Sunday, September 25, 2016

my story with overtraining

Nobody sets out to overdo it. Part of becoming the best you can be at anything involves testing your limits. Going farther or pushing harder than you imagined you were capable of. It's necessary for growth. Most runners know this intimately, and I am no exception. I was running at a level I didn't know possible for a long time, in a two and a half year period taking my personal best time in the marathon from a 4:35 to a 3:11. All along the way as I pushed myself, I would also check in regularly - thinking I was being careful and smart and in tune with my body. I took recovery seriously, had regular appointments with my chiropractor to keep things in check, was dedicated to my Pilates practice, strength training routine and daily foam rolling sessions. I had an annual physical with my doctor, monitoring my health through check ups and blood tests. My weight decreased significantly during this time, but there were no red flags. No injuries. No disruptions to my menstrual cycle. No issues with my standard blood work, blood pressure or heart rate. I developed food sensitivities and allergies (I even have an Epi pen now for wheat, shell fish and peanut allergies), but in my mind that wasn't necessarily connected to my running. I had always been plagued with GI distress related to my running, for as long as I can remember, and it didn't seem to matter what I ate or how I fueled when I raced, so I sort of just accepted it as being a part of my story. So many other runners deal with it, too, which somehow justified my own issues to me.

I thought I was fine. I was racing faster and running farther than ever! How could anything be wrong? I wasn't worried. Despite the concerns from family members and the dearest of friends, and despite the fact that deep down I was really suffering underneath it all.

Looking back, it sounds so foolish to me now - but I have learned to give myself some compassion and to find grace and forgiveness for that past self. It hasn't been easy, I will be honest with you. It has at times been excruciating. But awareness, while it is hard and can be so incredibly painful to wake up to, is also a blessing and a gift. One that empowers us to make changes and to live our lives differently moving forward.

Ultimately I am grateful for my journey. I have worked very hard over the last couple of years to heal and to rebuild strength from the inside out. It has been a lot more difficult than achieving any PR ever was or will be. That comparison is laughable to me! My hope now is that by sharing my experience, maybe I can help someone out there avoid causing themselves, and their loved ones, the same kind of pain and suffering. Or if you are already in the throes of it or know someone who is, I want to extend my heart and let you know that you're not alone. That you CAN turn it around.

It's better to be late than too late.
I am living proof.

I want to tell you that I am going to share this from the perspective of my running, because that's what this blog is about, but I also feel it's important to point out that nothing is ever one-dimensional. Health is not just about blood work or heart rate or what is happening with the physical body. During the last several years my heart and spirit and mind - my relationships with the people that matter most to me as well as my relationship with myself - have undergone major transformations - to hell and back! - just as my body has.

You are not healthy just because you are fit. In fact, I am a firm believer now that some of the most fit people out there are actually the least healthy.

About two years ago I started to wake up. It was a slow, gradual undoing. I was working with a new coach and excited to have his expertise to guide me and help me reach my potential in running. I wanted to take a season away from the marathon and focus on shorter distances for a while. The goal was a half marathon in the spring. All winter though, I was training at an incredibly high level still. Putting in 80 miles a week at times and long runs up to 18 miles - for a half marathon. The race came and I didn't feel like running it. It was cold and raining, I know that was part of it. But the truth is that those conditions are usually ideal for me. I just didn't have it in me. Something was off. I ran that race 7 minutes slower than I had on the same course a year prior. And I didn't care.

I talked to my coach about how I was feeling. He didn't seem concerned with overtraining at all. I went to my doctor and told her I was feeling depressed and heavy, and that I was having a hard time motivating myself to do things that I normally loved. She ran some blood work and called me back a few days later, telling me that my ferritin was "on the low end of normal" at a 14. Ferritin is the body's iron stores. I had never heard of it before, but when I looked it up I saw that "normal" was this massive range of numbers from something like 7 all the way up to 130. I remember thinking that was nuts - how could a 14 be normal-ish if a 130 is also healthy!? After more than 20 years of eating primarily a vegetarian diet, and a good two years of just not eating enough at all, I started to try to eat meat again to get more iron in my diet. I also went to see an acupuncturist regularly for a while (at first a few times a week, and gradually over time my visits became more spread out as I got better) and he helped me tremendously. After a few months I was feeling so much stronger, had put on about 10 pounds, and began training for my first New York City Marathon. I was also going to be running the Chicago Marathon with my Saucony cadet as a 26 Strong coach.

My training for NYCM was solid from a numbers standpoint. I was hitting the paces and mileage with ease and wasn't experiencing fatigue like I had in the winter. There were no signs of injury or anything. Chicago was a few weeks before New York and my cadet and I were on our feet for 6 hours that day. I was surprised by how well my body recovered from that race, but I went into NYC with some apathy that really wasn't normal for me. It was then that I decided I was never going to do marathons so close together again - even if one of them was "for fun."

My coach had me running New York fast from the get-go. I was on target for a 3:05 for the first 20 miles of the race. My family was there cheering for me, it was a beautiful day and the course was electric and alive with amazing energy. I was happy and felt strong through the halfway point. Somewhere around mile 18 though, I started thinking about my plan to race the last 10k, and knowing that it was going to hurt. There was no negotiating in my head though - I knew that I didn't want to do that. When I saw my family at Mile 20, I literally stopped to hug them. It was a moment that felt frozen in time for me. Pivotal. From that point on, I knew it was time to slow down. For the rest of my marathon, and for a long while after that.

I didn't know when I would want to race hard again, or if I ever would.

My passion for marathons and for running long distances was being threatened, and my health was too. I had had enough.

A few weeks after we returned from New York, my husband started his new job in North Carolina and moved down here into an apartment. He would be living in Raleigh 5 days a week while the kids and I stayed back at home in Virginia. The holidays were approaching and our lives were changing in a really major way. I emailed my coach and told him I was going to coach myself for a while. With our move, and me being a single, working mom of three during the week, I just needed to take the pressure off. Reduce stress. I had already signed up for Boston and wanted to be healthy and happy for that race. THAT was my goal.

Robert came with me to Boston and we celebrated the weekend with wonderful friends. I ran the race with no watch and enjoyed each and every step with no stress, finishing in 4:09 - almost an hour slower than I had run it two years prior. This was a huge achievement for me - running the Boston Marathon with no pit stops for GI issues, smiling and high-five'ing kids along the way, stopping to hug my husband, and crossing the finish line holding hands with a dear friend I had serendipitously caught up with in the final miles of the race. It was fantastic and my heart was happy.

That weekend I started to think that maybe I was ready to train to race again. We had a contract on a house in NC and would be moving and beginning to build our new life here soon. I felt good and hopeful and I felt healthy and happy.

But I knew that I would need to ask for help. That doing this alone was not for me anymore.

Robert and I sat down with coach James McKirdy for a couple of hours in Boston and I told him my story. He listened intently and I had this feeling that he understood me and that he would be a good fit for me as a coach. He seemed to have the perfect combination of an incredible depth of knowledge as well as a very caring spirit - I felt assured that he would put my health first. Having my husband there was extremely important to both of us.

After Boston, I spoke with Jonathan at Inside Tracker. James thought it would be a good idea to get my blood tested before embarking on the next phase of my running journey. In early May I had all of my bio markers tested with the Ultimate Test. I was most curious about my ferritin because going into it, it was the only area I was aware of that had been low when I wasn't feeling good. I was so happy to learn that my ferritin had more than doubled since my doctor tested it and had gone from a 14 to a 29! I knew it was still low, but it was progress. Slow progress is true progress in my mind, and this was a good starting point. I began to train with James, gradually adding back in mileage and eventually some light speed work - which I had not done in about 9 months. It felt good.

My passion and joyful spirit in running was returning to me, but I was skeptical because I had been here before and didn't want to do too much too soon and wind up right back where I was, or worse. I decided at this point that I wanted to invest in getting help from a nutritional and holistic standpoint. Being an avid Endurance Planet listener, I reached out to Tawnee Prazak to see if she could help me. Tawnee is an incredibly smart and awesome woman who has been very open about her own journey and experiences with overtraining, disordered body image and eating patterns. I pretty much adore her and before even talking with her I knew that she would be someone who would "get" me.

Working with Tawnee has taken me in a whole new direction, and has breathed a new life into not only my running, but truthfully my whole understanding of how to take care of myself - body, mind and spirit. I will write a separate post soon to share all of the details of the work we have done together thus far. Essentially it has involved a whole lot of waking up to unhealthy patterns and behaviors - letting go of certain ways of thinking and doing, and embracing and trusting totally new ways of nourishing and moving my body.

In the last three months of working with Tawnee and with James I have decided, with their advice and incredible support, that it is NOT time for me to race just yet. This was a hard decision at first, but I know that there is still more healing to be done and strength to be built. I want to race Boston this coming spring and to be healthier than ever when I toe that line. And I want to love running for the rest of my life.

So I am going to be patient and stay my course. 

Last week I had my blood tested again with Inside Tracker. I was astounded to learn that my ferritin is now a 102! In the last four+ months, with a lot of hard work and at times making very tough choices, I have taken my ferritin to an optimal level - from a 29 all the way to a 102. I feel better and stronger than I have in such a long, long time. As James says, "you can't track what you don't test," and having this knowledge to know the areas I need to work on has been so very valuable.

Because of the path that I've chosen and the work that I am doing, I believe that my best running is ahead of me, and that it will come from my healthiest, happiest, strongest and most honest self. I've evolved and expanded my definition of what it means to be my best self as a runner and beyond.

There are a lot of details that I am looking forward to sharing with you now that I am writing again. I want to write a post all about Inside Tracker, how it has helped me and how I think it can help you too. I want to share with you the ins and outs of what Tawnee has been helping me with, and how much I have been learning about gut health and stress and nourishment. I want to talk openly and bravely about body image issues and disordered eating behaviors and how that can really mess with our health, while also making us think that we are running better than ever ... a dangerous combination. I hope to be sharing this all with you later this coming week, and just wanted today to get this ball rolling...

Thank you all for reading, and for following along on my journey here. This community is so incredible and I am as grateful for all of the people that make it what it is as I am for the sport that we all love so much.

**if you would like to try Inside Tracker, you can purchase any test now through the end of the month for 15% off using the following link: https://www.insidetracker.com/qr/onboarding/PACEOFME**

Friday, September 16, 2016

plantar fasciitis

A little over a month ago I had an amazing run. It was one of those perfect mornings where everything clicked - a rarity for me in the thick of this Carolina summer. My friends and I ran 10 miles and did a bunch of 1:00 pick ups (with 2:00 recovery jogs between each), feeling strong and alive and finally sensing a glimmer of how the hard work we'd been putting in all summer might actually be making us fitter, despite the sticky humidity and blazing heat we face each day.

When I got home I remember just floating on that run for quite a while. I was busy with the kids getting them ready for their first trip to summer camp, my home a bit more of a hustle and bustle than usual. I noticed what I would describe as a little bit of tightness in the arch of my left foot later that afternoon. It wasn't totally unfamiliar and it wasn't all that painful, but it was there. The next morning it was gone and I had another fantastic run.

The following week we traveled to the Pacific NW for a family wedding and a marvelous adventure in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. I ran and hiked all week and reveled in the amazing temperatures, the cool clean air, the gorgeous sceneries. My foot didn't bug me one bit and I felt better than I had in a while, which I attributed to the fact that we were on vacation and the weather was a million times better out there.

me and Gus at Deception Pass, San Juan Islands
Another week later I was back in North Carolina. I went for a sunrise easy paced long run with my friends on a Friday morning and noticed that my foot was feeling tight again maybe 2 or 3 miles into the run. I hoped it would loosen up as we went.

It didn't.

I took the next day off and rested it - as best you can rest a foot as a mom of three on a busy Saturday. The following day I went out for a solo run to test it out. I ran for about an hour. A miserable hour. Longer than I should have. Once again I hoped it would loosen up.

Once again, it didn't.

Later that afternoon and all through the next day, it was tight and painful. No swelling, no discoloration, but tight as all get out. I knew something wasn't right and wanted to rest it and have it checked out.

I sought out the advice of my trusty chiropractor and dear friend from Virginia, Dr. Aleck Wong. He said it sounded like classic plantar fasciitis and recommended some intrinsic foot exercises, heat in the morning and ice towards the end of the day. He also suggested finding someone here to do active release therapy (ART). So that week I saw someone three times. She did ART and some slight chiropractic adjustments. After a week of that in addition to rest and at home therapies, I tested my foot with a 30 minute run because it felt so much better. But when I ran - it didn't feel better.

That week I saw a physical therapist who evaluated me and confirmed plantar fasciitis. He did some manual therapy and soft tissue work that included more ART and Graston, as well as dry needling to the calves and the foot.

dry needling
Another week went by with no running and I tested it with a 20 minute run. I felt strong and fit, and so happy to be out there doing what I love! But my foot still hurt.

So I rested again. I went to see a different chiropractor and got a massage. I went back to physical therapy two more times. My PT watched me run, looked at my old shoes, recommended arch support inserts and trying new shoes (I bought the inserts and went to the local running store and got evaluated and fitted for new shoes), showed me more exercises to do, did more therapies on me including cupping (something I had never experienced before) and sent me on my way with tape on my foot.

I joined the Y and began biking and taking some yoga and Pilates classes.

It still, honestly, wasn't better.

So yesterday - after nearly 4 weeks of no running (with the exception of the 30 and 20 minute runs I tested it on), 8 appointments with 4 different practitioners for therapies including ART, Graston, massage, manual therapy, chiropractic adjustments, dry needling and cupping, regular epsom salt baths, stretching, heating, icing, rolling and pretty much trying everything I could think of doing, including NOTHING - I went to see a podiatrist.

And guess what he said?

I have plantar fasciitis.

He did x-rays and examined my foot. Nothing is broken or torn in half, he assures me. He said my calves are "beyond tight" and told me that loosening them up is really the key to finding my way out of this completely frustrating mess. So now I have homework to do for the next two weeks: stretch my calves 3-4 times every day for 5 minutes at a time, wear a night splint that keeps my foot in dorsi flexion to lengthen out the muscles in my calf and foot, stay off of it as much as possible and don't do any exercise that puts stress on the lower leg (including biking, the elliptical, and yoga), take NSAIDS to reduce inflammation (Advil, Aleve). He also fitted me for custom orthotics which I was wary about, but since my insurance covers them fully I will give it a shot. I will do my homework and come back in 2 weeks hopefully feeling a lot better.

Throughout this whole ordeal I have had regular conversations with my coach who has dealt with this injury personally. It took him 4 and a half months to get through it. He could not be more supportive or encouraging and is going to give me swim workouts to do while my foot heals. Reminding me how important it is to keep things in perspective and have a positive attitude, it has been great to have him in my corner.

I know that there is a lot to learn here, and a lot to be grateful for. My current goals with running and health actually had me deciding a couple of months ago that I would NOT be racing anything this season in order to strengthen my gut and give my body a break from the stresses and rigors of hard training while my family and I settle into our new home and life here.

Maybe this setback is in a way protecting me from myself, ensuring that I DO indeed take things easy for these next few months. Thinking of it that way really helps me, actually. It's a silver lining, a light amidst the murkiness of this situation. I have always been one to believe that things happen for a reason, that even when we feel like we are stuck - we are actually right where we are meant to be. I am being tested right now and it is hard. But I will hold onto my faith. It could be far worse than it is and there are lessons and bright spots here to embrace.

Earlier this week I signed up for what will be my 20th marathon and 4th Boston Marathon. I have goals in my heart for that training cycle and race, and want to arrive at that starting line so jazzed and excited about it! And healthy! I think taking these next few months to really heal and build strength and balance in my body and in my life is essential. I know it is. So I will do what it takes to heal, and I will hold my head up and heart open to the lessons to be learned. To the beauties in the breakdown, so to speak.

Have you ever dealt with plantar fasciitis before? Are you grappling with it now? I would love to hear your experiences with how you were able to overcome it and what you learned about your body and your heart through the comeback journey.

Friday, September 9, 2016

the re start

it's been over a year since i last sat down to write here. to regularly spill and share and process in a public space.

there were a couple of starts and stops. but the fact was, i needed a break.

not from writing, but from writing here. i have fallen into a wonderful daily practice of morning journaling and reflection with good old fashioned pen or pencil and paper. it feeds my soul and grounds me, much like running does. it's a ritual i will continue, even as endeavor to share here again.

i have also taken a break from hard training and racing for nearly the last year. i ran the new york city marathon in the fall of 2015, and then stepped back. the race was a pivotal and defining moment for me - one in which i realized i had pushed too hard for too long. i gave myself some grace and walked into a new space in my running and in my life. a space for healing and preparing for new beginnings. i am really looking forward to sharing the ins and outs of all this with you!

my husband took a job in north carolina last november, a few weeks after the nycm and just before thanksgiving. it was a leap of faith, one we took together bravely as a couple and as a family. the year was hard, yet also one of the very most strengthening and healing of my entire life. it was many months of shaky ground and uncertainty while my husband lived in raleigh 5 days a week and the kids and i stayed in virginia until we were able to sell our home, find a new one and begin our life anew. feeling like we were holding our breath and so ready to find ourselves settled and sure and in a routine again, time was moving so slowly yet too quickly all at once. i was squirmy and anxious to get started and find a rhythm, yet i also was hanging onto many aspects of my life and dear loved ones in virginia and was having a hard time saying 'see you later' to them. resisting change is natural, i know. letting go and moving forward is never easy, even when your heart beckons to you that this is indeed so so good and right.

and now we are here, and have been here for 3 months. all that has transpired and transformed in our life, the unfoldings and the beginnings of so many good things ... it has overwhelmed my heart and just filled me up with so much gratitude. i am learning that there is so much goodness in times of transition. learning to let go and to trust my path, learning who and what matters the very most. as hard as it has been and will continue to be, each day i begin with a thankful spirit.

so this is the first post of my re start. another piece falling into its place as i settle into my groove. i feel ready to bravely share here again. and i thank all of you who are reading. for being a part of this space with me. i'm excited to share my running and life journey with you. things will be and feel different around here as i work to shape this into a truly representative and authentic platform. i have learned and am continuing to learn so much and will be open about it all. i look forward to connecting with you and sincerely hope that my experiences, musings and reflections will be a source of light and inspiration for you on your own paths and that we can all share in this journey together!

be back soon. i promise.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Giveaway - $200 Cash + Relay Starter Kit!

In my last post I shared with you guys my wonderful experience running the American Odyssey Relay with Team Bloggin' & Joggin, an incredible group of women who are all DIY bloggers. It really was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget! I am so thankful to have been a part of it and cannot wait to do it again next year.
As a way to motivate our readers and give back to the running community, the 12 of us are so excited to be hosting the most amazing giveaway today - the prize is $200 cold hard cash AND an awesome "Relay Starter Kit" filled with some super-cool stuff that's perfect for a relay weekend!

Here is a list of all the items included in the starter kit:

  • Safety yellow running vest
  • Safety running lights (including a lighted arm band)
  • Safety amber light
  • Health Warrior chia bars
  • Milestone Pod that fits on your shoe to track your miles
  • Muscle cream
  • First aid kit
  • Generic Pepto-Bismol
  • Vaseline
  • Car window markers

To enter the giveaway, follow the prompts in the below link. The giveaway is open to continental US residents only, and will be open for one week. Best of luck!

Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

beyond running

Once again life has been busy - it never really stops I guess, always whirling and swirling with all sorts of life and adventure! And lots of running, of course.

Four weekends ago Abby and I went to cheer on my sister and some friends at the North Face Endurance Challenge race series. Jodi ran the 50k and set an awesome PR, finishing in under 7 hours with a big smile on her face. Abby and I had a great time spectating and cheering in my sister.

Three weekends ago Abby and I did a local 5k together with the Girls Running Club I helped coached at her school. All of the girls did amazing, including my sweet Abby who ran her heart out and finished in her fastest time ever! I loved sharing this experience with her and could not be more proud of her. Running doesn't come easily to her, and she gave it everything she had. We laughed and chatted the whole way! I will always cherish times like this with my daughter.

Two weeks ago I ran the GW Classic 10 Miler. It was a strong and happy race for me. I finished right around where I expected I would (1:09 and change), ran steady and strong with no stomach issues. I set a course PR but was well off of my fastest time (a good 4 minutes) for that distance. This winter and spring were not about pushing myself for fitness gains, but rather about finding a healthier running/life balance and giving my body, mind and emotions a break from hard training. I loved being at this race and was happy with how it went. Placing 3rd in my age group was unexpected and a nice icing on the cake of a happy race. This race is one of my very favorites in the DC area! I was honestly just so grateful to show up to a start line and feel excited to run, regardless of what the time on the clock was. For the last several years I have been gunning for faster times at basically every race I signed up for, so this has been a great change of pace for me these last several months. It has been just what I needed, to feel like me again, to reset things for a healthier balance, and to help make me stronger moving forward in running and, more importantly, in life.

After the 10 miler I spent a week doing a lot less running, with much lower intensity and mileage. Coach Hadley called it a "regeneration week," really pulling back on things before I begin working towards my fall marathon and racing goals. I ran the American Odyssey Relay at the tail end of that week and it was truly the perfect thing for me, at the perfect time!

My team, "Bloggin' & Joggin'" was comprised of a bunch of female DIY bloggers from all over the country. Our team captain Cassie, who I met a few years ago when I was looking to have some furniture refinished for my home, asked me to be on this team a few months ago. I hadn't seen Cassie in years but I just adore her, and I was excited to meet more women like herself and share this relay adventure with them. Our team was sponsored by a slew of incredible companies who went above and beyond anything I could have imagined. This truly blew me away, and I really don't know how to properly thank them all for all they did for us!

The American Odyssey Relay itself is an amazing event. The race course is 200 miles from the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, PA all the way to the waterfront of Washington, DC. I was runner #1 in van 1, and it was a lot of fun to kick off the race - an experience I had never had before! It was a lot of fun!
I loved every second of this experience. My runs were GORGEOUS - the sceneries at sunrise and sunset were truly peaceful and breathtaking. I ran the first two nice and easy right around a 7:30 pace. My last run was nearly 9 miles in the dark along the C&O Canal towpath - it was a bit spooky for
sure, and I ran it slower (around an 8:15 average pace) but I made the most of it and was happy to have made a friend for the last few miles. Talking with her made the dark less scary!

My favorite thing about this relay race though wasn't my running at all ... but was actually watching my teammates run, and being a part of something so much bigger than myself. These women are all just amazing and strong and beautiful - and so much fun! It was refreshing to me to be with them, and it reminded me of the simplest and purest joys of the sport and how women can truly lift one another up and have so much fun together doing it! I am so thankful that I had this opportunity, and really look forward to doing it with them again next year.

Later this week the 12 of us are hosting an awesome giveaway - we are actually giving away $200 and a super fun "relay starter kit" for one lucky winner! I am going to post it here on Friday and you can enter. It's pretty awesome, so check back here later this week for details on how to enter.

The morning after I returned home from my relay, my family and I volunteered for and manned the water stop at our elementary school's 5k! It was tons of fun to do this with my family.

I have been continually reminded lately of all the things that I love about running that actually have nothing at all to do with my own personal running or pursuits related to the sport ... and what makes this even more beautiful to me is that it refreshes and rejuvenates my spirit in ways within me but also so far beyond myself. I know now that my passion for the sport has got to be fueled by more than just a fire within me to be my best, and that my definition of my best self as a runner and as a person, goes well beyond my own times or distances or accomplishments ... it transcends me in ways I never imagined before and I am so grateful to be realizing this now.

I do have dreams and goals on a personal level - to break 3 hours in the marathon, to race ultra distances, to be a competitive masters runner - but they will not have meaning to me if they are not shared with my family and with the running community. I'm really looking forward to training for my fall races with all of this in my heart. Without a doubt, I am seeing and experiencing running in a whole new way now.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My 26 Strong Cadet

The response to my request for a cadet for 26 Strong was way more than I ever imagined it would be. I feel so grateful to have heard from so many of you, and am just so very amazed by the response I received.

Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to write to me, to share so honestly and bravely your stories and your reasons for wanting to run your first marathon with me and 26 Strong. I received nearly 200 comments and emails from some of the most incredible and remarkable women.

Making this decision was very hard for me.

By this morning I had narrowed my list down to 4 amazing women. With the help of my husband and a few dear friends who listened to me work through my thoughts and considerations, I have chosen Kristi to be my cadet.

Kristi's email to me touched my heart from the moment I read it. Here is what she wrote to me on Thursday morning ...

My Story is really pretty long. Most people say I should write a book, but most of what my recent life has been like most people would think were fiction. 

I started running 4 years ago this May. I had my daughter, Kaylin in January and having struggled with weight a lot in my life, I wanted to be fit for her. So I started running. I couldn't make it a mile with K in a stroller! But I stuck with it. I found MRTT after my running partner PCS to Hawaii. Kaylin and I even ran our first race together- Arlington 9/11 memorial when she was 8 months old. Then my world started to change. 2 weeks before her first birthday a simple eye exam changed my life forever. Two weeks later after being rushed into specialists for neuro and genetics I got a diagnosis of Sandhoff disease. Incredibly rare, degenerative disorder and fatal usually by age 3. No treatment, no cure. We continued running. I needed the stress relief and to stay in shape knowing that my daughter my never walk, crawl, and she never did speak but her facial expressions spoke volumes. I went through a nasty divorce while managing Apnea coupled with Epileptic seizures, feeding tubes and years of almost no sleep and hardly any support (except from my running family who literly kept my spirits high through the roughest moments). 

I started back to school when she was 2 divorce on the horizon. This time I was going to be a nurse. I saw how much more my already great attentive skills and meticulous work with Dr and nurses could help K and meant I could do more to help others. 

It wasn't easy but I knew it was something I had to do. 

After she passed away last year, two weeks before her third birthday. I had a lot of scrambling to find my footing in life. I kept running. I signed up for my first half marathon. k and I had run a 10k together as our farthest distance. I knew that no matter the distance or even if I felt like giving up, it was nothing compared to what I went through to keep her happy, living life, and comfortable. I mean let's face it we would do anything for our kids. 

So last year I ran MCM historic half- glad I love hills! Every race I run I have a necklace with some of her ashes. It reminds me when things get tough that we are always together and gives me motivation to keep going. 

This fall I want to run a marathon, probably a huge challenge for me with FT nursing school in an accelerated program and a crazy work schedule, but I know I can do the training needed. I managed 5 days of running a week this winter and it showed in me taking 11 min off my PR from last year. And I know I can still sneak under that this year. Why a marathon? Because it's a feat that I know I can do with proper training. Pushing the limit and honoring K's memory and our love for running couldn't bring me a greater joy. 

I love healthy eating and am a huge foodie! I enjoy kick boxing, swimming and work as a pet care professional (dog walking all day!). The strangest thing I've done to fit in a long run is have my text book read to me as I embarked on a 2 hour treadmill run at night while on call.

I read her email jaw-dropped and with tears in my eyes, my heart filled with amazement at what she has been through and how running has helped her along the way. I simply cannot imagine enduring the pain and loss that she has experienced over the last few years. And, more than that, I was just completely struck by the vibrance of her spirit that shined through in her email ... she just seemed to me to be so strong and determined, so honest and real despite, how unreal and tragic her story was.

I will admit though that I also had questions about her running, and how she would be able to manage the rigors of training while also working and going to school full time. I wrote to her this morning and asked her about it, and she replied right away ...

Thanks for writing! Like I said my story is rather long but I'm glad that I am able to look back at my challenges in a positive way. 

My last half was RnR Dc (can you say burrr but an amazing 11 min PR for me!) Then followed up with CB 10 miler. And I'm running the Fredrick nut job and half May 2-3

I actually have been training on time over miles but consistently put in 20-25 hrs of running plus strength training a week. Worked out to 4-5 runs a week and about 20 mi.  I'm running for maintenance right now (3-5 mi runs) with all my back to back races I've found well rested legs give great results. 

My longest weekly runs are currently 12 miles, but it varies between 8-12 depending on my half plan for the day. With my recovery getting easier and seeing the benefits of weight training and doing what "garmin says" (yeah 220 training plan input!) I know I can add the distance. 

I also hail from the Midwest so it would be pretty neat to run my first Full in Chicago. Lived in WI for years and my family and boy friend are there. Let's face it having your own cheering section would help that last push to the end!

I feel confident that Kristi is ready to embark on the journey to her first ever marathon, and I could not be more honored or grateful to be a part of it!!

I am so excited for her, and look forward to sharing our experience with all of you along the way.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart to all of you who contacted me. I hope that each one of you will run a marathon this fall, I really really do! I am so inspired and touched by you all!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Saucony 26 Strong - Looking for my cadet!

There is nothing quite like training for and running your first ever marathon.

There is also nothing quite like being by a friend's side, guiding and helping her, celebrating her ups and staying by her through her downs- every step of the way - for her first marathon.

Last year I had the honor and the privilege to be a coach for the Saucony 26 Strong program. Saucony and Competitor Group chose 13 experienced marathoners to coach 13 women (of their choosing) for their first marathons - making up an incredible team of 26 strong and inspiring women to support one another and share the journey of a lifetime. It was honestly a magical experience for all of us, and one I will most surely never forget.

When I was selected last year, I had it in my heart to ask my dear friend and Pilates mentor Kathryn to be my 'cadet' for the program. Kathryn had done so much for me and had shared with me that she had found running to be very healing for her after the sudden death of her father that winter. We talked about it and both believed that training for and running a marathon, and this incredible program, would be wonderful for her. So I put a training plan together for her and in December we ran the Honolulu Marathon together along with several amazing women from some of the other 26 Strong teams. Kathryn's mother and her aunt and uncle were all there to support her as well. 
It was such a beautiful and fun experience!

I honestly never imagined getting to have this sort of experience in my life again, so when Saucony contacted me recently to ask if I would be a coach for this year's program, I felt like I had won the lottery! This time it feels even more exciting to me in a way, I guess because after last year I truly know how special it is. I just can't wait to share the experience with my cadet.

This year all 13 teams will be running the Chicago Marathon on October 11. I have run Chicago before and it is one of my favorite marathons. It is big and exciting and the energy there is just beyond awesome! I'm so happy that all 26 of us will be there together, really united as a TEAM and that we will have the chance to spend time with one another, to get ready together and to celebrate together after the race.

This year I am choosing my cadet differently than I did last year. I want to put it out there to all my readers, to my friends and family, and select someone through my blog! 

So here are the details ...

To be considered (no exceptions):

  • You must have completed a half marathon already.
  • You must be female.
  • You must be a first-time marathoner.
  • You must be willing to commit to training for a full marathon with me (either virtually or in person)
  • You must live in the US or Canada.
  • You must be okay with sharing your journey and inspiring others via social media (no need to have a blog of your own, but be cool with sharing (and me sharing) our story here, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and via Competitor and Saucony media channels).
  • You must be able to travel to Chicago for the race on October 11, 2015 (tentative trip dates are from October 8-12 - race registration, travel and accommodations will be covered!).
  • You must be able to commit to all of this by this Friday, April 24th!
To enter, please leave a comment here or send me an email directly at paceofme@gmail.com by this Thursday, April 23rd at 4:00PM EST. I know it's a quick turn around, and I apologize for that! I am going to have a lot to read through and consider in a short amount of time. My plan is to select and notify everyone by this Friday the 24th at 4:00PM.

What do I want to know? About you! How do you FIND YOUR STRONG? Why do you want to run a marathon? What does running mean to you? Share whatever you think would be helpful in expressing why you would be the perfect person for our 26 Strong team!

Thank you so much! I can't wait to hear from those of you who are interested in sharing this experience with me. Please spread the word and pass this along to any friends or family who you think would be great for this, too. I just know the perfect person is out there. I will be so honored to help her every step of the way to her first 26.2!

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