Wednesday, January 24, 2018


This past Monday I woke up assuming I was doing a nice, easy 21 miler with my running partner.  It would be our second of five 20+ milers in this training cycle, which we do once a week for about six weeks total.  Even to me this sounds borderline nuts, but I'm so used to it at this point that I'm no longer phased by it.  Sunday night I'd followed my typical pre-long run routine of hydrating, eating a lot of food (in this case half a pizza and a bowl of ice cream) and going to bed early. (like, before my kids early)  The next day, I got up around 5:00am, shuffled downstairs and made coffee.  My coach, Lowell, lays out my workout plan a month at a time and as of the night before, the next four weeks hadn't been updated yet.  But, I'd done 19 miles on the 8th and 20 the following week, so for obvious reasons, I figured I'd be going up to 21 for this week.  Just to be sure, though, I logged onto 2lcoaching and clicked on Monday.  GAH!!!  Turns out I would not be doing the long run I'd expected but a 14 mile run with 10 miles at marathon pace (also known as an MP run), which is essentially like a mini dress rehearsal for race day.  In hindsight, I shouldn't have been so thrown off.  Outside of winter, when it's hard to make it work, I often try to get a tune up half-marathon in right around 7-8 weeks out from my goal race, so this is basically what that was.  But, still, I hadn't been planning on it and getting in the mindset for this kind of work is a hell of a lot different than gearing up for a long, slow cruiser.  Now, my marathon pace is around 6:45-50 per mile, which would give me a 2:57/58 marathon.  That hasn't happened yet, as many of you know, but it has been the goal for a while.  I'll just leave that there for now.  When I checked the details for this MP run, I noticed that Lowell had me busting it out at 6:30-35 per mile (2:52 marathon pace), which was odd as that it usually my pace for shorter, tempo workouts and definitely not my marathon pace; at least as of now.  (insert wide grin).  Ok, I thought, perhaps we were trying something new or he had a new goal in mind that we hadn't discussed yet.  Unless it's way out in left field, I tend to just go ahead and do what the Sensei tells me to do.  So, I gave it about 2 minutes of thought and then moved on.  I did send him a quick note that morning in response to something else but I think I was just so thrown off by the workout itself that I failed to ask him about this minor detail.  As you can see below, I was kind of freaking out about the shift in gears and felt I should let him know the situation.

Hey Lowell,
I thought I had 21 today.  I'm sitting here trying to readjust my mindset into workout mode so I can tackle this MP run successfully.  I'm teetering between holy crap and you've got this...trying hard to push myself over to the latter side of that statement.  My heart rate is going up just thinking about it.  But that might also be the caffeine.  :)
Perhaps it's better that I wasn't expecting it.  Less time to stress and/or overthink. F-it.  Let's just get out there and get it done.
I'm guessing you're awake right now, so if you've got any last minute words of wisdom, quick notes of encouragement, good jokes, whatever; throw them at me.  I can use whatever I can get right now.
Rock on,

In the meantime, I was debating whether or not to do the run inside or outside.  It wasn't too cold out, maybe 35 degrees, but it was raining and dark and my fear was that I wouldn't be able to find a good, safe place to go out and back seven miles without having to worry about cars and other outside factors (ice, puddles, mad dogs).  I sent Lowell a quick text to ask if it was lessening the workout too much by doing it on the treadmill.  To which he responded 'no' and told me to stay inside.  Right-o.  Based on  my email, I'm guessing he knew I was a bit stressed and nervous so, per my request, he also sent me a quick nugget of wisdom to chew on as I got myself ready.

It's GO TIME!  You get to take out on race day what you put in today in the workout.  

He's big on the well analogy...meaning all the work and miles you do in training are going into the proverbial well, which you're filling up over the 4 months that you're preparing for your race.  The harder you work, the more you fill the well.  Then, on race day, you're basically dipping into a well that's overflowing with untapped awesomeness.

Ok, so first things first.  I made a playlist.  Nothing gets me more fired up for a hard effort than a list of fresh tunes.  Thank you, Spotify.  Then, I dropped my girls off at school and headed to the YMCA with my game face on.  I might have belted out some songs as I drove.  No, I definitely did do that.  I'm not ashamed.  One of my current mantras is "DON'T THINK, JUST GO" so without wasting any time, I threw my stuff in a locker, hopped right on the treadmill and got started.  I eased in with a slow, 2 mile warmup.  Then I cranked it up to 6:35 pace and settled in for the long haul.  My first 3 or 4 miles were fine; tough but doable.  Again, this is my tempo pace and I do a lot of shorter interval work at this pace.  When I got to mile 5, I started to feel the shift in effort.  I was still holding on but it was getting noticeably harder.  I tried to stay relaxed and light on my feet.  I also continuously drank water, which is one of the few bonuses of running inside.  When I'm on the machine, I do everything I can to avoid watching the clock so I wasn't exactly sure where I was when the belt suddenly stopped.  Crap.  I'd accidentally pulled out the emergency chord. my great surprise I'd done 7 miles so I only had to eek out 3 more which, even if it hurt, I knew I could do.  I reset the machine and started back up.  I took the pace down to 6:31, just to see how it felt.  With only 3 miles left, I figured I could try it out and then go back up if need be.  These miles were really, really hard.  Every 800m felt like 2 miles and I could feel my heart rate rising as it adjusted to my effort.  As I chugged along, I gave myself a little talking to, one of my many pep talks that morning.  I reminded myself that this is exactly how it feels at the end of a marathon.  This is when I have to dig in and hold on.  You're not giving up on race day, I told myself, so you aren't giving up now.  And finally, 10 miles later, I was done.  It was hands down one of the hardest workouts I've done.  Ever.  I can't express in words how happy I was that it was over.  I got myself together, cooled down and left the gym feeling both relieved and happy.  And very, VERY, tired.  When I got home I logged my workout and then went about my day in zombie mode.

I shuffled through the rest of my day feeling totally drained and in need of a nap, which I took in the parking lot of my daughters' school as I waited to pick them up.  Fifteen minutes of bliss.  After that, I was just counting down the hours...minutes...until I could go to bed.  Such a winner, I am.  I tried to be present for my girls as they did their homework but even they were wondering what was going on with me.  Finally, around 9:00, I checked my email one last time and saw the following note from Lowell:

I just realized I did a huge oops on today's workout.  I asked you to do 10 miles at tempo pace instead of marathon pace.  I can't believe I did that.  No wonder you were apprehensive and having a minor panic attack this morning.  That was a ridiculously challenging workout I asked you do...and you did it!  If that doesn't tell you that you are capable of running a marathon at 6:45-6:50 pace I don't know what will.  
Part of me is sorry I did that, and part of me is happy I did that by accident because you did more than I would have deliberately asked you to do.  Wow, what a workout.

OMG.  What a freakin' workout indeed.  Here's how I responded:

That is so funny.  I did have a moment this morning where I wondered if there might have been a mistake.  But, I guess I just assumed you were trying something new and bumping my MP pace down, so I just went with it.  It does make me feel better to know what happened because it was hard as hell.  But, then, like you said, the silver lining is knowing that I could grit it out.  I will tell you that I haven't felt this tired in a while, so I should sleep well tonight.  

'Funny' might be a bite of an understatement, but I did have to laugh a little.  Not only was I not expecting the workout but I did it totally wrong.  But, I did it.  And, I was pretty freaking pumped about it.  First, because I'd gotten my shit together and made the mental switch to get the workout done.  And second, because I'd done something I probably wouldn't have thought I could do if I'd known what was going on.  Go figure.  The mind is a powerful tool, even when we trick it, maybe more so.  And the body is capable of so much more than we ever can imagine.  I love that.  Not that I would ever willingly put myself in this situation again.  At least not in this training cycle. (insert wide grin again)

Listen to this:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


"Because when we move our bodies with the rhythm of running and the beating of our hearts, those are our stories."
~ Sally Bergesen

Monday, January 15th
7:00am in Seattle, WA
I'm having coffee with Lauren Fleshman, who is in town for the Oiselle Runway Slam.  I've been up since 5:00, mainly because of the time change, but also because I'm buzzing from the weekend which was beyond amazing and, sadly, is now coming to a close.  I've started and restarted this post at least 10 times but I just can't seem to lay it out.  My thoughts are all over the map and I'm not able to pinpoint the thread that ties it all together.  Thankfully, Lauren was willing to lend an ear and, ultimately, helped me get things flowing by asking the right question.  Here's how our conversation played out:

Me: I'm having a hard time putting this blog post together.
LF: Why is that?
Me: Well, typically when I travel with my Oiselle friends it's for a race that I'm either watching or running and that's the central focus of the post.  I don't have that this time around.
LF: Yeah, that's right. No race. Totally different.
Me: Totally. After a race, my story kind of unfolds on it's own and I just fill in the details as I go.
LF: So, why did you come?  What was the draw for you this time if it wasn't a race?
Me: I really just wanted to connect with everyone.  I've been missing them a lot lately and felt out of touch.  I guess I was just craving their company.
LF: You just needed your women.
Me: I did.  I needed my women.

Sometimes, you  just need to be with your people.  They lift you up, they make you laugh, they remind you who you are and why you do what you do.  They love you hard and you love them hard back.  And that, my friends, is the story here.  There was no training, there were no setbacks and there are no results.  This story is plain and simple.  I went out to Seattle to run, hang, drink coffee, listen, learn, dance, fly with the ladies of Oiselle who I am so incredibly lucky to call my friends.

w/ Steph, Chicken, Sally & Lesko

Friday afternoon: Arrived at the Oiselle Nest on Friday.  I've been on the team since 2012 but had never been to HQ so I was stupidly excited to see where the magic happens.  Things immediately got weird.  We love weird. 

w/ Sky, Rebecca, Lauren, Chicken, Beachy & Lesko

Friday evening: After a run with Erin (aka Jungle Chicken) and a coffee, we made our way over to our rental house which we'd be sharing with friends; both old and new.  Clearly, I was a little excited at this point.

Running w/ Rebecca, Chicken & Sally (still weird)

Saturday morning: At some point over the weekend I needed to get a long run in.  But, when I woke up Saturday morning, I decided I was way too tired to do it then and that I didn't want to do it Sunday because I wanted to relax and enjoy myself at the Runway Slam that night.  After giving it way too much thought, I decided I'd probably just wait and get it done when I got home.  On our way over to the 'O' store, where we'd be meeting up with the team, Chicken and I decided we'd do 6 and then see how we felt.  Mile 3 came and went and we didn't turn around.  Shocker.  Rebecca turned around at 6.5 as she needed 13.  Chicken and I ended up running 20.  Chicken didn't even need a freaking long run.  That's what happens with this crew.  You just never know.  Though if you really want to know, Chicken made me.

Mel Lawrence & Shalane Flanagan racing the 3K
* Both photos by Heather McWhirter

Saturday afternoon: Headed over to UW to catch the indoor preview at the Dempsey meet where we got to watch these two beauties fly. Literally.  Mel, a Oiselle athlete, came in right on the heels of Shalane.  The race, the athletes, the setting; all of it gave me chills.  It left me speechless and took me quite a while to process.  Talk about inspiration.  


Saturday night: Over to the Oiselle Runway Slam where we got to preview Spring 2018 and, more importantly, to hear 22 women's stories "in all of their beautiful, messy, authentic and brutal honesty." (Sally's words)  Totally mind-blowing. (mine)  This event really deserves its own post which I may or may not get to.  If you're curious for more info or to watch the show in its entirety, click here.  It was one of the many reasons I flew out but only a small part of the full package.

Lesko, Lauren, Baby Zadie, Me & Sky

Sunday morning and afternoon: Lesko and her husband, Bob, were tour guides for those of us who were still in town.  It was 55 degrees and sunny, which is very rare for Seattle this time of year.  Lucky us.  So, we did it all.  Coffee. Ferry over to Bainbridge Island.  Lunch.  More coffee.  The Great Wheel (holy heights).  Shout out to Sarah and Bob who have probably done all of that, like, 100 times. 

w/ Lesko at Green Lake
(*top pic w/ Lesko, Lauren & Sally on the same run)

Monday morning: Final run with Lesko, Sally and Lauren.  Could not have been a more beautiful send off.  Got a serious dose of Oiselle #birdlove over this weekend, which is exactly what I needed.  Quite a story, indeed.

Listen to this:
Warm Fire Lightening - Satellite Mode

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Dear Driver,
I am a runner.  I train year round.  Whenever possible, I run on the sidewalk.  You may not believe this, but I prefer it.  It's safer for me when I'm running and it's safer for you when you're driving.  During the winter, for obvious reasons, the sidewalks are not always available to us.  When they are covered in ice or packed snow they are border-line death traps (think sprained ankle).  After a big storm, such as the Bomb Cycle that just hit us last week here in MA, some of them get buried completely (see below photo) and will not likely be dug out for weeks....months?? Who knows.

Thus, for this relatively brief-ish window of the year, we runners are forced out on the road.  Now, some of you are probably thinking to yourself, why don't they just go inside during the winter?  And it's a fair question.  Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a treadmill.  But those of us who can get to a gym along with the lucky ducks who have their own machine, are, in fact, probably running inside when it's necessary.  Personally, I loathe the treadmill.  One of the big reasons I run is to be outside, so being stuck on a hamster wheel for multiple days in a row is physical and mental torture.  That said, I'll do it.  Last week alone I was inside for 4 out of my 6 runs.  As a marathoner, though, I have at least one day a week, sometimes more, when I am running for over 2 hours straight and that is where I have to draw the line.  I just can't run on a treadmill for 20 miles.  Well, I should rephrase; I can but I won't.  So, one day a week, I really need to share the road with you.  Keep in mind, I am a driver, too.  I do understand both sides of this situation.  Is it a pain?  Yes.  Is it annoying?  It can be.  Ultimately, it sucks for both drivers and runners alike.  That said, I still have to ask, both for those of us who run year round and especially for the winter warriors who want...or even be outside in the winter, that you throw us a bone once in a while as we're all in this together.  It's not like I'm asking to run with you while you're going 70mph down I-95.  I live in the suburbs where the average speed is 30mph.  I don't think it's that big a deal to you to either move over a half a foot or even to slow down if there is a car on the other side of the road as I am running by.  If anything, it will delay your trip 10 seconds tops.  In return for this courtesy, I promise to give you this:
~ I will wear reflective gear and bright clothing so you can easily see me as I am running toward you.
~ Much to her dismay, I will not run with my dog when the conditions are bad in order to further minimize my surface area.
~ I will  stay as close to the my side of the road as possible and pull into driveways when there is space.
~ I will jump up and run on the sidewalk if and when it's ever available to me.
~ I will avoid the main roads as much as I can and seek out the routes in smaller neighborhoods where the traffic is lighter.
~ I will run inside once in a while; especially when the conditions are particularly dangerous for cars and thus runners, too.
If I do all this, dear driver, will you consider letting me run on the road without fearing for my life or making me feel like I am an idiot and have completely ruined your day?  Please?  It's just until the weather gets better.  Two months tops.  For those of you who see me out there and voluntarily move over or slow down without giving me a dirty look or yelling at me, THANK YOU.  It never goes unnoticed and it is greatly appreciated.  Some of you (fellow runners or just really nice people in general) even smile and wave to let me know that all is well.  You guys are the best.  For those of you who just can't deal and won't change your tune despite this letter, well,  I'm sorry.  This is the way it's going to be for a little while.  If it makes you feel better to honk or give me the finger, fire away.  Just know that I hate it as much as you do.  And come spring, perhaps we can be friends again?

Listen to this:
Panic Drills - Sleigh Bells

Thursday, January 4, 2018


"Life isn't about searching endlessly to find what's missing; it's about learning to live with the missing parts."
~ Micheal Finkel

On Tuesday morning, my family drove from Toronto to Boston in a rental car.  Why?  Because the day before we'd flown from Turks and Caicos to Toronto and then our connecting flight to Boston was canceled due to bad weather.  Why not hop on a different flight that night, you ask?  Great question.  There were no flights out to Boston or to any nearby airports for at least two days.  And, while I'm all for extending a family vacation, spending a few extra days in an airport hotel, eating chicken nuggets and sharing a bed with my kids for another 48 hours didn't sound too appealing.  Plus, there was the whole school and work thing.  Perhaps you're wondering why we flew through Toronto to get down to the Caribbean in the first place.  Also a great question.  Simply put, it saved us a lot of money to fly halfway across the country in the wrong direction and then back down instead of going straight down from Boston.  Worth it?  Financially...yes.  Mentally...debatable.  As we drove home from Toronto, I wrote a very long post about the experience we'd had the night before at the airport which included things like customs personnel laughing at us, two lost bags, one found bag, no available rental cars, second bag found an hour later, car finally rented, a long wait for the airport shuttle in sub-zero temps, dealing with over-tired kids and so on.  It was a ridiculous comedy of errors and lasted a total of four and a half hours from when we got off the plane to when we finally made it to the hotel room.  I then went on to share the other funny story from my trip.  The one about how Air Canada lost my suitcase on the flight down and still hadn't located it by the time we were leaving for home.  No joke.  I spent a week down in the islands with one bathing suit (which I'd randomly thrown in my carry-on), one set of running clothes (which I'd worn on the plane), and a couple pairs of shorts, which I'd borrowed from my 13 year old.  It wasn't ideal, but I made it work.  I did call Air Canada every day hoping they'd found my bag only to hear them tell me they were so very sorry but they had absolutely no idea where it was.  I won't lie and say I wasn't bummed that half of my wardrobe was potentially gone forever.  But, that said, I was still managing to have an amazing time with my family in easily one of the most beautiful places on the earth.  When I got home and regrouped I pulled up my original post to edit it and ended up scrapping it and starting over.  I decided that I really didn't need to rehash it all and that you didn't need to hear it.  Shit happens.  We all go through crazy stuff every single day.  And while it can be a pain in the ass, most of it is usually pretty manageable.  I learned two valuable lessons after getting through this week; first, rather than focus on what I don't have, I need to work with what I've got.  And second, sometimes less is more.  No suitcase?  No suitcase.  No unpacking, no laundry, nothing to lose (beyond the suitcase itself), no valuables that can be stolen, no pre-dinner outfit crises, no choices to make at all, really.  I just woke up every day, threw on the one running outfit that I had (not to worry, I did wash this daily), hit the road, came back, put on my one bathing suit and then went about my day.  My girls were having a ball, the weather was gorgeous and we were all together.  End of story.  As I dive (er...cannonball) into this new year, which I'm sure will be full of surprises, I'll be trying hard to fall back on these lessons in every element of my life.  

Listen to this: 
Out Of My Head - Loud Forest