Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

This year has undoubtedly been the best year of my life. Among all the incredible things that happened, I got to see my baby sister and quite a few wonderful friends get married, we welcomed a new niece into the world, my best friend moved home, and I was able to stand in front of (almost) all of my closest family and friends and declare my intentions to spend the rest of my life with my amazing husband.

It’s going to be hard to top this year.

That’s not to say there weren’t some negatives because there were, and there will continue to be. Such is life.

However, I am determined to keep the good, the happy, the positives rolling in 2015. As you are aware (or at least should be if you’ve been around these parts at all over the last few years), I am a sucker for challenges. While work is generally a constant source of stress and frustration for me, this year I have learned/been reminded time and time again that when I am pushed out of my comfort zone, when I am CHALLENGED to focus on something other than my current dilemma, I thrive. I grow and change for the better.

It’s very easy to say, “Yes, this year/week/month I’m going to PUSH myself.” I’ve done it. Time and again. And time and again I’ve relaxed back into a routine, back into the depths of my oh-so-comfortable couch, and said, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

That’s the thing about New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is actually the beginning of a whole new year. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I always figure if you want to change something, do it now, not when January rolls around. However, January is right here. On top of that, I’ve got some partners in crime who somehow knew/could tell or have flat out been told that I need a good, solid kick in the pants to make some of the changes I’ve been talking about since far too long ago.

Therefore, 2015 has been dubbed the year of the challenge.

First, my dearest aunt Melissa invited me (and a bunch of family, which is always motivating) to a healthy living challenge. Eight weeks long. Plenty long enough to make some better habits (veggies, get in my face). I don’t have any intention of winning this challenge, as my daily afternoon hot chocolate is sometimes the only thing that keeps me from freezing into a solid block of ice at my desk, but the family element, the extra motivation, that is what I’m counting on to push me out the door when I’d rather take a nap.

Second, in continuing to focus on the positives when things get a little rocky, I’m going to participate in a challenge similar to my Instagram 100 Days of Happy. That was a challenge that I was sad to see end, and honestly, I should have just continued it. This year, Katie (my wonderful friend Heather’s sister) is spearheading a small change challenge. The purpose is to focus on small, easy changes on a daily basis to bring more light and happiness to your life.


Seem like something you’d like to do too? Head over to this page right here to sign up. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I first heard about it. I’m excited for another reason to focus daily on something to make my life better or to just put more smiles on my face.

And last. The big one. Oh my goodness. This one is something I unequivocally blame Ange for. Phew. Guys, this year Ange and I are going to run for a combined 2,015 miles. Which means I’ve signed up, literally put money where my mouth is, to run over 1000 miles by the end of 2015.

I just….whew, I have a lot of FEELINGS about all of this. Especially given just how many miles I’m looking at running starting tomorrow when I’ve run approximately five times since my last half marathon in October.

ESPECIALLY when today’s run was cut short because HOLYCRAPIT’SCOLDOUTSIDE. I suppose not knowing that it was only 18F/-8C was a good thing or I may not have had the wherewithal to walk out the front door.

The thing is, I’ve got reasons to believe I’ll not only meet this challenge, but surpass it. Well, reason.

I’d considered not posting anything about it, but you know, screw it.

I’m running a marathon this year. And I’m terrified and elated and worried sick and intimidated and excited and in equal parts want to vomit and giggle. I know I swore up and down that my Disney race would be my only full. It was, for many reasons that I’ll not expound on here, a miserable experience, and then, for many reasons that I’ll also not expound on here, I decided to do another.

So I’m trying again.

And this. This I believe will be my biggest challenge of all. Physically, mentally, emotionally, this will be my biggest challenge. There will be plenty of other races, I’m sure (of course I am, as I’m already signed up for others), but this one is the big one.

Woah, this got rambly. Let me explain! No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

2. Healthy Living in 2015! More veggies! Fewer sweets!
3. Instagram and small changes! (Go sign up!!)
4. 2,015 (well, 1007.5) miles in 2015!
5. Marathon!

No matter what happens, 2015 is going to be a great year. I’m DETERMINED to make it a great year.

Happy New Year, my friends!

Back to What You Know

Five days ago I ran my fourth half marathon of the year. In this space, I’ve only spoken about one of them.

There are a lot of reasons I have kept quiet about them, and many of them really have nothing to do with running. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year, to say the least (hey guys, I’m married!), yet being busy was only part of it.

This was the year where I had to decide what the definition of “abject failure” was when it comes to running and where my line in the sand was. Talking about it (here, anyway….sorry, select friends who did have to hear about it) made it worse.

This was the year that I hit my breaking point. This was the year that I felt absolutely like a running failure, like I had no business even calling myself a runner. This was the year where 75% of my half marathons were the catalyst to second-guessing myself and physical pain. This was the year where 50% of my half marathons were finish lines I crossed with nothing but tears in my eyes and disdain for the sport in my head.

This was the year I ran my slowest half marathon ever as well as the worst race of my life, which incidentally were not the same races.

This was the year that if I hadn’t already been signed up for a fall half marathon, I’d have quit half marathons after April’s race.

And then there was Sunday. Perfectly temperatured, adequately fueled (guess who finally found a Gu flavor that doesn’t make her want to hurl?! Bless you, salted watermelon). It was a really good race, even if it wasn’t what I set out to do.

You know, maybe running isn’t so bad.

If this feels a bit disjointed, trust me, it’s far more eloquent than what’s been in my head.

This is why runners are insane. Because once you are a runner, you don’t just stop being one because you’ve had a rough year (or years, as the case may be). What do you do? You sign up for another race. And another one. And another. And you keep setting goals and learn how to bounce back if you don’t meet them.


You find training plans that work for you and running partners who you adore and you go out there on race day with nerves in the pit of your belly just like you had on the morning of that very first race. You make a decision to rededicate yourself to the sport more often than you buy new running shoes, which may or may not be a good thing.

It sounds cheesy, but you keep going and keep working and keep racing because deep down (sometimes so deep down you don’t believe it’s there) you love it.

Running is hard. It’s stupid and it’s challenging and it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring and it’s all of these millions of different things to each different runner, which makes it perfect. My running is not your running or Ange’s running or my mom’s running or anyone else’s running.

And that’s why I can’t quit. I can’t walk away from something so delightfully and explicitly MINE.

Because I am a runner. Because I will always be a runner.


By this point, if you’ve been on the internet, I’m sure you’ve heard about the shootings in Isla Vista, California. I’m sure you’ve heard of the reasons behind all this stemming from a man’s (and I use that word loosely) opinion that he was entitled to a girlfriend and attention from other women.

And hopefully by now you’ve heard of the hashtag on Twitter, #YesAllWomen.

There will be people who are able to and will speak about this movement, about this hashtag far better than I could. There will be those who are able to put words together to eloquently and adequately express just why this is important. I’ll leave that to them.

But I have to say something about this.

Because it is important. Because all women at one point of another have been on the receiving end of harassment, of judgment because of their gender, of gas-lighting from someone who thinks they’re reactions are “too emotional” and “probably due to that time of the month.”

What I feel is nothing new, it’s nothing unique. And yet it is still dismissed so easily by so many.

#YesAllWomen because my pre-dawn run on Tuesday was filled with anxiety and a conscious effort to not give 100% in case I needed to get away from someone.

#YesAllWomen because ignoring catcalls on the street somehow makes ME the bitch, makes ME the one in the wrong.

#YesAllWomen because I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I haven’t been raped.

#YesAllWomen because I don’t go running after dark unless my fiance is with me. Because I look every single man I pass in the face and note his clothing in case I need to identify someone later. Because I am uncomfortable running in just a sports bra in case someone feels it’s an invitation.

#YesAllWomen because I am terrified to have a daughter for fear of the type of world she’d have to grow up in.

#YesAllWomen because of the number of times I’ve been asked to “prove” how much of a fan I am of sports or my team or whatever just because I’m a girl.

#YesAllWomen because of the fact that I love kickboxing not just because of the workout, but because it taught me how to throw a good punch. Just in case.

#YesAllWomen because I have these “just in case”s.

#YesAllWomen because explanations of spending two years in a relationship with someone who so damaged me mentally and emotionally that I STILL, ten years later, find myself reacting strongly to certain things is still met with “Well, he was just young and stupid then” and “Why didn’t you just break up with him?”

#YesAllWomen because it shouldn’t be a surprise or unique to be with someone who validates every feeling I have.

#YesAllWomen because my no should be good enough and shouldn’t be an invitation to call me a bitch or try to persuade me to say yes. Because my engagement ring shouldn’t be more of a reason for someone to back off than just me saying “I’m not interested.”

#YesAllWomen because the “friend zone” is bullshit. Because I should never have to read about men I respect saying that being with a jerk boyfriend is a girl’s fault for having “friend-zoned” all the nice guys. Because a woman has the right to say no for whatever reason.

#YesAllWomen because no should always mean no.

#YesAllWomen because we are people too. We’re not just someone’s wife or mother or girlfriend or daughter or niece. We are people, and we’re worthy of respect. We should be able to feel safe at all times because we are human beings, not because we’re in some way related to a man.

I am tired of having to explain that my being a feminist does not mean I hate men, but that it means I would like to be seen as equal. I’d like to be seen as more than my physical attributes. I’d like to be seen as a successful scientist and a runner and a sports fan WITHOUT the label of “female” before it. Because it shouldn’t matter that I’m a woman.

I am tired of learning about the abuse, physical and mental, that my loved ones have been put through. I am tired of the implication that somehow they deserved it or were asking for it or were somehow at fault themselves.

I am tired of misogyny and tired of the attitude that as a woman I am somehow “lesser.”

I am just tired.


I’m Just a Girl

I mentioned last time that running and I are at an odd place, and it’s been that way since before the GO! half. It’s not like this is the first time it’s happened. I believe that’s very well documented right here.

This time is turning around differently though.

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to take part in the Girls on the Run 5k. The organization “[P]rovides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences.” To be honest, I’m surprised it took me so long to even run one. That’s a philosophy I can absolutely support.


Admittedly, the reason that I ran this race was because a 5k fit into my training plan for Ragnar, and the start line was six blocks from my apartment. It’s very difficult to not run races that close to my apartment (bonus of living downtown).

And yet this race became my favorite race.

You see, these girls of all colors from all walks of life showed up on that bright and sunny Saturday morning for the same reason. To run. To finish what they’d been working so hard towards. To prove to themselves and everyone else that “Can’t” wasn’t an option.

The words I heard the most along the race course were “Finish Strong.” Not “fast.” Not “before everyone else.” Strong.

That’s what running’s all about, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what LIFE is all about.

Running with these girls and parents and coaches and siblings and the general public just out to support them has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It was precisely the reminder that I needed for why I go out and put my muscles and my body through hell and back.

When the coach running beside me mentioned to her girl, “It’s just a hill, we’ll go steady all the way to the top,” it was a reminder that so much of this is mental. So many times it’s not a body shutting down but a mental refusal to go any further. I needed that reminder that sometimes the difficulty of a race is all in my head. I can get to the top. I can make it further than I ever thought. With Ragnar less than a month away, holy moly I needed that.

There were the parents holding on to the hands of their daughters as the girls got tired, as the race became more difficult. It was a reminder that even though I’m an adult myself, there will always be a parent there to support me through the hard times and hold my hand if I need it.

The finish line was packed on both sides with supporters, almost more than were at the finish line of the last half marathon. Sometimes even strangers can be proud of you. If someone who doesn’t even know you can be proud of you, you can absolutely be proud of yourself.

And then there were the two girls who couldn’t have been more than ten. One was hurt somehow, limping a little bit, yet the finish line was only a tenth of a mile away. The friend had her arm around her, speaking words of encouragement into her ear. “You can do it, we’re almost there. I know it hurts, but just a little farther.” If I wasn’t already choked up that close to the finish line (I was), this did me in entirely. Sometimes you need a reminder that things can be hard, and you can be hurting, but if you’re lucky you’ll have a friend who will push you to your limits and be there for you every step of the way. Or at least make you actually run the last mile of the longest half marathon of your life.

Walking away from that finish line, away from the continuous cheers of support and the smiles of pride on the faces of the girls, I found myself reinvigorated. This was everything I needed to get out of my funk.

Yes, sometimes running is hard, but it is worth it. It is worth it to have a sense of pride in yourself, to have a healthy outlet for stress and frustration.

It is worth the aches and pains and blisters and on some days flat out exhaustion.

It is worth it to feel like we can do whatever we set our minds to.

It is worth it to feel strong. To finish strong.

To be strong.

To be a girl on the run.

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Well. It’s been a little while. I’ll admit, my desire to write much of anything, let alone anything about running, has been virtually nonexistent lately (unless of course you’re the recipient of some of my more long-winded emails, in which case, sorry I’m not sorry).

I have been having a LOT of feelings about running lately, and there have been some less than awesome ones in there.

Pretty sure my wonderful friend Ange figured that out, and as she tends to do, she’s pushing me. This time by nominating me for a blog award (I’ll avoid an extended commentary on the irony of nominating a blog for an award when that blogger doesn’t really write much).


So, here we are. Apparently I have questions to answer. However, I will not be adding my own questions or nominations at the end because I’m a rebel like that. Heh.

Let’s get to it.

1. Tell me about your favourite non-running activity.
Reading. I have always really loved reading, always loved getting lost in someone else’s life/universe. I recently finished the fifth Game of Thrones, and I’ve taken a step back from heavy reading (tossed in the Divergent series, because it was easy and quick). I always love new books, and as much as I love my Kindle, there is something very special and comforting to me in the act of picking up an actual book. Do you have any recommendations?

2. What is your favourite animal and why?
You’d think this would be an easy question, but really it’s not. I took Mammalogy, Herpetology, and Behavioural Ecology in college, and it was just FASCINATING to learn about stuff like that. So I guess I’ll just take the easy way out and say sharks. Mostly because of this clips like this.

3. Are you loyal to running brands or do you switch it up?
If you’d have asked me this a year ago, I’d have sworn up and down about how awesome Asics are. And then I ran a marathon. And then I had IT band issues for a full year. And then I got fitted into some Brooks (the same brand I’d sworn off years ago) which meant I had no more IT band pain. And now you are speaking to a convert. If changing up brands of shoes every now and then will keep me from having to deal with that ever again, then you can count me on the “Switches it up” side of things.

4. What is your dream for your blog?
To actually, you know, write more on it. Or at least do more than open a post and stare at the blank window.

5. What are your goal races in 1 year, 2 years, and 5 years from now?
One year–I have some thoughts and ideas on this one, but I’m going to be keeping this one to myself for a while. I found that writing about upcoming races as intently as I have done in the past psychs me out, and with this one, I really don’t want to do that. So, I’ll tell you in a year what I’ve done.

Two years–I’d like to do a Ragnar with my family in the next couple years. My aunt Melissa and I have talked and talked and talked about it, and now with Ragnar one month from today (!!!!) I’m reminded again that talking won’t get you out the door. My aunt Julie has an IronMan that she’ll be running next year, so we’ll see how feasible this is, but it’s on my radar.

Five years–Any race in Canada. Ange has and will come down to the states a few times in the next couple years, and I would very much like to return the favor. Before this year’s registration snafu, I’d have said SeaWheeze, but now I’m not so sure. Either way, a Canadian half marathon sounds pretty excellent.

6. If you didn’t run, what would you do?
Eat Oreos and take naps.

7. Tell me about your dream vacation.
I want to go to Italy. I want to have conversations with my fiance (husband by then, I’m sure) over glasses of wine overlooking vineyards in Tuscany. I want to explore Rome and all it has to offer in the ways of art, history, and architecture. I want to speak in broken (probably) Italian because the language is so beautiful, and I want to know it. I want to walk along the waterfront in Venice and find the place where my future aunt-in-law took a picture of a curved building. I want to taste for myself the differences between northern and southern Italian cooking. I want to hold hands and kiss and wade in the Mediterranean Sea during a sunset.

8. What is your favourite “get pumped” running song?
Hey Ya! by Outkast.

9. What is your favourite running product?
My shoes. See earlier: no IT band pain.

10. What is your favourite post-race meal or treat?
Strawberries and cottage cheese or yogurt and granola. With almond milk. Always almond milk.


So there you have it. My answers. If you feel the need to answer the same questions, do so. Otherwise, and unrelated (well, kind of. Technically it’s related to EVERYTHING), read this:

Katie is the sister of a very good friend of mine, and I loved every single word in this post. Every. Single. One.

Thank you, Katie, for the reminder.

Meet me in St Louie

Every once in a while it’s really nice to get a reminder that you live where you do for a reason. Or in my case, a lot of reasons.

St Louis has its problems, for sure. Racism, classism, neighborhoods crumbling to the ground, violence, etc.

But it has redeeming qualities. Enough to make me not want to leave here. I love this place. It is home.


The Nature of Reality


It has been nine days since the Disney half marathon. Like clockwork, 8-10 days after every race I’ve run, I end up revisiting all that I have planned when it comes to races and training schedules and goals for what’s coming up. This time around is no different.

The reason I like to do this is that it forces me to be completely honest with myself (and any potential running partners) about where I am and where I’d like to be. Sometimes I’m overzealous, which can then backfire, so I’m trying to be as straightforward as possible. It just so happens that this time around is a bit painful to admit.

You see, this winter has not been kind to me (or anyone, really), and my running and training have both suffered from it. This is absolutely my own fault, I am aware, and that hurts. However, at this point there’s no reason to keep beating myself up about it (and I’ll make sure to come back and read that line the next time I’m feeling down).

This is the time when I have to be realistic. I had a goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon on April 6. My training is not where it should be to run that. It just isn’t. It sucks, but it’s ok. Grand plans in October end up distant dreams by March. It happens, and has happened before more than once. Pretty sure Ange and I swore off winter races during the Disney races (and then promptly agreed to another the day we both got home….because of course we did).

I feel like I can attribute a lot of my nonchalance about knocking this goal down to the Disney weekend. I had a lot of stress going into that one, and a lot of concern about having a horrible race and disappointing my running partner (despite countless reassurances that it would be fine). And then? It really was fine! Even though we stopped multiple times for pictures and walked a bunch and crossed the finish line at least an hour slower than either of us had ever done so before.

It was all ok.

Not running a sub-2 in four and a half weeks will be ok. Making sure I enjoy this race as well as stay healthy enough to keep running and be set for Ragnar is ok. Getting back into a habit (come on, warmer weather and Daylight Saving Time!) and enjoying the process is ok.

Completely scrapping my training plan and building a new one is ok. Actually, it’s better than ok. I’ll admit it. I love building training plans (calendars are where my Type A-ness is most readily apparent). Following them may be something I have struggled with for the last year, but man, building them certainly makes me happy.

It really will all be ok.