Celebrating Running 

Richmond never disappoints. I love this city every single time I visit. This weekend I kicked off Friday with a day date with my husband – enjoying sushi at our favorite spot, walking to Belle Isle, racing up stairs, and visiting a local brewery – before I was joined by my two best running buddies for a girl race weekend. 


Up and Over to Belle Isle

Saturday morning started just how I like it: chilly. We navigated our way to a parking garage, walked a few blocks to the started, took one last bathroom break, and jumped into the race a few corrals behind our scheduled started. No PRs would be chased at this race. It was simply about having fun, feeling confident, and most importantly, welcoming my friend Leah back to the running world after taking a year and a half off to have a baby. 

The race course was gorgeous. The miles flew by. We laughed. We talked. We sang along to music. I may have thrown my fist into the air one too many times. And we crossed the finished line feeling better than when we started. This race will always be a favorite. 


Mastering my running photography skills

As my fall “racing” comes to an ended, I’m filled to the brim with satisfaction. Every race delivered exactly what I needed. Running is fun again, and winter training has some really exciting things in store. My favorite half marathon is waiting to be conquered. PRs are ready to be broken. I’m taking on an exciting new role on the J&A Racing Team (more to come soon!). I’m adding an exciting new strength regiment to my weekly routine. 

I have big dreams for this sport I love so much. I’ve always had big dreams, but now I’m ready to do the work to make it happen. I’m ready to push a little. I’m ready to see what these running legs can do. 


Expanding my Comfort Zone

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarding genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~Calvin Coolidge

Today I hit the “submit” button on the registration page of my fourth marathon. On April 9, 2016 I will tackle 26.2 miles again. It will be different this time. This race is like no other race I’ve run before. It will be 26.2 miles of trails along the Potomac River. 

I believe that marathons are filled with magic. I believe marathons are the place where my heart comes to life. 

As I ran the Chicago Marathon, I did something I’ve never been able to do in a race. I stayed positive. What could easily be considered a terrible race considering my marathon history and my fitness level, I found myself loving every mile. There were a few moments when the negative thoughts tried to creep in. At mile 14, I found myself think not yet. I wasn’t ready to feel so weak just yet. At mile 17, I found myself think I miss my husband. It was the first marathon I didn’t have him cheering on the back half of the course. (Ironically he was at mile 17. He ran all over town to get to that point which was never part of the plan. I never saw him.) At mile 22, I begged my legs to keep going because there was no way I was doing this for another hour. But as quickly as a negative thoughts surfaced – and there were so few in comparison to my training and my race history – I let it go. I welcomed the thought, and I let it pass through me. This marathon was my marathon to own. It was slow in comparison to anything I’ve run before, but my heart stayed a float. 


Missing this city already

The end result of that race was a healed heart, a happy spirit, and a deep desire to do it again. The Chicago Marathon left me hungry for so much more. How can I layer on speed? How can I push myself while keeping my heart engaged? I’m going to attempt to answer these questions this winter. While I have signed up for marathon #4, my goal for winter training is a speedy spring half. 

Marathon #4 won’t be about speed at all. Marathon #4 is about celebrating friendship. (I’ll be running with my best friend!) Marathon #4 is about adding fuel to my dreams. Marathon #4 is about finding the courage and the confidence to push myself out of my comfort zone and embracing the process. 

Winter is my season to shine! I can’t wait to tackle another season of training! 

Finding our balance: miles with Chet while he fishes

Chicago Marathon

Oh Chicago! A normal race recap doesn’t do this race justice because this race wasn’t about racing at all. This race was about heart. From the top of Machu Picchu Mountain in Peru to the finish line in Chicago, Jerry has been telling me that this race was about loving the marathon. I always believed him, but I took creative liberty to define “love” how I choose. At times love meant fast. At times love meant a personal best. At times love meant taking one too many photos on the trails.

After a perfect peptalk, Jerry sent me off to Chicago with one goal: ENJOY THE RACE!

I had a conference just north of Chicago the week prior to the race. Recently Operation Smile was accepted into an organization called PQMD (Partnership for Quality Medical Donations). It is a collaboration of nonprofits and corporates to establish and execute best practices of medical donations around the world. The meeting was filled with amazing people and organizations – people and organizations that are changing the world. I left the meeting on Thursday filled to the top with excitement and passion. It sharpened my focus at work, and gave me clear perspective on what is next. Not at all a bad way to approach marathon weekend.

Christian met me in the city along with a few favorite friends, and the next few days were spent eating, drinking, laughing, and taking in the sights of Chicago.

And then there was the marathon. This was my slowest marathon by far, but it was also my most enjoyable. I took my time. I took in the city. I felt the excitement. I embraced the marathon. It was when I sat back, and allowed myself to flow with the never-ending crowd of runners that I truly understood what Jerry meant when he told me this race was about loving the marathon.

This race was about embracing the marathon.

This race was about embracing myself.

This race was about embracing Chicago.

We left grant park and got pulled to the magnificent mile. I spotted Christian at mile 1.5 (earlier than I expected) and was more than happy to steal a kiss. I couldn’t keep my eyes from looking up. Running between the skyscrapers was amazing. At mile 2.5, I saw Christian again. One more kiss to send me north of the city. It was in the miles that took us north that I allowed my heart to settle. I just wanted to feel the entire race.

I allowed myself to be embraced by groups of runners. I allowed myself to observe the race. I allowed myself to slow down. This race was a constant flow of happiness.

My body started to fatigue around mile 14 (after another hello from Christian). I felt the lack of miles in my training, but my heart stayed happy. I gave myself permission to slow down even more. I checked on runners who looked like they were struggling, I high-fived spectators, and I kept going.

As I ran through one of the 29 neighborhoods, I saw runners in front of a building waving. I looked towards the direction of their hellos. We were running by a nursing home. Every window had a smiling face cheering us on. I waved hello too.

I meet a group of runners from Boston. We chatted about favorite races. They couldn’t stop raving about a race they ran in Virginia: the Harbor Lights Half Marathon directed by J&A Racing (my running coach!). They told me it is the only race they haven’t unsubscribed to emails from because they want to run it again, and he was quick to tell me they never run the same race twice.

As I made my way down through the final miles, I spotted a familiar face, Michele from NYCRunningMama. I only know her because I’m a fan of her blog. I hesitated before I said hello. Maybe I should just keep going? But this contradicted my entire plan to embrace the day. I quickly made my way across the street and introduced myself as a creeper. Before I could even finish my hello, I heard someone else shout my name. Just on the other side of Michele was Jess (from Paceofme) who has become a friend near and dear to my heart. I spent the last few miles catching up and laughing some more.

Before I knew it, the marathon was over. My heart was ten times bigger and 100 times lighter than when I started the race. It’s all still a blur punctuated by some really amazing moments. I can’t stop smiling when I think of this race. I feel so content, happy, and satisfied.

This race and this trip to Chicago brought me back to a place I’ve been chasing for two years. It gave me my love back. I have some really big running goals, and I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am that my running coach recognized exactly what I needed (even when I begged to focus on speed). I needed to slow down. I need to embrace this race. I needed to polish my heart.

Mission accomplished! I finished this race ready to do it all again. I can’t wait to add another layer to my training. The Chicago Marathon just gave me the foundation I needed.

My love of the marathon is back!


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! 


Why not me?

This weekends run started the same way as my last two runs. I parked in the same spot. I headed in he same direction. Just like last week, the first two miles breezed by. Just like last week, I found myself cracking at mile 3. MILE 3! Mile 3 is too early to crack. Mile 3 is closer to the start line than the finish line. Mile 3 is 23.2 miles from the finish line. I can’t crack at mile 3.

Unlike last week, this week I welcomed the emotions that bubbled to the surface. I took a moment to let it pass. I pulled myself together. Instead of turning around, I became more determined to keep going.  I may crack at mile 3, but I don’t quit. I keep going. I welcome it all, and I keep running because I know a few things about myself after 35 years of living.

I know I need to feel everything. I need to feel happy or sad or cracked. I know I don’t stuff any emotions inside of me. I know once I feel them, I can let them go. I know another emotion is waiting for me.

I also know I that I don’t give up. Runs get tough. Life gets tough. But I keep going. I don’t give up on things that I love. I certainly don’t give up on myself.

At mile three, I kept heading north. I ran until I hit mile 8, and I turned around to do it all again.


Back in May, I watched my niece walk across the stage at her high school graduation. During the ceremony, Scott Rigell (a local congressman) gave a commencement speech. It’s the last place I expected to find motivation. It’s the last thing I expected to think about on a long run. But over the course of 16 miles there is a lot of time to think. I spent many miles thinking of people who love me and support me. I spent many miles building myself back up. My brain wandered to the drive that my niece embodies. I found courage in her courage. I found drive in her drive. She’s 18 years old and after she received her high school diploma, she went in search of her dream to be a professional ballerina. At 35, I have so much admiration for her belief in herself.

During her commencement, Scott Rigell offered up three words of advice: Why not me? His message was simple. When staring at a task that seems impossible, ask yourself Why not me? Somebody has to accomplish it. Why shouldn’t it be you? Why shouldn’t it be you that lives out that dream?


I made a lot of mistakes on this run – I didn’t eat enough Saturday to recover from a tough 6 mile trail run pushing Chet in the stroller, I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t eat enough breakfast. My nutrition was a disaster on this run. I was starving by mile 5. I ate all my GUs by mile 7. I was so thirst. I stopped at mile 12 to buy a banana and a Gatorade. I drank too much and felt sick. Every mistake taught me a valuable lesson for the rest of this training cycle.

More important than the lessons I learned today is the determination I gained as every mile passed. I want this marathon finish more than ever before.

I forgot how much fight marathon training required. I forgot just how much determination it takes to keep going. I forgot how important it is to pay attention to my nutrition. But today I remembered. Today I remembered why I’m doing this and why I am capable.

I can’t wait to run 16 again next weekend.