A therapeutic run

Have you seen some of the 10 Running Questions posts going around? I had planned to answer those this morning (thanks, Robin, for the tag!), but all weekend I was thinking about my friend Terzah’s answer to question number two: three words that describe my running.  She listed:




I experience one or all of these every time I run.  Even on my worst runs, getting out the door is always freeing. 

Nearly every run is also rejuvenating.  No matter how I feel at the start, my energy is revived, and I come home “sweaty and happy” as daddy and L like to say.

And it never fails that when I most need it, my run becomes therapeutic.

Such was the case with my 12 miler this weekend.  I was excited to finally be back to longer weekend runs, and the weather was cool enough for an old favorite trail that had been too sunny for the summer months.  I generally prefer to run in silence, as there is enough “noise” in my day and I value quiet time to think, pray, meditate, zone out… whatever is needed.

This weekend, I opted for music.  I chose a new RPM track I’m memorizing for spin, and set out.

The cool weather, upbeat music and change of scenery combined for a nearly perfect run.  I cruised along, feeling strong and lucky to be out, soaking it all up.  I was having a blast, feeling upbeat and energized.

And then something happened.

The last song came on, “93 Million Miles” by Jason Mraz.  The soothing, mellow song and appropriate lyrics struck me as I was approaching our house…

“To share this view of the night, a glorious night, over the horizon is another bright sky
Oh, my my how beautiful, oh my…father,
He told me, “Son sometimes it may seem dark, but the absence of the light is a necessary part.
Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home” [emphasis mine]

…and suddenly, as I began cooling down and stretching, I was overwhelmed with emotions and let the tears flow. “Home” can be interpreted various ways.  For me, it holds a faith component.  For others, it may be finding security in family, friends, within yourself.

The absense of light is a necessary part… I’m learning this over and over in life, there are stages where we cannot see what is to come, cannot possibly know why things are as they are, and this is okay.  It is a necessary part.  We are not in control.

My life is full.  I feel blessed.  I am content with what I’ve been given and what I have.  But there are times when I struggle with the future… with letting go of my plans… with the questions when things go wrong- in my life, my larger community or devastating news around the world.

And this ability to find my emotions, release them, and feel refreshed again is what keeps me coming back to running.  It was my mini-therapy session on Saturday.  And I’m ready to face the uncertainties of the future again.

93 million miles from the Sun, people get ready get ready,
’cause here it comes it’s a light, a beautiful light, over the horizon into our eyes…




Two magic words for running (and life)

Our whole family went out for a run early yesterday morning.  What a treat to all run together at an easy, conversational pace!  This last month has been a “cut-back” month for me, something I needed both mentally and physically.

The care-free country runs on vacation helped me to fall in love with running all over again. Now that my shin is happy again, I’m excited to pick up the mileage and intensity, but I don’t want to lose the joy of running.

I realized on our run this weekend that much of running (and life) comes down to my attitude.  We had a great run because I could say I “get to” run with the whole family.  Near the end of a training plan, that often changes.  I find myself saying I “have to” run 10 miles tomorrow, or I “have to” do a tempo run today.

I’m learning that “HAVE to” leads to attitude (and negativity).

“GET to” leads to gratitude.

It struck me how many other areas of my life could benefit from this simple word replacement.

I don’t have to cook dinner for my family, I get to provide healthy meals and have access to fresh foods.

I don’t have to wake up early, I get to savor quiet downtime or a workout before everyone else gets up.

I don’t have to stay home with my daughter, I get to savor this time and enjoy her every discovery.

I don’t have to teach spinning, I get to motivate others on their fitness journey.

I don’t have to be busy all the time, I get to choose how to spend my free time.

I don’t have to do and be all things for all people, I get to use my time and talents to love those around me and seek the peace of my city.

I don’t have to stress about our future, I get to enjoy today and can trust that everything will come together in time.

And tomorrow, I don’t have to get up early to squeeze in a run.  I get to energize my body, mind and spirit!

Do you ever feel like you have to work out , or have to run? Are there other areas of your life that can benefit from a change of perspective from “have to” to “get to”?


Healthy Travel Tips for Toddlers (and mamas!)

Being away from home for two weeks is a long time for a toddler, especially when it involves several long car rides and flights.  I knew we would have to be flexible with our schedule and eating habits, but was equally determined not to drop the ball on healthy living while we were gone.

Here are some of the things I used to keep us happy and healthy:

1) Healthy snacks!

It’s nearly impossible to avoid packaged foods when traveling, but we took along some of our favorite healthy snacks to avoid last minute junk food.

Yogurt smoothies, all-fruit bars, Annie’s whole wheat bunnies

I packed extra veggies for snacking, and brought frozen peas for L which have been a favorite of hers since she started solid food.

More travel favorites: Bananas, nuts, carrot & nut butter sandwich

I started both travel days with a spinach, banana, blueberry and yogurt smoothie for greens and protein.

2) Water, water, water

It’s always important to stay hydrated, but traveling makes water much less interesting.  Even a 2 yo knows that grandma’s kitchen has juice, and her usual sippy cups were rejected the entire time we were away.

We used “big girl” cups and I brought a few fun curly straws to make drinking more interesting.  Sometimes I add frozen blueberries to make water tastier and more tempting.

3) Stay active

Being trapped in the car or on a plane is miserable for me, and possibly even more challenging for toddlers.  Use every opportunity to run and get out the extra energy.  While waiting to board, we walk all our the airport and go up and down as many ramps or staircases as we can. We always take breaks on long car rides to run around, or stop at toddler friendly destinations with playgrounds or open grassy areas.

While on vacation, I was able to get out for some scenic runs and took more daytime walks. Thankfully, running is an easy activity that can be done anywhere.  It’s one of my favorite ways to check out a new place when we travel.

Toddlers will run around anywhere, but it’s helpful to plan outings where they will be free to do so, as opposed to an afternoon of shopping where they’re strapped in the stroller.  We took daily trips to the neighborhood playground and checked out the local children’s museum.

4) Probiotics

Even with the best intentions, our diet changes when we travel.  A few less veggies, a little extra sugar, and less fiber can cause some stomach distress.  Culturelle helps to support kids natural defense systems and reduces digestive upset.

It comes in tablets for kids over 50 pounds or dissolvable packets for those 25-50 pounds, and is sugar, dairy and gluten free.  This is an easy way to increase the good bacteria in their tummy.  L happily drank it in her milk or smoothies.

5) Sleep

Maintain a schedule as consistent as possible to the usual routine, with an early bedtime and planned naps.  A well-rested toddler is a happier toddler, at least in our experience! This makes the entire trip more enjoyable. (A well-rested mama is happier, too.)

6) Plan Down Time

We packed our trip full of social time with old friends, relatives, great-grandparents, cousins, etc.  It’s important to be flexible and take the opportunity to do new things, but constant stimulation is exhausting for both kids and adults.  We built in some down time for reading and free play every day.

Reading with grandma

Check out Jill’s for more Fitness Friday posts!  I was compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.

What do you do to stay healthy when you travel, or to keep your kids healthy?

Home again! Vacation recap in photos

I’m exhausted, but we’re home.  Flying solo with a 2 year old yesterday went fine, other than her thwarting my toddler-will-crash-on-the-plane plan.  So three hours after bedtime, she was finally tucked into her bed… I’m hoping I don’t pay for it today.

We had such a great time away- one week with my parents in PA; a long weekend with my husband’s parents, three brothers and L’s cousins; back to my parents to drop L off for our 3 day getaway through the Finger Lakes; and a few more days in PA while daddy left for a conference in Denver.

Here’s a quick recap:


As I mentioned on Friday, I feel refreshed with all the new scenery from country roads in Pennsylvania and New York.  My shins are pretty happy, and I’m ready to start training again.




We met up with so many friends and family members, which was equally exhausting and refreshing.  The highlight was getting away by ourselves for three days to hike and relax in upstate New York at a bed and breakfast, while my parents kept L for us.

We got to connect again as individuals rather than as parents, which I think we needed more than we thought.  (Our 8-year anniversary is tomorrow!!)


L hardly let us do anything for her with “ma-ma” and pa-pa” around, so I did my best to sleep in a little longer than usual and enjoyed the break from wrestling her into clothes, diapers, pursuing potty training, and thinking about what to feed her.

Country living is perfect for kids! L loved running out to pick tomatoes and squash from their huge garden, and we counted the cows on our walk to the playground.

She also got to ride in the same wagon I had as a kid, and played with many of my old toys that my mom had saved.  Here’s hoping I remember how to chase her around and entertain her this week.

Definitely in farm country!

Two quick announcements: I started a “Tips and Training” tab to track posts that fall in that category.  And registration for the 5 and 10 mile Virtual run is still open- check out the great sponsors and prizes!

What did I miss? I tried to stay somewhat active in blogland but please let me know if I missed important announcements, posts, races, or yummy recipes!


Running for Sherry

News of the run for Sherry Arnold has exploded in the running blogging world.  I’m so inspired by the way the running community has jumped at this opportunity to support Sherry and her family.

I haven’t shared the full story here, so for those of you who may not have heard,  Sherry Arnold was a mom and teacher who went for an early morning run on January 7, 2012, in her hometown of Billings, Montana and never came home.  Sherry’s body was never found, but two men confessed to her murder. 

Yesterday was set aside as a day to remember Sherry by wearing her bib and coming together to run.  Beth, the organizer, shared about the group run in Boulder here.

I ran ten miles yesterday in her memory.  I thought about Sherry, her family, and the thousands of others around the country (and the world!) running for her.

I hoped to gather with a few other runners, but it didn’t work out with our Saturday schedules, so I set out by myself.  I wasn’t sure how to “dedicate” the run to her, but decided to leave my pace goals behind and focus on being present in the run.

A few people gave me curious glances as they checked out my bib, but I didn’t get to have any conversations about it.


It’s startling to think that our lives can be altered so dramatically at any time.  The older I get, the more I’m shaken by these stories… being married brought a whole new dimension to the idea of losing one’s spouse, and after having our daughter, I now get physically sick to my stomach when I hear about children who are neglected or abused.  This story struck home with me on multiple levels, but  I’m especially sad for her family, who has to move on in life without their mom.

I love that running for Sherry and telling her story can be a tangible way to honor Sherry and show her family that she will be remembered.  It’s also one way we can reclaim some power in an otherwise powerless scenario.

I look forward to reading other stories of support for Sherry, and am thankful for the opportunity for a purposeful run this morning.

Did you run for Sherry this weekend?

Home again, home again

It is nice to be home.  We got back this afternoon from our week+ visit in PA, and are slowly settling back in.  I am really behind in blog-reading, so I hope to soon be caught up on everything.

We had a really nice trip, and split the time evenly between my family and my husband’s family, as they only live an hour away from each other.  L got spoiled with grandparent time at my house (the only grandchild) and loved playing with all her cousins at daddy’s house.  We were all wiped out by the end, as she was waking up earlier and earlier each morning and naps got shorter and shorter, too.  Hopefully we will all sleep in tomorrow and get her back on track quickly.

I did get out for a number of runs, and had a blast participating in the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10k.  This morning, I took my camera along for one final run at my in-laws house.  The 5.5 mile loop is so peaceful, and includes a mix of woods, farmland and a few challenging hills in the countryside. I even had a chicken cross the road in front of me! Here’s what I enjoyed on my run:

Despite getting in fewer runs and missing my spinning classes, I do always find it refreshing to run new routes and to run for fun, rather than distance.

Are you feeling refreshed after the holidays? If you were traveling, did you get to run through new scenery?