Category Archives: running

Portland Marathon…Check


Five months ago I set out to prove that, in spite of having had a very recent back surgery, I could indeed run one last marathon.  I needed to prove it to myself.  I needed back on the long distance wagon.  In June I began the journey toward crossing the 26.2 finish line and it began with a very rewarding six mile long run.    Since that first training run I’ve had many moments of doubt.  I’ve questioned my ability, my sanity, my reasoning, and my physical capacity.  I’ve suffered through calf injuries, foot pain, blisters, chafing, and sometimes debilitating back pain.  But I’m a mind-over-matter kind of gal and I’m a big believer that we are capable of pushing our limits far beyond what we think is manageable.  My favorite mantra is “I can do anything for one mile!”  I recognize that what I learn while challenging myself on the pavement directly translates to what type of mental messages I’m feeding myself in my every day life.  On long runs I learn to squash negative self talk.  I learn that I am capable of pushing through pain, fatigue, and boredom.  I learn that I like myself and who I am.  I learn that I’m strong.  I learn that I’m loyal, committed, and persistent.  I learn to never stop growing.  To keep moving forward even if it’s the forward movement of slowly putting one painful step in front of the other.  Running has become the training ground for my life.  Not just for my physical fitness.

During these past few months I’ve had some really great cloud nine moments.  I ran two insanely gorgeous half marathons in my new hometown.  I ran the Hood to Coast relay and was able to check that off my bucket list.  I ran the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver, BC, I ran by the side of my new friend, Raluca, as she completed her very first marathon!  I ran my 18 miler in Tucson, meeting a different friend for each 6 mile lap.   Training has brought me intense amounts of satisfaction.

I promised myself that the Portland Marathon would be my last marathon.  I know better than to say I will NEVER run another marathon but my intention has been that this would be the last.  So it’s lucky number 7 that retires the 26.2 miler for me.  And it was this race that brought me full circle.  I crossed the Broadway Bridge heading back in to downtown  toward the finish line and I was taken with emotion.  The Broadway Bridge is the exact place where this marathon journey began for me.  I jogged across that bridge during that first 6 miler when I set out to accomplish finishing this race and now here I was reaching my goal.  It was a very moving moment for me.  I spent most of the marathon recognizing how far I’ve come since I ran that first marathon in 2008.  For the first few marathons I required anger to move me forward.  I needed angry music, angry thoughts, and angry energy.  The shift toward peaceful running began when I ran the Mt. Lemmon Half and music was not allowed on the course.  I had to learn to run 13 miles uphill without the fuel of anger being pumped in to my ears.  It turned out to be one of my favorite races EVER.  I checked in to nature.  The smells, the sounds, the feel of the cool air and suddenly running became peace.  I felt that shift for the entirety of this marathon.  I hit zero walls.  I listened to zero angry songs.  I had nothing irritating to get off my chest.  Instead I was soaking in the moments.  I was noticing the people around me.  Aware of Raluca and her emotions…every now and again reaching over to hug her, encourage her, and just be there with her on her journey.  I was smiling at the spectators.  Feeling the music of the bands.  I was content within myself and enjoying being with me.  Instead of anger filled lyrics and violent beats, I listened to one podcast about love and relationships.  The rest of the time I just was.  I was aware and happily in the moment.

Running has brought me to this place of peace.  What’s most exciting is that running is a direct translation of my life and this is the most peaceful I’ve felt in a long long time.  For that, I owe running everything.

Let the journey take you places you never expect, readers.  Journey on!


Double Digits, Baby!

Double Digits, Baby!

I’ve done it and I’m super proud of myself.  I have officially finished my first 5 weeks of marathon training and today I logged my first double digit run in over a year!

There’s a multitude of reasons that running is beautiful but one of them is that you can run anywhere, anytime.  No equipment to prep or possibly malfunction, no special roads are needed, no plan except to strap those running shoes on and start running.  If you are fortunate enough to own a Garmin or other mileage tracking device you simply turn that GPS on and go wherever your feet lead you.  Log mile after mile of beautiful scenery until your legs and lungs are maxed out.

Today I was in Vancouver, BC, and I was mesmerized with the scenery around me.  I found myself quite amazed at where my legs, my spirit, and my fabulous running shoes could take me.  Over ten miles I climbed the very steep Lion’s Gate Bridge, ran the Sea Wall for a few miles while I watched a sea otter playing out in the ocean and was just awe struck by the magnificent eagles flying overhead.  I was refreshingly sprayed by the ocean slamming against the wall I was running on.  I saw a public pool that sat at the ocean’s edge like prime real estate, a slide out in the ocean water, and eventually found myself amidst high rise buildings and city life.  At this point I turned around and made my way through green parks and dirt trails cutting through the rainforest.  I found myself thanking the trees for shade and begging the mosquitoes to find another victim.  I thought for a moment that my exhaustion was getting the better of me when I saw a jet black squirrel running behind me (I stopped to take a picture for proof).  The entire run (except those moments when I wanted to keel over and die at the top of some insane hill I had just climbed) I kept thinking…

10 miles, 10 miles…it’s amazing what kind of terrain one can cover in ten miles.  How lucky am I to have seen all of this?  To have experienced it?  Yeah, I feel pretty damn lucky.

At times I was all alone with my thoughts and with nature.  At times all I could hear was my breathing as I climbed steep hills.  I was completely connected with me.  Me and me alone.  Other times I was drowning out the noise of city living with tunes on my shuffle.  And other times I was surrounded by others like myself who were setting out on their journeys to achieve something greater than themselves and to connect with the beautiful life that is all around us.

This is what running is for me.  A connection to myself and a connection to the world outside of myself.  A chance to achieve things that are challenging and rewarding.  An opportunity to dig deep and find exactly what I’m made of.  A chance to breathe, to connect, to feel alive.  So very very alive.

I hope that each of you has something that inspires you to keep growing.  That inspires you to step outside and see life beyond your cubicle, the walls of your house, your mundane.  Get out there and explore.  Get out there and connect.  You will thank yourself for taking that step.  That step toward feeding your spirit and feeling alive once again.

I Stepped Out the Door And…


Today I got out and logged my first official long training run.  My 18 weeks of marathon training began on Tuesday and today I was scheduled to run 6 miles.  I had a lot of apprehension prior to this morning.  A lot of self doubt.  I have logged one five mile run and not a foot more since June 3, 2012, so six seemed a little daunting.  Adding 20.2 to that number seems downright terrifying!

What they say is true though:cd45df5ba78b734a71cfa54351b170caSo I did it.  I stepped out that front door with no route in mind.  Just the goal to complete 6 miles.  Just finish.

The first mile was painful (especially after the amount of leg work we’ve done in bootcamp the last two weeks).  It was a mile of fidgeting with my headphones (and eventually yanking them out and stuffing them in my pocket), feeling out the new shoes, cringing at the level of noise I make when I breathe, and feeling every pain in my legs.  I had to really make an effort to squelch the doubts and negative self talk.

Parade float at the festival I ran past

Parade float at the festival I ran past

By mile three I had decided on a route (kind of).  I saw signs leading me to the Broadway Bridge which would take me in to downtown and I’ve been dying to run the river front.  So follow the signs I did.  Now I had a game plan, my pace was spot on, my breathing had calmed, my body was in stride, my thoughts were pure and safe from negativity, and I felt the runner in me come alive again.

I continued to run just taking in all the new sights, the new paths.  I turned when something caught my attention, I ran straight when I was on the water, and I just let my feet take me where my spirit wanted to go.  It was liberating.  Exhilarating.  Nourishment for my being. 44b69aeed12511e2934e22000aa800af_5

The completion of mile six chimed on my garmin and I couldn’t believe how quickly my first long run was behind me.  I had done it.  And done it better than I had expected.  Yep, the runner in me has found her voice again.

The water front where I watched the races

The water front where I watched the races

I wrongly assumed that the boys would come get me since I had just run 6 miles and had no money, no water and had zero calories.  But they were busy at home doing chores and picking up mom from her unscheduled running adventure was not top priority.  So I walked and walked and walked discovering more of this beautiful city.  I finally parked myself on a spot of grass, kicked off my shoes and watched the dragon boat races.  Eventually the boys and I met up which made boat racing exciting again as we each cheered for different teams to win.  We finished the day at Rogue Brewery to finally put some calories in this tired body and to, of course, celebrate the first long run of the training season with a fabulous red ale.

Cheers to all you runners out there who are pushing your bodies and your minds beyond what you sometimes believe you are capable of.  Keep on running. IMG_1484

Let The Training Begin


I started running in 2008 when my husband signed me up to participate in a relay with 10 uber athleticIMG_4433 people I didn’t know.  Needless to say that was quick motivation to get this flabby ass in shape.  Honestly it was the best gift he’s ever given me.  I fell in love with running.  I fell in love with that relay team and I made a BFF during that race.  She and I became the best of running buddies challenging each other to take leaps and push boundaries we never had imagined and before the year was finished we both ran our first marathon together.

IMG_4139We ran one more marathon the following summer but then she got pregnant.

During that time we coordinated another relay team in which I recruited my non-running aesthetician one evening while she was kindly waxing my hoo ha.  She had never run more than 3 miles and yet she enthusiastically joined the team.  I loved her spirit already!  Much like my start to running she had quick motivation to get in running shape since 10 strangers were counting on her.  We hit it off and a fantastic friendship formed.  After that first relay we trained constantly and ran 4 marathons and an uphill mountain half.

And then she got pregnant.

So I recruited my brother (at least he couldn’t get pregnant) to train IMG_0842for his first half marathon.  I couldn’t convince him that a full marathon was worth the effort.  Reluctantly he became my training partner and last summer we ran a half marathon for his birthday.  The week after that race I suffered a back injury (not from running but from a plyometrics workout!).  August our lives were turned upside down and we left Tucson and my training buddies behind.  September I finally resolved the back injury with surgery and since that time I’ve been unable to convince myself to get serious about running again.

I’ve sat with this for awhile.  Why am I unmotivated to run?  Why am I not finding my peace and healing through running like I always have?  Why am I avoiding a race?  Why do marathons sound boring?  Why do I think I’m not capable of completing a marathon when I’ve completed six?  Why so much self doubt?  Why so many negative thoughts about running?

My epiphany arrived last week.  I don’t run because I love running.  I run because I love relationships.P1020320 IMG_0213

Running has always been therapy for me because I’ve been able to process life and its problems while pounding the pavement, feeding ideas and thoughts off of my friends.  In training I have made two of the best friends I’ve ever had in my entire life.  Friends that have at times known me better than my own husband.  Friends who at times have known me better than I know myself.  These are girls that have loved me no matter what.  Who have stood (or run) by me while I lost my religion.  Who almost convinced me during our long runs that aliens built the pyramids.  Friends that have been there when we added G to our family.  Friends who I have been privileged to watch grow their families through marriage and pregnancies.  Friends that would meet with me every Sunday for the last few years and we talked about our husbands, our family struggles, the entirety of our lives.  Friends so close that we got semi-matching marathon tattoos.  These friends have been my motivation.  Not the running.  Not the finish line.  Not the weight loss.  Simply the time to be with them.  Being challenged together.  It was time for me to bond with my brother.  Running has never been just about me.  It’s been my savior.  But running hasn’t done it alone.  It’s done it with amazing ladies (and sibling) by my side.  And that’s what running has been for me.  Therapy through friendships and endorphins.IMG_0468

So why haven’t I jumped back in?  Why have I used the fat card, the back injury card, the there’s-no-time card, and the I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-it card?  The answer is I’m grieving the loss of those partners.  I’m grieving the loss of my best friends and our Sunday morning therapy sessions.  I’m grieving that my chances of racing and training with them again in the future are slim to none.  These girls are part of me.  Part of my heart and soul and I miss them.  So so deeply.  Running just doesn’t feel the same without them.  And so I’ve avoided it.

Until today.

Today I turned a corner and made the decision to move forward.  I’ve decided that I need the healing that running provides me.  I need the motivation of a circled race on the calendar.  And most of all, I need to make new friendships and find others who will fill that void.  I’m fortunate to have a myriad of women who are runners here and because of them I am slowly climbing out of my runner’s low.  Will they ever replace the two women who are like sisters to me?  No.  Or replace my brother?  No.  But I have room for new friends.  Lots of room.

Monday morning my 18 weeks of training begins.  Portland Marathon is paid and circled on the calendar (Oct 6)!  I’m super excited!  Super motivated!  And, no doubt, I am super scared.  Watch out, Portland, I am back in my running shoes and on the hunt.  Nobody is safe from being recruited to run with me…not even my waxer.37383750ca4611e2b36e22000a1fa437_5portland marathon

Runners Unite

Runners Unite

I am a runner.  It’s part of my make-up.  And fellow runners are my community.  In the last few years I’ve been privileged to run marathons in three beautiful states and while the coveted Boston Marathon is on my dream list, it’s not one I’ve had the opportunity to run.  You don’t have to run the Boston to understand the pain that must have been felt at that race yesterday.  You don’t even have to be a runner.  But any runner who has participated in a large event knows the chaos and mass numbers of tired, weary people who have pushed their bodies to the limit and are highly anticipating that long awaited finish line.  What a nightmare that finish line must have felt like yesterday.  The confusion, the lost loved ones, the fear, and the unknown.  It is with such a heaviness that I run today.  A heaviness that can’t understand what would drive someone to harm a peaceful people.  While it’s true that this maniacal being may have taken lives, and limbs, and replaced them with sorrow, he/she can never steal the tenacity and spirit that lives within those runners.  Runners are fighters.  Runners are peaceful.  Runners keep going even when the pain is unimaginable.  Runners run to heal, to thrive, to live, to find their best self.  That cannot be stolen from them.  So today I run in honor of those who persevere.  I run for Boston.

Courtesy of Run Like a Mother

Courtesy of Run Like a Mother

Today I’m sporting my San Diego Race Shirt in Honor of Boston.

May peace be with each of you.  And may your run feed your spirit today.

For a first hand look at the finish line I recommend this article