Category Archives: Reflections

Beastin’ Out with BOB Team SF: 2017 SF Marathon ‘Stroller-Friendly’ 5K Recap

The high of the SF Marathon 5K is still slowly fading, but the excitement and energy it brought to me are still very palpable. It’s taken me some time to truly gather my thoughts and it sparked a new flame that is stoking an existing fire. To be perfectly honest, the whole thing — from training to racing to what I am feeling in the wake of it — moved me in ways I did not anticipate.

STROLLER RUNNING: IT’S NOT JUST “RUNNING WITHOUT ARMS.”
First things first, before I get into how the race went down: I want to clarify what it means to run pushing a beast of burden. If all you care about is race day, I get it and we can still be friends, just scroll on down!

When it comes to “can’t do without items” on this mother runner’s list, as my recent wordy review might indicate, our BOB takes the cake. While I can’t say exactly, unfortunately, how many miles mini, our Revolution PRO and I have logged, but I CAN say that stroller running different. Whether putting in specific pace and distance training, or just to get home from the park as quickly as possible mid-toddler-meltdown, it’s unlike any running I’ve ever done before. Once I spotted a mother runner’s post online where her partner quipped her run memoir could be called Running Without Arms. While it’s accurate to an extent, I believe running with my arms strapped to my sides would be easier in many respects!

Anyone who says stroller running is just like running clearly has never done it for more than a few strides while mom/dad/auntie/whoever fixed their shoe or retrieved a lost toy. It’s not the same as running. It’s not the same as strength training. It’s both and neither all the same. Stroller running is very much its own entity.

What I posted on Instagram to commemorate my very first postpartum and first BOB run. October 2015 sure feels like a long time ago!

When BOB reached out to me to see if I was interested in participating in the SF Marathon 5K, an event that allows strollers in the back of the final corral, as part of a stroller team there was only one answer in my mind: YES!

However, I had only ever run one stroller race, and it was both small and not crowded. Would I be able to make it?

IMG_0425Thankfully, we had some seriously solid training plans laid out for us by “the Flying Flower,” or as she may currently be known, “That Pregnant Runner,” Olympian Alysia Montaño. Every week for five weeks, she posted daily workouts for us to follow. I would be lying if I said I didn’t modify workouts, or if I didn’t fess up that I had to take more breaks than I planned some days. These workouts were a challenge for runners of every level, but add a 30lb stroller, 5lbs+ of park snacks and water for two, and a 30lb kid plus who or what she demands as her buddy for the day, and even ‘easy’ training days turned into a challenge.

However, the training sure made us STRONG for race day!

Sadly, my training got derailed after the first weeks by a pretty bad infection I didn’t know I was fighting. By the time I started realizing it wasn’t just fatigue, stress or not fueling properly, I started to also realize something was really wrong. I wound up essentially taking myself to urgent care not a moment too soon and spent the next two weeks–including the last weeks of training and race day–on two different antibiotics. It made it really clear to me that I had been so caught up in working full time, trying to keep up with the stressful workload, balance being a mom, a partner, having a household I was trying desperately not to leave 100% to said partner to care for… It’s horrible that having an infection that literally took me down was what it took for me to realize I was purposely burning the candle from every angle and somehow telling myself it was okay, that I could come through the other side unscathed. That “No, I’ll do it” mentality came with a high cost.

Thus, I tried to get back on the wagon in those final two weeks. Two antibiotics twice daily for two weeks isn’t anyone’s idea of a great time but it was far superior to laying on the soothingly cool bathroom floor, praying the horrible feelings would go away on their own. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but at least I felt like my brain was reconnected to my body. The clarity I felt mentally because my body was getting the help fighting that it needed was immense. I knew my training wouldn’t be what I had hoped, but I made the most of what was left, sweating, practicing turns, fartleking, and generally trying to make sure I didn’t make a complete ass of myself on race day.

Easier said that done, always.

THE PRE-RACE MEET-UP
For once, I actually made it to the PRO Compression ambassador meet-up hosted with We Run Social. Not only did I actually make it and see and hug some run friends, mister and mini came too!

Too many awesome people to tag them all! Photo: @PROCompression Instagram feed.

Truly, I was tickled and surprised when he said he would come with us. (See? He’s the one on the left in the “No Meat Athlete” shirt! Mini is clearly the one in the stroller with her ever-present monkey.) We enjoyed a leisurely walk to Fort Mason on a nice sunny, breezy day. Mini had never been to the city, so it was fun for her to see all the different people, “car, loud car!” cars and buses, all the sights and smells along the way.

She totally scored, too. It was my girl Ashley’s birthday weekend. Not only was she getting ready to run the SF Marathon, she lovingly got Kara’s Cupcakes for the meet-up, and she made sure to get something special for me and my family, and for Paula and Dave’s son Asher too! She showed up with amazing Mariposa whoopie pies (which I ate both of and have zero shame about it) and a chocolate-drizzled banana chocolate chip muffin. Mini happily ate the top and made a mess of herself, so I think she’s okay with going to future meet-ups if they all go down like that.

RACE DAY COMETH

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With Paula and Jess after the race. I wish we could run together ALL the time!

Before I knew it, all my alarms were going off and I was loading a still-asleep (thank goodness!) mini into the car Sunday morning. If I said felt great about how the racing portion of race day would go as I drove out to the city, I would be a huge liar. Knowing I was running with seriously strong, badass women who clock sub-8s on the regular while pushing kids and doling out snacks was intimidating, especially since my training was sub-par. Coming down from the new half marathon PR high early in the year to not knowing how I’d fare in a summer, stroller-pushing 5K can do a number on a gal’s confidence. Mentally I made a note to just make the most of it. I got to run with Paula, which has been something I’ve wanted to do for ages. My run friend Jess was coming out with her daughter to run too. And uh, yeah, I got to line up with an Olympian — so really, even if race day was a big fail, there were big wins to count still.

It was unlike any other race day I have ever had. This see-it-to-believe-it video produced by Louis Montaño sums up our pre-race swagger perfectly!

The pre-race photos with the BOB Team went surprisingly smooth, considering half the team was literally comprised of small humans — and they usually have their own agenda. There were no meltdowns during the pictures, plenty of helping hands (thanks to everyone who fetched or rescued monkey every time mini booted her from the stroller!) and a whole lot of coordinated, “Okay, on three we’re going hoods down! Ready?” to make it all happen. The end result felt pretty magical.

But that was just the beginning.

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Surprise papparazzi!

I am quite certain there was a 50/50 split in folks who recognized Alysia as a famous runner, and folks who thought she was one hell of a badass pregnant lady pushing a toddler. As we walked over to the back of the fourth corral at the 5K and waited for everyone else to line up, a magical and strange thing happened: people started lining up to take pictures OF us and with us (mostly Alysia, and I’m fine with that!) We were creating a buzz, we had a clear presence, but damn: we were ready to run.

A few beautiful highlights of an all-stroller parent team:

  • Zero apologies for what we all knew as “normal.” (See monkey fetching, above.)
  • Being mid-conversation with a mama pre-start when she started breastfeeding her son with the same air one might adjust their hat or tie their shoes.
  • Snack-sharing and “line of sight”-ing — i.e. here, watch my kiddo while I disappear from the line of sight momentarily to hit the port-o-potty I don’t want tiny hands inside.
  • No f’s given about middle of the sidewalk but out of the way standing diaper changes post-race (that one was me.)
  • The unsaid agreement that no matter how race day went down, we were there to make a positive statement about what it means to be a stroller runner.

HOW’D THE RACE REALLY GO?
Well, I’m in two camps, and really, that’s a result of being both a seasoned runner and a Title 9K-er (who, for lack of a better term, was “raised” seeing Title 9K’s two dedicated stroller divisions as “normal.”) Thus, part of why it took me so long to finally post this recap is because I had to calm-the-f-down first. (See ‘What didn’t go well’ below.)

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What went well:

  • Mini and I had A BLAST. Well, I definitely did, and she was smiling and laughing, and she napped hard when we got home, so I think we both had a good time.
  • I didn’t DNS, DNF, bonk and pass out on the course, or cause a giant pile-up. Phew!
  • No one got run over (at least, not by me.)
  • Mini didn’t have a breakdown and we didn’t lose anyone important. (Note I said anyone, not anything. Did you notice in the video, she’s clutching monkey? Monkey is important.)
  • We basically made history. Stroller team = no one will NOT notice you lining up.
  • We were not just a sideshow, a novelty, a team for the sake of show. The BOB Team SF runners who managed to get out of the pack before it absorbed them clocked easy sub-30 5Ks, a respectable time for anyone NOT pushing a stroller, and a very respectable stroller 5K time. (Both of these time statements are my personal opinion.)

What didn’t go well:

  • Lost a bib magnet and there were zero pictures of us. I’m mad because I stuck to the rules and wore my bib as per usual, instead of putting it on the hood of the BOB, which meant the number was blocked by the stroller, and thus there’s no photo evidence within the SF Marathon photo offerings by bib that I can claim as my own. During the race I also managed to lose one of my skull and crossbones Race Dots. I combed the whole stroller hoping it just got stuck to the frame, but no, I went home with four backs and three fronts. Thankfully they’re awesome, so I’m going to email them to replace it. (This isn’t an ad. I just love my Race Dots.) Both of these things though were the least of my concerns.
  • My pacing. That’s no one’s problem but mine, but the two weeks of dying of infection seriously showed up in the first mile. I went out too hard trying to not get caught in the pack, and as a result, struggled to stay out of the pack for most of the race. Thus, really, the only injury coming out of this race was my bruised ego.
  • Course movement. I have run tiny races and big races, but I have never, ever run a road race before where basically the entirety is restricted to a single car lane of traffic. All four corrals of 5K participants were so stuck together that some of us had our watches time out as we finally crossed over the first timing mats. It’s like our GPS knew we weren’t running yet and decided to just tap out.
  • Race etiquette. This is my one big gripe. I knew I was going to have to weave. I knew people would poo-poo strollers being out there at all, and I was ready to endure comments, snarky remarks, etc. from others on the course. My biggest mistake was assuming that everyone approaches race day with the same mindset that I do. It was apparently incredibly foolish of me to think that participants who had music on would have it at a level where they could hear others, to think that yelling very loudly “Coming up on your left! Stroller coming! On your left, on your left!” would elicit a desired reaction, or that people who wanted to walk would stay to the right to let faster participants pass on the left.
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PRO Compression “birthday sock” game strong.

See, the thing is, I do get it. I am more often than not not behind a stroller handlebar when I toe the line. However, I am aware when I’m running. I pay attention to the rushing runners I can hear coming up behind me. That heavy breathing coming up on my right tells me someone might try to pass me on the wrong side. When I see a wheelchair athlete, a fast parent with a stroller, a blind runner with a guide, I give them them respect and space needed so they can run their race while I am running mine. What I did not expect, however, was what felt like hatred.

On one hand, I love that a man was overheard telling his run buddy, “I’ll be damned if one of those stroller chicks passes me.” One of the BOB Team SF gals who races for Fleet Feet Sacramento made sure to smile and wave at him as she passed — a polite but well-aimed way to say “I heard you, and just so you know, you’re damned today but we’re still cool.” One can hope that it helped him check his ego a bit to acknowledge yes, those “stroller chicks” can be strong and fast, even stronger and faster than him with the stroller. On the other hand, I did not expect a woman to seemingly take the time out of her race to be sure she put me in my place, so to speak.

Coming into the final half mile or so, I could see the arch. The far left side of the course included a bike lane that would normally flow the other direction — and if you’ve been on the Embarcadero in SF, you know that means a beautifully smooth, clearly painted green path. To me, when running the left lane is the fast lane, the right lane is the walking lane, and any “lanes” in-between on the race course should adjust accordingly. As I came up running, nice and smooth with the BOB Lunar on the painted green path, I called out, quite a ways back. “Coming up behind you! On your left! Passing on your left! I’ve got wheels!” She kept walking at the same speed with her partner, her plastic bag full of race swag on her back, giving no indication she had heard me at all. I nearly had to come to a complete halt to maneuver around her (up the curb, mind you,) as she raised her finger, issued a few other choice mumbled words and told me to “fucking go around.”

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Trying to find my happy pace and find an opening, all while not ramming anyone.

The respectable runner and ferocious mama bear in me nearly snapped. For a brief moment, I almost stopped the BOB gangland style across the front of her path to give her what for. How dare she say that to any runner. How dare she think she was somehow entitled to the course but I was not. How dare she not respect the fact that I was trying to do the right thing. Immediately, I was livid. It was bad enough that I’d had to fight to even run at all when the gun went off. Now she was blocking my nice, smooth, finally-found-a-damn-rhythm path to the finish line!

Thankfully, my neon BOB singlet quickly reminded met that I was representing for a greater good, and that this one person and her disdain for my desire to pass her while pushing my child was not worth the drama. Finger lady, I wasn’t trying to one-up you, make you feel bad, make you feel like somehow you should yield to me for reasons of superiority: I was simply trying to get by you without running into you.

And for the record? I know people heard me on the course. I know some of those runners could hear me through headphones. If the BOB Team says they could hear me everywhere, then I know that years and years of being an all-too vocal midfield and defensive soccer player with a strong diaphragm was serving me well out there.

THE FINAL VERDICT

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We do it for the bling! And free bananas.

The learnings I took away were big, and I’m still mulling them over. For a second stroller race, it was a big departure from the first, and it served me well to focus on having a good time and being a part of an incredible flagship team experience. It really lit a fire under my butt in many ways (that I will later reveal, but we’re still percolating over here.) While I was stoked to do something fun, with people who are fun and generally amazing overall, I didn’t expect that it would motivate me to create something more, to make something for others, to find a means to continue running without arms.

Truly, I am very grateful for all BOB gave us — not just use of a BOB Revolution Flex Lunar to keep, not just singlets and swag, not just a free race entry and a chance to rub elbows with an elite. By putting this team together, BOB perhaps unknowingly gave power to those who push by giving us the respect we fight for. The presence of this team on course was strong and while quiet, it was undeniably compelling. Runners of every ilk took notice. Runners who I knew might otherwise give a side eye or snide remarks instead gave light chin dips and head nods. There is something about showing up as a kitted team that immediately tells others that it is time to go to work.

When we toed the line we meant business — and I am damn proud at how hard the team brought it.

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This was but our second stroller race, but it’s not the last for mini and me. I’m already looking for the next event, but admit I am also already counting down our limited time left for stroller running. The day will come when she wants to get out instead and run next to me, and while it’ll be the end of an era, it will be the beginning of a new one. Till then, I will make an effort to be sure we are sharing something we both enjoy with our trusty three-wheeler. Whether I’m pushing the empty BOB next to her or chasing her down to scoop her back into it, mini’s yelled narration of “RUNNING!” will never, ever get old.

May I carry that same pure joy with me the next time we toe the line.

TEAMMATE RECAPS
From ErinThe 2017 San Francisco Marathon (#TSFM2017) Race Report

From Paula, BAMR of @fitfam6:

The crew x #bobteamsf. We all rocked this 5k this morning. From starting dead last behind all runners and walkers to weaving our way to the finish with our final mile+ at 7:xx min paces. These ladies are all 💪🏽 stroller runners. Story: a woman came up to us afterwards, asked for a picture. Confessed she was pissed when the strollers passed her, but I remarked “it inspired you to move right?” She said, “sure did!” Don’t be mad a stroller passes you, just know some badass runner(s) worked their ass off to move with speed and let it inspire YOU!

Head Up, Wings Out: It’s About More Than Running

Please note, these thoughts and opinions are my own, and are reflective of my personal experience as part of this team. This post is in no way endorsed by Oiselle.

Months ago, I started this post about being a part of the Oiselle Volée team. The draft was originally entitled “Why The Flock Is About More Than Running.” The title may have changed, but this sentiment remains true.

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Taken the day I received my singlet, just in time for my first postpartum race. (Hence, the tiny sparkle skirt.)

Since I first joined, after at least two years of hoping to one day ‘being good enough’ to finally be a part of it, the flock as a whole has grown immensely to hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds and “bro birds.” It has gone through many growing pains, as any growing team will, and now as it comes time for current members to decide whether to keep flying with the flock or to spread their wings, I find myself in a place where I refuse to look down.

I am looking only up, at the sky, and to where we can fly, together.

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Oh Say, Can You Sing: an unexpected challenge at the Across the Bay 12K

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With mini flat Dani, Emmalouise. Ashley and Dani pre-race.

This year, I was very excited to get to run the 12K at Represent Running’s Across the Bay race as last year, I was pregnant and chose to stick with the 5K instead.

Part two of their three part “Run the Bay” challenge, I had put a lot of pressure on myself to do well after my surprisingly speedy San Jose 408K. Despite all the anticipation, I will fully admit that race day crept up on me. One thing had lead to another, and work and life became easy excuses for skipping out on training well.

Little did I know come race day, running fast — actually, running, period — would be the least of my worries.

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Let’s Get Naked On the Run

Next time you go for a run, get yourself a full dose of vitamin D. Strip down. Goodbye shirts, hello skins. Head out. Revel in it.

Why?

Well, there’s a back story to why I am stepping up and stating that everybody – anybody who has a runner’s body – should feel empowered to wear what they want, when they want, how they want and feel GOOD about it.

Two days ago, I posted this picture on Instagram.
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One of the comments left on it really struck me.

Maybe one day I’ll be confident enough to rock something like this…

It got me thinking about Krissy’s recent shorts post. And thinking about my winning the battle with the scale for once. And thinking, thinking some more. I wanted to reply, but the thoughts kept spinning.

And then, even after I began to draft this post last night, I saw Carlee had posted on Facebook, and naturally I immediately clicked and read a great post from Run Selfie Repeat on “the Secret to Feeling Incredible in a Bikini.” This fueled the fire that has been burning for some time within me even further.

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Thanks for the Scars and Memories

Inspired by this article on Outside Magazine online – which also triggered me to order a copy of the Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure for my daughter and myself – I decided to write an open, unedited thank you letter to my parents.

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Dear Mom and Dad,

Over the last thirty two years, I know I have said “thank you” for many things, but I don’t know that I have ever truly thanked you for what has proven most important.

Thank you for the endless crayons, markers, colored pencils and erasers. Thank you for the rubber stamps, water colors, pads of paper, giant pieces of sidewalk chalks and messy glitter glue. These weren’t just fun, colorful things to have and use, but a means to express myself from the time I could grip a pencil. The endless hours of gravel-embedded knees from creating sidewalk art — but never on Dad’s side of the driveway where it would mark up his tires — will always come to me on warm summer nights when the streetlights begin to glow yellow and the sky turns pink. Fond memories of wearing a water-color stained shirt (you know the one, with the dancing fruit on it?) as a smock while painting under the redwood tree on our old deck, hand built by Dad, flood my mind’s eye every time I see those little hard circles of paint at the drugstore, begging for a wet brush.

Thank you for taking us outside and not just watching, but playing with us. Even before family rollerblading adventures, including the time where Dad used Emily in lieu of brakes while we rolled along the beach, we were outside, together. I remember being small and struggling to keep up, laughing hysterically as we raced one another through tall, prickly green grass at the park, Emily poking fun at Mom (who was not yet a runner. How times change!) The feeling of air rushing through my pig tails as I was pushed higher and higher on creaky swings is a pure one that smells only of childhood. As a teenager and even now as an adult, those first few leg pumps to get the swing going feel like I am learning all over again. May I never be too old to accept a good push, and may I never turn down the opportunity to give one. I am counting down the days till my own daughter is big enough to experience this swooping joy.

My body is a road map of adventures and misadventures, of years of pushing my own boundaries and limits and the strength of the knees of my jeans. Every scar was once a scab, every scab was once a trophy earned while riding a skateboard on my knees down the driveway, or from a trip and fall during tag on the playground. I’ll always giggle thinking about us trodding along the red dirt path in Hawaii and Dad peeking around to make sure we were the only ones around before faux-mooning the video camera. This get-dirty, smell-like-grass, sweat-and-smile attitude is one that has taken me places I never imagined. May I never lose the playful spirit the two of you brought to every aspect of my childhood. (Yes, both of you. I recall one night after dinner where Mom made herself “pudding lipstick” and kept talking like it was a normal thing. Neither of you remember, but I do, and it is those small snippets that explain so much about who I have become, and who I strive to be for my own child.)

Thank you for never letting me feel as though I couldn’t. There was never “because you’re a girl,” and I have no memories of being told no because I was too small, too young, too anything. The fact that I never recall being told no tells me that even if there were moments when the answer was no, it was never without good reasons. Often I tell people that in may respects, my sister and I were raised as “unisex” kids. I spent time making tiny jam “pies” out of scrap pie dough and dumping ingredients into bowls, but I also spent endless hours in the sand and the sea. Emily and I could play Wonder Woman and pretend princess, we could ride bikes and get grass stains; nothing was off limits and there was always encouragement when it came to trying new things. We were given every opportunity to explore and experiment, trying dance and art classes, music lessons (where I of course decided I needed to not be like my violin-playing sister and instead chose alto saxophone,) and more, till we were able to find what brought us joy. I never recall being made to do something I had no interest in, nor do I recall having something I wanted to experience being withheld from me. My daughter is tiny still, but I imagine maintaining this balance wasn’t always easy. Thank you for making it feel like it was, and like no matter which path I chose, you would support it.

Thank you for letting me fail. Oh, we had our hard times with me crying while you asked, “Why are you crying? We aren’t yelling at you. We don’t hit you.” Oh those times where we had calm talks, the disappointment inside me was such intense punishment. Those were the moments where I felt like the sky was falling, and now as an adult, I know just how good I had it. I remember beginning to fail math and having to show Dad I had no idea how to use a protractor. I remember not getting an “A” on a Cleopatra report in middle school because I didn’t focus as much as I should have or could have. Thank you for keeping me honest, for pushing me to pick myself up and show that I am capable of better, of more, and for not letting me settle.

Thank you for the times where you let me fight my own battles, but stood by my side. If I close my eyes, I can see myself sitting on my bed as Dad came and told me the soccer coach called him and told him that “Christine” was a good player, but that I was being cut from the team. (This same coach later tried to recruit me back to his team at another tournament, and thanks to how I was raised, thanks to learning to take things in stride, I recall keeping remarks to myself and simply going about my own business, knowing I did not owe him anything.) I remember crying my eyes out as the coach at district soccer team try outs said “If you have any questions about your failure to make the Olympic development program.” After days in the hot sun getting an indelible ink number tanned onto my leg, after resting between sessions in what little shade we could find eating Mom’s homemade sun-dried tomato chicken pasta salad to fuel up, I was told I hadn’t made it. I remember trying hard to put on a brave face as the tears welled up, yet melting into Dad’s arms in tears like so many other girls as we were dismissed. As an adult, the disappointment of that moment floods back with fresh tears. I remember thinking that I wasn’t good enough, that my sister made the state team, why couldn’t I make the district team? What did those other girls who made it have that I didn’t? Was I not good? Those thoughts aside, I know that as the freshness of the moment faded, encouragement ensued, and confidence was re-instilled. There was never a time when I recall going to you and asking you to fight for me, to “make them” take me, to ask them to bring me back. Instead you helped me find reason to fight within the hurt. Those moments never killed me, but instead made me stronger. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t been allowed to stand on my own two feet, knowing I had support behind me.

Thank you for encouraging me to keep pushing. It wasn’t just soccer, or school, it came up in play too. On family beach days, I’d paddle out into the ocean, get dumped off my board and get water up my nose and have to sit on the shore for a while to evaluate things and work up the courage to go back in — but I don’t recall ever refusing to. Get dumped off your board nine times, paddle back out ten times. Little did I know that learning to push through pain, frustration, failure and fear would help me so much as an adult. It’s not just the mental game either, but the physical game too. I attribute the attitude I bring to my workouts now to what I inadvertently learned as a child. I also learned as a child that it’s best to take your wetsuit off sitting down or someone (maybe your own father) might push you over into the sand. Life lessons come from everywhere. Looking back as an adult, I see that now, just like when Emily and I talk or text and say “Remember when Dad used to say ____? It makes sense now.” Or “Remember how Mom used to ____ when ___? I caught myself doing that today.” We are so lucky in that we agree the worst thing our parents ever did was love us too much. And we are grateful.

Thank you for showing me it is never too late to learn something, to find a passion great or small, to try something new. I laugh as I still tell the story of coming home late one night while on break from college, trying to tread quietly, only to see flickering lights within the darkened house. Opening the door, I found Mom in the living room alone, eyes locked on the screen, playing the latest game to consume her. “I unlocked a rhino,” she said proudly, “His name is ‘Rip You a New One.'” I love that the kids at the school where she worked would come into the office and talk with “Miss Lisa” about beating big bosses or unlocking certain tools in games they too played. I remember in junior high when Mom first starting going for a walk, something she never used to do — and now it makes my heart sing when I see photos of the three of us crossing a finish line together. I don’t doubt that in retirement, Dad will go back to college and major in something that didn’t exist when he went to college the first time. I love it all and can only hope I maintain the same passion for life as I make my way through the years.

This open letter could go on for days and days.

Thank you for every trip, every new experience and every life lesson. Thank you for the family gatherings, the laughter, the recurring annual jokes about our “Irish uncle Patty O’Furniture” and every pet-gift joke whose punchline involves opposable thumbs. Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to thumb wrestle at a restaurant (until you break your wine glass) and for my funny, turned-in knees, for my crooked teeth that are mine alone, for my sense of humor, for raising me to embrace seeing my entire, giant family while others find it to be a chore. Thank you for giving awkward teenage me a night of drinking Coronas with limes on vacation, barefoot while playing an ancient edition of Trivial Pursuit where Dad would win with the answer of “Tinkerbell.” Thank you for running behind me holding the seat of my bike and for flying back to California from Hawaii to be here, with us, to welcome your first grandchild.

Thank you for encouraging me to be my own person and take my own path from the moment I arrived on a birthday that wasn’t supposed to be mine, but I made it mine anyways. Thank you for the endless support and caring, the beautifully scarred knees and every memory we ever created together as a family.

Thank you for helping shape the woman I am still becoming, and in turn, shaping a mother determined to raise a strong woman of her own.

Thank you. For everything.

Love,
Christina

I Have No Idea What I Weigh

I have no idea what I weigh and it feels awesome.

As I danced through the kitchen this evening, making up a song as I went with my 7 month old daughter in my arms, I was truly joyful. Through and through, everything about the scene spelled happiness to me. A sizzling in the background, rustling of produce, the shhhh-clunk of a knife on the cutting board. She leaned back, laughing, her two little bottom teeth exposed by her gleeful open smile. I laughed aloud at her chatter, her tiny hands gripping my shirt.

For whatever reason in that moment it clicked: I have no idea what I weigh and it is awesome.

And there, as my daughter and I glided across the tile floor in sock covered feet, I literally felt as though a weighted vest had been removed. I was able to stand taller, easier, my posture better yet more relaxed. I have no idea when I last stepped on a scale. I have no idea what I weigh and I love it.

I had just been telling my husband that I felt lucky in terms of how my body has performed postpartum. Thanks to women who have graced my life in person and by other means I had a very realistic idea of what postpartum life could mean for my athletic pursuits and personal aesthetics alike. I am grateful to every woman who keeps it real and shares her variation of normal as it gave me a real idea of what I could encounter, and if it were something needing physical therapy – or even psychotherapy – what it might require to help bring my body to “pre-pregnancy like” state of fitness health after having a baby. Add events of the past involving how I regarded my body and it becomes clear why this was so important. It wasn’t important just as an athlete or as a woman, this preparedness of what could come had importance to my person as a whole, and how to be prepared to best care for myself during this life change.

Thanks to a fit, healthy pregnancy, good genetics and a stroke of luck, I’ve been fortunate. Able to ease back into harder workouts via yoga then slow stroller runs, it’s been an amazing journey to come to a place where now when I think about my body, I no longer think first about the mirror. Aesthetics are nice but strength is functional. Strength makes me feel powerful. Conditioning makes me feel invincible. The ferocity within is real and I embracing it. I ripped my shirt off with abandon at Sunday’s half marathon. I see power and purpose in my core, my thighs, my legs, and i let it radiate from inside. This may seem I’m going to extremes but no, it’s real. For once the mirror and the scale hold no power. I am the one who holds the power, and oh, what I’m going to do with it.

And I am just getting started.

Pre-Mom Life: Grom Life

My recent trip to Kauai was more than a first trip to share with my husband and our daughter, or a trip to visit my parents. It became a trip that I didn’t anticipate taking: one into my own past.

With rushing sound of the ocean and the scent of freshly fallen rain, the memories made on the island decades before came flooding back with unexpected fervor.

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