My One Big Goal - 700 miles

My One Big Goal - 700 miles

Running from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Savannah, Georgia

Miles Run So Far: 63.7

Miles To Go: 636.3

Friday, April 30, 2010

feeling groovy

Ever since Disney, my legs just haven't felt "right." First, they were sssoooo tired! The time or two I ran, felt as if I was running with a clingy toddler hanging on to each leg. Then, both Achilles felt like someone had come in during the night and shortened them by an inch. Running friend Heather advised that I 1) not run so much for a bit 2) avoid wearing high heels 3) avoid hills and 4) s-t-r-e-t-c-h all the time.

I followed this great advice. Running only once a week, under 3 miles, was tough, just as I was all focused on trying to meet my first running goal (Run 12-15 miles each week. I did this once.). Instead, I tried to do some core exercises each day, yoga every other day, and got in a nice 14 mile bike ride in with my wonderful husband. Every day, my Achilles felt a bit better.

Finally, I was ready to test my Achilles. The day was a perfect one for running - sunny, bright blue skies, some clouds, and the temp was in the low 50s. I ran on the flat river path along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, with the water flowing fast beside me, and the wind whipping along with me. I felt great - not one twinge from my Achilles - I felt fast and strong, all the reasons I love running.

I'm so thankful that I listened to my body, didn't press through the pain and injury to keep running. Yes, some tightness and pain, nagging twinges happen from time to time. A lot of these can actually ease up with a good run. I'm thankful for the advice of smart friends who alleviated my fears (Achilles problem! YIKES! does this mean no more running?).

Sometimes, you think clearer when you aren't running about where you hope you are going when you've got those shoes laced up...

Perhaps it's post-Boston fervor, but I've decided that I'm going to do it. Run the WHOLE distance. This might be a bit premature, seeing how I've only ever run 13.1 miles once (twice, if I count the Disney half, but I did walk that with Anna and Tracey for a good, solid 2 miles, maybe more, from about the 9 mile mark on).

Here's my plan: over the summer I don't have my Claire Bear, as she's with her daddy (well, I do see her every other weekend, and a week here & there). This means that I'll have at least 5 completely kid-free days every week free. So, I'm going to do a marathon training program, without signing up for a marathon. I want to see how I do, how I'm fitting in all those miles at my slow turtle trot.

Then, I hope to find a fall marathon somewhere in the PA area to run (preferably after the Philly Rock n Roll Half Marathon in September, that I'm hoping to run with Glenn; it'll be his first race longer than 5 miles).

I'm feeling groovy, and a little giddy at the prospect. 26.2 here I come.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Memory Lane - my first 5K

[I wrote this post in April of 2008, following my first ever race...I've slightly edited it and updated it.]

this past weekend (April 19th, 2008) i ran my first race!! yay me!! it was the philly clean air 5K (in honor of earth day). i picked a race that would be on a weekend that my parents would be in town (for my daughter's 2nd birthday), that way i'd have a cheering squad to celebrate this big milestone with me.

i got up early (my parents, nieces, and daughter were to follow) and drove into philly to the art was a beautiful day!

me stretching it out:

i hung around for a long while, kept checking in w/ my folks wondering "when are they gonna get here??" turns out, they were lost and VERY frustrated...2 minutes before the start, my parents said they were just going to go home...i was disappointed, but then the announcement was made; move to the starting line! my stomach did a little flip-flop as i took a position toward the back of the pack (i didn't want to be in the way of the faster runners).

i didn't really push myself, just enjoyed the run and the energy from everyone there. the course was down MLK Drive, along the Schuylkill River. there were a ton of runners and walkers (about 1500) so there were always people around. the day was a perfect, spring morning. i am such a new runner, i wasn't really sure how far i'd run, when i finally hit the turn around point (by this point, LOTS of other runners were heading back). i remember thinking, "how far is THIS three miles?" because if felt longer than every other 3 mile run i've done on a marked path.

i didn't run my best time - but i was running for ME not for a clock (my time was 31:57).

the best part - i thought my parents, nieces, and daughter weren't going to make it to the race, and as i approached the finish line, there they were! i was soooo excited! maddy and gigi (my nieces) were yelling "yay auntie!!" jumping up and down! i (thought i ) crossed the finish line and gave them a BIG hug!

only, it wasnt the finish line - oops! i still had abt 50 feet to run! oh, well. it was still wicked awesome!

we all headed back...claire wanted to climb up the famous philly art museum steps (a la rocky!)

and i got a shot of the three girls...

the next day, my nieces madison and georgia (ages 9 1/2 and almost 4) wanted to run in a race w/ auntie - so we went to a local park and ran the half mile loop. i told them that one day we'll form a team and run in a real race together - they were so excited! this is really cool, because i don't come from a family of runners at all!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


True story:

This morning I was brushing my teeth while drying my hair AND trying to get a good hamstring stretch by bending over, head to knees. I'd straighten up, then do a side-bend stretch, still making use of the toothbrush with my right hand and holding the dryer with the left.

About 20 minutes later, in between mouthfuls of Kashi cereal, I'm straightening my hair and standing on Claire's stool, left heel hanging over the edge, trying to get a good stretch on my tight Achilles. Spoon cereal in, get new section of hair, switch to right Achilles...

I think multitasking and being a mom are synonymous.

I make supper while I have laundry going. The TV is on and I'm reading a Runner's World magazine. I rarely do just one thing at a time. With one exception (okay, two on one time with Glenn is focused on doing just one thing, and doing it amazingly well).

When I run, I'm doing nothing else. Perhaps, that is one reason I need to run. When I'm out there, it's just me. I can't be making supper, too, or vacuuming or refereeing the sibling squabbles of three children. When I run, that is all I'm doing. Left foot, right foot, breathe in, breathe out, roll shoulders, pump arms, left foot. I run outside, so there's no distraction of a television show or magazine to slow me down as happened the few times I ran on a dreadmill. No kids interrupting. I don't have any fancy electronics I carry with me - no Garmin to beep at me, telling me my pace is too fast or too slow, no heart rate monitor, not even an iPod for music or books or podcasts.

Running is my unitasking.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Marathon Monday

Today is Marathon Monday...the Boston Marathon that is, the world's oldest 26.2 mile race.

In Massachusetts (where I'm from) the day is actually a holiday...a day off for the entire state to watch, cheer, and participate in the best race ever! (Okay, officially the holiday is Patriots Day, the day the first shots were fired for the American Revolution in the Battle of Lexington and Concord following the Paul Revere's nighttime ride warning the Minutemen of the advancing Redcoats...but now, it's Marathon Day).

Growing up in Massachusetts, even nonrunners get excited about Marathon Day. I can still remember being in elementary school, home for the day, with live race day coverage on the television...I didn't really get it - watching two or three tired, intense, and sweaty men (and behind them, women) putting one foot in front of the other for a distance that meant nothing to me. But, it seemed exciting nonetheless. Coverage of the event for days before and after would be intense.

I remember my first Marathon Day when I was in college at Boston University (1994). My neighbor, Tara, asked me to go with her to Copley Square in downtown Boston, where the finish line is. She was a graphic arts major and had an assignment to take photos of the race...her idea was to catch shots of the back of the pack (an idea, I'm sure, fueled by the fact that we wanted to sleep in, have lunch, then go downtown). I was rather lukewarm about the idea...I mean, how boring does that sound? Let's go stand on the road and watch strangers run by you. Being a good friend, though, I accompanied her.

I have to say, that first day in Copley Square forever ruined me for every race to come: THIS is what a race is supposed to be like. Thousands and thousands of people were crowded into the city. Everyone was cheering...Thousands of runners went by and even though they were strangers, somehow, each one seemed so personal, so familiar. Perhaps it was because some of these runners were the ones featured in the news on the nights leading up to the race. The father who always ran, pushing his son in a wheelchair the whole 26.2 miles. The mom pushing a double jogger. The college kid, shirtless, running behind a keg of beer on a dolly. Or perhaps it is just that bit of common humanity that your soul hums in tune with others who are pushing themselves to their limits and proud of their accomplishment. The smiles, the raised arms, fists pumping, clapping at their own achievement, feeling the high of the crowd's cheers.

[Side note: This is what I expected my first big race to be like, the Philadelphia Marathon (or the half portion of it I ran in November of 2008). Big city, big race, big crowds, big excitement...Unfortunately, the Philly race was empty of bystanders and energy, probably due to the 22 degree temperatures and the early start time (7:00 am, as opposed to Boston's 10:00 start).]

Tara and I stayed for several hours, cheering on the runners. I'm sure the race is different now, since Boston has become so ridiculously popular (spurred on by the selectiveness of having rigid qualifying times to enter the race). But then, almost 20 years go (crap, it's been that long?), there were plenty of people at the back of the pack, plenty of runners whose time was a 5 or 6 hour marathon (unlike the elites who can run 26 miles in a little over 2 hours). We clapped until our arms ached, cheered and screamed until our voices were hoarse. It was one of the best sporting events I'd been to, then and now.

I made it a point to go down to Copley Square for Marathon Day each year I was in college, and then the three that I was across the river, studying theology in Cambridge. I'd bring friends who'd never experienced it before, and they would always come back starry eyed, as if they'd just witness something miraculous. And they did.

Perhaps, this is why I want to run in the Boston Marathon someday. This race was my introduction to running. This race is my touchstone. It is my ruler. It is what I measure every other race on. When I run Boston, it will be like a homecoming for me, a return to that nascent place where the runner within me I'd become one day was conceived.

"There are two ways to live your life. One, as though nothing is a miracle. The other, as though everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 15, 2010

my last run

Monday as I left work, a glorious Spring day greeted me. And I knew just the place I wanted to go for a run: Quittie Park.

Quittie Park is this little strip of quietude that runs just under US Route 422 in Annville PA. You'd never know it was there unless, like me, you accidentally turned down the street just to make a U-turn, which is what Claire and I did a few weeks ago. Driving along, I'd missed wherever it was we were going, and turned down this little alley of a street and discovered a bit of paradise squeezed in between townhouses and farm fields and a little college town.

Since discovering Quittie Park (full name: Quittipahilla Park, after the Q Creek...but everyone says "Quittie"), Claire and I have been a couple of times, walking the nice path along the creek, sitting at the picnic tables, exploring beneath the trees, enjoying the violets and crocuses and other early spring flowers.

And so, Monday, I knew I wanted to run there. I thought I'd get a nice, easy 2 mile run out and back along the creek path...I had figured the path was about a mile long, because it took Claire and I about a half an hour to walk it. But, apparently, a 30 minute pace for a 4 year old does not equal a mile. More like half a mile. So, I just ran up and down the creek path, passing the same two nice ladies with their two dogs, one a shaggy white dog named Bailey, very sweet.

The advantage of running without a four year old was that I was able to explore a few of the paths that lead away from the creek (Claire likes to throw sticks into the water and make wishes, so we rarely leave the banks). There was a decent hill that I ran up and down, too, and all in all I was running along at Quittie Park for about 37 minutes. A perfectly lovely run.

I felt great during and after the run. Strong legs, strong lungs. But, later that night, after sitting for a while, my calves and Achilles felt SO tight. And I started to realize that I've been having this problem with tightness ever since I came back from Disney. While at Disney and all the miles I walked, I'd feel a tightness at the end of the day, but was so tired, I just didn't stretch. Silly. I should know better. Now, when I wake up in the morning, my Achilles are so tight, that I walk with a hobble, like my calf muscle got about an inch shorter. Walking down the stairs is tough. After consulting my running mommas and the internet, I've diagnosed myself with Achilles Tendonitis, a very mild case (there's no pain or inflammation, just the tightness), but nonetheless, there it is.

So, the Quittie Park Run will be my last one for a week or two. I've got to rest those tricky Achilles or risk hurting them more. And, all the stretching I've been doing recently will help, so more Yoga it is. I've been diligent about stretching a few times a day, now, in addition to the Yoga routine.

Every runner hates to be sidelined and I'm hating it all the more because I've just newly recommitted myself to running consistently. I'm thinking, though, that I can focus on Yoga and core exercises, which really will just make me a stronger - and hopefully less injury-prone - runner.

I guess I'll have more time to enjoy the voilets, not just run by them!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

goal attained!

This week, I'm back at it.

I'm back in the working out groove. It's been a while since I've really worked out (nearly) every day in a week...for nearly a year and half, really. I've kept running, sure, but as Runner's World Magazine is always writing, running isn't everything, and certainly isn't the only fitness activity a body should be doing. Ever so often, I'd do some crunches...before the wedding I did push-ups for a few weeks...but it wasn't consistent. And I'd let my yoga practice just die.

Well, NO MORE.

This week marks a turn around for me. Here's what I've done:

1. I set a running goal.

I've never set a running goal before. I've advanced how far I can run, I've signed up for a few races, but I've never said, "THIS is my goal." It's part of the whole "relaxed runnerness" in me. Most runners are crazy methodical about time, pace, repeats, 200-400-800, yassos, miles, etc. Me, I just run. I try to run a certain number of miles, especially if I've got a half marathon coming up. But I'm such a slacker that I rarely get there. Case in point: for the Disney Half, during training, my highest weekly mileage was 18 miles. Now, to nonrunners, that might sound fantastic...but to runners, it's more of a shoulder shrug. My next weekly high mileage was 13 (not including the race)...not stellar, really.

My running goal for the week: Run between 12 and 15 miles.

2. I started a new training log.
In the past, I'd use the online log at in all honesty, really I'm a pen&paper girl at heart. As much as I'm on the computer all the time, for some reason, the online thing didn't really work for me.
I renewed my subscription to RW mag, and they sent me a simple, hold-it-in-your-hands training log. AND I'm using it. So far, one week noted.

3. I'm doing more than running.
I'm back at yoga and boy, I've got to tell ya, I am waaaaay out of practice! I'm struggling through a series of three flowing postures, arms shaking, and my thighs are screaming...and it all reminds me of April 2005 when I first started yoga, working out (elliptical), and this whole healthy living thing I've been doing for 5 years now. But, the yoga is helping me reacquaint myself with my body in ways that I'd gotten lazy about - my posture's all icky, my butt sticks out when I walk, my breathing's crap, and peace? Gone.
And I'm doing some core exercises too, because all runners should have a strong core.

So, one week in and I've logged about 50 push-ups, 240 crunches, 3 yoga workouts, and...GOAL ATTAINED!

I ran 14.05 miles this week!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

*that* kind of mother

I realized this week that I've become that kind of mother.

The kind of mother I never wanted to be. The kind of mother that I used to sit in haughty judgment over whilst drinking good, dark beers with my friend Jess.

The kind of mother who sits her child in front of the TV so she can get laundrymoppingcleaningdishwashingyogacrunches done.

During the month of February - busy with unpacking boxes from my move into Glenn's townhouse and busy with a wedding just a few weeks away - I'd catch a quiet hour or so with Claire happily watching Playhouse Disney. And I vowed that this was a temporary solution - that once life settled down and a rhythm and routine developed, this stay-at-home mom wasn't going to have her kid in front of the tv all day. This mom wasn't going to have an electronic babysitter sapping the creativity, personality, and essence out of her child. Not this mother.

But, it's becoming a habit, and not even one that Claire initiates. At 8:30 most mornings - the time when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes one - I say to Claire, "Finish your breakfast - Mickey's almost on" and she gobbles up the remains of her soggy cereal...I've become the TV pusher, me, a person who lived for a year and half without any cable on my little 19" screen, a screen that for 6 months Claire didn't even really was a TV, because it was never on. Sigh.

But, I'm having a bit of trouble finding the sweet zone of staying at home. I've been out of work for a long time, but Claire was still in daycare. I'd bring her to school, do errands, clean, prepare supper, go for a run or go to my minimum wage job at Gymboree, or go to an interview all while she was occupied at daycare, learning her days of the week, stories, songs, computer time, socializing, getting educated. When she'd come home, I'd only focus on Claire. Everything else was done. Now, she's with me all time (which I do love, honestly), but I feel torn between the chores, the Me Time, and my Claire time.

I know I'll find a balance. I'll figure out my own fun & educational activities to do with Claire during the day. And I'll find a balance for my Me Time too, which for me is also known as my running time.

The Mommy Guilt is a real, pervasive thing, though. I know I'm a good mom, AND I know it's good for Claire's psycological development into a happy, well-adjusted person if I am not at her beck-and-call each and every moment of the day. But, I also know that Mommy Guilt makes me feel badly when I'm trying to get a bajillion things to fit into a day, most especially my run.

Yesterday, I dropped Claire off at a one-hour Math and Music class that a preschool is doing (called "Afternoon Enrichment"). I signed Claire up so she could have some school-like time, some friends, a little return to the structure that she knows and loves and is desperately missing. I met several of the other moms, all nice ladies about my age, most of whom were sticking around, chatting and drinking flavored coffee during the hour their child was occupied with number games. I thought, "Well, here's an opportunity to meet some new moms, good for me, good for Claire..."

And then, I looked out the window, saw the beautiful bright blue sky and realized, this hour was my Me Time, my running time...As the other moms gathered, chatting away, I started jogging down the driveway. Claire was happy and safe at the daycare. I need my Me Time as much as Claire needs to be with other kids at that daycare.

That is the kind of mother I want to be. The one who knows it's ok to leave her child - and her Mommy Guilt - behind.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

perchance to dream...

My running friend Tara (who I've never met real world style, but get to in July when she comes to Philly to run as many miles as she can in 24 hours...her goal is 100 miles! but, I digress)...

My running friend Tara posted on her blog a few days ago the simple question, "What is your dream?"

Back in January, when Glenn and I were doing our premarriage counseling with our minister, she asked us the same question: What are your dreams - for yourself and for your partner? I've got lots of dreams - maybe they are more like goals, because many of them are accomplishable (hah, I made up a Bushism). My dreams for my family, for me and Glenn, involve having a bigger home, welcoming another child into that home, and lots of dreams for our children.

But, I've also got running dreams. Some of them are simple - run a half marathon with my husband (ok, maybe not simple for him, since his longest run is 5 miles...but certainly a possibility). Since I had such a blast running Disney with Anna and Tracey, I want to run more races with the fantastic running moms I've come to love over the years.

However, my true running dream is BOSTON. Someday. Even if it costs me a ridiculous sum of money (like $10k), something that would cause stress on my marriage (the money would stress that). I've watched this race live on TV since I was a little girl, decades before I ever ran my first mile because I had this crazy thought (surely a post-pregnancy hormonal hallucination) that I could run a mile in 12 minutes. BOSTON.

I guess, if I'm dreaming, I could just dream that I make Boston for free, like actually qualifying. But, that sounds more like fantasy to me: I'd have to shave 2 hours off my running time to qualify, and that's something only Rosie Ruiz knows how to do...

So, there it is: My Big Fat Running Dream...maybe that's what I'm running towards with each run I do, each step brings me a tiny bit closer to lacing up my shoes on Marathon Day, standing with tens of thousands of other runners who have ached and dreamed and trained to be among the few in the world who can say, "I ran Boston."

Ooohhh, I have shivers just thinking about it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

homeward bound

This past weekend, for the Easter holiday, Glenn and I loaded our three girls into the car with 2 suitcases, 1 dufflebag, 3 Easter baskets, 2 bags of easter grass, candy, food, bags of presents for Claire's birthday and a bunch of other sundries and made the 6+ hour trek to Templeton, Massachusetts, aka "where I'm from."

In what I can only call a moment of pure delirium, I had thought it was a grand idea to spend 4 days at my sister's house, a cute little home that we destroyed by making it look something like that old nursery rhyme "there was an old woman who lived in a shoe..." We were certainly bursting at the seems with 5 children, 6 adults, a dog, a cat, and 2 mice! My sister was a wonderfully gracious hostess...but there was a whole lot of "closeness" in that home!

Glenn, the girls, and I arrived in Templeton at that hazy time when you aren't sure if it's Thursday or Friday, that borderline dateline...We had a lazy morning on Friday and then my mom took her five granddaughters (3 by birth, and 2 new ones from my marriage) out for a day of sightseeing. They had a blast visiting downtown Gardner and the BIG chair. Once upon a time, this was the world's biggest chair - made in the once upon a time Chair City of the World.

While they were gone, my plan was to bake a cake for Claire's birthday party the next day and go for a run. Glenn wanted to go with me (yay! I love running with my husband) and so we donned our grubby clothes and out the door we went.

The day was perfect for running, about 68 degrees and sunny. Glenn hadn't run for several weeks and he didn't want to do more than 3 or 4 miles, which was fine by me. The good thing about being a relaxed runner: any distance is a good run! We took it pretty slow, since we were tired from a long drive up and a late night. It was a fun run for me: I got to point out some around-town things to Glenn and regale him with lots of stories about my town.

Saturday and Sunday were busy doing family things: Easter Egg hunt on the Templeton Common, then a birthday party for Claire (I can't believe my baby is just about four!) and Easter baskets, Easter service, Easter dinner. The whole weekend was great: the girls had fun together (Rachel and Sarah play, scratch that, "hang out", so well with my niece Madison, and Claire and my younger niece Georgia are like BFFs). Glenn and I hung out at the Gardner Ale House two nights in a row.

But, honestly, by Monday I was done. Done with all the closeness. Done with being a guest. I wanted to be home! And I wanted a nice long run. Since the Three Musketeers (aka RachelSarahMadison) convinced us we should stay all day on Monday too, I, literally, ran away.

I'd only brought one day of running clothes, so I had to wear again my already ridiculously stinky running clothes from Friday. But I put them on and said to Glenn as I left, "I'm not sure how long I'm running for. Sometime between 40 minutes and an hour and half." And then I was gone.

I started off retracing where Glenn and I had run, but this time seeing it with just my eyes. East Templeton has a little bakery next to the teenyweeny Post Office...Olson's Restaurant, where I shredded my left thumb on the night of my surprise 13th birthday party, looks derelict. Kamaloht - a bizarre mideval structure that used to be a dive bar - is still a bizarre mideval structure. I ran past houses that used to be the homes of kids I went to junior high with. I ran down roads that I used to drive down when I first got my license. I remembered the people I used to know who are just hazy images now, kids I used to babysit who lived there when that house was blue, looked into windows I'd look out of decades ago. I ran down streets that used to be filled with woods and now had homes so new the lawns hadn't yet been seeded...and by homes so old it's been years since the lawns were green and well-cared for.

I ran, and ran, and ran in my hometown, a place I had not really visited much in the last 10 years, except for brief hours-long excursions.

It's a strange, timetwisted feeling, returning to a place you should know so well, that is a familiar as breath, but just as fleeting because everything has changed...most of all, you.