Race Report ~ The Honey Badger Playground Dash 2012

One way that we show people we love them is by taking interest in the things that they are passionate about.  Even if it’s not something we totally “get” – we show our support by encouraging them to make the time for the things that they love, by doing it with them if and when we can (even though there are quite possibly a million other things we might rather be doing), by carving out time in our busy life and making sacrifices to ensure that they are able to engage in the activity they enjoy.  We do this because of our love – because we truly want the ones we love to be happy.  Because that matters to us.  Because they matter to us.

My kids see my husband and I doing this for one another all the time, and they especially see this with regards to my running.  The support my family gives me so that I can run is overwhelming to me at times.  I can’t say it enough – I am beyond grateful.

A few weeks ago I came home from one of my early morning runs and was greeted at the door by my daughter Abby.  She was excited – she had an idea she couldn’t wait to share with me.  Abby was going to put a race together for me and my running buddies (also known as “the honey badgers”).  If you know me and you know the line of women both my husband and I come from, you understand that Abby comes by this type of thing very honestly.  We are all very into organization and we like parties.  It is just who we are.  Abby did not want to waste a second and was ready to roll up her sleeves and start figuring out the details right away.  I stood in the kitchen sweaty and spent from my run, but with a full heart as I watched my little girl pull out the calendar, some paper and some markers.  We chose a date and a time and she made a flyer that I could distribute to my running friends.

The “Honey Badger Playground Dash” was in the works.  Set for May 20th at 11am, the race would start at our house and finish at Abby’s elementary school less than a quarter of a mile away.

the flyer

Abby was VERY into it – the best race director I have ever known.  She thought through all of the details and could not have been more excited when race day arrived.  We had a pretty good turn out – about half the honey badgers and their families, plus me and my family.

Abby at the Start

I was especially excited that my sister Jodi was able to come to the race.  This was her first race post surgery (she had ACL surgery not quite 3 weeks ago) and we were all so thankful and happy to share the experience with her.  Race day excitement was in the air and everyone was ready to do their best on the challenging course.

Before the race began, Will led a group in some stretches…

This looks extremely painful to me.  Chris was a good sport!

And then everyone lined up on the start line for a picture:

After the picture was taken, Robert walked to the finish with Abby and her best friend/co-director Kaitlin (my buddy Chris’s daughter) so they would be ready for the post-race festivities when the runners arrived.  A few minutes later, I received a phone call from Robert that it was time for the runners to go.  I couldn’t believe how quickly the lead runners shot out onto the course.  It was lightening speed.  I pushed Baby Gus in the stroller and hung in the back of the pack with my sister Jodi, Terri and Lisa.

The course went from my street onto the trail which was hilly and twisty.  There were chalk arrows showing us where to go and we were surprised to see some obstacles along the way.  At one point we were instructed to stop and DO A DANCE and then a few yards later we had to JUMP.  My favorite was about halfway through the course when we were read SHAKE YOUR BOOTY.

We came out of the woods and off the trail and it was a straight shot to the SVES playground – the site of the finish line.  Word on the street was that it was a close finish and that all the runners did their best and had a GREAT time.  The shining moment for me was watching my sister come across the Finish.  No crutches.  Just a huge smile and lots of cheering!

The post race festivities were unmatched.  A goody bag for each runner with a Picky Bar and a Blow Pop (what more does a runner need?!?) and plenty of nuun to quench everyone’s thirst.

 
It was the BEST race I have ever run.  The distance was perfect – not too short or too long.  It was easy to get to and there was plenty of parking.  It wasn’t too crowded.  It was a race my whole family, and runners of all levels, could experience and enjoy.  The entry fee was free and you can’t beat that.

I will DEFINITELY run the Honey Badger Playground Dash again.  Next year I hope to run with Gus by my side rather than pushing him in the stroller, but I’m happy to know that this is a stroller-friendly race just in case he’s not ready for that.

The race director did an incredible job!  I am so proud of Abby, and so thankful for her for more reasons than I can possibly list!

It was an event I will never forget.  I don’t think Abby can understand yet how much her doing this meant to me.  She is so caring and sweet and loving.  THAT SMILE on her face — it says it all.  When I see that smile my heart flips and it flops and it feels like it will burst – and I just want to cry because I feel so happy.  Because I feel like I am surely the luckiest mom in the world.

Easy Oatmeal Pancakes

When I was a little girl, I remember thinking that my mom’s pancake breakfasts were the most delicious, most exciting meal that she would make for us.  As we got older my younger sister Alissa and I loved helping out with the preparation, watching for the batter to bubble and timing the flip just right to make them the perfect shade of golden brown.  We lived at our house in Bethany Beach, Delaware every summer and pancake breakfasts there were especially wonderful.  Our little townhouse was full of guests staying with us, all summer long.  We were laid back, carefree, barefoot and happy.

The memories I have of growing up at the beach every summer are priceless to me.  Those years have so much to do with making me the person I am today.  I was taught to appreciate the simple things, to adore time with the people I love, to be flexible and easy going and just live in the very moment at hand.  I can’t think back to that time in my life without smiling and feeling completely grateful.  It is almost like warm sunshine washes over and through me whenever I think about it.  My lips automatically curl into a smile and I know that I am blessed and lucky.  I can close my eyes and take myself right back there, and taste all of the memories as if they were yesterday.  I feel the sand in my toes, the saltwater on my skin.  Hear the laughter of me and my sisters and our friends.  I am filled with the pure and simple joy that made up those summer days.  And I am thankful.

I think all of us have pieces from our childhood that we hope to recreate for our own children when we become parents.  Moments and traditions that helped shape us into the people we are today.  Memories of the ones we love, especially our parents and our siblings, that we want to pass down for future generations.  For me, SUMMER is like a big box full of everything I hold dear.  I want to open it up, dive in and just SAVOR every second of it.  I could LIVE in that box of Summer, and I would not tire of the season one bit I promise you.  The idea of an “endless summer” totally works for me – I am a summertime girl and there is just no time of year that suits me better.  Some day I will live at the beach.  I don’t really care which one.  I just want to be close to the sea and the salt air and the sunshine.  Some day.

Anyway, this post is already all over the place.  Sorry about that.  I said it was about pancakes.  And it is!  I just digressed a little (or maybe a lot).  Because when I think of pancakes I think of my mother and when I think of my mother I think of the summer and our big pancake breakfasts and the fact that I want to be that kind of mom to my own kids.  To pass down the pancake breakfast tradition.  I’m not a fantastic cook – but pancakes – I can do those!  Thanks to my mother.

So four years ago when my son Will was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies to nearly every ingredient that is IN a pancake, my bubble was completely burst.  He can’t have eggs or dairy (among lots of other things) and up until he was 3 years old he also couldn’t have wheat or soy.  My husband and I were determined to figure out a way to make pancakes that our little guy could eat and that we all would enjoy.  We tried lots and lots of recipes and this one is so simple it almost can’t even be called a recipe.  I make these pancakes frequently for my family and everyone loves them.

EASY OATMEAL PANCAKES

ingredients:
quick oats
soy milk
sugar
canola oil

There are no measurements, I realize that.  It is great – very hard to mess up – and also really easy for the kids to help out with.

To make the batter, I fill a microwavable glass bowl about half full with the oats.  Then I add soy milk to get a consistency that would make very thick oatmeal.  I put a little bit of sugar (just depends how sweet you want it) and a little splash of canola oil in the bowl and stir it all up.  Then I microwave the bowl for about a minute and a half.  The oatmeal should be thick – not soupy.

While the oatmeal is cooking, I heat up a skillet and put a tiny bit of canola oil in the pan.  Not a lot at all – just a little to coat the pan.  You could also probably use canola oil spray.  You just don’t want the pancakes to stick to the pan.  Once the oatmeal is done, I plop spoonfuls of it onto the pan.  They aren’t going to ooze and spread the way normal pancake batter does so you don’t need to worry about them running together since the oatmeal is thick.  But you should leave maybe an inch or so between each pancake while they cook so you have room to flip them.

I smoosh them flat a little bit and let them cook for a few minutes before flipping them.  It depends how high you have the heat and how crispy you want them to be.  They are technically already cooked so again, you cannot mess these up!  I like them to be a golden brown and flip them usually after just a couple minutes on high heat.

I cook them for about the same amount of time on the other side, and then they are done.  It is insanely easy!

It is fun to play with this – I’ve added cinnamon, bananas, chocolate chips, blueberries.  I’m sure there’s so much else you could try.  They also refrigerate really well and make great leftovers the next morning.  Another bonus!

My family enjoys these so much.  Everyone is happy when we have an oatmeal pancake breakfast.  Will loves them stacked with syrup drizzled on top, Gus loves them broken up into pieces.  Abby loves them completely plain and simple.  As a mom, I love that they are totally easy, somewhat nutritious and really delicious.

This pancake breakfast may be totally different from the one my mom made for me and my sisters when I was a young girl, but I know the impact on my kids is absolutely one and the same.  I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their laughter.

We make good memories around our breakfast table.  Memories that will help shape and define us.  It’s so simple.  And so wonderful.

hello from Jamaica, mon

We’ve been in Discovery Bay, Jamaica since Saturday afternoon.  Our vacation has been one moment of wonder after another.

It’s times like this that make me feel extra thankful for my commitment to running.  Running makes me strong, and helps me to be the kind of mother that I want to be.

A mother who can take her son on a sea kayak adventure, hunting for pirates and on the lookout for dolphins, paddling over the soft waves.

A mother who can go snorkeling with her daughter.  I held her hand as we both swam out to the reef and explored the underwater fantasy that lives below.  Sea cucumbers, all sorts of fish big and small, crabs and creatures crawling along the ocean floor.

A mother who can hike through a bat cave with her 25 pound baby on her back, on her hands and knees at times, so she can fit through cracks, crevices and tunnels.

This trip has been so special and we are only halfway through the week.  I’m keeping up with my training without any problem.  The house we are staying at has a gym with two treadmills.  I have never worked out in such an incredible setting.  I brought my foam roller and Tiger Tail and am being good about keeping up with my core strengthening and stretching routine.

This is the life.

view from my treadmill

8 Miles: 2 mile warm up, 4 miles TEMPO, 2 miles cool down

all i need

I don’t think it gets better than this, honestly.  To say I’m thankful would be a huge understatement.  I feel so blessed to be in this beautiful place with my family, active and peaceful all at the same time.  We still have a few more days left and I know we will fill them with memories that will last a lifetime.

This afternoon we have a massage therapist coming to the house to give each of the adults a personal massage by the sea.  Seriously … can somebody pinch me please?  I am so excited.

For the most part I’m staying disconnected from the internet while on this trip, but I’ve set my alarm to remind me to log on later today so I can sign up for MCM when registration opens at 3:00PM.  I do not want to miss out on that.  It’s a funny feeling to be signing up for my next marathon while in the midst of tapering for the biggest race of my life.  Occasionally my brain dabbles with thoughts about what my goals might be come fall, but I can’t entertain them too much.  I have to focus on the task at hand in this moment.

And right now, at this very instant, I am focusing on relaxing, staying healthy and strong, believing in myself and enjoying each and every moment of this vacation with my family.

I am blessed beyond words, and so very grateful.

in my heart

At about Mile 14 in the Marine Corps Marathon, I found myself repeating the beginning of one of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings over and over again.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
 
Thoughts of my husband and children consumed me and lifted me.  The sacrifices they made so I could train for and race the marathon.  The early mornings waking to find that I was out for a run.  The long Saturday mornings of Robert being a single dad while I was out running for 3+ hours week after week after week.   The Wednesday nights at the track – gone for dinner, gone for bath time, gone for bedtime.
I love running, but nothing in this life is more important to me or loved more by me than my family.
My husband, who supports me and believes in me and fights for my happiness, my sanity and my courage with every ounce of his being.  I am beyond grateful.
My children.  More beautiful, pure and sweet than my most daring and imaginative dreams could ever conjure up.  LOVE.
Abby
Will
Gus
I run for my family.  I carry them with me.  I carry them in my heart.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                                  i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

a great start

There is something about getting outside for a run in the winter on a morning before the sun is awake, before the temperature reaches 30 degrees …

Something about running along one of my favorite trails with two of my favorite running buddies, watching the sun rise and being witness to the quiet sounds nature makes as the day begins …

three runners at sunrise

There’s something about getting 10 miles in the books before most people have even gotten themselves out of bed …

Something about it that makes me feel so very dedicated.  So very hard core.  So very happy.  So very much a “real” runner.

I have watched the sun rise while on a run every morning this week, save one.  Is it easy for me to get myself out of my warm cozy bed each morning?  The answer to this is an emphatic NO.  But is it worth it?  ABSO-POSITIVELY-LUTELY.

There is no question that this is my favorite way to log my miles – first thing in the morning, before the day gets under way.  I love walking up to my front door, sweaty and invigorated, to see this smiling face:

hi momma! how was your run?

I love being greeted by my family – a husband and three children who bring so much joy, love and happiness into my world – as I walk in the door.  They always ask me how my run was and tell me of the fun things they have been up to while I was out (Abby even writes me notes while I’m gone, for me to read when I get home.  So sweet, I cherish them).  They report to me what time they woke up, what they each had for breakfast.  And then we plan our day.

Today, it was a trip to the National Zoo with two of my sisters and their families.  Some snap shots from our outing:

Jojo and Baby Levi

by the cows

Gus loved his first visit to the ZOO!

me and baby g

Will and Miles watch the giant turtles

Not all our days are quite this exciting.  Yesterday after my track workout we spent the entire day de-cluttering and organizing our basement.  This was actually thrilling for me, but I don’t really think it compares to a day at the zoo in my kids’ eyes.  But there is one thing I can say about a day that starts with a sunrise run – it is always a great way to start the day.

What about you — do you love to run in the morning, too?  What is your favorite time of day to run?