Beauty in the Ordinary Interactions of Life with a Toddler

On Fridays, I typically recap some major event or milestone of the past week.  And this week, I am left a bit stumped with even the words to say. Nothing major or noteworthy has happened, well at least not in my narrow-earthly focused mind.  From God’s perspective, quite a lot has been going on, but I can be so distracted, it is easy for me to write it off.  

Upon deeper reflection, the common thread of this past week that has really struck a cord has been the small, ordinary interactions of our week.  

There are a million reasons why I am thankful to be Hudson’s mom, but one of them is the experiences and conversations and things I notice that I never would have seen prior to motherhood.  Similarly to when you get a dog, you discover a whole new world of what it means to be a dog owner. You meet people and have conversations about strange things that typically you never would have had the opportunity to experience.  

Same thing is true when you have a kid.  Your eyes open up to thousands of beautiful, little things that happen every day that you had no idea was even going on.  Let me explain. 

Hudson has taught me to be more friendly and more forward when it comes to making friends.  My introverted self tends to stay away from a lot of interactions with strangers. Hudson is changing all of that.  Everyone is a friend (especially if they have a ball and snacks) in his mind. This past week at our different park outings, we made new friends with the boy who brought the baseball tee, with the brother and sister that brought two soccer balls, and the cool guys playing basketball that called Hudson “bud.” These interactions were sweet and in each of them I saw kindness, generosity, and connection.  

Beyond these random park interactions, I also am feeling thankful for the deeper friendships and relationships that happen on a daily basis.  It has been a recent joy of mine to see Hudson begin to form real friendships with some of the boys in our mommy and me class. There is nothing quite as sweet as hearing him say his friend’s name “john-nee” when we ask him who his friends are.  

Along with friendships Hudson is making, I also am thankful for new mom friendships that are forming. One of the biggest things I miss about work is lunches with my other teacher friends.  Now, lunches are mostly eaten with just the two of us. I really have missed my lunchtime full of chatting and connection. This past Tuesday, after class, a group of us picnicked with all the kiddos.  We shared food, we chased kids from running into the duck pond, and we laughed together as Hudson sat in a mud puddle. Not quite the same as work lunches, but this picnic lunch with friends, and muddy kids, and real conversations with other moms really filled me up.  This was yet another moment of connection so different from life pre-H, but also so full and fun.  

Hudson has also opened up my eyes to people that are doing really amazing work.  We have come to know the street cleaner driver that drives every Wednesday on my parent’s street.  I don’t know his name or his life, but every Wednesday he stops at the corner with a big smile and puts on a “show” for Hudson.  He runs the bristles, turns on the vacuum, and splashes water. He drives the street cleaner with such joy. We look forward to his visit every week.  And it is not just Hudson. My mom and Hudson were at the park when the street cleaner driver drove by. He did the same “show” with a great, big smile to an audience of excited toddlers.  I was still finishing my workout when this all happened, but I can picture it so well because I have seen the way he does his job on a weekly basis. It really has impacted me. He weekly inspires me as a literal driving picture of what it looks like to work with joy and love.  He does much more than clean the streets; he brings joy to toddlers who see him as a hero! 

I could continue.  I could write about the nice new librarian, Genevieve.  I could write about the way all the librarians have come to know us and scavenge the shelves looking for books about dinosaurs and baseballs.  Quick side-note: if you have a toddler obsessed with those two things, you have to check out or get a copy of Dino-Baseball. We have read it over ten times in the course of a couple days.  Anyways, I could write about this and the story-time we had this morning. I could write about marching around the library singing “we are dinosaurs, marching, marching.” I could, but to keep things more precise, let’s end here.

The fact is, this week was not the most exciting.  There was no big, exciting happening. It was ordinary.  And in the ordinary, it was quite difficult. There were lots of moments of disobedience.  Moments of jumping into mud puddles, of literally falling out of the crib, of running to the ocean for the one-millionth time without a fear in the world.  There was a whole lot of screaming and tantrums in the backseat. There were many lunches left uneaten: food thrown and milk everywhere.  This was not an easy week. But it was good.  It was good because of all those small, ordinary and beautiful interactions I described above and for that I end the week with gratitude. 

Also, Hudson was just scootering outside and he picked a purple flower for “mama” and that basically melted away all the hard moments in an instant.  Heart is melting.  

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 5

8 Mondays Until Boston!

Things are finally feeling like they are coming together fitness wise.  This past week of training, a lot of the pain from last week went away and I was left feeling really strong.  

This was a solid week of training.  I think the slight down week with a shorter long run last week, helped my body recover.  I hit 55 miles and ran my longest run of this training block. The Wednesday workout really surprised me and faster pace came more naturally.  The workout was a huge confidence builder and it made me feel like my 2:48 goal is indeed possible.  

This week, running came easily.  The miles flowed together without a ton of resistance on my part. Things did not feel like quite a struggle compared to the previous week.  This week, I felt like I was doing exactly what I was made to do.  

As much as I sometimes fight against going out on a run or getting a hard workout in, there is no denying that running is the place I feel most at home and confident.  

I was reminded of this during my workout on Wednesday.  Prior to this workout, I was feeling a bit all over the place. The house was a disaster.  The body felt tired and unmotivated. The baby was vying for my attention and I felt distracted. 

This is the headspace I was in when I started my workout.  It was in the middle of mile repeats that I hit a stride. Suddenly, the mess, the tiredness, the distraction, all melted away.  I felt laser-focused. Everything within the home that was pulling at me, mattered a bit less. All that I saw was the next mile before me: each one clicking away. These sub-6 consecutive miles did not feel nearly as hard as I was expecting. It felt like I was made for them. My training so far made these mile repeats actually feel fun.  It felt, in a weird way, like medicine. The very thing my body and mind needed.  

Find your mile repeats.  For you, it might not look like running hard miles on the strand and obsessively checking your watch.  For you, it might be in the kitchen as you whip together a Baked Alaska. For you, it might be behind a canvas with a paintbrush in hand.  For you, it might be in the garden. Whatever, it is, find your space where you can feel at home, confident in doing hard things. Find your own mile repeats that can remind you of your strengths.  The mess at home will slowly melt away. Something changes when I am out there running hard miles. The mom hat is off. It is just me, the road, and the clock. I can run with a freedom in being able to push myself as I lean into the gifts God handpicked for me. 

Clearly, I had a good week with running.  Let’s get into the details.  

The Miles

  • 7 miles on the road with the jogger. 
  • 6 solo park loop miles
  • 10 mile workout with 4 x mile on the strand with ¼ mile recovery (5:52, 5:45, 5:53, 5:56).  Felt STRONG. This was a big confidence building workout for me. These were done solo and of course I was working hard, but they felt much more natural than I was expecting.  This got me feeling more excited for what is possible. 
  • 8 miles with jogger on the strand
  • 6 solo park loop miles
  • 18 miles on Quarter Horse (HILLY!) in PV 

What I am Listening To

This week is the week leading to the Marathon Olympic Trials in Atlanta!  4 years ago, the trials were held in Los Angeles. Lance and I, along with some LMU teammates went to watch it.  At the time, I was really not into marathoning or even knew much about the process of qualifying for the trials. I wish I would have appreciated the opportunity to watch those trials more. While we are not going to Atlanta, we are excited to watch the trials from home.  Naturally, a lot of what I was listening to on the run revolved around that upcoming race in Atlanta. Here are some that stuck out to me:

  • Sarah Bishop’s interview on The Road to the Olympic Trials.  Sarah really pumps me up anytime I listen to her interviews.  First, she is a mom to 4, which I am so inspired by. Second, she is so fearless in stating ambitious goals and making them happen.  It really struck me that her plan going into the trials is to run a marathon and then fly to New Zealand to do a triathlon.  Definitely not normal, but I loved her confidence in owning that this was the plan that she wanted to pursue. In the interview she talked about her goal of breaking 2:40 in the Mesa Marathon, which was the following weekend.  It gave me chills when Matt at the end of the interview said how she met her goal by running a 2:39. Not to mention, she won the whole thing. I love this so much. It inspires me to be more bold in my running goals. 
  • Towards the end of my long run when I had to extend a few miles, I put the headphones in and listened to the Women’s Marathon Preview with Erin Stout and Alison Wade.  It was fun to hear all the names they are expecting to be contenders for those 3 Olympic team spots.  
  • Not related to the trials at all, but I also very much enjoyed an interview with Andrea Barber (aka Kimmy Gibbler from Full House) on the Ali on the Run Show.  It was such an interesting conversation and I had no idea she was also a runner.  It made park loops this week go by faster.
  • And of course, Taylor Swift was on shuffle for those mile repeats.  

How I am Fueling

  • Mid-week, I felt like baking and something sweet, yet healthy.  I made a berry crisp. This is literally the simplest recipe! I got it from Shauna Niequist’s amazing book, Bread and Wine.  You can find the recipe here.  It is the simplest ingredients that I almost always have in my pantry and it literally takes minutes to whip together and then pop in the oven.  This was good fuel to pull Lance and I into the weekend. Confession: the two of us literally ate the whole pan of crisp. 
  • Post-18 miles I tried a new pancake recipe that was a hit.  We are big Coach’s Oats fans over here. It is what I eat every morning before I run.  It is also the oatmeal I used in the berry crisp. I got this peanut butter pancake recipe from their website.  It was so good. I added some chocolate chips, which I would definitely recommend. Also, replaced the regular milk for almond milk. There is no sugar, maple syrup instead and the peanut butter adds a nice nutty, sweetness. It was the perfect pancake post-long run. The recipe doesn’t make much batter, so I would double it. 
  • Steak 
  • Turmeric Smoothies 
  • Salt Sticks (took a couple of these during the long run and loved them)

Recovery

  • Compression Socks 
  • Sunday nap 
  • Sunday bath 

Cross-Training 

This week, I was forced to slow down and not go to as intense of workout classes.  It was probably for the best, but it was not part of my plan. My typical class with Petra was already full by the time I got there, so it forced me to go to a yoga class.  I was feeling a TON of shoulder/neck tightness and pain. In the class, we used blocks to focus on this area, so it was actually exactly what I needed.  

Thursday, Lance had a meeting, so I could not make it to class, so instead did 10-minutes of my own strength work in the living room.  It consisted of band work to strengthen my ever-so-weak glutes and some planks or attempted planks. Hudson was climbing all over me and sitting on my back, so that made it a bit more challenging.  Not perfect, but hey, 10-minutes of strength is always better than zero.

Friday, I made it to another yoga class.  Again, not as intense as I like it, but got some much needed hip stretching in.  This could very much have been the key to the long run feeling so good.

What I Keep Telling Myself

8 weeks is still a ton of time to build fitness. 

It is also a ton of time to get burnt out and get injured.  I am still dealing with some major mileage comparison, but I was reminded this week that I actually am in a really great place fitness wise.  I definitely need more time, but 8 weeks truly is a ton of time to grow in fitness. This excites me. 

High + Low

HIGH

  • Feeling strong
  • Miles don’t feel as hard
  • 18 miles
  • Confidence building workout
  • Berry Crisp + peanut butter pancakes

low

  • Comparing my mileage to others and getting mental about it. I need to stop it!
  • Not making it into Petra’s classes this week

The Long Run 

This was the longest run this training block and it felt great.  First few miles had some pretty steep uphill trails, but even on the uphill I felt strong.  It really was not until about mile 16 that my legs tightened up a bit and I was reminded that I was running long.  To me, that is a sign that I have not done enough long runs yet. And I haven’t, but I still have a few weeks to get in a few more good long runs.

The other thing I noticed, actually both Lance and I noticed this, was that we felt really good right after.  Usually, it takes awhile to recover after a really long run, but almost instantly after stopping, my legs and lungs felt weirdly good.  Again, this makes me feel excited for April 20th.  

The long run in numbers:

2 hours 19 minutes

18 miles

7:44/mile average 

Fastest mile: 18th mile, 6:41

Weekend Away in Newport Beach

We had an amazing little getaway last weekend!  We had a free hotel night that was expiring in March, so we decided to use it on a staycation to get away for a night!  It was originally going to be Ventura, but we decided to change it to Newport Beach.  

Hudson stayed with his nanny and poppy and had a blast hanging out with his cousins and watching a baseball game!  Thank you, Nanny and Poppy!

Compared to last time he stayed with them (last July), I felt so much less anxious and worried. Last time, I typed up a whole document with his typical schedule.  Now, things are so different. They are simpler. He eats really anything. He takes one afternoon nap. That is really it. It feels so nice to be at this stage where he is more independent and I do not need to be anxious about leaving him for a day.  

14 Miles Together

We chose to start our getaway by running 14 miles together.  We don’t usually run together, but it turned out to be a nice way to start our weekend.  As I mentioned on Monday on my training recap, we typically fight on our runs. There was not a single fight, minus my grumbling on pace during the tempo Lance paced me in. 

I often take it for granted that Lance and I share a passion for running.  It really is something I am super thankful for. It is special that we can share so many miles together on the run.  Running is really what brought us together (senior year recruit trip to LMU) and now 8 years later, it still is a part of our relationship.  

Sometimes I wish I was faster than my husband, but it is really nice that in the middle of a run, I can rely on him to pace parts of it that for him come easier.  There is a sense of comfort in having him pull me along in a run. Even though it is easier to show my own tiredness to him, I trust in him completely, and there is no one else I would rather have to pull me along to my running goals.  

Brunch at Zinc 

Our first stop after the long run and showers was brunch in Laguna Beach.  We went to Zinc and it was great!  It is a market and a cafe.  We went to the cafe portion. We sipped our almond milk lattes on the outdoor patio.  We devoured pesto pizza and breakfast burritos and we embraced the freedom of no pressing timeline or wandering toddler.

After having kids, you really appreciate the small things.  You appreciate a meal at a restaurant that you can sit and relax at the table for more than 15-minutes.  You appreciate the quiet. The mess-free meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love our meals out with the 3 of us, but it is nice not dealing with some of the realities of having a toddler in a restaurant.  

Swimsuit Shopping 

After our meal, we walked around to all the different shops.  I forgot to pack a swimsuit, so we made a stop at Toes on the Noes, and Lance bought me a really cute new one.  I haven’t gotten a new suit in years, so it was a good excuse. The suit was half off and I love it so much! It is a maroon one-piece and it basically just feels like me in a swimsuit.  I couldn’t find the exact one online, but it is by Carve Designs and I am basically obsessed with every one-piece they have.  They are all the perfect blend of cute, yet modest.  

After popping our heads in a few more shops and finding the cutest little children’s boutique, Little Freebirds, we headed to the Marriot we were staying in Newport.  

Pools, Apples, and the Bay

The thing that I loved about our time away is that it was very unplanned.  The night before I was stressing over the fact that we never finished our itinerary.  It sounds kind of silly, especially considering we were staying locally for just a night away, but this is just how my brain works.  I like a good plan, even if the purpose of getting away is to just relax and enjoy time together. The itinerary never got finished, but it actually was for the better.  Our days typically are so scheduled. It was refreshing to have no plan, to just wander and swim and rest.  

We spent the rest of our afternoon going back and forth from the jacuzzi to the pool as I tried out my new purchase!  

The hotel was right on the back bay in Newport, so after grabbing fruit from the gym, we munched on apples and just sat and looked out at the bay.  Simple, I know, but there was something about it. We rarely just sit and munch apples together. There always seems to be an agenda or some background noise going on.  It was so refreshing to just be still together as we just focused on our apples and the beautiful bay before us.  

Sushi and Sunsets 

It is funny how you get set into routines.  Even though we were baby-free, we still chose to go out to dinner at 5pm to get into the sushi restuarant right when they opened.  We were literally the first in. There is not many things that I am willing to sit outside doors to wait on, but sushi will always be one of them.  We ate at a local sushi place called SOTA  in Corona Del Mar.  It was great sushi.  

After lots of spicy tuna rolls, we made the short walk to the beach.  The sun had just set and the sky was pink and beautiful. And again, we just stood there and looked at another body of water.  This seemed to be the theme of our time away and it was the perfect theme.  

The rest of the evening was filled with wine, leftover Valentine’s Day cookies, and The Stranger on Netflix.  We were obsessed with this show for that day, but since being back, I keep falling asleep during it, so now not so sure.

Sunday Morning

We tried to sleep in, but were both up by 7 am, unfortunately.  Again, routines are hard to break. We went down to the hotel lobby, got our coffee, and walked on the back bay trail.  Sundays are always off from running for us, so it always feels like a real treat to just sip coffee and leisurely walk.  

For breakfast, we picked up bagel sandwiches at Bruegger’s Bagels and brought it down with us to the beach.  A similar spot to where we watched the remnants of last night’s sunset.  Lox and capers and avocado were all involved and it made the perfect end to our time away.  

Once we were back with Hudson, we all went to Zoomar’s.  Hudson loved feeding the llamas and most of all loved hanging out in the corn.  I also enjoyed the corn with H! At lunch, we had a small meltdown that involved sweet potato fries flying in the air, but hey overall, it was a great weekend.  The meltdowns will happen.  

Thankful for family to make things like this possible and thankful for my sweet husband and friend.  This little getaway was simple and good and the very thing I needed.  

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 4

9 Mondays Until Boston!

This week of training, I struggled with some doubt and body pain, but ended the week with greater confidence.  It is amazing how in one mile of a marathon you feel terrible and are questioning everything and the next you feel like you could run that pace forever.  Things change quickly in marathon racing. You go through so many different emotions in the course of 26.2 miles.

Last week of training, reminded me of how fast things can change, even when it comes to training.  It reminded me to not get overly concerned when I have one bad day of training. Early on in the week, I really struggled with body fatigue and foot/hip pain. These aches and pains are all too familiar.  The good thing about now running for over a decade of my life is that I am very attuned to how my body works. I know exactly what I need to do when I start feeling hip or foot pain. Maybe this is the reason the pain does not seem to linger too long.  At least not for this week.

Tuesday, I felt literally terrible.  However, by Thursday, my body felt entirely different and my 8-mile run did not feel nearly as painful. Things change quickly. Painful days and the days full of doubt don’t last forever.  

The interesting thing with feeling so terrible is that last week was actually a slight down week.  We have been slowly building since January, so this week was a 4-mile drop.  I have noticed that in down weeks, my body usually doesn’t feel the greatest.  This pattern also helps me not feel overly concerned with the lower engery and pain I experienced in the past week.  

The doubt of questioning my goal time, mostly came out during my Wednesday workout where pace simply felt way harder than I was expecting.  Doubt is something I really struggle with on and off the run.  It is werid to even admit this because faith is such a large part of my life and who I am.  Faith in God and faith that He has me in His hands comes much more naturally to me (all thanks to grace).  The doubt is more in the form of doubting myself. I trust God with my whole heart, but it is my own abilities that I often lack faith in.  She is faster.  She is smarter. She is better.  A small glimpse of the dialogue that is contantly running in my head.  Not to get overly reflective and spiritual, but I do believe the Lord uses running in my life as a way to help me work through these seeds of self-doubt.  

I want to believe that a 2:48 or faster is possible.  I want to believe that I am in good fitness. I want to believe that I can be competitive come race day.  

The Miles

  • 6 miles with the jogger
  • 6 miles solo 
  • 10 miles. 3 mile warm-up, 3 miles of 20-seconds faster than goal race pace, 4 mile cool-down.  6:02, 6:10, 6:09 (supposed to be all 6-flat). At least, I tried. Also after a mile, I was fully recovered, so this is still an encouragement! 
  • 8 miles with the jogger
  • 5 miles solo 
  • 14 miles with Lance with 3 miles thrown in at slightly faster than race pace

Still dealing with some mileage comparison and anxiety that I am too low in mileage.  I trust Lance and I know he knows me best when it comes to running. Mileage is not crazy high, but I know the quality of work is good.  And there is still so much time to build and get those 20-milers in.

What I am Listening To 

Last week of training, I spent most of my miles listening to the “Love on the Run” series of Ali’s show.  She released a new episode each day of last week with an interview with a professional running couple. I loved it!  

I especially enjoyed the conversation with Aisha Praught and Will Leer.  They might be way faster, but even professional runners struggle with being annoyed at each other on the run.  For Lance and I, we have had way too many fights (always revolved around pace being too fast) while running together, so this very much resonated with me. 

I also loved the conversation with Steph and Ben Bruce.  I am such a Steph Bruce fan and especially loved hearing from both of them.  I am definitely inspired by the way their marriage really functions as them being such a team on and off the course.

How I am Fueling 

  • Hudson’s Z-bars 
  • Coconut water
  • Protein shakes 
  • Heart-shaped sugar cookies and chocolate (the best part of running just for fun: no limits on sugar cookies) 
  • Post-long run sushi! 

Recovery

This week, I really focused on my feet!  Pain in my feet have really flared up (I am pretty sure I have a bone spur in my left foot).  If you were to look at my feet, you would probably be deeply concerned. They are not looking so hot right now.  The left foot is in especially bad shape with what looks like a bone spur and a good sized blood blister. All this to say, my feet hurt.  My strength teacher I go to, used to be a dancer, so she had a lot of good foot exercises for me to do.  

  • Rolling out with a ball and/or frozen water bottle.
  • Foot strengthening exercises, like using toes to grab towel.  This basically just gets me to curl my toes and I can tell this is drastically helping.
  • Yoga toes almost every night seems to also be providing relief. 

Along with foot recovery, also got some jacuzzi and pool time in after our long run at the hotel we were staying at.  We basically went back and forth from the hot tub to the pool. In the pool, we swam and kicked our legs around. It felt so good after our long run earlier that morning.  Perfect afternoon recovery.

Cross-Training

Continuing with my 2 strength classes per week.  My goal for the coming week is to start incorporating more plank work.  Hopefully that will happen!  

What I Keep Telling Myself

The pain is temporary.  The pain is temporary. The pain is temporary.  

This week hurt.  It is easy for me to let the pain takeover my mind.  I am really trying to focus on the fact that it is temporary.  Whether it was a regular run dealing with overall body fatigue or a tempo that felt uncomfortable, my brain needed to remember that it is temporary.  The workout on Wednesday was initially discouraging to me because I did not hit the right pace. I also ended with hands on my knees, breathing HARD. This was just about 14-seconds off my goal race pace.  That really shook me. This should feel WAY easier! I focused too much on the pain, I do wish I could have dug in a bit more and remembered the pain is only temporary. Next time.

High + Low

HIGH

  • Long run with Lance
  • Completing the workout, even though I almost stopped when I was hurting and off pace.

low

  • Overall body pain and fatigue 
  • Feet really hurt! 
  • Tempo pace is feeling harder than I would like.

The Long Run

It is funny how your perspective with mileage really begins to change as you begin marathon training.  14 miles right now feels like not even a legit long run. As I mentioned above, this was a down week. Especially after a week of not feeling great, it was good timing to have a shorter long run.  Lance and I went on a staycation in Newport Beach last Saturday, so we ran in Orange County, instead of our typical PV long run. We ran at Aliso Woods Canyon. This is a beautiful trail and one of my favorite spots to run when we are further south.  We even saw deers on the trail! Since it was a shorter run, Lance decided to run with me. We actually did not have a single argument on our run, which is a big deal. It was a great way to start off our weekend together!

It turned out to be a nice run, especially on the way back.  It was not as hilly and the last few miles we stuck to the road and Lance paced a portion at my goal race pace (6:24).  He paced it perfectly, despite me complaining all 3 miles of it telling him it was too fast at parts and too slow at parts.  Even though I grumbled through it, those 3 miles at race pace were a good encouragement to me. For most of it, my breathing was extremely controlled and conversational.  We hit a 6:21, 6:22, and 6:14. Even in just these 3 miles that would still give me 15 seconds of wiggle room.  

The long run in numbers: 

1 hour 40 minutes

14.03 miles

7:10 min/mile average

Fastest Mile: Mile 11, 6:14 

Hudson’s 2nd Valentine’s Day!

I know people have a million feelings when it comes to the holiday of Valentine’s Day, but I am definitely in the “I love it” boat.  One of the main reasons I love it is because it is one of the few holidays that is revolved around using written words to spread love.  Sure, chocolates, roses, and fancy dinners might also be involved, but at the heart of the holiday, is a simple card to express love.  

One of my favorite things I used to do was write little notes to strangers.  I would write short notes, with simple reminders, like “you are loved”. I would then leave these notes scattered around town in book shops, cafes, and on the street.  I have no idea if they were all found, but I sure hope they were. I never really saw the reactions, but it brought me a lot of joy that a few minutes on my part could help point others to their own belovedness.   

We can get so focused on the big gestures and gifts.  We so easily forget that some of the bigger impacts come from a few sweet, intentional words on pretty paper.  

I can write a lot of nice things about people, but I have found that the best way to show people that they are loved is to point them to the greatest love, God’s love.

Last week, I taught a bible study to a group of women and I made these little cards to hand out.  I wrote a short hand-written note on the back. The front held the greatest truth this Valentine’s Day:  “We love because He first loved us,” – John 4:19.

We don’t love because it is easy.

We don’t love because it always comes naturally.

We don’t love because we always feel like it.

We don’t love just when they love us back.

We love regardless.  And this type of love, well, that is only possible with God.  

We can only love others well because of the love and grace and mercy He has individually poured out to each of us.    

With that said, if you are stuck with how to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, here are 5 simple ways to show love. 

1. Share Scripture 

There is nothing quite as loving as giving a friend a verse that speaks truth into who they are in Christ: a beloved daughter.  Let me know if you would like this simple printable, I am happy to send it your way. 

2. Take Time to Write a Letter 

Get some cards or make some at home and take a solid amount of time to actually write out why you love that person in your life so much.  Early on in dating, Lance and I would write letters back and forth all the time. Now, life is a bit busier and quite honestly, there is not a lot of letter writing happening anymore.  For this reason, it is extra important to me to take the time to write out a letter within a card on special holidays. I am slightly obsessed with these cards I got at Trader Joe’s. And they are only 99 cents!  

3. Give a Thoughtful Gift 

I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, but we have started a new tradition of giving a book to H for his Valentine’s Day gift.  My list of 10 favorite books themed around the holiday + love, can be found here.  Truthfully, I don’t like to spend a lot of money on Valentine’s Day gifts.  I think a book, a batch of freshly baked cookies, and maybe an item or two at the Dollar Store are the perfect little tokens to show love to the little ones in your life!

If you so plan to whip up a batch of cookies, my very favorite sugar cookie recipe can be found here. We made some heart sugar cookies and they were simply the best. These make the perfect little gifts to hand out to friends and family.

The little set up I did for Hudson was all items found at the Dollar Store, minus the book, which I got at Target. I love this “love you” basket. I will definitely be using this every year for Hudson, so it will definitely get good use. Within the basket, I found these red glasses, which I thought would be fun for him to wear around, a lion (he keeps roaring like a lion), bubbles, and Mickey stickers. Very simple and together all just $5. Each item is something I know Hudson will get to enjoy today!

4. A Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Holidays are the perfect excuse to have something extra sweet and special for breakfast.  I am all about keeping things simple. This year, Lance picked these cute doughnuts up at the shop down the street.  After I got home from my run, I made bacon-shaped hearts and popped those in the oven and cut up some strawberries. I have a feeling Hudson will not care that I did not make handmade red velvet pancakes! Doughnuts are definitely his love language.  And bacon is mine. 

5. Time Together 

One of the reasons I love Valentine’s Day is the simplicity of the holiday.  After the initial cards and heart-shaped doughnuts, it is all about quality time together.  This year, we spent our day together first by going to art class at Zooga and then playing with friends down at the beach. The day felt like it was filled with extra laughter and giggles. There is something extra special about these days, I am so enjoying this time with H.

As much as I love all my time with H, Lance and I are getting away for a night and staying in Newport this weekend. I can’t wait to have some time just the two of us. I will recap our little getaway next week!

Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 3

10 Mondays Until Boston!

The thing I love about running, is that it almost always seems to be teaching me something that goes far beyond the miles on the road.  Of all the things running has taught me so far, the biggest lessons are in commitment and discipline. On the windiest days when you are pushing the jogger into a literal wall of wind.  On the days where your whole body is aching and the thought of cutting those 17 miles down keeps cropping up in your head. On the days where stepping out the door feels like a great mental battle.  It is on these days where you still show up, still follow-through, that the real training begins.

This past week of training was the first week where I really struggled to hit my mileage.  The excitement of the early stage of marathon training has already faded within me and I have been hit with the reality of the simple fact: training for a marathon is hard work.  Just like an actual marathon, it is those first miles that are easy and fun. Then somewhere in the middle, you are hit with the reality that you still have 13 miles to go and things become a little less fun.  I am officially over the honeymoon stage of marathon training and not quite yet at the exciting tapering stage. This in-between spot of training can be tough: mileage is increasing, workout intensity is increasing, and long runs are increasing.  The finish line still feels far away. 10 weeks is a bit too long to get super excited. All this to say, last week was a good week in training in the sense that even when I wasn’t feeling it, I pushed through.

I can get so obsessed with what my Garmin tells me.  I want to hit the exact mileage every single time. I want to be within a pace frame.  I want to hit my faster miles when I am doing a workout. This past week, my garmin was not my friend.  It died on runs. I forgot to start it after stopping it. It kept telling me “6:10” when all I wanted to see was “6:00.”  It told me “12” when I still had 5 more miles.

With all these Garmin issues, this week I learned to be okay with being flexible.  I stopped when I knew I was right around 8 miles, even though my Garmin told me otherwise.  I was okay with that 6:07 mile that was supposed to be 6 flat. I stopped at 6 miles on the windiest running day of my life as Hudson just kept screaming.  I am all about pushing through, but sometimes when there is another little guy involved, you have to stop. Similarly to what I wrote about last week, things don’t revolve around me as the runner, but as the mom that runs, which is very different.  Cutting weekly mileage by 2 miles seems like no big deal, but it really bothered me.  I was planning on running 2 miles sometime later in day, but it just never happened and I never had the time to add it on to the other mileage in the week.  2 miles will not kill my training.  

So, in that case I adjusted, but later in the week on the long run when I was dying at mile 12, I pushed through and hit the 17 miles.  It is all about knowing when to push and when to stop. Monday, I needed to stop. Saturday, I needed to push.  

This is a lot of reflection to say one thing: running felt hard last week.  Once I hit 50 + miles, all my typical issues start rolling in.  My mind starts telling me how tired I am. My right leg starts flaring up.  My right hip starts tightening up. My feet start feeling extra fragile. It is on weeks like this, that the commitment and discipline start to really develop and for that, this week of training can still be deemed as a good week.

The Miles

53 miles was spread out like this:

  • 6 miles in the WIND with JOGGER.  Big mistake. 
  • 6 miles of park loops solo.
  • 10 miles with 2 miles at race pace and one mile faster.
  • 8 miles with jogger. Long. Some extra cardio involved as I had to sing to H to stop some of the crying.  Running with a jogger is WORK! 
  • 6 miles of park loops solo.
  • The big 17 miler with lots of uphill trails. 

One quick tangent on mileage.  This week, I was hit with mile comparison.  Sounds weird, but this is totally a thing. Let me explain.  I was listening to a podcast interview with this one runner who was trying to get an OTQ last fall.  She talked about running 90 mile weeks and how this is basically the mileage you need to hit to be super competitive in the marathon.  This got me feeling a bit panicky. I am still building in mileage, but even in my peak for this training cycle I will not be anywhere close to 90 mile weeks.  For one, I feel like I would really struggle being present to Hudson and secondly, I know my body pretty well and I think that would put it over the edge.  

I was struck with the fact that mileage comparison can even steal your joy when it comes to running.  The doubt immediately began to sink in and I began to question if some of my future running goals are even possible with running 60-70 miles at my very peak.  All this to say, weekly mileage is such a personal thing. The numbers that work for one person, might be way too little or way too much for the next. Run your mileage.  Do workouts that make sense for your season. Don’t get too focused on what all the other fast people are doing.

Really loving these sunrise runs. It is hard to see but there was a beautiful layer of fog on the field.

What I am Listening to

Not as much to say in this section this week.  Nothing that really stuck in my mind like previous weeks.  I will say, I had one solo run where I could not find my phone so just had a silent sunrise run and it was refreshing.  Especially with all the noise in my days, it is necessary to have some runs with nothing going on in the background.

More so than the podcasts I listened to, some of the conversations I had on the run stick out even more.  With all the solo running I do, I am always thankful for the miles that are made up with conversation and company.

How I am Fueling

  • Already over the bagel and cream cheese phase.  
  • Still into the coconut water.  
  • Trying a new protein powder, Orgain Organic Protein Powder.
  • El Gringo’s breakfast burrito post-17 miles.  

Recovery

Things are beginning to hurt.  Recovery is becoming more and more important.  As I alluded to before, when my run is done, I need to jump into mom things and don’t have a ton of recovery time.  With that said, here are a few things I have been doing this week to recover:

  • Hot showers. I know, weird type of recovery, but hey it’s practicable. The heat helps with my muscle tightness.
  • Epsom salt baths every Sunday night.
  • Lower back pain and tight hip flexors has brought me back to rolling out before bed.
  • Two words: Yoga Toes.  I have used these for years.  I put them on for a few minutes before bed.  I deal with a lot of foot pain and have a pretty bad bunion, so the yoga toes really helps provide needed relief! 
  • Naps.  Usually only get one per week, but this weekly nap really helps with my energy levels.

Cross-Training

The same.  I realized on my long run that my usual weak glutes are beginning to affect my hip flexors and lower back.  Hoping that continuing to go to Petra’s strength classes will help my very, very weak glutes. I am planning on incorporating even just 5 minutes every other day at home to use the bands and do some targeted glute strengthening exercises.

What I Keep Telling Myself

Stay in it. Stay in it. Stay in it.

This might be the mantra for Boston.  We will see. This is what I said when I kept looking down and seemed to not be able to break that 6:10 barrier on my tempo.  This is what I told myself at mile 12 when I wanted to cut the long run short. Stay in it. Yes, physically, but more so mentally.  When the pain sets in and things start to get really hard, it is easy for me to check out. I really want to focus on this and stay in it, mentally, even when the pain starts to settle in.

I am already picturing myself running up Heartbreak Hill and the words: stay in it, stay in it are pounding in my head and propelling me up.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Pushing through and running 17 miles.
  • Wednesday workout and feeling controlled and confident.

low

  • Monday’s run in the wind and my sister and mom having to pick us up! True story.
  • The last painful few miles of my long run.
  • Overall more tired and less excited.

The Long Run

17 miler in Palos Verdes on Telephone Trail.  This is the last long run I will run on this trail.  There is so much soft-surface uphill. It is brutal. There is also a lot of rocky trails and I almost rolled my ankle multiple times.  These early hard miles put a greater fatigue on my body and made the final miles a real challenge for me.  

Even though it was a bit painful, I am proud I finished it.  I was very close to rounding up.   It will be nice to drop a bit next week and come back in two Saturdays and run an 18-miler and then the big 2-0.

The long run in numbers (there was a a few meters that I forgot to start up Garmin again, but I did do 17, I promise!)

2 hours 13 minutes

16.91 miles

7:54 minutes/mile average 

Fastest mile at mile 12: 6:49

20-Month Old Update

How is our baby already 20-months old?  In 4-months, we have a 2-year old! Time, you can slow down just a tad.  

It has been 20-months of being a mama.  20-months of baby snuggles and broken sleep.  20-months of falling in love with our crazy, baseball-loving, cookie-obsessed toddler, who feels more like a boy and less like a baby with each passing day.  It has been 20 beautiful, life-changing months.  

I don’t even know where to begin!  It has been a while since I gave an update on Hudson.  You can go back and read my 6-month update, where I include 6 major lessons I learned in those first 6 months.  I also posted for his 1st year birthday with 6 more lessons.  For the sake of time and your sanity, I am not going to list out 20 lessons in 20-months, even though I totally could.

To keep it brief, these past 20 months have taught me the importance of seasons.  That hard seasons do not last forever. It has taught me to own who I am as a mom and to embrace these beautiful and simple days.  I am finally beginning to really own these days of backyard bubble blowing and boo-boo kissing.  Side-note: there is nothing quite as cute as watching a toddler blow bubbles. Or when that same toddler falls and immediately runs to you to heal the boo-boo with kisses.  It will melt your heart in all kinds of ways.

I am really loving this season with Hudson.  It is no secret that the newborn days were not my jam.  I struggled. Not to say, I don’t struggle now, because I definitely am hit with those days of doubt and insecurity, but as a whole things feel more calm and confident and controlled (even when the tantrums and crying roll in).  I am more secure in my identity in Christ and this pours out into motherhood. I was made for this. I was made for these days.  

See his sweet scar? It has been just a week and it has healed so well!

Things feel so much lighter than they did even a year ago.  My bag is lighter. Now as long as I have wipes and a snack, I know we will be fine.  My heart is lighter. Things are less serious. I can’t control everything. He will get hurt, get stitches (a lesson we unfortunately just learned), get bumps and bruises.  And here’s the big lesson: that stuff doesn’t make me a bad mom. I used to take every bump and scape so personally. Not to say, I did not feel terrible about Hudson’s recent visit to the ER and his 5 stitches smack dab in the middle of his forehead.  Of course, I felt terrible, but I didn’t feel like a bad mom. This stuff will happen again and again. I will do my very best to protect, love, and guide him, but I trust God’s plans and perfect timing for Hudson’s life.  

My arms are also much lighter as I no longer am constantly holding and nursing and rocking.  It has been a really fun season of getting to just watch him do his thing. I love the way he walks out in the morning ready to start his day.  I love the way he runs in circles when he gets extra excited. I love the way he holds my hand as we walk outside. It was a special season to have him so close and needing me for nourishment the first year of his life, but this new season of independence is such a joy.  

Like I said, I am not going to give 20 lessons, so instead I thought I would make a list of the 20 things Hudson is currently loving at 20-months!

20 Things Hudson is Currently Loving:

  1. Balls
  2. Trash trucks
  3. Any other type of truck, another fav is the street cleaning truck
  4. Dinosaur rain-boots
  5. Dino chicken nuggets 
  6. Morning smoothies made by daddy
  7. All of his blankies, especially ones with silk that he can rub on his face
  8. Running!  
  9. Daddy and Mum (as he calls me) 
  10. ALL of his loving family
  11. Morning walks with Nala and bird watching 
  12. His red VW car that he can “drive” really well 
  13. His scooter and his Paw Patrol helmet.  He loves wearing the helmet, but has not quite gotten the scootering part down.
  14. Hide-n-seek with DADDY
  15. Teacher Lynn 
  16. Reading a million books before bed
  17. The ocean- there is no fear with this one 
  18. Signing “more” 
  19. Playing “baseball” in our living room 
  20. Picking flowers 

Happy 20-months, H-man! We love you so much!

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 2

11 Mondays Until Boston!

Another week of training in the books!  This past week of training was good and consistent, but did take a weird turn with the long run, which I will explain at the end. 

It was a week marked by 50 miles, stroller runs, tempos that felt like I was running faster than my Garmin told me, graham cracker snacking in the middle of the night, and a strange 16-miler that was fueled by kid’s fruit snacks- but hey at least it was organic!

The main take-away from training this week, is the reminder that I want to take this training block as seriously as possible, but this is also not my main priority.  I am a mom first, running quite honestly comes after quite a lot of things. And this is exactly the way I want it to be, but it means training will simply look quite different for me. 

I will always make the mileage for that week happen. If Lance says I have 50 miles, I will run 50 miles, but it is more of a squeezing in, rather than a true incorporating. For example, I will make arrangements to get that 10-mile tempo in and I will do my best to recover by drinking coconut water and devouring a protein bar quickly, but then the day will progress and we will run around at the park and check-out stacks of library books.  There will not be an elaborate stretch routine or an ice bath or rolling right after the fact. When my garmin beeps and I hit my daily mileage, my mom hat goes right back on. My days revolve around Hudson, not my runs.  

mom and son running with jogger
We had some really enjoyable runs out there together!

The Miles

Weekly mileage looked like this:

  • 7 miles with the jogger
  • 5 miles solo
  • 10 miles with 4 miles in the middle at goal race race solo 
  • 7 miles with the jogger 
  • 5 miles with the jogger
  • 16 miles solo with 2 X 2 mile pick-ups on 8 miles back 

As a whole, all the runs felt pretty good and I definitely am continuing to feel more fit.  The race pace work is still not feeling as comfortable as I would like. On Wednesday, it literally felt like I was flying, but then my Garmin told me numbers that were not as exciting.  Like I wrote about last week, the fast and thrilling miles are coming. I am just not quite there yet.

What I am Listening to

This past week did my similar soundtrack of running podcasts for the easy miles + Taylor Swift for race pace miles.  Side-note: I am in the midst of watching the Taylor Swift documentary, Miss Americana and I am so intrigued and moved by it.  But that is another story, let’s get back to my soundtrack on the road.  Here are a few of the podcast episodes that really stuck out to me this week:

This is a really great and motivating episode for a longer run.  It is about an hour and 30 minutes long. There was a lot that I really loved in this episode.  I loved how she ran a 2:42 and got that OTQ. The part that really resonated with me was within the last 7-minutes.  She talks about running with joy and the motivation to keep training and chasing goals when running is not your job. She talks about the girls she trained with and did park loops with in the mornings and all the people that made her goal happen.  Listen to this whole episode, but especially listen to those last few minutes. I was heading back from my tempo and her words struck such a cord. I want to run with greater joy as I train for Boston and appreciate running’s place in my life right now, and not run out of obligation or guilt.

I listened to this episode on parts of my long run and again was very much motivated by Sarah’s story.  I love a good running story, but I especially love it from the perspective of a mom with a full-time job and a lot going on.  As I was climbing a dirt trail from Malaga, she said something that I loved and felt very deeply as well. She talked about how postpartum, running was not an option for her, it was a necessity.  It wasn’t something that she should try to make happen, it was a non-negotiable. The thing that made her more herself.

I love her grit and determination to make things happen, even with less than ideal schedules and a big family. I could go on and on. Sarah’s discipline and overall enthusiasm for getting better, will be yet another story I will certainly carry with me into Boston. 

I loved this particular interview with Neely because not only did it focus on her getting the OTQ at Houston, it focused on the struggles that come with postpartum running.  I really appreciated Neely’s perspective of openly sharing how difficult it was even as a professional runner to get back into running after baby. This particular episode was so good and raw and very much mother runner focused, which I always love.  

If you haven’t noticed, I really only listen to two different podcasts on my runs.  It felt like a special treat when I was going out for my Friday run and saw this new monthly series that my two favorite running podcasts hosts will be doing together.  I really enjoyed listening to this conversation. It was a perfect collision of two worlds and the perfect way to spend my Friday park loops.

How I am Fueling

This week I hit 50 and my body just wants to eat and eat and eat.  I have had an insatiable hunger all week. I even woke up in the middle of the night feeling so hungry that I literally had to make myself a midnight snack.

  • Continuing to hydrate with coconut water, which is my new obsession.
  • Trying to avoid coffee in the afternoon, so I have been mixing it up with an occasional Health Ade Kombucha in the afternoon for a pick-me up + probiotics.  Currently loving the Tropical Punch flavor.
  • I love Maurten Gels for long runs, but I totally spaced and left my Maurten in the car this past Saturday, so I had to take Hudson’s organic fruit gummy pack at mile 10, which I would not recommend. At least I got some sugar to get me through the last 6 miles!
  • Food wise, nothing new, but definitely have been trying to incorporate a bit more red meat as mileage in increasing.  We did ground beef burgers one night + steak salad another. 
sunrise at a park on morning run
Loving my sunrise runs on Tuesday before Lance leaves for work!

When I am Running

Sticking with the normal routine.  Trying to get out the door when I have my runs with Hudson as soon as possible.  It has been really nice to get the run in before 10 am and then end with some time to play at the park.  The quicker we get out the door and make it happen, the better.   

Cross-Training

Same as last week! This week, I was sore from Petra’s strength class, which makes me excited!  I know this extra strength work will be the difference from a good and great result. It is not super exciting getting to the studio at 6 pm, especially as I am beginning to get more tired from the mileage, but I know this stuff is important.  Also still very much enjoying restorative yoga Friday nights. This week, I did not fall asleep in class, so I am taking that as a good sign that my body is recovering quicker! 

What I Keep Telling Myself

Run your pace, run your pace, run your pace.  

It is easy to get caught up when a fast song comes on or you hear paces other people are running or that person passes you on the strand and you feel that urge to shift gears. 

I take a lot of pride in knowing my body really well when it comes to running: I know my limits and I know the pace that makes sense. Right now in training, I am hyper-focused on that goal time of 2:48 and 6:24 pace.  As I run workouts, I literally see these numbers in bright red lights. It is really motivating and pulling me through the miles.

I have never been number-goal oriented, but this goal time and the pace that goes with it is really keeping me focused.  I know with almost certainty that there will be a great temptation to run way too fast at the start of Boston, so hoping this focus on my pace will keep me from blowing up.

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hitting 50 miles
  • Knee has healed 
  • Hudson has been pretty good for our stroller runs
  • Beautiful 16 mile long run 
  • Mid-week 10 miler with 4 miles at race pace.  It felt good to get a 10-miler done during the week, even though the tempo part did not feel as easy as I would have liked.

low

  • Post-long run.  I will explain below. 

The Long Run 

When both you and your husband are training, long runs can be logistical challenges with kids.  It is way too long for Hudson to be in the jogger, so we usually drop him off at my parents’ house. This past Saturday they were out of town, so we developed a plan.

Lance would leave early and run 8-10 miles solo and then meet me back at the park.  I would give him Hudson and he would finish his run with the jogger, as I did my 16 mile route out and back.  

The plan actually worked really well.

I started my run from Valley Park and ran 3 miles with Lance and Hudson.  He flipped it and I continued to go out. We usually do our long runs in PV, but it was actually really fun to start in Hermosa and make it all the way out to the trail cliffs in Palos Verdes, since I had to go out 8 miles.  It was also nice to get in some dirt. Not to mention, Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous.  

As I was heading back down, I stopped at mile 10, took those fruit gummy snacks and began a couple miles at goal race pace.  Those two miles actually felt great and I was surprised that going back down to race pace felt pretty natural even at mile 10 (I literally hit exactly 6:24, which was encouraging). 

Towards the end of that 2 mile segment, I was feeling fatigued, so I stopped and ran half a mile at normal long run pace. After this half mile of recovery, ran 2 more miles with the aim to be at race pace.  I was slightly off, but it was a good two miles of staying mentally tough as my legs were really beginning to fatigue as it has been months since I have run this long and at that type of pace. This run really worked my legs, but it also was key in building a mental toughness, that I will absolutely carry with me to Boston.

Overall, great long run. 

Then, it took a turn as within 5-minutes of coming home, Hudson tripped on a rug and his sippy cup split his head.  With blood on my shirt, we rushed to the ER, only to wait hours before the stitches.  

Normally, I would like to think I would handle this situation better, but a 16-mile workout does not set you up to be in the best state for waiting in an ER with your baby.  I definitely did not fuel properly after this long run. I had grand plans of a big egg and bacon breakfast when I got home, but that quickly changed. So the long run started great, but then quickly went downhill and was fueled by stress and waiting and cookies.  Hey, not every post-run will be ideal recovery. Things will be okay.

And Hudson now has 5 stitches and is totally fine and looks extra tough! 

If you are still with me and curious, here is my long run in numbers: 

2 hours and 4 minutes

16 miles 

7:45/mile average

8:07 first mile, 8:26 last mile 

Fastest mile: 6:24 aka GOAL RACE PACE