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Run!

gotr1

About a year and a half ago, my daughter asked if she could join our local chapter of Girls on the Run (GOTR).

What is Girls on the Run, you ask? GOTR is a fantastic organization, and if you haven’t heard of it, here is a quick down and dirty right from the website:  Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. In other words, an awesome program that helps girls build character and confidence, culminating with running a 5K.

So, as I said, she asked me if she could join this great program.

My brain froze. “How is she going to do this with Type 1 Diabetes. I can’t run with her, how will I know she is ok? She’s only in the 4th grade, I can’t expect her to take care of this on her own.”

Then the voice of reason reminded me of something our endocrinologist always says, “What would you do in this situation if she didn’t have type 1? Whatever that answer is, that is what you should do.” I took a deep breath and realized that if it weren’t for type 1, I wouldn’t have hesitated. What gave me the final boost is that a friend who also has type 1 was a coach.

My daughter loved the feeling of freedom she gained from GOTR. She loved running. She loved being with her friends without me lurking in the background.

Fast forward a few weeks. My daughter asked me to be her running buddy for the 5K. My brain froze. “I don’t run. My daughter runs, I have friends who run. I don’t run.” My best friend (a runner) offered to run for me, but when I sat down and really thought about it, I reasoned with myself. “I should run with my daughter. What a great bonding experience. How hard can it be, I mean she’s only in 4th grade.”

We had a practice 5K. My daughter left me in the dust, but I was able to slowly jog about half of it and walked the rest. The real GOTR 5K was next, and I was so inspired by GOTR that half way through the run I committed to coach the next season. (The endorphins made me do it!)

Last fall I helped coach my daughter’s GOTR team, and what a great experience that was. We started as a group of girls and women who may or may not have known each other. We had some girls who had never run any distance before. We had girls who were shy or maybe had only a few friends. We had girls who had no confidence in their ability to run 3.1 miles. Over the ten weeks we became a group of friends. A group of girls and women who supported and cheered for one another. A group of girls who, no matter what age or grade they were, had something in common with one another.

Our fall practice run was on a crisp autumn afternoon. We had some veterans on the crew, some 4th or 5th graders who knew what to expect, but we also had girls who had never run as far as we were about to. We set off and what a sight to behold, girls who had just weeks before, never run more than across a playground, were completing their goal of running a 5K. One by one they crossed the finish line, breathing hard but with smiles on their faces. They had done it.

Days later, we completed the GOTR fall run, and those darn endorphins took over again. I volunteered to be the head coach for our GOTR chapter for the spring session.

Yep, you heard that right. By the time the race was over, I was convinced I had what it takes. I still couldn’t run an entire 5K, but somehow I felt moved to be a bigger part of this organization.

I never regretted that decision. It was a little bit of extra work, and a little bit of extra worry for all those girls, but what I got back was something so fulfilling. I felt like maybe I’ve made a difference in even one of those girls lives. I like to think that the support that I gave helped them in some way. And I hope that my involvement made my daughter proud.

I was my daughter’s running buddy again last Saturday, and again she left me in the dust. But you know what is cool? My son was inspired by all this running, and he entered the run too. He’s nine years old, but that day he was my support system, my running buddy. He kept me running, he kept himself running, and the three of us all reached our goal. We all were able to run the entire 5K without any walking, some of us slower than others, but we ran. I am so proud of both of my children, and I am proud of me.

Nevertheless, the time has come to hang up my coaching sneakers, as my daughter has come to the end of her GOTR career. I will always look back fondly to the miles I shared with her and all the girls on our team.

 

Cosmo.

I love my husband with all my heart, but I can not even begin to understand the obsession our dog has with his feet.

 

Why do I let them do this to me?

Why do I let them do this to me?

 

Cosmo (the foot-licker), is a relatively new member of our family. He’s been with us for about 1 1/2 years, but we couldn’t imagine life without him.

He’s 16 pounds of comedian, security, trash collector, personal trainer, detective, food critic, squirrel and friend all rolled into a fluffy white package. He loves fruit and vegetables, and has a nose for chocolate (I do know the dangers of chocolate for dogs and do not feed it to him!). He occasionally gets into my purse or my little girl’s diabetes bag and snags snacks. Does he eat them? No. He hides them in the corners of our couch, laundry basket, in our bed, even in my husband’s briefcase. I wonder if he is storing them away for leaner times?

He is always ready for a walk and he is always excited to see me or any member of the family. He misses my Mom and Dad when they are away and is ecstatic when they return. He has been loyal to us since the day we met.

When Cosmo joined our family he was three years old, and we didn’t know much about his past. We quickly learned he despised other dogs, with the exception of puppies. Walking him through the neighborhood was stressful, he barked at everyone. It has taken a long time, but he is becoming tolerant of some dogs and has even made some friends. It warms my heart to see him wag his tail at a dog, as it was such a rare occurrence in the past. Don’t get me wrong, he still has several dogs that are the enemy (in his mind), and he really is not concerned that many of them outweigh him by 50 pounds or more. He barks like a fierce warrior and it drives me crazy, but I’m not losing hope for him.

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So as I watch him worship a foot, or patrol our windows, or stash a granola bar I smile. We have our own little quirky dog, who while not perfect, is perfect for our family.

Caged.

Cage Fitness™, where do I start?

Well first of all, there is no cage.

As I have alluded to before, I am by no means a fitness authority. While I am active, I have never really enjoyed any organized exercise. I have taken part in several different classes over the years; pilates, yoga, a couple of different fitness boot camps, a short stint with Kung Fu and water aerobics. (I have to say I LOVED the water aerobics but the classes aren’t really convenient for me.) As a child and teen I worked with and rode horses every day. Hidden in day to day care and training for competition was exercise, but it was a benefit of riding, not the reason.

So much to my surprise, I took a trial Cage Fitness™ class at my daughter’s martial arts school and loved it. I loved every sweaty, exhausting 30 minutes of it. This class is perfect for me. We work out for five 5-minute rounds. Each round consists of about six different exercises, working the upper and lower body as well as your core. I work only with a grappling dummy, no partners (although my classmates are great!), and there is constant variety which keeps it very interesting. I have no experience with other locations, but our academy here in town has fabulous instruction that motivates me to work harder. Plus, if for no other reason you get to punch the dummy. Really. Hard.

This is the best part! Photo by Brandon Tracy

I will not go into the details. I am not a big enough expert to describe the exercises, and you really need to see or try the class to get the idea. But I will say that I have lost some pounds, I am stronger, and when I look in the mirror there is no doubt I am tightening up. When I started the class I felt very clumsy and self-conscious, but through practice and encouragement from both instructors and fellow classmates, I feel a bit more coordinated and confident.

So much harder than it looks. Photo by Brandon Tracy

Cage Fitness™ is just plain fantastic. If you live here in town, I highly recommend taking a free trial. If you don’t, check out here to see if there is a class near you.

Tears of Laughter.

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out Awkward Family Photos yet stop what you are doing and go there now.

So darn funny…

I'm kinda glad I am an only child!

Camelback.

For almost 12 years I have been in a love-hate relationship…

Shame on you for assuming I was talking about my husband. I am talking about Camelback, a little mountain with a big attitude.

My photo of Camelback as seen from the Taliesin Ridge in the McDowell Mountains.

Camelback Mountain has an elevation of 2700 feet. It looks like a giant camel resting in the middle of the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. It is an iconic symbol of the city and has become a bit of a fascination of mine. The hike itself is 1.2 miles long and has an elevation gain of nearly 1200 feet.  What this little mountain lacks in size, it makes up for with rough rocky trails, high temperatures much of the year, and a steep grade. I have heard the grade of the climb averages 40%, but don’t quote me on that because I simply heard it via word of mouth.

In the year 2000 I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, days after my husband and I were married. He had lived there for two years already and I had become enamoured with the Southwest. We hiked many different places on the weekends, but it was a hot December day when we took on Camelback for the first time.

I am by no means a regular fitness kind of person (with the exception of Cage Fitness which I will talk about at a later date). I am more of a barrel-into-something-and-hope-for-the-best kind of gal. Cases in point, hiking the Grand Canyon(2 times), riding 150 mile charity rides(2 times), and numerous hikes on Camelback Mountain. All of these events were done with virtually no training on my part, because to repeat, regular fitness is not really my thing.

A friend asked if we wanted to hike Camelback. We said yes, and off we went to hike up the Echo Canyon trailhead. I had no idea what we were about to do. There were extremely steep climbs that made me fearful of how I would ever get down again.

Steep.

There were boulders to climb and gravel to slip on. There was even wildlife that at first made me wary. But we hiked it, and hiked it again and again and again many times that year. I don’t think there was a time that we hiked Camelback that first year that I ever enjoyed hiking up.  Ever. Sometimes I cried, usually I gasped for breath, one time I even stumbled and hit the dirt. As I stood bleeding, I looked up and there were two nuns in full habits and hiking boots coming down the trail. For just a few seconds I was convinced I had died. We all said hello, then I kind of chuckled at myself and continued on.

Kinda rocky.

When we came back home to visit family, I told my relatives of our hikes on Camelback. My Grandpa shared a story with us that back in the late 1930’s he went on a trip across the U.S. and stopped in Phoenix for a while. He talked of camping by the orange groves and the open space at the foot of Camelback Mountain. When I hiked up I always tried to visualize where he camped, but now there is nothing but houses and resorts in every direction.

Orange groves and Camelback -This is what my Grandpa saw.
Click on photo for more information. (Photo courtesy of Salt River Project)

In 2001 we moved back near where we grew up, but have visited Arizona several times since. Two weeks ago my good friend and I went to Scottsdale for a long weekend. I wanted to show her where I used to live, we both wanted a getaway and we were able to stay with my parents which made the trip very affordable. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) We went hiking with my parents in the McDowell Mountains.  I was not aware of how fascinated I must be by Camelback until I was told,

“You’ve been talking so much about that mountain. Let’s just do it.”

So J. and I got up the next morning and did it. It was tough, I’m not going to say it wasn’t. But it was great to hike those rocks again. It was great to see again the characters that hike that mountain every day, some twice my age, passing me or passing me more that once. It was great to see that city again from high above, to share the camaraderie with a bunch of strangers who had just accomplished the same thing. And it was great to share it with a friend who can now maybe better understand my obsession with the collection of sandstone and granite that is Camelback Mountain.

The Spoon.

Maybe this is sharing too much.

I love a spoon. I am maybe even a little obsessed with a certain spoon. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t special. If you looked at it you wouldn’t even notice it. Truthfully though, when I see someone else in the family grab it to eat some applesauce or soup, it takes all my strength not to rip it out of their hands! Spoon-able food without that spoon just doesn’t taste quite as good to me.

Crazy right?!

Isn't she a beauty?

I “found” this spoon almost 20 years ago when my Mom, Dad and I went to the Grand Canyon. The three of us had never camped or hiked before, so it seemed like the perfect place to experience both! Well seasoned hikers that we were, we realized the morning of our hike that we did not have any utensils to stir the dehydrated meals we had packed. I grabbed a spoon from the cafeteria fully intending to return it after we emerged from the canyon.

We had a wonderful trip, one day to hike down, two to hike up. We ate our awful dehydrated spaghetti for dinner, the dehydrated scrambled eggs for breakfast. The spoon stirred it all for us, was there with us during this life-changing adventure.

We rose out of the canyon on the third day, filthy, sore and dying for a cold drink. We packed up our gear and immediately headed out of Grand Canyon National Park. We drove to Tusayan, the closest form of non-park civilization, and went through the drive thru at McDonald’s.

A couple of days later, after returning home and unpacking the camping gear, I found the spoon. I did not mean to keep it, but I was thousands of miles away from that cafeteria, so I washed it and stuck it in the drawer.

I was single then, with really cheap silverware. The new spoon had sturdiness to it. Some good weight which made it pleasant to hold.

Nearly twenty years later I still grab that spoon first, even with my “good” flatware added to the collection.  The spoon and I have been through the Grand Canyon together. It has joined me in five homes, served me through heartache, through love, through a wonderful marriage, and raising my kids. This morning I had the revelation, “why don’t I just buy a whole set of that flatware?” So I searched and searched. I found many similar place settings but none were just right. I imagine the style has long been discontinued (but why?), and even searches of discontinued styles brought no results.

I may never stop searching. Somewhere, there has got to be matching pieces to make a set. Maybe when I bring my kids to see the Grand Canyon someday, I will again eat at the cafeteria.  I suppose I could ask where they buy their flatware.  I am not sure I will be able to return that spoon however…

I better stop now before I get too stirred up.

Get it? Stirred up?

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