Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nice guys finish last

It's a running blog, after all...
Let's face it. It just doesn't feel good to say no. I've been thinking a lot about this the last couple of days. There have been multiple situations where I've been put in an uncomfortable position--where I wanted to be the nice guy, but knew that I needed to say no. I didn't do a very good job at any of them.

Last night, the mother of one of my son's friends called me. She made some small talk and I figured she was just calling to check in on the boys, make sure they were still behaving. But then she brought up the real reason for the call. Her family is going out of town for the weekend, and her son wanted to invite my son and 2 girls to go with them. She repeatedly told me she was uncomfortable with it, hemming and hawing, but wanted to know how I felt.

In other words, she wanted me to be the bad guy. She wanted me to say no. Which, of course, I did. But what I wanted to say to her, "why the f--- can't you just say no?" I didn't, but I wanted to. I do have a filter. Plus, I was walking through the hospital at the time, so there's that.

But truly, this really upset me. I felt like she put me in a bad position, where I couldn't say anything but no. I couldn't tell her how I really felt about her wimpy parenting. And how bad it felt to have to be the bad guy.

Just earlier in the day, I was put in another situation where I needed to say no, but didn't want to be the bad guy. In this instance, I received a message from another blogger, who shall remain nameless. I had never interacted with her before. She told me that she found my blog on another site, and loved the idea of the book club. And would I mind if she started her own running book club?

Who does that?

I checked out her blog, and it's really fancy. Professionally done, with multiple headings and pictures that with a click, take you to another page. She's got ads too, so clearly she's pretty big.

In contrast, my blog is pretty small. I started my blog to interact with other runners and bloggers. I wanted to share my experiences and inspire other runners. My blog is more of a public diary. I don't have ads, and I rarely do product reviews. I have a loyal following, and I'm happy with where my blog is going. I try really hard to have meaningful content every time I post. I don't post just to post. The book club was born out of my love for running, for reading, and for learning. I've had author involvement, which is more than I dreamed of. We've had our 2nd month and so far, the book club has been well received.

But clearly, it's a blog eat blog world out there.

Naturally, I took the easy way out and was nice about it, telling her basically the more the merrier. After I responded to her, I kicked myself all day long. Hard. I kept thinking about how I could have handled it differently. What I should have said was no, or suggested an alternative. Clearly, I'm still bothered by it, because I'm writing about it. For the life of me, I don't know what I would have said, though, that would have made saying no sound ok.

Part of me thinks that there's room for all of us. The blogging community certainly has been supportive of me and my blog! But there are bloggers out there who are looking for only themselves--applying for every campaign, linking to every link up (some not linking back), and loading their blog up with ads. I'm not saying this blogger is one of them. I'd never heard of her blog and never interacted with her before. And she did ask instead of just going ahead with her own book club. All I can say is that it's been a challenge finding ways to grow my little blog.

If you've been following me for any length of time, you've probably figured out that I'm not a wimp by any means. I'm pretty good at asserting myself. I do it in my job, and at home. I'm competitive and aggressive on the race course. If you ask my husband, he'll tell you I drive like I race. I will admit that lately though, it's a little overwhelming how often I'm saying no at home. As a matter of fact, I feel like that's all I've been doing these days. Saying no. Maybe that's why I'm faltering. I just want to be nice for a change.

Saw this on a car yesterday. Maybe I need to grow a pair....Or the more acceptable alternative, a thicker skin.

Been told this my son...

In the situation with the blogger, what would you have done? Am I being too sensitive here? Is it easy for you to say no? 

Because it's so easy for me to be Thinking Out Loud, I'm going to link up with Amanda from Running with Spoons! What a great link up!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I've always been impulsive, a fly-by-the-seat of my pants kind of gal. They say opposites attract, and I think that really must be why my husband and I are married. He's the guy who needs to plan things in advance, and needs to really consider every aspect before making a decision. Change is really hard for him. His biggest challenge is keeping my feet on the ground. When I went back to school to become a nurse practitioner, he was not happy. "You're going to ruin the family", was his response. He knew I'd been toying with that move, but it still was a spontaneous one. Luckily, that decision worked out well for all of us. Considering that I've supported the family the last 2 winters while my husband has been out of work, I don't believe that I "ruined" the family. We may be having issues with my oldest son, but I can't blame it on becoming a nurse practitioner.

Most of the time, my spontaneous decisions have worked out well. I've been told that I have good instincts, and I believe that I do. You know my motto: Trust your gut.

Last year, I decided to jump into the Chicago marathon after winning a free entry from my employer. This was 14 weeks before the date of the marathon. Most marathon training plans are at least 16 weeks long. My husband, of course, told me I didn't have to run it. But I told him that I thought it was meant to be, and that it was time for me to redeem myself from my disastrous first attempt. Becky, my coach, was on board. I had a good training base already. My training went perfectly, and the race itself could not have gone better.

One of the best days of my life!
While I wouldn't recommend jumping into a marathon without planning ahead, it isn't unheard of. Beth, at Shut Up and Run, won a free entry to the Jerusalem marathon last month with only 6 weeks to prepare. As a veteran of several marathons and 2 Ironmans, she knew what to expect of the distance, and finished respectably. But she did have all that experience and a great running base.

Last winter, I read about a free entry to the Antarctica Marathon. Heck yeah, I entered! The contest was 6 weeks before the race. I'd been running in our own polar vortex, so I figured if I won, I'd throw a few long runs into the mix. Chicago winter? Antarctica? Besides no penguins, really, is there a difference? Believe it or not, my husband was on board with this one. Of course, he'd be all toasty and warm on the ship while I was out running in the tundra. But in a heartbeat, I'd have gone. Sadly, I didn't win. But as a completely random, unrelated consolation prize, there was this picture of me featured on Another Mother Runner. I love those ladies, and this was almost as good as going to Antarctica. Because Dimity is going to answer questions for next month's book club. It's funny how things work out. Plus this picture really shows that I could run in Antarctica if I wanted to. So there's that.

Antarctica got nothin' on me...and I'm almost famous...
I've run a few half marathons, signing up at the last minute. A year and half ago, I signed up to run a Thanksgiving half marathon the week of the event. My son needed some community service hours, and he was able to fulfill that obligation by volunteering at the race. I figured since he'd be there, I'd run it too. As it turns out, this was the fastest half I'd run in several years. My previous half was 2 months before, but I had continued to run my usual mileage and was in good shape prior to the race. My friends Karen, Michelle, and Sara were running too. It was all good. Well, except I never saw my son on the race course. I know he was there, but I ran right by him. So he says.

My beautiful friend Karen and me
For a nervous nelly like myself, the good thing about being spontaneous is that I don't agonize over a decision. When I signed up to run Chicago the first time, that was in January, and I had all that time get myself worked up into a lather. With last year's marathon, I didn't have a chance to get nervous. I jumped right into training, did the work, and was excited about my gains.

It's a little different this year. As running continues to become more popular, races are selling out faster than ever. I haven't planned the rest of my race calendar because I'm waiting to see if I got an entry to the Chicago marathon. I'm not really optimistic, since 70,000 people entered the lottery this year. Seriously! Hello, I'm a native Chicagoan. Doesn't that mean anything?

There are other options on my backup list, but I have my heart set on another Chicago marathon. Will the other options sell out while I wait for my lottery decision? I could always run Chicago as a charity runner. I could. I did that the first time. But I really hate the idea of hitting up my friends and family again. So if I don't get in, that might be a sign that I need to pick a different race. I'll let my gut tell me what to do.

So for this runner, it becomes more difficult to be spontaneous. The half I'm running in May? Sold out in March. I already signed up to run Sarasota next year, but that's because the race director let me defer. Sarasota is another race that sells out. I've never planned this far ahead, but hey, it's Florida. I want to do another half this summer, but as I wait to see what marathon falls onto my race calendar, will my options for half marathons narrow? Can I still be spontaneous? If I stick to smaller local races, yes. Seems like it's still my best bet for success. Stay tuned.

Are you a planner? Or a fly by the seat kind of gal/guy? What would you do if you were me, and didn't get in to Chicago? Charity? Or find a new race? Oh, the agony...

I'm linking up with DebRuns at Wednesday Words! Spontaneous is the word of the day. What say you?

And my ladies Diatta and Sheila at Workout Wednesday! Be sure to head over and see what the other bloggers have to say!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Taking the Long Way Home Book Club Book Review: 4:09:43 Boston Through the Eyes of the Runners by Hal Higdon

"These were moments when their lives, or the lives of all people through the world, changed. December 7, 1941: when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. November 22, 1963; when Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. January 28, 1986: when the space shuttle Challenger carrying Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe exploded. September 11, 2001: when planes crashed into the World Trade Center taking both towers down and killing 3,000 people". -from 4:09:43 Boston Through the Eyes of the Runners.
 Where were you on 4/15/2013 when the bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?

I was at work. I remember it clearly. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I had just finished seeing a patient and came out of a room, when my medical assistant told me that there was a story that a bomb went off at a marathon. It was a Monday in April, and I didn't know of any other marathons that day except Boston. I checked the internet and saw the breaking news. I was stunned and I finished my clinic in a daze.

As time passed and we learned more, the gravity of the situation continued to hit me. I couldn't help but personalize it. When I ran Chicago for the first time, in 2011, my family, including my husband and boys, my mom and one of my sisters and her family were all at mile 26, cheering me on. What if?

What if, indeed? For the next couple of days, my Facebook feed exploded with stories and updates. Several bloggers that I follow shared their take on the events. Some of them were at the race. I became almost obsessed with the story. And I've never run Boston.

In his book, 4:09:43 Boston Through the Eyes of the Runners, veteran marathoner, coach, and author Hal Higdon culls the stories of bloggers and Facebookers, and presents those stories to tell the story of the Boston Marathon bombings. He learned about the bombings while he was at his home in Indiana, and like so many of us, watched the story explode via social media.

And as one of the runners profiled in the book, Diane DeStefano, so poignantly puts it:
"the Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of Running. Some people spend years trying to achieve their Boston Qualifying time. Then, once you qualify, you spend months training in cold weather, paying careful attention to do the specific workouts that will help you attack the tough miles the come towards the end of the marathon".

Amby Burfoot, crossing the iconic finish line in first place many years ago
Higdon features the stories of 75 runners throughout the book. In a chapter titled Diaspora, veteran marathoner Amby Burfoot shares his reaction. Burfoot has run Boston over 20 times, winning the race in 1968. At this Boston marathon, he was running to celebrate his 45th anniversary of the victory. Running in the 3rd wave of runners, he was stopped less than a mile from the finish. His first thought?
"Who's ruining my party?"
Then, like so many of the other runners who were stopped from finishing the race, he learned why the race was over, he started feeling guilty for having those thoughts.

Higdon calls the period of time immediately after the bombings the runners' "diaspora". Diaspora was a new word for me, and basically it means, "to scatter about". The word is used to describe a large migration of people from one place to another. When the runners were told the race was over, that is exactly what happened. They began wandering, with no place to go. No one knew what was going on, said Erica Greene, who was at mile 19 when the race was stopped.

2014! Boston is back!
For me, a runner who is considered "middle of the pack", the story of the bombings hit hard. The runners affected most by the bombing were the middle of the packers, and I couldn't help but think about "what if?". Janeen Bergstrom was at mile 25.85 when the bombs went off.
"Everyone would tell me later that I finished, because I was so close, but a marathon is 26.2 miles, not 25.85 miles."
"Everything you do is for that moment, the moment of stepping on the mat. But the lack of accomplishment and the emptiness I feel is compounded by guilt."
There's something about crossing that finish line. I'd feel mad, and guilty, and sad all at once. I would. Because that's how we runners roll.

Overall, Higdon does an excellent job sharing the runners' stories and coordinating them along a timeline of events. As a runner, I really enjoyed hearing the runners' perspective of the events as opposed to what I read in the news. This is a quick read, and one that will stay with you long after you finish the book. The runners' stories really made this book relatable to me. Every time I cross the starting line of a race now I am so grateful for our freedom and that we can continue to enjoy events like a race. Last year, as I joyfully ran the Chicago marathon, I scanned the crowds that lined the entire 26.2 miles of the route. There was so much goodwill and happiness everywhere I looked. For the life of me, I just don't understand the thoughts of those that want to harm us, simply because we want to enjoy ourselves.

As Amby Burfoot said:
"This was not just an attack against the Boston Marathon. It was an attack against the American public and our democratic use of the streets. We use our public roadways for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, and yes, marathons. We cannot cover our eyes and ears and pretend violent acts do not threaten our great institutions. Our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. We can only hope that the Boston Marathon, though pummeled, will rise again stronger than before. "

I believe that it has!

I also did some background reading after I finished Higdon's book, reading Long Mile Home by Scott Helman and Jenna Russell. This book was less personal and more fact based than Higdon's and focused more on the actual events than the stories of the individual runners. But one of the statements that stood out to me as I read this interesting book was that in spite of the terror attacks on the race, interest and participation in running continues to grow; in fact road races are selling out at paces. Many of the bigger races have turned to a lottery system for entries. Clearly, people aren't going to let the threat of terrorism stop them from running.

One Fund at

After the bombings, the Boston Strong campaign was started as a way to raise money for the victims of the bombings. This effort raised millions of dollars, much of it through grassroots endeavors, such as selling t-shirts. I bought a few. It seems that even for non-runners, the attack on Americans, on Patriots Day, who were participating in a sporting event, struck a chord with everyone.

Jury selection. Artwork courtesy of Hal Higdon
In response to the questions I asked Hal Higdon, he also sent me a copy of an article he wrote for the Chicago Tribune, comparing the Tsarnaev brothers to Leopold and Loeb. Higdon was able to attend the jury selection for the trial of Dzhokhar Tsaranaev. And he states:
"Regardless of Judge O'Toole's instructions to prospective jurors about "presumed innocence," no one owning a "Boston Strong" T-shirt has any doubt about Tsarnaev's guilt. His capture was covered live: "Breaking News" on cable TV. Yet if the defense attorneys find even one jurist out of 12 willing to vote against the death penalty, they can match (Clarence )Darrow."
As I publish this blog post, the Boston jury found Dzhokhar Tsaranaev guilty on all 30 counts against him. The sentence has yet to be handed down. Here's what Hal had to say on his Facebook page after the verdict was announced:
"THE JURY HAS SPOKEN: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty of all 30 charges, 17 of which allow the death penalty. The trial now moves into its final sentencing phase during which the jurors, seven women and five men, must decide whether the convicted terrorist gets death or life in prison. That’s the tough call. We all knew going in that Tsarnaev was guilty. The defense attorneys admitted that on Day 1. Now those same attorneys will try to convince at least one of those 12 jurors to show mercy. Why? “His brother made him do it.” Sorry, I’m not buying. But could I vote death, meaning there will be endless appeals for the next dozen years all covered on CNN and the front page of the New York Times? Sure, many would like to see him hauled out into the Mojave desert and beheaded. That’s what ISIS calls justice. Eye for an eye. Do unto them what they unto us. But could you wield that sword and risk making Tsarnaev a martyr, sending him off to the terrorist version of Paradise? In this context, being forced to spend the rest of his life in prison seems the worst we could do for the man who brought so much sorrow into our lives." -Hal Higdon 
Stay tuned. And keep running.

Dzhokhar Tsarnev at the trial. Artwork courtesy of Hal Higdon
After the bombings, I read stories shared by some bloggers, and I've shared the links to those blogs below:


What did you think? What story stood out to you the most? Where were you when you first heard about the bombings? How did you initially feel? Did the bombings change the way you feel about running road races? Is your preparation for a race any different than before? If you had the opportunity to run this iconic race, would you? Are you? Have you? Share your story! 

Be sure to link your review below! You know the rules...just link back to the original post. The badge is below. Be nice and read the other posts! Sharing is caring after all...and if you don't have a blog, just post your review in the comments. I'm really excited to hear what everyone has to say.

I chose next month's book in honor of Mother's Day. And who better to honor a running mom than the original badass mother runners, Dimity and Sarah! Their new book, Tales From Another Mother Runner is our book of the month for May. I'm hoping with fingers crossed that they'll answer questions, but if they can't, I understand. They're on a book tour after all...

Looking forward to another fun month of book clubbing! Thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm and participation.

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...