Monday, December 31, 2012

Jumping on the year in review bandwagon

Before I begin my review of my year in training, racing and pacing, I would like to put out my main goal for 2013: I am going to invent an app that allows me to blog by thought. See, I write a TON of great blog posts in my brain, while falling asleep, driving my son to school, running on the treadmill...everywhere but sitting at my computer. So my main goal for the new year is to figure out how to get those untyped blog posts directly from my brain to the blogesphere. Genius, right?

Now that that is taken care of, I will proceed to my top 5 moments of 2012.

1. Overcoming the injury of the century. Actually, I overcame my injury again, and again, and again. Let's face running terms this has been a rough year. Any year that involved multiple stints in the boot of shame and traveling with said boot and a bone stimulator in tow to races and vacations "just in case" is a little rough. But as the year closes out and I tally up my whopping 1513 running miles (that is 4.14 miles per day for you math-y folks) I am actually enormously happy with my training year (and really optimistic about next year). Despite innumerable internal pity parties I never once let my injury get the best of me and I trained my arse off throughout the whole debacle. I discovered that I can still swim almost as fast as I could when I did Ironman Canada in 2001, I made new friends while I aquajogged for hours on end, I rediscovered my abdominal muscles and my glute medius and I made the acquaintance of a couple of fantastic and talented chiropractors. Most importantly (and certainly most cliche-y) I discovered I am much, much tougher than I had ever imagined. Had you told me previously that I would spend this long injured and STILL stay in shape I would have laughed at you. But I did it! I sincerely hope I never have a layoff like this again but if I do I am totally ready for it. (Although I do need a new swimsuit...mine is a teeny bit see through after all that swimming and aqua jogging!)

Thank goodness for Dr. Kormanik's Alter-G!

with this as my number, I
KNEW it was going to be
a great day!
BCTC team representing
in CA!
2. The Napa Valley Marathon. When I left California in August of 2011 some of my wonderful teammates and I decided that we would meet up at Napa in 2012 to run together. The promise of this got me through some lonely early months in Durham and ultimately became the base of my running partnership with my fantastic Bull City/Oiselle teammate and running bff Ellen. As my injury dragged I changed my race plans from "break 3:10" to "pace Ellen to a BQ". Unbeknownst to me that change ended up laying the groundwork for the most fun marathon I have ever run. Despite the fact that I toed the line really, truly not knowing if I would be able to finish I also showed up completely relaxed and devoid of the internal pressure that we runners tend to tote along with us to marathons. During the week surrounding the race I got to stay with and visit my wonderful friend Jenny, I saw all my old teammates from FoMo, including our fantastic tangent-running pacer Ralph, our amazing cheerleader Tara and, of course, my CA running bff Andy and I was privileged to run side-by-side with Ellen as she scored a whopping 11 minute PR and a ticket to Boston. It was, undeniably, the perfect running vacation.

celebrating Ellen's BQ!

3. Becoming a LUNA sponsored athlete. In mid-April I got a text from my best friend Carrie saying something along the lines of: "There is a new LUNA sponsored athlete program. They are looking for women who finish in the top 10 of their age group and are interesting. You ought to apply to is the contact person's info." It is no secret that I am enamored with the LUNA a lifelong athlete and huge advocate for women's participation in sport I have always loved LUNA's mission and there is absolutely NOTHING to not love about their products. But be sponsored? Me? I figured it was a huge long shot! Honestly, I don't know that there is anything particularly interesting about me...I am a stay at home mom and 21st century housewife, I run, I get injured, I cross train, I train with my friends, I pace some of my friends, I race. But with the encouragement of my husband I put together a running resume and threw my (running) hat into the ring for consideration. Months passed. Okay, a month. But it felt like eons. One morning during a 5:30 a.m. run with my friend Carter I said "I don't think I am going to get it." The very next day I got an email...and then a call...and much to my delight and surprise I am now beginning my second year as a LUNA athlete. I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of the LUNA community and I am really excited to represent them as I race (injury-free) this coming year! The sponsorship was a huge jolt of confidence when I needed it most and it has inspired me to become more involved in my running community by beginning to coach Girls On The Run, laying the groundwork to establish a GOTR chapter at my son's school, pursuing my USATF Level 1 coaching certification and setting up a mom's running group, also at my son's school. I am SO grateful for LUNA's continued faith in me and I can't wait to meet all the other amazing athletes at Summit this spring!

arm warmers with thumb
holes? Thanks Oiselle!
4. Becoming a Oiselle Ambassador. While standing on the starting line at Napa I saw my FoMo teammate Christy Slye, who happens to be the VP of sales for an amazing women's running apparel company called Oiselle. This brief encounter set into motion a chain of events that included me practically breaking the bank to procure an entire new running wardrobe of gorgeous clothes that actually fit my xxs frame, learning how to tweet (who knew I could say anything in 140 characters?!?!) and getting 75 new amazing women as teammates when I was chosen to be an ambassador for the Oiselle. For those of you who haven't heard of Oiselle...please stop reading my wordy blog right now and go over to their website: There you will find some of the most flattering women's running apparel ever created. Founded on the premise that it has to be possible to make a more flattering short than the here-unnamed ubiquitous running short (you know the one...every third woman at the gym is wearing them!), Oiselle has done a phenomenal job at creating both technical running apparel and casual running-related clothes that are flattering, comfortable and truly designed for runners. And the women who run the company are just as awesome as the clothes they make.

We made a little time to hang
out with Kara Goucher in NYC
5. The whole NYC Marathon experience. I know, I know...this is on many folks list of worst moments in 2012. But I thought it was fantastic! A little bit surprising and sometimes stressful, but fantastic nonetheless. Yes, it was disappointing. Yes, the whole situation is riddled with controversy. Yes, I am 100% tired of hearing people complain about it. And yes, at the end of the day it was a good reminder to all of us runners that our desire to run 26.2 miles on a certain day in a certain place is trivial. But all of the ridiculously negative and hurtful Facebook comments skewering runners, all the uncertainty, all the disappointment of having a race cancelled just days before race day was worth the moment on Ellen's face when we arrived at Central Park on race morning to find thousands and thousands of runners...running. Together. And having a wonderful time doing it. I know that the race cancellation had been much more stressful for Ellen and it just made me inordinately happy that this amazing display of humanity was able to trump all that stress and disappointment. In addition to that, we had the best. roommates. ever. Christy, Rosaura and Cynthia were relaxed and positive and just all-around fun to spend time with. And then there were the Oiselle get-togethers! I can't imagine a better group to commiserate with after a major marathon gets cancelled. And running in Central Park on a cold November morning with a bevy of Oiselle teammates was undoubtedly one of my favorite runs of the year. As much as I wish that I could turn time backwards and make it so Sandy had never occurred, had not destroyed so many homes and taken so many peoples' lives, I am enormously grateful for the experience I ended up having this November in New York. 
This says it all. Thanks
So there you have it. 2012 is in the books. With all the time I spent NOT running I easily could call it the worst year in my 20 years in the sport. But thanks to the support of my amazing running family - Ellen, Andy, Carter, my Bull City teammates, my new coach, LUNA, Oiselle, and many others - I can actually say that this has been one of my most satisfying, fulfilling years on record.

On a non-running related note, I want to go on the record and say that, without a doubt, the one thing I am the most grateful for in 2012 is that Carrie, my dearest friend of over 35 years, ( is finishing the year brain tumor-free. That alone trumps all the running, racing, pacing, and sponsorships as the hands down best thing about 2012. Enough said.


Since I am a notoriously lazy blogger I am just going to go ahead and put out a few things I am looking forward to in 2013. If I don't do it now it may not make it into "print" until May :) So without further ado...

1. Disney Princess Half Marathon. My dearest friend from high school, Carter, decided that the best way to celebrate turning 40 is to don a tutu and tiara and run her first half marathon. I am so excited to pace her and run alongside her during this great adventure! And what's not to love about a race that encourages women to tackle this distance? Orlando, here I come!

2. LUNA Summit. Spending a weekend with all the amazing LUNA Chix and LUNA sponsored athletes in one place AND getting to see Carrie...I wish I could just fast-forward to April! 

3. Boston! My 5th time on the starting line here...every single one has been an adventure. I have made it to mile 22 and then taken a luxury ambulance ride to the hospital for a 5 day stay, I have run it on NO  training whatsoever and had a great race, I have run it with my wonderful friend Stacy in memory of our dear Patrick Caurant in the aftermath of a nor'easter. I can't wait to see what the adventure is this time! One thing I know for will be fun! Any marathon in which I am pacing my friend and Oiselle teammate Ellen is bound to be entertaining and delightful.

4. Turning 40. I cannot wait to turn 40! Sorry, I know most of you are totally sick of hearing me say it, but it is true! In just under 6 months I don't have to race all the young ladies any more and I cannot wait. I understand that turning 40 is kind of stressful for a lot of people but I am just plain ecstatic. Thank you running!

5. Who knows? If I learned anything this past year, it is that running, like the rest of life, is surprising and unpredictable. I can honestly say that I can't wait to see what happens next.

So there you have it. Five highlights from 2012 and five things I am looking forward to in the New Year. Thanks for reading along, and Happy New Year!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer round up

If I seem to have fallen into a black hole for the past month and a half, I apologize. I was on my annual pilgrimage to Cleveland to visit my parents with my son. This trip is a chance for my son to have in-depth, quality time with his grandparents and my chance to give back to my parents just a small, small amount of the boundless support and help they have given me over my 39 years. This summer, among other things, I helped clean out and organized their storage lockers, helped buy my mom a car to replace her aged station wagon, took my niece shopping (for 12 hours over 2 days! I had no idea it could take that long to shop!) to complete a much needed update of her closet and get her ready to leave for college, grocery shopped, cooked some was a busy month!

Of course, that wasn't ALL that happened while I was in Cleveland. To give you an idea of some of the running-related excitement that occurred over the course of the month here are a few photos that sum up the trip pretty well:

First, this happened:
Look! No boot!
After four weeks in the boot and six weeks off of running I was declared free of bone swelling and allowed to enjoy bending both my ankles normally, wearing flip flops and all the other perks that come with burying the air cast boot in the deepest reaches of the back of my car. I cannot begin to tell you how happy this made me.

Of course, this didn't mean that I could just leap back into my regular running ways. As much as I wanted to just run out the door of the ortho clinic and keep running for 8 miles, I really respect the injury recovery process and I wanted to do my very best to rehab this injury responsibly. Fortunately, I was able to do this:

Thanks to my truly phenomenal chiropractor Leo Kormanik at Ohio Sports Chiropractic in the Cleveland suburb of Northfield I was able to run on the Alter-G twice a week for the duration of my trip. (He was also willing to humor me by taking photos and videos of me on the treadmill!) In addition to letting me use his extremely cool toy he treated me at every visit with active release technique, graston technique, stim and cold laser...4 complementary therapies that helped to undo some of the soft tissue damage that had led to my injury and to speed the healing process. 

For any of you who are curious, the Alter-G is FUN. Really, really fun. Well, as fun as wearing neoprene shorts and being zipped into a giant bubble can be. I am, admittedly, still a bit unclear as to how it all works but essentially the neoprene shorts zip into the grey and clear "bubble" which inflates and reduces the body weight with which you are running on the treadmill. This allowed me to run while not stressing my still-healing bone nearly as much as if I were running at full body weight. I even ran a 5k PR on the Alter-G! Well, at 84% of my body weight. This means that if I could just keep all my functional muscle mass, my bones, my organs and a healthy level of body fat but could weigh 84 pounds I could easily run a 17:59 5k. Sooo, that probably ins't going to happen. But it sure was fun to see that time on the display! 

Anyway, enough enthusing about the Alter-G and Dr. Kormanik. (Did I mention that he ran a 2:18 at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon? And is spectacularly nice and wickedly good at his job? Okay, now enough enthusing...) 

Lest you think I spent my whole time helping my folks and hanging out with Dr. Leo, there was one important non-running event that happened while I was in Cleveland. When I went to Cleveland I looked like this:

Lots of long, blonde, curly hair. I had been growing it out for a while and I have always really loved it when it was long! But one day I did this:

Frankly, it was the easiest decision I have made in a very, very long time. See, my incredible, hilarious, brave childhood best friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few months ago. Carrie and I have known one another since we were 3 and 4 years old, which is by now a very, very long time. We share so many childhood memories and frankly, because I lost a fair bit of my memory when I was in my early twenties she actually holds a lot of my memories for me. As kids she was the calm, peaceful foil to my spastic, energetic self and I always aspired to be more like her. She is also a wickedly funny, strong, fantastic adult friend and our friendship truly is one of the greatest joys of my life. Understandably, I was really, really upset that a brain tumor had the gall to lurk around in her brain giving her headaches and vision loss! Fortunately, almost the entire tumor was successfully removed during her surgery. Unfortunately, a small part couldn't be removed and required radiation. In anticipation of the radiation Carrie decided it would be prudent to cut her hair short in case of hair loss. At first I offered to cut ALL of my hair off and send it to her for a wig but that turned out to be a bit unreasonable so in lieu of that I just went ahead and cut it all off so that she didn't have to chop her hair off solo. Better still, Carrie's awesome sister and 2 of her good friends in Seattle also cut their hair short! She has a superb support system, which is a testament to what an amazing person she is. In case you are wondering, she looks absolutely gorgeous with her short hair and her radiation is going very well...she is more than halfway done and is tolerating it immensely well. The little sliver of tumor, hopefully, is not faring as well :) 

Before I get us all sentimental, let me circle this all back around to running! Carrie also happens to be a superb triathlete and a longtime member of the Seattle LunaChix team. She has trained through as much of her brain tumor experience as possible and has even raced 3 times since her surgery. She is a total badass. Furthermore, she introduced me to the fantastic LUNA sponsored athlete program so now we get to be on the same team! I am incredibly proud to be a LUNA teammate with her. If you want to read more about her amazing journey you can zip on over to her blog at

In the spirit of Carrie's tenacity I decided to run a little test race at the end of my time in Cleveland. I was really excited to run a race in my LUNA gear! I found a nice low-key 5k my last weekend there and dragged my dad out of bed early with the promise of a post-race frappucino. Based on the estimated junction of my Alter-G PR and the way my legs were feeling (a.k.a. tired and slow) I was crossing my fingers for a sub-20 minute result. The extent of my race strategy was to not look at my watch, run comfortably hard and not walk. (My dad, wise guy that he is, was just hoping to have fun and beat the other 70-plus year old dudes.) After an early morning warm up run, a toasted nuts and cranberry LUNA bar and a half a bottle of cold water to beat the humidity I toed the line. 3.1 miles later this had happened:
Holy cow!
I was THRILLED. It is kind of amazing...less than 18 months ago I was running in the 18:20's and itching to run faster, but on that day I was over the moon with a 19:14. It may not be super fast, but it is a beginning! I know that the road back from my injury is going to be long (that is a whole other post!) but it was so exhilarating to have checked the first come back off the list.

In case you are wondering, my dad totally earned his mocha frappucino...he not only beat all the guys over 70, he beat all the guys over 60! I am so proud to be his daughter! 

And there you have it. A month-plus in Cleveland. I came home exhausted but feeling really, really fortunate that I get to go spend that extensive time with my folks again this year. I am now back home in North Carolina soaking up the humidity and counting down the days until my son starts first grade and I am able to run a 50 mile week again. Next week I will have a more running-centric blog update. See you then!

**One other note: the fine folks in Cleveland were super seemed like every time I went to the gym or Starbucks or the local Whole Foods people were asking about my LUNA jacket and tee shirts. I managed to come up with a concise explanation of the sponsorship program and it was universally met with an enthusiastic response to LUNA's support of regular women. A number of people didn't know much about LUNA products so I shared a bunch of my bars with baristas and gym members...hopefully I made a bunch of new LUNA lovers out of them :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"You know you're living life to the fullest when the universe is simultaneously flipping you off and giving you the thumbs up."

Lauren Fleshman posted the quote above on May 29th on Facebook and man alive, it pretty much sums up the story of my running right now. The day after I got the amazing call from LUNA that I had been chosen for their new LUNA sponsored athletes program I went in for an MRI of my right of an injury I sustained last fall when I twisted my ankle. Although the injury had been pesky, in the last 8 months I was able to run my second-fastest 8k time of my life, pace my amazing friend Ellen to a marathon PR and dash up Laurel Hill as the second fastest woman in the Tar Heel 10 and 4 mile races. And I had just put in almost 3 months of extremely solid that really confirmed that I had stayed fit during the original injury layoff and that told me I was nearly ready to race again. I was feeling AWESOME. I went for a trail run the weekend before the call from Luna and, unfortunately, rolled that same ankle 4 times. "No biggie", I thought; but a few days later it was tender to the touch so (at the advice of my podiatrist) I scheduled an MRI. Never once did I think I was going to get a call from LUNA and never did I think that within 6 hours of getting the MRI I would be in a boot - for a month! My doctors could only tell me "Huh. I don't know what is wrong" and "You can either run through it...or be in the boot." Such a low for me right after one of the biggest highs of my running life. Yep, I can relate to Lauren Fleshman's quote.

This is how my legs normally look
and...this is the view right now.

But there is another quote that is important in this story: "Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle the setbacks." This one hails from the source of many inspirational quotes - the bag that my Lululemon shorts came in - and it quite thoroughly describes my attitude when it comes to dealing with injury. I am fortunate that (contrary to the belief of my running friends in Durham) I very rarely get injured. That said, I do seem to have ridiculously bad timing with the injuries I do get. A femoral neck stress fracture 12 weeks before my first marathon in 1997. A broken metatarsal 7 and 1/2 weeks before the New York City Marathon in 2008. Deal breakers, right? Well, not so much. I ran 3:24 at L.A. and 3:37 at New York. "How?!?!?!" you may ask? Well, to put it simply, I owned my setbacks instead of letting them own me. Easy, right? Okay, okay, it really isn't that easy. My husband, son, training partners, friends and parents will all tell you that I do plenty of complaining when I am injured. I get frustrated and demoralized at times. And I will tell you that "owning the setbacks" is time-consuming, logisitically a pain in the rear and generally boring. Really, really boring. It involves wearing the boot (or being on crutches or whatever ridiculous treatment is prescribed), spending quality time with the elliptical machine at the gym, driving to the pool, swimming or aquajogging for HOURS, driving home from the pool, doing strength work, using my bone stimulator, doing rehab, taking supplements and being patient. None of which is remotely close to being as much fun as running. is all the most direct route back to running injury free, back to being able to do what makes me so happy, back to achieving the goal I had set out long before injury derailed me. With that in mind I have approached my injuries with the same routine each time: 1. get mad, first at the injury and then at myself for getting injured. 2. have a pity party (this step may get repeated a number of times during the course of the injury). 3. come up with a plan to get me from the date of injury to the date of my goal and get the okay from my doctor to forge ahead with that plan. 4. put my head down and execute said plan.

That little 4 step plan has looked different with each injury, but every time, in its simple way it has served me well. When I fractured my femoral neck in 1997 my recovery included 8 weeks on crutches with daily 90 minute swims with a pull-buoy between my legs to keep me from kicking. Those swims were mind-numbing. All I thought about was the number between 1 and 10 that I was currently counting for a given lap. I would do up to 200 laps each day, so there was a lot of counting from 1 to 10! But those swims kept my aerobic capacity up and my core and back strong. Four weeks before the marathon I got off the crutches...and kept swimming. Two weeks before the race I went for a slow and tentative 1 mile run. The day before the marathon I rounded out my 20 miles total of training with a 5 mile run. And on race morning I toed the line with NO clue of what it felt like to run longer than 13 miles and no idea if I would finish. Three hours, twenty four minutes and three seconds later I finished feeling exhilerated. I was so proud of myself for having run a marathon! But I was, perhaps, even more proud that I had gotten myself there, fully healed. I had succeeded at completely defying logic and I LOVED that.

When I fractured my foot less than 2 months before New York I was MAD. I had been irresponsible with my orthotics and a change in gait had led to the break. But when my doctor told me I was facing 6 weeks in the boot I immediately started developing a plan that just might get me to the finish line. This time I was able to use both my legs...but still in the pool. So for 6 weeks I translated every single one of my runs into time and aquajogged them. Speed workout in the pool? Check. Tempo run in the pool? Yup. Two hours and 45 minutes of "long run" to replace my 22 miler in the pool?  I got it done (thanks entirely to my amazing training partner Stacy who came and sat on the pool deck and entertained me!). And once again I toed the line of the NYC marathon with a bunch of uncertainty and ended up finishing with an intact foot and an amazing sense of accomplishment for having just gotten there.

Now, don't think that I run ALL my marathons off of an injury. Not even close! But I will tell you that as far as marathons I have run on my own (not pacing friends) I am far and away most proud of those two marathons. I didn't let the situation get the best of me either time and both times I succeeded. The times weren't blazing...the New York City time was at least 20 minutes slower than I would have liked. But I was there. Whole. With a smile on my face. I put everything into the preparation and I came out 100% successful.

A little stim to help the tendons
And so here I am again. This injury has not taken nearly as neat and tidy a course as those previous ones. It has dragged on, gone away, come back. But, and I don't mean to be trite, life is complicated. I have had a lot of other stuff take priority over my orthopedic medical care in the past few months, and consequently I didn't get very good medical care for this injury. I never had a concrete plan for recovery and rehab and I paid the price with the reinjury. Consequently this injury has been, by far, the most frustrating one I have ever dealt with. I have not only been frustrated by its presence but stressed out at the thought of disappointing LUNA, who has put faith in me to represent their awesome brand. And while I do both sport the LUNA logo on my training shirts at the gym and on the way to and from the pool daily and continue to consume copious quantities of LUNA bars before my twice daily workouts, I am not quite sure this is what they had in mind when they signed up a road runner. But after I sat with all of my concerns and frustrations for a few days I went back to that second quote above and decided that what was really important wasn't that I had gotten injured (all athletes do at some point) but how I handled the situation. So I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got to work. I am now almost 4 weeks through wearing this silly boot and I have an appointment with an amazing ortho in 5 days. In the last month I have logged into my training journal hours and hours (and hours and hours) of diligent cross training. I have aquajogged (this time thankfully with the intrepid companionship of my dear friends Edie and Alice). I have rediscovered swimming. I have caught up on HGTV while toiling away on the elliptical. I have continued to remain dedicated to the goal I made back in November to use this injury as an opportunity to dramatically strengthen my core and hips. has been hard. I have, at times, felt demoralized and a little despondent. Aside from the time I spent pregnant with my son I have never spent this much time unable to train at 100%. Last Monday I found myself thinking about that layoff and I was pretty frustrated. But then...2 things happened later that day. First, I realized that in the 18 months after my son was born and I got back to training I ran a red-hot streak of HUGE PR's. Hmmmm, that isn't a bad consequence of some downtime. And second, I watched Lauren Fleshman dust off her game face after 8 months of injury-induced swimming and elliptical use and toe the line at the Olympic Trials. When she proceeded to run her way into the Finals of the 5,000 meters on guts, raw talent, cross-training fitness and a ton of heart I KNEW I was going to be okay. Lauren didn't win her race, she didn't end up making the Olympic Team...but by some very important standards she was the most successful woman in the race. She personified courage, resolve, blatant enthusiasm and love for her sport and pretty amazing fitness for a girl who has barely been running for months on end.

I realized that day that while it may not be pretty for a while and I may need to practice my patience more than I would like, I am going to be back. And maybe even better than I was before.

One last quote, from legendary basketball coach John Wooden: "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." I never thought this would be how things would be turning out for me this year but, at the end of the day, I have no complaints. 

photo courtesy of my 6 year old just after I
got the boot fitted. Still smiling!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where it all began...

Welcome to my new running blog! I know, I know, I have two other barely used blogs out there on the Internet, so why on earth do I need a third one? Easy...those blogs are littered with recipes and vacation to India...and while there is nothing wrong with that, those are distractions from what I really want to be talking to you about: running! You know, the pastime that occupies a large portion of my brain and closet space. The free therapy that keeps me sane and helps me be the best wife, mother and friend I can be. On this blog I will write about the parts of running that make me tick...the training, the races and, perhaps best of all, the experiences I have running with my friends in their training and racing.

 Because this is my first post, I thought I would give a little retrospective on my training, racing and pacing. Lucky for you I am not planning to give you a blow by blow of the last 20 years of my running. I will spare you that and just stick to the highlights. How about we go with a Top 10?

1. The beginning of my running...I started running because I was told I never could. Well, first I listened to all the people who told me I couldn't run for a very long time. But then I came across a great doctor who told me that if I worked hard AND smart enough AND practiced patience I could correct my long term knee pain enough to run the mile and a half to my college boathouse. After a year of rehab I nailed that first run and never looked back. Unfortunately it took me a long time to learn to apply the general principle of "work hard, work smart and be patient" to my running, but I am both forever grateful for that one orthopedist who bucked the conventional wisdom and for the principle I have been able to apply to my training as of late.

2. My first marathon...Los Angeles 1997. To say that this was a pretty auspicious beginning to my marathoning career is an understatement. I ran with Team in Training (an organization that I later had the opportunity to work for) and I had a great experience with my racing and fundraising...until I broke my femoral neck 12 weeks before the race. Yep, right after my 12 miler I ended up on crutches. I was down, but not out. Determined not to miss out on my opportunity to follow through on my promise to the little girl I was paired with who was in treatment for leukemia, I taught myself to swim and slogged through 8 long weeks of 90 minute swims. I ran 20 miles (total, not at once) in the 2 weeks before the marathon, hit my fundraising goal and pulled off a 3:24. I was hooked.

 The most unfashionable
shorts ever! But it was 1998...

3. Boston 1998...what NOT to do. This is the race where I learned that a) there is a time and a place for racing and b) I am not invincible. I went into this race over-trained, injured and with an abundance of enthusiasm. Sadly, I was too stubborn to alter my race plan to accommodate the situation. This race turned into a cautionary tale for how NOT to run a marathon. Long story short I ended up with some crazy rhabdomyolysis and a week long stint at Brigham and Women's hospital. On the upside I learned some good lessons and I ended up marrying my training partner. So I guess I also learned to always find the silver lining. 

pre-ironman sunscreen
exiting the swim, finally!
4. The big lull...for a bunch of years after Boston I was pretty unmoored as regarded my running. This was ultimately really good for me. I dabbled in triathlon and ultimately finished Ironman Canada in 2001. This was significant for three reasons: first, I managed to complete an irrationally long endurance event by training in a completely rational manner, second, I was able to be present as my friend Louis Bonpua finished Ironman in under 17 hours, while in treatment for leukemia. Louie taught me a lessons I will never forget about the power of both friendship and heart. He had more determination than anyone I have ever met and watching him will himself to the finish line in 16:56 was a seminal moment in my life. And third? Third, I learned that while I am capable of swimming distance (sort of quickly) and riding distance (slowly) I really just love to run. 

5. Excelsior and the PAUSATF 2003-2006...This is where I learned how to race. The PA is chock-a-block full of super fast women in "recreational" road racing and cross country. As a runner who hadn't competed in high school or college I was totally in over my head at the beginning racing against these speedy, experienced women, but I had some amazing teammates on Excelsior (Jenny Wong! Bean Wrenn!) who helped me along and kept me from getting discouraged. I learned to train properly, to rest, to race. And I was rewarded with a bunch of PR's, which was amazing...BUT....ultimately I also found that focusing on just racing fast left me feeling a little empty and burnt out.
Davis Mile with Jenny Wong!
Zippy 5k
Presidio XC

6. Stacy. In July of 2006 I had a darling 9 month old baby boy and my running was getting back on track post-partum. Then everything changed when one of my dearest friends in the world died in a cycling accident. It was devastating to lose Pat, but in losing him I gained an amazing friendship with his girlfriend Stacy. At her request we started on a mission to qualify her for Boston...a task that Pat had planned to undertake with her. She and I ran side by side for hundreds upon hundreds of miles and over the course of the next year we grieved our loss, built a wonderful friendship, and both qualified for and completed Boston. I gained so much from this experience - I took so much comfort in those runs and was so grateful for the opportunity to be able to run alongside Stacy as she achieved her long-held goal of finishing Boston while simultaneously celebrating Pat's memory. Those years were some of the most meaningful times in my 20 years of running and they cemented my enthusiasm for balancing achievement of my running goals with sharing my love of the sport with other women while helping them achieve their goals.

After finishing NYC, 2008 
Post-Boston, 2007

7. North Face Enduance Challenge, 2008. I entered this race on a lark (well, at the coercion of Jenny Wong...see #5). I wasn't a trail runner, but Stacy and I messed around on the local fire trails in a weak approximation at preparation. I went into this race with zero expectations but a general plan to simply run my own race. What I ended up with was a massive surprise and one of the most thrilling racing days of my life. You can read the race report here (Sadly...or maybe fortunately, I really have no photos from this one!)

Hanging out with my FoMo
peeps and Mr. Pickle
Davis Stampede 2011
8. Davis Stampede, 2011. By now I knew that I loved pacing my girlfriends (and sometimes, when I am lucky, my dad) but I rarely had the opportunity to BE paced by anyone, mostly because I just didn't ask. But in November of 2010 the amazing folks on the Forward Motion Racing Team welcomed me into their supportive and enthusiastic fold and I instantly knew I had found my people. On the day of this race not one but 3 of my teammates offered to simply run my race pace with me for as long as they could each manage (and then finish the race on their own). It was such an incredible experience to run with these guys and I was so, so grateful for their work. When all was said and done I had super-entertaining company for 9 miles and ended up with a PR and a win that I wasn't expecting. This race and the 8 glorious months I spent with this group really rekindled my enthusiasm for the sport of running at a time when I was feeling stale and unmotivated. And better still they showed me the importance of cultivating a strong and supportive (as well as totally irreverent) running community.

Cruising along with Ellen
en route to her first BQ!
Carter and me after her first 10k!
9. Janna, Carter and Ellen. I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to run with all of these women over the course of the past year. I coaxed and cajoled (well, okay, tricked) Janna into running longer than she had thought possible or reasonable, and was rewarded with some invaluable time with a dear friend at a time when I really needed it. On top of that, I was privileged to watch her transform into a truly badass runner who went from running 4 miles at a pop to qualifying for Boston in her first-ever marathon within the span of little more than a year. Carter welcomed me to my new hometown with dark, early morning runs which are the cornerstone of my sanity. We have known one another for 23 years and will mark the 24th year of our friendship (and our 40th birthdays) by running her first half-marathon this winter. I feel so fortunate that she has entrusted me with her training and I am having an amazing time witnessing her discovery of the speed and strength she previously didn't know she had. And talk about a privilege...Ellen trusted me to wear her garmin and set the pace on her latest attempt to make her Boston-qualifying dreams come true. She worked hard and we had a ridiculously good time en route to her whopping 11 minute PR. I cannot imagine any place on earth I would have rather been that day than running next to her! I still love running fast and racing for my own times, but spending time over the years running alongside Stacy, Janna, Carter and Ellen has given me so much joy. I feel truly fortunate to be able to balance my own training with the time I spend witnessing their developing love for the sport. I also am eternally grateful to have friends who run at all different levels; their personal reasons for running all help me to maintain perspective in my own training. 

10. LUNA, 2012. Another amazing chapter in my running began a few weeks ago when I learned that for the first time in 20 years of running I was going to be sponsored. And not just by anyone but by LUNA, a company who shares my passion for supporting female athletes of all levels. I applied for this sponsorship knowing so little about it, but the details really were not my motivation. Instead, after years of hearing my childhood best friend Carrie talk about her participation on the Seattle Luna Chix Triathlon Team, I simply knew that I wanted to jump at the chance to a part of this company's "family" as well. I am so humbled for the opportunity and I am really looking forward to spending my time as a LUNA athlete both continuing to develop myself as a runner and fostering my love for encouraging my running friends. So there you have it. Thanks for sticking around through that you are caught up I more retrospectives! We have a summer of training and a fall and winter of racing and pacing to get to!