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So today, my choice is this:  

My awesome running shoes that I L-O-V-E

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Or this: 

Hockey skates. Not mine. For sure.

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Option A: 

Today I have hockey (Ninja’s practice–leave at 6 a.m.) and hockey (amazing high school game–spectator–leave at 3 p.m.)  and hockey (awesome, but brutal, college game–spectator–no departure time, we actually will never have left the rink). 

See, Ninja (11 year-old–for one more day–ice hockey goalie on a boys’ team) has a Hockey Day ahead of her and I am Transport.  Helpful Husband is working All Day tomorrow, so really, he’s not helping so much in the Transport department.  

Option B  is:  

Run.  

And herein lies the problem.  For mamas.  Maybe for dadas too, but I really have yet to figure these guys out, so I just can’t speak for them.  The problem: 

I have a commitment to myself.  Ninja has a commitment to herself, her team, her development, her future, her possibilities, her…  You get the picture.  

Listen, if you’re a mama (parent), you probably recognize the agonizing decisions that have to be made when faced with your exercise routine versus your kids’ activities/involvement/commitments.  

And you, no doubt, surely are expecting to find some sort of get-tough motivation from this marathoning mama.  You might be predicting I’ll tell my kid to find herself a ride to her 14,952 activities she has scheduled for the day.  

Yeah!  Gotta love myself before I can love anybody else!  Gotta refill the emotional and physical tank first! Gotta take care of myself so there’s someone there to take care of those kiddos!  Of course, that’s what you’d expect from me. 

So who will be taking Ninja to her multitude of hockey commitments tomorrow?  If you’re a mama, you’ve probably already guessed it: 

Me.  

Yep.  Totally sold out on my workout for this Saturday.  Putting my Svelte-Self in the back seat and my Real-Self in the front seat as my kid sleeps while I drive an hour to get her to practice at the crack of dawn.  

Does this make me a Work-Out-Sell-Out?  Maybe.  But I hope not.  

Because years from now, my daughter might just remember the opportunities I’ve given her.  An even slimmer chance:  she might actually appreciate the opportunities I’ve given her.  But no matter what, I know for sure:  

I’ll remember the look on her sleeping face as her goalie stick rests on the pillow above her head while we drive to her early morning practice.  I’ll appreciate the chance to watch her sleep peacefully, not a single worry in the world, even though she’s navigating the turbulent ocean that is pre-teen life.  

And I’ll know I’ve contributed to something, someone, important.  Bigger than the workout, the run, the exercise schedule.  Bigger than me.  

Which is the difference between being a standard, regular Runner and being Mom-Who-Runs.  

If I’m a sell-out, then I’m a sell-out-for-my-kids.  Not every time.  But when it matters.  

The run, the sit-ups, the treadmill, will all be there later in the day.  Or even *gasp* tomorrow. 

And the wait is worth it.  

And I will be gentle with myself and stop judging myself about it. 

And for today, it is really, REALLY okay.

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I hate thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve sat down to write here.  Even now, I feel like I’m sitting down with a long, lost friend.  It’s great to be back.  Thanks for missing me.  I’ve missed you, too.

You know this.  Moms-Who-Run wear many hats.  You can wear lots of them at once.  But not all of them.  Still, it’s easy to forget that your head is only so big and only so many hats will fit up there.

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Then, when Life lifes you, as mine has this past year, you realize what’s most important.  And those are the hats you wear.  And those are the things you do. 

So it was that as a Mother-Runner-Daughter-Wife-Writer-Teacher-Reader-Student-Knitter-Saleswoman-Public Speaker-Trainer-Cheerleader-Chauffer-Cleaning Committee Member-Moving Crew Member-Chief Laundress-Referee-Wound Treater-Hug Giver-God Lover-and Glue that Holds It All Together for My Family, with the application of enough pressure, heartache and disaster, some of these hats had to be taken off and thrown onto the pile with the dirty laundry for awhile.   

If you asked my daughters, they’d tell you exactly what I need:  “You need to run.  And you need coffee.  After God and us, of course.  And your running is good for all of us, Mom.  Seriously.  Same with the coffee.”

So what does Mom-Who-Runs do?

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with financial disaster, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with heartbreak, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with the loss of a home, a friend, a dream, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs realizes she can no longer write, knit, dance, play, because there truly is no longer time for these luxuries, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with ending her kids’ homeschool experience and putting her kids back in traditional school in order to get a job and help her family survive, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs has a husband in intensive care, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs hears her own mother and number one support system has been diagnosed with stage three cancer, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs switches roles and cares for the mother who’s sacrificed so much caring for her all these years, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to pack and move an entire household with her own hands and the help of her two cherubs and a few very loving friends who come through when it counts, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to choke back her own sorrow while she wipes the tears from her daughters’ eyes as they say goodbye to the only home they’ve ever known, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs turns into a puddle (finally breaking down under the pressure) just because someone has been nice to her, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is surprised by her own medical diagnosis, shares it with her boss, and is fired coincidentally the next day, she runs. 

And she runs.  And she runs.  And she runs.

And she loves her children and her God with a love that is fierce.

And she runs.

And if she doesn’t run, then you know that something is wrong.  And if you love her, you move heaven and earth to get her back on the road or the trail or the treadmill again.

Because the running will bring her back.

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During the time I’ve been away, I’ve run a full marathon, two half-marathons, an ultra and several 5Ks and trail races.  I’ve logged hundreds of miles.  I really haven’t gotten any faster or skinnier. 

But thanks to the running and my kids and the prayers of my family and friends, I am BACK.  Along with my Writer Hat.  And I think we might just stay awhile. 

 

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Yesterday was a wonderful family day.

Yesterday was a 10-mile run day. 

Today is a Rest Day. 

Who knew after you’re 40 your body does most of its hard work when you’re actually resting

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Ahhhh.  Life is good.

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seasons[1]

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In years past, I looked up from my mad racing about pace (not running, just racing around) and noticed that the gorgeous splash of fall color was gone and the trees were bare. 

What happened?  How had I missed it? 

I also missed much of the beauty of the heavy snow covering the tree branches, not to mention the big, huge, sloppy snowflakes that looked like a kindergartener could have painted them with white paint and a big, wide paintbrush.  The magnolia trees lost their pink buds before I could really appreciate them.  Summers flew by. 

This year has been different.  And in the past few weeks, I actually realized that I was seeing what I’d been missing for many years.

A runner sees the splash of sunshine that travels across the red and orange-trimmed trees and bounces of the lake in a sliver on an otherwise cloudy day.  A runner has the chance to run on a blanket of golden leaves and under trees still heavy-laden with their yellow fall bounty, like running through an autumn cloud.  A runner appreciates the difference in the landscape and how far you can actually see through the trees when their summer garments have fallen. 

I hadn’t even noticed what I’d been missing. 

It’s only been in the past few weeks, when my runs have finally become more than avoiding collapsing, that I’ve been able to relax enough to take in the beauty of the world around me.  I find myself each day looking forward to seeing, hearing and even smelling the adventures in store for me that day. 

And I’ve found myself grateful, so grateful, for the privilege of putting one foot in front of the other, in a body that can move itself forward, with a mind and will that can choose to continue to get out there each day, and with a spirit that can offer up a prayer of faith and appreciation and celebration for the blessings that God has given me, with a whispered, “Wow.  Look at God.”

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The day after my long run is a rest day.  Shhhh.  I’m resting. 

I’m posting a restful photo for you so you can enjoy the peace, too.   No need to thank me.  Just kick back and enjoy your Saturday.

Restful_place[1]

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When you’re *ahem* older like me, your body actually needs a full 24 hours between workouts to recover.  That’s when  improvement actually happens.  Who knew?!

Meanwhile, shhhhhh.  😉

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As I relayed to you yesterday, I’ve reached the point where I am finally ready to do what’s necessary (within reason) to shed the extra weight I’ve been dragging along with me on all these running adventures.  Yesterday’s post gives you all the background on this epiphany, and you really should read it before you enter this Very Cool Contest.  Here’s the link:  LINK

THE CONTEST

RollingPinRecipeCardHolderMotherhood1[1]

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The aim of this contest is to provide my family and me with a collection of recipes that meet our family’s unique standards for health, taste, ease of preparation, and overall appeal.  Each contestant can submit as many recipes as they wish to share.   (Share early, share often.)  Recipes must meet our family’s bizarre requirements in order to qualify for entry into the drawing.  (For example:  Recipes that evoke my kids’ gag reflex will automatically disqualified.  It is strongly recommended that you review the Requirements section before submitting your entry.)  Recipes should be submitted in the comment section on this blog to be considered.  Each qualifying recipe will be entered into a drawing for The Prize.  Winner will be drawn at random from qualified entries.

(Doesn’t this sound official?  Woo hoo.  Actually, it’s just me, spouting something that sounds really contest-ese.  Anyway…)

TIMEFRAME

Entries will be accepted between the moment you read this and midnight CST on November 26th.  Why so long?  Because I’m thinking that someone may just have some scrumptious, yet healthy, dish that they had not considered as an entry brought by an unsuspecting aunt or grandmother to their Thanksgiving table.  Get that recipe from Grandma and get it to me!  This convenient timeframe gives you the chance to post those recipes as well. 

SPECIAL TIMEFRAME

Because I am quite desperate to start getting and using these yummy-but-healthy recipes NOW, each qualifying entry that is submitted between now and midnight CST on November 8th, will receive TWO chances to win the prize.  (These recipes will be put into the drawing twice.)  Please don’t complain to me about recipe discrimination.  The early recipes get the bonus entry because it’s my contest.  So there.

THE REQUIREMENTS

1.  Entries must be for a lunch or dinner main dish.  Actually, a really awesome side dish or soup would be considered too.  We’re hungry, people.

2.  Recipes must be super-easy to make.  I do mean it when I say SUPER easy.  They must be clear and contain no margin for any kitchen-moron to err.  (My friend Helaine once sent me a recipe that included the instruction to take the wrapper off the cheese and throw the wrapper away.  True story.  I’ve come a bit further since those rookie days, but not by most people’s standards!) 

3.  Recipes must be no-hassle and speedy to prepare/cook.  Alternatively, they may be super-fun to make with youngish children who want to be involved with Everything Mom Is Doing In That Kitchen.  If your recipe could turn me into Culinary-Wonder-Mom with my children, creativity points and kiddie relationship points would outweigh this fast and hassle-free requirement. 

4.  Carbs are important because we are athletes.  Be low-cal without compromising reasonable carbs.  (Plus carbs are yummy.  I’m a serious grouch without them.)

5.  The dish must not be fancy in appearance, ingredients or cooking technique.  If I have to shop someplace special for some wierd spice, I won’t do it, no matter how yummy it is.  We are plain-jane meat and potatoes people here, so getting too creative really doesn’t work for us. 

6.  No mustard, mayo, fish, brussel sprouts, tofu or vinegar.  (I’m sure I’ll add to this Ick-List before the contest is completed.  Sorry this is all I can remember now, but they are actually deal-breakers, guaranteed to tweak the gag-reflex, so I’ve included them here.)  Cheese is okay, BBQ is okay, picante and salsa are okay. 

 7.  Veggies are okay, but it’s best to go kinda easy on them.  Daughter N could eat them all the time, but the rest of us choke them down because we know they’re good for us.  Keep them palatable, because we’re already making a sacrifice by consuming them in the first place.

8.  The dish must be delish to an 8 year-old.  Or at least not start the gagging sounds.  If you don’t think a kid would like it, chances are it wouldn’t fly at our house, even with the grown-ups.

9.  The dish must be economical.  No rare and expensive ingredients.  That’s not in the budget, plus we really wouldn’t appreciate it, most likely. 

10.  Any other Requirements as needed to be added. 

THE PRIZE

You will have your Choice of one of two cool prizes. 

 

dri fit sock

 

Prize Number One is a pair of high quality technical socks–NEW, not from my drawer (Nike Dri Fit or Under Armour or something else equally as awesome). 

mix-n-chop

 

 

Prize Number Two is a (NEW) Pampered Chef Mix-N-Chop (one of the coolest kitchen doodads I’ve ever encountered). 

 

Yes, I know it’s not the lottery, but these are very cool prizes for athletes or culinary geniuses like yourselves.  Everyone could use one of these things.  Even if you think the prize choices are bogus, I sure hope you’ll still send your recipe in anyway.  The winner of the drawing will be announced on Monday, November 30th and you’ll get to pick which prize you want. 

OTHER STUFF

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.  I’m not a contest-person.  I’m a runner-desperate-to-feed-her-family-in-a-way-that-actually-helps-me-lose-some-weight-person!  So this is where I tell you that if I’ve forgotten anything, I reserve the right to come back and add to the contest information or change the rules as I see fit. 

JUST SO YOU KNOW

My girls are already bouncing around excited about taste testing all your yummy recipes.  Don’t let me down!   Can’t wait to read and try everybody’s yummy favorites! 

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I know I’ve been trying to post these little pieces in some kind of chronological order, in an effort to give you the overall flavor of my running journey.  However, I’ve gotta break into the present here and share something that’s going on Right Now.  And ask for some help.  Now.  Please.

As of today, I have officially run(mostly)/walked 418.2 miles.  And as of today, from the start of my running journey I have lost a total of (drumroll…) ONE pound.  No kidding.  This swings from zero to five pounds depending on red meat, salt and PMS, but basically, all this effort has amounted to NOTHING in the scale department.  One of my Facebook posts was actually:  Does throwing your scale out the window qualify as exercise?  Grrr.

weight-loss-scale[1]

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Not that I’ve stayed the same, mind you.  My lovely daughters have been so kind as to report to me, “Mom your butt used to be THIS BIG (arm gestures–use your imagination) and now it’s only This Big (smaller arm gestures).”  Nice.

I’m in a smaller size and I definitely am cardiovascularly more healthy.  These are great things and I’m delighted about that.  I’m “compacting” as Shelly likes to call it.  Muscle weighs more than fat, I’ve heard; that’s why you can shrink your body somewhat and still weigh the same.  Yadda yadda yadda.

A few days ago, I finally just got sick of it.  I told myself (and my friend Jackie just before she ran quickly ahead of me with a burst of energy that I think came from a secret about her I’ll tell you a little later) that I knew this would be easier and so much more enjoyable minus the 40 pounds I still wanted to shed.  (Truth be told, shedding 40 pounds certainly would not have me runway-model-pageant-ready, but who cares!  I’m concerned with being able to run faster and longer.  This is not a beauty contest, people!)

I thought back to some of the advice that I’d received regarding diet when I started this running journey: 

1.  People warned me when I decided to train for a half-marathon that endurance running was not the way to lose weight.  Yeah, sure, I thought.  What do they know.  Turns out, they were telling the truth.   Endurance athletes need the C-word (That’s carbohydrates.  Or calories.  Actually, I don’t remember which, but both qualify.)  So traditional “diets” don’t work for someone who’s increasing their mileage by 10% every week for 20 weeks. 

This is especially true  for women.  Why?  I don’t know, I just made that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true and it definitely seems that way, so I threw it in there.  I’m not a researcher, I’m a runner.  Google it! 

2.  Other people said to me, “If you keep running like that, you’ll be able to eat anything you want.”  Sweet.  This sounded like advice I wanted to hear!  Turns out these people were liars.  Oh, I tried it.  Didn’t work.  Liars.

3.  My friend Jackie has done an amazing thing, however.  In a year (maybe it was 18 months, I don’t know~Jackie help!), she lost 98 pounds while running!  The first time I saw her in quite a few years was at a running event in June and I barely recognized her.  She was, quite literally, a shadow of her former self.  I was so excited for her and of course I asked her for her secrets.  She shrugged modestly and replied, “Eat less, move more.”  GREAT!  Like I hadn’t heard that before.  But she was telling the truth.   (This would be the secret to her increased energy, don’tcha think?)

I spent several months after Jackie’s revelation trying to shortcut the “Eat Less” portion of her master plan.  Of course, this didn’t work and I had dozens of reasons, excuses, rationalizations and justifications for my shortcuts, which I certainly won’t bore you with here.  Suffice it to say that the  reasons, excuses, rationalizations and justifications didn’t do anything to lower those numbers on the scale, so they were simply a waste of time.

So now I’ve finally gotten tired of carrying around this extra weight.  Actually, I’ve been tired of it for a long time; I’ve only just now finally gotten tired enough to actually do something about it. 

If I’m going to follow the “Eat Less” rule, I know I’m going to have to keep better tabs on what’s actually going into this body, in addition to how many miles I put in.  I’ve got a LOT of challenges for making these changes.  At last I’ve got the Will, but for all practical purposes, I really need help with the Way.

Here are some of my challenges, including but certainly not limited to: 

1.  I am not exactly what you would call a culinary whiz.  For decades, I avoided the kitchen at all costs.  I can cook, under duress, but I still consider it a hassle.  The changes will need to be easy and convenient.   Imagine your easiest.  Now, easier than that.

2.  I have the palate of a 10 year-old.  I simply don’t like most things that grown-ups like.  I won’t eat them, though I’ve spent years trying and testing and forcing them down.  I could eat pizza and burgers/fries several times a week without getting tired of them.  I don’t like slime (most condiments) or anything with fancy names or anything that looks wierd or still has a face staring at me.  *shudder* 

3.  I have a family that likes to eat.  My kids are athletes and growing children that need to eat sufficient amounts of food in order to have fuel in their bodies and in order for them to develop properly.  They are very fit and lean because they still have a metabolism.  I am 43.  I no longer have a metabolism.  Ah, but that is the subject of another post, and I digress.  Fact:  I either have to make something that we all can consume, or I have to make two meals (not a Real Option, see Challenge Number 1.) 

4.  I must eat carbohydrates.  Not just because I’m a carbophile (I am), but because I’m training for endurance events and I really do need to fuel myself with these things.  Drastically cutting carbs or Atkins options are not viable choices for me. 

5.  The biggest deal for me is that I need to make changes that I can incorporate for the long haul.  I’m hard-headed and strong-willed enough that I can do almost anything for the short run.  I can Atkins and South Beach and Weight Watchers and cleanse and fast and point count and calorie count with the best of them.  I’ve done it (well, some of it) and it’s worked.  In the short run.  The problem is that for me, none of these have been changes that I could make permanently. 

I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can see myself as a physically active person permanently.  I could (and actually want to) run/workout consistently and regularly.  I’m excited about this “Move More” portion of the health formula.  I can do this for life!  But I’ve yet to determine things that I can do for the “Eat Less” portion of my world that I can honestly say I would do over the long run. 

And that’s where I need the help of my friends who read this blog.  (And your friends, and their friends.  This is serious, people!) 

I am looking for 15-30 recipes that are yummy and healthy and easy and would be enjoyed by my family with our highly immature palates.  My thought is that if there are low-cal, healthy foods that we actually would enjoy and would be easy to make, then I could make them, we could eat them and then I would rotate them around and my family would eventually all be healthier for it.  (For you domestic goddesses and Proverbs 31 divas out there, I’m sure this sounds like complete Common Sense, but this kitchen-business is not my strong suit, so bear with me! 🙂 )

Here’s what I’m going to do:  I’m going to hold a contest for these recipes.  I’m going to pick out the ones that I could make without going into kitchen-stress and that my family would eat without my having to listen to any impolite gagging sounds.  From those, I’ll draw a name and that lucky person will win The Prize. 

Start digging through your recipes, the contest will start tomorrow, when I post The Guidelines and tell you more about The Prize.  You’ll get a chance to post your recipes in the comment sections and then lots of people will be able to see them and try them.  Isn’t that a great idea?! 

I may even post my progress here (no, not actual numbers, silly, no one’s getting that SCALE number), so you can see how much you’ve helped me out.  Tell your friends and link away at will, you healthy people, to the posts about our contest.  I desperately need your help.  “Eat Less” won’t work if I can’t stand what I’m eating. 

I’m confident you all have the keys to my success in your recipe boxes, just waiting to be shared!

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