Monday, December 16, 2019


Dear RWM Readers,
Well, here we are.  Another year is almost behind us.  It always blows my mind how quickly they fly by.  Especially now that my own girls are so much older.  I try really hard to keep up with them but more often than not, if I blink I'm likely missing something.  Such is life.  I guess I should be grateful that so much is going on, much of it good, that I can barely keep up.  As far as running goes, I had a pretty successful year; finally chipping away at my half marathon PR back in May and then running a couple decent marathons this fall.  I had hoped to sneak in under three hours again this year but it simply wasn't in the cards so I'll be going for it again in 2020 because, well.... why the hell not?  I had the pleasure of guiding Michaela Flaherty at Boston in some pretty strange weather - early morning thunderstorms, rain, glaring sun, mad heat, humidity and then rain again at the finish -  though it was nothing compared to the Nor'Easter of 2018.  She was very pleased to have successfully crossed the line and will be racing again next spring.  My Lexington XC team had yet another incredible season this past fall.  The girls won their Middlesex League Meet and took first place at the EMASS Divisional Meet, something they have now done four times in the past six years which is no small feat.  They finished third in the state of MA last month, edging out their fourth place rivals by one point.  Such a gritty crew, they were.  As always, they were so much fun to coach and while I'm very sad to say goodbye to my seniors, I'm already fired up for next fall.  In the gym, Rosie killed it this past spring, taking third overall in her age group at her state gymnastics meet and, for the first time ever, qualifying for the Regional meet, a goal she set her sights on many years ago.  She also graduated from middle school and is now a freshman at Winchester High. What?  She continues to compete for her WGA team and has also joined her high school team this winter.  I'm so excited (and nervous) to watch her fly over the next couple months.  Grace continued to dominate on the soccer field and also started running XC, which I'm obviously thrilled about.  I wouldn't say she loves running.  Yet.  But, after taking a couple wins at her school races, I can tell that her interest has shifted and is now somewhat piqued.  I even dragged her out with me on a very cold morning this fall for a local 5K which she crushed, taking second in her age group.  After that, she made it clear that she is done with racing in frigid temps, but I'm hoping to get her back out with me next spring.  On the music side, there was a ton of new work flowing from various bands and individual artists this year.  Sia, Beck and the Broods released albums that are constantly on replay for me.  Haim, AWOLNATION and Fitness, a new duo with Kenny Carkeet, formally of AWOLNATION, dropped some awesome singles that will hopefully lead to full albums in 2020.  Super excited for those.  All in, it was a fantastic year (a few of my favorite highlights below) and not a moment goes by when I don't realize how ridiculously lucky I am.  As far as the blog goes, I haven't been posting as much this year as in years past but based on feedback from friends and readers it seems as though it's worth continuing to share my stories.  Either that, or the people I asked are very nice, which is also a good thing.  I'm not sure how things will shape out moving forward but, as I said, I'll continue to write in some fashion as I truly love the connections I've made here and hope that I'm inspiring others or, at the very least, making people laugh at some of the craziness that is my life.  I created this blog back in 2011.  I definitely didn't think I'd still be at it eight years later.  Big thanks to all of you for following along on my journey.  Cheers to a new year and a whole boatload of new adventures for you and I alike.  Stay awesome, my friends.

Rock on,


Ran the Donna 1/2 Marathon down in FL in honor of my Mom

Guided Michaela Flaherty for her first Boston Marathon

w/ Rosie after her State Gymnastics meet

Grace flying to the finish at her XC meet

Rosie's 8th grade graduation

Family week at Lake Winnepesaukee

Yankee Homecoming 10 miler w/ my Whirlaway teammates

Oiselle Big Birdcamp


LHS EMASS Division 1 Champs

Grace taking aim on the soccer field

Rosie taking flight in the gym


Listen to this:

Monday, December 9, 2019


"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up."
~ Mark Twain

Nothing like jumping right into December with a full blown snowstorm.  Mother Nature just went ahead and ripped the bandaid off this year, didn't she.  But, it's good.  It pushed me right into holiday/deal mode.  And, as a result, for the first time ever I'll be posting this gift guide kind of early.  Well, I guess it depends on who you ask as this feels pretty early to me but half the world probably already did a majority of their shopping on Black Friday & Cyber Monday; both of which seem to still be going on a week after the fact.  Whatever.  A lot of us like to take our time and put more thought into it, right?  Let's go with that.  Seriously, though, I do love this time of year, primarily because of how excited my girls get as soon as we hit December 1.  Lights up.  Check.  Wreaths up.  Check.  Elf on the Shelf.  Check.  Side note - they no longer believe that he moves around in the middle of the night and watches for Santa and yet they still expect me to do it.  Now, the game is more like, will Mom remember to move it before she goes to bed?  Super fun.  This season stirs up such good energy and there is so much good, solid family love that floods in and lingers throughout the entire month.  I always find myself soaking up every bit of it.  Plus, regardless of what you celebrate, who doesn't love picking out a gift for a family member or friend that you know they will be thrilled about?  Like, you find yourself smiling as you purchase it, despite the cost, because you know it's going to make their day.  Okay, no, it's not all about gifts, but if you're looking to spoil someone, this is definitely the time to do it.  Below you'll find a few of my favorite gifts; running related, music related and a few other gems worth knowing about.  I love everything on this list and would buy every single one of them for myself and for most of my friends.  They have all been tested by yours truly.  Hopefully you'll find something on this list that calls your name or that of a loved one.  And if not, just go down to the bottom and enter the RWM HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY as it is one that you are not going to want to miss out on.  Merry Everything, my friends.


JAYBIRD VISTA True Wireless Headphones: Just when you think Jaybird can't make a better product, they go and do it.  These headphones are a total game changer and I could not love them more.  I have child-sized ears and they fit snuggly and comfortably with no issues.  They are sweat proof, waterproof and shatter proof, basically life proof.  They have a 16 hour battery life and sit in a charging case that fits easily into your pocket.  Running, climbing, hiking, skiing; go and do anything with these babies.  Turn it up and never go quiet again.  The retail price is $179.99 and worth every penny.

LANDGROVE COFFEE: Who doesn't want coffee as a gift?  A hot cup of coffee on a cold day has got to be one of the few (or many, depending on who you ask) perks of this cold, dark season.  I discovered Landgrove coffee this summer and I am a total convert.  This family owned business is based in Troy, Idaho.  I buy the Espresso roast, but have also tried their Guatemala bean and both are insanely delicious.  On top of a rich, robust flavor, much of the coffee is direct and fair trade which means the owners of Landgrove have a personal relationship with the producer and pay them fairly for their product.  I can't say enough good things about this company and its product.  You'll have to order some and see for yourself.  Coffee prices vary but range from $11 to $16 per pound.

THIRSTY AARDVARK CUPS: An insulated cup is the perfect accompaniment to your coffee gift, right?  Or perhaps you just need a new water bottle or tumbler for yourself.  Either way, Thirsty Aardvark offers several different styles and colors for all of your drinking needs.  They are stainless steel and double wall vacuum sealed so your coffee stays hot or your NUUN stays cold but the flavor of either one of them doesn't linger in the cup.  And, unlike their competitors, this line is not quite as cost prohibitive, which I personally believe is as it should be.  Retail value depends on size and style and ranges between $10-$20.

NOXGEAR TRACER 360 PERFORMANCE VEST: Running in the dark is not ideal but many of us do it.  The Tracer 360 is a super light, weather resistant, battery powered vest that will keep you safe no matter when you hit the road.  There are multiple sizes so it fits just right, but it can also be adjusted once it's on.  The lights, for which there are several colors, are both reflective and flourescent.  This is such a great gift for the outdoor enthusiast in your life who wants to walk out the door at any point in the day and, more importantly, to always be seen.  Retail value is $69.95 though today, 12/9, it is on sale for $39.95.

OISELLE QUILTED CREW: Okay, truth. I have two of these. It is, by far, the warmest and coziest top in my closet.  Think wearable blanket.  I have to hide them from my daughters.  It's just that awesome. I love a good sweatshirt but this one has a little flare and makes me feel like I've put myself together a bit more than when I'm in my usual hoodie.  I know, it's a stretch.  This is my life.  For real, though, I wear it almost daily.  And I'm sure it will be a year rounder for me.  Because, let's be honest, you can always use a good crew or three. Retail value is $86.

RUNNING HOME BY KATIE ARNOLD: It's always key to have a book on the list.  Either to give or to get. I loved this memoir by runner, mom & writer Katie Arnold. I'm just going to use the Google Books description because it is spot on.  Katie Arnold an..."Outside magazine writer tells her story — of fathers and daughters, grief and renewal, adventure and obsession, and the power of running to change your life." It's a beautiful story and one that all of us can relate to in some way.  I could not put it down and definitely plan to read it again.  I will also be buying multiple copies to give to friends this year.  Retail price is $19.38 on


NUUN IMMUNITY - NUUN is the ultimate stocking stuffer because who doesn't need to hydrate?  Throw a tube of NUUN Immunity in every stocking because we really need extra hydration and immune support during the holidays.  Even more so during the break when hugs and kisses are frequent and germs are spreading like wildfire.

HONEYSTINGER CASHEW BUTTER & MILK CHOCOLATE BARS - These are a repeater from last year's guide but a new flavor.  Drop one of these bars into each stocking as well because everyone likes and needs a good snack and these are so good that even your picky teen will eat them.  

KOALA CLIP - These are also a repeater.  But, the new Koala Clip Lux has a small pocket on the inside for a key or credit card, or in my case, for my frequent coffee card which I obviously take with me everywhere I go. 

SMELLWELL - these little inserts saved our lives this fall.  It rained non-stop and between my own running shoes and my daughter's cleats, our shoes were in constant need of these gems.  Drop them in and they go to work, not only drying out your shoes but also eliminating odor.  Please and thank you.  Especially for the cleats.

DEMETER ATMOSPHERE SOY CANDLE - Traveling for the holidays?  Take your favorite scent on the road with you so you can always think of home or whatever it is you're missing.  Demeter offers these candles in recognizable scents ranging from salt air to new baby to thunderstorm. Use them to relax, to remind you of home or both.

PAIN CAKES - These 'stickable' cold therapy patches relieve your pain and swelling and stay in place on their own. No need for tape or wraps.  It's so easy.  You just open and press the pain cake on your areas of need and then go about your day.  Because who has time to sit during the holidays?  Genius!  

********** THE RWM HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY **********

I honestly didn't think I could top last year's giveaway but as I lay it all out here I'm not so sure.  I am so excited about all these goodies and will be giving them away reluctantly as I'd prefer to keep them all for myself.  No, no.  I would never do that.  Enter below and you and a friend get a chance to share this treasure trove of treats from companies that I love and believe in. In few words, tell us your favorite things about the holiday season. Not required, but enthusiastically encouraged. Make sure to put both of your names and an email address in the comment. You can also jump over to RWM on Instagram and enter there.  It is also not required that you follow all of these companies but it would be great if you did.  Winner will be chose via on 12/15.  Huge thanks to all of those who contributed to this package of love.  Good luck.  *US Residents only

Giveaway Includes:
1 pair of Jaybird Sport Tarah Pro Headphones* (Freedoms pictured here)
Oiselle Lux Beanie & Power On Mittens
4 Tubes of NUUN Immunity & 2 SF Water bottles
2 x $40 gift card for use on*
2 Lbs (Espresso & Ethiopia blends), 2 pairs of work gloves & 1 trucker from Landgrove Coffee
1 pair of SmellWell shoe inserts*
1 Box of Honeystinger Milk Chocolate Cracker N' Nut Bars & 
2 Honeystinger Limited Edition NYC Marathon Truckers
2 Pain Cake Ice Packs
1 Noxgear Tracer 360 Light Vest
2 Demeter Atmosphere Fragrance Candles
*Note: Jaybird, Koala Clip & Smellwell items will be shipped direct from vendor.

Listen to this:
We Got Love - Teyana Taylor

Friday, November 15, 2019


“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”
~ Dr. Suess

Last week, I asked my daughter, Grace (age 12) if she wanted to do a 5K with me.  Well, that's not totally true.  I kind of told her she was doing it.  Here's how our conversation went:
Me: Grace, want to do a 5K with me this Sunday?
Me again: Yeah, you do.
Grace: Okay, so do I have a choice?
Me: Not really. No.
Grace: Um. Sounds good?
Of course I wasn't going to force her to do it.  But I knew it wouldn't take much to get her to jump on board with me as she likes to run and she usually game for the occasional 5k.  Unless is starts at the crack of dawn.  Then it's a hard "no".  But this one, the Run For Our Heroes 5K, was starting at 9:00 and was only a few blocks away from our house.  So, really, a no brainer.  Personally, I've been itching to race some different and shorter distances since my last couple marathons and I much prefer to do these things with a buddy versus solo, so I was happy about the situation.  As we got closer to race, the weather forecast was looking pretty grim.  Cloudy, cold and windy.  Of course, I said nothing to Grace about this because if both of us were tempted to bail it would not end well.  Sunday morning when we got up it was in the high 30s.  Not warm, but not terrible.  We bundled up, hopped in the car (Grace was not interested in a warmup run over to the race despite my attempt to sell her on it) and made our way down to the start a little early because we needed to register.  As instructed, I put both of us on the same form.  The very friendly woman handed us two bibs and then Grace got back in the car to stay warm as I did a little run.  I came back and got her about fifteen minutes later and told her that she really needed to get out and do a some running so her legs warmed up a bit, to which she agreed.  As we walked back up to the road I noticed her shoes were knotted in a way I'd never seen before.

It's a technique she'd come up with herself, she told me.  She double knotted the bows and then double knotted all four of the bunny ears as well.  So, it ended up looking more like a lace ball, if you will.  Bottom line, those babies were not coming untied.  We jogged down the street a little and then after about two minutes Grace made it clear that that was all she needed.  She was good to go.  All righty then.  We stretched and did some dynamics in an attempt to stay warm but then eventually had to go back to the car to get Grace a pair of gloves because her hands were numb.

Right around 9:00 we were standing by the start line with about three other people which was odd because the race was supposed to start at 9:00.  Grace and I jogged back downhill to the beach to see what was up.  I asked a police man if the race was starting at 9:30; maybe I'd gotten it wrong.  But he was sure it was 9:00 and said things were just running behind.  Finally, we heard the National Anthem start playing and then the race director got on the mic to say a few words about her event before sending everyone back up the hill to get things going.  So much for our warm up.  I think it was about 9:20 when she finally sent us off.  I had asked Grace if she wanted to run with me but she ended up hooking up with her soccer buddy, Leila, so we decided to do our own things.  Good luck! Have fun! I screamed.  She smiled back and nodded.  I was probably embarrassing her.  Didn't care.  

Given the late start and unexpected GO! from the woman in charge, I was not at all prepared to get moving.  My music was not on and my watch was not on the right screen and I realized both of these too late, obviously.  So, during that first quarter mile, I attempted to start both up, successfully getting the music to play but not able to start my timer because the screen is tiny and my hands were frozen.  Oh well.  I decided to just run hard and see how things unfolded.  The start was uphill and I was very quickly uncomfortable.  I was either running too fast or just struggling with the fast pace in general, which is more likely the case.  I did my best to just settle in and fall in behind the people in front of me.  We cruised through the streets of Winchester in multiple amoeba like loops and I attempted to power up the hills and work the downs as there were a lot of them.  About 17 minutes later we were back on the road we'd started on and running down the final stretch.  I'm not a 5K fan due to the pain factor but I do love how quick they are over.  I had no idea what kind of time I was running since I hadn't had a watch going for the entire race but I could see the clock at the finish and ended up crossing right around 19:10 give or take a few seconds.  Honestly, I'm not 100% sure on my final time and I can't find the race results nor do I really care.  Leila's dad finished right in front of me and we exchanged thoughts as he thought the course might have been a little short.  Though, as others rolled in, I heard a gal tell her partner that she'd logged 5.1K on her watch (she'd been measuring distance in kilometers), so who knows?  And, again, who cares?  I rolled back down the street with Leila's dad to find Grace and Leila so we could cheer them on as they finished.  They were together and barreling down the final stretch, and I clapped and jumped up and down like an idiot as she finished.  She came in right around 24:00 which was so awesome.  Despite the cold, she'd worked up a sweat and when I got to her she was chugging water and inhaling a chocolatey granola bar.  Got to refuel pronto, right?  I never skip my cool down but for the first time, maybe ever, I knew there was no way it was happening.  Grace and I were freezing.  Coffee was calling.  And I saw it as my mom duty to get us out of the cold and into the coffee shop.  We did stop to check our times on the results page that was taped to the wall.  Turns out, Grace wasn't even registered.  She did have a number, but I'm guessing the timing company didn't see our two names on one sheet and overlooked her entry.  I asked her if she wanted me to go say something to them about it.  Nah, she said.  She had peppermint mocha on the brain.  I got it.

Leila's dad and I followed the girls back to our cars.  We talked running and he let me know that most of his races are 200 miles or over.  That's a not a typo.  He flies over to Europe and runs up and over Mont Blonc and through the Alps for multiple hours.  For fun.  And you thought I was crazy.  Grace and I went to Starbucks and got hot drinks and cake pops.  Well, she got the cake pop.  Yes, I am a total sucker.  

But, she'd just run a 5k with me.  And I wanted her to remember it, all of it, as a super fun experience so she'd do them with me more often.  And if that involved bribing her with post-race sugary treats, than so be it.  She was happy with sugar.  I was happy with caffeine.  We were happy to be together.  It was a win for both of us.

I was hopeful that I'd started a trend and that she'd join me next time I raced.  Yesterday, as she got out of the car for school, I asked her if she was down for round 2.  Here's how our conversation played out this time:
Me: Want to do another 5K with me in December?
Grace: December??!!  Is it indoor?
Grace: Sorry, Mom. I don't do cold.  This last one was pushing it.
Me: We can bundle up.
Grace: I'll do it again in the spring.  Promise
Alas, I might not have her as my partner in crime for a little while.  But I'll be holding on to this experience as it was a special one.  And the actual race itself had very little do with it.

Listen to this:

Friday, November 1, 2019


"I love running and I will always run."
~ Haile Gebrselassie

As you may know, I ran the Chicago Marathon back on October 13th.  It went pretty well all things considered.  But, not as well as I'd hoped; primarily due to some stomach issues.  When I got back to MA and the dust had settled a bit I couldn't help but feel like I needed a do-over.  Not necessarily to run a PR but to use the summer training I still had under my belt in order to run a marathon without any major issues with the goal being to feel strong from start to finish.  After a couple days off... literally...2 days, I was super amped about racing and eager to line up again.  I've done this before; the quick turnaround using the same training cycle.  It doesn't work for everyone but I've had good luck with it.  So, my coach wasn't at all surprised when I told him I wanted to get after it again.  He was, however, a little surprised with my request to do it just two weeks post-Chicago as I've never turned it around that quickly for a second attempt.  We talked it through together.  Yes, I had pushed hard in Chicago but I'd had to pull back around mile 20 due to lack of fuel, so I'd given it about 97% instead of the full one hundred.  Because of this, we agreed, I hadn't totally tapped the well, if you will, and could potentially run the race I wanted despite the very short window of recovery.  I did think about waiting it out and trying again six to eight weeks later rather than two.  But, a number of factors were making this choice less ideal including the fact that I really needed to be focused on my cross country team for the month of November which is the final peak of their season and that traveling to another race, between the logistics and the financial strain, was less than ideal for my family.  I did some research and landed on the Loco marathon (funny, right?) which was taking place a quick one hour drive from home.  I'd even be back in time to watch my daughter's soccer game.  It was kind of perfect.  Done and done.  Hats off to my coach who both understands and accepts my crazy.  Hats off to my family, too.  They don't really get it but they do accept it.  Or, maybe they're just used to it.  The only issue potentially working against me was the weather as it was looking to be rainy, cold and windy on race day.  Lowell and I both agreed it was not worth a fight in a shitstorm and that I would pass if that's what I was up against.  The beauty here being that I could make a game day decision as the race was so small they were allowing race day registration.  So, I ran and watched and ran and watched all week.  And by the time I got to Friday, it was looking like the rain might hold off until the afternoon, so I got myself in the mindset that it was going to happen and I was really freaking pumped about it.

Okay, I don't look so pumped here.  But it was 4:45am and my coffee hadn't kicked in yet.  I had to hit the road super early on Sunday because I needed to get there in time to park, take a shuttle to the start and register.  The weather was still looking iffy so I'd decided that I would run the first loop of the two loop course and if things were getting really bad, I'd just bail out at the half.  

I'm all for a good omen, 41 being my favorite number of course, but still. When I arrived to register, the woman asked me what race I was doing.  I told her I wasn't sure but that I was signing up for the marathon.  She said she understood and guessed that several would be dropping down to the half as well.  At this point, I was revved up and eager to run the full so I was crossing my fingers and praying to the weather gods that things would hold off until I was done.  

Usually, I set everything I need out the night before, but this was such a last minute decision that I had just thrown everything in my backpack and hoped that I'd remembered it all.  After I'd finished with registration, I had a good hour to kill so I sat down at one of the tables in the hall that we were allowed to wait in and laid everything out there.  Not that it would have mattered if I'd forgotten something as I would have basically been screwed.  I guess I just wanted to know either way.  Fortunately, I was in good shape, even a little over-prepared with two sets of Jaybirds.  I chatted with other runners about what to wear or not to wear (no on the raincoat, yes on shorts) and about the conditions in general which had all of us a little on edge.  I also did my stretching inside as it was way to cold to warm up outside.  Not ideal, but no point in starting off frozen.  Finally, around 7:45, we all made our way outside and to the line.  

About two minutes before we got going I looked up to see a guy looking my way as if he knew me.  It was a little awkward as I couldn't really see his face (yes, my prescription is out of date) and then he started walking toward me.  Then I laughed as I realized it was my former LHS athlete and now good buddy, Felix Cancre (far left, yellow poncho), who was there to get a fall marathon in because he hadn't done one in a while and wanted a updated time.  Felix and I have run many miles together over the years and I was totally psyched to see a familiar face before I headed into the unknown.  We wished each other good luck and at 8:00am we were off.  We were dealing with a very light drizzle but all things considered it wasn't too bad.  My goal was start off at 6:50 pace, run that through the half and then see what I had left for the second half, assuming I was going to run it.  From the get go I felt really good.  I settled right into pace, turned up my music and found my groove.  There were not a ton of people running this race but I had a small group around me and worked to stay near those who I could tell were holding a similar pace.  I can't tell you my splits because, unbeknownst to me at the time, my watch was not synched with my phone so I did not get my data afterwords.  But, just in looking at my time in the moment I knew I was right where I needed to be and the miles were rolling by quickly with no issues at all.  I gave a little sigh of relief once I'd cruised past mile 10 which is where I'd had to stop and use the bathroom in Chicago.  

The beginning of the course was gentle rollers and miles 10-13 on were on hard packed trail which was awesome.  I was running right behind a gentlemen, using his steps as a metronome and looking down at my feet to make sure I didn't hit a root or rock, many of which were marked with paint, which was great.  As we came off of the trail the guy I'd been following took a right to finish the half and I went left to finish the marathon.  I was a little sad to lose my guide and once I turned the corner I was totally by myself which was quite daunting.  The rain was now picking up and people were, as predicted, bowing out of the full.  But, I'd felt so good for the first half and knew I was running strong and had plenty in the tank for part two so I just went for it.  Thankfully, I knew the course at this point because there were several long stretches when I was solo and there were no water stations or spectators near me for miles at a time.  As I cruised along, I felt totally in control and was cautiously optimistic that I could run a decent time if not a PR if things continued to go well.  Miles 13-20 were solid, most clocking in between 6:45-50, which was right on target.  At mile 20, the rain was getting worse, but knowing I only had a 10K to go, I was okay with it.  Once I got back on the trail, though, things got a little dodgy as the dirt was turning to mud and I was having a harder time gaining purchase in some of the muddier areas.  This was a little disheartening as I was still feeling great, but could tell my pace was falling off a bit and there wasn't much I could do about it.  For a while, I thought I might be able to dip in under three hours if I was able to hold on, but as I got closer to the finish, I realized it was going to be tight.  Not that I gave up.  I fought tooth and nail until the very end and was excited to be the first woman across the finish line in three hours and one minute.  Close but no cigar.

So, yes, I was happy to have finished with a better time than I'd run in Chicago, if only by a minute.  But, at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder what I could have run if the stars had aligned for me two weeks earlier since I'd run almost the same time on tired legs and with no one around me.  My goal for Chicago had been 2:55 and I have to believe I would have been damn close to that if I'd had a good day.  Alas, we will never know.  I found Felix, who totally crushed it; easily taking the win with a time of two hours and thirty five minutes and we walked back into the banquet hall to put on dry clothes and collect our prizes.  I was freezing and soaked to the bone so it took me a while to change and get feeling in my fingers and toes again.  I collected a bag full of treats including an L.L. Bean gift card, some socks, a Paul Bunyan-esque hat, a pint glass, some chocolates, a pair of gloves, a book and a six pack of beer.  No complaints on any of that. 

Felix and I got a photo under the disco ball because....I mean...a disco ball, and, really, what the hell was going on?  It was comical.  And then we hopped on the shuttle that would take us back to our cars.  I was so ready to get home and get warm.  Before I took off, I texted Lowell and gave him the low down.  In so many words, I told him that I'd run well, was pleased, had felt strong from start to finish and had decided to go for it after the half.  Perhaps that wasn't the right decision, in regards to going for the PR, but I had wanted to try.  There is more in there, Rebecca, he said, and we will dig it out next time.  Now you need to take some time to recover.  So, I guess that means I won't be lining up for another marathon this year.  But you can be sure that I'll be raring to go come 2020 and Boston will be my next rodeo which I am totally thrilled about.  I honestly can not wait to give it another go.  But first....a little rest.  Just a little.

Listen to this:

Saturday, October 19, 2019


If you find happiness
Hold onto it, hold onto it
'Cause most of us are bad at it
Got aching ribs from faking it
And even if it dissolves
It's still better than nothing at all
So if you find happiness
Hold onto it, yeah
~ 'Happiness', Wingtip

Last year when I signed up for the Chicago marathon, Jeff and I decided to make it a family weekend since Rosie & Grace had never been before.  Thus, last Friday, October 11th, all four of us got up at the crack of dawn for our flight to the Windy City.  Despite the hour, the girls were super fired up primarily because they were missing school but also because they LOVE to fly (unlimited Sprite anyone?) and they love a good family vacation.  I mean, who doesn't?  We breezed through security and bee-lined it over to Starbucks as I wasn't able to speak until I was fully caffeinated.  Thankfully, everyone in my family gets it and Jeff is pretty much the same way.  For the record, the girls prefer Dunkin'.  I don't know what Grace drinks, but it's loaded with chocolate so it probably has a similar effect on her as my latte does on me.  Whatever does the trick.

After we landed, we got in a cab and made our way to the apartment we'd rented through Airbnb which was in the Old Town district.  It was pouring  Not good for running.  It was also about 70 degrees and humid which was super weird and, again, very bad for racing.  I remember thinking as I looked out the window, thanks be to whoever is up there that the race isn't today.  We dropped off our stuff and Jeff and I went back out to get another coffee as the one we'd had at 5am was wearing off and we had a long day ahead of us.  We all did some unpacking and organizing and once we were pretty settled in, we called an Uber and headed back out again, this time to the expo so I could pick up my bib and race packet.

Having gone to the Boston expo with me back in April and having had an absolute blast (samples and free stuff FTW) the girls were more excited than I was when we pulled up.  Once we were inside, we picked a meeting spot and broke up as they like to do their own thing and do it on their own time.  Jeff came with me to grab my number and shirt and then we took a cruise around the floor, stopping at the booths that caught our eye like Feetures, Picky Bars and Biofreeze (one can never have enough Biofreeze).   

I made a point to find the NUUN booth so I could say hi to Mason French, our team leader and thank him for all that he does for us.  He has got to be one of the most upbeat, positive people I have ever met.  It's insanely refreshing to be around him.

I picked up a couple more "unneeded but kind of needed at the moment because I was excited" things and then met up with Jeff and the girls.  All of us were pretty hangry so we left the expo and headed to a restaurant to get some burgers and fries.  Sufficiently stuffed and in need of more activity before plopping down on the couch, we walked over to the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower as one can't be in Chicago and not go to the top of the the 3rd tallest building in the world.  

Unfortunately, the visibility wasn't great due to the storm that had come through.  So we could only see about 5 to 10 miles out instead of the usual 50.  It was still ridiculously spooky to be out in this small glass box on top of the city so the effect was not lost on us.  Of course, Rosie felt the need to do a handstand, not at all weird for her but it definitely got some looks from the people around us.  We're used to it.  And, personally, I though it was pretty badass.

Done with our touristy stuff for the day, we took an Uber back to our apartment for some chill time before dinner.  Jeff and I were pretty wiped as we'd gotten up at 5am to start this adventure.  The girls, however, were a bit punch drunk, likely over tired and unable to stop laughing and jumping around like wild animals.  Our two moods weren't meshing so well together in our small set up.  Around 7, we went back out to meet up with our friends the Eberhards, who Jeff and I went to Colgate with, for dinner.  They have kids our girls' ages but theirs had other plans so Rosie and Grace ordered sugary drinks and continued to laugh at each other through dinner.  Better than fighting with each other, right?  We stuffed ourselves with pizza and pasta and then walked down the street for some ice cream from Jeni's, quite possibly the best ice cream I've ever had in my life. No joke.  Finally, we rolled ourselves home and hit the hay.  Well, Jeff and I did.  Who knows what the girls did.  Probably a couple more hours of Tik Tok before they eventually passed out.  

As usual, I was up early the next morning.  After a quick cup of coffee I took off for a three mile shakeout.  The temperature outside was...wait for it...THIRTY SEVEN degrees.  I mean, it's not crazy cold, but given that it had been 70 the day before it was definitely a bit of a shock to the system.  Despite the chill, it felt good to be outside and the air was crisp as opposed to humid which was a nice change as well.  I was cold for the first five minutes or so but after that I was good to go.  The run felt great.  My legs were firing and I was itching to go faster which I didn't but obviously took as a good sign.  I just did a quick out and back and finished at Cocoa + Co., a sweet little coffee shop right by our apartment.  Yes, I planned it.  

As I walked back to our place, I started to get cold again and had the realization that I would likely be freezing at the start of the race the next morning given what I had planned on wearing and the current temp.  Oh well.  Our plan for the morning was to do the popular Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise that all of our friends had recommended.  We made our way back into the city yet again, got a third (or fourth, who knows) coffee and lined up for the cruise.  It was turning into a really beautiful day but it was not getting much warmer and sitting on the top deck of the boat with the wind blowing was a challenge.  We did our best, the girls caving and going inside before Jeff and I, but it was totally worth it as the city's architecture is so unique and learning about it was such a treat.

An hour and a half later and all of us were sufficiently frozen to the core and ready for some food.  We cabbed over to Lincoln Park to meet up with my friend Matt Jordan and his family for some pizza at Homeslice.  In hindsight, this was probably not the best decision for me, but I wasn't thinking wisely at the time as my hunger outweighed my ability to use my brain.  Matt has two little ones, ages 3 and 6, and Jeff and I laughed quietly as we remembered the days when high chairs were needed but the kids didn't want them and parents got reprimanded for bring the wrong set of legos.  It was so nice to catch up with Matt, who I went to high school with and hadn't seen since pre-kids.  I have to give his wife, Liz, a shoutout for her patience as she dealt with all of the toddler logistics and also to his kiddos who held it together beautifully considering how long we were there.  After pizza we walked down the street for cupcakes because...well, cupcakes.  Again, maybe not the best choice for me.  But, everyone was doing it.

A few hours later we hugged, said our goodbyes and rolled ourselves back home.  Lots of rolling over the weekend.  We only had about thirty minutes before we had to turn it around and go back out again as we had tickets to The Second City at 4:00.  Yes, we squeezed a lot in.  But, I have to say, live comedy the night before a marathon was a pretty perfect distraction.  And we all loved it.  I'll admit it was totally inappropriate for our girls, but we'd known what were getting into so it wasn't that big of a shock.  Well, it was for them, not for us.  Really, really funny.  We walked home around 7:00 and I made some pasta and got my stuff ready for the next morning.

My high school XC team had given me cards with notes and inspirational quotes which I read through multiple times before I went to bed.  So nice of them.  I was glazing the pages of a book by 8:00 and had my lights out by 9 as I had to be over at the start by 6:30 the next morning.  I'm sure Rosie and Grace were up for a good 3 or 4 more hours after me.  Whether they would be up in time to see me race was anybody's guess.  

Race day.  Finally.  I was up before my alarm at 4:45, sipping coffee and eating breakfast as I got myself ready to go.  I felt calm; ready.  This was my 24th marathon.  I'd had a great training block.  I felt really strong.  I was confident in a way I hadn't been in the past.  I was excited.  But not particularly nervous.  It was a nice change.  I embraced it.  I took a cab down to Grant Park and found the American Development tent which I had the privilege of getting to use since I'd applied and been accepted into the program.  It was amazing as the tent was heated and we had plenty of room to spread out our stuff and stretch as well as our own set of bathrooms.  I went out for a very quick shakeout run and it was right around here when my stomach started to feel a little off.  I chalked it up to pre-race nerves and tried not to think about it.  Around 6:45 we were told to make our way over to the start which was at 7:30.  So, yes, a ton of time standing in the cold.  But, Matt had given me a throw away blanket to use and for that I will be forever in his debt.  People were standing around in their tanks and briefs and I was the weirdo wrapped up in a brown dog blanket.  I didn't care one bit.  To my good fortune, I found two gals from my Oiselle team, Maeluen & Jessica, who were trying to run around the same pace as me and we agreed to work together for as long as we could.  This was a huge mental boost for me and I was very happy to have found some wing-women.  We all took some last minute strides out and then it was go time. 

Boston is huge.  Chicago is bigger.  And you can feel it when you're standing there.  45,000 runners.  It's kind of insane.  I'd been told that the GPS signal was inaccurate in the city due to all the tall buildings so my plan was use my stopwatch and just check my splits at the mile markers.  I wasn't thrilled about this plan, but there wasn't a better option if I wanted an accurate read on how I was doing.  Maeluen, Jessica and I took off together and hit the first mile spot on, right around 6:45.  The pace felt good.  Not too hard.  I was able to talk to the girls comfortably and able to get fluids no problem.  We cruised like this for a while, hitting goal pace without any issues.  All three of us in rhythm together.  Things were looking good.  Until they weren't.  Around mile 8, my stomach started to give me issues and I felt like I needed to use the bathroom.  I tried not to think about it.  No dice.  It was going to be a problem.  I then tried not to panic.  I needed to deal but, I really didn't want to leave my crew.  At mile 12, I told Jessica that I was going to try and speed up a bit and find a bathroom in hopes of using it quickly and then finding them again.  It was a long shot, I knew.  But, things had been going so well with them up until that point that I didn't want to lose out on working with them for the rest of the race if at all possible.

I ducked in, dealt as quickly as I could and hopped back out.  I have no idea how much time it took me but it was easily a minute or so.  The whole process was really unsettling and my flow, both mental and physical, was definitely rocked because of it.  I was rushing back through the crowd trying to find Jessica and Maeluen while also stressing about the time I'd lost and the fact that I was now running faster than goal pace to catch up to them.  Oh, side note, Pablo (in the photo above) and I were probably about the only two people in the entire field who weren't wearing the Nike 4%s.  I'm kidding, obviously, but you would not have believed how many people had them on.  We were definitely in the minority wearing a different brand.  It's crazy how much of an impact these shoes have had on our sport lately.  Ok, back on track.  Thankfully, I was able to link back up with my teammates which was a big relief and I was able to relax a bit and settle back in.  They both gave me a fist bump which I so needed.  We continued on together, now back on goal pace, averaging around 6:45.  Miles 13 through 17 went by relatively quickly without any major issues.  That said, I did start to worry a little at this point because my stomach was so off that I was afraid to eat my gels.  Who knows what happened.  Maybe it was the veggie pizza I had eaten the day before.  Maybe it was that I'd had too many meals out over the past couple days and my stomach didn't like all the changes in my diet.  Or maybe it was random.  Though, I kind of doubt this.  I was making an effort to sip Gatorade at every drink station but I knew it wasn't the same amount of calories that the gels provide and I was anticipating a zap in energy due to the lack of fuel. I worked hard to put it out of my mind, but you know how that goes.  Around mile 18, we saw the Oiselle Cowbell Corner, which just about the best thing ever.  

Our bird teammates were cheering their brains out and I got a huge surge in energy because of it.  I'm pretty sure all three of us did.  Around mile 20, I realized that Maeluen and I were on our own, Jessica having pulled back a bit.  I asked if she knew whether we were still on pace as my ability to check my splits post-bathroom was not the best.  She thought we were but wasn't 100% sure.  Oh well, I remember thinking, it was now going to be a fight for me to the finish.  I could feel my energy waning.  I was trying so hard to push through and stay on pace but it wasn't happening and I knew it.  In past races, when I've gotten to this point, I've stopped and walked, defeated and often a little out of it.  But, that was not happening.  I was still sharp, just not operating at full speed.  I told myself to relax.  To focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  At mile 22 I saw my friend Courtney and was able to give her a smile, which I knew was a good thing. I didn't feel great and my wheels were wobbly but they weren't falling off.  I was determined to keep it together and I was doing ok.

My pace was now notably slower but I forged ahead.  People were passing me.  It was tough but, at the same time, I was tough.  I was absolutely still in the fight.  And I was close enough to the finish to know that it wasn't going to be a throw away.  Thankfully, I could process that for those last few miles.  And then, there it was.  The finish line.  I crossed it without much fanfare in 3:02:28.  

I wasn't out of breath.  I hadn't been able to give an all out sprint because I simply hadn't had enough fuel in the tank.  So, I was just kind of okay if not a little unsteady.  I felt instant relief.  And then a little sad.  But also happy.  It was a weird combination of emotions.  Things hadn't gone the way I'd hoped.  And yet, I'd managed to run goal pace all the way through the 35K.  I was able to recognize that as I walked to get my medal and blanket.  Maybe it's because I'm older.  Maybe it's because I've done so many races.  But, for the first time, probably ever, I was able to see both the good and the bad as I started to process how things had played out without being completely devastated that the day hadn't gone my way.  A photographer asked to take my photo.  I am sure that in the past, had I run a bad race, I would have told him no thanks.  But I stopped and smiled.  Because I was oddly okay.  I'd run a brave, bold gutsy race and all things considered it had gone pretty damn well.  

I called Jeff and we made a plan to meet up.  They weren't able to come through security with their bags so I gathered my things, gave hugs to Jessica and Maeluen and wove my way out of the park.  Man, was it nice to see my family post-race; exactly what I needed at the moment.  They never travel with me to these things so having them there to wrap me up was such an incredible bonus.  

They told me good job and congratulations.  They could have cared less about whether I ran my goal time or not.  I love that.  Yes, it mattered to me.  But, in the grand scheme, it's really not that big a deal.  Jeff and the girls were proud of me.  I felt the love.  That was what was important.  I know had all things gone the way I planned, given how my training had gone, I had a PR race in me.  And sometimes, when the stars align, that happens.  But, more often than not, it doesn't pan out that way.  And that, my friends is the nature of the beast.  If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  There is always an unknown that we can't plan for despite all of our efforts to practice every single thing.  That unknown is kind of the magic of the race itself.  Sometimes we can work with and overcome it. Sometimes we can't.  But if we love what we're doing, and over the years I have realized that I truly do, than we keep trying until we hopefully find that magic again.  I'm 100% sure that it's going to happen a few more times before I hang up my shoes.  I have no idea when.  And time is not on my side given that I am 44.  But, I'm going to do my damndest to stick with it for as long as I can because I'm not ready to let that feeling go.  It's just too good.  Oh, and yes, I'll be bringing my own food to my next adventure.  All these years later, I'm still learning.  Thanks for letting me share marathon #24 with you.  Up next?  I have no idea.  Stay tuned.  

Listen to this:
Happiness - Wingtip