Running with the family, or “Why is there purple stuff in your ear?”

There is a way to make your family and friends think you are the coolest person ever AND reap other priceless benefits along the way.

Running.

1 oucWait! Don’t stop reading yet. Those inspiring stories about people whose idea of exercise is walking to the fridge but then they start running and they realize they love it and months later they’re competing in marathons?

Yeah, this isn’t one of those stories.

I strongly dislike running. I mean, it hurts. A lot. And makes your mascara run. I asked a running-fanatic co-worker once why she enjoyed the sport and she got a dreamy look in her eyes and smiled and said, “You know that feeling when you can’t breathe and your legs won’t work and you have to stop by the side of the road to throw up? Gosh, I love that feeling.”

Um, no, thank you.

Besides, have you been at the start line of a race? All those toned abs are intimidating.

This is a story, however, about a kind of running – the fun kind, where you get out with your family on a Saturday morning and spend some time together and get some exercise and end up feeling as if you’ve accomplished something important while still keeping your mascara intact.

2 picI’m talking about fun runs, those one-mile races with more emphasis on “fun” than “run.”

This spring, our daughters and our 7- and 3-year-old grandsons have hit the fun-run circuit. We’ve been pelted with confetti, dug colored cornstarch out of our ears and had a blast.

We none of us are runners (except the 3-year-old, who runs the whole mile without stopping or even breathing hard — I see Olympic medals in his future) and I was apprehensive about our non-athletic status before we signed up for our first race.

But I was being silly. Everybody is encouraging and enthusiastic, and the grins on the kids’ faces as they cross the finish line to cheers and ecstatic high fives are priceless. They may even have learned something about reaching goals and trying your best and helping each other.

And as a bonus, you get say this to your friends: “Sorry I can’t go shopping with you Saturday morning. That’s a race day, you know.”

Running Without Scissors

This spring I’ve been helping my husband John Pitts, sports editor for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, cover local races. I think he mainly wants me involved so I’ll make sure he gets up and out to the starting line in time, since runners and sportswriters seem to have different interpretations of  what “early in the morning” means. (One thinks 5 a.m. and the other thinks  10 a.m. You be the judge.) But I’ve honestly enjoyed the up-close-and-personal perspective I’ve gotten from helping cover both the Corinth Coca-Cola Classic 10K and Tupelo’s Gum Tree 10K Run. I mean, I do not run. It hurts. It makes me cry. It’s painful. I do not understand why people do it. I remember somebody who ran explaining it to me once. She said, “You know that feeling when you can’t move your legs and you feel so sick and dizzy and you have to stop and throw up? I love that!” This is madness with a capital “C” for crazy, too. Because whenever I feel like that, I immediately go lie down. And perhaps call the doctor. I do not think, “Only four more miles to go!” That’s the difference, I guess, between those who run and those who buy a pair of Nikes maybe once every five years. Or the difference, perhaps, between those at the front of the race pack, poised to spring into record-breaking action as soon as the gun goes off, and those at the back, who are, like, “Has it started yet? Are we supposed to be moving?” As an experienced race reporter now, I can tell you that there’s quite a contrast between the intense anticipation at the front of the line and the relaxed gathering going on in the back. But that’s one of the most surprising things I learned: There’s room for all. Maybe even for folks who don’t even like to run.

Hoopla!

Hoop it up! If you think hula hoops are only cheap plastic toys that kids play with in the backyard for a few minutes before going on to something else, then please think again. Older Daughter, an accomplished belly dancer and teacher, has fallen in love with hooping. It’s the latest fitness craze, plus it’s fun and easy to learn. I mean, who can resist picking one up and swaying those hips? You really get a feeling of accomplishment once you keep one in the air for a few minutes. But it’s more than core work. Older Daughter teaches workshops and classes in hooping, and she choreographs whole routines using your arms and legs for a total-body workout. Plus, she and my son-in-law make and sell hoops. It’s fascinating to watch the process. They make the hoops out of flexible plastic piping and then create the designs with sticky colored tape. Amazing! They do custom hoops as well as children and adult sizes and even portable hoops that fold up for easier transport. In true entrepreurial spirit, they’re planning to take their hooping business to the Web and sell at local festivals and shows — if only they could come up with a name. Every possibility on their list is already taken or one or the other of them doesn’t like it. The top contender of “Hip Happy Hoops” turned out to be close to the name of a Web site touting recreational drug use — not really good for the family-friendly image they’re going for. Husband and I think they should go with “Capt. Adorable’s Hoops.” After all, 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable is a great help with the family business — he jumps up and down on the hoops when they’re laid out on the floor and unravels the rolls of tape when he’s not using them as dog toys. Adorable!!!

Fitness and Fashion

Yup, that’s me. And Younger Daughter. This is the photo that goes along with my most recent Fashionably Speaking column in the quarterly magazine Shoals Woman. I wrote about workout wear — how women of my generation have bad memories of having to wear ugly and baggy clothes for those required PE classes in school and how those memories keep us in ugly and baggy clothes when we work out today. Women of Younger Daughter’s generation, however, don’t have that baggage. They know that sleek and fitted is the way to go — and when you look good and feel good about the way you look, then you’ll feel good about yourself. Or something like that. Anyway, we had a great time at our local YMCA taking these photos. Younger Daughter is a good sport to play along — but I can still outwalk her, no matter what I’m wearing. Although, it’s true, she can outrun me even if she were wearing heels and hose. Oh, well — we each have our talents! Read http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100224/SW/100229968/1085/sw to find more tips for incorporating fitness with fashion. For example, you can certainly consider your mad dash around the store to spend your 30-percent-0ff coupon when it’s five minutes before closing time as aerobic exercise. Works for me!

Family

At 22 months, grandson Capt. Adorable already is rocking cool pre-preschool fashion.  Wednesday afternoon was a little bit warmer (in the low 50s!), a little bit drier (no rain for 24 hours!) and a little bit sunnier here in north Alabama so we all headed out to the park for some rare outside fun. Let me tell you, there is nothing like chasing a little guy around a playground maze of slides and steps and balance beams to chase away any adult-onset winter blues. And what does the well-dressed pre-preschooler wear to the playground? A cozy striped hoodie topped off with the perfect pair of shades. I was laughing too hard to snap it, but the Captain somehow did the pull-the-glasses-down-a-bit-and-peer-inquiringly-over-the-top move so smoothly that I wish I had taken notes.

Fashion

Is working out more one of your 2010 resolutions? Okay, isn’t it everybody’s??? In my experience, after decades of making Jan. 1 working-out resolutions, one of the best ways to ensure keeping this promise is to look fantastic while you’re doing it. I’m serious — there’s a world of difference between working out in baggy and holey sweats and your oversized 1995 R.E.M. Monster Tour T-shirt and working out in a new sleek and chic outfit made out of fabric that’s smarter than you are. If you haven’t checked out what’s new in workout wear, Google it or go to your favorite store and be prepared to be amazed. Still confused? Check out my Fashionably Speaking column in the quarterly magazine Shoals Woman at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20091230/SW/912299978/1085/SW for a rundown of what to wear where and when, workout-wise.  (And remember: It’s all in good fun because I really don’t know what I’m talking about — I personally choose the sweats and he Monster Tour T-shirt, every time.)

Family

Backyard poolIs there anything better on a hot summer day than Capt. Adorablecooling off in your backyard pool? Especially when the pool is a family heirloom? My mom had this inflatable pool at her house more than 20 years ago for her granddaughters and now her great-grandson thinks it’s the best thing ever. Honestly, I didn’t remember the pool, but my mom kept saying, “I have the pool the girls played in and it would be perfect for Capt. Adorable.”  And she was right! It fits just exactly on the patio, which is in the afternoon shade, and 17-months-old Capt. Adorable and his mommy get out and have fun in it almost every day (although that’s the Captain’s aunt in the photo). Say the word “pool” and the Captain’s at the patio door, ready to go. It took him awhile, but now he’s fully conversant in the arts of splashing, pouring and dumping cupfuls of water on anyone brave enough to get close.