Mileage catch in Chicago.

There is no marathon on the schedule. Janet and Margaret were sounding the siren for a marathon sign up this fall, but then real life highlighted that getting the mileage done might just be impossible for each of us this year. We didn’t sign up. And, for me, it’s probably a good thing because if you’ve been reading this blog lately, you might have a noticed a theme of me not being able to successfully complete any distance goals that I set. This has been a problem, perhaps simply related to my fitness level, but I just can’t seem to get the breath I need to keep running. I’m responding by backing off huge distance goals and sorting out why I am having so much trouble ramping up mileage.

In the meantime, it’s been a good test to see if I can keep a running schedule in place without the pressure of a race date looming ahead. And, in fact, so far, so good!

For instance, I’m in Chicago for work and my meetings didn’t start until lunchtime. So, I laced up and trotted off to Lake Shore Drive and headed toward the aquarium and museum….


But when I got down there, I encountered the Chicago 10k runners (I had no idea that was going on!) and there were so many of them, it seemed better to run the opposite direction so I wouldn’t be in their way. So, I ran back toward the Navy Pier, and then around the Art Institute, then back to Grant Park.


All in all, it turned out to be 7.5 miles, which made me feel pretty good. Especially because it was SO humid!

But, also, I’ve been finding ways to cross train, to take some of the stress off my body from all the running.  Let me just say that paddle boarding may seem fairly passive, especially if you’re used to the the cardio of distance running, but if you’re paddling while balancing with your 50lb bulldog on the board with you, there is definitely a core workout to be had. Just pointing that out…


So, I don’t know if there will be a race goal this fall – maybe a half marathon, maybe not. But, in the meantime, I’ll catch the mileage when I can and work that core with my sidekick, Stella.


Old Port Half Marathon – Not Conquered. Completed.

I care too much about the goals I set for myself. So, even though last week I said that I’d probably skip the Old Port Half Marathon today, I didn’t want to pull a no-show on a race I’d planned for, sort of trained for, and recruited friends for.  And, truth be told, my pulled muscle was feeling a lot better. I figured if I could keep at a slow enough pace to avoid having to take deep breaths, I’d be fine. 🙂

So, last night, my friend, Wendy Harper, came to spend the night at my house since I live nearly an hour closer to the race than she does and the start time was at an early 7 a.m. today. We had a nice evening catching up, early to bed, early to rise this morning, and then left the house at 5:45 a.m. to get to the race (and wrastle up coveted parking spot…)

While I can be committed to my goals, I’m not completely irrational. I knew I wasn’t really ready for the full 13.1 miles and I was prepared to take walking breaks to get through the distance.  (Several years ago, I would have considered walking a complete failure, so I have matured a bit in my thoughts on distance completion – at least when considering my actual fitness level.)

Wendy is super fast, so she was in the first start corral (for the super fast runners.)  I was with everyone else in the second wave corral. I happily found my friend, Margaret, and her sister, Cathy, just before it was our turn to start running.  Here’s a picture of us just before take-off:

(Whitney, Cathy, Margaret, LtoR)


So, I knew Wendy would finish in plenty of time to cool off, get a snack, and generally relax before I came through. And, since Wendy finished in under 2 hrs, that’s exactly what happened.   I was not so fast. 🙂  So, by mile 9, I could tell I had maxed out my fitness level. Everything from 9-13.1 miles was going to be really tough and extra slow.  And those miles were both of those things, complicated by my first real experience with wheezing.  I don’t know what that was about – I have definitely run with great fatigue before, but the wheezing was new and really just put an end to any sort of productive running effort. Basically, I think my body was saying, “You can try to keep going if you want, but I’m just not going to process your air that quickly, so good luck with that.”

But, I wasn’t too discouraged – I happily ran into Margaret and Cathy around mile 9 (or 10?) Then Cathy took off for a speedy finish and Margaret and I slowly made our way to the finish line with a nice chat along the way.

Once we made it to the finish, I caught up with Wendy (who had camped out by the finish line for some great cheering as Margaret and I made our way to the end.)  I downed a bottle of water, ate a piece of watermelon, and then followed Wendy to the beer tent. (This race was sponsored by Shipyard brewery, so there was, in fact, a beer ‘garden’ for runners after the finish line.)

I’m not usually down for a chilly beer at 9:30 in the morning, but it just happens to be Wendy’s birthday and enjoying a beer refreshment seemed like the just the right thing to do to celebrate friendship, finishing, and a birthday.



On another note, Janet and Margaret and I were together on Thursday evening and discussed the potential of a fall marathon effort.  It seemed like a good idea on Thursday night. Today was a bit of a reality check.  But, there is still time to get ready so we’re gathering some info. I’ll let you know what we decide.

In the meantime – onward!

Dude, the air is just so thin…

Howdy friends,

As you might remember from my last post, I am scheduled to run the Old Port Half Marathon on July 11 – that’s 6 days from now – and I got my friends Margaret and Wendy to sign up for it, also.  You might also remember that I had a terrible 12 miler 2 weeks ago, my last shot at a long run before the race, given a 7 day trip I had in between.

Well, let me tell you about that trip. I took off for Colorado Springs last weekend for an SSATB board meeting and we stayed at the most luxurious place called The Broadmoor Resort with amazing views of Pike’s peak. After a 4:45 a.m. alarm and three plane rides, I arrived at the resort at 4:30 p.m. – just enough time to lace up and jog around the small lake a couple of times to get a run in before our 6 pm dinner to start the meetings. It was gorgeous, but I could hardly move. A quarter mile felt like a 5k.  I assumed it was the early start + 3 planes. No problem, I thought.  I’ll have a chance to shake it out later.

Fast forward 3 days, no more runs (though some excellent late-night bowling after our meetings!), and I left the Broadmoor to drive out to the Tarryall River Ranch, nestled in the Tarryall Mountains of Pike National Forest, CO.

I arrived at 5pm and was met at the gate by Paula, the ranch manager. She got me to my cabin by 5:10 and on a horse by 5:20. No joke. By 5:45 we were already friends and had ridden our horses up to an incredibly beautiful look-out point. Just a taste of what the week would hold for me. By 6:30, we were back, horses untacked, and we were at the dinner table to meet up with the other guests.

Since this is a running blog, you might be thinking, “just get to the running part already, ok?”  I’m getting there.  But first, I had to settle into the fact that I was vacationing at a dude ranch. I went out on TWO rides on Tuesday – one all morning, then back for lunch, then one all afternoon. Heaven.  I kept thinking, “I have to stop and take a picture,” but then we’d ride another 10 minutes and I’d think, “No, THIS is the spot that needs a photo.” I have a million photos and they are portraits of amazing views.

So, after day one of riding (that’s two rides!), I got back and put  my running shoes on and set off.  Mind you, I was in the mountains. At a very high altitude. I’m not sure how far up the ranch was, but it was of the ‘so-high-up-you-have-to-drink-gallons-of-water-and-gasp-for-air-just-because-you-laughed-a-lot’ kind of altitude.The air was thin. For real.  Running was impossible for me.  I would go about 1/10 of a mile and have to walk. Heave for air. Then start again. It took me about 30 minutes to go two miles. It felt awful.  But, I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I kept stopping for more scenery photos – like this one from that brief run:


The funny part was that other ranch guests saw me set off on a run after all the rides came in – disappear around the bend – and come back 30 min later. They were all hugely impressed and told me so at dinner. I had to confess to all of them that it only looked like I went running because of my running outfit, and that, in fact, I would run a few steps, stop, lean over to drag air into my lungs, walk, and then try again – over the course of 30 min. Nothing to be too impressed about.

Wednesday was a break from riding and we went white water rafting on the Arkansas River. That was pretty awesome. Evidence below:



The only downside to this bucket list adventure was that I pulled a muscle in my ribcage – I think when our boat ran into a rock. Or maybe with all the crazy paddling through rapids. Or maybe both together. In any event, I was just a little sore. But I was only half-way through my dream vacation, so I took some Advil back at the ranch. And then I learned how to line-dance (which isn’t really running, but was still cardio!). I woke up more sore than the night before.

Next day was an all day ride – with the most unbelievable views and two river crossings on horseback. Here, we are stopped for lunch:


On Friday, my last day to ride, we set out and rode a bit harder, requiring a bit more work on my part. The muscle on the right side of my ribcage was tight and sore. I shook it off again.

Here is a view from my last ride:


Then, after we got back for lunch, I could have rested, but who would want to rest with a nice cup of coffee when the ranch is full of 4th of July celebration shenanigans? I mean, really, how could I resist games like this race seen below? (And, this game is really hard!)

I just couldn’t stop myself from joining in the fun, and every time I did, I made things a little worse for myself. By Friday evening, my ribcage was on fire. I sneezed and it brought a little tear to my eye.  So… all of this to say, I’m having a hard time believing I can kick out 13.1 miles next weekend. I know I’m not really injured in any serious way, but a muscle pull puts a serious hitch in my giddyup.  Plus, my suitcase didn’t hop the 3rd flight home today, so is still somewhere out in the world, but not here with me. And my running shoes are in that bag. So, I can’t even give it a try tomorrow.

On the upside, it’s not hard to trade a hot half-marathon for a week jammed with experiences, ranging from the breathtaking to the thrilling to the absolute whacky, anytime. We’ll see how the week goes and I’ll let you know what happens with the Old Port race.


NOTEI have to just give a special shout-out to Paula and Colton who run the Tarryall Ranch.  They are the most amazing hosts and ranchers. They have a top notch wrangler staff who are cheerful, confident, and fun.  Keith, the cook, is an outstanding chef who kept us more than well fed and was blast to hang out with. If you ever want to try a ranch vacation, check this one out:

Run. Walk. Talk. Repeat.

Well, I have finished all my rabies shots… thanks to being bitten by a dog we can all assume didn’t have rabies, but since I couldn’t prove it… I got the gift of 10 shots. Those are done, though, so if I get bitten by *any* animal, I will not contract rabies. I’m cool.

In between all of those shots, I managed to do some fun things. For instance, I went to my 25th Bates College reunion and had so much fun reconnecting in person with friends.  In fact, I sat next to my former classmate and friend, Wendy Harper, at our reunion dinner. (You may recall from a winter post that she and I both ran the Maine Marathon and she was so fast that she qualified for Boston. And then she took a rest break and ran the Santa Hustle half-marathon with me in December.)

Here is a pic of us having a good time at reunion…

(me on the left, Wendy on the right)

Whitney and Wendy reunion photo

Evidently, I have some persuasive powers because I have convinced my friend and marathon buddy, Margaret, to run the Old Port Half Marathon with me on July 11. That means she has to come from Pennsylvania to Maine to run that race, and she’s doing it! And bringing her sister!  But I didn’t stop there… I sidled up to Wendy at this reunion dinner (above) and convinced her to do it, too.

That, of course, was so that I would feel the pressure of my friends’ commitment and officially get myself into gear and get some mileage in.  The morning *after* our reunion gala, I went out for a 10 miler.  Thankfully, I had my friend Ryan Ricciardi along for the first 6 miles – she was great company and we kept a solid pace. Unfortunately, when I continued for the next 4 miles by myself, the wheels fell off. I attributed it to the clouds of pollen that looked like smoke blowing by my face. It was a slow finish.

This week, I planned to redeem myself. I announced to Wendy that I was going out for 12 miles. She sounded impressed and I was feeling all proud and ready to take it on.  Well. IT. WAS. UGLY.  I set out to do the first 6 miles on my own and then I picked up my friend, Janet, in my driveway for the next 6 mile loop. She was all fresh and happy and I was already spent. It was terrible.  I got a cramp. I had to walk. Janet talked and was patient. We ran. Then I walked. We talked. We ran. And so forth.  We stopped to take a happy ‘selfie’ photo by the water at about mile 9 (for me) or mile 3 (for Janet) but I decided not to post it because we both look just terrible in that photo. I’m not sure what happened – I probably couldn’t get a good shot because I was heaving for air at that point…  So, I’ll just give Janet a shout-out for being amazing and inspirational rather than posting our pic. 😉

I also stopped my watch when we stopped for the photo, and I forgot to turn it on when we started running again. But, that’s OK. I don’t really need the timing evidence of how slow my second 6 miles was.

Though I’m not proud of the pace, I did manage to cover 12 miles with my own two feet, and company of a great friend, so not all was lost.

This may be the last really long run I get in before July 11… I have a nutty week at work and then I’m away in the mountains of Colorado until July 4. So, we’ll see what happens.


Encountering Cujo at Mile 6

It’s been a day.

Actually, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I’ve traveled all over the country for work, banked some long days at the office, did TONS of yard work, spent time with my daughter, Ellie, spent time with my mom, spent some time with my dad in the hospital (he’s much better now!) and was only getting in teeny itty bitty runs, 2-3 miles, every now and then. Hardly post-worthy.

Today, I have something to write about.

To start, I set off for an 8 mile loop this morning, basically with a plan to just get my butt in gear since I signed up for a half-marathon in 6 weeks.

My first couple of miles were tough – and I had a chance to make a turn to shorten the route to 5 miles, but I pressed past that turn, committing to the full 8.

My route was pretty – rolling hills, lots of farmland, not too much traffic, and good weather (cloudy, 55 degrees.) And I had good tunes coming through my headphones. As I noted, I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks, sling-shotting from one thing to the next, and so I had a lot to think about on my run, and once I got warmed up, the distance felt like it would be OK.

And it would have been OK, except at mile 6, just as I was turning toward one of my favorite views of the water, I saw two older women walking three dogs – one on a leash, 2 off leash. I crossed to the other side of the road. Just as I did that, a car came around the bend, and one of the dogs – a huge, black, shepherd-mix of some kind – bolted for the car. I stopped, watching it all unfold. The car stopped within about a half-inch before hitting the dog. Then the dog saw me, and came running. RUNNING.  I was trying to think fast, “What to do when a dog is coming for you? Stand still? Eye contact? No eye contact? Yell? Shut up?” I couldn’t remember, but I stood still with my arms close to me and could see that dog wasn’t going to slow down and was definitely going to jump on me. I turned my side to the dog and felt it bite my left hip/thigh.

The dog ran off in front of another car coming from the other direction. That car stopped. And then cars were coming from both directions, piling up behind one another and the dog was jumping at the cars. One of the women was walking past me toward the dog and I yelled at her, “GET that dog !- it bit me” and I showed her my leg. She quietly said, “I’m trying…”  She was clearly overwhelmed.

The situation was OUT OF HAND. I’m surprised there were not car accidents or car-hitting-dog accidents.

I turned and continued on my way, careful not to actually run, but trying to depart expeditiously, and I heard that dog coming back toward me from behind. I turned around and the dog was coming full speed. This time, I spread my legs, pointed at it and yelled, “NO. NO. NO!” in my deepest voice. It stopped 6 inches in front me, turned, and ran back to the cars. I got the HELL OUT of there.

Let me just say, the fight-or-flight response was fully engaged. I had just fought the dog and was fully committed to flight – I ran home. A full two miles more, as fast as I could.

I called the police. They said the animal control person would call me Monday morning. I said, “It is completely out of control! Dog jumped on cars, dog bit me and broke my skin!” Police recommended I go to emergency room and to expect a call on Monday morning from animal control officer. UN-believable.

Here is evidence of the bite:

071 073

Naturally, it’s a Saturday, so the ER is pretty full with very serious Saturday variety injuries. I’m at the bottom of the triage.  When the doctor gets to me, she asked if I called the police, I said yes, but they would look for the dog on Monday. She said, “Hmmm… let me see if I can urge them to look faster.”  One hour later, “I see what you mean.  If you want to try to find the dog, you have 72 hrs to get proof it’s up to date on its vaccines. Otherwise, it’s the rabies series of shots.

Let’s see. Here are the options:

Option A: Get the shots immediately.

Option B: Leave the ER, where I’ve already been waiting for 4 hours, to go find a dog that could be anywhere in southern Maine that the police are not looking for, and if I can’t find it, come back to the ER to start all over again.

I tried to pitch Option C:  assume the dog is up to date, wash my bite wound really thoroughly, and just get on with my life?

Negative. Not allowed. Not an option. Option C does not exist in this situation. (Note – if you ever tell a health professional that you have been bitten by an animal and you can’t produce proof of rabies vaccination for said animal, and the bite broke your skin, just plan on the rabies antidote series.)

So, the doctor and I  agreed on very slim chances that I’d find the dog, and another hour later, out came the shots.

If you ever need a series of rabies shots, I gently recommend that you take a friend with you, because it was FIVE shots to get started, majorly long needles, delivering an awful, burning antidote and vaccine medicine, and the shots go in all over, including right into your muscles. Seriously, after the 3 shots around the wound, and the shot in my arm, two nurses stood, one on each side of me, each with a very long needle, counted to three, and then simultaneously jammed those needles into thigh muscles on each leg.  It’s just not nice. Plus, it’s the gift that keeps giving, because I have to go back for three more booster shots in the next 2 weeks.

Let’s recap – bad first 3 miles, good miles 4,5,6. DOG BITE. Bad miles 7,8 and bad, bad trip to ER.

On the upside, my friend, Janet, arrived in her truck after my ER adventure so that I could go buy a grill, which I have wanted to do since last summer.

I grilled my entire dinner, including my vegetables tonight, and THAT was a good part of my day!



PS – major shout out to my friend and colleague, Kat Stegeman, who, at the last minute, dashed over to the College to cover an afternoon presentation that I was scheduled to do, but couldn’t get to, thanks to the epic line at the ER and my fun shot series. Kat – you’re the BEST. Thank you!

I don’t even like bananas.

The last really long distance I ran was the Maine Marathon in October. That was pretty long. After that, next longest was a 10 miler with my daughter, Lucy, right around Christmas.  Full stop. Nothing. Okay, maybe a little bit here and there… I didn’t want to lose all that fitness, but winter just got SO MEAN that it was such a battle to think about leaving a warm bed to go outside into subzero temps, with wind, in the dark, to exercise. So, I didn’t.  Plus, there was just so much (expletive) snow to move all winter (10 feet of it, thankyouverymuch), that I was spending enough time outside in the cold and dark. Plus I had to shovel my roof. I was absolutely getting plenty of outside time.

The problem was (is), that my appetite was (is) still of the marathon size… so let’s just say there has been an imbalance of calorie intake versus calorie expenditure, and intake has been in the lead.

The combination of the improved weather and my ill fitting clothes has motivated me to think about getting in shape.  Two weeks ago, I had to travel and I just so happened to think optimistically about my commitment and I packed my sneaks. I met some new colleagues on that trip and after dinner, one of them said, “Hey – let’s go for a run in the morning!”  I looked at him, and the other guy with him, and said, “You mean me?”  They agreed that they meant me. They promised only 30 minutes, slow pace.

I was game – so I met them in the lobby of the hotel at 6:15 a.m. and we set off. However, we were all new friends, so there was a lot of talking, and I was trying to keep up, while talking, and I finally had to beg them to stop and walk – TWICE – just so I wouldn’t throw up on them.  I don’t think they were impressed with my fitness but they were really nice about it.

Well, that kind of embarrassment is just the right kind to get me in gear, and I got serious. I signed up for the Old Port half-marathon in July so that I’d have a date looming ahead.  I diligently ran 2-3 miles, several times a week over the last couple of weeks (including a jaunt by the East River in NYC this past week.)

All of this means that there is nothing like regular exercise to remind you how much what you eat influences how you feel. This is how the bananas have made it back on the grocery list:


I don’t even really like bananas, but the truth is that they are the perfect athletic ‘fuel’ in so many nutritional ways, that’s it’s really self-sabotage to NOT eat them. So, there they are. I’m eating them. One a day. Hoping my muscles and metabolism appreciate the treat since my taste buds most definitely do not.

Today, I woke up, with a COLD, and still laced my shoes and stepped out for what I expected to be a 3 miler, with a 6 miler planned for tomorrow. But, my running buddy (and good friend buddy), Janet, was heading out for a long run on her own today with a new pacing method.  I felt good when I got started (thanks to the banana and cold meds), so I followed her plan and actually clocked 9 miles!

I’m back!  Bananas and all.





“What did we do?,” she said. “6.2”, I replied.

I’ve been quiet since my Santa Hustle on Nov 23rd. But I haven’t stopped running. My daughter, Lucy, got home from college and she’s training for a 1/2 marathon in Minnesota – in February – called the Hypothermic Half. (And I thought I was crazy…)  So, she was all about getting some mileage in and I was happy to NOT become a lump on the couch, though I was tempted.

We managed some nice 4, 5, 6 mile distances.

THEN, we got an invitation from Ms. Joanie Benoit Samuelson (friend and former neighbor) to go for a spin with her and her daughter, right before Christmas. Well, let me tell you, this was an EVENT.  I’ve gone running with Joanie once, more than a year ago, and was both humbled and inspired. And I was really slow but kept with group, mostly, because they slowed down for me.  Now, I’ve got 2 marathons behind me since then, plus the extra 1/2 marathon, plus the recent running company of my young, spirited, daughter. I felt energized and excited.

We met up in the morning, in a mix of snow/rain/freezing rain (yay, Maine).  Some warm greetings exchanged, then we were off, 2 and 2, around Joanie’s favorite roads and trails. It was amazing. I was running better than the last time, and the girls were paced well together.  I asked a lot of questions knowing that Joanie could talk and run with no problem. Lucy, in particular, had wings on her feet and was having a blast – after about 45 minutes, she looked over her shoulder to give me a “thumbs up” but saw me dropping off the pace, definitely way at the back. Just after that, Joanie (in the lead, natch) yelled back, “Do you want to loop again or finish up?” Fortunately for me, Lucy took mercy on me and chirped, “One loop is fine, thanks!” and I smiled at her for saving me.

Joanie looked over her shoulder, then, saw me dragging, and circled back to run next to me, the girls comfortably running ahead, side by side, chatting.  Joanie paced me up the hill, with my stomach burning from that last stretch of speed.  As we closed in on her driveway, the conversation went like this:

Joanie: “Do you have a watch on?”

Me: “Yep”

Joanie: “What did we do?”

Me: “6.2”

Joanie: “How far did we go?”

PAUSE. Do you see what just happened there? Joanie Benoit Samuelson is the ONLY person who could mistake “6.2” as the PACE rather than the MILEAGE.  (For the record, our pace was not anywhere near a 6.2 mile. We were much slower than that, thank God.)

But, on the upside, as we trotted into her driveway, she nodded and said, “You’re much faster than the last time we ran together.”  Best Christmas Present EVER. Really. I keep hearing her over and over in my head.

So, Lucy and I departed, grateful for Joanie and Abby to share their run with us.  It was such a great day, and we felt so good about it, that we set out for a solid 10 miler right after Christmas.

We took off together, but about 7 miles in, it was just so obvious that Lucy was holding back to stay with me. I told her to follow her feet and find her own pace. She smoked me. And as I arrived, there she was waiting, walking in circles, all cooled off. But, we both got the 10 done and were pretty happy about it.

Then, Janet was ready to run. Last Sat, we took off in single digit temperatures. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we had a lot to talk about, and we realized we were hauling. Really. We both had a serious undercurrent of energy that fed off the other person and we just moved. Fastest I’ve ever run 6 miles *and* we had negative splits with hills.

All of this has been so inspiring that I decided to buy some new kicks. I really do need them – the soles of my sneaks are showing wear with about 450 miles into them – so definitely time to go shopping. And… as you know… I’m a fan of Fleet Feet Maine Running Company (the store) and a huge  fan of the Hoka (the shoes.) One might even say I’m a bit evangelistic about the Hokas. I’ve been through several pairs of the Hoka Stinsons since training for the Philly marathon in ’13, but I got brave, and ordered the new, Hoka Bondi 4.  They have some cool features and I was anxious to try them.

Here, you can see my Hoka Stinson Lites (front), with the Hoki Bondi 4 (back) and my dog, Stella, photo bombing…


Today, I got in a good 6 miles (in 0 degrees, thankyouverymuch), and I liked the shoes. But a major blister was revealed when I took them off. Too soon to say whether they’re going to work, but it’s not looking good. Blisters are bad. I may have to go back to another pair of the trusty Stinsons. We’ll see.