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!

Friday, March 27, 2015

halfway through Friday

I'm pretty sure it was some time around 2:00AM that my daughter woke me up. She was hot and asked me to turn on her ceiling fan for her. I crept out of bed and took care of it, half asleep, and then crawled back into my bed for a little while longer. Abby is almost 10 years old, but this is the second night this week I have gotten up in the middle of the night with her (nightmares the other night had me curled up with her for an hour or two, sweet girl). Even though she is a 'tween' she will always be my baby.

I'm not sure when these kinds of nights will dwindle away, but I do know that it's been a while since I have been able to completely sleep through the night. The night before that it was the dog - she was crying under our bed because she was thirsty, poor puppy. She is old (almost 14) and doesn't make it up and down the stairs on her own very well these days. It breaks my heart! I brought her downstairs and gave her some water and after that I had such trouble falling back asleep that I wound up just starting my day earlier than normal.

With three young kids and an aging doggy, sleep just isn't very consistent for me right now, and hasn't been for a decade. I guess us mommas just get used to it, right?!

When my alarm went off just before 5AM today I could hear the raindrops falling outside. I looked at my phone and already had texts from both of my running partners telling me they were not going to be me meeting me this morning, they would be taking their workouts indoors today. I went back to sleep and finally motivated myself to get out of bed a little after 5:30. As I tiptoed across the hall I heard Will call for me. He was up and really excited about a project he is working on, making me flashcards with instructions and diagrams about how to play chess. I better learn because this kid is serious about teaching me!

The two of us went downstairs and he sat at the kitchen table working on it while I made my coffee and slugged around, trying to talk myself into running outside alone on a cold wet morning. Just as I was about to go upstairs to put my running clothes on, Abby came downstairs. By now it was getting close to 6am. I looked at the clock and felt a little stressed. How was I going to get myself out the door for 8-10 rainy miles and be home by 7:45 to get to Girls Running Club just before 8:00? I would probably have to shorten my run, and that would have to be okay. Abby and Will wanted breakfast so I took care of making it for them before heading up the stairs.

As I approached the top of the stairs I heard Gus - "Mommy?" - his sweet voice asking for me. I peaked my head into his room and he said "YES!" pulling his fists into his waist like he had just hit the jackpot. He was sitting up in his bed with the cutest, biggest smile on his face. Gus is the best snuggler ever, and it is pretty much something he wants to do 24/7. He asked me if I had run yet and I said "no Buddy, not yet" and climbed into bed with him for 5 minutes of cuddles. His warm body wrapped around me felt so good and made it really hard for me to get out of bed! I had a busy morning ahead though, and wanted to get my run in ... but losing a mile or two to have time like this with him was really worth it for both of us. I finally made it out the door for my run at a little after 6:30 - enough time for 7 miles. The weather was actually perfect - a light drizzly rain and around 40 degrees. It was peaceful and the air felt clean and clear to me. I was glad I was out there.

As soon as I got home I quickly changed my clothes and Abby and I were out the door for Girls Running Club! I am coaching Abby and about 20 other girls from her elementary school for a local 5k race at the end of April. I coach the girls every Friday, and my friend Karen coaches them on Mondays. Robert goes to work a little later than usual on Fridays and takes the boys to school for me so that I can coach the girls. I am so thankful that he does this, and so many other things, to support me and our family. We are a good team.

Today my plan was to have the girls do some hill repeats. They did an amazing job and I was so proud of each one of them! We ran about a half mile to the base of a hill on our trail and then I had them do 4-6 repeats. We talked about how to run the hill, about form, effort and breathing. The 5k course they are running next month is hilly and Karen and I really want the girls to feel prepared for that. It was a great day to do this because the trail was pretty quiet with the weather being so icky. I am so in awe of these girls and have so much fun coaching them!

We finished up just before 9AM and I quickly ran home to change and get Will's school project for him (he forgot to bring it to school with him!). I zipped by the school (it is down the street from my house, thank goodness) and then rushed to work to teach at 9:30AM. I threw my hair up in a messy bun and hoped I didn't smell too bad :) I taught Pilates until noon (two classes and a private session with a wonderful client) and then picked Gus up from school. We got home, I inhaled my lunch and then - finally - took a shower. I got some chores done around the house and now Gus and I are cuddling in bed watching a movie as I write this. I'm so thankful to have reached this point in the day. We have a couple of hours together just the two of us before we get the big kids from school.

Halfway through Friday and I feel like I've really packed it in. Tonight my awesome nephew is babysitting for us (the kids are SO excited!) so that Robert and I can go to "Yoga on Tap" - an evening of vinyasa flow yoga and beer! - with some friends at our gym. I can't wait for our date, and am looking forward to the weekend ahead.

One step at a time, I know that my little family and I will pack it all in just like we always do. We will make room for all of our responsibilities, our activities, and our passions.

And most of all, we will always make room for snuggles with one another.

I hope everyone is having a great Friday!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

back to the track

On Tuesday I met my dear amazing friend Dora before sunrise at a local high school track. We are pretty sure it had been close to an entire year since we'd met for a workout there. The track used to be a weekly occurrence for us and our running tribe of incredible friends, and we have so many fond memories of sweating it out and working hard there, cheering one another on and suffering through it all together.

back at the track!
As hard as it was to get the work done, it felt really good to be back.

Tuesdays are my speed day each week lately. I usually get my long run done on Saturday or Sunday (depending on my kids' sports schedules and what my husband's running plans are), have an easy run Monday, work hard Tuesday, recovery run Wednesday, do light speed or an easy run Thursday (depending on how my legs feel and if I am fully recovered from Tuesday) and run easy again on Friday before my long run over the weekend.

This week my hard workout was a huge set of 400s which are really great to do on the track in my opinion. I arrived there late because I realized after leaving the house that I had forgotten my watch. I went back home to get it and couldn't find it (turns out it fell out of my coat pocket on the living room floor - doh!) and this made me late. I was a little frustrated and frazzled to be late and not have my watch for the workout, but was also determined to not let this completely derail me or ruin my morning. Dora was running easy laps to stay warm and loosen up when I got there so I hopped right on the track with her and we ran a few miles together just talking and catching up and enjoying the stillness of the morning together. It was wonderful. She was not planning to do a workout that day, so when it was time for me to motivate my tushie to crush some 400s, she ran easy and cheered me on - even timing me for several of them and doing my recovery jogs with me.

What kind of friend does that at sunrise on a freezing cold morning!? The best kind. Dora.

me and my honey b!
I hadn't run fast like that outside, much less on a track, in a long time. Coach told me to try to run them right around 88 seconds each. My times were all between 87-90 seconds so I felt good about that. I was supposed to get 16 in but because I was late I only had time to get 10 done. Still, it felt like a lot of work (I'm not really sure I had 6 more in me!) and I was happy with how it went and just so grateful to share the morning with my amazing friend. We are going to make it a weekly "date" and I'm definitely excited about this and will love it once the weather warms up and the sun rises earlier. Good times, warmer temps and hard work ahead :)

Tuesdays I also make my hardest strength work day, and this week I joined a new boot camp class at Lifetime that is really going to whip me into shape! Lots of squats, lunges, pushups, etc. I like doing my hard strength day on the same day as my speed, so that I am recovering from it all at once. My legs - especially my glutes and inner thighs! - were really sore yesterday when I woke up, so I did a very easy recovery-paced 8 miles yesterday morning along with a Pilates class later in the day that felt oh so good for my body. I wasn't ready to push anything again today and ran an easy 8 with my friend Karen a little faster than yesterday but didn't push myself at all. This weekend I'm planning on a 15 miler with the last three miles at marathon goal pace (6:45-6:50), and I want my legs to feel fresh and ready for that!

Getting back to the track feels so good, and I'm excited to return it to my routine again. I love a good hard day and as long as I honor the post-work recovery I really think it will benefit me physically and mentally to dedicate myself to that once a week. My 10 mile race is in one month from today and I'm feeling excited about that!

So here are some questions for you guys - do you like to do speed work at the track? Do you fit a hard strength routine into your training, and if so where do you put it in and how often?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

he rocked it.

Let me rephrase that. He totally rocked it.

Going into this race, I told Robert with complete confidence that I believed he would have no trouble running around an 8:20 average pace over 13.1 miles. In all sincerity I felt he could run even a bit faster than that, and when we talked about it for the most part I think he did also. The logical part of him believed it. He had done the work. His fitness was stellar. He was healthy and injury free. His paces for his runs were spot-on to accomplish this. Even still, that was a big number for him to think about and as we all know -- racing is a mental game, no matter how fit you are or how well your training has gone. And no matter how far you have come or how much you have already astounded yourself, trusting yourself and having the courage to push even farther can be a scary thing.

I am so proud of my husband.

Robert executed his race perfectly. He was brave and courageous and strong. He stretched himself and he never gave up.

Because that is who he is.

He finished in 1:47:38. An 8:13 average pace. A whole fifteen minutes faster than his personal best prior to this race. I would call that a big deal day.

I loved being out there on the course with the kids, cheering for him and my friend Karen. My in-laws' house is right at the end of a street along the course so I took the kids (all six of them - my three plus Karen's three!) and we literally grabbed our signs and cowbells and walked to the end of the road a few minutes before I was expecting them to run by. It was just around Mile 11 of the half, so a really great time to give our runners some extra motivation to finish strong. After they passed us we cheered a little more and then went back to the house to play and wait for them to return.

Both Robert and Karen ran such strong races and it was so much fun to be there for them! The kids were awesome cheerleaders and it honestly could not have been easier for me as a solo-flying parent with 6 kids at a race. I loved seeing other familiar faces along the course that day - including one of my clients who is training for Boston and ran a PR that day! What an awesome thing to see her run this race. It was a really fantastic day.

Being at Shamrock as a spectator for my husband and friends and so many other runners filled up my heart and had me feeling those "race day butterflies" in a new and very blessed way.

Running is the best sport ever -- no matter where you are in the pack, what your pace is, what your form looks like, how long you have been doing it, which side of the finish or start line you are on ... we can all come together and lift one another up. I love it! I am so proud to be a runner  - and to be the wife of a runner! Here's to our incredible sport and the human spirit that makes it as magical as it is. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

race week

It's race week in our house! Tonight my family and I will head to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon on Sunday. This time though, I am not the one racing. It's my husband Robert's turn, and he is going to have an amazing day. I can just feel it in my bones.

When I met Robert, let's just say that he was not a runner.  Robert was diagnosed with a heart condition, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) when he was a teenager. He would notice, even at periods of complete rest, that his heart would involuntarily beat at a very accelerated rate (upwards of 200 beats per minute at times). The condition was unsettling to say the least and also, with reason, made him a bit fearful of exerting himself with exercise. As a result he was a pretty sedentary guy for the most part, and just took it easy ... never pushing his limits or really even finding them. As the years went on though and stress levels increased as a working father supporting a young growing family, his general health and wellbeing were impacted and the episodes of SVT increased. He gained weight and was depressed and on edge so much of the time. Several years ago he went to a cardiologist and began taking a heart medication every day (a beta blocker), stopped drinking caffeine and reduced his alcohol consumption to try and control the symptoms. These changes helped a little, but not nearly enough.

He needed to begin exercising and what made more sense than to ask his wife to help him with that? So, he started running little by little. I put a training plan together for him and he ran his first 5k in February of 2013. Turns out he liked it. He wanted to do more, to see what else he could do. Over the course of about a year, Robert lost over 30 pounds. He ran a 10k. He ran a 10 miler. A half marathon. And then he was ready to go for a full marathon! The instances of SVT did not seem to dissipate however, and when he was dehydrated or pushing himself very hard, they on occasion were much more serious. We had a couple of scares when he passed out after a run and a workout - going completely unconscious. We spoke with his doctor and decided that an ablation surgery would make a lot of sense for him. It was a simple procedure that would completely cure the condition. Robert had the surgery this fall, a few weeks after running his first ever full marathon at Marine Corps (he did awesome)! Since then, he has continued to run and take care of himself - he is stronger and lighter than he has ever been I believe.

I could not be more proud of my husband.

Robert has worked hard all winter long to keep up with his training and to improve his fitness. We added a weekly speed workout to his training this cycle and I really believe he has made awesome gains in both his physical fitness and his mental strength. I feel a PR is right around the corner for him, no doubts about it. I cannot wait to cheer for him this weekend in Virginia Beach!

I have been a runner since Robert and I met, completing my first marathon about a year after we first started dating. Back then people would ask him if he was a runner too and he would tell them "no way," and laugh it off with a little "I only run when something's chasing me, and even then it's a stretch." But something was missing for him that he found when he began running.

Robert was and always has been my biggest fan, in running and in life. It feels amazing to be supported by someone I love so much ... but to be honest the feeling of being the one supporting him, well, that truly lifts me up even more. Watching someone I love and believe in with all my heart have the courage to do something he never imagined or dared he could do, to totally redefine himself and stand up for himself in the face of fears and doubts, is truly the most incredible feeling ever. He inspires me and reminds me that anything at all is possible when you set your mind and heart to it and do the work to achieve it.

This weekend I am so grateful for the opportunity to watch him run. It is so exciting! I hope that everyone who is racing this weekend, whether at Shamrock or elsewhere, has a wonderful race day!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

RnR DC 2015 - a good day

Yesterday morning I woke up to the sound of raindrops on the roof. This is perhaps one of my favorite sounds. I smiled gently, my eyes still closed, snoozed my alarm and snuggled up closer to my husband. Our bed was so warm and cozy. It was 4:30AM ... dark, cold and wet outside. Usually on race morning I pop out of bed with a feeling of excitement and a "hip hip hooray!" sort of buzz inside.

No such buzz was a-buzzing for me yesterday though. I wanted to stay in bed and sleep!

Nonetheless, after snoozing the alarm a few times I finally crept out of bed and went downstairs to make myself a cup of coffee. I was planning to leave the house around 5:30, so I had a little time to get my race-day mojo on. When I went downstairs though, I started writing handwritten notes to each member of my family as I drank my coffee. I usually take a little time each morning before I run to write or draw in my personal journal. It's a new-ish addition to my morning me-time, my start-the-day-right ritual. This practice has brought me a great deal of peace of mind, and is something that feels so right to me. Yesterday my journaling was in the form of notes of hello and gratitude for my family.

Abby would not be home when I returned from my race. She was being picked up by my best and oldest friend Marguerite around 9:30AM for a whole day and night away to celebrate her daughter Ellie's 10th birthday. Abby and Ellie are one another's "first friends" - their relationship so special and treasured. I wanted to write Abby to tell her I hoped she had a wonderful time with Ellie, to let her know I would miss her and that I am so proud of her! It is a big deal to basically spend a weekend away from your family when you're in the 4th grade, even if it's with friends who are practically family. She and I stayed up the night before helping her pack her bag and she was equal parts nervous and excited about it.

Will would be getting ready for his final basketball game of the season while I was running my race. I was going to be home in time for it, and I wanted to leave him a note to remind him of that. To tell him I am so proud of how hard he has worked at basketball this season (it was his first time playing this sport!) and that I was excited to see him play in his last game.

Gus is 4, and though he can't read I wanted to leave him a note anyway. He likes to wake up and have lots of hugs and snuggle-time with me each morning. With all the at-home treadmill running I've been doing this winter, we have had so many opportunities to start our mornings this way. I felt sad yesterday morning, knowing I would not be there to cuddle with him first thing on this wet cold morning. So I wrote him a note telling him that, and telling him I couldn't wait to get home later and give him big giant cuddly hugs! I really yearned for that as I wrote it to him.

And Robert. Robert would be holding down the fort while I was away. He would be tracking me, cheering me on, supporting me, wishing he could be there - and taking care of our home and our children while I was running. He is the most supportive man I know, and I am just simply so grateful and overwhelmed by how blessed I am that he is my partner in life. I wrote him a long love note telling him that. We were planning a date night that night also, and I wanted him to know how much I was looking forward to our time together later in the day/night.

I finished writing and laid the notes out on our kitchen counter for everyone to discover when they came downstairs to start their day. I looked at the clock and realized I was totally running behind! It's a good thing I had laid my clothes and gear out for the race the night before, because now I was in a hurry. It was 5:45 when I got out the door. The drive into the city was dark and lonely, and I still wasn't feeling like racing by the time I parked my car at RFK. I texted my friend Dora when I arrived and we met up to ride on the Metro to the start together. I was so glad to have met up with her and her husband Michiel - beginning a race with people I love makes the day in my opinion. The three of us chatted and laughed on the way to the Start and we made it there just in time, with only minutes to pee really quick and get our watches ready to roll.

I stepped into my coral and landed right in a massive puddle. My feet were instantly soaked. Yuck. I saw my friend Stephanie (who I met on the bus to Hopkinton at last year's Boston!) and we gave one another a quick hug before the gun went off. I was trying to get myself excited to race, but it just wasn't coming to me. As I stood in the coral for those couple of minutes before the start, I felt at my core that this day was not going to be about running a fast time. I wanted to honor whatever felt right to me and roll with it, and just did NOT feel motivated to push myself in my typical race-day way. The gun went off and I found myself comfortable right around a 6:40 pace. I ran the first 6 miles all between 6:30-6:40, rolling with the hills and just taking it all in, mentally wavering back and forth between the idea of pushing myself faster for the second half, or just taking it all easy and enjoying the race without pushing. There is a huge hill at the end of Rock Creek in the middle of the 7th mile. I decided to get over that and then check in with myself. I ran the hill with an even steady effort, my pace naturally slowing. My watch is totally dead today (a problem I keep having with my 210, I am pretty sure it's time for a new watch!) and I haven't had a chance to download my splits yet as a result, but I know my pace was back to the 6:45 range for the 8th mile.

It was right around Mile 9 that I decided I did not want to race. I wouldn't say I was "miserable" but I was really cold and wet and just wanting to be home with my family. My brain and heart were not in this race for the sake of racing hard. In truth, I think I had known that all along, and I wasn't going to force that to happen. I decided to run easy the rest of the way, looking forward to my day and night ahead. I finished the last 4 miles in the mid-7s, running the miles very easy. I finished with a time of 1:33:10, well off where I believe my fitness is currently, but in-tune with where my heart is. When I got to my car I was shivering and wet, feeling mellow and sort of strange, but also at peace with all of it. I called Robert from the car and we talked about it. He was so proud of me, and this filled my heart with so much gratitude.

Yesterday was the perfect day, to be honest. Will rocked his basketball game. He played great and they won their last game! Go Wizards!

Robert and I texted with Abby all day long, sending each other pictures and keeping each other up to speed on our days. It was totally fun to keep in touch with her this way. We have a 'tween!

All three of my boys and I cuddled in bed and watched "The Incredibles" in the afternoon and I fell asleep with them curled up beside me. What could be better on a rainy day? Last night Robert and I went on a date, and brainstormed together about how we want to redo our basement. We even brought a sketch book and drew it all out, as we drank our beers at the bar. It was totally us, and just the perfect night. I love dreaming and scheming with my man.

Throughout the day yesterday, I talked a lot with Robert, with Coach Hadley and with my closest and dearest friends who understand me and my running and who are runners themselves. I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I am for these people in my life. Running is a HUGE part of who I am, and who I will always be. As I change and grow, I know that the way I define a successful run or race is also going to change and develop. Growth as a person and as a runner are not really measurable by the numbers. There is so much more to it than that, and there are a lot of factors involved. The awareness of this for me is a beautiful and truly liberating thing. I believe that there are some faster race times ahead for me, probably lots of them. And I'm excited for that. I also believe that they are going to come with more family time and with more time with my close friends, because my running is not whole or balanced without that, because I am not whole or balanced without that, and because that is increasingly more and more important to me.

So here's to another great race in the books. One that had heart, and one that I will treasure for reasons well beyond the numbers on the clock.

I hope everyone that ran and raced this weekend had a wonderful time, with lots of love and laughter in the mix! I would love to hear all about it!

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