Sunday, October 28, 2012


If anyone has seen my running mojo please have it call or come home. It got lost in the past few weeks and I really miss it.

My mojo left. I think it might have gotten packed up with the marathon baracades and signs. I have not seen it since the marathon. I really wonder if it was misplaced in the suitcase of one of my BRF (best running friends) that were in from out of town. I'm not sure where it went. Perhaps it just ran away? I don't know.

I have been out searching since the week after the marathon. A couple times I week I lace up my shoes and go out looking. I look high and low and sometimes take the dog hoping she can help me sniff it out. Nothing. I got nothing. I miss my mojo. I could always count on it when things were good or bad. It was always there to get me through. The feelings of anger, impatience, frustration have taken over my life. I miss the feelings of joy, accomplishment a peace that my mojo provides.

Yesterday I decided to go look again in the one place I had not trail.

I woke up late and missed my usual group but I saw this as a blessing in disguise. I needed time to look on my own before asking for help.

I took off and headed down the trial by myself. It was pretty deserted. Not many people use the trail as it gets colder. I relished the emptiness as it mirrored my running soul. I took no Garmin. No anything. I wanted to devote my attention to the hunt. It was liberating not to have to keep a set pace for others, to run at a pace that was good only for me. To walk when I chose. Speed up and slow down when I felt like it. No one depending on me for answers. I was on my own. Without even my mojo to keep me company and I began to search.

After the first 3 miles, I had pretty much given up the hunt. Even the deer on the path were not paying attention to me. My path knows me better than anyone. It has been there for the good runs, bad runs, hot runs, cold runs, crappy runs. It has allowed me to work through my problems and help me find the answers. It has been there through sadness and elation. My trail is the home and my running group, my family.

I decided to look a bit further along the trail so continued my run and it was then that I thought I heard something rustle in the trees. Crazy! There was no one there. Just the wind. But something made me continue running.

Shortly before I turned around to head home I saw Wanda. She was taunting me. She was teasing me like a big bully. If there is one thing I hate (yup. Hate. Strong word, but I hate bullies) it is a bully. She was there just begging me to try and fail. I was having none of it. Instead of turning around to head back I turned, threw my shoulders back and charged up that bridge. Halfway up I thought I heard a voice say "hills make you stronger" I shook my head and looked around. No one there. What the heck?! I was losing my mind!

I continued up and over the bridge and to a point I felt that was far enough. I headed back. Up and over the big bully Wanda a second time. She was not getting the best of me today. I may not have my mojo but I did value my dignity. I still had my Pride.

I continued on towards my truck and felt as if I was being watched... No, followed. I turned to look and was completly alone on the trail. Good Lord. I really was losing my mind.

As I entered a clearing I thought I saw a shadow next to mine. I swore I saw it and I stopped this time totally turning around. I was still alone. There was a biker about a half mile up but no one close enough to leave a shadow. Now I was really getting a little creeped out and wanted to be done with this run.

About 1.5 miles from the car I saw another runner from our group. I really enjoy running with her but she is group leader for a faster pace group and we only run together on the off season. She is older than me and of a different faith. She teaches me something new every time we are together and I treasure out time together. She was going the other direction so I thought we would wave and continue on in opposite directions.

But she stopped and asked if I minded company on the way back. She was tired and didn't want to go on alone. So off we went together.

We chatted for a bit and soon I could no longer talk. She was going so fast. I could not keep up. I stopped at the next intersection and told her to go on. She was too fast for me. She laughed and and said it was me that was driving the pace and she could not keep up! It was then that I realized that there were three of us mojo had joined us and was the one that driving the pace! So we decided to slow it down a bit but finish strong. It was the most glorious, energizing mile of my run. I needed it so badly. My mojo was right there pushing us to keep going and finish. And finish we did, thanking each other for pushing one another to a great finish.

What I realized was my mojo was never lost. It was me who got lost. I needed to find my way home. Home to where my path, my group and mojo were all there waiting for me with open arms.



I haven't posted since the marathon because I've been feeling a bit lost.

Real life hit like a hurricane the day after the marathon. The kids, the activities, the house .... All the things that have longed for my attention all came at me at once. It was overwhelming and enveloped me like a tidal wave. I was bobbing in the deep and struggling but there was no one to toss me a life ring. It was up to me to find my way to shore. Dead or alive.

The weekend after the marathon I took off again. A long overdue weekend in Vegas with some good friends. It was a fun trip filled with firsts (Cirque, gambling, etc) and Momma found out she likes the roulette table! But I was again away and coming back just pushed me farther from shore. It was so hard to keep swimming while keeping the shoreline in sight.

Here it is 3 weeks later and I am finally feeling the sand beneath my feet. My tired arms can rest as I walk towards the beach. The water is still deep but I am almost there. Soon I will be caught up with life and able to rest in the sun on the beach but for now I am still working my way into the shallow waters.

What is in the back of my mind is that I know the tide of the holidays will carry me back out soon enough and I will have to find my way back to shore again. Thank goodness I am a strong swimmer.


Monday, October 8, 2012


A reminder of what is important
Each year I write up a full report of my marathon adventure.  I write it all down mostly for myself so that I can remember all that took place on a whirlwind day but also to inspire other to create their own “marathon memories” either by running a 5K, marathon or just doing something they never thought possible.

 My mantra is “Forward is a pace” both in running and in life. It gets me through my toughest of times and roughest of runs. I preached it to my pace group all summer in order to get them though and learn to have faith in themselves. What I didn’t realize was that I was the one that needed to hear it, learn it and have faith the most.

Marathon morning dawned early, cool and crisp. A perfect day for a run. I was more nervous for this marathon than any other in the past,  second guessing myself into a panic almost daily for the 4 days prior to Sunday.  This morning would be no different. I talked my husband’s ear off about all that could go wrong as he drove me downtown. He just listened and finally said, “really? What is the worst thing that can happen? You know what you are doing. Just do it” And with that I got out of the car.

I met up with friends and we walked to the Congress Hotel to meet other runners from our group and hang out until it was time to start. We all stretched and nervously chatted as we waited for the time to head to our corrals. One of my friends chose to lead a small group in the most beautiful and moving prayer before we headed out. It was the perfect reminder of what was truly important that day.

We bundled up and I donned my signature tutu.  Tutu spirit was going to carry me though this distance today. We were all  in different start corrals so it was time to part ways. My friend and I headed to our corral and at the entrance met Fr. Rob S. Fr. Rob and I have run several races together but I did not think I would actually meet up with him in a sea of 45,000 runners…but there he was waiting for a friend. We talked a bit and I introduced him to my friend asking him to keep us both in prayer as he ran and he agreed.

At 8:00am the gun sounded and we were off….my friend was running her first marathon and I was running #4. I agreed to stay with her and get her to the finish. She was so unsure and scared but I reassured her she could do this. She was ready. So off we went….Forward was our pace to the finish line.

At the Mile 1 under the Michigan Ave bridge, I chose to take off my ‘toss’ coat. This would prove to be a costly mistake. It was dark and as I moved towards the sidewalk to throw away my coat, I was cut off by another runner who shoved me as she passed. I was paying attention to her and not the street thus tripped into a pothole and rolled my ankle falling down on both knees. I jumped up and got right back to moving forward. My friend was stunned and wanted me to stop at the nearest med tent as my knee was bleeding pretty badly….NO WAY!  Been there and done that!  I told her emphatically NO! ….that I would just shake it off and had to keep going. Nothing was stopping me today…slowing me down? Maybe, but not stopping me on we went.  Forward.

At mile 2 she said, “We are at mile 2 already? Did I miss mile one?” as she checked her watch.  “Yup, “ I answered, “We are slow but not that slow!” We laughed and kept moving forward.

At mile 4, I heard someone yell, “Mrs Nader!!!” and there was one of my Girls on the Run with her mom and sister. I took a minute to give them all a quick hug and we were off again…Forward.

We ran through the Lincoln Park Zoo and then headed further north as I narrated the run for my friend coaching her along as we ran.  Lake Shore Drive looks so beautiful from a runner’s perspective with people honking as they drive by!

At mile 7 the course turns off the lake and heads into Boy’s Town. I was reading signs when I heard my maiden name being yelled over and over as I turned to see someone chasing me. A woman had jumped out of the crowd to come hug me and say hi. It was a friend that I had not seen since college.  She told me that she had been watching for me all morning and wanted to wish me luck. I was moved to tears as we hugged and she disappeared into the crowd again as I kept moving forward.

Running through Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park is always a thrill as the crowds are amazing. I wear my name on my shirt so people call me by name as I run which is so motivating. It really kept me going during the tough times. But soon I realized that my friend had fallen back and gotten lost. I tried to wait and look for her but could not see her so I kept moving forward thinking she would catch up with me.

At mile 12 I heard Fr Rob behind me again saying hi. He had passed me once before so I thought he was ahead of me. Not so.  So we ran together for a bit but soon he was well in front of me and I lost sight of him.

As I crossed the bridge to head toward Greektown, I heard my name again. It was another family from school!  We had a quick hug and I was off again. Spotting family and friends during the marathon is no easy task. You not only have to know WHERE there are but also what SIDE of the street they are on. So chance encounters like this are magical and meant to be.

I was making good time and feeling really great at the half way point when I saw the cheering section from my running group. That was awesome!  They are like family to me so knowing that they were there to support me and the other runners from our group was great!

Mile 14 is the Charity Mile so I found the Girls on the Run cheer sections and high-fived my friends, did a few courtesies and kept moving forward only to hear my name again from a familiar voice. Suddenly I was 10 years old again hearing my mom call my name. There she was with my dad and a big pink sign.  Again a quick hug and kiss before I was off and running forward again.

The cooler weather and a water belt allowed my to skip every other water stop and drink when I felt the urge rather than every mile. I think that this helped me move faster this time and run better. No walking other than water stops this time. Always forward.
Soon I had a companion again who said, “No, I am really not stalking you!” It was Fr. Rob again. How he managed to find me again was amazing. We ran together again for a bit and soon he was well ahead of me.  I would not see him again even at the finish.

Mile 17 brought on Little Italy. I love this part of town as it holds many good memories for me…mostly food memories…but good memories none the less!  I came upon an older (late 60’s) gentleman in a wheelchair. Not a fancy racing chair but a common,  every day wheelchair. His helmet bore a sign that read “Do not tap” …I wondered how many people had, in fact, tapped his head as they ran by and how that would get old! I began to run next to him as he said, “Did the race start yet? Am I winning?” He was clearing joking and I laughed with him as we talked a bit more. He was a Rabbi on a mission to raise money for his synagogue. I wondered how long it would take him to finish the whole distance.  He finally said, “Go now! You go with my blessing!  Keep moving and don’t stop til you get to the finish.” And away I went. Forward.

A few young guys passed me and made a comment about my tutu. We chucked a bit and as they sped past me I noticed the one 20something had “Jesus Saves” and a cross written in marker on his shirt. The other young man had Philippians 4:13  “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Written on his bare back. Underneath that was written Type 1 Diabetic.

Shortly thereafter I saw our fearless Running group leader along with his wife. They were a sight for sore eyes. What fabulous cheerleaders they are and right where I needed them.  Another tight embrace and I was off again moving forward.
Entering Pilsen behind a group of runners from Mexico was amazing. The roar of the crowd was deafening!  There were also folks handing out slices of oranges. I took one and devoured it. So yummy!

I kept running though the lonely part of town along Cermack.  The crowds are thin but the promise of Chinatown on the other side kept me moving forward.
Running on faith and tutu spirit at this point.
Chinatown is one of my favorite parts of the Marathon. The tall gates upon entering and the crowds there are fabulous. But the best part is that I know that the finish is only 4.5 miles away.  What made Chinatown even better this year was another chance encounter. My best friend’s sister calling my name!  My friend wanted to come down to cheer but due to her heath,  could not. Seeing her sister was just what I needed at that point. I could feel my friend right there beside me guiding me along forward to the finish. Forward.

I crossed the bridge at 33rd street with only a few more miles to go.  And it was there I spotted my running group cheer team again…right when I needed them. I asked who had passed them already and told them I was feeling really tired but they promised me I was less than 5K from the finish…now I needed my last push forward. I was making silent deals with God and the devil at this point…praying and cursing at the same time.

As I left my friends and began up Michigan Avenue towards the finish, the two young men passed again. This was our 4th encounter of the day. I jokingly said, “Ok really….why can’t you two stay ahead of me?” The shirtless one turned to me with a smile and said, “I am a severe diabetic. I have to stop every 2 miles and check my blood sugar.” It was then that I noticed the insulin pump on his hip as well as the test kit he had been carrying. No water belt or anything like that…just his test kit in his hand for 26.2 miles. I had taken the opportunity to get out my sport beans and was chomping on one as we ran and talked. I offered some to both and the shirt wearer took several but shirtless said no…he did not want to stop again to test with only a few miles left.  With that they both said, “God Bless you” and then they took off…faster than ever towards the finish…all of us headed forward.

Before I knew it I saw the Mile 25 sign and felt so great. Then I ran past the 800 Meters sign knowing the most challenging part was still to come….Mount Roosevelt!  It never seems like much of a hill until you are in the homestretch on the marathon then it seems insurmountable. In the past I have never has ‘gas in the tank’ enough to run this hill but this year…it was not going to get the best of me so I leaned back and headed up. Forward and uphill.

I got to the top and could see the final corner. As I rounded the corner there it was…the finish line! I was almost there!  Forward …and I was sprinting with the last of what I had left. I felt great…tired but great. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and angels on my shoulders.

This was my best run to date and the clock proved it. I had a new personal best!   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.  The third time it was all about determination.  Always moving forward despite the obstacles.  This time it was about faith. Having faith in God, others and myself.

During this adventure I learned so many things about myself.  Every single run taught me a lesson. Those lessons 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 hard work pays off. I learned that tutu spirit is a real and powerful force.  I learned that I need to have as much faith in myself as I do in others.  I learned that God reveals himself in so many ways…we just have to open our eyes.  I learned that everyone needs inspiration. Some days you inspire and some days you need to be inspired. I learned once again that 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, not three but FOUR times!!
Marathon finish number 4!
And a Personal Best to boot!
Faith, Forward and Tutu Spirit!
Thank you to all of you for your months of encouragement, generous donations, faith and abundant prayers. I am forever changed.....…..

A mom
A teacher
A 4 TIME marathon FINISHER!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Tonight was 17's ring Mass. Tonight in church she was given her class ring. What started out as a beautiful sunny day ended as a cold, rainy night. No rain for weeks and tonight it poured. I think it was a good omen. The sky cried instead of me.

As I sat in church looking at my college ring listening to the priest talk about the importance of rings, I was reminded of my own ring day in college. I did not ever get a high school ring but I did get a college ring. I wear it every day. Memories flooded my mind as I sat in the church.

I was a junior in college when I received my ring. The whole family came to visit and attend the Mass. We spent the weekend celebrating this big day. My friends and I looked forward to Ring Day from the first day of freshman year. Wearing the ring meant we were finally part of the group...we were really Woodsies. It was like a membership to a special club. What we did not fully understand at that time was the depth of commitment and loyalty that came with the Ring.

Every woman who has graduated from the Woods since 1840 wears the same ring. The only thing that ever changes on the ring is the graduation year. It is a beautiful and unique ring that I wear every day. It is a constant reminder of many things but mostly that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I have a responsibility to my faith. I have a responsibility to the legacy of the ring. I have a responsibility to the Woods.

It is my hope that my daughter realizes the importance of her responsibility to her high school. The responsibility to her friends, faith and family. And that her ring is a constant reminder of that responsibility. We both have promises and miles to go.....

The Ring Song

Whose Woods these are, I think I know.

Her love will always be with us below.

Her ring we take, of us a part,

Encircling fingers young 'round her heart.

I pledge to her, a ring to keep,

Like Woods is lovely, dark and deep.

And I have promises and miles to go.

And I have promises and miles to go.

The bells of Saint Mary's I hear they are calling,
The young loves, the true loves that come from the sea.
And so my beloved, when red leaves are falling,
the love bells shall ring out, ring out for you and me.



Tuesday my daughter turned 17. Yes, 17 years ago she entered my life. She made me a mother for the first time. She changed my life forever the day she was born. Actually the day I found out I was pregnant, my life changed.

She has been in a hurry since her conception. We were only married 3 months before I become pregnant. She could not wait to come into this world. She kicked and moved and made me uncomfortable as she grew. She was born 2 weeks early. Always in a hurry. My labor was not short but once she decided she finally wanted out, out she came with a quickness.

She was quick to talk, walk and become independent. She thrives on growing up and older. Her instinct is to move away from me....the faster the better. She wants things done fast and furious. She wants to grow up and move out. She has always been older than her years.

She is so like me but so much better. She is stronger and more self assured than I have ever been. She is more confident and has so many friends.

She is beautiful and talented but has yet to realize her full potential. She has cultivated a close relationship with her sisters that I adore ... And am slightly jealous of as I did not have sisters. Our relationship is a rocky one as we are so much alike but lately there are more good days than bad. Her relationship with her dad is so tight. They text all day and have private jokes. Some women might be threatened by this but I am not. I think it is good and healthy. She adores him and has him wrapped around her finger...and he knows it. He loves it despite what he may say.

I look at her and think, "what next?" She is constantly surprising me and teaching me. She teaches me to be a better friend. She teaches me to be a better mom and person. I wonder what surprises lie in store for both of us this 17th year of her life.


Monday, October 1, 2012


Each year I ask the students I teach to choose a song that represents them... song that means something to them or lyrics that speak to/about them. I also ask for songs from my teaching partners, My charity partners as well as my own children.
I put together a playlist for use during the marathon. I think about the person who added the song to the list as I listen and run. This makes for a wonderful meditation and makes the miles SEEMINGLY fly by. Notice I said seemingly?!  the miles do tend to drag a bit at the end but hearing the songs really puts me in a better place.Each song is as different as the person who it represents.  Each song is a constant reminder as to the reasons I am running this marathon. Each song is motivation to keep moving forward to the finish.
I wanted to share the list so you all could see the diverse nature of the music I will listen to in a few days. I can't wait to press play....

Born to Run/Bruce Springsteen
Good Feeling/Flo Rida
Glad You Came/The Wanted  
What Makes You Beautiful/One Direction
Yellow Submarine/The Beatles
Beautiful/Christina Aguilera
Who Says/Selena
Girls Just Want to Have Fun/Cyndi Lauper
Chelsea Dagger/The Fratellis
I Gotta Feeling/Black Eyed Peas
Three Little Birds/Bob Marley
Bicycle Race/Queen
Say Hey/Michael Franti & Spearhead
Walking On Sunshine/Katrina & The Waves
Here Comes The Sun/The Beatles
Defying Gravity/Kristin Chenoweth
Just the Way You Are/Bruno Mars
Good Riddance /Green Day
We Are the Champions/Queen
Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Israel Kamakawiwo'ole          
Live And Let Die/Paul McCartney & Wings
Cotton Eye Joe/Rednex
Party In the U.S.A./Miley Cyrus         
We Are Young/Fun.
Where Is the Love?/Black Eyed Peas
Rainbow Connection/The Muppets
Count On Me/Bruno Mars      
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked/Cage the Elephant
One Moment In Time/Whitney Houston
Golden/Hello Dave
Man In the Mirror/Michael Jackson
Courageous/Casting Crowns
Live While We Are Young/1 Direction    
Barefoot Blue Jean Night/Jake Owen
For Good/Idina Menzel
Glass/Thompson Square         
Dancing Queen/ABBA           
Maggie May/Rod Stewart
Don't Stop Believin'/Journey
I Can Only Imagine/David Guetta
I'll Make a Man Out of You/Mulan
I Love Rock 'N Roll/Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Funkytown (Single Version)/Lipps, Inc.
Hot Legs/Rod Stewart 
Keep Your Head Up/Andy Grammer
Lights/Ellie Goulding
Learning to Fly/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Need You Now/Plumb
Chasing the Sun/The Wanted  
Stayin' Alive/Bee Gees
Give a Little Bit/Supertramp   
What's This?/Danny Elfman
Rainbow Connection/Kermit
Count On Me/Bruno Mars
Be Right There/MattyB
Down In New Orleans/Fritzel's New Orleans Jazz Band         
Asereje/Las ketsup      
Into Yesterday/Sugar Ray
Tom's Diner/Suzanne Vega
American Girl/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Titanium /David Guetta
The Fighter/The Dream Team
Brain Stew/Green Day
Rio/Duran Duran
St. Louis Blues/Louis Armstrong & His All Stars
O-O-H Child/The Five Stairsteps        
The Hockey Song/Stompin' Tom Connors      
What a Wonderful World/Louis Armstrong    
Annie's Song/John Denver      
Minuet No.1/Brentwood Bach Society
Blessings/Laura Story 
Push It/Garbage
100%/Mariah Carey
Perpetual Motion in A major/Takako Nishizaki & Sarah Watkins
Wanted/Hunter Hayes
Shake It Out/Florence + The Machine 
For Good/Idina Menzel