When you tell someone – especially a non-runner someone – that you are going to run a marathon, you’re generally met with some version of a respectful “that’s great … good for you.” Contrast, when you tell someone that you are going to run the NYC Marathon, there’s a special, heightened aura that surrounds what surely, inevitably, will be nothing short of an epic race.Read More
The boys in my life – husband, son, brother – take great and reoccurring joy in giving me grief about my fear of falling. Skiing? Bring on the bunny hill, snow plow, “ski like a mom” standup routine. Running in the dark? “I don’t know what you’re afraid of – just pick up your feet.” I have heard every version, and at this point I basically tune it out, but the last round made me pause. My son looked at me from across the kitchen island with all of the sincerity a 16-year old can muster and came out with this: “You know, Mom, if you don’t fall down once in a while, you just aren’t running hard enough.”Read More
There are seasons in every runner’s life. For the past couple of years, mine have been defined by Fall marathons. Winter: Aspirational dreaming mixed with doubt about whether I have another marathon in me and uncertainty about which race to target. Spring: Ah spring … everything seems fresh and new and full of possibility … Push “submit” on marathon race registration but race training is mostly theoretical and workouts are guided by how I feel and how my spirit moves me (or not) on any given day. Summer: The shit is getting real. What are my goals? (Do I have goals?) How am I going to train? What have I gotten myself into (again)? Summer is the pre-marathon season when all of the doubts, all of second guessing, all of the self-pep talks to find my inner badass get sorted out, until the day arrives when it is time to finally flip the switch to training mode and really commit to sweating again.Read More
How do you describe four days in Oregon that redefined how you want to live and transformed your personal aspirations? Four days coached by the incomparable runner-writer Lauren Fleshman and mentored by the equally incredible writer-runner Marianne Elliott? Four days in the company of more than 30 strong and engaged women who arrived with a total commitment to the practice of running and writing and seeking deeper understanding? Someone, please tell me how, because more than a week later, I still am staring at a blank page trying to find a way to describe the experience and how much this group of runner-writer sisters have come to mean to me.Read More
I do not take on challenges lightly. A risk-adverse planner by nature, I don't set goals I don't think I can meet. I don't make arguments I do not think I can win. I don't ski down a hill so steep I might fall. And I sure as hell don’t sign up for a race I don’t think I can finish. This life approach is entrenched with the need for safety and surety, knowing that I can and do push myself but only so far. Generally, I have to say it has been a pretty satisfying approach to life. That is, until I start wondering what if …?Read More
There are some quotes that just stick with you. For me, right now it is this: “Bringing integrity back to your running means you have to stop worrying about where you should be and own where you are.” (Lauren Fleshman, Compete Training Journal). The thing about a good quote is that it will challenge your thinking and break you out of your status quo. Certainly, this has been the case for me.Read More
There are women who grew up on cross country teams, those who as adults found their way to running groups, and others whose joy for running is fueled by their “BRFs” (“Best Running Friends”). I do not fit into any of those categories. I quit my high school cross country team after two weeks because of a “hip injury”. (Or maybe after thirty years it is okay to admit that I quit because running is hard and I could not understand the point.) These days, running plays a central role in my life, but it is and always has been very much a solo pursuit. My idea of a “group run” is a long run with my husband on the weekend, or if I’m really going to go big on the group exercise bit, we’ll have our son our daughter join us for a stretch. Mostly, though, running provides a space where I do some of my best thinking and writing, and I find that these thoughts are best processed when I am very much alone.Read More
For those who know me or know my writing, you understand that, for me, running is equal parts about the sport and about the journey. So while I will write about the race – the course, the spectators, the City, and everything that made the Chicago Marathon such an exceptional event – this is not that post. Because, in my mind, it is impossible to do justice to the race without also acknowledging this: 26.2 miles is a friggin’ long way to go. It is hard. Sunday's race tested me and tested my emotions, and that is exactly what made it so impactful.Read More
I am (overly) cautious and a worrier by nature. Always have been. With a truly overactive imagination, in any given situation I can come up with a dozen ways that things could go horribly wrong, and then preoccupy myself with thoughts about how best to avert disaster. My family knows this and, my son especially, will exploit it for his own entertainment (“Look Mom – no hands!” … and then watch as my freak out begins and I turn fifty shades of pale.)Read More
I am a list maker and a planner. A habitual rule-follower, most of my life has been spent traveling a straight and narrow path and trying to avoid temptations to stray outside of the lines. While constraining in other contexts, these Type A tendencies have served me particularly well in training. With a well-vetted marathon plan in hand, I plunge ahead with a good deal of confidence that if I check all of the boxes, if I hit all of my runs and paces, then come race day I will be prepared for the task at hand. In week 8 of training, I had every intention of drawing on this compulsive desire (need?) to click off all of the workouts, and to stay entirely on point, to avoid otherwise inevitable vacation detours.Read More
Marathon training this time around is different. Getting into the New York City Marathon was a surprise, and my expectations going into it principally involved two objectives: (1) finish the race with my dignity in tact and (2) soak in what surely would be an epic experience. I started the training fitter than I had been in years, and every long run was a new milestone, reinforcing feelings of accomplishment and strength. Now, one year later, training for Chicago and training for a cause, I have every reason to feel confident and emboldened. And yet here I am, five weeks in, still waiting to hit my stride mentally and physically.Read More
Growing up, I LOVED the countdown to the start of a new school year. It came with the emotional bundle of apprehension, optimism, excitement, and nervous anticipation. Fresh school supplies, a first day of school outfit, a finely tuned new organization plan, and a hopeful vision for what surely would be a perfect year. A little nerdy and unrealistic? Sure. But apparently not much has changed because my build up to the start of Chicago Marathon training played out much the same way.Read More
It was a slow start when I returned to running after a years-long hiatus. Literally. A two to three mile run-walk (or, more accurately, walk-jog) left me breathless and struggling to remember why, again, was I doing this? After a few months, the pieces started to come together and while I was by no means fast, at age 44 I was posting life-long personal bests in middle distance races, and I came to view every run as a new opportunity to see whether I could eke out a slightly faster time. That game ended when I started to train for the marathon, and I was instructed to slow down – way down – and to learn to train at my marathon pace.Read More
Envy. One of the seven deadly sins. Our culture promotes it, and our conscience fights against it. But there are times when envy just sucks you in, and this week the Boston Marathon was my undoing. The more I read about it, watched coverage of it, and was pinged on social media with happy pictures of it, the more I wanted a piece of Boston for myself.Read More
It has been fifty years since Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to race the Boston Marathon, unbeknownst to the race organizers who did not realize that a woman covertly made her way to the start. Soon discovered, she shed a heavy sweatshirt and openly finished the race – to the sound of cheers – in a remarkable 3 hours 21 minutes. As she tells her story, the next two years she ran again (sans bib). Sara Mae Berman picked up the baton and ran in 1969, 1970 and 1971 until the Boston Marathon officially opened its race to women in 1972.Read More
Searching for running goals to guide me through 2016 prompted some serious self-examination about what motivates me most. Especially coming off of last year, if I am going to commit to something beyond a local 10k, it needs to grab me and inspire me in a very real way. I set the bar high, looking for something I could commit to wholeheartedly and without a second thought.Read More
To most, Tuesday was just another average weekday. I, on the other hand, looked forward to Tuesday with all of the anxious anticipation of a small child counting the days until Christmas. Tuesday was the NYC Marathon lottery. I have been waiting for this day since the moment I crossed the 2015 finish line in Central Park, and by the time it finally arrived I had all but blocked out the possibility that I might not get lucky again this year. Simply, when you want something so badly, it is almost unfathomable to think that you might not get it.Read More
Today, my husband celebrates a milestone birthday: 48. What qualifies it as a milestone you may wonder? After more than twenty-four years together, twenty-three of them as a married couple, this is the year that my husband and I officially have celebrated more birthdays together than apart. And that’s something.Read More
Saturday morning, this was the exchange in our family room:
Husband: What are you doing?
Me: Setting up the TV and DVR to watch the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Me: Because I’m going to watch them. (Duh).
Husband: You are going to watch all of it?
Me: Yes. (Again, duh).
Husband: You are going to watch people run 26.2 miles?
Confession: I not only watched the full marathon coverage, I watched some of it twice.Read More
After much thought, I have concluded that there are two types of runners. There are those who have to run like they have to breathe. Whether it is 25 degrees and snowing or a sweltering 95 outside, they will figure out a way to get in their miles and beat their bests, motivated by the pure joy they derive from the sport. For them, running is an inseparable part of who they are and, absent injury, it seems to the outside observer that nothing will ever hold them back. Then there is a second class of runners who, for want of a better metaphor, need a carrot (or the promise of guilt-free chocolate) to entice them out the door.Read More