“My Pittsburgh Marathon Story : Through The Years.”

My running journey began in 2010 as a simple weight loss goal but, by 2011, had transformed into my passion. As I began to expand my physical ability beyond the basic 5K races and hour long training runs, I started to consider the possibility of running the half marathon in Pittsburgh. My proposal of this inspired a few others in a local running group to work toward this goal as well. In the meantime, however, I became sidetracked by a promotion at work which took up almost all of my time and energy for the next nine months.

On the morning of May 6, 2012, I awoke to see the half marathon posts and finish line photos from all these inspiring women who had taken my idea and run with it (LITERALLY) sticking to their plans and goals and finishing the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I have never felt so down on myself as I did that day. I had always been a self-motivated, self-disciplined person who stuck to and achieved every goal that I’d ever set for myself; but, this time, I had failed. I laced up my shoes that day and went for a run. Nearly 4 miles. It was hard. It hurt. I nearly threw up. I had lost so much of of my previously earned progress, but I vowed to NEVER let myself down like that again!

In 2013, I made my comeback. I ran my first half marathon in Pittsburgh! I was nervous and alone, but quickly fell in step beside a marathoner from South Dakota, Dean Hjelden (sorry, no photo) and, with the help of his company and coaching, eased into a respectable first time pace.

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2013 – 2:06:57)

In 2014, I returned with confidence and a friend, Cherish McCartney, as we both set out to complete our very first full marathon along the streets of Pittsburgh.

(Pittsburgh Marathon 2014 – 4:37:36)

In 2015, I returned with the help of Herb Cratty to achieve my very first “fast paced”, sub-2 hour half marathon.

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2015 – 1:59:55)

In 2016, I had hoped to achieve a sub-4:30 full marathon but had run my first ultramarathon (31+miles) two months prior to race day and wound up treating tendinitis in my ankle. I opted to transfer down to the half marathon and ran an incredibly fun race with Hilary Smilek as #MavAndGoose – complete with rum soaked gummy worms, cupcakes, and beer!

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 – 2:30:28)

Upon completion of our race, I was honored to return to the course at the 26th Mile mark and run the final .20 with my good friend, Joe (aka “The RocketMan”) as he secured, yet another, Boston Qualifying marathon performance!

In 2017, I trained hard and smart, and made my full marathon comeback with a self-satisfying PR. I did not do this alone, however. Cherish was there, again, to run me (smartly) through the first 10 miles of my race, and to meet me again at Mile 25 to run me (fast and strong) to the finish line.

(*To read my full race experience, see blog post “Mile 9: Pittsburgh Marathon 2017-“4:27:56”.)

(Pittsburgh Marathon 2017 – 4:27:56)

Truth be told, I could not have done it without her!

In 2018, I had hoped to run another fast half marathon PR with my friend and Coach, Shep, but “life” took a very difficult and trying turn for us both with the loss of my parents in a car crash and the loss of his wife following a medical procedure. We kept running and did the best that we could, but things do not always go as planned. So when Shep told me he had to withdraw from the race due to a calf strain, I reached out to Cherish again. I was pleased to find that she and I were in the same boat- running the race alone and with no set goal in mind. We were simply looking to find the “fire” that Pittsburgh always has a way of sparking inside each and every one of us to keep running towards bigger and better things.

We took to the streets of our beloved Steel City and ran for the pure joy of it all. Some solid running, a few pauses for photos ops and, of course, the South Side’s notorious rum soaked gummy worms at Mile 10! 😛

(*For full details of this race experience, please read previous blog post entitled : “Mile 23: “Choose Discipline”.)

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2018, 2:09:15)

In 2019, I was still dealing with alot personally and now professionally, as well. I was struggling to find meaning in my running/racing and was contemplating hanging up my Asics for good. I decided to, once again, forget all about time, pace, my dreams of qualifying for Boston, and JUST RUN. My friends, Sara and Dawn, were dealing with some difficulties of their own and none of us were particularly looking to “race” anything. We decided to team up together and I made it my mission to give these incredible ladies the BEST run around Pittsburgh that any of us have ever had! (Fully equipped with party favors, props, flags, gifts for the volunteers and supporters in the crowd, photos/videos, alcoholic “fluid stations”, and several tasks/challenges to be completed throughout the course.🤗)

I don’t even know our official finish time! It didn’t mattered to any us so we never looked it up. It was the most fun we’ve ever had at a long distance event and, to this day, I simply say that we “got the most out of our registration fee” that year.😂

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2019 – “PRICELESS!”
Held on Cinco De Mayo 🍹

(*For the full account of this epic race experience, please read my previous blog entitled: “I Am Resilient.”)

This year, 2020, I had registered for the full marathon and was on track to run my strongest & fastest race ever, potentially qualifying for the Boston Marathon. But, like all other runners, have been stopped short, as the world continues to battle Covid-19.

One by one, each and every 2020 race event I have registered for has been cancelled or postponed.

It is quite possible that NO large race events will take place for the remainder of this year.

Is it heartbreaking? Yes.

But is it necessary? Absolutely.

And it’s a small price to pay if it helps to reduce the number of lives lost to this viral killer amongst us.

So while it is difficult not to mourn what could have been on this first Sunday of May (always Pittsburgh Marathon Day) I, ultimately, choose to be happy, grateful for my health, and thankful for my ability to keep running – even if it’s alone, even if it’s untimed, even if it’s “off the record”.

Even if it isn’t for “Boston”…but simply for the love of the run. ♥️🏃🏽‍♀️💨

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“Today Was A Good Day!”

When my alarm went off this morning, I had no idea that it was going to be a good day.

I knew I was tired and just “didn’t wanna” – so I hit the “snooze” button and went back to sleep.

Nine minutes later, I pulled myself out of my comfy bed and went through the motions of the day.

When I experience days like this, I have to pull myself together and tell myself to focus on ONE THING AT A TIME. Just this moment. Just this breath. Just this one step, one task at a time.

Fast forward a few hours and I was wide awake and truly LIVING! (Strange as it is to say it that way, considering our current “pandemic” situation.) But this is what happens when you focus your attention only on the present moment.

You forget the past and stop worrying about the future. Instead, you simply BE.

Right here. Right now. In this moment.

You stop worrying about what to say or how it will be perceived. You trust yourself, in all your authenticity, to simply be YOU and find that you are received with open arms into the world around you. Because when the energy is positive and the motive is pure, how can it possibly be perceived as anything less than what it is? Genuine and loving.

Sometimes you don’t even know you’re “there” until you’re “here”. When all the “noise” in the world and in your mind settles and all of the sudden you see clearer, hear crisper, and feel everything around you. That’s when you know.

I am still learning and sometimes I struggle to put it into practice (out of fear of being perceived incorrectly) but, as my favorite female elite runner Des Linden says, “Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: KEEP SHOWING UP!” .

*This quote was, obviously, made about running – but the truth of it is strong enough to impact any/all areas of life and, therefore, can be applied towards anything in this life that you choose to strive for.

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“2020 : A Year of Becoming.”

Today was the day I was to make my first official Boston Qualifying marathon attempt…and, for the first time in my running life, I legitimately had a chance to succeed. Once again, however, “things don’t always go as planned”, and this global pandemic that we are all facing has forced nearly all in person race events to be cancelled for the foreseeable future.

It’s hard not to feel discouraged at times. And TODAY it is hard not to mourn what could have been.

I’ve always been one to look for the bigger picture though so I am choosing to not lose heart. The world needs this time to recover and the lives and health of the people in this world are so much more important than any footrace! In time, I know that we will race again, so I am looking at this time as more of a blessing than a curse. In my eyes, I’ve just received a precious gift: a chance to have a “do-over”; an entire year to become stronger. You see, I may have had the chance to run my BQ today, but it was certainly not going to be easy. In fact, it was going to be a a hard reach and, if I succeeded, it was certainly going to be very close…perhaps TOO close. My biggest fear in the final weeks of training was that every workout was becoming a stretch. There were several workouts where I came close, but still fell short of performing according to plan. Whether the challenge was, in fact, physical or merely mental doesn’t really matter much. When it comes to qualifying for Boston, EVERY SECOND COUNTS. I would much rather miss my qualifying time by 10 minutes than 10 seconds!

So here we are, nearly five months into the 2020 race year, and every organized event (including the majority of the six world marathon majors!) have made changes to cancel and/or postpone. It is uncertain if anyone will have the opportunity to officially race this year but, rather than use this as an excuse to give it all up, to become complacent or lazy, I am choosing to take advantage of this time by taking a step back; allowing my body to recover, my mind to recharge, and teach myself to train a little bit differently. I’m taking my time and repeating the process; embracing not just the monumental, but also the minuscule moments of progress, growth, and change. Every step forward is one step closer to my goal. What a shame it would be for the restrictions upon this world to be lifted, allowing race events to resume and, at that time, find myself regressed so far that I cannot perform in a way that would make myself proud. Therefore, the only “failure” for me this year would be to stop chasing my dream altogether. Right now, the inability to “officially” race is out of my hands. But the will to keep moving forward will always be within my control.

They say that times of crisis always reveal a person’s true character. This year has been and could continue to be the most trying time for us all. But, the way I see it, there is a blessing amongst this curse. We have all been given the chance to strip life down to the basics, the necessities, the things that truly matter the most to us. For me, that will always include inner strength. My running is what cultivates that strength; my ability to persevere. In order to remain strong, mentally and physically, I must keep running. If, athletically, I accomplish nothing else in 2020, I will still consider the year to be a success if I can simply continue to become strong.

✨BOSTON STRONG.✨

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

Coronavirus 2020: “What this time has taught me.”

The luxury of sleeping in. The value of a routine.

The peacefulness of silence. The comfort found in a good conversation.

The freedom of not following a plan. The laziness that comes from having no direction.

The perceived hopelessness of a “down” day while in “isolation”. The power of picking yourself back up with no help from the outside world.

The fear of not knowing. The faith of trusting the process.

The simplicity of stripping life down to the essentials. The privilege of the “extras” which we seem to have taken for granted.

The comfort of staying home. The excitement of travel.

The generosity of a stranger. The gratitude of receiving.

The joy of helping others. The pleasure in “paying it forward”.

The beauty of quieting the noise of the world. The music that can be heard in a walk outdoors.

The questions that only I can ask myself. The answers that only I can define.

The magnitude of a challenge. The satisfaction of rising up to it.

The realization that “Life” has repeatedly knocked me down…but I am resilient enough to stand back up.

Every. Damn. Time.

Times of crisis always reveal a person’s true character. It’s not your job to judge another. It is your responsibility to be honest with yourself. Remove the filter. Abandon the facade. Look in the mirror and be honest about what you see. The ability to change is in your hands. The choice to do so is completely up to you. The effects of what you decide can help (or hurt) the world in which we all live.

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“Lessons in Letting Go.”

It’s crazy to think that just a few weeks ago, the world looked so different; or perhaps I was just oblivious, considering I rarely watch the news or browse mindlessly on social media. I knew of the Coronavirus outbreak and saw the care being taken to plan and prepare for a potential pandemic, but I did not dwell on it or delve into the details, as (luckily, for me) this is no longer my primary field of work. But as this virus gained momentum, the whole world began to take note and adjust accordingly. Race events postponed or cancelled. Offices and “nonessential” businesses began to cancel appointments and shutdown. Social distancing and self-isolation became a “thing”.

Truth be told, I’ve always considered myself a bit of a “Pro” at this behavior because, while I enjoy interacting with people and encouraging, inspiring, or building them up, I oftentimes find myself drained by too much social interaction and require quite a bit of time alone to “recharge”.

Training for marathons has always helped me find that time for myself. (Not too many people are wanting to tag along for runs lasting hours long or for speed intervals that literally make you puke.) But when my goal races cancelled, just 6 weeks away from my next event, I cannot lie, I had a mini-meltdown. And when the Boston Athletic Association made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s Boston Marathon, the potential impact for next year’s qualifying standards were palpable.

This was the moment when my life stood still, stopped in its tracks. All that time, all that effort, all those workouts I didn’t think that I could do but found a way to get done… were they all for nothing?

But, when the fate and future of all humankind becomes uncertain, the pursuits of such athletic achievements pale in comparison and suddenly feel trivial and selfish.

Panic began to rise up in my chest. Fears of the past echoing out my name. All those times I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. All those days that lacing up my shoes felt pointless. The feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness and the bitter taste of sadness, guilt, and regret.

It was BOSTON that got me through…wasn’t it?

Chasing that elusive “unicorn” to better days and faster race times. This was what brought me back to life in that period where “death” was a more peaceful state of being than my own mind was at the time. There I was, back on my feet, chasing a dream that was, finally, within my reach. Just six more weeks and the possibility was very real that I could achieve it; or come so close as to know that it could be done by the end of summer.

And just like that; it was all over.

Postponed.

Cancelled.

The world stopped in its tracks; and so did I.

Truth be told, it was about a week before I ran again. But the thought finally occurred to me: I don’t need “Boston” to tell me I’m “good enough”.

If the world never fully recovers and races never resume, would I not still run?

OF COURSE I WOULD!

I am a RUNNER, it’s what I do! And I love doing it!

So WHY was I pushing myself so hard and placing all of my confidence and self-worth in the hands of an “association” that doesn’t even know my name, let alone who I am, as a person?

Is not the real value of our training the physical benefits of being fit, healthy, and capable of enduring the time, distance, and/or pace of what we consider our “play”?

As a kid, did you not wake up every morning, chomping at the bit to go outside and “play”?

Did you not “play” for as long and as hard as you were allowed?

So at what point did I place so much “value” on the Boston Marathon that I let it dictate if and when and how I “play”?

The answer doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that I am now realizing that “Boston”, while a very prestigious event and incredible honor to achieve, is merely just that – simply, an event.

Like opting in to a game of “Chase” or “Rundown” as a child. Sure, you have to run fast enough to get in. But not everyone who runs “fast enough” CHOOSES to go run Boston.

Does that make them any less of a runner?

Not in my opinion.

In fact, there are many runners who are fitter, faster, and stronger than any Boston Qualifying time.

In the current state of this world, I am taking advantage of some of my “downtime” to read several books written by such runners. Ultramarathoners who have used their running to overcome some very difficult stages of their lives and have progressed to the point of completing and/or competing in race events much more challenging than a 26.2 mile road race.

One thing I have noticed that they all have in common is an inner peace and mental strength far greater than anything that I have ever experienced.

THIS is what I seek.

This is what I have been searching for my entire adult life.

This is what I have caught glimpses of on many of my “untracked”, “unplanned”, “unregulated” runs.

Runs where I allowed myself to just enjoy the act of running; when I ran simply “for the love of the run”!

Call it “mediation”, call it “mindfulness”, call it whatever you’d like; but when you let go of what “was” or what “should be” and simply embrace what IS, you will feel it.

And the more you feel it, the more it will set you free.

Who knew that “Letting Go” could be such a beautiful thing?

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

⚠️Spoiler Alert : WE ALL DIE IN THE END.

I’ve been wondering why this whole #Coronavirus2020😷 hasn’t scared me.
On the contrary, I’ve become more calm, peaceful, and at ease. 🧘🏻‍♀️


I believe it has to do with what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and all that I’ve seen working as a Paramedic for most of my life, as well as, the things I have felt, experienced, and somehow survived these past 2 & 1/2 years.

Prior to losing my parents, I felt so much pride in my profession.
It was an honor and a privilege to serve the public and I truly believed we saved lives.

After losing my parents, my views on life, death, and everything in between completely changed.
I realized that the majority of the time we really didn’t SAVE many lives but, rather, prolonged an inevitable death…and, in many cases, added to the pain and misery with which it ultimately concluded.
Day to day “problems” and stressors seemed to pale in comparison to the very real fragility of this life which we all too often take for granted.

It was in this very dark time that I lost my connection with many things – including my role as a Paramedic and my connection with many people that simply could not understand my thought process regarding life and death and what REALLY matters in this world.
Perhaps because they did not share my feelings and experiences or because I withdrew from most everyone and everything as I attempted to sort it all out in my own head.

To this day, I still struggle with truly connecting with people and understanding the passions and “purpose” to which some people cling to.
Oftentimes I struggle to conform and/or fit in and that used to bother me…but not any more.
It’s not that I “have all the answers” because I most certainly do not.
But, in this time of “social distancing” and taking care of what REALLY matters – myself & my family- I have finally felt 💯 at peace for the first time in my whole life.

This is what I know for sure:

You can not change the past – no matter how long you stand still, looking back, feeling sadness, guilt, or regret.

You can not predict the future – no matter how meticulously you calculate, plot, plan, or prepare.

The only thing you can control is yourself and how you choose to perceive your current circumstances and surroundings.

You see, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how much money you make, or how big of a house you live in.
What matters most in this life (the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS in this life) is THIS VERY MOMENT.
Right here.
Right now.
And how you choose to experience it.

I choose peace.
☯️🤍🧘🏻‍♀️🤍☯️

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“Coronavirus 2020: Lessons Learned in Isolation”

Pt. I :

If your struggle is with the world,

this will feel like “Heaven”.

If your struggle is with yourself,

this will feel like “Hell”.

What you discover might surprise you.

Pt. 2 :

I wish for you “Heaven”.

But should you find yourself facing the flames of “Hell”,

I wish for you strength –

to withstand your storm and emerge, peacefully, on the other side;

Knowing

that you are better for this.

Pt. 3 :

Always remember :

“Pain is inevitable : suffering is optional.” – Hakuri Murakami

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

Philadelphia Marathon: “3:57:05”

It’s been almost three weeks since I ran the Philadelphia Marathon, PR’ing the 26.2 mile distance by nearly 31 minutes.

I must admit, it hardly feels real.

Yet, it’s a fact. Plain as day, in black and white.

Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows how hard it is to race this distance. Anyone who has ever run it again knows how hard it is to PR by just a few seconds or minutes, let alone a half hour!

I am by no means a competitive athlete. This ginormous personal record still has me tucked tightly in the middle of the pack when it comes to the race field, as a whole. But that does not matter to me. My goals are personal; and my PR at this race means more to me than if I had been the winner of the race, itself. Alot of blood, sweat, and tears went into achieving this finish time. (Literally and figuratively!) It reminds me of a quote I read a few years ago :

It is not the level of achievement or the numbers attached to a PR. It is the size of our hearts. It is what we do in those moments when all hope seems lost and we are confronted with a choice to give up or to keep trying. It is what we learn about ourselves through those dire circumstances that gives us the courage and strength to conquer the other challenges and hills in our lives.”

– Adam Goucher

I think back to that day in Philly and, while I cannot be more proud of the end result, I still see room for improvement as I prepare to move forward and enter another marathon training cycle.

I had trained harder (in the beginning weeks) than I ever had before. I was following the Hanson’s Marathon Method but, about 8-10 weeks in, the cumulative fatigue the program is designed to cause (along with a busy work schedule) took its toll. I broke down and took a few days off, followed by several easy days, and converted my training plan back over to the Runner’s World Break 4:00 program which I had been attempting to master for the past several years.

At this point, mentally, I was losing hope. I was not feeling confident in myself or my running/racing abilities. I have never been one to give up, however, and I have never not finished what I’ve started. So I simply kept going. If I hit the set training paces? Great. If I didn’t? I came as close as I physically could in that moment and immediately moved on. I chose not to think about it or dwell on it. When I arrived at a race and friends asked me what I was planning to run my response was always the same : “Whatever my best is for today.”, and I did. In doing so, I finished every single race event feeling proud of what I had run…and the results were always better than I had expected, with many of them resulting in new PR’s and awards for myself.

A few days prior to Philly, I reached out to my friend, Joe, asking him what pace he planned to run for the marathon. When he told me his plan, I was surprised to feel that I could potentially run with him; I just wasn’t sure for how long? Regardless, we planned to try.

As we lined up in our corral, the cold wind and rain chilled us all, but the excitement was palpable amongst the field of 24,000 runners.

It took us over 20 minutes to reach the START and count down to the beginning of our wave; but then, finally, we were off.

The pace felt easy and I hoped that it would stay this way. Before we even reached the 1 mile mark though, Joe took a hard right off course and stopped at a porta potty. I spun around in the street for several seconds, cursing under my breath.

What do I do?! What do I do?! Do I wait?! Do I go?! I don’t know! We didn’t discuss or plan for this!

So I ran.

Joe is a strong runner, a very experienced marathoner. We call him “The Rocketman”. There was no doubt in my mind that Joe could catch up to me. My biggest fear this day was the point in the race when I could no longer keep up with him, so I did not want to lose any time now.

I zoned in.

I ran how I have run every race event this year, based on feel. A comfortable, easy, steady effort that did not tax my breathing into a controlled rhythm.

The miles ticked by.

My pace was strong and tracking updates notified me of my estimated finish time; approximately 3:47:xx. I was ecstatic but kept telling myself not to get too excited; the race is long and the hardest miles are still hours away.

The scenery along the course in Philly is phenomenal with so many beautiful city streets, murals, and historical statues, monuments, and buildings to see along the way. The crowd support was fantastic; the music, the noise, the race signs. I was frustrated only by the need to weave so frequently, as the field of athletes was quite large and there were several miles in this race where it was hard to move at all, running shoulder to shoulder with other participants.

At Mile 6, I was scanning the crowd lined streets in search of my husband. To this day, I still don’t know how I spotted him so easily, but I did, and I made my way across the course toward him, hopping the curb and tapping his shoulder as I ran by. It was at this moment, jumping back off that curb, that I realized exactly how fast I was running : 7:35/mi !!!

“Don’t get too excited.” I told myself, “There’s still 20 miles left to run.” (But, damn, it sure felt good!)

Miles 8-10+, we faced some serious hills.

But at Mile 14, received a “power up” hug by my running icon, Meb Keflezighi, himself.

Around Mile 16, I desperately needed a pit stop. I spotted a cluster of porta potties and jumped in line behind 4 other runners. While waiting, I continued to scan the crowd of people running the course. I still had not seen Joe.

2 minutes passed.

The bathroom line had not budged.

I became too anxious and stepped out of line. I took off running again, this time, scanning any possibility of using a “facili-tree” along the course. We were running along a river at this point and I spotted my opportunity by a cluster of bushes next to a building. I took it and was back on course, running, less than a minute or two later.

Miles 17-18, the crowds grew silent between cheer stations. The runners began to struggle. The wind and rain picked up. I had Katy Perry’s song “Hot And Cold” echoing in my mind as I put my gloves on to warm up my hands, only to rip them off minutes later because I was too warm.

“You’re hot then you’re cold.
You’re yes then you’re no.
You’re in then you’re out.
You’re up then you’re down.”

This pattern repeated continuously through this entire race.

Yes, this is how my mind works…and it amused me for miles, interrupted only by the periodic “cheers” erupting from my phone, tucked in the back of my running vest, as my friends back home tracked my pace and progress along the course.

“Eye Of The Tiger” played out and runners behind me LOVED it!!!

I’m still not sure which of my friends followed it up with the munchkins from “The Wizard Of Oz” singing “Follow The Yellow Brick Road”, but it made me (and several other runners) laugh.

Mile 19 – I was still cruising along, but starting to feel tight in the hips. I still hadn’t seen Joe, but I catch a glimpse of my friend, Ryan. I moved over and slid up next to him, grabbed his arm, and said Hello. I was surprised how quickly I ran by, my legs still firing at a pace I’ve never known this late in a marathon. Ryan called out some encouragement, telling me that we were almost to the turnaround and it powered me through.

Mile 20 – I saw it. The newest mural in Philly, dedicated to the Marathon itself, unveiled just days before. It was beautiful. We were now entering Manayunk, very similar to Pittsburgh’s South Side. Crowds, bands, bars, and beer EVERYWHERE! Yes, even at aid stations for runners. I passed on the beer but gratefully accepted an orange slice…discovering, moments later, as I sucked down the juice from it, that I had been handed a LEMON slice! Thankfully, another station was just ahead (after the sharpest, most awkward turnaround point in marathon history) and they handed me a LEGIT orange slice.

I was now well on my way running the homestretch – the final 6 miles – back towards the Philadelphia Museum Of Art.

I was scanning the faces amongst the crowd of runners still on their way towards Manayunk, looking for Joe, when I spotted him!

Head down, struggling.

My estimate was that he was approximately 2 miles behind me at this point – too far behind for me to wait – and I so desperately wanted to be DONE already.

I’m struggling to write the remaining miles of this race because remembering it is so unclear.

My mind literally zoned OUT when my body entered “the pain cave” portion of this race.

Fueling was, as always, a bit of a struggle for me and by Mile 22 or 23 I was, again, in search of an available bathroom. The lines for the porta potties were long and I was acutely aware of the loss of time threatening to take away my sub-4 hour marathon goal.

I spotted a gas station up ahead, a block off the course route. I picked up my pace and ran for it.

A man was stepping out of the restroom and saw me running up. He held the door and I ran right in. On my way back onto the course, I slipped coming off a curb. The paint was slick from the rain. I came down hard on my arm, cracking my Garmin. It shut down. I thought it was broken. A bystander helped me up, brushed me off, and I took off running again. I was tired, dizzy, a little delirious…and now, I was angry too. My mind was buzzing with the stress of not knowing where I was, how fast I was running, and no longer having cheers, music, or the tracking alerts telling me that I was still okay and on pace to succeed.

My stomach churned. My ears were ringing. My vision was blurry. I thought I might throw up. Or worse. 

I ran harder, desperate for another pit stop yet seeing none.

I made a split decision to jump the fencing along the left side of the course near a line of trees, following it up to the top of a hill, and found a secluded spot where I could stop.

Upon returning to the course, climbing back over the same fence, my Honey came running up to me asking what I was doing. I broke down in tears and told him I was sick. “I’m done!”, I remember saying.

“What do you mean you’re done? The Finish Line is right there!”, he said, hugging me.

WHAT?!

Where am I???

He pointed to the top of the hill in front of us. “You’re almost done! Keep running. I’ll meet you at the Finish.”, and he pushed me away.

So I ran.

And that’s when I heard it.

The voice of the announcer, calling out the runner’s names.

The celebration going on in the surrounding tents.

The roar of the crowds along the fence line.

The music, blaring the ROCKY fight song:

“Trying hard now
It’s so hard now
Trying hard now

Getting strong now
Won’t be long now
Getting strong now

Gonna fly now
Flying high now
Gonna fly, fly, fly.

I ran harder than I’ve ever run before across a Finish Line and I heard the announcer calling out MY name.

The clock read 4:19:xx.

Damn.

But wait… when I started, didn’t the clock say 00:21:xx???

A man placed a medal around my neck and hugged me like he knew me. He did not know my official finish time.

I pulled out my phone and realized the charging case I placed it in was never turned on, therefore my battery had died. I turned it on and powered on my phone. The rain was pouring down now and I was soaked and cold, walking through hundreds of people, searching for my husband.

Messages began to flood my phone.

Shep sent me a text: “Congratulations, you did it!”, as did another friend.

I texted them both back, asking what I did.

They responded with: “3:57:05”!!!

I, immediately, came alive and was hyper aware of everything around me. The festivities, the music…YES!!! The Music!!! “The Rolling Stones” were playing and the lyrics were perfect for this precise moment : “You can’t always get what you want. but, if you try sometimes, you just might find – you get what you need!”

As I look back now, it’s amazing how one race can change an entire mindset. I’ve spent the last few years believing the odds were stacked against me and that “Boston” was, in reality, too far away for me to actually achieve.

But, thanks to the Philadelphia Marathon, I now confidently say and firmly believe that:

“Boston is now just 17 minutes away.”

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“Lose Yourself…”

🎶 “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment, would you capture it? Or just let it slip?”🎶

I fly out tomorrow for the:

I should be packing right now but anyone that knows me knows how much I hate packing so… I’m writing this blog instead.

The pre-race jitters have given way to the skin tingling feel of endless possibilities.

I get it now.

The body will only go as far as the mind says that it can.

🎶 “You better lose yourself in the music. The moment, you own it! You better never let it go! You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow; this opportunity comes once in a lifetime!”🎶

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way through years worth of time spend running, racing, and training; friendships forged through the coaching of miles, paces, and races… and parting ways or losing touch due to busy lives and feet moving in different directions. But it all comes back to one thing, one connecting force, that always brings us back – the run, itself.

In 2017, I PR’d the Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 4:27:56. You may even remember this, if you’ve followed my blog that long? I had spent that training cycle listening to and incorporating the wisdom of my friend Joe, aka: “The RocketMan”.

He and I had planned to run that entire race together but, as the time grew closer, I began to panic. Joe kept pushing for more and better race goals and my mind was filled with doubt.

Those doubts gave way to fear and, shortly thereafter, my fear became panic.

As raceday approached, Joe rightly and politely removed himself from me to go out and run his own race.

I employed the help of a friend in getting through the first half of the race and then continued on into the second half alone.

I PR’d the race that day by over 10 minutes but, looking back now, was it truly the best I could have done?

I don’t know.

But, reflecting back on my past 6 months of running and racing, what I do know is this:

THE BODY WILL ONLY GO AS FAR AS THE MIND SAYS THAT IT CAN.

So isn’t it funny how, at 7 am on Sunday morning, Joe and I will be together again, lined up, side by side, at the START line of the 2019 Philadelphia Marathon…but, this time, I truly believe that ANYTHING is possible.

🎶 “So here I go, it’s my shot! Feet, fail me not! This may be the only opportunity that I got! You better lose yourself in the music. The moment, you own it! You better never let it go! You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow! This opportunity comes once in a lifetime!

You can do anything you set your mind to, man.”🎶

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

* Full music and lyrical credit to the artist, Eminem, for his hit song “Lose Yourself”. I thank you for the inspiration and motivation.

“Trust yourself ; the rest is yet unwritten.”

What no one tells you about marathon training :

It all comes down to trust.

You spend 16 weeks preparing for your goal race. Hundreds of miles spent running. Countless hours spent strength training, meal prepping, and preventing injuries.

For 14 weeks you Go, Go, GO! Increasing distance, increasing pace, increasing mileage.

When you reach the 15th week you begin to taper… physically, you are nearly spent. Mentally, ready to quit. You wonder if it’s really even worth it? WHY do we do this to ourselves???

But then you feel the healing affects of the taper as it begins to work it’s magic, repairing your body from the past few months of grinding.

By the 16th week there’s nothing left to do but wait. A few more easy runs just to stay loose but other than that, just…wait.

I have not RACED a Marathon since Peak To Creek, October 2018 (the one year anniversary of my parents deaths). After experiencing the exquisite pain from that particular course (20 of the 26.2 miles run on a wet, winding, washed out or flooded, heavily graded, unpaved gravel road) I, honestly, wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to walk normally, let alone race another marathon again. And I just didn’t want to.

So as 2019 began, I simply ran “for the love of the run”. No pace, time, or distance expectations. No specific training plan on my calendar. I ran for fun…and to help whoever I could along the way, be it at an organized race or simply a long training run with a friend who was fighting her own personal battles, as well.

But then I started to notice improvement. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Slight, at first, but most certainly there. I began to toy with the idea of getting back out there again. Running for myself. Just to see if I could possibly give just a little bit more?

I was making advancements with my personal and professional life…why not keep striving for more athletically as well?

I gave myself a goal, a deadline with which to restore myself as a runner.

I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon set to take place on Sunday, November 24th 2019.

No pressure. Just run.

And so began my summer of training.

Since then, I have run and/or raced many smaller events, leading up to Philly, as a part of my training. Looking back now, I realize that I have medaled and/or PR’d at EVERY SINGLE EVENT AND DISTANCE THIS YEAR.

1 mile – 7:02

5K – 23:56

5 mile – 41:16

10K – 54:32

10 mile – 1:28:20

Half Marathon – 1:49:32

These are the race times I have been chasing for years! These are the paces that, with a little more training and alot of determination, have the potential to make me a legitimate contender for a Boston Qualifier!

The only thing left now is the full marathon.

My final race for 2019.

THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON ;

…just one week from today.

My mind begins to race. To doubt. I know I can do this. I’ve done it before. But can I do it BETTER this time? I don’t know. I hope so, but…

🤫 Sssshhhhh….

The work is done. I’ve done my best. Now is the time to rest.

Rest my body, but train my mind.

The body can withstand most anything you put it through…the challenge is to silence the mind. It is your mind you must convince to never, ever quit.

Trust the training.

Trust the taper.

TRUST YOURSELF ; the rest is yet unwritten…

(Click on the video above to see my 2019 race recap.😊)

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun