Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I have to admit that I have been a total slacker in the running/working out department. I just have not had the time nor energy to do either and it is not a good thing. I see not only the intake of food (BAD food) increasing and the scale moving in the wrong direction. Last Monday I decided to go for a run mostly for my mental health but that was disastrous. 4 miles in the heat was more than my body and mind could handle. There was walking, tears and even throwing of various items (which I picked up...guilt got the better of me!).  All week I worried about my upcoming race and wondered what would happen once I pinned on my number. I was not ready...and I knew it.

Saturday's race was the Soldier Field 10 miler. This is a race I have run before and really love. It is a great distance along a beautiful course and I finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field. What more could a girl ask for?!  Not much....or so I thought.

The TMI truck was full of my running girls as we took off early for Soldier Field. We parked in the garage, relaxed and waited in the warmth for a while. Eventually we all had to use the restroom and decided it was time to get ready to run. We headed out of the lot and into Soldier Field to take some pictures and go to the bathroom. I had some water and an AcelGel. I was trying something new this race...gel prior to running as opposed to just during the race. I was hoping and praying it would not lead to tummy issues! We waited inside and watched other runners until we could wait no more...it was time to find our corrals.

How it happened I am still not sure but as we walked we were herded into a faster corral than planned. Not to worry...we would be starting sooner thus...finishing sooner! We met some other runners we knew, chatted and waited for the gun to go off....and then we were off and running.

I am not a fan of the first part of the course. We run through the dark tunnel of McCormick Place. It is filled with bumps and holes and uneven pavement. I am always afraid I am going to fall thus I go more slowly in this area. It is scary to run in the dark! Once we exit the tunnel the course opens and we have a beautiful view of the lake and Lake Shore Drive.  About mile 4 I had some water and an orange AcelGel. I love that stuff!  We ran south until about mile 5 and then turned around and ran the Lake Front Path on the return. This is a much narrower part of the course but the the runners have thinned out and it is a tad bit easier to maneuver.  This is one of my favorite parts as I have the Lake on my right shoulder and the city in front of me. I was feeling good and running well at this point. I had lost my running buddies and, in hindsight, this was a good thing for all of us. We could each run our own race.

I was unsure what to expect as far as time goes for this race and was just hoping to finish. Meeting my PR seemed impossible with my lack of training so my goal was to have fun, run well and FINISH. Forward was my pace....I think I looked at my Garmin once but was so confused I gave up trying to figure it out.

At mile 7 there was water and a DJ. As I got closer I heard Francesca Batistelli's song, "It's Your Life". This is my ringback on my phone and a sort of anthem for me. It is not a common song that people listen to...so I was shocked to hear it. As I ran up to the DJ I asked if this was his choice of music and he said yes!  I hugged him and told him thanks. One of my Sole Sisters has said that she thinks I need to hug at least one person during each race and I think she is right. I get so much from those moments! That song was just what I needed to hear at that moment. I was starting to doubt myself and my ability to finish. I was walking more now than running and I was tired.

I figured I had come this far and only had 3 miles to go...I had to finish. I could finish. Running around the back of McCormick place the crowds start to increase and the momentum really picks up. I was going to leave it all on the course today. I was not going down without a fight today. Leaving the path and heading onto the street then into the parking tunnel was just the motivation I needed. I knew I was almost there. I ran out of the tunnel and was tempted to stop and take a picture but changed my mind. I wanted the finish. I kicked in to high gear and raced towards the finish line and crossed it with a little twirl,  a curtsy and a huge smile.  I looked down at the Garmin and saw my time. It was faster than I thought but then again, I am still learning how to use it so I was not sure if it was right.

I caught my breath, took a few pics and soon my running buddies were by my side. We got some water and headed towards the BLING!!

We were surprised to find that this year, the 10th anniversary year of the race, that things were a tad bit different. This year the people

giving us our medals were active duty service members. As the young man put the medal around my neck and said, "Congratulations! You are amazing!" I started to cry. I was not amazing...he was.  I was no hero...he was. I didn't deserve a medal...he did. It was a moment, and a young man,  I will not soon forget.

When we arrived home, I checked my time. I had PRed by 3 whole minutes!!  Not seconds...MINUTES!  WOW! What a shock and surprise. However, the PR paled in comparison to the moment that young man gave me my medal. I am forever grateful to him and others like him for their service to our country. I am forever grateful to those who have fought and died to protect all I hold dear. I am forever grateful to those who have more courage than I every day...they are the heroes  They deserve the medals.


I did not write the essay below but only wish I had. When I read it, it was as if the author had read not only my mind but my heart. The Woods is a sacred, special place for my for many reasons. Someday I will be able to articulate those reasons as well as Dave Cox.

"They look like old-fashioned pot metal with appropriate signs of age: scrapes, dents and paint blemishes. Those gates at the entrance of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods are signs of protection, along with a sense of strength and security.

If you look around, there’s nothing unusually striking about the surroundings: aged brick walls at the gateway, granite signs identifying the Sisters of Providence and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as permanent dwellers. Age-old trees form a canopy along the main drive. A small bungalow stands as sentry off to one side.
But, just cross that threshold. Move through those gates. Something happens. Some explain it as a pinch of magic dust that flutters down to greet visitors, especially first-timers. Where does it come from? What is it? How does it change you?
That special feeling stays with you. You know you are in a special place: physically, emotionally and spiritually. You can sense the peace. You are in awe of the natural beauty. You embrace the spirituality. You feel like you are home.
“For those who have never visited Saint Mary’s, I say you need to drive through those gates and no words need to be spoken, for instantly you feel the presence of specialness that will always remain tucked away in your heart,” said Jeanne Stanbaugh, assistant executive director of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau, who has a significant role in promoting the Woods as a destination for visitors.
“Sixteen years ago, I first entered the gates at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. To this day, each time I return and re-enter the gates, I am totally at peace. It’s like coming home,” she said.
Maybe it’s not magic dust at all. Maybe it’s your first blessing as you step onto holy ground."

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Ask me why I coach Girls on the Run and I will give you many reasons. I think it is selfish as I get more than I give most days but there are days that stun and amaze even me. There are days that bring me to my knees thanking God for bringing me to this program at this time in my life.

I have a really small group of third graders this season but it has been great in many ways. These girls  are really needy in so many ways and are not girls that normally ‘hang out’ together on a regular basis. Monday one of the girls came in looking so very sad. The other girls asked her what was wrong and she didn’t want to talk about it. So we started on the lesson(I feel….) and soon she raised her hand and asked us if she could give a situation. I said yes. Well …then she opened up like a flood. She was being teased and called really vile names. Some of the students had started to gang up on her and she was feeling so overwhelmed. She was terrified to tell her teacher for fear of making the situation worse. She did not want to talk to her parents as they would go to the teacher, again making it worse in her eyes. I sat in our circle just stunned that this little body was holding so much inside. Before  either coach had a chance to collect our thoughts and give her suggestions, the other girls started. First they started to hug her one by one as they told her they were there to help. The suggestions came one by one. The swell of protectiveness for her grew. The girls developed a signal for each other when they needed help whether it was on homework or from a bully. The girls composed a letter to the classroom teacher requesting a meeting to discuss the issue. The girls requested that I ‘take a walk’ into their classroom to check on things later in the day and if all was well I would get a ‘sparklefingers’ if not… a sad face.  If I got a sad face, then we would move to step 2 where the 2 coaches would help and get involved if nothing was getting better. Yes, we spent a longer time talking than planned but the mood was amazing. The feeling of empowerment…WOW!

Well, We all met yesterday for GOTR and things are looking up. I did ‘take a walk’ on Tuesday and got not only sparkle fingers but a glowing smile. I spoke with the teacher privately who thanked both coaches for our help with the situation which she will now monitor more closely. The girls all said they feel stronger than before. They all seem to really walk a bit taller and are so supportive of each other. I shudder to think of how things would be different if the girls did not have a place to share and learn life long lessons in self confidence. I am grateful I am allowed to provide such a place to these girls.  I am grateful for Girls on the Run.


Saturday, May 4, 2013


Once upon a time there were 4 runner girls. They decided to run a Half Marathon on the other side of the Cheddar Curtain in Kenosha. 2 had trained and trained well for this adventure. The other 2 …not so much. Ok, not really at all…at least not in any serious ‘follow a training plan and run consistently” kind of way.

The adventure began at 5am as the TMI truck pulled out and headed north. As we drove, we were treated to the most beautiful, colorful sunrise. It was just magnificent. The drive was easy and plans for the day were discussed…as well as other topics…but what is talked about in the TMI truck, stays in the TMI truck.

We arrived, parked and prepped. All of us love this race as it is easy to get to, parking is close and free, the bathrooms plentiful, the scenery stunning, and there is Great beer at the end! After we had made the final choices as to what to wear and what to carry, we headed to the start only to find many of our friends from running group. We all started together but soon my pal, Shorty, (names have been changed to protect the innocent) and I were on our own. We had decided on doing a run/walk as the goal was just to finish. We started fast and strong. This was going to be a good day.

About Mile 2 one of our pals running the full marathon came up on us and we chatted a bit. I stopped to take a photo of the lake…it was too pretty.

It was about mile 3 and my playlist was on shuffle as Roma Downey’s , An Irish Blessing, began to play as we passed a beautiful old cemetery then the race took on new meaning. There was a group of spectators lining the course and one was holding a sign that said, “Run Strong”. It was the sign that got my attention but what struck me was the young woman holding it and cheering. She was bald. I ran over to her and hugged her tight. As I hugged her she said, “ you can do this ….because I can’t…” “YES! You can I replied as I took off running…tears streaming down my face. I caught up to Shorty and she was crying too. We both decided that there was going to be no bitchin’. No moaning. No whining. We would finish the race REGARDLESS!

We ran though the quaint downtown area of Kenosha to the cheers of the spectators and headed out towards the Lake and Carthage College. This is a tough part of the course as the spectators thin out to almost nothing, the pavement is pitted and uneven, and the breeze off the Lake pushes me back just enough to make moving forward a tad more challenging. Oh…did I mention that this is also the hillier part of the course? This is also the most gorgeous part of the course as far as scenery. The long stretches along the Lake remind me of one of the reasons I run. I mean, would I have seen the lighthouse and coastline otherwise? Probably not. As we came up on the turn around, we saw our friends, Speedy and Cheesy. They were running strong and looking to PR. It was good to see them, as well as other runners we knew.

About mile 8 I was starting to feel the burn. The wall was coming…I could see it and feel it. I was doing all that I could to push it off. Shorty had to use the bathroom after mile 9 so I told her I would just walk and she could catch up….well just the thought of the bathroom made me have to go and when I realized all the stalls were full, I went to the Men’s side. Minutes later we were on our way to the last leg…the last 3 miles.

As we headed back into the downtown area of Kenosha, the spectators were back, as was the polka band. We are in Wisconsin, after all and I mean really…where else are you going to find a canning and pie shop on the main street?! I rounded a corner and there it was…the Wall. I hit it hard and it was hard to breathe. I had slowed down and Shorty had started to speed up. I didn’t have to tell her to head on and run her own pace..she was doing that on her own leaving me to find a way past the Wall.

I mustered the energy to finish…I had come this far….quitting or giving up was not an option. I caught up to Shorty and we ran a bit together and then off she went. As I arrived at the turn around, a friend running the full marathon passed. We hugged for a minute and then I sent him on ahead for another 13.1 miles. I turned and headed towards the last mile. Now I was walking and running in equal parts and not very fast but I was still moving forward.

Shorty and I rounded the last corner and she took off. We were almost there…the finish. I ran strong the last .3 and was speeding up as I caught sight of the finish line. I crossed the finish line and got my medal from a wonderful young man who said, “Awesome job, tutu Lady!” and met Shorty for water and CHEESE!

We met up with Cheesy and Speedy only to find out that Cheesy did hit her PR! We had a yummy beer (I have to find out what they were serving because it was AWESOME!) and a brat and headed to the car…to head to the Brat Stop.

We devoured all things grilled and fried washing it all down with sudsy, delicious beer. You have not lived until you have eaten fried cheese curds at the Brat Stop! We bought some beer and cheese before starting the journey home. We laughed and told more stories and talked the whole way home. It was just what I needed today…what I needed all week.

I was surprised to arrive home to a clean house. My girls had spent the morning cleaning! YEA! A walk with the dogs and a hot shower made the morning complete. I still wonder about the woman at mile 3. I would love to thank her for empowering my run today. I would love to repay the favor and encourage her on her journey. She will be in my thoughts and prayers……What a good day….