The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “Exercise”

Run Wild Missoula Race Review, Part 1

Summer marathon weekend! Hooray!

My husband had mapped out hiking and other activities for him to do with the kids while we spent a long weekend in Montana.  We had plans with my running partner and her family for the weekend.  We packed the car and drove off.

The drive went well.  We stopped for some photo opps in Glacier National Park and continued to Missoula.

P1090017  P1090020  P1090021

Upon arriving at our home for the weekend, we settled in, ate dinner and took a walk around the neighborhood.  Missoula is a lovely city.  People were welcoming, polite, helpful.. all good things.  My husband mapped out a hike for the next morning.

When the sun rose the next morning, I was tempted to join JB for his morning hike but decided not to risk it.  Besides, Jen and family were arriving that day and I wanted to be sure that we had food for everyone.  Also, I had to check that we had not sprawled throughout the entire house, leaving no room for her family. JB had a great time on his hike and took the boys with him the next day.

Friday evening came and the grown-ups went out for the Missoula Beer Run.  I understand it is a bit of a tradition the weekend of the marathon.  Tour guides from the community welcome any runners to the Iron Horse Brew Pub.  We divided into groups by the distance we were planning to run and headed off, (after downing a delicious beer from Iron Horse).  Our tour guide was full of information about the city.  He told us stories about the parks, the university, restaurants and local folklore during our short run. Very nice (free) event put on by the running club in Missoula.

Missoula Hammock

Saturday was the usual prep for Jen and I.  We ate, rested, went over our race plans and such.  A good sleep and then..  Part 2.


Are you there, Endorphins? Its me, Erika..

Training is ramping up for the marathon in July. My mileage is increasing and my legs are getting that tired/energized weirdness. It is also the time in marathon training where I just want the race to happen already. Mid-training fatigue. Well into training, but not real close to the race, I am having a “mid-life” crisis of sorts. This past week was the pits. Monday’s run went well and was followed by a family bike ride. Tuesday’s run not so much. It was windy and dusty and I struggled through eleven kilometers while eating dirt and gravel stirred up by cars and wind. Then, the rain came. It rained on and off Wednesday, with the only break in the evening when my daughter had a soccer game. I am one of the coaches for her team, so was not able to get a run in on Wednesday. It was fine with me. I was still licking wounds from the day before. But Thursday and Friday offered no relief from the rain. Other issues arose that required my attention and I missed running both days. By Friday evening, I was a cranky mess.
So, what to do? A twenty-nine kilometer training run was on the docket for the weekend and rain was in the forecast for Saturday. Also, all of my kids had activities over the weekend, so to fit in a three-hour run was going to be a trick even on a nice day. I paced. And bugged my husband. And tweeted to friends in town asking for advice. Thing was, if I ran Saturday, chances were I was going to get wet. If I ran Sunday, I would certainly be re-routed by the ScotiaBank Calgary Marathon happening in town. I made a decision and went to bed.
Saturday morning came. I got my daughter to her weekend festivities and ran inside on the treadmill. After lunch, I made my way down to the expo to register for the Calgary Half-Marathon.
Absolutely no regrets. Race day was sunny and cool. I was able to ride down with a neighborhood running partner, running her first race, and met up with other friends prior to the start.
The start was slow. The field was full and moved along steadily, yet slowly. My funk from the previous week was lifting with each step, as it is impossible to stay angry/stressed when running, (Kathrine Switzer guaranteed it). I passed a sign that was meant for a certain charity, “remember why you are here”, and started to think about it. What reason did I have for doing this race? None, really, other than it fit into my training schedule and I was “blah” from the previous week’s training. So I thought about the upcoming full marathon for which I am training. What could I do as a race pace? Goal in finishing time? hmmm..
I sped up to what I am happy to report is my goal race pace for Run Wild Missoula in July. Also happy to report that I was able to maintain that pace, in good humor, for the duration of the race. As will happen on a marathon course, every now and then I would talk with other runners, high-five a cute kid holding out their hand, and laugh at a poster. My favorite today, by the way, was “Other sports require players to bring balls. Runners just have them.”
A successful weekend of training is in the books. And, as a bonus, I have a shiny new medal. So much for the mid-training “blahs”. Sometimes you just need that extra shot of endorphins.


Mother’s Day Run

This is a race that I have been looking forward to for a couple of months. It is a big deal in Calgary, with over 25,000 people participating in either a 10k run, 5k run, or 5k walk. An added bonus is that, for the 3rd year in a row, Jaybird will join me at the start line. While this is her third 5k race, it is special. First, its Mother’s Day and I am enjoying something I love with my daughter. Second, this race benefits the Calgary Health Trust Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, (NICU). Jaybird called another NICU home for the first 9 weeks of her life, so this cause is near and dear to our hearts.

We arrived early to meet some folks from our team. You can read Cori’s race review here. I was hoping to meet up with another running friend, but missed her.. next time. In any case, you can read Michelle’s race review as well, (she did the 10k). Jaybird asked a few times why we had to be there so early. I just told her that its a big crowd and that we want to be sure that we are not rushed. I spared her stories of arriving at start lines about 4am to be sure that the day starts off as smoothly as possible.


The start was a bit of a mosh pit, though we were front and center to see the wheelchair race start out. When we saw that we would not be able to get inside the starting corral until well after the starting gun, we jumped the fence to squeeze in. We talked a bit about pace and water and how to navigate the crowd. Just in case of something completely weird, we also set up a meeting place. The time arrived to start and we were off! We kept up with the crowd, headed out of the mall parking lot and into the residential area nearby. A huge sign stating “We Love Mom!” greeted everyone as we headed up the hill. The woman next to us called out to the 20-something man sitting on the deck, “I love your sign! Great job!” He nodded back and smiled.

As we approached a kilometer marker I gasped and teared up a little. As I noted above, this run benefits the NICU and there was a donation bucket along with pictures of fragile premature babies along the route. Once upon a time, that was the girl who was running along beside me. I looked at her, asked her how she was doing and requested we slow down. I meant our running pace was a little fast, but I think there may have been a subconscious voice in there begging her to slow down in every way possible.

We walked through the water station at the half way point. We took stock of our pace and decided that we may have started out a little fast. When we began running again it was at a more practical pace. The course was well-marked and festive. All races have a diverse crowd of participants but this one had a different feel. There were families walking and running together, sometimes up to 4 generations. Spectators lined the course; clapping volunteers were everywhere. When we approached the finish line I heard a man say to his kids, “Mom crosses the finish line first. This is her day.” My heart swelled.

DSC02134Jaybird asked if we could sprint the last 200 meters, (she always does that), but the crowd was too thick for us to race to the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand. She was a little bummed out that no medals were awarded, so I called upon a friend and fellow Mom, Brenda Ster, for help. Brenda created a locket for Jaybird appropriate for the occasion. I presented it to her as we munched on fruit, yogurt and chocolate milk provided at the finish line. She smiled and reached out for a hug, loving her new necklace. (If you would like see all the cool stuff Brenda can do, please see her website.) DSC02136

We arrived home to much fanfare with the boys and my husband working like crazy in a flowery kitchen. A Mother’s Day brunch befitting the Queen awaited me, wrapping up a terrific Mother’s Day morning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there, (especially mine).

If you would like to support Jaybird and other premature babies like her, please see these links to the NICU in Alberta and the NICU in Milwaukee, WI, where she was cared for by some of the best physicians and nurses on the planet.

Mindset Shift

I picked my races for 2013.  This year I have done the Virtual Half Goofy Challenge, read about it <HERE> and will do Mother’s Day 5k – May 12, Color Me RAD 5k – June 29, Run Wild Missoula Marathon – July 14 and BMW Berlin Marathon – September 29.  And who knows?  Depending on the how my legs and spirit hold up, there may be room for another here and there.

The two biggies are the marathons in July and September.  I wrote out the training plan on the calendar a month or so ago, noting that I need to begin training this week in order to be ready for the marathon in Missoula on July 14.  Writing out the training is always terrifying.  When I sign up for a race I am excited about the place I will run, the gear I will need (shopping!!), the goal time for the race, all the fun stuff that goes along long distance running.  Then, I write it all down on the calendar, starting with race day and working my way backwards with mileage and hill runs and speedwork, usually 16 – 20 weeks prior to the race is the start of training.  You see, race day is exciting and full of adrenaline.  It’s the 4 months prior to race day on your first run where your commitment counts.  It’s the hill workout 10 weeks prior to race day where your endurance is tested.  It’s the speedwork 5 weeks before race day where your resolve will be tested.  It’s the peak mileage week just before the taper where you will wonder, why am I doing this again?  By the time race day arrives, you’ve passed all the tests and just need to run.

I run all year to keep in shape and stay sane, but when training starts, my mindset shifts.  Today was “Mindset Shift Day”.  The first run of training was on the calendar.  It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny and I would have run anyway because, like the hills calling Maria in The Sound of Music, the trails were beckoning me to come outside.  As I started out, the whole thing felt different.  Prior to today I would run through my neighborhood on a nice day because I wanted to or was meeting friends, with no particular goal in mind with regard to pace or distance.  Today training started.  Today its is prescribed.  Today, instead of thinking, “what a beautiful day, I would like to go for a run”, my thoughts are “I will run today, it says so right here on my calendar.”  And I thought about my pace, breathing, feelings in my legs.

The loop that I ran will be the base for my training over the next few months.  I incorporated a new part of the neighborhood trail to mix things up.  I noticed the condos that were just a pit in the ground last year at this time are almost complete and ready for people to move in.  I noticed how many people were out walking their dogs.  I love that it is lighter out later into the evening, as I don’t feel so rushed to get the run done during the day.

The first training run was a success.  My legs feel great and I am ready to take on the year.  Mindset has switched to training.  Let’s run!

Virtual Half Goofy Challenge

10k one day, 21k the next. For Charity? Count me in.

Cori was on a team raising money for Team In Training, supporting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a charity with whom I have run two marathons.  Its is a good cause and I was happy to support her efforts through a donation.  The fact that is was also a run with a medal at the end was a bonus.  She had training schedules on her website for people to refer to and I mapped out my training to complete the challenge by the Christmas holiday.  When that didn’t happen due to a gazillion other things that came due during the fall, I set out to find a weekend where it would work before the January deadline.

I told running friends of my task, knowing that if other people knew I had this goal, they would keep me honest.  A few offered to run part of the mileage with me, which was appreciated, though I ended up going it alone.

Friday was the day I had set for the 10k, as I would have time for the run between my part-time job and picking up the kids from school.  Saturday morning would be the 21k.  I planned for a week, visualizing how I would get this done.

Friday’s 10k ended up being inside on the treadmill, as it had been snowing like a banshee.  I headed to the Y.  I knew that one of the runs would need to be inside due to weather, and that I could handle 10k on the treadmill but 21k was unconscionable.  Many things went through my head during the run.  First, there is a 30 minute time limit on the cardio equipment.  I chose a treadmill in the corner, hoping that no one would notice me running there for about an hour.  Then, I had to finish within an hour, as some of the treadmills cut you off cold after 60 minutes.  While my mind wandered to the usual making up stories about those working out around me, I tried to keep my concentration on one of two things.  First, I scanned the number of treadmills that were open/available to be sure no one was waiting and ready to kick me off of mine, and second, there a chip of paint on the wall.  When I started to get stir crazy on the ‘mill, I returned to the paint chip.

Finished the 10K!

Finished the 10K!

Saturday morning came and it was time for the 21k.  There was still quite a bit of snow around, but the sun was shining and I had a plan.  Since I didn’t train real well for this run (or at all, really, don’t try this at home), I decided to break it up into three more manageable runs. I ran my usual 8k loop around the neighborhood, briefly stopped at home for water and bite to eat and ran it again.  The first 8k lap was great.  I was leaping over snow piles in the street and enjoying the crisp cool air into my lungs.  While it was a little chilly, I welcomed the opportunity to be outside for a long run.  Half way through my second 8k loop, the sun went away and my leaps over snow piles because a little less leap-y.  Nevertheless, I was happy to round the corner to my house for another snack and water break still feeling pretty loose and energetic.  After the break, I did a 5k loop that I have done so many times I could do it with eyes closed.  Only this time the walks were not cleared and I was shin deep in snow and I had to walk for about half the last 5k.  This would not have been a problem except that I was sweaty and the wind was picking up.  Walking made me cold.  I ran whenever I came on to a cleared section of the path or could run in the street. Thankful for quiet streets, I finished up the run and entered my house to the smell of JB’s blueberry pancakes.

It was pretty or fast, but I got it done!

It wasn’t pretty or fast, but I got it done!

During the run I thought about all those running over the weekend at Walt Disney World with Team In Training.  Many running buddies from Wisconsin were there and many that I had trained with last spring had also made the trip.  Mostly, I thought of Cori, who had brought me to this run.  I am thankful to her and to all those making lives better as a result of their fundraising with Team In Training.  I am hopeful that their efforts will continue to search for a cure.  I am grateful for an organization that improves the lives of so many fighting cancer.  I am mindful of all those that are fighting this beast and pray for their healing.

Thank you, Cori, for this virtual race.  It brought me to a happy place and kicked off my year of running.

Let the 2013 running season begin!

Brave on Blades

We ask a lot of our kids this time of year.  They start school, new activities and clubs, new sports, new teachers, so many things.  At each point we tell them to be brave.  Enjoy the adventure.  Take a risk.

Our family is no different in that I have asked my kids to buck up quite a bit lately.  I have had to pull out a “Fredism” a few times.. “just go do it, its builds character”.  After the first two weeks of school and a couple of new activities, I think my kids would say that they have had enough character building, thank you.  Even so, I am proud of them.

Apprentice has been taking skating lessons for a couple of years on and off, as he wants to play hockey.  After the last round of skating sessions, he was given the thumbs up by the instructor that he is indeed ready to play novice hockey.  I signed him up.  I bought all the gear, (for those that don’t play hockey, there is a shitload of it).  Last weekend the sessions began where the coaches evaluate all the players so to divide them on teams.  The goal is to establish the novice league with as even-skilled teams as possible to maximize fun and learning of the sport.  The first morning, I was a wreck.  I gave Apprentice a pep talk as I helped him suit up.  Thankfully the guy at the hockey store had spent a gazillion patient hours with me so I felt okay getting all this stuff on him in the correct order.  Neck guard, elbow pads, shoulder pads.  Shorts that have velcro for hockey socks, jock strap and cup all in one easy piece, (hold up, my 7YO needs a CUP and jock strap? I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things), shin guards, hockey socks.  The jersey, skates, helmet, (with mouth guard) and gloves.  At the end of all this, Apprentice looked at me and I took a deep breath.  First, I was winded due to all the lacing and pulling and whatever.  Second, he looked like a big kid hockey player, no longer my baby boy.  What is happening here?  He took the ice with the other kids.  I waited in the bench area (bench? dugout? WTH is that area called in hockey?) until he seemed to get his skating legs back and was following instructions from the head coach.  I went up to the seating area to sit with other parents. 

The new kid in his class (just moved from Toronto) was also on the ice and he recognized Apprentice.  I took the opportunity to introduce myself to his mother upon setting seating in the (bleachers? stands? I don’t know what anything is called in hockey!).  She is quite nice.  She shared their previous hockey experience and politely answered all my stupid questions and how to dress these kids more efficiently and how this whole evaluation things works.  Day one completed, Apprentice comes off the ice.  He is so tired that I am surprised he didn’t fall asleep standing up.

The next day is an early session.  I took all the advice from the other mom and the morning went much more smoothly.  I dressed Apprentice at home, cranked the AC on the way to the rink.  I was even more nervous on the second morning, as I knew Apprentice was tuckered out.  JB and I had talked about worse case scenario – what if he doesn’t want to play? – after all, he is totally new.  These Canadian kids appear to have been fitted with hockey gear in utero and he had trouble keeping up on day one.  I texted a friend and hockey mom/player seeking a pep talk of my own.  She delivered big time.  I was going on about how I am not really doing any favors to the kid here, as I don’t know much about the sport and can’t coach him like I can when Jaybird wants to run a race or Mid wants to play tennis.  She assures me to stop coaching and just be there for him.  Practice over, Apprentice skates off the ice.  I thank Jen for (once again) calming my nerves regarding youth hockey.  Apprentice comes over to me and exclaims, “Hockey is awesome!” and I am all better.

Until Tuesday, when Mid starts his evaluations for basketball.  But that will wait for another day.

Mickey Hits the Lights

Or, The Latest in a Series of Altercations Involving My Children as Summer Comes to a Close

As I type I can hear them quarrelling on the floor above me.  There is stomping of the feet and some “Stop it!  I am serious!”, followed by a plea to whomever may be listening to make the other kids more like the kids on Good Luck Charlie.   Uh oh.  I just heard something serious.  Be right back.

Well, who would have thought that stuffed animals were tools of war among siblings?  I have warned that there will be no throwing of the stuffies and the fighting needs to stop.  It’s all quiet up there for now.  That’s not good either.  When they are quiet something more sinister is usually going on.  I had better go check.

Nope.  Just quiet sulking.  Also, “Mom, can we ppuuullllleeeeeaaasssse watch some TV?”  That’s a negative.

To their credit, we went on a bike ride/run today that was longer than usual.  They had requested to go by a few friends’ houses in the neighborhood and I decided to capitalize on the opportunity.  I had a 8k run to do this afternoon and was a little worried as to how I would get it done.  Going along with their idea to pass the houses was sure to put us in the right distance.  Worked like a charm, by the way.

So now I hear a hushed voice, “Uh oh.  I am telling Mom.  You are in big trouble.”

I am waiting.  When I started to hear some stomping and yelling I decided to ignore it.  They are upstairs and safe, so we will just have to see who comes out unscathed.  I think this is the way mother lions handle their young, right?  I have never seen nor heard of a mother lion intervening in a fair fight between her cubs.

Here come the footsteps.  “Mom, you had better come upstairs.”

And here is the reveal…

No one is hurt.  They all start to tell on each other.  I explain that I am not interested in who did what because they are all sharing the guilt in this one.  No activities that require electricity for the remainder of the day.  NOW they are really mad.  I rub some salt in the wound and suggest they go to the park. Daggers come out of their eyes.  Why does this entertain me?

And is it wrong that I kind of want to know who threw Mickey into the light?  It would not have been easy and I want to know if we have a left- or right-handed pitcher in our midst.

Hometown Run

I have been doing reasonably well keeping up with runs while on vacation.  The weather has been hot so the runs have typically been pretty early in the morning, before the heat and humidity set in.

Running was never really my “thing” when I was a kid living in this small Wisconsin town.  I played tennis for the most part and some other organized sports in school.  Every now and again I would go for runs while between sports seasons or when I needed to get out of the house.  Usually my dad would accompany me.  He said it was because he liked to run, although I think it was just to be sure that I was actually running and not getting into any trouble.  Well played, Dad, well played.

Anyway, back to now.  I have become a runner of sorts so I had my mind set to at least 4 runs per week while on vacation.  So far, so good.  Good for now, as I am in my hometown and I know where I am going.  We will see what happens on a little road trip in a few days.  Running through my hometown has been a refreshing trip down memory lane.  As I pass houses that were once inhabited by friends and may still be the home of their parents, many memories of good times growing up came flooding back.

Today while crossing the street I saw a driver that resembled a friend from high school.  So deep in my thoughts that I said to myself, “His parents must have gotten a new car. Didn’t his mom have a little yellow Mazda?”  Ridiculous, of course, because we are old enough to buy our own cars, and the Mazda is most likely long gone.  When the car turned and I saw the personalized plates, I was brought back to present day, albeit briefly.

I have not been running a set route, just kind of going wherever the wind takes me.  This morning I approached the middle school, thinking of awkward dances back in the day, followed by Park Plaza Pizza (so yummy).  Crossing the street, there was the church where I was confirmed and spent many a Sunday morning and Christmas.  Heading back to my parents’ house, memories came into my head of the summer when Jenifer broke her foot and consequently the theme song for our summer was “I Want to Ride my Bicycle”.  There was the house that hung the Halloween costumes in the attic window, which totally freaked out Julie and I as we walked by one Friday night.  I came into contact with two running groups, one of teenage boys and one of teenage girls, and for a fleeting moment I tried to recognize the kids.  Do I know any of them?  Of course not.  I passed a few houses where I once babysat children and wondered where they all are currently living.  I also thought of school teachers as I passed one of their homes.  Band trips, tennis meets, homecoming, prom…

Things look a little different in my hometown but one thing is certain. LakeShore Drive is a good morning run.  So if you are in the greater Beaver Dam area and see a 40ish year old with a ponytail poking out of a white hat of the next couple of weeks, please wave or beep.  Or better yet, lace up your shoes to come run with me and we’ll catch up.

Lost in a Run.. Again

I dropped the kids at class on a beautiful afternoon.  I decided to treat myself to a nice run along the reservoir.  I had not been there much since spring and it is such a great trail to get lost in thought during your run.

The kids were at 14th St and the RRoom I was going to start/finish at was also on 14th St.  Kids north, RRoom south, but same street.. how easy, right?  No need to map it.  I know where I am going.  I drove off.  Only, 14th St doesn’t go all the way through south of city centre. Crap.  I drove around, trying to navigate the way over to the RRoom.  Problem was that while I knew my location, I just didn’t know how to get where I wanted to go (it happens a lot).  At least not by car.  I was passing streets and trails that I knew from running in the spring and was starting to get frustrated.  Time was a-wasting.

Determined not to let the afternoon get the best of me, I kept on. Everything was so familiar – the dog park, the Bow River trail weaving in and out of where I was driving.  How in the world do I get back over to 14th St?  I started to grow more and more impatient with being in the car on such a cloudless day. Then I stumbled upon an elementary school near the dog park.  I knew this school as a landmark from previous runs.  It’s a school that is built on top of a ridge, which always intrigued me.  Why would anyone build an elementary school playground on the side of a ridge?  And how do I get to that golf course down below?  I was close to RRoom, I could smell it.  But, with no clue as to how to get there unless on foot, I parked the car.  I mumbled a few expletives and decided to just run the trail to the RRoom and back.  It couldn’t be far.  I had planned to run the 6k route from the RRoom “to oscar” (a garbage can at a fork in the trail) and back.  It was a run I had done so many times, in the dark, in the snow, in rain, in daylight..  but I was not near that part of the trail.

Due to the fact that I had planned to park at RRoom and do a quickie 6k, I had not brought a water belt or much nutrition with me.  In fact, I didn’t have my garmin.  After assessing my new plan, I headed out with my ipod and timex.  The run was great.  I was not tracking pace, just thinking back to training.  Random thoughts I had during the run..

  • hey look! there’s Rose’s favorite outhouse.
  • Peter usually started talking about what he was making for dinner around this bridge during our long runs.  I wonder what he is cooking today?
  • AAHHH! A really fat robin!  (I almost stepped on it)
  • Jon’s daughter was playing competitive soccer for the first time this spring.. wonder how she did?
  • I need to message Michelle and Heather to see if they want to do a fall race.
  • AAHHH!! A bunny!  (I almost stepped on it)
  • When the hell am I going to be at the RRoom?  I have to pee something fierce and am sweating like crazy.

Upon arriving at RRoom, I was a sweaty mess with a glowing red tomato face.  Thankfully, it is a place that is accustomed to runners coming in like this to use their facilities and grab some water.  I did both and headed back out.  The parking lot where my car was located was further away that I had anticipated.  I thought so, anyway.  It was hard to tell without my garmin.  It occurred to me how touristy I am while running with other people.  No wonder Heather always took off; she is not a talker during runs and I never shut up.

At the end of the run I chugged down some water between inhaling the granola bar and dried apricots I had in the car.  I made a note to map the distance upon returning home.  It then occurred to me that I really didn’t know how to get back to where the kids were and the time was fast approaching for me to pick them up.  I would need to show up at the art studio smelly and sweaty.  Getting in the car, I cranked the air conditioning and tried to retrace my drive.  I arrived at the art studio just in time for the kids to walk out.  They looked at me in disbelief, (or disgust, I couldn’t really tell), and asked, “Mom, didn’t you do anything while we were at art?”

Three Bikes and a Pair of Running Shoes

When I was a kid my parents worked opposite shifts so either my dad or my mom was always home.  During my formative years, (I guess.. when are your formative years, anyway?), my mom worked primarily night shift and dad worked second shift.  This left a bit of the taking care of my brother and I to my dad during the day.  Enter my dad’s group of friends that play tennis together.  They play almost every day, weather permitting, either singles or doubles, depending upon who is available to play.  As an aside, we used to (respectfully, of course) refer to this group as our own town’s little United Nations.  I think only a couple of the guys Dad hung out with were actually natural-born US citizens.  As a kid watching them play tennis I probably heard swear words in at least five different languages.  Too bad I was not paying closer attention.

Anyway, in the summer my brother and I would hang out with friends, go to the neighborhood pool, keeping close to home.  When it came time for Dad to meet up with his buddies for some tennis, he had a few choices.  He could not play, (unthinkable), find a sitter (also unthinkable, he’s too cheap), or take my brother and I along.  So, you guessed it.  We spent many a summer afternoon tagging along with Dad while he played tennis.  They usually played on courts that were built into a hill, with a huge, tall cement wall on one side.  Dad would instruct us to take our own racquets and ball, hit the ball against the wall and stay out-of-the-way of the grown-ups.

Why am I writing about this?

As noted in many of my posts and a category on this very blog, I am a runner.  I am also a mother of three school age kids that are on summer break.  Temporarily gone are the days when I could do my midday run alone while they attend school.  What’s a running momma to do?  I need to run for reasons such as stress relief, stay healthy, eat ice cream, you know the rest.  I also want to run a fall race, so to stop training after a successful spring marathon was unthinkable.  This is when I recalled those summers of my childhood and hitting a tennis ball against a cement wall.

I told the kids to get on their bikes.  I explained that since they are not quite old enough to be left home alone, even if it’s for a half hour so I can get in a quick run, they are going to have to come with me.  Knowing that I get rather crabby when not able to exercise regularly, they agreed.  Also, I was pretty clear in that they had no choice in the matter.  If my father is reading this post, this is time when he throws up his hands and says two things to my mom.  First, “It really was not a big deal to take them to the tennis courts.” And, “Why am I always right?”

Our first ride/run was a little bumpy.  They were nervous about the trail onto which I was leading them, the hills we were encountering and how far we were going to stray from home.  It seemed that I was constantly reassuring them throughout the first part of the ride/run that I knew exactly where we were and would not take them farther than they could handle.  The first was absolutely true but the latter entered gray area, seeing this was our first try at this. About half way into the ride/run, they pointed like a pack of hounds seeking a fox.  “PARK!”  They asked if they could stop and play for a bit at this new, glorious neighborhood playground we encountered.  I agreed, but only for a few minutes.

Turning up the trail and heading for home, we came upon a couple of cyclists.  “Start them young!” one shouted.  I nodded.  When we got home there were icey-pops and watermelon for everyone.  It was a nice little run for me, they got to be outside and the kids have a new appreciation for the freedom their bikes provide.  All asked if we could do it again tomorrow.  Win!

So, what have we learned?  Yes, my dad is right sometimes and did my brother and I a favor by taking us to the tennis courts each and every day during the summers of our youth.  Yes, you can be a mom with three kids home for the summer and still keep some resemblance to your fitness routine.  Finally, children like to be outside and enjoy exercise, especially when you, their parent, do it with them.  It also helps if there is a little bribery in the form of cool snacks upon the return home.

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