Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thank You to Everyone Who Came Out to the St. Charles 5k

For me, yesterday's race was the best and most beautiful ever!  The weather was perfect and we had a great turnout.  I am now back in San Diego to take my finals in college so I can graduate on Saturday(!)  I want to use this post to give some important messages to runners who may be looking for more information.  

To see the official results on Cool Running, follow this link to the race results.  
Seacoast online published two articles on our race here and here.  

I had a few photographers at the race.  Once they have submitted their photos and I have uploaded them, I will share those links.  If any runners took photos or videos that you would like to share, please email the link to srmaryagnes11@aol.com and I will be happy to get them up.

Many runners left the race early and did not pick up their awards.  If you see in the results on Cool Running that you won an award but did not receive it, please feel free to stop by St. Charles Children's Home to pick it up, or email me and I will be happy to mail it to you.

Also, there are always some runners who sign up but are not able to come on race day.  Traditionally that means they forfeit their T shirt.  If you registered and were not able to come, please feel free to stop by St. Charles to pick up you race bag and T shirt.  Or, I can mail it to you, but I would ask $5 to cover the cost of shipping.  Just email or send a check and I will get the shirt out to you.  I am in San Diego until September 14, and I will do any requested mailing then.

Please give us your comments and feedback about the race!  We are always trying to find ways to make our race better, and we want our runners to be involved in that process.  Again, thank you for coming out yesterday!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

You can still register for the St. Charles 5k on Race morning!

Online registration at Active.com is now closed, but people can still register for the race on race morning.  In fact, many runners prefer to do that.  Just plan to come sometime between 7:30 and 8:45.  We will be glad to have you join us!  Registration fees on Labor Day are $20 per runner.  The Fun Run for kids 7 and under is free.  There are still plenty of T shirts and lots of food for everyone.  Don't miss this race!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Perfect Weather for the St. Charles 5k

The sisters at St. Charles pray about many things, and as Labor Day approaches each summer we ask the Lord for nice weather for the day of our big road race.  He has not disappointed us yet!  We have things cooling off by Monday, and the temperature should still be in the 60s when the gun goes off at 9 AM.  I cannot ask for a nicer forecast.  

Some runners have told me they like our new website, but they miss the thermometer showing the number of runners who have registered!  I am still in the process of learning how to navigate the back end of our website, so maybe by next year I will have figured out a way to put our thermometer back.  But in case anyone is wondering, we have 711 runners pre-registered as I write this blog.  Online registration continues until 11 PM tonight, so that number may go up.  I am excited to say we have already surpassed last year's record of pre-registered runners, which was 689.  As anyone familiar with my former home made website knows, our goal is to reach 1000 runners.  So call your friends and bring them along!  Walkers are welcome too.  We have great food and a really big raffle.  In another post I intend to highlight some of our bigger raffle prizes this year.  

Several months ago, someone suggested to me that I give up the road race and find more efficient ways to raise money for St. Charles.  I was deeply distressed at even thinking about not having our race!  But the question helped me to reflect about how much this race really does mean to me.  It has been the highlight of every year for me since it began in 1997.  There is just something so special for me when I see so many people gathered to support our work with the children at St. Charles.  I love it when the gun goes off and I watch the runners all start:  the energy and enthusiasm are amazing.  Another special moment is when we call all of our children up at awards time so everyone can recognize the St. Charles Eagles.  This year, most of our children have just begun living at St. Charles a few weeks ago.  This will be their very first race.  Each of them will be a winner, because when they cross the finish line they will have set their first "personal record" and will be able to receive our unique "PR Awards" during the awards ceremony.  Some of them are eagerly anticipating the race, and ask me about it every time they see me.  I can't wait to see their response on race day.

Thank you to all the runners who come each year and make this such a wonderful event.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Saint Charles Children's Home 5K--a video from last year

I happened to find this video that someone captured from our race last year and put together, and thought I would share it on the blog.  Last's year's race was wonderful and we hope for another great race just 8 days from today on Labor Day!

Just a reminder that if anyone wishes to run our 5k but can't be with us on Labor Day for whatever reason, please consider running our Virtual 5k wherever you are, whenever you want.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feedback from a runner: St. Charles 5k "One of the Best"

With the 14th Annual St. Charles Children's Home a week from Monday, I thought I would share a nice letter I got last year from one of the runners:

"Your race was one of the best that I have attended this year.  Very well organized and all of that wonderful food!  Many times at a big race the food will run out before the last finishers cross the line.  Not the case in your race, there was plenty for everyone.  You did all of the right things to draw people back to your race next year.  I intend to be there in 2010..."

The highlight of our post race food is a barbecue of hamburgers and hot dogs donated and cooked by all of the Applebee's restaurants in this region.  Tommie Mattie of the Portsmouth Applebees is chief chef, and I can attest to the fact that there is nothing like those hamburgers hot off the grille. Other food includes donuts, bagels, fruit, cookies, pizza and more.  

I was excited to get a letter from a runner last year.  If you have run our race and would like to share your thoughts about it, please let us know!  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Climbed a Mountain in Vibram Fivefingers!

Today is a milestone day for me.  In March I got a a pair of Vibram Fivefingers shoes, and have been building up my ability to function in them ever since.  My goal on DailyMile has been to climb a mountain in the VFFs.  Well, today I did it.  Note my happy little feet in the corner of this picture of the monument on the top of Cowles Mountain.

I made the 950 foot climb in 36 minutes.  Cowles is the highest mountain in San Diego county.  This trail was perfect for the VFFs.  It is mostly a dirt trail--not filled with sharp rocks which would have made the barefoot walk more challenging!  As I have noted in other posts, the Vibram Fivefingers give you some protection, but they are a lot like really being barefoot since you feel everything under your feet.

The shoes performed well.  I learned that it is easier to climb in Vibram Fivefingers than it is to navigate down a steep trail.  First of all, because you're going down you naturally want to go fast.  I stubbed my toe and that reminded me that I need to slow down and pick my way carefully.  The other difficulty in going down is that steep, dry, dirt trails can be slippery, and today was no exception.  VFFs can be slippery just like any other shoe.  I slid just as much as in sneakers.  I was not handicapped in any way by the VFFs.  It was a great hike!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Natural Drink to Balance Electrolytes

Image borrowed from http://tipdeck.com/home-made-lemonade-recipe
I first learned about electrolytes after a race in the late 90s.  It was a sweltering hot day--the first really hot day of that summer.  After completing the race I was talking to a reporter, who was intrigued by the fact that our sisters were running in full habits with the children from St. Charles.  

After that conversation, I remember turning around and heading to the refreshment stand.  Next thing I knew, everything around me started to swim and my face was in the grass (I am so glad there was grass there!)  Other runners were very kind.  They told me to sit there and put my head between my knees until the dizziness went away.  Some one got me a banana.  I wanted to disappear into the grass.

Since then I have learned that if I sweat a lot and then rehydrate really quickly right away, I am susceptible to this kind of dizziness.  I am not alone:  that is why sports drinks have been invented, with their special ingredients to help replace the electrolytes in our body that we lose when we sweat a lot.  I don't like all the sugar in those drinks, however, and I wanted to share a natural recipe given to me by my naturopath  that works really well for me. Here it is:

1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar powder
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup grapefruit juice (I use unsweetened)
3 1/2 cups water

It's quick and easy to make and less expensive than those sports drinks.  Works for me!  For more information about electrolytes and how to avoid electrolyte imbalance, here is a good article.  

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Farewell Running Song

During the past few months I have written a couple of posts about I girl I have called "Anna."  She came to live at St. Charles a little before Christmas, and was incredibly anxious and fearful about everything.  Anna flourished in our program and especially loved her daily runs with Sister Maximilian.  

A few days ago, Anna moved in with her new adoptive family.  In one of her last runs with Sister Maximilian, Anna decided to compose a goodbye song while running.  It went something like this:

Sister Maximilian!
I am gonna miss you!
I am gonna miss running with you too!
Sister Max-i-mil-ill-ian!

I love you, Sister Maximilian!
I am gonna miss you!
I like running with you too!
Sister Max-i-mil-ill-ian!

There were many more verses to Anna's song, which continued for twenty minutes at the top of her voice during their 4 mile run together.  Unfortunately, we do not have it in audio form.  Since I am the blogger, I will also report that Sister Maximilan then composed a similar song for Anna as well!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

One of the St. Charles Girls Invited to Speak as an Expert

Last December I wrote a post about one of the girls at St. Charles whom we will call "Anna."  Anna had just arrived at the Home when I met her in December.  She was terrified of everyone she met.  After living at St. Charles for six months and continuing to work hard to face her fears, Anna has made significant progress.

Last week, Anna's teacher invited her to be a guest speaker in her class.  She was  invited because she is considered an expert in running.  Anna's teacher is a runner.  Not only that, but several children in the classroom are preparing right now for their first 5k.  So Anna was invited to speak to the class and give the young runners some pointers for running their first race:

  • Start slow
  • Run straight so you don't trip over other people and they don't trip over you
  • Save your fastest running for the end
  • Be a good sport:  you are running to have fun
  • Do your best!
Everyone was impressed with Anna's presentation.  So the little girl who was shaking with terror the first time she met me six months ago is now a seasoned 5k runner who gives good advice, and a public speaker!  Go Anna!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Update on My Experience with Vibram Fivefingers

It has been a little more than six weeks since my last blog post about the Vibram Fivefingers--I had better remedy that!  The first thing is that I have not had any trouble with blisters since the blister I got on the back of each foot the first time I wore them.  Once those healed up my skin was toughened up enough not to get any more.  I do not wear the Injinji socks that can be purchased to help with blisters, although I have heard they can be very helpful.  My personal preference has been to keep this experience as simple as possible.  Special socks did not fit my criteria!  However, if I ever progress to become a runner instead of a walker, the socks will be a real possibility for me.

I have also been careful to go slow in my transition to bare-footing.  I wear the Vibrams twice a week, usually on weekends.  First I mastered covering distance on flat, paved surfaces.  Then I started on some simple mountain trails.  The big challenge with mountain trails where I am living right now is the rocks:  I definitely feel them!  The trick is learning how to manage those small, sharp rocks that really hurt, even with the Vibrams.  This is where building up the ability to wear these shoes is really important for me.  I am taking it slowly because I don't want to get injured, yet I like the experience of the rocky trail in these shoes.

For some walks I skipped the shoes altogether and really walked barefoot on the smooth driveway that surrounds the complex where I live.  That has been a valuable exercise, since what I am trying to do is toughen up the bottom of my feet.

I was not one of those people who grew up going barefoot all summer.  The only time I did not have shoes on my feet was when I was on a beach.  So this transition to a more barefoot life is something new for me!  My favorite hike so far in the Vibrams was a steep mountain climb.  The trail was short, maybe half a mile.  But it was like climbing a flight of stairs going up and down!  In fact, there are some places where both hands and feet are needed to make the climb.  The climb was a real pleasure in the Vibrams.  I felt like I had much more control over my feet than when I have hiked this trail in sneakers.  I had less trouble with slipping on smooth rocks.  However, there were still some slippery moments.  As an aside, I got stung by a bee on the top of the trail, and made my way down pretty quickly after that.  The Vibrams did not hinder my progress at all.  The picture here is from that hike, taken at the top of the trail.

My only trouble was at the end I had a small bruise on the bottom of my left foot.  It was a little tender, but did not cause a problem.  However, on a more recent hike I must have stepped on a rock in that same spot again.  This time I got a pretty serious bruise, which means taking some time off rocky trails in the Vibrams and letting it heal.  One thing I find very helpful after every hike on a rocky trail is to soak in Epsom salts in the evening: to maximize the benefits and relax any muscles that are not used so much ordinarily.  In summary, I really enjoy these shoes.  They are providing a wonderful way to strengthen my feet, ankles and calves.  I am glad I have continued to transition into them slowly.  I think my careful work is going to pay off.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Extra Run to Relieve the Stress

One of the boys from St. Charles is really beginning to understand and internalize the way running can help him handle stress.  This little guy, whom I will call Jimmy, has lived in more than 12 foster homes in his short life, and is getting ready to move into yet another one.  Needless to say, he is agitated.  Since he has not yet experienced a permanent home that was right for him, he has a lot of anxiety about moving to this next home.  The way he sees it, why should he expect this home to be any different from the others?

Last week, Jimmy asked Sister Maximilian if he could go with her on her second run.  Ordinarily Sister Maximilian runs 8 miles a day.  The first 4 miles are with the more experienced group of kids who run a little faster.  The second 4 miles are with beginners.  Ordinarily, she would not allow a child to run 8 miles in one day. However, given Jimmy's level of stress and the fact that he was asking for the extra time running, she approved.  Jimmy had a great run and one of the nicest evenings he has had in a while. Sister was excited because this showed that he really is starting to understand how running can affect the way he feels.  We don't know if he will ask for an extra run again, but  if he does, Sister will allow him to put in an extra 4 miles every once in a while.  Hopefully, this will be a lesson he takes with him into adulthood to help him cope with the stresses of life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sister Maximilian & the St. Charles Kids Step into Barefoot Running

It was an historical day last week when Sr. Maximilian and the kids from St. Charles officially started to experiment with barefoot running.  Not to worry:  they are proceeding slowly and carefully and they won't ever be seen running through the streets of Rochester without shoes, lest they get cut by broken glass somewhere along their route.  Except Sister Maximilian, that is.  She might find she likes this barefoot experience so much that she invests in Vibram Fivefingers the way I did.  Time will tell.  When I return to New Hampshire in a few weeks I fully intend to tantalize her with mine.

Here is how it all got started:  Sister has been as intrigued as I am about the barefoot running phenomenon in the running world.  Last week, she decided to try an experiment with the kids.  Our kids run 50 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week.  On this historic day she decided to shorten the run by 5 minutes, and then at the end give the kids an opportunity to run barefoot in the yard.  Kids who didn't want to try barefoot running were welcome to run their final 5 minutes around our driveway:  a track we often use in the winter when the sidewalks are not plowed.

No one chose that option, however.  Everyone wanted to take their shoes off and run in the grass.  The kids absolutely loved it, and Sister Maximilian admitted she enjoyed it too.  Our yard is a large rectangle.  One circle around the yard is roughly 1 tenth of a mile.  We have great turf in that yard because of the irrigation system that keeps it well watered.  As an aside, another group of athletes paid to renovate our yard about 10 years ago: a group of students from St. Anselm's College who walk 100 miles each year in a program called "Road for Hope" to raise money for various charities.

The kids are now running barefoot for 5 minutes twice a week.  Sister Maximilian will assess whether and when they are ready to increase the barefoot time.  In the meantime, those 10 minutes a week sound like a lot of fun.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My School in Southern California

I have to take this opportunity to brag about my school: John Paul the Great Catholic University.  While my other sisters in the Daughters of Mary are working hard with the kids in New Hampshire, I have been in sunny San Diego since 2007 attending this truly phenomenal university.  My major is Entrepreneurial Business, but I eventually hope to pursue a Masters in Biblical Theology as well.  I wanted to share the school's latest commercial, which highlights the fact that we are also a film school.  I only have a year left to spend in San Diego.  Then I will return to New Hampshire to finish my studies from a distance.  I have to say, it will be easier writing in this blog about daily life with the kids when I am no longer 3000 miles away!  Check out this ad:

Q:  So, what is a Roman Catholic sister doing in an Entrepreneurial Business program that also happens to be at a film school?  
A:  I co-founded the Daughters of Mary to be an association that works with children and families.  The association is already growing.  Entrepreneurial Business is teaching me the skills I need to help our sisters launch new programs to help children and families in the future.  To meet the other sisters who co-founded the Daughters of Mary, click here.

Q: The rest of the sisters and the children are at the St. Charles Children's Home in New Hampshire, aren't they?  Why did you choose a school in Southern California?  Wouldn't you rather be closer to home?  
A:  I wanted to find a school where I could not only learn business, but also participate in a Theology program.  John Paul the Great Catholic University was the only Catholic University I found with a strong emphasis in both Theology and Entrepreneurial business.  I will be honest:  when I learned the University was in San Diego, I was not sad.  I am thoroughly enjoying the weather while I am here!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A New Chapter for the Runningnuns Blog

Today is an exciting day for me as a new blogger.  Our Runningnuns blog is now integrated with the Runningnuns website.  You can check out the menu at the top of this blog to learn more about our sisters, how we run with kids, and about our annual road race, the St. Charles Children's Home 5k, which takes place on Labor Day each year.  I look forward to interacting with the running community about our race and about our running program.  I hope everyone enjoys the new look and feel of our blog and website.  Let me know!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Difficulties some Children Face

We all have difficulties to face.  I often find it helps me to look at people who have much worse troubles than I do.  Then my own challenges do not seem hard to face at all.  One of the children from St. Charles taught me that lesson recently.  For the sake of her privacy, I will call her Amy.  Amy has lived at St. Charles for more than 4 years.  She received a brain injury early in life, and as a result has some developmental delays.  Her behaviors are very difficult to manage, to say the least.  But like many difficult children, Amy has a loving side.  What she has wanted, more than anything else in the world, is a family.  Over the years she has watched friends come and go at St. Charles.  No other child living at the Home right now has lived there as long as Amy has.

The good news finally came about a month ago:  The perfect family had been found!  They had adopted kids with disabilities in the past, and had the skill to work with Amy and  her disabilities.  Amy was on the top of the world.  Whenever she would meet anyone, the first thing she would say was, "I have a family!"  The sisters and staff shared her excitement, because this family really was a perfect match for Amy.

Then the family experienced an unexpected and shocking tragedy and the situation obliged them to have to move far away.  They could not continue in the process of adopting Amy.  This was not the family's fault:  no one could have foreseen the events that forced them to change their plans.  Since saying goodbye to that family, Amy now says, "Maybe some day some family will take me."  She still has some hope.

Since coming to St. Charles 21 years ago, I have seen situations like this over and over.  I can say with confidence that some day I will be writing another blog post about Amy, talking about the new family that the state found for her.  I am sure in the end the sisters will be able to look back on this interrupted placement and recognize good that came out of the fact that Amy had to wait longer for a family.  But try to explain that to a child.  Amy's is  a story in progress.  Her story reminded me this week to be deeply grateful for my own family, and for the stability I had as a child. So many children have no idea what it is like to live in a loving family.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

5 Mile Walk around Lake Miramar in Vibram Fivefingers

I decided to take my Vibrams on a longer walk today.  I chose Lake Miramar because it is a paved trail, but also has a dirt trail closer to the water that walkers may choose to use.  The loop around the lake is 5 miles.  I was going to bring a backpack with an alternative pair of shoes if things were to get rough with the Vibrams, but then I decided I would tough it out . . . I am glad I did.  The walk went well, but I did learn a few things.
1.  I was concerned about the blisters I got on the back of each foot from my first walk earlier in the week.  I did some internet searching and found someone who used duct tape to protect his feet from blisters in the Vibrams.  This idea is right up my alley:  much cheaper than band aids.  So I tried it today.  I cut the tape about 3 inches long, and then put a rectangle of paper towel in the middle so the adhesive would not stick to the sensitive part of my foot where the blisters are.  This worked like a charm!  The tape stuck fine, and gave real protection from the chafing from the shoes.  After the walk, it came off easily.  The blisters did not get aggravated at all in the 5 mile walk.  I am hoping I can build my feet up not to need this kind of intervention, but for now this is great.  I am also resisting the idea of wearing Injinji socks for the time being.  I really want to see if I can manage the blisters and become able to wear these without socks.  We'll see.

2.  So I conquered the blister problem, but by the end of 5 miles I found my heels were chaffed.  They actually were burning at the end of my walk!  I don't know what to make of that yet.  As this week proceeds I will come back and add comments to this post to report on how long the chafing lasted.  Hmmm.  I hope I don't wake up tomorrow walking on two blisters on the bottom of each heel!  The article I cited in my last post says "Let your skin be your guide" because when you protect your skin, you protect everything underneath. My chaffed heels give me a sense of that today.

3. Lake Miramar has a dirt trail closer to the water.  I walked about a mile on the dirt trail today.  It is pretty rocky in places, so this gave me a good idea of what trail hiking in my Vibrams will be like.  I was amazed at how much more taxing this was for my legs.  When I take these on my first real mountain trail, I will definitely be taking an alternative pair of shoes and will not attempt more than a mile on the trail to start.  I have to build myself up to this!

In conclusion, I got the Vibrams as part of my long term program to become a runner once again.  Since I cannot do any aerobic exercise at this point, I am working on building my strength.  I love walking and hiking anyway, and the Vibrams seem like a great way to get more out of my walks and hikes.  I am not disappointed, even with the blisters and chafing.  After all, if I had attempted to walk this 5 miles in literal bare feet today, I probably would not have made it more than 100 yards.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Impressions of Vibram Fivefingers

When my Vibram Fivefingers arrived in the mail on Monday, I was eager to put them on.  I have read, however, that wearing them too much too soon can cause muscle pain, etc., because our feet become weak from years of wearing shoes.  So, I have used a lot of restraint this first week with the Vibrams.  There is a good article about getting started in Vibrams here.

First of all, they are fun!  My first walk was for 45 minutes on a flat, paved surface.  My feet felt nice and snug and warm.  When I ordered, I opted for the KSOs because they cover the top of the foot.  I will be using these for hiking on trails and in the woods, so I wanted a way to keep pine needles, twigs and pebbles out.  Also, even though I am living in San Diego for another year to study, my real home is in New Hampshire and I wanted them to be reasonably warm.  I looked at the Flows for warmth, but decided that since I am in San Diego right now the KSOs were the best choice for me.

I have not experienced cramps or leg pains since wearing the Vibrams.  I think that is because I am starting slowly and because I have been doing long barefoot walks indoors to prepare for these.  My muscles went through the initial cramps a few weeks ago when I started walking barefoot.  I have had the Vibrams since Monday, but have only walked in them twice.  I am taking seriously the advice on different websites to start slowly!  My only trouble so far has been a small blister on the back of each heel.  That seems to be because I had the strap too tight the first day.  The second day I kept the strap a lot looser and fared better with the blisters.  I am looking forward to my first walk on a trail with these.  Flat pavement is one thing, but rocky trails are another.  I will be sure to report on how it goes!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A bit more on barefoot running

We may become barefoot running nuns yet!  My Vibram Fivefingers are on their way, and next week I hope to start short outdoor walks in them.  Meanwhile I have been doing indoor walking barefoot, some days up to three miles in one workout.  So, I am on my way to being a barefoot "walking nun."  My plan is to be used to barefoot  already as I ease back into running over the next several months.  (I am still waiting for the doc's approval to start running again, but he was very enthusiastic about my barefoot hiking plan.)
Sister Maximilan is also interested.  Since she runs eight miles a day right now (she runs two groups of kids, 4 miles each group) barefoot will be a slow, careful transition for her.  She's waiting for my reports on the Vibram Fivefingers before she makes her decision.

To learn more about barefoot running I have embedded Bordon Pirie's book at the bottom of this blog.  The book apparently never went to print, but I have found it to be highly recommended to understand how the body was made to run.  Unfortunately I have not had time yet to read it myself, but I will definitely post on it when I have read it.  

The link to the book is here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tweeting Nun

I have been in New Hampshire the past 2 1/2 weeks and am ashamed that I have not written a blog post.  There is so much I have to accomplish in my short weeks here, and so little time . . . Well, since someone else wrote up this nice article I thought I would share it here.  It tells the story of how I got started in Social Media.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Roman Catholic Sister on Daily Mile

I kept hearing Dailymile come up in the running blogosphere, and so I finally joined the network.  Dailymile has some similarities to Facebook, but it is geared particularly for active people.  When I first heard about it, I figured that excluded me, since at the time I was still trying to struggle out of the sedentary state.  However, when I got on Dailymile I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is easy to post workouts, no matter how small.  Similar to what our road race tried to be, Dailymile is equally attractive to fast, experienced runners and slow, inexperienced beginners.

For example, my profile from last week above logs the miles even though I am a walker and not a runner.  The green bar on the end without a number is a workout.  You still get the green bar, just no miles recorded.  I like clean, clear visuals, to this does the trick to motivate me to post workouts or walks.

Here are some reasons I like Dailymile:

  1. It is fun.  Even if my morning fitness routine is a mere 10 minutes, I can post it, and it appears in the timeline alongside the posts from marathon runners who are sharing their training.  I can also share pictures and videos. 
  2. It is easy.  There is even a pedometer powered by Google Maps to trace where you have been.  It calculates the miles you covered and your pace.  The only drawback to the pedometer is that routes are public, either to friends only or to the general public.  I think it would be safer, particularly for women who run alone, to have a private routes option.  One workaround I found is to use the map to calculate, but then don't save it if it is a route I don't want public.
  3. It is social.  You can tie in and publish all of your workouts simultaneously to Facebook and Twitter if you want.  I always liked the upbeat attitude of the running community when I was doing races in NH in the late 90s.  That same positive energy is present on Dailymile on a much wider scale.  
  4. It is motivating.  I was in a real slump about 3 weeks ago when I started.  Yet there is something really gratifying about posting a workout and having the data show up in an appealing visual format.  Between the encouragement of new friends I have met on Dailymile and the nice interface, I have managed to log 26 miles total in the past 3 weeks!
If you would like to check out my profile on Dailymile, this is the link:  http://www.dailymile.com/people/SisterMaryAgnes#ref=tophd

To check out the site and sign up (yes, it's free) here is the link:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Will the Runningnuns Ever Run Barefoot?

The short answer is, I don't know yet.  Sister Maximilian brought up the topic about a year ago.  At the time I had never heard of barefoot running and thought she was joking.  Never wanting to miss an opportunity, I teased her about the running barefoot idea before I returned to Southern California to continue my studies.  

Now Sister Maximilian can tell me, "I told you so."  I have come across many good articles about running barefoot and now I know the idea is worth further investigation.  What intrigues me is the fact that apparently the human foot was made for running long before all kinds of cushioned running shoes were invented.  If I understand the theory correctly, running shoes with a heel cushion actually cause the foot to strike heel first, and that can cause injuries.  Left to itself, the front of the foot hits the ground first and absorbs the shock of the foot strike.  I have only just begun to learn about this but plan to research more.  One blog post that particularly intrigued me was by Peter Larson when he took videos of a runner on a treadmill with different shoes & barefoot.  It was very interesting: check it out here.

So, back to the original question:  will the sisters ever run barefoot?  We will continue to do the research.  If we are on a beach, you might just catch us running barefoot.  If we adopt the practice at other times, however, you will probably see us in minimalist shoes or Vibram Five Fingers.  One thing I have heard is that the transition is hard for experienced runners:  they need to break into barefoot mode slowly, because all kinds of different muscles are used.  This is where I might just have an edge.  Since I am not able to run yet and will have to start from scratch when I do begin running, I might just be able to escape the re-training woes.  Who knows?  I will probably never beat Sister Maximilian in a race, but I might just be able to beat her to barefoot.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Father Son Story

After writing on fatherhood last week, I was delighted to come across a blog post by Noah Moore with a wonderful father/ son running story.  They wanted to be the first father & son to run over the newly renovated Ben Sawyer Bridge.  I quote:

"The bridge is not that big, but it is special.  It is an icon of the Low Country (anyone who has seen pictures of Charleston during Hugo will recognize it as the bridge that was turned on its side).

It felt awesome being there with my son, knowing that we were the first father and son to ever cross that span.  As we turned to go back over the bridge, my son looked at me and said, "You are the best dad in the whole world!".  It was one of those moments that can not be scripted, can not be artificially constructed, there was pure joy and excitement in his voice.  This was an adventure."

Mind you, their first attempt to cross that bridge was after 10 PM the night before, when the bridge was supposed to open.  When it got too late and the bridge did not open, they came back the next morning.  I love this story not only because it involves running, but because a dad and his son are on a mission together.  It reminds me of adventures I had with my Dad when I was a little girl, such as skiing down a new, untried trail or hiking in the woods to see a beaver dam.  

Parents, don't worry if you can't afford to take your kids to Disney World (or Disney Land ... I am living on both coasts right now).  It is the little adventures that are important.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Blessing of a Father

Last week at John Paul the Great Catholic University where I am studying full time, I witnessed a most beautiful thing.  One of my professors, Michael Barber, was erasing the board when his wife and two children arrived.  The oldest, Michael Jr., is about one and a half.  As soon as he saw his dad from across the room, he ran and jumped into his arms, and there were squeals of laughter as his dad tossed him around a bit.  It was a scene very familiar to families with young children.  To me, it was poignant for another reason.

At St. Charles Children's Home, many of the children do not have dads in the picture.  If there is a father in their lives, he may be a frightening figure. However, in many cases, he is just not there.  I have parented so many children at the Home who have no idea what it is like to have a loving father!  I have heard a phrase used to describe this phenomenon:  the "fatherless generation."  Actually we seem to be on our second fatherless generation now... At the Children's Home we have many male volunteers who serve as role models and father figures to our kids.  This helps, because the Sisters can do many things for these children, but we can't be fathers!

For any Dad who may be reading, please know how important you are!  Even when times are difficult and you may get discouraged, you are an anchor to your children.  Without you, there would be a void in your children's lives that is difficult to repair.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A relevant conversation

I have just included a widget on the sidebar of this blog that points to an important conversation.  I remember almost 20 years ago, our sisters brought the children on a field trip to Boston to the World Trade Center.  A smartly dressed woman in high heels came up to us and asked who we were.  When we told her we were a children's home, she replied that our children's home should not exist, and that the "problem" of these children could have been solved if they had been aborted.

We have had a lot of children with a lot of problems in our home, but I can't think of one child that I wish had not been born.  This woman felt differently.  The widget on the side is about a conversation surrounding a new web series about three fictional women in crisis pregnancies.  The web series hopes to provoke thoughtful conversation and real listening, regardless of which side of the debate people are on.  Abortion may not have much to do with the running theme of this blog, but it has everything to do with the theme of our children's home and the children my community of sisters is trying to help.  So check out the comments . . . check out the site . . . pass it around if you think the conversation is relevant and interesting.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Evolving Vision

Evolving vision for this blog, that is.  My last post was almost exactly a month ago . . . I am sorry it has been so long.  My hope when I returned to New Hampshire from San Diego over Christmas was that I would be able to get some additional contributers for this blog.  The original vision for this blog was to share our experiences and insights about running with the kids from our Children's Home.  However, I was the one with the bright idea, and I am 3,000 miles away from the daily St. Charles runs!  The sisters and volunteers who actually pound the pavement with the kids every day like the idea, but they are all busy people.  It is going to be harder to get posts out of them than I thought.
Next I thought about sharing my own journey of returning to running on this blog.  Lots of people start running and share their experiences with the community.  My story has a unique twist because it is about a return to running after fighting a major illness.  Right now, that journey is on temporary hold.  I am close to being ready to start training again, but my doctor does not agree that I am completely ready yet.  I need to make more progress in other parts of my recovery first (sigh).

Then it occurred to me that I should really write what is dear to my heart, which is our annual 5k race.  I am the coordinator of our race.  The first year I took over organizing the race was also the year I became sick.  The race has kept me going through many years of illness.  I could not participate in local road races any more with the other sisters & the kids, but I could put together an event for them & the whole local running community to enjoy.  Now that I am in school in California, coordinating the race from 3,000 miles away presents new challenges that keep me going.  It is exciting, though.  Our race has grown to 1,000 runners and I hope it grows more.  If any readers have thoughts about our 5k road race, please share them with me!