Category Archives: competition

Two Girls Running

This was the weekend of two girls running, me and my Brynnie. When all the training from the last several days, weeks, months, and years culminated into something golden. That’s what running is: a very personal affair.

IMG_2302 When the 5 a.m. morning runs are worth it. Because often, at 4:30 a.m., they definitely don’t feel worth it. The is a “wishful thinking” sunrise. These days, we start in the dark and end in the dark, running only by the light of the headlamp. When I asked Brynne to join me she said, “NO WAY.”

I’m particularly grateful as Me and the Training Table were best friends a month ago:IMG_2283 We spent quality time together, with our amazing friend and athletic trainer, Kelly. She got my IT band back to cooperating. I was made to roll on the foam roller, stretch, strengthen, ice, and stem. Geez, am I getting older?IMG_2284 Stem is when you get hooked up and shocked with electrodes. It feels like little needles poking at you. Electric currents stimulate the muscles around your injury and interrupt the pain signals, reducing inflammation and swelling. At one point last month I was in so much pain I could not run at all, and could only walk with a limp, eating ibuprofen for lunch. Oh, those were the dog days of September.

The upside of being sick or injured is the humility, and the reminder that we are lucky to have such miraculous bodies that know how to heal. It’s magic. I remember one afternoon when I  I could finally run across the soccer field, I wanted to sing-song like Buddy the Elf, I love my legs and I don’t care who knows it!

This amazing book helped Kelly diagnose me…it’s fabulous and would make a great Christmas gift 🙂


IMG_2448 Being injured is hard. I’m so impatient. I worry I’m losing all the training. Would I ever run again? Could I go on living if I couldn’t run? Drama queen.IMG_2101 Meanwhile, Brynne was doing her thing, training every day with her cross-country team. She’s only in 6th grade, but lucky to be coached by fabulous coaches who live and breathe running and correct training principles. The improvement made in mere weeks leaves me in awe. It once again solidifies everything I know about achieving anything: it’s ALL about the training.

Brynne suffered some setbacks too. Sometimes she had pain in her hamstrings, knees, and gluts (gotta stretch the butt!) We both focused on eating well, drinking more water, smoothies for breakfast, protein at every meal, and getting sleep.

IMG_2594With two weeks left before my 13.1 and Brynne’s state meet, we ran through trails, with full hearts and clear eyes (can’t lose!)

When you run a half-marathon, the long run is the most important run of the week. Ideally, you run at least a couple of 10 or 12-milers. I was lucky to get two ten-milers in with my running buddy the last two weekends before the race. The first 10-miler I was limping afterward. The second time, after a lot of glut stretching, I was feeling good.

Now, could I run a race at a faster pace with more mileage than I had trained for? Could I pull out a personal win?

5549833133_f0701357b2_b Well, I sure was going to try! October 24th was our day. My race was at Cape Cod, at 7:30 a.m. Luckily, Brynne’s state meet was on the way home, in the afternoon. I could finish my run and find my way to my girl in New Hampshire. All the stars would align, right?

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While we were driving, my Cope, OUT AT SEA, called…her only phone call of the whole trip! What a treat. She’s well. She’s happy. The hurricanes and whales are cooperating. Man, I can’t wait to see her.

Cape_Cod_National_Seashore I drove to the Cape with my friend, Robin, who likes to run half-marathons on her birthday. How awesome is that? We arrived in Falmouth on Friday night and were greeted by the sweetest hosts ever: Leonard & Patty! Patty made us a delicious mac ‘n cheese and apple cobbler before we were tucked into our matching twin beds at 9pm that overlooked the water. The 1890 house (with lovely wallpaper!) was dreamy and made me want to stay and write a novel. But first I had to run.

IMG_2683 One of the most anticipated moments of any race is how good the shirt is. The Cape Cod Half gets an A+++. Love me this tech-shirt. Fabulous fish.

It was an early start, chilly and overcast – perfect running weather. The course was flat and curved out by the water, with friendly crowds and many water stops. My goal was to run a 1:45 which meant steady 8 min/miles. Sub 8s would be a home run. I glanced at my watch only a couple of times, wanting to run by feel. The lasts three miles are always the toughest, but just as I began the last mile one of my favorite childhood songs came on: Xanadu. I felt the same happiness and sense of possibility I did when I was rollerskating in the dark basement when I was 10 :).

I could hear Brynne’s voice in my head, too, when just weeks earlier, we were running a 5k together and in the middle of mile 2, arguably the hardest mile, she said, “I’M SO GLAD I HAVE LEGS!”

Yes, this was that feeling – I’M SO GLAD I HAVE LEGS! I came through the finish line with a 1:44 and thanked God once again that I had legs that could run.

IMG_2713 Loved the Finishers Medal – another fish!

Birthday girl Robin came soon after. We hugged. And all was right in the world. Who’s in for next year with us???? IMG_2696 These thermal wraps were terrific

IMG_2706 I love to watch a finisher’s face. The pain and joy is always apparent. Let me tell you something else, ladies. I could not have run a 1:44 time in my teen years or my 20s because I had not paid the training price. I remember when a 5k felt like a killer. I remember when I had to walk during 8-milers and ten miles seemed totally impossible. Talent and health was there, but not the time and training. I really love watching a woman realize her potential late in life – because it’s never too late!

Afterwards, we climbed into the car and drove back over the bridge, headed toward the state track meet where our children were waiting to run.IMG_2709

We arrived to see these girls at the start line, just beginning their warm-ups.IMG_2714 Aren’t they glorious?IMG_2711 And then the gun fired! Anxiety turned to exhilaration.NH Middle School XC Championship-117-X2 warmups Love these girls and their determination.DSC_0154 Brynne is #80. “I look so desperate,” she said. Yeah, sometimes that’s how it feels. She ran a 2-miler and it was hard but she finished strong. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort.unnamed Two Girls Running. And Paigey there to cheer us on! Soon, I suspect she’ll be running girl #3.IMG_2717 IMG_2682We headed home on a cold Saturday evening, exhausted, relieved, glad the day was done. And started talking about the next one…



Miles run:  4.  
Huffing and puffing.  Walking up hills.  I hide my head in shame.  I completely blame it on the Olympics.  These late nights are killing me.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t take back seeing Michael Phelps win his 22nd Gold Medal or Gabby win the all-around or McKayla’s “devastating” silver vault.  Oh no.  Fatigue is worth watching the great.  I love the competition.
My morning run almost didn’t happen at all since we lost power due to a terrifically-needed rainstorm.  I woke up to the sound of a text and the clock flashing.  The text was from my running buddy who was pulling out of my driveway at 5:15.  I ran after her to no avail (in my pajamas and wild-haired glory).  Feeling very guilty, I tried to go back to bed, but guilt is not a resting state. So I got back up and went by myself.  And later dropped off my guilty conscience in the form of homegrown green beans on her porch.  Feeling like a loser.
My whole family is, shall we say, a tad bit competitive.  I mean this in a wonderful way since I’m a tad bit  itsy bit a lot bit competitive.  I like to beat people.  Just gettin’ it out there.
I don’t often feel competitive when it comes to mothering (because my mother is in my head saying, because that would be stupid.  She really has a way of telling you how she feels.)  I usually don’t feel competitive when it comes to appearances like purses, cars, clothes or tans (Cue mother:  because that would be stupid) although I have my moments (read: hair).
No, the competition is always the physical type.  And it started early:  I was fighting in the womb.  Born 10 minutes earlier than my twin brother, I came out bruised and battered.  At this early age, I recognized the physical fight as my one true talent.  Math?  Forget it.  Running and monkey bars?  Oh yes.  I only stopped wrestling the boys to the ground after I was tattled on and had my shirt torn off.  Not that that bothered me.  That boy was pinned!  

I’ve never wanted to be on a reality show until last night when I saw “Stars and Stripes,” a new realty show where “stars” have to compete like navy seals.  Green with jealousy.  Am I not star quality?  And I was not asked.  How rude.
I chose no docile lamb for a mate.  I married an uber-competitive boy.  It sometimes strikes me as a terrible tragedy that we still, after almost 15 years of marriage cannot go for a run together.  Can you see the scene?  His foot gets an inch of front of mine.  My stride goes a little further than his.  And pretty soon we are at an all-out sprint.  Playing soccer is, shall I amicably say, a push and shove event (this picture does not capture what he did to me.)

While on vacation, I began to ponder my love of competition.  And that of my family’s:
Nelson is going for the knock out punch against his dad.

Cousins look on as Uncle Eric beats up my little boy, who is still in his church clothes.  (This description is competitive in that it will force Eric to actually comment on my blog and defend himself.)
That’s my boy!
Now.  Let us move on to sisters-in-laws.  You wouldn’t look at Allison and say, “Oh yeah.  That girl will kill your kid to win a kickball game.”  But you don’t know Allison.  She dragged us out of bed at 5:30am to play kickball.  The next morning when she wanted to go hiking, Eric said, “I get up once at 5:30 for you.  Not twice.”  Ally…you know I love you and your love of the kickball game!!!
My mother pressures us into having more kids by appealing to my husband’s competitive streak.  He’s not budging.  Not even while holding Sydnie.  And that’s not easy to do.  sniff sniff.  

Nelson is starting to compete with Uncle Eric’s “Funniest Man” title.  Here he does the hula for many laughs.

But then Eric wears the purple scarf for the family picture.  After an animated and lengthy discussion that began with the pros of heated shaving cream, we had a secret paper vote on who was the most “metro” in the family.  I think this picture says it all.  There was an overwhelming majority vote.  Eric turned to me in outrage, declaring me a traitorous sister.
The brothers compete physically, with wit and with argument.  And then there’s the cool factor.  Patrick likes to sigh and say, “Yep, still got it!”

While swimming in the pool with my siblings and acquired siblings, we began to have races – who can swim the fastest?  (Depends on who’s cheating)  Who can hold their breath the longest?  (Andrea)  Who can do the best hand stand?  (Cassie)  Who looks hottest in their bikini?  (Patrick of course!)  While the adults compete in the pool, the kids sword fight in the pool.  Until someone is bawling.  (Eric)
You know the expression…if someone dared you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?  Duh!  Of course!
This past family reunion was the first time a sister-in-law challenged me to a push-up contest.  Who won?  I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone on this blog so we’ll just say, hahaha, I won, I won!!!  Oh.  Except that’s what she’s saying to me.  But only by 5.  I better get back to boot camp.
She also wanted a chicken fight.  I was stricken with indecision.  I only fight with my brothers.  I hate girl fights.  But geez, I was challenged.  What’s a girl to do?  I was actually down in the water when Gregor suddenly whipped me back into the air like a slingshot.  Oh no, he wasn’t going to get beat by a girl.

When I told the family I wanted to have a 5k back in the winter my brother actually started training.  “I don’t care if I win, but Amy is not going to beat me.”  Have you ever tried to run 3 miles in the middle of the morning, in the summer, in Arizona?  I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack.  He beat me.  Whatever.  I like to help people feel good about themselves.

The kids compete in the game of Life.  
A highlight of my life was watching my dad go one-on-one against Cope in the big bouncy house this spring.  He suffered a bloody nose and broken glasses but was a jolly good sport.

My mother pressures Cope to touch and hold snakes.  Again, the use of the word “chicken,”and “weeny” and – If I can do it, you can do it!  
Every year we have a family talent show.  Paige’s talent was blowing up a balloon.  The highlight though is to see what Eric will do. (I do have two other brothers.  Eric is just emerging as the most competitive.)  This year he did a Gregor roast.  It was quite hilarious and I filmed it, but sideways.  Maybe I’ll post it anyway.  Honey will surely appreciate it.
But at the end of the day, we are still good friends.  They can even shake on it.
Is your family competitive?  Do you like it, love it or hate it? 

Family Competition

In general, it’s probably not good to be too competitive with your family members.  Especially if it’s always one-sided, not fun, and the outcome is bawling and tattling.  On the other hand, many a great athlete credits an older or younger sibling for pushing them so hard.  Mia Hamm, women’s soccer great, comes to mind.
Sometimes, family competition is quite motivating.  For instance, when Cope’s 7th grade co-ed team played Nelson’s all-boy soccer team?
I’ve never seen Nelson bring his A-game like he did.

No way was his sister getting to the ball first.

“Hi Cope.  My ball!”  Cope was thoroughly put out.

That little boy in the goal.

I almost gave a half-time speech, “This team is NOT going to beat you…” but unfortunately, we were down 2 players, and missing key players to make anything happen.  Basically the 5th graders kicked our 7th grade booties.  I thought Cope might throw herself into the Blackwater she was so mad.

And then there was the other competition where my 8th graders played Gregor’s high school boys JV2 team.  “You’re going down,” I promised.
“Try to control yourself,” he said.  “No kicking the benches or throwing tantrums.”
We even had 2 hired refs!
It was so cold the kids could hardly feel their feet, hands, cheeks, or any other body part.
They felt awesome though, to play high schoolers.
Our winning streak ended right there and Gregor was quite gracious.  Unlike I would have been 🙂

My middle school players are in white.  Proctor in Green.  No way were they going to let us win this one.  I was so proud of my kids.  It capped off a great season.

Even though she was only a 7th grader, the other coach and I agreed – Cope had to get on the field to play her daddy’s team.  Intimidated and wide-eyed, she did awesome.

Other competition:  Pumpkin decorating.  Luckily, they all took home a prize at the church trunk or treat.  Everyone was happy.  Except Paige who forgot hers in the trunk.

Does this honestly work for any family?   It is such a cute dish that I inherited from my mother-in-law. Filled with Halloween treats.  
Sitting on the counter?  Yeah right.  There was grabbing, hiding, hoarding, and a scramble to get it first!  Before it’s gone and someone else gets more than you.  Piggies.   Talk about family competition.  It’s put away now, until G and I are on our own, fighting over the last Twix bar in our eighties.
We are covered in a foot of snow and it’s still coming.  It’s beautiful.  I texted my running buddy at 4:47 and went back to bed until 8:30.  Quite possibly a highlight of my life.  Tomorrow is Turkey Day, where we will show great gratitude for all the blessings we have been given.  We will be polite and gaze around the table, thankful we are all there, eating and laughing together.  I love it.  
There will be no family competition.  
Unless it involves that last piece of turkey sitting in the fridge for a late-night turkey/cranberry sandwich. 
Game on.