Sunday, April 12, 2015

The ego

Today, I had a really tough run. I had my last long run, 12 miles, on my half marathon training plan. Most of my runs have been fast and comfortable lately, and I didn't expect this one to be any different. I've run this distance many times, and wasn't feeling particularly nervous about it. But the universe has a way of balancing everything out, and I was schooled today in pushing myself hard. This run started out tough and never got easier. Lack of sleep and a little tummy troubles didn't help, either. My last half marathon, a month ago, was run with an average pace of 8:34 min/mile, and while I didn't expect to run this long run at that pace, I hoped for sub-9. I got that, but it was tough.

Humbling, in fact.

When I grew up, my mom always said never to get "too comfortable" with how things were going. One day you're up, and the next day, the rug comes out from under you. That can apply to the road as well. I think you have to be willing to accept your shortcomings as well as your bad days to really appreciate when things are going well. Everything does tend to even out, right?

Seinfeld "Even Steven"
You do have to keep your ego in check. Because if you push too hard, you're going to get hurt. Actually, every yoga teacher I have taken a class with has said: "Check your ego at the door." There's so much wisdom imparted at yoga class, but this is my favorite. It is such a great reminder that we're all students, and that we're always learning. Whether its at a job or on the road, we should have our minds open and willing to accept ourselves where we are at, at that point in time. Not every day is going to be good. Not every run is going to be easy. Some days, we just won't be able to hold a balance pose. Last week I was talking with a woman who hurt herself at CrossFit. She took some time off to train for a marathon, and when she went back to the gym, she started lifting weights she was lifting at her peak. Hurt her back, and she can't do anything right now. Her comment to me? "I let my ego get in the way."

A while ago, I wrote a post about finding the right coach. One of my friends reminded me in a very insightful comment that you have to be willing to put your ego aside and allow yourself to be coached. This is great advice. After this post, some people commented that they know enough to coach themselves. While I don't doubt that, an objective outsider may see something you might be missing. Let's face it, it's hard to be objective about ourselves. In working with Becky, I've been humbled many times--and it can be a little uncomfortable. When she was teaching me how to "clean" a bar (not what you're thinking), I was mortified at my lack of coordination. Truth be told, I felt stupid. But I was willing to laugh at myself--why not, she was! Eventually, I did get the mechanics of that move. By learning how to do that and other new activities, I've become stronger in the gym and faster on the road. But I had to be willing to put my ego aside.

Putting your ego aside is not easy for anyone. Especially in the world of distance running. I see this on my Facebook feed a lot. One of my favorite sayings is that we are all on our own journey, but when you are constantly seeing posts about people running faster than you or farther than you, it starts to make you question yourself. Am I a real runner? Why am I not faster? Playing the comparison game is a trap that is easy to fall into through social media, and I'm not immune to that either. I've got a few friends running ultras this year, and the race they've chosen sounds like fun. Lucky for me, they've included me in plans for training runs, and I'll go run a portion of the ultra with them. I have to remind myself that my body can't stand up to the grueling distance, and besides, I'm working on a different goal--a sub 4 marathon. Plus, I really have no desire to run farther than 26.2. Still, I can't help but feel a little tug that I should be running an ultra too. After all isn't the ultra the new marathon? I just read that somewhere.


The ego can get in the way of relationships too. I've heard stories about running friendships becoming too competitive, and eventually ending. Guess it's a good thing I train alone! I'd sure hate to lose a good friend because of running. Years ago, I lost a friend because of competition between our boys. Trust me, it wasn't me who was having the issue. Boy, did that one hurt.

Interestingly, I've had this issue with my sister, the one I'm so close with. She gets really uncomfortable when I talk about running, in fact, last year she pretty much told me not to talk about running at all. Because running is so important to me, it really bothered me a lot. I had to step back and think about this for a long time before I came to the realization that this wasn't about me at all. It was about my sister's ego, and how much my success at running made her feel inadequate. I don't know how things are in your family, but my sister is supercompetitive, and has to be the best at everything. Growing up, I was always the one she could best in most things, and it still plays out, even in adulthood. Since I love my sister and every other aspect of our relationship is good, I just roll with it.

In spite of the problems it can cause, the ego isn't all bad.

Today, my ego wouldn't let me quit. While I tried to keep my thoughts positive, I couldn't help but chastise myself at times for feeling so crummy. I analyzed what I had eaten the last couple of days. Sipped my Tailwind and waited for the magic to happen. Tailwind isn't a magic potion, but it gave me the energy I was lacking to push hard on today's run. Mentally, I needed this run, and I worked for every mile I ran today. I don't think that's a bad thing. I ran hard and I ran uncomfortable. My training with Becky has taught me to do that. And finished with a time I could be proud off. Miles are miles, after all. After today, I know that I'm ready to run that half no matter how I feel.

What would you have done? Would have have called it a day and stopped? Pushed through? Have you lost a friend over competition? 

I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over to her blog to check out all the other posts. And don't forget to link up with me for the Taking the Long Way Home book club!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Taking the Long Way Home Book Club: Interview with Hal Higdon, author of 4:09:43 Boston Through the Eyes of the Runners

Just in time for the Boston marathon and the book club book review....the interview with the author of this book, Hal Higdon. The legendary runner, who is now 83, was so kind to answer my questions. He also shared some art work with me as well as an article he wrote for the Chicago Tribune on the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I was thrilled to receive his responses to my questions and I think you'll enjoy the interview. Many of us have used his training plans, available on the internet for free, to train for races. If you weren't a fan before, you will be now. What a nice guy!

And here we go....

Me: Your book focuses on the stories of the runners, and it was so well told. I really enjoyed this perspective. But I’m curious about your take on the bombings.

HH: My take on the tragedy was that it was a horrible event that shot an arrow right into the hearts of those of us who love running, particularly those of us who love and respect the Boston Marathon as the keystone event in our sport. That is somewhat a selfish attitude, but the fear I suspect hits runners is that actions like this could drastically change, if not eliminate, the sport of running 26.2 miles in front of large numbers of vulnerable spectators.

Me: Just like any other important event in history—when Kennedy was shot, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, when the World Trade Center was attacked—people remember where they were and what they were doing. Where were you and what were you doing when you first learned about the Boston Marathon bombings?

HH: I was home at my computer, doing what I normally do each day, which might include managing what I call my Internet Empire: Facebook, Twitter, the TrainingPeaks bulletin boards. I remember a box popping onto the screen for some reason telling me that a “friend” had just finished: Kate Leahy of Kansas City. (I had coached two of her sisters in high school.) I clicked a button to check Kate’s time, which was somewhere in the low 3-hour range, and was immediately confronted by the fact that bombs had exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. For the rest of that day and for a week or more after, we all were caught up by the fact that “Breaking News” had engulfed our sport.

Me: What was your immediate reaction to the bombings?

HH: Horror. Worry. The fear that people I knew might have gotten hurt or killed. And several friends were, indeed, on Boylston Street when the two bombs hit, one of them probably within a hundred meters of the first explosion. She dropped to the ground fearful that another bomb might explode. The second explosion did occur, although further away. She finally accepted shouted advice and ran as fast as she could away from the finish line and into the “safer” area beyond that line.

Me: There are so many stories about the Boston marathon bombings. Of all the stories you shared in the book, which was your favorite story? Which story was the most difficult for you to share?

HH: Tracy McGuire who lives in Portland and whose husband works for Adidas and was in the grandstands waiting for her to finish. She was approaching the finish line when the first bomb exploded in front of her. Tracy did a quick U-Turn only to have the second bomb also explode in front of her. She hopped a fence and ran through a restaurant to escape, shouting to people at the bar to get out. That was like a “sky is falling” moment, because none of them believed what she was shouting. Eventually they did. And the whole world soon was aware of what happened.

And Michele Keane, who I have known for 10-15 years almost from my beginning days on the Internet. We always call her “One-L.” Michele grew up in Natick right on the border near Wellesley. With her mother, she began handing out water to runners at age 2. She eventually went to Wellesley College, ran Boston a couple of times as a lark, but after graduating got her time down to near 3 hours. If she wasn’t running Boston, she was working the race as a volunteer. She stopped at her old water point to hug her mom, wasted a minute or so, then stopped at Mile 25 to hug her daughter who was a student at Boston University. The daughter told Mom to quit wasting time, to get back on the course. The bombs went off just as she was turning the corner into Boylston.

But there were 25,000 stories that day, each one of them amazing. I only found space to fit 75 of them into the book.

Me: There’s been a lot of changes since Boston. For example, last year when I ran Chicago, there were big snowplows parked at the entrance of the area where the runners entered the corrals. Do you think race directors are doing enough to keep their runners safe?

HH: If another terrorist attack occurs, you can never have done enough. I certainly feel that race directors have compared notes and upped their security, which was always there at races like Chicago, but was not yet intrusive. Flying has become incredibly inconvenient since 9/11, yet the enhanced security didn’t prevent a German pilot from diving a plane into the Alps and killing 150 people. The reality of our sport is that we have a 26.2-mile playing field, and you can’t block access as you can in an airport or at a Chicago Bears football game. We just need to keep our fingers crossed and hope that our insurance is paid up.
Me: And on a personal note, you’ve run Boston numerous times. What is your favorite personal memory from the Boston marathon? Your least favorite memory?

HH: Favorite would be 1964 when I got everything right and had the lead through the first two Newton hills before I got passed by several runners who were better than me. I still managed to preserve 5th place, first American, which has provided bragging rights for a half a century. Least favorite would have been Boston five years earlier when I ran with the leaders but failed to make it past 22 miles. At that time I was at the top, or near the top, of the national pyramid, and I couldn’t understand how I could win national championships at 30-K and not keep the pace for a dozen marathons more. This was before we had Runner’s World or to tell us what we were doing wrong. But as I have often said, if you are afraid to fail, you don’t deserve to win. The highs and lows eventually blend together.

Me: What are you training for? Are you done running long distances? What’s next for you?

HH: I am just finishing work on a book to be titled Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Handbook. While doing so, I have added a few more miles running to my weekly exercise routine. I just finished the Gate River Run, a 15-K race in Jacksonville, Florida where we spend winters. I have been pointing toward the Indy Mini, the half marathon in Indianapolis. I’m not sure I’m up to a full 13.1 miles, so I might just run a few token miles, enough so I can write about it in my book.

Me: Finally—what advice would you give a runner who wants to qualify for Boston? Is it worth the hype?

HH: Boston definitely is worth the hype. It is the iconic marathon, which is recognized by runners around the world even more than us Yankees, who sometimes don’t recognize Boston’s total majesty. Immediately after the bombings, I quoted a comment by a Talking Head on CNN that Boston was not an “iconic sporting event.” I posted that comment on Facebook to see if my followers agreed. Obviously they did not, but the outrage was even more from runners who lived in the UK or Hungary or Australia. They knew even more than we did the treasure we have each Patriot’s Day, even if that holiday is only celebrated in three states.

You can follow Hal Higdon on his Facebook page or at All his training plans are available for free download at his website.


Did you read the book? Did I hit the high points in this brief interview? Anything you would have asked him? Have you ever used any of Hal's training plans?

Next up....the book review on 4/13. Are you ready? So many little time...
Here's the badge for your blog: Remember, the link up will be live 4/13-4/30. Plenty of time, actually!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


When I run, I run by myself. This is how it has been for many years. Some people don't get it. Over the years, I've had many offers from people wanting to run with me. I shared one story with Dimity and Sarah at Another Mother Runner about a neighbor man jumping in on my runs. I finally had to break it to him that I wasn't looking for someone to run with. It felt like a break up. When I told him that I like to run alone, he looked at me like I was crazy. And he looked hurt.

He's not the only person who has had this reaction. Another neighbor (another man, am I sending out the wrong message?) wanted to train for a half marathon with me. I told him that I would drive with him to the race, but that my training would be solo. Guess who didn't run the race?

Why is this so hard for people to understand? I actually enjoy my long, solo runs. When I run, it's just me, my music, my thoughts, and the road. My marathon training last year was completely solo. This included all my long runs. I had no problem motivating myself to head out the door to run that 18 miler (my longest run). I was looking forward to it.

Solo run along the water in Florida
I'm rarely alone. Even as I write this, my youngest son is on the couch, home from school today with a back injury from gymnastics. My husband was off work this past winter and when he finally returned to his job, I savored the solitude at home. I wandered from room to room, just taking in the quiet. There was no one asking me to find a lost item. No one asking what my plans were for the day.

Don't get me wrong. I love my family. And I'm not anti-social. My days are full.  Full of people, full of activity, full of noise. My job is in a busy clinic where we have 25 exam rooms and patients come and go. The hallways are filled with noisy children and crying babies. My home is in a highly congested suburban area of Chicago. The town borders overlap. One ends and another begins. There's a busy highway 2 blocks from my house and the noise from the road never ceases. The roads are packed with cars. Everyone is in a hurry. The stores are crowded. Airplanes fly overhead with increasing frequency and noise. Sometimes life here feels like an assault on the senses.

But there is green space here in the middle of suburbia and that is where I take my runs. The Forest Preserves, with their paths, are a place to find solitude in the middle of chaos. I ride my bike there, and I take my long runs there. Safety is an issue, as you might expect, but I try to go when there are people around. As I run through the woods, I take in the sights and sounds of nature around me, observe the seasonal changes and feel myself relax.

And when I get to take my runs to a less crowded place it is pure heaven for me.


I'm linking this post to a new link up on DebRuns! Every week she is going to feature a word for bloggers to write about. This was a great choice for the first week. I'm looking forward to this!

Deb Runs

I'm also linking up with the ladies, Diatta and Sheila, at Workout Wednesdays! Be sure to head over and see what everyone else has to say!

Femme Fitale Fit Club

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

No time to train?

"I'm too busy to workout". 
"I don't have time to workout". 
"I don't have time to train for a marathon..a half marathon..." 

Everyone has an excuse why they can't workout, why they can't run. Marathon training? Ain't nobody got time for that...

Actually, yes some of us do...actually all of us's all about priorities.

Finding time to run and to train for a race is all about priorities. 20 years ago, I started running to fight depression and anxiety. Running got me through some tough times. It still does. I'm afraid to stop. In fact, running is part of who I am. I can't imagine life without running.

I get asked all the time how I find time to run. In the past 5 years, I've trained for 11 half marathons (currently training for #12) and 2 full marathons. I also work full time and am the married mother of 2 teenage boys.

Wouldn't it be nice to have nothing to do during the day but workout and blog? That would be my dream life. That, and living at the beach. Sadly, I have to pay the bills.

I like to race too. Racing is a great way to check in with my progress, to push myself, to set goals and achieve them. I won't sugarcoat it, marathon training is time consuming, but as a busy working mom, I'm proof that not only can you do it, you can do it well. And it is definitely worth the effort. That feeling of accomplishment carries itself off the road and into your everyday life. Just ask any busy mother runner.

Oh wait...I did!

The tribe: Michelle, Sara, Me, Penny, and Karen
I called on my #tribe to contribute to this post. We are 5 busy moms and among us we have all run multiple marathons. 3 have completed ultras. 4 of us also have running blogs! And on top of it all, we find time to get together for some much needed #tribe time. I love these ladies. They make me better. And that's the truth.
Here's their advice:

Sara aka Cheesy Runner Mom: I find time to train for a marathon as a mother of young children by making my training as invisible as possible to my family. I do this by waking up early and logging miles on the treadmill prior to waking up my kids for school, and logging any outside weekday miles on the three mornings per week my youngest is in preschool. My only "visible" training is on one weekend morning per week, where I log a long run or run a race. My husband is willing to drive carpool and hold down the home front for a few hours, because it doesn't impact his life the rest of the week. I am always conscious of how my training affects my family, and with these compromises, I have found both harmony on the home front and success in meeting my training obligations.

Karen aka Trading in My Heels: When I start training for a marathon or ultra, I sit down and discuss it with my family. You must be willing to be somewhat selfish with your training. This means being gone for 3-4 days a week and up to 4 hours during long training runs. I need to make sure my kids are ok with this before I can commit to training for an endurance distance.

Penny formerly known as 26.yikes: Extend the same level of commitment you give to your family, work, friends to yourself and your training. That means even when you don't feel like going for your schedule training run, you do it anyway. How many times as a mom have you felt like you couldn't nurture a minute more, but you do it anyway? Yes, that. Do that in training and you will succeed.

Michelle aka This Momma Runs: Ultimately you have to want to make the time for yourself and your training even if the timing isn't perfect. It's a commitment that impacts everyone around me. Since my husband also trains we spend a lot of time working on our "schedule". It changes every week as we try to not impact our children and their commitments. The majority of my runs and swims are done after my daughters go to sleep. I want to be there to tuck them in, so I prioritize my time. I don't love running at 9 pm or even later, but for right now that's what works for our lives so that's what I do.

And me: Make your training as much of a priority as you do your family and your job. When my boys were little, I used to get up and run at 430 am to get it done before my husband had to leave for work at 6. Sure, it was me, the newspaper delivery people, and the skunks. Now, I'll still get up before the sun if I have a long run on the plan and I have to work. On the weekends, I get up early to get my long runs in before everyone gets up so I don't interfere with any family activities. Yep, sometimes you have to go to bed early. Sometimes you don't get a full 8 hours of sleep. Plan ahead. Lay out your running clothes the night before. My coffee is in the pot and ready to brew for the morning. Be stronger than your excuses.

This is your pep talk! You can do this!

How do you find time to run? To train?

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run: MCM mama, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No Guilt Life. This is a great topic and I'm sure the other bloggers have some good advice...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Running happy

Today was the day that showed me spring has officially arrived. Not just because it's opening day at Wrigley Field! One week ago, we left sunny Florida, where it was in the 80s, and landed at O'Hare airport in 33 degrees and sleet. Hello Chicago! The weather improved over the course of the week, thankfully. Springtime in the midwest is really fickle. But today on my run, I saw a lot of the changes that come with spring. Better days are ahead. They have to be.

I put on my most Eastery shirt (Swirlgear) and I headed out the door to run my 10 miler. The sun was shining and the temperature was 50 degrees. As my first "official" spring long run, I decided to take it to the bike path, where I do so much of my training. During the winter, the park district plows part of the path, but most of it is left snow covered. I have to be creative and find alternative routes to get my miles in. Lots of those miles are on the road, and we all know that isn't optimal.

Today I knew my path would be clear. I was excited to run it. The round trip distance from my house to the end of the path and back is about 10.5 miles. The parts that are the prettiest are also the most wooded and isolated. I went early, figuring that I'd be alone on the path. Surprisingly, I saw a lot of other runners and some bikers too. There's safety in numbers, and so I was able to relax the entire route.

As I ran along the first of several retention ponds I pass along this path, I was struck by the way the sun was hitting the water. The water was calm, and there were several loons swimming, making a wake in the water. It was very peaceful, and very beautiful. But this pond does serve a purpose, as you can see by the big drain pipe in the forefront of the picture. Behind me is a creek, which meanders along the length of the path. The creek floods easily when there are big storms. This pipe runs under the path and helps keep the creek from overflowing its banks. Sometimes it works.

And altho you really can't see it in this picture, at the far end of this pond is a major highway. Ah. Suburbia.

While I'm really grateful to have this peaceful place to run, the majority of the path is under these high tension wires. I think it's a great idea to use this green space for a fitness path (hello, Arlington Heights? Can we do that too?). But I wonder if there are any ill effects from being in such close proximity to this high voltage. Maybe that's where I get all my energy from?

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles....oh yeah...
I stopped to say hi to the smiling tree! Actually, when I stopped for this picture, I had a message on my phone from my one of my #tribe wishing all of us a Happy Easter! I sent them this shot, and continued on my run, catching up with them after I finished. That message sure put a smile on my face and a spring in my step!

Doesn't this shirt look like it was dyed with Easter egg colors? I just love it. 

I saw a lot of fat robins pulling worms out of the ground. Squirrels and chipmunks playing. And I noticed that the grass is turning green...

Me and my shadow! I look so tall...

Even though the path is mostly flat, there are some really steep hills. One of them almost took my breath away as I chugged up to the top. The reward is that on the way back, I'm able to fly down. When I'm on my bike, it's almost scary! At the bottom of the hill is a bridge across the creek. I stopped to take a picture and was interrupted by a man walking with his toddler and dog. I asked him to take this picture. He seemed to think it was weird, even though I explained to him that I needed it for my running blog. Must not be a runner...

Another pond, just around the bend...3 weeks ago I was here was on my bike and the pond was completely frozen over.

I saw a lot of these guys! I expect to see ducklings in a few weeks.

Outta my way!

And finally, the true sign that spring is officially here--the portapotties are back! And bigger than ever...

And I didn't even have to use it!

Today's stats:
10.43 miles
8:39 mins/mile
Definitely started off slow, but love those negative splits on the back half!

Has spring sprung where you are? What signs of spring put a smile on your face? How do you celebrate your first official spring run of the season?


I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to check out her blog and all the other blogs too!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Late bloomer

Today I had a speed work session that astonished me.

Stunned. And it's pouring behind me.
After waking up to a gray, rainy, dreary morning, the last thing I felt like doing was running fast. I felt more like crawling back under the covers and snuggling with my dog. But a mantra stuck in my head as I drove to the 2 mile loop at the retention pond where I do a lot of training. I read a statement on Runner's World (and for the life of me, I can't find the link) that said something like you have to run uncomfortable to run faster. So besides training us to run faster, speed work teaches runners to push out of their comfort zone. Similar to those really tough CrossFit workouts that Becky has me do.

I thought about that a lot when I ran my mile splits this morning. I had my Garmin set on pace, and as I glanced down at my watch during my splits, I saw that 7:30 split and tried to hold back. By 3/4 mile into each split, I was breathing really hard and starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. But I had that little rest period waiting for me at the mile mark, so I pushed ahead each time. Stopped to walk for about a minute, catch my breath, and let my heart rate come back down before pushing onto the next mile.

During mile 4, it started to rain again and I heard a huge clap of thunder. Ok then! Let's go! And I did, finishing that split at 7:36, the exact same time as mile 3. Thrilled to have negative splits, and consistent splits, I walked back to my car in the pouring rain, smiling and pumping my fist. I'm sure the people in their cars, who were waiting for the rain to pass, thought I was a complete lunatic.

Am I crazy?

I talk about the age thing a lot. I'm 52 years old. Everyone keeps saying "age is just a number". But you just try and get your head around it. This is the fastest and the strongest that I have ever run. I keep expecting the "inevitable decline" and it's not happening. I go to the doctor for my annual checkup and they don't know what to do with me, except to tell me they don't have many patients like me.

Who peaks in their 50s?

Apparently a lot of "late bloomers" like me. According to this article in Competitor magazine, Tim Noakes notes that most of the best runners after age 45 were late starters, runners who started in their late 20s and 30s. Elite runners tend not to run faster into old age, and some of this is due to cummulative high mileage. Experts recommend older runners utilize a low mileage training plan with cross training to preserve those muscles.

Ok, so I'm doing that. But how long can I keep this up? Will menopause change things for me? A few years ago, a woman came up to me after yoga and told me once I go through menopause, I won't be able to run anymore. Waa waa, Debbie Downer, I know that's not true--look at Kathy Martin, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Christine Kennedy, Sharon Vos, Margaret name a few. These ladies are all still blazingly fast. And while I'm not even comparing myself to them, it's helpful to see that there are women still out there getting it done and in impressive fashion, too!

The key to all this, I think, is to keep moving. Run 4 days/week. Strength training. Yoga. All the stuff I do.

Because what is it that Tom Petty says? "If you don't run, you rust..." lyrics from Big Weekend


I'm just thinking out loud with Amanda Running with Spoons! Be sure to check out the other blogs to see what everyone else is thinking about...

And with Jill Conyers' Fitness Friday!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#RunthisYear 2015 March Summary

March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. Weather-wise and otherwise. So for the last day of this tumultuous month, I wore this RunHappy shirt from Brooks. Because that has been my mantra for this month. Actually, Brooks has some pretty awesome ladies running gear--wouldn't you agree?

Let's sum it all up...shall we?

Looking at my goals--how did I do this month? 

Run a sub-2 marathon: Yes please. Yes I did. This race, my backup plan, the Get Lucky half marathon, went better than I could have dreamed. Not only did I sub-2, but I PR'd by over 4 minutes. My finish time was 1:52:08. My previous PR was in 2011 at the North Shore Half Marathon where I finished with a time of 1:56:31. That race was memorable for my 3 portapotty stops. This year's race was memorable for no portapotties along the course. Man, was I lucky I didn't have to stop. But this race was also no frills in other areas. I came in second in my AG and there will be no award for that. Seriously. Who does that? Oh, that would be Team Ortho. Every other race I have run provides awards for the top 3 finishers in each age group. For my $80 entry fee, I expect some kind of memento. A pint glass? Maybe I could trade my cheesy sweatshirt for an AG award medal? Oh well. I'm not one to be greedy, and hey, at least I can be proud of an amazing finish.

Tom caught a puffer fish! LOL! He puffed right up. The fish, not Tom. At least he let me take this picture. And I've never seen a puffer fish outside a tank before.

Matthew on his way to a "try"
Control the mama drama: Not so much. I do think I was able to channel much of my angst into an amazing month of running. I had some of the fastest mile splits of my 20+ year running cycle. I hate to call it a career, because it's more of a hobby...but I digress. I ran 114 miles this month, and all of them were sub-9 minute miles. That is crazy fast for me and such a thrill. I can't help but wonder how long I can sustain this. Hey, if my oldest son keeps bringing trouble into my life, all I can do is take it to my favorite therapist, the road, right? We took a family vacation to Florida at the end of the month, and while he was pretty rotten to me the first couple of days--god forbid I'd take him away from his friends and make him go to Florida--he did thaw as the week went on and we ended the trip on a really positive note. After all I've been through with him, I'll take it. Now I have to figure out how to pay all these medical and therapy bills. On the plus side, my youngest son is playing a new sport this year, rugby, which he has fallen in love with. I've only been to one scrimmage--the brutal weather this month forced cancellations of many of his games--but he scored a "try" and made this mama proud. 

Becky keeps me working on my core strength. Any of you participating in that multi-blog core challenge? I'm a little scared...
Stay injury free: I'm knocking on wood as I write this, but I had a pretty uneventful month on the injury front. I was really good about foam rolling, yoga, and doing my hip stuff (clamshells and supermans) until we went to Florida. My big toe, my nemesis, is talking to me this week, but it is more sore than anything. It's time to switch out my shoes, and I think that's what my toe is telling me. I hope that's all it is. Damn toe. Usually some body part starts to hint that my shoes have exceeded their mile limitation. I probably have about 400 miles on these shoes. Even though they have a lot of good juju in them--see my race above--it's time to put them aside for the spare pair in the closet. They'll be great for CrossFit. Speaking of CrossFit, after a 3 week hiatus from Becky, I restart back this week. I'm actually looking forward to it. I have no idea what she has in store for me. It can only be good. Right? Back to the pain cave....

Remember, the link will be live April 13! Patriots' Day!
Grow the blog: The blog views have been growing. I've found new outlets for attracting new readers and that's been really fun. I'm getting approached by vendors who want me to test and review their products. That has been even more fun! I loved the Lily Trotters compression socks, and coming up this month will be a product review from SpiBelt. The first month of the book club was a huge success. I had an email interview with the author of our book, and a ton of comments on the book itself. It was so fun and rewarding to have that kind of interest. Hal Higdon has committed to an email interview for this month's selection, which I've chosen in honor of the Boston Marathon. I also have experienced some frustrations with my attempts to grow the blog and I'll be writing about those in the future. It's been interesting.

So what's up for April?

I have my favorite race, the CARA Lakefront 10 miler, on April 18. This is a runners' race, with fast finish times and great post race treats--including Lagunitas IPA at the finish line. I'll be running with my pals Sara and Marcia this year, which makes me happy, since I've done this one by myself both times in the past. April weather is fickle, and I sure hope Mother Nature cooperates! And if any of you Chicagoan bloggers are going to be there, let's plan to meet up at the beer tent after the race!

I'm hoping to get more miles on the bike. I did get out once this month, and rode 20 enjoyable miles. I love my bike. This year, I get to look forward to having some rides with Karen and Michelle, who are biking now too! I hope we can at least get one ride in this month. I've never ridden with anyone, but I imagine that it would be like running with people. So maybe not as fast as I like? We'll see...

And more rugby games with my youngest. What an exciting sport!

I hit the 300 mile mark in paradise!
The stats
-running miles: 114.18
-cycling miles: 20.79
-races: half marathon 1:52:08 PR and AG 2d place

How was your month? Any goals that you crushed? Any new mantras? Do you have lucky shirts? And does your body talk to you when it's time to change shoes?

Thanks for following along!

I almost forgot to link up with the ladies at Workout Wednesdays! Please check out all the other awesome blogs that link up at their sites!
I'm also trying a new link up with FitFoodieMama, AngelinaMarie, Pretty in Pink Fitness, and Bold Fit Mom. Oh my gosh! So many fun blogs! Check them out!
Linking up with Tuesdays on the Run for their goal check in!