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My First Blog Post

Wellness

The quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal.

— Merriam-Webster

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been chasing wellness most of my adult life in some way. It’s one of the reasons I chose to become a physical therapist. I wanted to also help others feel well, and it’s not always about medicine. I’ve also been some version of vegetarian my entire adult life, finally making the full jump to vegan over two years ago.

What exactly does it mean, though, to feel well? One could argue that there are many facets to wellness. It’s not just about your physical well-being, but also social, spiritual, emotional, and environmental factors. If one of these is off, you feel unsettled. And sometimes it’s challenging to figure out which one of these elements is the culprit.

We tend to focus on physical wellness, right? What’s my cholesterol? How many medications do I rely on to stay healthy? How can I better manage my chronic diseases? How can I achieve and maintain a healthy weight?  How can I keep up with my kids?

I know I asked myself these questions when I first began my own wellness journey. I was overweight after having 2 kids, dealing with persistent pain, and wearing the largest size clothes in my life. Not exactly great for my emotional wellness! Does this story sound familiar?

So I began with a goal. My goal was to lose weight. 30 lbs to be exact. I started making use of my YMCA membership and used the food and activity tracker myfitnesspal to reach my goal. It took me about a year to lose the weight, but I knew I wanted to keep working toward better fitness. I was already bored with gym equipment.

In the lobby of my local YMCA, I saw a flyer for a local 5k, the Ashland Harvest Run held every October. Running 3.1 miles seemed like a daunting, yet achievable task. The best way to reach a goal is to break it down into smaller ones. I worked toward running a mile without stopping, then 2 miles. And then it was race day. I ran/walked the entire thing, finishing in the middle of the pack! It was so exciting… the whole race experience, meeting my goal, and performing better than I expected. I officially caught the running bug that day. A friend of mine convinced me to join the Sports Backers/YMCA 10k training team, and this is where I met one of my best friends. She would convince me that I was capable of even more… the marathon. A few training teams later, we have a solid crew of running sisters… sole sisters… and my life is exponentially better because of them! So great for my social wellness! I have now completed 6 marathons. I’m currently training for number 7, the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m also now a coach with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team with Pink Nation.  

What other crazy do I do, you ask? Well, my journey inspired my husband to find his tribe, too, and he started like me at our local YMCA. He eventually found his way to CrossFit, and he is now a level 1 trainer. I told him I would never try CrossFit unless he opened his own gym. In July of 2017, I had to eat my words, because he started a box with some business partners! He has even competed at the Masters level with some success, placing first in the Festivus games and third in the SuperFit games in 2018. We have since left this business endeavor, but Ralph is working out at a new box and focusing on being an athlete for a bit.

I enjoy the new challenges of CrossFit. Everyone is good at something in the box. Maybe you can’t do handstands, but you can lift weight! Maybe I can’t lift as much as you, but I can do pistol squats! The day I climbed that rope for the first time… well, I felt like Shalane Flannagan crossing the finish line of the NYC marathon! But the best part about CrossFit? It’s been great for our marriage.

I’m also spending some time fostering my creativity. I’ve recently launched a tie-dye shirt business, and I am dabbling in turning my favorite quotes into mixed media art. I hope to sell these at some point as well.

So, here I am. A 44 year old mother of two, married to a talented CrossFit coach, working as a physical therapist, 6 time marathoner, Vegan, artist, and sometimes CrossFit athlete. This sounds more impressive on paper than it really is. This is just me, chasing wellness.

Through this blog, I hope you find inspiration in your own journey. I plan to share with you recipes, running stories and tips, CrossFit stories, vegan tips, nutrition information, fitness clothing reviews, vegan food reviews, a bit of art, and fun features of living in Richmond! Thanks for reading!

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

I finally got my booster…

Timing my third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was tricky. I needed my flu vaccine by the end of October as a requirement for work, and that took priority. And I needed to space out vaccines to accommodate my race schedule, as I ran my virtual marathon the weekend before Halloween, and coached the Richmond marathon on November 13th. And then there’s another race coming up: the Freight Train 50k on December 11th. I didn’t want to feel under the weather for any of these events, nor did I want my immune system to already be down and out from running high miles when I got my vaccine. 

I was considering waiting until after the ultramarathon to finally get my booster, but the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant changed my plans. I found myself seeking an appointment online as soon as we got home from vacation. If you want to do the same, follow this link to find locations for the vaccine in your area. 

So, which one did I get? My original series was Pfizer, as I was in the first group to receive the vaccine as a healthcare provider. I was relieved, and this is the version I wanted. But as time has marched along with this virus and its evolution into more virulent variants has occurred, Moderna seems to be winning the test of providing longer efficacy. Even in my hospital, it seems that most of the breakthrough cases we have seen from the Delta variant are from patients who were more than 6 months out from the Pfizer vaccine. I’m placing my bets on mixing types. I got Moderna. 

So Monday night, I walked into my local Publix grocery pharmacy, and I got my booster. It seems odd to have another slot filled out on my vaccine card from the CDC. I imagined that once the dose entered my deltoid, my immune system sprung into assault mode, like in the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, exclaiming, “Not this motherf*#!er again!,” and went in with guns blazing, ready to defeat the recognized intruder. 

Right after this band-aid was placed.

I slept OK overnight, but started to feel restless by early morning. Everything began to hurt. The kind of “I just got hit by a truck” hurt that makes it uncomfortable to find a position in which to sleep, but even though you are exhausted, sleep is elusive. 

Tuesday morning, I had a fever, starting at 99.5, and creeping up to 101.5 during the day. I had multiple layers of polar fleece on. I had a headache, my arm hurt at the injection site, and I still felt like I was in an unfortunate altercation with a giant truck. Of course, I also ran 10 miles Monday morning, and that certainly didn’t help matters. I am grateful that I had the foresight to take the day off, because I can’t imagine treating patients while feeling like this. 

My fever broke late Tuesday night, but the headache remained. I went to bed, hoping for the best Wednesday morning. I was fortunately canceled for work, because I woke up with the same relentless headache. I finally caved and took some ibuprofen. This merely took the edge off so I could actually do something productive. By Wednesday afternoon, I felt back to normal. I ran errands, cooked dinner, did several loads of laundry, and even put up our new Christmas tree. 

Although the effects from my booster were rather unpleasant, it proves that I’ve had a strong immune response to this dose. Feeling terrible for a day or so truly beats having Covid, for sure. I wish everyone could really see what your hospital based healthcare providers have been dealing with over the past 18 months. I’ve had patients I’ve cared for succumb to this virus. I’ve had others who spent months in the hospital, fighting to get their lives back, working harder than they ever have to regain the strength to stand and walk, which is what I facilitate as an inpatient rehab physical therapist. You may think that it’s just doctors and nurses on the front lines in the ICU who have been dealing with this. But truthfully, every hospital based employee has been affected by the stress and grief of this pandemic, right down to your environmental services staff. 

No one really knows yet how virulent this new strain of Covid will prove to be. But I’m glad I’ve done everything I can to help protect my body just in case this is the one that can skirt my armed immune system. I hope that if you’re not immunized by now, you are reconsidering. Those living in the Western world are lucky to have easy access to the vaccine. But my powers of persuasion are limited, I know. Your super strong, healthy immune system is invincible, until it’s not. Why not give your body a fighting chance? 

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As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

The Cult of Personality

If you are of a certain age, you might remember this song: a delightfully vibrant rock song from the band Living Colour released in 1988. If you don’t know this song, follow the link, because it’s just as relevant today as it was then. But honestly, this is also a catchy title to entice you to read this post! 

Have you ever taken a personality test? You know the ones. Where everyone spouts off a mouthful of letters which all mean something significant. I can’t keep the letters straight. But I do enjoy a good quiz. It reminds me of another relic of the late 80’s: all of those quizzes from the teen magazines. 

But let me get to the idea for this post. As we were driving back home from the beach last weekend, my daughter got a text from her college roommates asking her what her “16 Personalities” type is. As I was bored and gratefully a passenger, I looked up the test and took it. 

From what I can gather, it’s essentially a reworked version of the popular Myers Briggs test with which you might be familiar. According to one article, the test was developed as a free version of the longer MBTI. Recruiters often use some elements of these questions in the hiring process for a new job. (I clearly recall answering very strange questions for at least one of my jobs in the past.) And according to another article, the test is a bunch of hogwash with no research to back up its purpose or results. But still, it’s highly entertaining. 

While my daughter is a mediator, I am an advocate, which is apparently one of the rarest personality types. But reading the description, it certainly sounds like me. 

Advocates are supposedly quiet, idealistic, and inspiring. They tend to be creative and stand up for what is right. Advocates enjoy speaking out against the wrongs in this world. They see helping others as their purpose in life and feel compelled to seek their life’s mission. But they are also prone to burnout from taking on these roles. 

I think all of these things are true about me, from my choice in occupation as a physical therapist and the settings in which I choose to practice to using this blog as a creative outlet, not only to help others with adopting a vegan lifestyle, running, and overall wellness, but also speaking out for social justice. And I guess it’s fitting that I find myself in this role, as I often wished for an advocate for myself as a child. 

Thinking about my career as a physical therapist, one of the great sources of pride for me in my practice is not only helping my patients regain their independence, but also for serving as an advocate for them, helping them navigate this ever complex healthcare system. So when I saw this as my personality type, I chuckled a bit to myself. Of course it’s me: the advocate. 

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Have you ever taken a personality test? In the 90’s, it was all about the long Myers-Briggs test. This one was new to me, but the 16 personalities test was a lot of fun, proving that I know myself pretty well! If you try it, let me know!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

The Power of Guilt

Guilt. What a powerful emotion and manipulative tool. 

The first time I remember feeling this, I was probably around 4 years old. We went to a Kaybee Toy store in the mall, and I saw a sticker on the floor. I picked it up and kept it. I don’t think I ever told anyone that I took it, but I knew stealing was wrong. Of course, this was really just a piece of garbage on the floor, but I do recall feeling very sick to my stomach and losing sleep over my impulse decision to unstick the sticker from the floor. I was certain someone would find out, and I would go to jail. The now familiar pangs of guilt. 

How did I know this was wrong? From church. Thou shall not steal. Of course. One of the Ten Commandments. The church was really great about instilling guilt. Didn’t take the time to learn that bible verse for GA’s? Guilty. Said God’s name in vain? Guilty. Didn’t read that chapter in the bible before Sunday school? Guilty. 

Right and wrong are so black and white in childhood. Things get murky as we get older and realize there are many nuances between absolute right and wrong: the many shades of grey. Teenage and college years were all about figuring these out. But when I made poor choices, I was very unforgiving of myself. I’m now watching my own teenage daughters navigate their own comfort levels with shades of grey, and it’s challenging. But we’re working on it. And I hope that I’m offering sound, compassionate guidance without instilling guilt. 

These nagging pangs really don’t improve in adulthood. Some days, I feel guilty in all aspects of being a woman. I could be a better mother. I could be a better wife. I could be a better physical therapist and caregiver. But many days, I only do one of these roles well, emptying my cup. Inevitably, some part of my life feels slighted. And sometimes I can make the most innocent mistakes and lose sleep over it for a week, ruminating over what I could have done differently. I’ll even feel like I didn’t deserve to treat myself to that cup of coffee, buy that new shirt, get my hair cut, or sign up for that race. And then I feel guilty. 

Then there’s the game women play with our careers. If you work full time, you often feel like a bad mother because you haven’t prioritized your children. I took a day off once to attend an event at my daughter’s elementary school. The teacher was shocked that I was there, exclaiming, “You’re here! You’re never here!” I felt like she had just shoved a knife into my very soul. But if you don’t work, you feel like a financial burden on your spouse. I have certainly been made to feel guilty if I wasn’t working enough. That’s the PRN life for you. For much of my career, I have chosen to work in this capacity in an attempt to balance work and home life and to avoid burnout. For the most part, it’s been great, unless there are droughts in available work, like during the height of the pandemic. I took unemployment for the first time ever, and yes, I felt guilty about it. 

I even feel guilty that I allow my husband to bear the burden of carrying our health insurance and breadwinning responsibilities. Even so, I still bear the burden of the majority of cooking, housework, and childcare, although there is more balance in these responsibilities as my husband has figured out that I really can’t do it all, especially if I’m working longer hours. But why didn’t I grow up to be the independent woman I had hoped to be? I’m somewhere in between the world of my parents, where being a stay-at-home mother was a perfectly normal and acceptable profession, and the completely independent career driven woman. I also realize how blessed I am that I do not have to work full time. 

Speaking of working, being an American means that the principles of meritocracy rule. Work equals success. Overworking means you are noble and important. Money means you are worthy of merit. So we work until we are burnt out. The values of meritocracy are so deeply ingrained that we tend to feel guilty just by taking our earned vacation, checking work emails and doing so much prep and recovery surrounding time off from full time jobs that vacation hardly seems worth it. It’s a mark of a good work ethic to have tons of vacation saved. Sigh. If nothing else, the pandemic may have taught us that work may not be as important as we once thought. 

Because I feel guilt so powerfully at times, I spend a great deal of my interactions with my patients talking about their own feelings. My older patients who are no longer able to live independently definitely feel guilty, even though getting sick or injured isn’t necessarily their fault. Sometimes they feel like a burden. I try to remind them that they spent a lifetime raising their children, and now it’s time for their children to help them. Sometimes my patients also feel guilty about letting Medicare pay for equipment. I have to remind them that in many ways, they have already paid for their $85 walker through all of their years buying into the Medicare system through their taxes. Sometimes they haven’t thought about it like that. They feel like they are gaming the system. 

When guilt becomes something different, like when a loved one uses it to force us to do things that go against our moral code or comfort zone, that’s when it becomes a weapon. Religious leaders have been known to utilize this tool to achieve many goals. Spouses have, too. It can be difficult to distinguish between love and manipulation, resulting in a muddy mix of self-doubt, fear, and shame. 

That’s not to say that I’ve never used guilt as a tool for manipulation myself. With raising my children, there was some extent of if you don’t do this, you won’t get that reward I promised you. Or if I’m working with a reluctant patient, as a last resort lying that I will get in trouble with the doctor if they don’t at least try to do some work with me. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t!

Another facet of guilt that must be mentioned is the guilt that drives extremism. When our society collectively decides that some behaviors and values are no longer ok, those who benefit from the oppression of others become uncomfortable and resist. When you benefit from societal norms that give you a distinct advantage, and then you are made aware of the privilege you have held, you may feel this way. But you can react in ways that help propel society forward, like advocating for those who are negatively impacted by systemic patterns and laws that are meant to keep people of color, who aren’t Christian, who aren’t heterosexual, who are poor, even women, in a place that is beneath the white male. Some become angry, denying that these rules exist, or even worse, defending the stance that some people are worth more than others. (These are the folks showing up at our school board meetings crying about transgender rights and critical race theory.) Or you can do nothing, giving in to apathy. The disgruntled are the squeaky wheels in this guilt fest. But apathy usually wins without a fight. Society simply puts up with the status quo, with systems that devalue life, especially when they benefit you, when what we really need is progress. 

In some aspects it’s similar to discussions about veganism. I get the questions about why I choose to live this way. Of course, it’s multifaceted: for the animals, for the environment, and for my health. Sometimes these discussions make people uncomfortable, as if my moral code is higher than theirs, and they feel like they have to defend their choice to eat animals. Yeah. That’s their guilt showing. 

It can be challenging to trust ourselves, our own shades of grey in our moral code. Hopefully some forms of guilt will drive positive social and societal change. It can be difficult to forgive ourselves because we are not perfect in all aspects of life or when we become aware of our own harmful biases. But we must give ourselves some grace from time to time, and change what we can. Otherwise, guilt will eat us alive. That’s the power of guilt. 

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Do you struggle with feelings of guilt? Have you reached places of peace with these feelings? 
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

What does it mean to be an athlete?

Webster’s dictionary defines an athlete as a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina. “Trained or skilled in exercises” also sounds a lot like my career as a physical therapist, describing at least part of what I do on a daily basis. 

One vestige of my CrossFit days that I continue to carry with me is their interpretation of this definition. If you are working out in a CrossFit box, you are an athlete. If you are showing up and doing the work, you are earning that title. I really enjoyed this about CrossFit culture, and I took it with me to my running. 

At the end of a snatch lift.

The above photo was taken during a CrossFit Open workout a few years ago. I chose it because I love how strong and focused I look. Sometimes you don’t feel this way in the process, but if you see yourself objectively, sometimes you can gain a new perspective on what you have accomplished in your fitness journey. 

Some people may argue that only those who compete at serious levels deserve to call themselves athletes, as if winning medals is the only measure of success in sports. But when we apply this description to the average person participating in fitness journeys, that participant begins to look at themselves differently. 

I showed my husband a picture of a few of our runners crossing the finish line of the Richmond Marathon last weekend: our final runners. He just kind of shook his head and said, “If it takes them that long, then what’s the point?” The point, it seems, is what he’s missing. The adventure that is the marathon takes months of dedication and training. I don’t care how slow you are. If you did the work, and you finished and earned that medal, you are an athlete. Marathon training is serious business. 

Just an average runner, helping other amateur athletes do great things… photo courtesy of Bill Draper

I’m an average runner. I always will be. Does this fact make me not an athlete? Not in my eyes. When I shifted my mindset to this, I started taking better care of my body. I prioritize sleep and nutrition. I cross train. I work on recovery and mobility. I don’t think, “Well, I’m not worthy of doing these things because I’m not running races in the Olympics.” I’m an athlete because I’m doing these things despite the fact that my body may not ever look as impressive as an elite athlete’s. It’s still serving me well, and I continue to amaze myself at times at what I’ve accomplished despite my averageness. I also know I’m doing the best I can to protect my health.

So if you are an amateur athlete like me, don’t sell yourself short by denying your status. Change your mindset. You are a runner, CrossFitter, yogi, weightlifter, or whatever fitness endeavor floats your boat. You are an athlete. Treat your body well. Even if the only real competition is with yourself. 

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Do you participate in sports and fitness activities as an adult? Do you ever think about your status as an athlete? Do you feel different about your fitness endeavors if you view yourself this way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Richmond Marathon 2021 Race Recap

Richmond Marathon 2021 Race Recap

It’s often said that if you want to restore your faith in humanity, go spectate a marathon. This couldn’t be more true!

After last year’s discouraging race year with so many live events canceled due to the pandemic, it was awesome to have the Richmond marathon, half marathon, and 8k in person once again! Although Sports Backers did an amazing job pivoting the race to a new semi-virtual format from Dorey Park last year, there’s nothing like a live event. The lingering effects of the virus on the supply chain claimed a temporary casualty related to this year’s race, though: no medals. They are still stuck in a crate in a port somewhere, even though they were ordered extra early to avoid this possibility. While disappointing, for sure, it did not take away the joy of the sweet finishes on race day. 

I always have anxiety leading up to a race, even if I’m not running! Although my stressors are different if I’m coaching, I still have strange dreams in the days leading up to the event. It’s always something about showing up with the wrong gear. This time I showed up without shoes! Fortunately, this didn’t actually happen, because just like we preach to all of our team, I laid out my gear the night before so nothing would be forgotten. 

Flat Anne, ready for race day!

As a coach, race morning is all about logistics. This begins with parking! The deck in which I normally park was not going to be open after 6pm. I’m so glad I struck up a conversation with the parking attendant, because my car would have been trapped at the end of the day! He directed me to a different garage. But wow! Parking went up from $8 in 2019 to $15. But it was worth it for the convenience. It is what it is. But I ended up parking where my fellow coaches did, thankfully! Once parked, we made our way over to the Omni to stay warm and finalize plans before the race. I was able to see so many friends and wish them well pre-run, many of whom were running the half, which starts earlier than the full. 

Just before the benediction with my fellow Pink Nation coaches!

We made our way to our traditional spot for our team’s benediction before the race. This is always special for Pink Nation, but this year was bittersweet. It was our first time without Blair Just as our head coach. I think he would have been proud of this moment, though. We sent our team to bag check and the corrals, and we took in the collective energy of the crowd. 

Most of the coaches run the first 5 miles with the team, choosing folks who are first time marathoners among them so they don’t go out too fast. The adrenaline at the beginning is so powerful, and it’s easy to burn too much energy at the start! The crowd support is really strong in these first 5 miles, as spectators abound! I even saw one of my patients who was discharged a couple of weeks ago. She had told me that she lived near the course, and she always watches on her little corner. I promised I would look for her, and she was right where she said she would be, sitting on her rollator. I had to stop and give her a hug! And she looked great! That was such a nice surprise. 

All of the MTT coaches meet at the 5 mile mark and find our designated driver. We are then shuttled to various parts of the course to support our runners. My first stop? The midway point on Forest Hill. We stayed for over an hour. Some of our runners looked amazing, even ahead of the pace groups they had intended to run with. Others were struggling already. Doling out Tylenol and Biofreeze and sorting out mental issues had begun. 

On Forest Hill avenue with fellow coaches awaiting our runners!

We were then shuttled to our next stop near Main Street, which is roughly mile 17 on the course. Our second driver was vegan! We had lots to discuss, obviously. The energy along this part of the course is highly variable, as drunk brunchers kept up the tradition and were out in full force, cheering on anyone who passed. I was offered alcohol on more than one occasion as I ran back and forth to check on our runners, although I declined! “Come on, coach!,” they pleaded. Ha. Nope! But our runners are more focused at this point, as this is where the real struggle of the marathon begins. And, yes, I doled out more agents of temporary relief…

Teaming up with Coach Dawn, we made our way to Lombardy, cutting the course from Main Street back to the turn to Grace Street. We continued on toward Brook Road, a notorious “dead zone” on the marathon route with limited crowd support, stopping at hydration queen Pam’s traditional SAG near the Kroger on the way. We helped a few folks there, including one runner with a particularly angry right knee. Then we picked up more runners on Brook. A former teammate, Dinah, joined us from the SAG! This is in the last 5k of the race. 

It was on Brook Road where we met a runner from Lynchburg who was sitting on the curb, absolutely ready to give up. He was cramping so badly, he could barely stand up. We went through the typical litany of questions to solve his issues. Salt? Water? Food? He’d been taking in all of these things, but only gels for “food.” Dinah had SAG candy with her, and we offered a bit more substantial nourishment with this. Another coach stopped to help, and she had Biofreeze spray, which I used to douse his calves and thighs to alleviate pain. I’d run out of my Biofreeze packets and Tylenol long ago! Within a few minutes, he could stand and walk. Dawn took him to the finish, peppering him with stories from their mutual hometown and helping him through the mental struggles that are so often a part of the marathon finish.

I met one of my runners on Brook, having fallen behind the 5:30 pacer group. She was struggling a bit, but still moving! I took Shree all the way to 5th street. She did awesome! 

With Shree on Grace Street., around mile 25 on the course.

From here, I stayed near the finish, cheering on all the runners to that last turn to the downhill finish, and having a great time reminding the first time marathoners that they were about to become a part of the one percent! That is the part of the human population who have completed at least one marathon. 

Our final runners from our team had been granted a head start. They started their race an hour earlier so they could beat the cutoff. Doris, Sue, and Veronica set out before sunrise. This was not Veronica’s first race, but she certainly sacrificed her time to make sure these ladies made it to the finish. Having served in this role myself at times, it’s heartwarming to witness. It’s a different kind of joy taking a new marathoner (or two!) under your wing for an entire marathon. Witnessing the perseverance of these first time marthoners throughout the season and watch them meet their goals, regardless of time, is a testament to the human spirit. So grateful to Coach Carrie and Sports Backers for making the early start happen! It really does take a village to raise a marathoner.

With 2/3 of our final runners. Doris in the tutu, and Veronica in her red MTT shirt, with our coaches in the chute to the finish.

The weather really couldn’t have been much better for the day. The initial forecast for Saturday was for rain courtesy of a coastal storm. But that system blew through early in the morning on Friday, and Saturday was sunny! Starting in the low 40’s and with temps rising into the 60’s, it was perhaps warmer than most runners would like, but there was also a pretty strong breeze that intensified as the day progressed, and this somewhat compensated for the relative heat, even if it did take off a few hats and blew dust in your eyes! 

As our runners crossed the finish line, I was reminded of how completely awesome it is to watch someone realize that they have accomplished their goal. As a marathoner, I know all the feelings that go with the process of running this race, especially for the first time. It starts with self doubt on that first day of training team. Then you start to believe. And then during the race, you may think you are going to give up, as the race becomes painful and suddenly way harder than you thought it would be. It takes all the courage and determination you can muster to get past these feelings. And then you finally reach the finish, delirious and exhausted, and the tears start. As a coach, I’d been keeping tabs on certain runners, knowing what each has fought to get to that point, and to see their victories was really special! It’s simply marathon magic.

I’m so proud of the Richmond community and Sports Backers for once again proving that the Richmond Marathon is America’s friendliest! There are so many things I’d taken for granted about this race. And I am so honored to coach with such an amazing group of people with Pink Nation! To see happy runners, race organizers, spectators, and Sports Backers Marathon Training Team coaches out on the course, and even legendary Bart Yasso at the start and finish line after a year of canceled races, was truly remarkable. It felt almost normal. 

With running legend Bart Yasso at the finish!

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Every race has a story. What’s yours? If you participated in any of the Richmond races on 11/13/21, I hope your day turned out wonderfully! It was a great day for the RVA!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Gift Guide for your Favorite Runner: 2021

With the holidays around the corner, you may be wondering what to get that special runner in your life. I’m putting out this info early because of current supply chain issues that continue due to the pandemic, so this way, you’ll be prepared! Whether it’s the latest gadget, new gear, or stocking stuffers, I’ve gathered what I think are the best ideas for your favorite runner.

Big Gifts:

Running smart watch

It’s always wonderful to receive a new watch! This is a big gift, as they tend to get pricey. But even for your short distance runners, the ability to track your pace and distance is super helpful when training for races, while also being able to grow with your runner as they tackle longer distances. Why would you want one of these vs. your Apple watch? One: battery life. Make sure you research battery life times. For slower marathoners and ultramarathoners, extended battery life is so helpful! Two: The Garmin app. It tracks your activities, shoe life, etc. My recommendations? I love Garmin products, and currently run with a Forerunner 230. But if I were to choose an upgrade, it would be one of these:

  • Garmin Forerunner 45
    • A great entry-level smart watch that monitors heart rate and more, it has up to 13 hours of battery life in GPS mode. Retails $199.99.
  • Garmin Forerunner 945
    • For a few hundred dollars more, you can add music, performance metrics, and color maps navigation, all with 10 hours of battery life in music with GPS mode, and even longer without music. Retails $599.99.
This is my running smart watch: the Garmin 230.

Earbuds

For running, Aftershokz open ear headphones are the ultimate accessory for comfort and safety while playing music on a run. They conduct sound through bone, so you don’t have to keep a bud in your ears. This means you can hear your surroundings on your run and don’t have to constantly reposition earbuds that have bounced out of place. These are currently on my personal wish list. Prices range from $80 – 160. 

Running Shoes

Shoes are very specific to each runner, and one must really try on and see what suits them best. If this is what you really want to gift your runner, I would suggest getting them a gift card to your local running store. Most running shoes are in the $125-150 range. In Richmond, I would suggest Lucky Road Run Shop. The owners are fabulous, and I always get great customer service. 

My shoe love: the Hoka Clifton.
A variety of recovery tools, including rollers, a Hypervolt massage gun, and a lacrosse ball.

Recovery Tools

  • Massage gun

This latest fad is actually a good one, but to be effective, you have to invest. I personally use a Hypervolt and love it! With multiple attachments and speeds, your runner can work out all of the muscle aches and pains that their hard work has brought upon them. Expect to pay at least $100 for a quality product. 

  • Recovery Shoes

Oofos are my go-to for these, and this brand is loved fairly universally among my friends who run. They are so comfortable, especially after you have run long miles! Oofos makes flip-flops, slides, clogs, and closed toe shoes. I love the flip-flops style for summer, but the slides are great for after winter runs when I want to keep my socks on! I tend to keep mine in my car, and change into them after my run for any post-run shenanigans. If your runner doesn’t know about these, they will thank you for this gift! Prices vary, from $60-130. 

Mid-price gifts:

Safety gear

  • Running vest

I love the Noxear Tracer2 light vest for safe running at night. I definitely feel seen in my original battery powered vest! The best way to avoid crashing with a car is to be seen. With multiple light settings, it’s bright and obvious enough that drivers take notice and move over. This new version is rechargeable, not battery powered. 20 hours of run time with each charge, and it’s waterproof. Currently on sale for $49.95.

Nothing says you care about the safety of your runner more than this piece of gear! With vital information and a variety of styles, you can help your runner have an extra layer of reassurance that if something were to happen to them on a run, emergency responders would know who to contact. 

Spi-belt

The simplest way to carry extra nutrition, your phone, and car key is with this zippered pouch worn around your waist. A runner’s stretchy fanny pack, you could say. Even though I typically run with a hydration belt, for really big, self-supported runs, I also need this to keep extra items with me. Even with my phone, it doesn’t bounce if I keep the pouch at the small of my back. With lots of pretty colors and a variety of sizes, you are certain to find one to suit your runner! These are also fantastic for wearing to concerts or festivals instead of carrying a bag. 

Handheld water bottle

These are great for short training runs, and truthfully need upgrading every year or two. So chances are, your runner is due for a new one. Nathan makes great handheld bottles that are ergonomic to reduce the effort to carry these. The newer versions no longer have a pouch for your phone, since phones are now so large! This makes the spibelt kinda necessary…

Running hats/visors

These are almost essential for keeping the sun, hair, and rain out of your eyes during your run. I love a visor, and both Headsweats and Boco Gear make wonderful elastic back versions that don’t slip and are super comfortable. Both companies make a variety of running hats sure to please any runner!

At the beach in my favorite Headsweats visor and Goodr sunglasses!

Sunglasses

I absolutely love the Goodr brand sunglasses for running. These are all polarized to reduce glare, and are super affordable for the quality, retailing $25-35. They don’t bounce, just as the company claims! With so many fun designs and funny names, you are sure to find a great pair to fit the personality of your runner! Tips? Look for mirrored lenses, as they deflect light better. 

Commemorative race items

Did your runner finish a big marathon recently? How about some wall art to commemorate their finish! Or a wine glass with a map of the course? Esty is full of fun items to remember their journey! Or head to the website of their recent race to purchase unique, official finisher items. 

Medal holder

Especially for someone who may be new to racing, this is a nice gift. I’m kind of cheap, and I simply put up a curtain rod to hold mine. But the pre-made ones are lovely! Check out Gone for a Run for some great choices!

My medal display

Stocking Stuffers/Small items: 

  • Running socks

I’m currently a fan of Balegas myself, but my best friend loves Feetures socks. Expect to pay around $15 for a good pair. Local running stores are a good source for these, as is REI.

  • Anti-chafing products

Distance runners can always use this! Body Glide and Sport Shield are my favorites right now. 

  • Lip balm

Distance runners tend to get chapped lips after hours exposed to the elements and on their feet! Lip balm is always a great surprise in your stocking!

  • Epsom salts

I’m a big fan of Dr. Teals. I personally prefer an epsom salt bath to an ice bath after long runs, and there are so many scents to choose from! The magnesium really helps with muscle recovery.

  • Lacrosse ball

These are great for trigger point release for muscle recovery. Most sporting goods stores have these in multiple fun colors.

  • Foam roller

Big box stores like Walmart and Target carry these, but you can get really nice ones at places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross for much less.

  • Running gloves

With cold weather arriving soon, gloves with mitten covers become essential in sub-freezing temperatures! If your runner is crazy enough to train year round, they will love you for a pair like these from Saucony! I’ve found similar styles at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s for more than half off the price of these, though! Look for these with all the fitness gear. 

  • Books

Sometimes a great book about running or by a runner is the best gift of all! It will give us something to read while traveling to the next big race! Some favorites of mine: 

One of my favorites!

Notice that I didn’t recommend running clothes. I think clothes are pretty personal for an experienced runner. First of all, running shirts aren’t really necessary as gifts. If your runner participates in lots of races, they will have tons already from races, including technical tanks! We all develop specific preferences for gear, especially shorts or running tights. If you really want to gift running clothes and you don’t know what they really love, I can suggest a couple of brands. Personally, I run in a lot of Old Navy active gear. For the price, it’s a great value for performance, and great for both new and experienced runners. I run in both their bike shorts and capris. I also love Nike running gear, but I’m a bargain hunter, so only buy these items on clearance or from outlet stores. My favorite winter gear is from Nike. But in general, you really can’t go wrong with either of these brands. There so many brands with a wide range of price points and quality in gear, and your runner will not be offended if you ask them who makes their favorite! Choose wisely! 

Happy shopping!

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I hope this has given you some ideas for holiday gift giving for that special runner in your life this year! 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

The thing about omens…

Do you believe in omens? 

I do believe that the universe sends us signs at times to guide us to make better choices. And if I really trusted these initial signs, maybe I wouldn’t have married my husband. Hear me out on this…

After my husband proposed, we set to planning our nuptials. We traveled to my hometown to go to a service in my church after we had booked our caterer. The very next day, a microburst blew through as part of a severe thunderstorm. As a result, the steeple of my church was ripped off the building and deposited on the lawn of my historic church, rendering the sanctuary temporarily useless. Yikes. We suddenly had to find a new church in my town in which to get married. 

The original photographer we wanted couldn’t shoot our wedding. Our date, it seems, was very popular, as this was to also be his wedding day!

Fast forward to the weeks leading up to the wedding, and even more bad stuff happened. My parents became disgruntled with the minister at my church, and they decided that he should no longer participate in our wedding. That left our Richmond minister in charge of the entire ceremony. And then a few days prior to our date, my minister of music’s father suddenly passed away. So a substitution had to be made there, too. 

With all of those things happening, we still managed to get married. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. It’s amazing that we have made it this long together! Not that I don’t love my husband, but because of the omens!

As I have learned more about my childhood church, I am seeing these events from a new perspective. Perhaps these events weren’t omens for a bad marriage at all. Instead, I think the universe wanted to cleave our marriage from my childhood church altogether. Besides some of the wedding guests, there is no connection between the church in which I was raised and my wedding. No one from church leadership was involved in our ceremony at all. Instead of viewing the beginning of my new life with my loving husband rooted in hurt, it began on a clean slate, with more connections to my Richmond home than my one in Tidewater. 

It’s funny how the universe works.

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Do you believe in omens? I’d love to hear about your experiences with this. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

The Church of the Sunday Long Run

One of the few things in life that is certain is change. One of the biggest changes in my adult life that I could thankfully control is my decision to leave the church. As far as wellness is concerned, some might consider leaving organized religion a ding in my spiritual journey. However, I’ve found it to be quite the opposite. 

Not all churches are bad, some may argue with me. Of course. But many churches do bad things. I also find the inner squabbling about whose theology is correct absolutely exhausting. I’ve been living in this swirling debate for as long as I can remember. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Apparently there has been a whole deconstructing movement happening all over the world, and I’ve unknowingly been a part of this. Only with the advent of social media have I become aware that I’m not alone with my experiences or feelings. In America, less than half of our population are members of an organized house of worship in 2021, a percentage that is in steady decline. But why is this? 

Maybe it’s because most of us who have identified as Christian have encountered some toxic theology at some point in their religious journey. I think the most damaging part I ever experienced was purity culture, but there were many other elements of theology that also instilled guilt and other enduring traumas. Layer some bad leaders in with this, and you form some scars that last for life. 

As a child, I remember going to church camp in elementary school in the 80’s and being told that if our friends weren’t believers in Jesus, they were going to hell. This was the beginning of a pretty unhealthy fear of the devil for me! My best friend at the time was Jewish, and I was in anguish thinking my best friend wasn’t going to heaven. As an 8 year old. I thought it was my job to “save” her. That’s what the leaders at camp told me. I was so afraid that my beautiful friend would suffer. I felt so conflicted that I did ask my dad at some point, as he studied religion in seminary. He assured me that this was not the case, because as he was taught, the Jewish are God’s chosen people. What a confusing and scary message that church camp preached. 

We currently live near a fundamentalist Baptist church. My husband’s aunt and uncle were members there until the day they passed. At one time they held big community events for Easter and Halloween, and we used to take our girls to these when they were little. At one of these events, there was an activity to build a “prayer bracelet.” The woman helping the children explained what each of the beads represented. She actually told my then 4 year old daughter that one of the beads represented the fact that she was a bad person. Wow! The damage control I had to do from that. I didn’t realize that some religious sects teach that humans are inherently bad. My daughter still remembers how this experience made her feel. 

When we were growing up, my parents made a big distinction between our church and those considered fundamentalist. Visiting other churches with friends exposed me to some pretty horrible evangelical theologies, including teaching that homosexuality is a sin. From my perspective, this felt like hate, not love. Even in high school, I felt that homosexuality was not a choice, but merely another biological trait, like having blue eyes or curly hair. Our next door neighbors were fundamentalist Baptists, and I can tell you that despite their rather obnoxious outward professions of faith, they seemed less than what I knew as Christian. 

As a child, we lived within walking distance of a fundamentalist Baptist church, but we drove about 20 minutes to attend one in the next city that was considered moderate. I somehow took pride in that. And for the most part, our church was fairly tolerant of people who did not fit in the norm, even if outwardly we did not acknowledge the differences. 

The exception was the youth group. Our youth minister was definitely more conservative in his views than our main pastor. And, yes, there was some degree of purity culture, which was particularly damning to a survivor of childhood sexual assault like me. I viewed myself as damaged goods: a chewed up piece of gum. My attempts to receive guidance from my youth minister about what I endured as a child were met with dismissal of my trauma, which only made me feel worse. He made me feel like the trauma I experienced was entirely my fault. 

But there was also hazing of the girls, most notably on their first night of the big fall weekend youth retreat. The sixth grade girls would be dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night and given swirlies, with our youth minister and the older boys in the group doing the hazing. Don’t know what a swirlie is? It’s when you are held upside down with your head in the toilet while the toilet is flushed. My big brother made sure this did not happen to me, and he did not participate. Since the hazing happened year after year, I assumed the adults of the church were well aware of this ritual and condoned it. It should be noted that hazing is now a class I misdemeanor in Virginia. This practice of hazing fostered a culture in the youth group that allowed some boys in the group to harass the girls, with behavior that would have been written off at the time as “boys will be boys” antics, but categorized much differently now. It all just feels gross, even all these years later. 

Additionally, certain members of the group were teased relentlessly by our youth minister, and a few lucky girls were slut shamed. I fell into the latter category, where lies were spread by my pastor, and I really don’t know why. Because I had boyfriends outside of the church? Because of my trauma as a young girl? Because I didn’t put up with bad behavior from boys in the group? I didn’t even know about the lies until I was an adult. That’s the short story.

None of this was ever normal or an example of a church leader who is kind and loving. What he did to us should have never been a part of normal church life, but I didn’t know this wasn’t normal until I went to college and started talking about these experiences with my peers. I began to question everything. Our youth minister eventually left our church, rewarded for his own bad behavior in a way, even though many of my peers in my childhood church still love and respect this man. The problem was punted to another congregation, as seems to be tradition with problem leaders in organized religion. 

Even so, when I met my husband, he was a member in an equally moderate church in Richmond which we started attending together. We even received pre-marital counseling from the minister there. I liked our pastor and his wife, and they were just a couple of years older than us. When my kids were born, he was there to pray for us. And when it was time for his family to move on, the new pastor was also wonderful. They gave me church experiences that were so much better than those from my childhood church. 

So why did I leave if I had a great pastor? I began to see a rise in Christian Nationalism when Obama took office. It was unsettling and definitely something with which I did not want to be associated. Even in my moderate church, which was not outwardly nationalistic, we had both the Christian flag and the US flag prominently displayed in the sanctuary. I asked that the US flag be removed because I believe strongly in the separation of church and state. My request was denied, thus adding another layer to my deconstruction. Symbols matter. Unrest at school board meetings and recent new laws in Texas and their reinforcement by the Supreme Court have proven how powerful this movement has become, and I want no part of it. 

There is so much more to say about this movement. So much so that it deserves its own post. One thing is certain for me, though: The further our nation slides into a theocracy, the further away from God I am pushed. 

Although I was once a firm believer, as a young adult I still felt that God gave us the knowledge of and curiosity to study science. As a requirement for my undergraduate degree in biology, we had to take a class about evolution. The last question on our final exam asked us how we reconciled our religious beliefs with the science of evolution, if we did believe in God. My answer? “For me, it’s simple. Evolution is God’s will.” My personal interpretation of the book of Genesis is that one day could be a billion years in God’s time. 

One of the best sermons I ever heard was not by one of my pastors, but a deacon of the church I joined with my husband. It was based on John 14:2, which states:

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

John 14:2

The way he interpreted this verse is what blew me away, and I will never forget. It moved me to tears. His take on the verse is that God recognizes that there are many ways to worship, as essentially each religion is a different room. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Einstein, that all religions, arts, and sciences are branches of the same tree; just another way of explaining the unexplainable. We utilize more primitive means of explaining natural phenomena until we can prove these with science, and I believe a loving God would want to give us the power to understand. This sermon gave me a sense of relief that we could stop the squabbling over differences in ways of organized worship, and just be satisfied that maybe they were all pleasing in His eyes, as long as we were helping others. If only everyone felt this way.

I will never understand how church and public education became so political, and politics became so much about religion, but here we are. This goes way beyond the abortion debate. It’s also about race and science and resisting the necessary changes in the stagnant status quo that ensures that everyone has equal rights. I don’t think the state of our political system today is what our founding fathers had intended at all, but it definitely reinforced my choice to leave the church.

I don’t really know what I believe religiously anymore. Agnostic is probably the best way to describe my stance at this point. I’m leaving the door open for the possibility that there is a God who is a creator of goodness and light, and if we are all indeed created in His image, we are all perfect in our own way. I also don’t think that we should live our day to day lives in fear of punishment for every little thing we do wrong. But for all of the bad in this world, and especially for atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion, some days I find it challenging to believe in a God at all. 

For now, I have deconstructed, and am finding it really challenging to reconstruct. I may never reach a point of forgiveness about what I encountered in my childhood church. If this current political climate continues, I may not ever find myself in a place to rebuild my trust in religion. 

The longer I am vegan, the more compassion I feel for others who deserve more from society, including animals. All living beings are worthy of respect. I will simply continue to fight for fairness, for justice, for love, and to correct the systemic issues that create chaos and harm. I will continue to do my best to make choices that help preserve our planet for my children. It’s the best I can do. And if there is a God, I hope this pleases Him. 

I have spent much of my deconstruction feeling this quote from one of my favorite songs:

How she wishes it was different

She prays to God most every night

And though she swears He doesn’t listen

There’s still a hope in her He might

She says, “I pray

Oh, but they fall on deaf ears

Am I supposed to take it on myself

To get out of this place?”

Grey Street -Dave Matthews Band

I’m still very much in this mindset, and I realize I must rely on myself to heal. But there’s still a tiny sliver of hope that a divine being is looking out for us. 

I’ve found a new congregation on Sundays, so to speak, since I run with a team on these mornings. In our off season, I typically run with a smaller version of this team or with friends. They provide me with the fellowship and community that church provides. They also helped me to realize that I can be a good and moral person without the guidance of organized religion. In many ways, my running family is so much more diverse and equitable than any I ever experienced through church. Running gives me an outlet for anxiety and time to meditate and reflect. And running has given me opportunities to give back to my community in ways that I never expected. This is my church: the Church of the Sunday Long Run. And for these things, I’m grateful. 

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I do respect one’s choice to believe. That’s your business, just like not going to church is mine. So if you meet someone who doesn’t go to church, don’t judge them as bad people, please. They may just not be in a place to trust organized religion. 

Have you experienced religious trauma? Are you alarmed by the rise in Christian Nationalism in America? If you have been harmed by religious experiences, I’m so sorry. You are not alone. It can certainly affect one’s spiritual wellness. It took some professional therapy to absolve my guilt in no longer participating in organized religion, but I feel so much healthier for this decision. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

After the Marathon: All the Feels

Your race is done! Congratulations! You are now a part of the one percent of people who have ever completed a marathon! Let’s talk about what you may feel the moments and days after the culmination of your hard work. 

First, you are happy the race is over, and you may even feel shocked that you finished! I typically shed at least a few tears after crossing the finish line of a big race like a marathon. (My husband has video evidence of this phenomenon as I crossed the finish line of the Richmond one year. I shed all the ugly tears as one of my friends awarded me my medal!) 

Second, you hurt. Like EVERYTHING hurts. Not just your legs and feet, but your shoulders, upper back, arms, abs… you used all you had to complete your race. You may be surprised to find blisters and chafed areas you didn’t realize were there until you shower.

You may develop an unhealthy relationship with stairs. Yes, stairs are indeed stupid after a marathon. It is what it is!

Are you hungry? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes it takes a bit for your body to be ready for food. That’s ok. Just make sure you drink lots of fluids, and not necessarily all of them adult beverages! It’s best if you are taking in both water and electrolytes. You will get hungry eventually.

Do take part in your usual post-long run rituals. Your body is used to this and needs it.

You may benefit from wearing compression socks after your race. They will help improve circulation and relieve some stress to your feet and lower legs, helping you recover faster. But don’t wear them to bed!

Sleep may be elusive. Even though your body and spirit are exhausted, you may feel restless instead of surrendering to slumber. 

You may feel pressure to return to running as soon as possible. But be patient with yourself. Your body needs time to heal from this effort, especially if this is your first time tackling this distance, and that is ok. 

The more times you run this distance, the more your body will adapt and remember, and the more quickly you will recover. 

In the days following your race, you may encounter some melancholy thoughts: post-marathon blues. I wrote this article about the phenomenon last year.

But whether this is your first marathon or your tenth, do take at least a moment to relish in your accomplishment. You deserve it!

Some of my marathon medals.

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To my fellow marathoners, did I miss anything? Can you identify with these feelings? If you are running a marathon this fall, I wish you much success!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Running a Marathon for the First Time? Think of it like preparing for childbirth. 

Especially for my first time marathoners, I jokingly tell them to think about the race like childbirth. I had an entire conversation about this with some of my runners on our 18 miler, with lots of giggles and agreement! Sure, go in with some expectations of how you would like to run the race, but realize that so many variables are out of your control. For the novice athlete, the end result should be finishing your race intact, regardless of time, and enjoying the experience.

Giving birth is similar. We go in planning for a calm, peaceful delivery. Maybe there will be a doula. Maybe there will be an epidural. Maybe delivery will be quick and easy. You will go in with makeup on for those perfect delivery room photos, and barely break a sweat. Um, sure. It’s rarely, if ever, as nice as this. If you have experienced this, you know. So your goals may shift quickly. But truly, as long as the end result is a healthy baby and mama, you’ve achieved success. 

For both, there is a time of casual preparation, shifting into more intense preparation, right? At first, you’re like… yup. I’m going to run a marathon in 6 months. Or, oooh… I’m pregnant. I’m going to have a baby in 9ish months. You prepare by reading, going to doctor’s appointments, talking to your friends who are already mothers. And as the weeks move along, and your body adapts to the changes, you start to realize birth will be happening. For marathon training, you hopefully have friends you are training with. Maybe even coaches to help. At first, runs are fairly short and very manageable. And then suddenly, you are in the thick of training. You are nailing down your gear choices, making sure your shoe situation is in good shape, figuring out nutrition/hydration strategies for your long runs. You are spending hours on the weekends pounding the pavement. Preparing for both, your subconscious thoughts may occupy your dreams. And suddenly, race day is here. Birth day is here. You just hope that all the preparation you have done will get you through the culmination of your journey.

My friends who just ran Chicago know the challenges of having to shift race goals. They faced similar weather as in 2015, the year I ran this race. It started out fairly cool, so the elite runners didn’t have too much trouble. But back of the packers like me who started in the later corrals dealt with steadily rising temperatures, with weather advisories issued during the race. It was hot and humid in the last couple of hours, with temps well into the 80’s. In October! Not exactly how you wanted to run a major marathon. And this is what they faced. Thankfully, they all realized that the conditions were well beyond their control, and they adjusted their expectations. 

My hope for every first time marathoner is to have perfect weather, great crowd support, friends and family along the route, no gear mishaps, and no wall to hit, meaning your nutrition/hydration plan was great. In all likelihood, however, you will have to navigate some obstacles along the way. Maybe it rains. Maybe it’s hot, and your water stops run out of water and/or cups. Maybe it’s freezing cold and ruthlessly windy. Maybe your partner has to bail on you because they aren’t feeling great, and suddenly you are running alone. Maybe you dropped gear early on that you wish you’d kept. All of these things have happened to me during a marathon. But in the end, I still want you to finish and get that medal. The race is just the last stage in the journey that began 6 months ago. You started to earn your prize the moment you signed up for the race. 

Interestingly, much like childbirth, the pain and challenge of the event will subside, and you may only have mostly good memories of this tremendous achievement. This will leave you with the nudge to do it all over again! Marathoners are a crazy bunch, indeed. 

With a few friends at the finish line of the Richmond Marathon in 2015.

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Have you ever run a marathon? To my fellow mother runner marathoners, can you identify with these thoughts and feelings? I ran a virtual marathon last weekend, and I’m already planning for my next! 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.