No Gender December

Has anyone heard about this movement of not buying gendered toys for the month of December (leading up the the holidays)?

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I am torn on what I think about it. On the one hand, my initial reaction was “Yes! Finally people are realizing how many toys that are sold are marketed to genders and not all kids fit into gender binaries. Let’s not force it on them.” But on the other hand, I am a bit skeptical of parents forcing their views/opinions on their kids. If a kid wants to be a princess, let him or her use their imaginations to make-up an alternate world where they live (granted, they do not need a princess costume to do this, but I do believe strongly in fostering creativity and if ‘props’ are necessary, so be it).

I am thinking about this because once I started telling people I was pregnant, one of the first few questions they asked was “are you going to find out what it is?” or “do you know what it is?” There is nothing wrong with these questions because we could know by now, but we have decided not to find out until the baby is born. So many people are amazed by this and tell me they needed to know for themselves so they could plan accordingly.

In my mind, I just need to plan for a baby, which is overwhelming in and of itself. No matter the sex of that baby, I do not plan on anything being different for the first few years. It is a baby. It needs baby things: diapers, clothes, blankets, towels, a place to sleep, etc. Cute animals, books and blocks are fine as toys until the child starts developing and asserting a personality. Then I believe it is important to listen to the child and allow them to choose toys they want. And if I have a girl who wants to play with trucks and trains or a boy who chooses to play with dolls, I love it! Of course, I will be equally OK with kids that choose toys that fit the stereotypical gender norms.

So in getting back to No Gender December, I love the concept of it. And I hope that toy manufacturers start to get the message to stop “pinkifying” entire aisles of toys. But the fact is that kids are exposed to a variety of marketing strategies and if they are not allowed to play with the toys they want, they will still be exposed to them. Rather than denying kids access to toys, I think it is important that parents set the tone and message for how to be a friendly and inclusive princess, rather than one who sits on her throne all day.

Turkeys, Trots, Leftovers

I know Thanksgiving was a week ago. I am just moving slow here.

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Thanksgiving morning started with a nice little run around Washington Park with the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot. It was a beautiful day and we were slightly overdressed for a 10 am race start, but we took our time, so I did not feel overheated. We arrived with plenty of time to wonder around before the race began. Mostly, we said hi to other dogs.

We had planned to bring Zoey and leave Shrek at home, but we could not resist his sad eyes as we tried to leave him at home. So we ran a 4 mile race with 2 dogs.

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We made it through the race with only a few incidents involving tangled leashes and runners/walkers. We started in the fourth and final corral so most of those around us were walking at the start. We kept a slow, steady pace and only stopped to walk once during mile 3 when David needed to stretch his knee.

When we finished, we realized we needed to get home to get the turkey in. We stopped briefly at a grocery store on the way home to pick up last minute items. (I ran out of salt the night before…who runs out of salt? I feel like its a never-ending ingredient.)

Anyway, we had enough time to cook the turkey and sides and get showered before our friends arrived. We spent the night playing some games and eating plenty of good food. IMG_0012

We topped the night off with some pumpkin cheesecake and called it a success :) My favorite part about hosting?

Absolutely the leftovers! Don’t worry–our friends went home with tupperware filled with leftovers, too, but we had so much good food to dine on for the next few days. I am still finishing up the last few drops of the turkey noodle soup I made from the turkey carcass. I want to make a turkey every week to have the leftovers last this long! One day of cooking = one week of eating.

Running in the First Trimester

Thanks for all your lovely comments from my post the other day :) The dogs,  David, and I are excited to get to know more about our next little family member. I am so glad I was finally able to tell you because I feel like my running and blogging have been off recently. I am at 12 weeks and, although I guess the first trimester is not officially over until 14 weeks, I feel much different than I did a month or two ago.

I will begin with how running has been going so far. So far, the little one has technically run two half marathons! One (the Bear Creek Trail Half) I was barely pregnant and I do not think that counts much. During my training between that and the Denver Rock N Roll half was when I found out. Almost a week after the Bear Creek on a Saturday, I went for a 10 mile trail run and I remember feeling completely winded and tired by the last few miles. That Monday, I decided to do some half mile intervals. While the first two went well, finishing them was really difficult. I ended up running an extra few slow miles after that to maintain my dignity (9 miles altogether), but I knew the RNR would not go as I had hoped. I texted my friend Tera that night to ask her if she wanted to run with me. When she said yes, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders!

The Wednesday after that Monday run, I met up with Paige to do a trail run. We have run the same course before and, while it is hilly, it is not too strenuous of a run. During the first mile or so, I commented that this felt harder than normal. Later that night, suspecting something was up and because we were about to go to NYC the next day for a wedding, I took a pregnancy test. Before I had a chance to prepare myself for either result, a big, bright plus sign appeared immediately. I was shocked.

I know a lot of women have more emotional reactions, but I was just stunned. Of course I knew it was a possibility, but for whatever reason, I was convinced it would be negative. So I packed for New York that night and did not bring my running shoes. I needed a break from running. We walked around the city a lot and went hiking before and after the wedding and I felt great.

By the time we returned from our trip, nausea set in and there were times I was dragging myself out of bed and to work, etc. I tried wearing arm bands which prevent seasickness and it helped a bit. I ran two short runs that week so my legs would be ready for the race that weekend. I was so glad I had Tera to run with me. I made it through the race feeling fine (except a few bathroom stops to relieve my bladder) but slow.

After that race at 6 weeks, my running was on and off for a few weeks. On good days I ran, but most of the time, I felt so off and tired that I had no motivation to run. I did feel better after most of my runs. But anything over about 6 miles was tough; I kept it short and easy.

I decided not to run the half marathon that David and I had organized but to run the 6-7 mile version of that instead. Luckily, I had company for this. By that point, I was 9 weeks and I had seen the doctor at 8 weeks. She approved my running with the caveat that I should be able to comfortable chat while running. Some of the first people I told were my running friends (after our parents, of course) because everyone has experience either directly or with friends running while pregnant.

Since the 8-9 week mark, I have felt progressively better. The nausea moved from being all day to mostly at night before I fell asleep. I was–and still am–tired a lot, but feel much, much better. Running is still more difficult than normal, so I just take it slow and easy. Most of my runs are without a watch. With the cold weather approaching I am sure motivation will be difficult, but I plan to get out there as much as I can over the next few months. And yesterday we went for a hike, which really felt great. The 60 degree end-of-November weather did not hurt either!

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Things I am Thankful for in 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! A year ago on Black Friday, David and I put in an offer on our house. By the end of the weekend, after some negotiation, we were under contract. Because the holidays were a in the way, we did not close on the house until mid-January, but I still like to think of it as my biggest Black Friday purchase ever. I am thankful the house gave us so many fun projects to work on in 2014, from painting nearly each room to re-doing the front and back yards.

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In late March, we took a trip to the Humane Society to look at dogs. That night we came home with Zoey. She has been quite a handful as she has engaged in her fair share of chewing and digging (remember the new back yard?), but she has turned into an excellent running and hiking buddy :)

IMG_0735I got to run some epic races this year: 4 half marathons, 1 marathon, 2 trail relays and countless hours of fun trail exploration.

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This guy. And his buddy.

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And remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned my biggest accomplishment of 2014 might have to wait a few weeks? Well I can tell you just a little bit about it now, but the big arrival is expected in June 2015:

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Gah! I hate cheesy pregnancy announcements. Just writing this is making me cringe. And that photo is so poor I can barely look at it. But I made the point. I needed to get that off my chest. More to come soon…

On Writing…

Do you ever take a few days off from the blog? And then a few days turn into a few more days? And then it seems overwhelming to come back to it so you just don’t? Maybe it is just me, but that has been me over the past week and a half. Time off from the blog and, really, time off from all social media. I was reading a good book and it seems that fulfilled my daily reading capacity. (I do not think I have ever, in my entire life, reached a daily reading capacity, as I have been known to stay up all night to finish a good book). It does a body and mind good. But now I need to get back to it and see what others have been up to!

What have I been doing? Not a whole lot of running or hiking and I am OK with that. It is cold and windy and snowy and I am just not that into it right now. Instead, I have been contemplating the “Write” part of my blog title recently. I want to use this as a forum for writing more. And by writing I do not just mean writing about my running or whatever adventures I have. I want to write about me and life and reflections a lot more. Don’t worry-I won’t get too political (even though that is one topic where I always have so much to say) or fluffy, overly-poetic descriptive writing. But I do want to use this as a place for reflection on things other than running and hiking.

In the meantime, David and I are excited to host our first Thanksgiving dinner this year. We are just having some friends over, so nothing will be too fancy. In the years that I have lived in Colorado, I have always spent Thanksgiving with friends instead of traveling to see family. There is something so refreshing about hanging out with friends, drinking wine, watching football and having a laid back meal that I absolutely adore. I told my friends that are coming to bring their sweatpants/PJ pants to wear during/after the meal so we can do this thing right!

Before the festivities begin, however, we will be participating in our annual tradition of running a Turkey Trot. This year, we are running a 4 mile trot in Denver’s Washington Park put on by the United Way of Denver. Zoey gets to run with us, too, so we have to start at the back of the pack. Yay for a fun, easy run with the husband and dog! (Shrek respectfully declined to run with us, as he gets a bit agitated with other dogs around him when he is on a leash).

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Snow Days

I can’t believe how cold and snowy it has been this week. We had a goregous weekend, including a run in shorts on Saturday, followed by a nice, long evening walk with the dogs on Sunday:

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Monday morning was a nice pleasant morning, reflecting the beautiful weekend weather. I walked the dogs and it was like 60 degrees and sunny early in the day. By lunchtime, the temperatures had dropped to freezing and a front was visibly moving in:

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I came home and found a snow-covered package on my doorstep:

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New Yaktrax! Can’t wait to test them out on the trails.

By that afternoon it was snowing and the roads were slow. Tuesday and Wednesday were COLD and we had more snow. Zoey sat in the snow and watched us shovel:

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But I like to run in the snow! Why am I tied up?

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I later found her on the couch curled up with…my boot. When we first got her, she chewed some slippers and sandals, but has been good about not chewing shoes since. She did not chew my boot, but she definitely carried it up to the couch.

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Thursday, it was cold with little new snow. Friday, temperatures are supposed to rise above freezing for the first time all week! Yay! I can barely walk the dogs in these temperatures without wheezing (thanks, asthma), so I am looking forward to getting a run in.

I also think I need to find a gym this winter because I am not running in these temperatures. The good thing about treadmills is that they force me to do speedwork because I cannot stand running slow on them.

 

Is Beachbody the New Tupperware?

Before I begin, I want to make it clear I know little about the way Beachbody operates. I also do not mean to offend any Beachbody coaches that may be lurking out there; this is just based on my own observations.

The other night, David and I felt like vegging on the couch and watching TV. However, we only really watch Modern Family together and we were all caught up on the latest episodes. So we looked for something on PBS to watch. We found this American Experience documentary on Tupperware. I have loved every American Experience show I have seen, so I knew this would be good.

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The show told the story of Tupperware parties in the 1950s: what they were and how they came to be. The majority of the documentary focused on one particular woman (Brownie Wise) who had led the movement and became an executive, leading Tupperware women all around the country. For that time in American history, it was unprecedented to have such a strong female leader in a company.

But what I really took away from the show was how quickly Tupperware home parties picked up and became a “thing” in 1950s suburban America. Women were no longer working in the factories, as they had been during WWII. In fact, they were very much at home and expected to take on the role of housewives. When these parties were introduced, they built on characteristics associated with housewifes: entertaining, hosting, getting together with neighborhood housewives, family, and friends, etc. It also gave women a chance to make an income when much of the available work in the country at that time was only open to men.

I can go on and on about this documentary and about the social position of women at that time, but I encourage you to watch the documentary (or any other American Experience show–they are all free!). But the point is that it got me thinking about today.

Today we all know that women have choices. No one is forced to be a housewife today and many women who do stay at home have made that choice for their families. Many women choose to be working mothers. Regardless of whether or not we have kids, we all (men included) continue to struggle to find that perfect work-life balance. In today’s world, throwing parties multiple times a day (as the Tupperware ladies did) may not be practical. Instead, we can connect with others through the internet. The idea of staying at home, connecting with other through social media (something many do anyway!) and earning an income is appealing.

In comes Beachbody. I have quite a few Facebook friends that are always raving about and trying to sell Beachbody products. They are all “coaches” and trying to recruit other coaches. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is great to fully support a product you love and to try to get others around you to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. But these coaches have little to no qualifications as a coach, other than their ability to motivate and bring others into their group. If you google “Beachbody pyramid scheme” or “Beachbody network marketing” there are about a dozen sites that come up informing you that they are NOT anything like a pyramid scheme or other forms of network marketing. That alone sounds fishy to me. But I have never heard anyone have a negative experience with Beachbody (other than getting flooded with it on social media), so I cannot judge.

I know many personal trainers who have gone through hours of classes to become certified to lead people in their quests for a healthier lifestyle. I know many businesses that work hard to produce quality products and then struggle to get their products known. So it is easy to look at something like a Beachbody coach as an easy way to becoming a coach and earning money and bypassing the hard work. My guess is that the majority of these coaches are stay at home mothers who want to do something else to earn some money and to connect with adults if they are taking care of their kids all day. They all love fitness and want to do their part to motivate others.

I return to my original question: Is Beachbody the new Tupperware? I think there are a lot of differences between the 1950s and today: choice between working or staying at home, the internet, everyone struggling to find a healthy work-life balance, getting involved in new opportunities, individuals juggling multiple jobs, etc. Taking these factors into consideration, a comparison is difficult. But I do think that Beachbody offers much of the same appeal that Tupperware offered in the 1950s. This time, however, with the opportunity to completely stay at home and work from our new friends, also known as computers.

Denver Urban Half Marathon and 7 Miler

We did it! Another self-organized half marathon run in the books! This run was easy compared to the Boulder trail run I ran in August, but it had its own set of challenges; most of the runners had run full or half marathons this fall and were still recovering from them and not very well trained or prepared for this one. So we all took it easy. We had 8 human runners, two 4-legged friends and 2 bike support crew members.

I was not sure if the dogs would do well during the course that went into the downtown area of the city, so Zoey and I ran a 7-mile loop with Anna and Remy which skipped the major sites but gave us a solid run anyway. Zoey and Remy were excited to reconnect in the big city after their mountain adventures together in the Flattops Wilderness over Labor Day weekend. The other 6 were prepared for a longer run through the city.

We all gathered at our house just before 1 pm on Saturday and were thrilled with the beautiful weather. I even changed into shorts from capris once I realized how warm it was going to be. We all made sure everyone was prepared with maps and directions on paper and on their phones via Mapmyrun. We slathered on sunscreen and we were ready to go! We walked the block and a half down my street to Sloan’s Lake and took this starting photo:

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Elizabeth, Cassie, Trent, Kelsey, Scott, Me, Zoey (dog), Josh, Anna, Remy (dog) Unpictured: David and Mark (the bike crew)

Around 1:15 pm, we were off! David and one of our friends lead the course on their bikes and carrying chalk to mark the turns. About half a mile into the run, I noticed his bag of chalk on the ground. I called him and he turned around to come get it. For the next 4 miles, we followed the chalk arrows (I knew the course and there were only two of us at this point). From the start, the two of us were far behind the pack because we had to keep the dogs under control.

We ran along 32nd St. in the Highlands, which is known for its hip, cute shops and restaurants. Anna had never been here before and said she felt like we were in San Francisco instead of Denver. At one point, we ran past a liquor store with its door wide open and Remy walked inside! We then came down from the Highlands and crossed into Denver via some cute pedestrian bridges.

This was where Anna and I turned off to come home, while the others ran into the downtown area. We were on the course they would run to get back to the start/finish area and were walking a bit. David called to tell me his bike had a flat tire and he left it locked in town and was walking home. We joked that the two guys who were leading the pack were going to come up behind us and pass us. We took it easy on our way home, letting the dogs drink some water as we moseyed along.

Once we got to my street, we walked. At that point, the two lead men ran right up to us and sprinted it home. Scott finished about 5 seconds ahead of Trent! It was an exciting finish and we were glad to be a part of it. The four of us grabbed water and beer and sat on the front porch to wait for the others. Before too long Cassie and Elizabeth came down the street. Not long after, David came walking with Kelsey. We then got a call from the last runner and biker who had stopped for root beer floats after Josh’s ankle was hurting him (he had just run his first marathon three weeks ago and was recovering). David drove down the road to pick them up.

We showered, changed clothes and the majority of us headed out to grab some cheap Mexican food. So worth it! We are definitely thinking this should be an annual (or more often) event.

I know Cassie took some good pictures (I believe she used the phrase “good blogger” to describe her photo-taking behavior since we have a record of forgetting to take pictures when we run together). I am sure she will have a better re-cap on her blog (Rural Running Redhead) soon of her version of the full course.

Another Liebster

I have done this a few times and I am sure I have skipped doing this a few times when nominated. But it is another year and I have mad respect for Cassie, who asked good questions, so here we go with another Liebster Blog Award. But I am not creative (or awake?) enough to think of 11 random things about me. And I nominate anyone who is reading this to answer soe or all of these questions. I am tired tonight and not going to think of 11 questions to ask people I am not nominating specifically.

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Cassie’s Questions

1. What accomplishment from 2014 are you most proud of (so far)?

Hmmm. I know it says so far, but I have something in the works that is pretty noteworthy. I cannot, however, share it just yet. Soon, though!

2. What’s the most awesome place you have ever run/biked/etc.? Bonus points for including a picture.

In the summer of 2012, David and I hiked in the Alps on the French/Italian border. Half the time, we had no idea which country we were in.

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We also played in an old, abandoned fort on the way down.

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3. What’s your T.V. guilty pleasure? (I need a new treadmill show now that it’s dark always).

Gilmore Girls. Lorelai Gilmore was the best TV character ever to grace the small screen. I will swear by that.

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4. And your workout song guilty pleasure?

I don’t work out to music. But I do have a marathon playlist that I use in all marathons once I hit that point where I am so bored with myself. And there are some super-cheesy 80s and 90s songs on that list.

If I had to choose one song, I have a soft spot for Van Morrison’s Brown-Eyed Girl. This song pulled me to the finish line of my first marathon in Beijing. It came on about 100 ft from the finish (on an Olympic track) and it gave me that kick I needed to get to the finish. I now try to listen to it each marathon I do.

5. If you had to switch careers, what would your next career be?

I’m still working on that. After I did switch careers a couple years ago and abandoned my entire academic career, I am working on a career in non-profit grant and proposal writing. Still in progress, however.

6. Describe your dream run.

Flat, but surrounded by mountains. Green with lots of leaves around. A light mist, but not too humid. 60 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze.

7. Do you enjoy working out with your significant other, or would you rather work out alone?

I run on my own. But I will go on a hike with David and the dogs any day!

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8. If I came to visit you, what would we do? 

Obviously, if Cassie came to visit me, we would go on a long run through Denver…Stay tuned!

9. What’s your favorite post-long-run/race food?

Burrito. A big chicken burrito with black beans, rice, plenty of cheese and hot salsa.

10. What is your typical breakfast? 

Most days it is toast with cheese melted on it. Other days it is plain yogurt with granola or some sort of cereal. I am not a fan of sweet breakfasts, so the bread and cheese works well for me.

11. If you could time travel for a day, where would you spend it?

Most people think I am nuts when I tell them this, but if I could go back in time to any place, I would go to schools in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution with the Red Guards.

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Having lived there on and off for four years, I have a strong knowledge of present-day, super-capitalist and metropolitan China. But I am fascinated with the history of the Communists and Mao and I would love to see what motivated the Red Guards.

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Not historically accurate, as a “true” Little Red Book is exclusively Maoism, but I guess this was what I had at the time.

Organizing a Half Marathon in Your Town

This is not a “how-to” post. I am not organizing a formal race, but over the past few weeks, I have been working on getting people together to run a half marathon distance run this coming Saturday. The idea started after we ran an informal, unorganized half marathon on Boulder trails this summer. It was a lot of fun and we decided it would be fun to replicate an urban version of the run in Denver.

So this past Saturday, David and I set out on our bikes and biked the course that we had initially decided on. There were a few tricky spots we needed to work out and see if they were bike-able before we told runners to run there. Luckily, this precaution ended up being a good thing, as we got chased down by a security guard at Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies). We quickly learned we could not do a loop around that stadium and we would have to simply run past it instead.

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Note: There is one section behind this field that is private property and no one can get through. Do not attempt to run around this stadium.

We also realized that the route was a bit similar to the first part of the Denver Rock ‘N Roll course, which a few of us had recently run in. So we switched it up a bit to add a few different things to the course.

Now, our course will start at Sloan’s Lake and go up to the Highlands (a bit of a climb), but come back down to downtown where runners will run across two fun pedestrian bridges before getting on the Cherry Creek trail. From there, we will get off the trail and pass the Art Museum, the Capital building, the Convention Center, the 16th Street pedestrian mall, and the baseball stadium before getting on the S. Platte River and running to the Sports Authority field at Mile High (the Broncos’ stadium) and then back up to Sloan’s Lake. So in other words, if you need a tour of Denver, run this course! You will see most of the important sites of the city!

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Mile High Stadium, aka Sports Authority Field

I am also nervous about runners getting lost, as I got lost during the Boulder half. We are making up clear directions for runners and David will try to be ahead of everyone to mark the course.

Also, there will be quite a few stop lights along the course. Sadly, we could not convince the city to shut down roads for the dozen people or so we have running. So people will get stuck at lights. And maybe David will meet them along the course on his bike with water or maybe he will miss them. But in general, everyone knows this is simply a fun run and that it is nothing like a real race. I hope it ends up being fun for everyone!