A Midwest tour recap that, I promise, will not be like an unsolicited race report: boring + long.

O.k., so I just read it over again, and it’s a little on the long side, but bear with me.

Duluth: A small, but dedicated crowd. Met Sarah, a pediatrician with three kids (5, 3 and 7ish months) who is taking on Grandma’s Marathon on June 19. I was in awe: a “real” job–there’s not a ton of flexibility when swine flu hysteria is in full swing–3 kids, one under 1, and a marathon? That’s running like a mother. “I take care of my patients. I take care of kids. I make sure my husband [a serious mountain biker] can go on his rides and I keep up the house,” she explained,”I needed to do something for me.” Sounded vaguely familiar. Go get ’em, Sarah!

The good folks at the Duluth Running Company: Sarah is training with them for the marathon.

Minneapolis: 4 amazing stops. First up, The Bookcase in Wayzata, which is basically my home bookstore; I remember going there with my grandmother, and her buying me Anastasia Krupnik before I went off to summer camp.  To be able to read in front of family, relatives, friends, old and new was a better treat than peanut butter M’n’M’s, which I’ve been buying copiously at gas station stops.

Me and my assistant, Amelia, always close at hand.

At Title Nine in Edina, I ran with a vibrant group that included one of my old rowing buddies, Anne. As we ran, she reminded me of a quote the reverend said at my wedding (I remember absolutely nothing from the ceremony, other than walking down the aisle at the end). “Everybody thinks marriage should be 50/50. It never is, it never will be, and thinking so will only breed resentment,” he said, “If you go in with the mentality that it’s 90/80, you’ll be fine.” She mentioned it came to her again and again. It happened to be my 10th wedding anniversary that day, and I’m pretty sure remembering that forgotten advice will help me weather the next 10 years a little more smoothly. Thanks, Anne!

All together now: Run Like A Mother!

Bonus: a really fun video Title Nine Edina put together while I was there. I like it all, except for when it’s very clear I’m not standing up straight.

Minneapolis: great, post-reading discussion with the crowd, which included Carly and Kara and Joy, who is running Grandma’s as well. “I’ve run 5ks and 10ks and I’m 50 [I think that’s what she said…don’t quote me] and not getting any younger,” she said, “So I figured I may as well do it.” May as well, Joy: good luck!  We hit on everything from post-run headaches to the typcial Saturday morning conflict happening all over the nation: toddler soccer vs. mom’s morning run.

The crowd that showed up on Saturday morning at The Running Room, including Emily, in notice-me green, who is six months pregnant with her first child and Michelle, who is a Pilates instructor (um, my abs don’t look like that after six weeks of Pilates…should I ask for a refund?). Michelle brought samples of Wellies, a nugget of organic goodness (think rolled oats, apricots, maple syrup, egg whites) that would work well as a substitute for a too-sweet gel on a long run or an easy grab before a shower after a run.

Ready to run around Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Or at least one of them.

I ended the Minnesota part of my RLAM tour by running this morning with Cara, who lives three doors down from my mom. I’d heard about her–and her 18-month-old twin girls–from my mom over the years, so I was psyched to finally meet her. She had 10 on tap for today so I joined her for 5.

As we ran, she told me about how she met her main running buddy, Jill. Cara, who had her twins by C-Section, was finally cleared to run on Christmas Eve 2008. It was a cold, snowy day, but Cara didn’t care. She was going. Jill happened to be out there too. They crossed paths and laughed over the fact that they were the only two people crazy enough to be running in classic Minnesota weather on Christmas Eve. 16 or so months later, they’re still running strong.

That story, and my run with Cara, and my runs and encounters with all the RLAM’ers I just had, is yet more evidence that there’s something so special about meeting another mom who runs. The bond felt is immediate, and the friendship, if it can be forged in spite of tee-ball games and grocery store runs and excel spreadsheets and all the other things that eat up time, can often be one of the most meaningful relationships in your life.

p.s. Sorry for the lack o’ blog on Friday. Thanks, as always, for all your great ideas. Lisa takes home the spread of Scape Sunscreen. Her response:

I celebrated [National Running Day] like all those professional runners out there and did a tempo run and some speedwork. My tempo run was 37 minutes of lightly jog/walking while pushing my 4 year old up hills on his bike and then sprinting after him on the down hills, shouting at him to stop to look for cars. On the flats I just tried to keep up with him. The “speed” work consisted of 12 times around the bases at our local park where we stopped on the way home. So that would be 12 x 360s? I probably rested a little longer in between than I should have, but my son got his turns too and sometimes he only let me hit ‘doubles’ so I had to stop at second base when it was his turn.

How do I beat the heat in the summer? I try to run in the morning, as early as I can. We have a great trail that is mostly shaded that I use a lot. And I LOVE the early morning lawn sprinklers – they are lifesavers!