Friday, May 27, 2016

13.1 miles of horses and bluegrass

I have been thinking, for quite some time, what to say about our last race. And, dear blog readers, I'm going to start with the nagging secret that's been lurking in the back of my mind all week. Not the quick announcements on Facebook, or

The Horse Capital Half Marathon, in Lexington, KY had our slowest time. 3 hours, 12 minutes. A part of me, growing smaller every year, is completely and totally bugged by that.

Here's something you might not know about me. I am competitive as f**k.

Growing up female, I would often try to couch this in non-confrontational terms, but it always laid underneath. Best test scores. Best jeans. Coolest hobbies. Being competitive drives me to do all kinds of things that I love (knitting aran sweaters, running marathons, cooking nearly everything from scratch!) but it can also be paralyzing. Why run, if you can't be the fastest? Why try, if you can't be the best?

That's the dark side of this drive and one that I try, nearly every day, to avoid. So, for the part of me that's a little pissy we finished in almost 3 1/4 hours, I present this:
The 8 year old that sprinted to the finish line with me, despite panicking near mile 9 that we would never finish. 

The 11 year old that chats non-stop while we run, and carried her stuffed horse the whole way, and glows with confidence after every race.

And this, best of all. The five of us, together. And happy. And proud.

We're all running our own race. Some days I lose sight of this fact. It doesn't matter if I'm at the front of the pack or the back of the pack, as long as I'm with this pack. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Garden Pot Painting

I love kids' hand print crafts. The small, personal feature captured forever... It gets me every time. We have framed hand prints, clay impressions of hand prints, even a class plate with a painted hand print. 

So, when these cheap pots went on sale, I ran out and bought my favorite shiny paint colors. A fun out of paint, handprints, and way too much mess followed. I got these at Michael's, bit any craft paint should work. As long as you seal it.  Seriously. 

Don't skip the sealant step. Like, really, really don't skip it. Otherwise the paint flakes off, gets in the potting soil, and you've got a big mess! Believe me, impatient moi tried skipping that step and I had to redo the whole thing. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Half Marathon Family

I run half marathons. With my kids and my husband.

People think we're kind of nuts. I can see it, when they shake their head or shrug their shoulders. They can't imagine why an 8 year old would want to run that long, or why a preteen girl would spend that much effort on something. Or maybe running is their 'alone time' and they can't imagine their kids yakking at them the entire time. I get that.

Here's why I do it:


It started with my first half marathon, a year ago on Mother's Day. It was a special thing, a big thing, a kinda scary thing that I wanted to do for myself and have my family at the finish line to cheer me on.

When I crossed that finish line (a whisker over 2 hours!!!), with tears, and pride, and more than a little disbelief, they were amazed. My daughter said that she thought I was totally hardcore. I hugged her, said that she was, too.

Two months later, she ran her first half. And it's all snowballed from there. Weekends are now sacred for Long Run and Sushi Sundays. We chat about fueling plans while grocery shopping. Pacing and goal setting are normal parts of our conversations.

A year has gone by. I love what running has done for this family. My 8 year old sleeps better than he ever has. He's learning focus and drive and that it's okay to be tired and work hard. My 11 year old has so much pride and confidence as she heads toward her teen years. She wears leggings and race shirts to school and looks forward to gym class just as much as she does math class.



And my husband? Well, he and I now have his and her medal hangers. He'll tell you that I'm dragging him out for his first marathon next fall. But when he says it, he'll have a smile on his face. I think he's secretly coming to like it, too.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What I have learned from from #5amwritersclub

I write. In grade school, I carried around blue notebooks in which I would scribble down notes, conversation, plot lines. In high school, I would pound out dramatic thoughts on our ancient Apple. In college and grad school, late nights found me tinkering with characters and scenes for hours.

Life gets busy.  Three kids, (more than) full time job, marathon training busy. But ideas still come - conversations, characters. images. So I find time. And for me, that time is 5 am. It may sound crazy, but here are some of the things I've learned from months in a twitter group with the hasthag #5amwritersclub

  1. Dragons, jewel heists, and interdimensional graduate students seem less ridiculous at 5 am. 
  2. Scheduling time to meet your muse makes me much more likely that the fickle lady will appear. 
  3. Sometimes your muse doesn't show. But, there's coffee, so you write anyway.
  4. Self doubt likes to sleep in. If you can sneak in ~1000 words before self-doubt wakes up, you're ahead of the game. 
  5. Twitter can be a kind, warm, and welcoming place. But mostly at 5 am. 
  6. Toddlers also like 5am. Mostly when great ideas strike. 
Do you write? What do you write? When do you write?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Commitment.

I don't read fiction as much as I used to. By a lot.

I used to have a 2-3 books a week habit. Mostly fantasy, some sci fi, occasionally a crime procedural or romance. Almost entirely genre fiction.

Now? Maybe 1 a month, if I'm honest. And lucky.

Is it because, as an adult, there are so many other demands on my time? Is it because, as a parent, my little ones interrupt and constantly steal my bookmarks? Is it because, as a smart phone owner, I have developed a shorter attention span?

Whatever the cause, I have a hard time getting engaged in so many books these days.




Tonight I'm reading this: Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu. I've enjoyed some of Mr. Beaulieu's earlier works and I was hoping this one would suck me in just as easily. It hasn't - several chapters in, and I'm debating whether it's worth the time to finish. It feels cinematic, tightly edited, very active... but not engaging.

What books are you reading? Why do you love them? Why are you reading them? Inquiring minds want to know. Because I've committed to reading 16 fiction books in 2016, and I haven't made it off to a good start!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Food Accountability - Enter YouFood!

I have been guilty of phases in which I clutter up my instagram and twitter with food photo journaling. I have also been guilty of phases in which I feel guilty about posting pictures of my food, so I stop.

Crazy, right?

Homemade Thai curry soup - lots of veggies and cashews and total yumminess!
But maintaining major weight loss isn't easy, especially with marathon training added into the mix. It's been nearly 8 years since I finished losing 120 pounds, but some of those have found their way back. My attitudes about this have changed - really, pants size is a heck of a lot less important than the amazing things I've done - but I have a goal. I'd like to carry about 15 pounds less of me when I cross over the marathon finish line this fall.

When I commit to taking and posting pictures of all the food I eat, I make much better choices about food. Not just for weight loss, but for fueling my runs, and other aspects of health.

Enter YouFood. Part food blogging, part food photojournaling, it's been a great couple of days of tracking everything. I've skipped ice cream I don't need, muffins I don't really want, and clearing my kids' plates when I'm not hungry any more. I've been eating more veggies, hitting the vending machine less, and feeling pretty damn good. I even ran intervals this morning, trying to bring my comfortable pace down a bit.

So, if you're interested in food tracking and a developing community of food lovers, check out YouFood. You'll find me on there as @booksnbrains and I look forward to seeing what you're eating!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dover Air Force Base Heritage Half Marathon -

What do you get when you pack a family of 5 into an SUV with 48 ounces of coffee and an audio book, at 5 am?  In this family, a half marathon!

The Dover AFB half marathon was a short, pre-dawn drive. It's a small race, but with same-day packet pickup, strollers allowed, and a reasonable entry fee, it was perfect for the whole famile. The absolutely negligible elevation changes made for a lovely spring run. 

The great thing about running as a family is that everyone has a their own goal or place in their racing adventure. Today was Little Dude's first half marathon. He's been excited for weeks; getting up early to train, telling everyone about the giant planes we were going to run around. 

Then, this morning, he started freaking out. Quietly, which is immediately unusual for my boy whose main problem in school is not talking. Race day jitters took their hold and he nearly took me up on the offer to stay in the car while his sister and dad ran the race without us. 

Three miles in, he was on cloud nine. A really, really chatty cloud nine. Chatting, smiles, and an hour of family time passed. 

Then, at mile 11, he didn't think he could finish. Even if you don't run, you might be one of those people who traps themselves in negative self-doubt spirals. I know I've always been one of those people, even before I ran regularly. 

Now that I run, it's easy to see the fallacy of those self-destructive spirals. So, for half a mile, I held his hand and we walked and talked about how he could finish even if he doubted himself. And, lo and behold, he did. 

The post is a bit picture-light, since photos on the base weren't exactly condoned, but there were plenty of selfie hijinks with the kids at the finish line. 

It wouldn't be a travel race adventure without trying out the local foods. In Delaware, this means Grotto Pizza. And, more importantly, gelato.