Category: running

The Mindess School Running Club – Redefining Possible

Each season the Mindess Running Club does the Popsicle stick challenge. This is the session where we practice “Farther not Faster.” We work on pacing and breathing. (which is tricky for us grown-ups, let alone 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders)

Each time a runner crosses the start line, they’re handed a Popsicle stick. At the end of the practice, we tally up the number of Popsicle sticks and figure out how far they ran – TOGETHER.

Our goal is for the kids to run 26.2 miles as a team. (The kids’ goal is to beat the current record.) The fall club set the record at 37 miles, with a few more members, and cooler weather. Today was hot and sunny and many of the kids hadn’t transitioned to shorts yet, so we asked the kids to go slow and steady and do their best for these conditions.

This running club blew these coaches away! Their pacing was great. They took water when they needed. They took walk breaks when they needed them. And they helped friends when that was needed.

As we reached the end of practice, we told the runners, they could stop if they wanted to or felt too hot – I think every one felt like stopping and each of them chose to try do one more lap.  They weren’t fast laps, there were more frequent walk breaks, there were lots of sweaty red faces, and there were tons of smiles!

When the time was up, there was a lot of collapsing and water bottles emptied or dumped over heads. As the kids recovered, Coach Emily and Coach Lisa counted up the sticks and did the calculations. Remarkable..! On this first hot day of Running Club, with a smaller team, they logged 40.5 miles – TOGETHER!

We are incredibly proud of our runners! Not for the number they ran, not for breaking the record, but for being willing to try to do one more lap than they thought was possible for them!

These kids did the impossible. With this mindset – imagine what else they can do!

MRC 40.5

MRC after


Still learning from Gram…

Running aloneEveryone has their own way of working through big life events. Me?  I run.
Not away…I just run until things make sense to me.

The other day, I woke up and realized I needed a run – a long run. I knew it would help me process Gram’s passing and sort out all of my thoughts. 20 minutes into the run, my worries about the confusing details of her funeral and estate subsided and I got back to just thinking about her. It was a relief to let go of the logistics for a while.

While I ran, I thought about how her caretakers had described her final day (Valentine’s Day). Her dementia prevented her from speaking, but she’d been happy that day. Like every day she dressed, ate real food, and interacted with people.

“She brushed her teeth.” She loved her water pick and would sometimes brush her teeth for 20 minutes in the morning, while in the shower. (Apparently she could make quite a mess) She’d been to the dentist, weeks before she died, and was noted to have an incredibly healthy mouth.

“She colored in her coloring books.” The big toddler crayons were the easiest for her to hold and she used them with great zeal. Her kitchen, where she sat the most, was covered with colorful pages of Disney characters and doe-eyed animals.

“She played ‘tennis’ and ‘golfed’.“ Tennis = volleying a big foam ball with badminton rackets.  Golf = whacking the big foam ball across the floor with the racket. Even though many of her basic functions were disappearing, her coordination and competitive spirit persisted.

“She biked a ¼ mile.” I hadn’t understood what this meant until I got to her house. Her caretakers had brought in a recumbent stationary bike and glued comfortable Velcro slippers to the pedals. She pedaled every day. When she was younger, I’d known her to ride horses, swim, and walk – never to ride a bike. So she had picked up cycling sometime in her early 90s. (So awesome) She biked a ¼ mile on her last day.

At the end of the day, she was exceptionally tired and incredibly weak and needed to be carried to bed. She slept peacefully, without pain that night. She died of natural causes at home, in her own bed, early the next morning. Exactly the way she had wanted to.

Her day sounded like a modified version of the days before dementia. She was very much a creature of habit (or disciplined, if you asked her). She had changed a lot, but she was still very much herself.

10 miles later, it felt like things made sense, like there were as they were supposed to be.

zone 2 run aka mental intervals

Yesterday was my 3rd day back to training after being at full rest for a week with the stupid germs.

A nice, slow and easy run…zone 2 all the way is definitely what I needed. My crazy runner brain struggled. Basically, dealing with my crazy brain is a lot like negotiating with my kids for “just 5 more minutes” at bedtime. (“No? How ’bout 3?” Pahleeeeeease?!”)

The result? Intervals – in my brain.

15 min warm up with sane brain: “Oh, this feels so good just to be back running and off the couch. I feel so much better. I’m so happy there’s more pavement and it’s not too, too cold.”

Main set: mental intervals

10:00 zone 2 with sane brain / 2:00 battle with crazy brain (repeat -over and over and over…)

Set 1: 10:00: “feeling good. lungs feel good. nice & easy.” / 2:00: crazy brain: “I bet I lost fitness. I’m so glad I turned of pace for this run. Oh, I’m so slow.”

Set 2: 10:00: “No, this is good. I’m choosing this pace. I’m choosing to run slowly because I want to stay healthy.” / 2:00 crazy brain: “Is there really much of a difference between low zone 3 and zone 2? I don’t think so.” Sane Brain: “yes, there is. stop it.” CB: “I dunno, it still feels pretty easy.” “no, stop it.” CB: “fine.”

Set 3: 10:00: “It’s actually good that there’s so many icy spots, it’s keeping things at the right pace.” / 2:00 crazy brain: “If I walk across an icy spot and my HR drops into z1, it’s fine to pop it up to z3, it’ll be a z2 average.” Sane brain: “It’s not the average, the whole run is easy, not to exceed z2.” CB: “Average is fine, that’s all that shows on the workout summary.” “no, stop it.” CB: “fine.”

Set 4: 10:00: “I can do this. Just focus on being grateful to be running at all today.” / 2:00 crazy brain: “3.2… but on a hill. I’ll run in z2, except for the uphills.” Sane Brain: “no, z2 the whole run.” CB: “it’s impossible to stay in z2 uphills. SB: “so slow down more.” CB: *pouts*

Set 5: 10:00: “Almost done. I’ve got this. I think I did a pretty darn good job.” / 2:00 crazy brain: “Another runner! crap! they’re gonna think this is my pace. I’ll just pick it up a little until I get around a corner.” Sane Brain: “He’s not gonna think anything.” CB: “oh yes he will.” SB: “It’s 26 degrees and he’s running in shorts, he’s not thinking.” CB: “good point.”

snow, run, glory

Run for the soulI ran today. I feel alive.

The roads were in unsafe condition. Incognito black ice hid under drifts of snow. Snow banks were higher than cars and stop signs at most intersections. The exposed pavement on my route was limited, so I lapped through the same neighborhood over and over, like a lost traveler refusing to ask for directions.

It was damn cold and the wind was harsh. I looked like I was dressed for either skiing or bank robbing. My cheeks stung as I ran into the headwind, and thawed and tingled on the return as the winter sun reflected off massive snow berms.

It wasn’t a long run. It wasn’t a fast run. I was a glorious run.

I feel like myself, again.

I remember when I used to run…

It’s been weeks since I’ve laced up and hit the roads.

I know we live in New England & it’s winter. I’ve been trying to be tolerant of this ridiculously snowy patch.
Today, I give up!

The snow is piled half way up the doors that used to lead outside and it’s still coming down in an endless swirling blur of white. There’s more shoveling and car scraping to be done again today and again tomorrow. When this storm stops and the roads are plowed (as much as they can be), there’s no safe shoulder for running. And still more, the foretasted high temps in the teens (less windchill) sound terribly oppressive & depressing.

Unconditional surrender

Surrender?!. Ugh, I’m gonna have to find a treadmill. Crap.

Not today. Today = shoveling + moping + more tea. *pouts*

Atalanta, my first #likeagirl

My social media feeds are streaming pictures of women running #likeagirl!

The #likeagirl ad was inspiring when it made the Facebook rounds last fall, and even more so as a Superbowl ad. This simple idea has big momentum after Sunday night’s time slot. People are catching on – it’s not okay to use “like a girl” as a put down. This is a positive shift.

#likeagirlWhen I was growing up, I had my own version of #likeagirl.  I remember feeling strong and capable when I listened to the story of Atalanta* on my Free to Be, You an Me record.  (yes, that says record.)

If you’ve never heard or seen it before and you have 5 minutes – click here. 

I’ve watched it several times today. I still cry at the end.

I love how the determined Atalanta heads to the field and trains until she’s confident in her ability to race. The blending of Marlo Thomas’ and Alan Alda’s voices sends me right back to the excitement I felt when I was 7 and rooting for Atalanta to beat her suitors.

There was, and still is, something so powerful about the ambiguous ending. Nothing is written. Everything was free choice. And in any choice – there could be happiness.

*note: There’s commentary about this not being the ‘real’ story of Atalanta, and that’s cool, but this is the story that inspired me personally and was my #likeagirl – that’s all I’m sayin’.