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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

That’s right folks, today is the big 4-5, which oddly seems a lot more momentous than the big 4-0 did. Turning 40 was the impetus for this whole fitness journey to begin for me — I wanted to get “fit before 40” so I started training for my first sprint triathlon. And now here I am five years later, having done 29 races total in that time: three triathlons, seven marathons, six half marathons, three 10Ks, four 8Ks, five 5Ks, and one one-mile race.

I’ve been thinking a lot about which race(s) to do next and I finally settled on the local Turkey Trot in November that raises money for the school district. I’m running about 20 miles per week right now so a 5K seems a manageable race distance. Of course, just my luck when I age up into the 45-49 age group, I choose a race that only has a 40-49 category — ha!

I’m still plugging away at the 50 push-ups challenge and the 30-day abs challenge from darebee.com. My 45th birthday started off this morning with 50 push-ups broken up into sets of 10, 20, 10, and 10! The challenges totally intimidate me and each day I wonder whether I’ll be able to complete the sets. I told myself in the beginning that if I couldn’t complete the day’s sets, no big deal, I would just take the next day as a rest day and then try those sets again. But here I am on day 22, and I haven’t had to skip a day! Trust the training and you might just amaze yourself, right? After the 50 push-ups I did 52 full sit-ups, 230 flutter kicks, and a 2 minute 50 second plank. (Question: How do you count flutter kicks? Do you count one rep each time either foot goes down — right leg 1 left leg 2), or do you count one rep each time your right foot goes down, or do you go big with the four count military/CrossFit style? I’ve compromised with the middle — so I count each time my right heel approaches the ground). The push-ups and ab work all took about 15 minutes and to pass the time during the plank I watched the drops of sweat drip off my body onto the mat below (sorry for that imagery, but it just goes to show how killer these challenges are!)

After I had some coffee and a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, I headed out for eight super easy miles of running. I just cruised along and listened to my audiobook (I use the OverDrive app to get books from my library and I’m listening to the audio version of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer).

Then ’cause it’s my birthday and I can take a hot bath after a long run if I want to, I soaked in the tub while I listened to a little more of the book. Then I had some more coffee and some scrambled eggs with cheese on top (again, another birthday treat. Usually I top my eggs with avocado and salsa but heck, I made it to 45, I might as well live it up with some full-fat cheese).

Now I’m hanging out and reading No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits, a book my teenager loved and recommended to me. It’s great so far — I’m enjoying climbing Mount Kilimanjaro vicariously, without all the danger and effort and rainy weather.

Mike and the girls are out grocery shopping for supplies to make me a special birthday dinner. The girls chose a recipe from the cookbook my sister gave me as a present: Runner’s World Meals on the Run: 150 energy-packed recipes in 30 minutes or less. The cookbook is as awesome as I hoped. If you’re a fan of The Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate Recipes for Fueling Up and Slimming Down–While Enjoying Every Bite then you should definitely get this one too.

I’m feeling loved and pampered today.  Check out these bracelets my younger daughters made me:

friendship bracelets

I can’t wait to enjoy my dinner meal (it’s a surprise — I don’t know which recipe they chose) and then we’ll probably all go swimming in the pool after dinner, including Roxy!

Roxy dog in the pool

She hasn’t figured out that she can jump in and swim, but she likes to hang out on the first two steps and play with the girls with her tennis ball in the water. I hope you all are having a fabulous weekend!

I’m serious, for those of you who have done flutter kicks, how do you count them??

Do you like to jump up an age group? Are you saving a big race for when you move up groups? I love jumping up an age group and I’ve always believed there’s something great about every age anyway. I haven’t saved a big race for turning older — in fact I was determined to qualify for Boston in the 40-44 age group before I bumped up to 45, but I do admit it was nice getting that extra 10 minutes once I did move up groups for Boston 2017!

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The newest race on my calendar is one of California’s oldest races — the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon, which was first held in 1955.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 5.31.59 PM

The race takes place on Saturday, June 4, 2016. That’s over five months away, so why have I already registered? Well, a few reasons. (1) Registration is (relatively) cheap right now — just $50 plus the online registration fee. (2) I am a planner. I like crossing it off my to do list and not having to remind myself all the time to register before the race sells out (the horror!) And (3) — this is the big one — I also registered my husband and my oldest daughter for the race! For each of them it will be their first half marathon. I feel if you are going to take on the 13.1 race distance, it’s very motivating to commit to the race, not just wait and see how the training goes. Having that race on the horizon holds you accountable and makes it more likely that you will get out the door and complete the training miles.

We’ve already started training together — not so much following a half marathon training plan but a training plan I put together to get them building up to running enough miles each week that they are ready to start the 8-week training plan in April.

So far the farthest my daughter has ever run/walked in one workout is 5.5 miles. Come to think of it though, she has run a 5K (PR of 24:11) and then gone right back out on the course to run it again about half an hour later — so you might count that as a 6.2-mile run. That was last May though, and now she’s working up to running about 11-12 miles per week and slowly building from there over the next five months. By June my daughter will be 14 years old and my husband will be 45. I’m proud of them both for taking on this half marathon challenge!

Have you run a half marathon? I’ve run five half marathons over the last four years.

When was your first half marathon and what was it? My first half marathon was the OC Half in May 2012.

What’s your favorite half marathon course? I loved the REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon in 2014 and the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon has a very similar course — a beautiful run down a mountain through a national forest.

 

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I had a fantastic morning with my family and friends at the iCureMelanoma 5K in Fullerton, California today! It’s a great community event for runners, walkers and anyone interested in supporting melanoma research.

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What started last year with our core group of book club members on Team BookIt! grew this year to 53 people on Team Beckman Coulter. With the generous help of the Beckman Coulter Foundation, our team raised $5,418 for melanoma research at University of California, Irvine (UCI)! We won the top prize for fundraising, and it felt really great to contribute towards the $100,000 that was presented to UCI at the end of the race. We thought we were in the running for the prize for largest team but Team Mac came in first with an amazing 107 members who came out to honor the memory of Michael Gerard MacDonald, a man lost too soon to melanoma in 2009. So really Team Mac’s victory is a huge win-win and it’s simply wonderful that so many people participated to support much-needed melanoma research!

My eldest daughter and I ran the race in the competitive wave that started promptly at 7 a.m. The course runs over challenging terrain — a mix of grass, road, and dirt. It forms a lollipop shape as it runs out to and around gorgeous Laguna Lake, which shades you with beautiful trees along the park path. I cannot say I’d recommend it as a “fast” course but man you wouldn’t know it when you look at the finishing times. The winner came in at a blazing 18:54! I managed to pull off a PR of 23:44 for 1st in my 41-50 age group of 33 women. And my daughter also set a PR (by 4 minutes!), coming in at 24:11 for 3rd in her age group!

My husband and middle daughter had fun on the course in the 8:00 a.m. open wave with many of our friends. There were tons of great vendors at the finish line and we feasted on pizza, Italian ice, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and protein bar samples. Of course there were also sunscreen samples on hand, and my girls were thrilled to find free nail polish samples at the Solfingers booth. I am definitely going to check out the Solfingers line of sun protection gloves and arm sleeves. I’ve been wearing my plain blue Phoenix Marathon arm warmers for sun protection but the Solfingers sleeves and gloves offer several super cute designs.

I’ve got my sights set on another 5K at the Downtown Anaheim 5K Run on June 13, 2015, and we are already planning to come back next year for the 10th Annual iCureMelanoma 5K!

What do you use for sun protection? In addition to wearing a visor, sunglasses and as much clothing as I can tolerate, I like Coppertone Sport sunscreen. The dermatologist Dr. William Baugh who puts on the iCureMelanoma 5K recommends Neutrogena as his favorite brand. (Tip: he says it does not matter whether you use the spray or cream formula of sunscreen — the best sunscreen is the one you will use! If you have trouble with sunscreen running in your eyes he recommends a silicon-based sunscreen for athletes). I also try as much as possible to avoid peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and I choose a shady route whenever possible (not always easy in sunny Southern California).

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I just realized I left out the best part of my Spring Blast Half Marathon race recap! Mike and my three girls often cheer me on at races and act as my support crew by handing me replacement bottles of sports drink along the course. For last Saturday’s half marathon though, I brought my own bottle of sports drink to grab at the aid station at the halfway mark, and left Mike and the kids sleeping at home. By the time I got home after the race, my girls were out playing in the yard and they ran up to the car in the garage. I rolled down the window and my 8-year-old exclaimed,

There’s our champion!

It makes me well up just to think about it now! Such a wonderful, sweet thing to say!

We all went in the house and my 4-year-old presented me with a picture she had drawn for me while I was gone:

Rainbow over heart flowers

Rainbow over heart flowers

My 11-year-old asked me how the race went and gave me a hug, and my husband made me a plate of scrambled eggs with a side of fruit and a mug of hot chocolate! I am so thankful for my amazing support crew!

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PCRF Reaching for the Cure LogoMy oldest daughter trained with her elementary school’s running club for a 5K. She is 11 and she had run two 5Ks before, but this would be the first one she would run by herself. It turns out that the PCRF Reaching for the Cure 5K made an excellent choice for her first solo race! It offered a well-marked course, a medium-sized field of runners, a great cause, and a super-fun finish line expo with lots of activities and free food for both the participants and the spectators.

My daughter joined the team for Diann’s Defenders. After Diann’s cancer diagnosis at the age of 5, she underwent two and a half years of treatment and has since remained cancer-free for five and a half years!

Some of Diann's Defenders after the race.

Some of Diann’s Defenders after the race.

On race day our family woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the race in time for the 7:15 start for the 5K. I should have printed out the directions to the parking area from the race website instead of following the Google Maps directions to the street address. Of course several roads were blocked off for the 5K, 10K and half marathon courses and there really was only one way to get to the parking. I ended up dropping off my daughter and husband near the starting area and going back to follow the directions from my phone. Once we reached the parking structure there was plenty of parking remaining but I have to say, it was a L-O-O-O-N-G walk from the parking structure and I saw several racers running on their way to the starting line. Tip: Build in an extra 15 minutes for parking and walking.

My daughter finished the race in just over 32 minutes. She was happy with her time and super proud of the fact that she ran the whole way without stopping. The school running club had only had two training sessions (a third was canceled due to 100 degree heat) and the rest of the training she did on her own. It made me really happy to see her stick with it and achieve her goal!

After the race we made a beeline to the Jamba Juice tent for free smoothies for everyone. Then we visited the petting zoo, the puppies, the train, the inflatable bounce houses and slides, and best of all, the trampolines. Even my 4-year-old got in on the action. She got strapped into the harness and bounced high without fear!

Race pros: First off you cannot beat an event for such a good cause as the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. There’s a positive energy at the race and I think it takes a little bit of the competitive, nervous edge off (even though it’s a race for serious runners as well as fun run/walkers). The race is well-organized and family-friendly. Runners are allowed to push their babies and toddlers in strollers on the course. The best part though is the post-race expo with all the free food and family activities. My kids all had a blast. There weren’t long lines for bounce houses or even the trampolines and we spent over two hours going from one activity to another. Tip: bring a change of warm, dry clothes so you can stay and play in comfort! The cool, overcast weather was perfect for running but it felt downright chilly when we were milling around after the race!

Race cons: None of the cons would keep me from highly recommending this race for kids and adults. There’s always room for improvement though, so here’s what I would say: (1) The long walk from the parking structure made it hard for racers to get to the start on time and hard for supporters (especially 4-year-olds with short legs!) to get to the start line. That could be overcome with better planning on our part, but I did hear that parking used to be more convenient and perhaps it should be switched back if possible. (2) My daughter’s registration was not processed properly. We were charged the money for the event but I had to follow up with a phone call to actually get her registration processed. I think it was a one-time mistake of lost paperwork though and the PCRF people were very helpful and nice when I called. (3) There were plenty of porta-potties but one long row did not have a hand-washing station within sight. (4) The race took place on Sunday, May 5 (yes, Cinco de Mayo) which happens to be the same day as two other local-ish, popular races: The OC Marathon and the Safari Park Half Marathon.

Again, those were minor details that did not overshadow a great race experience at the PCRF Reaching for the Cure 5K!

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Happy Saint Paddy’s Day everyone! A leprechaun visited my house in the wee hours of the morning. He left shamrocks and little green pots of “gold” (quarters) for me and the kids to find.

My house might not always be tidy but I do keep a beautiful bouquet on the table as a bright spot amidst the chaos. The leprechaun approves!

My house might not always be tidy but I do keep a beautiful bouquet on the table as a bright spot amidst the chaos. The leprechaun approves!

My kids have always known the true identity of the leprechaun-bunny-fairy-claus but still enjoy playing along.

After our treasure hunt the leprechaun made us all some green eggs. I politely declined artificial green food dye so Mike came up with a creative alternative. He made his own natural green dye from water and a crushed leaf of swiss chard with the stems removed!

It's extra classy when you use a wine cork as your muddler.

It’s extra classy when you use a wine cork as your muddler.

Once he strained out the crushed leaves, it made a beautiful bright green dye:

eggs with natural green dye

and some delicious green eggs!

green scrambled eggs

Speaking of greens, I love this graphic from No Meat Athlete on seven healthy, tasty greens that are often overlooked in favor of spinach and kale:

Seven greens graphic info

Obviously I’ve had swiss chard, and I’ve tried arugula too. I haven’t had turnip greens but I have had beet greens (sautéed in olive oil with garlic and salt – yum!) The rest I will search out the next time I make it to Whole Foods!

Are you Irish? Yes, I’m a whopping 1/16th Irish!
Did you run the L.A. Marathon or any other St. Patrick’s Day race today? How did it go for you? I have heard many good things about the L.A. Marathon and hope to run it someday.

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January represented the last month in the off-season for me. I took it relatively easy as I tried to heal from shin splints and an adductor magnus groin strain injury.

January Miles

Note that my triathlon training positively requires me to write up the miles in swim-bike-run order, followed by other miscellaneous workouts.

Swim: 1 mile in 40 minutes in 1 workout

Bike: 98.12 miles in 7.5 hours in 8 workouts

Run: 82.55 miles in 14 hours in 14 workouts

Weight training: 2.67 hours in 11 workouts <— That is a new personal record of strength training workouts in a month

Snow Skiing: 4.5 hours in 1 workout

House cleaning: 11 hours in 2 workouts <—- Not just your average light housework

Yardwork: 40 minutes in 1 workout <—- turning the compost and shoveling in the garden

If you count the one yardwork and two big housework days, that constitutes 28 workout days out of 31.

Random January Photo

My husband celebrated his 42nd birthday in January and I threw him a surprise party at our house. If you’re a loyal reader of this ol’ blog you know my philosophy on birthday cakes: grab any nearby children to help you decorate your homemade cake so that no matter how it turns out, it is “cute” and “fun” and, at a minimum, what could kindly be called “remarkable.”

Are you shocked that it only took me 30 minutes to shape, frost and decorate this cake? No? Come on, you know you want to hire me for all your future cake-baking needs.

Are you shocked that it only took me 30 minutes to shape, frost and decorate this cake? No? Come on, you know you want to hire me for all your future cake-baking needs.

Random fun fact of the day: the hole in a guitar is called a “sound hole.” If you want to be accurate in your cake decoration, the sound hole should be placed in the upper portion of the sound board. If you want children to help you make a sound hole out of yellow Smarties 15 minutes before the guest of honor is expected to arrive, then you let them put it wherever it fits on the cake. And then you order your guests to help cut yellow guitar “strings” out of licorice. Again, do not feel the need to be accurate in the number of strings that belong on a guitar (typically, six).

February Goals

Eat less cake.
Run the Brea 8K and earn a PR at that distance.
Start training for the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon.
Do not injure myself (a perennial goal).

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