formats

Motherhood: The Real Warrior Dash

Have you ever tried to go shopping with a toddler? Not food shopping. Not picking-up-diapers-at-Target shopping. More like “Mama needs a new pair o’ shoes” shopping. But in this case Mama needed a new bathing suit.

The thought plagued my mind: I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but I have to! I need to! I must!

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Peek-a-boo, mommy!

 

Please Be Advised
If you currently have children then you have an idea where this story is going. It’s okay, go ahead and laugh at my mommy naivety. I now know what I did was wrong (so horribly wrong) and I am sorry (so very sorry). Please forgive me.

If you don’t have children yet then please pay close attention from here on out. Described below is a cautionary tale of what to expect from a toddler.

 

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Mommy made a mistake, and another, and another.
One afternoon I set aside some time to go bathing suit shopping with my daughter. Lillian (22 months) and I happily walk hand in hand through the parking lot and into Nordstrom department store. We gleefully giggle while squeezing each other’s hands. I even think to myself, I have the perfect child. Motherhood, yea— I got this in the bag!

Unfortunately Lilly and I were entering the alternate reality that exists within a shopping mall: the ominous place where perfect children morph into tiny gremlins who run, scream and hide from their parents until they are forcibly returned to the sanctity of their own home.

We walk through Nordstrom with the intent to check out Victoria’s Secret’s bathing suit sale, and I think, Nordstrom must have bathing suits on sale as well. Hmmm, curious. I should check it out. An evil Grinch-like smile emerges as I pick Lillian up and march over to the Active Wear section. Mistake number one.

I put Lillian down (mistake number two) as I sift through the suits. I can hear her humming to herself as she walks around the Active Wear department. I think, as long as I can hear her, its ok. She’s close. Oooh! This white floral bikini has serious potential. [The Grinch-like smile reappears.] Excellent. “Lillian, come with mommy. Lillian? Lillian!?!” Crap, where is my child!? My eyes dart to each department in the store and I see three sales assistants in the Lingerie department violently waving their hands at me while saying, “She’s over here!” I put the suit down and hurry over to collect my daughter.

I should leave now. I have made a scene, made a fool of myself and displayed some flawed parenting skills. But that cute suit is just sitting there on sale! Ahh! I’ll be quick in and out like a professional jewelry thief. No more stress. Easy. Done. (Mistake number three).

I shamefully walk up to a sales assistant who has undoubtedly witnessed the recent chaotic event and request a fitting room. I place a squirmy, whiny Lillian on the seat in the room and hurriedly try on the suit. The top fits perfectly, but the bottom—not so much. I’m pretty sure there is a bigger size on the rack outside. I place my hand on the dressing room door knob and it appears to be unlocked. I thought, I can do this. I’ll just go out, grab the suit and be back before Lilly will know what happened. Quick like lightning! I put on my jean shorts but stay in the bandeau bikini top (No reason to change if I’m going to have to change back, right?). I close the door (with Lillian inside) dart out to the sales rack, grab the new bottoms, and hastily make my way back to the dressing room. I turn the knob to enter and it’s locked!

You have got to be kidding me. How am I supposed to explain this to the sales assistant? [Heavy on the sarcasm] ‘Excuse me miss, I seem to have locked my toddler inside the fitting room when I knowingly abandoned her to retrieve new bottoms. And yes, I’m only wearing a bikini top. And no, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.’ I can’t face her. I just can’t!

So, I did the only logical thing I could think of: I got down on all fours, gauged the distance between the dressing room door and the floor and began to army crawl my way to my child. I am careful to not abrasively rub or damage the bathing suit top because I still really like this suit! I involuntarily emit a bought of nervous laughter as I realize a video security man somewhere is having a field day watching my quick demise as a parent. I shake my head and trudge on.

 

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A suit that will live in infamy.

Monkey see, monkey do.
I make it into the dressing room, pop up into a standing position and look around. My perfect little angel is nowhere to be found. Apparently while I crawled into the fitting room, my little monkey crawled out and had escaped. My daughter’s gleeful giggles echo through the halls of the dressing room area, but are growing fainter with every passing moment.

I abruptly open the fitting room door with a crazed expression on my face and bolt off in pursuit of my child. My eyes dart from department to department: Active Wear, no. Lingerie, not there. Men’s Suiting—empty. Where is she!?! Ahh! Panic is setting in. Children’s department, YES!!! There she is! As if I am running a 5k race, I, STILL IN A BIKINI TOP, sprint through all of the aforementioned departments to retrieve my chuckling child.

I am utterly embarrassed at the chain-of-events that occurred, yet for some twisted reason I still want to buy the bathing suit. In my mind I just ran the gauntlet of the Motherhood Warrior Dash, survived and will be rewarded with this bikini. So, with a squirming toddler in hand I march up to the sales desk, flash a nervous smile at the sales assistant and purchase my on-sale-yet-still-ridiculously-overpriced bathing suit.

 

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The Take Away
Even though I wasn’t amused when this happened, I am definitely smiling now. As a parent sometimes you just have to laugh at the ridiculous events that comprise your day!

If you take away anything from post let it be this: never EVER try to go shopping with a toddler—or you may end up running around Nordstrom in a bathing suit.

Then again, I did get my speed work and strength training in for the day!

 

formats

DIY Energy Bars

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Oats. Bananas. Dried cherries. Yum!

When I go on long runs I always eat something about an hour before I head out the door. Eating something small satisfies my morning tummy rumbles and prevents me from daydreaming about food while out on the road.

I have been on the hunt for a nutritious, energy-filled breakfast bar for a while now and have come across this recipe from Runners World. They are a great pre-long run meal or even an afternoon on-the-go snack!

I absolutely love these bars- especially because you can substitute different mix-ins to have endless varieties! Over time I have adjusted the original recipe to make them slightly healthier. My version is as follows:


Banana-Oat Energy Bars (Yields 6-8 bars)

Ingredients
2 overripe bananas
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 ½ tsp Stevia (or other natural sweetener)
½ cup apple sauce (Use ¾ cup if you prefer bars to have more of a fluffy/cakelike texture)
¾ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¾ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup dried cranberries (dried cherries are yummy too! – look for those made without added sugar)
*You can add 1 T of flax seed in for added crunch!

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Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Grease 9X9 baking pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl smash up the bananas. Add in the vegetable oil, stevia, vanilla extract and apple sauce.

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In a separate bowl combine the oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour (and flax seeds if you choose!).

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Add the oats mixture to the banana mixture until just combined. Then fold in the walnuts and cranberries. Pour mixture into baking pan and spread evenly.

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Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes (or until the top is browned). Allow to cool completely before cutting. Individually wrap bars and keep in refrigerator to maintain freshness. Enjoy!!

formats

#Inspiration

As I continue along on my journey to finish my very first marathon I find myself reflecting upon what, or rather who, inspires me to be a better runner: my father.

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Dad and I dancing at my brother’s wedding in 2008

My father is a 5’7” pale, freckled, 160 lb redheaded running machine. Even though he is a short Irishman, he has always looked like a runner to me. He is lean, has toned arms and humongous quads (let’s just say that the man isn’t afraid of hills). When I think back to my childhood, I always recall waking up around 6:30 am to see him come home from his morning run in his freakishly short running shorts and a loose tank top with the arms cut off. Even though this was the accepted look of the 1980’s/1990’s runner, my dad has unfortunately failed to update his running wardrobe to match that of new millennium. His shorts still come to about 6 inches above his knee and he may or may not still wear the same 1986 NY Giants Superbowl Champs tank. Cue the awkward moment when he waves to other road runners.

The man is a creature of habit, and I love him for it. His consistent love for fitness has inspired me for as long as I can remember. An avid runner, my dad woke up at 4:45 am every morning to meet 5 or so of his friends at the local YMCA for their early bird 8 mile run. He did not cross-train, and he rarely lifted. The man simply loved the open road. Honestly, no one really knows what those men did every morning (coffee and donuts maybe?), however with the amount of cookies that my dad ate throughout each day, it’s safe to say that he was logging many miles.

Dad (#340) at a race with his life-long running buddies

Rain or shine, home or on vacation my dad pounded the pavement every morning before the rest of the world rolled out of bed. It didn’t matter if we were skiing in Vermont, sailing on a cruise ship, or celebrating Thanksgiving, the man refused to sacrifice his workout that made him feel empowered, strong, and happy. And really, why should he have had to? Why should you have to sacrifice an activity that makes you feel good about yourself and helps you become a better version of yourself?

I have always admired something about how my father carries himself; he exudes balance, happiness and a carefree attitude. He is a dedicated and motivated man and, above all, a great father. I can only hope to grow into the amazing runner and person that he is and always has been.

While my dad has been in hundreds of races, he doesn’t talk about them too often. It’s always seemed that running has been his love—not racing. Boy, was I misinformed! Recently I asked my dad if he remembered any of his PR times and if so, what they were. With zero hesitation he listed the following times (to the second):

Distance Time Pace Race Name
5K 17:49 5:44 Warner Lambert Classic, NJ
10K 36:21 5:51 Denville Run for the Roses, NJ
13.1 1:23:17 6:20 Hispanic Half Marathon in Central Park, NYC
26.2 3:16:05 7:28 Philadelphia Marathon*

*He also ran the NYC marathon twice, the Marine Corps marathon in DC twice and the Newport RI marathon.

 

One of his many races with the NY Road Runners

A 1:26 half marathon finish. Simply amazing

When I heard his 5k time I tried to do the math in my head to figure out his pace. Once I realized that it was under 6-minute splits, I shouted, “Holy crap! So you were like a ‘real’ runner??”

Until recently I never really realized that my dad was a super-fast, competitive runner. My dad assures me that when he was running 6-minute splits, the other guys were running 5-minute splits, but this awakened me to a whole new understanding of who my dad was and is. Since I have started off on this quest of road racing, we have discovered a whole new side to our friendship; we chat on the phone about our weekly runs, races and how to fuel properly. For so many reasons, my dad is my inspiration, my confidant and truly is one of my best friends. Actually, in a way, I think we inspire each other. My dad recently ran his first 5K in several years (after coming off a 6 month knee injury); naturally he ran it in 24:40 (under 8 minute splits).

The man ceases to amaze me and this is why he is my inspiration to be a better runner, mother and wife and most importantly to find the balance between all three. Now whenever I’m running I feel my dad next to me and realize I’m no longer running for myself, but running towards a much bigger picture.