Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Not About Me

Here's the deal, it's not fun asking all of your friends to give you money for your cause.  It's not easy training for a marathon (possibly a bigger understatement than the first sentence).  And when I'm exhausted from doing both I remind myself of this - it's not about me.  Not this race.  This race is about fighting a terrible disease and wiping out blood cancer.  For me blood cancer has a face, the face of a spunky, sassy blonde haired girl named Tanner.  I've asked her mom, Beth to tell you more of their story.  After you read it, be sure to visit my fundraising site here and make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Hitting the Wall - By Beth Page, Tanner's mom

Here's Tanner at five years old.  She was a happy, healthy kindergartener riding bikes, playing soccer, taking dance lessons.  But, within a few days of this picture being taken, she started complaining about back and leg pain, which is pretty odd for a five-year-old.  Within the week, her school had a one-mile fitness test at Pinkerton Park and Tanner came in dead last, limping across the finish line.  Our pediatrician agreed that she had probably strained something at field day or her dance recital.  Several weeks after this picture, she woke in the night screaming inconsolably that her back hurt.  This started the two-day process of determining that our spunky, sassy girl had leukemia and would only live a few more weeks without chemo intervention.

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer, and Tanner’s low risk factors made her situation the best case scenario for treatment.  Even so, she would go on to endure two-and-a-half years of chemo, the standard protocol for a girl with ALL (boys do an extra year).  It is truly the marathon of cancer treatment.

The first six months of treatment were brutal.  She had weekly IV chemo, and other chemos delivered any which way you can imagine:  19 lumbar punctures with chemo delivered into her spinal column; chemo injected in her to thighs through simultaneous, painful shots; oral chemo; massive high-dose steroids; chemo we brought home and nervously administered through her port, and on and on.  Her body went through incredible changes.  She gained 15 pounds in the first month from steroids and was, literally, unrecognizable.  Then, over the next few months, the weight fell off of her, along with her hair, and she became emaciated, pale and frail. 

But, Tanner never gave up.  She never stopped dancing and singing, and playing with her brother.  Just like a runner hitting the wall, she kept going, even though her body begged her to stop and she, eventually, triumphed and came to a better place.

After six months, Tanner entered the maintenance phase of treatment for nearly two years.  She was able to go back to school during this time, although she still missed a lot of class and I found myself at school often, bringing painkillers or anti-nausea medicine.  Maintenance was easier, but still no picnic: daily oral chemo, monthly IV chemo and steroid pulses; and the dreaded lumbar punctures every three months.

About a year into chemo, when her school once again had their one-mile fitness run, Tanner asked on the way to school that morning, “Mom are you and Dad coming to my fitness run?”

“Of course, ” I replied, then added, “You know Tanner, you don’t have to run if you don’t feel like it.  We could bring pom poms and cheer on your friends. “

“I want to run,” she said.

“Okay, well just know that if you need to stop, that’s okay.  You just run as far as you can.”

 “Why wouldn’t I run?” she said, confused.

I paused for moment before answering, “No reason.  Go for it!”

And she did.  She ran and didn’t finish last despite a year’s worth of chemo in her small body.  That spirit and resilience continue to serve her well today.

Tanner today
Tanner is now a healthy, active ten-year-old.  August 6, 2013, marked two years off of chemo for her and she is playing soccer, loving 5th grade, acting in local children’s theatre, singing and being her spunky, silly lovable self.

We are so grateful to people like Emily, who choose to use their passion for running to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  They have been a vital force behind Tanner’s survival with the research they have sponsored in the past.   LLS continues to sponsor promising research to improve outcomes and find ways to treat leukemia with less side effects.  We hope that you will consider donating so more kids can ask, "Why wouldn't I run."

And just in case you need the fundraising site again, go here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Break Down Here

For the last couple weeks I've had a song stuck in my head.  It's from several years ago.  "Break Down Here" by Julie Roberts.  And why is this song stuck in my head?  I'm pretty sure it's because I feel like my body is breaking down.  Every run the last 2 weeks has been a struggle. A slow struggle. Now before you panic on my behalf, this feeling is part of the process.  And probably my body is breaking down, but it has to break down in order to get stronger.  Personally, I'd rather just skip over the breaking down and go straight to stronger.  Being strong physically, is only part of what is needed for a marathon.

Let's skip right over and talk about the other part of marathon training - mental toughness.  Here's the deal, the marathon is at least ten times more about mental toughness than it is about physical strength.  You can train your body to do almost anything.  I completely believe that.  The mind seems to be less easy to train.  This is going to be my third marathon.  But this is going to be my first marathon that has a half marathon option.  In my previous marathons, everyone ran 26.2 miles. In this one, lots of people will veer off around mile 12.5 and be receiving their pretty blue Tiffany box when I am only half way through the race.  Talk about mental toughness, it will take a lot of digging deep to keep going past that turn.

Today has been a crappy day.  And that is saying it nicely.  I have a lot of bad words I could use to swear at this day.  I felt this way about my long run 2 weeks ago.  It was terrible, awful, no good and very bad (yes, that's a children's book).  On terrible days and awful runs I try to look for the good.  I can't help it.  Sure, I like to gripe and complain a lot especially for effect, but deep down I'm optimist as pure as they come.  I came to the same conclusion today that I did at the end of that run a couple weeks ago. I am grateful.  

I'm grateful that I am strong and healthy enough to run.  When I first got involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society over 4 years ago, I had no personal connection to cause.  At that point I'd only met one person who had a blood cancer and that was when I was a kid.  And that's reason, I got involved. Because no doctor had ever had to look at me and tell me my child was sick.  I have no idea how it feels to have to take my child for cancer treatments every week for 3 years (standard treatment for a boy with Leukemia). And for that I'm extremely grateful.  When I want to give up on a crappy run or feel like this is the worst possible day (this one is particularly crappy), I remind myself that I'm lucky.  And I continue to beg and plead with my friends to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so that when a mom gets the unthinkable news that her child has cancer or when a coworker's mom gets diagnosed with a blood cancer I know that there's an organization fighting for a cure. Please join me in fighting for a cure by making a donation on my team in training page.   

Friday, August 30, 2013

Coach, Mentor & Friend

I started running with Fleet Feet's No Boundaries Couch to 5k program 4 years ago this month.  At the time the program was still pretty new here.  It had 3 coaches, Matt & Christi Beth Adams (the owners of FF) and Tammy Sanders.  It was a special group - the people and the coaches.  I can easily say it was a life changing experience for me.  One of the really great things about it was that I felt like I really bonded with the coaches.  

At the end of the training, I knew 2 things - I wanted to keep running and there was no way I ever wanted to start over.  I'm sure Tammy doesn't remember it, but I remember being very afraid of training for a half marathon.  When I asked her if she thought I could do it, she was so convincing that I signed up for FF's training program the next January.  And I've been training with FF and Tammy every since.

Christmas lights run with Tammy & Nicole
One of my favorite Tammy quotes is that you will never regret the runs you go on, but you will always regret staying in bed.  I can't even list the number of times that thinking this in my head has gotten me out of bed, shoes on, and out the door.  Tammy has always encouraged me in all of my crazy running plans.  There have been many times that I've told her whatever my current insane plan is and she just shook her head, but then found encouraging words to share.  

When Mark and I decided to train for our first marathon in 2011, Tammy was one of the first people I shared this goal with.  We were running that race with Team in Training (TNT).  She had also done her first marathon with TNT.  She was amazingly supportive and more than helpful when we were coming up with fundraising ideas and plans.  She lost a grandparent to a blood cancer, so it's cause close to her heart.  This year she helped us create a team to train with FF and fundraise with TNT.  To check out that site click here.

More than a running coach, mentor and encourager Tammy has become a great friend.  We've had many long discussions on Monday nights about a variety of subjects.  It's easy to become friends with people you spend lots of time and many miles with.  I'm thankful for all the friends I've met through running.

This past weekend Tammy told me and Mark that she was leaving FF.  I'm being completely selfish when I tell you how sad this makes me.  Of course, I can't really blame her for wanting more flexibility and to have her Saturday mornings back. Without Tammy, I wouldn't be the runner I am today and possibly I wouldn't be a runner at all.  And, as she keeps reminding me, she's not going anywhere.  She's getting married in a couple weeks and they will continue to live here.  She's assured me that she'll still be at Tin Roof 2 on Monday nights.  She is leaving FF very amicably and going to work in a completely unrelated field.   And in her words, she'll be a great ambassador for FF.

Tammy, I can't thank you enough for the amazing influence you've been in my life.  Thank you for always having a smile and an encouraging word.  Thank you for all the times I've come to you nearly in a panic about a running problem or a race and you've always calmed me.  Thank you for believing in me before I believed in myself.  Most of all thank you for being a friend.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weighing in

I realize that you aren't supposed to ask a woman how much she weighs.  I'm sure there's an etiquette person somewhere frowning on me because I'm about to disclose my weight here.  But I need to.  I need to say it out loud, to see it written and for the accountability that comes with sharing that I have weight to lose.

The number I'm going to post will probably be surprising.  Every time I tell someone they look at me like I'm a crazy person. But I promise it's real.  I had a fitness assessment two weeks ago today.  And I couldn't ignore the number that glared back at me.  I can hear some of you in my head telling me that I look fine or even pretty.  And I know some of you will rush to tell me that a lot of it is muscle because I run so much.  That is true.  But I can't claim it's all muscle.  Just like I can't blame it on being leftover pregnancy weight (wait maybe I could, I mean Jesse is only 12).  

The truth is I've always struggled with my weight.  Not in a huge way, but in smaller ways.  I've never been extremely overweight, but I've always had a little extra.  And for the past several years it has crept up 2 and 3 pounds a year.  Last year was more like 5 - 7 pounds.  Yes, it was a very stressful year, but I can't keep buying in to these excuses or I'll never reach my goal.  

I'd like to point out that I don't have an unrealistic body image.  I know that I'm not out of shape or obese.  But I also know that I want more for myself.  And I want to free up the time I spend worrying about losing 20 pounds to do other things.  As importantly,  I want to run faster.  Besides speedwork, I know losing weight is probably the best way to get faster.  

So here it is - I weigh 188 pounds.  The scale actually said 190, but 2 pounds were subtracted for my clothes and shoes.  It is interesting that, while I haven't lost a lot of weight from running, I have changed shapes.  I've worn a size 10 jeans for the last 8 years.  When I had Jesse, I weighed somewhere in the range of 195.  I can't believe I've let myself get this close to how much I weighed when I was 9 months pregnant.  It's unacceptable.

Food is my problem.  Clearly, I burn plenty of calories running and working out.  The problem is I know how hard I work and how many calories I burn, so I have no problem justifying a dessert or two. For the last two weeks, I've been tracking my calories and let me tell you, it's pretty obvious how I gained weight.  Tracking food has definitely lead me to making better choices.  And I've lost a couple pounds already.

During the fitness assessment, I also learned good things about my self.  My level of cardio endurance is better than about 90% of my peers.  I also have really strong core muscles.  However, my percent of body fat was not pretty.  I'm also about as flexible as a steel beam, but that I blame on genetics.

The first goal I've given myself is to weigh 175 on October 20 (the day of my next marathon).  By the end of 2013 I want to weigh 165.  And my final goal would be in the 150s by March 2014.  I have other goals like eat 3 servings of vegetables a day.  Some of you will say that seems easy, but track your veggie intake for a few days (and no fries don't count) you just might be surprised.  

Speaking of marathons, I need some help.  I ran my first marathon in 2011 as a part of Team in Training (TNT).  I loved it.  The support on the course from other TNT people was outstanding.  I felt like I had a personal cheer team the whole race.  But more importantly, I helped raise money to find a cure for blood cancers.  All funds raised through TNT go to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission - to cure blood cancer and give support to patients.  My personal goal is to raise $5,000 by the Nike Women's marathon.  Please support me and LLS by making a donation here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Your First is Always Special

Last year at the Women’s Half Marathon in Minnesota, I saw sisters cross the finish line holding hands.  I’m certain that I teared up in that moment and immediately texted my sister and asked her to run a half with me.  I knew it was something on her bucket it list to do someday.  She replied with something close to “sure”.  I’m almost positive she thought I would forget or let it go. 

I started looking for races for us to register for.  Sarah hates to run in the cold so I knew it would have to be a late spring or early summer race.  I bribed her with a race in California.  And made a case for it to be both a race and a long weekend they could see my brother in law’s family.  Really, how could she say no to race in San Diego?

We started training in March.  My sister and I have always been close.  She’s one of my favorite people to spend time with.  I really enjoyed all of our extra time together as we ran together on average twice a week.  Maybe it’s the big sister in me, but I also loved sharing my knowledge of running with her.  She trusted what I told and pretty much followed the plan I put together. 

I knew she wouldn’t have any trouble after our longest run of 12 miles.  She hardly complained and I was the one slowing us down.  I think there’s a sweet spot between well trained and over trained and I think she was in the perfect place.  I’m not sure she really got excited for the race until a few days before.  But the more excited she got, the more excited I got.

Sarah’s sister in law, Kim, was going to run the race with us.  She has children near the boys age and they all bonded during Sarah and Jeff’s wedding last spring.  It was great for us to all be together for a few days in San Diego. 

On race morning, we left super early to take the shuttle to the race start.  Imagine for a moment the most annoying people you can think of to ride in a shuttle with, and the group of women in our shuttle was worse.  They actually asked us to get out of the shuttle and onto a different one – we politely declined.  They were loud and obnoxious.  Sarah leaned over to me at one point and whispered that no matter how hard the race would be at least we wouldn’t be stuck with them. 

We had lots of time before the race to sit around and prepare for the race.  I’m not sure this was a good thing as it’s easy to overthink before a race.  One of my favorite things about this race was that it benefitted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  There was a lot of Team in Training runners.  It was a great distraction and made me super proud to be a part of such a great organization.  In the last mile of the race, I saw a lady holding a sign that said, “Thank you from a Leukemia Survivor”.  Talk about powerful, and yes I might have had tears in my eyes.

We started in the corral behind the 2:30 pacer.  I was expecting us to finish with a time around 2:45.  Kim had missed some training and planned to run with us as long as possible.  Part of my running wisdom I had shared with Sarah was to start slow and then to slow down.  If you’ve ever run with me feel free to laugh here.  We walked more in the beginning than we did later in the race.  This was to warm up well and to finish stronger…oh and because the first 3 miles always suck.  We lost Kim somewhere around mile 4, probably because that’s also where I finally feel warmed up (sorry Kim).

Experiencing the race with my sister was like experiencing it for the first time all over again.  It was wonderful and a little magical.  San Diego was my 30th half marathon.  As you can imagine, I’ve seen almost every sign you can think of.  But I read them all again and laughed with Sarah.  I’ve often said how important spectators are during a race.  Until you’ve run a race, you really don’t understand how much holding a funny sign can help the runner going by.  I also really enjoy spectators who give out goodies during the race.  My favorite this race was a popice popsicle.  I made my sister dash from one side of the road to the other to get one.

There was a guy in front of us the last 8 miles or so with a 3:00 pace bib on.  Sarah kept saying she really wanted to run it in under 3 hours.  I purposely didn’t wear a watch or pay much attention to the timing clocks.  I didn’t want to add any extra pressure.  I was also aware of who was around us, and I knew the 2:45 pacer never passed us.  So every time she said she wanted to finish under 3, I just smiled and said we would. 

We finished in 2:34.  I’m so proud of Sarah!  It took me a long time to get to a finish that fast.  Waiting at the finish line, were our husbands (with signs, sweet guys) and other family and a few friends.  Sarah held it together through the entire race and through the finish.  As we were walking back to meet everyone else, she gave me a huge hug and said thank you and she had big tears in her eyes.  It was one of the moments you know immediately is so special you will cherish it forever.  We barely missed Kim finishing.  She finished in 2:51 – quite impressive since she didn’t get to get to train as much as she wanted.

At the race expo, Sarah and I registered for the Women’s half in Nashville.  It is my personal running philosophy that you should sign up for your second race before you run your first.  And there was a moment during the race where Sarah must have been on a runner’s high where she said maybe (You should know I take maybe as yes.) she would do one travel race a year with me. I never had any doubt that my sister would finish the race.  I was in a little surprised by how gracefully she did it.  I never heard her complain a single time.  We smiled, we laughed and we had a great time.  I couldn’t help but think we captured the spirit of the race perfectly.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Race 2 - Rock n Roll USA & Chrystyna's PR

Rock n Roll USA was my second race in our insane 3 in 9 day plan.  We flew to Baltimore on Thursday and met Chrystyna and her friend (our new friend) Kristin there.  This was supposed to be a reunion weekend of our original No Boundaries group, but Erin couldn't make it and Mark was home recovering.  We went to the expo as soon as we got into town so we could spend all day Friday being tourists.  I feel like once you've been to one Rock n Roll expo you've seen them all.  This isn't bad since some of my favorite booths are always there, but it's also not very exciting.

We spent Friday sightseeing.  The only thing we were missing were fanny packs.  We went to the American History Museum.  They had some great exhibits.  My favorite was the First Lady's Dresses.  They were so beautiful and it was cool to see fashion change with each inauguration.  We also saw the White House and several monuments.  We had dinner at Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown.  It was so good.  It was a memorable experience, not just because of the food, but also it had the most Easter decorations I've ever seen.  I'm pretty sure the Easter Bunny actually lives there.  We also had cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes, which is featured on TLC's DC Cupcakes.  I haven't seen the show, but the cupcakes were a great pre-race food. 

Chrystyna had said that she would like to PR this race.  Her previous PR was 2:38ish.  I knew I could pretty comfortably get her a faster time than that.  She had a few goals - PR, under 2:35 and a 2:30.  We started a little fast but she felt good, so we kept going.  She did great all race.  The really nice people who planned  the course put a mountain at mile 6.  And don't bother telling me there aren't mountains in DC, this was definitely a mountain.  It slowed us down just a touch, but we had made up the time in a mile or so. 

Around mile 10 my watch died.  But I didn't tell her.  I tried to keep glancing at it like I had been all along.   Once she asked if we were on pace to finish in under 2:32.  I lied and told her yes.  I guess it wasn't actually a lie, but I certainly didn't know for sure.  We finished in 2:31:43.  Ironically, we were faster in the last 3 miles after my watch died.  I was very excited that we met 2 of her 3 goals.  The funniest part is when she was a few steps behind me I would try to point out holes or bumps in the road.  She took my pointing to mean I wanted her to speed up.  So funny. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this race.  I think the Rock n Roll series is generally well done.  There was a good bit of sightseeing the first few miles.  We ran past the Washington Monument and the White House and ran to Arlington National Cemetery.  One thing I like that some other races have done, but Rock n Roll doesn't,  is give you a list of some of the things you will pass on the course and their significance.  Something like that would have been great for this race.  The crowd support was awesome!  The waterstops were terrible.  I don't think the race was able to secure enough volunteers.  There were a few waterstops that definitely cost us a little time.  Oh and bag check was a complete disaster.  This is one place this series usually excels at.  But not this race.  The line to drop off your bag (arranged alphabetically) was 20 - 30 people long and slow moving.  Picking up the bags post race was even worse.

If you're looking to do a race in DC, I would recommend this race.  I'm not sure I would do this one again, mostly because, as my sweet husband tells me all the time, if I want to complete my half marathon in each state goal, I have to stop doing the same races over again.

A New Level of Crazy - Race 1 Tom King

I love the half marathon.  It's my perfect race distance.  There's a good balance between needing to train and keeping a normal life.  Unlike marathon training, where you turn your life over to training.  And shorter distance races don't require enough training for me

As much as I love the half marathon, even I think doing 3 halfs in 9 days is a tiny bit crazy.  But, obviously, I'm a little crazy too.  I blame my dear friend Chrystyna for giving us this idea.  Truthfully, we all went along with it with very little complaining.  Well, very little until the second race weekend.

Gail, Nicole and I did our first race as Tom King the weekend before our double race.  Chrystyna is doing hers the weekend after (tomorrow, actually).  She lives in Dallas now (yeah, I'm still a tiny bit sad about it).  So we decided we'd do 2 of the 3 races together.

This is my fourth year to run Tom King.  It was my very first half marathon in 2010.  Here are the things I love about this race - you get to see a lot of friends on the out and back course and you get to finish inside LP Field.  Everyone talks about it like it's a super easy half (is there such a thing really?).  But every year, I find myself thinking about how hard it is.  There isn't a lot of crowd support, and I love the distraction of people cheering and creative signs.  And even though it is relatively flat, it's not my favorite course.

This year I had a blister come up on the bottom of my right foot.  I could feel it start about mile 6.  My shoes were relatively new, but I'd already run the New Orleans half on them with no problems.  And my socks were my most faithful brand (feetures).  By mile 8, I could feel the blister growing.  And finally between mile 10 and 11, it burst.  OUCH!  I have had plenty of blisters, but never had one burst open.  And I hope never too again. 

I had planned to run the race with my friend Lauren.  She was going to pace me to a new PR.  My goal was 2:14:59 or faster.  But it wasn't meant to be this race.  Mark had his hip replacement done just 2 days before the race. I spent the 2 nights prior to the race sleeping in a hospital chair.  They say it folds out to a cot, but I'm in disagreement.  Not exactly a strong pre-race plan.  I backed out of running with her the morning of the race.  It worked out well for her.  She ran the 5k with her husband (his first) and was super speedy. 

Even with the blister and the sleeping in the chair, it was the fastest I have run this race.  Every year, I swear I'm not running this half again next year, but I always change my mind.  I've said I won't run it again, but I'm sure I'll be there next year too.

Mark's surgery went well.  This time he had a full hip replacement.  The recovery has seemed to be much easier and less painful than the other two fixations.  Thankfully, the surgeon who did the replacement suggested Mark see an Endocrinologist.  We learned that his pituitary gland is not functioning properly.  He is very low on several hormones.  Most likely this is the reason the other two surgeries did not work and the reason the fracture occurred in the first place. 

The big question is will Mark run again.  Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this.  The doctor said once he's completely healed and released he can run again.  The risk is he will have to have his hip replaced again sooner than if he doesn't run.  But because Mark is younger than most replacement patients, he'll have to have it replaced again anyway.  The doctor did suggest maybe shorter distance races or tris.  Ultimately, it's really up to Mark if he wants to run again.  We have 2 friends who have had replacements and still run.  I try not to push for one way or the other (I'd be annoyed if someone, even Mark, tried to tell me I should or shouldn't run).  I think he will run.  He loves it too much to give it up. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Races & Goals for 2013

I'm a girl who loves a goal.  Without goals, life would be boring, right?  I have so many running goals for this year it's hard to keep up with them.  They range from states, to times, to stretching my comfort zone to running with new groups.

Let's start with the comfort zone stretching and new groups.  Last week I ran with the Lululemon Hill Center group on Thursday morning.  I'm definitely a midpack runner and my fear when I run in a new race or group is that everyone will be faster than me.  I know this fear is irrational.  And that even if everyone is faster than me, that it's not a big deal.  I never considered not going to the run, but as the run started, I definitely considered going back to my car.  The work out was a speed/track workout and, though intimidating and slightly painful, it was awesome!  It felt so good to push myself.  I hope to make it to this run at least every other week when I don't have to get Jesse to school.  I also want to run with the Nolensville running club.  I'm scared of them too, but I have several friends there so hopefully, I won't get left behind.  At least not the first week.

When we did the Women's Half Marathon in Minnesota last August, I saw a group of sisters finish the race holding hands and wearing matching shirts.  Yes, I realize how incredibly cheesy this sounds.  But I want it all the same.  Since then I've been begging my sister to run a race with me.  I've finally gotten her to agree to run the San Diego Half in June.  And her sister in law is running it too.  I'm so excited.  I can't wait to start training with her and designing the most ridiculous shirts/tanks I can for the three of us.  I'm also hoping that after Mark has his hip replacement and recovers that we will be able to run together again this year.  Even if it's just a short fun run.

I have time goals I want to reach in 2013.  I PRd both the half and full distance in 2012.  And, of course, I need to beat those times in 2013.  My current half PR is 2:18.  My goal is 2:14:59 or faster.  I have a couple of goal races for that time.  I also want to finish a marathon in 4:59:59 (5:21 is my current PR) or faster.  I'm not completely certain I can do that this year, since the marathon I want to finish is Nike Women's in San Fransisco.  But that's my goal and I'm willing to put in the work to get there.  I've never been consistent with speed work or tempo runs, but I know I have to improve and commit to them to reach my time goals.

I want to do Nike Women's as a part of Team in Training.  Which means I'll be begging everyone I know to contribute to my fundraising.  Believe me, if it wasn't an organization I believe in and support whole heartedly I wouldn't do it.  It's an incredible cause that supports and changes the lives of people with blood cancer.  More on that in a future post. 

As for other races in 2013.  I've bought the Rock n Roll Tour Pass which lets me run in as many of their North American runs as I want.  I'm doing all halfs with the pass.  They include New Orleans, USA, Country Music, San Diego and Vegas.  I'm also considering Philly, Chicago, St. Louis and Denver if I can get the schedule and budget to cooperate.  Other halfs for the year include Mississippi Blues, Virginia Beach (as part of a double weekend with the RnR USA), Tom King (with my bestie Julie), and the Knoxville half marathon.

Today, Gail, Nicole and I ran the 11.2 mile loop at Percy Warner park.  In nearly 3 years of half and marathon training, I've managed to avoid this training run.  Not always on purpose, I should add.  I feel a tiny bit guilty that I haven't done it before today.  Running this course feels like a rite of passage in the running community.  It's one of the hilliest and most challenging courses you can get here.  But it's beautiful and it feels like you've really accomplished something when you are done.  See I'm stretching my comfort zone already.  It's going to be a great year of running.