11/30/16: Whatever Wednesday

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was a whirlwind of a weekend spent with family and friends, and that’s just a preview of the next month. I adore this time of year, but I’m already tired and overbooking myself.

This time of year is also painful for many, and I will add myself in there. Thanksgiving is the last day I heard my grandmother, someone I considered my “partner in crime” from a young age, say “I love you” to me. She was in hospice, and as I prepared to leave, I told her I loved her. She whispered slowly and strained, “Love you, too.” And her voice will stick with me forever. She passed peacefully on December 6th.

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I know others are in their own kinds of pain, and I hope you are able to find some joy in each day. Sometimes, it’s just about survival. And I know part of my survival comes through running. I have been seeing lots of posts on staying accountable through the holidays, and paying close attention to that helps me. I particularly like this post from No Meat Athlete. Good tips for athletes and non-athletes alike.

I also find solace in books. It’s a good way for me to escape for a bit and focus on something not-in-my-head. What am I digging lately? In the past few weeks: Faithful by Alice Hoffman, You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein, and It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny. Also a shout-out to the new podcast Nora is hosting, https://www.apmpodcasts.org/ttfa/. And her new child, Stormtrooper Luckycharm. Because that is epic. I’m a quiet admirer of all she has done.

And obviously, check your local library or bookstore for these items. (I’m totally guilty of Amazon-ing a lot, though, so I totally get it if you do, too.)

Also, books are awesome, and these quotes remind me of that. Save ’em for a day you’re feeling a little lost.

Alright, that’s what I’ve got for today. Later, friends!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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11/22/16: Tasty Tuesday

I woke up late this morning. Well, let me correct myself. I woke up at a proper time to get my 30-minute run done, but I fell back asleep before my feet actually hit the floor. After I finally convinced myself to get up and out the door, it was raining. And the rain was freezing. Nonetheless, I threw on my reflective “vest” and had a brief, dark, slippery 20-minute run. Hoping to squeeze in some other form of movement tonight. Maybe a few minutes on the treadmill, but I’m not happy about it. Ah, ’tis the season.

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See vest here.

It seems to be a slightly more recent fad to “sneak” vegetables into food for kids. I’m not sure I necessarily can get totally behind this methodology, because I think kids need to learn to like veggies and foods of all kinds. Although I certainly see the reasoning behind it if you have a just-plain-stubborn, refuse-it-all, eater.

For me, the pickiest eater I have is my husband (sorry, dear). He has never been a huge vegetable fan, and I know he could use a lot more in his life. We all could, for that matter.

So when he asked me to pick up some ingredients at the store for cauliflower “fried rice,” I was ALL over his enthusiasm. I did some digging for recipes and found one that seemed simple enough from Hungry Girl. Even better, he prepared it himself while I played with the kiddo after a long weekend of work.

This recipe did not disappoint. (And I don’t even have a picture of it, because we gobbled it up.) Hubby and I both inhaled multiple helpings, which is totally cool in this case. Satisfying and surprisingly similar in texture to actual fried rice.

The kiddo is not a big eater. And that means of any food, regardless of what type it is. She will often try to negotiate with us to let her eat a few bites of broccoli if it means she doesn’t have to eat the rest of her pasta or cheese (I don’t even understand this or whose child we are raising). That being said, she didn’t eat a ton of this. But she DID eat this and say it was yummy. So that’s a big win, too!

I’m hoarding the leftovers for my own lunches now, but I am already counting down until next week so we can make it again. It may go into our weekly rotation.

Any favorite sneaky (or not-so-sneaky) veggie recipes in your lineup?

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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11/21/16: Manic Monday

Anyone else feeling a little edgy today? Since this week kicks off the official holiday season, I guess I’m feeling a little stressed. I just ate my feelings in the form of half a cookie, and then I stopped myself. Gotta nip that behavior in the bud and deal with my feelings in less destructive ways.

Speaking of emotions and such, lots of studies/discussion over the effect running and exercise can have on stress and depression. I’ve known for a long time that running in particular is incredibly helpful for me when it comes to keeping the demons at bay, but it’s nice to see that this idea is being put into the mainstream.

See: New York Times and Women’s Running.

First week of AMR Stride into the Holidays was pretty fun! I love the sense of community that goes with this. I did have to delay my long run from Saturday (20+ MPH winds plus really dark when I would have had to go) to Sunday (1 MPH winds plus sunlight when I was able to go). SO happy I did. Did 8 miles in the crisp near-winter air, but it was lovely. I’m so lucky I have time and support when it comes to running. And that my own two legs can carry me further than I ever believed.

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I’ve also been cruising through books recently, and I figure I should start getting some more reviews/updates on what I’m reading. I think I have that on the back burner right now and ready to move it to the forefront of my writing soon.

Alright, buckle up, party people. The holiday season is just getting in gear, and it’s gonna be a quick ride.

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Random November puddle-jumping picture for good measure.

See you in the next day or two!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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11/14/16: Manic Monday

H’okay. So. I’m here. I can’t pinpoint exactly what makes me run (or not run) right off the metaphorical tracks. I don’t know why I suddenly go silent here. I really do like writing, and I like having a place where I track my progress, or even my lack thereof.

But like I said recently, I’m not gonna dwell on these absences. I’m going to get back up and keep moving.

With that, today is the first day of Another Mother Runner’s Stride Through the Holidays! Benefiting Heart Strides! I am so excited for this fun 5-week plan. I’m coming down to crunch time for my half marathon, and I want to put myself in a prepared and positive space. Especially when there has been so much negativity in the air.

Regardless of your political beliefs and affiliations, I think everyone can agree this past week has been volatile. Frightening. Filled with uncertainty and turmoil. We are such a deeply polarized country at a time when we need to be united. I truly hope our next president is able to be successful and serve the diverse group of people who live in this country. To wish anything else upon him would be wishing for the failure of our country.

On a personal level, I wish you kindness, and I hope you put kindness into this world. Shouting and finger-pointing and violence and hate…those don’t serve to unite us or change minds. Instead, they deepen the chasm that exists in this “us versus them” country.

And on a very personal note, last week left me feeling broken in many ways. Not necessarily because of the results themselves but because of the aftermath. Because of this, I have made a choice to focus more on my blog and limit other forms of social media exposure, particularly to Facebook.

It might sound confusing. “Taking a break” from Facebook and focusing on my blog? I’ll make it work for me. It’s just too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of posts showing up in my newsfeed, to watch people bicker through their keyboards and smartphone screens…and even though I wasn’t involved, I was letting it affect me in unhealthy ways. So I decided to take a deep breath and focus on other things. Reading. Running. Crafting. Getting outside. And of course, playing with my kiddo.

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Warm quilt. Book. Lovely.

Well, my Manic Monday posts are usually a little less lengthy. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Relating to my social media rant, Active.com had an article on social media and the negative effects it can have on runners. As a back-of-the-pack runner who is often tough on herself, it’s far too easy to compare myself to others. I can come off a run feeling good and then feel disappointed after I see someone else’s far faster pace. But, I need to remember…”Ultimately, we have to run for ourselves.” Preach it, Active.

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Early morning colors.

I love listening to podcasts while I run. Mainly ones that focus on running. Currently in my rotation? Another Mother Runner, Mind Full, and The Runner’s World Show and Human Race.

But I’m always excited to find some more.
-Women’s Running featured a post on the 3 Best Podcasts for Building Mental Strength (something I’m totally into improving)
-Active.com gave a nice round-up of podcasts, and most of them aren’t directly related to running. Hmm. I might have to try a few of these.

Alright. Have a lovely day, you beautiful humans.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

P.S. I’ve been crushing on Kate McKinnon for some time now, and the opening of SNL this past weekend maybe sorta made me ugly cry. Hallelujah.

 

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11/4/16: Friday Favorites

Sometimes, you’re on top of the world (or at least at a good vantage point to see far across the land). You are pumped and proud and happy and things are better than okay.

Sometimes, you are stuck in bed with the covers pulled up over you head (or at least the metaphorical version: in a bleak and desolate corner of your mind where you can’t even see two feet in front of the haze that has formed around you). You are a mixture of numb and sad and blah that leaves you confused and feeling not-so-okay.

Sometimes, you experience these things within days or hours of each other, and it leaves you drained and wondering what is wrong with you. How can someone who has things going well for them possibly feel this way? Then guilt settles right in, too. It’s a vicious cycle.

I feel like I apologize often for lapses in blogging. And I can pile on the excuses, but those make me feel guilty, too. From now on, I’m just going to assume any blips in my writing are part of life. I’ll be here when I’m here. I’ll make myself accountable to this writing/running thing when I’m able. And all the other times, well…I’ll try to sneak in an Instagram post or two to feel a little more connected.

So on a day when I just don’t feel like I have any updates or anything good to say about my current running regimen (which has been, y’know, nonexistent this week), I’ll tell you something you already know.

My girl is my ultimate Friday Favorite. And making holidays, like Halloween, special for her is one of my ultimate joys in life. She is growing up so fast, and I want her to remember that her mom tried really hard for her. I want her to know it wasn’t always perfect, and Mom worked full-time and couldn’t spend time with her nearly as often as they both wanted. And Mom sometimes needed a half hour of playing Yahtzee on her phone after work.

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Halloween night at dance class

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BB-8 and R2-D2

But I want her to be able to say, “My mom loved me and did what she could to make things special in her own way.”

So I’ll ultimately focus on that goal each and every day.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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10/28/16: Friday Favorites

Alternative title: “Running Shoes: A Love Story.” (This is a play on a book I enjoyed, Running: A Love Story by Jen A. Miller. Pick it up if you get a chance.)

For a long time, I bought the least expensive pair of running shoes I could get away with. I wanted them to look okay but still be cheap enough that I could afford a pair. All running shoes were one and the same to me.

I’ve changed my tune since then. Oh, how young and naïve I was! I wonder now if I would have saved myself a lot of pain and trouble if I had taken the right shoe route, but what’s done is done.

Now, I truly love running shoes. I love going into specialty running stores and seeing the wall-o’-shoes with their bright colors and sleek appearances. I want them all, but I have learned to be selective and really pay attention to certain features. Particularly those that aid my often-painful plantar fasciitis flare-ups in my heels.

The first time I put on a pair of ASICS Gel Kayano 22, I literally felt like my feet were getting hugs. Heaven. Paradise for my feet that had been begging for support and cushioning for quite some time. These shoes provided the stability I really needed.

You may have seen them featured in most of my race pictures. They have been steady sidekicks for some time.

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However, even the best running shoes must be retired eventually. Usually sooner than when you’re ready to part with them. My ASICS have lost their cushioning and huggy feeling. The heel fabric inside the shoe is split on both shoes. It is time to retire them and induct them into their respective Hall of Fame.

Of course, I could have bought a new pair of the same, but I had some curiosity. I decided maybe I needed to try a few new things before I truly knew these shoes were “the ones.” There’s also the fact that companies continually put out new models of their shoes, so I won’t be able to purchase these ASICS forever.

I didn’t intend to try two new pairs at the same time. But I bought the Brooks Ghost 9s and the Saucony Guide 9s just a couple weeks apart, due to some darn good running shoe sales. So far, the Brooks and I are at friendship-level. The Sauconys, though? I have googly eyes for those babies. I’ve only run a couple of times with them.

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And no, I didn’t have that same immediate romantic feeling as I did with the ASICS. I’m going to chalk this up to the fact that I was running in totally-awfully-wrong shoes prior to putting my ASICS on. I may never have that same magical feeling again, even if I buy the same pair of ASICS brand new again.

Nonetheless, my Saucony’s are pretty. They’re comfy. I’m hoping they will have a brief break-them-in period, and then we’ll live in running bliss together for another 300-500 miles.

Happy weekend, friends.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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10/25/16: Tuesday Teaser

Okay, so I don’t have a toddler anymore. I’ve verbally acknowledged it, but my brain hasn’t accepted it yet. Nonetheless, I figure I should move along from “Toddler Tuesday,” because I write more than enough about the kiddo. Maybe it’s time for something fresh.

I’m fiddling around with a few different prompts for Tuesdays’ blog posts. And I’m not set on any one thing yet. (SUGGESTIONS ACCEPTED. And rewarded with virtual cookies and high-fives.) Here are a few ideas I’m tossing around:

  • Twitter Tuesday: a round-up of my favorite Tweets (and maybe posts from other social platforms) from cool people in the past week
  • Tuesday Tales: I’ve been trying to find a way to introduce book/media reviews in. But this presumes that I have something new to review each week. (This hearkens back to the fact that although I work in a library, I rarely have time to read.)
  • To-do Tuesday: The name of this prompt was difficult to come up with, but it would include whatever I’m up to as far as crafts/other DIY projects and tips that have helped make my home a somewhat decent place.

And let’s be real, it would  mostly be a list of “these cool things I found on Pinterest that I was able to half-ass on my own.” I’m not nearly as creative as I’d like to be.

I’m leaning toward either Twitter Tuesday or Tasty Tuesday. So today, you’re getting Tasty Tuesday! It’ll lean toward a round-up of recipes I want to try, have tried, and what we’re enjoying in our house. I like this idea, because I’m constantly on the search for easy, wholesome meals that Dino-Kid will actually eat. Ones that also support me and my husband as runners trying to lose weight and get healthier. And did I mention easy? Because it HAS to be easy and fairly quick.

I’m a big fan of the Crockpot. Set it and forget it? Count me in. I’m also finding the ways it can be incredibly versatile for more than just soups and stews. And with the changing season, in comes lots of yummy spaghetti squash. It is one of my favorite foods, and I’m convinced if you gave me a cooked spaghetti squash (no need to give me an extra plate or anything…just the halves) with a little EVOO, parmesan, salt, and peper, I could probably take down the whole thing solo.

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This picture is making me hungry.

Winter squashes in general are pretty amazing. So I’m glad we’re getting to the point of the year where they’re more plentiful.

Maybe I was just unaware until recently, but you can throw your spaghetti squash right in the Crockpot to cook it. Poke some holes, add some water and the whole squash to your slow cooker, and cook away!

Like I said, my goal is to keep it easy. Usually, I’ll throw some seasonings, olive oil, and parmesan on top and chow down. (See this recipe if you’re looking for something a little more formal.) It also leaves it open to adding whatever sauce/seasonings each family member wants. DK likes hers with some marinara and “chee-chee-cheese” as she calls parmesan. Hubby goes the route of butter, seasoning, and parmesan. If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over it for some tang. Basically, if I would add it to my spaghetti noodles, I’ll add it to my squash.

Any of you have recommended winter squash recipes? Because I’m totally listening (please! join my squash love-fest!).

Also, RIP “Toddler Tuesday.” You’ve given me some good fodder for posts, even when I haven’t felt like I had anything else to say. And you’ve been just one more source for me to show off my kid and pretend like others are deeply interested in her fascination with Daniel Tiger and potty training habits.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

 

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10/24/16: Manic Monday

I’m coming off a weekend of late nights and lots of getting-stuff-done and little time to take a breath. We celebrated Dino-Kid’s (it feels weird to say that, but I think she has graduated beyond toddlerhood? I’m not sure this nickname will stick.) birthday with a shindig at our home. I believe that saying, “It takes a village,” and our village is pretty damn spectacular. I  know she is so loved, but it was an overwhelming reminder of how lucky she (and we are, too) to have so many wonderful, caring people helping her grow.

It was also the first year where I really figured she’d enjoy the decorations I put together, and I wanted to make it extra special for her. I do go a little over-the-top in making stuff for her parties sometimes, but I love crafting and DIY-ing. Daniel Tiger was the theme, of course, and I had fun creating things that would make her feel like some of the Neighborhood of Make Believe was actually in her home.

When she woke up and came down the stairs in the morning, I was rewarded beyond what I could have dreamed. She ran around the dining room looking at the decor. Then, she turned around, looked at me, and said, “Mama, did you make this for me?! Thank you so very much!”

My heart melted, and the late nights and rushing around were totally worth it.

This whole week has hit me right in the feels as I remember my itty bitty baby and how she is so not itty bitty anymore. There have also been various running-related stories that have hit me hard emotionally and reminded me that the vast majority of runners are really awesome people.

Grab your tissues and head to these links if you’d like to read something that’ll hopefully make you think a little. Or maybe make people think you have allergies or just a piece of dust in your eye or something.

  • I’m pretty much in love with most everything Jenny Lawson does and says, and this blog post is no exception.
  • Another Mother Runner featured this beautifully written piece about running across generations. I got both chills and warm fuzzies while reading it.
  • I try not to get vocally political too often. But you should vote. I’ll tie it in with this piece by Run Selfie Repeat on Runner’s World. You go, girl. You have a runner’s body, and I have a runner’s body, too.
  • On a similar note, Reebok is facing some pushback on a recent photo they posted in relation to their #PerfectNever campaign, featuring renowned international supermodel Gigi Hadid. I like that social media gives people a chance to vocalize to organizations what is right/wrong and have their voices be heard. Run Far Girl writes eloquently on the issue. Just for good measure, I’ll include a counterpoint.
  • A heartwarming and heartbreaking story all at the same time. These twins are both amazing in their own unique ways.

Okay. That’s what I’ve got for today! Hope your Monday isn’t too manic. If it is, there’s a nice glass of wine or mug of hot tea calling your name right now. You better listen.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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10/20/16: Thankful Thursday

It seems rather appropriate this week that I choose three things I’m thankful for each week. Because…as of this week, I have a three-year-old. My darling daughter turned three, and I am caught between wishing time would slow down and wondering how there was ever a time she wasn’t by my side.

So I guess I’m gonna harp on this, and I’m going to list three things related to Dino-Toddler that make me deeply gracious for her coming into my life.

  1. She made me stronger.

    I’ve struggled with my mental health for a long time. However, after DT was born, it was like my brain and heart exploded and melted. I barely crawled through some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.
    I lost some of the joy that I felt I should have experienced. I was an incredibly sad human, and I’d cry whenever hubby left to go to work. I couldn’t imagine spending another 8+ hours alone with this small creature who cried and cried while I cried and cried.
    Although I wish I could have that time back, I know I am stronger because of it. I got the help I so desperately needed, and I learned how to take care of myself and my brain so much better.
    I am stronger because of her. I am stronger, because I want her to see what strength looks like. It doesn’t mean every day is great. It means you keep going and you take care of yourself so you can be there to take care of others.

  2. She is a bright ball of fiery sunshine.

    This girl makes me laugh every day. And she makes me want to scream every day. That’s part of her job being a toddler…err…preschooler now. She is so very bright and caring and strong-willed. She never stops talking and observing. The wheels of her brain are constantly in motion, and she astounds me with the things she says. She remembers events from a year ago, and she can vividly tell stories about them. She can hear a song just a few times and memorize many of the words and tunes. All of this can be overwhelming for her, and it can make her emotional. I can’t imagine having that much of a fire in my mind and heart all the time. She feels things so very deeply, and she knows what she wants.
    She is so different from me, and that is beautiful.

  3. She makes me want to be a better person.
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    Even though I was at the beginning achy, stuffy stages of a head cold on her birthday morning, I ran three miles. I did it because I want to be a better person for her. I run for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is her. I want to keep up with her as she grows, and I want her to see what healthy looks like.

There are a million reasons I’m thankful for her and I know others are, too. She inspires this journey often, and that’s why I talk about her so darn much here. I just hope I can provide some inspiration to her, too.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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10/17/16: Manic Monday

Hey, look! I’m actually updating my blog within a day of running a race! Can you believe it?

So Mankato, like the TC 10-mile, was fabulous. It was fabulous in a way entirely its own, though. To me, there’s something so charming about Mankato. Maybe it’s because I went to school there. Maybe it’s because it’s where I developed my relationship with my hubby or where we got engaged or where we lived when we got married. Maybe it’s because I made friends there and worked jobs I loved there and made so many memories. And maybe it’s just because it’s such a good mix of small-town with larger city amenities.

Expo was fun! Obviously it wasn’t as big as TC, but it still had many neat booths. And I wanted all the things. I was thrilled to talk to Alisha Perkins for a bit and hear her speak. I love how amazing and real she is, and she speaks with such raw honesty. She is so sweet, and I just admire what she does for the running community and Minnesota!

Thanks to my parents, we were able to go as a duo rather than trying to coordinate having Dino-Toddler with us. We were both running, so she wouldn’t have had a lot of fun waiting. I ran the 10K, and hubby ran the half-marathon. It was his first half (!!!), so we wanted to get there and settled on time.

IT WAS COLD when we arrived at the event. We both immediately regretted not having more layers as we tried to warm up next to the starting line.

It quickly got brighter out, and obviously we both warmed up after we crossed our respective start lines.

All I can say is…A+. Beautiful course. Great volunteers and support. I had a blast on this run. I felt SO good the whole time, and I maintained a 13:09/mile pace. If you have seen any of my previous paces, you’ll know this is tops for me. I felt strong, and I finished strong! And I had fun along the way. There was a pretty superb downhill stretch that just felt like a bonus.

The colors. The weather. Everything was just gorgeous. I got to the finish, changed in the car (free parking in a parking ramp, yo!), and meandered a bit before settling in at the finish line to wait for the husband.

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Dino-Toddler may have been at home, but she was cheering us on in spirit. Got this text from my dad and step-mom mid-race, and it brightened my heart. Sent it onto husband who received it at about mile 6.

I was so excited to see him coming down the finisher’s chute! I am so damn proud of this guy. Mostly because he didn’t train a lot for this round, but he still made it. He said miles 10-13.1 were the hardest thing he has ever done. He earned that medal and the beers and snacks that came afterward.

I think this is our last big race until MY half in January. Eeek. Hopefully I’ll add a few fun 5Ks in there, but we’re on the downhill stretch now for training. Time to re-group, buckle down, and get to business. This sport is so hard for me, but that is also what makes it incredibly rewarding.

Onward!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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