Every Sno-Isle Library

Two months into 2019, I finally finished one of my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions.

The goal was to visit all the libraries in the Sno-Isle system. I am trying to deal with the fact that I have both wanderlust and children by embarking on a series of micro-adventures. Since I can’t visit all fifty states or every continent (right now, anyway), I am settling for visiting all 23 libraries in the Sno-Isle system.

Luckily, library branches are on islands, peninsulas, mountains, and near hiking trails. Lots of opportunities for adventures.

So, with my two kids in tow, the challenge was to make an expedition out of each library visit.

I was so anxious to get started I forgot that a resolution should take plan in one calendar year and started on December 27th of 2017. At the time, I figured that I’d be done by the time the 2018 baseball season started and I could give all my extra attention to the Mariners. I was a few months off.

I just crossed the last library off my list today, February 23rd 2019. So I was only a year off. Close enough.

Trailhead Libraries

The Darrington library is up in the northeast corner of my region, surrounded by the North Cascades. It was a library that I kept putting off. Part of the problem is that it’s closed Sundays. Initially, I figured that we’d stop here on one of our trips out of town. We passed Darrington twice last summer, once while heading to Ross Lake to go camping one rainy weekend in June and a second time on the way Winthrop. However, we never ended up stopping there on the way to our vacations, and both return trips were on Sundays when the library was closed. Therefore, summer came and went and I realized that I’d better get up to Darrington before it started snowing, since I am deathly afraid of the driving-mountains-snow trifecta of death. My delays turned out to be a good thing because the girls and I headed up to Darrington in the middle of fall when all the leaves were busy looking gorgeous.

Hiking was a total bust. I tried to take the girls up Boulder River Trail, and after four miles of driving on a gravelly pot-holed forest service road, my five-year-old pitched a total anti-hiking fit about 200 meters into the hike. So that was fun.

Sultan was better. It was one of the first libraries that we went to during the early spring of 2018, and after the rainy drive and library, we headed to Wallace Falls, which is a great kid hike. There is a less-than-a-mile loop with a waterfall early in the trail that served as motivation for my lackluster little hiker.

A train pulled through town just as we headed into the City Hall-Library combo, which is VERY exciting if you are three. We enjoyed the slow comfort of book, stuffed bears, cozy chairs and magnet building blocks before heading to Wallace Falls State Park in Gold Bar.

Wallace Falls one of my favorite kid hikes. It starts with a gravel straightaway that just begs to test out your sprinting skills. That was everyone gets the impulse to run out of the way before the real hike starts are we all need to stick closer together. Once in the woods, the trail splits off into paths of varying length and difficulty. We chose the .5 mile down to Small Falls and then did an extra little loop before heading back. 

The Granite Falls Library is also tucked in between mountains and trailheads, although we opted to visit the museum instead. It was a delightful tiny open-only-on-Sundays place that featured mostly logging lore and very enthusiastic staff of elderly volunteers who gave us candy. The library was super cozy.

The Mukilteo Library is a trailhead library, which is weird because Mukilteo is not in the mountains, but right on Puget Sound. However, the library is surrounded by the Big Gulch Trail which leads down to the beach.

The Oak Harbor Library also turned out to be a hiking destination. Even though Oak Harbor is (like Mukilteo), is right on the water, in order to get to the place, you have to drive over a very dramatic bridge. The Deception Pass Bridge connects Whidbey Island to the mainland, and the little park on the Whidbey side is a perfect place to park your car and take a walk across the bridge (unless you are scared of heights) and/or walk down to the beach.

Island Libraries

When the girls and I visited Camano Island Library, I wasn’t expecting the place to feel so island-y, since Camano Island. It’s more of a peninsula that has a couple of slough-like rivers separating it from the mainland. Yet, the minute we drove over the (not at all dramatic) bridge I got that island feeling. Everything was immediately brighter, more relaxed, slower, more fun. We stopped at a park, got ice cream by the library, took the scenic route to the beach. Total island stuff. Sorry for misjudging you, Camano Island.

The Clinton and Langley Libraries on the south end of Whidbey Island. The Clinton library is tiny and charming. We took a ferry across the sound to visit. It must have been sometime in October, because I remember the Clinton librarian taking my girls on a pumpkin-counting hunt through the library. The Langley library was fun because it was right in the middle of the tourist center of town, near a firehouse-turned-glass-blowing factory and lots of good places to eat. The library itself was bright and airy with tons of great toys. This was one of the girls’ favorites.

We visited the Coupeville and Freeland libraries in late February 2018. The thing I remember most of about these libraries was that my husband was there too. Most of our library adventures were just me and the girls, but in February we went to Coupeville as a family because I was running a trail race that I was not at all prepared for. Oblivious to the fact that I was about the run the worst race of my life, we spend the weekend on Whidbey visiting libraries and staying at a perfect little AirBnB.

Destination Libraries

Edmonds: With a rooftop overlooking the town and the water, this is one of those libraries that people get married in.

Monroe: This library was an unexpected wonder. A glass wall backing up to a forest, the best play area of the bunch, a fun park next door and delicious taco trucks nearby.

Snohomish: Definitely the pearl of the sno-isle system, the Snohomish library is going for that old-world charm feel, with dark wood and tall ceilings, and cozy chairs tucked around the fireplace. A perfect place to spend a dark and rainy night. Naturally, I don’t have a picture but you can see some good ones here.

Stanwood and Marysville: Okay, these libraries weren’t really the destination, but they were perfect stops on the way to the Warm Beach Lights of Christmas Festivals. We stopped at Stanwood in 2017, and Marysville in 2018.

Around Town

Lakewood/Smokey Point, Arlington, Lake Stevens, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood: Okay, when it came to these libraries I’ll have to confess that I didn’t really make an expedition out of them. There were no ferries, ice-cream stops, AirBnBs or trails. Usually the most exciting thing we did after visiting these libraries was to stop at Safeway for groceries on the way home. Not that they aren’t great libraries though.

The library in the town that is 5 minutes from my house and I have never been there

Brier is the town right next to me. In the five years I’ve lived here I had never even driven through Brier. It’s a little pocket neighborhood tucked in a triangular space between two freeways. I know that sounds horrible, but it isn’t. Because Brier is on the way to absolutely nowhere, nobody ever goes there. Unless they are on a quest to visit every library in the Sno-Isle system. We stopped in at a pizza joint in Brier where everybody knew each other, and we were clearly the out-of-towners (again. I live about five miles away from the place. Total out of towner).

Ah, the strip mall library

The Mariner library is in a strip mall between Everett and Lynnwood. It’s next to a Park n Ride and a good chunk of its patrons have questionable living situations. It is my favorite library because it is mine. It is where I rush nearly every week to pick up my holds. It is where I see my neighbors at the story time, which is tucked in a too-small room in the back. It is the library where my students go to check out laptops and use Wi-Fi and find a tiny space of quiet in their lives. It’s where the best and most patient librarians work – juggling the demands of toddlers, high school students, and an ever-increasing homeless population with grace. It may not have a fireplace or wood paneling or a view of the ocean, but this library is exactly what all libraries should be – a place where anyone, from anywhere, can find a warm welcoming space…and maybe even find themselves the perfect book.

Happy Crabbing Season!

Last year my husband decided to try out crabbing. After seven minutes of YouTube videos and a trip to Cabela’s, he was a pro.

We spent the summer trying out different docks and beaches. The four of us all had different ideas of what made a good crabbing location, as this handy chart shows:

  Jason: Likelihood of crabs crawling into his crab pot Me: Scenery and seeing new places Aubrey: Playground or other source of entertainment Henley: Ice Cream
Edmonds dock Very few. But it was crowded and late in the season. Although the scenery from the actual dock isn’t anything to blog about, the town of Edmonds is adorable Yes, but about a ½ mile walk away. Bring a stroller. There is also a sandy beach between the old and new ferry docks. Yup, near the old ferry dock
Mukilteo dock Lots of little crabs, but no keepers Meh. It’s a nice view, but one you can see from basically anywhere. A brand new playground, on the beach, about a quarter mile away from the docks.

Oh yeah.Ice Cream

Illahee State Park

Tons!Crabs

Nice looking place. And extra points for the ferry ride. Nope. And the beach wasn’t that great for sandcastles either. No food anywhere.
Penrose Point State Park Tons! Remote and pretty

No, but shallow water is fun too, especially in a white dress.Low tide in a white dress

No. I brought cookies though.
Kayak Point Very few. Crowded and late in the season.Crabbing Crowds We saw whales and seals here, so bonus points. Yes!! Huge playground. Unfortunately Aubrey had skinned her knew earlier in the day and was being super dramatic about it, at times refusing to walk. None. I hear that ice cream trucks sometimes frequent the area, but no luck when we were there
Birch Bay State Park in Blaine Who knows? We booked a campsite here only to have crabbing season pushed back. Also, there is no dock. Gorgeous. The background photo of this very website was taken here. No, but turning over rocks at the beach to find sand crabs and camping was so fun, who needs a playground?Finding Sand Crabs Nada. S’mores were a hit though.

Winthrop with a Toddler and a Princess

 

I know, I know. Most people go to Winthrop to mountain bike, kayak down rivers, or cross country ski. All difficult things to do with two and three year olds. But turns out that Winthrop is still awesome with little ones. Here’s what we did:

The Shortest Hikes Possible

Methow Community Trail: We caught a portion of this trail east of Tawlks/Foster BridgeMazama, just off Goat Creek Road. It consisted of a mile long walk alongside the river to the Tawlks/Foster Suspension Bridge. This was a great little walk for kids: flat, shaded, alongside the river, with a picnic area right after the bridge. My kids switched off walking and riding in the backpack and both liked throwing rocks in the river at the turnaround point. We also ran into tons of families biking (with both toddlers in bike trailers and young kids on their own bikes).

 

 

Dripping Air conditioning please!Springs Rd: Halfway through this walk, Aubrey the princess turned to Jason and said “daddy, can we go back inside to the air conditioner?” Not a ringing endorsement for the hike. The map suggests it is along the river, but you can’t see said river and there isn’t a lot of shade. Apparently you hit the river about 45 minutes into the hike (whatever that means), but we bailed and took Aubrey’s suggestion after about a mile. Plus I’d forgotten to pack diapers.

 

Sandcastles and Swimming

Pearrygin Lake State Park:  The lake is just a few miles northeast of Winthrop. Part of the eastern side of the lake is a State Park with two campgrounds. Next to the east campground is the day use area (Discover Pass required) with a large parking lot, tons of picnic tables, and a roped off swimming area. My kids both have a sixth sense for when a playground is near, and their internal playground radars did not go off, so I’m assuming there were none in the area.

Tubing the Methow

The beach/swimming area was a bit of a bust. You could optimistically call the beach “sandy,” but no great sandcastles were constructed due to the pebbly nature of the “sand.” The rocks continued into the swimming area which didn’t really bother the kids (both of whom hate shoes and routinely run over gravel roads as if they were nicely laid paths of cotton balls) but my husband and I weren’t fans. Luckily there were a few little alcoves between the beach and the campground with superior sand, and we snagged one of them. The area was also shady and served as a good boat launch for our canoe. The lake was nice for paddling, and we could see some fish jumping. Jet skis and motor boats are allowed on the lake, but it wasn’t that busy. Patterson Lake and Twin Lakes are also nearby with similar features.

Carlton Hole: Since there is a lack of sandy beaches in the area, we took our buckets and shovels about 30 minutes east. Carlton is a tiny town a few miles east of Twisp. Right off Highway 153, just before you would take the bridge over the river, turn right onto the dirt road. The little parking lot is 20 steps from the stretch of sand.

Carlton Hole

If it’s a sunny weekend day, just follow the crowd. We were there on a 90 degree Tuesday and there were a few other families there. Carlton Hole has a good sized sandbar and swimming hole (it’s a river though! Keep those kids close!). There is also a rocky area and some pretty good fishing spots, according to my husband (he didn’t catch anything, but that is probably because it was the middle of the day and we were all throwing rocks in the river). You do need a Discover Pass to park here.  This little swimming hole was totally worth the drive.

Fishing

 

 

 

The Perfect Location

We spent the week in a cabin at the River Run Inn, which I highly recommend for families.

Lawn at River Run

There is an indoor pool, huge lawn, onsite BBQ pits and fire rings, and the river is just out the back door. The place is a quick (.5 mile) walk from downtown Winthrop, and the community park and playground is even closer.  The Inn has complementary everything: charcoal, bikes, badminton sets, hammocks, DVDs. The inn also runs kayak and rafting float trips, which I unfortunately didn’t get to partake in, but my two year old loved waving to the adventurers as they set off down the Methow.

River Run Float Trips

 

Urban (and suburban) Water Parks

Hey, we can’t all live in Seattle, where Puget Sound is ten minutes off the freeway, islands are quick ferry trip away, mountain rivers are accessible after an easy hike, and camping at the seashore is an easy weekend activity. Sorry Midwesterners (oh, and we don’t have mosquitoes either. Not to rub it in). Anyways, if you don’t live on the coast or are too lazy to leave the city you’ve still got some water-based options. Since swimming pools are passé, most cities are creating splash parks, kiddie pools and fountains. Grab your plastic watering toy and head out.

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Splash Parks

Avoid if:

  • You have small toddlers who don’t like to be splashed or knocked over: Splash parks are a bit rambunctious. My little ones and I tend to find the smallest spout and hang out there, but even that can get over-run pretty quickly.

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  • You prefer to do your splashing in the morning or evening: Most parks keep afternoon hours, and some have an off period during the middle of the day.
  • You have one kid who loves water and another who loves swings: Most splash parks are part of a larger playground. This is part of the appeal for my kiddos – we start at the swings, dig in the sandbox, and then cool off at the splash pad. However one of my kids isn’t old enough to voice her opinion yet so things may be more complicated next summer.

Go if:

  • You’ve just bought your kid an arsenal of water guns.
  • You are in charge of your children and all of the friends. They’ll be somewhat contained at a splash park and you won’t have to worry about anyone drowning.

North acres

Check out:

  • Willis Tucker Park: Technically in Snohomish, but it’s north of the valley behind Silver Firs. There is also a sandbox, covered picnic tables, a playground with a rope jungle gym, trails, off leash dog park, playfields, a community center and a farmer’s market on Friday evenings in the summer.
  • North Acres: This is a good one for keeping watch over a bunch of kids because the splash park is in a little bowl and parents perch on the grassy hills above, stadium style. This park also has trails and two playgrounds – one for toddlers and one for older kids.

Small fountains

Ballard Commons

Avoid if:

  • You have older children, as these are pretty lame according to the kindergarten and above set.
  • You actually want to play in the water as well.

Go if:

  • You are headed somewhere else and you don’t want the kids to get totally soaked.

Check out:

Wading Pools

Avoid if:

  • You have a little one still crawling. The bottom is usually concrete. Plus my little one would have happily crawled in over her head if we let her.

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Go if:

  • You want to get in the water and cool off too, but you don’t want to wear a bathing suit.
  • You like water! I’ve seen toddlers, young kids, and pre-teens all have fun at these little wading pools.

Check out:

  • Wallingford Playfield: The pool has a shallow (think 2 inches) and “deep” (less than a foot) end. Playfields and a playground are part of the park.
  • Green Lake Wading Pool: By far my favorite place! Tons of grassy areas next to the pool are shady, so it’s great for a picnic on a hot day. It’s also great if you have a tiny baby who can snooze in the shade while the other one plays in the sun.

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Steamboat Springs and Beyond: Road Tripping with a Baby

Typically if you have a 2,000 mile road trip ahead of you, I would recommend making it further than 150 mile on day one. Unless you have a baby with you and there happens to be a cute town 150 miles away and you were still packing up your house until three o’clock even though you’d planned on being done by 9am at the latest.

However short that first day was, it set a good precedent for the rest of our Denver-San Francisco-Seattle trip. This wasn’t my first road trip with the baby, so I headed off already armed with my own traveling-solo-with-a-baby tips:

Don’t book ahead: Normally, it’s good to plan stops ahead of time. This allows you to book the best hotels online, search for fun restaurants and activities, and ensure that don’t inadvertently leave twenty hours of driving for the last day. But if you are traveling with an infant, you need some flexibility. Go ahead and make tentative plans (five hours of driving a day worked best for us) but definitely don’t book anything ahead of time. Suppose that the baby falls asleep right before you reach your planned destination for the night – you’re not going to want to waste that precious quiet time by waking up the kid to check into a hotel. Keep your foot on the accelerator and make it to the next town before nap time is over. On the flip side, be prepared to cut the driving short if that scream from the backseat isn’t going to end anytime soon.

When traveling from Denver to San Jose, I hit my intended destination about the half the time, stopping in Steamboat Springs as planned, just outside of Heber City (instead of Salt Lake City), Battle Mountain (past the intended Elko, Nevada), Reno, and then San Jose. After a week-long stop in the Bay Area, I managed to make it to Seattle in two days instead of the planned three to four, stopping for the night in Weed, CA.

Motels, not hotels: Even if you have a limitless budget (as most single parents do, you know), it is still a way better idea to stay in motels rather that hotels. If you stay at a hotel, than getting to your parked car involves traipsing down a hallway, past an office, and maybe even (heaven forbid) up or down an elevator. The genius motel design involves parking your car RIGHT OUTSIDE the door to your room. Even if you try to pack everything you and the baby will need in one bag (see tip below), you will fail at this task and be very happy that the car is right outside. I once had to wake up Aubrey so I could go get my contact solution from my car. Terrible.

In Steamboat Springs I stayed at the lovely Rabbit Ears Motel. It was much nicer than may hotels that I’ve frequented – pricier too, this being Steamboat Springs. Rabbit Ears is perfectly located, right on the edge of downtown, across from Old Town Hot Springs (the motel has discounted tickets, if you plan on going) and next to the river.

Rabbit Ears Motel
One hotel bag: It’s impossible to pack everything you’ll need for the night in one bag. Good luck.
Swimming and Fitness clubs: Stopping at every 24hour Fitness club on route was my best road-tripping discovery. I was worried about staying in shape while traveling because my jogging stroller didn’t fit in my car and even if it had I didn’t really want to take Aubrey out of her car-seat only to strap her into a stroller. So I mapped out all the 24hour fitness clubs and stopped at all of them. Since I pay for the all-month childcare (which is good nationwide), I could pull into a club and workout for two hours while Aubrey crawled around and checked out all the new toys. This was not only my key to staying in shape, but it was a perfect car break for the baby. She’d be ready for her second nap after all that playtime. Just be sure to double check the kid’s club/daycare hours. I stopped at the Salt Lake City club only to discover the daycare was closed Sundays.

Small towns are not known for having nationwide fitness clubs, but often they still have a YMCA or rec center with babysitting available. At Steamboat Springs I spent two hours swimming at the Old Town Hot Springs. I kept Aubrey with me (she loves swimming!), but there is a daycare option there during the daytime.

Old Town Hot Springs

Picnics, not restaurants: Again, crawling time is important. When you stop to eat at a restaurant your kid is subjected to being strapped into yet another seat. Pack a lunch and bring a big blanket. Most little towns have parks that are a lot nicer than rest areas.

Picnic at Hot Sulpher Springs

 

Think twice before camping: I had thrown my tent and sleeping bag in the trunk of my car more out of habit with any real plans to use them, but in the Wasatch foothills, I thought I had the perfect time to use them. We were twenty miles outside Heber City and there was no hope of reaching town with my eardrums still intact. Aubrey was DONE. I saw a camping sign with an arrow pointing to Strawberry Reservoir and made a quick left turn.

At first I thought that I had made a good decision. There were tons of families camping nearby. There was a general store selling ice cream and snacks that would work for my dinner. Aubrey loved crawling around in the tent, and nighttime temperatures for the nearby Salt Lake City were in the 60’s. However, temperatures dipped much lower in the mountains. At ten I changed Aubrey into her warmest pajamas, and at eleven I just decided to hold her for the night. Since infants aren’t supposed to sleep with blankets, camping even in slightly cold weather is tough. Also I was kind of cold but I didn’t want to go get an extra blanket in the car for fear of waking up Aubrey. To make matters worse, I felt bad when she woke up in the middle of the night crying because I’m sure all the other campers heard us. That’ll be my last camping experience for the year.

Camping

Have AAA roadside assistance: I would never survive without AAA. They’ve given me new batteries, unlocked my car (AAA guy: “What store are you in front of?” Me: “Um…the liquor store.”), and they have come especially in handy the numerous times I’ve needed a new tire. Miraculously, I haven’t needed a new tire in six months (a record!) and the last time one went out I was with two friends, one of whom (Fix-It-Tom) could actually change a tire! However, I usually travel alone, so until the baby learns how to change a tire I’ll keep my AAA membership.

Why being a mom has made me a better runner

Jogging StrollerYesterday, being Mother’s Day, was a day in which moms point out all the things that they do for which they receive no recognition or monetary compensation. So in the spirit of being fair, today I want to give a little shout out to my seven-month old, who also does a lot of work around here. One of her daily tasks is to turn me into a better runner. Her methods are quite sneaky, yet she prevails. Being a mother HAS made me a better runner. Here’s how:

 

Faster:

Last week I needed to get in a five mile run. I had slacked off the previous two days and it was critical that I complete the five miles THAT DAY. However I got stuck at work later than anticipated and by the time I started the run I realized that I would need to pick my daughter up from the nanny’s in 45 minutes. Cutting the run short (again) was not an option, and neither was picking up the baby late. So I had no choice but to pick up the pace. If I was childless I would have jogged at an easy 11 minute pace, what my high school coach used to call “junk miles.” But instead I ran the five miles at a (slightly) more respectable 9 minute mile pace.

Thanks kid!

Likewise, if I have Aubrey with me in her jogging stroller and she starts fussing a mile away from home, that last mile is going to be a very speedy one because I want to get home before the whining turns into a full on scream.

If you do NOT have a baby, here are some other suggestions to help you run faster:

  • Tear a hole in your running pants in your crotch area. This hole will get increasingly larger as you run and you’ll want to get home as quickly as possible to minimize time spent in public.  I discovered this trick at the oh-so-crowded New Orleans Half Marathon.
  • Zombie fitness app: I heard this NPR story about “Zombies, RUN!”  It’s a downloadable fitness app wherein you are tasked with accomplishing different necessary jobs in a post-apocalyptic world before the zombies get you.

Stronger:

Being a single mom you have less time to do things. It becomes necessary so combine chores. So last week on my run downtown I had to stop at Tattered Cover to pick up a couple magazines, Office Depot to get a box of golf pencils, and a grocery store to collect a thing of baby formula. With each stop my load got increasingly heavier. These purchases served as running weights for my last two miles. I DO realize that those specific items really don’t weigh that much, so on my next run I’ll need to pick up a gallon of milk and a box of diapers to increase my running-with-weights time. This reminds me of a cross country task wherein we were placed in teams to run to Safeway and buy a watermelon. The winning team was deduced based on some complicated calculations that rewarded you for completing the run quickly and having the heaviest watermelon.

Also: The baby isn’t that heavy yet, but her car seat, stroller, and other paraphernalia are. Lugging her stuff around on a daily basis is good for the biceps and triceps.

Cross-Training:

  • Hiking: Now done with a 20 lb. backpack.

Aubrey's first hike at Red Rocks
Aubrey’s first hike at Red Rocks

  • Squats: If Aubrey is fussy, nothing will calm her down faster than when I pick her up and do a quick set of squats. She’s even been known to start crying again when the squats are completed, thus encouraging me to do another set. She particularly likes the move wherein you squat, hold for a few seconds, and then get back up. Perhaps she has a career as a future Body Pump instructor.
  • Sit-ups. Nothing is more hilarious to Aubrey than witnessing me do a set of sit-ups. After each sit up she laughs and expectantly waits for me to do another one. It’s like the abs version of peek-a-boo.
  • Gym class productivity: I have to admit I used to cheat a little bit at Group Exercise classes at my neighborhood 24hour fitness. I would “stretch” during the planks and roll my eyes apathetically as the instructor chirped that we should triple our warm up weight for the next exercise. I am now proud to say that I cheat no longer. Because an hour long class represents an hour away from Aubrey, I need to make it worth my while. No more skipping reps or skimping on the weight.

Healthy Eating:

Baby FoodSince I’m chopping, steaming, pureeing organic vegetables for Aubrey, I figure that I might as well eat some too. Turns out I like squash. Who knew?!? Not only am I eating more vegetables as side dishes, but I am also throwing her veggie purees in my pasta sauces making them healthier.

Also, I have less time to make cookies.

 

So there you have it, having a baby will totally make you a faster, stronger, healthier runner. I’m fairly confident that Runner’s World Magazine will immediately contact me to write a feature article on this very scientific and well researched training method.

 Happy running people!

My 1st 5k with a stroller, Denver’s Central Park, and my race shopping spree

First race with babyI can finally run again!!! My daughter turned six months today, which means I can officially run with her in a jogging stroller without worrying about giving her shaken baby syndrome. Likewise, I can resume going to the gym as childcare is available for those exactly half a year old (and not a day sooner, as I discovered when I tried to sign her up yesterday).

Aubrey and I celebrated her half birthday by participating in the Hippity Hop Easter Trot 5k. As you can probably guess from the name of the race, this was a family friendly event. There were tons of kids running around on a search for Easter eggs prior to the race. The race itself featured a small army of oversized jogging strollers.

It wasn’t the most competitive run I’ve ever participated in. I spend the first mile cautiously jogging along, worrying simultaneously that my kid was too hot and that I’d accidently run into someone’s heel. Luckily Aubrey babbled happily for the 3.1 miles and I was fully enjoying my runners high by the end of the race, despite an embarrassing finish time that I’m not going to admit to on this blog.

The race was well organized. To me this means that there was a loudspeaker with music at the start/finish, ample parking (on the street), mile markers were obvious, results (via timing chip) were posted immediately, and there was good food at the finish. Yay breakfast burritos! It was not the most gorgeous run I’ve done in my life, but Denver’s Central Park was a nice enough venue.

Central Park, Denver

Central Park is in Stapleton, the area of Denver with a lot of new fancy sub-division houses (oh, that area). It is northeast of downtown, off of Martin Luther King Blvd and Central Park Blvd. Take the Quebec exit south off of I-70 and head east on MLK for a couple of miles. The park has a huge play area for kids including a big climbing rock that my brother would have loved when he was five. There are lots of good sledding hills too.

Subdivision heaven

Playground

Upon returning home I went on a shopping spree. My website of choice was my beloved www.runningintheusa.com. I am excited for the next few months!

April 6th: Jackalope 5K race in Laramie, WY. I emailed the race director who quickly responded in the affirmative that I could indeed run with a jogging stroller. Get ready Aubrey!

April 20th: 4-H Fun Run in Holdredge, NE. This is still a maybe, dependent on their stroller rules because I doubt I can convince anyone to travel to Holdredge with me. My affection for small town races is n0t shared by many.

May 27th: BoulderBOULDER 10K in Boulder, CO. I need to find a babysitter for this one because the huge race (50,000 participants, 90+ waves) doesn’t allow strollers. Family members: this would be an excellent weekend to visit.

June 17th: San Francisco Half Marathon. A fabulous coincidence: Aubrey’s Las Vegas dwelling father is originally from Oakland, and he’s anxious for her to meet his family that still lives there. He is a HUGE Oakland A’s fan, whereas I live and die for the Mariners. Naturally we made sure that Aubrey’s first trip to The Bay would be when the M’s are in town. (Bonus: this is also father’s day weekend) Last week I discovered that the SF Marathon would be held that same weekend. YAY!!! My best friend Denise is coming up for the weekend to and we’re doing the first half of the marathon. (She’d be in shape for the full…but I will most definitely NOT be).

June 29th: Ellsworth Wisconsin Cheese Curd run (10K? 8M?) This is another happy coincidence. My family will be celebrating my grandma’s 90th birthday the EXACT SAME weekend as the cheese curd festival. And man, do I love my cheese curds.

Fresh cheese curds

Sometime in August or September: A FULL MARATHON. I’m not sure where I’ll be living/working so I can’t commit to a specific one yet. Stay tuned

Jogging through this world…now with a stroller

So I haven’t really been running in a while…or blogging, some have noticed. I have, however, made time to make and eat a batch of cookies every weekend. Good thing I have my priorities straight.

Cookies!

I’ve been justifying this procrastination by telling myself that it is pointless to buy a jogging stroller until my infant could sit up in it. Yes, there are car seat adapters, but they are like $50 and not the point. Luckily for my cookie-loving thighs, I found a deal I couldn’t pass up on a used jogging stroller, which has a feature in which your child to lie down or sit in a half-reclining position.

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There is conflicting information on what age kiddos should be before riding in jogging strollers sans car seats, so check with your pediatrician. The going wisdom is to wait until they can hold up their heads and take it slow and smooth. I did not come across this information until writing this blog (aka, AFTER running with my little one), so I think I just found my excuse to put things off for another month, as Aubrey is just now holding up her head.

Anyways, yesterday was fifty and sunny and I was blissfully unaware of safety regulations (I’m a terrible mom…I know, I know), so I found my long-tucked-away running clothes and went for a jog. For the record, baby’s head was stable, I chose a well paved trail, and only ran two miles.  

Of course, like all things you dread and delay for no good reason, the run wasn’t bad. Neither was indulging in my favorite post workout activity: getting on run in the usa (my favorite website ever!), and searching for half marathons in cool destinations. While eating cookies.

Reasons why jogging strollers are great:

  • You can bring all kinds of stuff with you while running: Water bottle, car keys, phone with a run-tracker app, camera, and…oh yeah! A baby.
  • A smooth ride: Make that a DRASTICALLY smoother ride. I worry about shaken baby syndrome while WALKING Aubrey in her regular stroller. In the jogging stroller she promptly fell asleep and things seemed exceptionally stable.
  • Fitting in: If you, like me, live in the Denver suburbs, practically everyone out running is a mom with a jogging stroller. I’m almost part of the club. Now all I need is a dog. And expensive running clothes. And a husband with a beard.
  • If your kid starts crying, you have a good excuse to stop running. I was hoping that Aubrey would start fussing as I was heading up the steep hill halfway through that arduous two mile run. But noooo, she kept sleeping. I guess there are some drawbacks to having the world’s most perfect child.

Reasons why jogging strollers are not great:

  • They are freaking expensive. I recommend finding a used one. There should be several popping up on Craigslist in the next few months as all the people who bought New Year’s resolution workout stuff give up on their fitness goals. My stroller was a steal at $40. At least I thought it was a steal until I saw the $30 garage sale sticker on it that the lady I bought it from apparently forgot to remove. Oh well.

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  • Storage: Due to the tri-tire design, jogging strollers can fold up in half, but not flat. This means that the stroller doesn’t fit in the trunk of my car. It has to hang out in the backseat, next to my daughter’s car seat, which makes me nervous. There is also no place in my house for the ginormous contraption, so I have to store it outside. I’ll let you know how it weathers in a few months…unless someone steals it first.

Folded Stroller

  • Tethers are necessary – you don’t want that stroller to go flying if you trip or accidently let go of the handle. This can happen more easily when you are running than when you’re walking.

Happy running! If you are without child and want a running buddy who will carry your water-bottle, look me up if you are in Denver. We’ll go on a non-crying, non-bumpy two mile run in the Mile High ‘burbs. For the record, I have a seven-year old Baby Trend stroller. If you are cooler than me, you might want to go with the BOB Revolution or Joovy Zoom.