Popsicles for Nepal Challenge

The news from Nepal is devastating. More than 7,000 people have been killed in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on April 25th, and thousands are still missing. Having been to Nepal and spent time reveling in the warmth and beauty of this special country, it’s particularly heartbreaking to see what has happened. That’s why I wanted to do something to help.

Photo of monks in the Thamel area of Kathmandu

The friendly faces of Nepal…monks having tea in the Thamel area of Kathmandu. This was taken during my visit there, long before the earthquake.

Since I’m not related to the Rockefellers or the Bill Gates Family, I had to focus on a more homespun approach. That’s when the “Popsicles for Nepal Challenge” popped into my head.

It started with our Roosevelt Elementary School Running Club. I simply brought four boxes of healthy’ish Popsicles to practice last week, emailed the kids’ parents in advance, then “sold” the Popsicles after practice on a donation basis. I told them that ANY amount was welcome, and if some kids didn’t bring money, I donated for them. This little running club (and their parents) knocked my socks off with their compassion, generosity, and their desire to help the people of Nepal. In less than 10 minutes, we raised nearly $200 for Direct Relief (www.directrelief.org), a humanitarian aid organization based here in Santa Barbara, ranked #1 on the Top 10 List of charities.

PopsiclesHenryPopsiclesforNepal

After starting the Popsicles for Nepal Challenge, our Roosevelt Running Club then challenged the Kids Corner Coyotes, another team I help coach on Saturdays. I have goosebumps as I type this….drumroll please…the Coyotes raised a whopping $420 for Direct Relief, thanks to one parent who doubled the kids’ efforts through his company’s matching contributions program. Thank you Kevin! And the topper? He also just matched our Roosevelt Running Club (and then some), so our combined efforts come to over $900–all in 10 minutes time–seriously. The best part of this whole process is showing the kids that small acts of kindness, when combined with others’ small acts of kindness, can turn into something much bigger.

Kids Corner CoyotesPhoto of Kids Corner Coyotes

The Coyotes have now challenged the Santa Barbara Track Club via Facebook and I’ve also challenged the Moms in Motion Running Team, as well as several friend’s and family’s hiking/running/workout groups here, and in different parts of the country. The ball is rolling!

Two hundred dollars (or even $20) here or there may not seem like a lot, but when sending resources to a country that had little to begin with, please know this money will go a long, long way. And Nepal needs A LOT right now.

This challenge takes very little effort. Simply bring some popsicles to your next practice or gathering and see how much people will donate in exchange for a cool, tasty treat. Popsicles are especially refreshing after a good workout! I hope whoever is reading my blog right now will take this challenge, then challenge another group (Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, book groups, cycling or triathlon groups, theater or dance groups, church groups, people in your office…the list goes on and on). Tweet it, post it on Facebook, and share this simple idea. Together let’s take a small idea and make a big difference in helping get the fabulous people of Nepal back on their feet again.

Photo of prayer flags in Kathmandu, NepalPhoto of the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal3MonkeyTempleNepal4PedicabPhoto of refridgerators being delivered in Kathmandu. Nepal

#PopsiclesForNepalChallenge #HomespunPhilanthropy #RunnersMakingADifference #PeopleHelpingPeople #KidsRock

Thanks for considering! Please let me know if you take the challenge. I’d love to celebrate your effort! xo

PS: Some of you may know that my husband, Jeffrey, is a professional photographer. He is also raising money for Direct Relief by selling one of his photographs of Nepal on his Facebook page. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeffrey-Aaronson/108650762509168

UPDATE: This fabulous 3-person team in Hood River, OR took the Popsicles for Nepal Challenge and raised $124 for Direct Relief, taking us over the $1K mark. Way to go Tate, Abby and Anna!

Popsicles4NepalTate

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Kids Running Fun Ahead This Spring and Summer

Spring is in the air and tons of fun things are on the horizon with all my kids running teams! It’s going to be a busy few months, but this is the kind of busy I like!

The Roosevelt Running Club toeing the line during last season's Magic Mile race.

The Roosevelt Running Club toeing the line during last season’s Magic Mile race.

First, our Roosevelt Running Club is kicking off its spring season next week. Yay! With 36 kids, it’s the biggest team we’ve ever had, which is exciting because it means more and more kiddos are catching “fitness fever.”

About half the team will be veterans, returning for their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th season of Running Club. The rest are first timers. Most interesting is that a third of the team will be made up of 1st graders! Oh boy, it might be time to fasten my seat belt! Thankfully, I have several parents who will be involved in helping wrangle and motive our youngest athletes. Can you imagine if these kids stick with the program all the way through 6th grade? Our school could be sending some fine cross-country runners off to junior high school!

JeffreyOliviaRRC

The Roosevelt Running Club is a family affair. Jeffrey has been my awesome sidekick coach from day one, and our daughter Olivia has become a team leader, having participated on every team we’ve coached. I’m so lucky to be able to share my love of running with these two!

Once again, my hubby, Jeffrey, will be coaching with me, and our daughter Olivia, will be taking part too, as one of our most dedicated runners. She’s the only member of Running Club who will have been on the team all 7 seasons (and no, not because we make her; she truly wants to be there, even though ballet is really her “thing”).

The other exciting news is that I’ve been asked to start a running program at Montecito Union School this spring. My schedule is already packed to the gills, but I couldn’t resist getting more and more kids turned on to running. If all goes according to plan, that program will launch in mid-April and will take place on Monday afternoons all the way through early June. I can hardly wait to feel the energy from this new adventure!

One of my mom friends from this school, Ashlee Mayfield, set the wheels in motion for this program to happen because she is passionate about health and fitness for kids too! She’s a fabulous runner (she just ran the super tough LA Marathon in 3:39), and has been involved as I’ve helped coach her sons on our Coyotes team. Thank you Ashlee! It takes a village, right?

Coaches

A fun Saturday morning with my fellow Coyote coaches, Nash Jimenez and Monica DeVreese.

On top of those two fun things, our spring session of Kids Corner Coyotes (the team I just mentioned) will start on May 2nd and go through June 7th. This is one of my favorite teams to coach because we have so many kids who return season after season. Their spirit brings a special electricity to our Saturday mornings, especially since many of their parents love to run too.

It’s also fun to coach with Nash Jimenez and Monica DeVreese. They’re both the epitome of fiercely competitive, top-notch athletes (understatement) who know how to nurture, challenge and support the kids they coach. What’s also fun is that my daughter, who has run on our Coyotes team for many seasons, is now finding joy in being Monica’s helper for the Kinder Coyotes (ages 3-5). She loves helping take care of “the little ones.” We’re still in the middle of sign-ups for Coyotes (click HERE if you’d like to know more or register your child), and it’s looking like it’s going to be another record full team.

CoyoteMile_StartingLineKinder5KWinnersNashGroupBeachBeckysGroupPier

Last, but not least, I’m putting together a Girls in Motion running and fitness summer camp, which will take place in mid-July. This camp is all about “Girl Power” and embracing our “inner amazing-ness” through fitness and teamwork. I’m putting this camp on through the awesome organization, Moms in Motion. Our intention is to get girls ages 6-12 fired up about a lifetime of health and fitness by providing a supportive environment for them to thrive. It’s so much fun to be putting all the details together like an itinerary filled with fun running and fitness challenges, yoga, strength, nutrition, as well as a list of amazing guest speakers, and goal setting ideas. I can hardly wait for this camp to take place this summer! If you know any girls who might be interested in taking part (July 13-17 from 9:00-12:00), please email me for a registration form: runwithbecky(at)hotmail(dot)com.

NiteMovesReadytoRumbleCROPGirlsinMotion2CarolineAlinaLilyJamilaGroupPier

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Here’s to sharing the beach, road and park trails with all these amazing young athletes. They continue to inspire me every day in many, many ways.

Do your kids like running? What’s in store for your spring?

For the Love of Kids, Not One More

Saturday morning, we awoke to uncharacteristically gray, dreary weather here in Santa Barbara. The air felt like heavy wet wool.

Normally, Saturday mornings are one of my favorite moments of the week because I have the joy of coaching our Kids Corner Coyotes running program with Nash Jimenez, but this morning was anything but light and joyful. My shoulders were wrapped in a heavy shawl of melancholy.

It was almost as if Mother Nature knew.

She knew that less than twelve hours earlier six college students had been murdered at UCSB-Isla Vista, just two minutes from where we were holding our morning practice at Goleta Beach Park. And she knew that thirteen others had also been injured by a gun-wielding madman, incapable of managing his rage.

When I first heard the news earlier that the morning, I was sickened, saddened, and furious.

But I was not one bit surprised.

Why wouldn’t another mass shooting happen when nothing had changed since the last one…or the one before…or the one before? And why wouldn’t it be in my own backyard? Santa Barbara is no more special than any other place in America where anybody can buy a gun and use it whenever they feel disenchanted with their life.

As I drove to practice Saturday morning to get everything set up for our team’s arrival, I fought off the angry lump in my throat and sported my World’s Best Actress hat. This coach was not prepared to explain to thirty-five little ones why she had tears in her eyes, nor why something this atrocious could possibly happen AGAIN, and so close to home, especially since several of our Coyote parents are UCSB professors.

As I plastered on a fake smile when the kids arrived and looked at all the bright, and blissfully clueless faces sitting before me, all I could think about was how horribly we have failed, and continue to fail our kids.

How by not standing up to the NRA and all the greedy gun-lobbying bullies and politicians, and those who claim that it’s their “God-given right” to own assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, we are showing these kids we do not care. We do not care if they are murdered at their preschools or elementary schools. We do not care if they are mowed down the week before they are supposed to graduate from college. We do not care if they’re scared to go to a movie theater or shopping mall because it no longer feels safe. We do not care if they’re terrified because their parents are teachers, principals or university professors.

As I moved through the motions of our team announcements and chirped on about our fabulous Runners of the Week and our Word of the Week, I was thankful that kids always have a way of making you operate in the present, whether you want to or not. It was soon impossible for me to think beyond the immediate circle of adorable-ness sitting before me, and certainly not beyond the workout ahead of us as I got peppered with question after question.

“Coach Becky, how far is the State Street Mile race we’re doing next week?”

“It’s called the State Street Mile,” I replied while trying not to laugh, “because it’s a 1-mile race.”

“Coach Becky, can you tie my shoe?”

“Coach Becky, guess what? I ran 7 miles this week!”

“Coach Becky, can we run on the pier? Pllllleeeeaaase?”

And so it went, an hour and fifteen minutes of kids being kids, runners being runners. Pure bliss.

BeckysGroupBeachRun

Photo of Coach Becky running with Coyotes on Goleta Beach pier

By the end of practice, my shoulders felt lighter and my heart felt full, but anger still simmered deep inside, knowing there will undoubtedly be another shooting…at least until we have the guts to take a stand and say, “NOT ONE MORE,” to show our kids that we value their lives and their futures far more than we value our freedom to own and wield a damn gun.

BeckysGroupBeach

NashGroupBeach

Celebrating Momentum

It has been an exciting time of momentum around here. You know, when things suddenly start coming together for you and many of those special peeps around you? When you begin to see some of your  “I think I cans” turn into exhilarating moments of, “Holy crap, I did it!”

“Enthusiasm
is the energy and force
that builds literal momentum of
the human soul and mind.”
~Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend was filled with multiple exclamation points as many of my friends and I participated in the Gaucho Gallop, a local 5K put on by the University of California on its beautiful Santa Barbara campus.

We were all looking forward to participating in this race for a variety of reasons, but when we woke up on Saturday morning, we were greeted with less than ideal conditions. Can you say cold, blustery wind? What’s a fair weather Californian to do? And we’re not talking just a little breeze. It was the kind of wind that had sponsors bungee’ing down their tents so they wouldn’t fly away.

Regardless of Mother Nature’s extra little test, it was a GORGEOUS morning filled with fun, friendship and fabulous competition. Most exciting was kicking off the spring season of Kids Corner Coyotes, a youth running club I coach with Nash Jimenez. It’s impossible not to be filled with joy when being surrounded by so many eager young faces falling head over heels for the sport we all love so much.

StartingLine_JohnHudson

Coyote kiddos getting ready to race the Kids 1k

Doubly exciting was seeing so many of our Roosevelt Running Club families participate in the 5K race. They didn’t just participate either, they ROCKED the course. One of my 8-year old runners (#52) finished in a blistering 23:05 (7:26), and each of these other rock star runners pushed themselves way beyond their comfort zones, and ran terrific races too! I was especially excited for my daughter (#245), who took 10 MINUTES off her last 5K finishing time. EPIC! #proudmamamoment. Thank you Stella for being her awesome running partner!

GauchoGallopRRCFinishers

Some of our Roosevelt Running Club members celebrating their hard work after the 5K race.

My race was about redeeming myself. You might remember the last race I ran was less than stellar; I didn’t “race” race and it left a hollow, disappointing feeling in my gut. I didn’t want to let myself down again so this time I woke up with fire in my belly, ready to leave it all on the course.

And that’s exactly what I did. I ran the fastest 5K I’ve ever run, despite the wind, finishing in 23:30 (7:34 pace). I have to try to keep up with #52, after all! Most exciting? This time I didn’t finish 6 minutes behind my closest GP competitor. I finished 6 seconds behind her. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I’m slowly building momentum, inching closer to where I believe I can be, knowing I still have A LOT of work to do.

Another highlight was seeing one of my Roosevelt moms beaming after the race. She was riding high on sweet momentum as she knocked off even more time from her finishing goal. Way to go, Debbie!! I’m so happy for you, and proud of you!! Debbie started running again because she was so inspired by what her boys were doing (yep #52 is her speedy son, and her older son is blistering fast too). Now, not only are her boys inspiring us all, she is too (especially me)!

The topper to all this was being surrounded by a gaggle of happy, healthy, motivated people. Runners are nothing but a bundle of positive energy. After all, optimism is the fuel that keeps us going! Momentum is its sweet, electrifying byproduct.

Speaking of sweet momentum, I have one last tidbit to share with you… several weeks ago a writer contacted me wanting to do a story about the running program my husband and I started at my daughter’s elementary school, The Roosevelt Running Club. Needless to say, I was bowled over by his interest in our program, and filled with gratitude for all the people that have, and continue to, make this program what it is. This kind of magic can only happen with the support of parents and athletes who want to pay it forward for the next generation of runners.

Here’s a link to the story if you are interested in seeing what we’re up to: http://presidiosports.com/2014/04/aaronson-establishes-roosevelt-running-club/ (or click on the photo below).

Presidio Sports Sports Figure of the Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So tell me, as spring heads quickly toward summer, are you starting to feel momentum with your running? Are your feet being lifted a little higher and faster from the power of your fabulous running community? What’s your story?