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
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
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!
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!
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
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
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
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.
The 44thMarine 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!
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!
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!
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!
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trust me. If this non-runner can become not just a runner,
but a multiple marathon finisher, so can you.
The quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal.
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
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
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
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.
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.