Watching the Ball Drop

The other day I walked into my local running store and was confronted by the question no chaotically busy running mom wants to hear.

“So what are you training for?

Umm….errr….binge cooking?
Marathon present wrapping?
10k days of not running?

I spent some serious time cooking roast beast for the 20+ Who's in my Whoville

I spent some serious time cooking roast beast for the 20+ Who’s in my Whoville.

But in all serious, my personal guide to surviving the holidays…

Run to keep sane, but not at the cost of my sanity.

I did decide to mix it up a bit and change things a little bit more by doing the following:

Run Away.  When the kids ask where I’m going when I head out for a run I usually yell, “I’m running away….[long pause]…but don’t worry I’ll run back.”  But one day I decided not to actually loop back and ended up putting a call in about 2 miles in “I’m running west until the big ball in the sky drops.”   About 7.5 miles later I got picked up at Starbucks and was sure to stink up Chipotle on the way home post-run with the fam.  They were only moderately embarrassed by my sweaty state of affairs and forgave it after one taste of guacamole.  I wish I were sorry but I wasn’t.

A Christmas miracle!  TP in the port-a-potty on the run!!!

A Christmas miracle! TP in the port-a-potty on the run!!!

Change the Surface.  While everyone was seeking out a very white Christmas, I was checking out my very white [cap] Christmas by bounding around with some fantastic views and SOFT surfaces to run on hitting up a long stretch of the coast for a very, merry run.  As an added bonus, my creaky bones were happy for the padded surface.

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Go Up, Then Come Down.  I had some new tires that looked a little TOO clean (I felt like a New Year runner fraud with my brand, spankin’ new shoes) so I decided to get them a little dirty….

New Balance I love you, but serious ANOTHER set of white shoes designed for long distance runners?  *le sigh*

New Balance I love you, but serious ANOTHER set of white shoes designed for long distance runners? *le sigh*

Eventually I got them nice and dirty by going up, up, and away on some trails….

So pretty....even the fog in the valleys....

So pretty….even the fog in the valleys….

So for now, I’m just running to run….I have a few things out on the horizon, but as for now, I’m ditching the regular routes that have gotten beyond run of the mill (all puns intended) for me and mixing it up with some new approaches.

What’s been boring you lately?

How do you mix up your runs?

True Confession Thursday: The Void

The last time I ran was like 4 days ago or something like that.  So I could write something trite about it all, instead I’ll go all Virgina Woolf stream of consciousness on you and let you into the brief world that is Striding Mom today….

As I type this I’m trying to let my coffee kick in and the sun rise enough for me to safely sneak in a few miles.

I had great plans for this week to get my butt back on track with running.

But instead, I’m going to….

Thank Pinterest for increasing mom-guilt everywhere and make 95% of feel like crap on the last day of school before the holidays when we bring in “our things”.

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Be a “bad runner” because I let the chaos of the last few weeks not let me run.

I love my kids.

Secretly shame myself for letting social media tell me I should be running at least 30 miles a week.

Why do kids whine/fight so much?

Ground myself and remember that I have an awfully big plate compared to many and it’s awfully full at the moment with 3 immediate family birthdays in this house, Christmas and end of the year chaos.

Why run when there are Cowboys cakes to be made, and eaten?

Why run when there are Cowboys cakes to be made, and eaten?  Yes I bought it, but then I decorated it…this mom has half the time to do all of the work.

Drink another cup of coffee.

Add “take time to reflect and move forward as a family” to the to-do list this weekend (yes I realize the irony of this).

Oh yeah, I should go run now….

What do you need to get off your chest now about fitting it all in?

September Slump

11 Miles Running
3 Miles Walking
Smazy Sunday Strides

Ahhh September…for many in the country it’s when things get back into “normal” – weather takes a turn for the better, the kids are settled back into the school routine and most of the country waits with baited breath for the first leaves of fall to start turning.

As Tom Hanks (Joe Fox) once said in “You’ve Got Mail

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Freshly sharpened pencils my arse…in SoCal, September is when the sun decides to kick it up and 70 degrees is only something you see between 2-4am (if you’re lucky).   In fact, at my sister’s wedding a few weeks ago, one of her best friends walked up to us in all of the humid glory and announced, “My business is hot”(my new favorite line).  So thanks to September in SoCal – everyone’s business is hot and it can make people a wee bit crabby.

As September begins, the kids are in the last two weeks of summer vacation (you know the ones where they are practically begging for structure and you wonder how much duct tape it would take to stick them to the walls in their bedrooms for a few hours) and then beginning the agonizing 2 week adjustment to actually being back in school.

No, we're totally normal here.  When I say take a picture I get this.  Two words to their teachers - good luck.

No, we’re totally normal here. When I say take a picture I get this. Two words to their teachers – good luck.

All of those crazy kids and the hot business sure do make it easy to lose perspective.  So I know that I was grateful for a message on Saturday night at church about purpose vs. perfection.  It got me thinking – where’s my focus?  Striving for perfection and wallowing when I fail (news flash: this is very often) or focusing on making intentional choices to make my life purposeful?

What?! This is a running blog?!?  Fear not….there’s a point here….

Since my ideal “running” has been derailed by my intense hatred and continued no-treadmill streak matched with 80-95 degree temps, I’m having to remember why the heck I’m doing it.  For the last year the script in my mind giving me purpose was, “Boston..Boston…Boston“.  It kept me motivated and my passion, purpose and drive tractor beam focused.  I can’t tell you how many times I chanted this through my mind or imagined running through the finish line to get myself motivated before and/or during a run.workout.

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How many months, moments, and minutes did I dream about crossing that very line and thought of that moment to get through step after step? I didn’t plan on the huge popsicle stain, ehhh you win some, you lose some…

But these days – it’s a lot more of, “Uh it’s 97.3 degrees outside and I’m running 5 miles because I used to like this?”

Do I love running any less?  Nope.

Is it really hard to have an AMAZING run when it’s a bazillion degrees outside?  Yeppers.

Dear Pumpkin Spice Latte, sitting on ice, you make September better in so many ways.

Dear Pumpkin Spice Latte, sitting on ice, you make September better in oh so many ways.

So what have I been using running for lately?  Smaller, shorter distanced quasi-goals (i.e. don’t hit your next race more than 5 minutes longer than your PR type stuff), thinking, praying, relaxing (okay as much as you can relax during a cardio workout).

Thinking…yes this is probably the scariest of them all.  This morning I spent a lot of time thinking about my parenting and the whole perfection vs. purpose thing.  I’ve made a lot of intentional efforts to get the boys’ school year off on the right foot – homework routines, incentives, schedules, pretty little signs and checklists around the house I’m practically living in an elementary school….and the response – whines, cries, tears, fits, tantrums, and general crabbiness…and that’s not to even speak of the kid’s behavior.

Yes there’s definitely benefit to the things I’ve been doing, but I’ve been so focused on just getting the “right things” done to get ready that I feel like I might have momentarily lost sight of the purpose – getting everyone off on the right foot this year.

So my challenge this sweltering September – spend more time dwelling on my purpose instead of the actions or reactions that mark the [lack of] perfection….ensure that I spend the time thinking about what and why I am doing the things I’m doing (running, working, mom-ing, wife-ing and the like) instead of how I did or didn’t do them.

What’s your fall like?

Are you a purpose or perfection person?

Reset Button

Post Race Rest Day

When your life is filled with conversations like this:

IMG_2576-001Me to Kid:  Blow your nose
Kid: Why?
Mom:  Because snot’s running down your face?
Kid:  Can’t I just lick it instead?

And then there’s a lot of

Where are my socks?”

That deadline’s coming up quick!”

and “Professor, my Grandma died…again

…sometimes I just need to push the reset button to get my head on straight.

So last week I realized I needed to do just that.  Last Wednesday after work, I randomly shoved the food I had set out to cook dinner back into the fridge and on a whim, we hit the quasi-open (come on it’s California, there’s never an open road) road and set out to push the reset button.

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IMG_2915It’s seriously hard living in SoCal.   A 10 minute drive and a quick hour on the beach and we found starfish, dolphins, got sand stuck in uncomfortable places and watched the sun set over Catalina Island and connected with each other again.  1 hour & 20 minute investment that paid off in dividends.

In the same way, Sunday’s race was just a way to reset my running batteries.  Lately I seem to have lost my running mojo – and the bum foot wasn’t exactly helping either.  With Boston under 3 months away, it was time to get my mojo back.

Instead of the sometimes *almost* fun stress of a race day, pressures and expectations, it was nice to just set out with friends both before and after and just run for the heck of it.  As I watched runners anxiously line up, I was thinking of ways to entertain myself along the course…like doing fad dance moves near the photographers, counting the compression socks, etc.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Chan

Sarah Margot and myself:  Photo Courtesy of Sarah Chan

Don’t believe me on the fun factor?  Trust me when I say CLICK HERE – laughs will abound and you will see just how serious we were :)

Post-race, I’d say the reset button worked!

What’s your reset button?

Where’s your favorite place to go near your house for fun?

The Mom Game

Rest Day Monday
4 Miles Tuesday
Screaming Strides

On Sunday evening I noticed my IT band was tweaky.  And I mean really tweaky.  It didn’t hurt during my run.  It didn’t hurt right after.  But instead, at some point a few hours later it got really, really really angry.

My ITB was probably taking a cue from it’s rightful owner….me.  So I rested Monday and took it easy Tuesday (no pain then yay!)

And this is where Striding Mom gets a little more Mom, than Striding and a little more real than status quo.

Insert gratuitous post of children I love...

Insert gratuitous post of children I love…

So basically people – let me just cut to the chase - WHAT’S WITH THE JUDGMENT?

Over the past 4 or so days I’ve heard people say some of the harshest things about being a parent, a person, and a general human being.  The ones that irk me the most are the parenting ones though.

It’s funny because my kids talk about how “unfair” I am all of the time.

“What?  You won’t let me play Halo?  That’s harsh Mom, ____[insert name of friend] can!”

“Huh?  I can’t eat 3 desserts today?  That’s ridiculous!”

“Mom, you’re so lame.  You won’t let me play darts over my brothers head with steak knives.  I bet ____’s Mom would let them.”

You know what I tell them?  Different families, different rules.  And we carry on.  Why can’t we parents apply this rule to one another?

Oh, but on some level I get it.  I’ve raised my eyebrow at other parents and scorned their choices at times.  I’ve wondered why they weren’t using the Striding Mom Guide to Parenting that so clearly works…well, at least 50% of the time.  I mean, I was guilty just the other night.  But the fact of the matter is.

You. Never. Know.

IMG_2012Until you’ve walked [or run] a few miles in someone else’s shoes you just don’t know what their reality is like.

Truth be told, we’re dealing with some “stuff” with one of my boys.  It’s behavioral stuff, it involves diagnosing things and it’s so very hard.  Let me tell you, my son’s behavior is not because I’m not giving him enough attention, boundaries, praise, discipline, etc.  It’s because there is something different about him.  I’m not sure what yet, but we’re slowly finding out.

And yes, I’m embarrassed sometimes by the choices he makes, but I can’t show you that, because it will hurt his heart like you wouldn’t believe.  So I push that aside and support him.

And I have bad days too.  And I get frustrated with him too – more than I should.  And that breaks my heart as well.  He’s learning.  I’m learning.  We’re all learning.

So next time, before you offer your unsolicited advice about anything to anyone (because trust you me, this goes so far beyond parenting), let’s be sure to remember some wise words from Dr. Seuss…

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Have you had your mellow harshed this week?

Any wise lessons you’ve learned from walking in someone else’s shoes?

Four Corners

3.1 Hilly Miles
Putzy Strides

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.  Apparently hills make me insane.   I keep running them hoping I’ll eventually like them, but I don’t.  And lately, my workouts are mostly hills.

Small sample of today’s run

We runners really are a crazy bunch.  If you’re a runner you get this, and if you’re not – YOU REALLY KNOW THIS.   My insanity with hills only proves this to myself.  But for the general running population, the craziness was verified on my way to summer camp drop off a few weeks ago.

I stumbled across a major intersection with what can only be recorded as possibly the world’s longest light, giving time for ample people watching.  Seriously this light makes me want to shout four letter words about 10 times a week.

Corner 1:  Back It Up  In corner #1 I saw a man jog across the street and upon arriving to the opposite side of the street he proceeded to turn around, and run.  Backwards.  Down the street.

I have no idea how he did it.  There is not a graceful bone in my body.  I fall on a regular basis running and walking forward, so I won’t chance it going backwards.

Corner 2:  Stretchy Sue  In Corner 2, Stretchy Sue put on quite the show doing yoga.  And I’m not talking sissy stretchy poses like a lunge.  I’m talking arm balance poses like dolphin & firefly.

Maybe I’m missing something (like yes, Sheila, you do need to stretch more) but I just can’t imagine taking 3 minutes to bust into fancy schmancy yoga poses amidst morning rush hour.  I save that embarrassment for my kids (and apparently my mother).

Corner 3:  Fast Foot McGee  Dude was doing high knees, butt kicks and jogging circles around the corner.

I know the running world is split on this one.  I get it, 80% of the time I stand there looking pissed like this photo declares.  But….(there’s always a but) if I’ve run more than 14 miles and I have to actually physically stop, I. won’t. start. again.

So if you see me doing this, rest assured I’m near the end of a long run and that’s my only excuse.

Corner 4:  Push Up Dude  This jogger decided he didn’t want to be lumped with Fast Foot McGee doing the jogger shuffle on the street, but apparently couldn’t handle the 3 minute break so he just dropped to the sidewalk and gave all passerby spectators 20.

20 pushups that is.

When I hang out on street corners I’m most likely to be staring wistfully at people in their cars crabbily at my watch, clutching at my iPhone to stop my iMapMyRun app, or stretching my calves (not doing fancy schmancy yoga moves).  But mostly, when possible, I just avoid streetlights when running.

How do you handle the street corners?

Let me hear your tricks!  (Bah dum pah…pun totally and completely intended!)

Celebrity BFF’s

Jillian Michaels DVD
Brief Bursty Strides

Dear Avid Search Engine Users Who Find My Site,

Nope, that didn’t say busty strides, but bursty.   My regrets that every day you are STILL searching “naughty mom” and “being naughty with sister” and ending up at this sorry page.  My sincerest apologies.

Workout plans were scratched yesterday after I went back to bed with the 4:30 alarm clock because I had only had about 4.5 hours of sleep.  I’m learning that sleep is one of my fuels and that tank was way low.  So Jillian and I spent some serious workout time together last night.

Let me hold on for dear life trainer – I almost fell.  Felicity, you want some Nuun to help hydrate?  (Photo courtesy of What the Flicka and my atrocious editing skills)

Speaking of celebrities, while I am not a huge celebri-stalker like a certain waify runner we all read, have you seen What the Flicka?  It’s snarky, it’s real, it’s about moms (or not actually), and the best part is, it’s the brain-child of Felicity Huffman, who occassionally posts and who if we ever met, I am certain we would want to be my BFF or my RBFF (Running BFF).

True confession that will either make you love me or hate me:  I never watched Desperate Housewives.  But one of the few episodes I caught glimpses of was her chasing an unruly roost of boys around which pretty much made my heart skip a beat.  I was also a huge fan of Felicity on Sports Night back in the day.  (Sidenote:  My dream job is to work with Colin Cowherd on Sports Nation but he just keeps getting blonder prettier co-hosts, someday he’ll wake up and realize I should be the snarky sort of blonde co-hosting with him).

She runs a few miles before a race. See – BFF or BRFF (best running friend forever)

And from what I’ve read or seen (because clearly the media is SUPER correct all of the time especially with a celebrity who tries to stay out of the spotlight) Felicity and I would be instant BFF’s.  It was obvious when she linked pictures of bear poo to a post on What the Flicka?.  Now that’s my style.

To celebrate our new BFF-ship and passion for fitness we’d meet for a little SoCal coastal run.  We’d chat about being working moms, staying fit, and how to thwart off the paparazzi.  I mean, I can’t shake those 42″-48″ people who follow me around with the camera taking pictures constantly and then sending them to unsuspecting souls like “Grandma” and “Aunties”.

Then she’d talk me off the ledge about my fear of open water swimming and we’d make plans to meet up after the Malibu Triathlon which she famously participates in.  We’d laugh about work life balance and our love of writing.

Remember this aftermath from my first run with Road Runners Group? I sported all the colors of the rainbow on my legs for about 10 days after this. I guess that’s what it takes to integrate “color” into my wardrobe.

Naturally there would be a a 75% chance of me falling over some poor unsuspecting branch, twig, an imaginary crack in the road or most likely, my own two feet.  So, I’d spend the rest of the day with black and blue legs and  bruised ego for the remainder of our run, but don’t worry, she’d be happy to have some good writing material about her awkward, gangly friend.

We’d grab some post workout fro-yo (because in my mind, everyone loves post workout fro-yo to wash down their Nuun) and make plans to meet up after the next triathlon we’re doing together and we discuss squeezing in a training sesh together before then- because naturally I’d listen to Felicity Huffman.  Then we’d be off  to grab our bambinos and get on with the work day.

So this begs the question, who’d your celebrity BFF be?