Backward by Design

I am now working on my second graduate degree in education… and a concept in this field that we love to talk about is “starting with the end in mind.” Basically, if you can describe your desired outcome, then the process of lesson planning or program design follows in a logical, focused order to connect that distal point to the beginning by way of smaller milestones. As you can imagine, I think about starting with the end in mind a lot as a runner. In the literal sense, I typically register for a race and then start counting back weeks from that date to determine a training schedule. In the emotional sense, visualizing race day over and over again arms me with the strength and motivation to train. One of the best lessons I learned last summer was to author a mantra early on in the training process. Articulating my final outcome set me up to commit and achieve; planning backwards worked. Reflecting on this concept, I decided to write a few outcomes for the remainder of my summer training season.

On race day, I will be able to:

-Run at a consistent pace for 13 miles;

-Hydrate and fuel my body efficiently for two or more hours of running;

-Maintain positive imagery throughout the race;

-Listen to my body and heed any signs that I need to slow down, stretch, or ask for help;

-Offer authentic gratitude to volunteers, fellow racers, and bystanders encountered along the way.

Just writing those makes me feel even more excited for the race! I will continue to revisit these outcomes each week as I progress toward September…

In other news, I am keeping up with my training plan and completing a lot of shorter midweek runs. It’s been hot and dry (especially for the likes of a Pacific Northwest native), so last night I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. I have to admit, I was really excited about not being in the sun for a change. Tonight I will probably go back and run a few more miles. This weekend, I would like to run eight miles (same distance as last weekend).

Farewell, July. August, I am ready.


The Joy of Running

I regularly run with two other women who are building their skill as runners. We meet at least once a week and typically run a 5K though the neighborhood. Watching them develop more strength and confidence as runners over the past few months has been an awesome experience. Last night, one of the women shared that she went for a run alone and lamented that it was not fun. It got me thinking about how running can become enjoyable. A few thoughts came to mind.

1. People. Running with friends is a fantastic way to cream some miles. The peer support of getting through a route and to the finish is very encouraging, especially on the days that you are not likely to go running alone. Knowing you are expected to show up and meet somebody for a run gets you out the door. All parties leave with the satisfaction of adding another drop to their buckets. Win-Win.

2. Solitude. Some of us struggle with sitting meditation (I know I do). Running can present an alternative; a means to hear your own thoughts, clear them systematically, and enjoy the silence. Running can get lonely and boring when you are by yourself, but it can also be an opportunity to indulge in something that is beautiful and just your own. I get this feeling when I am by myself and I have the privilege of running through an exquisite stretch of scenery.Sometimes the chatter of social running takes away from that.

3. Ambition. Any goal, whether it is a faster 5K or running a first marathon, may add energy to the running practice. Races are celebratory awesome experiences. Preparing for one is difficult at times, but also exciting.

4. Consistency. A consistent running practice teaches the mind and body to appreciate running, anticipate the rewards (relaxation, endorphins, mental clarity), and incorporate the exercise into a regular routine. Running is much harder when performed sporadically and infrequently. Regular practice fuels joy by optimizing performance and benefits.

These are just a few of the factors that contribute to the enjoyment of running… there are many more, depending on whatever our individual journeys may be. For example, this morning I ran around the neighborhood pushing my daughter in the jogging stroller. She is three now, and narrating absolutely everything she experiences. There was something deeply grounding about hearing her chirpy little voice, so observant of the present, opening my own eyes to the world around us.


One ritual I savor is a quick run right after I get home from a busy day at work. I peel off my work clothes and replace them with running tights and a t-shirt. I lace up my running shoes, holler “see you later!” to my spouse and daughter, and leave the back door open for myself. I turn down the street and begin the pattern of striking feet. Each worry from the day gets an opportunity to rise to consciousness, and then, with the power of physical exertion, I let it go. Eventually, the run meets the mental silence. And then the most wonderful part develops–the time for dreaming. I think about the exciting opportunities I can make for myself and anticipate the goodness of the challenges to come. I imagine crossing the figurative finish lines. I retreat to the back alley, do my planks, stretch my muscles in the back yard, and then enter the house. Now I am ready for the next shift–cooking dinner, bath time, bedtime, reading articles, preparing for the next day…



Running over the long weekend

On Saturday I ran 5 miles of trail with the running buddy who is training with me for the Bellingham Bay half. It was really sweaty and rejuvenating. Yesterday, I had the day off from work, so I went for a run through the neighborhood and found a new route that amounts to exactly 5K. It is very lovely and mostly shaded, which will be nice for warmer summer days. The weekend was very exciting and productive. My baby turned three–what a remarkable milestone! It seems like yesterday that I was up all hours of the night and morning nursing a tiny piglet to sleep. Now she is big and strong and can often outrun me! I also read through several hundred pages of research for my literature review and I organized and cleaned our study. It took us two years in this house, but our study is now finally a peaceful retreat for reading, writing, grading, and any other work that needs to be done. It is nice to have one room dedicated to these tasks with minimal distractions. I forgot how lovely the light is, particularly in the summer, when the southwest sunshine hits the room in the afternoon.

I hope to log a few shorter runs this week. This Sunday, I am participating in a trail running race.

Hello Again

It’s been a long time since I last updated this blog. For many months I was content to let it be, but lately I’ve wanted to write about my running journey. In the months since the marathon, I’ve run exactly one half marathon and one 5K. A dramatic decrease in race participation for 2014! I am still a runner, however. Despite a winter full of sickness and colds, I continued to log miles for sanity each week. I’ve been running purely for the joy of running. It is quite the shift from the focused marathon training that I was about to begin this time last year.

Where am I now? Well, I am about to start intentionally training for the Bellingham Bay half marathon. Long story short, I am beginning my doctoral studies in just a few days while working four days a week, so I decided that a half marathon would be more realistic than a full marathon. Also? I haven’t had the calling to run another marathon yet. I don’t think I will run another one for at least another year. We’ll see. I will let my heart decide when the time is right.

For now, I am just enjoying the groove of pounding pavement. Tomorrow I will enjoy a trail run with a running buddy (and co-pilot for half marathon training). I hope to reflect from time to time as I train for this race.


Fall is coming!

No big updates; tapering is going well. This Saturday I am running a 15K race, and then running another 15K on Sunday to support the last long run that my running buddy is doing in preparation for her half marathon. The summer is hanging on, so it will be a sunny and warm weekend for running. However… the leaves are changing and… FALL IS COMING!

I am inspired by Stephanie’s recent blog post on Fall. As a fellow adorer of this season, I’d love to take a moment to get excited about it.


Whee! Fall! I am excited for:

-Running on a foggy morning.

-Decayed leaves decorating the trails.


-Cool temperatures.

-The smell of chimney smoke in the evenings.

-Replenishing my glycogen stores with pumpkin bread and pumpkin ale.



Thursday Links

Off to the pool for my lunchtime swim/aqua jog, and I am also hoping for a quick run tonight since it is unexpectedly sunny out!

I read this article today, loved it, definitely related to parts of it, and wanted to share it.

Also, this exists. I want to try it!

My daughter’s school is participating in a rainbow-themed parade tomorrow. Naturally, my running buddy (the lovely auntie that she is) and I are breaking these tutus out again–running buddy even made a miniature one for my kiddo!

I made oatmeal cookies last night, but substituted half of the oats with granola. It’s as crunchy and decadent as it sounds. Now they are breakfast cookies, right? 🙂


I’ve spent the last two hours numb and heart-broken, knowing so many people who dedicated themselves to living their dreams and supporting the dreams of others are now victims of a senseless and disgusting act of terrorism. The running community is the most peace-loving and supportive family of people I know, and this tragedy breaks my heart. I am thinking of all of those marathoners, supporters, volunteers and first responders today and sending prayers for healing to them.


Yesterday was very high stress at work. I got home in my protective fog and really needed the self care of a solitary run. So I made the decision to forgo track practice and instead I enjoyed a 4-miler to and around the harbor and then back home. I honestly cannot believe what a difference that little run made in my day–and the good feelings carried through to today and I feel like I am just a little more calm and focused.

Running is not only free therapy–last night it was the best therapy!

Excited for the weekend ahead and a fun run on Saturday.