Monday, September 26, 2016


"I just want to cross Boston off my list.  Then I'm done."
~ me, to my husband after my 1st marathon

Let's take a step back in time, shall we?  It's spring of 2007.  I've just had my second daughter, Grace, back in February and slowly, but surely, I'm getting back into running.  And I'm loving it.  Every time I lace up and hit the road I feel free, alive, elated - all of it.  I can't get enough.  As summer rolls around, the idea of running Boston creeps into my head.  We're living in Charlestown, just outside the city, and I've gone and watched the marathon almost every year since we'd moved to MA back in 2001.  The farthest I've ever raced is a half.  The thought of doubling that distance is daunting, overwhelming and scary as hell and yet I can't get it out of my head.  Of course, I can't just register for Boston.  I have to qualify.  So, I bite the bullet and sign up for the Bay State Marathon which will take place in October.  Based on the reviews, it's flat, fast and boring.  But, I have a baby and a 2 year old and if I'm going to make anything happen at this point in my life, it needs to be relatively simple, so Bay State makes perfect sense.  Okay, so now I'm doing this.  Or, at least, I'm going to try.  I start running more.  Like 5-6 miles almost every day.  (I know, whoa!!)  Some days I even pick up the pace.  Maybe I throw in a couple long-ish runs.  I don't really remember.  My naive, younger self just assumes if I stay in good shape and run consistently I'll be good to go come October.  Silly, silly me.  Finally, it's October and the race is looming.  I don't taper because I don't know what it is.  Not that it matters.  I haven't done enough mileage to warrant a taper.  Basically, I'm clueless.  In some ways it's better.  In some ways, not so much.  The night before the race I eat some pasta because I've heard that's what people do.  I get up early the next morning, drink a cup of coffee and grab a bar to eat on the road as my husband drives me out to Lowell.  It's a beautiful, crisp fall morning; perfect race weather.  Jeff leaves me at the arena and tells me he'll see me at the finish line.  Holy shit.  This this is really happening.  I grab my bib and find a corner to hang out, stretch and just soak up the scene.  People are eating bananas (dummies, why would they start the race with a full stomach?), filling up water bottles for their fuel belts (wow, that looks ridiculously heavy and awkward, I can't believe they're going to run with that on)  and stashing their gels in their pockets (Hmm.  I wonder what those small, shiny packets are that everyone seems to have).  Finally, it's time to head over to the start.  I walk out in my tank top (cotton) and shorts (2 sizes to big) and instantly realize why everyone is wearing a trash bag or carrying a blanket.  Dammit.  I'm freezing but I just play it cool because, well, what else am I going to do?  Finally, the gun blows and we're off.  I start my music, oh yes, always music.  Though, I do think I was listening on the original iPod.  Not the smallest device, but so much better than the Sony Walkman, which I'd probably just recently stopped using.  I settle in to my typical pace and find a little group to run with.  I start chatting with people, asking them what their pace goals are.  I'm not getting much of a response and just assume my fellow runners aren't in the mood to talk.  Oh well.  For the first half of the race I feel awesome.  The miles are flying by.  I am not the least bit thirsty, so I don't take any fluids.  Why slow yourself down if you don't need to?  I've paired up with a gentleman who's wife or friend meets up with him every six miles or so to give him a bottle of something to pink to drink.  So bizarre, I think to myself.  Seems like a lot of effort.  But, I guess he needs it.  Thank goodness I don't.  Around mile 15, my sister-in-law jumps in to run with me for the second half of the race.  I throw my iPod to my husband who is standing in the crowd so I can chat with her instead, which I assume we'll be doing all the way to the finish line.  And we do for a while.  All things considered, it's still going pretty well.  I've been comfortably holding about a 7:30 pace and haven't had any issues.  Until mile 17.  I start to feel a little woozy.  So, I slow down a little, but I'm still able to chug along. The talking from my end has gone from complete sentences to one word answers.  I hang on like this for a few more miles and then the wheels fall off.  I feel weird, dazed, confused.  My legs are getting really, really heavy.  My feet don't want to go.  I want to walk. I need to stop.  My sis-in-law keeps me going.  "Let's jog until the next tree and then we'll walk again"  she's saying.  Okay, yes.  Just do what she says.  One foot in front of the other.  Somehow, I manage to shuffle/walk/jog through the final 10K and finally I see the stadium which is where we're finishing. Dear Lord, I never thought it would come.  I have no idea what my time or pace is at this point.  I've stopped looking and I don't care.  I just want to be done.  My legs are dead weight, but they're still going.  Finally, I'm on the track and the finish line is visible.  Okay, let's do this.  I'm sprinting now.  (not really, but I think I am)  And I cross the line in 3:39:59.  I need a 3:40 to qualify for Boston. Talk about cutting it close.  I can't really digest this information at the moment.  I'm just so freaking happy to be done.  Somehow I muster up enough energy to walk (crawl) up the stadium steps to find my family.  I can't drink anything but I find some M&Ms and pour them into my mouth.  Guess I needed a little sugar.  I'm still not talking in complete sentences and I'm chilled to the bone.  My older daughter, Rosie, wants me to carry her.  I try to pick her up.  No dice.  My husband swoops in and deals.  Bless him.  We make our way back to the car and eventually head home.  I sit in a state of disbelief and bliss.  Holy crap.  I qualified for the Boston Marathon.  And then...holy shit, I have to run another one???  Fast forward to this Sunday.  I'll be running my 15th marathon.  A lot has changed in regards to my training, my race prep and my overall knowledge about running in general. I've ramped up the mileage a bit.  I got myself a coach.  I bought some running clothes that fit and are moisture wicking.  Even figured out the whole gel thing.  But that feeling that I had in my gut when I made my way over to the line back in 2007 for the first time?  That, I'm sure, will be exactly the same.  Game.  On.

Listen to this:
Firedbird - Galantis

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


In less two weeks I'll be toeing the line at my 15th marathon. (insert pause while I have a minor freak out).  As you know, the training for these babies is long and arduous.  I'm not complaining.  I choose to do them.  And, for the most part, I really enjoy the training.  But, I do tend to forget, and probably for good reason, how hard it can be to get through the final push before the taper.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, please forgive me as I'm sure I've posted about this subject many times.  And yet still, each time I get through the 'peak week' I find myself feeling like I need to share the experience with others.  Why?  Because it's funny?  Because it's borderline nuts?  Because I don't have anything else to talk about but running and how tired I am at the moment?  All of those things, perhaps??  Last week I managed (barely) to work my way through the following:
Monday - 24 mile long run
Tuesday - 8 mile recovery run
Wednesday - 11 mile interval workout (3 sets of 2 x mile at 6:30 pace)
Thursday - 8 mile recovery run
Friday - Double session (10 mile am run, 6 mile pm run)
Saturday - 8 mile recovery run
Total Miles - 75
It wasn't the most mileage I've done for this cycle, but it was far and away the most difficult series of workouts.  And by Thursday, I was hanging on by my fingernails physically, mentally and emotionally.  Case and point - as I drove my girls to school on Friday morning I found myself nodding in agreement as Taking Back Sunday sang I know you're tired.  I feel it, too.  Rosie and Grace were in the back seat rolling their eyes, clearly embarrassed and likely questioning my parental skills.  I was too tired to care.  My friend and running teammate, Kirsten, has been training with me for this race and is equally as exhausted if not more.  I think it's safe to say that we are both completely punch drunk at this point.  A typical pre-run conversation between us often looks something like this:

Note the sarcasm.  There has been a lot of it lately; along with a lot of complaining, doubting, laughing, crying and everything else you feel and/or do when you're working your ass off day in and day out.  Over the past couple weeks, people have been asking me how my training has been going for this next one.  I think my current level of exhaustion has been pretty noticeable.  Maybe it's the dark circles under my eyes.  Or maybe it's the fact that I'm typically carrying a cup of coffee regardless of the time of day.  Who knows.  My answer, however, is not much different than it's been in the past.  The training has been hard.  And I'm ready for it to be over.  And I hope it goes well.  But if it doesn't, that's okay, too.  Because despite my exhaustion, I've truly enjoyed the process.  And for me, that's what it's all about.


1. My morning coffee is no longer kicking in the way it used to.  Double espresso??  Nothing.
2. I seriously consider lying down for a rest on any surface that looks even remotely comfortable - the grass, a park bench, the back seat of my car.
3. Not only have I been going to bed before 9:00pm, but I start thinking about going to bed around 3:00pm and by the time I hit the pillow I'm so excited I could cry (but, I don't because I'm too tired)
4. I've been apologizing to my dog because I'm too wiped to take her for our usual walks and hikes this week.  I swear she's mad at me.
5. I've been using Amazon Prime to order items that I typically shop around town for because I don't have the motivation to deal - paper towels, dish soap, gum.  I know, it's bad.
6. Every time I head into my room to take a shower I hear my bed telling me to lie down instead.
7. I've been waking up at my usual time but I physically can't get out of bed.  I have to give myself a little pep talk every morning and literally will my body to get moving.
8. I've been purchasing a ridiculous amount of music for the extra boost it gives me before and during my workouts.
9. I'm making a lot of really stupid mistakes and I'm making them often (ie. locking myself out of the house, driving right by the turn to my kids' school, wearing my running shorts inside out, etc.)
10. I've been having conversations with people - my kids, their teachers, my friends - I see their lips moving, I know they are talking to me, but I just can't process what they are saying.  I want to respond.  I do.  But, my ability to focus is fair, at best.  Again, sorry.  Just give me 2 weeks.

Listen to this:
Rule Number One - Sleigh Bells

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” 
~ Cassandra Clare, 'City of Ashes'

Today's post is brought to you buy the folks over at Running Stats, a website dedicated to sharing valuable information with runners on a wide range of running related topics.  I love to run and you know I love coffee, so I was more than thrilled when they offered to provide specific information on how coffee HELPS YOU RUN.  Not that I needed any more reasons to enjoy my post-run (ok, fine and pre-run) drink of choice, but I'm not sad to know that my coffee drinking habits might actually be working in my favor.  Feel free to read on and decide for yourself.  In the meantime, I'm going to go pour myself a second cup.

Written By: Bethany Widdicombe at Running Stats

For years people have commented that coffee was bad for runners.  Rumors of caffeine dehydrating a person kept many athletes away from their morning beverage of choice.  In reality, a cup of coffee can actually enhance your running.

Coffee Boosts Your Brain

Caffeine has the ability to stimulate your body to alertness, which many people seek on tired days.  Your brain can send faster signals to your muscles after drinking coffee, which can increase your muscle response time while running.  Drinking a cup of coffee an hour before you run for your daily workout, or on race day, can help boost your running time by connecting your brain to your movement better.

Coffee also can improve your mood.  If you are a regular coffee drinker, you may be very familiar with the grumpiness that comes before your cup of coffee.  Rather than yelling at the car that cut you off, you will be able to calmly move about your run after your morning cup of coffee.  Don’t hesitate about the drink you love, be bold in the fact that it actually helps you.

Coffee also lowers your perception of fatigue, and can give you the boost you need on tough days.  Whether you are going out to conquer a few miles, or are training for a race, coffee can help you feel better and run faster.

Image Credit:

Coffee Helps You Recover

When paired with carbohydrates, caffeine decreases your recovery time by replacing muscle glycogen at a faster rate.  Meaning, you can spend more time training and less time recovering from injury.  Experts say that all you need is 6 milligrams of caffeine for every kilogram of body weight (or 3.5 ounces for every 2.2 pounds).  Having any more caffeine than what your body needs is not proven to be effective.

Studies have shown that coffee can also help fight against inflammatory properties, which can prevent potential injuries of shin splints and runner’s knee.  As a runner, and a coffee lover, you can continue your day just as usual knowing that your coffee habit actually helps you recover.

Image Credit:

The Dehydration Myth

Waves of articles now show that coffee doesn't dehydrate you. Caffeine is a diuretic, but does not directly connect to dehydrating your body.  Like any intake of liquid, coffee will make you run to the bathroom from having too much, but it won’t take away hydration from your body. When conquering longer runs, be sure to carry hydration with you, regardless of how much coffee you had in the morning.

Balance your coffee intake by knowing your needed levels, as well as still taking in water.  The better hydrated you are running, the better your coffee will be able to work with your muscles for maximum performance.

Coffee Helps You Be You

Running is essential, and so is coffee.  From busy days to calm mornings, coffee is a staple for many.  With many coffee flavored power bars, infused smoothies, and coffee cake, there are many options to fulfill your love for coffee.  Each passing day and milestone met, you will be able to face the day with a joyous mood and the energy you need to run your best every single day.

For coffee lovers everywhere, enjoy your cup of caffeine before a long run, as it will boost your brain, your muscles, and your mood.

Bottom line, if you like coffee and you're a runner, you're in luck.  And if you don't, well, perhaps it's worth giving it a try?  Because, based on experience, I can guarantee that being in a joyous mood and running strong is beyond awesome.  Drink up!

Listen to this:
Adrenaline - Zedd (w/ Grey)


Thursday, September 8, 2016


"You've got to take life and ride it till the wheels fall off."
~ Brad Simms

I love summer.  And I love my kids.  But, holy crap, am I ready for school to start.  For the past couple weeks the wheels have been getting rusty, wobbly and really, really loose.  Then on Wednesday, they completely fell off.  I woke up thinking I had it together.  Not so much.  As I crawled into bed at the end of the day I found myself wondering how the hell I had somewhat successfully (translation - barely) pulled it all off given how things had gone.  I was annoyed and deflated by the many near misses but also a little proud of myself for managing to, as my neighbor labeled it, pinch hit in the final inning and pull of the a hair, but still.  Here how it played out:
6:30am Woke up
6:31am Made coffee
6:42am Kids woke up (there was no school, it was pitch black out because it was raining, and yet, still my kids got up at the crack of dawn.  Every. Single. Day.)
6:45am Walked the dog as I was drinking coffee and checking email, all while carrying an umbrella for the sole purpose of keeping my coffee hot and my phone (somewhat) dry.
7:30am Set my kids up with a movie so I could go for a run. (thankfully, they are old enough to leave solo for an hour or so.)
8:15am Headed out for an 8 miler.
9:30am Arrived back home and was immediately hit with the following questions by my kids:
~ will you come see our fort?
~ can I have a gummy worm?
~ can we go to Sky Zone (trampoline park)?
~ can we go to Staples for school supplies?
~ can I please order these curly pencils with my own money?
10:00am Spent some time with both girls as they finished up all summer work, got it all organized and got their backpacks ready for the next day.
11:30am Agreed to take the girls to Sky Zone if they used their own money.  (this was our 3rd time going in less than two weeks.  Please.)
12:00pm Threw together some lunch. (Cereal?  Carrots and peanut butter?  Waffles?)
----> mid-lunch the doorbell rang and it was Grace's BFF, who lives two doors down, asking if she could play.  We were literally eating and walking out the door, so we threw her in the car with us to go to Sky Zone.  (She might have asked her mom, not 100% sure)
1:00pm The girls jumped their brains out while I sat and watched. (confession - might have dozed off for a few minutes)
2:00pm The following events unfolded, maybe in this order, maybe not:
~ grabbed girls to go home
~ couldn't find keys
~ searched madly for 10 minutes
~ girls went back to jumping
~ started to freak out because I had to get to work and would be late
~ finally found keys
~ rounded girls up (again)
~ called sitter to tell her we are running late
~ sitter called back to remind me she's coming Wednesday, not Tuesday.
~ freaked out (again)
~ called mom of Grace's BFF to see if girls could hang with her while I went to work. (thank you, Emily)
~ got home, dropped all three girls down the street and flew (safely) back out to get to work.
2:57pm Arrived at LHS for XC practice. (3 minutes to spare.  Yes, I was sweating)
5:00 ----> and so on....

In addition to all of the aforementioned fumbles, I also realized, mid-practice, that it was Tuesday, not Monday as I had thought (Gah! Labor Day!).  So, while my athletes were warming up for their workout, I scrambled to find rides for both of my girls to get to their various activities.  Seriously, I couldn't have messed up more if I had tried.  It doesn't matter what happened from 5:00 on.  You get the point.  Again, somehow I made it all come together. Was it ugly and stressful?  Yes.  Yes it was.  Did my kids notice?  Probably.  Will they dwell on it?  Nope.  Thus, I, too, will let it go.  It's no different from a bad race, really.  They happen.  We hate them while they are happening.  We get through them.  We question what went wrong.  We laugh about them.  And then we hope they never happen again.  Why am I telling you all this??  Well, first, maybe you can relate in some way and we find strength in numbers, right?  Second, I like to like to (need to) laugh at myself.  You should laugh at me, too.  And third, because being a mom, like being a runner, or anything that you're passionate about, is never perfect.  But we can always strive to do it as well as we can at that particular moment, to learn from our mistakes and, most importantly, to keep getting better day in and day out.  Otherwise, what would be the point?

Listen to this:
Burn It to the Ground - Katie Day