's school artwork.  Triscuit was taking up prime living space in our house; something had to be done.  

Following a friend's parenting advice, I took a few pictures and some video of the falling-apart dino, and threw him in the kitchen trash, burying him under some soggy paper towels and other nasty objects requiring the same resting place.  As other new toys and artwork arrived at our home, Andrew quickly forgot about his toy, until one day several weeks later when he was looking at pictures on my ipod and spotted his beloved Triscuit.

I failed to realize how devastating my act would be to my son.  Even though most people would view the dinosaur as a piece of trash -- for truly, that's what he was -- it was as if he was alive to Andrew.  At one time, he has been a real friend.  Our descriptions of the pathway of trash from can to garbage truck to landfill only worsened Andrew's sorrow.  He was determined to find and rescue his friend.  He was grieving a loss.  Surprised by his sensitive response, I felt totally unequipped to comfort him.  I never meant to cause him pain.

Perhaps this loss mirrors that which I feel when I give away my kids' old clothes and toys.  Even if these items aren't of much value to others, to me, they hold meaning.  They mark a time in my life in relationship with my children, a time that I can't take back or do over again.  They remind me of ways that we've grown or changed.  Sometimes, a toy brings to mind a specific memory, a time of play that resulted in a significant teaching moment or full-belly laughter.  Learning to cling to the precious memories, while letting go of the stuff, creates room for new avenues for growth -- new play, new possibility, new change, new life -- and even additional shelf space for the next recycled trash creation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011



"It was really awful."

"I almost lost it."

These are my typical responses when asked about the events of a few days ago.  It was really hot this week, and the local pool was not yet open for the summer.  A friend of mine invited my kids and I over for the morning and offered to let the kids play with all of their backyard water toys, including a water table, pool, and sprinkler.  The kids were so excited and were playing really well.  What an ideal morning - the kids were using their imaginations, experimenting with water, working on social skills with friends!  My friend and I were getting some good time to catch up.  We were having a great time!  And then there was an accident.

I was in the kitchen when it happened.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the two boys playing on the back porch, their arms reaching up high.  Next I heard the screaming.  Dashing outside, I found Andrew on the ground, covered in blood.  Thankfully, I remembered a warning about the profuse bleeding that typically accompanies a child's head wound.  And we were just blocks from the hospital.  It was only a short time until we arrived at the hospital, and the stitches were in, and the CT scan was clear, and the only evidence of Andrew's fall was his red hair.  But a few days later, the cut is deep and raw.  It still feels bloody and in need of some healing.

A few days later, I'm still having vivid memories of the first moments after the fall - the desperate cries, the blood, my holding Andrew's head together.  I know - it really could have been so much worse.  And I'm grateful to have the privilege of cleaning Andrew's wound, of watching him to confirm that everything seems normal, of having to ask him repeatedly to slow down and rest.  But I'm scared.  I was scared before this happened, the fear of something bad happening to my kids causing me some underlying anxiety that impacts my thinking and my relationships.

This incident confirms that, try as I may, I can not prevent bad things from happening to my children.  I can not control all of their life circumstances.  And now, how do I respond?  Can I place them in the loving arms of a Father who created them, knows every detail about them, has good plans for their lives, and is the One who can give them true security?  This is my hardest test as a mother.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Run...

Today is National Running Day, a day when those of us running crazies celebrate the many reasons why we run!

Why do you run?  (Or why don't you run?)

I started this blog last summer, after I committed to running a marathon with Team World Vision to raise money for water projects in Africa.  This journey, complete with unexpected blessings along the way, has been one of the most enriching of my life.  Team World Vision created the short film below to remind us of many of the reasons we run and to invite us to join them in running to change lives.  Please take the time to check it out, even if you don't currently enjoy running or see yourself as a runner.  A small step today may be the first on a path to life change for you and for others.