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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

PostHeaderIcon How to motivate for #51…

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Did you think I would stop running? 🙂

Must admit – this was one of the hardest races I’ve run. Ugliest in multiple ways. Both the parts I ran and the parts I walked. I mean, I definitely wondered about what my motivation would be now that the 50th is just barely in the rearview mirror. Fearful that it was gone, what is my reason, where do I find new purpose. Was happy to find it still relatively easy to get up early and get into my routine and eventually get excited. And then nerves set in. A lot of them. My stomach was wrecked, my heart pounding and my limbs shaking. I wasn’t cold, but everything was trembling.

The race started and I looked forward to shaking it out and settling into the run. Surprised at not being overly sore from Brooklyn just one week prior and enjoying being out on the course. I will say, aside from the altitude, Rock n Roll Denver is one of the prettiest courses in the series. A well planned course for runners.

But then the wheels really fell off. In fact, I don’t remember much of the race. I began wheezing around mile 5 and it turned into a desperate gasp for air (the first of four or five attacks), thank you to the girls at the water station who gently patted my back as I held onto my knees and leaned over trying to not let it turn into an anxiety attack. I got back into running and immediately felt the weakness in my legs, that I rarely if ever feel. Like the muscles and blood pumping through them leaked out and disappeared somewhere. As I came around the corner and looked up the hill, I opted to walk. It wasn’t an option really. It was necessary. I normally love hills because I power past a lot of people when running, but something told me to pull up and not push.

Don’t recall much between that and the next few miles, other than starting to allow myself to take it one mile at a time, not think of the whole race cause this was going to be slow and slogging. And at the beginning of every mile, I walked. And started to notice something that scared me. I was becoming the wobbly runner that bobs and weaves along the side that I see at nearly every race. The one who is steps away from falling down. The disoriented person without a clue of where they are. I felt incredibly weak and on the verge and yet every time I passed a medical tent, I was feeling moderate, and every time I would’ve stumbled into one, they weren’t around. It was a weird juxtaposition.

Throughout all this, I wasn’t tracking much, I was merely concentrating on looking straight ahead and one foot in front of the other.

And so I made a deliberate choice – walk as much as I needed to or keep running and be scraped off the street on a stretcher. Now, I know some people see that as “leaving it all out on the course” but I don’t. When I think about having no regrets, it’s not that. I would regret the damage I would do to both my body and heart if I pushed it to that extent. I would not regret being thoughtful about taking care of myself. Yes I can dig deeper when I think I can’t, and find out what I’m capable of – and I did by doing it this way.

In the walking, I met up with the kind of runners I think/hope I’ve been before – the one who slows up beside and says some encouraging words or gives an encouraging smile or thumbs up. Again, I don’t remember much, they’re a blur of humans and miles and trees. One I recall vividly and wish with everything I could’ve gotten his name. A much older gentleman who when I started to walk at mile 10, ran slowly beside me and said “you got this, you’re almost there my dear, you can do it.” And I smiled weakly and nodded and began to run a minute later. When I hit mile 11 and had already been walking up a hill and decided to use the mile marker as a ‘start running’ cue, guess who I found beside me again? There he was, telling me we were at mile 11 and a quarter. So close. Keep going my dear. We are almost there. I know he said some other beautiful words but I don’t remember them. I would like to tell you that I waited for him at the finish line to shake his hand and thank him, but I did not. Because my body shut down once I crossed the finish line, the finish line I tunnel visioned across.

My head exploded in pain and I couldn’t track anything or anyone. I did somehow get my medal and waters to drink. And then I stood there. Staring at the ground. Unable to move. Organizers yelling into megaphones for runners to keep moving to keep the area clear. I stayed put, rooted to the ground. And scared of how my body was reacting. Eventually I blinked and walked forward, drinking water and wanting to get away from people and crowds. And then I saw my crew, family and friends and tearily fell into their arms. I don’t remember how I got to the grass but they all worked together to get a blanket down, me on the ground on my back and then I tried not to pass out or worse. Had they not been there taking my pulse, calming my body down, I would’ve found my way into a medical tent, like I did in Maui 2011 where I passed out to awaken to an IV of help. I knew they would take good care of me and eventually I stopped being on the verge of whatever weakness was threatening to take me down and was able to begin to sort of track activity around me.

We got some sustenance in me and eventually I could rise and walk again. But I was definitely shaken (still am a bit, if I’m honest) and not able to take a lot of care in, where someone’s best intentions of helping to stabilize you aren’t as well received as when you’re not acutely unstable. And I understand cause I was still a wobbly walker at that point. Thank you thank you thank you, all of you, for your encouragement, care, and support – I can’t imagine that race without you.

Here’s what I know from this run – first, a really crappy victory lap for the achievement of #50. Ha! Seriously, maybe the major activity before during and after Brooklyn was still taking it’s toll. Maybe it was the altitude, even through I have a routine to deal with this kind of elevation and the toll it takes on my body. Maybe I won’t know and don’t need to know and just need to see it this way: I crossed another finish line of a beautiful course. With slow but determined perseverance. Every step counted, even the wobbly ones. I’m also proud that I took in the information my body was giving me on this one (getting better at this and trusting it all) and paid attention enough to not end up with far more serious problems or injuries. That I get to try again and do this again soon. I mean, I have had a few bad races, with tough finishes that weren’t intentional (sometimes a slower race is very on purpose) and this is top three for sure. And in the scope of 51 (so far) starts and courses and finish lines, if three or four are brutal and inspire some reassessment or new curiosity – I think that’s pretty damn good. No matter the experience, I’m always appreciative for the opportunity to be able to do this at all.

And one of the lessons from this – it may not go how I want it to or how I imagined, and it may take a little longer, but one step in front of the other (no matter how clumsy) and I will still get to the goal. Perfectly imperfect.

So, I am fine now, recovering, still in the post-race few days of recalibrating my brain and body back to baseline strength. And grateful for the care I received from people who love me, that I didn’t have to go through all that alone, and for the community I am continuing to expand in this little world I run in. #wontstoprunning

PostHeaderIcon Going for gold for race #50

Surreal. It is still so very surreal. That I just ran the 50th half of the last 6.5 years of this crazy journey. Me. I did this. I’ve crossed 50 fricking finish lines. And it feels, um, surreal? Admittedly I have hesitated to write this all up and post it. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe I don’t want it to be over. Want some time to take it in. What it means/doesn’t mean. (thank you to those who tell me to keep celebrating and carry this with me) Maybe I’m afraid it’s too long and/or I won’t capture it all. But…here goes one part of it:
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Absolutely blown away (in fact tearing up writing those words) by the love and support I was surrounded by for this millstone, this mile marker. The efforts made by so many to be part of this (and Dawn for recognizing the significance and being organizer extraordinaire), to make me feel like this was special, to help me to know I “got this.” My word, how lucky and blessed am I to have these kinds of friends, humans in my life. Gobsmacked really. I keep pinching myself. And so many didn’t know each other ahead of time but it felt, at least to me, seamless, and then to have so many make a point to say about the other “I love your friends!” is a testament to how fricking cool everyone is.

Even the bib was gold (50.) My shoes, the color of the bib too? What are the odds? Signs I love.
To be tweeted at by the band A Great Big World. Um. Wow. Pretty much turned me into a giddy school girl/fangirl. Means the world to me, kindred spirit in some way.

Trust your training. That might be one of my favorite signs along a course. There’s an exhale the occurs in my system when I see that. Permission to let it all be okay. And that my body and I have a good enough relationship to be able to know when to pull back and when to push forward. I did take a moment at mile 12 to walk, to take this all in, and that’s when a whole lotta tears came up.

50. There will never be another 50th race. It was beyond special and somewhat different than what I expected. Some of that is due to the course and the narrow, closed off finish. For the last year or so on probably 80% of the runs I’ve taken, I’ve imagined or pictured various scenarios of the finish line. The finish line moment. Now granted, it’s New York and lots of security so it’s a far more restricted access for spectators. And still, I missed leaping into the arms of my friends. And. It also felt appropriate to see them right before the chute where I crossed the finish line and then had quiet (well aside from being surrounded by hundreds of fellow runners) time for me in the finishers chute, getting water and medal and chocolate milk, wandering slightly wobbly on my own.

When I saw this crew at mile 11, it lifted me beyond what I could’ve predicted. For me? These people are here for me? How special!!! It was loud, and boisterous and happy. And then again at nearly the finish. It was an instant boost that leapt me through the finish line FAR stronger than I had felt for much of the race. (side note – bad NY air quality plus humid start make for a struggly kind of race)

The t shirts – of course that made it easy to spot the crew from just about anywhere. And. They were awesome shirts. Still smiling at those.

Saying the serenity prayer at the beginning of the race, and also explaining it helps. Letting go of things I can’t control (security lines, humidity/weather, past training) and things I can (how fast/slow to run, how to hydrate, when to push) and wisdom to know the difference. Still working on the last part… 😉
Wrote a couple things on my hands for this race – “No regrets” on my left index finger and “Don’t give up” on my right. Places I could easily spot and be reminded while running. Been reading a bit about sports psychology and wanted to allow the possibility that it might work, despite so much experience. And it did – it made me a much more thoughtful runner and in the moment as well as helped me push when I wanted to.
Question I get asked a lot: Why? One of the reasons: Because one of the most powerful motivating forces I’ve found is realizing I can, despite evidence to the contrary. Therefore I. Must. Keep. Going.

When you live with a ghost, or ghost(s) there is something about the doing this now that feels important. To be honest, I sometimes feel like I’m living on borrowed time or at least my body is. I wonder sometimes how long I can feel strong and/or bounce back from another setback. That maybe the next time will be more devastating or debilitating. Or that it could take me out. Or that it could be something I don’t actually know how to get through, heal from, be stronger because of. And so, I want to do this now. Before it’s too late. And maybe it never will be, maybe I will always have a chance to come through any health adversity. But it’s not a chance I’m willing to take – therefore, it’s time to take the steps now.

What now? Is it over? Hardly. Right? I don’t want it to be over. Not by a long shot. I will keep running. I get to. I want to. It’s my pleasure. In fact, even in the run up (no pun intended) to Saturday morning, as I occasionally felt overwhelmed by my emotions or the activity around me, I would blurt out to someone, anyone, “all I want to really do is be on the course on Saturday morning, I want to go for my run, I want to feel what it is that got me started doing any of this in the first place.”

I ran with my hospital ID bracelet on my left shoe, timing chip on my right. Trippy to look down occasionally and see it there, reminding me of how very far I’ve come, and what this journey means and what I still can be challenged by. 10 years TO THE WEEK ITSELF I was in the hospital, I’m running #50. Holy Shit. It also did not escape me that the date on my hospital id bracelet from UCSF was October 5 2006 (via the ER to start an 8 day stint) which, unplanned, was the same day I flew from CA to NY for this 50th. 10 years apart. One was entering the hospital, one was flying out to a new next step.

Every time I felt anxiety or nerves before the race on Saturday, someone would say “you’ve done this 49 times before, you know how to do this!” And it would help me exhale.

My favorite number 8…the house number on the VRBO we rented in Brooklyn was 44. Added together is 8. So there’s that.

The lead singer at the post-race finish blurting out as we’re all standing there that really, it’s not half of anything. It’s a whole frickin distance, a whole race. It’s like he was reading my mind.
So much emotion that came through the lead up. Including joy, massive gratitude, sadness. And cried myself a bit to sleep the night before, tears streaming out the sides of my eyes and pooling in my ears. But it’s ok. I wanted to release that. And. The emotions of Saturday morning were nearly all pure joy, happiness, delight. I cried far less than I thought I would and stayed in the moment appreciating it all as much as I possibly could.

Had Dawn write HALF and #50 on my left and right calves – then when I had decided to walk for a bit, to take it in, slow it down, enjoy it, a runner passed by, gently clapped me on the left shoulder and said “you got this, almost there, go 50!”

Can’t lie – one of the smelliest race courses ever. And I don’t mean sweat. My fellow runners Sara and Jimmy mentioned it, unprompted, too. Also known as it smelled like poo for 70% of the race. If that doesn’t make you run faster, to get away from it, I don’t know what will.

Forgot to play “Gonna Fly Now” on the way in, distracted by so many awesome things. And somehow it worked, cause sitting in an Uber SUV with 6 of your friends and playing it in the car for all post-race made better sense.

Gonna say something that might make you roll your eyes or flip me off. I still don’t think of myself as a runner. That might sound crazy but it’s part of this journey that I bring with me. Sure, I’ve crossed 50 finish lines and I get the absurdity of that statement. And here’s what I was reminded of recently – comparison is the thief of joy. The reason I don’t think of myself as a runner is because I compare myself to the accomplishments of others. And then I feel like an imposter runner. She’s running 15 in one year. He’s run 47 in four years. She’s running fulls and halfs and ultras. He’s older and faster than me. They’ve run 100 marathons. And so much more that I’ve beat myself up about and allowed to diminish what I have done, how I have done it. But by sharing, and maybe normalizing it a bit, perhaps it releases.

I thought about Chris a lot, knowing that without a doubt, he too would’ve made the effort to be in NY for this milestone, to support and celebrate. And so when I saw more Penske trucks and vans than I’ve seen along a course, I knew he was there in his way. And my dad too – no doubt he was there with me, he is a big part of why I do what I do in the first place, having battled decades of his own autoimmunity.

Couldn’t help but laugh at the timing of my playlist – and a song that’s new to the queue. I’d toughed it out through about 8-9 miles and at the next water station I decided to pull up and walk through it while grabbing some water. As the song I was listening to wound down, right as I’m debating how much more to walk, “Won’t Stop Running” starts it’s very obvious-to-me beginning and I laugh out loud and thing “well, okay, guess it’s time to start running again right now!”

Lastly, I got to raise a good amount of money for Operation Shooting Star. Maybe it will make a real difference. And not only did I get to raise money, but connected with dynamic, strong, funny, fighter girl, ai warrior, badass Audrey. Who no doubt will be in my life going forward – I not only raised money but gained a friend and collaborator. Watch out world, this team is making a impact.

There’s more write up to come – I’ve been tracking all the life that happened and miles run and cities experienced in the 6.5 years, oh yeah, and am writing a book. And I’ll be answering a popular question – would I do this all again knowing what I know? And in case you were wondering – no, I won’t stop running.

PostHeaderIcon Running the 50th and support from Competitor.com

Another awesome article from Competitor.com and the lovely Don Norcross in advance of #50…

PostHeaderIcon How in the world…49? Yes, yes indeed. Finish line #49.

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So it happened, somehow, someway, I ran #49. And thanks to a little faith and a lot of love and support from friends and family, I ran better than I expected I would. Maybe it’s the listening of “Gonna Fly Now” on the way to the start line. Maybe it’s just being in Rocky’s hometown. Maybe it’s letting go of expectations and allowing the enjoyment of the experience to take center stage.

Found a heads-up penny in the airport shortly after I landed so I went with the omen of good luck no matter what. That and I looked fear in the face and said “care to dance?” #eyeofthetiger

It was humid and soupy and weird weather from the get go. When the weather says 70 degrees at 5am and 85% humidity, you know it’s definitely not the same as the cool, almost too cold, fast course of last year, when #RnRPhilly was on Halloween. Gonna sound weird but: I’m more grateful to the Pope even now for coming to town last September and forcing the date move. 😉

Also grateful to KT tape and getting both ankles taped up the day before. Too many ankle rolls and wanted to be preventative. It worked. They felt strong and supported while maintaining flexibility. Until…

Mile .25. As in we just started. A runner in front of me purposefully and knowingly tossed a small water bottle. Turned around and looked at it. Then in slow motion as I looked to see what he was looking at, stepped my left ankle right on it and felt it completely roll to the left. Saw stars. I swear. I am a stubborn little s@#* so I decided to try to run it off. And if I could catch the guy, I would…nah, I wouldn’t. (seriously, runners, remember there are other runners and their limbs behind you. you too selfie stick folks. I saw more than one person nearly get clocked with one.) And, I’m lucky cause I could run it off. AND I really think already having the KT tape on already helped. YAY!

Did I mention it was humid? Quite. As in already dripping in sweat before the race started. Which makes for a, um, whiffy race with everyone in close quarters. Those wicking shirts we all wear? Doesn’t translate for this weather. Also known as humidity + wicking material = whiffy.

Saw a sign saying “you can’t drown in sweat.” Well, today, Mr. Sign, I bet a few would beg to differ. I think my eyes came close.

Oh, that might be because I cried. A lot. On the walk down JFK to the start line. In the coral waiting to start. During the race when watching acts of humankindness and personal victories happen. At mile 12 because the last mile seemed redonkulously long. (pretty sure I said that last year. iwantomeasurethecourseagain) And right at the finish line. And again with the medal. And a couple solo moments afterwards. That I could do this, and that it’s been this kind of journey for six years, and that I’m thisclose to 50. That I get to be a part of any of this. Super grateful.

The last mile I ran for Greg Kenny Jr, the 18 year old who suffered a traumatic brain injury right at mile 12 of the RocknRoll Virginia half marathon in 2015. He’d been running with his dad Gregg and doctors don’t know what happened. His dad ran the Virginia half again this year, and Olympic Silver Medalist Jim Ryun (who I met in June in San Diego and couldn’t be more gracious, with his wife Anne) pushed Greg in a wheelchair in the 5k and Greg stood up to walk a few steps across the finish line. Praying this amazing kid keeps improving.

The humidity (are you getting it was humid?) – thank you to the RocknRoll organization for having many extra medical teams along the course and paramedics on bikes. For the amount of people I saw getting carted off in various states of distress throughout the course and at the finish, clearly you were needed and in the right place at the right time. You guys rock. (IF I had a goal besides crossing the finish line, it would be to not get carted off today.)

Also noticed extra police presence. No metal detectors but definitely a watchful eye in many places. Necessary given the last couple days.

I’m satisfied with my finish time (1:51:38) as sometimes you have a little left in the gas tank when you cross the finish line. Not this time. Tank was empty and on fumes.

Why do I always feel like playing Monopoly when I’m in Philadelphia? ;D

Speaking of Philly. I do love this city. And I love being able to claim being born here. Gave me a little cred a couple times last few days.

Really understanding the poison of comparison. Even though this is technically a ‘competition’ in that it is a race. Found myself knocking myself and my achievements down when seeing someone wearing a jersey or bib indicating they’d run 100 halfs or this was their 16 race of the year (it’s only September…) And then remembered my mom recently reminding me to a) knock it off (she said it much nicer) and b) cause look at what I have accomplished, and how, and in the face of. Everyone has their own journey, their own why, their own steps to take. Someone else’s grand accomplishments do not diminish mine.

Admittedly, didn’t feel great right after the race, a bit spacey too. And already quite sore too in a number of places. Took me a minute to get my bearings which doesn’t always happen. That and hours later, my lungs hurt like they’re in a vice grip. A molten vice grip. Hopefully chalking it up to efforting more than I expected and…wait for it…the humidity. (seriously, I squeezed water out of my ponytail post race. a lot.) Still: #showingmyautoimmunediseaseswhoisboss

To be able to stick around and track and then cheer my friend Judy in, running not only her 3rd half marathon but also running a PR – was incredible, inspiring and emotional. Found her right after she got her medal and over the railing, we collapsed into a happy, sweaty, sobbing hug. So so proud of you Judy. So grateful to share this experience with you. So excited you’re coming to Brooklyn!
Again, Judy, you are a #Badass! Celebrate this, own it, rock it! xo

Captured a number of runner stories, including a 70 year old who combats his heart disease by running. LOVE talking to other runners and hearing THEIR story (without sharing any of my details.)

And just in case I didn’t mention how emotional I am already – we did something I don’t know I’ve ever done. I’ve spent time cheering on a lot of runners over the last few years. But not sure I’ve ever cheered in the last runner. As in the last five and the actual last finisher. This stuff gets to me. Someone is out there, still getting after it, giving it everything they got to cross THEIR finish line, get their medal, complete their journey. It chokes me up. Ask Judy – I literally had tears streaming unchecked down my face clapping them in. So so appreciate all aspects of this running world.

So, gulp, less than 3 WEEKS to go until Brooklyn. #nosleeptillBrooklyn And numero 50. Some crazy cool experiences on the horizon, and so very excited to celebrate with a crew that I’m blown away at the effort being made to be a part of it all. Much more to come – #GonnaFlyNow

PostHeaderIcon The sweet sweet taste of #48

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Better late than never – a week ago right now, I ran half marathon #48. And here’s the fun part for me, and I cannot make this up: I ran it in 1…48. Yup. Didn’t mean to do that. I do NOT do math while I’m running so that’s a fun aspect to this race. Here’s a few other race observations:

Really, this is the best I’ve felt throughout a race in a while. There’s usually a breakdown or five here and there, but aside from a half mile stomach churning and a half mile where my right hip/glute/quad was tightening up, I’m really happy with how I felt, inside and out, throughout the race. So much so that I still had a smile on my face through the finish line – that’s unusual, usually I’m gutting it out by then. So to feel that good, smile at the end and run in the fastest ever-Seattle time? I will take that and more.

Yes, that’s the 6th time I’ve run a Seattle course. Fastest by nine minutes. Sure, the course was new, more downhills (still plenty of up, it’s Seattle) then I’ve done, but still – I kind of feel like I had a LOT of wind aka friends at my back, pushing me along. Thank you.

Couple firsts – kid in a Buzz Lightyear costume, his momma holding a sign that said “to infinity and beyond.” That was cuteness and beyond. Round mile 5 there was a pedestrian overpass with a full fledged Mariachi band playing over the top of us. They got a LOT of raise-the-roofs and cheers.

I wrote “Half” on my left calf and “#48” on my right calf, just cause. At the finish line, my momma is holding the well-traveled sign that notes “#48” in a post it note. There’s a gal standing next to her who did the 8k that morning. She asks about the sign, my mom tells her what I’m doing and she yelps “oh my gosh, I saw her, she ran past me! That’s so cool!” Made my mom smile pretty big from what I understand.

SO love the drummers the RocknRoll organization is able to get on nearly every course. They’re always so talented and it’s SO inspiring.

There’s a split at Seward Park where the marathoners go right, half go left. Then somehow they reconnect and are pushed to go down the I90 bridge to get their miles in. Driving home hours later, on the 90, I see so very many runners fighting their guts out for their marathon finish. Incredibly inspiring to see their not-quit spirit.

I think about a lot of things when I’m running. A lot of metaphors and life perspective comes to me. We had a lot of tunnels to run through in this race. A couple were pretty dark and steep and some were dark and seemed to last for a long time. Like, am I ever going to get out of here? The sound would change, the temperature changed. It became something to observe and something to get through. Every time I saw a literal light at the end of the tunnel, and started to feel a breeze stir the air again, and feel near sense of freedom and begin-again, I couldn’t help but think about how many times going through “stuff” in life feels a lot like that. And putting one step in front of the other does eventually lead to the light and new beginning.

Speaking of that, in the Competitor piece, I talked about how no one can take your finish line from you. It’s yours. I also thought of this – for me, the finish line is in a way, unconditional love. Me towards it and it towards me. It doesn’t care how I get to it – I could walk, run, jog, crawl, skip, limp, anything at all to move across it and as long as I try, it’s all mine. There’s no judgment, only celebration that I crossed it. And for me too – once I get across another finish line THAT’S what matters to me – not how fast I went or how great it felt (although those are fun aspects to the experiences) but that I did it at all. Simple as that.

Getting the irony of talking about that and now moving to this, I do get it, AND this is still fun numbers to run. This is the 10th time I’ve come in under 1:50 in 48 races. 3 of those have been in the last 8 months, the other 7 were way back in 2011. If anything, I’m just thinking I must be doing something well right now. And apparently, sadly because I love it so much, no sleep seems to be working.

My favorite Run to Remember group was lined up again through Seward Park. I chose to wear their blue tank with Wear Blue, Run to Remember on it. Being able to show solidarity with and support for them and the amazing work they do was incredibly emotional – I ugly cried a few times, cheered with all of them, waved, blew kisses, patted my heart all throughout seeing them. Even those volunteering at the water station after that section continued to yell “GO BLUE! THANK YOU!” Thank you, Run to Remember, for standing up for those who cannot.

Speaking of emotions, heard the National Anthem twice last Saturday. Once before the race and once after, the second by an active military serviceman. His voice was incredible. I’ve never seen a time where everyone seemed to stop and really respectfully listen to the Anthem. Maybe it was as Orlando just happened a week before or this election season, I don’t know. But even more so at the second time, everyone was super social and stopped what they were doing, stood up, hats off. Being part of all that was pretty powerful and I found a few tears streaming down my face. Well done, humans.

This was a fun race, for SO many reasons, of course the articles were a big part of it – incredibly grateful to Don Shelton of the Seattle Times for allowing me to share and Don Norcross (Competitor) for writing such a kind piece, and paying tribute to a city I dearly love and feeling so incredibly supported and inspired by so many of you, my friends. #49 won’t be for a few months, which leaves some good recovery time and some good training time. Just thinking about two more (oh no, I’m not done once I hit #50, oh HELL no) gets me a little choked up. Here we go, life, buckle up and let’s go!

PostHeaderIcon Calling #47, #47 are you there?

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Race recap for #47.
That almost sounds absurd. 47 finish lines I’ve crossed? I know for some who run 100 marathons or half marathons, it’s not that much overall but considering I never thought I could run let alone never planned to hit a goal of 50 of these, it’s still shocking in a fun way. And also in an emotional way – truth be told, I get choked up before every race. Sometimes it’s during the last training run I do at home, coming around the corner and slowing down to walk, finish up and I realize why I’m about to board a plane and I look up, tears blinding my eyes. Thanking the powers that be for the ability to do this. Sometimes it’s the morning of, as I’m up at some ungodly hour trying to eat something so I have time to digest and I have my moment to pause, get ready and they come then. Sometimes it’s the night before as I’m laying all my gear et al out, getting organized for the morning so I can sleep through the night without worrying. Sometimes it’s right in the corral, as they’re announcing various things, just minutes away from crossing the start line again, and my heart squeezes and the tears slide down the sides of my face, and I’m grateful I have wrap around sunglasses on. There’s always a moment that gets me, specific to “can’t believe I’m really doing this” – there’s many more times where I see victory, love and/or encouragement in other runners and spectators that gets me every time, emotional welling up, but I know there’s this specific one coming, to let me know I am far far far from taking any of this for granted. Ever.

For the runners/athletes and/or those that follow the Olympics, so this happened: long after I finished, I’m standing watching the headliner performer sing, and suddenly next to me facing the opposite direction is Meb. As in Meb Keflezighi the Olympic runner and incredible supporter of runners through Rock n Roll races. He looks up at me and sees my medal and reaches out his hand to shake mine, “Congratulations!” he says. I’m dumbstruck. I’m having a moment with him. I quickly thank him, and as he begins to step forward with his beautiful family, touch his shoulder and wish him luck in Rio. He could’ve walked right past me, but he didn’t, he pointedly stopped to make a connection. That was amazing. And no, I didn’t ask for a selfie, (and yes, it still happened), in that moment it wasn’t right. Thank you Meb!

I also met Jim Ryun, who won the silver medal in the 1500 meter in the 1968 Olympics. His lovely wife Anne I met in DC and she’s become a friend. Jim was also the first high school miler to break the four minute mark. I’ve now shook hands with two Olympic medal-winning runners! Woot!

Alright, the leg. Currently it is pretty ugly, looks slashed and angry where the 1st degree burns are and the 2nd degree burn wounds are, well, oozy (sorry TMI!) But, I tried to take good care. I made myself get in the ocean the day before – it stung but the consensus was it probably was good to clean it all out. Morning of the skin felt tight, which had been my concern, so a healthy dose of coconut oil loosened everything and made it so I could run. Didn’t feel the affects too badly while running, thankfully it wasn’t located in a way that got contact. But it was scare, and I’m also glad I didn’t let it derail me. It’s quite ugly at the moment, and I’m lucky as it could’ve been much worse.

There is NOTHING quite like getting the at-home support of friends for a race weekend. Holy moly. Thank you, dear Tracy, and Brady and Sage and Skye. Being there, instead of a hotel where yes, I can put my head down and focus but also feel quite alone, was divine. Tracy even graciously got up at 4:45am to drive me to the race start and kept up with me during the course so she and Skye could find me. When they missed me at mile 9 (by half a block!), they made the effort to find me at mile 12.5 which was an AWESOME surprise and then raced down to see me at the finish line. Who does that? That was amazing and I’m incredibly grateful for that and ALL the efforts made. And it all made this one of the most special races for me yet. To have Skye, my goddaughter, make a sign for me (the glitter!), wear the race t-shirt and be so enthusiastic and excited to cheer me on, even just writing that right now, brings happy tears to my eyes. Love you all.

And, to Dawn and Bill who “follow” me online as I’m running – do you know how cool that is to know you are? It makes me not only feel supported but also inspires me to step it up sometimes, cause I know you’re there!

Alright, so Italy. Yep, an international trip 2.5 weeks before a race, landing home 8 days before and attempting to recover jet lag – the most brutal I’ve had (jumping 9 time zones plus 28+ hours of flying time and 7+ hours of solo driving navigation in a foreign country will do that) plus (thankfully) being fully in the moment while in Tuscany, eating and drinking and laughing and spending brilliant time with dear friends, is not on anyone’s training plan. That and I attempted to mitigate it a bit by doing three two-a-days in the days leading to this race which would normally be a taper week. Had a friend try to tell me the trip was my taper but, um, not so much. Sure, I ran couple times while there (thank you Alanna, so glad we explored together!), but again, not what I would normally do. And here’s the thing – NOT ONE OUNCE of it would I trade. I made a conscious decision months ago in the booking of everything, knowing full well. And I enjoyed every minute I was in Italy (including feeling like a bit of a badass driving around by myself on the autostrada!) Thank you Phil and Alanna. Endless gratitude. It was a deliberate trade off. And yup, I felt every bottle of wine, every plate of food, every four hour meal in each mile I ran. And oh my goodness was it worth it, I actually used the race to review and enjoy the trip all over again. I’d plan it exactly this way again, because it’s not often you get the chance for the kind of trip I was lucky enough to enjoy and still follow through with my goal and journey. Every sip, bite and conversation was bellisimo. (that and wine is kind of like water over there, in it’s ubiquitousness, so really I was hydrating with fruit?)
(it’s time we recognize the honest exhaustions that come from travel, and perhaps not eating 100% healthy as well as running – I attempt to pretend that travel for a race doesn’t affect my running and that the race doesn’t need time afterwards, physically AND mentally to recover. Not true. I’m owning that.)

First few miles I actually felt pretty good, better than some other starts. Legs, feet, body overall. Then I remembered I used the pre-race porta potty nearly 30 minutes before I started running. And I realized I needed to find another one. Too much water I guess. I negotiated with myself as to if I could run without stopping (I can and have before) but then remembered I want to enjoy these races, my finish time is, yes, a goal and also not the only thing that’s important. So I passed the line of porta potties at mile 1. And another at mile 2, attempting to see how far I could push. Then I decided I should use the next set of them I see, cause no one seems to be standing in line with how many are out here. So at mile 3 I pull up as I see one. One. Not 8. One. And there’s a line. Again, a deliberate tradeoff, I decided to give up a super fast time (cause honestly, I was feeling positive about it, aside from a full bladder) and wait. And wait some more. And more. Three people in front of me. Probably ended up using nearly 2 or more minutes for the whole thing. So there’s that. Note to self – go earlier and make sure there’s more than one. In the end it was worth it, as I ran much happier.

Mile 5. Oh my, if you don’t feel some sort of emotion running the Wear Blue to Remember section, something’s off. They’re the group that has photos of all the military members fallen. Or in their words: wear blue: run to remember exists of the fallen, for the fighting and for the families. First you run through photos of men and women who sacrificed their lives, one after another, right and left. No way to capture it all. And then their families members on either side, each one holding an American flag. It’s incredibly powerful and I swear I saw more than ever, both in photos and family members, than any race where I’ve seen them before. Sure enough, I teared up, pretty much the ugly cry face and tears streaming down out my glasses. That wasn’t sweat. I’m glad they’re out there, it’s beautiful and powerful and good to remember. See you all in Seattle along Seward Park.
And right after that? A house with shots of tequila being served on a silver tray. And about half a block down from him? A guy in a kilt serving shots of whiskey. I didn’t see too many people grabbing drinks, nor did I, but I got a kick out of it and gave me a good smile – and curiosity about who does in fact grab a shot during a race?

One of these days I’m going to bring my phone on a course and just snap pictures of some of the hilarious signs I see. Some clever, some silly, some shocking – all awesome.
New post race pastime – I laid on the grass after I got my gear bag. For an hour. Chilling out. That was nice.

Ended up walking about five or so times (bathroom wait not included) and given the kind of funky cloudy humidity it was a good thing for me to do, not being fully ready/prepared for the race. And the cool reality of it is – had I not walked when I did, for the 5-10 seconds I did here and there, I would’ve missed Tracy and Skye when I saw them. And that, that is 1000% worth it.

So here’s the deal – I’m feeling fairly ready for Seattle. I’ve got some work to do between now and June 18 to take good care of myself. And I’m recommitting myself to my race weekend routines and set up, even if there’s something fun to do or see – I’m still curious about potential. I’m super happy with the time I finished in, and when I calculate the walks and the bathroom break out, I would’ve run it super fast which given all the travel and lack of training, is fascinating to me. Or maybe Seattle will be a playful race and #49 (I don’t know where that is yet) will be head-down-focus kind of race. I don’t know yet, we’ll see how recovery goes and what the hills (I love you hills!) are like in Seattle. Either way, I’m overflowing with gratitude for San Diego, the Davis family, the ability to run, an amazing trip to Italy and all that I continue to learn and embrace along this incredible and generative journey that unfolds in such cool ways.

PostHeaderIcon Never thought I’d run 46 half marathons…

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Nashville and #46. How about that? A good reminder of why I’m doing this all.

This is the one race mom goes to. Last year I got super excited about going to Philadlephia for a race, cause I was born there and ran it five years ago. And since I was born there, thought it would be cool to go with the woman who gave birth to me. I completely ignored the lack of excitement on her part, so was a bit surprised when we met up at the Philly airport and riding in a cab to the hotel to hear her say she never really liked living there. Oh snap! While I enjoyed the revitalized Phil on the weekend and can’t wait to go back, it was a tough trip for her. I felt bad so I gave her the entire list of 2016 RocknRoll cities, without indicating which ones I’d do, and said “you pick what city you want” and she picked Nashville. So here we are! While she may occasionally get lost in the chaos and focus of my race weekend, I’m super grateful for her support in this journey.

I ran this race too for Chris. He lived here for a few years after we were first roommates. And we lost touch a bit in those years, me (to his chagrin) on a seemingly stable path, he moving back to the South, eventually to Arkansas and back to SF. I have a hundred questions for you I can’t ask. So I ran through these streets, trying to see what Chris saw. And I saw a fascinating town built on music (no wonder he liked it) and beautiful neighborhood and homes, small town sights to see and an endless array of truly kind people.

Ran into Andreas at the Expo – he reps for a runners multivitamin I really like. And then I fell into my own frustration. It came up that the race for me was my 46th half. And he said “Oh my God, that’s AMAZING!” with great enthusiasm. And then, not sure he understood me, I said “oh, well, they’re all halfs not fulls.” And he looked at me and he said “I know. And. THAT’S AMAZING!” and then me, still shocked he was this enthusiastic said “oh, well, not in one year, it’s been six.” And he smiled and said “doesn’t matter, it’s still AMAZING!” all in a Swedish accent. All the time I’m thinking “this guy’s a hard core competitive triathlete. And he thinks it’s AMAZING?” Thank you Andreas. Perspective shift needed. (it’s a combo of feeling excited to get to #50, doing the “not-enough” thing when I see folks walking around in their 100 Halfs Club shirts, and a friend’s recent post about her excitment about training for her 3rd half and people commenting telling her to do a full…and no fuzzy math saying 46 halfs is like 23 full)

Crappy pre race day, a day I usually try to make happen a certain way. And I recognize it can’t always be a precious, perfect, protected day. My mind and energy were no where near where they needed to be. Top 3 bad preps. And special shout out to my friend Dawn who so sees me and knows how much this all means in all it’s many ways. She recognizes this is far more than a hobby and supports the overarching goal of it all. Gave me a quick re-set and took my pre race day seriously (I was about to give up and assume I should just barrel through – yes, life sometimes happens AND I can recalibrate) to the point of me actually able to refocus at least for a few hours before bed so that I might wake up in the right frame of mind. It is, in fact, a mindset thing, and I can’t thank you enough.
Rain delay. That’s a first! There was talk of calling the race on account of lightening and thunderstorms but instead it was a 40 minute delay. Could only think of Judy and that November Orlando race that got called at 7 miles. A fire was sure lit and I knew it would be for me to if they had to do that. And I was also kind of excited to channel the Bishop from Caddyshack! I wanted to run in a crazy storm shouting “I don’t think the heavy stuff’s coming down for a while!”! ☺ Instead, it was a funky delay. Had all my pre-race nutrition SET and in me and ready to go and walking to the corral and they call for a delay. Thankfully I was near the hotel and walked back to the room, dried off and put my feet up. But I had to re-load on fuel and then it felt like a little bit too much and everything was just a bit off. It happens and you readjust. Add it to the bank of experiences – crazy downpour delays, race by 40 minutes, feels like a stop short and then, you go!

Speaking of stop short, first four miles was a whole lot of that that I’ll explain another time, something about runners etiquette and corrals and all sorts of fun things that do affect experience of race day.

Holy Hills and Holy Humidity – which means this one was Hardfought for. Really pretty hilly throughout. Sure, I could call them rolling hills but it was more than that and I know there was some wheezing on my end AND I’m proud I got through them all. And ultimately the rain delay was perfectly timed as the little sprinkles here and there were refreshing as they cut through the humidity at times.
Always amazed how no one is ever in the hotel gym in the morning, warming up. Which is super great for me cause I get to run around doing grapevines and leg swings and half-pigeons like a fool listening to “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky.

Gotta admit, having a professional German running team start following me on Instagram on race morning was kind of cool.
Another admission – mindset was really struggling this race. SO many times I didn’t think I could do it. This was tough or that was. And then I’d check in, what hurts? Nothing hurt. Just tired. Or wheezing a bit from the hills. Or not feeling “it”. I mean, at times I felt “it”, the “this feels good, I feel good and light, this can be a great race.” It would be brief. And most of the time, I didn’t feel that. I felt good to be running, but not that it would be a strong race, by any measure. And when I would realize nothing was truly wrong, nothing needed to be adjusted or halted or taken care of, I was able to keep running, keep it up and thinking “ok, however you finish, you’re finishing – that finish line is yours.” It’s been a while since I’ve had a race like this. I think you need them occasionally to even more deeply appreciate the races that go super well.

And it definitely helped having an Elvis impersonator towards the end on a megaphone see my shirt and say “There she is, team red white and blue, go get’ girl!” and give me a high five. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Finally, yes, the left ankle and foot. Rolled it at mile 9 in a mini pothole. It’s probably come close to happening at least a dozen times over all these races. And I’ve avoided anything major (and stopped skydiving cause I got nervous about landings) all this time. And then this. It rolled and I felt it shoot through my foot. Felt like I could run it off. And then a stinger went up my left leg and I really felt that loop through my lower back. Ok. So I start negotiating with myself, about walking the last four miles, or last three or last two or something. And wondering if I’m doing more harm running. It’s not the worst it could be so I keep going. Knowing full well if I have to friggin crawl over that finish line or hop on one foot I will. And I do, I make it across and the adrenaline that got me there suddenly drains out of my body and I get a bit wobbly and woozy. I find a med tent and they wrap the ankle in ice as I’m downing water, Gatorade and chocolate milk (not in the same cup!) Talking with the volunteer there as two guys are wrapping my foot, he says, in a pretty southern drawl, “you kept running? Dang, you’re a stubborn thing, ain’t ya?” with a big smile. Yes, sir, I am. 10 minutes later I needed a rewrap on the ice (awkward place) and found a new med tent (still no gear bag) to get that done – and there they offered that for after the ice melts, come back and they will wrap it for me. So I sat with it up, the ice melted, and I went back for a wrap. Truly believe that if those medical tents weren’t there and I wasn’t aggressive in getting care (and their TLC), I wouldn’t be able to hobble around right now. I have a big goal of getting to 50 finish lines this year, and wouldn’t want to upend this journey by half-assing this all.
Now to some healing to get ready for a big June: #47 in San Diego and #48 in Seattle! I am on a mission.

P.S. Still managed to get well-under 2 hours for this hobbling finish time. ‪#‎thisiswhatdeterminationlookslike‬

PostHeaderIcon #45? Shut the Front Door! Yup, #45!

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Race report #45. Amazing race. And it has nada to do with my finish time. Which is fine, didn’t hit my goal and frankly, I don’t care (much.)

*All of this is special, every step I take. Coming into DC and hitting my last training run on Tuesday, recognizing I was doing #45, I burst into tears, bent over at the waist, deeply grateful for all of it, yet again amazed by all that has unfolded and what it means to me. And then to start the DC trip with an awesome day at Georgetown – what a kickoff!

*It’s now my official pre-race song: ‘Gonna Fly Now’ from Rocky. I must’ve looked like a full fledged dork goofily walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with a grin listening to that song. If you ever see me with headphones on and shadow boxing while giggling, you know what I’m listening to.

*FIRST TIME EVER: standing in the coral after the usual pre race chaos of gear check and porta potties and taking a moment to appreciate what’s about to unfold and what’s led to this, and saying a prayer to let go. I hear “Gretchen?” and look to my left, completely pleasantly startled to see my friend Adam, who lives in DC. Last Fall we “chatted” on FB about doing this race, but lost touch about it. To be standing in a corral with 50 thousand people and he’s standing right next to me? What are the odds? Seriously, we kept trying to figure it out! And it was glorious. Not only has that never happened before, but we ran 12.5 miles together! I rarely if ever run with someone, and certainly have never for a race. I usually try to run too fast to talk so I just do my solo thing. And wow did 12.5 miles just fly by. SUCH a different experience to not count miles in my normal way and to be so present with another, a friend, and laugh and compare notes, and catch up and truly enjoy each other’s company. He was doing the full 26.2 miles so I felt a consciousness of not wanting to go 125% effort because I knew he essentially had a whole other half race to run after we parted. It was brilliant, our strides were comparable (yay tall people!) and it lifted me up and then some. It was a delightful experience, one that I will treasure always. Plus, I stuck around and got to cheer him in at his finish line, and chat with him while he got his finisher’s jacket, hang out with him and his girlfriend and do the post race download. Thank you Adam, such a great experience to share! Truly my honor. Congratulations on your race!!! ‪#‎playingpacman‬

*ANOTHER FIRST: my dear friend Sara not only agreed to take my race sign and find a place to hold it to cheer me on, but she was right at the bottom of THE hill at Rock Creek Park and I saw her immediately, she cheered us AND ran up the dang hill with us! What? Amazing, totally helped me get up it (you’re a great coach Sara!) and over it and I could not have felt more supported and cheered. Thank you love!

*ANOTHER FIRST: Wait, two friends on the course? My friend Bryan was just a half mile or so later on the street with his dog Cosmo, waiting for me and thankfully he saw me and starting yelling and jumping up and down. Another opportunity for a big grin on my face. Thank you Bryan, such a treat to see you there and spend time afterwards too. How lucky am I that I had two friends who came out along the course to cheer for me?

*Realization: ask for help and ask for support and ask for people to cheer you on. I haven’t normally done that. Don’t want to burden anyone or bother. Plus, hey, I’m tough, I can do this on my own, I am fine. Oh. Right. Ask for help and people are happy to! It’s so easy to give. I can do this on my own, yes, AND I don’t have to do it alone. Plus it’s WAY more fun! Even got to meet Adam’s girlfriend Philippa who was also on the course to cheer him on, and went to cheer him on later on during the full multiple times. People rock.

*Time to adjust my training a bit, I have some goals for my next few races and I haven’t been on top of my game, coasting/trusting/resting on a good foundation. And. To achieve my goals, I need to make some adjustments in nutrition, breathing (bless you little lungs) and training. That’s another thing I love about these races, about running, is it’s not a switch to flip and say “all good, I’m done!” but yet another amazing metaphor for life, to keep going, adjust the sails, and chart another course. ‪#‎mixed metaphor‬

*Texting with a friend on Friday night, pre race, about my nerves and wonder and all. And he said, in compassionate (as opposed to dismissive) way, “You’ll be fine. You’re an athlete.” I stared at the words, almost wanting to argue with him. What? Now, it may seem strange to some that I would even question that statement. But. I have always wanted to be an athlete (more on that in a blog post) and have never thought of myself as an athlete (more on that in another blog post) for many reasons (one, I’ve always had partners who ran, hiked, swam, biked ahead of me, me unable to keep up or always a step or 10 behind. That and I’ve felt gawky and uncoordinated till about a year ago ;)) and so to have someone I barely know make such an unequivocal statement was pleasantly jarring. A perspective shift for me. I took it in and am rolling around with it. ‪#‎iamenoughasiam‬

*Running through the iconic streets and neighborhoods of DC, so steeped in history, is my idea of an awesome course. Feeling super blessed to have the opportunity. (Just a wee early for the cherry blossom gorgeousness)

*And I got to see my incredibly inspiring friend Steve again at the finish! I LOVE this ritual we have when we’re both at a race together and get to coordinate afterwards. To have met Steve when he first broke (which he does regularly now) 3 hours (2:59:59 I will never forget) and then to see him multiple times a year for the last few years is such a true delight. (yes, I will make a collage of all our photos together!) Just the day or two before the race, Steve was name Trooper of the Year in Arizona and now he’s finished one of his dozens of half marathons (getting ready for a full in ONE week!) Steve, you rock, I’m so proud of you, Congratulations on another finish and on being recognized for your service. See you in a couple months in San Diego!

*Again, understanding I don’t have anything to prove, don’t need to be tough or be alone, got to enjoy dinner at my friend Mike’s house with his family. Such a great way to come off a race and be with friends (and to laugh one’s butt off!) So lucky to have a couple of incredible human beings as my friends here in DC. And there’s more I want to see next time I’m in town!

*Now on to Nashville… Admittedly, I’m nervous as the hill(s) reputation for this course precede the race and then some. And, I can see how my approach is a big part of it and I don’t have to be so nervous of the hills so much as I can recognize I actually prefer hills to all flat, am good on up and down hills and can refocus my energy at home to doing hill repeats. And then just be open to see whatever Nashville unfolds to be. The amazing-ness of DC and ALL it generated in terms of a phenomenal experience will be tough to beat! 😉

*Grateful

PostHeaderIcon Travel + Training

It could be used an excuse, all the travel I do right now. Oh, I can’t get my regular routes in, my training is “off”, I am tired, I don’t have access to my routine.

I say BS, bring on the travel! And here’s why: because I’m a strong believer in cross training, traveling practically enforces that I, in fact, cross train.

When I travel, I seek out new routes to run – whether a new hill or a quick short burst somewhere. As well, if I’m in a hotel, I have sudden access to all sorts of machines and training ability I don’t at home. So I’ll do a hard 30 minutes on an elliptical or go for my old treadmill routine, kicking up the speed and incline. And, I’ll do weight and strength training workouts with bigger weights or hop on or use equipment I don’t have at home. Hanging abs, Bosu ball burpees, squats/lunges/deadlifts oh my! with bigger weights, bicep/shoulder/triceps work with bigger weights and a bench with which to support me well. These are all things I can do at a gym that I can’t do at home. So, traveling? That works for me.

And sure, there are some hotel gyms that have FAR less equipment for me to play with. In that case, like a recent trip to Vermont that had me in an airport hotel for a night and had a broken elliptical and no weights to utilize. I hopped on the treadmill for a bit, tried a stair master which I don’t normally attempt, and did enough to shake off the plane rides and feel refreshed and ready to go for my day.

As well, sometimes travel is a way to take a break. During said trip to Vermont, I had two days of work where I didn’t do any specific workout. I walked a lot, and when I got to play a little, it was walking around, taking in the sights. And that was enough for me. Knowing we sometimes need to take breaks from our training and routines, I let myself have this without being obsessive about “must get a a run in!” That’s not how I want to live nor how I want to move through the world, especially if it takes time away from quality time with a dear friend who I haven’t seen in a while – I don’t want to spend my time in a gym and not creating memories with a friend and in a place I’ve never been.

Another beautiful aspect to all this travel is when I’m home. I get motivated by two different things. One, if I’ve come back from a trip where perhaps I chose not to do hard workouts or a lot of workouts (even skipping my You Can At Least routine), I will feel super compelled to get a run in and get right back on the training routine. The last few trips I’ve had, I returned back home in early afternoon – enough time to get a 3 mile hilly hike behind my house in. And when done, while dark, I have multiple routines I can do in my house. It’s like hitting a reset button for being back home and shaking off the travel. And, I “get” to look forward to my home routines.

And, when I have a trip coming up, and perhaps a three day or five day spell where I’m home, I’m super motivated to get a certain number of workouts in each day and know what I want to accomplish for the days I’m in town. This could mean hiking each day when the weather is good, it could mean oh, three days in town? Okay, I’ll run three days in a row! And it could mean making sure I do one of each: my jumprope/medicine ball routine I created, the pilates mat routine, weighted arms, all around plyometric workout and the intense glute workout. And how many abs am I able to get in with equipment I may not have access to for a few days or week? (aka my medicine ball and stability ball) I find I sort of enjoy squishing a number of workouts I know work for me into a few days – and plus, if I’m able to do that, I don’t get stressed or mind if I miss a few days while traveling.

It really sets the schedule for me for the days I’m in town and leading up to a trip – I stay on course to get the workouts in on the off chance I don’t get to do as much while traveling AND I’m keeping up my training. I like the structure it gives to my days while home, building my schedule around the workouts.

This may sound too scheduled or structured to some people, but really it’s quite reasonable. I’m not trying to hit a gym at 5am every morning, and have the flexibility to get my run and hiking in around sunset time (which is earlier at this time of year.) And it’s FAR from obsessive – the times I’m able to release and let go and be okay not getting a workout in is frequent. Some weeks have a lot of running, some don’t, and they’re all okay. Because I trust the foundation to bounce back from low workout weeks and to support for when I can kick it up a notch.

So if you use traveling as an excuse to not train or train at a lower level, stop. Try embracing the travel as a way to break up the routines you do at home, as well as push yourself to get a certain number of workouts done before you take off and to gain access while traveling to equipment and workouts you wouldn’t normally get to do as a way to enhance your training. And when you get home from a trip, leave the travel at the door, let go of what you did/didn’t do while traveling and get those shoes back on and go for a run to get your “you” back.

PostHeaderIcon Race #1 of 2016

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Well that’s a way to start! I first ran a Phoenix Rock n Roll in January of 2011. When I was starting the 11 races in ’11 project. And getting pretty fast for only my 6th half. This is the 4th time I’ve run Phoenix. #44. And wow if it weren’t an experience of lessons and trust. To cut to the punchline: 1:47:12. I am proud of that. Only 8 seconds slower than *5 years* ago. And only 30 seconds slower than THE Philly finish Halloween a few months ago.

*I didn’t expect this. Sure, I’d hoped to break 1:50 based on living the last three weeks at mile-high altitude in Colorado and just 36 hours later running at more than 4K feet lower in elevation. Oxygen. But you never know when your training is very different for a month pre-race than you’re used to, the routine unfamiliar (and a bout of stomach flu in the middle of the CO country on your own doesn’t help.) And then there’s a few things I did and didn’t do pre-race that I expected to impact my race. Some did, some didn’t.

*On my feet all day on Saturday, day before race. Facilitating for an incredible group of women. I’ve done that once before, in heels, also for work and the race the next day was one of the least physically enjoyable I’ve run (SF, 4/15) because of extraordinarily tired legs. So this time, knowing I’d be on my feet, I wore flats. But that only helped the feet, not the legs so much. I would facilitate and work all day again as it was tremendously inspiring and rewarding, and, I felt it nearly every step of the 25,000 or so I took on Sunday. Oh, and I have found a shot or two of tequila for lunch the day before the race seems to make me go faster the next day. Of course, working, I did not do that. I swear. smile emoticon

*Don’t normally eat a big dinner the night before, I do that for lunch (with said tequila) but ended up having a lovely, healthy meal with my friend and colleague, Katie, who was also running (and also worked all day Saturday) and nope, it didn’t keep me up nor did it affect me adversely the next day. Plus going with Katie to the start and connecting with her afterwards and seeing her so happy with her results and how she was feeling made a wonderful happy experience. How can you not feel excited seeing someone so thrilled with their happiness?

*F’d up C7 at the moment. ow. Makes turning my head/neck a wee difficult, tight upper shoulders too. Caddywampus start too. Couldn’t find where I was supposed to be and some signs weren’t clear. We were there on time no problem, but I got lost at some point. And that panicked feel is what every racer wants to avoid right as they’re getting into the coral. And so, as I’m in a different coral finally, out of my comfort zone and then some, I remember “I love this. I love running. Let go what I can’t control now, courage to control what I can, whatever comes up. And enjoy this race. I run because I GET TO!” I choose to run. And the nerves settle out. And then the whole race feels like it’s pretty much uphill for most of it.

*Seeing all the signs for “Go Mommy” along the way, little kids holding those signs with their dads. There’s something about that that really gets me, in a variety of ways. It’s beautiful, the support those women receive. And cheering SeaHAWKS to a couple of kids wearing #24 and #3 was kind of fun too, in a high-fiving sort of way (sorry bout that loss, Hawks…)

*And yes, I had a Penske truck sighting, to give me a boost. (Thank you Chris Knight) This one wasn’t even parked, it was heading away from the bottom of a hill I was running down, so if I’d run a little slower, I never would’ve seen it.

*Taiko drumming. Every race needs this.

*Asked my dad and Chris to join me at mile 10 or so. They did. I felt a boost for sure. And then it felt like they rode bikes instead cause neither are runners.

*Running is my happy place. Nobody judging me, telling me I’m doing it wrong or should do it like them or that it’s not enough or nobody expecting different or doing tough love because it will ‘benefit’ me or my playing small – the only person who does that to me is me when I’m running. And so I don’t. I go to a best version of myself, celebrating and relishing every step I get to take. The sense of belonging I crave, I find it in running.

*Tired but happy body. I’m beginning to realize that the extreme cautious tapering I used to do leading up to a race may not have served me as well as I thought. Or, it served me then, and now my body says different. I used to avoid at all costs any body part feeling stiff or sore in any way by race day. And while being on my feet all day isn’t the kind of sore that works well, working my body and my foundation hard does. I had never expected to run Philly so fast, after running three halfs just prior, plus the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike – all within six weeks. I thought I’d get slower, but I kept getting faster, last one fastest of all. So perhaps I’m hitting my stride or my prime or something is shifting, the foundation so strong that’s it’s allowing me to push further, higher, deeper than before.

*And staying at Dana’s house for race weekend, a *two-time* Ironman (WOW!), is inspiring to the spirit. smile emoticon

*And knowing I get to meet up with Steve (pictured) to congratulate him on his *34th race*, and meet his Sergeant and friend Alan, running his FIRST half race, is motivating.

*And meeting up with Jennifer, a Team in Training coach, and her coachee Jackie, running in her FIRST half – being able to cheer her as they’re heading to their coral and then also lucky enough to see them after and congratulate Jackie and see the smile on her face is beautiful and heartwarming.

*And seeing the staff at the Bigelow Tea Truck in the post-race area give a homeless woman another cup of tea, 6 granola bars after she asked for “one extra one”, and long sleeve t-shirt to go with the short sleeve one “because you looked cold this morning, sweetie” he said, was incredibly heartwarming and inspiring. Thanks, Chris (who was the same guy that saved me with warm tea at the 23 degree Seattle half in November 2014) for seeing and treating ALL people at that park with dignity, not just runners. And if I hadn’t meandered around for longer than I planned, I wouldn’t have been blessed to witness this.

And so I get re-inspired for this journey, for the next six races. Knowing I can prepare as much as I can, work hard, and then let it go and enjoy whatever experience race weekend unfolds to be. Washington DC and #45, cannot wait to see what you serve up in March! ‪#‎crushinggoals‬