Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Finding my focus

Sunday's long run was a tough one. I started out behind the eight ball, and I never could get it together. I kept trying to refocus, trying to stay positive, trying to turn that run around. But I just couldn't make it happen. Even though I've got a big goal for my fall marathon, for some reason, I couldn't stay focused on the task at hand.

Too many things were distracting me. The heat, the humidity, my legs, my mind kept wandering. I've been struggling with insomnia for the past week, and I was tired. I couldn't stop focusing on how badly I felt. Just listen to all that whining I was doing. Can't you just hear it?

I just couldn't get my head in the game. And even though I was aware of all that negativity in my head, I couldn't make it go away.

I tried. I even thought about doing punishment burpees, like Becky makes me do. But I was beat, physically and mentally, and if I would have gone down to the ground to do a burpee, chances are, I wouldn't have gotten back up.

I finally gave up. Brain 1, Wendy 0. I've pushed through really tough runs before. Why couldn't I push through this one? Physically, I felt pretty bad, but this time, I let my brain get the best of me.

I walked towards home and mentally beat myself up a bit. I wasn't mad at myself because I didn't finish the run. I was mad because I couldn't stay focused on the run. I know that running 8 miles instead of 12 isn't going to kill my marathon dream. But what is going to do me in during the marathon is the inability to control that mental monkey inside my brain. Looks like it's time for me to start on my mental toughness training again.

What can I do to prevent this from happening again? How does a runner stay focused during a tough run? Seems like it could be pretty simple:

 Last year, about this time, I wrote a post called Getting Out of My Head. I went back to read it, and you know what? I had some pretty good advice for myself. I talked about being present and staying focused on the moment you are in. For a runner, that means staying tuned in to what's happening on the road.

Breathing: check in with the breath. Is your breath smooth? Is it raggedy? Sometimes consciously breathing rhythmically helps me a lot. I do a 1-2-3-4 pattern, exhaling on the 4. Usually that exhale is on my left side, because I'm prone to side stitches on the right. Taking time to concentrate on the breath helps me a lot.

Pace: on a day with hot, humid weather conditions, pacing is tricky. I knew that I needed to slow down, and for the most part, I did. I wanted about a 9:30-9:45 min/mile pace, and when I stopped my run, my average pace was 9:38. But my splits were all over the place. Had I done a better job with pacing, I may have been able to complete my run.

Stride: long strides mean more effort. So focusing on shortening your stride can be really helpful on a tough run. I use my music as a metronome, and that helps me with stride length, believe it or not! But stride length and pacing is a delicate balance.

Mentally: what's going on inside your head? If you're feeling good and having a nicely paced, easy run, it's easy to stay positive. But what if you feel like crap? And all you want to do is get it done? How do you stay positive and focused when everything else is going wrong? 99% of the time, I can chase the bad thoughts away. I might think about a good run that I've had or a great race where I pushed hard and finished strong. I pull out my mantras. I think about Becky telling me that I have to do burpees for every negative thought I have. I think about my goal and what I'm training for.

Sometimes, none of this works. Sometimes you just have a bad run. But I believe that there's a purpose for those bad runs, because they force us to look at what went wrong and to refocus ourselves.

There's always something good in a bad run. If they were all good, we'd never get any better. It's the challenge of pushing past adversity that makes us stronger runners.

Heck, any run is better than no run, right?

How do you stay focused during a tough run?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns, who hosts WednesdayWord. Today's word is focus. She always seems to know the right word for me. Ha! Check out what the other bloggers are saying this week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Race Day Must Haves and the Race Recap Link-Up

Welcome to the 16th 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.


I feel like the link-up queen this week...between the Book Club, That Time of the Month, and now Race Recaps, it's all come up at once! Good thing I'm social!

Anyways, because this is a Race Recap link-up, let's talk racing!

Yesterday, I was shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up some Fresh Wave. I made a blueberry pie over the weekend and it erupted all over my oven. Now my house smells like burnt blueberry pie. Have you ever used Fresh Wave? It's a natural odor remover, and I highly recommend it. I'm not receiving compensation for this, I just really like the product. I used Fresh Wave in the past when my dog was skunked.

Stay with me. I'm getting to the point.

While I was there, I mosied around the store. Bed Bath and Beyond always has lots of interesting things. I always find something that I just can't live without. Does that happen to you? I never leave with just what I came for. It's like going to Target.

I saw some items that might come in handy for race day. I'm always thinking about improving life on the run. Tell me what you think.

Have you ever been out for a run and there's nowhere "to go"? No need to pee on yourself anymore. The Travel John Disposable Urinal is a "unisex, portable urinal" that contains a polymer gel which "absorbs liquid waste and turns it into odorless, spill proof gel". Who knew there was such a product? Now you all know! I wonder if it will fit in my HiP ZiPP?

Full disclosure: I'm an ambassador for SLS3 Compression, and I'm only supposed to promote their products. But how could I resist these Zip Sox? Many of us struggle pulling on compression socks--well, say no more to sweating before the workout if you use these! No more throbbing calves. If you order now, you can get a second pair, free! They come in nude, if you are self conscious about wearing compression socks. Otherwise, they come in black. 

The Enduracool multi-cool headband would sure come in handy for these steamy hot days. Heck, if I had been wearing this on Sunday, I probably could have cruised through my 12 miles easily! The company's website has testimonials from famous athletes, so maybe I should have picked one of these up. Comes in multiple colors. 

Are you running Ragnar or any 24 hour ultras? Or, like me, do you get up before the sun to train? Then you need these HD Night Vision Glasses. Limited time offer on the website, you get 2 pair for $10! That's right! These wrap around glasses will help you see better at night. They're HD, so no worries about tripping over the cracks in the sidewalk or falling into a pothole. 

Bling, schming. Who needs bling? I've got some body bling for you. These Hot Jewels metallic tattoos are just the accessory you need for your next Princess Race. Forget the want to bedazzle yourself. Be creative and make designs on your arms! And if you are a extra sweaty runner like me, no worries. The Hot Jewels are water resistant! Yep, triathletes, these are for you too!

Finally, if you don't feel like running, but you want to slim down, there's always this: the Tummy Tuck miracle slimming system. You can combine the device with exercise OR do nothing. And after 30 days, the tummy tuck slims away belly fat. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. So why would you combine this with exercise? Bring on the Ben and Jerry's!

There you have it. Any items that you've come across that might come in handy come race day? Have you ever tried any of these products? No need to thank me for this--it's a service I'm happy to provide! :)



Check out the Ironman Lake Placid recap over at TriathalonMami

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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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Marathon training week 4: It's just one of those days

Another great week of training. I thought this was maybe a step down week, since I had that bike ride on Sunday and a rest day on Monday. Think again.

Monday: rest day.

Tuesday: 8 miles at race pace. Actually, Becky didn't specify anything on the plan for this run. I had to get up early to get this one in before work. But once my legs loosened up, I wanted to fly, and fly I did. I was pleased and surprised by this run. What a great way to start the day!

Wednesday: Yoga. Kathy told us we were going to do "shoulder floss". The class was dedicated to opening our shoulders, with Pincha (forearm stand) as our peak pose. Shoulder openers never felt so good.

Thursday: I had speedwork again--mile repeats x 5. My goal is to be faster than the week before. I slept late, and was upset because I didn't beat the heat. Miles 4 and 5 were tough. I stopped for water after mile 4, and an elderly man approached the drinking fountain. We talked briefly, and he told me how he stopped running last year. He told me I looked great and should keep going. Which I did! You can get encouragement from unexpected sources.

Next up was CrossFit with Becky. She had me first pulling the sled, with 40# plates on the back. I pulled for 2 minutes, then did 5 burpees. I did 5 rounds of this. Hello, hamstrings! We headed back inside for kettlebell squats (32kg) x 16 alternating with the evil roller x 8. I sweated so badly, I apologized, and was rewarded with 5 burpees. Ok, then. Repeat x 3 rounds total. Finally, she had me finish with a balancing exercise of forward bends on one leg 10 times x 3 rounds on each side.

Either I'm getting stronger or I've just given in, but I'm hating burpees less and less.

Friday: rest day. I went kayaking with my friends. While it was a blast (I'm recapping it on Tuesday), we did kayak 10 miles for 6 hours. Not sure if it qualifies for rest, but it was all upper body work.

Group workout!
Saturday: I had 5 miles on the plan, and I was more tired than I thought after Friday's adventure. But I didn't want to skip it. Around mile 4, I had thoughts of dropping to a walk. But I heard Becky's voice in my head, telling me to do burpees, so I pushed on. The run turned out well, and I got another RP run out of it. Besides being tired, the heat and humidity were a killer. I didn't feel great after I finished. Since I had to go to work, I made sure to eat well, and I drank water all morning. I took it easy the rest of the day, since I had a long run on the plan for Sunday. With a predicted high of 91, I was going to need every ounce of strength I had.

Sunday: I had a 12 miler on the plan. I woke up early, had my pre-run breakfast of cheerios, orange juice, and coffee, and got ready to run. I checked the thermometer, and it was already 72 degrees and 90% humidity. That got in my head, and from the moment I hit the pavement, I was already done. I tried really hard to refocus myself and get in a positive frame of mind. I watched my pace and tried to keep it around 9:30 min/mile. By mile 3, I needed to stop for water. Some a**hole stuck a stick in the drinking fountain and the water shot straight up in the air. I didn't mind so much, because I was so hot, the spray felt good. But still. I hated on that person for a while as I slogged on down the path. I passed other runners who were as equally as sweaty as me. I kept trying to turn this thing around. But I felt so crappy that it was really tough. Mile 4, there was a portapotty stop. I was ready to call it quits right then and there. But I gave myself a pep talk and I pushed on.  I started sipping my Tailwind around mile 5, hoping for a lift. The Tailwind helped me go farther, but at mile 8, I called it quits. My phone overheated at mile 7, and I had no music. My shorts were dripping with sweat. There was chafing. There was a stone in my shoe. I felt like vomiting. I felt like crying. And I was mad. I called my husband to come pick me up. As I did the walk of shame and waited for him, I reminded myself that I hadn't quit on a run in a very long time. One bad run does not kill marathon training. Next week will be better. This run was so hard, that I made the decision to move Monday's 6 miler to Wednesday, and make Monday a rest day. I think I need it.

Hot, sweaty, and unhappy
God, I hope the weather isn't like this on race day!

There was one song on my playlist that put a smile on my face. It truly summed up this run. Don't worry, it's all in good fun...

Here's the plan for this week:
Monday: 6mile at MP rest day
Tuesday: CrossFit
Wednesday: 6 mile at MP and yoga
Thursday: mile repeats x5 and CrossFit
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 5 miles at MP
Sunday: 14 miles

How was your week? Is the weather affecting your training? What do you do to beat the heat?

I'm linking up with Holly at HoHoRuns and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin' for their Weekly Recap! Check out what everyone else is up to!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dog Days

Can you even believe that it is THAT TIME OF THE MONTH again? As in, time for the link up that Holly from HoHoRuns and I host every 3rd Saturday of the month? This is a monthly opportunity to clear the air. To get it off your chest. Believe me, I have a ton of potential posts brewing. So many annoyances, so little time, right?

But today, this post is going to the dogs. Specifically, dog owners. And not all dog owners, but those irresponsible ones. You know them, I know them, and if you're one of them, you know it. I've got a few pet peeves (pun intended). Yep, I've got a bone to pick with you..

I've talked about that guy who lets his dog poop in other people's yards. There are actually a few people in my neighborhood who do that. One time I was out in the front yard when a guy stopped to let his dog poop. He didn't have a bag, just looked at me, said, "sorry", and walked on by. Seriously? As if that's ok?

But there's that one guy who leaves his poop bags on the curb in front of my house. Why? I don't know. Does he think that the garbage man is going to pick them up? (he doesn't) And then there was the day Mr Poop Bag was shoving his poop bag into the sewer in front of my house. I was heading out for a bike ride when I saw it. I couldn't help myself. I yelled at him. And yet, I still see him walking past my house, dropping poop bags all over the neighborhood. Someone told me he's not right. Clearly.

Dog poop seems to be a big problem for dog owners. When I'm out running on the paths in the forest preserve, there seems to be a lot of poop on the path. The park districts and forest preserve have installed poop bag dispensers but people still leave the poop on the path. Listen people, if you can't handle the poop, you shouldn't have a dog.

What about those owners who leave their dogs out in the yard for hours, and the dog barks incessantly? One of my neighbors has a beagle, and he bays. It's horrible. Have you ever heard that sound? My sister had a run in with her neighbor recently over a barking dog. She was sitting outside on her deck and the neighbor's 2 little dogs were yipping for about an hour. She finally went over to their house and said something to them. I wonder if they even realized it? I never leave my dog out once she starts barking because I'm afraid of someone throwing a poisoned steak over the fence. I've heard of that happening.

Quite often when I'm running on the paths, I encounter dogs that are running off leash. This means I have to stop and walk or the dogs come after me. "Oh, he won't hurt you," the owners tell me. Really? How am I supposed to know that? We have leash laws here, which I am not shy about reminding people.

When a dog comes bounding after me, I assume the worst. What if the dog bit me? I see a lot of dogs being walked when I'm out on the run, and even on leash, the owners often have a hard time controlling them. There's one dog who lunges at cars. His owner isn't a big man, and I've seen the dog pull him down, trying to chase a car. Often, I get barked at and growled at. One time, years ago, I was running, and a dog (who was actually on leash) pulled away from his owner and jumped on me as I ran by. I didn't get hurt, but it scared the heck out of me. The owner didn't say a word. A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors was out walking his new dog (also on leash) and he lunged at me. My neighbor just laughed, and said, "he's a puppy!"

Yes, an 80 pound pit bull puppy. Now when I mentioned this before, a reader commented that I should blame the owner, not the breed. And I agree with that, but you have to admit that pit bulls are a little bit more intimidating than say, a shih tzu. Pit bulls don't have the best reputation, and if I come upon one I'm going to be a little more scared than I would with a smaller dog. I've worked in the ER, and I've taken care of countless little ones who were bitten by the family dog. Mostly little dogs, but I took care of a little girl who had her scalp ripped off by her mother's boyfriend's pit bull. Devastating. But any dog will bite. I had a cocker spaniel (not my sweet Cleo) who bit a friend's son when he stuck his hand in her mouth. I felt terrible about it, and apologized, but I lost a friend over that incident. Last week, my mom's friend brought her new golden retriever puppy to their house. He's big now, and he was so excited, he lunged at her and knocked my mom flat on her back. She didn't get hurt, but she was really shaken by the whole thing.

Please don't hate on me for this post. I just want everyone to be a responsible dog owner. I love dogs. I have lived with dogs my whole life. As much as they are part of our families, we have to remember that dogs are animals, with animal instincts. Dogs are natural hunters, and they have the instinct to chase. Even the best behaved dog will act like a dog at times.

Do you encounter dogs when you are out for a run? Off leash? Ever had a "bad" encounter with a dog? 

Thanks for linking up, and don't forget to visit and comment on some of the other blog posts! Remember, sharing is caring!

Book review: Marathon Journey, An Achilles Story

Disclaimer: I was approached by Stephen Balsamo, the author of Marathon Journey, An Achilles Story, to read and consider his book for our book club. This one sounded inspiring, and I agreed to add it to the club. I was given a copy of the book to read and review. All the opinions and thoughts expressed below are mine.

The Walking of the Many Painting by David Kumcieng, aged 15, Sudanese, Kakuma refugee camp.

"We wanted to run, but we had to walk because we were tired and so hot and hungry. In my picture the people are wearing clothes, but of course we didn't have any clothes. We saw people dying, it was always the young ones, the hungry ones, and the old ones." 

Credit: One Day We Had to Run!: Refugee Children tell Their Stories in Words and Paintings (

In the early 1990s, government troops and rebels of the Southern Sudan attacked villagers, leaving many orphans in their wake. Nicknamed "the Lost Boys of Sudan", many of these boys were placed with families in the US. The main character of Balsamo's book, Adamu, was one of those boys. He was placed with a couple in Oregon. Eventually, Adamu and William find a mutual love for running. Together they decide to run the New York City Marathon. William approaches his former college cross country coach to prepare the two of them for this task.

Dick Traum
Balsamo weaves the Achilles running club into the story, when the 2 fictional characters meet Dick Traum, the founder of Achilles International, at the marathon expo. Traum, himself an amputee, was the first amputee to run the New York City marathon in 1976. Achilles International is an international organization that helps disabled runners achieve their goals. The coach in the story also talks about the myth of Achilles and how the term Achilles heel has come to be known as an "indication of vulnerability". He also sums up the purpose of the organization:
"The Achilles team reminds me of an ancient Chinese saying I learned a long time ago, Perseverance in weakness will lead to strength."
Adamu adopts this saying as his mantra for the marathon.

He also adopts a mantra from the Frank Sinatra song, New York, New York, saying "if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere."

I won't spoil the rest of the book for you except to say that for me, the ending was somewhat improbable. With the mix of real life events in the story, I actually thought it was a true story, and was somewhat disappointed to discover at the end that it was a work of fiction. What a great story this would have been if it were true! Regardless, it is a good story full of inspiration and really helped me learn more about this wonderful organization.

The book is organized into 26 chapters (get it? mile markers!), which was clever on the author's part, but I wonder if that limited how he was able to organize the story. The book really doesn't gain momentum until the main characters head to New York City, and then it's hard to put down. Still, it was a quick, fun, and inspiring read.

I was glad to learn about Achilles International. Before I read this book, I never had heard of this organization. Last year when I ran Chicago, I ran alongside a visually impaired runner and his guide. I never really thought about disabled runners until then, except for the wheelchair athletes at the start of the race. I wonder now if that runner was a part of Achilles International. The author did a nice job incorporating the organization into the book, even having the character Adamu join the group as an ambassador and helping his brothers who were left behind in Sudan.

An Achilles athlete crossing the finish line of NYCM with the help of volunteers.
Photo courtesy of
I wonder what has happened to the Lost Boys of Sudan. According to Wikipedia, many of them are returning to Sudan to help rebuild their country and provide support to those left behind.

If you want to learn more about Achilles International and/or Dick Traum, here's some links to chase:

Have you ever heard of Achilles International? Would you consider leading a disabled runner through a marathon? What's your mantra?

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!

And join us for next month's book:

You might not be an ultra runner, but there's plenty of inspiration in this one! The author has agreed to participating too, so please let me know if you have anything you want to ask her! Thanks again for playing along!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Club interview with Stephen Balsamo, author of Marathon Journey, An Achilles Story

I'm happy to share with you this wonderful interview from the author of this month's book club book! The author's answers provide some great insight and background for the story. 

TTLWH: Are you a runner? If so, what races have you run?

SB: Yes, I am a runner.  I have participated in races of varying distances primarily in New York City and New Jersey.  I ran five marathons (three New York City Marathons and two Philadelphia Marathons). 

One of my favorite races is the Long Beach Island 18 Mile Run which is held every October in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.  It is a great training run for people who are planning to run either the New York City or Philadelphia marathons which are both held in November.  The organizers, volunteers, and spectators of the Long Beach Island run (and the great pre and post race meals) are incredible.

TTLWH: I’m so curious how you used the story of a Sudanese refugee to write about Achilles International. What inspired you to write this book?   On whom, if anyone, did you base the character of Adamu? How did you first learn about Achilles International?

SB: My earliest thought, which led to my writing the story, was how I believed that it was entirely possible for a runner in a marathon to achieve the result that the Adamu character in the book achieved.  

During my long and lonely marathon training runs, I would often think about it and I started creating a story around that idea in my head.

I saw a great news piece by Bob Simon on 60 Minutes about some Sudanese refugees who were part of a larger group of refugees known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan."  The piece profiled a few young men who were placed in the United States.  I was struck and moved by their experiences and their genuine good nature.  They had been through so much, but they maintained such a positive outlook and were so appreciative of what opportunities they had despite the losses they suffered.  

Thereafter, I read many books about the Lost Boys of Sudan and saw a great documentary about them called "God Grew Tired Us" which reaffirmed my impressions from the 60 Minutes piece.

So, in an effort to keep myself more or less entertained during my training runs, I started to create a story around the Adamu character with the goal that the story would conclude with his achievement at the New York City Marathon.

My wife was the first person who told me about Achilles International and we would see, and be inspired by, many of the Achilles athletes participating in the races we did in Central Park. 

To those who may not know, Achilles is a running club that was founded by Dick Traum who is the first person to run a marathon with a prosthetic leg when he ran the New York City Marathon in 1976.  Mr. Traum inspired Canadian hero, Terry Fox to run his "Marathon of Hope" across Canada.  Terry Fox, in turn, inspired Mr. Traum to create Achilles where the mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in athletics in order to promote personal achievement and to enhance self-esteem. 

As I learned more about Achilles and Mr. Traum, another and vital storyline started to materialize. 

One of the things I learned was that Achilles had a worldwide reach.  Achilles has chapters in many different countries and Mr. Traum and Achilles have often helped people in need in those countries by, in part, providing prosthetics to them.

So, I created the character of Kirabo, a young amputee who Adamu meets in the refugee camp in Africa, with the idea that, even though Adamu left Africa for the United States, through Dick Traum and Achilles, Adamu would be able to find a way to help his sad friend who had little hope in his heart. 

Because of the fact that Achilles has actually helped people in need in other countries, utilizing Achilles as a real-life the solution of sorts in the story to the seemingly hopeless situation with Kirabo was more than plausible even though Adamu left Africa for the United States.

TTLWH: Did you travel to Sudan? Interview any of the Lost Boys about their experiences?

SB: Unfortunately, I have not travelled to Sudan and I did not get a chance to interview any of the Lost Boys.  I did reach out to one of the Lost Boys with the hope that I could learn more about his experience and with the hope that he would write the Foreword to the book, but we were unable to finalize anything.  I do regret that I was unable to get a Lost Boy to write the Foreword for the book as it would have been an ideal way to inform the reader about the experiences of the Lost Boys---and it would have served as a good bookend to the story along with the Afterword written by Dick Traum of Achilles.

Lafon Hill, Sudan.
I feel compelled to add that, while I did not travel to Sudan, during the course of researching the book I saw an incredible aerial picture of Lafon Hill in Sudan in National Geographic magazine which was a great inspiration and made me feel like I was there.  The photograph was taken by a very talented and adventurous photographer named George Steinmetz, who takes pictures from a motorized paraglider.  After seeing the photograph, I worked Lafon Hill into the story.  I was fortunate enough to be able to give George a copy of the book and to tell him how much the photograph influenced me in writing the story.

TTLWH: Do you work with Achilles International and if so, what do you do?

SB: I do not work with Achilles, but my wife and I have supported the organization and we have participated in their annual "Hope and Possibility Run" in Central Park over the years.  One year, I ran the New York City Marathon as a charity entry in support of Achilles and it was truly an incredible experience to be able to wear the Achilles shirt during the marathon and to be part of the team. 

2014 Hope and Possibility Run
The support for Achilles athletes along the course of the New York City Marathon is absolutely amazing.  In the story, I include a quote along the lines that "the Achilles athletes get big cheers along the course, sometimes even bigger than the winners" to acknowledge that fact.

I am so appreciative that Dick Traum, who I met and spoke with on numerous occasions while writing the book, liked the story and provided me with tremendous advice and encouragement along the way.

On a fairly regular basis, I am fortunate to see or read incredibly moving profiles of athletes with different types of disabilities accomplishing great things in a running event, in a pool, on a basketball court, on a ball field, or on a bike.  I believe that if you trace back the origins of the development of people with disabilities in athletics, Dick Traum would surely be one of the most influential pioneers.

So, while I don't work for Achilles I hope that I could be considered to be at least a small part of the team.

TTLWH: What are some of the messages of the book that you are trying to convey?

SB: Beyond hoping to pay homage to the plight of the Lost Boys of Sudan in a respectful way and trying to spread the message of Achilles, I hope to convey the value of perseverance in tough times or when trying to achieve a goal.  Along with that, I hope the story conveys the message that taking some type of constructive action towards reaching that goal or resolving a tough situation (and associating with good people) can lead to positive developments.  

The main characters in the book all faced obstacles along the way, but they continued their journey despite their losses, pain, or lack of motivation and came together as a team.  Their perseverance and collaborative efforts allowed them to accomplish something together---but even more importantly allowed them to improve and enrich their respective lives. 

Coming together with good like-minded individuals---whether it be on a running club, a team, or congregating on something like your blog can help to increase the chances of achievement and enjoyment of life. 

In the story, I have the character who coaches Adamu tell him that “perseverance in times of weakness can lead to strength.” I think it is a true statement and one of the main messages of the story.  Invariably, we will all face obstacles in running and in life, but if we persevere, and if we are fortunate to be surrounded by good people, it will lead to strength and good things.

I also hope that I was able to convey that running is a positive, constructive, and healthy activity that can serve to enrich a person's life in a very unique way---well beyond the pride of earning a medal in a race.

I view the highest point of the story not to be Adamu’s New York City Marathon achievement, but instead to be how Adamu found a way to help his friend Kirabo.  To Adamu, his marathon finish was a distant second place to the love, support, and loyalty of true friends and family.

Thanks to Stephen Balsamo for taking the time to answer my questions!


Have you read the book? Do you have any questions you would have wanted him to answer?

Stay tuned for my review and the link up tomorrow! Thanks again for playing along. Here's the link up logo for your post!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015



What a perfect word for my marathon training.

My marathon training is so different from what everyone else is doing. And I'm hearing about it. Mostly about the lower mileage I'm doing.

In the past when I trained for my first marathon, I followed a high mileage plan. I trained using a plan developed by a famous runner. And what happened? Mentally, I wasn't prepared for the distance. And I fell apart. Physically, I got through the race, but ended up with a stress fracture and battled plantar fasciitis for over a year. I never quite bounced back from that bad race. My confidence was rattled. I said I'd never do another marathon after that one. For the next couple of years, I continued to run, and I continued to battle injuries. My pace was slowing. I didn't like what was happening.

So I took the initiative, and I sought out a coach to help me get back on track. At first, I went the obvious route and talked with a running coach. But I didn't hear her say anything that sounded different from what I was already doing. I was looking for something different. And so after consulting with my friend, who owned a CrossFit box, I ended up with Becky, a CrossFit coach and corrective exercise specialist. I figured that it wouldn't be any worse than what I was already doing, right?

You know how this story ends. Last year, I let her train me for Chicago Marathon #2. The naysayers told me that I wasn't training the right way. The doubters told me I was breaking the cardinal rule of marathon training. I wasn't running a lot. There wasn't a 20 mile run on my plan. But the workouts she had me do were hard. Physically and mentally.

What's so magical about 20 miles anyways?

The naysayers are quiet now. There's more than one way to run a marathon.

I'm training for Chicago marathon #3, with my eyes on the prize. If you had told me last year that I would be running strong enough to even think about a BQ, I would have told you that you were crazy. But here I am. Back at it again. And then some.

Maybe I will, maybe I won't....

But I'm sure having fun trying. Does your marathon plan include anything besides running?

It's time to think outside the box. If your training isn't working for you, then maybe it's time to try a different approach. Stop listening to everyone else. Do what works for you. Take the initiative. Step out of your comfort zone.

Nothing great ever happens there anyways.

I'm linking this post with DebRuns, who hosts Wednesday Word. I just love stretching the limits and writing a post based on a word prompt! Be sure to check out the other posts!