Hitting the fall running

Courtesy Summer Sanders

After a visit from her dad, Summer Sanders is ready to greet the fall with a smile on her face.

Reality hits hard this time of year as the summer comes to an end. It was fun to have so much free time and to visit our family all season. I can't believe we're already going through old clothes and getting ready for school. This week Spider starts kindergarten -- my little man! Remember that first day of school?

I'm so excited for this big step in his life. I can't wait for him to walk onto that school bus and enter his kindergarten classroom in the same school as Skye. They'll look out for each other.

I get extra proud when my kids do something that's slightly scary for them; these are the experiences they really learn from and build on their entire lives.

My kids thrive when they follow a schedule, which is exactly what happens each fall. They're really excited about soccer and gymnastics and pretty much every sport I let them do. Last year Skye tried to convince me she had time to add karate to her already jam-packed schedule of piano and swimming lessons. I often find I have to fight for my kids' free time so they don't lose their freedom altogether.

The hardest adjustment, I think, is getting myself back on a schedule. My girlfriends are thrilled about it: "Aren't you ready to get back to training with us and having time to yourself again?" they ask. As much as I want that me time, it was fun to pick up and go wherever we wanted this summer -- even if that was seeing a movie whenever we felt like it.

My goal is to be more efficient with my time now that both kiddos will be at school together. No more dropping one off and then the other and picking them up in separate places. Less time as a taxi!

My training has suffered as I've worked through a few injuries this summer. I didn't run for about a month, and I got itchy to hit the roads again. It was good that I was forced to take a break and get healthy, but here I come! With a few weeks of running under my belt, I'm easing into my favorite running season. My name may be Summer, but I was born in October, and nothing beats those leaves changing and the smell of fall.

This season means yoga nights with my girlfriends and date nights with Erik, which are always easier when the kids go back to school. You have to set yourself up for success and create that happy life for you and your family. Just like the kids need some time to chill, so do we!

My dad just left after a 10-day visit, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to the summer. He was the consummate track athlete growing up, and I remember him taking my brother and me to the '84 Olympics in Los Angeles. Half of his wardrobe had the Olympic rings on it, and that was even before I made it to the Games! We DVR'd the world championships in Moscow and watched the races together. It was inspiring to see guys like Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, whom I bumped into here in Park City when they came for altitude training with the Nike Oregon Project. Running on the same trails as them took me back to my 10-year-old self getting introduced to Mary Lou Retton.

Inspired by those track stars, my dad's visit and the perfect blend of family fun and adventure this summer, I'm ready to hit the fall with a big smile on my face.

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