No Boring Salads Here & Kid’s Deconstructed Salad

You might think this is boring, but I love salads in the summer.  Sure I am a Health Coach, and you would assume that I love all things healthy.  However, my family would tell you I have a deep love for Cool Ranch Doritos and Crunchy Cheetos.  In fact, a few days ago, Mary and I took a date day and went out to the lake to enjoy these treats on the dock.  It was a special moment for this mom!

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Back to the salads.  As soon as the warm weather arrives, I crave a fresh pile of greens and toppings.  Over the years, I have learned there are so many ways to spice up a simple salad and save a ton of time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to play outside with your family.  Even better, most of the simple ingredients you use, can be plated for kids (or salad hating adults) to enjoy as their meal.

Grab a few ingredients, and you can easily switch things up throughout the week for a different dinner every night.  You can also throw leftovers together for lunch the next day.

It’s all about the base.  These days, there are so many types of pre-washed greens.  You can buy these by the bag or container.  You can also buy salad kits.  I discovered last year that my 2 year old loved Caesar Salad kits and now she loves the kale and Brussels sprout with poppyseed dressing.  The cool thing about kits is that you can use the fixings, or skip their dressing and add your own favorites.  I personally love the kale kit, but usually just use the greens and then make my own creation.

Veggies are great, but think beyond the produce section.  Sure, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and carrots are great.  But don’t forget about canned and frozen veggies.  Canned black beans, corn, and chickpeas can easily be rinsed and thrown into the mix.  They are also budget friendly!

Frozen veggies are picked at their ripest and flash frozen.  You can often find them in steam packets that go directly into the microwave.  Warm them up and then pop some onto your plate.

It’s okay to add a touch of carbs to the mix.  One of my favorite meals is the Caesar salad from a place called The Noodle.  As you might guess, they are known for their homemade fresh pasta and even the salad comes topped with noodles.  It is a delicious addition.

Orzo is easy to make and let cool off in a colander.  Rice packets are another great addition.  Toast some day old bread and break into croutons.  

You can always add dairy.  Add this for some extra flavor and protein.  There are so many delicious options from shredded cheddar and parmesan, to bleu cheese, feta, and crumbled goat cheese.

Maybe you protein.  Maybe you don’t.  I do love meat, but I have been making a conscious effort to eat more plant based meals.  By adding a bunch of other flavors and textures to my plate, I don’t always need meat.  But when I do, I sometimes think beyond the traditional chicken, steak, or salmon.  You can find tuna packets, which are a lower calorie protein with high Omega 3 healthy fats.

Morning Star farms offers traditional black bean and Mediterranean chickpea burgers.  I also really like their veggie “chicken” patties.  Boca Burgers have a surprisingly great texture and taste pretty darn similar to a regular burger.

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Meat free “chicken” patties with BBQ and ranch.  So good!

 

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The girls had a taco.

Deconstruct your salad and please even the pickiest eaters.  Before I go further, I urge you not to underestimate your kids.  I never thought my oldest would love Caesar salads at 2 years old.  I didn’t know my one year old would beg for bites of cabbage.  Try adding a small salad to a plate.  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Don’t refer to it as “healthy.”  Just make it part of the meal.  If they decide they don’t like it, no big deal.

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Whatever “tools” you use to build your salad, plate them out on your kids’ dishes.  For example, if you decide to make a Mexican salad, add cheese, beans, meat, and peppers to your little ones’ plates.  Add some dip or salsa and a tortilla.  Let them roll theirs into a taco or burrito.

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I can’t pass on some Annie’s mac and cheese shells!

What I love about this approach is that you are never eating a salad while the rest of your family eats something different.  This isn’t about healthy vs. unhealthy or one person eating healthy while others are eating a different dinner.  You are eating together as a family.  When you put together ingredients for the week, you can easily whip up a meal in minutes for everyone.

What is your favorite way to eat a salad?

Incorporating Running Into Vacations & Work Trips

One of the biggest hurdles many of the runners I work with, is getting training runs in during vacations and travel.  Whether you are away on a trip, out of town for work, or at a wedding, there are usually ways to get your runs in.  Research is almost always your best bet to make this process easier.

Plan ahead:  The internet is your friend.  Get on Google and Google Maps and take a look at what the area will be like.  Is it safe to run?  Are there sidewalks or running paths?  Many area websites offer advice on great places to run.  I research hotels and resorts based on their gyms.  When we took a trip to Punta Cana, I made sure there was a good indoor space to run, knowing that outside wouldn’t be a safe option.

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Super pregnant me, made sure our hotel at Grandma’s Marathon had room for me to run!

Get on the phone:  Call your hotel concierge and ask about their gym and recommendations for places to run.  Make sure you tell them how far you are looking to go!  Did you know that some Westin’s offer Running Concierges?

Contact the local running stores.  Many offer weekly and weekend group runs.  Fleet Feet in Chicago has a fantastic Chick’s Night and a variety of group runs throughout the week.  These are great ways to meet people and learn about other fun places to run, eat, or drink in the city you are visiting.

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This was recommended by the concierge during my visit to Cleveland for a wedding.

Find a local gym:  If you know that the place you are visiting won’t be great for outdoor running or the weather is looking questionable, call local gyms and find out what type of day passes they offer.  Some will give you one day for free.  I recently got a day pass at a beautiful new L.A. Fitness for $15.  When I went to pay, they reminded me to keep my receipt because it was valid for 24 hours!

Try something different:  When we took a weekend trip to Boston, I had read about a local running tour that visitors often use.  We booked our tour and added on the Harpoon Brewery tour option.  City Running tours made our visit to Boston one of the best memories of our vacation.  Our guide was fun and knowledgeable.  We were able to visit far more places than most tourists get to do on foot in one day, let alone in two hours.  Plus, we got to visit a brewery and enjoy unlimited sips for awhile.

Find an event:  Whenever we visit a place for more than a few days, I go on Running In The USA to see if the area we are staying in has any events going on.  It doesn’t always work, but we’ve been lucky enough to find a few races during our stays.  We once found a really fun 10k at a golf resort near where we were staying in Florida.  It was such a great way to start a Saturday morning of vacation.

If you are staying somewhere safe, go explore:  When we went on our honeymoon to Aruba, we chose our vacation because the island is incredibly safe.  It is also conveniently small and basically experiences the same weather every day, year round.  Knowing that it was okay to run around the island, allowed us to log 70 miles over the course of a week.  We took time to stop in shops and wandered through neighborhoods and touristy areas.  We left feeling like we really got a great understanding of what Aruba was like.

It might take a little research to find a place to run.  But if you take some time to plan ahead, running during a vacation or other events, can really be a great way to enjoy your time in a new place.

How do you like to get a run in when you are out of town?

Slowcooker Cheesy Ranch Chicken

I’ve been going through a salad phase lately and was recently looking to make a big batch of protein to top my salads.  At the same time, I wanted to find a family friendly recipe that could be used in versatile ways.  My three year old loves salads and my one and a half year old has yet to meet a food she doesn’t like.  I started looking at chicken with ranch recipes, hoping to appease our Midwestern tastebuds.

I found a few recipes that I liked and decided to switch things around and make one that I thought my family would enjoy most.  The result was that we ate one batch for three days straight and then made another double batch by request of everyone in our house.  The picture below doesn’t do it justice.  It’s not the prettiest shredded chicken.  Let me promise you, this is a crowd pleaser!

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My husband commented that the chicken tasted really decadent, and while it does have a lovely combo of cheese going on, it isn’t as decadent as it tastes.  It is delicious topped on salads, in wraps or burritos, or simply for dinner with some veggies and rice on the side.

This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prep and then does it’s thing in the slow cooker while you are doing your own thing.

I threw down a bed of romaine and added diced tomatoes, red onion, a variety of beans, and corn.  When I make salads I chop up a variety of veggies and keep them in the fridge so I have quick options for dinners or lunches during the week.  You can also grab a microwaveable pack of rice and add a bit to your salads or wraps too.

The fun thing about salads is that you can change the fixings and feel like you are having a different meal every night.

Slowcooker Creamy Ranch Chicken:

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth (or water)

2 packets ranch dressing mix

1- 8 ounce package cream cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

Directions:

Spray the inside of your slow cooker and then place chicken breasts in the bottom.  Pour broth or water on top of chicken and sprinkle one packet of ranch on top.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Remove lid and discard most of the liquid, leaving a few tablespoons inside.  Shred the chicken and then add cream cheese and another packet of ranch to the slow cooker.  Let cook for 30 minutes and then remove lid and stir ingredients.  Add the cheese and stir again.  Put lid back on and keep on warm until everything is well mixed and you are ready to eat.

Note:  I added the second packet of ranch because when you discard the juices, much of the mix is also removed.  Since most of the liquid is removed before the rest of the ingredients are added, it might not be necessary to use broth, as it doesn’t add a lot of flavor.  The liquid simply keeps the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  If you are concerned about sodium intake, it might be helpful for you to skip the broth.

We also served this at a party as a dip.  Try it with crackers, pieces of tortilla, bread, or veggies.  A few people even made mini quesadillas.

Colds & Flu- To Run Or Not To Run

Many runners ask me if they should continue running when they have a cold.  The answer isn’t always easy, but it certainly is if you have the flu.

I’ve touched upon this subject in the past, but I wanted to take a look at this topic again, because we were visited by both in the past few weeks.  Firsthand knowledge is always helpful.  Or at least, that is the positive spin I am trying to put on this situation.

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The whole family got hit with a bug!

Several years ago I attended a fantastic presentation given by Matt Fitzgerald, one of the leading experts in the sport of running.  One of the attendees asked Mr. Fitzgerald his opinion on running with a cold.  He firmly replied that if you have a cold and are not running a fever, it is fine to run.  In fact, some research shows that running might help shorten your cold and ease some of the symptoms.

Running releases adrenaline, which not only boosts your mood after a workout, but it can also work as a decongestant.  This can help break up some of that stuffiness you might be feeling.

Many runners ask me what they should do when they have a cold and are training for races and I always recommend that you listen to your body.  If you are feeling achy or really under the weather, skip a workout and enjoy the rest.  However, if you are experiencing a runny nose and nagging cough, a slow and easy run might give you that boost to feel better for the rest of the day and get rid of some of that stuffiness that is making you feel so miserable.  Just plan on bringing along tissues or turning into a snotty mess.

A few weeks ago, I started the weekend out with some annoying stuffiness and chest congestion.  I used my runs as a way to get things moving along and generally felt better.  By Monday morning, I woke up feeling like my stomach was on fire.  I chalked it up to eating a lot of crappy food that I normally don’t consume over the weekend.

Two days later, my stomach was still feeling awful.  I was lethargic and my muscles felt wiped out.  I tried going for a run, hoping a good sweat would help, but ended up doing run/walk intervals to get me through.  It was then that I realized, I wasn’t just dealing with a cold.  Something had hit me and I needed to graciously bow out of the running game.

Later in the week, we got a call from school.  Our 3 year old came home with a sick tummy.  After several days of fevers, she was on the mend.  Her good friend Daniel Tiger gave the best advice she needed, “When you are sick, rest is best.  Rest is best.”  Thank you tiger friend for giving our wild 3 year old the understanding that sometimes we just need to slow down.

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Rest really is best. Two days later!

When it comes to the flu, or times when you have a fever, muscle aches, or lethargy, it is time to rest.  Skip the run and spend some time on the couch or back in bed.  We runners know all about recovery when it comes to our training plans.  Sometimes our health has other plans.  If you have the flu or other symptoms that sideline you, push the training plan aside and opt for rest.

Don’t fret that it will hurt your training.  In fact, if you try to push through with a plan while you are truly sick, you are going to delay your recovery.  A few days or even a week off, if carefully planned, will not sideline you.  Take a look at your plan or chat with your coach and find a way to adjust.  You can almost always find a way to make things work.

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Listen to the expert.

If you have a cold, ease up on your runs.  It might be a good idea to skip speed work.  Slow your runs down and focus on quality aerobic workouts.  These are your base, the foundation, of your training.  In the long run, you aren’t going to get faster by pushing the pace when you are run down.  Instead, focus on building that base of your training by slowing down and just getting in some miles.

Never underestimate the power of a healthy eating plan and hydration.  Drink plenty of fluids when you are feeling under the weather and avoid dairy, which might worsen your congestion.

What do you prefer to do when you aren’t feeling well?  Do you find that you feel better after a run when you have a cold?

I’m (Finally) Back!

Where do I begin?  Happy New Year?!  My apologies for the delayed return.  I had planned to get back to blogging earlier, but as usual there were some unexpected twists.

Our late fall/early winter in New York was absolutely wonderful.  The weather cooperated for the most part and our family had great adventures in the city; a big change from our very rural life in the off season.

Our 3 year old, Mary, figured out how to get up off of the ice on her own and that was a huge game changer.  While I taught lessons every day at the ice rink in Central Park, she was able to skate around and join classes with us.  She decided that she was going to be both a figure skater and a hockey player!

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Helping mom string a hockey net for class.

Lucy, our now 16 month old, even got in on the fun and tried marching around in skates that were much too big for her.  She only wants to do what big sister does and I can’t blame her.

Where Did I Disappear To?

I had big plans to get back to blogging and running adventures in the New Year, but I kept seeing information about a very intriguing certification course for running coaches.  I decided to skip the blogging (and basically anything else) for the next few weeks to pursue a new coaching certification.

Revo2lution Running is a 4 week training course that delves deeply into the science of running.  While I have my RRCA certification along with my ACE Health Coaching Certification, I am always looking to learn more about running and health and wellness.

What I loved about this course was that it combined these two areas of interest on a deeper level that I have been looking for.  Understanding more of the science behind running as well as the differences in training for men and women was exactly what I wanted.  By passing this test, I also received certification to teach treadmill classes in facilities.  I’m really looking forward to starting these classes up soon.

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As a coach, I am always interested in broadening my knowledge of running and coaching.  I enjoy listening to other coaches and experts and bringing these new tools to runners who choose to work with me.  I’m looking forward to sharing some of the information I have learned and posting more in the next few weeks.

What are you goals for 2019?

Brings Me Back-NYC Marathon

Hello from New York City!  You may have noticed my absence the past few weeks, or perhaps not.  I know that I have been pretty quiet around here lately.  The reason for silence is because I have been busy working 7 days a week for the past few weeks at the ice rink in Central Park.  I used to work there years ago.  It was how I worked my way through college when I first arrived in New York and where I met my husband, on my first day of work.

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Six years ago, we left New York and moved to Chicago and later to Michigan.  We continue to work here in the spring and fall and last winter I got a text from a co-worker asking if I could work her maternity leave this winter.  Knowing the struggles of becoming a mom and then the next struggle of being a working mom, I gladly obliged to a return to Wollman Rink for a few weeks.

The work isn’t easy.  The hours are rough.  I’m up well before the sun rises each morning and I run home to meet the girls after a few hours on the ice.  I return to the ice later in the day to work some more, before running the 4 miles back to get our children fed and to bed.  We’ve suffered colds, sinus infections, and ear infections.  But we are finally on the mend and despite being exhausted, we are having a  great time in the city.  So please excuse my absence over the next few weeks, I have great plans for a big return after the holidays.

Until then, I want to offer a huge congratulations and thank you to all of the runners of the New York City Marathon.  Anyone who dares to run and anybody who dares to train and finish a marathon is a super hero.  It is an incredible process that requires months, and weeks, and hours of diligence.  There are days of exhaustion and times of injury.  But there is nothing more incredible than crossing that finish line.

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That time Mary was a few weeks old and we went to cheer on the last of the runners on their way through Brooklyn!

I ran for many years leading up to the first time I really had a chance to admire the New York City Marathon.  It is always hectic trying to get in and out of the rink in Central Park, as it is very close to the finish line.  Most years I worked all morning and afternoon and missed much of the race.  When I finally got my own apartment situated in East Harlem, right by the 19 mile mark, I had a sunny afternoon to myself and I went to watch the runners.

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Spectating a marathon will change even the hardest of souls.  You will witness humans at their absolute greatest.  People are drenched in sweat and struggling.  Some are beaming and smiling.  Others are grimacing and crying.  Along the sidelines you will find people of all backgrounds, coming together to cheer on family and friends, and strangers.  It is amazing!

Watching those runners who spent months training for this big event, that year, touched me.  I felt chills listening to a band up the street, and the cowbells ringing.  There were dozens of languages being spoken around me and people were calling out names of strangers whose names were taped across their bibs.

The marathon was a uniting force!

I went home feeling like a changed person.  I commented on what an incredible experience it appeared to be, but that I would never do something so crazy.  Yet, that moment stuck with me, and was the reason I have run several marathons and helped hundreds of others cross their own finish lines.

There is something very special about the New York City Marathon.  A city that can be so busy rushing to and from work and other occasions, finds the time to slow down to cheer for tens of thousands of strangers for one magical day.

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This year was extra magical because I got to take my girls to cheer on the runners near that same place that forever changed me.  Mary made a sign and was quite the hit waving and cheering on the runners.  At one moment she asked me why people were “stopping.”  I tried my best to explain to her how hard those last few miles are for so many of us.  I choked back tears as I held her and watched people passing by and said, “You run when you can and walk if you have to.  We all just keep going.”

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Congrats to everyone who ran New York and Indianapolis this weekend!

Post Race Recovery-Avoid Injury And Sedentary Craziness

Many runners just completed some major races this last weekend.  Others are getting ready to complete their final big races for the year.  What do you do after the race?  When do you come back?  How do you properly recover?  Remember that old rule that said you should take a day off for every mile you ran?  That is now a thing of the past and for many runners that is great news.  Can you imagine taking 26 days off after a marathon? Then again, maybe you can!

While there is quite a bit of science to running, there isn’t a set plan for recovery after an event.  There are several important factors to consider with your recovery:

How Long Was Your Race and Training Cycle:

Did you just complete an 18 week training cycle leading up to your marathon?  Were you running 50-60 miles per week during your plan?  You will likely require more rest than a runner who did a 12 week plan for a 10K.  The longer your training plan and the more miles completed might take a harder toll on your body and mind than a shorter race and mileage.

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How About a 5K to Couch Plan!

How Do You Feel?

This is a two part question.  While you need to consider how your legs and muscles are responding, you also need to assess how you are feeling mentally.  If you are experiencing tiredness and a loss of interest in running, go ahead and give yourself some time to fall back in love.  What is the point of hitting the pavement if it is no longer enjoyable?  This can be a normal feeling as you come off of training and the excitement of your event.  All runners go through this.  We need a break at times from all things we love and running is no different.

Some of the mental symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome are feeling sluggish, emotional, overly tried, sad, and just plain down in the dumps.  We all know that running is 90% mental, so it makes sense that we might need a break in this arena as well.

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Are You Dealing With Any Injuries?:

One of the hardest parts of any training cycle is avoiding injuries.  They are almost inevitable.  Most often, we train through these injuries.  Or perhaps you sustained an injury during the race.  It goes without saying that you need to give your body time to fully heal.  Sure, you can push through an injury to some extent to get through training.  But after the race is over, it would be unwise to continue with this approach.  Now is the time to rest and recover before you return.

There are so many different ways to approach injuries and I recommend you find what is most helpful for you and your needs.  Options range from traditional doctors and physical therapists to massage, acupuncture, yoga, and cupping.  Many facilities offer an array of different recovery techniques.  When you find an approach that you feel most comfortable and confident with, you are more likely to stick to a prescribed plan.

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Take Some Time To Reflect:

How do you feel your training went?  Are there things you would change?  What about the race?  Was it enjoyable?  Did the experience ignite a fire or inspire you to do something else?  Do you feel like this was a negative experience?

All of these questions are important to consider for your future.  Maybe you need a revenge race.  If that is the case you need to consider what went wrong and how you will change things moving forward.  Perhaps something went wrong in training.  The actual race might not have been the right one for you.

If you had a great experience and are ready to repeat or up the ante, you need to think about what went right in your training and how you can repeat that or make it even better.  Will you repeat the race or find another one that is similar?

Is is time to put racing to the side and just run for fun?  That is okay.  Some people love running for the sake of running and don’t need races or events to keep them content.  Think of different ways to help keep things exciting and motivating.

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Races and endurance events can be a great experience.  It can also take a mental and physical toll.  Your first goal should be to take care of you.  Rest and recovery are important.  This doesn’t mean you need to become a couch potato.  Active rest can be a perfect way to get back in the game healthy and happy.  Go for a walk, bike ride, swim, or play with the family.  Keep moving and take care of you!

Did you race this past weekend?  How was your experience?

Training Doesn’t Always Have To Be Perfect + Riding The Wave

This summer has already been a whirlwind for us.  The first half of June was spent preparing for our 2 year old’s first dance recital.  That was a crazy foretaste of what our lives will like be in a few years as our kids grow, and sports and other activities take over.  Rock was in NYC until the end of June and that meant the majority of my runs were on the treadmill while children took naps.

Every summer for the past few years Rock and I have participated in Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival of Races.  I realized this year that of all the races we have done, this is the only one we make a point to sign up for.  The Cherry Festival is a really fun event for all ages and their races are beautiful and well organized.  Despite the fact that Rock had been logging 30,000-40,000 steps each day in NYC but not always having a chance to get in a run and my lack of hitting the pavement, we decided we would do the half marathon again.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to come join us.  He had done his first half marathon in May and finished just under 2 hours.  Shortly after, we discussed his goal of aiming for a 1:50 half and decided that with some smart training, it could be a potential A goal for this particular race.  I created a plan for him and we worked out some game plans to get him through race day.

The week before the race, Rock and I decided that regardless of how little actual training we had done, we needed to get at least 10 miles in before race day.  I had been logging daily 7 mile runs, but hadn’t set foot in the hot summer conditions yet.  Obviously, we picked a day when the temps were to hit the mid 90’s.  By the time we dropped the girls off at daycare and started, the air was already soupy.  I knew it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.

Fell apart they did.  At mile 5 we stopped for a water break and by mile 6, I was down to taking a break every half mile.  I was dehydrated and felt ill.  I made it home, but was left feeling pretty defeated.

Then we left for our annual week in Northern Wisconsin where just about everything I ate was fried and every run was done pushing our double stroller up and down hills in the hot summer heat.  Things were not looking good!

Friday night we arrived home with our bellies full of the only fast food we could find along the interstate, leaving me up at 3:30am with heartburn.  Not exactly the ideal pre-race dinner!

An hour later we were up and fueling again, ready to hit the high school where buses were waiting to ship us out to the Old Mission Peninsula where the race would start at a winery.

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I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous.  I was beyond nervous.  I knew that my body could handle 13 miles.  I love double digit runs.  However, that 10 miler the week before was really playing hard in the back of my mind and race day was going to be relatively warm.  While it was 50 degrees when we started, I knew it was going to climb by 20 degrees over the next two hours.

The first two and a half miles wove up and down through dirt paths of local cherry orchards, before spitting us out on the road that runs along West Grand Traverse Bay.  From here we followed the bay for the next several miles.  The view is beautiful and the homes along the water are quite spectacular.

I felt good, but noticed that the heat was getting to me and I was waiting to see when my body would fall apart like before.  I had a mile where I started to feel like I was fading and feared the end was near.  Then I began to feel a renewed strength in my legs and my pace slowly increased.

I kept assessing how I was feeling, but at times I was reading into it too much.  I was trying to find the negativity.  Once I realized this, I worked to clear my head.  I turned my music up and just let my body settle in.  I had done this distance many times.  In the past, I was in better shape or more prepared, but my body and mind knew how to do this.

I forgot that every mile can be so different.  Some miles will feel great.  Other miles, your body will struggle.  There will be miles where your mind tries to fool you into giving up.  And there will be miles where you are ready to tackle just about anything.  The key is, you can’t let any particular mile take over your race.  You have to remember that things will change.  The good will come with bad.  The bad will eventually wash away.

When I remembered this, my mind gave my body renewed strength.  I had no idea where I was in the pack of runners, but I knew I would be okay and I decided to stop worrying about everyone else around me, and just run the rest of that race.

I crossed the finish line surprisingly better than I had expected.  When the results were posted I was walking to the car and happened to look on my phone.  I was shocked to see that I had finished 26th for the women and 3rd in my age group.  What a pleasant surprise!

You never know what might come of your training.  There might be injuries or other setbacks.  Life can get in the way.  The key is to do the best with what you have.  Make it work and then go forward on race day and trust your body.  Let your mind trust you.  Training will rarely be ideal.  That doesn’t mean that your race can’t have great results.  Roll with the wave and you never know where you will come out at the end.

 

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I also have to give a huge congrats to my brother-in-law who finished with a 12 minute PR in his second half marathon ever.  He’s seriously a rockstar!

The Best Gift

Happy Monday and happy day after Mother’s Day!  I hope you all had a great weekend.

It was a little chilly and rainy in NYC this weekend.  In fact, we took the girls for a run on Saturday and got stuck in a downpour.  They managed to nap through it while we hid under the RFK Bridge on Randall’s Island.  Rock and I were soaked, but the girls were perfectly content in their stroller.

On Sunday Rock rearranged his work schedule to gift me an hour to run by myself.  I saw on the Today Show that most moms would like the day off from parenting, but I wanted to spend the day with my girls.  However, after pushing the girls in the BOB Dualie for the past two weeks, it felt awesome to run on my own.  It feels so effortless when you ditch pushing 60 pounds up and down the hills around here.  I was cruising!

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It was also a really great time for me to reflect.  I use my running in a variety of ways.  Sometimes it is about testing the limits of my body, or my mind.  Other times, running is a way for me to clear my head or work through different situations.  Running is my therapy.  I almost always come back with a clearer head and ready to be a better person, regardless of whether a run goes well or not.

On yesterdays run, I was reflecting on being a mom.  It certainly hasn’t gone the way I had prepared for most days, and it certainly didn’t start out the way I had planned.

Like many women, I had hoped to get married and start our family.  But as life often does, things took a little longer than planned.  At the time, it was very difficult for me emotionally.  I spent a lot of time dealing with those emotions on my runs.  It was cathartic.

Once I was pregnant, the miracle of what was to come was appreciated in a completely new way, perhaps more than I would have realized had things happened faster.

I ran through both my pregnancies and felt like it was a special time that I got to spend with that little peanut growing with me.  I hoped that perhaps my being healthy and active might be passed along to our little ones.

These days, I run with the girls in the stroller and I enjoy my times with them, even when I repeatedly hear, “Can we go back home now?”  I like our adventures to new places or playing “I Spy” as we go along.  I love having the girls see me enjoy running and exercising.  It is something we get to do together as a family.

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Things have definitely changed.  I don’t get to sleep in on weekends anymore because some people think 6am is a perfect time to jump up and get going.  I don’t have the luxury of sitting around and drinking coffee until I feel ready to go on a run.  We have nap schedules and bottle times.  You either get your run in during the allotted time, or you are out of luck for the day.

There isn’t always as much time for workouts or for prepping the best meals.  I haven’t done a workout besides running in several weeks now, because it just hasn’t fit into my day.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

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The night before Lucy was born!

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These girls….they’ve made me stronger in ways I never could have imagined.  My two year old knows how to test the limits in ways that drive me nuts and also secretly crack me up.  The way she can ask the same question repeatedly for 15 minutes makes me think she has a future with the CIA.

The love they have showed me and the things they are teaching me makes my heart want to burst full of joy.  Just thinking about them and what they have brought into my life brings tears to my eyes.  They have made us a family!

Being a mother runner isn’t easy.  Running itself will never be easy.  But I certainly believe that being a mother runner can actually make you stronger than you could ever possibly imagine.

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Somehow I have less time to run and less time to work out.  But in the months after having Mary, I PR’ed in my return marathon.  A few weeks ago I won a race as Lucy ran along with her dad.  Being a mom, and the act of becoming a mom, gives you the strength to do endless things.

The greatest gift I’ve ever received has been these two little girls.  I’m forever grateful for the strength they have given me and for their patience as I continually learn to be their mom.

I also want to send love to any woman who has hopes to be a mom.  There was a time when reading Mother’s Day posts was difficult for me.  A friend perfectly said yesterday, “Be patient.  God may not be done writing your story just yet.”

Happy Mother’s Day.  How was your weekend?  Anyone else love running with their kids or fur kids?

Favorite Websites

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered a few new places to shop online.  Some you may have heard of, others might be new to you as well.  I thought it would be a fun Friday topic to share some of my favorite shopping sites and hear what yours are too.

Adelaqueen.com  was a site I came across this past winter while looking for a new coat.  I have a friend who has the cutest furry coat that looks to me just like a warm teddy bear.  When I saw Rory Gilmore wearing something similar during my pregnancy bedrest, I took the extra down time to start searching.

I didn’t want real fur.  I have my grandmother’s old furs but when I tried them on in high school, it just felt kind of gross to me to have a dead animal wrapped around me.  Plus, faux fur can be much cheaper.  I searched all over the web and found Adelaqueen to be highly rated, super cute, and perfectly priced.  I loved having this new coat all winter and didn’t worry about wearing it anywhere I felt like because at the price I paid, I won’t be devastated if something happens to it.

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This is the one I opted for.

Thriftbooks.com was my favorite find this Christmas.  I came across a list of great books to teach empathy and kindness to young children.  I did a search and came across this website that sells good quality used books at a great price.  For around $3.79 each book, I ended up buying several dozen to wrap up for the girls.

We love reading books in our house, but they get manhandled by the kids.  It is fun to fill their bookcases and not have to worry if something gets damaged.  I also purchased a few cookbooks and gifts for family and friends.

One of our favorites is “Tough Guys Have Feelings Too.”

Nordstromrack.com isn’t exactly new to me, but it never crossed my mind that I could actually do outlet shopping from the comfort of my own home.

Before we left for Mexico this past winter, I got on this website and scored some awesome summer sandals for less than $20.  As you may have noticed, I love a good bargain!

Albionfit.com  came on my radar from visiting the sixsistersstuff website.  This is a family owned business based out of Utah that makes women’s clothing for swimming, sport, and life.  Their clothes are fashionable and practical and the business focuses on being green.

I love their swimsuits and when a winter sale hit, I grabbed a cute one piece.  I was a little irritated when something happened with my order, but when I reached out to express my dissatisfaction, they promptly rectified the problem and gave me a little something extra.  Excellent customer service is a big one in my book.

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What are your recent favorite sites to shop?  Do you like to find good bargains?