Thursday, September 27, 2012


 Well...I did it! I have the aches and pains to prove it. I did not set any records nor did I come close but I FINISHED! I finished with my head high and a smile on my face! I got through it with the help of some very special angels on my shoulders, on the sidelines and under my feet helping with each step!

This year my mantra was ‘Forward is a Pace’. I have said this and preached this to others but this year I really lived it!

I was up at 4:00 on Sunday and was chauffeured downtown by my husband. He dropped me off at the Club Quarters hotel to meet a friend of mine and then he headed to work. He was scheduled to work blocking streets for the runners.

My friend and I had some coffee together and then chose to walk the 10 or so blocks to the Congress Hotel where we would meet our fellow runners. The streets were filled with activity of runners, spectators and volunteers. We arrived at the hotel, met up with our friends and checked our gear bags. I got a text from my friend Kelly, Director of Alexander Leigh Center for Autism, and a photo of her daughter, Gilly. Motivation to run well and finish strong! 

We headed for the start corral about 7am as the sun was rising over the lake.  It was a glorious morning!  We sat on the ground in the start corral chatting with each other and other runners. At about 7:20 Jim Cornelison sang the national anthem and the gun went off for the Elite field of runners. We hit the start line about 15 minutes later…..and the beginning of the last part of my long adventure Forward had begun!

I knew my husband was working and blocking the streets at mile 2. This was a nice treat knowing he was so close. I also knew my mom and dad would be at mile 14. All I had to do was get there. The rest of the course was up for grabs!  I didn’t know when or where or even if there would be anyone else cheering for me. Just keep moving forward, I told myself. Everything will work out. 

I flew through the first few miles and was feeling great!  It was a gorgeous morning and the crowds were wonderful. Running through Lincoln Park and up into Wrigleyville along the lake was perfect. My friend was doing even better than I was so she took off ahead of me.  As I rounded the corner at Addison Street between miles 7 and 8 there was a sign that made me smile “Do Epic Stuff” (it was the other ‘s’ word though!). I knew that sign was for ME!

As I headed back down into the city, I was in the zone, running forward well and feeling good. Perhaps I was feeling too good and got a bit overconfident.  Through Old Town at mile 10 things were still feeling great and so was I! Forward….

Just after Mile 12, at the Adams Street turn I saw Officer Mirek Dobek!  What a nice surprise!  I told him I was feeling great!  His daughter, Juilanne, was one of my Girls on the Run! Forward….

I was almost to family now heading out into Greektown and the West Loop!  I ran through the 13.1 mile marker and headed towards mile 14.  Just before mile 14 I saw Mrs. Melissa McCallister and her husband!  She was smiling and cheering. We hugged (I think!) and I took off again…only to hear someone shouting my name from the other side of the street. It was Mr. Tim O’Brien and his son, Jack, who is one of my students! I said Hi and told them I could not stop. I had to keep moving forward.  I asked where Jack’s sister was and he told me up the street, so I grabbed Jack and away we ran. Jack was running the marathon with me!  What a great running buddy! About a block or so up we found my Girls on the Run, MacKenna O’Brien and Megan Walsh with their moms holding a “Go Mrs. Nader” sign!!  They were standing next to my parents and my Aunt. I stopped for a second and took a picture with my mom and Jack. I could feel my legs tightening and did not want to stop moving. I told them I had to keep moving…forward.  I took off again heading out to mile 15.  This part of the course is all sun and it was getting hotter by the minute.

I headed back into the city hoping the see family again near mile 16 but we missed each other. I was feeling hot and my legs were getting tighter with each step. This was not going to be an easy finish.

Just after mile 16 I was running in the shade of the buildings but was still hot. If front of Jak’s Tap there was a “20 something” guy eating an ice cream. I looked at him and said, “Really?!?” He said, “Want it?” I ran over, grabbed what was left of the ice cream, kissed him on the cheek…to the cheers of the others around him…and kept running…happily eating my ice cream. Never has a SpongeBob popsicle tasted so good!

It was off to Little Italy and mile 18 now where I saw the leader of my running group, Keith and his wife, Liz. They asked how I was doing and I told them I was hot…but still moving forward. And then I took off again up Ashland Avenue toward mile 19. My legs were still a little tight but I thought the popsicle and Gu I had eaten were helping….I was wrong.

I rounded the corner of 18th and Halsted to see the bank sign read “81” degrees. It was getting hotter….then things got bad. Just past the 20 mile marker I stepped down and one calf cramped…total Charlie horse. I shifted my weight to the other leg and that one cramped as well. I was in pain and not happy. I hobbled into the medical tent and sat down. I told them what was happening to my legs. They gave me a salt packet to eat along with a banana, a massage of my calves and water. I walked around the tent a bit and felt better…so back out I went. My dreams of beating my time from last year vanished…Now it was just about finishing….Forward.

Miles 21-23 were slow but I was still moving forward. I kept pushing on thinking that I could not quit. The thought of facing the disappointment of my own children, my students, or my Girls on the Run having quit was enough to keep me moving!  So I pushed forward.

This is a tough stretch as there are not a lot of spectators on this part of the course  and it is all sun but I knew the end was getting closer…no quitting now…just forward motion. Then at the turn at 35th street….I thought I was seeing things….there was Mrs. Leslie Dempsey with Sophia and Eva!  Sophia is one of my Girls on the Run and was leaping up and down when she saw me!  They asked how I was doing and I said I was hot.  Mrs. Dempsey wanted to give me water but her bottle was empty!  That was ok I said…I had to keep moving as I was afraid my legs would give out again…..and off I went. I started to cry now as the reality of everything began to hit me.  I needed to stop doubting myself, beating myself up and getting mad at myself for slowing down. Too many people were already proud of me and how far I had come on the adventure. This was the home stretch and I knew it. I also knew that this was the hardest part of the course…all sun and then the HILL!  I just had to keep moving forward.

So up Michigan Avenue I headed into Mile 24. I was moving forward and feeling better. I knew this was the home stretch. I knew the end was near and I was going to get this job done!  Just then a large uniformed Chicago police officer jumped in front of me and started taking photos. It was my husband!  CPD had moved his location and there he was…in front of me!  He wanted me to stop and take a picture but I just could not. I was terrified that if I stopped disaster would strike. So he said he loved me and kissed me, as a lady shouted, “Do you kiss all the runners, Officer?” “No,” he replied, “just my wife…and that’s my wife!” as I moved away… forward…

Now it was up to me. I was making deals and saying prayers at this point…please God!  Just let me finish…I have come too far not to finish. One foot in front of the other…moving forward.

I rounded the corner and headed up the hill…terrified that my legs would cramp again, I powered up the hill with what little strength I had left. Now it was all about determination and heart. As I crested the hill I could feel the momentum building…. I could see the finish line. This was it…months of work for this moment! 

I crossed the finish line and was met by wonderful volunteers who wrapped me in a warming blanket and sent me on to get my medal.  As the volunteer hung the medal on my neck I thought how hard earned that medal was….this was a tough finish for me.

What a day! What an adventure!  My first marathon was all about the finish. The goal was to get across the finish line. The second time was about the journey. Crossing the finish line was icing on the cake.  This time it was all about determination.  Always moving forward despite the obstacles. 

During this adventure I learned so many things about myself.  Every lesson learned got me to the finish.  I learned that I am a better, stronger, smarter runner/person than I was a year ago. I learned that just when you least expect it, people surprise you. I learned that everyone needs inspiration. Some days you inspire and some days you need to be inspired. I learned that a finish time is just that...numbers on the clock. Numbers don’t mean a thing to anyone but me.  I showed my kids...all of them...that quitting is not an option. If you work towards a goal you can achieve way or another. If you simply put one foot in front of the other…you move forward. Forward IS a Pace. I realized that I did something that many people can’t do, won’t ever start....I completed a marathon...not once, not twice but THREE times!!

Thank you to all of you for your months of encouragement, generous donations, and abundant prayers. I am forever changed.....…..

A mom
A teacher
A 3 TIME marathon FINISHER!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Give a girl th right shoes...

2 weeks ago I ordered new shoes. I needed a new pair to get me through the final training miles and marathon. I ordered the new model of my current shoe. I was assured by numerous sales people at various stores that these shoes were so similar to my current shoe and the changes 'would were minimal and would not be noticeable."

I was stoked when the package arrived and I took them for spin as soon as I could put them on and lace them up. I ran 4 miles and felt a slight twinge of an old hip injury. I thought it was the fact that the shoes were new and my body was not used to the shoes. The following day I ran another 5 miles and my hip felt funny again. I dismissed it as nothing again. Saturday dawned and I was stoked for my 20 miler. I felt great. I was mentally and physically ready.

About mile 8 I felt my hip pop. The pain was excruciating. I was not having any of it though. I am nothing if not determined and I am NOT a quitter. So I pressed on leading my group and wincing with every footfall. We arrived at the 1/2 way point and our support staff. I took some Adviln and continued on. I had felt this pain before. I knew what to was from and how to deal with it.

I finished the run feeling strong and steady despite the pain in my hip intensifying. I immediately got a bag of ice on my hip and kept it there all day. I rolled my hip several times that day and kept ice on it. I knew it was the shoes. I had been in this place before. While I iced my hip. I did some research on the shoes I had worn for this run.

What I learned was that the shoe had been overhauled. The guidance line, toe box and other major features has been changed. All this lead to my pain and hip issues. I contacted the store that sold me the shoe and asked to make a return. They gladly took the shoe back offering a credit for the price of the shoe as well as an additional credit for the poor advice/my pain which was kind.

So there I was... back at square one. Did I wear the old faithful shoes for the remainder of training and the marathon? Did I try to find new shoes this close the the marathon? What to do?!

The day followimg my 20 miler, I took a visit to my local running store, Dick Pond, and asked for advice. I tried some new shoes but was a little discouraged. One of salesmen asked if I had looked for my old shoes online. I said I had ... to no avail. So he went off to the computer while I continued to try on shoes. He soon said he had found a pair in the shoe company's warehouse but would not promise as sometimes computers are wrong.

I left the store with little hope and a prayer that this guy could deliver. The next afternoon he called and said the shoes where on their way to the store...and that they were the last pair in the warehouse and the country. He was concerned that my current shoe was blue and this shoe was pink! Are you kidding?! I was stoked! The last pair and they were pink?!

Friday I picked up my shoes and my feet felt like they had found an old friend. I was gleeful like a kid at Christmas. I smiled all the way home looking forward to my run the next morning.

Saturday dawned cold and crisp. The heat kicked on in the house and I knew that fall running weather had arrived. I dressed, laced up my new running buddies and headed off to meet with my group. I was a little nervous as to whether these shoes would work but was cautiously optimistic.

The weather threatened with sun/clouds/wind/rain/thunder/sun. We ran fast and furious as we kept at it chewing up the miles trying to outrun the rain. We finished and it was then that I realized NOTHING HURT! I could have run 12 more miles but called it a day looking forward to my next run.

We runners are creatures of habit. We each have our routines and rituals but what we are most particular about is our footwear. We buy our shoes by how they make us feel not by color. Good shoes make every run better. Why shoe makers mess with a good thing and change current shoe designs rather than just creating a new shoe is beyond me. But it is a fact of runners life.

So for now I have the right shoes, a pain free hip and a new attitude. An attitude that I can not only conquer this marathon but the world. I can feel it....from my head to my happy feet. Peace.


Thursday, September 20, 2012


The main reasons I train for and run a marathon are clear to me....but sharing these reasons make them a more real commitment. The training is a long, difficult road but nothing compared to the road a parent of a child with special gifts walks each and every day. I am running this Marathon for many reasons. I am running to raise funds for the Alexander Leigh Center for Autism and Girls On The Run. I am running to raise awareness of autism. I am running for every girl’s positive self image. I am running to honor my hero, Kelly Weaver, her daughter, Gillian Weaver, and all other children with special gifts, as well as all girls everywhere.

I am running to raise funds for the Alexander Leigh Center for Autism and Girls On The Run. Here is where I really need your help. Both charities are in need of financial assistance. My goal is to raise $1,000 for each charity.

You can make a donation directly to the school here 

Donations to Girls On The Run may be made directly at this site.

Please be sure to mention my name when making your donation! To learn more about the school, please visit their website

To learn more about Girls On The Run go to

I am running to raise awareness of autism. Did you know that one out of every 150 children born this year will be diagnosed with autism? Did you know more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined? Autism costs the nation 90 billion dollars per year and the cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention. There is no medical detection or cure for autism.

I am running for every girl’s positive self image. Girls on the Run is a life-changing, experiential learning program for girls age eight to thirteen years old. The program combines training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goal of the program is to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development. Girls on the Run promotes physical as well as emotional, mental and character development. The girls complete the program with a stronger sense of identity, a greater acceptance of themselves, a healthier body image and an understanding of what it means to be part of a team. As a coach for two seasons, I have seen the positive outcomes of this program. These girls inspire me!

I am running to honor my hero, Kelly Weaver, her daughter, Gillian Weaver, and all other children with special gifts. Eleven year old Gillian Weaver is autistic. Gillian’s father, Kevin Weaver, passed away from an undiagnosed brain tumor when Gilly was very young. Kelly, now a single mom, has opened a school for Gillian and other autistic children. The Alexander Leigh Center for Autism was founded by Dorie Hoevel and Kelly Weaver, who are both parents of children with autism. These two dedicated mothers have created a place where children can reach their full individual potential, in a caring and safe environment, a place where each child's differences are what make them special.

I run for each of my own children, the children I teach, the children that face frustration of autism, the children who doubt themselves, all children who daily face challenges no matter how big or small. As some of you know, music is a large part of my life. I am going to compile a playlist of musical inspiration to keep me moving during my long runs and workouts. I want to be reminded of each and every reason I run. If you have a song you think would be a good addition, let me know!

Last but not least, I would ask for your prayers. I would ask that you pray for The Alexander Leigh Center for Autism, that this school will continue to be a place where each child can reach their full potential. I ask that you pray for the young women who participate in Girls On The Run that they gain a strong sense of identity. I would ask that you pray for my children as well as the children I teach, that they may grow in wisdom and understanding. I would ask that you pray for all runners and me on race day so that we finish safely. Finally, I would ask that you pray not only for children with special gifts, but their parents as well. They all face challenges each and every day that many of us will never know nor understand.

Monday, September 17, 2012


An odd number. To some an unlucky number. To a 12 year old to is the beginning of the teen years. To me is is a new beginning. It is the beginning of a new stage in life as my "little girl" turned 13 today. She is the last of my girls to enter then teens. Now I have 3 teens girls in my house. I still have my little man but the girls are different. I have seen the relationships between my girls grow stinger as they age but with this new age dawning for the last one...she is now "official". She is now an "equal" as she is now a teen.

I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. I see it all in my mind as if watching a favorite movie over and over. I was teaching when I went into labor. I was not ready and not sure what was happening. My other 2 were either induced or had water break. This was new. My husband was at home with one little one and the older one was at school. Soon we were all on the way to meet a new family member.

13 would not wait. My labor was short and easy (as easy as labor can be). She came into the world with her dad watching intently. He swore she was his long awaited boy. No such luck. She was a pretty pink princess...queen I should say. She would be spoiled as the youngest for many a day. Hence her nickname that still holds true...Queenie.

She is a fighter. She is determined and dedicated. She is the best friend and sister anyone could ask for. She is loyal as the day is long but don't cross her. She won't soon forget when someone does her wrong. She loves peanut butter and Law and Order. She loves music and Pandora. She loves Narwalls and making people laugh. She has a sense of humor that can make even the sourest person laugh. She is unique and sensitive. She won't ever let you know outright that you hurt her but there is no denying the look on her face. She loves basketball and the Bulls. She is determined to understand football this season to better understand her dad. She loves to do hair and creates new hairstyles on a a daily basis. She is the queen of my heart.

13 ... to some it is unlucky. To me, it is my lucky number. I am the one who got the best gift today. I got to enter new territory new with my Queenie and her sisters. I am gifted. I am blessed. Peace.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Hero is not a term I use loosely. It is not one I banter around like a tennis ball. I admire many people but hero is reserved for only a few people in my life. One person I call my hero is my friend Kelly. She is an amazing, wonderful and gifted woman who teaches me something new every day.

Kelly's life has been full of twists and turns ... The unexpected and difficult seems to find Kelly but she takes it in stride and makes each look easy and planned.

Kelly and her husband adopted a daughter, Gillian...Gilly. She is a beautiful girl with the breathtakingly blue eyes. Looking into Gillys eyes is looking right into her heart. Gilly grows more stunning and more interesting with each passing day.

Gilly is unique in so many ways. You see Gilly is autistic. Parenting an autistic child was not what Kelly had planned but she is so good at it. She is an amazing mother who makes sacrifices like no other. The challenges she faces on a daily basis are mountains in my world but to Kelly...they are speedbumps.

Soon after they adopted Gilly, Kellys husband passed away. It was totally unexpected and devastating to Kelly. She swerved a bit but never stopped. Her determination to keep going in the face of this devastating loss was and is awe inspiring.

Along the way there have been so many other challenges for Kelly and Gilly such as Kelly's battles with multiple rounds of cancer. However Kelly manages to keep a smile on her face and, while her path may swerve a bit, she never strays to far from the center. There never seems to be a battle too tough or a mountain too high.

They say that God saves his toughest battles for his strongest soldiers. Well, my friend, Kelly, must be the Goliath of soldiers. God has given her the toughest battles and she always comes out a winner. She is a hero. She is my hero. She is my friend and I am truly blessed.

If you would like to help Kelly help other parents and children with autism, click here.




An open letter

Dear lady at the gym,

I see you here often. I see how you sheepishly use the equipment and hand weights. I have watched you for months. I have watched as you get stronger and more confident. I want walk over and congratulate you on your progress but I fear you might think me insincere.

I have watched the other gym members reactions to you. I see their eyes roll as you hold on to the treadmill to keep your balance. What they fail to notice is how your speed on the treadmill has increased. I see the giggles of the other females as you try the elliptical. What they don't know is that it has taken you months to build the confidence to even try that machine. I notice as you lift the hand weights how the others In that corner look away. They are missing the fact that you have gone from a 2 pound weight to a 6 pound weight.

All those people see is the overweight woman who is not like them. All they see is the outside. Poor things. They don't notice the true strength you process. They don't see the determination on your heart.

I can not imagine the strength it took for you to come here the first time and the perseverance it takes to come back each week. I know that you seem like me a long time ago. I was overweight, out of shape and scared. I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to know that you are improving and I notice even though no one else might. I see you.... I see you for all that you are and I am so proud of you. Peace.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Don't tell me something can't be done. I will find a way to get it done. I may get it done at the last minute, skidding in just at the buzzer but I get it done. I can procrastinate with the best of them and can make excuses better than a kid who didn't finish their homework. But given a challenge, I find a way.

Today I needed to find a way. There was a lot to get done. A meeting this morning before school, a full day of teaching and then coaching 30 little girls on their fist day of Girls on the Run. If that is was not enough, I ran my long run for the week....10 miles. I did run it on the treadmill so I could help with homework and be available to the kids...but multitasking is something I do well! The kids cycled in and out and I listened to one read, helped another with mock trial questions, and just listened to another talk. I was a captive for them. However the distractions were just that, distractions from the boredom of the dreadmill. Time with my kids is time with my kids.

Dinner and early bedtimes for all in the family tonight. I am tired but not done yet. I need help now. I want to coach more girls to become the best they can be helping them to find their own tutu spirit within. The marathon is only 26 days away and I am working hard to get there. Help me help more girls. Don't tell me it can't be done.
Please visit my donation site by clicking here!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday with all its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday.

The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with all its possible opportunities, its burdens, its large promise. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise.

Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is yet to be born. This leaves only one day, Today. Most persons can muster the strength to fight the battle of just one day.

It is when you add the burdens that are beyond our control of Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down. Let us, therefore, live Today and make the best of it, and live our

lives, 'one day at a time'. And remember to find something to smile about every day (even if you have to look in the mirror) and then share it with a friend.



Why are some people so angry all the time? I'm not saying that I don't get mad...I mean seriously pissed off ...occasionally. But some people seem to live in a constant state of anger. Curse words flow from their lips like water from a spigot and their brow is permanently furrowed. It is frightening to be around them as they are like a volcano ready to erupt. The constant walking on eggshells around these people is exhausting.
I am not sure what makes them so angry. Was it one event that flipped a switch? Is the anger from frustration? Does it stem from jealousy? Bitterness? I'm not sure.

I see these people everywhere. Is life so horrible? Can they not see the good in life? Are they missing something?

I just want to open their eyes to the beauty of life. Sure there are crappy parts and unfairness but all in all life is pretty good. It is a matter of finding the good and peaceful place in your heart. I pray they find that peaceful place someday.


Thursday, September 6, 2012


A friend told me today that one of the reasons he loves me as his friend is that small things give me such joy. It is true. Small things do give me so much joy. Simple things. Easy things. I used to be all about the grand gesture. I would set my expectations so high and often be so very disappointed. Over time I have learned that the little things bring so much more joy to my life. The every day things. The mundane things.

My friend, Molly, has these red cowboy boots. They are so fitting of her personality. They embody her spirit. Molly is the founder and vision keeper of Girls on the Run. This program has given me so much and changed my life so when I saw Molly's boots I wanted to share in that spirit. I searched and searched for my own 'personality'. I soon found it in the form of hot pink cowboy boots so I ordered them...hoping they would be as cool when they arrived as they seemed online.

Boy was I in for a shock. The boots came today and from the moment I opened the box, I was giddy! I saw them there in their plastic wrap waiting for me and a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon came across my face. I carefully unwrapped each boot and put them on my feet. They fit perfectly. I felt like Cinderella. I slowly stood up and looked down at my boots. A feeling of overwhelming joy washed over me and I began to dance. I sachaed across the floor and just could not take my eyes off the boots. Such a simple, inexpensive thing was making me feel like I was on top of the world. I walked about showing my coworkers my boots just beaming. Call me crazy but I was in love with the boots and the feeling of joy they had given me. Even as I write this I smile. A Christmas morning smile. A smile that comes from a place deep inside.

And when I thought the day could not get better, I got home and found my new running shoes had been delivered. I was tenuous as they are a new model of my favorites but I laced them up and headed off to run. My son had cross country practice so I dropped him off and began my run. One step at a time I realized that these new shoes were so comfy and my feet welcomed them like a old friend. As I listened to my music, I watched the kids run their laps as I ran mine, inspired by their sheer joy of running. 4.5 miles later I was done and so was my son. As we got in the car, he turned to me and asked, "How was your run, mom?" "Good, buddy," I replied. "Mom, I love when you are so happy. What's for dinner?" A simple conversation about what is important. Happiness and dinner.

At the end of the day, my 16 year old came into my room and shared with me the sweet way a boy asked her out tonight. In her eyes I see the same joy I was feeling. The giddiness of a small child. The feeling that a simple small thing can make your heart so full it feels ready to burst. The feeling that your smile comes from a place so deep it won't go away anytime soon.

So as I ready myself for bed, I see the boots across the room waiting to be worn again tomorrow. A simple, easy thing that brings so much joy....giddiness really my soul.