Race Recap! Richmond Marathon

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”

– Kathrine Switzer


This is the truth. Admittedly, there was a tiny sense of grief about not actually running Richmond this year. I’ve now run 3 different marathon courses: Chicago, Marine Corps, and Richmond, and Richmond is still my favorite. Maybe it’s because it’s my adopted home town. Maybe it’s the beautiful views of the James River and the Richmond skyline. Maybe it’s that Sports Backers runs fantastic events! Or maybe it’s the amazing support from those on the course, especially from my MTT coaches.

This year, I was one of those coaches. I definitely gained a new appreciation for the amount of work the coaches do on race day. I was grateful that fellow MTT coach and bestie Patty was there to tell me what to do, where to be, where to cut the course, etc.

It was a cold, windy day, and I struggled with deciding what to wear. I actually had on 3-4 layers all day, and I was super grateful I’d decided to wear a light windbreaker, too. I wore it most of the day!

Huddle with Pink Nation coaches! Photo courtesy of Kendra Lengua

Pre-race, the Pink Nation (and lots of other runners!) gathered in the lobby of the Omni Richmond. We are so grateful they put up with us every year! We had a coaches’ huddle, then gathered our peeps and headed to the Capitol for the team benediction and MTT picture. Then, we were off to our corrals.

On the steps of the Virginia State Capitol building
Pink Nation coaches and guest coaches
With Eric, Richmond’s Running Mayor, in the corral.
Photo courtesy of Eric Nachman.

It was optional to run the first 5 miles with the team, but I chose to do so. I have a friend and sub-team member who I felt needed a great start to his first marathon, and this was my mission. After the first 5, I sent Eric on his way, knowing I would see him later on the course. We met our drivers, went to Starbucks to hang a bit, and then were driven to the halfway point. This happened to be where the Richmond Road Runners Club had their candy stop. Oh, the Skittles! They also had jelly beans, gummy bears, and M&M’s. Love that candy stop!

With Patty! Riding with other coaches to the midway point.
With fellow coaches Dawn and Amanda at the Richmond Road Runners Club candy stop, waiting for our peeps!
Photo courtesy of Amanda Smider.

From there, I picked up a few veterans from Pink Nation to check in, and they were all doing great! And then I picked up my first new marathoner, Kelley. She was doing an outstanding job! I ran her to the Lee Bridge, which is at about mile 16. I then picked up runners for a bit, running back and forth and providing general encouragement, guidance, and advice about focus. Focus on the beautiful skyline and the junk food stop right after the bridge! I handed out salt chews to cramping runners. I was super happy to also see my friend Amanda on the bridge! (@mindfulathleteyoga) But I waited to cross until I saw Eric. I teared up when I saw him with Kelly and Lisa. It’s awesome how bonds solidify on the course. It was clear they had a mission to make sure Eric met his goal. Once on the bridge, I realized how brutal the wind was! But we survived.

With Amanda and her cousin on the Lee Bridge.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Myers.
With Eric and crew on the Lee Bridge. Kelly and Lisa are on the right. So happy to find him with this crew!
Photo courtesy of Eric Nachman.

I found Patty, and we cut the course to Grace Street about 2 miles from the finish. I got to check in and run with so many teammates and friends! You start to recognize the look of focus vs. the look of pain. If runners were focused, I tried not to bother them. But if you were in pain, I was there. Running into a friend was even better. I serenaded Kimberly with a rather awkward rendition of Respect in her 25th mile. It was fun. But the real fun was picking up my newbies.

Kelley came in hot at the finish, running much faster than her typical 11ish minute pace at 9:40 and actually ran faster as she neared the finish! She was simply phenomenal! Brother and sister Neil and Catherine, also running their first race, soon followed, still smiling. And Eric followed later, still with Lisa and Kelly, both seasoned marathoners and triathletes. As these new marathoners approached the finish, it was the most fun to watch them realize that the goal they had worked so diligently toward was about to be achieved. There were tears. There were Shalane Flanagan moments (F*%k Yeah!). And it was awesome. And those moments happened over and over again!

Eric crossing the finish with Lisa and Kelly, with fellow coach Chris to their left.

In the end, coaches from Pink Nation were the ones who crossed the line last, police cars in tow. I’ve never shut down a course before!

Police cars with lights on, escorting us to the finish after the last runners completed the course. No runner left behind!

All said and done, I ran 18 miles on Saturday!

The weekend was punctuated by seeing Bart Yasso at the expo and on the course. He’s a super nice guy and does so much for the Richmond running community.

With the legendary Bart Yasso of Runner’s World Magazine

I can’t believe the fall season is over. Now I’m contemplating what’s next in my running adventure. Spring half or full? We’ll see. It’s the first fall marathon season in a while that I’ve emerged from without injury, and I don’t want to lose momentum!

Book Review: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor

Book Review

Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

Three Rivers Press

2018/2019

It’s taper time for my running team as they prepare for the Richmond Marathon this weekend. One of the suggestions we give our team members for tempering “taper madness” is to read inspirational books about running. This one tops my list of suggested reading!  I’m thankful to our head coach, Blair Just, for the original recommendation.

Deena Kastor is the bronze medalist in the marathon in the 2004 Olympics. She also held the world record for the marathon as a master’s athlete. These accomplishments followed an impressive high school and college career in shorter distances.

Her book is a memoir, following her journey into becoming an athlete, eventually choosing running, and her successful career in high school and college, and then her decision to train for the marathon. She talks about her struggles as an athlete and then developing mental strength to improve her performance. She discusses the value of a good coach and the role her primary coach played in helping her conquer the mental challenges of competitive running.

Her writing style is engaging and casual. I love that her book is personal. I also love that each chapter begins with a quote! (I’m a fan of quotes, if you didn’t know!) And I love that we get a glimpse into the life of an elite runner!

My favorite quote from Deena in the book is this:

“Running offers us the physical strength and mental clarity for human compassion.”

This statement really resonated with me. Deena is referencing her feelings about 9/11 here. I think that running provides the basis for physical fitness, but also the ability to burn off anxieties to allow me to see problems in my life more clearly. Deena just puts this into words much more effectively than me!

At the end of the book, Deena includes a guide for developing mental habits for improving your potential and positive attitude. I need to work through these still, but will soon!   

I highly recommend this book. Reading it left me feeling inspired and really helped me with my training this year, reminding me that the marathon is mostly mental, and that positive self-talk is essential.

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts!

Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Bisque

It’s officially soup season! They are predicting winter weather early next week for Virginia! Can you believe it? So it’s time to dust off those favorite soup recipes!

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

As I continue my vegan journey, I’m searching for ways to “veganize” my favorite dishes. I tried this on a whim. The secret ingredient that makes this a “bisque” is the vegan protein broth from Walmart brand Sam’s Choice.

Y’all. This broth is a game changer. I’ve tried to make soups “creamy” using almond or cashew milk, but the flavor/texture was off. When I discovered this, I started using it as my substitute for milk or cream. It provides a rich, savory base for your soups and sauces!

Soup in progress! I sautéed onions and garlic until translucent , and then added the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the broth, and simmered for about 20 minutes. I then used an immersion blender to combine the ingredients until smooth. Finally, I stirred in the broth.

If you try this recipe, let me know!

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Bisque

Ingredients:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped in large pieces.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I actually used the frozen cubes from Dorot for this recipe)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil (can use dried or frozen Dorot cube)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Sam’s Choice Vegan Protein Broth

In a saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent over medium heat.

Add the tomatoes, peppers, and spices. Bring to bubbling over medium heat, and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove cover. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth, taking care not to splash the hot soup!

Add the broth and stir. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serve with crackers or bread. Enjoy!

Race Recap!

At the Iwo Jima memorial

The 44th Marine Corps Marathon is over. My 7th, and perhaps toughest marathon. I’m grateful to Team Safe House Project for the opportunity to run for them, raise awareness, and support their organization. I’m really, really happy that I finished. That’s the short story. Here’s the long one:

As I wrote last week, I didn’t enter this race weekend as prepared as I’d hoped. I made poor choices, like wearing new shoes for my 20 miler (same beloved Hoka model, just new!). I found myself nursing some posterior tibialis tendonitis after that run, so I rested as a precaution. I worked on gentle stretching and strengthening, and I tried a couple of KT taping methods to provide some support to allow me to run this race. My test run went well, so I was grateful to give it a go.

I think every average athlete goes through the same emotions during taper. We begin to have doubts. We are restless. We lose sight of our “why.” We eat all the foods. We have nightmares about race day. (I always have at least one about showing up to run without race attire and with a huge, heavy backpack I have to carry!) All of these anxieties really play with our mental game. I discuss this phenomenon freely in emails to my sub-team and with our runners during training runs with Sports Backers MTT. This way, when they feel these things, too, they know it’s normal.

I am so lucky that my best friend Patty was running this race. Patty and Steve picked me up early Saturday to make the journey from Richmond to the National Harbor for the expo. I was so excited about the race shirts! MCM did an amazing job this year! I stopped by the Nuun booth. I couldn’t be there for the ambassadors meet up at noon, but I did see the sign in social media posts, and I found my name!

We had a great hotel location about a half mile from the race finish. We ate a delicious meal at True Food Kitchen. I had a roasted butternut squash vegan pizza which was amazing!

Vegan pizza!

And then it was race day. I had controlled everything I could. I had my race gear laid out. I taped my right ankle. I didn’t overdress. I body glided/Aquaphored everything that needed it. I donned my poncho. And we were out the door.

Yes. I said rain poncho. Because, as my teammate and fellow Pink Nation coach Amanda said, we all thought the weather in 2016 was awful. And then Mother Nature said, “Hold my beer.” In 2016, there were heat advisories. And as much as I love running in heat and humidity (note the sarcasm!), it’s even better when it’s preceded by hours running through torrential rain. Patty and I ran together. The race started in just a drizzle after waiting for over an hour for the race to begin in steady rain. The rain picked up at about mile 6. Miles 13-14 were punctuated by driving rains and wind with multiple, ankle-deep puddles. Patty was starting to struggle at mile 14, and she told me to go. I gave her a hug, shed a couple of tears, and went.

By the time we reached the National Mall, it had stopped raining, and the sun emerged. This really only served to heat up the asphalt and puddles and to make conditions, well, steamy. It was also 80 degrees. By mile 17, still on the mall, I saw a med tent. I was so close to walking right off the course. I was spent. And then Patty caught up to me. She pushed me through the next few miles. One of our Richmond supporters rubbed Biofreeze on my upper back on the 395 bridge. I almost cried at each gauntlet, the final one at mile 22 in Crystal City. It was a party at that point! There were spectators handing out all kinds of goodies! I felt much better after eating a bag of Skittles and sharing a bag of Lay’s with Patty!

At mile 23, we had friends we didn’t expect to see from Richmond cheering on the sidelines! I pretty much cried like a baby in Becky’s arms when I saw her. She pointed out that legendary runner Kathrine Switzer was nearby, and she graciously agreed to take a selfie with us! Without Kathrine running the Boston Marathon in 1967 despite the rules restricting women from participating, women may not have the opportunities to compete in endurance races as we do now. She’s inspiring!

Me, Becky, Kathrine, and Patty!

At this point, we knew we were going to finish. It was hot, but we were relieved. There was a lot of walking during the last 5k, but we didn’t care. We were in great company, as most everyone on the still crowded course was walking at that point. And in the end, we finally got to run and finish a marathon together! So grateful for Patty!

While we were running MCM, our teams were running 20 miles in Richmond. Pink Nation is about half first time marathoners. I’m so excited to finish this season with them, and I can’t wait to witness their successes in 2 weeks at the Richmond Marathon!

It’s Marathon Weekend!

The Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday will be #7 for me. It’s my second time running this particular course.

This training season has been interesting, to say the least. In March, I was asked by our head coach for Pink Nation, one of the marathon training teams with Sports Backers, to be a coach for our team. I was humbled. I was also in a very bad place in my life with work stress, mental health challenges, and just not having any work/life balance. So I took some time to reflect on this, but finally said yes. Coaching has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the Richmond running community in this way.

My long training runs have focused primarily on ensuring the safety and well-being of our participants. It’s been an amazing perspective. I’ve gotten to know many more runners this way and have been able to lend advice about what I’ve learned while training for my past races. I will be on the course for the Richmond Marathon on November 16th, cheering on all of our MTT members! I can’t wait to help all of our first time marathon runners cross that finish line!

This means I will not be running that race. So, I needed another fall marathon. By the time I was asked to be a coach, the big races had already closed their lotteries, and smaller races offered their own challenges. My best friend saved the day once again, suggesting that I join her in DC for MCM. In seeking a bib for this race (one of the few where you can transfer a bib), there was an opportunity to run for the Safe House Project team.

The Safe House Project helps to rescue and rehabilitate survivors of the sex trafficking industry. This issue has been prominent in the media lately because of the Epstein revelations, but it is far more pervasive than people realize. Our country has a serious issue with an addiction to victimized, sexualized children. I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault, so this charity is personal for me. Children deserve to have a childhood free from trauma. These children have insurmountable obstacles to face in the healing process. That’s why this charity is important. I’m honored to represent Team Safe House Project this weekend. You can still donate funds to help the cause here. Thank you to all of my friends who have already donated. I appreciate you!

Earlier this week, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to run. The inside of my right ankle started to hurt the day after my 20 mile run, likely from posterior tibialis tendonitis. So I rested, took Advil, and focused on stretching and gentle strengthening. I tried a couple of KT taping techniques, and I’ve found the one that seems to work the best. I was able to run 3 miles on Wednesday without pain, and so I’m giving it a go. There will be several MTT runners there this weekend, including lots of Pink Nation peeps!

It’s looking like a rainy race, but I’m grateful to spend some time with my best friend this weekend. And we will have fun, I’m sure! If you’re running, let me know!

Vegan Chili

As summer comes to an end, despite the multiple resurgences here in Virginia, we are finally beginning to feel the temperatures drop! It’s perfect chili weather.

This is a recipe I have perfected over the years, and one I was using long before I became vegan. I’ve brought it to many a pot luck, and I usually get more than one request for the recipe.

This is quick to throw together, since almost every ingredient comes from a can!

I usually make a pot of white basmati rice to serve with the chili. My kids, who are not vegan, will top their chili with cheese and sour cream. Sliced avocado or guacamole are equally good garnishes!

I won’t bore you with multiple paragraphs before I divulge the recipe, so here goes:

Vegan Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I cheat and use the Dorot frozen garlic cubes)
  • 2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 8 oz. jarred salsa (I used half of the jar pictured)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Place a medium Dutch oven or stew pot on medium heat.
  • Once pan is warm, add the olive oil.
  • Add the onions and garlic and a few dashes of salt, cooking until translucent and beginning to brown lightly.
  • Add the all other ingredients and stir.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low.
  • Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

Nutrition as calculated by labels per serving (8 servings per recipe, although I typically eat 2 servings):

  • 148 calories
  • 2g fat
  • 30g carbohydrates
  • 6g fiber
  • 8g protein

Adding  ½ cup cooked Basmati rice adds:

  • 95 calories
  • 20g carbohydrates
  • 3g protein

You can boost your protein by adding products like Beyond Meat or Gardein brand grounds if you like. If you try my recipe, let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Let’s talk running gear…

A few of my favorite running bottoms…

Let’s talk about running gear.

You’ve already heard about my affection for the Hoka Cliftons and the importance of working with a good, local running store to find your perfect shoes.

Now let’s talk about running shorts and leggings!

Once upon a time, I could run in cute running shorts and skirts. That was before my thighs became ginormous and became prone to chafing with any runs over a few miles. The last major race I ran in a skirt was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016. I’m not sure my thighs will ever forgive me for that choice! I find it necessary to run in tights, capris, or bike shorts.

My favorite bike shorts are from Old Navy. I found them on clearance for $1.97. I’m not kidding! I do NOT like to spend a ton of money on running gear. My shoes, I will definitely splurge on. That’s a necessity. But anything else, I will hunt for bargains.

Most of my running bottoms come from Old Navy or stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, or Ross. I’m really lucky if I find Nike gear at a good price, and will generally snag these if I do. Other brands, though, I have to look at how they are made.

So what do I look for?

  • High waist. I need to keep that mom belly under wraps!
  • Flat seams.
  • As few seams as possible. Do NOT get seduced by cute leggings with multiple panels. The seams will betray you with chafing!
  • Moisture wicking fabrics.
  • Compression if possible.
  • That zipper pocket on the back of the waist is nice, but I never use it! But it usually indicates that the item was designed for running.

About those seams… Why flat seams? And what do I mean by that?

Flat seams are not raised and are enclosed by a serged stitch. These are not as prone to shifting and causing chafing issues. Seams not joined this way have a tendency to shift and flip with every move, and after a few miles of that, will cause chafing.

My favorite $1.97 bike shorts are finally beginning to lose some of their compression. After running in these for about 3 years, it might be time to search for their replacement! But the tan lines are amazing…

My favorite running tights and capris are all by Nike. I found my winter pair with fleece lining from the Nike outlet for $13 (purple above). I have a pair of Nike Pro compression capris from Burlington for less than $20 (black above). And I have another pair of capris which were a gift. I also enjoy every pair of Fabletics leggings I’ve picked up from Ross! (like the olive pair above, which were $13). I will likely never subscribe to their program, but I do buy these when I find them! I typically reserve these for shorter runs or yoga/gym workouts, though.

I won’t break out my winter tights unless the high temps during my run aren’t predicted to rise above freezing! And I generally won’t wear capris for running unless the highs are in the 40’s.

I save my running shorts for CrossFit workouts!

One note about skirts. I still will break these out for short runs. They are so cute! But I do avoid these if rain is in the forecast. There was this one training run my friends and I did from Carytown before dawn, and we were surprised by a thunderstorm with crazy lightening and torrential downpours. We were 4 miles into our 8 mile run. We decided to just keep going. I also happened to be wearing a skirt. That skirt absorbed what seemed like 10 lbs of water during that run! So no more skirts in the rain for me! And, by the way, my favorite running skirt is hot pink, and I bought it on clearance at Target for $3.33.

So, do you have to spend a ton of money on running bottoms? No. Just know what to look for!

Have you scored any amazing bargains on gear? I’d love to hear about them!

An Ode to my Beloved Hokas

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

My Hokas are comfy.

How about YOUR shoes?

This picture shows 4 generations of the Hoka Clifton, starting with the Clifton 2. I own 4 pair of these, two pair of the 3’s, two of the 4’s, one of the 5’s, and I’m currently training in the 6. Most of these I purchased at my favorite local running store, Lucky Road Run Shop based in Richmond, VA.

I’ve found that Hokas have a sort of cult following… as a company, they haven’t been around that long. And the cushioning and somewhat rocker bottom sole makes their profile, well, unique. But if they work for you, you will become a part of the weird Hoka following. But that’s OK. I’m comfortable with weird!

Prior to the transition to Hoka, I ran in the Saucony Triumph, then the Adidas Energy Boost. Unfortunately, the more I run, the worse my feet become, and I’m starting to develop bunions. (My husband would tell you I run too much…)

Where did I go for answers to my new foot pain? Lucky Road. When you are a part of a local running community, finding your favorite local running store is key. I know what my feet do when I run, but what I don’t know is what the new shoe upgrades mean for my feet. That’s why I need a knowledgeable sales staff who can fit me with what I need.

I tried on the first generation Clifton, and, quite honestly, I felt like I was wearing clown shoes. I just wasn’t ready for that much cushion! I also didn’t like that the tongue was not padded. But the second generation was a bit more streamlined, and I was talked into trying them by the sales team at Lucky Road. The toe box was bigger to accommodate my *ahem* aging feet, and the amount of cushion was well suited for long distances.

I’ve now run 5 marathons, multiple half marathons, and tons of training miles in some version of this shoe. I can’t say they will work for everyone, but for me, they make me feel like I’m running on clouds! Best of all, since I work in healthcare, I wear my newly retired running shoes for work! Best shoes for being on your feet all day.

Speaking of working in healthcare, I am acquainted with several doctors who recommend Hokas to their patients. And my patients often ask me about mine.

So if you become a part of this little cult, you just might find yourself in line at the grocery store wearing your Hokas when a random stranger takes a look at your shoes… then you look at theirs… and you’re both like heyyy… do you love your shoes? True story.

The Birth of a Runner

First marathon. Richmond 2014. With Sarah.

It’s been said that one of the most natural inclinations of humans is to run.

Well, I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I was one of those “if nothing is chasing me, it’s crazy to run” kind of folks. Seriously. I was a gymnast in my pre-teen and teen years. I only really ran during conditioning and to build speed to propel myself into the air. I was the kid who came up with every excuse in the book to get out of running the mile in gym class. That was me.

I’ve mentioned that in my path to wellness, I became bored with the gym. At this point, I started trying the group exercise classes. I was a big fan of the evening yoga class at the YMCA. Zumba, not so much. I’m really not coordinated enough for that!

So, why running? I was lured by that flyer for the Ashland Harvest Run in the lobby of the YMCA. I signed up for the 5k, because running 3.1 miles, although scary at the time, seemed doable. I trained myself, running/walking in self-guided intervals until I could run 1 mile, then 2 miles without stopping to walk. Until the race, I’d never run farther than that.

Running a set distance gave me a true goal to work toward. That’s a much different and much more satisfying goal than any number on a scale. You can break it down into pieces. It makes it achievable.

Race day, I was so nervous. Seriously… how could I ever think I could run that far?! However, once the race started, the nerves settled, and I promised not to beat myself up for walking some of the race. I was pleased with my results, finishing in about 35 minutes. What I loved was the RACE! Even though it was a small event, there was a fair amount of crowd support, and it was fun! And what a sense of accomplishment when I was done!

So peer pressure ensued, and a friend of mine convinced me to join the Sports Backers YMCA training team for one of Richmond’s most popular races, the Ukrop’s Monument 10k. I thought she was crazy believing that I could run that far. I mean, that was TWICE as far as the 5k! What was I thinking? She also convinced me to try the intermediate team, which I also thought was nuts.

So there I was, one extremely frigid day in January 2013, standing in a room at the YMCA with fellow runners, thinking that I didn’t deserve to run with the intermediate team. I met one of my best friends that day. Patty convinced me that I was in the right place after our 2 mile run.

With Patty after a run in Ashland

I developed some issues during 10k training that led me to see a sports medicine doctor to rule out a stress fracture in my right foot. Thankfully, it was only tendonitis, and I ended up being able to run/walk the 10k in March. That experience led me to Lucky Road Run Shop, which I found through their very convincing Facebook campaign. I messaged the store about my foot pain, and the owner, Jeff Van Horn, messaged back, and I ended up seeing him for shoes. Real running shoes. And then I felt like I was really a runner.

Fast forward to the fall, and Patty was trying to talk me into training for the Richmond Marathon. My almost injury scared me enough that I signed up for the Sports Backers 8k training team. I’m really glad I did, because not only was the great Taminator Harrison our coach, but I also met some of my best friends through that team.

My “sole sisters”: Tonya, Laura, Sarah, Patty, me, Denice at the Monument 10k, 2018

Slowly, we have grown our core group of sole sisters. They are the reason I keep running. That, and the medals… and the runner’s high… and the amazing Richmond running community… and the exhaustion and relief I feel after completing double digit runs week after week during marathon training season. You can work out a lot of problems when you run that far. There’s nothing quite like finishing a marathon, though. Not even close. I cry every time when I cross the finish line.

After the Richmond Marathon, 2018

Trust me. If this non-runner can become not just a runner, but a multiple marathon finisher, so can you.

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.