Tuesday, June 20, 2017

5 Reasons and 6 Tips to be More Mindful on the Run

I often comment that I look at my running as a moving meditation. There are times when I'm in "the zone" and am completely focused on my run, oblivious to everything around me. While those runs are some of my best runs, for a myriad of reasons, not being aware is probably really bad for me.

Being mindful has become a cliché. That's too bad because being mindful is really important in everything you do. So many times off the road, we are being asked to pay attention to more than one thing. I might be working on the computer and my husband tells me something, but I'm only half listening to what he's saying. It happens to me at work too, where I have found myself writing a prescription while the patient is telling me a story. Do I listen to the patient or finish the prescription, and risk making a mistake?

Staying focused on the task at hand, being mindful--it's something we all need to do more of, both in real life and on the road.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

The DNS: There's a First Time for Everything

Yesterday was the day I was supposed to run marathon #5, Grandma's Marathon. I signed up for Grandma's right around the time I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Loaded up with steroids at the time, I was feeling good and figured I could go ahead with my plans to run this spring race in the north woods of Minnesota. Heck, I wasn't going to let this disease get the best of me! I was going to show RA just who was in charge.

Right on! RA had other plans for me. While I continued to run through the spring, my endurance continued to decline. I was DNFing all my runs--I was struggling to even run a mile-- and frustrated with myself, I made the decision to discontinue my training and not run Grandma's.

It was not an easy decision but it felt like the right thing to do. Immediately after canceling my plans to run the race, I felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Instead of training for a marathon, I shifted my focus to the May race I also had signed up for, the Door County Half Marathon. I began doing run/walk intervals with success and satisfaction. Running became enjoyable again. I've never been good at listening to my body, but I was having no regrets about my plans to DNS for the first time ever.



Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: The Long Run: A Memoir of Loss and Life in Motion by Catriona Menzes-Pike

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of The Long Run: A Memoir of Loss and Life in Motion by Catriona Menzes-Pike from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links, which means if you click on the links and purchase the books, I'll make a little cash for books for future blog posts.

Although I didn't plan it this way, it's kind of ironic that I chose Catriona Menzes-Pike's memoir, The Long Run: A Memoir of Loss and Life in Motion to follow last month's selection Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports by Kathrine Switzer. Menzes-Pike takes us through her journey of grief but intersperses her story with women's running history. There is mention of Switzer in the book (how could there not be?) along with other noted women runners, and I couldn't help but compare the 2 books. While Switzer's story was also very personal and historic, she wasn't running from something as much as towards something, which was a finish line. Menzes-Pike's journey arose out of grief and life challenges that she needed to run from.

How many of us have started running for that very same reason?


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

10 Must-Have Items for Summer Running!

"Summer running, had me a blast....summer running, happened so fast...
Found a race, crazy 'ole me, tried to train, hot as can be...
Summer days, runnin' away, oh training for those fall rites..."

Ok, so I kind of paraphrased this from Grease. But seriously, who doesn't struggle with training in the summer? I recently wrote a post about training in the heat. This time around, I'm sharing some of my favorite summer running gear. Living in a place where we have extremes of every season, it never fails, come summer, that I always need a reminder what I like to use on my hot weather runs.

This week, we're in the blast furnace of summer and I pulled out all my favorites! I've got some new gear this year too. Some of the things I've listed are affiliate links. Which means cash in my pockets for water or snacks if you purchase them.


"Tell me more, tell me more,
Do you get very far..."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I Get To Run

I do. I get to run. Never before has it been such a big deal to me. As runners, I think we take it for granted that we can run. Even when we are injured, we know that eventually, we'll be back on the road. We might not be happy to be sidelined, but there's always the expectation that there will be many miles ahead for us.

Even though I've been feeling pretty good, I get little reminders all the time that I have a beast inside me, that I'm not really the boss of me. Often it's my knees. Going downstairs is more of a challenge these days. They aren't painful very often, but they are stiff. The first mile of a run is always a liar now while I start slowly to loosen up my joints. My feet hurt almost all the time. My big toes keep me in good alignment as I run because if I land wrong, they send me a very strong signal to straighten up and fly right.

Still, I get to run. I've always been grateful to be a runner but never as much as I am now. I had always hoped to be able to run into old age. While I still hope for that, realistically I know that my running days are probably finite.



Friday, June 9, 2017

6 Effing Reasons You Should Run

Disclosure statement: this post was brought to you by the letter F. Rated G for Global Running Day.

In case you missed it, Wednesday was Global Running Day. Did you get your run in?

It seems as though there's a day for everything, isn't there? How did this even come about? For example, today is National Strawberry Rhubarb Day. I don't really care for rhubarb, but I can guarantee that my husband and his father would be all over this holiday. If only they knew that it existed!

Some might call it frivolous, but in this case, I'm glad there's a day to celebrate my favorite activity. Even though Global Running Day falls on a day that I don't normally run, I chose to commemorate this special day with a virtual 5k. My incentive? A free medal I received from I Love to Run that asks the question: Why do you run?

I might take that question a little bit further and ask: "why should you run?"



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Be Your Own Hero: 6 Strategies to Help You Run Your Best Race



Do you have a hero? Is there someone you look up to for inspiration? Who motivates you to run?

Runners are fortunate to have some really good role models--we've got current elite runners, like Shalane Flanagan, Dean Karnazes, and Meb Keflezighi. There are also legends like Kathrine Switzer, Frank Shorter, and Bart Yasso.

But what about everyday heroes? Maybe it's your running partner that inspires you. Maybe you follow a popular Facebook page--there are quite a few runners who are page admins that have very large followings!

What about yourself? Is it possible to be your own hero? How can you inspire yourself to do great things on the road?



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Stronger Every Day!

While nothing exciting or earth-shattering happened this week, what stood out to me the most is how much I am feeling like myself again. Even the heat can't stop me!

I am beyond thrilled with how my fitness is returning. I'm continuing to feel good again. I had several days this week where I remarked to my husband that if I didn't know I had RA, I wouldn't know I had it. Modern medicine and good nutrition are the best combination.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

5 Things I'd Tell You Over Coffee

Let's have a cup of coffee and catch up, shall we? I love this monthly link up, hosted by Coco and Deborah because it gives us all a chance to step off the road and share what's been going on in our lives.

The month of May was full of experiences that made me so grateful. Not only did I start to feel like myself again, even running a half marathon, I gained a much more positive outlook. I'm grateful for my family and friends who supported me while I struggled with my new diagnosis. I have to be realistic as I know that RA is a jerk and I could flare at any time, but for now, my disease is behaving and for that I am grateful.

So what would I tell you if we were having coffee?



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

10 Tips for Survival when You Are Married to a Non-Runner

My husband has a love-hate relationship with my running. When we dated and were first married, I didn't run. So he did not marry a runner. In my late 20s and early 30s, my lifelong struggle with anxiety became unmanageable. I started working out at a gym where there was a 1/4 mile indoor track. One thing led to another and eventually, I began running. Who knew that I would love it so much? Over time, the major benefit of all that running was that it made my anxiety subside.

So now he's married to a runner.

We are very different, my husband and I. He's the Yin to my Yang. The cream in my coffee. The butter on my bread. The bacon to my eggs. Why all the food analogies? Read on...

My husband knows that not only do I love to run, I need to run. He's ok with that. For the most part, we've come to a peaceful existence, my non-running spouse and I. How do we make it work? What's the secret to success for a runner who's married to a non-running spouse?



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hitting the Reset Button

This was the week that I got my life back on track, or at least tried to! It was all about trying to reset my equilibrium. I'm ready to find my new normal. My assessment? I think it was a good start.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Runfessions: It's May...

Here we go again...it's the last Friday of the month and its time for Runfessions. Marcia hosts this monthly sole (yes, pun intended) cleansing for runners. You can share all your running transgressions and not even get a penance. It's a pretty good deal.

So what do I have to runfess this month?



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to Prevent 8 of the Most Common Heat-Related Running Issues

Disclaimer: I am a Tailwind Trailblazer, which means I receive Tailwind Nutrition in exchange for sharing my experience and opinions, which are of course, my own. This is NOT a sponsored post.

You've done the work, training for 12-20 weeks for your marathon. Completed every run on your plan. Ran at least one 18-20 miler and lived to tell about it. Tested out GU and hydration. Survived the taper crazies. You're injury free and ready to run. As part of your prep, you've been weather-stalking, checking and comparing at least 3 different weather apps so that you can be prepared for race day. While the forecast initially looked promising, as the week went on, the predicted high temperature keeps going up. Initially, yellow flag conditions are now red flag.Your confidence begins to take a nosedive. How can you run a strong race in the heat? What are the risks? And how can you prevent problems?



Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the Weekly Wrap. No, you aren't at the wrong blog. Holly and Tricia, who normally host the Weekly Wrap, are taking a little bit of a break from hosting duties. While they take a little time off, the Weekly Wrap will be rotating among guest hosts. This week, I'm your guest host and if this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome and I hope it won't be your last! If you are interested in being a guest host for the Weekly Wrap, please let Tricia or Holly know and they will fill you in on the details.

If you are new to the Weekly Wrap, the rules are here. Please comment on as many blogs as you can. Don't forget to comment on the guest host's blog and link back to them too! My motto over here is "sharing is caring". Don't just drop a link and leave. You might find a few new blogs or even make some new friends! Come back during the week to check out some of the later links, too!

So how was the week?

Spring in Chicago is not for wimpy. The standing joke here is "if you don't like the weather, wait and it will change". We also joke that we can experience all 4 seasons in one day. As a lifelong resident and longtime runner, I've learned to be prepared for anything. We went from summer to winter this week. I'm not exaggerating. It was 85 on Wednesday and 45 on Thursday. I use this as an excuse to have an expansive running wardrobe. 

I filled every bit of my last week before I go back to work to wrap up some loose ends. It was busy and productive, but that's a good sign, right? It means that I'm heading in the right direction!



Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Marathon Woman from DaCapo Press in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I am really embarrassed to admit this but prior to reading Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports, I only knew of Kathrine Switzer because of the Boston Marathon incident from 1967. You know the one, where she was yanked off the course by the race director? You've seen the picture a million times.

What I didn't know was that this one event, in which a young woman wanted to run a marathon, set into motion a movement that would change women's sports forever. What I didn't know was that Kathrine Switzer had a huge role to play in this movement. And what I didn't know was that Kathrine Switzer was an amazing runner in her own right.

Overshadowed by that one fateful event are all of Switzer's accomplishments. If you are a woman and you've run a race farther than 1 1/2 miles, it is because of Switzer. Yes, there have been other women's sports pioneers but Switzer's run at Boston was the pivotal event that made it possible for all of us to do what we love to do...run. And let me tell you, after reading her story, yep, I'm going to say it: "we've come a long way, baby!"



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

12 Things I Learned From My Worst Race

I can say without hesitation that my worst race ever was my first Chicago Marathon. I ran that race in 2011 before I even had a blog. That first marathon was SO BAD that I was ashamed to even tell anyone that I ran it. I didn't feel like a real marathoner after I finished, even though I have the medal to prove that I crossed the finish line.

It took me 3 years to get up the courage to line up again and run the race I knew I had in me. I've run 3 marathons and 16 half marathons since, but I still draw on my experience from that particular race to drive me through my training and races. In addition, the mental toughness I've developed since then has helped me push through my current battle with RA, which is turning into one of those ultramarathons that won't quit throwing obstacles at me.

Since a lot of runners are gearing up to start training for fall marathons, I wanted to share some of the wisdom and experience I gained from that ill-fated marathon and my races since then. If you've been reading my posts for a while, some of what I have to say is familiar, but I've never put it all in one spot.

Yes, I felt as demented as I looked.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Coming Down from that Post-Race High

After a great race, how long does it take for that post-race high to wear off? If you had nothing else going on in your life, you could ride the wave for a long time, I'd think. Even though it was over a year ago, I still get all warm and fuzzy when I talk about Big Sur. But my Big Sur post-race high got a big buzz kill merely one week after we arrived home when my youngest son broke his leg in a traumatic rugby tackle. Life has a way of evening the score, doesn't it?

Speaking of buzz kills, it's been 5 months since my diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis. Last weekend's Door County Half Marathon with Holly gave me a much-needed boost. Even though RA is affecting me enough that I had to pull the plug on my planned June marathon, I was pleased that I was able to finish a half marathon and a hilly one at that. I'm still a runner! I can do this! My runner's ego was feeling good.

Towards the middle of the week, RA decided to remind me that it is indeed the boss of me. I started having a little bit more hand and ankle swelling and fatigue. In true Wendy fashion, I ignored it. I talked with my director about going back to work in a week or so, and she told me to make sure I'm ready to come back. She made a comment about me not "trying to muscle through this". That struck a nerve. Is that what I do? Is it the runner in me that makes me push through adversity off the road too?

As the week went on and reality settled back in, my post-race high started to melt away and so did my determination to do it all.



Friday, May 12, 2017

6 Gifts Every Running Mom Wants (and They Don't Cost a Dime!)

If you didn't already know, Mother's Day is this weekend. I've seen plenty of posts about gifts for running moms. There are so many awesome things that I won't be receiving from my family. They say they don't know what to get me. That's why I buy what I want for myself.

I can always think of things that I'd love from my guys. The gifts that mean the most don't cost anything but time. I truly believe that the best gifts come from the heart. I've listed 6 ideas for gifts I think most running moms would love. If you are already receiving these things from your significant other and your kids, consider yourself lucky. From what I hear and read, most mother runners are on their own!

I got my Mother's Day gift, right here!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Princess Shift: What Can You Do for 4 Hours Besides Run a Marathon?

All the hype surrounding the attempt to break the 2 hour marathon barrier gave me lots to think about. The elite runners may have their 2 hour marathons but for us mere mortals, the middle of the packers, 4 hours is the unofficial time we try to beat. It reminds me of something we nurses used to tell ourselves when asked to pick up extra time during the busy season: "you can do anything for 4 hours." We used to call the 4 hour shifts "the princess shift".

Whenever I run a race, I pull out all the mantras, but for a marathon, I pull out the old one from my staff nursing days: "you can do anything for 4 hours." I don't know that I'd call a marathon a "princess shift", though. But this begs the question: what can you do for 4 hours? Besides run a marathon, that is?



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Race Recap: Door County Half Marathon

Seven years ago, I ran my very first half marathon in beautiful Door County Wisconsin. Regular readers know this is a place where I spend several weekends every summer and have since I was a child. Last fall, I decided that I wanted to run this race again this year. I asked friends and readers to join me. I was excited when Holly, of HoHo Runs, decided to take me up on my offer. Along with 6 other bloggers, we spent a long weekend together in December when we ran the Panama City Beach Half Marathon and I knew we would have a good time!

I was a little nervous about how the race itself would go for me--between my RA and that epic chafing I experienced the weekend before, I wasn't sure what to expect! But as Holly said to me, "you can plan for everything and then the unexpected happens!" That was my mantra going into this race.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Got Runger? 5 Easy and Quick Ways to Eat a Quest Nutrition Bar

What's your favorite way to recover from a tough workout?

My favorite way to recover from a hard run or a workout is with protein. While we need carbs to fuel us while we're moving, it is generally accepted that athletes need protein to enhance muscle recovery and immune function. I know I feel better after I replenish with a protein based product after a long distance run.





Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Think You'll Never Run Boston? 13 Ideas to Help You Cut a Race Course and Make a BQ Happen

Hey you, runner. Psssst....over here. Yeah, you. I hear you want to run Boston and you want it bad. But you don't think you can earn a BQ without a little help. It takes a village. I can help. Shhhhhh... don't be telling anyone. And don't be posting it all over social media. As far as the world knows, you've earned the damn thing.

There seem to be so many cheaters. There is now a whole blog devoted to catching course cutters. I figured we could learn a few things from cheaters who've been exposed. Heck, we may as well take advantage of others' mistakes!



Sunday, April 30, 2017

The No Pressure, No Marathon Training Plan

Another week of "no marathon training" complete! It's a strange feeling, training for a marathon that I most likely won't run. Usually, with marathon training, there's a sense of urgency-- to hit all your miles, to complete speed work or hill repeats with even splits, and to ensure that your recovery is on point. Heck, on this plan if I don't feel like doing a run or going the distance prescribed, it's no big deal.

But no pressure doesn't mean skipping out on a workout entirely. My motto is to do what I can. Finishing is winning, right? That includes my workouts. This week, the wind has been howling and the temperatures are cold. While there are days where it's hard to motivate myself to get moving, I force myself to move. To not move is to lose fitness and mobility. As a benefit of staying on track, I'm starting to rediscover some endurance. Recovery is becoming easier as well. Either my body is adjusting to my new training style or my disease is starting to relent.



Friday, April 28, 2017

Runfessions over Coffee

April is drawing to a close which means it's time for Runfessions! It's that monthly cleansing ritual, hosted by Marcia, that allows us to sanitize our soles (pun intended) in preparation for a fresh new month ahead. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down. I've got some good ones--we probably should be doing this over cocktails!




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

7 Things More Painful than Running a Marathon

As I struggle through yet another marathon training cycle, I think to myself: why do I do this? Yeah, sure, there's that whole joy in the journey thing, the finish line feeling, the medal around my neck, and the sense of accomplishment. That's all really good. But is it enough to convince me to line up one more time to run 26.2 miles?

Let's face it. Running is hard. Running a half marathon is hard. Running a marathon? Not only is it hard, it can be painful. For some of us, the pain is physical, like blisters or chafing. For other runners, it's emotional pain, like when you hit the wall and can't fathom running one more step.

We runners pay to do this. No one forces us to run. In my world, a lot of people aka non-runners try to talk me out of running another marathon. I'm not getting a lot of support here. So in an effort to convince myself that I've got what it takes to run on, I came up with a list of real-life things that are, to me, way more painful than running a marathon.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Doing the Opposite

It was a quiet week for me. I was still processing all the "well-meaning" but pointed advice my family gave me when we got together last Sunday. While I understand their concerns, everyone was telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing. Suddenly, everyone in my world has become an expert on rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the things people are telling me are quite frightening.

Just because something happened to your aunt, friend, cousin, etc. with RA doesn't mean it's going to happen to me. Correlation does not imply causation. With regards to running and RA, running does not hurt your knees. Running will not make rheumatoid arthritis worse. Rheumatoid arthritis will tell you when you can't run or you have run enough. Trust me on this one. As someone who is used to pushing through the pain of running, this has been the toughest lesson for me to learn. I have no choice but to listen to my body to guide me through my daily activities. While in the past, I could push through a tough run without stopping, my body won't let me do that right now. So I'm figuring out ways to safely and comfortably make it work.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: The Road to Sparta by Dean Karnazes

Looking for inspiration? How about reading the story of an epic footrace retracing the steps of Pheidippides from Athens to Marathon? Did you know the entire journey was 153 miles, not the 26.2 miles we associate with the distance commonly run today? In his memoir, The Road to Sparta: Reliving the Ancient Battle and Epic Run That Inspired the World's Greatest Footrace, ultramarathoning legend Dean Karnazes recounts his attempt to retrace the steps of this hemerodromos (the term for those ultramarathoning messengers of yore). While doing so, he also explored his Greek roots and his life path from surfer to runner. There's a lot of good stuff here.

book cover photo courtesy of Dean Karnazes

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

4 Don'ts and Dos for Injured Runners

Been there, run that. I'm the runner who ran a race on a broken toe. I'm the runner who bought herself a road bike and road tested it wearing the boot. I'm the runner who trained for and ran a marathon while battling plantar fasciitis--with my doctor's approval, of course.

We've all got stories. While researching this post, I found multiple stories of runners "pushing their limits", including this story about a runner who was planning to crutch walk the Boston Marathon. I get it. He's injured and can't run. But come on man! These articles portray the runners who do these things as heroes. I'm thinking that this act of bravery could lead to new injuries, including nerve damage to the upper extremities. Brave or foolish? Not to say that any of us wouldn't consider said act of bravery. It is Boston after all!

I also read a race recap where the runner actually walked a half marathon--wait for it, it was the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon--wearing a boot. Foolish? Risky? I've been in a boot and all I can say is wearing it threw off my entire gait. I would imagine there's a huge risk of injury to the unaffected extremity. The author even commented in the post that she regretted her decision to bootwalk the race. But if you are interested in trying this, she has some suggestions how to best attempt this.

Common sense tells us that sometimes, as runners, we have to give ourselves a break. But all runners know that common sense isn't always common when it comes to race day decisions. There's no glory in being sidelined. An injured runner may be longing to participate in an event he trained for. Is the price to pay--more time off the road, medical bills, and worse--worth it?


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Running on Eggshells

You all know I love a good pun or idiom. For this Easter Sunday weekly wrap up post, I really couldn't think of any phrase more fitting to describe my running right now. Running right now is just the craziest thing. I dunno, I look in the mirror and I look like myself. At rest, I feel like myself.

Once I'm up and moving, though, it's a different story. Any activities--running or walking--require careful pacing. There's no dashing out the door with reckless abandon, which has always been my MO. Gingerly placing my feet, now when I run, I continuously monitor my internal sensors. Is my heart beating too fast? Am I short of breath? Do my legs feel fatigued? I don't even have to remind myself to go slow because my body just won't let me push any faster.

I try not to focus on all the negative but it does really feel like I'm running on eggshells. As I reflect back on the week, there were some positive reminders that I'm still in this body. I might be down but I'm not out. Not yet. Actually, not ever.



Friday, April 14, 2017

5 Running Questions I'd Ask the Magic 8 Ball

Who of you didn't have a Magic 8-Ball when you were a kid? Actually, I didn't have one but one of my sisters did. In my younger years, I was always a big believer in voodoo, horoscopes, Ouija, Mystery Date (I always got the dud)--you name it. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I liked the idea of being able to anticipate the unknown. Maybe that explains why I don't like surprises. I never thought of myself as a controlling person but I guess I kind of am.

I do have friends who swear by their psychics. Seriously. Unfortunately, while that fortune telling is all in good fun, you and I both know that statistically, nothing can predict an outcome or an event. At every race, I still carry that lucky stone Becky gave me for my PR Chicago marathon, but since that one race, it has yet to give me more of the good juju I thought it possessed.

Maybe I used it all up.

Right now, I could use a little serendipity. Marathon training hasn't been going so well at the TTLWH headquarters. I swear that someone out there has a voodoo doll with my name on it. Maybe it's my husband. Anyways, I thought it would be fun to ask the Magic 8-Ball 5 running related questions to see what the future holds for these legs and help me make some decisions about my upcoming marathon!



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Turn it Up to 11 and Finish Your Race Strong with these 11 Songs

For me, part of marathon or half marathon training is about the music. When I run, I listen to music that has a positive, motivational message and a driving beat. As race day approaches, I like to make a playlist just for that particular race. Normally when I run a race, I put my playlist on shuffle, but sometimes I like to have certain songs at the end, just for that extra push.

I like to turn it up to 11 as I finish. What? Tell me you haven't seen This is Spinal Tap? "When you need that extra push over the cliff, you know, we turn it up to 11...."~Nigel Tufnel.

Anyways....in my never-ending quest for the perfect motivational songs, I found 11 songs that I think would be the perfect finishers for a hard long distance race.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Where Did All the Endurance Go?

This week I "officially" started training for Grandma's Marathon. With only 11 weeks to go, I'm thankful I keep a pretty good training base and can just jump into the plan Becky has laid out for me. It's been a recipe for success in the past.

However, this time around, I'm a different runner. I've been struggling with my endurance and pacing the last couple of months. I'm continuing to slow down and frustrated with my reverse momentum, this week I gave myself a couple of options: drop out of the marathon--which I have never, ever done before, or try something new.

Don't think that I didn't consider pulling out of this marathon.



Friday, April 7, 2017

Drinking the Rainbow: How to Make Smoothies that Will Brighten Your Day and Change Your Attitude

In my never ending quest for happiness, health, and success on and off the road, I've been experimenting with foods. I've learned so many interesting things about the way runners fuel their bodies. Vegan to paleo, there is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition. As you might imagine, since my diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis, I've received all kinds of nutritional advice. Some people have even told me that I can cure my disease with diet alone. I'm not so sure about that, but one thing has become very clear to me--I need to really avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body. Sugar and refined carbs top the list, along with saturated and trans fats. I've also found MSG, an ingredient used to season foods, especially Asian dishes, to be a trigger for me. 

One recommendation that is universal and seems to make the most sense to me is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetable in the diet. Berries, tart cherries, avocados, beets, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and peppers all top the list of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods. The rule of thumb is the more colorful the food, the more health benefits it provides. I've been incorporating a variety of fruits and veggies into breakfast smoothies. It's been a fun and tasty experience! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

10 Tips to Strengthen Your Writing Muscle and Compose Amazing Blog Posts

I love to write. If I could make a living by writing, I'd quit my day job in a heartbeat. For now, I'm happy to have my little piece of the internet and that I have people who read what I write. Readers tell me that they enjoy my posts, and I wanted to share some of the tips that I use to make my blog posts shine. Keep in mind that I'm no expert. Just my two cents.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

Keeping On....

Did you hear that Lady Gaga has rheumatoid arthritis? Sure enough, she "came out" this week, giving an explanation for the "chronic hip pain" she's suffered from for many years. To most of you reading this blog, Lady Gaga's big reveal probably means nothing to you. But for me, as I continue to work on integrating my diagnosis into my self-image, this news was fairly empowering. Even though I'm not a Lady Gaga fan, I think it's always a good thing when a celebrity puts a face on an illness.

Actually, there was a lot of empowerment for me this week and it came from all over. Some from within, which is always nice, but once again, I realized how much support I have around me. So in spite of a gray, wet, cold return to Chicago after a week in sunny Florida, I had a good week. It really was the perfect kickoff to training for my upcoming Grandma's Marathon in June.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Coffee Talk

It's raining, it's pouring, the weather I'm ignoring...

When it's cold and damp like this, it's a good excuse to hunker down under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee. That's exactly what I'm doing as I prepare this month's Coffee Talk post. I found my favorite rainy day mug, poured a cup of joe, and added some chocolate soy milk. Yum. What will you have?

Sit back and let's talk. Today's going to be a little bit of runner's sole searching, so maybe you want to put a little Bailey's in that mug? 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

11 Race Day Running Hacks That Might Be a Game Changer

Who is running a spring race? This week, I'm kicking off marathon training for Grandmas' Marathon in Duluth. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for advice to make things easier for me on race morning. No matter how many races I've run, I still get those pre-race jitters. Anything that can make me feel well prepared is a good thing. Having run many races over the years, I've got a few tricks help me feel more relaxed.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

Greetings from Illinois. As I write this, I'm in my running gear, waiting for the rain to stop so I can go outside and run. It's a cold rain--the 45 degree temperatures are a shock to my system. It doesn't take long to get acclimated to the warmth. The cold is a different story.

Why can't we all live at the beach?

After a week in the sunshine and tropical warmth of Florida, it's always tough to come back to real life. I'm so grateful I was able to get away. There's nothing like a dose of Vitamin Sea to heal both body and mind. While I was happy to be away from the daily grind, I have to admit that I missed my family and my pup.

Being a goal oriented gal, I did have one goal for this week and that was to relax. Regular readers know that I've been struggling with my newish diagnosis of RA. Along with the physical symptoms, I've been on an emotional rollercoaster as I adjust to all that accompanies a chronic illness.

If only life could always be as easy as it is at the beach. Indulge me as I recap my week away.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Runfessions: March

Ooops.

Last night as I was wrapping up my monthly runfessions, I had the realization this is not the last Friday of the month. Apparently, March has 31 days. I runfess that I have completely lost track of time. Isn't that what you are supposed to do when you're on vacation?

With no other post in the works, I decided to go ahead and publish this one. Let's head into the runfessional and see what other runfessions I have to share. It's been a long month.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

7 Tips to Keep Running Without Ruining Your Family Vacation

It's vacation time and Mom's got her running shoes packed because she can't go a day or 2, much less a week without a run. I don't know about your family, but when we vacationed, mine always acted as if my runs were such a hardship. As if they couldn't be without me for an hour or so. As if I was going to ruin the whole vacation by going for a run.

Little did they know, I needed my runs to keep me sane. Over time, my husband and I figured out how to make it work for everyone. Our solution was I got my run time in while he and the boys went out for breakfast.

Since so many runners have to or want to train while away from home, I wanted to share some tips how you can make running on vacation a win-win for everyone.

Because as we all know, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy...



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Race Recap: Wintrust Lakefront 10 Miler

Do you have a favorite race that you do over and over? For me, the Wintrust Lakefront 10 miler is one of those races. Over the years, the name of the race has changed, but the race remains the unofficial kickoff to the Chicago race season. Organized by the Chicago Area Runners Association, this is a "runners' race". The field is fast, the race is well planned, and the post-race party is exceptional. The only thing left to chance is the weather, and more often than not, the weather is a factor for the runners.

This was my 4th time running this race. I struggled with my pacing this week, as my RA symptoms started to increase. Coupled with the forecasted cool, cloudy, windy conditions, I wasn't sure how this race was going to go for me. My PR of 1:24:27 took place 2 years ago. I knew I wasn't going to PR today--I hoped to at least sub-1:30. My friend Kim from Running on the Fly decided to join me for this one. I figured if nothing else, we'd have a good time!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Review: Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson

This month's book club selection, Your Pace or Mine?: What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last by Lisa Jackson, could not have come at a better time. Feeling a little down on running lately and stuck in the winter doldrums, I needed a pick me up, and reading this book was like having my BRF giving me a pep talk.

Lisa Jackson shares her personal stories and experiences as a self-proclaimed "least likely runner you'll ever meet". At the end of each chapter, she also shares the stories of other regular runners--people like us--whom she all says are "equally amazing".

Because, as she says, "running isn't about the time you do, but the time you have while doing it".