Wednesday, May 22, 2019


"I'd rather fail at a goal that most people won't attempt than live without trying.  Because what if trying manifests into doing?!  Think about all  the possibilities of what you could become."
~ Allie Kieffer

This past Monday I shifted gears from a training perspective.  I'm now focusing on my next marathon, which barring any issues, will be Chicago in October.  I tend to log a shit ton of miles in my marathon training cycles, it's just what works for me, so while it's a little daunting to be starting again, I'm also pretty excited about it because I get a kind of sick high from all the hard work.  It's basically a five month long intensive physical and mental challenge that often comes in second only to being a Mom.  Bring it on, I'm ready.  I have 12 & 14 year old girls, so that can be a whole different level of intense.  This will be my twenty fourth marathon and I've got systems in place that are tried and true from years past that I will continue to follow because they have proved effective over the years.  Things like, as I already mentioned, running high mileage, getting as much sleep as possible, eating more whole foods and less sugar (excluding ice cream which is a summer must-have, no exceptions), more stretching and rolling, and so on and so forth.  Over the last couple weeks, however, I've been compiling a list of new things that I really want to focus on specifically for this training cycle in hopes that they will make a difference come October.  I'll just come right out and say that my goal is to run a faster marathon.  Given that it took me nine attempts to run a sub-3, it's a very lofty one.  I know this.  But, if I've learned anything over these last three years it's that the big, scary goals, even if they seem out of reach, are worth the effort as it's more fun to try and fail than to not try at all; 'fun' being a relative term here.  Seriously, though, breaking that 3 hour barrier was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my running life, so why not put another big one out there to aim for?  Because if it does happen it will be that much more epic.  Have I convinced you yet?  It doesn't matter, I'm really trying to convince myself.  It may take a while.  I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, here are a few of the things I plan to do differently this time around.  I've got twenty weeks of miles and madness ahead of me.  Hope you'll follow along.  I'm going to need support and I'll take anything I can get.  Giddy up.

~ Run as many miles with people - friends, teammates, family members - as possible.  As I've gotten older, I've found that I prefer running with company.  It takes the focus off of me and my frequent pain and/or exhaustion and puts it on the conversation at hand which inevitably makes the run go faster.  I really want to rope my 12 year old into running with me more this summer as her interest in racing was sparked this spring through her school team, but she has told me she doesn't like to run in the heat, so this will definitely be a challenge.

~ Stretch and roll the hell out of my calves.  Stretching and rolling is always on my list.  But, I am prone to plantar fasciitis and get it often in both feet, though thankfully never at the same time.  Knock on wood.  I'm going to make a conscious effort to stretch and roll my calves out both before and after I run on a daily basis as the less strain I put on those muscles the less likely I am to have to deal with PF.

~ Run at least one, if not two or three 100 mile weeks.  It's no secret that the more you run, the better your cardiovascular efficiency.  I happen to be lucky in that my body can handle a lot of mileage.  Thus, I'm going to give it a go. Assuming I can deal, there is not doubt that this will make a difference for me on race day.  Gulp.

~ Carve out time out for post-run dynamics after every run, excluding my long run.  I actually did them during my Baystate training as well, though not as frequently.  They help prevent injury, build muscle memory and improve form so there is absolutely no reason not to make them a priority.

~ Carve out time for core at least three times a week.  I have completely fallen off the core wagon this spring and it's time to get back on.  A strong core is the foundation of all running.

~ Focus on one day and one workout at time.  My coach gives me a few weeks of workouts and I often look at the entire week or month and get stressed out.  My goal for this cycle is to dive head first into one and only one run at a time so I can get the best out of myself for that day.

~ Take one positive thing out of every single workout, even when it's crappy.  As a lot of runners do, I easily get down on myself when things don't go as planned.  But, rather than dwell on the fact that I couldn't get it done the way I'd hoped, I'm going to find the good in each one.  Because it's always there.  And walking away on a positive note sets me up for success as I put it behind me and move on.

~ Run at least once a week without my watch.  Just pick a route that I'm familiar with and run free.  To remind myself that, above all else, I run for fun and because it brings me joy.

Listen to this:
Saw Lightning - Beck

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month." 
~ Henry Van Dyke

Last week, after about a month and a half of rain almost daily along with temps in the 40s, I started to lose it a little bit and wrote up this post outlining my top ten signs that it's not even close to feeling like spring.  Then this past Saturday, it was warm-ish and sunny so I held off.  Despite my wishful thinking, on Sunday it was, once again, cold and rainy.  Stupid Murphy.  I'm all for a good movie day with my family, but you can only have so many of those before you start to feel like the laziest person on the planet.  Today, Tuesday, it's still raining and the "feel like" temp is 40.  This morning my 14 year old jokingly told me that she was depressed and didn't want to go to school.  I mean, she never really wants to go to school, but the weather definitely isn't helping.  And I get it.  It's really hard to motivate to do anything when it's like this for multiple days in a row.  Even my dogs seem to be walking around with their heads hanging down.  Most likely because I'm not walking them as much.  Also because of the rain.  So, here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to go ahead and post my original list of signs that it's definitely not spring yet.  But, so that I'm not a total Debbie Downer, I'm going to attempt to stay somewhat positive and post a second list of reasons why rainy and cold isn't the worst thing ever.  You can guess which one took me longer to put together.  I'm thinking there is a good chance it will be uncomfortably hot and dry as soon as I publish this, which, at this point, I'm more than happy to deal with.  They say sunnier days are ahead.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Until then, stay warm.


1. My motivation to run, or do anything active for that matter, is ridiculously low.
2. Getting out of bed in the morning remains very challenging.
3. I'm still wearing my winter jacket and my hat & gloves are readily available at all times.
4. Our heat is still on.
5. Getting out of the shower, especially after a run, continues to be virtually impossible.
6. I haven't had an iced coffee yet.
7. Our grill has cobwebs on it.
8. My standard warm weather grooming needs are minimal to none, as shaving and nail care are totally unnecessary.
9. Reading is my activity of choice.  Because it's the only choice.
10. There's snow in the forecast and it's not weird.


1. Everything outside is in full bloom, crazy green and growing like mad.
2. The pollen count is way down.
3. I'm getting to spend more quality time with the family since no one wants to go outside.
4. We don't have to blast the A/C.
5. There's no need for a car wash.
6. This is really good sleeping weather.
7. My girls are still getting their homework done because their friends arent' hanging outside after school.
8. A hot coffee has never tasted better.
9. Sunscreen is expensive and a pain in the ass.  Don't need it.
10. Any day that the sun comes out is literally the BEST DAY EVER.  

Listen to this:
Empty Skies - Haelos

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


"Never let your fear decide your fate."
~ Awolnation

As you may already know, after my last marathon I decided to take a break from the full and focus on the half.  At this point, on a good day, I can run my goal marathon pace until the cows come home, but when it comes to speed, I need a lot of work.  On top of that, after running no less than two marathons a year since 2012, I was more than happy to take a season off from training for 26.2.  I quickly learned that it's hard to re-program your brain and your body after they've been doing something so steadily for so long.  Between the flu and the holidays, I had a rocky start to my winter training.  I ran a half down in Florida in February and did okay.  Though, nowhere close to where I wanted to be.  So, I got back and buckled down.  I put three more halves on my race calendar; one per month in March, April and May.  The May race, which I'd decided would be the Earth, Rock, Run, was set to be my bigger 'goal' race for the season.  I ran the March and April races pretty well.  But, again, not where I wanted to be and, based on my training, not where I knew I could be.  I felt like I was in a rut.  But, I knew what was going on.  I was lining up saying that I was going to "go for it".  Then, I'd get started and realize how hard and scary 'going for it' felt and decide that running safe was the smarter (translation:easier) choice.  I did it twice, for both the March and April races, running almost the exact same time for both.  And as I got myself physically and mentally geared up for the May race I decided that enough was enough.  I was working too hard to go through the motions on race day.  It was time to step up and make things happen.

This spring, through both Oiselle and 2L Coaching, I have connected with an awesome gal who I'll call SL because she likes to keep herself incognito.  She's a working mom and crazy fast runner with big goals.  The week before my May race she checked in to see how I was feeling.  I told her I was fired up but also nervous because for the past few months I'd been mentally holding myself back and I didn't want it to happen again.  She then went on to tell me she has a few sayings or mantras that she uses on a regular basis and that she often writes them on her arm to remind herself of them mid-race.  They're all worth sharing so here is the breakdown:

1. Your limits may not be where you think they are.  You limit yourself and your effort and interpret discomfort based on where you "think" your limits are.  When, in truth, you have no idea where they really are and how far you can go.

2. Sometimes you have to breakdown to breakthrough.  In other words, if you want to make progress and get faster, you have to be willing to push harder than ever before.  It might work and it might not.  But if you play it safe, you'll never know.

3. Change something.  You've found a lot of ways to run the race you keep running (in my case, a 1:27 half which I've done three times in a row).  You know it works.  So, now you have to change the plan.

The day before the race, I wrote all three of them on my arm.  I also broke the race up into three pieces, miles 4, 8, and 12, and wrote the goal time I wanted to be hitting when I reached those miles.  I did it early in the morning and then went about my day.  Took Rosie to the gym.  Watched Grace play soccer.  Watched my niece's crew race.

Went out to dinner with our whole big group.  All the while taking little glances at my arm for the reminder that the next day I would be racing and it was going to be new and different and it was probably going to hurt and it might not work out. But, it was going to be awesome.  Or, at least, that was what I was telling myself.

When I got home, I laid out some gear.  At my last race, my headphones died around mile 4.  I was not going to let that happen again.  While I made sure to charge my 'go-to' pair, I also threw in an extra pair that I could switch to mid-race if needed.  I know, it's bad.  But, I can't run without tunes.  I just can't.  Then I turned in around nine, hoping to get a decent sleep in, something that has been alluding me lately.  But, I won't take you down that road right now.

I woke up around 6:00am, made coffee and went out for a porch session with Clover.  This was the first time we've been able to do this in months, so we were both pretty happy about it.  The temp was in the 40s but it was humid and drizzling.  Not that I was at all surprised the weather has been like this for the past four weeks.  I gathered everything together and took off around 7:00 as it was an hour drive up to Amesbury and the race started at 9:00.  I arrived without incident and parked in a lot near the start.  I walked down grabbed my bib, said a quick 'hi' to my bud Eli, the race director, caught up with my new friend, Kalliman, who I'd met at my last race, took a quick photo with the great Michael Bernier and then shed some layers back at my car and took off for a warmup.

Master of Ceremonies, Michael Bernier

For the record, doesn't matter if it's raining, snowing, whatever.  Micheal is always barefoot, sporting his shades, and in the best mood ever.  If you're reading this and you are a race director and you need an MC, Michael is your man.  Back to my warmup.  The first song that played while I got going was Bob Marley's, 'Time Will Tell'.  Fitting, no?  I got hot soon after I started because the humidity came on fast and strong.  I wasn't too worried, however, because it was still pretty rainy and there was no sun.  Around 8:45, I headed back to the start and did a few drills as I waited for the Mayor of Amesbury to send us on our way.

On Saturday night I'd texted my coach asking if he thought it was realistic to run this half at a 6:30 pace since I'd been doing a lot of my workouts in that range.  He told me I could probably cruise through 8-10 miles at that pace without issue but, "whether you can hold on depends on how much you are willing to push and suffer."  Basically, you'll need to dig in and get tough if you want it.  I had already decided I was not going to play it safe for this one.  So, I took off and settled right into goal pace with a couple other guys.  Miles 1-3 were a steady climb to get out of the center of town.  This is my third time running this course, so, fortunately, I knew what to expect.  It was risky to go out at or even near goal pace on the hills but the day was all about risk, right?  My first two miles were right on target, mile 3 was a little slower and mile 4 was fast as I flew down the other side.  I needed to be hitting mile 4 at 26 minutes to be on target and I crossed just a few seconds after that.  So far so good.  Miles 5 and 6 were slower as there was another climb.  I knew I had the down coming so I didn't panic and ended up running mile 7 at 6:17 which brought me back on pace.  I was running solo at this point and feeling the effort big time.  I had the angel on one shoulder telling me it was okay to pull back a bit and relax since no one was around me.  But the devil on the other shoulder was telling me to suck it up and stick with the plan and, thankfully, he was louder.  I needed to be hitting mile 8 at 52 minutes if I wanted to stay on track.  I was about 30 seconds off, so the goal was still completely within reach as long as I held it together.  It was around mile 9 that a young guy, who'd I'd later learn was named Ben Mark, pulled up next to me and settled in at my pace.  Okay, this was good.  This is typically right around when my head starts to play mind games with me, urging me to slow down because of how tired I am and having Ben there kept me honest.  We cruised through the next couple miles, taking turns pacing and offering each other water at the stops.  We had one more hill to climb in mile 12 and I fell back as Ben pulled ahead.  This was it.  The battle was on.  I could either let go and give up my goal or I could dig in and try to keep Ben in my sights.  Once I was over the hill I tried to open up my stride and close the gap on the downhill, which I was surprisingly able to do.  After that we had a mile to go.  I needed to be right around 1:18 for goal pace and I was really close, so I just went for it.  The fact that it was mostly down for the finish definitely worked in my favor.  Everything hurt, but my legs were basically moving on their own and I was getting excited because I had pushed through the tough spot and gotten myself to the other side without blowing up.  Finally, I could see the green and white banner and I gave everything I had, crossing the line in 1:25:37.

Ben had finished about 10 seconds before me and was waiting with his arms up, ready for high-fives, which I happily gave him.  He thanked me and told me that it was his fastest half.  I smiled, thanked him back and told him it was mine, too.  Runners are so cool.  We're pretty dorky.  But, we're really cool.  We caught our breath and grabbed water as we chatted with the other runners who had finished or were just coming in.  Then I headed back out for a short cool down and said a quick goodbye and thank you to Eli as I was now freezing and losing feeling in my fingers.  Coffee anyone?  As I walked back to my car a young gal waved and ran over to say 'hi'.  She told me her name was Claire, and that she wanted to thank me because she'd read my blog post about the Cheap marathon, had decided to jump in last minute and had unexpectedly qualified for Boston, something she was planning to go for weeks later at Sugarloaf.  Well, that was awesome.  We talked for a while about her running goals, the fact that she was looking to join a team and that she was hoping to get much faster (no doubt she will) and then hugged and wished each other well.  

w/ Claire

Finally, I was off.  I needed to get back and regroup before my older daughter's State gymnastics meet.  Never a dull moment.  But I was going home with a feeling of satisfaction that I haven't had in quite some time.  Not because I'd run a personal best.  I mean, that was great.  But I was more happy with the fact that I'd finally gotten myself out of the rut I've been in for the past few months.  That I'd been willing to take a risk and to test my limits.  And that I'd gotten the much needed reminder that we are often stronger than we think we are.  Do I want to run a faster time?  Of course.  Am I going to keep training with this goal in mind?  No question.  After Sunday, I know I can do more.  That's it's in there.  And, most importantly, that we can continuously redefine what's possible.  Big thanks to Ben for being my late-race wingman and to my teammate SL for all the incredible support and words of advice.  Next up?  Chicago.  Here we go again.

Listen to this:
Not Givin' Up - James Deacon