Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Happy Thanksgiving America and the World! Wherever you are!

I have not witness a very warm Thanksgiving Day in a long while! It was 55F degrees mid-afternoon today, and I was out in my bikers! And the sun was out, no wind; beautiful! Perfect day for a run, jog, anything outdoors! weather thanksgiving_Fotor

I couple of days back, Child Of Mine (COM) suggested that on Thanksgiving Day, we write down all the things were are thankful for. I readily agreed, and promised to obliged when the day comes – today, Thursday, November 26, 2015.
On his part, he had had an entire day of Thanksgiving celebration – making applesauce and crafts and tasting apple butter at school, and exploring Thanksgiving at home at school.

This Thanksgiving morning, I waited for him to wake up, served him breakfast, brushed our teeth, then we sat down to compile out lists.

Here is his list:
Thanksgiving Day_Fotor_Collage

Thankful for:

  1. Food (Me: makes sense, since we are talking after breakfast 🙂)
  2. Oxygen
  3. Water
  4. Shelter
  5. Blood – without blood we cannot live
  6. Heart – I would not be alive, if I did not have a hear
  7. My brain —it is the control system. It controls every part of my body.
  8. Bones —Bones connect the body together.
  9. Muscles —If I knew how to fight but did not have muscles, I would not be much stronger.

[Mental note to self: Uhm! Everything seems to be about him. Oh well! Just be happy he is compiling a list!]

I started my list

  1. COM —Because he has helped me understand life better. Plus, he allows me push him out of his comfort zone, ‘experiment’ on him and co-op him into my adventurous life. At his age, he is already Scouting for Food as a Cub Scout, caring for therapy dogs with Paws and Pages and donating to Toys for Totsscouting and community service_Collage
  2. My mother – She brought me into this world, and is always there for me, even when I am sad and do not feel like talking. She surprises me.
  3. For the gift of life —It is full of challenges, but it makes me stronger and optimistic.
  4. All the friends and family who give me laughter, shelter, surprises, reassurance and social support.
  5. Challenges – that teach me a lot about myself and my potentialities
  6. For the United States – it gave me Biko, my adult life, exposure to a larger world or learning and education, connectivity of humanity, and retracing my blackness through my ancestors who were shipped off as slaves many years ago.
  7. Uganda – my birthplace that nurtured me from childhood. The most fun, free and safest place I have ever lived.
  8. Social networks – the Cub Scout, Paws n Pages, where I meet new friends, learn about opportunities to participate in community activities, and my son gets to learn about life and serve his community at a young age.
  9. Running and exercise – center me….and lift me up….
  10. Single parenting – I am stronger than I give myself credit. I fall, crumble and bounce back. I can risk it all…and start building it anew. I can give no matter whether I get the same. Single parenting makes it easier to make decisions, spontaneous actions and planning, and allows me to ‘dictate’ child’s diet and menu most of the time. IMG_2936

I think COM noticed that I was giving credit to people, while he did not. So, he added his #10

  1. My teachers that help me learn.

Still, no mention of me, anywhere!  But I am straight —-No! I am not….but hey

It is Thanksgiving Day! Not Mourning and Pouting Day.

We have watched the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, which is always a pleasure….We Skyped internationally; we are making business connections; we are blogging, and COM is writing down all the books he has read this month. He has already surpassed his set monthly goal of 30 to 53 books! And he still has four more days before the end of month —whoopee-do!

IMG_3049I am making a very veggie Thanksgiving lunch of Eggplant aka aubergine, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and asparagus [didn’t I tell you, there is joy in single parenting!]. And we are watching the National Dog Show!

Happy Turkey, Tofurky, Cranberry sauce [we might just have some cranberry jelly], the pies and all. We will have Sparkling Cider, our special treat!

Whatever you do! Wherever you are! Whatever you eat! Be Thankful!

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Follow Your Body and Pace, Not Your Garmin

SteamtownWhile plenty of running apps guide you on how to run a marathon, how to achieve your target finish time, the target pace, average speed, and all sundry, the best advice I have received is “Follow your pace and your body, not your Garmin.”

Not from Garmin, but a buddy, with whom I ran my first marathon. After a couple of marathons, I now know more than ever what he meant. For, I have paid the price each time I did not take his words seriously.

Sometimes I have listened too much to the running app instead of my body. Yet running apps lie, lie and lie! Those moments their GPS locator fails! It did not occur to me [stupid as it sounds] that running apps timing is based on GPS availability!

Well, I had never paid serious attention, until that sweet-bitter race! My finish time was totally different from the official marathon finish time, I learned that my running app did not correctly record the time, in plac
es it was MIA! It just continued on from where it had stopped recording.

Sometimes, I listen to the paces of fellow runners, and either follow, maintain my pace or slow down. This could either be both a good and bad for achieving my race goal.

A week and a-half ago, I did my second marathon of this year, after Boston in April. For this last marathon, it was a great idea to strike a balance between holding back and following “the crowds”. For most the run, I decided my own pace; oh I take that back, MapMyFitness [and sometimes RunKeeper] decided my pace.

Then and again, I tagged onto a runner or a group of runners. About three miles to finish, I found myself a pacesetter who pulled me along to finish. If she did not come along when she did, I would have slowed down, especially at Mile 25. I did not expect that nasty hill near the finish. Let me just say, from mile 23, it was all uphill. But she was still running as fit as a fiddle, and had done this race before.Pacesetter

So, I just tagged along, and that helped me conquer the steep hills. In fact, she saved me from a would-be shocking terrible finish. I had no idea, my apps were not telling me correct timing! I was holding back, thinking I am running faster than my target pace. All wrong!

I know that going too fast can also be detrimental to a good finish. Boston 2015 comes to mind. I had a great time, running out there with lots of cheers, the weather was not too bad and my legs felt in the best shape ever. I was not listening too much to my running app, but my body.

But for the last six miles, particularly the last three miles, I experienced the most difficulty, staying the course. Plenty of times, I wanted to quit and walk. It was gruesome climb after climb. The course is a pain in the butt, plus the wind velocity of the day. Damn! It beat me so bad. But I am proud because I had great pace/mileage.

For my next marathon, I plan follow my body and legs more than my Garmin. Yes, I am going to invest in a Garmin again! You know, ever since I started running with my phone [which is kind of for security purposes] I put off buying another Garmin after my previous one broke. I thought, running apps work as good as a Garmin.

But there’s no better GPS technology than a Garmin to locate you, while mobile network provider sleeps off. Implying, the “security phone” is actually not secure the entire course. Your mobile network provider might not rescue you, if you run off in the thicket of the forest!

Above all, remember to have fun running a marathon, color your hair, read the placards and give a power touch whenever a spectator asks for one. High 5 the kids, stretching their hand out to cheer you on along the course. Respond with a “Thank You” to the spectators as much as possible. It means a lot to acknowledge those who have foregone their sleep, standing out in the freaking cold, the heat or pollen to fuel you up.

Next up, Chic-Town?Pacesetter too

Running Alone, In a Sea of Runners

 [I wrote a week ago, on the even of Steamtown Marathon 2015, Saturday, October 10]

I recently reSteamtown Expo signad a blog thecatchmeifyoucan.com, the blogger explaining that she chooses to travel alone.

I do not! I neither choose nor like to travel alone, but I do. Nor do I choose to run alone, but I do.

As I sat in the cafeteria of Nazareth Students Center at Maywood University in Scranton, PA, reality checked me. I had just picked up my running Bib and pack for the 20th Steamtown Marathon 2015, happening the next day, October 11. I realized that I am actually running the marathon, as the only person I know.

I am running the marathon alone, in a sea of runners. How could that be? Just like my usual runs, which I always run solo. Even though the Pocono Area Running Club (PARC) exists in my neighborhood, but its schedule does not permit. See, I told you before, “Choice is Illusive!”

That I am running solo, is probably not unique.  I bet there are others like me. I have seen a couple of runners, sitting by themselves around here. But who knows if they are waiting for friends or family? Well, others, thankfully, have families who accompanied them to pick up their race packets. And will probably stand along the route to cheer them on tomorrow.

What is actually unique to me, is that I am the only black woman I have seen here, thus far. True, I have seen a couple of black men, but no black women in sight. And because this is America, we see color and race very quickly.
Steam town race packages

So, how do I always end up traveling and running solo? As I said, I do not choose solo life; it just finds me. But it is not a deterrence to me. I will still run, even if I am the only person I know. I registered alone, so why should I expect to meet anyone I know at the race!

Well, Boston/BA
A 201
5 was different. I expected to meet plenty of runners from my alma meter(s), even though I trained solo in Mt. Poconos. My first marathon – Standard Chartered Nairobi marathon, was the only time
I registered, trained, traveled and run with a group of friends. I enjoyed every bit of it! Matter of fact, I had a pace-mate.

Since then, I have registered for each successive marathon alone, and run so
lo. At the Edinburgh Marathon (EMF), I run solo, but expected to see my friends cheering me on along the route, and meeting me at the finish line. Bet
they underestimated how fast I run! I saw none along the route. In fact, they arrived hours after I was done running, and had downed umpteen gallons of beer!

Now, here at the Steamtown Marathon, I am eating my pre-race dinner, all alone, sitting alone, moving up and about alone. Deterred? I am not! And while I feel…

IMG_1445
…unprepared,   underprepared, undertrained and overwhelmed, I am ready to go out and conquer he World. Let’s Steamtown!

Where has all the time Gone?

Boston StrongI do not know about yours, but right here I wonder, where has all the time gone? Days seem to run pretty fast here. The other day, it was Monday, now it is Saturday, going on to Sunday!

Dear Calendar, Please allow me to catch my breath!

This is the second weekend of May 2015, and the second week, since I did the Boston Marathon. I am in “recovery mode”; I think I am doing pretty good. Doing nothing crazy, with my body. A couple of runs here and there, not going for mileage, yet. Just happy to go out, when I can.

My legs are doing quite great, back to pounding the tarmac. No 40+ miles per week runs at present, just enough to keep me excited that I went out and did it. A week ago, I ran only 10 miles, this week I have already done 13.9 miles. And it is it not even the end of the week. I still wake up on a couple of weekends, and just do it.

Don’t get it twisted; I am not down and out just yet. You’re probably wondering how I can fall that far from grace! I know, it can be a little haunting and taunting not to do 40+ miles per week. Though, I am not freaking out at all. I know I need a little break.

Good news, my fundraising efforts seem to be styling up; I have two new donors to my CrowdRise account, with $100.00 each, thanks to my stellar performance in the marathon. I am still hoping for more! If you would like to support, please click here to support.

Judging by the number of likes my marathon picture got, I trust the same support will come through. I have no doubt the folks who liked the picture, will also like giving $5.00, $10, $50 or $20 to my cause. supporting Tufts Medical.

For now, I am looking forward to my next big challenge, perhaps Steamtown Marathon this October, if all goes as planned. I will train smart and strategic. I want to do the downhills and uphills, per run course. I should have a PR, right? That’s if I get a mastery of “Downhill-Uphill Running

Running never stops. I strongly believe that, if I can conquer running, then I can conquer back my weight, pre-Bartonsville. That battles seems more uphill than “Heartbreak Hill” along Boston Marathon course.

Nothing is unattainable. We just have to dust ourselves and try again!

Running also opens up other great joys, achievements and awards. I am still thankful for those who stake their time and efforts to watch me grown and achieve big, and participate in my actualizing and celebrating my happiness. Family and friends helping out in many ways – chauffer-ing, sharing a pie of their possession with my Child, Super grateful!

Hoping that my zeal to run and accomplishments, will translate into other areas I sick success, family finances, ownership, career and adventure.

April is All the Kool Kids Month! Let’s….!

It is here….and….It is Official! Sun over the First Spring Lake

April is All the Kool Kids Month! Go Figure!

Sorry y’all who don’t fit the profile! I know the, “Damn! Why was I born on March 31? I don’t blame you, I would too…If I happened to fall off the “Kool Kids Train”…oops 🙂

I love April! Nor more ‘smell’ of Spring; it is upon us…in all the realness! The rain, the sun, the pollen, the cooler temperatures, and the flower blossoms! I love April, because I share this coolness with my other most important person in this world…the one who gave me a life —Sweet dear Mother (April 6)! My very beautiful niece too, is also a Kool Kid (April 6).

I love April because it is National Families and Reading Month. Who does not love reading? Thankfully, I gave birth to a reader; we know how to turn the pages, one after another. Often sharing our “pages” with the “paws”,who surely enjoy the magic of our reading! This April, we are both reading to Child’s class: child is reading on April 22, and I will be Guest Reading on April 28 – which also happens to be my Birthday!

What else will I do for my birthday? Not sure yet, but traditionally since childhood, I celebrate and make merry! At the very least, we celebrated with popcorn and tea, which were very big features of birthday celebrations in my family household. Last year, Child treated me to a special birthday, when he won the Student of April Month, with a coupon for a free meal at Friendly’s. So, we decided to dine out on my Birthday! I am sure we’ll be doing something funky and blinged this year as well, including receiving lots of love with y’all! Right?Spring Tree Climber

What I am sure about this April, I will be running my maiden Big City Marathon, the oldest and most prestigious City Marathon born in 1897. It is The Big City Marathon, the rest are races, so they say. I have butterflies, self-doubts, thrills that a bride gets the morning of her wedding night. I am thinking, since I have never been one. Yet, I am super determined to do it. It is not my first time, but this is a Big Deal, Big City Deal! Lets…

Glad to be sharing April with some of the Koolest Kids on planet earth, especially since I am getting cooler myself! Now I know about Star Wars, Super Sonic, Beyblade and Wonder Woman. Now I know all about the solar system, and learning lots of astronomy, thanks to the Child. Plus, my birthday also happens to be International Astronomy Day.

Yeah! There are a couple of more Kool days you too would know about, if you were an April Kool Kid! I plan to enjoy a fair share of those, starting with Fooling Around (April 1); Read a Book with Children (April 2); Skip Work (April 3)Hug A Newman (April 4); Say no to Housework (April 7); Go Patriot [on the Boston Marathon trail] (April 20); pay homage to Earth Planet (April 22); Take a Chance (April 23); and Hug an Australian (April 26) who would become My Mate to Kiss (April 28), very appropriately on my Birthday! How Kool is That!

Oh! Before I go, CrowdRise asked me to tell you that I should ‘give up my birthday to raise money for my favorite cause. I think this is awesome! Wait, how did CrowdRise know that I was already raising $$$ for my favorite charity of the year? Y’all know that I am running Boston Marathon 2015 with the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT); yeah, that’s what’s up!

All proceeds from my fundraising are going directly toward the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition toward support for research on nutrition, obesity, hunger and famine, and to sustain programs that promote health and wellness across the university and within our host communities of Medford, Somerville and Boston’s Chinatown.  Here is the link to my fundraiser; your gift is big to me, and will mean a lot to me and everyone who benefits from Tufts University Medical Services! Please support, and make me the Koolest Kid, ever!

Happy Koolest Kids Month! Bring on April!

Geese on the LakeOnly one Big City Marathon

It is March 20th! 31 Days to April 20th

Yesterday, Friday, March 20 marked exactly thirty-one days to April 20th, which will be a Monday!

You may be wondering, why the fuss with “the 20th”?

Worry no more, March 20th is the Official First Day of Spring 2015; April 20th is the set date for Boston Marathon 2015. Incidentally, both days are gut wrenching to me.

While Spring officially began – it also snowed, expected to accumulate to six inches. Isn’t life too strange? Just the other day, we were happily clad in our little skirts, kissing Winter goodbye, saying hello to Spring blossoms!

April 20th is also beckoning me, with nervous blossoms! I have to be ready to run 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon, and do it with a good finish, better than my current record of 3h:56min. I have tried training with discipline, or so I think. Yet, I do not feel as strong as I was last time I ran a marathon in 2013. I said a lot about my fitness and training experience this time around, in my writing last week.Bye Bye Muzino_Fotor

This week, I have thus far put in 27.4 miles out of a possible 48 miles in three days. I still have two days to run this week, seven miles tomorrow – Saturday and 14 miles on Sunday. I am hoping to beat my procrastination and run Saturday on snow. Where the hell are my YaktraxYes I Can still achieve my goal for this week, and slightly more! I am more optimistic about Sunday, shhh don’t tell anyone I am losing my umph! Turns out, I spent Saturday at the gym taking a break from the concrete

I guess I need to go into that “Taper Zone” yesterday, even though the run schedule I am using is telling me otherwise. I still need to put in more strength training at home and the gym. This week has tested my strength, and questioned my resilience. I have done better time than this week. Ugh! Blame it on the weather, speed training, long distance running and low strength.

In all fairness, the weather has not too bad, except for a few windy days that required gloves and facial masks. I have ran through worse winter days. This time, I went for speed on plenty of runs, burning out on the climbs, without quick recovery – State of Mind.

Typically, my runs begin with setting up four different run Apps, followed by fitting on three pairs of gloves that take a hell lot of my time, before I start running. Somebody please point me to a pair of gloves warm enough to withstand the brisk winter cold. I bought the most expensive skiing gloves from my area sports store, but my lil’ fingers still froze real bad!

Along all my running routes are plenty of steep climbs, especially the last two near competition of my runs. After all the speed running, they kind of burn me out with a not so stellar ending. I am yet to regain my stamina. I am consoling myself that I will do better running with a group on Marathon day and finding pacesetters.Though, the 3+ run apps I am using kind of take their toll on me. I would not recommend it to anyone. Though, each has its story.

One, is the longest I have used ever since I started running Apps back in June 2013. It also has most of my friends from around the world, allowing me to follow their fitness activities and and stay inspired. From time to time, it offers me a chance to subscribe to a challenge with occasional benefits of “one-month free Elite Membership Passes” and access to all my running statistics in comparison to others, thus boosting my running. proficiency.

In 2014, I subscribed to another App that combined running with a good nutrition monitoring package, allowing me to submit daily food intake and monitor calorie intake. Gone are those days of obsessing over what I eat, submitting daily food intake! I got so confused trying to monitor food intake, and ate more to make up for the calories lost during exercise. Out with calorie counting; hello disciplined eating! Plus, this App also tracks my running gear mileage, alerts me when I need to replace my shoes, and recommends equally good ones.

The third app is relatively new, offered to Boston Marathon entrants. I started using it late in training, so it is kind of off Boston Marathon schedule. The fourth is my charity App I use to I donate all my mileage run or walked (I rarely record any walking) to the a charity of my choice – Every Mother Counts.

Running with four apps can be daunting, especially the three loudest Apps! Each has own timing and cues- when one says “speed up”, another says “slow down to blue zone”, then another says, “you are behind your target time.” Too confusing, but I suck it up and concentrate more on my first choice, that I started with for marathon training.

Hopefully, next week is gonna be much better, with 52 miles lined up, the last planned long distance run. Thereafter, it will be speed training and more speed training. Hopefully, no more snow days! OR somebody better ship me off to train on top of the Sahara…

And while we start the Spring blossoms, please do not forget about me. I am still asking for your support, toward my Boston Marathon charity, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition, kindly click on this link https://www.crowdrise.com/doreenlwanga to donate toward my fundraiser. Together, we can support and sustain good health, wellness and fitness research and services to the public.

Anxieties in “Taper Period”, six weeks to Marathon!

Here we go running

Here we go running

I am feeling rather anxious, as I get into the “Taper Period” before D-Day, Monday, April 20. I am talking about running the Boston Marathon 2015. This is my first “Big City Marathon”, since I entered the world of marathon running. I feel inadequately prepared, mentally, physically and financially.

Last time I trained for a marathon, my mind, pockets and body were all in the right places. I was a smaller size than I am now, went out there and did it, and had the finances to afford all the costs of marathon training and preparations. I was also in winter-free zone, sans the pains and agonies of training under snowfall, icy roads, whirlwinds and below freezing temperatures. I had control over my work and family schedule, which afforded me much needed time for marathon preparation.

My work schedule allowed me to train during daytime, before picking up my child from school. I had the money to afford weekly gym time, where I dedicated at least half a day to strength training, massage and swimming. I had a supportive family that afforded me the luxury of weekend running, with free and reliable childcare when child was off school. I had a running team to motivate me, train with, and pound Saturday morning long runs on hills and dirt roads. Plus, another smaller group for occasional Sunday runs, when I felt like going extra miles. I had really have limits – I just ran without a structured training plan. It paid off, very well!

Now, I am in a different geographical zone, with different weather challenges that affect my training mood and achievements. Still, I have gone out as much as my schedule allows me, and avoid missing a scheduled run because ‘I do not feel like’. Yes! I am now running on a pre-planned training schedule on one of those running apps. No! I do not have, one, but three running apps monitoring my pace, mileage and time, plus two other fitness apps tracking my daily steps, plus a charity app to which I donate all my run miles.

I have different schedule challenges, though. I am without reliable family support to afford me training time when child is off school. I now do my long runs on Friday, when child is at school instead of weekends when I do not have guaranteed childcare. Implicitly, I have to take Friday off work to put in the mileage and more running hours when child is at school. I am not as financially comfortable as last time around. I started earning a bit of an income very recently, but it cannot afford me the “essential-luxury” of gym time for strength training and massage. But there is advantage to a non-permanent/non-fixed job; I can afford to schedule work on my off-training days, and put in half-day work weeks, to allow more training time.

I guess because I am on a pre-scheduled training plan, I feel more pressure to meet my goals unlike when I had own-scheduled training plan. I also feel bigger in size and slower. I am running solo, without a social running group to motivate me. All that combines to make me a nervous wreck sometimes. I am hoping that I will afford to take my child with me to see me run in Boston. I am yet to find out if any of my Boston-based friends would want to watch him.

It is six weeks to go, and that feels like tomorrow. I do not feel physically ready to hit 26.1 miles. While I have woke up before and run 24+ miles on my solo run, I am yet to run 20+ miles since I started training for the Boston Marathon 2015. Today will be the first day I am going out to do 20 miles. Hopefully, slightly more mileage and great speed. I am yet to consistently do in-house strength training, since I cannot really afford gym hours. I tried my hands on fundraising from friends to afford me a few gym hours, but that did not work the magic.

Still, my spirit is not down and out. I know I will do it! On race day, I have an entire team to learn to pace with on race day. I hope I do not go too fast or too slow. I hope I can achieve my goal; won’t say here..Hoping to put in more strength training, and to take my child with me…to Boston…

If you still wish to support my training preparations, I will be more than happy to receive your donation. Should you wish to contribute to my obligation to fundraise for my running team at Tufts University, kindly click on this link https://www.crowdrise.com/doreenlwanga. Let’s support, health, wellness and fitness!