Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Inspiration from an IronMother

I love this quote.  It is so scary and overwhelming to take that first step, but you will never know what you can achieve until you have the courage to try.

Earlier today, I read Dimity McDowell's Runner's World feature on her epic IronMother race last summer.  I'm an avid fan of Dimity and her partner in crime Sarah Bowen Shea, the founders of Another Mother Runner.  I followed Dimity's training via their blog, and I vividly remember watching her finish her incredible IronMother journey.  Having tucked my older kids in bed for the night, I snuggled on the couch with my one-month-old baby and streamed the race feed on my iPad.  I was glued to the screen waiting to see her tall frame come down the final stretch.  When her triumphant face filled my view, I cried tears of joy for a woman I'd never met.

I'm sure my husband thought the tears were typical postpartum hormones, and I'm sure hormones played a role, but I still feel choked up today thinking about Dimity's terrific struggle and her ultimate triumph.  As I sat nursing my sleeping baby, I felt awe, excitement, joy, and an overwhelming urge to conquer my own challenge.  So soon after birth, my body was not yet ready to run, but my mind was willing to contemplate future challenges.  The IronMother planted a seed of hope and possibility in my foggy, sleep-deprived brain.

One month later, I laced up my shoes for the first time in 10 months and began the Couch to 5k running program.  It was a run that was simultaneously blissful and painful, empowering and humbling.  Every inch of my body ached during the 60 second run intervals, and I couldn't believe that running would ever feel comfortable again.  While my body screamed in protest, my mind felt free and liberated.  "Smell the fresh air.  Watch the sunrise," it said.  "Enjoy these moments with no one's needs but your own."

In that pre-dawn hour on a muggy July morning, I felt just a taste of Dimity's finish line victory: the aching body and triumphant spirit, the tears of joy and exhaustion, the joy of completing something that felt too difficult to start.  Since that run, I've logged countless miles, and I feel stronger than ever both mentally and physically.  All because an IronMother planted a seed of hope.  Thank you, Dimity, for giving me the courage to dream.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hungry Runner: Granola Bars

I've always had a high metabolism, and running seems to only increase my insatiable appetite.  Over the past year, I've been nursing my baby, which makes me even hungrier.  High metabolism + running + breastfeeding = constant need for food!

I try to be conscientious about the food I feed my family.  While I don't subscribe to any specific school of thought, I try to use whole ingredients, minimize refined sugar, and incorporate fruits and vegetables as often as possible.  One of the foods I've experimented with the most is granola bars.  I love the convenience of prepackaged Quaker granola bars, but the list of ingredients is a bit unsettling.  How much sugar do we need in one little snack?!

Thus began my quest to find a great recipe for homemade granola bars.  I failed many (many, many) times, but fortunately I have a husband and at least one kid who will eat my failures.  Amidst the failures, I hit a big success with these granola bars courtesy of Weelicious.  I adjusted them slightly by using ground dates in place of the brown sugar, and they were a tremendous hit!  Even the pickiest eater in our house enjoyed them.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Seen on the Run: Innsbrook

We are spending the holiday weekend at our favorite getaway: my parents' cabin at Innsbrook, MO. Nestled deep in the woods, the cabin is a peaceful oasis for all of us, and runs out here are rather zen-like for me. The stillness of the woods and beauty of nature surround me, helping me to reflect on all of the good things in my life.

I love our neighborhood and wouldn't trade it for the world, but urban runs rarely leave me with the overwhelming gratitude that I feel after a run at Innsbrook. Post run endorphins coupled with deep-seated gratitude equals one happy mama. 

A beautiful view of Lake Lucern early in the morning.

All this bliss doesn't come without a price: did I mention the killer hills? Few flat stretches exist in this little corner of the world, so every run is a hill workout. The inclines used to overwhelm me, but today, I embraced them and dare I say, even enjoyed them. I was sucking wind while my quads burned, but I felt joyful, triumphant, and strong. I will run hills all day long to capture just a glimmer of that feeling.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getting Back in the Game

Well, this was certainly a longer pregnant pause than I ever imagined.  In the 18-ish months since I last posted, I gestated and birthed a baby, returned to running, found an amazing running partner, raced a 5k, 10k, and half marathon, and connected with mother runners all over the country thanks to Another Mother Runner and Strava.  Far too much to discuss in a single post...

I've been nagging myself for months to return to this blog, but as the days since my last post increased, so did my stress about posting again.  What could I possibly say after such an absence?  How could I write the most clever and poignant post ever to make the wait totally worthwhile?  An epic post isn't going to happen, so I will settle for owning my absence and moving on.

I could easily blame my lack of posting on being a busy mom of three.  For a long time, my gut response to the question "How have you been?" is to say "Busy but good."  I hate the word busy, and I'm trying to eradicate it from my brain and my vocabulary.  Life is obviously busy, and it always will be.  I want to retrain myself to answer that inquiry with the succinct but powerful mantra, "Life is good."  So I won't tell you that I've been absent because I've been busy.  You are surely busy too, and in spite of busy-ness, we make time for the things that matter to us.  Instead, I've been absent because I've been swept up in life, and life is good.  I'm back, and I will try my hardest to remain here.
Morning fog along Highway 21 in Lesterville
Last weekend, life was good on our annual family trip to Black River Lodge in Lesterville, MO.  I snuck out early Sunday morning for a run and was serenaded by birds and cows as I ran through a veil of fog.  This picture does not do justice to the peacefulness and beauty of the morning, but it was the best my sweaty fingers and the iPhone camera could manage.  The run was certainly not the easiest of my life, at least partially due to the s'more or two that I enjoyed the night before.  Nevertheless, it was lovely and freeing.  Life is good.