Archive for April, 2012

My New Running Buddy

I ran 6.5 km last night.  With my horse.

Wait.  What?

I started running because I needed some time alone to gather my thoughts and re-charge my batteries.  Horseback riding has always been my outlet for this, but with three little kids I just didn’t have time.  A quick run made more sense (hence my love of 5K races my first year as a runner).

Now, as I train for my first half marathon, I’m starting to resent some of my runs.  It’s gorgeous outside.  I have convinced my husband to stop working long enough to watch the kids for two hours so I can do a long run.  But two hours is enough time to go riding instead…

Riding is my first love, but I’m not ready to give up running either.  While out on a long run I hatched a plan to get both of us exercised at the same time.  People run with their dogs all the time. Why couldn’t I run with my horse?

I laid out the criteria of the run in my head.  1. It must be one of my driveway runs. I definitely don’t need traffic whizzing past (yes, a truck does go by here once or twice an hour!) and spooking my running buddy.  Also, the sides of my driveway are grass and level for the first foot or so before dropping off, so would be better for his feet – I could run on the gravel, he could jog beside me on the grass.  2. It must be an easy run, too difficult to worry about pace when you’re already worrying about a horse.  3. Tell no one. This is a weird plan, people will laugh at you.

My  husband was away for the night, kids were in bed, I had an easy run on my schedule. The stars had aligned, time to try the crazy plan.  Baby monitor on the step, I prepared to run to the end of my half-mile long driveway and back four times… with my horse.

Me and my best friend of 16 years!

Here’s the really crazy part: it worked! It’s difficult to explain the concept of pacing to a barrel racing horse with lots of energy and long legs, but after the first mile he calmed down a bit and we settled into a pace we could both agree on. It’s hard to run while holding a thick lead rope, but hey, I’m not going to do this every day, so I managed.  I got my four mile easy run in, and my horse got his legs stretched too. Success all around.

When my husband got home, I told him what I’d done (now that I had been successful, I decided I was allowed to tell someone!). Surprise: he thought it was brilliant! 

So then I got thinking about novelty runners.  You know, the guys who run a marathon while juggling, or run backwards.  I bet no one’s ever entered a race with a horse before! (I’m kidding, I won’t actually do that. But I could.) 😉

Gotta run.

Run Like A Four Year Old

“I can run with you, Mommy!” I’d been looking forward to hearing each of my children say this someday… but not today. My training plan called for an 8 km run, with 5 at tempo.  I thought, I love you sweetie, but your four year old legs just won’t be able to keep up!

My runs often take place when my children are asleep.  Our farm has a half-mile long driveway, so I take the baby monitor outside, leave it on my front step, and run a mile to the end and back. When I get back I listen to the monitor to make sure everyone is still alright, then go again. 

I know some of you are judging me right now. “How can she leave her kids alone?!” I also know that many of you are also mother runners, and that you get it.  I’m on my driveway.  No one can get in or out without going by me. Our nearest neighbor is 4 km away.  And a mile takes me 8-9 minutes. Mowing the lawn in the summer takes about 45 minutes, and I do that without checking the monitor in the middle, so in a way they’re actually more closely monitored when I run.  If my farmer husband is around the yard or in his shop then he takes the monitor and I actually get to leave the driveway!

Lately, I’ve been running while my twins nap.  My husband takes our four year old daughter with him in the tractor and they feed the cows together, then check for new calves. She brings him tools in the shop and offeres a constant running commentary on everything he’s doing.

Today though, my husband had to go to the city, so I was in charge of the four year old during nap time.  Running on the treadmill has gotten old, fast. I was trying to figure out how to get my run in when my daughter said, “I can run with you, Mommy!” Sigh. Fine.

This is how to run a mile like a four year old: Sprint as fast as you can.  Stop to take a swig out of the water bottle you insist on carrying with you.  Sprint as fast as you can.  Stop to check out a pretty rock and poke it with a piece of grass.  Sprint as fast as you can. Repeat.

She made it to the end and back in fourteen minutes! That’s pretty darn good, I think! We checked the monitor and she got on her bike for the tempo portion of my run. I was still ahead of her, but she had fun chasing me. I’d turn around at the end and we’d high five each other when we met in the middle, then she’d turn around and chase me back to the yard.  Check the monitor and repeat. 

It was one of my favorite runs. Ever.

I was using the tempo portion of this run as my #Anywhere5K April Showers race.  I know the virtual race isn’t supposed to be until Saturday, but that just doesn’t work for me, so I ran it today and will submit my time on Saturday.  I decided that since the whole point of the #Anywhere5K philosophy is to run your own race wherever and whenever you want to, no one would really care if I actually ran two days early. 

Chased by a four year old.  And guess what? I was only four seconds off my PB, finishing in 25:28! I’m pretty thrilled with that, especially since I’m training for a half marathon, so my runs have been longer and slower than when I’m gearing up for a 5K.

We will definitely run together again, and I know one day she’ll be the one leaving me in her dust and high-fiving me on her way back. Maybe she’ll let me ride my bike.

Gotta run.

Do you run with your kids? Mother Runners, how do you fit in your runs? Tell me about it!

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