Andrew and I managed to get out on our first date! We forwent the dinner-date and opted to connect over a run outside before Mother Nature decided to open up her bowels and dump (my husband added this colored commentary) nine feet of snow. This storm made for the snowiest winter in Mammoth history, 600 inches and counting! Grandma Kastor held baby Piper and sang her nursery rhymes as we set out on the “Kastor 20 minute loop” around town. I was relieved that our 20 minute loop only took 19 minutes because, I was expecting 25 plus! We even got to add on in our neighborhood which seemed foreign to me.
The only two things I was denied during pregnancy was my passion for running and my love of wine. Running or walking gave me horrible side stitches and wine tasted like rancid grapes. Now, I feel smooth and lighter than ever on my feet, and I didn’t have to “re-train” my pallete for wine. As I type this, I seem to have gathered some resemblance of my old routine, drinking a nice glass of The Maven by Torrin Winery of Paso Robles after playing with an interval session of 1 minute “on” one minute “off” earlier today.
It is great to run again, but I really look forward to “training” which requires a whole new level of commitment. We are finding our routine with Piper so that this week ahead looks a little more structured. I plan on logging miles again for the first time in over 6 months! This last month I have merely logged feedings and dirty diapers, so mileage is a welcomed addition.
Since running has come back so easily, I look forward to racing in the late summer and early fall. The Carlsbad 5000 is next weekend and I secretly wish I was ready to race there. It is one of my favorite road races on the running circuit. This year marks the 11 year anniversary of my American Record and the 9 year anniversary of my World Record in Carlsbad. I hope to be fit and fast to join the starting line next year. All the best to those who will be running there.
I ran! It felt so uplifting to open up my stride and move forward again. As I laced up my shoes in our mudroom, I gave myself a silent pep-talk not to expect too much out of this expedition. After all, I haven’t run in months. Imagine my surprise that instead of a clumsy, awkward stumble I was rewarded with a gliding and effortless three-mile stroll. Invigorating! I felt light and liberated during the run as I reflected on how lucky I am to have a beautiful and healthy three-week-old daughter. I thought of how grateful I am to have such a loving and supportive husband. And I laughed with joy at being able to run again. In 3 miles I was granted the gift running so often gives us: Everything has a silver lining.
I returned home and with the baby still quiet, I even had the added bonus of being able to sneak in a shower. Under the stream of water, my mind began to flood with running and racing goals. “Welcome back” I said aloud. Even though I didn’t gain weight during pregnancy, I have a long climb back to fitness. I look forward to chasing fitness and inching closer to the lofty goals stirring around inside me.
Day by day, mile by mile, I hope to inspire our daughter Piper to be a dream chaser herself. She has a lifetime of choices ahead of her and I hope we can support all she pursues. I always honor the fact that I found my niche in running at such a young age of 11. For 27 years I have enjoyed the mileage, the travel and visiting with those who share this running passion. After more than three months of not being able to run, I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding return to the sport I love so much. Now, if only we could sleep through the night!
Teammate and friend Josh Cox and his wife, Carrie, just welcomed their little boy Asher Legend into the world! Asher and our two-week-old Piper will see their fair share of scenery as our significant others drive next to us during our long runs. Carrie and Andrew will give the kids a driving tour through the dirt roads and trails surrounding Mammoth Lakes. Carrie will undoubtedly be playing some U2 from the car for Josh while Andrew gives me some inspiration through Techno music. Our kids will also be well-traveled as they come to our races and meet the great community of runners we are a part of.
Piper loves to walk. Actually, she loves to cry but is soothed by walking. During my pregnancy, she seemed to revolt against any type of activity, but she now loves the rhythm of walking and the hum of the treadmill. March is too cold to take her outside, so the treadmill has acted as her “pacifier”.
It seems so clear to me that going for a walk or run is a great way to pacify any of us. In fact, the 45 minutes I walked was more time than I slept last night, and it is amazing how that walk recharged me. There are so many problems that get solved by simply putting on your running shoes and logging a few miles. As I settle for walking right now, I can’t wait to open up my stride and head out for a run. It’s been a while! In fact, while I was walking on the treadmill today, it was everything in my power not to turn the speed up and start running with Piper in my arms. The anticipation to run is equally exciting as when I finally get out the door for what will be the first time in months. I have a brand new pair of ASICS gel-Stratus waiting by the door for the much anticipated day. I hope to write about it soon…
Experienced moms have told me to take advantage of the baby sleeping and get some rest myself. I am choosing to blog instead because of the gratitude I feel for the support so many running fans have offered during my pregnancy and the congratulations that followed her birth. Andrew’s and my first child was born last week. My typical days of 12 hours sleep are long gone, but I have this new surge of hormones to keep me on cloud nine, at least for the time being. Piper has all her dad’s features with the exception of having acquired my large, protruding rib cage. I’m not saying she’ll be a distance runner, because she may be may be a flutist, a balloon-blowing circus clown or anything else requiring a large lung capacity.
I am itching to run again once we get this parenting thing down. I assume in a couple weeks we will have found a flow, and I look forward to blogging about my first run back after this long hiatus. After giving birth, no hill will be too steep, no interval too taxing and no long run too enduring. I was told repeatedly throughout my pregnancy that giving birth was like running a marathon. To that, I say certainly not. Giving birth was more painful from the very start as opposed to merely hurting in the final 10K, it lasted longer than 2 hours 19 minutes, and the scenery never changed as time ticked by. The only thing similar was that I hung some inspiration on the bulletin board in our hospital suite just like I do when in my hotel room when I’m racing. I had the “I LOVE YOU” note Andrew and I have been passing back and forth for the past 10 years. It is always present when we are going through a landmark moment. The other poster on the wall was the ASICS acronym, Anima Sana In Corpora Sano, or a sound mind in a sound body. These qualities are necessary to succeed in anything we set out to accomplish. In running, I reflect on these words often, but the foundation of the company is appropriate in so many of life’s endeavors.
So, it’s been quite a week and I relied on a lot of tools that have made me a successful athlete, but delivering a baby is no marathon. Delivering a baby is the hardest thing I have ever done, but our most difficult tasks are the most rewarding. I look forward to seeing you at the races with our baby girl in tow. We are grateful to raise her in such a supportive running community, full of positive role models.
It’s hard to imagine I have a couple more weeks left in this pregnancy. As my arms and legs are skinny from inactivity, my stomach cannot possibly stretch any farther. It makes me hope that these last two weeks are more for the baby’s development than growing! I am anxious to have our baby girl and get my legs moving again. The weather has been gorgeous here in Mammoth Lakes and it has me wanting to get out and run. December, when we received almost 18 feet of snow, it was easy to keep my running shoes buried deep in the closet, but now that it’s nice out, I want to cover some mileage on my favorite streets and trials.
This weekend, instead of running myself, I indulged by watching the great coverage online of USATF Cross Country Nationals and also received updates on the Indoor Games in Boston. In San Diego there were great performances as our US Cross Country team earned their way to World Cross in Spain. In Boston it was fun to see athletes performing so well indoors with US Nationals around the corner. Sunday, as The Big Game went on, I took our dog for a walk and then Andrew and I painted my stomach with a Valentine theme of two large, pink and red hearts. This proved to be an amusing way to spend the afternoon and also meant to encourage the baby to hurry up in time for Valentine’s Day. I wouldn’t mind sharing my Valentine birthday with her.
So, with the nursery set up and my running goals coming back strong, I am merely waiting for the birth of our baby so I can learn to balance being the ultimate mom with a successful career. There are plenty of moms out there doing it, so thanks to all of you for being an inspiration.
We have snow–a lot of it. Mammoth has recorded the most snow of any place in the world as the New Year begins and we are getting more as I type this. I have so much anticipation for 2011 and there is always a lot to look forward to, but we are especially excited to welcome our baby girl in less than six weeks’ time. My pregnancy has gone by fast and has been easy except for allergy problems in the fall. I feel great and I’ve learned a tremendous amount through all of this. I cherish the lessons life hands us so gracefully.
I haven’t been able to run for months, and you’d think I’d be going crazy. But the opposite is true. I got such bad side stitches every time I went to run (or walk) that I took it as a sign to slow down. Combine that with the 18 feet of snow we’ve received and you can guess I’ve been inside wrapped around a mug of hot cocoa and feeding the fireplace a constant stream of logs. With all this rest, I feel so healthy and vibrant. I am taking this as a time to nurture and rejuvenate my body from so many years of focused work, grinding paces and energy-zapping mileage.
In this coming year, I look forward to sharing our great life with our little girl. As my husband dreams of winning stroller races, I anticipate climbing back into fitness and getting on the starting line of races again. Our daughter will be well traveled, which I feel is a great education. I’m not sure what my first race will be (I don’t even know when I’ll conquer my first workout), but I’ll use the beautiful summer in Mammoth to reconnect to the trails I love and explore others I have yet to discover.
We are also hosting a variety of running camps this summer, so you can play in this runner’s paradise too. I’ll keep you posted on that as the final details are being made right now, but all proceeds go to fund the final dollars needed for the Mammoth Track Project (www.mammothtrackproject.org). We love sharing Mammoth with other people who share our passion for running. Hope to be able to run with you on this mountain during the summer months! As the snow flies, summer seems far away, but it will be here before we know it.
Last night I slept in a cashmere sweater. It’s cold. This week marks the beginning of winter and an enormous storm has swept into Mammoth to welcome the season. As I type this we have already received eight feet and we are expected to get four more. Cinnamon rolls are in the oven in attempt to warm the house more quickly.
You can say I have a bit of “cabin fever”, but last night I got ready for bed and without thinking grabbed my favorite sweater. Cashmere. I got into bed thinking, “What an indulgent way to embrace winter!” I started making a mental list of other ways to enjoy this time of year. I can jump to material items that should make your Christmas wish-list like Gel-Arctics to run in the snow, a new jacket to train in, a GARMIN to track your training or a copy of The Spirit of the Marathon to motivate you on a stormy day. But I’m talking more about benefiting from mere experience. I decided that I wanted to enjoy more of this winter spirit, so tomorrow I am going up to the lakes basin to snowshoe under the full moon, that is if the moon reveals itself.
There are so many ways to embrace winter with the merriment and joy it deserves. Download some holiday music on your MP3 player for your next run. Invite some friends over to run through the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights followed by peppermint hot cocoa at your house. Put jingle bells on your running partners’ shoes if you think it won’t drive you insane. Start a snow-ball fight after practice. Break out your grandmother’s China after your run even if it’s just for a lousy piece of fruit cake and a cup of coffee. Sleep in a cashmere sweater and dream of running through eight feet of snow! Winter is here and we should make it the most indulgent, fun and playful one on record.
Due to terrible side stitches, my running has slowed to a walk, but hopefully not for the remaining two-plus months I have left in this pregnancy. I went for a walk the morning after Thanksgiving and was thinking of all the things for which I am grateful. It was a continued thought from the previous evening when the house was full of overly-stuffed, happy family and friends.
During my walk I found it ironic that I can be both insatiable and grateful at the same time. Both of these words I feel define me. Is it possible? Could I really be happy while at the same time be nagged by the possibility of being better? I didn’t think so at first.
For long as I remember, I have strived to improve on every aspect of my life, whether it in running, cooking, communicating, housekeeping or something else. With this attitude, how can I also be grateful for where I am?
Toward the end of my walk, I came to the conclusion that I really appreciate the steps taken to reach goals. I honor the work, I like the journey, I cherish the results, but I always find something in the end result that enlightens me. In every preparation there is a lesson to be learned. With every lesson, I’m inspired to try again for a better result. Sometimes it isn’t about working harder, but resting more that brings better performances. Sometimes it isn’t about creating something fancy in the kitchen, but using more quality ingredients that makes a dish more delicious. Sometimes it isn’t about solving a friend’s problem, but merely listening that has them feeling better. And sometimes it isn’t about buying a new piece of furniture, but taking away the clutter that adds to a room.
With each endeavor, I use the knowledge I have, but in the end I always end up wiser. As I walked back into the house, I realized I am most grateful for this insatiability. Grateful for using newly found knowledge to create a better outcome the next time around. When it comes down to it, I only nurture the things most important to me, so why wouldn’t I be grateful for committing to improve them. As we head into December, it is a great time to reflect on the things we cherish most. After that, we should find ways to improve these areas of our lives, knowing they won’t be perfect but can be perfected. It is wonderful that life continues to challenge and define us, great that there is always more to strive for and assuring that we will always grow from these experiences so the future will be better still.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and there is no better way to give thanks than to honor someone who has had an influence on your life. Andrew and I had a chance to express our gratitude when we visited our previous hometown of Alamosa, Colorado. We attended a dedication ceremony on the Adam’s State campus to unveil a bronze statue of Coach Vigil. The small town hosted a large crowd of people, all of whom have been positively impacted by the wisdom and friendship of this amazing coach.
He taught me a lot about physiology: about oxygen carrying capacity, velocity at VO2 max, ferratin levels, perceived exertion, adrenal cortical reserves and biomechanical efficiency. But the greatest lessons molded my life philosophy of ever striving higher to accomplish great things. Through Coach Vigil I learned that nothing is career-capping and everything can be perfected, yet never perfect. I learned that our knowledge is only valuable when we share it, and that sharing with others is what makes the journey so special. I learned that the harder we work to accomplish things, the more gratifying the end result regardless of whether we reach our goal.
One of my greatest lessons came within seconds of winning my first national championship in cross country. I had just beaten Lynn Jennings, who had won nine XC titles prior to my taking her streak away. At the finish line, I found Coach Vigil and gave him a hug. He said to me, “Good job, but I’m not going to pat you on the back until you can run with the best in the world”. (Not that Lynn Jennings, who won three cross country world championships, wasn’t among the best of the world at her peak, but she was winding down her career by this time.)
Of course! Who was I? This was nothing compared to where I wanted to be and coach knew that. I had a long way to go. His words offered me an insatiability to always find ways to improve, while being proud of the strides I’ve made to move forward. He inspired me to be a better athlete, a better wife, a better student of life, a more generous citizen, a more helpful friend, a more supportive teammate…and soon, the chance to be a gold-medal mom.
So, it was wonderful to be able to express my gratitude toward Coach as so many others did last weekend. With Thanksgiving around the corner, make sure you are thanking the people in your life who have offered you growth, direction and insight. Better yet, thank them and then be sure to share those precious gifts with someone else.
It was a crazy week in New York City. I never thought I would say this, but it is way easier to run than to work at these events. One of my days consisted of a 4:00 am wake-up call only to return to our hotel at 10:30 that night. Long days. Now that a good night’s sleep (11 hours) is behind me, I can say it was a blast. I was able to be on air with Al Roker for his morning weather report, help raise money for New York Road Runners Youth Programs, run with various magazine editors whom my husband is coaching and be the keynote speaker at the New York Athletic Club dinner.
The day before the race I signed autographs at the ASICS store and Paragon Sports (with hurdle star Lolo Jones). Later, I went to the race expo to do a question and answer session with running expert Toni Reavis as well as signed autographs at the ASICS booth and the ING booth. I went through about 400 posters that day.
Race morning called for an early start as I was helping NBC with elite athlete interviews. All the athletes were gracious to give me some of their precious time before and after the race.
After our obligations were met, Andrew and I sat in a window seat of my favorite NYC café. We sipped on hot soup, ate sandwiches and watched through the window as runners passed in their silver post-race blankets. Their salt-encrusted faces wore smiles despite the fact that they were walking with an uncomfortable hitch in their step. It reminded me of one of my decisions to reward myself by shoe-shopping after the Olympic Trials in Boston in 2008. I went to my favorite shoe store on Newbury Street and bought a pair of brown leather flats, sure to go with everything in my wardrobe. Well, I got to wear those shoes for two days until the swelling went down in my feet and the shoes immediately became too big for me! So, to all you female runners out there, DO NOT reward yourself with shoes right after a great race! It is fun at the time, but a waste of hard-earned money and sweat! Try some of my other rewards like indulging in high-quality face cream, buying new bamboo bed sheets or consuming the ever-so-satisfying toasted coconut almond fudge gelato!
Andrew and I sat in that window seat long enough to order a post-lunch pastry and hot cocoa because we were having so much fun watching the racers limp past us. This was a rare occasion that my racing shoes were left at home so many miles away, but the spirit of the marathon gives me a “runner’s high” no matter how I’m involved. What a weekend.