My First Virtual Race Experience: 10k Edition

Last Saturday morning, I sipped my coffee and ate my typical pre-race breakfast of almond butter + oatmeal.  And to the pit of my stomach, I felt the race nerves building.  

Here is a little confession: I was nervous for my virtual 10k I was running in a couple hours.  You might think this is funny. And I can see why, but I was actually really thankful for the nerves I felt on that virtual race morning.  From the outside world, it might seem strange and even silly to be nervous for a race that has no crowds or audience or big outcome. But internally, this is the greatest sign to me that I deeply care about being the best runner I can be, not because of the major marathon on the calendar or the applause of the crowds, but because I love the sport and every time I step on the line (or virtual line) I want to perform at my very best.

Race Nerves

In college, the nerves often stemmed from a fear of disappointing my coach and my team.  The pressure I felt collegiately ran deep.

The first year postpartum, the nerves stemmed from wondering if I was even that good at running anymore after a couple years off and a baby.

But last Saturday morning, the nerves were my friends.  They reminded me that I care about running no matter what the stage is.  

It is easy to care and be nervous and feel the adrenaline when you are running on the track with some of the best collegiate 5k runners in the region.  It is easy when you have crowds cheering and yelling for you.  It is easy when it feels like a big deal.  But how you respond, when it is very much not a big deal, to me, that is the better indicator of your drive and motivation and love.  

So those nerves Saturday morning over coffee and oatmeal, were welcomed.  For those that have run virtual races in the past, you know that one of the hardest parts is not having the adrenaline of a typical race full of crowds and a big finishing line.  I knew those race butterflies would be helpful to get a little adrenaline to push me through.    

The nerves seemed to quickly subside when I started running.  Taylor Swift’s Reputation began on shuffle right as I started my Garmin for the 6.2 miles.  With music booming in my ears and the lightness of my racing flats beneath me, I focused on the back of my husband, ready for him to pull me along.  

Race Breakdown

The first mile felt easy and controlled.  5:50. 

Miles 2 and 3, I settled in and got comfy.  6:04 and 6:03, respectively.

Miles 4 and 5, I started feeling tired and the reality that I did not have the normal race energy and crowds to pull me through, hit me.  I was suddenly made very aware that I was running through a relatively empty street. I turned Swift up a bit louder in my ears and tried to not let my husband run away from me.  6:07 and 6:06, respectively.

Mile 6, my legs came alive again.  I took a quick glimpse down at my watch and knew I would definitely be under the 38-minute mark.  At this point, I was definitely feeling fatigued and a bit unmotivated, but as we were getting closer to the “finish line,” I saw a group of familiar faces clapping for me.  This was totally unplanned, but seeing familiar faces from the local running community, including my high school coach, who I adore and look up to, really made a difference.

With a bit of extra energy, we stopped our watches right when we hit the 6.2 mark at 37:20.  Hands on knees, I smiled and high-fived my wonderful pacer.  

A Year Ago

To be honest, I was hoping to be sub-37, but I was still really proud of that time.  It was even more significant because almost exactly a year ago I ran LA’s Race to Remember.  It was my first race back postpartum. I ended up winning the 10k with a time of 38:04. That race was really special to me.  It was a reminder of my love for the sport. It was a reminder that I was not only still a runner; I was a competitor. You can read the full race recap here.

Even though this past Saturday, I did not get to run through finishing tape or get interviewed at the end, it felt like a lot of progress to be 44-seconds faster in a non-traditional race setting.  

This makes me excited for future races (both virtual and in-person). 

 It makes me excited to keep chasing down times.  

It makes me excited that my progress as a runner does not need to be dependent on a race or crowds.

I can still push myself.  All I need is a watch, my flats, an empty road ahead, and my speedy husband.  

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to pushing myself on big stages, like Boston, but for now, these virtual races are a welcomed and needed friend.

Rambling Runner Virtual Race Series

Thanks to Matt Chittim from the Rambling Runner Podcast and the sponsors for making these virtual races happen.  There are still two races left! The half-marathon and full-marathon. You can find all the info on how to join, right here.  It has been a really key aspect to keep me focused, motivated, and excited to keep stepping out the door.  

5 Easter At-Home Activities Your Toddler Will Love

Easter celebrations are likely going to feel quite different for most of this year.  There will be no bunny photos or large egg hunts or dressing up in our Sunday’s best for Easter service.  In a lot of ways, Easter this year will be quite simple. They will be quiet, without the rush and bustle and people that usually surround all of our favorite holidays.  And while in some ways this disappoints me; in a lot of ways it is allowing my heart to be even more focused on the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place.  

Taking away the external elements of Easter, we are left with the one thing that truly matters and is forever unchanging: a cross and an empty tomb.  Jesus is alive and we get to be with Him forever! That will never be taken away. That is just as true now during a pandemic as it was before. That will never change.  In a time where everything seems to feel different, this Easter, we have even greater reason to celebrate our great, unchanging Father that loves us SO much. 

Even though things feel so different, I am very much in the Easter-spirit!  To me, this is what Easter is all about. It is about facing the darkness of the cross, but then it is also about looking past it and seeing the light and hope that lies beyond it.  Jesus’ resurrection is one of the greatest reminders that death and darkness DO NOT get the final word. Death is defeated. There is hope. We will get through this.

This may sound silly to you, but one thing that has helped me to be more focused on the hope of Easter is a week full of Easter-centric activities and crafts with Hudson Boy (21-months)!  Each day this week we did an Easter-themed activity. All of them were very simple and with materials that can mostly be found around the house. These activities absolutely brought some joy to our indoor days & reminded us both of the great hope we have in Jesus! 

With Easter just about a week away, these activities could be a great way to count down the days to Easter Sunday with your kiddos.

Quick side-note: we packed a lot of fun intentional activities into our week, but if you look at all my pictures in this post, you will easily find dust all over our floors. To the mom that struggles with a comparative heart (ME!), don’t worry if it was a week with less hands-on activities. It is all about give and take. This week we did a lot together, but my kitchen and floors and whole house for that matter is a bit of a disaster.

1. WATERCOLOR CROSS ART

I was inspired by the  Resourceful Mama’s tape Resist Cross.  We did not have painter’s tape on hand, so I cut out a cross with construction paper and taped it to the card stock.  Obviously painter’s tape is ideal, but it still worked out for us! This is a great project to do on Good Friday to focus and teach on Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.  This project is simple and the result is really beautiful with the watercolors. I have ours on our mantle. It has been a really powerful reminder to me all week about how the dark cross does not get the final word.  There are beautiful colors on the other side.  

2. INDOOR EASTER EGG HUNT 

After this egg hunt, all Hudson seems to be able to say is “eg, eg, eg!”  I had saved a handful of plastic eggs from last year’s Easter egg hunt, so used these.  If you are feeling stumped with what to hide in the egg for this random, indoor hunt, you could do a “Resurrection Egg Hunt.”  There are ideas for this type of egg hunt all over, but I was specifically inspired by Meredith over at the blog, Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home

For Hudson’s egg hunt, I quickly wrote down what each item represented, along with the correlating Bible verses.  As Hudson gets older, I will use this activity to go through scripture and have a more in-depth discussion on Jesus’ resurrection.  For my 21-month old, it was still a good activity for him to hold each item and for me, in a few, simple words explain to him what the item represented.  This was a great activity that helped make a random indoor egg hunt feel a bit more meaningful.  

Since this one hunt, we have done a few.  Usually with empty eggs. He is obsessed with it and it is a fun way to pass some time. 

3. POM POMS + EGG COLOR SORTING

With those same eggs, we did this color sorting activity.  So simple and great for practicing colors with toddlers! Also, great for fine motor skills, as Hudson tried to pack as many pom poms as he could in a single egg.  We just used our hands to sort pom poms by color, but you could also use plastic tongs or a spoon to really work on those fine motor skills.  

4. CHRIST-CENTERED COLORING PAGES

My favorite resource for free, Christian coloring pages is Christian Preschool Printables.  It is an amazing site with some wonderful + free printables.  I look forward to using this resource even more as Hudson gets more into the preschool years.  He really enjoyed coloring these crosses and immediately started to run out the door to give it to someone.  Coloring pages, like these, are a great thing to have on hand, especially when someone wakes up way too early from their nap!  Coloring in the afternoon with a few snacks seems to sit well with Hudson as a solid afternoon activity. 

5. EGG + BUNNY EARS COOKIE BAKING

To end the week, we spent time with auntie and made Easter sugar cookies.  At this point, I am convinced that Sally’s Baking Addiction has the very best sugar cookie recipe.  I made this same recipe for Valentine’s Day and these Easter ones were just as delicious.  I was totally inspired by the way she used the same cookie cutter to make both eggs and bunny ears. How cute!

Our cookies, look NOTHING like hers, but we all had a lot of fun making them!  I set up Hudson’s own little decorating station with wax paper and a few cookies already frosted in white for him. This allowed him to spoon some color on to each cookie and shake some sprinkles on.  He was a happy camper with this set up. I intentionally made a really small egg that he called “baby.” This was a fun one for him to decorate and I didn’t mind him eating the whole thing since it was so tiny!! 

There are a few things we did not get to and are hoping to fit in next week!

Other Easter Things To-Do with with Kiddos

  • Dye Easter Eggs! (Excited to try these PAAS Marble ones).  If your Target has a Drive-Up, you should utilize it!  I just made a Target trip the other night and it increased my anxiety times 10. 
  • Easter Photos! No mall bunny photos this year, so hoping to make a spring little set-up in our backyard to get some cute Easter photos of Hudson! 
  • Write Easter Cards to Family!  Holidays are my favorite times to write words of gratitude to those we love most.  I have a mild obsession with Trader Joe’s seasonal cards. Picked these up the other day and I am excited to spend time with Hudson pouring love into each card.  We might not be able to see all of our family members this Easter, but we certainly can show them we are thinking of them. 
  • Easter Play-dough Play!  Planning to make a new batch of play-dough.  I will dye half orange and the other half light pink, so we can use our carrot and bunny cookie cutters! 

And of course, we will be reading all the Easter books on our shelves.  A couple weeks ago, I put a list of our favorite Easter books.  Another one that is not on that list that we have been reading constantly is Here Comes Peter Cottontail!  We have Hudson’s grammy’s version and I love this edition’s illustrations.  This week would also be a great time to delve into the Easter stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. We keep reading the story, “God’s Wonderful Surprise,” over and over again.  It has been a comfort to both of us this week.  

What are some simple things you are doing with your kids and family this coming week to celebrate the coming hope & joy of Easter?  I would love to get some more ideas + inspiration!

Finding Peace in Sabbath during Uncertain Time

For all those that say they don’t have time to have a day of rest or sabbath, there is no better time than now to intentionally create a sabbath day for you and your whole family.  With the world shut down right now, this is the very best time to set some new healthy rhythms into your typical chaotic and busy schedule.  

Sabbath is a gift and it is my favorite day of the whole week.  It is the one day, we sleep in. The one day, I ignore the dishes and the laundry and the dust.  The work can wait. I do enough of that during the week. This is a day set apart and it is sacred.  Last summer, I put together a post full of explaining the importance of honoring the sabbath and some practical tips to incorporate this weekly day of rest in your own life.  You can go back and read it here.

“To Hell with the Hustle”

I just finished reading Jefferson Bethke’s book To Hell with the HustleIt is such a great read and a really great book to add to your list, especially if you are a hustler and struggle incorporating rest and margin into your days.  

There was a lot of really insightful wisdom packed into the pages, but the thing that stuck with me the most was actually quite simple: be faithful.

Not just a faithfulness when God is pouring you with blessings upon blessings, but in the seasons of your life that feel more barren and ordinary.  This is true faithfulness. A commitment to living your life faithfully to God, your spouse, your kids, your church, your neighbors in the ordinary days. 

Bethke puts it best in the epilogue:

“I think we hate faithfulness so much because at its root it’s obscurity and ordinariness, which is the biggest cultural curse we have today.  There is a certain paradox in making changes and choices that don’t seem to have obvious benefits. It’ll feel uncomfortable to resist technological advancements. To rethink how we communicate.  To question the noise all around us. To not hustle to get ahead, but to rest to be human. The more I root myself in a place, in a job, in mundane repetition of my life with love, the more I find joy springing up all over the place.”

(Bethke 182-183)

I don’t know about you, but my soul feels a peace and joy that has been missing for a while.  Don’t get me wrong, there is also a lot of anxiety and uncertainty and fear melted in there, but as a whole, my head feels more clear and my heart feels more open.  And I think a large part of it is because the extra noise has paused for a bit.

The morning rush of throwing things into my bag and quickly getting Hudson into his carseat has ceased.  There is no pressing timeline. We are home and for the first time in a while, I am truly thankful for the very mundane elements of my day. I am thankful for fresh air outside. I am thankful for the ability to take a long walk with my family. 

I am seeing things with a new vision. I see the beauty in the ordinary.

To give you an idea of what I am trying to convey, this is a little glimpse of what sabbath looked like for the Capel fam last Sunday:

Last Sunday’s Sabbath

  • Drinking coffee and just watching Hudson play
  • Worshipping on the couch 
  • Watching our pastor teach on the biblical concept of work.  Our church’s online sermons can be found here
  • Packing a lunch picnic of bread, turkey, cheese, figs, and slices of cara cara oranges
  • A drive on an empty 405 freeway
  • A beautiful family walk 
  • Picnic on a big grass field 
  • Baseball and soccer play with Hudson
  • A nap
  • Book reading
  • Knitting (a new thing. I am trying to make a hat, so far it is a struggle). 
  • Backyard sunbathing 
  • Bubble wands
  • Lounging in beach chairs while Hudson and Nala entertained each other 
  • Zooming with dear friends 
  • Steak on the barbecue 
  • Apple crisp in the oven
  • Scoops of vanilla ice cream 
  • Dreaming about that Stanford baseball scholarship as we watch Hudson hit on his tee before bed (kidding…kind of).
  • Bedtime books, mostly reading Stormy Night on repeat.  His current obsession because of the page that says “BOOM!” 
  • The Sunday Bath.  If you don’t do this, oh, you really should.  It is one of my favorite sabbath elements.  
  • A little more knitting
  • Time with Lance and talking about what the week ahead looks like
  • Sleep 

Peace in the Ordinary

I wanted to list all of that out because I wanted to show how ordinary it is.  Nothing spectacular, but it was a new favorite day in my book. It was simple and rich and meaningful.  This is sabbath to me. A day where the blessings of my life are in full-picture. With perfect clarity and the tender whispers of God, I see with new vision that this is exactly where he wants me.  He wants me present with open hands and an open heart for all that he is showing and teaching me through these simple days at home.

So, in the midst of uncertainty and fear as the number of coronavirus cases seem to keep getting higher and higher, I am finding a whole lot of comfort and peace in just focusing on the here and now and leaning into this day of Sabbath that will never be cancelled or taken away from us.  It is a gift given to us with open hands by a Father that loves us so dearly.

Will you accept it and step into this sacred place of rest? There is no better time than now.  

12 Things to Do at Home with an Active Toddler

I know we each are affected by the coronavirus in very different ways.  Some in life-changing types of ways, and others in smaller disappointments.  I know there is this temptation to down-play our own feelings right now, with the preface of with everything going on, it feels silly to… or I know others have it a lot worse, but… 

I know that temptation well because I have most certainly felt it in the past couple weeks.  It feels silly to complain about a postponed marathon, when others are losing jobs, weddings, graduations.  It feels silly to complain about not getting to play at the park when we have a cozy house full of toys to play with. It feels silly to feel the pressure of keeping up with all the other moms that appear on social media to be handling it so much better than you. 

All of it can feel silly, especially in the face of death and unemployment.  But, it is your feelings and your situation, and it is okay to feel real sadness, disappointment, and anxiety over things that may feel small in comparison with everything else that is going on.  It is okay to own our struggles, even if they may be small.

With that said, in the past couple weeks my emotions have been all over the map.  I have felt a whole lot of disappointment. Disappointment over the marathon.  Disappointment in not being able to attend church in person. Disappointment over not being able to go that basketball game or have that couple over for dinner or attend that birthday party.

Then, I went from disappointment to determination.  Last week, especially, I was determined to make the best of these situations.  This means keeping my whole routine as normal as possible. These choices have helped the initial disappointment to fade, but it also has created some unrealistic expectations. 

The fact of the matter is that we are living in a global pandemic. This is new territory for all of us. It is new, weird, strange, scary, confusing, and uncertain. While I still stand on the fact that it is important to keep things as normal as possible and still goal-set and look ahead to the future, I am learning I need to add room for grace.  

To give you an idea of how my brain works… 

Circumstance: Race postponed.

Response: Keep training hard and run a sub-80 minute virtual half-marathon.

Circumstance: All classes, parks, museums, and stores closed.

Response: Be the best Pinterest-worthy mom.  Do ALL the sensory bin activities. Do a craft every day.  Read ALL the books on the shelves. Create fun learning experiences.  Avoid screens at all costs.

Circumstance: All restaurants are closed, except for takeout.

Response: Bake and cook gourmet recipes for every meal.  

Circumstance: Quarantined.

Response: I must learn to knit, organize every cabinet/drawer in the house, and finally finish Hudson’s baby scrapbook.  

Get the picture? 

Not a whole lot of room for grace.  This is new. This is weird. I am doing my best and God will fill all of the holes.  He always does. I don’t need to put added pressure on myself to be super-mom, super-wife, super-human. This pandemic alone is pressure enough.

Before getting into ideas to keep an active toddler busy at home (I promise, we are still heading in that direction), I wanted to preface it with the fact that I too am struggling and feel this weird sense of pressure to do all the things. I am learning daily that the mundane elements of our day: taking a bath, watering the grass, calling a grandparent are enough. We don’t need to get crazy.

We Are Still…

We are still good runners during a pandemic if our mileage suddenly drops drastically.

We are still good moms during a pandemic if we do not always have a scheduled craft for the day.

We are still good wives during a pandemic if we become a bit more reliant on frozen pizzas than we did pre-pandemic.

We are still good productive humans during a pandemic if we have not acquired a new skill and the junk drawer is still full of junk.  

Let God’s grace enter.  You don’t need to be all the things or do all the things or learn all the things.  Keep it simple. Keep folding the laundry, washing the dishes, reading bedtime stories, running, and cooking.  In other words, keep doing the normal life stuff you would do all the time, no need to add the pressure to become a gourmet chef, a Pinterest-perfect mother, or super fit.  

With all that said, here are some very simple things I am doing with my very, active, almost-2-year old that is keeping us both sane and happy, mostly.

1. Keep a routine

Keep waking up at similar times, keep changing out of pajamas, keep snacks, lunches, and dinners at normal times.

2. Walk/Run Outside 

Take the jogger out for a short run or walk around the block.  The days we go out for a morning run always seem better because it really breaks up the day.  We have been calling our runs around our neighborhood, “dinosaur runs” because we stop by a nursery with giant, metallic dinosaurs and Hudson gets to roar at them. It is the small things!

Also, the sunshine and fresh air does a whole lot of good for the both of us. If you’re new to the baby jogger, I have some tips on running with the stroller, you can find here.

3. Take Long Baths 

We now take baths in the morning and the evening.  If Hudson is acting crazy, the bath is always a sure way to calm him down and get some sensory play as he plays with the bubbles and his bath toys.  Typically, we will take a quick shower and rush out the door to our scheduled outing. It has actually been a real joy to embrace these slower, bubble bath type of mornings.  If you are looking for more bath activities, here are some of my favorite products that always make bath time more fun:

4. Chores Around the House 

There is always a chunk of our day scheduled for getting things done around the house.  I try to always incorporate Hudson. Sometimes he just watches me or wanders off to play independently in the playroom, but sometimes he grabs the broom or his pretend lawn mower and goes around the house “working.”  This is a win-win because I get things done around the house, while he imagines and helps me through play.

5. Bounce House

Set up something fun in your living room or playroom that is typically not up.  It could be a tent, a fort, a ball pit, or a bounce house.  We have this bounce house.  It is not very big, but it already has been a well-worth it investment.  As a family, we seem to always end up hanging out in the bounce house after dinner.  In these scary and uncertain times, I feel pretty certain I will look back to our evenings spent in the bounce house with great fondness. There has been a whole lot of laughter happening in that little house- Nala (our 80 lb. golden) even joins and things get real crazy.

6. Songs + Dance 

We usually break out the Greg & Steve tunes midmorning.  This is a fun way to transition between activities and is a great way to burn off some extra energy before nap time.  Here are a few songs, that are especially great for dancing with your toddlers:

7. Leave Things Out 

Here’s the honest truth, our house currently is chaos.  And this is entirely intentional. Part of it is laziness, but part of it is strategic.  There are TONS of invitations to play all over our house for Hudson. He can jump in his bounce house, he can color on his chalk board, he can pretend play with his trains, he can practice his baseball swing on his tee.  I am simply leaving things out all over to invite him to play. This creates a very messy house, but it is not like we are having guests over anytime soon and it takes the pressure off of me to constantly entertain.

8. FaceTime Family/Friends

This has been a great way for him to still have social interactions and see the people he loves most!  We have been doing this almost daily. It has been the perfect way for both of us to feel more connected. Not to mention, great for him to practice names.

9. Make Cards

So far, we have made 2 birthday cards and one thank-you card to our amazing pool man.  This is an easy “art project” and Hudson is at the age where he LOVES giving things to people he cares about.  We don’t have a ton of art supplies, so I have kept it really simple with crayons and card stock. For auntie’s birthday card, we even broke out the water colors.  I am not very creative or artsy, so making cards is a great way to incorporate some art + also teach Hudson the importance of appreciating those we care and love for.  

10. Scooter 

Self-explanatory. Lots of indoor and outdoor scootering happening over here.  

11. Mud Play

I will be honest, I have been on Pinterest more than ever recently.  And it gets pretty overwhelming. I am all about simple activities with few supplies and ingredients needed.  When I saw this mud play recipe, I knew it was perfect.  You just combine water, flour, and cocoa powder.  And there you go, the best smelling mud ever. It was perfect for creating dinosaur and truck tracks on paper.  

12. Window Clings 

If you are able to make a quick trip to the dollar store, they have really cute Easter window clings.  This was very entertaining for Hudson.  He especially likes the gel clings, which I am not crazy about because it attracts dog hair and H always ends up ripping them.  But it is just $1 and entertains him, so still worth it in my book. The day we brought them out, he kept going back to the window to rearrange the bunny and the chick. 

Okay, I am going to stop here. This is becoming too long.  Here is the bottomline: use this time wisely. Soak it in and appreciate it for what it is.  Sit in the quiet, the slow, the mundane. Don’t feel like you need to do all things.  Keep it simple. Invite your little ones along in your ordinary days and take lots and lots of bubble baths. 

5 Things to Keep Doing During Coronavirus Pandemic

Now more than ever, the routines we have in place are essential for getting through this time of pandemic. Our calendars have emptied and we are uncertain what the next few weeks will truly look like.  We each are affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 in different ways. I can only speak from my own experience. Since we do not yet have school-aged kids and I stay-at-home with our toddler, our routine does not feel drastically different. 

With that said, last week I internally struggled not having our usual routine filled with toddler class, park playdates, and library outings. I was left wondering: how should I spend this extra time?  Should I just sleep in? Should I just watch all the movies during H’s nap time?  Should I just stop training since the marathon is postponed?  Should I just mindlessly consume social media and let everyone’s thoughts and opinions and anxiety seep into my own heart? These personal questions plus more have been bouncing in my head the past two weeks.

And the answer? Keep on keeping on.  Keep doing the same rhythms I do on a daily basis, minus of course the things I can’t do.  If you are feeling stuck, in a rut, and confused about how your days should look in this new normal, here are a few things I am continuing to do during the coronavirus pandemic, we are currently living through.

1. Keep Waking Up At the Same Time 

After everything was postponed and cancelled, my first thought when my 5:30 alarm went off was sleep in.  I have a feeling that more people probably are sleeping in.  It makes sense. There is less of a need to urgently get out of the door.  I get the temptation and the reality of sleeping later, but for me personally, that small choice can really mess up the rest of the day and my own attitude.  Keeping up with this rhythm of still rising early has been an important piece of keeping me grounded. Now more than ever, I need this quiet time to process with God, to read His Word, and journal out what is in my heart.  

2. Keep Moving (Running is always a good option).

In the midst of all the hard news and fear surrounding us, I have been deeply encouraged to see SO many people using this time to get moving outdoors.  The New York Times in an article last week, even called it “a back-to-basics exercise boom.”  As I am typing this, running, walking, and biking outdoors is still within CDC guidelines. And for that, I am really thankful. 

If it comes to the point, that we can’t run outdoors, I am not exactly sure what I will do, but for now, I am deeply appreciative of my hour runs outside. It feels like freedom, it feels accessible, and it feels essential.  We need movement. Whether that is doing those push-up challenges cropping up all over social media or walking the dog around the block or lacing up those running shoes that have been gathering dust. This is the time to make movement a daily rhythm of yours.  It is essential.  

3. Keep Setting Goals 

With the cancellation or postponement of so many events, races, conferences, and gatherings, it is easy to just scratch all the goals you made at the beginning of 2020.  Along with being routine-oriented, I am very much goal-oriented. I need a clear goal to keep me focused and working hard. With the Boston Marathon’s postponement, I decided I desperately still needed a goal to look forward to and motivate me to continue to get out the door. 

As I wrote about last week, my new goal is to run a sub-1:20 half-marathon in a virtual race.  Obviously, not quite as thrilling as hitting the streets of Boston, but this goal is still keeping me engaged and excited to get the miles in.  This is what it looks like personally for me, but I think it is possible for us all to re-write and adapt our original goals.  This is no time to throw out goals altogether, instead, let’s pivot and adjust. 

4. Keep Connecting 

God made humans to be in community.  We are literally wired for connection and community.  This is one of the MANY reasons, this new time is so challenging.  As much as my own introverted self is perfectly okay spending most of my time with family, this time has reminded me the great value and importance in connecting with others.  It has been encouraging to see so many having virtual meet-ups with friends and Face Times that go beyond the casual “hi” and extend to really hanging out and enjoying time together.  Keep doing this. Keep scheduling time to see your people virtually! Hudson is not quite at the age where I think a virtual playdate would work, but if you have older kids, I found this creative list of virtual playdate ideas.  

5. Keep Praying

Well, of course.  But in full transparency, I know when I begin to get fearful, anxious, and out of my normal routine, sometimes the first thing to go is my daily conversations with the Lord.  Please don’t let this one go. God is listening. He is not surprised with any of this, and I truly believe he desires to teach each one of us something essential during this time of staying at home. 

Are you listening? Are you willing to hear what he has to say? Are you telling him your own concerns, worries, and fears? Please keep praying. Pray for all the medical professionals working tirelessly.  Pray for the elderly that may be especially fearful right now. Pray for those with compromised immune systems. Pray for those personally affected by COVID-19. Pray for those losing jobs. Pray for our grocery stores and the lovely people working in them.  Pray for the students that deeply depend on the structure that school life brings to their days. Pray for the teachers. Pray for the parents. Pray for those that live alone and depend on social gatherings. Pray for our world and for deep healing on a physical and spiritual sense. Christianity Today, put together 20 prayers that can help lead you to pray during this time.

In all the uncertainty and change, let’s work together to keep some things the same. Keep rising, keep moving, keep looking forward, keep connecting, and most importantly, keep praying. 

Also, keep attending church (virtually).

Keep reading books.

Keep having family movie nights.

Keep chasing trash trucks on Mondays.

Keep fort-building.

Keep washing your hands.

Keep taking your vitamins.

Keep sending birthday cards.

Keep the sabbath.

Keep creating.

Keep drinking coffee.

Keep walking the dog.

Keep grocery shopping.

Keep cooking and baking and ordering take-out.

Keep online shopping.

Keep reaching out to your mama.

Keep taking baths.

Keep watering the plants.

These little, unchanging things are becoming more beautiful to me with each passing day.

What are the things you are keeping in your life right now in the midst of pandemic?

8 Favorite Easter Books for Toddlers

I know the world feels quite different right now, but one of the things that is helping me stay sane with a toddler at home and no park time and no playdates is…books. We always read a lot of books over here and make our weekly Wednesday library trip, but now more than ever, Hudson and I both are dependent on the comfort and joy these repeated stories bring to our days. 

With Easter right around the corner, I wanted to share some of the Easter books we are reading right now at home and some that we don’t currently have on our shelves, but want to! We actually are pretty stocked up on Easter books right now because I checked out a big haul of them from the library in early March, little did I know we wouldn’t be back to the library for a bit. If you don’t have a ton of Easter books, now is a good time to order a couple new favorites to add to your permanent collection! As I write about often, books make the perfect gift and any of these would work perfectly in an Easter basket.

Some of these books on this list are purely fun and the sole purpose of them is in the colorful eggs and the chocolate bunnies.  I also did intentionally choose a few favorites that I personally think do a beautiful job delivering the true reason we celebrate Easter: He Is Risen!  

1. Jesus Rose For Me by Jared Kennedy 

This is the book we are putting in Hudson’s basket this year.  This is a really nice board book with beautiful images. The thing I love most about this book is the amount of details that are included about Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.  Jesus Rose for Me is absolutely delivering the gospel, but doing it in such a way that little ears can better comprehend. I am all about delivering truth to our kids at a very young age and this book is a beautiful tool to use.  It even includes Bible verses with each story, so this is a great way to incorporate scripture with your little ones. The book is a bit wordier for Hudson’s attention span currently, but I know it will be the perfect gospel-centric book that he will absolutely grow into within the next year.

2. God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren 

This was the book we put in his Easter basket last year!  I LOVE the God Gave Us series of books.  Again, the stories still are a bit longer for his attention span even now, but I know this will become a favorite.  Through beautiful illustrations and the real curiosity of a little cub, papa cub through natural imagery explains where the true joy of Easter comes from. 

Like so many of Bergren’s books, this book is a wonderful answer to how to teach kids that the cultural elements of these holidays (eggs, Easter bunny, gifts) are fun and good, but they should never overshadow the true meaning.  Easter baskets and egg hunts point to only a small glimmer of the joy that is found in true relationship with Christ. This book helps reveal this truth and for that I am really thankful. 

3. The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

I discovered this classic book at the library and I am slightly obsessed with the storyline.  This is not a religious Easter book, but the story is heartwarming. It teaches little ones on the importance of small acts of kindness.  The bunny, Hoppi is so concerned with making the most beautiful egg and is inspired by all the beautiful eggs his bunny neighbors are creating.  While trying to figure out how he will decorate his own egg, he ends up helping Mother Robin keep her egg warm. This is how he spends his time and at the end only has the cracked and empty egg shell. Can you guess whose egg was chosen as the winner? Hoppi!

I love how well the storyline shows it is not always about the product we produce, but the intention of our hearts. Love this story, love the illustrations, love Jan Brett. We checked out the hardcover version, but Amazon also has a board book I linked to that is perfect for toddlers! 

4. Happy Easter, Mouse!  by Laura Numeroff

Each holiday, we collect another Mouse book because Hudson is such a fan.  I will admit, the Easter one is not as good as the It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse!, but it is still a good Easter one for toddlers.  It is a very simple story, so probably best for 2-3 year-olds.  We are currently working on our colors. This is a great book to practice naming each color of egg Mouse finds.  This is an easy book to pair with a small activity or craft revolved around colors and eggs! 

5. A Very Happy Easter Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

Now more than ever, we need to count our blessings and thank God for the gifts of flowers budding and new life being created. Hudson and I read this book before his nap and it brought me a lot of peace. The words are simple. The illustrations are full of colorful flowers and cute bunnies. During these weird and anxious times, my heart settled as I read these simple words thanking God for all the simple blessings.

6. Happy Easter, Country Bunny by DuBose Heyward

The Country Bunny was my favorite Easter book as a young girl. I can still remember how I felt when my mom would read it to us. I loved it then, and now connect to it on an even deeper level. It is such a timely and relatable story for the modern woman. It is a beautiful picture of balancing motherhood with the dreams of your heart. Mother Cottontail continues to inspire me, and it is the perfect story to share with our little ones to inspire them. I would put the original story here, but since this list is geared towards toddlers, this board book is the better option for toddler-aged kiddos.

7. The Great Easter Race

This is a fun book with all the Sesame Street character partaking in a race on Easter morning. The bunny that joins the race leaves baskets full of each character’s favorite things and in the end, the slow turtle wins the race. The illustrations are colorful with all the recognizable Sesame Street friends. The story also contains more substance than typical stories geared towards toddlers, which I appreciate! If you have a Sesame Street lover, this is a fun book to read together this Easter season.

8. An Easter Egg Hunt for Jesus by Susan Jones

This is a sweet story full of cute forest animals and a valuable lesson that Easter is much more than just an Easter egg hunt. It is about Jesus. Through beautiful illustrations and a sweet storyline, Jones delivers the important message that this time of year is a celebration for Jesus!

The Hope of Easter

Again, I know there are much bigger world issues going on right now, and Easter books are likely not on the top of your list. I get that, but in these uncertain and uneasy time, I am finding a lot of comfort in reading books with H and looking ahead to the hope of Easter (even though it is likely to look quite different this year). These books I selected are the perfect stories to read to our little ones this year to point them to the fact that Easter is not dependent on Easter egg hunts and baskets full of chocolate bunnies. Those are fun, but Easter is much more. As papa polar bear puts it in God Gave Us Easter:

“On Easter, we remember we get to be with Jesus forever.”

And that alone is reason to celebrate.

So, let’s read more books, pray more, and cling more than ever to the hope and promise we know for certain will come Easter morning. In all this uncertainty, the sure promise of Jesus is pulling me through.

Happy reading, friends.

Final Marathon Monday…For Now.

3/16- MANY WEEKS Until Boston. 

Well, a sure lot has changed in a week.  Last Monday as I typed up my weekly recap, I remembered feeling concerned with a cancellation, but still confident that there would be enough time for the virus to be contained and for the race to still happen.  I also was not super informed or in the know about what really was happening and the seriousness of it all. Obviously, I was wrong and the marathon has been rescheduled to September 14th.  

And I have some feelings about it. 

Initial Feelings

I want to start with the fact that I 100% agree and understand the postponement.  I also understand that with everything going on in the world right now, the fact that the marathon I personally have been training for and dreaming about for the last year, is actually quite insignificant.  Trust me, I get that there are much greater concerns and there are many people that are dealing with more significant loss and more difficult situations.  Yet, my heart still feels disappointment. And I think that is okay for me to admit. It seems pretty small, but I can still be disappointed.  

I keep the same Google document for all of my “Marathon Monday” posts.  Even though it has been a few days to process the fact that Boston will not happen in 5 weeks, as I scrolled down my document, I did become emotional.  Seeing all the numbers, the podcasts, the protein bars, and the people that played a role in the last several weeks of training, got me. I am human and quite honestly as I scrolled through I was brought back to all the miles, the sacrifice, the extra help from family and friends caring for Hudson to make this dream happen.  Being brought back to this place with the knowledge that things are not going to play out the way I envisioned does make me a bit sad and makes me question well, what was even the point? 

After some reflection, I can tell you this, there actually was a whole lot of purpose.  

The Dream to Run the Boston Marathon

First, I want to backtrack a bit.  It was actually almost exactly a year ago that the idea of running the Boston Marathon became a dream.  As I have written about in the past, it was not until about a year ago that I fell back in love with the sport of running.  I write all about it in this post where I recapped my first real race postpartum.   I titled it “Running to Remember” because the race really was an act of remembering why I loved running in the first place.

That first race back, coupled with the buzz around the marathon, made me certain that I wanted to run the Boston Marathon.  The only problem was that I needed a qualifying time before September 15th. By the time I decided this was my goal, a lot of the fast spring marathons were already happening.  This is when the plan to run the San Francisco Marathon was born. Again, you can read all about what that race meant to me here.  In my love for creating alliterative titles, that one was called “More than a Marathon.” It really was more than a marathon.  In this marathon, I got the outcome I wanted: a BQ, however, it was the process of training and having a reason to get out the door that really brought transformation. 

After qualifying and a few months of getting out of a good running rhythmn, January began the process again and I had my eyes set on a clear goal of running a sub 2:50.  Even though at first, I was not feeling as excited to begin marathon training again, by February I was all in and was beginning to feel more fit and excited about the ambitious goal I had set for Boston.  This training cycle I definitely struggled with energy, but as a whole I am really proud of the solid work I put in. In last week’s training, I had some of my most effortless runs and a really strong track workout.  

Process Over Performance

I want to take a second to talk about that track workout.  I did this workout on Wednesday. Going into the workout, things were not looking good.  It was looking like the race would most likely get cancelled or postponed, but there was no official word, so we still went to the track in the evening.  And I am really glad we still did.

The track is one of the most painful and beautiful things to me. Every time I do a track workout it makes my whole body hurt, but it also sharpens my brain in such a way that I often am struck with really insightful realizations in the midst of pain.  I know, weird, but stay with me. This workout was no different. It hit me around the 7th interval. At this point, I was fully feeling the pain and still had 4 more 1,000’s to go. Part of me was wondering what is even the point. No coach, no team, probably no race. But the bigger part of me, refused to quit. It no longer mattered.  This was about something bigger.

This whole past year of training has been about something bigger. I was determined to finish all ten of those 1,000’s. I was determined not because I had a coach pressuring me to do so or because I had a bunch of teammates that were doing it. No, I was determined to do it because I could and because I have learned that it is not always about the applause we receive or the medal we get swung over our neck, it is about the process.  It is about doing hard things. It is about pushing yourself and seeing how good you can get.

Don’t get me wrong, the cheers, the finishing line, the official time, those are really nice elements to work towards, but I am convinced it is actually the process towards them that are even more important.  

Looking Ahead

Boston 2020 likely won’t happen for me.  As I always write about, I love to run, but it is not everything for me.  Training for a marathon is a big commitment and it takes a lot of squeezing in and sacrifice.  It is absolutely worth it, but I don’t think I have the mental capacity to start that cycle over again so soon.  I am most certain that one day I will run it, I guess 2020 is just not my year to do it.  

That is a lot of words, to ultimately say this: I am sad I won’t get to run Boston this spring, but I am ultimately really thankful for this process.  Through the process, I fell back in love with running, and if I am honest, I fell back in love with myself. I know, I know. So cliche. But it is true. Life post-baby was SO HARD on my spirit.  Early motherhood shook me to the core, and running came in at just the right time and helped me feel more normal again. It took my hand and gently became a dear friend again.

It put no pressure on me, it was fine with stopping, it was fine with days off, but it slowly began to reveal the pieces of myself I thought were gone were in fact still there.  It showed me that I can still be competitive and serious and focused and fast, but I can do it in a way that works with my life. With that said, how can I be too sad? Boston 2020 gave me exactly what I needed, hopefully future Boston, will give me the time and the celebration. I can wait for it.  

So, do I just stop training?  NO. I am in really good shape right now, and I am still curious to see what kind of time I can run for a half-marathon.  On April 18th, I am going to run a virtual half-marathon race.  Lance is going to pace me and my goal is to run 78 minutes.  More updates on this as it gets closer! Who knows if I will be able to run that pace solo outside of the race environment, but I am going to try! 

To end, here are 3 major takeaways this unexpected marathon training ending has given me.

Major Takeaways

  1. God’s plan for my life is always better.
  2. God is working even in the hard times.
  3. There is much more to life than the marathon.

Okay, glad I got all that out there.  That is all. Now, let’s run a fast half-marathon…alone!

When the World Shuts Down, Turn to Jesus.

Quite honestly, it feels a little weird to compile a list of my favorite Easter books for toddlers, when the world right now feels pretty scary and uncertain.  I have a lot of emotions right now. I am a bit fearful, a little confused, and in my human nature, quite disappointed about the Boston Marathon officially being cancelled. More on the whole marathon situation in an upcoming post.  So for now the Easter book post I previously scheduled can wait, I think this is more important.  

Every morning, with my cup of coffee, I start my day by reading the day’s devotional from Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional.  These past two mornings, I have so felt the Holy Spirit moving.  The devotionals so spoke into everything that is going on with the spread of COVID-19 and the fear and the slew of cancellations.  

Yesterday morning, I read the following: 

If you mourn the fallenness of your world rather than curse its difficulties, you know that grace has visited you.

Tripp goes on to write, “Now, there are really only two responses we can have to the brokenness that complicates all of our lives: cursing or mourning.  Let’s be honest.  Cursing is the more natural response.  We curse the fact that we have to deal with flawed people.  We curse the fact that we have to deal with things that don’t work right.  We curse the fact that we have to deal with pollution and disease. We curse the fact that promises get broken, relationships shatter, and dreams die…Cursing is the wrong response…Mourning is the much better response.  Mourning embraces the tragedy of the fall. Mourning acknowledges that the world is not the way God meant it to be. Mourning cries out for God’s restoring, redeeming hand. Mourning acknowledges the suffering of others. Mourning is about something bigger than the fact that life is hard.  Mourning, then, is a response that is prompted by grace.” (Tripp). 

I basically just typed up the entire devotional, but it is that good.  I read this on the morning where it felt like the whole world began to shut down.  It sure is easy to curse and complain when we are living through a very clear example of our world’s brokenness.  Things are clearly not the way they should be.  Cursing doesn’t remove the panic, the virus, or the disappointment.  Mourning is a response that says yes, I see this, the world is not functioning properly, and God, I trust that you will redeem our world and heal and bring peace

Everything that has happened in the past week has reminded me of a few very important things. First and foremost that I am not in control, God is. Secondly, I need to be very careful to what my heart clings to.  When all our carefully laid out plans begin to get cancelled, it is a time to reflect and see where our treasure truly lies. It is natural to feel disappointment when things you were looking forward to are not happening in the way you expected, but you can’t stay there.

Everything going on in the world right now is the perfect example of why your identity cannot be in your sport, your profession, or even church gatherings. How will your heart respond when the entire season is cancelled? Or when the big work project you have been working on for months get cancelled? Or when church gatherings are not happening this Sunday? Does your identity go beyond what you do in your week?

In this time, I am convinced that the right move is NOT letting the panic seep into your soul, but to have faith that this too will pass. I must admit, I have been a bit glued to my phone and I have let the panic on social media affect me. During this time, I need less social media, and more solid, truth, which I know I can only find in God’s word. 

If you too, are feeling anxious, confused, and unsettled, here are 5 Psalms that are greatly helping with my own anxiety and uncertainty.  I encourage you to put the phone down for a bit, turn the news off for a little, and open up God’s word. And just see what this does for your heart.

Psalm 13: A Psalm of Trust

“But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance. I will sing to the Lord because he has treated me generously” -Psalm 13: 5-6

Psalm 16: A Psalm of Confidence 

“I will bless the Lord who counsels me- even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand. I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely” -Psalm 16:7-9

Psalm 22: A Psalm of Remembrance 

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning. My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest. But you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in you; they trusted, and you rescued them. They cried to you and were set free; they trusted in you and were not disgraced” -Psalm 22: 1-5

Psalm 27: A Psalm of Strength  

“The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-whom should I dread? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid; though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident.” -Psalm 27:1-3

Psalm 56: A Psalm of Protection 

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose words I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” -Psalm 56:3-4

In this very weird time in our world, let’s turn our hearts to Jesus. Let’s trust that God is working, even when we don’t see it. And let’s be people who are prayerful, not panicked.

Stay safe, all! Wash your hands, be considerate of others that might be in even more stressful and challenging situations, and ultimately trust that the Lord will bring peace and restoration.  

God is bigger than all of this. 

If you are wondering what to do tomorrow morning. Can I suggest something? Our church, along with many others will be holding online services. Even if you are not a believer, this could be an opportunity to learn more about who God is. It can also act as a place of comfort and community in this strange time. You can find the online service here tomorrow (Sunday morning).

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 7

6 Mondays Until Boston!

6 weeks out.  Fitness is really beginning to develop and the realities of the race are beginning to feel more real.  The past week of training was solid. There were no major bumps or extra pain. I can tell that my lungs are becoming more efficient and my legs are feeling stronger.  This past week I hit 60 miles, ran a strong 6-mile tempo, and hit my longest long run by doing the Drives Loop in Palos Verdes (21 miles).  

Every week it seems as though I have some major highlight and some major complaint, but this week, I really don’t.  It was one of those solid weeks of training where nothing really went wrong, but there was nothing majorly exciting.  It was very much a put your head down and grind it out type of week.  

The workout was a good one.  I actually have yet to do a tempo that long in this training block.  6 mile tempos were essentially the only workouts I did leading up to the SF Marathon.  With some convincing from my coach (Lance!), he agreed to let me do an effort-based tempo.  It was supposed to be more of a mile pace-changing workout, but I was feeling pretty tired heading into the workout, and it felt like my body could really use a nice steady state run with minimal looking down at the Garmin.  It felt so nice to just run for 6 miles based on my effort. I rarely looked down at the Garmin and pace was all under goal race pace, so to me that was a success.  

The Miles

  • 8 miles with jogger on strand 
  • 7 solo park loop miles
  • 10 miles with 6 mile tempo (6:09, 6:23, 6:28, 6:17, 6:26, 6:18) 
  • 8 miles with jogger on strand
  • 6 solo miles on the road 
  • 21 miles on the Drives.  Hilly loop in Palos Verdes with very few stops.  I felt strong.  I only did this course one time in last training cycle.  I was hoping to be quite a bit faster, but was only about 1-minute faster.  But hey, I’ll take a minute. We also stopped way less than last time. 

What I am Listening To

  • I spent most of my runs listening to recaps of the Olympic Trials.  Of all the recaps I listened to, the one that definitely hit me the hardest was Sarah Bishop’s interview on The Road to the Olympic Trials.  I have mentioned my love of her before on this blog, but this interview was so emotional and resonated so strongly as another mom who at times struggles with the guilt of chasing after running goals and dreams.  It was so beautifully captured and it literally made me cry as I was running through the foggy roads at 6 am in the morning. This is worth a listen.  
  • Also on the topic of the trials, I was really moved by Molly Seidel’s performance of making the team and getting second place in her debut marathon performance.  I wanted to listen to a podcast interview with her and discovered the Running on Om Podcast.  This episode with Molly was recorded over a month prior to the trials.  The podcast episode was made even more powerful as I knew how the story went with her making the U.S. marathon team.  All of her struggles with depression and an eating disorder were parts of her story that I was unaware of. It was a really powerful episode showing that the external success we see does not always tell the whole story.  

You need to be mentally well in order to run your best. Winning these titles in of themselves mean nothing. Like I was unhappier than I’ve ever been probably after those two national championships, it just felt like nothing. And like some of the greatest joys in my life have come after races that I didn’t even necessarily do that well, but you have people surrounding your life that you care about and your body feels good and just like things that bring you joy.” -Molly Seidel

How I am Fueling

  • Perfect Bars (new bar obsession)
  • Beet Juice from Trader Joe’s.  In college, I always got beet juice the day before a big race.  I am pretty sure it makes you faster! 
  • “Orange Crush” this was the name of the pressed juice, Hudson and I shared after our Thursday run.  It was from a juice and vegan foods stand at the farmer’s market and it was the most delicious juice I have ever had.  It was an immunity blend with turmeric, ginger, mango, oranges. 
  • More berry crisp. 
  • Spicy Mendocino Farms sandwich post-long run. 

Recovery

  • Park stretches 
  • Earlier to bed
  • Staying inside more.  Typically, I try to do a lot of things outdoors with Hudson.  Training has definitely hit my body and I am finding that it is really helpful to keep our days more simple.  It basically has looked like this: run, small outing, nap, stay inside, bed. I really can tell overexerting myself affects how I feel on my run and my attitude towards L + H.  Working on keeping our days as simple as possible until race day.  
Buzz Lightyear wanted the matching band!

Cross-Training 

  • Yoga membership is officially done, so no more strength classes!  
  • At this point, my cross-training truly is pushing the stroller (great for core) and chasing and lifting and playing with a 21-month old during the day.  Not your typical cross-training, but I truly feel like just living out my life outside of running keeps me moving and gets me strong.  
  • It has been fun to do planks and band exercises with Hudson on the mornings I run early.  It doesn’t last long, but it is so cute to see him trying to mimic the exercises I do. He actually has pretty good form when he attempts a plank.  This is a total side tangent, but one of the many things I love about marathon training is that it is setting an example to Hudson. I love that he gets to first-hand witness the hard work that mommy puts in.  I love how he gets to watch us pass guy runners on the strand. I love how mommy can be the one that cares for him, but also the one that chases her own dreams.  

What I Keep Telling Myself 

Press In. Press In. Press In.

Maybe it is all the pressed juice I have been consuming, but there has been something about this word of “press” that has really resonated with me during this training block.  When I was beginning to get the tinges of being uncomfortable during the end of my tempo, the words press in got me to lean in a bit more and dig a bit deeper.  When I was in the last 10 k of my 21 miler on Saturday and my hips were again on fire, press in got me to stay mentally in it.  

It is easy to check out the moment things get tough or uncomfortable or too hard.  This mantra of press in is changing things for me. It is acknowledging that yes, this is in fact hard, but it also is saying I am not afraid of it and I want to see what I can do in these hard places.  This is the mentality that great marathon times are made of. Press in is carrying me through these last 6 weeks of training.  

The Long Run 

For this week’s long run, I ran the Drives Loop in Palos Verdes, which is one big loop that is 21 miles long.  I actually really enjoy this loop because it is challenging with lots of rolling hills. There is something about running one big loop that mentally actually makes the whole run feel not as long.  I also had a sweet running friend agree to meet me three miles in and run 18 out of the 21 miles with me, which was so nice of her and made 21 feel way less lonely.

Overall, I felt really strong and controlled.  The hills still felt challenging and the last 5 miles or so my legs definitely got the fire, painful feeling, but as a whole it was a good run.  

This loop ends on a downhill, which is my favorite way to end a run.  It felt good to let go in that final mile and get some faster turnover in.

I did not do an intentional workout in this long run.  To me, this course and the length is enough work, but I tried to stay as steady as possible. 

In terms of nutrition for this long run, we just ran out of our Maurten Gels, so had to use Honey Stinger Energy Chews.  Not my first choice, but Target has a really terrible selection of energy gels.  It worked well though and settled in my stomach fine. Continuing to practice taking the Salt Stick Fast Chews towards the end of these long runs and loving the extra kick it gives me when electrolytes are low. 

Here are the stats:

  • 2 hours 37 minutes
  • 21 miles
  • 7:30 per mile 
  • Mile 11 and mile 21 were the fastest in 6:50 and 6:51

Easy St. Patrick’s Day Activities with a Toddler

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a few very simple activities you could do at home with toddlers!  I must admit, I have never been a big St. Patrick’s Day fan.  It is definitely not a holiday I get super excited about or even decorate the home for, but Easter feels a bit far off and our son is in fact more Irish than he is Japanese, so I wanted to do a couple fun and easy activities.

1. Shamrock Marble Art 

If you have read my blog even a bit, you know that Hudson is the definition of a crazy, wild, and active boy.  Art projects are NOT his thing. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a simple shamrock art project that we could give to family.  One of the reasons I love all the different holidays is that it allows for an opportunity to give a few words of thanks to those we love. I know St. Paddy’s Day might seem like not an obvious holiday for that kind of thing, but I think it is!

Last year, we did a shamrock footprint project with H’s little, baby feet.  Lance had a race on the 17th, so it made a cute gift to wish him good luck for his race.  This year, I decided to do marble art shamrocks. It seemed like the perfect art project for my active and ball-obsessed toddler.  

TOO much paint. TOO many marbles.

It is so simple.  I just cut out shamrock shapes using a shamrock he had made in his toddler class as my stencil.  We bought a bag of marbles (be very careful to not let your toddler play with these), a tube of green pain, and green glitter glue all at the Dollar Store. That is it!  $3. There are many reasons I love the dollar store, but it it the best spot for kid craft supplies. I used to spend a billion dollars at Michael’s.  There is a time and place for these type of craft stores, but when we are just doing fun, little art projects at home, the Dollar Store is my place.

All you have to do for this project is get a big container, put the paper shamrock in, and add a few drops of paint and the marbles.  I learned my lesson from the first one and put WAY too much paint and WAY too many marbles. The best ones were the ones with minimal drops of paint and just 4-5 marbles.  

They turned out really fun.  I love how each one is so unique.  They will make the perfect cards to give to our family!  

In terms of Hudson’s experience, he still was not super into it.  He had more fun standing on the big container and throwing his stuffed “peas” at me.  But hey, this is just my kid. I think most toddler-aged kids would love this project.  It is a fun one for them to get some energy out!  

2. Read St. Patrick’s Themed Books

I love checking out a ton of holiday-themed library books.  I could literally only find one book on St. Patrick’s Day at our local library: The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing.  It is a fun one that uses the familiar rhyming of ‘Twas the  Night Before Christmas.  Again, I just don’t get too excited over leprechauns and the color green and corned beef hash, but this one book is a fun way to read a themed-holiday book for the month of March.  

3. Sensory Play with Lucky Charms 

Hudson is super into helping me cook in the kitchen.  He loves pouring things into different containers and he also loves to sort.  While obviously not the most nutritious cereal choice, I thought it would be fun to give him some cups, spoons, and containers to play with Lucky Charms.  We are currently working on our colors, so I used construction paper colors to help work on sorting the different marshmallows by color. Again, super simple, but a fun activity to do after nap time when you have some time to kill before dinner.

Reality check: depending on the age of toddler, this might look more like them excitedly eating marshmallows as you sort by color. Activities like these can feel pointless when it seems like your toddler is not quite ready to follow directions and fully participate; however, I fully believe talking to them about the colors and modeling how to sort as they stuff their faces with rainbows is still better than not. Right?!

4. Find a Local St. Patrick’s Day Parade or Event 

I grew up in Hermosa Beach and for as long as I can remember, we would go to our local St. Patrick’s Day parade.  I have no idea if this is a thing in other cities, but it is in Hermosa. It has been a few years since I have been, but we are planning on bringing Hudson down to it this year.  If you are local, here is the event’s information. 

Okay that is all I got!  Super simple, easy things to do with toddlers and really any-aged kid this St. Patrick’s Day that are budget-friendly and not a ton of extra work for you.  I will say, the art project was a bit more messy than I like for a typical Thursday afternoon, but hey we got beautiful shamrocks out of it. Worth the mess.