Declare It Day 2017

Declare It Day 2017 is in the books!

Knock on wood, my running’s been going well lately and I’ve been kicking around the idea of a fall marathon, most likely the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon given that the course is  going to be (practically) in our new neighborhood and it’s a course I’ve run four times already.

This will also be my tenth marathon, which seems like a cool milestone.

Putting something out there for everyone to see has usually been an effective motivator for me in the past, so here’s my Declare It Day goal for 2017:

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And yes, I want to go for a PR!

 

Sneaky Ways to Get More Steps

I started using an activity monitor – again – a few months ago, and it’s satisfying to see the step numbers ticking upward every day.

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The positive reinforcement also motivated me to find ways to get in more steps, every day. 

Most of these ideas are simple, but effective:

  • Schedule walking meetings. My colleague/friend, G., and I have been trying to take a 20 minute walk together nearly every day this summer. Sometimes we talk about work. Sometimes we don’t. We would likely have spent the time commiserating anyway, so the steps and extra Vitamin D are bonuses.
  • Take yourself out for a quick stroll. My neighbor D. and I were talking about this last night: when we feel frustrated with work, we take a quick walk break. It’s only five minutes or so, but it allows time to chill out/cool down, and there’s almost nothing work-related that can’t wait five minutes. Over the past few months, I’ve done this up to three times per day. That’s a substantial number of steps.
  • Find “lost” time. Everyone has junk time in their day, i.e., those moments that could be used more productively. For me, it’s the time that it takes to turn cases over in the OR. Regulations on cleaning operating rooms require at least a ten minute break between most of the cases I do, and with spending two to four days per week in the OR – often doing quick cases in succession – I  quickly discovered that I can walk laps around the perimeter of the OR suites and get at least 500 steps in between cases. I used to spend this time drinking coffee in the doctors’ lounge, FYI. This feels better.
  • Walk around your house – a lot. A few months ago, I started making domestic chores a lot harder than necessary (and, if you follow regularly, you know I hate/avoid all domestic chores). I used to fold laundry like this: dump everything on my bed and fold it while listening to NPR, then precariously carry a stack of folded laundry to each child’s room, my own closet, etc, when I was done. Now I do this: dump everything on my bed, intermittently listen to NPR, grab the first item I see and then fold it while walking it to its proper home. This requires dozens of trips to my kids’ closets, my own closet, etc, but it can rack up a thousand steps or more in the process. More advice on how to maximize this “house walking” strategy can be found here.
  • Be strategic about your exercise. Last spring I was flirting with the idea of taking a bicycle trip to Napa Valley this fall with my good friends J. and B., so I decided to practice biking by riding the Expresso machine at the gym, which is a sophisticated exercise bike that allows you to ride virtual courses and mixes up the terrain. Basically, it’s riding a bike in a video game, and it can be a phenomenal workout. Except … my activity monitor didn’t credit me for any of it. Zip. Nada. However, the elliptical machine does count every step. So when I need to make it count, I’m rocking the elliptical all the way.

Please share any tips you have for getting in more activity!

UNICEF Kid Power Bands

Having active kids is important to me, but I have to confess I’m terrible at getting them into activities like organized sports.

I’ve always prided myself at not over scheduling MGM (9) and Trixie (7), instead letting them organically be kids and not programmed robots.

Except this summer, they’ve both become couch potatoes. Cringe.

Some of that will change when school starts next week (Trixie goes to yoga; MGM stays in thrice weekly karate), but when my friend T. recently suggested getting the kids activity trackers to inspire them to move more, I was intrigued.

Another confession: I didn’t want to invest $100+ on a device that had a high chance of being broken, lost or unused if the kids didn’t buy into my plan of falling in love with seeing those step numbers climb each day.

I was thrilled when I discovered the UNICEF Kid Power Band, which not only has a great price point ($39.99), but also does good.

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Photo via UNICEF

Kids register their bands on a free app and then can go on “missions,” where the more steps they take, the more Kid Power points they earn. The points can then be converted to funding where UNICEF delivers food to malnourished children around the world.

How cool is that?

Trixie loves her band! She and I compete to see who gets more steps each day.

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The Only Two Pairs of Heels You Need

I recently decided that these two pairs of heels could get me through just about anything requiring a little height.

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This wonderful packing and travel website has really influenced my two recent trips to Ireland and Alaska, and there’s been spillover to my wardrobe in general.

This video and packing list for a ten day cruise in a foreign country really blew my mind. Everything you need fits into a duffel bag? Wow.

I tried to put these rules to the test during my recent Alaskan cruise. While I wasn’t perfect, I managed to bring just two pairs of heels.

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The left pair is from Sam Edelman. The one on the right is Michael Kors, which I got for a screaming deal on the sale rack at Macy’s. Originally $135, these were marked down to $55.

[Shopping tip on how I scored this sweet deal: they were in the size 9.5 section, which is a half size larger than what I normally buy, but it’s a rack that has a lot more leftover shoes on it than the more popular (smaller) sizes. Think big! With the ankle strap and the pointy toe, going up a half size makes these supportive and supremely comfortable. There is nothing worse than having pinched toes all day. Ouch. Note that I am actually about an 8.75, which is a shoe size that does not exist, but I will get to that later].

Our Alaskan cruise was my sixth Disney cruise, and normally I would bring about five dressy outfits for a seven night trip. Those five outfits often came with five pairs of shoes and at least two evening bags.

This time I brought just two dresses (the cornflower blue Hanna from M.M. LaFleur I mentioned earlier this week) and a plain LBD. I planned to wear each of them twice and then for the rest of the nights, I would wear a pair of black J. Crew pants with a leather tuxedo stripe detail on the side.

I snapped up these J. Crew pants about a year ago on clearance for $29. This is a similar style:

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The pants, in particular, are real chameleons. I paired them with a black and white striped peplum top, a sweater and a dressy poncho. I wore them about four times on the trip and could have even reduced my packing to just one dress. I’ll remember this for my next trip.

[And the evening bag: this on trend one from Banana Republic, but in black].

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And now back to the shoes.

My one-two combo of nude and black heels covered all the bases.

I saw other people with entire suitcases of shoes (really!) and felt like for once, I’d gotten it right.

One tiny miscalculation: the cool Alaskan temps made my feet a little smaller than usual. The Sam Edelman d’Orsay pair shown above were in a size 9, and my technically-size-8.75-feet kept slipping at the heels. I ended up wearing the nude pair twice, but I didn’t get the mileage out of them that I’d hoped.

When I got home, I managed to take the things that I loved about the black pair and mostly translate it into another nude pair: pointy toes, supportive straps, etc. The Sole Society pair at the very top were $69 at Nordstrom. For these I had to size down to an 8.5 (the only size they had left), but they fit perfectly and are comfortable enough for all day wear (work tested, work approved).

I’m going to try to keep these two pairs in reserve, saving them mostly for travel. I have this weird thing where I don’t like to take really worn-out things on a trip (especially shoes), but I think these will be more than enough for almost any dressy destination.

Now I just need to plan my next adventure…

P.S. The type of pair I would add if I had to bring dressy sandals:

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Yes, I am still obsessing over these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pixie Dust Challenge Recap

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Yesterday – Mother’s Day – I completed the inaugural Pixie Dust Challenge, a two-day, 19.3 mile event from Run Disney.

Event one was a 10k on Saturday morning, followed by a half-marathon on Sunday.

Earlier this year (February, to be exact), I did a similar thing in Florida, so I felt like I had the drill down.

Just like Florida, Saturday was colder than Sunday, less crowded, and overall, I liked the 10k courses better than the half-marathons.

It’s easy to see why, though: by the time you realize you’re running, you’re well into the 10k, and then it’s over before you know it. Since the course is shorter, there’s also much more running time within the theme parks than in the surrounding streets, which of course is a lot of fun and a great distraction.

I didn’t check my official time yet, but my watch said my 10k time was 57:29, which is pretty typical for me. I could have gone a bit faster, but I was nervous that I could flame out on Sunday if I went out too hard on Saturday, so I held back a bit.

Here’s a shot from the starting area at 5:30 AM Saturday, plus a post-race nap I took in front of a fire in the lobby of the Grand Californian hotel (20 minutes of heaven).

 

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On Sunday, I felt better than I expected. The course is honestly a bit boring in the middle and I’d planned to take a short walk break around mile 8 if I needed it, but I didn’t.

Soon I saw miles 8, 9 and 10 tick away. When I got to 11, I knew I would be done in less than twenty minutes, so I kept moving forward.

Again, I didn’t check my official time, but my watch said 2:05 when I crossed the finish line. I felt strong.

And on to the bling!

I actually got four medals this weekend, but you can only see three above. I left the 10k one in my hotel room. After finishing the half-marathon, I got the medal for that (far left), one for the Pixie Dust Cahllenge (middle), and then a Coast to Coast one (pink, on right), for completing half-marathons in both Florida and California in the same calendar year. The middle one was my favorite!

But, the truth is that while I loved participating in these races and felt strong – which I think is really critical to share with my kids – I missed them terribly. I made a mistake in not bringing them with me, especially since it was Morher’s Day. That fact was poignant and I was envious of other women whose kids were cheering for them and hugging them in the reunion area. I’d like to rectify this next year, if possible.

I couldn’t get home fast enough.

P.S. I bought this rainbow unicorn hoodie from Raw Threads because, well, it’s a rainbow unicorn and totally hilarious. Also, I was cold!

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Mother of the Year

Well, I’m giving this post that title with more than a little sarcasm, since my overall mothering has been pretty sub-par as of late.

If you’re keeping up at all, I’ve been on three trips in three weeks, most recently coming home from California for less than 24 hours, only to turn around and go back to a different city in California (San Francisco —> L.A.).

The first two trips were for work, but the last one was definitely for fun. I decided to participate in the Disney Tinkerbell half marathon for the fourth time, and this year there was a new race: the Pixie Dust Challenge, a 10k on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday. Total: 19.3 miles.

The first three years of this race, it was held in January. Year one (2012), the race was two days off from my 39th birthday. I can’t even remember how or when I decided to do it this way, but I traveled alone for a long weekend, and I had a blast. I stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, which is a beautiful, sprawling property with immediate access to Disneyland. It was my first trip to Disneyland and I felt like a kid. The course was fast and fun, and the whole thing was so great that I had to do it again.

Through a weird twist of timing, the race was pushed back one week the second year, and so I ended up being 39 twice when I ran it. Year two, since I was heading into 40, I decided to celebrate by doing a Coast to Coast challenge, which nets you a special Run Disney medal on top of the regular finisher’s medals.

For leg one, I ran the Disney marathon in Orlando (my third time on that course), and then – less than a week later – turned around and headed to Disneyland with my family, as well as my sister’s, to complete my second annual 39 year old Tinkerbell half-marathon. There were eight of us for a long weekend, and it was a great trip. We stayed again at the Grand Californian and spent Saturday and Sunday (post-race) at the parks. My kids loved hanging out with their older cousins (my sister’s two sons), and it was absolutely awesome to have someone cheering for me at the finish line, which almost never happens since most of my runs are solo.

Last year, I came alone again and couldn’t get into the Grand Californian (full), so I decided to stay at the Park Sheraton (about a half mile away) and collect some Starwood points as a bonus. The hotel was a lot less expensive than the Grand Californian and while it wasn’t as nice or as convenient, it was ok.

This year the race was moved to May.

Now I feel this weird legacy to the Tinkerbell half-marathon, and I had it in my head that I wanted to compete five years in a row, if possible.

So here we are in year four.

Getting to Anaheim was also a challenge this year; the flights would only work for me to be able to pick up my race bibs if I came in on Thursday night, so I did.

But that meant the sub-24 hour home visit before heading out.

Both kids pleaded for me to stay home. Heart officially broken.

I was already 99 percent sure I would cancel and live without my stupid self-imposed Tinkerbell streak, but Spouse stepped in and said Everything Would Be OK, and I should go.

So I did.

I’ll post about the races later, but I’ll stop here to officially thank my Ever Patient Spouse, who really is Dad of the Year. Thank you for this Mother’s Day!

Ipad artwork from Trixie:

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