Training for a 53k

What have I done to train for my upcoming 53k race?

-I ran 70-80km a week.

-I did a 34.5km trail race with quite a bit of elevation gain recently.

-I tapered.

-I will carb load today. There are ample Bosnian bakeries around to accomplish this.

That’s about it. I am relying on years and years of running long distances to get me through.

Thoughts pre-race?

I truly never know how I will do until I am in a race. I have these vague ideas of how it might turn out, but really I don’t know what my pace or finish time will be. I am yet to take a DNF (knock on wood). Luckily for my family, the race is providing a live tracker so they know when to be at the finish line.

So, this is how I will kick off my fall break–spending time in one one of the prettiest places in the world. I will run the Dinaric Alps along the Dalmatian Coast, for hours, finding strength in mountains.

Then, I will spend the rest of my break lounging around on the pebbled beaches with my family.

And doing some recovery runs, of course.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

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Weekly Running Log Rundown

Sunday: I absolutely love running out here at Vrelo Bosna. It is beautiful no matter the season. Today it was foggy and damp, making it look like the fall in August. There are always lots of runners making their way on the paths. It is a bit of a drive so we make a morning out of it. The kids run and bike while I get my run in, then we have coffee, pizza, and pasta post run for a family brunch.

Monday: I am back to making Monday my day off. I know most people say if you miss Monday, your running week is shot, but it works for me. With it being the first day of the school work week, I always like to sleep in a little after getting that luxury over the weekend.

Tuesday: Two runs today. My normal morning run and the first practice for the cross country team. They did awesome! 4.5km. We even did hills and they rocked it.

Wednesday: Early at it this morning. I am still getting used to this. It always wakes me up to get my morning run done though.

Thursday: I am sort of failing on the photo front, but it was a beautiful, foggy morning. Fall is starting. Effort wise–I think I need to start doing some speed work to get ready for a few races coming up.

Friday: I was getting a little bored of my usual running spots, so I went around some new streets today. Hopefully this weekend I can get work on my pace. I have five races coming up soon!

Saturday: Croatia consistently impressed me. It is one of the most beautiful countries I have seen. Old ruins, mountains that bump up against the Mediterranean Sea, and trails for days. That last 1.5 km up to our place offered plenty of challenge for my hill work I have been needing.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

10 Tips for Traveling with Children

One might liken taking long-haul flights with children to endurance running. If you can endure pain for long periods of time, you can handle flying across the globe with your littles.

Okay, okay, it isn’t that bad. We have done it countless times and we have survived each flight, so far. We just made a 23-hour flight across the planet with a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. As I write this, our home is jet-lagged, awake at 1 am, and slightly delirious.

Tip 1: Bring one or two small, age appropriate toys that are new to your child. Don’t go hogwild and buy expensive toys, just something that will distract them enough to get past moments of chaos. Do not allow them to procure said toy until your parent sense starts tingling and is telling you that you don’t have much time left before exhaustion meltdown is imminent. Unveiling the toy will bring enough excitement that you and all involved will most likely sidestep any emotional disasters.

Also, as far as stuff goes, bring any additional stuffed animals or blankets they are attached to, as it might coax them into sleep at some point.

And stickers. Their fine motor skills aren’t advanced enough to make stickers a quick process. If you are feeling especially fancy, invest in those puffy stickers. They can be reused and moved around longer, buying you more time and getting you closer to your final destination.

Tip 2: Ask for bulk head seating if you have a child under two. You will need that leg space for the diaper bag.

Tip 3: All your awesome parenting skills should be put on hold. You don’t let your child use the iPad except for special occasions? Well this is the moment, my friends. Let them reprogram it if it means you get to the other side. You don’t let them have lollipops? Be the magical unicorn parent they have never seen before by bringing at least three lollipops. Actually, don’t bother with any other kind of sweets. Lollipops provide the correct amount of time to sugar ratio you are seeking. You usually read books and play with hand made play dough on the weekends? This is the time for movies–as many as your child will watch on one long-haul flight. My son just watched three in a row. My daughter became mildly addicted to the iPad. They both possibly had sugar crashes and melting brains from the screen time by the time we reached our destination, but you know what? They were happy little humans on the flight and we all managed to survive with our sanity in check.

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Tip 4: Your child may be sensitive to the air pressure changes on take offs and landings, which can consequently make them scream bloody murder. Give them a lollipop. Or nurse them. Or binkie them. Basically, give them something to suck on so their ears don’t feel like they are going to pop their brains.

Tip 5: For long layovers, find a play area for your kids to run wild in. They have been cooped up on plane where they were told to put their seat belts on and sit for hours on end. They need to run around and get some energy out. You can curl up and sleep in the corner (don’t really, unless you have a partner that has had enough coffee to stay awake to watch the kids).

Tip 6: Bring hand sanitizer and multivitamins. Planes are nasty vessels of human microbes. No one has time to get sick.


Tip 7: Wet wipes.  All the wet wipes.

Tip 8: When they serve you food and you have a baby on your lap, put a napkin on your child’s head to prevent food from spilling on them.

That may just be something my husband does. I’m not sure. Either the napkin or just wet wipe them down when you are done.

Tip 9: Remind yourself that it won’t last forever. I repeat this to myself and it makes me feel better. Granted, I have also most likely had a plastic cup of red wine, so really it could be either one of those things that makes me feel better.

Tip 10: Ignore all the judgy judgers. Just do your best to be a decent parent and take care of your child regardless of the little beedy eyes that will undoubtedly squint at you like they got a little of your child’s strong will in their eyes.

To break it down–distract, bribe, and endure.

You got this. Godspeed, traveling families.

Getting Your Family Involved in Running

If you are interested in getting your family involved in your running life, here are some ideas of where to start.

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Family hikes and after dinner walks. I think this may be the key. It helps kids if they have a base-level of ability. It isn’t running, but it is activity on their feet. Hiking and walking allow them to build stamina, be familiar with what it feels like to be on their feet for some time, and what a certain distance feels like. We always try to have fun on our walks too, spotting a certain number of interesting things to discuss, or talking about their day. We try to make it a special time to talk and enjoy each other, while also taking in nature or observing the city.

Support each other. If only one of the parents is a runner, it is important that the non-runner is supportive and understands why they should foster a love of activity. My husband is not a runner, but he will lace up his shoes and do a 5k with the family because he wants to model a healthy lifestyle for them.

Encourage. It is important that children feel  like they have a voice and say in the matter, so ask them if they are interested in a fun run. If they aren’t sure, explain how fun it is, how it is good for their bodies, and that they don’t have to run the whole thing if they get tired. Keep it upbeat and positive. I would suggest not making jokes about how hard it is, or they may  miss the joking part.

Run with them. Sometimes I am doing a longer run and cannot run with them, but my husband always does. He will push our younger one in the stroller and our older one runs alongside. If the starting times are different or on a different day, I always love the opportunity to run with my kids. I also seek out fun runs that are meant just as family events, like the Zoo run in Boise, where we can focus on them completely as little runners. There are usually lots of fun activities before and after for kids too.

Celebrate and reward. Letting your child pick out new running shoes and clothes can be a little extra boost of excitement for them. Consider saving them for race day to make it feel special. When they complete their race, make them feel special. It is a big accomplishment when anyone finishes a race and even more impressive when your little one can do it. We celebrate by getting ice cream or cake, their choice.

Read children’s books about running.


Start young with short distances. I signed our son up for a 2.5 km trail run when he was 2.5  years old. He loved it! He was familiar with the area from our family hikes on the weekends. He ran, walked, and explored the 2.5 km.

Our daughter did her first race when she was 1.5 years old. She did a .25 mile last summer that the local zoo put on. She is the biggest animal lover, so she stopped to appreciate the bunnies, then continued on her way.

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B’s first 2.5 km race at Khao Mai Keow, Thailand

I loved that I got to run through the mangroves with B on this 3.5 km race. We even climbed to the top of a wooden lookout tower to get a better view of the ocean and mangroves. His decision.

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3 km race, again in Khao Mai Keow, Thailand
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Even got Nana involved! She carried Lady H in the Bjorn for the 5 km, while B walked and ran beside her. Mr. G and I did the 10 km wine run.
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Our school put on a Color Run for the Pre-K.

Run Wild at the Boise Zoo. Lady H’s first race (.25 mile). I got to run with B on his 1 mile run.

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Rayong, Thailand trail run.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 4km run with Mr. G. Pretty epic picture–Lady H in her chariot.

A little pre-workout warm up.

Split, Croatia 5 km race for Mr. G and B. Lady H got to snuggle in blankets and go along for the ride.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia 5 km run for Mr. G and B. Lady H ran some and was carried for some, while I did the Half Marathon.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Spring 5 km run with B. I got to run with him and was super impressed with him finishing in 36 minutes!

It is good for your children to see you leading by example.

Stay rad and keep running!

Mostar Half Marathon PR

My mom and her husband were visiting us in Bosnia and Herzegovina for our spring break. They had been hanging out and touring Sarajevo for a week prior to our holiday while we worked. Then to kick off spring break, we took off to Mostar, a town in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous for Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva River. It was built in the 16th century by the Ottomans. In 1993, the bridge was destroyed in the war, but has been completely rebuilt. They recovered many of the original stones from the river to reconstruct it. It is probably the most recognizable structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Stari Most

Reasons to Visit Mostar

Somehow, Mostar still manages to be off most people’s travel radar. If you have the chance, you should work your way over to it. It is so worth it.

Here are some highlights about the small town:

  1. Apparently people have been bridge diving since 1664. In recent history, Red Bull now puts on a festival where people continue this tradition.

2. Pose on the bridge for some pretty sweet pictures.

Beautiful Islamic architecture

 

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3. They also have incredible street art and metal art work for sale. I sadly did not get any pictures of the street art. Guess I will have to go back!

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We also did not see the famous Kravice Waterfalls, and I am sucker for waterfalls, so we really will be making a trip back soon.

After all that touring around the town, I got to see another, more rural perspective on foot the next day.

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Half Marathon Day

I was a nervous wreck before the race. I knew I wanted a PR, but I wasn’t sure I was capable of it. I also didn’t voice this to anyone for fear I would somehow jinx it. Whenever I am going into new territory, I get nervous. It is okay though. I am not scared of being scared. It means you care, and when you care, the outcome is better.

I did all the things you are supposed to do. I trained. I ran far. I ran faster in my training. I did hill repeats. I ate better. I slept more. I even tapered, albeit a small amount because one doesn’t need to cut back too much for a half. Usually I don’t at all, but tried it out for this race. It really isn’t that complicated when it comes to knowing what one should do to improve their running. If you want to improve your speed, run faster during training. If you want to improve your endurance, run farther. Running is a simple and resourceful sport, direct in the fact that it is about putting one foot in front of the other, effective in its purpose, and a deeply innate part of being human.

The thing that I think helped me the most though, was that I just pretended to be someone that could make a sub 1:45 half marathon. I just told myself if I can’t be the person that gets that time, just pretend to. It worked. I ran a 1:43. Fake it ’til you make it.

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I know on the grand scale of amazing runners out there, running a 1:43 isn’t anything special, but it was to me. I had been stuck at 1:47 as my personal best prior to this race, but most halfs had been 1:52-1:55. Granted, those were all in Thailand, so really hot and humid conditions, which hurt most people’s race times.

I had slept well the night before. I carb loaded correctly. The weather was perfect–mid-50s, clear skies. The course was mostly flat and lots of beautiful scenery. I had my mom, her husband, my kids, and my husband all there to support me. Really, it was a perfect combination of conditions to do a PR.

Between good conditions and self-delusion, I did it.

I truly have a runners’ mind though–now I want a 1:40. 😆

Wanderlust, from Burma: A Throwback

Traveling to Burma with a 17-month-old is not for the faint of heart.

The idea to travel to Burma started in 2010 when they opened their borders, allowing the Burmese to explore the world and in reverse, allow others to experience their country. I believe it is because of this late acceptance of tourists in this Southeastern Asian country, that it has remained culturally rich and a place resistant to the changes of our current, fast-paced, consumer oriented, and slowly homogenizing world.

I should preface that my husband spent nearly two months collecting facts, papers, and 42 emails in an attempt to get our visas for our family of three. He did forget about Beck’s, but was gently (ha!) reminded by me that Beck probably needed one too. This spurred the last 20 or so emails and Beck’s was presumably ready for our arrival.

I’ll glaze over the driving, waiting in airports, and the actual flights, as few want to hear about how long you had to do this for. Just remember that it is in-between these paragraphs, and let me remind you, we have a 1.5 year old that is extremely verbal, has a passion for refusing naps, has a strong leaning toward cranky when he doesn’t get said naps, is determined, stubborn, and like all toddlers, active.

We arrive in the Mandalay International Airport. At this point, we are that family that no one really wants to make eye-contact with due to our verbal (this sounds nicer than loud) toddler. We follow the sea of people, noticing that there seems to be a fair amount of distance that fellow travelers are keeping from us. The flow of people slows around customs. This is the moment of truth. The haves and the have-nots. The group diverges. Those looking so smug and confident that they had done their research, and then the group that is furiously rechecking the papers they have. We fend for ourselves with the latter of the groups in a small and quite crowded room. Within seconds, we find ourselves swarmed with at least 10 Burmese visa officials crying “Baby, baby!” and trying to hold Beck.  I look at him, throwing an all too familiar tantrum, and don’t hesitate. I hand him over. He quiets, laughs, and then plays with them contentedly for the duration of our time in the visa office. With the nicest, most genuine smile I have seen in a long time, the visa lady asks where one of the forms is in the already huge, disorganized pile of papers that I had handed over. I look at her, panic in my heart. “Don’t send us back. Please,” I am thinking. I tell her, no we don’t have the paper in question. She smiles, and offers me her phone to call our visa agent. Feeling ill-prepared at not having his number, I have to ask her if I could use her computer to look online for it. She looks at me, smile fading. Concerned she says, “No internet.” This is the airport. There is no internet in the airport. No. Internet. This is where I fall in love with Burma.

After a couple of hours trying to sort this out, and many conversations about sending us back to Bangkok to see out our holiday, they shrug and say, “No problem, don’t worry,” and give us our full page visas, sans photo and a few other important pieces of information. I notice that our visas say they were issued on February 16th and valid until February 16th. If this works for them, I won’t point it out. They are letting us in, however illegally. I think they just like our baby.

We have plans to fly from Mandalay to Bagan after our two day stay in Mandalay and it is protocol to pick these up in the airport a few days before. Two hours behind schedule, we head over to the lone man standing behind the Air Mandalay counter to ask to pick up our tickets. He leads us past bag security, past a desolate airport check-in, and into a homey room with a few other friendly and excited tourists from Seattle. There seem to be a lot of tourists from Seattle landing in Burma. They are trying to make small talk, while I ignore them and scan the room for one of those small credit card machines to indicate they will take my card. My hopes are feeble and for the reasons I fell in love with Burma, I am realizing it is going to be the reason that I shake my fist at it. Intense love that proves the most challenging, is the most worthwhile and rewarding though, so I am not deterred and am ready for them when they inform us “cash only.” Now, I knew it was a cash only country, but for the same reason I thought they would have internet, I thought they would take credit in the airport. The problem with cash in Burma is that it is hard to get it. The cash needs to be USD, the serial numbers cannot include AB, AC, or CD (thanks to North Korea trying to launder money a few years back), they need to be printed after 2003, and of course, flawless in every way. You are supposed to arrive with the amount you will spend, as there are only a few ATMs in the biggest cities of Mandalay and Yangon and the banks, strangely, don’t have cash. What the banks do, I am yet to suss out. We leave without our tickets, but with promises by Air Mandalay that they will hold our places on the plane for us if we will bring them the money two hours before the flight. In Asia, they tend to tell you what you want to hear, but I truly believe them. The Burmese are honest in their want to help.

We are down but not out at this point. We head to the taxis. I hand one of the many that swarm our address. He says, “Not Mandalay.” I shake my head, not willing to believe this. I move to the next taxi man. He shakes his head, “Not Mandalay.” I assume they are reading it wrong. Next driver. “Oooh. Three hour drive. Not Mandalay.” The problem about hotels in Burma: you have to organize these months in advance. With the new influx of tourism in the last three years, they haven’t had time to catch up and there are just too many tourists for the amount of hotels. It’s a bottleneck effect. They are almost always fully booked. Most of them were fully booked two months ago. This is where I feel like we may be properly screwed. A hint of dejection settles in. My love falters. No visas, no flight, no hotel. I know my love is strong though. It can get through this. They are all very willing to help. Picking up their phones, they are all trying to find a place for us. Time and time again they echo “fully booked,” but there is one driver that finds one hotel with one room left. Without missing a beat, we take it, hop in his car, and make the hour drive to our hotel. In that hour I settle into how incredible it truly is here.

Up until this point, I had only seen the airport. Now I am seeing Burma.  People are paving the roads…by hand. I mean, literally by hand. Older women are crushing the rocks, stirring the tar, laying the gravel using their hands. We drive by farmland, huts, cows pulling plows.

The driver honks the horn and Beck laughs. The driver laughs. The tourists we are sharing the ride with laugh. This repeats for the duration of the ride. So. Much. Love.

Once we hit the roundabout, it turns full on. Mandalay is a city. A busy city with people buying, making, and living their lives like they do in any other city, except it seemed to be standing still in modernity. There aren’t any western franchises, tall buildings, or stop lights. The roads are dusty. Pot-holed. Perfect.

Our hotel is in the heart of the city. It has *gasp* internet! It includes breakfast. It is moderately clean. They serve beer. It is all we ask for in a hotel and then some. The desk points us in the direction of a place to eat. We ask for a map, they laugh. “Just walk that way. You will find it,” and we do. In seeming contrast to all things Burmese, the streets are extremely well marked and organized. We are the only tourists we see on the walk. Actually, we only see four other tourists in our two day stay in Mandalay, outside of our hotel. Because of this, we stand out. Really, Beck stands out. A fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed baby in a Kelty backpack isn’t a sight they see often. Everyone that we walk by stops, points, smiles, and wants to play with him. He loves it. When we got to our restaurant, we order one meal each, and receive 15 bowls of currys, rice, and soup for $5. For two and a half people. I thought something must be lost in translation but, this is how they serve meals here. We get Beck out of his backpack and are preparing to eat a meal like one does with a toddler, disastrously, the waiters swoop down, pick him up and play with him the entire time. They teach him how to write in Burmese and show him off to the cooks. Josh and I have a conversation. I could get used to this.

And so went our stay in Mandalay.

I go for a run and find myself soaking in the local morning routines. Monks take my picture. I wander through a market of homemade sausages, shark, stalls selling army gear, spices, art. The streets are full of old bicycles and cars from the 60’s, reminiscent of an Orwellian era.

With the help of our hotel, we find the one ATM in Mandalay that would recognize our American debit card. Things are working out. Flights to Bagan, check.

Bagan. One of the most beautiful and pristine places I have yet to see. In an attempt to describe a place that holds its own, the best I can say is that it is slightly reminiscent of Angkor Wat’s spirituality, with the laid back, untouched feel of Luang Prabang, Laos. Their bright red mouths stained from betel nut reminds one of India. The dirt roads are groomed, lined with temples, pagodas, and stupas. In its time, between the 11th and 13th century, there were 10,000 Buddhist temples. Over 2,000 remain with another 2,000 under renovation after an earthquake in 1975.

We hire a driver, U Aung, to take us to so many temples and pagodas that we lose count. They are as beautiful inside as out. Along with massive, gold Buddhas, they have the original paintings, doors, and bricks poking out of the necessary renovations. Eventually, we have to call a nap hour for Beck though. We make plans for U Aung to pick us up in the late afternoon so we could see Bagan at sunset. After going back to our hotel, laying Beck down in his bed of blankets, and drinking a much deserved beer on a hot day, we start to waver about leaving the quiet of the moment. This was the climax of our trip though. We rally. No rest for the weary. When our driver arrives, I scoop a sleepy Beck up and set off.

Our driver takes us to a remote pagoda, off the dirt path that already had little, to no traffic. He meets up with his friend that unlocks the doors for us and leads us inside with flashlights in the quiet dark, spotting Buddhas recessed into the walls. Light is shining through the windows. If I were the type to believe, this is where one could find religion. Even Beck quieted. There is peace in this place.

Truly, there aren’t going to be the right words to describe the sunsets, the temples, the inherent kindness of the people, and the slow, peaceful way of this place. If you do find yourself in Burma, tread lightly and appreciate the kind soul of this country.

Love.

“True and sincere traveling is no pastime, but it is as serious as the grave, or any part of the human journey, and it requires a long probation to be broken into it. I do not speak of those that travel sitting, the sedentary travelers whose legs hang dangling the while, mere idle symbols of the fact, any more than when we speak of sitting hens we mean those that sit standing, but I mean those to whom traveling is life for the legs, and death too, at last. The traveler must be born again on the road, and earn a passport from the elements, the principal powers that be for him. He shall experience at last that old threat of his mother fulfilled, that he shall be skinned alive. His sores shall gradually deepen themselves that they may heal inwardly, while he gives no rest to the sole of his foot, and at night weariness must be his pillow, that so he may acquire experience against his rainy days. So it was with us.”

 

-Henry David Thoreau