Big Red

Last week I went for my first longish run in over 6 weeks. I couldn’t make it to spin class in time, and wanted some more quality time with Super Girl and Super Baby, so I decided we should reunite with our friend Big Red – aka, the double stroller.

Big Red is sort of a beast. She cannot fold down with the quick pop of a button or tug of a rip cord. Big Red was probably manufactured by Baby Jogger in 2003. That’s a rough estimate- maybe 2006. Either way, I was still in law school high school. I originally had a single Bob Sport Utility Stroller when Super Girl was just a wee lass. See:

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That Bob was pretty great. It was durable, I could throw an infant seat in there, and it had good storage. But it was a nightmare to maneuver due to the fixed wheel. Or so I thought…

When Super Baby came around, I knew that spending $500 on another Bob was not an option. So I waited until Super Baby was almost 6 months old, then I got a Kelty Speedster Swivel Deuce. Good looking stroller I must admit:

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The Kelty had an option to swivel the wheel, which made it easier to maneuver if I was just strolling around smooth terrain or even wanted to run to Whole Foods with the wheel fixed, then unlock the wheel to walk around the store. Although side note: Whole Foods isn’t really meant for double jogging strollers. It’s meant for Moby Wraps and other forms of child transportation that only involve wearing your child.

The downside of the Kelty is that it is really really difficult to fold and unfold. And the yellow plastic pieces that have to snap down to ensure the stroller doesn’t just pop up and send your kids flying down the road, well, I broke into a sweat every time I had to do the snapping.

So the Kelty’s life came to an end very quickly, as I didn’t want Super Girl to associate curse words with a) me or b) the act of running.

I had heard great things on runner’s message boards about the old school Baby Jogger strollers. You have seen them around- usually red, turquoise, Kelly green, or purple. They are like a long sling with either no hood (because the hood truly is a POS) or a short flat hood. They have either 16″ or 20″ wheels. Apparently, “serious” runners only do a large fixed wheel of at least 16″. Frills like infant seat adapters, cup holders, iPod docs, reclining seats, etc, need not apply.

I found Big Red on eBay. I had searched on craigslist for weeks with no success. Of course now, as I post this, there are three doubles comparable to mine that are going for about $50. Lovely. I didn’t pay that much more (I don’t think).

Big Red needed a new tire and a little bit of tuning up but otherwise, she was good to go. I have taken the kids on many a run with Big Red and she is soooo light and so fast. She turns on a dime. I always assumed it is impossible to turn a fixed-wheel stroller easily but that simply is not the case. You just need a light stroller apparently! Downhill, we practically fly. It’s a good thing I have a leash so the stroller doesn’t get away form me. Another sidebar: if you run with your kids, make sure you use the strap. Once that stroller gets away from you, only Usain Bolt would be able to catch it.

I haven’t been running much and Big Red has been collecting dust over the past two months. We had a blast last Thursday, just like old times. Knocked out about 4 miles in 35 minutes on a rolling route. Another 4 miles in 34 minutes the next day, and again today. There are times it is so so painful, but isn’t that what being a parent is? Taking the good with the bad?

I won’t be able to schlep these kids around in Big Red for much longer, because Super Baby’s weight doubles approximately every three months. But for now, I shall cherish her as Super Girl cherishes watching PBS kids on my iPhone and inhales snacks while she sits in the stroller. Do whatever it takes to keep a stroller-restrained kid happy!

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Stronger

In honor of the Blue Ridge Relay this weekend, which many of my super crazy awesome friends are doing this weekend, I thought I would regale you with the tale of my “hill work” last Saturday. Super Dad, Super Baby, Super Girl, and I were in the mountains for the holiday, and my only options were run, walk, use a 30 year old recumbent bike, or sit around. While I did choose the latter for two days, I decided to push myself a bit on Saturday.

I haven’t been running much because of my back, but I have been feeling better, so I figured I would go for a run in the beautiful fresh mountain air. When I say I did hill work, that is an understatement. I typically bellyache over having to cover 50 feet of elevation change during a one hour run. I will zig zag up and down the same street 12 times just because it is flat and I cannot drag my butt up another hill. I reason with myself that I can either keep running on flat ground, thereby getting more miles in, or walk up a hill/go home. That said, I know that running hills makes you stronger and faster, and I have gotten a lot better about incorporating it into my workouts because they are simply unavoidable in Raleigh. But that doesn’t mean I like em!

The running I did on Saturday quite possibly induced the most pain I have ever known while exercising. I started at the house where we were staying, then ran to the main road, which was about .6 miles down the mountain. Running that steep downhill (about a 45% grade at points) is not easy. But you do go pretty damn fast. Then I turned around to go back up. Uhhhh, what was I thinking? I ended up sprinting for a minute then completely stopping for 30 seconds, all the way back up that “hill.” Then I did the whole thing again, running for marginally longer stretches on the way back up. My total running time was an average of 6:33/mile.

I’m not going to pretend there’s any way my average would have been any faster than 9:30/mile had I not made it into an interval workout. Just standing looking up the gravel road during my breaks was painful. I could barely catch my breath. Mountain air is thinner right? Ok, I know it wasn’t the Pike’s Peak Marathon, but I am not used to this kinda stuff.

The point is that I know my body has limits, and I wanted to test them without the end result being me lying in the yard of some bearded mountain man with a pack of wild dogs sniffing my lifeless carcass. Plus, when you do hill work, you don’t just run up a giant mountain for 5 minutes straight, unless you are one of those maniacs super dedicated, adventurous people who does the Blue Ridge Relay. Normal people either do short bursts for 10-20 seconds, or longer intervals of 1-2 minutes. I know this workout, however short, made me a better runner.

Today, pushing the kids in the double stroller, I gobbled up the rolling hills in our neighborhood like Miss Pacman taking down cherries. She eats those right? I won’t credit the ease with which I knocked out four double stroller miles to a few measly miles of interval work on a mountain, but the perspective was nice. And the feeling that even though I haven’t been able to run in the last month, the cross training has really kept me stronger than I expected.

So here’s to hills or mountains, pick your poison this weekend. Good luck to all you crazies!

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