Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Race thoughts and Race Recaps link up!

Welcome to the 12th Race Recap Link-Up!! I love reading recaps from other bloggers. Its a great way to learn about different races, support other runners, and gain motivation. A recap is the final leg of the race. It’s your chance to relive your race and allow others some insight. The training miles, the race day jitters, the glory of crossing the finish line. the good - the bad - the ugly We want to hear it all….

Meet the hosts...

3rd week Jessica at The Silvah Lining: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Bloglovin'
Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Lara at Uptite Mamas | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
We'd love it if you'd follow us on all social media & let us know you've shared a post.

Featured post from last week...

Check out Diane's Santa Rosa Half Marathon recap at RunningRocker. Lots of great pictures!!

And now for some race thoughts....

Since this is a race themed link up but I don't have any recent races to talk about, I thought I'd share my thoughts about this year's upcoming Chicago marathon. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I've set a goal for myself for this year's marathon. As I call it, "the mother of all goals", I'm shooting for that sub-4 marathon. Putting it out there has put a lot of pressure on me. When I ran last year's Chicago marathon, I had no goal. Ok, I did have a goal, but after all, I had nothing but that terrible first Chicago marathon to compare with. For both marathons, I set a goal finish time of 4:30. As I progressed through my training last year, I knew that I'd probably surpass that goal time and I did, finishing in 4:17.

I don't think 4:00 is unreasonable at all for me. During last year's race, I had a few glitches, which stole quite a bit of time from me. For example, my phone flashlight turned on at mile 8 and it took me 5 minutes to troubleshoot it. I could have let it go, but I didn't want the battery to run down. I wanted pictures!

Lesson 1: put the phone on airplane mode.

Once I got the flashlight turned off, I headed back onto the course. At about mile 11, my phone started to ring. What the hell? Who would be calling me? I ignored it and kept going. It rang again. And again. So finally, thinking the worst, I answered it. It was my medical assistant, calling to see where I was and wanting to make sure I didn't miss her at mile 13. Seriously. Who calls someone when they're running a marathon? A non-runner, right?

Lesson 2: put the phone on airplane mode.

Lesson learned.

I saw my medical assistant at mile 13, and I couldn't be mad. I ran over for a hug. I also saw some of my neighbors at mile 15 and hugged them too. I don't think I lost a ton of time doing that, and in fact, I felt like I got a power boost from those hugs! There were a few potty stops as well, even in spite of my excellent fueling choice of Tailwind. What can I say? Nothing's perfect. I may not be able to avoid that.

The rest of the race was uneventful and there were no more stops. Running through Pilsen, where I had my meltdown at marathon #1, was empowering to me! The previous race, I was doing the walk of shame through this vibrant neighborhood, cursing my life. This time, instead of calling my husband, crying, to pick me up, I started to pick up speed. The fact that I felt so good at this point in the race gave me wings. I need to remember that when I run #3.

Running up Michigan Avenue for miles 23-25 was also empowering. I walked those 3 miles when I ran the race 3 years before, and it seemed like I'd never reach Roosevelt Road and mile 26. This time? While my hamstrings were starting to protest, I ignored them and kept running. My music really helped me, and I had Rage At the Machine, Eminem, and Noel Gallagher to bring me to the finish line. I trained with this music and having those familiar tunes propelled me to a strong finish with a huge smile on my face.

As painful as that first marathon was, I am so grateful to have had that experience to draw on. Don't get me wrong, knowing how badly I felt that first time weighed heavily on my mind. Becky and I did a ton of mental training along with my physical training. She recently told me that she picks extra tough workouts for me, not so much for the physical training (although that is a factor) but for the mental aspect. This past strength cycle was all about overcoming fear and pain. I'm stronger for it, both physically and mentally. But I still have a way to go.

Having this lofty goal and putting it out there has made me a little bit more anxious than I was as I prepared for my marathon last year. You'll probably be reading a lot about my training and my mindset. This blog has really provided me with a place to express myself and put it all out there. The feedback I get from all the people who read my posts really empowers me. I never ever thought that people would find inspiration in what I write, but I hear that all the time and it really makes me feel good. I hope that by sharing my fears and anxieties, as well as my achievements, will be helpful for my readers and for me. Thanks for going on this journey with me...again!

You know my motto: it takes a village to train a marathoner. And yes, this time, I'll put my phone on airplane mode!

Any race glitches you care to share? Were you able to shake it off? Any strategies to help alleviate race day jitters?


About this link up...
It is active every Tuesday - Friday. Link up your most recent recaps, or throwback to an old favorite. *If your post is unrelated to the theme, it will be deleted. One recap will be featured on the next link up! Read at least 3 other posts and leave them some love. The more the merrier… share on your social media so others can link-up. #TuesdayTales Grab the code to the link-up image below on your post or somewhere on your blog.
The Silvah Lining
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Thank you for linking up this week - be sure to come back next week.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

And so it begins...

Marathon training starts...with a bike ride?
Today I started training for the Chicago marathon. Ironically, Becky had a bike ride for me on the plan! But that was actually a good thing, because we've been blessed with some really steamy weather conditions and the idea of a long run in this heat (which I'm not acclimated for) was not at all enticing. Even my short runs have been tough as I slog through the 90% humidity. Why, oh why do we do this to ourselves?

It's got to be the morning after...an ultra..Christmas in July L to R: Kim, Michelle, Penny, me, Maggie, Teri, Karen
After all, I saw these ladies cross the finish line of their 6 hour overnight ultra. I didn't want to do this race--I'm a morning person, after all--and I had the perfect excuse of work in the morning. So I got up early, showered, and brought donuts. Which none of them wanted to eat. The heat really took a toll on all of them, but they all crossed that finish line and were still coherent, even at breakfast!  They were hot, sweaty, and drained. There were lots of blisters and chafing. In spite of their misery, there was that sense of accomplishment and camaraderie. And they all still had a sense of humor. I'm so glad I was there, and it was great to spectate the finish of the race. Sitting with them at breakfast, I realized to myself how lucky I am to have such wonderful, supportive, kind women in my life.

clockwise from left: Penny, Michelle, Maggie, Teri, Karen, me, Barb, and Kim
I think a big part of the success I've had with my running over the past couple of years has to do with the support of the running community. I've got cheerleaders all over the county who encourage me and tell me I inspire them with my miles. And in turn, I'm inspired by those same people. I can be pretty hard on myself, and it's nice to have people in my life who help keep me in check. My coach Becky is another one of those people, and to me, she's more than a coach. She pushes me, but she also encourages me. She's determined to get me to that sub-4 marathon with a similar training plan to the one we used last year. I haven't seen it in total, but she assures me she's tweaked it a little bit.

We're done with that tough strength cycle, and I have to admit I'm a little relieved. This was the toughest strength cycle we've done so far. The weight wasn't anything heavier than I've ever lifted, but there were a lot more reps. Last week I had that hamstring scare, when I felt a tweak in my right hamstring during a deadlift. I was nervous for this week's session, and Becky surprised me with a little bit lighter weights and more reps. She told me she knew I was going to be nervous, and she also told me she didn't want me to injure myself. She also told me that she felt that what we had done was effective, based on my progress. I agree. And near-injury aside, I felt those deadlifts and squats all week, as I struggled with my runs a bit. Oooh, my legs were tired. All good. Just like money in the bank.

So what's on the plan for this week? Flexibility, apparently...
-Sunday: bike ride
-Monday: 5 miles at race pace
-Tuesday: CrossFit intervals 5 mile run
-Wednesday: yoga
-Thursday: Speedwork aka mile repeats x5, CrossFit
-Friday: rest
-Saturday: 4 miles at faster than race pace Venus de Miles bike race

It feels good to be training again. I'm excited to get my head back in the game! Chicago Marathon, I'm coming for you! Will #3 be the charm?

Are you training for anything? What's your plan? Goals?

I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading! There's always some great posts over there...check it out!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Social Media Mania

Welcome to the first That Time of the Month linkup! I'm co-hosting this venting session with HoHo Runs! The purpose of this link up is to give bloggers a chance to vent about something that's bothering them! The rules of the linkup are simple: keep it clean (my mom reads my blog), play nice, read at least 2 other posts in the linkup, and link back to the hosts! Thanks for partaking in what should be a fun linkup! Please join us every 3rd Saturday of the month and let it all out!


What's eating me lately? I'd have to say that I'm feeling overwhelmed by social media these days. While growing this blog is one of my goals, I've had to expand my social media reach in order to get more exposure. With all the different social media channels, there has been a learning curve for me. And some growing pains. Lots of growing pains.

I started blogging about 18 months ago, and started my Facebook page at the same time. Facebook (FB) continues to be one of my biggest sources of blog readers, and I don't have many issues with FB. We've got a really great community of runners on FB, and I've enjoyed interacting with them and meeting and befriending a lot of them. While I've mostly had a great experience on FB. I've had a bit of link dumping--weight loss products I'm talking about you-- and spam, and when I see those, I just delete and block those folks from my page. Who needs them? Who wants them? The one thing that FB has recently started doing, and something I find really annoying, is posting in my personal feed when my friends comment on anything. So that means all my friends get to see everything I comment on. Which is a lot, because I like to support my fellow page admins. I find FBs sharing of everyone's likes a bit intrusive. I'd rather just read what I want to read. I don't care what other people comment on. The other thing about FB that has been challenging me is trying to maintain some distance between my personal life as a nurse practitioner and my blogging/FB personna. I would love to deactivate my personal page, but FB doesn't allow you to have a page without a personal page. Those of you who follow me on both pages may have noticed that I've changed my name on my personal page, and that's to keep the creepers away--I've had a lot of friend requests from people I don't know--and to keep patients and parents from contacting me. I've been getting more and more messages from patients, and not only is it an invasion of my privacy, it is also a HIPAA violation for me to provide any information to them via FB. It's also unprofessional. I never thought I'd have this issue, but in this day and age of oversharing, it's very real.

So many food pictures!
Instagram (IG) started out to be pretty fun, but as my reach on that platform has increased, I've noticed some troubling trends. When I initially signed up for IG, I signed up for a private account, again trying to maintain some sense of privacy. I thought this would enable me to approve my followers. But I soon learned that wasn't going to work so well for me if I wanted to grow my blog, so I opened my account back up. 90% of the people who follow me are legit. But there have been some weird followers... people who have no followers of their own...people who post sexy pictures...a guy whose description says he helps people fire his boss...someone promises me they will grow my IG but has no posts of their own..oh, and those people selling seaweed wraps--you get the picture. I've blocked some of the really questionable accounts. I have to be pretty diligent. I do check all my likes and follows. I don't want to invite trouble. And then there's that whole other animal, the follow/unfollow folks, who do it just to build up their numbers, not because they are interested in anything I post. Did you know that you can pay for IG followers? That there's a "bot" you can install that will follow and unfollow for you automatically? Seriously! But as more advertisers want bloggers with lots of engagement, yes, this is what people are doing to get campaigns.

And you wonder why I waited to long to join Twitter...
And then there's Twitter. I resisted joining for so long, and I just recently took the plunge. So far, so good. Yes, I'm getting more hits on the blog, which has been great. My most recent book club author retweeted my review, along with the reviews of everyone who linked up with me. That's really cool! I also loved being able to retweet all the book reviews of everyone who linked up. I like the idea of being able to tweet about a blog post I read and sharing it with like minded followers. But on the other hand, I'm still trying to figure the whole thing out. I was being followed by someone named Sex Toy Diva who was retweeting my tweets. Some might think any engagement is better than none, but you know that saying that you're judged by the people you hang out with? Sex Toy Diva? Oh, hell no! I figured out how to block her. I don't get why she'd want to follow me. I'm all running all the time--and that's all I tweet about. I've been added to "lists" and I don't understand what it means to be added to a list. Some dental company added me to their list. Why? I have heard that runners have bad teeth, but I don't think that has anything to do with this add. So I figured out how to get off the list. I have also gotten a large number of followers of companies promoting their products and services. Do I follow them back? Most of them, I have not, because I'm simply not interested in what they are promoting. Stay tuned...

I've been on Pinterest for a long time, and in the past, I always used the site to store all the running memes that I came across. I'm kind of a hoarder like that. But more and more bloggers say that Pinterest is a great way to spread the word about their blogs. I have to admit that I don't really look at Pinterest very often. There's just too much information--it's like a bulletin board where you just tack up everything you don't want to lose track of. I'm sure if I sat down and got more organized, I would get more out of it. But who has time for that? Out of all the social media channels I've dabbled in, I would say that Pinterest is the biggest time suck of them all. I will say that I have made some pretty amazing desserts from some of the recipes I've found on there.

There's are other social media sites that I'm not as involved with...Google+, You Tube, Tumblr, Snapchat, and the newest one that's got everyone all abuzz...Periscope. Too many social media channels and too little time. I'm just trying to put out quality content on my blog, and that takes a good deal of time. I love the reciprocity of the blogging community, and how most bloggers will come back to your blog to leave a comment if you've left one on theirs. Speaking of that, I read every comment posted on my blog and I respond to all them. But lately, I've noticed a trend of some readers not seeming to read my blog before commenting. Hey guys, I can tell. Just last week I posted about being inspired by my son and his rugby teammates, and by my friend Michelle who ran an Olympic distance triathlon. No one mistook me for my son, but several people congratulated me on my triathlon and complimented me on my trikit. That's just sad. Although Michelle and I kind of laughed about it!

I didn't expect this to get so long winded, but hey, it's venting session, right? For better or for worse, there's a lot of options available if you want to connect with like minded people. I'm not sure I like all of it. I have met some amazing people through Facebook and blogging, and for that I'm grateful. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the future!

What are your thoughts on social media? What platforms do you participate in? What is your favorite place to post? Do you get a lot of spam? Do you block people?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Road Shark

"Robin, hand me the shark repellent!"
All the cool kids are talking about sharks.

Last week was Shark Week. Shark Trek anyone? Joan of Shark? Sharksanity?

My California surfing friend Kristina is on the lookout for, as she calls it, "the man in the grey suit"

And I'm running the Road Shark Virtual 5 mile run!

Once again, Gone for A Run has come up with another great virtual race. Complete with swag and a great medal, it's the perfect theme for a midsummer run! 

This will be my 3rd GFAR virtual race this year. I've really enjoyed incorporating these virtual races into my regularly scheduled runs. Knowing that I'm getting a medal for that run makes me push my pace and make it interesting for myself! This time should be no different, and I've got that mental image of the shark to push me! Hey, whatever it takes to run a good race. Sure beats being chased by a clown...

Thankfully we don't have sharks here in the midwest. No salt, no sharks!

Say it ain't so, joe!

Anyone joining me in this fun virtual race? Head over to Gone For A Run to sign up. These virtual races sell out fast, so don't wait too long!

Disclaimer: I was given free entry to the Gone For A Run Road Shark Virtual 5 mile run in exchange for this blog post. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

TMI aka modesty on the run

Last week, I was talking with one of my physician partners as we watched her patient exit the clinic. A teenage girl, she was wearing those super short shorts that all the girls are wearing now. My partner asked me if I would let my daughter wear those shorts.

Well, I don't have daughters, but if I did I'd pick my battles and short shorts probably wouldn't be one of them. Although I won't deny that a little modesty is a good thing. Sadly, I think most of these teens are completely unaware of how the short shorts look--it's fashion and that's that.

It's no different for running. Last winter, I bought a pair of shorts on sale from Asics. I guess I didn't read the fine print, because although yes, I did get a pair of shorts, the ones I got were so short, well, let's just say that there may have been some part of my behind peeking out. I don't think I'll ever wear these in public. Maybe on the treadmill. I just can't. At my first Chicago marathon, I was astonished to see a woman running in a string bikini. Anything goes, apparently..but I digress...

Remember her? 
Even though I'm proud of my legs and buns, I can't say I'd be comfortable putting it all out there while out on a run. And I'm not the only one. Susan Lacke wrote a funny article about booty shorts on Competitor.com where she states: "I'd love something I can wear without a pre-run Brazilian wax".

I have to laugh because with my teenage boys, when it comes to shorts, the longer the better. If the knees are showing, the shorts are too short. Imagine the horror my youngest son felt when he first put on his rugby shorts? They wear them short! The boys on his team all wear compression shorts underneath to make them feel more comfortable and less exposed. I find that interesting!

What about shorts, leggings, or yoga pants that cover your buns but show something else? Avoiding the front wedgie aka the camel toe was featured in this article on Run Haven. If camel toe is a problem for you, check out this product.

Same goes for wearing just a bra top when running outside. Sure, it's really, really hot this time of year and everyone wants to be comfortable. And so many women say that they feel empowered just wearing a sports bra. But I just can't do it. Not only do I need some extra coverage, I just feel like showing all that skin invites unwanted attention. I found some really cute singlets that are super light at TJMaxx and Marshalls. They're made by New Balance and Brooks, and are priced at around $12.99. I feel a lot more comfortable and confident being a little more covered up. No one needs to see my abs.

And speaking of bras...wear one when you run, and when you do, make sure it supports the girls. I can't tell you how many women I see running and bouncing. I cringe when I see this because I always think that running with the girls unleashed would hurt. In the interest of full disclosure here, when I was breastfeeding my boys, I was quite well endowed for that period of time. There weren't as many choices at the time, but I found a very supportive sports bra that kept everything in place. Interestingly, I had perpetual bruises on both shoulders from the straps straining to keep everything from moving. And if you don't think this is a big deal, google "bouncing breasts on the run", and you will be directed to many porn sites like I was. Do you want that kind of attention? Runners World has a great article on running with large breasts.

Along these lines, what about the shirtless male? A couple years ago, the NY Times published an article on the increase in men walking around the city, shirtless. And I quote: "we've lost all sense of decorum and fashion, said Ms (Patricia) Mears". I don't mind a well sculpted torso, but last week on my bike ride, I passed a few older, portly gentlemen riding their bikes, shirtless. They probably could have used some support. Or the bro. The manzier! The article didn't address the shirtless male athlete. I'm not sure how I feel about that, since the image of a male runner at my last race, wearing a singlet with blood stains running down the front from his chafed nipples, still plays in my mind.

Guys, you may want to check the mirror before you head out in your bike shorts or running tights. Let's just say that those clothing items leave little to the imagination. One of the nurses I work with ran into one of our doctors while he was out and about in his bike shorts. Her eyes zoomed into what can only be described as "his junk". Even though she tried not to look at it, you know her dilemma. It's like the sun. You're not supposed to look at it, but you can't help it. And then every time after that, she couldn't make eye contact with him. Because she saw "it". This article in Runners World debates whether or not men should wear shorts over their tights. Or maybe some kind of binder. I don't know but I'm just putting it out there.

Yep, I"m talking about YOU... and black is always safer than red...or white...
I'm not a prude or a deeply religious person. I just want to be remembered for my running ability, not my booty. My advice? Check the mirror before you head out.

And you know what? Black bottoms are always a safe choice. For women and men.

Do you cover up when you run? Or are you comfortable running in a bra top? 

I'm linking up with DebRuns and Wednesday Word. The word of the week is modest. Head over to her blog to see what everyone else is saying!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book review: Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Do you remember your first run? The day that you decided to put on a pair of running shoes and run? I've been running so long that I don't remember the actual first run. But I do remember about 20-odd years ago, at a really low point in my life, going to work out at a health club where there was a track running around the perimeter of the club. I must have started there, because that's where I met my friend Jayne, who took me under her wing and taught me how to run and how to train. We eventually took our runs outside to the forest preserve path that was near the club. Eventually, I mustered up courage to run races. My first races were 5ks and 10ks. Marathons were for the "runners". Of course, I haven't stopped running since. And yep, there are a few marathons under my belt.

In her book, Running Like A Girl, Alexandra Heminsley chronicles her journey from non-runner to runner.  
"It's the most natural thing in the world. We were born to run. you just put on your shoes and head out the door, that's the beauty of it. It's just you, the road, and your thoughts..."
Cue the sound of the needle scratching across the record. Because as Heminsley says, these are the lies people tell you about running. At least, I think, in the beginning. Running is hard, right? Heminsley is open and honest about her struggles with running.

Because she's us. She is brutally honest in her self assessment:
"I wasn't the sporty type. It was as simple as that. I was a curvy girl with little or no competitive spirit...."
And she talks about the challenges she faced as a new runner. One of my favorite stories was the first time she went shopping for shoes, and was dissed by the running store employee. As if it isn't intimidating enough to go into a running store...
"Well, you'll need to run on our @$$@% machine, and then we'll need to look at your gait and analyze the data, and then @!$^, and in case of pronation pffng." 
In other words, intimidation by professional jargon. We do that in medicine sometimes...

Heminsley turns to her father for inspiration. A veteran of many marathons, he was old school, running in a pair of Green Flash sneakers. He was also her biggest cheerleader, giving her advice and encouragement. How nice that she had her dad to cheer her on!

Heminsley at the Brighton Half Marathon
When she finally does get to the London Marathon, she states:
"I could not have done more to be prepare for my first London Marathon, yet I have never been less prepared for anything in my life..." 
I found myself nodding a great deal while reading this book. She talks about the magical feeling you have after completing a marathon, becoming "the girl who did". After the marathon, she loses her desire to run, and becomes, as she puts it, "someone who has just run a marathon. Not a runner. Eventually she gets her mojo back through helping a friend cross the finish line.

There's a lot more revelation in this book, and anyone who's been a runner for some length of time will find a lot of familiar ground here. For beginning runners, this book will serve as inspiration that if Heminsley can become a runner, anyone can become a runner. Because no matter what your body size or ability, we all start at the same place. And as Heminsley states:
"...as I have learned, it is an honor, a privilege, and a gift."
At the Nike Women's Marathon
source: Huffington Post
Although her journey continues as a runner, the story has to end somewhere, and she ends it with her goal race, the San Francisco Nike Women's marathon. It's quite a story to the finish line, and gave me goosebumps. The second part of the book is chock full of helpful hints for the newbie. And some information that was new even to this veteran runner.

I really enjoyed this book, and found her writing style easy to read. The book is written almost as if Heminsley is right in the room with you, telling her stories.  I highly recommend this book for any level of runner. After all, we've all been there...

Did you read the book? What was your favorite part of her journey? Were inspired by her story?

Be sure to link up your review below! And if you don't have a blog, feel free to post your review in the comments. If you do link up, you know the rules: link back to this post and be sure to read everyone else's posts! Sharing is caring. Thanks so much for participating!

<a href="http://s374.photobucket.com/user/wendyrivard/media/IMG_2306_zpsp6y4hf8j.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img alt=" photo IMG_2306_zpsp6y4hf8j.jpg" border="0" src="http://i374.photobucket.com/albums/oo181/wendyrivard/IMG_2306_zpsp6y4hf8j.jpg" style="height: 256px; width: 320px;" />/&gt;</a> 

And join us for next month's book, which is sure to be inspiring:

The author of this book contacted me about participating in the book club, and after learning about his story, I was so inspired, I said yes! This is the story of a young Kenyan, placed with an American family, who finds solace in running and trains to run the NYCM. I haven't read it yet, but the reviews sound promising! The author has already agreed to participate so it should be another great book for the book club. Link up goes live Friday August 14. Let me know if you have any questions! 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekend inspiration

For my weekly recap, I could write about my weekend runs and yep, that would be fine...OR I could tell you about some events I spectated this weekend that were really inspirational, events and people that reminded me to never give up. Do you believe like I do that there are no coincidences? Because all of this is perfect timing as I head into my Chicago marathon training and the chase for that sub-4 marathon.

Yep, that's what I'll do, recap those, because man, I had lots of goosebumps this weekend!

Saturday morning, I went for a 5 miler around the 'hood. Despite the foam rolling I had done the night before, my legs were uber stiff from that heavy lifting that Becky had me do on Thursday. I didn't mind the stiffness because I had a hamstring scare while doing my deadlifts. Luckily there were no residual effects and once I got moving, my legs loosened up. Sort of. It was a slowish-5, but I got it done and headed off to work. My son was playing in a rugby tournament, playing for the state championship, and I had hoped to get there later for some of the games in the afternoon.

Matthew with the ball
When I arrived, the second game of the day had just finished up. Matthew was playing on the B team, and I heard the coaches and teammates congratulating him for his hard work chasing down the runners on the field. He also scored a try, which was pretty exciting! (similar to a touchdown in football). He did get thrown to the ground and landed on his head, and I was a little worried, but he told me he was fine, even though his vision was a little funky. I hoped that he maybe was just a little dehydrated, and with some fluids and rest, he said he felt much better. He went back in for the third game, and played hard, but his teammates' play was less than inspired, and they lost, knocked out of the finals. He wanted to stay to watch the A team matches, and I'm so glad we did because we were rewarded with some amazing rugby.

The boys on the A team were playing for the state championship against a tough Catholic high school power team. This group, a combined team from 3 high schools, takes their rugby very seriously, even having a guy on the sidelines filming the matches. Our group is way more laid back. It was clear that the opposing team was planning on winning. Well (spoiler alert), that isn't what happened. Our boys showed up to play, and play they did. I have never seen so much heart and sweat in one game of any sport I've watched. They chased every player down, tackling and denying points. At one point, one of the players from our team was on his knees, trying to catch his breath. But the other players took over. On the sidelines, we were cheering, and the boys picked up the pace. There was some amazing defense, but wow, the offense, the passing, the catches, the trys...I didn't see any mistakes made. I walked away with so much respect for these boys and the passion they brought to the game. They never gave up, even though they were tired. The win was nice, of course, but even more so was the teamwork and camaraderie that I witnessed on and off the field. The championship was shared with all members of the teams, both A and B, and that was really, really special.

The entire Arlington Stallions Sevens team and coaches
Sunday morning, I did my first long run of my marathon training cycle, an 8 miler. Again, my legs were stiff, but they opened up nicely after the first mile, and I was able to finish the second half of the run with negative splits! I loved that I had so much left in the tank at the end, and I credit that to the heavy lifting Becky is having me do. More on that to come in an upcoming blog post.

After the run, I connected with Sara, and we headed out to the Lake Zurich triathlon to watch our friend Michelle cross the finish line of her first Olympic distance triathlon. We met up with Michelle's husband and daughters, and lined up near the finish line where she would be coming in. Her oldest daughter wanted to run in with her, and she got in position, waiting for her mom. While we waited, we watched all the athletes come in. It was a hot, steamy morning, and some of the runners were really struggling. A few were walking. We tried to encourage them, but some just shook their heads. It was hard to see that, but having been there, I get it.

Michelle, finishing strong, with Julia to run her in!
It wasn't hard to spot Michelle in her bright yellow trisuit, and she flew past us with Julia at her side. We met up with them at the finish line, where Mish struggled to catch her breath. Her youngest daughter told her that her heart was beating really fast. No doubt! Mish did better than she expected, but she told us how hard it was. The hardest part for her, she said, was the run. Which I found interesting, considering that she started out as a runner. But I guess after swimming and biking in the heat, the run would be tough for any of us. She kept saying she would never do another one, but you know that's just the exhaustion talking. I felt such a huge sense of pride standing next to her!

Me, Michelle, and Sara. And yep, I loved my salty, sweaty hugs! <3
Having been along for the ride as Michelle pursued this new activity and really going for it with an Olympic distance triathlon, as well as watching my son tackle a brand new sport after playing football all these years, showed me that you should never be afraid to take risks. As I head into marathon training, having witnessed both these special people pursue their passion, I plan to train with the same passion and zeal demonstrated by both my friend and my son and his teammates.

My new favorite inspirational lyrics:
"This is my fight song. Take back my life song. Prove I'm all right song. My power's turned on. Starting right now I'll be strong. I'll play my fight song. And I don't care if nobody else believes. 'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me. "-Fight Song by Rachel Platten.

Who inspires you? Have you ever considered trying something new? Why or why not?

I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading and her awesome weekend update! Check out what everyone else is up to!

DebRuns has picked inspiration as the word of the week for WednesdayWord! I'll be linking up this post. It's always interesting to see what everyone else says, so check it out!