Training Partners

As much as I love triathlons, running is my first love, but I had never done the one distance that would make me a “real” runner- the marathon. It was time! So my friend Alicia and I decided to run a marathon together during our triathlon off season. And, to add some extra pressure, decided that our goal would be to qualify for the Boston Marathon. We set out to find the flattest January course that we could find and decided that The Chevron Houston Marathon was the perfect race for us and got about training.

Okay, so I should clarify. I actually have run a marathon. The best marathon ever! The Marathon du Medoc in France. It’s a 26.2 mile run in the Bordeaux region of France that consists of 23 wine and food stops. You can read all about it here and then go sign up because it’s the most fun you’ll have running. So, to be more correct, I had never raced a marathon.

As much fun as a race is, the real fun in my opinion is in the training and doing so with good training partners. A good partner is someone who will listen to you whine and complain and then tell you to get up because it’s time to move. A good partner gets the freak-outs, often will freak out with you, but also will be your biggest fan and motivator. There is no rivalry with a good training partner. A good partner also knows the importance of plannng a run around bathrooms and will always examine your chaffing and black and blue toenails and not bat an eye. And a good partner will nerd out on Garmin stats with you and encourage you to buy more running shoes because you can never have enough shoes.

Alicia is my favorite training partner. We’ve gone through so much together and have very similar styles of how we approach our training and life and buying all the gear. She my biggest fan! So it was an easy transition for triathlon training to just running. We quickly realized we might have made a mistake in our timing, though, when it occurred to us that we would be at the peak of our training over the Christmas and New Year holidays, but knowing that you had to get up for an 18 mile run the next morning definitely helped reign in the eating and drinking.

About halfway through our training we headed down to Huntsville, AL to run the Rocket City half marathon with our friends Angela and Kevin; two more of my favorite people to train with. We had all run miles together in the weeks leading up to the race. Runs where we got lost, almost got hit by a car, slipped our way over icy bridges, literally blew backwards with wind gusts, and runs that were just way too hot for a December day. By the time the race rolled around, we thought we were prepared for anything. Unfortunately storms in the area that morning forced the race to be canceled. It was disappointing but we made a quick pivot and went to bunch instead. We had a great time and, of course, spent brunch planning our next races.

My longest training run, 20 miles, came all too soon. It was now just Alicia and me running together and we were nervous, but ready to see how it went. The mid-December morning started off rainy so we postponed our start time a bit, knowing that we would be running deeper in a day that was going to be warm and humid; unusual even for Tennessee. We asked some of our “real” runner friends about a route so we had something different to do. They recommended a route and told us that there was a church about halfway through that would have a place to refill our water bottles. Perfect!

We started the run just as the rain was ending and the day became warm and humid as promised. We became very thirsty as our water dwindled to nothing but we remembered the church. When we finally reached it we began to look for the water. Then I spotted a old fashioned water pump in the front of the church near the road. There was our water!

I began to pump and pump, not sure if anything would ever come up. Finally, though, water came flowing out. We were so happy and drank and drank and then filled our bottles and dumped the water over our heads. Feeling better we finished the run with no issues and texted our friends thank you about the water. Well, turns out the water is actually inside the church which always leaves it’s doors open. Here we were recreating Little House on the Prairie and all we had to do was walk in the front door to have access to water and a clean bathroom, but it literally never crossed our mind to try the door. So many people have told us that they had no idea the pump actually worked and probably have wondered about us. I laugh every time I think of what we must have looked like to passerby’s, so proud of ourselves, pumping that water from that pump and dumping it over our heads. But hey, we’re nothing if not resourceful!

Obviously it’s not possible to run every run together, but even when you’re running solo it’s nice to know that there’s someone out there doing a similar workout. Someone you can call or text as soon as the run’s over or, at times, even in the middle of the run, to discuss how difficult it felt or how you’re never going to make it 26 miles or how you’re about to eat everything in the house. I remember after one particularly difficult run on a warm and very windy day (there were so many windy days!), I was feeling down because the run had been so difficult. Talking to a few friends who had also run and felt the same way made me feel so much better. It’s always nice to know that, even when training solo, there are friends going through the same experiences.

All too soon race day arrived and we headed down to Houston. We had a few other friends who were running the marathon and the half marathon as well and we all went out to dinner the night before. Talk focused on the weather and what to wear because it was going to be cold and windy. Then we moved on to past races and strategy and nutrition and, most importantly, our after race party plans. Just being with these women who are all absolutely amazing runners, eased my nerves and made me excited to see what I could do.

Race day dawned as predicted; cold and windy, but with a bright sunny sky. Alicia and I ran the first mile together talking and joking and then she was off because she is so much faster than me. I picked up my pace too and just ran, watching the miles tick away.

Just a few miles into the marathon I rounded a bend and could see ahead of me thousands of runners crossing an overpass framed by the city of Houston. I got a huge smile on my face because this is what you train for. This is what makes a marathon or any distance race so fun; all of the people around you who have gone through similar training experiences. We had all worked so hard to be there and will work so hard to complete the race and then have stories and memories, good or bad, that we will retell over and over again.

The Houston Marathon went well for me. I never felt bad and did qualify for Boson (but, let’s face it, I’m old now so it’s not super impressive. The one good thing about getting older I guess!). Alicia killed the race and qualified too! All of our other friends had great races and we had a really fun time celebrating. We laughed and joked and told our race stories, and, of course, planned our next races.

Now I’m back to training for the next race. Just the other morning I ran with a couple friends, one with whom I haven’t run in a really long time just due to life. It was a bitterly cold morning but the three of us were up bright and early and the run filled my soul. We talked and laughed and complained and helped solve the problems each of us was dealing with. I left that run with a huge smile on my face because, a much fun as races are, this is why I train and this was exactly what I needed.

I ran the Marathon du Médoc- the world’s craziest (and most fun) marathon

I heard the singing behind me getting louder and louder. Suddenly a man, singing loudly in French, squeezed between my friend and me. We laughed when we realized he was wearing nothing but a wig and thong along with his running shoes. I moved over to give him more room, but quickly jumped back over as I realized that I was about to get run over by a large number of people dressed as chickens pushing a giant chicken float. And this was just the first kilometer! Welcome to the Marathon du Medoc, I thought as I smiled and picked up my pace.

My friend Amy and I for years would joke that the Marathon du Médoc was the only marathon we’d ever run. It’s 26.2 miles through the vineyards of Bordeaux, France featuring 23 stops for wine tasting and food like oysters, steak, and ice cream. Oh, and all this has to be done in a costume based on the year’s theme. I mean, if you’re going to run a marathon this should be the one, right?!! Then last year the joking became serious; let’s do it! we said to each other.

Continue reading “I ran the Marathon du Médoc- the world’s craziest (and most fun) marathon”

Mountains: Eastern or Western, which is your favorite?

I step out of the car, ready for a short hike. Immediately soft, warm air wraps itself around me; a silky hug as if to say “welcome back”. I take a deep breath of cedar-scented air and smile. This is home. This feels right.

This is my first hike since returning from a vacation out west in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s beautiful there and we had such a great time. Every turn as we drove and hiked those mountains was awe-inspiring. We used words like “dramatic”, “breathtaking”, and “majestic” to describe what we saw. I think of those mountains as I begin my hike.

Continue reading “Mountains: Eastern or Western, which is your favorite?”

august is for fun fridays

Summer is flying by and we haven’t done anything particularly exciting this year.  So, I decided that every Friday during the month of August is Fun Friday.  We will have an adventure, big or small, on Friday!

So, today I got together with my sister and we did a 3 state whirlwind tour.  New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania all in one day!  Okay so I live within 15 minutes of those states, but it is very adventure-y sounding.


2013-08-02 13.31.00 (2) Continue reading “august is for fun fridays”

what winning really looks like

Basketball season ended last week.  It was a great season all around for all of my kids, even my 4 year old.  She learned to dribble the ball while watching all of those practices from the sidelines!  I am proud of the improvements that they all made and joy they had in playing the sport.

I was one of the coaches for my 4th grade daughter’s team.  The term coach should be used very loosely here, but I did what I could (my husband and two other men were the main coaches!).  During the games I had the privilege of sitting on the bench with the girls and rotating them into the game.  It was so much fun!  Here, I had the opportunity to really get to know the girls.  Their true personalities came out as they played ball and watched their teammates compete. Continue reading “what winning really looks like”

how to make the winter pass quickly

It’s cold in Northern New Jersey.  In fact, we are right in the middle of a snow storm as I write this!  This time of year can seemingly last forever.  Short days, snow and ice, dirty cars, steel grey skies, and fly away static-y hair (my own personal pet peeve) make it feel like winter will never end!  But there is a bright spot for our family.  It’s what makes the winter pass quickly…basketball!

Right now we are smack in the middle of basketball season.  Three of my four kids play it.  My 6th grade son plays for his school and my 4th grade daughter and Kindergartener son play for Upward, an excellent basketball program run by our church.  My husband coaches my daughter’s team.  I am also considered a coach but I basically hang out on the bench with the girls during the games.  We are often at basketball practices and games 4-5 times a week!  But, I love every minute of it!

So, in honor of our winter pastime, I created a Basketball Top Ten.  The top ten reasons why I like basketball… Continue reading “how to make the winter pass quickly”

such an inspirational video: these are real athletes!

This is such an inspirational video of two brothers, Conner and Cayden, who won the 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids of the Year.  They compete in triathlon’s together.

It is so moving!  These brothers demonstrate what a real athlete is; unlike what we have seen in the news this week.  If you have not seen this, I highly recommend that you watch it and share it with everyone you know!

what’s your limit?

“You don’t have to push

past your limit-

you just have to reach it more often.”

– Ironman Andy Potts  (quote in Outside magazine)

I read this quote the other day.  It’s reassuring; good I don’t have to go beyond my limits.  I don’t have to go beyond what I can handle.  But then I read it again and realized that it makes me question what I do.  Why don’t I reach my limits more often?  Why is this so difficult to achieve? Continue reading “what’s your limit?”

are your kids too clean?



Today’s generation of kids is called the hyper-parented generation.  Like never before, parents today attempt to do everything they can to protect their children.  In today’s world safety is a god.

I recently read a parody of the book Goodnight Moon in The New Yorker.  It is very funny!  You can read it here.  The last lines in the poem state:

                  Goodnight wipes warmer and yoga mat, HEPA filter and sun hat,
                    Sunscreen, sunglasses, sleep sack, outlet cap, sleep coach, G &T ,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     star charts, consumer reports,
                   Vitamin D, anything with Omega-3, French au pair, filtered air and—

                   Goodnight alpha parents everywhere.

Satire?  Maybe, but reality is not too far off.  Continue reading “are your kids too clean?”

truly alive

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

  —  Theodore Roosevelt
I love this quote!  To really feel alive we need to step out of our comfort zones and dare to do the difficult.  My greatest fear is that I will get lost in the mundaneness of life, the “gray twilight”.  Sure it’s easier to live a safe and comfortable life, but where does that take you?  Only through challenges and struggles and difficulties and successes do we grow and truly feel alive!