Monday, April 29, 2013


Saturday I woke up and knew I needed a long run. I have a Half marathon coming up in a week and am seriously undertrained. I am so very unprepared...I have never been this 'not ready' EVER. I always have a plan and follow it...not always as closely as I would like but close enough to feel prepared. Not this time. I have had zero motivation. The weather has been cold and icky. The new puppy needs attention. Life is getting in my way all over the place. I can think of every excuse in the book and will pay for it soon.

So I decided not to waste a beautiful morning....but it was no easy task. I found excuse after excuse not to leave the house...laundry, puppy, dishes, puppy, change clothes, puppy, charge ipod, puppy...the list when on and on. Finally my son said, "Mom when are you leaving?" I knew it was time. I strapped on a water belt and my 'new to me' Garmin and headed out the door determined to run at least 5 miles. It was a perfect morning. The weather was great but I was nervous. Had I dressed properly? Did I remember Gu? Did I apply enough Glide? Every doubt crept in between the earbuds and into my brain.

I started slow and knew I was not going to get much faster....this was not a run about speed. It was about putting one foot in front of the other for 5 miles. I was undecided as to which way to I run out to the path and follow that or do a loop in the neighborhood? Decisions....

I let my feet decide and soon I was headed on a loop I had not run since last summer winding through my neighborhood streets. As a moved forward my legs started to loosen up and so did my mind.

Soon it was time to turn towards home and head further out....I chose to continue on. The great thing about this loop is that I can head home anytime...but I didn't.

The intoxicating smells of spring filled the air ...the hyacinth, laundry, and BACON! The sun was rising higher in the sky and so were my spirits. I kept trudging along...I would love to say there was a spring in my step as well as the air...but that was not the case. I am old and under trained. I am slow. It is all ok...I am at peace with it all.

As a jogged past 2 ladies out for a walk I heard one of them say, "oh to be young again and able to run..." I was reminded that I am not THAT old and I can still matter how slow.

I headed up the last block towards my house dog tired and ready to be done after having run 10 miles. It was not easy nor fast. This run was the run I had waited all winter for...spring.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This morning I was up at 3 courtesy of some hungry puppies. I tried to go back to sleep but found it impossible my mind was racing so rather than fight it I gave in. I got up and dressed and headed out the door for a run. The cold, dark morning air hit me smack in the face like a strong wake up call. I had decided to run alone and when I run alone in the dark I do not listen to music. The sound of the birds chirping was my music.

I ran until my head cleared a bit, my heart was reminded of why I love to run and the sun began to rise. The sense of being alone on a run but part of a larger tribe filled my soul.

I thought about all that had taken place in the last 24 hours. My good wishes and good luck posts to friends running Boston. My computer checks of finish times. My first knowledge of an explosion at the finish line. The frantic checks to see if friends were ok and all that followed. It brought me back to other, similar, events. Days that changed not only me but our country.

Last night after dinner the conversation turned to the events of the day. My 10 year old son asked, "Mom, are you still going to run the marathon this year?"

I hesitated, not out of fear, but uncertainty of how he would respond. I must have hesitated for a moment too long as he then said, "I think you should. And I want to go watch long as daddy is there too."(Daddy is a Chicago Police Officer)
"Really? You think I should? You are not afraid?"

"Nope. Bad things happen everywhere. If we stop doing fun stuff then the bad guys win. Daddy doesn't let the bad guys win, so why should we?"

"Where did you hear that?"

"Some guy on TV but he is right. We can't let the bad guys win."

The subject changed as the Hawks game came on but I was left with a feeling of great pride. I have a wise son.

He got me to thinking. We can't let the bad guys win.

I am a runner. I am a racer. I am part of a tribe of dedicated, caring, generous people like no other. Runners are a unique and special breed.

As runners we know the there is no "phoning it in". We must do the work. Not every run is fun nor great. Lots of runs suck. But it is those hard, craptastic, "suck it up buttercup" runs that allow us to grow, develop and appreciate the great runs. We know that without the bad days, we could not enjoy the good days. We know that each run makes us stronger and ready for the next challenge. We know that each footfall and every mile lead us closer to the finish line and make us more appreciative of the the medals.

I will never qualify for Boston. It is not even a pipe dream for me. I am slower that a herd of turtles going uphill in a snowstorm. I am in awe of those that are fast enough to toe that blue and yellow line. I live vicariously though them. I relish in their triumphs. I hope to one day volunteer for that race and cheer those speed demons. To those that did finish...Wow! Impressive! To those that trained and did not get to cross that finish are alive to run another race. That is a victory sweeter than any finish line or medal. The events in Boston will make us better, stronger runners and racers. We will all run with renewed purpose.

Running and racing may never be the same. As a race organizer I wonder how this will change our sport. As a coach of Girts on the Run I wonder if this will make parents more hesitant to allow girls to participate in this life changing program. As a spectator, I wonder how this will change how I watch racers and how people watch me. As a runner I wonder how this will change the races I run.

As I showered and dressed, I put on my trusty Girls on the Run shirt and first hard earned Chicago Marathon jacket. I will wear both proudly to honor those runners and spectators who were injured or lost their lives and as a sign that I am a member of a very special tribe. I know that I will spend the day answering questions from my students and others that know I run as to how I feel about the events in Boston. I will answer with my prayer of the day...Always remember, Never forget and Don't let the Bad Guys win.
Forward is a pace. Peace.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


  • I was angry, so I went for a run. And things got better.
    I was confused, so I went for a run. And things got better.
    I was exhausted, so I... went for a run. And things got better.
    I was lost, unsure, empty, afraid. Certain that whatever was left of my sanity had snapped, had come untethered and floated away, to a place so high and remote that I would never see it again, and that even if I did, I wouldn't recognize it.
    So I went for a run. And things got better.
    I felt like things could not possibly get worse, so I went for a run. And things got better.
    (Another time, I felt like things could not get much better. I went for a run. Things got much better.)
    After enough miles, over enough runs and enough years, I realized: No matter what, no matter when, or where, or why, I can find my shoes and go for a run and things will get better. And that realization? Just knowing that? It made things better.

    - Mark Remy Runner's World

Sunday, April 7, 2013


The first race of the season is always daunting for me. I never know what to expect. I am always nervous. I never feel prepared enough. I feel out of practice and uncomfortable.

Today was no different. I felt all these things and more. I left my Garmin at home as I really had no expectation of time today. I was just looking forward to getting out and running the first race of the season.

I met up with one of my Sole sisters and we chatted as we waited for the start. Neither of us felt we had trained enough for this race so we both just said we would run for fun. We vowed to stay together unless one of us was having a great day and wanted to take off.

The race began and the nerves gave way to muscle memory. We almost were separated at the start as I made an error but my girl jumped a median so we could stay together. I felt foolish that I had made a beginner error but no matter....we motored on. I felt stiff and slow as we ran without chatting too much.

We got to mile one and she told me we needed to slow down as we were out MUCH to fast. I didn't feel fast. I felt old and slow. But I chugged along. I was not going to slow her down. About the first aide stop, we took a water/walk break. I needed to regroup and so did she. We took off again with a fresh breath filling our lungs. Along the way we encouraged other runners and each other.

Over the bridge and into the sun, we were getting warm and tired. Another short break to catch our breath and we took off again.

Just before aide station 2 I needed to take off my top layer as I was sooo hot. We walked again for a little bit as I put myself together. Off we went again towards the aide station. There, like a beacon of hope, was our friend Tim taking pictures. We posed for a few, had some water and then headed towards the finish. I was feeling so tired and kept apologizing to her for slowing her down. She was my cheerleader reminding me of all the lessons I had taught her as we trained together each summer. As I heard my own words repeated back to me, they began to sink in.

We rounded the corner and headed up Michigan Avenue. Along this stretch, I was feeling a overwhelming sense of gratitude. I was grateful for so many things but at that moment, I was so grateful for friends, especially the one running beside me. She never gave up on me and didn't not allow me to give up on myself.

We prepared ourselves for Mount Roosevelt and the finish. I wanted to walk on the hill so badly but I did not want to disappoint my friend. I slowed my pace but climbed that hill and then saw the finish. We wanted to cross the finish line holding hands but this was not to be. I knew she had gas left in the tank but I was fading. I told her to go and off she went. Watching her take off and finish before me brought tears to my eyes. She never left me and she could have. She didn't let me take the easy way out. She matched me step for step and along the way we found what we had been missing....our mojo and a PR(for me!).

After a big hug, we walked to water looking for another friend of ours. Another big hug and some pictures and the morning was almost over for me.

I walked to my car alone looking out over the stunning skyline of the city thinking of how lucky I am. I am not only lucky to be able to run but to have friends like the ones that supported me today. I am so blessed.

So days we are the cheerleader and some days we need a cheerleader. Today was a good reminder of that and of all my many blessings. I am one lucky girl.



I went for a run last weekend. I needed to get out and head to the trail I like to call home. I ran from my house instead of driving to the trailhead. I needed time alone to focus and get my head together. I needed to find my running mojo that, it seems, has taken an extended vacation.

Along the way I didn't find my mojo but I did find a few things. I found 3 deer lying in the woods watching me huff and puff my way through the miles. I found 3 friends that helped me throw a little water on a wicked witch named Wanda melting her down to a manageable size. I found my heart and lungs as they pumped as hard as my legs. I found my feet as they pounded the pavement. I found a little of me that I had lost over the past few months.




Did you ever break something and then try to put it back together again? It is never really the same, is it? When I was a kid and broke something I always wanted to put it back together well enough so no one would notice. I never wanted people to know I had done something wrong or made a mess. I didn't want to get in trouble.

But what happens when the thing that gets broken is us? What happens when we need to put ourselves back together so no one will notice? Will people notice the cracks and imperfections? Will people notice the messy parts that don't fit together quite like before?