Running With Kids

There are a few different angles the title to this post could take.  The first one (and one which I’ve addressed a few times in my posts) is “how on earth do you get out for your runs and train for races when you have kids??”  A big topic with no one simple solution.

But in this one I’m talking about how to get your kids running too.

I’m a firm believer that (like adults) kids need to run (or do other exercise) regularly in order to be healthy.  In truth, I think kids intuitively know this too.  They are inclined to run.  It’s natural for them and it makes them feel good.  However, it’s not as simple as it may sound to just “let them run”.  What does this mean, really?  If kids are not in a specific time and place where running is encouraged then they are generally being told for most of their days “Don’t Run!” Don’t run in the school, don’t run away from us in the playground, don’t run in the house, don’t run in most public spaces where adults are, etc…

Of course the easiest solution for allowing or getting your kids to run is to sign them up for programs which they enjoy which include running.  For example, soccer, basketball, tennis, sports play, etc… There are a host of these types of programs for pre-school and school aged children and they work wonderfully in incorporating fun into running.

There are also some kids who just love challenges and if you say something like “I bet you can’t run around the playground 3 times” they’ll be off before you’ve finished the sentence.

My son H doesn’t take to either of the above scenarios.  Not a team sports guy and not a “pleaser” by nature. (I swear he does have his redeeming qualities!)

So how does running fit into H’s life?  Basically it has to occur on his terms.  This is tricky for a busy, scheduled, time-conscious, task oriented parent, but I know this is one area where I have to be patient.  So if I pick him up from school in a rush to get us home and get dinner on and H is running in the playground having fun in his own game, I try to let it play out for as long as I can.

Today was another good example.  We were at the park where I had planned to watch my kids in the playground while catching up with my sisters.

Here is where I envisioned spending my morning:

But that was MY idea.  (Silly me – why would I think my plan would be followed?)  Instead, H took off on an “adventure” through the woods.  I followed as well as I could along with his cousin.  This “run” took us through muddy trails, up slippery slopes, down ravines and through brambly trees.  My footwear was not appropriate and I wasn’t really in the mood for a mucky adventure.  But I could see the exhilaration on his face and I recognized that it would be hypocritical of me to tell him not to run on his terms when that’s pretty much all I ask for in life!

In the end, we had a fun adventure, and the kids got a lot more exercise than I had planned.  This was the post-run walk back to the car:

The afternoon consisted of a hot bath and indoor play time.  They are so much calmer once their bodies have had the exercise they crave and everyone ends up happier.

Check out this article on other tips by me on running with kids by The Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Around The Bay 30K Race Report (or The Big Bonk)

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that my goal race for the season was originally Around The Bay 30K. I love this race and have had numerous successes there. I was really hoping to run sub-2hrs as I have three times before in my prime fitness.

Then along came the plan to travel to California over March Break and in the process run the Catalina Island Marathon which happened to be two weeks before Around The Bay. Not a problem I thought: it could work in my favour. Run a long run and recover in time to race a brilliant 30K.

The only problem was the recovery. It’s hard to know mid-recovery if you actually have recovered from an effort without testing yourself (which would then need recovering from itself). So I just had to hedge my bets and go out at my planned goal pace.

Race Day was beautiful, sunny, and one of the warmest days in months.

I started out at my planned goal pace and ran the first 5 km in 19:40. It didn’t feel way too fast, but at the same time, I knew that it should have felt easier if I wanted to repeat another five of those in a row. I wasn’t sure if my legs just needed to wake up a bit and whether I’d get a second wind and start feeling more into it. I slowed down a bit to try to re-charge so I could get back into race mode. It felt like I had fallen way off the pace, but I went through 10 km in just over 40 minutes. Not too bad. But I knew at that point that I didn’t have a race in me. I could not summon any reserves of energy, so I thought I’d turn it into an “enjoyable long run”. Ha!


By 15 km I was slowing down by the step. My head was fuzzy, I had no energy, and I sort of felt like stopping and crying. A tad dramatic and out of the ordinary for a mid-race experience. Must have been my plummeting glucose levels. I did have gels and had been taking Gatorade but it wasn’t enough. I was in too big of a hole. Now what?? My car was parked at 29 km. I couldn’t think of any way to stop and get home which was all I wanted to do. So I had to run the hardest 14 km of my life in order to stop. That is saying a lot. It was brutal kilometer to brutal kilometer. The pain of running is bearable when it’s leading you to a fast time or moving you towards your goals. When it’s nothing but pain and defeat it is magnified. Thank god for the crowds of other runners and supporters along the way. They really are amazing in this race. There were people with signs all along the course who made me smile numerous times despite my glum state of affairs.

I finally made it to my car at the 29th kilometer, stepped off the course and drove home. I don’t think it’s bad that I didn’t run into the stadium with the cheering crowds – it would have felt insincere.

So what did I learn from this? Not sure. Because it really could have gone either way, and knowing me, I’d try doing something similar again. I just hate missing opportunities and running the Catalina Marathon seemed like such a good one (and one I definitely do not regret). One thing I do know now is that I am currently very tired, very deep down. For the next week, instead of running at 5 a.m. I’ll be doing this.

Good night!

Shoe Review – adidas Boost

I’ve been trying out adidas’ latest technology in their introduction to the Boost running shoe.

The Technology:

The midsole is comprised of thousands of EVA capsules bonded together.  These capsules store and release the energy of a runner’s impact better than any other traditional midsole on the market.  Translation: they make your run feel “bouncy”.

The upper is made out of seam-free supportive materials which hug your foot like a sock providing optimum support with no irritation.

The Claims:

  • The Boost technology provides the elusive ultimate blend of cushioning and responsiveness.  I’ve always thought these two traits were exclusive.  I have my “soft, squishy” shoes which I use for my recovery runs and my “firmer, flatter” shoes which I use for performance efforts such as intervals or tempos.
  • The shoes will last longer than shoes with traditional EVA as the capsules won’t break down as quickly as uniform foam so the shape of the shoe will maintain its integrity over a longer period of time.
  • Unlike traditional EVA the Boost technology does not change in different temperatures (I’ve definitely experienced harder and squishier rides than expected in the extreme cold and hot with other shoes)

For a complete run-down on the technologies and engineering of the Boost check out this video at the unveiling in New York City:

Introduction to the adidas Boost

My Verdict:

  • I’ve used the Boost on treadmill runs, easy recovery runs and intervals.  I loved it for the latter two – on the treadmill it felt a tad squishy as the ‘mill itself has a lot of give and the added cushioning feel left too little firmness under foot.
  • I’ve LOVED them for recovery runs outside when my legs have literally needed a “boost”.  I’ve felt like they’ve brought me back to a par on days when I was flat.
  • I’ve used them for intervals and was surprised to find them as responsive as they were.  When I’m running faster I’m up on my toes more and I’m looking for a firm platform from which to push off.  I found the Boost responsive enough in my longer intervals to suit my purposes.  I might not use them for shorter or more intense intervals on the track (not that I do those much anymore, but if I did…)
  • I like the sock-like upper.  It’s snug and holds my foot perfectly onto the midsole.
  • I think they look cool.  Especially when I’m wearing all black and training in the dark.  I feel like a ninja.

Bottom line: definitely worth trying out and seeing if they’re a good fit for you.  If they fit well and make you feel fast and sleek, I say you can’t go wrong.

Catalina Island Marathon

Well, it’s been a week since I ran the marathon – sorry for the late re-cap but we “celebrated” by camping down the coast and I took the opportunity to take a bit of a web vacation as well.


It began the day before with a ferry ride over to the island – Catalina Island is around 26 miles off the coast of LA – where we were going to set up camp and sleep before the 7 a.m. start.  It turns out I’m really not good with big waves as I seemed to be the only person on the ferry puking my all my carefully planned carbs out into the ferry toilets.  Meanwhile, my kids were huddling under the seats like small animals in search of shelter.  They may have gotten my poor sea-faring genes.  Luckily there was a pasta dinner at the other end, so I could re carbo-load up.

After dinner, we set up camp and tucked in for an early night.  At one point in the night my husband heard the breath of an animal outside our tent.  He went out with a flash light and I was woken by his shout.  While searching for a small rodent-like animal his flashlight landed on a massive buffalo munching grass 10 feet from our tent.  We had no idea there were Buffalo on the island.  I guess we could have checked a few things out with the locals beforehand, but we basically went in with optimistic ignorance. (Note the ominous foreshadowing.)

Race morning started with a half-mile hike out to the start – we just followed the crowds – and the usual pre-race rituals of taking sips of water and peeing behind cacti.  Seemed normal and familiar enough.

I knew the course was hilly and that the course records were slow, but I hadn’t actually talked to anyone who had done it.  I thought “I’ll figure it out – I don’t want to be freaked out”.  Well, the first hill started pretty much immediately and never ended.  At mile three I thought “my legs are going to be sore tomorrow”.  Just 23 miles to go.  There was no rhythm to get into, and each hill was followed almost immediately by an even more leg-destroying downhill.  It wasn’t run up, across, and down as I’d thought, but up, down, up, down, up, up, up, up, down, down, down, down.  I’ll admit that I paced it completely wrong and when I saw some people flying down the first few hills I thought “hey, maybe that’s how you’re supposed to do it” and basically destroyed my downhill muscle fibers in the first few miles.  Here’s a snapshot which might give you an idea of the course:

It’s beautiful, yes, but OMG the hills!!!

The other unexpected thing I encountered was a return of our old campsite friend – the buffalo.  In the middle of the course!  I noticed it a few hundred meters out and thought it was an aid station.  As I got closer I couldn’t make sense of it, or why the few runners ahead of me were stopping.  Then I got closer and realized it was a BIG male buffalo who didn’t look to be too happy to have runners going by his hang-out.  Not knowing what to do I just followed the runners ahead of me by stopping, creeping up a grass embankment and tip-toeing by him.  I know surprisingly little about buffalo except that thankfully they’re vegetarians.  No idea whether they charge like bulls or moose.  One runner got too close and received an angry snort.  I wasn’t testing it.

(Side note. Apparently buffalo were introduced to Catalina Island for a movie shoot in the 1920s and were left there to live and breed happily ever since.)

In the end, I stopped “racing” and decided just to run as moving forward at any pace seemed all I could do.  I knew I was the first woman but it was impossible to tell where anyone else on the course was.  Although early on I had been looking forward to the four mile downhill finish, once there I found myself cringing at every jarring step and begging for an uphill.  I was passed by a woman with a mile and a half to go and I couldn’t do a thing about it.  I wasn’t bonking and I had the energy to go faster, but my poor quads felt like I was taking a hammer to them with every step.  I finished in 3:27, one minute behind first place and was happy with my effort.

Kudos to Ken Myers from Kingston who took the overall WIN!!!  We celebrated together Canadian style with a couple of beers.  (Thanks for the Advil Ken. Hope to see you back there next year!)

Speaking of Advil, I could have used a LOT more afterwards.  Walking was extremely difficult for three days as one leg would just give up on me and collapse sporadically.  Sidewalk curbs gave me a lot of trouble.  And here was my daily walk to the beautiful beach just outside our campground:

(My kids are way down there somewhere. Everyone gave up ever waiting for me.)

I did finally make it out for a surf once I figured I could pop up on my board.  Not pretty, but I’ll share my victories and my ugly moments:

Post-marathon surf

Now one more week to recover before my next race – Around The Bay!  Those hills will be a piece of cake 😉

Tapering (or… I Am Slowly Going Crazy)

I know – I’ve been looking forward to tapering for a while now.  Especially during freezing cold long runs and icy intervals.  However, I like to complain, so here are some things which have me going a bit bonkers in preparation for my upcoming marathon this weekend:

  • Not having a big challenge ahead in my runs makes it harder (for me) to “get up” for them.  For some reason I can get excited and focused if I have a tough 10 miler scheduled.  If I’m just putting in 5 miles I find it really hard to stay motivated to even go out.
  • I’m supposed to start feeling good and fresh for having taken down the mileage, but I started my first taper week (last week) in utter exhaustion which was unexplainable based on my reduced training.  I really should start adding things like “rushed from work to take two kids to the doctor on orders of daycare because of an unexplained rash which turned out to be dry skin – made it home 3 hours later and husband was away on business so had a glass of wine to calm myself down after I’d finally gotten everyone to bed” to my training log to give a fuller picture. Too much effort though.
  • I’m hyper aware of every little niggly injury or pain, and in fact they seem to be getting worse.  I am familiar with this phenomenon, and I even warn people I coach about it – I’m not sure of the real scientific reasoning, but I’ve always believed it has to do with your body finally having the energy to address the injuries and so they’re getting better.  How to account for my sudden lower-back pain and tightness though???  I know – lifting kids into and out of things who really should be doing it themselves, but I’m always in a rush.  Still, why right now???
  • Questioning and second-guessing my fitness.  I have to go back and read my logs to remind myself that I’ve done the work.

(Yes, I’m still that old-school with my logs)

  • I use running as more than a means to a racing goal – it is my everyday therapy.  Without the same amount of “me time” (because let’s be honest – I’m not waking up at 5 a.m. to replace running with anything else) I’m way more irritable, jumpy and way less zen about pretty much everything.
  • I feel fat.  There, I said it.  I know I need to build up my carbohydrate stores and that my muscles store two grams of water for every gram of carbohydrate.  I will rely desperately on these stores at mile 20 or so of the marathon.  However right now, as I eat as much as usual and burn off less than half, I feel like a blob.  A globby blob.
  • See?  Crazy.  Three more days.  Then I can see if this has all paid off.  And you can bet that the week after the race I won’t feel like running a step and I won’t have all of these weird psychologies at play.  Good Grief – bring it on and release me from this torture!!!