Category: Family

9/2/14

I’m off to a great start today. I dropped Carlos off at school. I vacuumed my car and cleaned the inside. There is just something refreshing about a clean car. Then I ran to Trader Joe’s for a few things to complete my grocery list for the week. I planned my route accordingly so I could run on a bike trail near Trader Joe’s. It was almost 9 o’clock by the time I got there and it was already hot and humid. I’m waiting for you fall!

I hit the trail for a 4 mile run and I felt amazing. My legs were finally acting they knew what to do. My breathing felt great. I ran along at what felt like a slightly speedier pace than what I’ve been running and smiled the entire way. It was an awesome run. After that I browsed around Bed Bath and Beyond for some toiletry organizers. Boy is it easy to lose track of time in there! I found a few things, drove home and immediately threw two pots of water on the stove, one for quinoa, the other for brown rice. I just zipped off a couple of emails and now I’m writing this post.

Today is Carlos’ first full day of school. He had two half days last week to get acclimated which was helpful as he transferred to a new school for 2nd grade. Last winter it became apparent that Carlos needed a different learning environment. I had decided that if we were unable to find another school to meet his needs then I would home school. Prior to becoming a nurse I was a teacher. I was confident that I could learn the ropes of home schooling and reignite Carlos’ love of learning.

Carlos is inquisitive. He loves to explore a variety of subjects. He learns quickly and retains an astonishing amount of information. He is imaginative and creative. He reads at an advanced level. He is bright, not brilliant or a genius, but clearly intelligent. Education is very important in our home. As first grade progressed he was coming home increasingly more frustrated. He finally said what I had suspected, “I’m bored.” I think I’m to blame in part. Whenever Carlos gets interested in something we allow him to explore it in depth. For example he had fascination with Benedict Arnold last fall. We found documentary type videos, stories geared toward children and historical facts. He soaked it up and that led to more questions about the Revolutionary War, George Washington, etc. We found answers to his questions if we didn’t know the answers.

His boredom was compounded by the fact that his school had limited facilities for indoor gym and recess which only led to more aggravation during the long cold winter. The outdoor playground was a parking lot and by the year’s end kids were so restricted that they could simply walk around and talk to each other. Kids need to run and play during the day. The kids were discouraged from taking books out of the school library. Spanish class was little more than coloring and watching movies in English (yes that’s right!). Despite a small class of only 13 students the teacher told me personally that they were a difficult group to manage. Carlos began coming home with headaches because of the constant yelling his teacher was doing to discipline the class. I’ve known these kids for the last four years and I find it very hard to believe that an experienced first grade teacher would have any trouble laying down the law from day one. Her major complaint was that the kids talked too much. I’m sure Carlos did his share of talking, but he was not a behavioral problem. Carlos’ teacher abruptly retired at the end of the school year prompting thoughts that perhaps she had some personal issues going on which made it difficult for her at school.

By February I began exploring other options and after visiting a Montessori school I knew immediately that Carlos would be a perfect fit for the school. Carlos spent the day at the school back in June and loved it. He was beaming when I picked him up and wanted to go back the next day. The feedback we received about his visit was so encouraging and made it an easy decision. Carlos acknowledged that although he would miss his friends he really wanted to attend Montessori in the fall. This was a positive sign that we were making the right decision.

Last Thursday he was quiet on the way to school. He was excited, but appropriately nervous. I walked him to the play area where they spend the first 15 minutes before heading into the building and I waited until he found another boy his age. He turned and said goodbye, gave me a quick hug and off he went.

I couldn’t wait to pick him up that day. I saw the director of admissions when I got to the school and she told me that she had seen Carlos midday and he told her it was the best school day ever!! Carlos got in the car shortly after and was a bundle of excited energy. He talked nonstop on the way home about his day. This, in and of itself, was a miracle because most days over the last year he would simply grunt “fine” in reply to my question “how was your day?”

Carlos couldn’t wait to go to school on Friday. It was another great day. Carlos even said to me this weekend, “I wish there were no weekends now so I could go to school everyday!”

So what is so magical about this new school. Well these are the things Carlos loves the most:

  • When you are finished with your assignment you move on to something else.
  • If you have to go to the bathroom you are allowed to go without asking the teacher.
  • Snack is provided by the school and children are able to eat it when they are hungry rather than all together at a designated time.
  • The playground is amazing!
  • No assigned seating, no desks and the freedom to move around the classroom.
  • Mali, the school dog.

Things I love the most:

  • The huge smile on Carlos’ face when he talks about school.
  • The environment. The school is newly built and looks like a large home. It’s calm, bright, clean and inviting.
  • The school’s commitment to giving back to the community.
  • That independence is valued and children learn to problem solve.

Prior to this experience I knew very little about Montessori, but I’ve since read a bit about Dr. Maria Montessori. Her story alone is fascinating. What drew me towards a Montessori school for Carlos is that it encompasses the whole person. Montessori is much more a way of life than an educational philosophy. Dr. Montessori developed her program through observation of young children. Though the children operate with a certain sense of independence it is within an environment specially designed for them and prepared to meet them where they are at individually.

Some think of Montessori and think disorder, but actually it is quite the opposite. Children learn that everything has a place and they are taught to respect and care for their environment. In my brief time at the school I witnessed a rhythmic flow of activity where the children seemed to know what they needed to do without being told. There was peace, quiet and calm. Carlos’ teacher, known as a guide, is genuinely kind, caring and clearly enjoys what she is doing. She is soft spoken yet in a very understated manner she is in control of her classroom. There is a mutual respect throughout the school.

A Montessori school may not serve well for every child though I am inclined to believe that some of the principles might just be worth giving a try in mainstream classrooms.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Dr. Maria Montessori

9/1/14

New month. Carlos is officially back to school. Time to get back on track. No back pedaling. No looking in the rear views mirror of life. No regrets. What’s done is done. I’m future focused and excited for the month ahead.

Three things I’m thankful for:

  • My good health
  • A healed Achilles
  • My son’s renewed enthusiasm for school

Thought of the day:

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” Steve Maraboli (click on Steve’s name to read a fitting post if you are determined to move forward starting now)

What’s making me happy today:

An early run after work at my happy place.

Looking forward to spending this Labor Day with my husband and son.

Getting organized for the week ahead

Carlos and I bagged snacks and filled containers with applesauce and yogurt for school lunch.

I wrote out a weekly meal plan for dinners and a grocery list.

I have a workout plan for the week that includes some running, strength and yoga.

________________________________________________________________________________

With that said I think it’s time to mention running again. Without going backwards I will just say that my Achilles took almost 3 months to heal. When I finally started running again in mid-July my runs were slow and short. My busy summer schedule made it challenging to find time to run long enough to train for the Vermont 50 Ultramarathon I had signed up to run at the end of September. Still I clung to the hope that somehow I might be able to muddle through. Deep down I knew the timing was wrong. The Vermont City marathon at the end of May was intended to be the halfway point of my ultra marathon training.  Then from there I was to build up my mileage, endurance and tweak my nutrition for the course.  As August began to fly by with little increase in my mileage I finally accepted that running an ultra marathon post injury with incomplete training was not only dangerous, but also very unwise. I would never advise a fellow runner to go through with it so why did I think I should attempt it? Pride. Fear of feeling like a failure. Frustration.

The exact moment I made the decision to drop out of the Vermont 50, I felt an enormous sense of relief. The next day I went for a run. No headphones, no Garmin, no Map My Run, no watch. It was freeing. I ran slowly and comfortably. I focused on keeping my breathing even and unlabored. I ran only as long as I wanted to and stopped when I didn’t feel like running anymore with no concern about pace, time or mileage.

I’ve been going along like this for a couple of weeks and it’s just what I need to get myself back into running. It is the first time since I began running that I have run simply because I love to run and not because I’m training for something. However, I miss training. I miss the schedule, preparing for a race off in the distance and having a goal, but I’m not quite ready to set my sights on anything to daunting.

My next running goal is actually not about me at all. It’s about my friend Kate. On October 19, 2014 I will be running the Baystate Half Marathon alongside Kate as she completes her first half marathon. I am going to train with her over the next 6 weeks. On top of running we have also been meeting once a week for a boot camp style workout where we do a variety of strength training and core strengthening exercises.

Kate has an awesome story to tell and I’m hoping she’ll let me share it here. I’m super excited for her. I think this is going to be an unforgettable experience for us both. The truth is, I am starting all over again only this time with the knowledge I’ve gained from all the miles I’ve run over the last 5 years. There’s no looking back…

 

The road ahead
My eyes are on the road ahead

 

 

In Flight

I’m on a plane right now flying home from Fort Lauderdale.

I love to travel. I actually love flying and would probably go anywhere if given the opportunity. This past year has been full of road trips mostly for races aside from our trip to Arizona in February. We had planned to return to Mozambique for the 2013 holidays, but after a rash of kidnappings in and around the Capitol of Maputo, including that of a young boy who was subsequently murdered and a former Peace Corps staff person’s wife who thankfully was returned unharmed, we decided to postpone our trip. We were also keeping watch on the increasingly unstable political situation in Mozambique.

Briefly, Mozambique is set to have its third presidential election this year. All eyes are on the current president, Armando Guebuza, from the Frelimo party who will finish his second and last term as president. Some are worried that he will try to find a way to stay in power thereby defeating the democratic process and creating the pathway to dictatorship like its neighbor Zimbabwe. The opposing political party, Renamo, has been stirring up old wounds since the fall. There have been some fatalities as a result of Renamo led uprisings in the north. It’s very sad and frightening to watch from afar, hoping and praying for some resolve, but as of yet nothing has been done to stop Renamo’s actions. So for now our plans to return to Mozambique are pushed back to possibly February 2015.

In the meantime I’m just dying to get the heck out of dodge. I miss international travel, but like I said, I’ll go just about anywhere especially if air travel is involved. This little trip to Florida was spontaneously schemed up by yours truly on a hot, humid run last Friday. Carlos hasn’t seen his grandpa in a while. I had this Tuesday and Wednesday night off. My mom was also vacationing in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and my aunt and uncle. So Carlos will fly back with them on Saturday since I have to work all weekend. Hmmm how could I possibly coordinate this trip on such short notice?!  Within two hours after my run we were booked! I left work at 6a.m. Tuesday morning, took a quick shower, got dressed, threw a carry on in the car, and Carlos and I were at the airport by 7:15 a.m. Carlos is an awesome traveler and that’s how we roll!

Ok I don’t love Florida, never have, but this trip was about family and I at least got two plane rides out of it! I enjoyed a day at the beach with my dad and Carlos. I finally met my cousin’s baby. I stumbled upon an amazing organic farmers market with so many wonderful vegan treats. I convinced my dad to try a gluten free, mostly vegan organic restaurant for lunch yesterday. The Coke guzzling, meat eater actually seemed to enjoy it. I loved it!! So for such a quick trip it was quite enjoyable, but I still daydream of travels to faraway places.

My sister is a jet setting executive for a tech company. She just started this job last year late fall and she’s been traveling nonstop. I’m less jealous now than I would have been pre-Carlos because as much as I yearn to travel I don’t wish to be away from my family for more than a day or two every now and then. My sister mentioned recently that she would be going to Australia in July for work. Cue the seething green eyed monster!!

Visiting Australia has been a dream since I was 10. I had a soft fuzzy stuffed koala pencil hugger and that song Down Under by Men at Work was popular. Suddenly Australia was on my radar. I looked at world maps, dreamed about what it would be like to visit and read everything I could about the faraway nation. There was something so exotic about a place that distant.  A couple of years later, INXS became my favorite band and the fascination with the land down under intensified. It was the distance, the accent, the beaches and the mystique of the outback that sparked my interest. Oh right and I was also hopelessly infatuated with Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS (don’t judge!).

My junior year of college I walked into the study abroad office at UMass Amherst hell bent on finally getting to Australia via their study abroad program. However, somehow I ended up in a short Spanish immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico which led to a full semester in Taxco, Mexico a year later. No regrets though. I developed a passion for Mexican culture, history and art and because it was relatively inexpensive to study and live in Mexico I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around almost all of central and southern Mexico. I loved my experience there and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Fast forward to today…I have yet to travel to Australia, but I still dream of it. Later this month my dream will finally become a reality. Carlos and I will accompany my sister on her trip down under. I am still in disbelief that this is happening. The whole thing transpired very quickly. If it wasn’t amazing enough to be going to Australia, we will also be spending a full day and night in Fiji!!

When my sister casually mentioned that we should come along the old Aimee would have let jealousy consume her. In the past my side of the conversation would have sounded a lot like this:

“That’s ridiculous. I have to work. Not everyone can just take off for two weeks. Lucky you.”

Instead of playing the martyr like I used to do so often I found a way to make it happen. I never take time off from work. I fill in whenever I can for my coworkers when they need time off. I always find coverage for my shifts. So I decided to just ask for the time off and despite the short notice my boss was supportive and is really excited for me. I don’t spend my money irresponsibly. I’m a great saver. I always pick up extra shifts if I can to make up for time I miss. Sure I’m working the next 12 out of 14 nights, but at the end of 2 weeks I will live out a long time dream. This quick trip to Florida helped me to set a plan of action down on paper to organize life for the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with two very special people, my son and my sister. My sister and I have her wedding plans to discuss and I am thrilled to be able to spend quality time with Carlos on a new adventure.

Wait, what about my husband? Unfortunately he won’t be joining us. Orlando is a mason and this past winter he was laid off for months. He’s back to work and fortunately he’s incredibly busy. He can’t take time off when the work is abundant because you never know what the winter will bring. We will miss him, but he understands and fully supports our travels. He is a little envious of our trip to Australia though!

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” Napoleon Hill

Fast Times 2013

Happy New Year! Where does the time go? I had high hopes and obviously grandiose expectations for an end of the year wrap up post, a year of races post, recaps of two late fall races and another Skin Deep post. The posts are all written…in my head. If only there was a way to synch my mind with my computer I would be a prolific blogger.

I love this blogging thing and wish I could devote more time to honing my writing and photography skills. I love the therapeutic aspect of writing my thoughts and feelings. It’s been beneficial simply to get it out, but even more helpful to hear feedback from others who graciously take the time to comment here.

I have felt very welcomed by the community of bloggers I have joined. I am reading even if you don’t see a comment from me. Technical issues took up a great deal of time in the last few months. For some reason my phone does not allow me to comment on certain blogs. I enjoy tech troubleshooting so it annoys me that I can’t figure out the problem. My 2008 MacBook has given me a run for my money this year. After countless trips to the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store I installed new RAM and a new hard drive on my own. Prior to these interventions the computer ran so slowly it was impossible to do anything without being locked out by the swirling ball of frustration. It’s a running much better now thankfully so maybe I can get blog posts done more frequently.

From November through the New Year life rolled along at breakneck speed. Here are some highlights:

  • I am now the proud wearer of Invisalign braces! Long story short although I had braces at the very early age of 10 my bottom teeth have turned inward and I need to straighten them so I can finish an unresolved issue on my top teeth. I don’t believe they are invisible and though I am grateful to have the good fortune to fix this issue they are an uncomfortable nuisance.
  • I ran the Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon (cute pics of Carlos if you click the link!) again in November. I ran it for the first time in 2011 less than two months after breaking a rib during my training for the Disney Marathon. It was my slowest half marathon time. This time I ran an unbelievable race and enjoyed a truly unexpected PR. I will eventually write about it because it’s a race I would like to remember.
  • My husband, son and I ran the Northampton Hot Chocolate 5K in early December. I first ran this race in 2010. This time Orlando and Carlos ran together with my friend Mary’s daughter. Carlos did amazing. He ran the entire race and finished in just over 32 minutes. I stayed back with Mary who hasn’t run in years and suffers from tremendous knee pain at times. This was an interesting experience for me and one I would really like to elaborate on in a future post.
  • I helped run the Secret Santa Gift Shop at my son’s school which is a three day event where the kids get to shop for their families.
  • I adopted a whole foods plant based diet aka vegan after being vegetarian for three years.
  • Carlos and I enjoyed an impromptu two days in New York City with my sister. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, walked a bit of Central Park, saw Rockefeller Center, went to the Lego Store, the Apple Store and F.A.O. Schwartz.
  • Thanks to my sister I had the good fortune of dining at the organic vegan Candle Cafe in NYC. It was incredibly delicious.
  • My baby boy turned 7. I really wish time would slow down. Legos are all the rage in his life right now. Our guest room has been turned into Lego City.

    Legos have taken over my home!
    A new Lego truck
  • Christmas came and went with little fanfare. Orlando and I got iPads for each other. I got the mini and he got the new iPad Air.
  • I worked a lot of overtime in December. My husband got laid off on December 16th which always causes a bit of distress initially. Fortunately he started back at work the week after Christmas. This has been a very unpredictable year for him. I have been lucky to pick up overtime often, but more work means less blogging, reading and other nonessential “fun” activities.
  • Carlos got old school Battleship for Christmas and we have been having so much fun playing it together, such a great game!
  • We spent New Year’s Eve at my friend’s home in upstate New York. It was a fitting way to close the year. She is one of my dearest friends and I have been honored to be welcomed into her trusted circle of friends this year as she bravely battled breast cancer. This, in and of itself is challenging, but she did it while pregnant with her second child. She is a warrior! My friend and her husband now have a gorgeous baby girl who is healthy and so very happy. I couldn’t wait to hold her. She just sat there blissfully in my arms. As I watched my friend and her beautiful family my heart filled with so many emotions just thinking of all she has been through this year. It was an important reminder for me to not take the goodness of life for granted.

I learned a lot about myself this year. I ran a lot this year.  I shattered my fitness goals. I have taken up yoga pretty seriously and hope to continue to improve and grow in my practice.

Despite all of these milestones I have found myself in the throes of emotional eating on and off since October. Just as things improved the holidays triggered the behavior once again. I realize that my journey with weight, food issues and body image distortion are far from over. I have more tools now to cope with emotional eating so that I don’t incur a weight gain, but the fact that I’m still struggling with certain behaviors is frustrating and a bit frightening.

It’s a new year and as with the past 7 new years I intend to continue to grow, change and improve myself and my life. Having Carlos 7 years ago sparked a fire inside of me that has encouraged me to be the best person I can be. I can always be better. Improvement requires change. Change is difficult. It means facing fears, looking inside of yourself and digging up hidden truths, trying new things and most importantly it means failing.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

October Redo

I am stunned that this month is one day away from being over. Where did it go? More importantly how did it pass by without apple picking, pumpkin carving, pumpkin seed roasting or hot apple cider drinking?

Here’s a very brief glimpse into the month. It was a whirlwind of many fun outdoor activities. Probably the only thing not featured in the photo gallery are photos of soccer and the soccer field is definitely the place we spent the most time!

So October I wouldn’t mind a redo. You are my favorite month after all and you flew by in the blink of an eye. As I sit here typing this by the warmth of my space heater I’m not sure how much fall we have left. There are still lots of leaves to rake which means leaf piles to jump in. The pumpkins might still get carved and perhaps there are even apples left to pick. If not there is definitely plenty of hot apple cider to drink.

 

Waterville Valley: Birthday and a Race

Orlando and I don’t do gifts for birthdays or Christmas for each other. We opt for a night away or a fancy dinner somewhere new. This year Orlando’s birthday fell on a Sunday and it also happened to be my weekend off. Perfect! I asked him what he might like to do and you know what he said without any cajoling or bribing? He said he would like to run a race! Well who am I to deny that wish?!! A quick search of races in New England on that weekend revealed a 5K and a half marathon in Waterville Valley, NH. The Black Bear Half Marathon and 5K description boasted  “a scenic tour of one of New Hampshire’s most beautiful towns, along quiet country roads, finishing in the center of the quaint village.” We had never visited before and it gave me the option of running a half if I needed to for marathon training.

As the day neared I was doing well with marathon training, but suspected that running a half marathon might be too much on that particular weekend. After careful consideration I opted to run the 5K alongside my husband. He really wanted to run it together and agreed to help me run a strong 5K. I really dislike 5Ks because it means basically sprinting at a fairly uncomfortable pace.

Anyway I’ll get to the race in a minute. Let me just take a moment to discuss the lovely Waterville Valley. It is a ski resort by winter and a family vacation site by summer. We got to our hotel in early afternoon. The day was gorgeous so we hopped on the bikes provided by the hotel and toured the property. There is a golf course, tennis courts, a playground, an adventure center, a beach with a volleyball net, shops, restaurants and kayak, canoe and paddle boat rentals. We saw a wedding party taking photos before heading to the reception. The resort is nestled below Mount Tecumseh and provides beautiful views in every direction.

We stopped in the adorable town square for an afternoon snack of local homemade ice cream. We meandered back to the hotel on the bikes to relax and prepare to go out to dinner. We made reservations at Lantern in the town square. We got a table overlooking the pond in the center of the village. The town square was bustling with activity at night. There was a band playing. People were hanging out eating more casual fare like pizza and burgers. Others were enjoying a beer or beverage down by the pond. We loved the vibe of the area. It was extremely family friendly. Kids were everywhere on scooters, roller blades, running around. It was such a lively environment. Of course we kept saying, “Carlos would love this.” It’s nice to have time alone, but we sure miss Carlos when we go somewhere without him.

We had a nice drawn out 4 course dinner including wine and dessert. This was a real treat for me. I enjoyed every delicious bite.

The next morning we were up bright and early to prepare for the race. I knew that morning that running the 5K was the right decision. We picked up our bibs and went for a little walk to kill time before the race. As we lined up at the start we realized there was only a small group running the race. The race organizer told us he would lead us on bicycle, and with that he counted down 3-2-1 and off we went. We ran through the resort, over a small bridge, past a small waterfall and back through the village to finish across from our hotel. There were some people cheering us on along the way which is always nice.

Orlando insisted on running the race with me. Now he is significantly faster than me so I told him to push me a little bit. It’s always nice to PR whenever possible, but as I was nearing the last weeks of marathon training I also didn’t want to risk injury so I told Orlando just to stay a little ahead of me at all times. The race course was scenic as promised and the weather could not have been more perfect. I felt really good throughout the run. I worked hard though as I always do during the shorter distances. Orlando’s long stride kept me reaching. The race ended on an uphill which is pure evil. I powered up the hill with Orlando next to me. He pulled back as I tore through the finish line. He now tells everyone that he “let me win!!” We were surprised with medals as finished. I’ve never received a medal for a 5K.  I didn’t really know my time because the clock was reading the half marathon time. They said there would be an awards ceremony in about 20 minutes, but we had to check out of the hotel within the hour and still needed to shower. We knew we didn’t win! We grabbed a snack and some water and returned to the hotel to get ready and pack up.

On the way home we stopped at Lake Winnipesaukee for lunch and a little walk to check out the lake. It was beautiful. The day was perfect for swimming and boating. We took some photos and then hit the road.

Carlos stayed with my mom for the night and we couldn’t wait to see him. When we pulled into my mom’s driveway I spotted the balloons. We were greeted with sombreros and margaritas at our surprise birthday fiesta! Orlando’s birthday was that day and mine was three days later. My sister came out for the party which was a huge surprise because we had just seen her a few days earlier. It was just my immediate family there to celebrate. The evening was wonderful. Year after year we have had the same cook out for our birthday. I constantly beg for something different, but my stuck in her ways mom won’t budge. My sister planned the menu which included all the fixings for tacos along with guacamole, a corn and avocado salad, shrimp and fresh salsa. This took pretty much everyone except my husband, sister and me outside of their food comfort zone. It was comical. My mom and her husband were not thrilled, but my aunt and uncle seemed to enjoy the meal. Orlando and I were in heaven.

After dinner Carlos took us over to the piñata. He couldn’t wait for that part of the party. My mom and sister filled it with things you might find in a Christmas stocking like gum, lotion and chapstick. It was hilarious. We had fun going through everything once we managed to break it open.

No birthday party would be complete without cake. Again after pleading for many years for a cake I could eat without splurging on all of my calories for the day I was treated to angel food cake and fresh berries. It was delicious. I smiled thinking of how my grandmother would have loved the party as different as it was from years past. It was truly a wonderful weekend and a beautiful way to usher in a new age.

Oh sorry I forgot to mention my race results. So I killed it! Not only did I set a PR of 26:52, I also came in 2nd for the females overall and 1st for the females in my age group. OK I should probably mention that there were only 42 runners in the entire race. The first female actually won the race with a time of 20:55. It’s been a few weeks, but I’m still smiling about this race every time I think about it!

It’s Electric

After my awesome PR in the Bridge of Flowers 10K I had another race to run that same day. Carlos, my friend, Colleen, and I drove down to Rentschler Field in West Hartford, CT in the evening for the Electric Run. The race supported the March of Dimes. If you have any interest in doing one of these fun type runs but don’t want to get dirty, colored, or electrocuted then this is a great one to try. It is enjoyable for kids, teens, and grown ups. The environment is family friendly early on and as the night goes on it becomes a giant club scene. We left before that started heating up, but it looked like a good time.

We got there early so we could join the first wave of runners because the race didn’t start until about 8:20 p.m. and Carlos usually goes to bed around 7:15. He rested up in the afternoon for our special night out. While waiting for the sun to set we were entertained by the DJs. The music was pumping. The DJs were throwing out glow sticks and glow necklaces. Carlos was psyched to catch a few since I forgot to bring ours.

Once the sky grew dark the DJs counted down and released the first wave of runners. We set off grooving to the energetic techno beats of club music blaring over the speakers. As runners tore past us Carlos got savvy and began picking up all the dropped glow gear.  It was a riot watching him try to put everything on. Then suddenly he would burst into a full on run stopping only to look back and make sure we were following. Seeing Carlos have so much fun was the best part of the night.

This race was an absolute blast. I think it works best as a run/walk if you want to experience the different sights and sounds, take pictures and loot lost glow gear along the way. The end of the race took us through the stadium. We ran through bubbles and umbrellas suspended from the ceiling. It was a wild time. At the end, instead of hitting the “club scene” we opted to wait in line at the Ben & Jerry’s truck for a free ice cream.

If there is an Electric Run in your area I highly recommend it! If this post doesn’t make you want to get electric maybe my photos will. Enjoy!!

 

Bridge of Flowers: Fourth Time’s a Charm

August racing rocked my socks off. It was a phenomenal month of running all around. My training was spot on and my races were awesome. I’ll write about them separately starting with the first race of the month. This was my fourth running of the Bridge of Flowers 10K in Shelburne, MA. I wrote posts about my second and third Bridge of Flowers experiences, but not my first.

I first ran this race in August 2010 as part of my training for my first half marathon, (click the link for a cute pic of my little guy) the Hartford ING half marathon. I’m drawn to the quaint simplicity of the town Shelburne Falls, MA. My husband also loves the area and was happy to spend a beautiful summer morning there. I ran that first 10K in 1:07:36. I had nothing to compare it to so I was simply happy to have completed the race.

There is something equally challenging and fun about this race that has made me want to compete year after year and strive to improve my time. This year it was all about running it under an hour. My 2013 goal of running a 10K in under an hour was fulfilled on New Year’s Day at the Sawmill River Run. I then completed the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race in 57:08, but the Sawmill River 10K time of 56:10 is my standing 10K personal best. I wasn’t necessarily shooting for a PR at the Bridge of Flowers. My goal was to simply finish in under an hour, but best case scenario was obviously a PR. However, I had to contend with Crittendon Hill and the darn thing really slows people down, right down to a walk. I train in a fairly hilly area as it is, but to amp up my hill training I also began running up a nearby mountain once a week to simulate the experience at Shelburne Falls.

The pre-race vibe is so enthusiastic at this race. It is super family friendly. There is a short 3K walk/run before the 10K for kids and parents alike. The town is very picturesque and the actual Bridge of Flowers a stunning pre-race sight to see. For the second year in a row my college roommate came out for a visit to cheer me on so we have now deemed it an annual tradition. She is hoping that her knee issues resolve so she can run it next year. My husband and son were there to cheer me on as well.

Bridge of Flowers 10K 2013
Bridge of Flowers 10K 2013

I’m not going to lie it’s like pulling teeth lately to get the little guy to pose for pre-race photos. It took many attempts but we finally got this one.

The day was insanely gorgeous. Miraculously I had the weekend off so I was well rested. I was ready to go. Instead of holding back like I’ve done in the past I placed myself smack dab in the middle of the 9 and 10 minute pace groups. The horn sounded and I broke the cardinal rule of racing…I went out too fast! Being so familiar with this course I knew exactly what I was doing. The first couple of miles are fairly easy and I wanted to gain a little time before the hill. I didn’t overdo it, but I did hit the gas so to speak. I can’t remember what my time was as I approached the base of the hill, but it was a pleasant surprise.

My goal for the hill was to run as much of it as possible even if it was a slow run. This hill takes a few sharp turns as you climb your way up the steep incline. I was pleased with my progress up the hill. As I neared the top my phone rang into my wireless headphones. “Mom, seriously?!” “Oh I’m sorry I forgot about the race. Call me later.” LOL! She is a nut.

I breezed down the back end of the hill. I kept telling myself I was almost done and to keep pushing. I drank from all the water stops except the last. I dug deep as I neared the bridge again and felt a surge of energy when I saw my family and my friend just before I headed back over the bridge towards the finish line. I had absolutely no idea of my time. I pushed my legs as hard as I could and as the finish line clock came into sight I knew I had achieved at least one of my goals. I was definitely under an hour as the clock ticked past 56 minutes.

Despite the small town, laid back feel of the race there was nothing slow about getting our official race times. They were posted by the time I exited the finish chute.

Bridge of Flowers 10K in Numbers

2010 – 1:07:36 (10:52 pace)

2011 – 1:04:16 (10:21 pace)

2012 – 1:01:53 (9:58 pace)

2013 – 56:01 (9:01 pace)

My new 10K PR set at the 2013 Bridge of Flowers is 56:01!! I earned that PR. I worked really hard for that PR. I am proud of that PR.

Yesterday Diana Nyad fulfilled her long time dream to swim from Cuba to Florida. This was her fifth attempt. Her mantra throughout the swim was “You don’t like it. It’s not doing well. Find a way.” Yes find a way even if it takes more than one try. Do not give up!

At 64 years old Ms. Nyad proves that age is irrelevant if we put our mind to something. She is quoted as saying, “I really do believe that endurance grows and, also, we can never discount, in any sport, the mental.” I couldn’t agree more!

The Big 40

Yesterday was my 40th birthday. It was also the first day of school for my little guy who is now officially a first grader. This summer flew by in a fun frenzy of soccer camp, marathon training, racing, play dates, hikes, lake trips, family time and more. It was wonderful, but I’m ready for the routine and structure of the school year.

This birthday began very differently than most. It was my first birthday without my Noni. She died in November and I miss her a lot, but more yesterday than any other day. I was born on her birthday. I missed hearing her sing to me yesterday morning. My sister tried, but admittedly it wasn’t the same, sweet, but not the same. I always loved sharing my birthday with my grandmother. It created a unique and special bond between us.

After bringing Carlos to school I went for a run. Since the run was the day before my last 20 mile training run it was put on my schedule as simply a birthday run. I spent my running time reflecting on these last 39 years.

My 20s
My 20s

My 20s were stagnant like the murky swamp water behind the trees in this photo. There was a darkness to those years when I look back on them. I really hated my appearance and this negative energy filtered down into my personality, my interactions with others and my overall sense of self. Although I went to college, traveled, worked, joined the Peace Corps and met my husband during my 20s I wasn’t truly living. I certainly wasn’t living up to my full potential. I spent an awful lot of time obsessing about my weight and how it affected my appearance. I tried every diet out there for a day or two with no success. I did nothing to change my problem, instead I just bitched and moaned about it and blamed everyone and everything else.

My 30s
My 30s

A light began to stream through that dark place during my 30s. I became a nurse and had my son in my early 30s. It was the latter event that precipitated permanent changes in myself. Having a child begs the question, “how can I take effectively care for another human being if I am not caring for myself, body and soul?” The answer was clear…I had no choice but to finally do something about my weight. Only this time I refused to diet. If I was going to lose weight it was going to be in a healthy, sustainable manner and I wasn’t just going to lose weight. No this time around I was going to change my lifestyle. No more sitting around waiting for change to come to me. This time I had to do the work and I did, one small change at a time.

The future
40s and beyond

Some people get all uptight about turning 40. Not me. I’m so honored to be given the gift of another year. I feel infinitely better today than I did at 20 and 30. I’m healthy, fit and energetic. From the dark, murky swamp emerged a glimmer of light. Once I realized how to let the light in I gained control of my life. Now the path ahead is wide open, bright, happy and full of adventure and surprises.

Run or Dye

Last year Carlos and I did the Color Me Rad 5K in Boston. We had so much fun we signed up for another color run this year. This time we did Run or Dye in East Hartford, CT. The air was still steamy from the week long heat wave. Let’s just say we did more walking than running. We were a tie dyed mess before our wave even took off and sweat was pouring down our faces. Carlos and I made the most of it, throwing more color on each other then chasing each other. We both agreed that for some reason the race last year was more fun, but we still had a great time together.

I overheard lots of people as we waited for our wave to take off mentioning that it was their first race. I started to ponder the pros and cons of doing one of these color runs as first 5K.

Cons

As we were going through the course I felt kind of badly for some of the people who were really trying to give it their all. Almost everyone was walking because of the heat and the fact that the course was along thick grass and loose gravel. This made it challenging for anyone actually trying to run. Then you are periodically met with color stations where you get color bombed as you run through. If you’ve been training for a 5K and are trying to set a certain time goal this type of race might prove disappointing.

Pros

These are fun runs that new runners can do to try out the distance and the race experience. There is no pressure to run a certain time or pace. Color runs are even better to do with a group of people so if you’re apprehensive about running a race alone and don’t already have people to run with these are easy races to recruit friends to join in with you. Any age can participate so these races are fantastic for parents who might have difficulty finding child care in order to run a race.

Run or Dye East Hartford took place at Rentschler Field which is better known as home to the UConn Huskies football team. The parking lots were packed so pros and cons aside it was awesome to see so many people come out on a hot day to do something active and fun.  There isn’t much else to say so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.