Thursday, October 27, 2011

Race t-shirt Quilt

Finally, years later, I finished my quilt of race and other memorable t-shirts. I'm calling it "1998-2008" aka the first 10 years with my husband. Though there are 2009 and 2010 Marine Corp marathon shirts in the mix too...details, details...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Great Customer Service at Kelty

In addition to making great backpacks and strollers to carry your kids around, Kelty has great customer service. After about 5000 miles, my 2003 Joyrider has 3 very unhappy wheels. Though it turned out in the end that they no longer have the right kind of wheels available, they sent me their closest match right away with no charge!

So, if you have a Kelty Speedster or another stroller that takes compatible 16" wheels, I would be happy to pay them forward to you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

REALLY Pregnant Running

A woman gave birth after running/walking the Chicago marathon at 39 weeks pregnant:
(Read the article here).

Is that crazy or is that cool?

I definitely remember feeling like I would do just about ANYTHING to get that baby out by 39 weeks, so maybe she's on to something ;)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 Strollers

As you may know, I used to be a loyal fan of Dreamer Design strollers, but they no longer manufacture jogging strollers. I believe the company only makes handicapped equipment now. So, I really don't have any useful parts left since most of what people are looking for either broke on my stroller as well or I was unable to remove it without damaging it. Before you send a request for a part, please consider whether the broken part is one that can even be removed if it were not already broken. Many parts are riveted on, for example.

So, if this leaves you in the market for a new (or new-to-you) stroller, the options may have changed since the last time you took a look. Here are some suggestions that are available NOW:

1. Best Mixed-Terrain Running like you are training for something: Bob Ironman Stroller
2. Best Straight and Paved Road Running as fast as you can: Baby Jogger, 25th Anniversary Performance
3. Best I want one stroller to do everything: Joovy Zoom ATS Fixed Wheel Jogging Stroller
4. Best Inexpensive and good enough for real running: Schwinn Joyrider Jogger
5. Honorable Mention for Brand Loyalty: Kelty Speedster Swivel

Generally I have a strong preference for fixed wheel strollers, but in light of EIGHT years (and counting) of loyal service by my Kelty stroller, I have allowed it on the list.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Inner tube, Bent Valve

All my strollers have 16" wheels, but the smaller size wheels are 12" and it can be tricky fitting a pump in there to add air.
If you have an air compressor, that will work because of the small head. Alternatively, strollers such as Valco and Phi and Ted use inner tubes in their tires with bent valves. This allows you to use a regular hand pump. It can be hard to find these replacement tubes, however. Best bet:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Old Stroller


So, my 2003 Kelty stroller is not getting any younger either. Today I replaced the handlebar padding with handlebar tape [designed for a bicycle]. It was pretty gross underneath the old tape. Because of the split handle style, I've had to replace one side before. On that side the elements and probably a lot of sweat have seeped through the overlaps of tape and caused the metal of the handlebar below to corrode significantly. I am hoping this weakness is not at risk for actually breaking.

This activity does remind me, yet again, that jogging strollers are very much like bicycles. Luckily there are neither chains nor gears to take care of, but the wheels, tires, hand brake and, in some strollers, suspension are all built the same way as those components on a bicycle. The hand brake relies on a cable and brake pads. The cable will stretch over time and the pads will wear down. Likewise, tires can get flats. Even the tread tends to wear down to the wire below after about 2000 miles. The next point of failure that I am worried about are the ball bearings in the wheels. I just have to squeeze 2 more years out of it...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trek Firefly Jogger

So, what I am wondering now many miles do I have to run before my trusty ol' Kelty single jogger needs to be replaced because I JUST learned that TREK makes a jogging stroller too! We have 7 TREK bikes and I would LOVE to try the Trek stroller.

I'm thinking that this stroller looks awesome. First, Trek bikes are really well made. I love the center handlebar idea. The seat and canopy look really well supported.

I expect that I have 2 more years of stroller running (training for 100+ combined miles of races) plus even after 8 years of adjustments, there is nothing I can do to make my Kelty track in a straight line! What other justifications can I think of to buy this stroller ?!?!

My Review of Womens Road Runner Sports Favorite Cami Inner Bras

Originally submitted at Road Runner Sports

Women's ROAD RUNNER SPORTS FAVORITE CAMI BRA :: Soft, lightweight and incredibly comfortable! The women's Favorite Cami Bra is the perfect everyday active bra. You get the performance of a light-support sports bra with the comfort of a discreet everyday cami. Customize your fit with adjusta...

Most Comfortable Bra I Own

By Jen from Springfield, VA on 8/22/2011


5out of 5

Cup Fit: Feels true to size

Band Size: Feels true to size

Pros: Straps That Do Not Slide, Breathable, Comfortable

Best Uses: Gym, High Impact Exercise, Everyday Wear, Jogging, Low Impact Exercise

Describe Yourself: Comfort-oriented

Was this a gift?: No

I don't need much support so I can run in this bra. It would not be enough support for a larger breasted woman to run. It is so soft and comfortable that I can also wear it for a long run or for all day. I think I need to buy more...


My Review of Womens Road Runner Sports All Sport Foldover Lined Shorts

Originally submitted at Road Runner Sports

Women's ROAD RUNNER SPORTS ALL SPORT FOLDOVER SHORT :: Why hide your attitude? Wear it loud and proud in the women's All Sport Foldover Short that not-so-gently proclaims EAT MY DUST on back of the soft, foldover waistband. Keep cool and comfortable during your workout with side mesh panels...

Love these soft shorts

By Jen from Springfield, VA on 8/22/2011


5out of 5

Fit: Feels true to size

Pros: Comfortable, Allows Free Movement

Best Uses: Running, Gym

Describe Yourself: Avid Athlete

Was this a gift?: No

These shorts fit perfectly and are so soft. They are fairly short which I like. I sometimes find that the liner of running shorts can be too baggy in the butt area, but these fit well. The heavier fabric stays down better than the really lightweight fabrics of some shorts which is always blowing around this way and that. Great for casual runs. I also love the "Eat my Dust" when I'm feeling a little saucy!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tire Pressure

Check your tire pressure. Really, you can probably just assume that you need more. In rare cases, overinflating your innertube can cause the tire to pop out of the rim, but I've only seen that happen once. Just like your car, firm tires make a big difference in how much energy you use to move forward.

Most jogging stroller tires will be in the range of 40 psi (pounds pre square inch). Read the tiny numbers on the sidewall of your tire to see the recommendation for your tires. A bike pump with a gauge is the best thing to use. Though a compressor like the ones at a gas station are compatible with the schrader valve that is in your stroller tire, they are better used for car tires that require a much larger volume of air.

While you are at it, your kids' bicycles probably air in their tires too...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Interval Training Like a Kid

We did it! My 5 year old son rode his bicycle (no training wheels) all the way around Burke Lake last week. We did have a fairly significant snack break halfway through, but he did it. Mud puddles, roots, dirt, gravel and all. I was sweaty at the end, though it was a warm and humid day. The most impressive sight was certainly the uphills where I pushed the stroller with my left hand and pushed the bicyclist (Tour de France style) with my right. Downhills were super fast, but overall it was slow. If only I wasn't in such good shape ;)

The experience reminded me and perhaps helped me to appreciate that these tiny bodies are much better suited for short bursts - i.e. intervals. Try to pace a 3-year-old. Go ahead. Good luck with that... They run and run and then they crash (hopefully not literally). Why not take advantage of this? I've always avoided "speed word" as it was so much easier just to slog through it at a more even pace with the stroller, but here's a great chance to do a little sprinting.

We'll give it another go next week. For now, we need to get his older sister up to speed so she can come along too. Perhaps we can make a game of it. Sprinting, resting, racing mom, etc. We'll have to do is just the beginning of a long summer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wheels Unite!

I recently watched a comedian whose act included a comment about how you would never act in-person the way you act when you are driving your car. i.e. Hey %^&*! Move out of the way! etc.

I find, however, the times I get MOST upset is actually when I am on foot or on my bike with a child in tow (literally) and I have to deal with inattentive and/or impatient drivers. The presence of my children may raise the overall stress of the situation, but they also keep my comments PG-13.

The best solution I can think of is to simply have more places we can run and ride safely away from motor vehicles. There are many organizations that are working to make this a reality. Two of note are Rails to Trails and People For Bikes. The Bike Lane (the local bike store where I work) is having a contest. If you sign up to pledge on the site, you can be entered into a contest to win a $2000 shopping spree at The Bike Lane or a TREK trip.

Wherever there are safe bike lanes and paths, there safe and comfortable places to run with your jogging stroller!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Throw 'em to the wolves

After 8 years of running with a single or double jogger, we are entering a new era. We are soon to be that crazy family you see with 1 to 3 kids on bikes while mom and/or dad are attempting to run for exercise. These are not serious training runs I'm talking about. Just those in-between jogging-for-fitness days.

I have often worried about what happens when your kids are too big for a jogging stroller, but too young to stay home by themselves. Occasional sitters are fine, but it would be way to expensive to hire a sitter for every jog that I go on. So, enter bicycles. We successfully removed TWO pairs of training wheels from the fleet in the month of May, so that puts the 8-year-old and the 5-year-old on two wheels each. The two-going-on-three-year-old prefers her bike as well (with training wheels and tow rope), though she will sometimes get relegated to the jogging stroller once I build up the older kids' stamina a bit. Our current maximum is about three miles.

Some people probably view their kids growing up with some trepidation, but I will say, that I find it incredibly satisfying to give your kids that shove to get them started off on the bicycles. It seems so symbolic of sending them out into the world to sink or float on their own. I'm still running nearby, but there is that big push and then it is up to them.

I hope to get the 8-year-old up to about 5 miles this summer while I run with the single jogger. Though not so much an opportunity for speed-work, it is good enough for daily maintenance running. You know - mental health runs. We'll see how it goes...

Monday, May 23, 2011

She sits in the stroller for you?

As we headed out of preschool the other morning in my running clothes, another mom looked at me whimsically and said, "She sits in the stroller for you?" Yes, but with qualification...

At 2 years and 10 months, she has been riding in the jogger for 2 years and 9 1/2 months. Part of the success is that she knows no other, but part of the success is that she is getting something out of this as well.

1. Treats. There are some special "foods" that she only gets in the stroller - and only one a day at that. Things like fruit snacks or lollipops are a pick-one for the stroller ride treat.

2. Destinations. Though some rides are just a run for exercise, we often run to an errand or playground. This breaks up the run into shorter lengths plus it is something to look forward to (hint: save the special treat (see #1) to lure her back into the stroller to go home).

3. Planning & Choices. I almost always offer two equally acceptable choices for where we will run. At this point, she knows all the routes by name (Burke Lake, Stepping Stones, Two parks next to each other, etc.). Furthermore, as we drive around during the week, she will often say, "Let's go running there!" so we can plan that we will run there next time.

We are in this together. But this week she starts riding diaper-free so we'll see how that goes...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Get Off the Road!

Disclaimer: don't try this with a newborn, but once your kids are a bit older (I'm currently running with a 2-year-old), try to go off the road!

I have developed a passion for TRAIL RUNNING and actually managed to win my age group in the EX2 Adventures Backyard Burn 10-mile Trail Running series this spring BUT I still do the large majority of my running with my daughter in a jogger. Much can be accomplished running up and down paved hills, but don't shy away from getting off the paved paths!

What are the benefits of trail running? It gets you away from traffic - both the hazards of motor vehicles and the fumes, it is so much quieter, and there is often more to look at. We pass people walking dogs, we have seen birds, ducks, geese, squirrels, storks, turtles, frogs, snakes, foxes, deer, caterpillars, butterflies, and more. The terrain can also be more exciting for your child. We do up and down and through curvy turns. The occasional bump, bump, bump is fun!

Where to go? There are, of course, a variety of levels. Here in Northern Virginia, there are SO MANY choices. Burke Lake Park, for example, is a partially paved and partially packed dirt, fairly level trail that circumnavigates the lake in a 4.5 mile loop. This is a path oft-traveled by our local See Mommy Run group. The recently renovated Cross County Trail has both paved and unpaved sections as well. Part of that trail also skirts Lake Accotink with the much-enjoyed waterfall! There is also the C&O canal and the WO&D path. Even Wakefield Park in Annandale is passable with a stroller with a little upper-body strength :) If you are feeling really adventurous, you can often follow underneath power lines and telephone lines. I'm told that the telephone lines passing next to our house go all the way to Richmond! I haven't yet brought the stroller to Fountainhead, but I'm game to try.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pain in your Brain?

New Scientist Magazine recently published an article "Pain be gone" by Clare Wilson (22 Jan 2011, No 2796, pg 34-37) which noted research that while scientists would like to find a pain (P1) area of the brain as there is a vision area, auditory area, etc., it is more likely that pain is a product of many parts. As an endurance athlete and the mother of three children, each born via natural, drug-free childbirth, this notion resounds with me. To me, pain is often actually fear. The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with emotions including fear which is undoubtably a huge factor. I would go further in also including the pre-frontal cortex known for controlling cognitive thought.

I've always found that when the cause of the pain is known and you know that no further damage is being done, the pain is much more bearable. When the pain has a known endpoint such as the birth of the child or the end of the race, I would actually expect that the pain would be rated as less painful (i.e. a "5" rather than a "7" on a scale from 0 to 10).

Whether my thinking applies as well to chronic pain as to acute pain is debatable. What does pain have to do with "training with your jogging stroller"? Do you need to ask? Burning quads never seem to hurt as much as a pulled muscle. I would venture to say that is because you 1. know what is causing the pain and 2. know that it is not causing further damage. The burning in your lungs you may feel when you are breathing hard is not painful or stressful as compared to an asthma attack.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Groundhog's Day

I'm tired. I'm tired of the cold weather. I'm tired of it taking 15 minutes to get all of our clothes on to go outside. I'm tired of my hands being so cold that it feels like my fingernails are going to fall off whenever I run in fewer than TWO pairs of gloves. I'm tired of the kids being home for fear-of-snow days. I'm tired of fighting with kids about getting dressed in the morning (like it is a surprise EVERY day that you have to put clothes on?!?!) I'm tired of climbing over piles of gross dirty snow at every intersection. I'm tired of drivers looking at me like I am a negligent parent because I am running on the street in bright daylight, facing traffic on a road that is at least three lanes wide. I'm tired of stepping in dog poop because it seems that dog owners only feel like picking it up when it is comfortably warm and convenient for them to do so. I'm tired of searching for the matching mitten. I'm tired of waking up at 4:30 am to go to the gym when I don't want to brave frigid temps outside. I'm tired of snow getting packed into the treads of my running shoes. It feels like I'm running in high heels. You can pretty easily conclude I don't like high heel shoes either. I'm tired of my jogging stroller refusing to roll in a straight line. I'm tired of wet snow gear sprawled across the entry way, kitchen, and dining room. I'm tired of the older kids - stuck at home for another snow day - teaching the 2 year-old curse words. I'm tired of drivers looking at me like I am a negligent parent because I've taken my children outside at all.

And I'm going to do it all again tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Safety Third*

Just a couple miles from my son's preschool is Lake Accotink which, among other features, has a dam that looks like a waterfall. This is a sufficiently exciting destination for my two year old. This is also completely irrelevant except to explain why we were not beginning our run from home.

In short, the clip broke as I was buckling my daughter into her 5-point harness. I wanted to go, so we went anyway. We had the "bubble" (windshield) all hooked up, so she could not have fallen out. She sat still for the first half and then on our way back, the stroller started to get a little jumpy. I suddenly realized, "Hey! What are you doing?" She had turned herself around to sit on the foot rest facing the seat. Then a couple minutes later, things felt a little crooked so I look over and she is upside down! Then hanging over the side watching the wheel spin. Once we made it to the top of the hill, she did listen to reason and logic that she should sit still for going faster downhill.

I was fortunate that I saved the harness clips from my old stroller so I could easily replace the clips. They are, of course, not interchangeable from one brand to another.

*We've been watching a lot of "Dirty Jobs" episodes and this is also the name of one of the episodes.