The Road to Chicago

Twenty two weeks ago I got the email telling me I was accepted into the Chicago Marathon. One week from today, I will stand at the start line, I will run 26.2 miles, and I will cross the finish line. This training cycle has been everything I expected, it has been everything I didn’t expect, it has surprised me, and it has pushed me. Each week had a life of its own. One week was filled with confidence boosting runs where the numbers on my garmin surprised me. I’ve been amazed by the speed I have found on the boardwalk as the sun rose over the Atlantic ocean. Another week was filled with doubt and questions. I have stopped on that same boardwalk two miles into a long run and cried. I have questioned my own ability and my own strength. My thoughts have consumed me. My body has rebelled. My hip reminds me that I’m asking a lot of my body. The only consistency in this training plan is that I showed up every single day determined to run this race.


Last weekend my mom and I headed to DC. We had a date with Elizabeth Gilbert. She is currently on a book tour that celebrates her newest book Big Magic. The evening started with a reading. I sat in the second row of the historic synagogue with my heart glued to her heart. I had purposely not read one single word of her new book. I wanted it all to be fresh.

Her words were delivered at the exact right moment.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”   ~Elizabeth Gilbert


Every marathon has it’s own story to tell. More important than the story of the marathon is the story of the hundreds of miles ran to prepare for the start line. There is a jewel buried within each mile.  This training cycle has been riddled with fear. The list is endless. What if I don’t run fast enough? What if my hip doesn’t behave? What if I disappoint my coach? What if I just can’t do it? What if? What if? What if? 

It’s paralyzed me. At times I’ve fought back. At times I silenced the fears. But fear has won more times than I’d like during this training cycle. But then I found my sweet spot. Life shifted. I found myself buried beneath the debris fear left behind. I dug myself out.


Last Tuesday I sat across from my running coach for one last time before I run the Chicago Marathon. As I listened to my plan for race day fear was still present, but fear wasn’t my driving force. 

“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.”   ~Elizabeth Gilbert

My race plan is simple. It makes me smile. My running coach crafted a plan that is exactly what I need for Chicago. I sat across from Jerry and absorbed his words. My heart was glued to his as he reminded me of the magic of the marathon. 

Kristy the person has to show up to Chicago. Kristy the person has to run this race. Kristy the athlete isn’t invited to Chicago. I need to run light hearted. I need run for fun. I need to fall in love with the marathon. One day Kristy the person and Kristy the athlete can run a race together. Chicago is not that race. The first ten miles need to be slow. I need to run 10:xx. I need to get to mile 10 feeling fresh. If I run the paces I know I can run, I will get to mile 10, and I will think I have a shot at breaking 4 hours. That isn’t my reality for this race. If I run slow, I will get to mile ten excited for 16 more miles. I need to be okay with walking if my hip hurts. I need to run this race with a smile.


Today I ran my last run in Virginia Beach before leaving for Chicago on Tuesday. A hurricane is swirling off our coast. The winds were wild. They danced between the trees. The trails were flooded. My shoes were quickly filled with water. My legs felt strong. I felt myself pulling forward. I wanted to run, but I heard Jerry’s voice in my head. Kristy the athlete isn’t invited to this race. I practiced this strategy, and I digested it mentally. Fear crept back in: am I taking the safe route? am I choosing comfort over courage? am I making excuses for a slow race?


Maybe it was the wind or the trees or the puddles, but I found myself laughing at these thoughts. Jerry may have known long before I did what I need from Chicago, but I had glimpses of it all along.

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”   ~Elizabeth Gilbert


Two years ago after I crossed the finish line of the Richmond Marathon I was exhausted. I had run a PR. I was getting faster each week, but I was burnt out. I don’t want Chicago to have this same story. My only goal for Chicago is to cross the finish line craving more – more miles, more marathons, and more me.

I had no idea when I signed up for this race how much I was going to transform my heart over the hot and humid summer. On Tuesday I fly into Chicago, the place of my birth, to run a race of gratitude. This entire journey has delivered me to a brand new chapter of my life.


Rock n Roll Half Marathon Race Recap

I really don’t feel like writing this recap. In fact, I really didn’t feel like running yesterday’s half marathon. I knew it was a good time to run a race before Chicago, so I signed up. I also know that this race never leaves me feeling satisfied. But I showed up. And I ran. So I’ll write anyway because I know there is a silver lining in here somewhere. 

I set a modified goal for this race to execute my race plan for Chicago. The first four miles I kept myself in control. I consciously slowed my effort. I did my best to respect the weather. 

Mile 4-6 were a mental battle. Should I push? Should I take it easy? 

I started reading Brene Brown’s new book Rising Strong while we were on our mountain vacation. There is so much in that book that I need to absorb.  

I have become a master at reckoning. I am brilliant at owning my own story. I live it. I breathe it. I see, feel and recognize all my emotions. I know exactly how they connect to every aspect of my life. 

This is the space I ran in yesterday. This is the space I’ve been running in all summer (all year! For years!). Yesterday’s race actually had nothing to do with yesterday’s race. In fact, I doubt it has anything to do running at all. Running is never about running for me. Running is about life. Running is about living. Running is about breath. I often wish I could separate the two. I wish running could be just running, but that’s not how I’m wired. It’s not how I work. Right now I’m struggling to navigate The Rumble. I’m stuck in the middle. 

Mile 6-8 was a true rumble in my head. 

“We can chose courage or we can chose comfort, but we can’t have both.” ~Brene Brown

My friend Heidi wrote about this statement days before the race (read it here). These words hung on me during the race. I wanted to chose courage, but I picked comfort. I seem to always pick comfort these days. Miles 6-8 I tried to rewrite my story. I tried to write a different script for how my races have been playing out these days, but I picked comfort instead. 

If I’m being honest, I have no clue how to get to The Revolution. I’m stuck in The Rumble. 

Around mile 8, a familiar face appeared in the crowd. I jumped in beside her. I asked her what her goal was. She was right where she needed to be. So I happily ditched my internal battle and ran beside her. The last five miles are quite possible the most fun, I’ve ever had on a race. I drank a beer. I enjoyed Popsicles. I ran through sprinklers. I cheered my friend on as we ran up and over the final bridge. As we turned on to the boardwalk, I heard a woman coaching herself to the finish line. She was desperately pleading for the finish line to appear. I took one look over my shoulder, saw her struggle, and told her to come on. Run with me. We’ve got this. Stay beside me. You are going to finish strong. For the last mile I pulled her with me. My heart swells as I think about that moment. As soon as she finished she let out a thank you and tears. It was her first half marathon. She had cramping at mile 6. And then with a simple statement, she reminded me of why I love running – I just pushed through it. And somehow it passes. Somehow your body just works through it. 

Most days I feel like I’m nearly drowning in The Rumble. What is truth? What is self protection? What needs to change ? 

If yesterday has a silver lining hiding inside of it, it is this: I know what needs to change. I need to get out of my head. I need to find the celebration in my own race. I need to push through it. I need to trust that somehow my body will work through it. 

I am still struggling to squash the disappoint I have in my ability to preform in race day, but I know this is all part of the  process. 

If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fail…

The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.” ~Brene Brown

The journey is hard, I may struggle a lot, but there is no other way I want to live my life than with my whole heart. 

Yesterday’s race is proof that I can live through the entire process. I lived it all: the reckoning (miles 1-4), the rumble (miles 4-8) and the revolution (miles 8-finish). 

Maybe I do know how to do this! 

Tomorrow is a fresh start, a new week on my training plan, and a very exciting new chapter for our family. Cole’s middle school adventure begins, and I have another chance to rewrite how my story will end. I have another chance to live this life with my whole (messy) heart. 

Best spectators in town

The Middle of the Mountain

We went to the mountains to disconnect and reconnect.  We went to getaway before the school year starts and the busy fall schedule begins. We went to breath in the fresh air. I had big plans for this trip. I had visions of days filled with hiking and evenings spent by the fire roasting marshmallows. We would all come home feeling united as a family and fully refreshed. But that isn’t how family vacations go. Family vacations (at least our family vacations) have a way of magnifying every area of weakness and every area we neglected this past year. 

The weekend was punctuated by Chet’s meltdowns. Welcome to 3. Bedtime was a disaster (same as at home). Getting him to eat was a disaster (same as at home). Getting him to not run off the side of a mountain wasn’t a disaster (fortunately), but it did result in a temper tantrum somewhere between the top of the mountain and the trail head. 

While we climbed that mountain, I worried Cole wasn’t having fun. I was afraid Christian would want to spend the rest of the weekend alone. I worried other hikers would judge us based on the level of noise we brought with us. I just wanted everyone to get along, so I intervened, I reacted, and I lost my patience. I walked a half mile back to the trailhead while everyone told me to come back. I was ready to pack up cabin and head back to the beach. 

“The middle is messy, but it is also where the magic happens. ~Brene Brown

After some persuading, I turned back around to finish our climb. When we finally made it to the top, two miles and 1500 feet later, we all started to head back down.  But wait! We made it! Let’s enjoy it! 


We took off our packs. We sat on a rock. We enjoyed the view. Christian and I let out a collective sigh that we managed to keep both kids alive on the climb up. The view of the mountains eased the tension in my shoulders. We made it. 

I wish I could say I absorbed the lesson I learned on the mountain that day. I wish I could say the rest of the vacation was exactly as I had envisioned. But Chet still had meltdowns, bedtime was still hard, and meals didn’t go as planned. But a whole lot of good happened over the past four days. Cole and Christian kayaked. The boys caught fish. I ran a mountain! Christian biked a mountain. A hammock, a few sticks and a firepit provides hours of entertainment. The boys played along the shore of the lake. Alex got his fill of sniffing and marking trees. Smores were enjoyed. 

After Cole finished kayaking around the lake, I turned him around and told him to look at the mountains. You climbed to the top of that! He’s eyes got big. He took pride in his sore muscles. He responded by saying I climbed all the way up there. It put the weekend in perspective. 

We went to the mountains to disconnect and reconnect as a family. It wasn’t picture perfect. It was real life. While I thought I’d come home feeling relaxed and inspired, I’m not. Instead I’m coming home with a renewed energy to invest in myself and my family. I’m coming home with a new appreciation for what it looks like and feels like to live life in the middle moments. I’m coming home with perspective. 

Right now we are all living in the middle moment of life. Cole is heading off to middle school. Chet is navigating the middle of toddler development. Christian and I are in the middle phase of life. The middle is hard. It’s past the excitement of new, yet the finish line seems so far away. There are days I wonder what in the world I got myself into. There are days I want to rewind and try again. But we keep going. We keep climbing. Because in the middle of all this hard, something magical is happening. We are getting stronger. We are become united. We are becoming a polished version of ourselves. 

As we walked in the front door after our five hour car ride home, Chet announced I’m so glad we went on vacation. I can’t believe I climbed that mountain. 

Me too buddy! Me too! 



Training for Chicago has been a constant struggle of highs and lows and rarely anything in between. Last Tuesday I finished my strongest workout so far this training cycle. I felt strong, confident and in control the entire run. The numbers on my garmin reflected my confidence in this workout. I felt on top of the world. 

Tuesday: 8×800 – 8:27 pace, 7:59, 7:54, 7:42, 7:41, 7:39, 7:34, 7:17


Sunrise Finish Line

I carried that confidence straight into my work day. It followed me to my yoga class after work. Everything felt perfectly in place as I relaxed into happy baby pose on my yoga mat. I moved through each pose welcoming the tension and welcoming the release. While laying in pigeon pose every inch of my body connected with the ground beneath me. I felt alive. When it was time to offer up gratitude in class my heart whispered “connection”. I was so thankful for the connection to the ground beneath me, to the countries I work with every day, to the amazing teams I find myself apart of at work, to my relationship with my running coach, and to the support of my family. My heart felt deeply connected. 

Wednesday morning I got out of my car at work, and my hip buckled. My body screamed “ouch”. I shuffled into the office, and I went about my day. I forgot about my hip until I tried to run with Chet that night. Two blocks from my house, my hip reminded me it wasn’t happy. I walked. I started again, and I quickly stopped again. I know better than to run through this pain. 

Wednsday: .25 miles 

Thursday: cancelled tempo run (per coaches orders)

Friday: Rest Day 

Saturday morning I woke up with little discomfort in my hip and headed to a 5k race. I had high hopes for the race. A PR doesn’t feel out of my grasp. A strong headwind on the way out and a blazing hot sun on the way back made for an incredibly uncomfortable race, but since my hip was comfortable I decided comfort was the place for me. 

Saturday: Six miles including a 5k (28:02) 


Warm Up Miles with the Sunrise

Even though I didn’t care about that race and even though I didn’t put effort into the run, my ego was still slightly bruised. 

Sunday morning didn’t go according to plan. By noon I hadn’t run my planned 18 miles and it wasn’t looking hopeful for the rest of the day. As I sorted through Cole’S collection of way too small clothing, I panicked. I wished there was a half marathon option in Chicago. I’m really good at running 14 miles. This week had fallen apart. I went from having best run to the worst week. I missed every run but a crappy 5k. 

As I slowly unravelled, I reminded myself: 

Inhale. Exhale. 

I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful. 

By 4pm the house had settled, and I had an opportunity to run. It wasn’t ideal, but I could get in some miles. I could chase the sunset. 

The run started off with ease. I navigated my favorite path along Shore Drive into the trails at Pleasure House Point. With the bay and the sun setting to my right, the heat of the day started to get the best of me. By mile 4 I was ready to jump off the bridge into the bay. In a desperate attempt to silence my head and to release the tension from my forehead, I pulled out my headphones to add music to my run. As I approached the Cape Henry Trail, I realized the magic I lost on the run came from inside of me. The magic of my running comes from connecting. I cheered on the mom pushing her son. I greeted all the locals out for an evening walk. I got out of my head and connected to the world around me. The paved path turned into trails and the miles flew by. 


Finding my Wings

As I retraced my steps back to my car, I celebrated the magic of each step. I celebrated the connections this marathon has brought into my life. I chased the setting sun. 

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~Brené Brown

This marathon cycle has shown me just how much I thrive on feeling connected. I am my best self when I feel connected to those around me. I preform my best work when I feel connected. My strength comes from connection. 

Knowing exactly what I need to be my best self and having a tool to make it possible -This is the gift of a marathon. 


My Heart needed this One

Sunday: 18 miles – 9:22, 9:28, 9:46, 9:39, 9:06, 9:37, 9:39, 9:41, 10:03, 11:16, 9:35, 9:31, 9:32, 9:27, 9:04, 9:02, 9:17, 9:29

A Life Mediation

“I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful.”

Tuesday I made it to my favorite yoga class. It’s been nearly two years since I went to a class at this studio. Yin yoga is exactly what  I always need in my life. It’s about learning how to sit comfortably on my edge, it’s about relaxing in uncomfortable poses, and it’s about finding space in tight areas. It’s physical. It’s mental. It’s emotional. 

Friday night my sleep was filled with dreams. In the midst of the chaos, I wandered hallways knowing Cole was supposed to be starting Middle School but I forgot. I forgot because I was also starting something new. We were supposed to be doing it together, but I forgot about his new start. 

Sunday morning my plans for a log run quickly changed. I stayed closer to home. Knowing my body wasn’t feeling as best as it could that day, I made every effort to run comfortably. I wanted to ease into my run. I wanted to enjoy each mile. 

Long Creek Trail

“I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful.”

This was the mantra for Tuesday’s yoga class. In the middle of summer heat, this can be a hard mantra to hold on to. In the midst of finding my edge, this can be a hard mantra to embrace. In the midst of change, this can be a hard mantra to embody. But I whispered it to myself. I reminded myself. 

During a toe squat, sweat started to roll down my back. I felt every portion of my foot expanding and stretching. When I let my brain relax, I found more space. When I focused on my breath, my heart rate settled. 

After my dreams of being unprepared for middle school, I did my homework. I pulled up the school website and added important dates to my calander. I am trying to prepare myself, but I’m not ready. I’m not ready for this leap of growth in Cole’s life. Do I walk him to the bus stop? Does he want me at open house? Cole is inching away from me, and I just want to hold him close. 

Marathon training is reaching its peak. I’m almost to the peak of my mileage and my workouts. It’s hard. My legs are always tired. I question whether I have more to give, but I keep going. 


Sunrise Running

“I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful.”

Yoga. Parenting. Running. They are all the same. They are all part of my life mediation.  They are all part of my life process. They are all part of my growth. 

“If our goal is perfection rather than growth, it is unlikely that we are willing to go back, because it requires a level of self-empathy—the ability to look at our own actions with understanding and compassion; to understand our experiences in the context in which they happened and to do all this without judgment. I call this ability to reflect on our own actions with empathy “grounding.” ~Brene Brown

Yoga. Parenting. Running. They all ground me deeply in my own life. When I find my edge, I seek comfort. When I get uncomfortable, I need to relax. When I find myself in a tight spot, I need to focus on my breath. Inhaling. Exhaling. 

“I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful.”


I didn’t run last weekend. Not one single mile. I was exhausted, achy, and mentally shut down. I slept all day Sunday. I knew Monday would be a fresh start. I’d ease back into a big training week. Tuesday and Wednesday my runs felt great. Thursday I fell apart. 

Tuesday: 7 sunrise miles, 9:23 pace

Wednesday: 6 sunset miles pushing the stroller, 9:57 pace

Thursday: 5.5 miles, 4 tempo miles interrupted by tears, 8:35 pace

Saturday morning I woke up to a severe weather alert and lightning outside my bedroom window. I slept for two more hours before heading out for my run. 

The weather I was greeted by as I walked out my door is the weather I dream about: cooler temps, a light rain, and a wild wind. I was so excited to run. I ran along the Chesapeake Bay, along the trails in Pleasure House Point, and over the Lesner Bridge. Ever step along the way felt like a celebration. Every gust of wind gave me energy. This is why I run!

Saturday: 6 miles, 9:12 pace

Sunday I had 16 miles scheduled. 16 has become my new normal. It’s never easy. I haven’t felt strong on many of my long runs lately. When I got an invite to join a few friends on a new trail Sunday morning, I quickly said yes. I’ve missed the support that running can deliver. I’ve missed the encouragement of running beside someone. 

The first five mile loop, six of us ran stride for stride. Six sets of legs. 12 feet. It was awesome to be back. The second five mile loop we ended up in groups of two. I ran with a new friend. I got to learn another person’s story. I got to see the strength of someone new. 

The last six miles we left the trail behind and ran neighborhood streets. At mile 12, I felt the familiar pinch in my hip. I encourage everyone to go ahead because I want to stretch out my hip flexors. I thought I’d catch up. Instead I took a wrong turn. I got lost inside the country  club. I finished up with nearly 17 miles on my garmin. This is why I run. 

Sunday: 16.73 miles, 10:35 pace

Last Sunday as I slept the day away, I felt myself get caught in a downward spiral. I felt myself sinking beneath my blankets. Insecurities bubbled to the surface and leaked out of every achy joint. 

I didn’t want to follow this path. I didn’t want to get caught in the downward spiral. After 24 hours of sleep refreshed my body, I was determined to make this week a success. In the mist of creating my own upward spiral, a friend shared words I needed to read. 

“That’s the thing about shame spirals, I realized. No one wants to get sucked down in to one but in reality they are more like roto-rooters if you look at it that way. They are cleaning things out. They are pulling us down down down in to what’s lurking there all along; unclean, unaddressed, unspoken. The feeling brings us to the awareness–that there is a toxic belief system that can be re-examined. They are our system’s way of flushing, of self cleaning. But you can’t talk your way out of it, you do have to feel it. The feeling it is your key to the escape hatch.” ~ Two innocents (To innocence)

All week my sleep has been filled with dream. I’ve revisited memories from my past. I’ve explored scenarios I am afraid of finding. I’ve laughed and danced and woke up feeling lighter than when I fell asleep. Maybe the downward spiral is a cleanse. Maybe it’s ridding me of my insecurities. Maybe it is my reminder that I am safe, I am loved and I am enough. 

Maybe it’s my reminder to let down my guard, to let love in, and to celebrate. Instead of spiraling up or down, right now I’m very happy twirling around while holding the hands of people I love. 

This week, Sunday to Sunday, was the perfect balance of life’s ebb and flow – learning to trust the process – hanging on to hope! 


Running with Fear

It’s a story I’ve come to know so well in my life. It’s a feeling I fail to recognize until long after I get caught up in the feelings.

I can’t breathe.

2.5 miles into my tempo run yesterday, I stopped dead in my tracks. Tears fell down my cheeks. I was instantly overwhelmed by life. What are you afraid of? I asked myself out loud. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to disappoint myself. I don’t want to disappoint those who believe in me. I just want Chicago (and life) to be a success.

Forever my favorite place to run

For the last 1.5 miles I dissected what that statement means to me. What is failure? How could I possibly fail at Chicago? Why would I ended up disappointed? Why would anyone be disappointed in me? The answer is a simple one. The only way any of the above is possible is if I give up on myself, if I l loose heart in the process.

In these moments of panic, I imagine exactly what I don’t want. I imagine giving up, and in turn I end up doing exactly what I don’t want to do. I quit.

“Hope is fear’s antithesis. Hope is the reality we wish to see in the future, and fear is its shadow.” ~Chad Davis

Navigating the balance between hope and fear is a fine art. It’s one I have yet to master. I do know that when I let my hope turn into fear, I can’t breathe. I begin to panic. I begin to doubt myself and my ability. There is only one place were I find my breath again. It’s time to return to my yoga mat. It’s time to walk into a studio again and perform the comforting ritual of unrolling my mat and whispering Namaste after many intentional inhales and exhales.

“Hope and fear are inseparable. There is no hope without fear, no fear without hope.” ~Francois de la Rochefoucauld

I know this fear I’m holding on to is just a sign of how much passion I carry around with me for my goals. Through my breath, I can transform that fear into hope, and then I can learn to trust the process.

Entertained by butterflies