Sunday, May 25, 2014


I spent the afternoon talking to a Vietnam veteran. I have always known he served and have expressed my gratitude many times. Today was different. Today we talked about Memorial Day. He explained what it meant to him and I listened. He told me that Memorial Day was not only about those who had lost their lives but also those who lived on with scars seen and unseen. As I listened, he explained that people focus on those who have lost their live in battle and that is important, however many military veterans and enlisted live on with the memories of battle. Their families sacrifice too when someone enlists. Those in the military are sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, friends....all leave behind and then, God willing, return to family.
He had never reunited with his unit until last year. He said he never wanted to, that the past was too painful. He said that those who were there have no need to explain to others and those who were not there will never understand. But meeting with his unit was in many ways a healing experience. He apologized that he would miss the next family BBQ as that was his reunion weekend and he was looking forward to it this year. He never thought that he would say that. I sat nodding and smiling as this 60 something man opened his heart and thought, I may never understand where he has been or the experience of war but I will be forever grateful to him and others like him. Memorial Day is about remembering to be grateful. Grateful for time. Grateful for freedom. Grateful for sacrifice. Forward is a pace.

Monday, May 19, 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.


The start of the day
I didn't write a recap of my Nashville half. I started and will finish it eventually but I had to write this one now...while it is still fresh in my head.
The Chicagoland Spring Half and Full was Sunday. I did not prepare well enough. I was mentally and physically not ready but I decided to give it a go and try. I got all my things laid out the night before and packed my race bag. I carb loaded and hydrated and prayed.
Sunday morning I got up and got the the car. I was running a bit late and then hit traffic...who thinks there will be traffic at 6am on a Sunday?! I got to the site and parked in plenty of time. Within minutes my running buddy showed up and we started race prep. We met up with some others from our group, found the potty and then headed to the start. There were 5 of us from my running 'family' and one soon to be new member. All of us, with the exception of one, were running the 1/ of us was FULL on crazy. We would start together. Starting the race with the friends was like going home for the holidays. So familiar yet a little stressful. The first few miles we all stuck together. It was really so comfortable and felt good. A good pace and good conversation. I watched as my buddy Dan slapped each mile marker with glee and people commented on my buddy Steve's shirt. I felt like the happy middle sister.
#tutulady finished!
At mile 4 everyone had to make a pit stop. For once I was good and just kept chugging along. I knew they would catch me soon enough. As I ran, people commented on my tutu. One young man started to keep pace with me and began to talk to me. Brad (I eventually asked his name) was running  his first marathon and was a little unsure of himself. We talked of running and other things. Life looks a bit different though the eyes of the young. We got each other through mile 5 and our courses diverged. The scenery was glorious and I was feeling good. The sounds of my breathing and the water rushing under the damn invigorated my running.
Love my running family!
I ran alone for miles 6 and 7 and soon in mile 8 my Friends caught up with me again.
Each race I run I ask people if they would like a mile dedicated to them. This race I didn't. This race was for my Girls on the Run. I was wearing a new tutu made by my girls and friends. Each person tied a wish, a hope, and/or a dream on the tutu so as I ran I thought of my girls...all their wishes, dreams and prayers...and felt light.
After the water stop, about mile 9 our group came upon another young man, Jason. He was also running his first marathon and was not looking too good. I started running next to him and realized that he had no energy. I pulled out and Acellgel, opened if and squeezed it into his mouth. I gave him some water from my belt as we kept moving forward. Within a few minutes, his color returned and then he was off leaving us in the dust.
We were heading into the final miles and I was feeling good. The group stayed together and just kept shifting positions. We were doing a bit more walking at this point and at the big bridge between miles 10 and 11 only one of us ran and bridge...and it was NOT me!
Someone needed
toilet paper at mile 20
Last water stop and a long stretch ahead and I was meeting my buddy Dan step for step. We were putting one foot in front of the other and closing in on the finish.
Celebrating a multihmarathoner!
I started to fall a bit behind at the last hill just before mile 13. I was losing my energy and my legs were feeling like lead. Heading around the building to the finish I lost my breath. I could not breathe due to the smell of the fresh mulch. I was gasping and feeling defeated. My head was telling me to quit....and then the voice shifted..."Just Breathe".  I could hear my yoga teacher's voice clear as day in my head. I just had to slow my mind and breathe and I could finish. "Just breathe" was mantra for that last part of the race until I crossed that finish line. I saw my friends cross the line and knew I was next. I could do it. I was going to finish...and I did!
Spring has sprung!
After we got our medals and some food, we stretched a bit took MANY photos and decided to head out to 'chase' our friend running the full. We met, ran, cheered, encouraged, supported her and other runners in several spots for the final miles. we waited for her at mile 26 and the whole group of us ran with her for the final hill. When she crossed the finish line, we were all there waiting for her as Sarah proudly put her medal on her neck. It was a moment I won't soon forget. It was a day I will remember for a long time.
Running has lead me to the most incredible people and places in my life and for that I am forever
grateful. Spring has sprung....and so has running season!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Most days when we look in a mirror we see our reflection.  When we look in a mirror we usually check to see if our hair is right, our makeup looks good and our clothing fits correctly. We look at the surface. It is rare that we really look at the reflection and see what is below the surface. It is rare that we see what we are really made of but when we take the time to really look...the reflection we see often surprises us. What we see reflected back is who we really are ...we see our heart.
Yesterday I woke up and looked in the mirror. My hair looked ok and my outfit matched so I headed off to work. It was a long day with many ups, downs, twists and turns. As I prepared for bed I looked at my reflection again.  This time what I saw reflected back was much more than my outward appearance. This time what I saw was all the love, joy, work, sweat, tears, smiles, pride, and so much more that I had sent out into the world.  My whole heart was open, laid bare and reflecting back to me. 
What is a movie without popcorn?
Several months ago  Girls on the Run asked me to work with a filmmaker to create a video to promote GOTR Chicago. It was a long process but exciting and fun. The interview process got to me focus and put into words all that GOTR means to me. Sharing this process with my daughter, the girls I coach and former teammates was extremely special.  After a period of editing and revising, the video was ready to be shared. I was first able to watch it alone and was moved to ...well...a puddle of tears and emotion. I longed to share it with those who participated.  
Our glitter covered red carpet
Yesterday was that day!  We put together a 'red carpet' event for the all the girls and families. We shared popcorn and treats as we prepared to see our video. The filmmakers were even able to join us for this special event. As the movie began I saw the girls start to look for themselves and identify our team.  I watched one of my older girls gasp and tear up as she heard her mom speak with pride about all that her daughters had learned from GOTR.  It was amazing to watch the participants watch themselves and feel the emotion of others in the video. 
New tutu for #tutulady
What really astonished me was that so many of us from different schools and backgrounds had common stories and feelings about the program. I learned that was called 'collective storytelling'. No matter the name, it took my breath away. When the video ended, there was a collective sigh as many were moved to tears and emotionally drained. 
I didn't want to video to end. I didn't want those feelings to go away. I needed a way to carry those feelings with me. I needed a way to make the feelings last. So, I asked all in attendance to help the #tutulady create a new tutu. I asked each person to think of a dream, a wish and a prayer and for each to tie a piece of ribbon or tulle onto my tutu. This year, when I run my races, I will run carrying all the dreams, wishes and prayers of my girls and their families with me. Soon we will be able to share this video with the world and you all will see a larger part of my heart. 
So as I looked in the mirror one last time last night, the reflection was stunning and overwhelming. All the time. All the energy.. All the parts of me that I share with Girls on the Run each and every all came back to me in a tidal wave of love. I was overcome... washed away in a sea of emotion. 
This morning my reflection looked a bit different. My reflection had changed and would never be the same again....just like my girls on the run and just like my heart.
The creators and stars of the show!