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.


“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.


Tough and tougher.

Last year at this time, I was coming up on 15-16 mile runs and was just plain scared. Scared about the training distances,scared about the running schedule during heavy work travel,  scared about cramps, tendonitis, fatigue, and just basically scared that I wouldn’t be able to finish the actual marathon.  This year, with one marathon in the bank, Janet and I both know we can get to the finish line. This year, it’s more about “finesse.”  Or, maybe not finesse, actually. Maybe more like an “organized” finish. And, by that, I mean my body being more organized in receiving motion signals from my brain, getting my feet in front of each other without flailing around and shuffling through the finish. We’re aiming for “strong” finishes. I’m not sure we’ve defined exactly what that means – we’re allowing the training to help sort that out.  “Strong” might mean faster, or less dilly dallying at the water stops, or a pacing plan by intervals, or whatever. I’m not sure yet.

But, this week was a real test for us both. Janet in is the midst of the THE busiest two weeks of her year – long work days, every day, managing a million things at once. That she can even think about scheduling a long run with me is a testament to her strength. I did a round trip – late night drive – from ME to PA and back to pick up Ellie from the Poconos, to get her back in time to have 48 hrs to say hi, do laundry, repack, and leave to drive back to PA for her 3rd year of college. Plus, I had work when I wasn’t driving to and from PA.  And I was fighting a cold at the end of the week. I was feeling a bit pressed, to say the least.  I had to toughen up to get it all done.

As a side note, knowing that I had a challenging week and heavy workload in Maine, I did manage to crank out a run in PA. My hotel was in the middle of a very busy area, no safe opportunity to run on a road and the treadmills were all being used. So, I went outside and took advantage of the hotel being part of a huge office park and I just looped up/down/around all the parking lots until I got some miles done.  I had some time in between my run and when Ellie was free to get picked up, so I hit the diner across the street – this place:

500 499

Just the right breakfast for a full week and long drive ahead.

Back home, I had packed work days and then had to swing by the hardware store to buy a maul.  I had been borrowing Janet’s but I had to return it and I still needed one at my place. (Who knew so many outdoor projects would require a maul? But many do.)

I asked the sales guy at the True Value to show me where the mauls were located. This is how the conversation went:

Him:  “You want a maul?”

Me:  “Yes”

Him: “Not an axe?”

Me:  “An axe would be OK, but I really need a maul.”

We go to where they are located… and he looks at me…

Him: “Are you the one swinging it?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Him:  “Well, we have several sizes…” as he rests his hand on the small one.

I pulled out the one I wanted.  What I really wanted to say as a follow up was this:

ME:  “Dude.  I obliterated the pounding block  pounding a 4 ft mailbox stake into the ground with a MAUL like THIS.  This is the damage I can do when I swing a MAUL this THIS SIZE. Dude.”

(Evidence of my toughness below:)


Today, Janet and I planned to run long.  I hadn’t been sleeping well and I don’t think Janet has been sleeping at all…  Still trying to get rid of the cold, I had to load up with cold medicine before heading out.  We stayed together for about 6 miles and then broke up to follow different routes/distances.  Each of us in our heads. Each of us trying to catch up in training. Each of us trying to shake off a crazy week and figure out how to manage the day ahead, whatever planned and unplanned challenges might arise.  At mile 13, I was hoping someone would drive by and offer me a ride.  (No luck.)   By mile 14, I was determined to get to mile 16.  It was tough, but I finished.  (Actually, I finished at 15.9, but I’m giving myself the .1 in mileage on account of the cold medicine. 🙂  )

I plopped in the ice bath, got out, and got on with my day.

What I have learned in marathon prep, but also as it applies to life, is that however tough I think I need to be, I might need to be tougher than that. And I can be that tough.




Mileage. House and road .

Ok, so last week I told you that I moved and all the loading, hauling, unloading, and unpacking offered a special kind of workout, in addition to some limited mileage.

This week, sort of the same thing, but I gained a lot of ground – on the roads and in my house.

First, my heroic mom arrived the day after I moved and vowed not to leave until every box was unpacked and the contents put away. Her goal? Do whatever it takes to make it feel like a “home”. She must have drawn energy from her toes, comforting my jumbled mind by sorting, organizing, and “settling” me into my new place.   She was amazing, doing amazing “mom” things. While she was here, I only got out to run a couple of times but it made me feel like myself, which was good.

Then, this week, my mom was gone and I had the chance to take care of other “moving” things, like trying to hook up cable tv and internet.  That was a mere 6 calls to Comcast followed by a service call to the house. Those were nothing compared to the more than 1.5 hrs Lucy spent on the phone with “support” trying to hook up the Roku streaming device to our tv.  Here is Lucy, exhibiting tremendous determination and patience. (After all that, Roku never worked and we returned it…)


I didn’t bother with the kettle bell or the Body Blade for upper body work because my dad and Marcia arrived on Friday and we got to work.

Marcia took her green thumb straight to the garden. It turns out that wild violets just masquerade as pretty little flowers but are actually opportunistic weeds that put a choke hold on things that were planted on purpose. Marcia leveled a lethal effort against the violets, revealing some lovely ground cover around the shrubs.


Also, I had some serious wallpaper that needed to come down . We had three rooms to tackle and we started with the bathroom – the room where it seems the paper was put on the wall with superglue. Yep. Epic wallpaper removal adventure, but all three rooms are now paper free because my dad knows a thing or two about taking down wallpaper.


I’ve only mentioned a wee bit of all the things my family did to help me get started in my new home and I am grateful to have so many great people looking out for me. But we all worked hard and are tired!

With so much going on, I didn’t get to run every day, but when I did go, I made the most of it. First of all, I made a commitment to take a different route everyday. This worked well – not only did it mix my distances, it gave me the opportunity to learn the places around my house.  I didn’t run with my phone this week, so no good photos of the scenery, but there *was* good scenery, including coastal and farm scenes. Sweet.  I managed 3, 6, 8, 5, and then another 8 miles today. I didn’t take the time for icing and rolling out and all that stuff that I normally do, so I’m surprised that I didn’t feel too wrecked from this week’s mileage, on top of the house labor.

My vacation is over and I am back to work tomorrow. Hoping to keep mileage in the 4-6 mile range during the weekday runs with a longer one on the weekend.


Moving. Cross Training. Same thing.

I had to travel last week. On Sunday through Wednesday, I was in Newport, RI for a conference. There were a lot of good things packed into that trip – really good work with great people, including my friends Holly(left), Martha (to right of me), and Jen (far right):



In addition to lots of meetings and socializing, I managed to get in some runs near the beach


I managed a 3 miler on Monday and 4 miles on Tuesday afternoon in between work obligations. It wasn’t too hard to motivate with scenery like this from the Cliff Walk:



No running on Wednesday as I had morning meetings and then a drive back to Maine with some stops on the way.

No running Thursday morning because I was busy packing a U-Haul with this amazing bunch of friends.  Can I just say that anyone who is willing to help you move is a pretty spectacular human being. I’d like to give an extra special shout out to my daughter, Lucy, and to my friends, Janet and Ryan M.,  who committed to both ends of the move – loading *and* unloading. Go you!  Here is my amazing move-crew after we got everything off the truck and into the house.



(L to R: Lucy, Ryan R, Ryan M, Janet, Sandra, Ken)

No running Friday because I was completely wrecked from moving on Thursday.  Lest you think I’m a weakling, Janet also has confessed to feeling like she was run over by the U-Haul.

But, Saturday, I got myself together and managed 4 miles. On Sunday, I ventured out again for a quick 3.  Monday, nothing. I regressed and just felt too tired.  Today, Tuesday, I told myself to just get out there. “Just Do It” to quote Nike. So I did.  A solid 6.25 miles to start the day and it helped me feel more like myself amidst the craziness.

Margaret couldn’t be here, but sent me flowers to cheer me up on move day. I thanked her for the flowers and she replied, “You’re welcome. Ok, so which fall marathon are we going to pick?”  I have not answered her. 🙂

Scenery helps with mileage

I had a lot of mileage last week… and I did it on purpose because I knew I’d have to travel this week and I wasn’t sure what kind of impact that would have on a running schedule.

I managed 3 miles with Janet and Margaret last weekend (after heavy mileage in the days before that) and then a rest day on Monday.






It was a busy work week, but I managed to get 4-5 miles in on Thur and Friday and then set out on Saturday for a long one. I had enough time to head out a new way and if made too big a loop, I could walk part of it.

I started on one of my normal routes but then detoured to head down the water. I knew where I wanted to go because it was a leg of the 18 mile route Joanie Benoit Samuelson gave me last year. Only, I didn’t really know how long this new combo would be. I guessed somewhere between 9-12 miles, but was really hoping it would be more like 9….

And it was 10 on the nose!

That beautiful scenery in the photo was at mile 5.5 – the perfect “pick-me-up” to keep going.

Sunday was just a shortie 3 miles.

The week ahead is jammed with travel to RI and a bunch of other crazy life commitments, so I’m not sure if it will be a good mileage week.

But, since good scenery really helps, I’m going to deliberately start searching pretty routes to keep me going this summer.

ready – set -race… and then relax

Well, last Sunday, I went out on my own and knocked out 9 miles. It was hot and humid, and even though much of the mileage was in the shade, we Mainers are pretty intolerant of heat and humidity, especially when they are combined. So, 9 miles was my limit. I was happy, though, because that’s the longest I’ve run since the marathon in November.

After that, the next days were mix of 2 to 5 mile runs, with Thursday as a rest day.

Because on Friday, the 4th of July, I joined in the LL Bean 10k in Freeport, ME.  I wasn’t planning on doing this race. I’ve been nursing my foot for months and didn’t need to spend money on yet another entry fee for race I might end up skipping. But, at the last minute, my friends Kat and Ryan said they were running, and I said, “Ok!”  And then I learned that Margaret was going to be in Maine for the 4th and she would run it, too.

So, on Friday morning, we ran in the humidity and fog, but no rain.  I finished with my fastest race pace ever! I’m sure my pace was helped by Janet who had first coached her Couch to 5K crew early in the morning and then came to the LL Bean race to cheer for us. I saw Janet at the 5.5 mile mark as I was climbing a long hill and she bopped on into the road and ran next to me until I got to mile 6, whispering, “Come on – you got this- you’re looking strong.”  She’s such a great friend. I probably would have slowed down at the end because it was so hard then, but with her running alongside, I really tried for the homestretch.

race results

Not long after the race, Arthur really hit and we had torrential downpours and power outages through night. I had a lazy start to the morning yesterday, waiting for the rain to let up. Then, I stepped out for a light run – just to stay loose. But I had a lot on my mind, so I went a little further, and further, and finally trotted back into my driveway with 10.2 miles behind me.  I dropped myself into an ice bath to take care of sore feet and legs, then went to get lunch with my daughter, Lucy.  It was middle of the afternoon before we got lunch and we were both so hungry, we were grateful for the massive portions at Bernie’s restaurant in Falmouth. (As you can see, Lucy’s haddock sandwich is the size of her head.)


And then, today, I picked up Janet at 7:30 am and we drove to Biddeford Pool to meet up with Margaret. I was a bit tired from my over-mileage effort yesterday, so I stopped at 3 miles while they continued on to finish a loop. (Dad – notice that I took your advice and stopped before hurting myself! 🙂  )

It’s worth the drive to get to scenery like this:



We even took a break for a selfie:


And then we went to the general store, bought coffee and breakfast, and sat outside to relax, visit, rest, and enjoy the view (those are my Hokas! I love the Hokas.):


I’ve got a bunch of travel this week and a crazy schedule for the days I’m actually in the office, so I expect mileage to light and worry free.