Monday, October 20, 2014


Moments in time. Miles and moments. Each year I write a full recap of my marathon adventure mostly for myself but also so that others can share in miles and moments that make up the marathon.

My mantra is “Forward is a Pace”. As long as I am moving forward….I am moving in the right direction. Each year that mantra gets me from the start to the finish as some runs are tougher than others.  This year I moved forward and savored the moments that made up each mile more than ever.

I didn’t sleep well Saturday night so when the alarm sounded at 3:30 on Sunday morning, I was already really awake. I just had to pull myself out of bed and get dressed.  At 5am my husband and I picked up my friend, Beth, and he drove us to the hotel where we would find our running group. 

Our group  prepared, chatted and released a little nervous energy. My pal, Steve,  lead a few of us in prayer and then we began our walk to the starting corrals.  Once in the corrals, we found a few other friends and began the countdown to the start by tossing our ‘extra layer’.

Soon the gun sounded and we were off and running…..
The first few miles are through downtown. I love this part of the course as the crowds are thick and loud.  Each year I allow people to choose a mile that they would like me to run for them and I dedicate that mile to that individual. I also ask each of my students for a song and put together a large playlist. The songs and dedicated miles are a good way for me to focus my running and gives me something to think about while covering 26.2 miles. The first mile was for a running and faith friend, Marian,  who supports Team World Vision so I spent the first mile looking for the cheering section for TWV. When I found them…I gave them each a hug, thanking them for supporting all runners!

I was moving well through the downtown area of the city and the miles just seemed to fall away as I thought of my Friend, Melissa,  who was running her first marathon as well as cousin-in-law(is that a thing? If not…I am making it one!), Carrie,   another mom of many who is set to run her own first 26.2 in the coming weeks.  The long training miles they logged  would not compare to event day….and I was so excited for them.

Earlier that morning, I received a notice  from my pal, Tim,  also a race day staff member,  that he had left a special message for Beth and me at mile 5. I was looking forward to this…and yes, I stopped in the middle of the course to take a photo…much to the dismay of the other runners! Thinking of my cousin, Melissa and her boys, my own kids, the children of friends and the kids I teach got me through the zoo  and to mile 6 where I saw a teacher friend, Kathleen. She had told me that she would be wearing a bright orange hat at the water stop….and I could see her from a ½ a mile away…a vision!  She gave me water, a hug and took my sweaty, icky gloves with glee and sent me on my way. 

About mile 7 I came upon a team of runners who had slowed to a walk. I noticed that there were guides on either side of a younger man who was walking so I slowed to a walk beside them. I asked their names and about the logo on the shirts they were wearing. The athlete’s name was Jeff Hobbs. He was fascinating. As I walked with them I learned his story. His goal was to be the first person with spastic cerebral palsy to run the marathon. He was walking at that point due to some pain. We walked, he talked and I listened. I eventually took a picture and continued on my journey.

Entering Andersonville and Boys town is one of my favorite parts of the course.  There is always one person in the same spot every year with a sign that reads, “Do Epic S**t!!” I love that! Running this part of town thinking of my BRF (Best Running Friend), Sarah, and others in my group, reminded me how lucky I am to be able to do this race every year. Running has given me many gifts…some of those gifts are my lifelong friends. Heading into Lakeview, I got a tap on the shoulder. “Hey!  I know you!  You are my dad’s friend…the Tutulady from Long Beach!”  I turned to see Hal Higdon’s daughter!  We ran together for a few steps and talked and soon she was far ahead of me! Lakeview is also my husband’s district. Each year I thank every police officer I see on the course but in his district….all the cops get a hug!

At Mile 10, I noticed familiar shirts and realized it was members of the support team for Jeff Hobbs. I told them what an amazing guy he was and continued on  heading towards Old Town.  Entering Old Town, “Elvis” was singing “Caught in a Trap” and I had to laugh. That was the song my husband gave me for the playlist and a joke we have about our 20 year marriage! And then there it was...a reminder from my yoga teacher that I needed....Breathe! I could hear her voice in my head...Just Breathe....

The next few miles were somewhat of a blur as I was so looking forward to mile 14. I was passed by several Girls on the Run SoleMates and other members of my running group.  They all said hello and gave words of encouragement as they passed. They all kept me moving in the right direction.

Finally, I could see Mile 14 and the Girls on the Run Cheer team tent!  I was so excited to see my pal, Lida, get a hug and stretch for a second.  She promised to text my daughter and let her know I was ½ way done! This mile was for the Dempsey family , some of my biggest GOTR supporters, a  fact was not lost on me as I turned and headed west.

Out around the United Center and back towards the city I was thinking about a little boy named Trevor,  who is beloved by my daughters.  All the sports he would watch and teams he would learn to love as he grows…with my girls cheering for him all the way!

Back into the city and through Greektown towards UIC. There on the right was a huge group of Lithuanians…my people….waving the Flag and cheering the runners.  I yelled, “Labas!”(Hello) and one young man ran over and stuck a small flag in my hat. I said, “Aciu” (Thank you) and kept going.

It is this back half of the marathon that things get tough and I was starting to feel  the miles adding up in my body.  My back was starting to become increasingly painful and I was needing walk brakes every so often. Running through Little Italy, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Father Rob, my good friend. I have said before that I do not believe in coincidences, that I believe in God-incidences and this was one of them. Every marathon…every race….that Father Rob and I run together we always see each other.  We may not start or finish together but he always seems to find me. 40,000 runners and he finds me.  He appears when I need him most every time. We ran a bit together and then he went ahead. Rounding the corner at Taylor and Ashland, as I thanked a cop, I realized it was one of my husband’s long time friends, Mark. He gave me a tight hug and sent me on my way, yelling that he would call my husband!

I looked up and there was Keith,  my running group leader…arms wide open waiting to give me a sweaty hug!  I told him my back was hurting and I had to slow down.  Seconds later my friend Beth along with 2 others from our group approached. They were looking strong and running strong. I tried to keep up with them but could not and they went on ahead.
I ran through Pilsen tired and in pain.  The pain in the small of my back would become excruciating and then I would walk until it subsided.  I looked down and saw a feather…a symbol of  my dear friend Molly, as well as something bigger than me …. I knew I had to keep going despite the pain.  Passing my old apartment at 18th and Halsted, I heard my name. I turned to see a young woman crying. Rebecca  is a  GOTR SoleMate that I consider a friend. She was in as much pain as I was so I put my arm around her and we moved forward together…one step at a time.
We got to Chinatown together and I knew 2 of my friends, Sarah and Amy,  would be there so I started to look for them. Before I could see them, they had jumped onto the course and were on either side of me. Boy did I need them!  The pain was getting worse but I knew that I could finish…maybe not fast but I could finish.  They ran with me while I  yelled and complained and whined and then they just let me be quiet. They knew just what I needed and for that I am forever grateful. I do not know how I would have gotten through that stretch without them.

As I turned to see them go, I realized that we had lost Rebecca. I looked but could not see her so I kept going. 

At Mile 23, I got a text from my friend, Melissa,  that she had to stop running at mile 17. She was devastated but knew that she had to stop for her health. She apologized but I could not have been more proud of her at that moment. She had done what I had taught her from the very beginning…Listen to Your Body.  I pushed on for her and then I heard my name again. There were 2 of her best friends waving and cheering.  It was another “God-incidence. “ Christina  offered me snacks and water but I stopped long enough to take a picture and kept going. I was almost done.

Michigan Avenue is a long lonely stretch of the course. It forces all of us runners to dig deep and finish strong. I was running in the middle of the road when a man in front of me grabbed his leg and then fell to the ground. He had a friend with him and I saw emergency personnel heading towards him so I pressed on.  This last mile was for two of the strongest women I know, my daughter, Courtney, and my friend, Kelly.  I summoned all their collective strength and pushed…..

Rounding the corner to head up Mount Roosevelt, the woman beside me was struggling as well. So I said. “Let’s do this!” and we plowed on up the hill…slow and steady. The man that had fallen earlier, passed us running fast and within minutes, dropped down to the ground again, this time he did not get up.

Before I knew it, I crested the hill and rounded the corner. I could see the finish line. There is was…..I just had to get there…just a little further.  I looked up and moved forward, as painful as it was, to cross that finish line. My goal was to cross the finish line on my own 2 feet and with a smile on my face….and I had done it!  I had finished my 6th marathon!

I walked a few steps and a kind young man wrapped a HeatSheet around me and then a wonderful older gentleman congratulated me and hung a medal around my neck.  I moved towards water and my phone buzzed. It was a text from my son, “You did it, Mom! You finished!  I am so proud of you!  I love you!”  I started to cry.

I headed towards water but found beer instead….and boy did it taste amazing!  Cold and crisp and refreshing! A little later I had some water, a banana and some more beer as I headed back to the hotel to meet me running group.

I looked at my time and was so disappointed in myself. This was not what I had trained for… I had trained to run a little faster and stronger. But as I walked….I realized that time only mattered to me.  I was still upset and in pain when I reached the hotel. I sat, had another beer (yup…still tasted just as good as the first!) and  I listened to some very wise friends.  It had not really sunk in that I finished my 6th marathon. It had not sunk in that despite my personal disappointment in myself, I had done something not a lot of people even think about doing ONCE.

I put on my sandals, packed up my gear and headed down Michigan Avenue to where my daughter would pick me up. Yes, I really walked more miles! It felt painfully good and was just what I needed at that point.  I needed time to clear my head and move my sore body. My daughter, Katherine, and her pal, picked me up and drove me home….leaving  the city they yelled out the windows to anyone within earshot, “Marathoner on Board!’ “Look out!  Our Mom is a marathon Runner”  I laughed until
I found this on my
doorstep when I got home
my belly hurt as much as my back!

This was, in fact, my slowest marathon. Could I have run faster? Sure. Could I have pushed through the pain a little better? Sure.  Should I not have walked with Jeff Hobbs or others? Sure. I could have done all of those things but doing so would mean giving up the moments that made up the miles of  this marathon and make me who I am.  I am not fast…never have been and never will be. I am out there to have fun and encourage people. I am out there to help others smile and perhaps even laugh while running the miles. I am out there to inspire others and be inspired.

Moment by moment, mile by mile, step by step, forward was my pace for 26.2 miles.  With the encouragement of friends, family and supporters, the #tutulady helped other runners laugh and smile and move forward.  Would I change anything about that day? Not a chance.  Every moment…every “ God-incident” …is worth more to me than a faster finish time. Every marathon is different and we make the best of what we are given on that day.  It took a while, and the help of some very wise friends, to help me realize that fact.  Finally, it had sunk in that I really had finished my 6th marathon. 

This year I realized that life does not always go as we plan so we need to take what we are given,  lean on others and keep moving forward, leaving the rest in God’s hands.   Life is full of moments that challenge or change us. Moments where we are forced to  change or be changed..  Life is full of moments so it is up to us to make the most of each one.  We can let the moments pass or savor each one.  
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 6 TIME marathon FINISHER!

Afterwards.....I found out later that Jeff Hobbs did not finish the marathon this year. He became injured and had to stop at mile 12. Here is the story. My heart breaks for him...watching this was gutwrenching.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Last night after a tough 9 mile run in the cold mist with an aching hip, I arrived home and changed into dry clothes. I poured myself a glass of wine sat down, totally exhausted. My 15YO came over and said, "Mom, you look tired. Do you have time to check some homework for me?" She rarely asks for homework help so I said sure. What she needed me to check was an assignment on the most influential woman in her life. She showed me the paper with the assignment and then had me watch the video.  I did not realize how deeply GOTR and my involvement in GOTR has effected her.
I cried myself to sleep last night...happy tears....tears of gratitude that this program has not only changed me but changed her as well.
Influential Woman Video

Sunday, August 10, 2014


What is the Red Boot Coalition? A group of people committed to change. The mission is to unabashedly and courageously bring joy, compassion, love, vulnerability, unity, humility, reflection and strength to the United States political system. How do we do that? Good question. 
Strong, Joyful. Heart-driven. Authentic. Compassionate. Reflective. Genuine. Whole, Innovative. All words that describe Red Booters. Red Booters don't have to wear their boots to be noticed. It is a pervasive attitude. However, I hope to someday have my own pair of sassy red boots for these big feet of mine! 
The driving force of this movement is Molly Barker. She has decided to take the month of August and travel the country, meeting with small groups of people for discussion on this topic. 
When she said she was coming to Chicago, I jumped at the chance to be a apart of this discussion. I wanted not only to meet Molly but also to find out more about this movement. Another woman and myself volunteered to cohost the event and she volunteered her home. 
We both invited people, and were concerned not many would show. I mean, really, who wants to give up a Friday night to talk about politics? Molly assured us that no matter who/how many it would work out and we trusted her.
Once everyone arrived, we had a nice mix of ages (20 somethings to 50 somethings). We sat in a circle and Molly began. She told us how she came to the place she was at this moment and why this was important. And then she opened the floor to discussion with a question...what qualities do you want in your perfect leader? 
The answers varied and the conversation twisted and turned to how we each felt about different political topics from term limits to lobbyists to campaign spending. Never once was a voice raised. Never once was someone challenged. Never once was there a negative vibe in the room...and we all had different views. Molly continued to ask difficult questions and push us for deeper answers. One thing that we realized is that everyone wants to be accepted and to belong and sometimes people step into a 'box' to conform leaving their own values and beliefs behind.
About an hour into the conversation, a woman asked, "What's the take away?  I'm tired of going to meetings to discuss another meeting. What can I do? What is the action plan?" So we talked about that and what that would be, what that would look like for each of is really different for each of us.
As the evening came to a close, the circle broke apart  and we each sat in smaller groups, continuing our conversations as people dwindled and headed home.
My cohost and I cleaned up and said goodbye to everyone. Molly was last to leave with me and we each got into our cars. I drove home alone thinking of all that I had heard that night. That nagging question, "What's the takeaway?" rang in my ears. What was I going to do? How was I going to take what I had learned and apply it to my life? I went to bed with ...what can I my head.
The next morning I had my group long run. My group loves to eat so we usually talk food as the miles click away but that morning someone asked why I looked tired. I jumped on the opportunity to tell some of my group about my evening and about the Coalition. Then I started with the same question, "What qualities do you want in your perfect leader?" That lead to what is broken in the system and what frustrates us. I talked politics and listened to various group members for about 5 miles. It was an amazing discussion and we each learned more about one another. The conversation soon turned to food again but I was good with has to have something to look forward to ...eating...after a 10 mile run.
I realized that we all need to talk to one another. We need to really listen more and respect one another's viewpoints. We don't all have to agree but we need to listen and learn. My take away... to ask questions, to LISTEN to the answers and to learn from others.
Molly is a real visionary. If anyone can bring about change, it would be her. If she can get little girls to believe in themselves as the founder of Girls on the Run, she can get adults to believe in the promise of change in politics. Someone once told me that Molly is a lot like Peter Pan....she makes you believe. Well, I believe.
Red Boots, Strong Coffee, Change the World.
Forward is a pace. Peace.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I never planned to be a runner. I never liked working out or running or anything fitness related. I liked my "watch what I eat" and "look at those crazy gym/running people" lifestyle. Running did not come naturally nor easy for me. Each run was a struggle. As I got more confident, I signed up for a few races in the fall and put running to rest for the winter. Come spring I saw an ad for a race called "WonderGirl". It sounded like something I could do and not feel intimidated plus it was on the lakefront. Perfect. So I signed up. When I got to the race I didn't realize that my life was to change that very day. I ran alone but felt more at home than ever. The "Girl Power" was amazing and the support phenomenal. I didn't realize then that this was what I had been looking for and longing for all my life.  I wanted to know more but was not ready to make the effort.
A year later, I ran the same race with my oldest 2 girls and while we were hot, miserable and chafed, we were so happy! I felt like I had never felt before...called to know more, do more and take action. I contacted GOTR that week and began the process of bringing the program to my school. It was an uphill battle as it was a new program to the area and was not in many schools. But I pushed and by the time my youngest daughter was in 3rd grade, we had a program and she would be in the first 'class'. My older girls came to each session to help and got the lessons by osmosis but not like my baby girl. She soaked up the GOTR messages like a sponge. She could not wait until the next session so that she could learn more.
Fast forward 7 years and we are still deeply involved in the program. By this time I had read all there was to know about the Foundress, Molly Barker. By some twist of fate Molly and I became friends on social media. I sent her a message thanking her for not only changing my life, but the lives of my daughters and other girls as well. We would comment periodically on each others posts and often say one day we would sit and have coffee together.  I longed for that day. I wanted to hug this woman and thank her in person for all she has done for me and others.
That day was yesterday. Molly came to town to discuss her newest venture, The Red Boot Coalition. Another woman and I were cohosting the event together in this woman's home. I was to arrive early to have dinner with my cohost and Molly.
As I got dressed, I was nervous as to what to wear and asked my kids. My 11 year old son said, "Mom!  Its Molly!  She doesn't care what wear!  She wants to see YOU!" I knew at that moment that my son also got the GOTR messages by osmosis as well!  So I got dressed and headed to dinner. I thought I would be nervous and my drive would be one filled with anxiety...but I was strangely calm.
Pink Boots inspired by
the Red Boots
I arrived and was informed that Molly was running a little late so my cohost and I  began eating and getting to know one another better. Soon Molly arrived and I was thrilled!  She entered the room and we hugged...but not one of those "Oh my GOD! I am so stoked to finally meet you!" hugs. It was the kind of hug you give your best old girlfriend that you haven't seen in a while...that calm, quiet, "I'm so happy to see you again" hug. It was funny, the moment I was in her presence, I felt like I was with my best all know that friend...the one that you could see every day and never get tired of that is the same one that you can go for weeks without talking to yet pick up right where you left off? That is just how I felt.  It was so familiar. We sat together with some others around a kitchen table and talked some more before other guests started arriving.
Once we moved to our meeting space, I sat next to her and listened as she spoke to the group. We all talked and shared ideas for a few hours. It was amazing. Afterwards,  we all chatted in small groups about different things but ya know that feeling when you are at a party with your bestie and you don't need to be want to spend time on others because just knowing that your bestis is there sharing space and breathing the same air is good enough for that moment? Yup...that was the feeling I had. I am not sure if Molly felt the same but that's ok. I was in a space of peaceful bliss.
Molly and Me!
It was finally time to call it a night and people started to leave. I walked to my car after saying goodbye and as I turned around, there was Molly. We stood together in the dark driveway for a moment. You all know those final moments at a party that you spend with your friend... the last words and final hug you want just shared between the 2 of you? She shared some words of wisdom and we hugged one last time. As she walked away, I wish I could have snapped a photo but the image is seared in my memory...she headed off in the dark to her car ringed in the light of the perfect full moon looking like an angel. My angel. My friend. The one that my life. Forward is a pace. Peace.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


A few years ago I started running. One of the first races I ran was a Girls on the Run race. From that moment I was hooked. I was determined to bring this program to my school. I worked hard to convince the powers that be that this was a worthwhile endeavor.
I began coaching when my youngest daughter was in 3rd grade. I could see the different it made to her at that young age and knew it had to continue.
To say that Girls on the Run has changed my life is an understatement. I have poured my heart and soul into this program. I am better every day because of this program.
This spring I was asked to help with a video to promote GOTR. To say that I was honored and humbled is an understatement!  Not only did they want me but they wanted my daughter...the one who started the ball rolling! To hear how the program has affected her brought me to tears. It is difficult to put into words the depth and breath of the changes this program has brought to the girls I have coached, my own daughters and to me. This directors of the video have found a way to take my heart and put it on film. I could not be more proud.
We held a screening last week for the girls and I wrote about seeing this for the first time with them here.

Please help every girl experience this lifechanging program and win a Garmin. Make a donation here.
All donations made to this personal page between August 1-29 will be entered into a drawing for a new Garmin10.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


The trifecta that I completed a few weeks ago was seen by some as 'not an official" triathlon so I decided to register for a REAL triathlon. It was something I had always wanted to do but was afraid to try. I had every excuse in the book to not do this but realized that the time had step beyond excuses. How can I expect my children and my Girls on the Run to step beyond themselves and out of their comfort zone if I could not do the same?
I trained for each part (however, not enough). I knew that I could complete the parts of the tri and finish. I didn't expect to be first. It was the transitions that frightened me so I just focused on moving forward.
I told only one of my BRF's that I was thinking of registering and she decided to do it as well...boy was I glad. I didn't have to do this alone. We decided to keep it our secret, only confiding in a few people for advice and support, just in case we decided to chicken out!
As the day drew closer, I grew more nervous. I also realized that I would have to give up participating in a treasured tradition with my husband. This year he would ride alone and so would I. Knowing that I was nervous and sad to miss a long ride with him, he took me out on the Harley the night before the race. I thought he just wanted to take my mind off we rode I realized he was taking me to the race site. He took me through he bike course I would ride the following day and past the start/finish lines. To some that may not seem romantic but to me, better than jewelry and flowers.
Race morning dawned warm and sticky. My BRF showed up and we drove our trucks to the race....better with each toting our own bike. Upon arrival, we figured out check in, timing and body marking then headed to the transition area.
We began to set up our spaces and chatted with others. I think the fact that we were more towards the back that people were more open to helping us and making suggestions. We met some wonderful participants of all ages before we realized it was time to line up.
We headed to the pool area to wait for our start time. This tri began with a pool swim and since I was a tad stronger swimmer than my BRF, I started a little before her. It was nerve wracking to watch the faster swimmers start and see their speed in the water.
It was soon my turn to get in the water and I had a mild panic attack...that was disrupted by the start whistle. I was off and swimming...with a swimmer 15 seconds in front of me and another right behind. There was no slowing down or stopping now. The fact that we had to go under the lanes markers was a little scary as I took in water a few times ... due to another's strokes as I was coming up for air. I jockeyed for position with 3 other swimmers, passing and being passed as the water churned with each of my strokes....and before I knew it....I was at the ladder to get out!

I headed out to transition a little more slowly as I was terrified to fall. I got to my bike, tore off my top, pulled on pants, my GOTR tank, shoes and socks and my helmet. I had a little trouble dislodging my bike from the rack and then headed towards the bike course. Once on the bike, I drank some water and got situated. I was passed by faster bikes and riders but it didn't bother me like I thought it would. I was on the bike riding in the sun. All the volunteers I passed, cheered and were so positive and I started to thank them. each cross point, I said thank you and they all seemed surprised. As a finished my first of the 2 laps on the bike, I was passed by my good friend Fr. Rob. He is one of my Tri heroes and the one I promised I would do this. He told me to keep going and I pedaled harder through lap number 2.
As I finished the second lap, I realized that I was 2/3 done with this challenge...but the hardest part was yet to come.
I headed into the transition area for the last time, racked my bike, and pulled on my tutu. Yup, I was going to wear my tutu!  As the morning progressed it had gotten hotter and more humid. The sun was out in full force now and the run was in full sun.  My legs were shaking coming off the bike and it took me a good portion of the first mile to find a pace I could manage. I knew it was going to be a run/walk but was ok with that. As a ran the out and back course, people that passed me smiled and many commented on the tutu. I guess not many people wear tutus for triathlons! I think i heard everything from, "Wow, you get best dressed!" to "Hey, nice skirt". I was just glad people were smiling!
At the end of the first mile, my buddy Rob passed me again on his way to the finish. "You got this!" he yelled as we passed.
The middle of the run has a fairly large hill and by then I was tired but as I rounded the corner at teh bottom, there was Asian drummers playing and cheering!  "Hey, Pretty lady!  Come on now....up the hill!" How could a walk now? Ok...up the hill I climbed...albeit slowly! Down the other side and around the path. I got a bit confused at one point as the course was not all that well marked and a spectator told me which way to go....around and BACK UP THE HILL! UG!  but there they were again...drumming away!  "Here comes the pretty lady again....up you go!"
And I knew I was into the home stretch! this was the final push...only a mile left to go. Soon I could hear the announcer at the finish so I picked up my pace. There it was...THE FINISH!  And when I looked up there was Fr. Rob too!

As I crossed the finish line, I could hear the announcer say my name and I knew I had done it...I finished!  As soon as I crossed, I was mobbed by was putting the medal on my neck, one was handing me water and one was taking the timing chip off my ankle....and then there was my pal hugging me!
I shocked myself!  I did it!  I finished! What an amazing feeling!
As I waited for my BRF, I watched and cheered others to finish. It was like my first race all over again. My BRF soon came into view and crossed the finish line as well with the same feeling of elation!
We got something to eat, chatted with other finishers, took a million pictures and headed back to the transition area to pack our things.
It was over in a flash but the feeling of satisfaction will last forever. We are officially TRIATHLETES!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This would look
great on your wrist!
Who wants a brand new Garmin Forerunner 10? Actually WHO DOESN'T?? 
Well here is your chance to help me help girls and WIN a new Garmin!! 
For every $10 donated to GOTR via my donation page  by August 31, 2014 your name will be entered into a raffle to win the Garmin. 
Donate $20 and get 2 raffle tickets. $30=3 tickets. The larger the donation the more chances to win. Winner will be notified on September 1, 2014. 
Just could have a new Garmin just in time all your fall races or give as a Christmas gift!!
To make a donation and enter the raffle:

Help this Superhero help girls find their own inner SUPERHERO!
To learn more about Girls on the Run, feel free to contact me or go to

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Today I was given the opportunity to run a race as a coach. I have run with my Girls on the Run as a buddy but this time I was a coach for other runners. It was an opportunity I was going to make the most of ...
My BRF (best running friend) and I headed down to the race early. She was chosen to lead the 'back of the packers' the 3:30's. I know it sounds like an easy job but run/walking a race and keeping people moving forward is no easy task.
I headed to the GOTR tent to get my bib and meet the other Solemates. We headed to the start corrals together and soon the race began. I knew I was not going to get an "official' time so I just had it in my head that this was my long training run for the week....boy was I wrong.
The first mile had me running up on a girl that was already walking. She looked at me as I asked if she was ok and said, "This is harder than I thought" I told her that she had a long way to go and she just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We ran together a bit and soon she was off in front of me.
My Cousin and his wife
I just kept moving and grooving forward. I crossed the bridge at the Chicago River and as I crossed wacker, I looked up. I saw a man with a camera that looked familiar. I looked again as I got was my oldest cousin who I have not seen in about 4 years (maybe more!). They live out of state and there he was!  He called his wife over and you snapped a pic. Their oldest daughter was running the 1/2 and they were looking for her!  We hugged again and I was off and moving.
ABC& News Anchors
A few minutes later, I ran past the ABC7 tv studio and 2 reporters were out front. "Hey!  Can we take a picture with you?" "Sure" I replied. The female reporter looked at me and said, "Can I touch your tutu?" I laughed and we took our pictures and I took off again. As I continued running I noticed a young lasy all by herself on the side of the street with her shoe off...not a good sign. I slowed and asked if she was ok. She told me that her foot kept falling asleep. New laces and shoes that were too small were the problems I figured out after listening to her. We loosened her laces and started running together. She felt better as she was alone at the race and soon she was off ahead of me.
I ran for a while just handing out high fives and encouragement as I moved through the miles. At mile 5, one of the girls from my training group ran up next to me. We ran together for a while and chatted. We both realized that this was not going to be easy. It was humid and we were in it to finish. I lost her at the water but kept moving. She had told me where her husband and baby daughter were  going to be so I was on the lookout and soon I saw them. I told them she was right behind me....and soon, there she was...running right to her daughter!  It was so sweet to see them together and the boost she got from seeing them!
I left her and headed on forward to soon be joined by one of my fellow Solemates. We ran together and talked a little, getting to know each other but she was so much faster than me and I could not keep up so off she went.
I stopped to talk to a few girls that were starting to cramp and had not had enough sports drink. They made it to water and were determined to finish. I saw many struggling runners at miles 9-10. More and more people were beginning to walk.
At Mile 11 a man and woman came up beside me and we ran together for a bit. I told the man he was my hero and was so amazing. Why? He was pushing her wife in the wheelchair. She told me that she was a star runner until the recently she was diagnosed with a progressive form of MS. He was not a runner and started running to push her and allow her to continue her passion!  WOW!  And Boy was he Fast!  Soon he was in front of me and I was crying!
Coming off the Lakefront  path I got some water and as I looked up I saw a runner in front of me wobble and then fall down...out cold. First responders were there in seconds taking care of her but it was frightening.  As I headed up the final incline and towards the finish line the young woman in front of me tripped and fell on all 4's. I came up next to her and asked if she was ok and she looked at me with tears, "I'm fine" she whimpered and blood spilled from her hands and knees. I took off my water bottle and got out a paper towel and washed her off. She told me she was tired and worried that she was supposed to call her mom when she finished. I told her, "Momma is right here....she sent me" She laughed and we started running together. She told me she would be sure that she and her mom would pray for me, her angel. Well, alrighty then!  I love prayers!
And here it was...the finish line!  I could see it! The last band was cranking and one of the guys came over and handed me the tambourine. I played and danced to "Happy" as I worked towards the finish.
And then I was passed by another young man pushing his girlfriend. She held a sign that said "stronger together" on one side and "I Love him" on the other. As they closed in on the finish line, He stopped and she got out of the chair. She was wearing a large leg brace but she stood up and used the arm of the chair for balance as she walked across the finish line with her man. Again, I was in tears.
A wonderful young man put a medal on my neck, I took a finisher photo and I headed towards the GOTR tent. I was a mess of emotion.
When I reached the tent, I saw out Solemates coordinator and thanked her for the amazing experience. It was amazing!
I didn't get an official chip time. I didn't get a PR. But I got so much more than a medal. I got to help others. I got to encourage others. I got to give back and spread the message of GOTR. I got so much more than a race time. A funny thing happens when I stop caring about time...I find the pace of my heart. Peace.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Try something new, they said. Step out of your comfort zone, they said. I have always wanted to try a triathlon but with no bike, no helmet and no money to buy these things,  it was out of the question. Indoor triathlons with running on a treadmill did not appeal to me. So when a friend posted about an outdoor tri with no bike needed and it was could I say no?
The Park Ridge Trifecta was Sunday. I was nervous as Saturday I had a 10 mile training run so I didn't know if I would be able to complete the 3 parts of the tri. I told myself that I just wanted to finish and do my best so that was the goal....that and not drowning!
Saturday's training run was not a good one.  10 miles in the rain with a head full of thoughts and feet that felt like lead is not a good experience for any runner. I was feeling defeated so I was worried that I would not do well Sunday.
I woke up and the sun was shining. I took the dogs for a walk and was feeling good. I grabbed my bag, sure that I had forgotten something yet packed things I didn't need, and drove to the race. My 14 year old was with me as she was going to babysit for a friend of mine who was also doing the Trifecta.
Upon our arrival, my friend and I were the first ones there so we were allowed to choose our position as well as event order. We both chose to do the events in the true 'tri' order. Swim, bike, run.
We set up our things on the pool deck and got ready to start. I had gotten some good advice from experienced tri ladies so I felt a little better.
My race 'ticket'

I got in the pool and my lane mate asked if I had goggles. Yup, I had my bag!  I got out and ran to get them on my face just in time!  The whistle blew and we started swimming.  30 minutes to complete as many laps as we could. It took me a while to get my rhythm  but once I did, I remembered how much I used to love swimming. I remembered how at home I used to feel in the water. About 1/2 way through the time, I started to get a little tired but I remembered what a friend had said, Think about Team Hoyt. That man swims putting a boat with his son.....and I was off and swimming again. I alternated between breaststroke and freestyle and soon the whistle blew and I was done! Time for the bike.
Spin bikes were placed on the pool deck so I did not have far to travel. I took off my tankini top as I had my sports bra underneath. I put on the GOTR tank top and pulled on my running shorts over wet bottoms. As I was bending to put on shoes, I was faced with the sight of a full frontal from a nearby older gentleman participant who was changing!! With my eyes burning from that sight, I headed to the spin bikes.
The towel and GOTR water bottle
as reminders of why I do this!

I put my water bottle and towel on the bike and asked for help as to how to work it and the seat height, etc.  Yup....never taken a spin class or been on a spin bike!  So the instructor took us all through a course of hills and valleys to simulate and real ride. We were up and down out of the saddle with speed changes and resistance changes. My feet came out of the clips a few times and I lost my balance a few times but I didn't fall off the bike! I just kept peddling for the 30 minutes logging 10 miles (or so the monitor said!). The whistle blew again and it was time for the run.
I put my towel and water bottle by my bag, pulled on my requisite tutu and left the pool deck for the run. This was the part I thought would be easiest for me. 3.1 miles? Big deal!  Piece of cake, or so I thought. The whistle sounded and I started slow....on foot in front of the other...forward was my pace. Running on tired legs, with a tired body was not so easy. I struggled to find my happy pace on my wobbly legs for the first mile. Once I got out of my own head and was moving forward, I knew I could do it. Running in wet bottoms is not fun but no big deal in the grand scheme of things!  It was hot and the sun strong but it was 'just' 3 miles. I could do it....I knew it. I finished the final 3.1 and went back to the pool deck.
I did it!  I finished all three events!  I didn't drown! I didn't hurt myself on the bike!  I didn't quit! I tried something new and did my best. I stepped outside my box, outside my comfort zone, and found a new part of me. I know that this was not an 'official' tri but it was real enough for me to know that someday I want to complete a 'real' tri.
We all need to do things that scare us once in a while. We all need to get out of the comfort zone and realize we are better, stronger, smarter, than we thought we were before. Sometimes we need a push and sometimes we need someone to hold our hand. This time I had both. And for that...and new adventures...I am forever grateful. Peace.

#tutulady finished GOTR strong!!!


Life is a series of moments strung together to make days, weeks, months, years. As I have aged, I have realized that I need to be more awake and aware of these moments, slowing down long enough to savor each one. When my children were small I was so concerned with making it through each day alive, I often missed moments. I feel a great deal of guilt that I was in a hurry for my kids to get somewhere or do something or go to sleep or grow up. Now I want to slow down. I miss my children now that they are growing up and not with me each moment of every day. Time we spend together is precious. During the summer I get the chance to slow down and spend time with my kids.
I love summer for many reasons...longer days, slower pace, relaxed schedules...but what I love most is time with my kids. Summer is a time to reconnect, recharge and relax.  I string together moments with each of my kids making for memories to last me long into the cold days of winter. 
Some of the moments from my summer thus far:
  • Running a race and having a 19year old thank me for helping her finish.
  • Watching my son in a parade 
  • Floating on a raft with the whole family
  • Listening to my kids laugh together
  • watching a sunset while holding hands with my husband
  • Watching fireworks and listening to commentary from all the kids
  • Walking home in the dark with my 16yo holding her hand and listening to her talk about life
  • Sitting in the driveway with my girls and husband while we watched my son put on a fireworks show
  • long walks and running with my pups
  • watching my girls wishes float skyward towards the heavens in the night sky on Chinese Lantern
  • dinner at an outdoor cafe with my 18yo
  • laughing till my stomach hurts with my 16 and 14 year olds
There is a home on my daily dog walk route that has the most beautiful roses. I do 'stop and smell the roses' each time I pass knowing that soon those roses will be gone. The roses are a reminder that life is fleeting and each day I have to slow down and appreciate the moments. This summer slow down and enjoy moments. Life is not perfect but there are moments in each day that make it all worthwhile. String those moments and you have a life that is pretty darn amazing! Peace.


Thursday, June 26, 2014


An open letter to Pet Food, Pet Care, and Advertising companies in general.

It is time we stop glamorizing certain breeds of dogs and demonizing other breeds. Using 'pretty' toy breeds and other 'pretty' purebred dogs in ads only drives the need for puppies of these breeds. This, in turn, drives the puppy mill business. It also drives breeders to charge a hefty fee for these dogs. Pet store purchases as well as purchases from breeders often lead to owners who do not understand what they are getting into in having a pet. Puppies are cute when then are, in fact, puppies but they grow up fast and need care and training. Many families do not understand the demands of pet ownership and act on impulse when in a pet store. When that puppy starts to misbehave and chew and do what puppies do, families look to rehome these pets or deposit them at shelters. 
There are shelters full of wonderful, affectionate, adorable dogs that have been trained, screened and are ready for adoption. These dogs need to take center stage now as they are in need of homes. As the mom of 3 shelter dogs, I can say that they are the best choices my family has ever made. They chose us...we didn't choose them. As I have written before, I am sure who saved who. Saying goodbye to my first fur-ever friend was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The 2 that we have now are a lot of work, especially the puppy who is just over a year old. His training is constant but his love is as well.
 Pedigree Dog Food is leading the way by featuring success stories of adopted shelter dogs. With the help of celebrities like Miranda Lambert,  they are shining additional light on the need for adoptions. Shows like "Pitbulls and Parollees" have also shown the need for good homes for dogs that are abused and neglected. They show how loving and attentive these 'bully breeds'  and other dogs can be if given love and attention. 
Dogs are givers of unconditional love and affection however, dogs are not without commitment and work. They need attention, care and training. Dogs are not 'bad' by nature. They 'feed' on what pleases their owner. It is time to train better owners and empty the shelters by getting these dogs adopted. 
Create campaigns that feature these dogs and the gifts they have to offer. Showcase the dogs waiting for a loving family. Provide opportunities for families to meet these pets. Assist shelters in adoptions as well as training. 
All of this and more can only lead to more families with Fur-Ever family members giving and getting love.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Kids...I have 5 of them. They are all different and all unique. There are people that cringe when I tell them I have 5. They make comments...some not so kid...about my children. When I tell them I have 4 girls and my youngest is my son, well that leads to "Oh so you finally got the boy and stopped." or "kept trying til you got that son, huh?" or any variation of that line.
No, we did not keep trying til we had a son. No, my oldest is not mine by birth but I hate the term STEP.
My oldest daughter, 26, is my daughter. She is my oldest daughter. Like I said, she is not mine by birth but she is mine all the same. I have known about  her and loved her since my very first date with her father. He and I talked about it and I told him what I wanted to name my first child. He told me that that name was taken and if we were to stay together, I would have to choose another name. I knew then that we would be together forever. 26 is my hero. She has been through more in her young life than any human should have to deal with all the while maintaining her strength and courage. She has seen loss, breakups, heartache as well as joy and happiness. It is my privilege to be a part of her life and watch her find a new part of herself. I am blessed to be chosen to be in her life and call her friend. I adore all those things that make her special and I love that she is starting to see those parts of herself as well.
Next is 18. She is my first born and has had her own agenda since she was conceived. She was born early, was not a textbook baby, and was the one to teach me how to be a mother. Over the years I have made many mistakes with her and our relationship has suffered because of it. However, we are both looking to change the future and make things better. She has taught me to be a mom from day one and continues to teach me. She makes me proud every day not only with her work ethic but with her passion for her friends and life. She is a gifted and talented writer...far and above my skill set. She is so beautiful but often fails to see or believe her own beauty. She challenges me and pushes me to be better and for that, I am grateful. For a while it was just her and me against the world and I think she misses that...and so do I. Time alone is precious and we are leaning to carve out time to be with each other. She is more like me than she cares to admit and for that, as well as many other reasons, I love her to pieces.
Third in line is 16, my curly girl. They really broke the mold with this child. She was not a typical pregnancy, was late to be born, and did not want to be born. Once she entered the world, I knew things were going to be different.  She is a beautiful girl both inside and out. Her compassion for people and animals never ceases to amaze me. She can find the one in a million in a crowded room that needs a friend and make them feel like the only person in the world at that moment. People tend to take advantage of her for that and it hurts my heart to see her sad.  She is a stunner to be sure but doesn't take advantage of that quality nor really embrace it...she is who she is and that has to be enough. She has deep faith, an old soul and reminds me of my humanness daily.
My baby girl is 14. She is the last of my girls. She makes a sailor blush with her vocabulary but can make even the most serious person laugh. She is silly and carefree...or so she would like people to believe! She is a fabulous actress. She has a sweet soul and a gentleness that not many people get to see. She rarely gives hugs but when she does....look out!  You have earned it and she will wrap you up in her embrace. Those hugs and that affection comes from a place deep inside. She is a fierce competitor and a fabulous teammate. She has taken full advantage of her status as youngest girl and often gets away with murder at home...and she knows it. She embodies her nickname of "Queenie" and wears it with pride.
Last but not least is the boy, 11. He is my gift from God and that is also what his name means. He was not planned and a complete surprise. A true miracle baby. Oh, and he knows it! He embraces his status as youngest and only boy. He has learned the fine art of smooth talking his sisters as well as annoying them (much to his own pleasure!). He is the first to give an opinion on a boy that the girls date and is most often correct in his character profile of these young men. His sisters do not like to listen to him but realize he is right more often than not.  He is not one to be 'categorized'. He is his own young man with strong opinions and an even stronger temper!  He is my baby boy and will always be my baby boy no matter how big he gets.
I am blessed to be given the honor of raising these children. I yell. I swear. I make mistakes. I am far from a perfect mom. I do my best. Some days they make me angry. Some days they mane me crazy. Some days they make me burst with pride. Some days my heart is so full of love for them I can't express it. Every day I am so happy that my greatest blessings call me mom. Peace.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

shells favorite of all animals. I especially love sea turtles.  There is something about them that makes me smile. We share a kindred spirit I think.
Yesterday a friend posted the quote in the photo and it really struck a chord with me.
I have never felt at ease in my own shell. I have always tried to be something or someone else. I have always tried to do more and make everyone happy. It was not until recently, ok a few years ago, when I started coaching Girls on the Run that I had to be me. I had to set an example. I had to learn to be at ease in my own shell if I wanted the girls to do the same. Funny thing was that they were already comfortable with who they were. They made no excuses. They lived out loud and had fun and just wanted others to do the same. There were some times when the girls had a bad day here or there but for the most part they all knew that they were different and beautiful and was only a matter of time before society and the world would change the perception they had of themselves.
I realized that it was up to me to fill their toolbox with all that they would need to fend off these changes. It was up to me to make sure that the girls never lost the belief that they were strong and smart and talented. I grew up not knowing my knowing or owning my gifts and talents. I spent years trying to achieve someone else's vision of beauty.  I spent years being something I was not....being what others thought I should be.
It was not until my 40's that I learned the lessons my girls were learning. Be who you are. Be your own kind of amazing. Be you. I was learning with my girls. I was learning to be at ease in my own shell.
I wrote about envy and body image in a post a few years back and it was good to revisit it. I am so much more at ease in my own shell these days. I am happy with who I am, what I look like, and how I act. I am not perfect nor the most beautiful creature on the planet. But I have a strong shell that protects me. I have a soft inside that is filled with love. I am move forward at my own pace....slow.  I have a long neck that I stick out there for others. I am smart and always return home. I am a survivor and like the turtle, have longevity.
After years of being a chameleon, I have become a ease in my own shell.  Peace.

Monday, June 9, 2014


After my encounter yesterday with the woman at the bakery (see previous post), I got to thinking. I thought about what has happened to our society in recent years. Technology has taken over and we have lost a true human connection. We are all looking down and rarely looking up. We do not 'see' each other much any more.
We portray an image on social media that we want others to see. We hide our pain and bury the 'bad things' creating a 'beautiful' person online. The young people of this generation(and many adults) think that this is reality. That people are perfect and without flaw. They feel the pressure to post the perfect 'selfie',  create a viral video, and write a retweetable tweet.
They are too busy living a life to 'post' about rather than really living a life. My children gather together with friends and spend the time not 'being' with each other but texting and snapchatting others about the fun (or lack of) that they are having. Adults do the same thing. Look around any restaurant. Every other person is looking at their device, posting pics of the meal, checking in at the eatery, and texting others about their dining experience (or other things).
I know this because I am soooo guilty of this behavior. I am the first to snap a photo or 'check in' when I am out to eat. I post things in the morning before I start my day and then read posts and tweets throughout the day.
We are all in a hurry too. No one has the time for small talk anymore. We do not make pleasant conversation with cashiers. We do not take the time to express a kind thought to a server. There are times we forget to say thank you or make eye contact with others. We are in a hurry and angry when others delay us on our journey.
Had I been 'checking in', posting, tweeting, snapping .....I would have missed the moment. I would have missed a much needed connection. Had I been in too much of a hurry I would have missed the longing in the eyes of another human being. I would have missed the opportunity to ease the burden on another human being.
I do not want to miss those moments. I want to reconnect with my neighbors and with the people of the planet. This summer see. See the people around you. Look in their eyes and see who they are inside.   This summer, connect. Reconnect with reality this summer Really live. Not so that you can post about it but so that you create a memory. This summer....look UP!