Monday, September 15, 2014

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a runner

This post is going to be all about my thoughts. I won’t be offering any advice, or be sharing any recipes. I am going to try to express myself in a way my limited vocabulary will allow. I am not a professional writer or blogger. I am very busy, but find joy in all things TMI. I have been an over share-er my whole life. I enjoy expressing myself and connecting with other people that may have similar thoughts.  I also enjoy learning more about people with very different views. I am a people person, and love to talk about life. I am sure every post I write will have grammar and spelling errors. I can hardly find time to blog, let alone pour hours over editing. But I don’t want to let the fear of showing my imperfections stop me from doing something that I have found joy in these past few months. Especially with my recent surgery, I have a LOT more time on my hands. I can’t run, or even work (since my job is group fitness)…so I may as well write! Not all of my posts will be like this. I am in a self discovery; tell all mood (injuries seem to do that to me). So here goes!  It’s all about my thoughts on becoming a wife, becoming a mother, and still being a runner.

My cute barf baby Zane!
I often wished I was a mom that was fulfilled by all things motherhood.  To be honest, I really kind of hate lots to do with it. Gasp! Ahhh, I am an awful mother, who could ever say such a thing?! I know that to be completely false. I know that I am a very good mother. I love my 2 boys with every single ounce of my soul. I would do anything for them. I am their mama bear of protection. They have my whole heart. I am grateful for them every single day. I can’t imagine my life without them. I know more about selfless love than I ever knew possible.  Sometimes I have confused my feelings with not liking “motherhood things” with being a bad mom.  I have shared much about that on my Instagram family page.  Through journaling, and writing, I have been able to understand my feelings and differentiate between the two.  I don’t like lots of things that are stereotyped with being a stay-at-home mom, but I do know I love being a mother. I suffered from extreme postpartum depression and anxiety.  I really hesitate even talking about this because I don’t even like to reflect on who I was at that time. But I talk about it in hopes that it can help any other moms struggling with PPD. I hated feeling claustrophobic and stuck to the house during nap time. I hated being on a rigid schedule. I hated that I started to resent my husband when he got to leave for work or got to sleep. I hated mommy and me groups where all everyone talked about was milestones and birthing stories. But what bothered me most, is I hated myself for having these feelings. I never hated my boys. Not even once. And I also never regretted having them. I loved them more than I ever knew was possible! So what was wrong with me? Why did I have to have such conflicting feelings that were making me feel crazy???  

Let's rewind a bit...To tell you a little bit about my personality:  Growing up I did student government every year. I loved being involved in as many clubs, sports, and activities as possible. I always got excellent grades. I loved being up on stage during assemblies. I loved the crowds at football games. My friends and family were my whole world.  I grew up as an only girl with brothers. I would consider myself a feminist in the way that I felt the need to prove that I could do anything they did. That being a woman would never hold me back from achieving everything I ever wanted.  I just expected a lot from myself, and thrived when accomplishing things. I went into college with a leadership and sports scholarship at Southern Utah University. I became captain of my college soccer team. I was the NCAA woman’s representative for our school. I loved nothing more than living with roommates who became my best friends. I loved every minute of the bonding that goes with team sports. I went to all the campus activities. I loved my freedom. I continued to get straight A’s in college.  

After college I wasn't ready to settle down. I moved in with more friends and started teaching 4th grade. I continued to love my freedom. I went out every night.  I was involved with work friends, my church group; I held many leadership roles and truly was happy. I started running marathons because soccer didn't consume my whole life anymore. I began teaching fitness classes, picked up mountain biking, tennis, volleyball, coed softball, hiking, and basically ANYTHING that involved being around people and being active! Most of my friends had started getting married and settling down with families.  I still thought relationships were suffocating. One could say I was a hot mess, but it was just who I was.  I often wanted to be someone who could be more selfless and giving. I wanted to be like some of my friends who found their joy from settling down. However, I just wanted to rule world with friends by my side, not a man. All until I met Nate, the love of my life. I couldn't help myself, I fell in love. This freaked me out more than he or even I knew at the time. To say our first year was rough would be a little understatement. Was it all bad times? Absolutely not! I loved my husband dearly. It was just a huge adjustment for me. We moved to Arizona right off our Honeymoon. I didn't know a soul. My family, friends, and former life were still in Utah. I started teaching right away, and Nate started school. We both were runners before we were married. It was more of a hobby than a way of life at that time.   I knew I wanted kids. I couldn't wait to be a mom. I had no idea how hard it would be for me mentally.

 Just like marriage, it was a big adjustment for me transitioning into motherhood. I wanted to be the one to care for my kids so I was fortunate to be able to quit my job.  But becoming a stay at home mom was hard. Very hard!  Just like everything else in my life, I wanted to attack parenthood with all that I had. I wanted to “win” it! Only thing is, almost everything is out of your control. No matter how much you research, plan, or love your baby…you have no control over most of it! Even if you are trying your best, your baby may not sleep. Your baby will cry. Your baby will poop everywhere. Your baby will steal your heart. But I started to lose what made me tick in the process. I spent any extra hours when my baby finally slept searching online for what I could be doing better. I signed up for sewing lessons because moms are “supposed” to know how to sew for their kids, right? I purchased these crazy pots and pans thinking it would turn me into a homemaker/cook. Only good moms know how to cook, right?! How could I love my baby so much, but hate everything I was turning into? I lost myself in the process. I didn't trust myself. And when it came down to it, I just wasn't prepared. It was no longer just all about me and what I wanted. What I later realized is that being a mother turned me into a different me, and you know what, that is okay. It’s all about growth! I had to learn to be honest with myself. Did I really want to learn to sew? Heck no! Did I want to scrapbook? Never again. I am still learning to be okay with that. I am learning to not be jealous of others who so naturally took on that homemaker/motherhood role.  Motherhood made me more understanding, less judgmental, more patient, and loving. Let’s be honest, any moms out there know the list goes on and on. But I still hated parts of my life; I felt like a maid, I didn't like the responsibilities that came with growing up. I missed the feeling of not leading the masses, or being on stage.  I missed that feeling of personal growth.

This is where I believe running saved me. Sounds super cheesy! But it did. Racing more gave me something to work for. I could set goals and see growth. I learned that is still okay to be human after you become a parent. It is okay to want something for yourself. In fact, I now believe it is healthy for kids to see you are still a person. That you still have hopes, and dreams. It would be a disservice to grow up believing the whole world is all about you.  I discovered I could still give my all to my kids and carve out a little time for self growth. I developed deeper friendships and bonds with other runners. I am such a social person and always cherished that bond that came from team sports. It is something that I really don’t have to words to explain. I started to find that again through running.  I made lots of friends at my gym. I decided to re-certify and start working part time teaching fitness classes. Working a measly 4 hours a week did a lot for me mentally. I began seeing growth in my marriage and parenting. I had the sense to let go of who I thought I was supposed to be, to just be myself.  My crazy, loving, over achieving, social self.  Running brought me a new contentment to life.  This happiness overflowed into my marriage and into my parenting. When you are truly happy and content, it affects every part of your life. For those that question how we can find the time for so much exercise and still be good parents should see what it would be like for us without it. In my heart of hearts I know my kids have not suffered because of the fact that I like to run and go to the gym. I do know my whole family would've suffered if I stayed depressed and miserable. Running gives me a passion for life. It gives me more energy. It makes me feel young. It refreshes me, so that when I am done I am stronger physically and mentally to take care of my family. It is a bonding passion my family shares. My boys don’t suffer when I wake up to run before they even wake up. They don’t suffer by spending time in the running stroller with me. They don’t suffer if we get a babysitter for two hours so that Nate and I can get precious time as a couple.  So even if they spend an hour in the gym daycare (which they love). I still am home to feed them breakfast, lunch, & dinner. I still have many, many hours to play with them in between. If I don’t leave the house or do something that is just for me, then I go crazy. Call me selfish. But I call it finally understanding who I am, and what I need to be a better mom.

10K Turkey Trot. First Race with both babies. The double stroller adventures had begun!

My boys are best friends. My husband is working hard to get back into school. We have our ups and downs, but when it comes down to it, I have a lot of peace and contentment in my life right now. I am amazed that I am at a place where I can say that! I just had surgery that is keeping me sidelined from my passion for many months. I feel blessed that I was at a strong enough point mentally the surgery hasn't completely crushed me. I am trying my hardest to not slip back into the depression I experienced as a new mom. Yes it will be a long road. I wouldn't be doing so well without the incredible support of my hubby, our extended family, and good friends. And even the support of social media. Funny to say that, but many friends I have met through the running community have been from social media. They have been nothing but a positive support. I am at a good place mentally to know that this will not defeat me. I without a doubt know I will get through this.  It is really hard to not know which direction my life is going to go after I get back onto my feet. Will we try to add to our family? Will we be moving if Nate gets accepted to school? Remember the old days when the game MASH planned our lives so perfectly for us?!  I knew from MASH that all I wanted was 5 kids, living in a mansion, married to my favorite Dodger baseball player Steve Sax. If only it was really that simple! I know that I don’t want to do something because I think it’s what I am “supposed” to do. I learned that lesson from my sewing days! I guess all you can do is trust in yourself, and turn to God for guidance when it comes to making big decisions.  And keep moving forward with faith.

I am grateful to be a mother. I love being a wife. And I hope to always be a runner. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Clean Running Fuel :: Guest Post by Zucchini Runner

Hello loyal readers of MichRun4! I hope you don't mind me popping in for a quick visit, while Michelle and I do our blog swap. (If you want to see her post on my site, head on over to  Zucchini Runner) Michelle and I are helping to spread the word about an up-and-coming local running group #RunEatTweetAZ. As a matter of fact, we met for the first time in person at the inagural #RunEatTweetAZ meetup at South Mountain. I didn't know everyone who was attending, since there wasn't an official event, but when I put 2 and 2 together and realized I was talking to the amazing michrun4 I had been following on Instagram, I got a little excited! I knew she was a running powerhouse so of course I was stoked to get to know her better. If you've never met Michelle in person, she is the sweetest, most positive person you'll ever meet. Injury or not, that girl will be up and running in no time! A new friendship was formed (actually many new friendships were formed) that day. So needless to say, I am very grateful for #RunEatTweetAZ. A big thanks to Jeremy Heath for organizing it!
Now onto the topic at hand... I've had quite a few people ask my opinion about clean running fuel, Michelle included, so it seemed like the perfect blog swap topic. Nutrition is my passion, and I'm currently in the process of completing my Holistic Nutrition classes at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. So please bear with me while I vent slightly at first; it may help you understand why I do what I do and why people ask me this question often.

As a runner, when you hear the words GU, Shot Block, gel, Sport Beans, energy drink, etc. what comes to mind?
Be honest.
Are they necessary evils or something you truly enjoy putting into your body?
When I hear those names, I think sugar, GMO (genetically modified organisms - because sugar is a top GMO crop), peaks and valleys, furry teeth, gut cramps and even dare I say borderline poison for our bodies. (This is where I need you to bear with me...) When we were chasing down animals for food or gathering plants to eat waaaay back in the day or even in the 70's when running became an everyday craze. We certainly didn't need any of those items to keep us going... so why do we think we need them now? Is it all marketing? Is it all just a bunch of hype?
I'm of the firm belief that our society is struggling with the obesity epidemic, because of the human desire to want to monetize anything we can. Food has been the number one essential in our daily living that has undergone the largest pollution. Mother Nature is smart. Our bodies are smart. If you look at a whole, real apple or banana on the molecular level, you will see it is a living piece of fruit. Can we all agree that every living thing radiates and contains a certain amount of energy? Now, how much living energy do you think is in a packaged product, created in a lab, and loaded with simple sugars? The point is, food that is as TRUE to it's natural state as possible, is the way to go in my humble opinion, as well as based on what I've learned and experienced personally.
You may be saying, or asking yourself, 'then why were all these items created in the first place?' Convenience. Ease of ingestion. A quick fix. That is the society we live in. But in the process of trying to make things "easier" we are polluting our bodies with products so far from the way nature intended, that we are simply creating more problems.
So if any of this resonates with you and you've been on the hunt for some more natural ways to fuel your runs, I've got some whole foods suggestions below! I've personally tried all of these food choices, with the exception of the potatoes, but it's up to you to find the right combo for your body!
Medjool dates stuffed with coconut oil
How to use: Remove the pit from the date, and fill that empty pocket with coconut oil that is semi soft. Coconut oil melts at 72 degrees, so this doesn't work for summer fueling! Wrap with aluminum foil (I've found that is the easiest way to access it while running. Skip the baggie or saran wrap...) Lastly, be sure you buy organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil. If you are using multiple stuffed dates, and this will be used during a particulary long run or race, you should also grind some pink Himalayan salt into the center.
Why its good: Medjool dates contain high amounts of naturally occurring sugars, which give you that boost you need to fuel a long run. Since the sugar is accompanied by fiber it absorbs at a slower rate into the body, which helps you avoid the peak and crash of gels. They are also high in potassium. Coconut oil is a medium chain fat, which means it can be used immediately for fuel in the body since it does not store easily in the body.
How to use: Pretty self explanatory, but bananas can be used before, during, or after a run or race. If you want to use them during, you can cut one in half and leave the peel on. Even breaking the peel a bit to get it started, to make it easier to consume while running! You can place it in a small snack baggie if you want to keep it clean, and have a place to stash the peel. This is especially good for trail running, if you have a nice pocket on a hydration vest. ;-) Just beware, you MAY attract some bees.
Why its good: Bananas, like medjool dates are packed with both sugar and potassium. Potassium is good to prevent cramping.
Salted Potatoes
How to use: I haven't personally used this one -- YET -- but I've known quite a few ultra runners who use potatoes as fuel! Simply boil and cut into circles, salt and bag.
Why its good: They are high in calories, carbs and if you salt them you can get some sodium intake as well.
Energy BITS
How to use: These little bits of green fuel are easy to pop at any time! Before, during or after a run or race. You take 30 bits and swallow them with water, no chewing required. You can order them online through (if you want 15% off, use coupon code 'zucchinirunner')
Why they're good: Energy Bits are 100% pure, organic spirulina... well here, this blurb from the site says it best, no reason to recreate the wheel! "Algae was the first plant life on earth almost 3 billion years ago and is considered a superfood because it contains virtually every nutrient. It has over 60% protein content, over forty vitamins and minerals and a more complete amino acid profile than beef or soy beans. It is also one of the best known food sources of beta carotene, B vitamins, antioxidants and chlorophyll." Pretty sweet, huh?
Lemon Water
How to use: After a run squeeze the juice of one whole lemon into a 20 oz. glass of ice water. Feel free to sweeten it a bit with some raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar.
Why its good: Lemon water promotes alkalinity in your body. Running and putting all that stress and strain on our bodies, builds up a lot of acidity. Treat your body right with some alkalinizing lemon water after a run! It will help balance out the pH of your body.
If you want to get fancy, here is a recipe you can follow:
2 c. water
1 c. ice
1/2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tsp. coconut sugar or maple syrup
2 pinches pink Himalayan salt
It is tasty and rejuvenating!
I hope some of these ideas have helped you venture into new fueling territory. Get creative and try new things; tell us how it goes! The most important thing to remember with real food vs. the quick fuel is the time it takes to react in our bodies. Give yourself a 15 minute window to feel the effects. Also note the effects will be gradual, so if you are looking for a caffeine-like ZING that won't happen with real food.
Happy running, friends! Let's connect!
My personal blog:
If you want to connect with #RunEatTweetAZ, you can find us on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tips for running hills

A key component to racing is to understand how to run up those hills.  I was very fortunate to work with Coach Ryan Knapp, the creator of Miles To Go Endurance.  He gave me great coaching advice going into races on how to handle the uphill portions of the race. Do NOT stress about the pace. If you try to maintain the same pace up a steep hill as you run the flats, then you are almost certainly setting yourself up to bonk  later in the race. You need to trust yourself, and be in tune with your effort.  Now I am not saying you need to walk/crawl up those hills. You will see the elite runners cruising uphill. They still follow this advice.  It is very smart race strategy to worry about effort.  Ask yourself: How does your breathing sound? Do my legs feel like they are working harder than they should? You want to be using the same effort throughout the whole race. If you can maintain a steady 8:00 mile on a flat, then you need to slow down when running up a hill.  The good news is, you can make up for it on any downhill. If you are running with the same effort downhill, that 8:00 pace effort will mostly likely switch to a 7:30 or so.
John Bozung

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with John Bozung right before I ran Utah Valley Marathon this past June.  This guy knows his stuff!  Such a friendly guy, and man does he have some good stories!  When he was 52 years old he decided to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks! He was the 2nd runner to ever run a marathon in all 7 continents.  He is 61 years young today, and just finished his 364th marathon. No, that is not a typo! He said the most important advice he could give me when racing a super hilly course, is to run the hills based on effort.  He warned me multiple times to not push myself to hard during the uphill. So if two knowledgeable runners and coaches were both telling me the same thing, then I was definitely going to take their advice.

What can you gain from pushing too hard uphill?

·         A higher concentration of lactic acid build up

·         Tax your maximum aerobic power

·         Fight to propel yourself forward while working against gravity

·         You will maybe save yourself a few extra seconds, but at what cost?

Running downhill is a whole other beast. You can make up some serious time downhill, but you have to be aware at what it is doing to your body. Downhill running is more strenuous on the legs. The extra pounding will pay a toll. If your body is not prepared for that pounding, it can increase your chance of an injury.  If you have a chance to run downhill on a more forgiving/softer surface, you can train those different muscles that will be used on race day.  Even if you are racing on pavement, it doesn’t hurt to practice running downhill on grass or dirt to avoid that harsh impact.

Jack Daniels (No, not THAT Jack Daniels!) the famous running coach Jack Daniels from Daniels Running Formula created a perfect “rule of thumb”. His rule states:  “Every percent gradient of incline (going uphill) will slow you by 12-15 seconds per mile, and every percent gradient of decline (going downhill) will aid you by 8 seconds per mile”.  Boston Marathon’s “Heartbreak Hill” is a 4.5% incline over 0.4 miles.  So mathematically, you can expect to be about 21-27 seconds slower.  Use this in your race planning if you have a finish time you want to hit.  Now Jack Daniels is a famous coach to world renowned athletes, and he was a former Olympian himself. We would all benefit if we take this awesome advice when planning how to attack our next hilly race! Once I learned how to race smarter, my times automatically started to get faster!

The best way to get better at running up & down hill is to train those hills!