Running the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon – for a good cause & other reasons…

I’m into my third week of training for my first half marathon and loving it. The run is on 10 May 2014 in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country. I will have turned forty the month before, making it a great event to really kick start this next decade of my life.

Santa Barbara harbour

I plan on making my forties full of action, to keep pace with my three active daughters, and to rediscover a slice of the ‘old me’ that was always running off exploring in my twenties (before I got busy with making babies in my thirties!).

Running Santa Barbara beach

I am running for a great cause – ‘Running for Elijah‘ – (certainly helps to keep me motivated and stick with the training!); whilst staving off a mid-life crisis (although it could be argued – by some of my friends – that running a half marathon is a mid-life crisis in itself!) and dependence on wine & chocolate… (of course those still figure in my life – I’m just trying to make them minor blips – not full feature spreads!).

Running in the heat of the day

I’m also running for my daughters, as there is no better way to teach than to lead by example. They are all active individuals already, but seeing their parents continue to be active throughout life will help to set in place that lifestyle for them too. We all motivate and spur each other on, in our own ways, and I’m so grateful that they realise how important exercise is for us all (thank you my girls – Mamma is a much happier Mamma when she can run!).

Santa Barbara beach

I’m also so thankful to my hubbie for making the extra effort to be there to look after his gorgeous daughters, whilst I go out running. Just tonight, we met him down the beach, near where he works, so I could run whilst they played around at the park.

I’m following a great training schedule, that’s building my strength and endurance gradually, without me risking an injury early on. I am so tempted, every day I go running, to run more and more, to keep going until I can’t move my legs anymore; but, the training schedule holds me back and keeps me from doing that.  It’s exciting to build up to race day and I’m enjoying not just the focus of having a ‘race day’, but making running and exercise a priority for me.

Santa Barbara bird reserve

I’m also loving the scenery and opportunity to explore parts of Santa Barbara, whilst I run. I’m grateful for the time to pause and take in the landscape around me.

Whale tail Santa Barbara harbour

I run on sand, on trails, on road and footpaths. I run whenever I’m free to run. I run because I love to run and running makes me feel free.

Santa Barbara

An active week in Santa Barbara – and yes, I am running a half marathon…

Between the game play (Minecraft), the crafting (Rainbow Looming) and all the preschool arts and crafts (baking ginger-bread men, sand play, painting, imaginary story telling and so on…) there’s been a lot of action in the house in California this week. My New Zealand born children have been energised with slightly cooler temperatures and rain (yes, rain!). We took a trip to the the local zoo in Santa Barbara (we signed up for annual membership, since we are here for a year) and spent a few hours enjoying some action, with a touch of animal education – but mostly ‘physical education’!)…

We also visited a fav park – Goleta Beach Park, for a kick around, as well as a park near the Zoo – where we played ball-tag, baseball, climbing and anything that stretched a limb!

Opposite Santa Barbara Zoo park

After my 8km run on Monday (in training for a half-marathon – my first – in May) I was on ‘cross fit’ day – so certainly got my exercise in – in a round about way! Why a half-marathon? Well, I’m turning forty in April, so it seemed the right thing to do – plus I’m doing it for a very good cause (yes, I need the motivation!). Also, the run is in ‘wine country’ – the ‘Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon’… aye, I’m no saint!

Monday's run

Oh and, whilst I’m at it, I did a decent run on Friday too (which was followed by reading Facebook updates of forty something friends in NZ completing a half-marathon in Wellington… which resulted in me signing up to do one – inspiration through Facebook – it’s real!).

Friday night's run

The run on Friday was swiftly followed by a vegetarian curry (thanks hubby and the wonderful curry house ‘Tamira Santa Barbara‘ that made it). Sunday, I should have gone for a run – but had friends around for a pirate shin dig (but that’s another post), in honour of our youngest lass having just turned four (didn’t seem real till we’d celebrated with some ‘Kiwi’ mates!). A pirate shin dig wouldn’t have seemed right without a few drinks to wash down the salty BBQ food.. ahem… (any excuse) so I indulged as any pirate would (given the chance) and set the world to rights (on the running front) on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday were followed with lots of planking, squatting, yoga moves and gentle weights throughout the day – combined with multiple trips up, down, round, square and figure of eight; chasing dirty laundry, plates, children and chaos. And now, Wednesday night, I sit listening to the wonderful (and extremely rare) sound of rain thinking, ‘I really should have gone for a run today as I’m drinking far too much wine!’. Tonight, along with drinking wine, has been a fun one of putting out multiple rain catching containers with Miss 4 (she obviously recalls the drought in Wellington, NZ, of summer 2013, which I wrote about here and here, over at ‘Catching the Magic’), baking gingerbread men (she found the cookie cutters, whilst emptying a large plastic box – to use for rain collecting, and decided baking was the needed… and boy am I glad she did… as I sit here typing, wine fuelled, with the munchies!) and drinking rain water (well, wouldn’t you if it hadn’t rained more than 3 days in six months?!… never mind the water might be polluted!).

So, there you have it. A little post for the week to link up with the lovely active folk over at ‘Country Kids‘ who make the most of the weather in the wonderful UK, whatever it may be, and get out with their children to enjoy a bit of action x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Let’s get physical! Keeping fit, & keeping up, with the children…

I’m on my feet most of the day, with three active children unschooling this year and a house to keep in order. It would be easy to flop at any given moment, instead of pushing on and seeking out more physical activity – but it’s true what ‘they’ say, ‘Exercise gives you energy’. Besides, I want to keep fit enough to keep up with my children – and take them on the amazing tramps of New Zealand’s National Parks that hubbie and I did in those ‘before children’ days. So, when they say, ‘Play tag Mum!’, ‘Come chase me!’, or invite me to head off on a roller blade session on the waterfront, I push any excuses to the back of my mind, and say, ‘Yes’. It’s almost like I’ve trained my tongue to say, ‘Yes’; regardless of whether my mind and body really wants to. Once the ‘Yes’ word is spoken out loud it’s like magic, there’s no going back.

Chasing Miss 8 on her rollerblades

And when it comes to exercising for myself, without the children joining in, it’s very much for my mental health, more than anything else (and perhaps a little guilt at the extra few wines I may have drunk in the past week and that chocolate cake that was begging to be finished and those left-over snacks…and, and, and…). So, when hubbie comes home from work, whilst the sun is still in the sky, and says, ‘Go on love, get your kit on and head out for a run!’, I say, ‘Yes’ (thinking, the wine can wait till later and will be even more deserved!).  I often time my jog to finish on a beach, close to sunset, where hubbie can bring any willing children down to meet me (usually it’s Miss recently turned 4 that keenly volunteers).

There’s nothing like young children to put an adult through their paces. She springs from one stretch into the next with the ease of a Royal Ballet dancer, instructing me with positive encouragement to, ‘Copy me Mummy!’.

I call her my personal trainer, as she has a look that’s hard to turn away from and such an infectious zest of positive energy. She’ll have me stretching, doing squats, jumping jacks and tree poses at random intervals throughout the day. She keeps me on my toes and frequently surprises me with impromptu workouts whilst I’m waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning, or the eggs to boil. In her mind every moment counts and there’s no excuse.

We have yoga mats and a deck of cards with yoga poses within reach in the living room – it’s not yoga like you’d expect in a dedicated class, there’s rarely much deep breathing relaxation at the end – at least not without Mummy being climbed on – and the sequence of poses is random, but nevertheless it makes us all feel better to spend five, ten or thirty minutes (if I’m lucky) stretching and breathing.

Then there’s the more fast paced kind of exercise, when we take a few bats and balls to a park or head out for some roller blading along the waterfront in Santa Barbara. At the playground I am asked to have a go on the monkey bars and try a few chin ups… let’s just say I need to practice! There’s opportunities in any day to exercise and keep fit – it’s just down to being open to it and getting involved. The more I say, ‘Yes’ to my children, the better I feel – and the more we all end up exercising! Just got to keep on going, and going, and going… (surely it must be wine o’clock time by now?!). xx

Waterfront fun with my daughters in Santa Barbara