musings on running, life, and everything in between

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When you fall out of love

With running


The usual

It’s been a long hiatus. And to be honest, I’m not sure how often I’ll keep this updated either. It’s tenuous lately. My resurgence of interest in running and such. And the school year is starting, which for some parents is glorious, but for me means the startup of my regular work calendar again. So…here’s a stab.

The last couple of months have been rough. I’ve been pretty straightforward about my ongoing struggle with depression, but it reached a pretty bad low point a few months ago. I think what further compounded it was the fact that I felt like I was doing every possible thing I could to deal with it, but it wasn’t enough. It feels unfair that I have to be doing so much more to stay afloat or feel “normal” (whatever that is) than the average person. Is it a chemical imbalance, family trauma, psychic wounds, blah blah blah? I don’t know. But I cringe every time someone asks me if I exercise or sleep enough or whatever, because I want to scream, “All of it, I do all of it!”

And actually, the last couple of months, even the running has fallen by the wayside. Yes, I’ve been trying to get myself to grind out at least a run or two a week. I had been hating even that minimal amount, though, and was mostly doing it to stave off the creeping weight. I eat ALOT, and mostly run to eat. When you’re not marathon training, it begins to catch up with you. And while it really is probably just 3-5 pounds, it was enough to make me feel worse physically and emotionally. And I realize that nothing was giving me pleasure. I wasn’t interested in anything. Maybe sleep. More B horror movies. Escape. Not life, not my kids, not my writing. Definitely not my running. Nothing that required me to engage.

So I’m trying some new meds and starting to feel better. I’ve even begun ramping back up my running. I’m actually watching the Olympics track and field events. Hitting double digit long runs. Thinking about races. But it’s still a struggle. The new meds make me tired, so early runs have been difficult. I’ve had to play around with dosage and timing to figure out what doesn’t make me feel like I need a 3 hour nap at 10:30 am or that I’m treading mud at 3 pm. Which means running alone and in the awful heat and humidity. I’ll say that running while playing Pokemon Go has helped motivate and distract me (and give me excuses for stopping).

I’m not 100% sure if I’ll stick with these meds or need to get back on that merry-go-round, but for the first time, I’m being pretty open about my struggles with folks. Even the fact that I know a couple of my students read this blog, and I’m talking about this is something. My less-than-perfect behavior has probably been most indicative of my struggles. I’ve had alot of impatience, crankiness, and general snarl near and far. My ability to have any emotional reserve in response to life has been about nil. I’m sane and grounded enough to know (mostly) when I need to make amends for that behavior, but it’s still not fun. It would be better if I just didn’t do it to begin with. And I’m still leaning towards isolation. My general belief of, “If I don’t interact with people, then I won’t have to act out and apologize later” isn’t really a great one.

On the road back from this cycle of depression, I’d realized that I had slowly been socially isolating myself. Other than kid-oriented activities or running with friends, I was engaging in almost no social activities. A friend took me out for dinner in the city, and I realized it had been literal years since I had done that. Years. How did that happen?

So I’m not saying I’m cured, but I felt the impulse to write today. So that’s something. But one could say it’s something for any of us to show up in life today and engage. To do what you can. To try your best. Even watching the Olympics, I thought about all the athletes at the back of the pack. The ones with no chance to win a medal. How do they motivate themselves? How do they push to keep going? How do any of us? But we do. Onwards and upwards friends.

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It’s been a bit, right? There are some things going on in life that are taking a lot of energy out of me. It leaves little room or desire to write about running. Part of this might be combined with the fact that I turned my ankle two weekends ago on the trail.

I was about 4 miles into an 8-11 mile run with some friends at Bull Frog in Palos. Ironically, I had stopped to re-tie a shoe tighter because it felt like it wasn’t support enough. As I got up to start running, I hit a big rock in the path and turned my ankle. I wasn’t in horrible pain, but I felt a momentary flash of panic. Ok, maybe not momentary. Just panic. The worst part was that we were just before the turnaround point. And this is trail. Which means, short of getting back to a road and waiting for someone else to run back and get the car, I’d have to run back. It wasn’t great, but I found I could bear weight on it without screaming in pain. So I ran back 3 miles–Kelly was able to configure a slightly shorter route back. Gorgeous picture of the lake from the BEGINNING of the run. Sigh.

I saw Craig that day and had him work on it. He actually didn’t think it was too bad, and I babied the heck out of it, wrapping it tight and wearing an ankle brace. I think that all helped. I can run on it, but 50k on it is a different thing…The amount of mental self-abuse I’ve been doing is outrageous. I just checked the cutoff time, though, and I’ll have almost 10 hours to finish the 50k. Hopefully I won’t need all that.

It just continues to remind me, on multiple levels, that our weaknesses–physical and otherwise–need constant monitoring and intervention. I had stopped doing my one-legged squats while brushing teeth awhile back, filled with false confidence in my ankles. And this is what happened. It reminds me of the same character defects I have, my willfulness, anger, etc. also need to constantly be worked on as well. They never really go away, just wait for an opportune moment. Seems exhausting thinking about it. But that is how we become stronger.

And one thing I’ve learned over the years is when I get stuck in self-pity, get outside yourself and go do something for someone else. So I did. A slew of my girls were running the Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha, including Jenny’s first comeback race after over a year of injury. It didn’t occur to me, until really late in the game, that it would be great to go cheer for them. I found out two other friends–Jen H and Doreen–who also came to Boston were heading up, so I hitched a ride.

Andrea, Emily, Michelle, Jenny, Michelle

I am SO glad I went. The course was windy as HECK. It ran alongside the lakefront, which sounds great, until the wind picks up sand and scours you with it. The temperature was perfect, and it was somewhat cloudy at moments, but the wind was probably upwards of 30mph at times. The course was also really desolate. There were almost no spectators, and even the most “crowded” sections had just over a dozen. And they were QUIET. There was almost no cheering. So this made the 3 of us cheer even louder and act even nuttier. Two women even came up to us after the race to thank us for cheering. It was also weird because there were parts of the course that weren’t really closed off so people were driving ON BOTH SIDES of the road. Someone even pulled a boat down the middle of the course. I think based on the crowd support (or lack thereof) and the weird course stuff, I would not run this marathon. Jenny did say, though, that it was well run and the aid stations were great.

The girls had a really hard time, but the Michelle’s stuck together for most of it. Although Michelle R (left) pulled a Jen and finished about 20 second ahead of Michelle N. Ha.


Despite all these brutal conditions, most of them finished ahead of my Boston time. Sigh. It was awesome, though, to go root for someone and not just be on the receiving end. I swear my “cheering high” carried me all day through rooting for my oldest’s tball game. Haha.

Andrea, Jenny, Emily


Alright, that’s all for now. I’m gearing up for the 50k. It feels really weird because I’ve essentially been in a 6 week taper now. I’ve been actually weightlifting to try and do some less impact stuff that should help me with the hills and such.

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Finding what feeds you or at least doesn’t kill you

I don’t know if other professions talk about their work or communities “feeding them.” Higher ed is definitely a strange place and not typical of many other contexts, so it’s hard to know what is “normal.” Awhile back, I saw a fairly well known scholar-educator post about their job not being one that “fed” them, and they felt like it was suffocating them if anything. The post didn’t say specifically (vaguebooking anyone?) about what they were talking about, but I can think of a million possible examples or scenarios from others’ situations. My response, though, was “huh, that’s a weird thing to expect.” Without getting into the politics of my own specific position or context, I have accepted that my job isn’t going to be what keeps me afloat emotionally. Even as a high school teacher, I snarled at the oft-quoted “teaching is the hardest job you’ll love” or some other derivative dribble. Teaching IS hard, and it IS rewarding, but if you expect that to be your sole sense of purpose and meaning in life, you will burn out faster than a Roman candle. I wish someone had told me that earlier…

I am not saying that you can’t find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in your work. I definitely do. But I also don’t expect my work to be the only place where I get that, or even my main source of those things. And while that may seem obvious to some, it’s taken awhile for me to figure that out. I think one of the reasons I was so miserable in my 20’s was that I couldn’t figure out what I needed emotionally, spiritually, psychically, so I expected work or friendships to be the only place I would find validation. As I’ve gotten older, my priorities and understandings of the world have shifted through marriage, kids, running, adult jobs, etc. And I’ve realized that no one place can be my sole source of nurturing or cultivating of self.

Maybe that’s obvious for some, but that’s some hard-fought knowledge for me. Just as my life-long battles with managing depression happen through many ways–prayer, exercise, medication, therapy, community–I’ve realized that finding happiness in life has to happen through many ways. JUST surviving or NOT being miserable is NOT the same thing as actually seeking happiness and comfort. It’s not merely enough to not be suffering, but you also have to find ways to “suck the marrow out of life” (a la Whitman). And that will change throughout your life, which is why it can feel like a balancing act. Just when you think you’ve got it, another piece shifts and you have to reconfigure the whole thing.

Even though the trip to Boston was a whirlwind around the marathon, I was really happy to see and stay with my friend Swati. I can’t even begin to catalog the myriad things she’s gone through in the 8 years I’ve known her. But through it all, she is constantly on a journey to be balanced, to be happy, and to seek ways to be spiritually and emotionally positive. We talked a lot about what’s been going on in our lives–she just finished her doctorate, woohoo!!–and it made me reflective of how we have a choice in how we react or respond to various situations. Obviously we can’t control others or control the situations we sometimes find ourselves in, but we can choose how we react. And sometimes we have the choice to extract ourselves or disengage as well. But first, we have to recognize and acknowledge what our situation is and what our choices are.


Even in terms of my running, when I was beginning to feel disenchanted with all the speedwork and the demands of qualifying for Boston, I chose to start running types of areas and get out on the trails. I’ve loved how running has taken me to places I normally wouldn’t have gone. Case in point, down the street from Swati’s place is Forest Hills Cemetery. There are a number of famous people buried here, the most literary relevant being e.e. cummings. Sadly, I did not realize this until after my run so missed visiting his grave, but Mr. UnRunner did see it. It is a huge cemetery, with a mix of both old and new grave sites, and they day was crazy warm and bright.

I’ve always found the very fancy statue tomb stones (is that what they’re called??) intriguing. I loved the pose of the woman on this one.

I loved the idea of this one. This was a tomb stone (I’m just going to keep calling it that because I don’t know what else to call it) that had a very large birdhouse built onto the top of that. Even in death, you can continue to be a source of life🙂

There was a section where a large number of Chinese were buried. There were even some families celebrating/holding a memorial at some of them. Burning incense, eating, meeting as a large group, etc. There was one group of plots that obviously belonged to an entire family. These Chinese dragons marked the entrance to that section.

And there was even this gorgeous water feature sent on the side of the cemetery.

I’ve been wrestling with the post-race blues, or maybe just the blues who knows, so I decided to try a new running route. I’ve been meaning to head south on the Centennial Trail by the I & M canal near work, and I finally did it the other day.

This area/trail is a very odd conglomeration of heavy industry and nature, as you might be able to see in the picture below (on the far right edge of the picture are a series of smoke stacks belonging, I think, to a petroleum processing plant).

The path itself is a pretty straight crushed limestone path that runs parallel to a rail line hidden by bushes. There were some pretty features along the path, though, including this fireplace/structure thing.

The path runs between two parts of the canal. To the right (or west of the canal) is the rail lines I spoke of and some industrial buildings set way back behind tree cover. To the left was some kind of excavation site. I saw bulldozers and earth movers at various points, and I know that it wasn’t public land. This was a particularly pretty spot and there was an even a snowy egret but my clumsy feet made too much noise and scared it off. If you look towards the back of the picture, though, you can see some kind of yellow metal barricade from the site.

The children are rumbling so it’s time to get the day started. Hope your running adventures take you somewhere new today, and you find ways to feed yourself emotinally!




I hear a lot of people talking about feeling humbled by others’ praises. So often it strikes false. The humble brag of, “I’m so undeserving of this really competitive amazing thing, and I just can’t believe people think I’m so amazing (like I think, ha).” And it’s probably the cynic in me for thinking this. However, I truly was humbled by the outpouring of support from my friends. I was actually embarrassed that people were paying attention to me and thought I was doing something awesome. I mean, Boston IS awesome, but I am very uncomfortable receiving compliments or accepting support or acknowledgment from others (*cough, crazy family, cough*).

I also realize that some of this, particularly in regards to athletic accomplishments, is particular to women. I remember from my first Ragnar Relay, we were literally one of the first teams in the entire field and a bunch of us were marathoners and a guy from another said, “Wow, so you guys are pretty serious runners, huh?” We all hemmed and hawed like, “Oh, no.” We couldn’t accept the label that we WERE awesome and we WERE serious. I think back on that, and how I have to learn to accept support and acknowledgment gracefully. And, while I don’t want to get a big head, I can also admit that I’m doing something pretty amazing and it’s ok for people to say that. With that said, I will say that I did choose to NOT wear my marathon jacket and medal on the air plane ride home. Baby steps, people.

My awesome running group brought (to my kid’s preschool musical performance no less) balloons and a care package for the trip. Highlight of the bag? Trashy magazine! I also got a yard sign!

My good friend, Misty, also gave me Wonder Woman knee high socks and chocolate. Don’t worry, I didn’t run in them.🙂

I escaped Chicago’s airport with little trouble. I felt a little guilty leaving the kids for the second time within two weeks, but it’s the last bit of traveling for a long while so they’ll survive. I stayed for most of the trip with my dear friend, Swati, who just defended her dissertation! She’s officially joined the ranks of Dr.’s that can not medically help you. We got to go out solo (she’s also a newish mom to Asha, who’s about to turn one year old) for dinner and ice cream. Like tourists, I made her take a picture with me and the cow at the famous J.P. Licks.

I have some other photos and stuff about my time in Boston, but I’m going to stick to marathon stuff for this one to help keep it from being a tome.

Saturday morning, Jen, Patty, and I decided to meet at the expo. Actually, Patty’s in-laws were awesome and picked me up so we rode together to the convention center. It was massive. You get almost 30,000 runners and their families and it’s going to be crazy. To be honest, I actually wondered about fire code because some of the exhibit lanes were narrow and tended to bottle neck up…Total mom mode, right? Anyhow, we took the requisite cheesy photos at the five million various photo op possibilities. Because the packet pick up and expo were on different floors, there really were a crazy number of opportunities to take photos. One of my favorite ones was the huge wall of names of every single runner. We each got free posters of it. Mine, sadly, got left behind in Boston at Swati’s house, but she promises to mail it to me.

Because this is the big mama of marathons, there were quite a few celebrity sightings at the expo. So…like total creeps, we took photos of these unsuspecting individuals. On the left is Shalane Flanagan promoting her new cooking book; top right is the back of Katherine Switzer (white jacket), first woman to officially run the marathon, and bottom right is a cardboard cutout of Meb. Ha. He was in town, but we didn’t see him live.

Patty and I did the bus tour of the whole marathon route. I was surprised to see that there were tents with souvenirs and food and things at the start already. For those unfamiliar with Boston, it’s a point to point course, which means you take a bus out to the start ~25 miles west of the city to Hopkinton and run your way back to Boston proper.

I took the obligatory start line photo. Some people were taking photos kissing the ground. Um, unless it’s like the foot of Jesus (and I’m not even religious), I’m not kissing it.

Riding the route, I was simultaneously nervous AND calmed. There were way more hills than I had thought, but they also seemed somewhat flatter than I had imagined. The tour guide, who was formerly a competitive runner, stressed the importance of really taking it easy the first half of the race, which has a net downhill. Most people take it too fast and trash their legs before the hills of Newton.

The night before was “dinner” at 4:30 at Vinny’s in Somerville. Good food, and we were glad to have time to hang out and lounge instead of eating and then going straight to bed. Jen and I were staying at friends, but we shacked up with Patty in her hotel room for the night before the marathon. Jen ended up using a great deal of her waking hours trying on the same two tank tops over and over, trying to determine which one would or would not chafe. We also went back and forth because the weather was supposed to be in the upper 60’s when we started. Trust me, Patty aka “Radar” was giving me minute-by-minute updates on every degree change in temperature and wind.

The rest of the night, we ended up buying a movie, How to Be Single, to watch in the hotel room. It was predictable and a bit young for us, but Rebel Wilson was funny and it was perfect for a group of women looking for a distraction. Patty fell asleep during it and had no trouble sleeping. I tossed and turned for over an hour, but eventually fell asleep and slept solid. Jen woke up throughout the night several times, so I guess it’s good we went to bed early!

Because there are so many stages to getting to the actual start line, we all got up around 6 am. We were going to take our hotel’s shuttle to Boston Commons to take the marathon shuttle to Hopkinton (which was supposed to leave at 8:15 for our wave). When we got outside the hotel, though, the line was like 30 people deep for a 14-person van. One of the door guys suggested we pay $5/person for a private shuttle. We thought it was a little shady, but we were also getting nervous about having to wait for several loadings of the shuttle so we did. Well, actually I had no cash and Jen only had $10 so we haggled that for the 3 of us.

We got to the Boston Commons and met up with Kelly, a colleague’s wife who was also running. Coincidentally, she was in the same wave and corral as Jen. I was actually in the wave before Jen, but I had decided to drop back so we could run together. Sadly, Patty was in the wave after us, almost 20 minutes later. We all got on the school buses and headed out to Hopkinton. We arrived at the high school and the athlete’s village was out on the fields. It was a huge area with tents (for shelter), free bagels, Gatorade, water, and coffee. We had over 2 hours to kill, which we spent mostly going to the bathroom and people-watching. We were surprised to see that some people still had their gear check bags, as gear check happened in Boston by the finish lines. I’m not sure what they ended up doing with them.

Finally it was time for us (sans Patty) to start moving towards the entry point. We gathered together in the parking lot before heading down the chute, which was probably over a quarter mile through the streets of Hopkinton. Before we started moving, I noticed what looked like sharp shooters on top of the high school. While I appreciated the safety concerns, their presence actually made me more nervous.

Along the way, right before people headed into the corrals, there was an area designated with the last port-a-potties (which they call port-a-johns out there). This was like two concentric circles of over 100 potties–a human waste Stonehenge of sorts. With all the waiting in between, we ended up doing another last ditch effort. Despite that, I still saw a woman squatting next to a light pole. Once we got into the corral, Jen did her obsessive shoe-tying shuffle. First it was too loose, then too tight, then the other one was weird. All while trying to keep moving along with the crowd.

We were off, and I got nervous right away. Between the heat and downhills, the run felt like a struggle right away. And I would struggle with hitting a rhythm for a good deal of it. I perked up a bit when I saw a runner up ahead wearing an Every Mother Counts shirt. My friend, Ayesha, is an ambassador for them and our Ragnar team ran miles for them last year. (Side note: Ayesha is running the Big Sur Marathon as a relay for them this weekend). It’s a charity that works to make pregnancy and childbearing safe for women. I had remembered reading that Christy Turlington, its founder and former supermodel, had qualified and was running Boston to raise funds. This could be Christy up ahead, and next to her was a tall, curly-haired man with a bandana–perhaps Scott Jurek? I couldn’t be sure, though, and when I mentioned it to Jen, she suggested we speed up to check. I couldn’t fathom pulling up any speed, though, and shrugged off such crazy talk. I would actually end up leapfrogging with them throughout most of the race and did end up chatting with them a couple times. Also, like a total creep, I took a running selfie with them. Marathon of creepy celebrity photos. Ha. At one point, Jen also said that her goal was to beat a supermodel. Spoiler: That dream didn’t happen. Christy beat us by 2 minutes.

This is me at mile 13. You can see I look pretty tired. I was beyond grateful to see Mr. UnRunner (he’s been demoted recently). I was mentally really struggling with the idea that I was going to be doing this for hours. HOURS, people. I just wanted to lay down and go home. I was really struggling with the heat and the downhills. Seeing a familiar face in an unfamiliar place was amazing.

I really had to suppress my urge to punch him, though, when he told me to “go catch Jen.” By this point, Jen had left me behind. She had spent a good deal of the first several miles a few yards in front of me, constantly checking over her shoulder that I was still there. I told her that I did not want to watch her doing that for the next several hours so go ahead. Deja vu to Chicago.

The Wellesley girls were out and screaming, but the way the literature described it, I thought it was going to be like Beatles-style screaming hordes of hysterical coeds. They were out and yelling and had the “kiss me…” signs, but, shh, I gotta say I wasn’t THAT impressed. I don’t know that I would call them legendary. I did see two girls who appeared to be naked under their posters, which read, “If you run fast enough, I’ll drop my poster.” My favorite sign along the course, though, was “You’re running better than our government.” This is particularly true in Illinois.

Another welcome break was seeing these girls around mile 17. These are the super fans that came from Chicago to cheer for us (mostly Jen, but also me and Patty): Dorene, Michelle, Michelle, and Jen. They are all runners and the two Michelle’s are training for a May marathon. Michelle (with sunglasses) ran Boston years ago in her youth and hopes to return again one day.

I got some very welcome hugs from the girls, although someone totally rammed their shoulder into my throat at one point, which was AWESOME. Choking and running. Good combo.

At some point between miles 17 and 19, Jen and I hooked up together again. She decided running alone sucked (again, deja vu to Chicago) and waited for me. We did conquer Heartbreak Hill together (next pic is us at the top). I have to say that Heartbreak hill wasn’t all that bad. I mean, it sucked, but I think the million OTHER hills were what were quietly crushing my soul. By that point, Jen and I just wanted to be done. We joked about rolling each other down the hill. Joked. Not really.

We split up again. See a pattern? Fortunately, I saw Mr. UnRunner and my friend Swati around mile 21 at the Boston College gates. (on a side note, the race goes through THREE college campuses, Wellesley, Boston College, and Boston University AND it’s a state holiday so the crow support along the route is crazy). Again, I was really excited for a reason to stop and see happy, familiar faces. Mentally, knowing I was more than half done, I was doing a lot better than the first half even though it was physically more challenging. Knowing I had a dozen marathons under my belt helped me push through. At one point on the course, I do recall chanting mentally, “I know I can” to get me over a hill.

The physical demands of the downhill and the heat took its toll on runners. I saw A LOT of runners down at medical tents along the way, on the side of the road, and even a runner in the middle of the course with medics towards mile 21. Two of the running bloggers I follow had to stop and receive some medical aid before being able to finish the course. I think they still beat my time. Sigh. I even saw one runner just completely stop and stand in the middle of the road, teetering. I stopped and asked him if he was ok or needed help. He said he was fine, even though he kept standing there teetering. I decided his male ego would be bruised by a chick helping him and we were only a few yards from a medical tent so I figured he’d be ok.

Jen and I did hook back up around mile 21 I think in time to see the super fans one more time. She was really struggling mentally and pulled ahead again a couple miles later. I could tell she just really wanted it to be over, though, and wasn’t going to be stopping again for me. She finished about 30 second ahead of me.

You can see I didn’t do a great job with the tangents, running .3 over. Thanks for the BLM bracelet, Bill! The personal is political!

The finish line was akin to the starting line, a long chute stretching out over a couple blocks to get your medal, water, bag of food (nice stuff!), banana, thermal blanket, gear check, and then finally heading out to the family reunion section. Jen and I got massages while waiting for everyone to meet at the designated spot. We were pretty out of it, but it helped getting to lay down and worked on a bit. The massages were inside and there were probably like 40 tables in the room, with massage therapists from all over. The guy working on me was from 2 hours away, and it was his fifth year in a row volunteering at the marathon.

Patty finished (on the clock, since she started later) only about 15 minutes behind us. She said she had a GREAT race, which just shows who’s the best runner in our crew. We got to take one big group photo before everyone head their different ways. The super fans were heading home, Jen was going to meet back up with her friend, and Patty and I were going to dinner together with her family.

Patty, our spouses, and I went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and hang out before having dinner with Patty’s family at Morton’s steak house. The dinner was AWESOME, hot shower was divine, and the company was stupendous. Morton’s even had the menus printed with our names on it (gotta find the pic I took). By the end of the night, I was dead on my feet and looking forward to bed.

The next day was uneventful, with a chill lunch with Swati, and an early departure for the airport. It was funny seeing the sea of stiff-legged runners in their aqua?/teal? marathon jackets tottering towards the gates. I didn’t wear my jacket cuz I’m weird like that.

I came home to this loveliness. Cuz nothing says I love you like toilet paper strew on your lawn. Ha.

Even though I’m not in this photo–actually it’s only the super fans and none of the actual Boston runners–I love it and wanted to end the post with it. I’m still processing my emotions from the race, but I couldn’t help but love the connectedness of the ladies. I did not get to Boston on my own, and I couldn’t have finished Boston on my own. I am blown away (again) by these women and (and men) that have encouraged me, supported me, and praised me. All of the texts, Facebook messages, calls, and well wishes. I don’t feel worthy of any of it, truly. It was such a communal effort and can only offer my warmest thanks and love for everyone that’s been part of this. Patty is already concocting what to do for next year. Good luck with that, I’ll be supporting you from home, haha. I’ll follow up this post with some of the other things I did in Boston, but for now, signing off.

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Denial is not just a river: Boston

It’s been awhile…I’ve been slightly in denial and slightly overwhelmed. There are some things going on outside of running that are taking up a lot of emotional energy and time. There’s barely been time to process that Boston is in less than 4 days. I get on a plane in about 24 hours. I haven’t really thought about packing or logistics or anything. This is despite the fact that Jen and Patty (mostly Patty) have been blowing up my phone with messages about Boston weather, packing lists, more weather, expo pick up, more weather…I have been only partaking in reading in small bursts. Cuz I. CAN’T. EVEN.

To my credit, part of of the reason is that I was immersed in professional nerd-dom in our nation’s capital. I attended the major educational research conference for 4 days last weekend. It was good to get away, and I got some time to run with cool people and see some more cool things. Still, it was an intense 4 days.

My favorite monument run this time was the (newer) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memorial. I shrink at sentiment, but I was surprisingly moved by the memorial. It’s a beautiful piece of sculpture/architecture, and I couldn’t help but feel the importance of King’s legacy and the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice today. There is still so much work to do. And it can feel overwhelming at times, but none of us struggles alone. Others have gone before us, others struggle alongside, and others will come after.

The King portion of the monument almost looked like a breakaway from a larger concrete mountain. Somehow, I failed to take a picture of that part. However, surrounding the main monument was a long wall of quotes. There were some amazing ones, and it inspired me to go back and finish a book of his essays I’ve had forever. A lot of people were taking photos, and I had trouble choosing just one. This one seemed timely, though, in terms of the importance of all of us speaking out against injustice even if it’s not comfortable.

I also did a very convoluted route (partly because I got lost and partly because it was a long run) past the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial (which is on a funky island/peninsula bit and totally reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Bart talks to the various monument/presidents), and meandering over into Virginia.

This tree was beautiful and strange. A cork tree! It actually looked dead, and there was a sign asking people not to climb or touch it so that it wouldn’t be damaged. While the majority of the cherry blossoms were gone, there were still some trees with blossoms so it was a pretty run.

I have to say that there was some strange criss-crossing back and forth across the river to try and get back from Virginia to DC. It makes it more delightful to find hidden little spots like this one, though!

I ran out of miles on that run, though. Right when I got to Theodore Roosevelt Island, I had to head home, so I dragged some of my friends back there Sunday. I wanted to see the island and get some trails under my feet. It took some convincing to get them out there as they were concerned I would be too fast, but I was tapering and more concerned about enjoying the run with friends than speed.

Tracey makes a second appearance (middle bottom), though still only in DC🙂 Laura, top middle, also works with me. And Susan, far right, is the awesome friend that sent me lipstick a little while ago. We also make it a habit to purchase beauty supplies when traveling together. Hey, can’t be nerds all the time!

The island wasn’t very big, just over a mile running the circumference. In the middle of the island was a big carved out section with little bridges, water (though it was drained for the winter still), and a big Theodore Roosevelt monument. We asked a fellow runner to take our picture, and we went with the Black Power fist instead of the regular one hand up in the air that Teddy was doing (the photographer didn’t seem to get that we wanted Teddy in the picture also so you’ll just have to imagine it). We all do critical work, and it jived with the theme of the run as we also saw the MLK memorial (a second time for me, I couldn’t get enough!).

Us, in nature.

This last picture is of my friend, Ramon, who I HAVE run with years ago. However, he said he tends to cycle on and off with running, and he has NOT been running for a bit but wants to start again. I am putting his picture up here to publicly shame/encourage him to start running more regularly. So, if you know Ramon Martinez, make sure you ask him about running!

Work this week has been really rough. I got a chance to do an early, very therapeutic 4 miles this morning with Jen. I was greeted by this awesome sign from the amazing, supportive ladies of Best Foot Forward. It helped remind me that I’m NOT doing this alone, and these girls have helped support me every step of the way. Onward and upward!

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Monday Catch-Up Madness 

Last week was rough. I was really, really not feeling training. Like really. And then, my Lauren Fleshman “Believe” training journal serendipitously hit the right spot when I turned the page to the “Hit Reset” photo. Perfect timing. The next couple of pages were all about recovering and taking time to relax. MUCH NEEDED reminder. I actually went to yoga class (bottom left pic) the next day that left me a totally sweat-drenched, stretched out recovering and relaxing runner.

The week was also busy. We celebrated the lovely Patty’s birthday Thursday night. Instead of taking a picture of us, I took a picture of the dessert. Patty decided it was an edible flower and ate it. It probably was an edible flower, but the stem/pistil section of it seemed awfully hard and fibrous compared to the edible pansies I’ve seen so I declined. I’m pretty sure training calls for chocolate🙂

It was also a little tricky getting in all of my runs since the ankle biters were home on spring break. I have a hard time sitting at home with them, so we made TWO excursions to the Museum of Science and Industry–one of which involved the Lego Exhibit, Brick by Brick. That was pretty cool. I realized I have no imagination for Lego-building though. Pathetic. still, my kids really liked it and there were interactive sections where you got to build and play with Legos. They were probably more excited by that than by any of the actual awesome Lego sculptures.

We also went to the Mexican Museum of Fine Art, an amazing and FREE museum in Chicago. I think my favorite piece was this huge, super-intricate beadwork. I could have stayed staring at it for hours. I was super-mom and even thought ahead to bring paper and colored pencils for the kids to try and copy some of it.

Finally, as my activist-training action for the kids, I took them down to the massive Day of Action on April 1, spearheaded by the Chicago Teachers Union. As a former Chicago Public School teacher, a teacher educator, and having multiple friends impacted both on the K-12 and university level by Illinois budget issues, I felt it was important to go show support. The picture makes it look like it was a great adventure. Alas, t’would be a lie, there was so much whining, complaining, and general irritation. The youngest, who is also a wanderer, also managed to escape into the crowd, was picked up by a cop, and I was called to the stage to get her. Mother of the year. This would be her second time getting lost in a large public space–this happened at the Field Museum a couple weeks prior–and being helped by security to locate her parents. I swear parents would be so much happier if we could chip our children.

Speaking of education, one of my students was demonstrating a reading strategy the other day and she handed out these write-ups. Mine, not sure if it was happenstance or purposeful, was with the word “run.” Love it.

Finally, last long run as a group before Boston weekend. Jen and I are out of town next week and Boston is, insanely, 2 weeks out, so it’s the final group run for our trio (until whatever shakeout run we’ll do in Boston). We decided to go with the hills of the Arboretum. We posed by our favorite sculpture (and those pants I’m wearing are really unflattering, snarf).

Jen and I were also making fun of each other a ton, and I threatened to cut her out of the blog. So instead of tripping each other, we did ridiculous poses showing how we are the best of friends. Ha. We are such great friends that we are going to apply as the two-person “Chasers” for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s weird reality show game, “The Runner.” Because I don’t want to increase the number of people applying, I will make it less easy for you to find the information and not link it. If you’re a runner, though, and have been paying attention at all, you’ve probably seen multiple posts about it already. And if you haven’t, you can use the powers of Google. Hey, how are an academic and a social worker going to make any money otherwise?! We got 6 kids between us to support.

Alas, Patty did not make it into the picture since she was taking it. Kelly (far right), though, who just did an impromptu 50k last weekend, is looking strong! That run was tough, though. We were pelted by hard little bits of snow and a good deal of wind through the whole run. In fact, there was a wind advisory starting right after we finished. Chicago weather has been crazy. It jumped over 30 degrees within 24 hours (and vice versa).

I finally did the math and looked at the actual climb for Boston’s Heartbreak Hill and the climbs from our local runs. Heartbreak Hill is about 95-100 feet climb over a half mile. I’m not sure what the actual math is on the Arboretum hills, but I do know that Big Bertha at Waterfall Glen is about 125 feet of climb over a half mile, so I’m feeling ok about it. Obviously, that’s not been coming at mile 21 of our runs, but still…it’s not quite as insurmountable as thought. See, sometimes the anticipation of something is so much worse than the reality of it.

Anyhow, hope everyone survived spring break if you’ve had it. And good luck if you haven’t yet🙂 What do you do to recover, relax, and stay in the right frame of mind?


Taper Time

Holy smokes, folks (you like that? I’m a poet), it’s Taper Time (a side of alliteration with my rhyme please). This weekend’s run was the final 20 miler before the slow wind down to the BIG DAY. And it was a doozy.

Because Jen had things like a family vacation to deal with (the nerve, right?!), we moved up the long run to Friday. Let’s just say that encountering a long line of people marching carrying a large wooden cross the final miles of our 20 gives some indication what the run felt like. No, I am not comparing the run to the pain of Christ hanging on a cross and dying for our sins. But Jesus also never ran a marathon. Just sayin’…Now that I’ve offended my readers, the details.

We decided to go with the Prairie Path in Elmhurst and head west. The idea of pounding pavement for 20 miles–even if it was Salt Creek–or replicating that hideous Waterfall Glen run seemed awful. While I did appreciate the somewhat softer crushed limestone, the ruts in the path from bikers (*shakes fist in fury) for 3+ hours did a number on my ankles. Many of the regular port-a-potties that are on the path weren’t there. There were no unseemly accidents, but there were some moments of irritation for sure.

Normally, path running is great and helps the time go by faster. However, the lack of visual markers of distance passing (like blocks or different houses) has made recent path/trail runs feel excruciatingly long. I forgot my Garmin for the run and had to rely on Jen (what is with me and my forgetting the watch lately?!). We all groaned when we hadn’t even gotten to 3 miles, and you know it’s bad when you have to use Gu stops to help break up the run. We never hit a groove and were working the whole time, moaning and groaning. Constantly asking Jen the mileage (ok, that was just me). We all complained how we had had so much anxiety about the run before and had secretly hoped we’d be relieved it wasn’t that hard. WRONG. It sucked. AND, we even debated cutting the run short. Patty pointed out, though, that all that time and energy worrying about the 20 would have been wasted if we didn’t actually do the 20. I know, it’s not exactly logical yet it makes perfect sense. So we did the stupid 20.

The upside is that we had alot of time to talk about some things going on in our lives, and we were all miserable. I think I would have tripped Patty or Jen if one of them was having a great run. But we were in sync with it being just a bad run.

We did get some delicious coffee at Eliajh’s, which is right by where we started. Let’s just say, though, it took several attempts and not until after coffee, that we got a picture of us smiling.

Elijah’s is a cute local coffee shop, and they feature local artists. This was an exhibit featuring work from a local art school using coffee as a medium. Clever. I will make sure to say that it’s art when I hand back my students’ papers with coffee on it in the future.

It’s rough having such a crap run, but we got through it. And we got through it together. We talked a lot about not having time goals for Boston, which really helps knock off some of the pressure. Reinforcing the idea of having a good time and just enjoying our time there is helpful. I honestly don’t know that I’ve had such a huge chunk of my training be so hard before. I feel like if this were a better blog, I’d list a top 10 list of things to do when training is not going great. Alas, this is just my blog. So THIS is what I do…

Homemade drumstick cone made with custard from the local shop. Drown misery in sugar. Life lessons learned the hard way. And it’s the best way, ha. Seriously, I was so excited to see that the local custard shop was already open for the season. Hole in the Wall Custard Shoppe. MMMMM. The tots were pretty pumped about it as well.

The rest of the weekend was filled with family time. It was pretty sunny and nice for most of it, so we took the kite out.

And this munchkin even dressed up for Easter (just for the record, we don’t even really celebrate Easter and the dress is a hand-me-down). We felt like we had a mix-up, cuz she does not clean up like that ever. Especially the ponytail!

This was her the previous evening.


After much anxiety, I finally also got my Boston Marathon passport and registration stuff. I had seen a couple other bloggers post pics of their materials online before I got mine. Even though I know I’m in and I will be getting the stuff, it made me nervous to not get it the same day as some other folks. It’s pretty awesome. Seriously, it’s getting real folks!

I am relieved that we are finally rounding the last bend on this journey. I think I have to remember to try and enjoy it as much as I can. I worked so hard the last couple of years to reach this point. And even if my training hasn’t been everything I’ve wanted, it will be enough. I will finish Boston, hopefully with my friends. I just need to trust the training and trust myself. And revel in the taper🙂

Onward and upward, friends!