Thursday, July 31, 2008

Exercising with the Extended Family

Having a triathlon scheduled mid-summer is a good way to make sure that you get out and train in three sports before summer flies by. This year's event -- a Danskin sprint triathlon in Webster, Mass. -- went well except that I got a flat tire a mile into the 12-mile bike and ended up riding the flat as I wasn't prepared to change a tire. Yup, I'm married to a former bike racer and I can't change a tire. He's always the one who is prepared with the tube and the tools on our family bike rides. 

The triathlon is my one weekend away from my immediate family. I participate with my sisters and get a chance to talk to them more in those two days than I do throughout the year at various busy gatherings. One of my sisters is a breast cancer survivor and so doing the event, which raises money for breast cancer research, is a small way to honor her.

Being raised in a fit family with siblings has the benefit of meaning that later in life, you're likely to share some of the same exercise habits and so family gatherings include a hike, a run, a bike or a ski. My sister, Gretchen, told me that for her birthday this summer, her two boys (8 and 10) took her on a mountain bike ride. She said it was the best present they could give her. 

Monday, July 21, 2008

Triathlon Training

I'm preparing for a triathlon this weekend. I wouldn't go so far as to say training as it is a mini-triathlon with short distances and I haven't even practiced transitioning from one sport to the next. But I've been nervous about the bike ride. Last year my chain fell off just as I got into the big uphill. This year, I have a new bike (well an old one that was free by side of the road) and most of the time that I am on it, I'm pulling a kid or two in the bike trailer.

I needed a solo ride and told my husband that I was going out during our toddler's afternoon nap. He said that if I waited until after nap we could all go together. As much as I like our family bike rides, I needed to ride alone -- not just for practice, but for freedom, too.

And so I made it out on my own. I went up a long hill, much like the one on the race course, and I enjoyed sweating it out. I'm not sure that I could have made that whole thing with the trailer attached. 

I got home just in time to go to a concert in the park with my family. I felt invigorated, relaxed, and happy to see my kids whose whines earlier in the afternoon were good incentive to go for a ride.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Double Jogger: A Love/Hate Relationship

This morning, my husband, Tom, asked if I wanted to run the four-mile town loop with him. I figured that we wouldn't be shelling out money for a babysitter and inquired, "the double jogger?" Our girls, now two and four years old, are weighing down the jogger and our preschooler is now doing so many sports on her own that totes in the jogger have become infrequent; plus she barely fits under the sun canopy. But the idea appealed to me. Our daughters contained and chatting with each other while we ran. The timing would be easier than each getting in our own run, too.

So, we headed out at about 10 a.m. The girls were great. Tom did the pushing in the heat so he had to work hard. I felt a little guilty about that so did take over for one uphill. We know that our double jogger days are about over, so the run for me was bittersweet. As much as you feel like you're pushing a wide load, there is a sense of accomplishment when taking two kids along on a run and they enjoy the companionship.

We used to see people running with preschool age kids in a jogger and scoff to ourselves that the kids were too big and old to be pushed. Now we understand. Parents do what works for them and when you've got a good thing going, you try to hold onto it as long as you can.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An Off-Road Ride

The other day, we did a creemie ride. A creemie is Vermont's terminology for soft-serve ice cream. My husband, Tom, cruised with our preschooler, Ava, via a trail-a-bike or tag-along and I hauled our toddler, Julia, in our Burley bike trailer. Our destination was the next town over but we had to take a detour to avoid busy Route 100, which has been especially busy with utility work forcing traffic into one lane. 

Our detour took us on a path that varied between grass and a single track to loose sand and gravel. We were on road bikes traveling uphill so I had to dismount a few times and Julia asked why I was walking. I didn't mind hopping off and on the bike a bit as I was in shade with mountain views. We soon reached a dirt path alongside a golf course and my brakes whined on the downhill but I didn't see golfers turn their heads in our direction.

We reached our destination, a general store, just as the creemies became available - 11 a.m. We ordered three maple flavored and one vanilla for four bucks - an affordable treat and a fun family outing.