Thursday, June 30, 2011


Play to your strengths. 

Try NEW things until you find the “thing” that you’re good at and cultivate that SKILL.

That’s what we teach our kids at Chez Moi. 

If your strength is a loud voice, go out for drama.  If your strength is singing, go out for Chorus.  Math?  Science?  Maybe go out for Chemistry Club.  If your strength is balance combined with a total disregard for personal safety, go out for BMX Bike Racing or Horseback riding. 

I love to run & see measurable improvement, but I’m not statistically speedy.  Running is not my “special skill”.  I love it though, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve made huge personal strides in the past 18 months that make me think that the sky is the limit.  That maybe, just maybe, my me-centric goals are (shhh).

I’m loud, but I lack this detail called talent that is so desired by the theater crowd, and I can sing, but… yeah, see above note about talent.  I’m short, so my special skill is not reaching things for short people, because I’m usually the one mucking about looking for a step stool when the tall person wanders in and gets the high up item.  I like chemistry, but it's NOT my strong point.

I write but lately I’ve been crippled so severely by writers block I can barely function at all.  Creatively I’m dead in the water.  So writing is probably not my skill.

I have no special skill? 

None at all?

I’m skilless.  Skill-less.  Spell check tells me that is not a word.  Perhaps that makes me unskilled… but, I really hate to be anything that starts with an UN and contains the word Killed.  Skill-less seems more my speed.

Today I realized something. 

I’ve been looking for a tangible skill.  Something measurable.  Instead, I think my skill is more abstract.

I’m a hunter-gatherer…. Or, a grouper, if you prefer.

Which sounds fishy, but not quite as fishy as being a "groper".

I’m the kind of person who brings people together.  I have over the past year “gathered” a group of random individuals, and through luck, the chemistry has created a team.

I’m proud of my mad grouping skillz.  Our lovely team consists of both women and men.  Experienced and newbie.  Casual and Competitive. 

Sometimes I over think things.  I over think my unofficial leadership role that’s just slightly outside of my “unskill” set.  BUT ~ grouping things is tough.  Especially when you have a large group of people that’s not quite large enough to be a mob.  We’re individuals here, not a mass of bodies.

And today, just when I was about to freak the freak out about chemistry and “junk”, I remembered something.

Everything is going to be fine, because I am playing to my strengths. 

I have a loud voice.
I can sing poorly.
I like to wrangle, and I fall naturally into leadership roles.

When I wrangled horses and kids, I never lost a horse or a kid.  Not every wrangler can say that you know.  I was a bit of a freak when it came to by the book safety “stuff”. ~nazi~

Chemistry is all about reactions.  So all I need to do is figure out how to work with the chemicals I have to make the least explosive and most beneficial reactions….

Before I blow something up.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drama Club

Once when I was in high school I auditioned for a play without reading the script to the end.  That wasn't like me.  I usually researched, studied, read, and read again.

But ONE time, I went out on a whim to a casting call that included a part for a 20something year old and performed a remembered monologue.  Why not?  I mean, I looked close enough to 20, and I had some decent material.

My Drama Coach scolded me severely.  He felt I had wasted my audition.  I mean, Where in the world did I get off on thinking that I knew enough about the part of Vera, the 20something year old token dumb girl, if I didn't even know how her story ended?  He was outraged.

Even more so when I got the part.

What is the point of that story?

Well.  I don't know exactly.

It just occurred to me the other day as I was out on an unplanned unscheduled Tempo run that I'm not sure I'm following the script.  And then another day, Mustang Sally asked for company on a 4 miler and I thought, "why the heck not?"

Never mind that I've already run this morning, done a particularly intense Team Adrenaline workout complete with dry heaves, and that it's 80something degrees with about 80% humidity.  I didn't say, "have a nice run", I said, "Give me a few minutes and I'll join you."

Then I bailed on my long run and rescheduled it for another day because it wasn't going all that well, and hello, what's the harm in just running it another day?  Then I joined the Advanced Team for a few awesome & inspiring miles. (many people on this team will finish their marathons in sub 3 hours).  Um.  I have an UBER goal that gets me within an hour of that... give or take.

So.  It's confession time.

Lately... I have not been following my training schedule.  ~ GASP ~

Before you panic, let me lay some fears to rest.  I have been running consistently 4 -5 days a week, carefully monitoring a 10% increase in miles each week, cross training X1 day & resting X1 day, and thanks to that nasty virus I even had a week where I stepped back and took it easy.

But as far as the plan that I had tattooed on my husband's forehead (so I can carefully study it while pretending to listen to his every word)... well...  I haven't been following it.

I haven't even looked at it in days.  Maybe a week or more.  um.

I know about how long my "long" run needs to be every week, but that's all I know.  I tend to run a schedule - easy Tuesday, Speed (Adrenaline) Wedneday, Long Thursday, Hilly effort Saturday, HMRP Sunday...  but that's not really on any kind of paper or scheduled plan...

It's like I took the SCRIPTED DRAMA out of my life and the result is that I feel amazing.  My long run this week was epic.  Even with the blistering four mile start with Black Team.

EPIC aside, this whole "non-schedule" thing, it's out of character.  Is this the beginning of burn out?  Is it summer laziness?  Or is it a runner without pain for the first time in a long time out enjoying the moment and savoring the run without worrying about the race looming on the horizon?

And if that IS it, is it a good thing? or Not?

What about you?  Do you always "Run The Plan"?  or do you ever just "Run in The Moment"?

~ savor the run ~

Monday, June 27, 2011


Instead of running with MTT on Sunday, I ran long on Saturday (um, and it was DEFINITELY a "blogworthy" event).  I didn't sleep in on Sunday though.  Instead I joined Illusive, and T, and volunteered for the I LOVE THE TAVERN TRIATHLON!

When I do things, I DO THEM.  In this case, I employed the FISH philosophy to my day as a volunteer.  Ever read FISH?  It's a great little read.  Not life changing, but definitely worth reading.  I found it when I read a review online and thought how nicely it applied to running and nursing school and marriage and parenting and... The FISH principle is simple.  Choose to have a great day, Play, Be in the Moment, and Make their Day.

Pretty much, if you're volunteering ~ FISH ~ is the way to go.

1) Volunteering for a triathlon = O'FREAKING EARLY HOUR wake up.

2) T & I are a little "punchy" at 4:55am, and using a camera is a struggle.

3) Body Marking GORGEOUS HARD MALE BODIES isn't really HARD.  just. sayin'... my first job of the day was great.  It's also easy to PLAY when you're kneeling in front of people "inking" their quads (insert 1970's porn music here).  In fact, if you're doing this and NOT playing, you need to find a different job.  Seriously.

4) I had the privilege of marking a girl at her VERY. FIRST. RACE. EVER.  I told her she was going to be great, and that I would see her at the finish when I was removing chips (my other job du jour).

5)  According to the Illusive Dave, there are times when walking a mile in another mans shoes translates into giving another man your shoes at a triathlon... way to go Dave, barefoot volunteering is the next fad in running I'm sure.

6)  Cheerful & Happy goes a LONG way.

7)  I cheered, shouted bib #'s, gave High Fives, and collected chips at the finish line from the first finisher to the last and ALL the finishers in between.  My goal was to make their day, because it WAS THEIR DAY, and they deserved it.  I had the honor of cheering in 2 Yellow SNOW teammates, 1 MTT Coach who didn't recognize me AT ALL when I called him by name (always a fun, a guy who nearly passed out and I had to grab onto (did I mention that he was HOT? and sweaty... yeah, it... was a hard job ~yeah~).  And guess what?  I was there when that first time racer finished her first triathlon with tears of pride streaming down her face.

8)  FYI - I will HUG a crying Triathlete.

9)  EVERYTHING is more fun if you're wearing a red shirt... and you have a *thing* about "red shirts".

~savor the run~

Friday, June 24, 2011


Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, others head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.
~Dean Karnazes

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shetland or Clydesdale?

True Story.

MTT has a message board.  The following was posted in it:

I'm looking for an intermediate team that isn't full of clydesdales... 

Are you freaking kidding?

This makes me nuts!

I'm not really a clydesdale, I'm more of a shetland pony.  Short legs, long body, big personality.  Yup, definitely a pony.  And yet, the above statement sets my teeth on edge.

I challenge the person who typed it to defend that statement.

I PRAY that she finds this blog by happenstance.

Aren't there 900 BETTER WAYS TO ASK FOR A NEW TEAM?  Like, one strategy, the one I would use - let's e-mail the MTT coaching staff and say, "I need a team that will be running this pace" or "I'm running with a goal to BQ this year."  Crazy talk!  You could ask for a team assignment without alienating 1100 of the 1200 MTT participants.

There are days when I question what kind of person I am.

I often wonder about myself, am I a pitbull or a poodle?


And then I read something like that, and my answer is clear.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rule the World, it's a RUNNERS WORLD!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have gathered that I am a fan of Run Like A Mother: The Book.  There are a few reasons for that, but I think one of the main ones is that I’m a longtime admirer of one of the authors, Sarah Bowen Shea.

Now, if SBS’s name rings a bell, that’s because she also writes for this little running publication called Runners World

So when SBS mentioned me by name on her & Dim’s blog as a “fashionista she admires”, I was beyond flattered.  (<--- understatement of century there)

Imagine my surprise then, when I woke up one day and realized that I was not only someone SBS admires for my fashion forward style, but also someone she wanted to interview for the feature article she was writing on running fashion, for Runners World!

True. Story.

Seriously ~ those of you who’ve known me for more than the last 15 years will get the humor.  Until 1994 I wore jeans and a sweatshirt or jean shorts and a t-shirt.  And that was it.  No dresses.  No blouses.  And getting me into a skirt?  Forget it.

But that was then, B.R.

This is now, A.R.

I wear a skirt everyday.  I’m known for it.  I often pair it with snazzy printed tall socks and some obnoxiously bright colored top to boot.  And once I’m dressed in the look that I’ve coined as “slightly naughty”, I head for a run, or to the gym, or for a ride.  

I am rarely without my skirt.  

I’m also rarely without my Bestie, Tonia, of RacingwithBabes.  She’s the *SOCK runner that I admire.   A true Fastinista.

The look I love~

photo courtesy of Deb Harper.
And yeah, it's "slightly naughty", true?


I’m being quoted in the August edition of Runners World.  

In the cover story.  

Written by an author I admire.  

Is this really my life?  

Oh yes, I think it is…  

And my bestie, T?  Well of course she’s modeling the look that I talk about.  Because really, if I’m going to be featured in Runners World Magazine, T’s going to be right there with me.

Together as always, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*SOCK runner – Stylish and Obviously Completely Kicka$$ Runner

Friday, June 17, 2011

Adrenaline READY

Wednesday brought me back to Team Adrenaline.  After being sick last week, I was ready to get back to my Bestie for a solid workout.

Someday the novelty of telling you about his (<-- whoops! I meant) THIS class is going to wear off.  Someday.  NOT today though.

Paulie's strategy for Adrenaline this week was to work on the muscles that runners don't strengthen but really ought to because we use these muscles all the freaking time...  This is injury prevention.  And ultimately being stronger through the feet, ankles, core, shoulders, etc is going to make us "faster", more "explosive", "stronger", "agile" runners.

SIGN ME UP.  I will take a little pain today if I can just CHECK ALL on the list above.

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today...


"Probably not.  But let's do it anyway."

3L & I spent time... a lot of time... with the other athletes in a line on a soccer field hopping from foot to foot performing deceptively easy looking drills designed to strengthen our ankles, change our posture for the better, encourage us to pick up our feet, and make us laugh.

OK, maybe they were not intended to "MAKE US LAUGH", but somehow, even through the pain of our burning muscles, we laughed.  

Paul apologized to our burning glutes.  We laughed.  He had us doing IRISH dance steps.  We laughed.  Hopping on one foot.  Backwards.  In a line.  We laughed... well, when we weren't cursing and huffing through gritted teeth at any rate.

Best line of the day was when BFF Paulie called "time" on one of the exercises and 3L grits out, "YOU HAVE THE SLOWEST WATCH EVER."  Cue the laughing.

I've been bringing a guest every week since I first went to Adrenaline.  I will continue to bring a guest until I have exhausted my resources and every friend of mine has tried it once.  I truly believe that Team Adrenaline is the best fitness experience in the greater Richmond area*.

It's good for ANYONE.

Runner, cyclist, or bowling enthusiast.  Male, female, elite, or newbie.

Do you breathe?  Enjoy fun?  Like to sweat alongside beautiful men with rippling ab muscles while you secretly hope his shirt rides up a teeny tiny bit?  Ok, then yes.  It's a good class for you.

Anyone can benefit from the genius that is Team Adrenaline.

I've tried a lot of fitness adventures on my quest for "fitness".  From large scale gym "classes" to cross training on my own, to P90X, to personal training, to a competitor of Paulie's that is also a free standing outdoor fitness class.

The difference in Paulie's class from all of these things is that there is an unmatched level of knowledge here.

I.O.W. my BFF Paulie seriously knows his s#*t.  Every time I walk away from him, I feel I have picked up something that is going to take me places.

(and really, I should stop calling him "BFF Paulie" and remind you that his real name is Paul C.  He's really a professional coach, who happens to be an excessively talented runner.  He also happens to be a really nice, humble, guy).

He seems perfectly content to take my questions, listen to my thoughts, and teach me.

Even though I'm not ever going to be anything more than a "mom who runs".

I mean, I'm not kidding myself.  The place my new knowledge is "taking me" is not going to make me elite.  I think it could make me a really good runner though.  And that works for me.

In all honesty, I'm not trying to beat anyone else but ME.

I want to be better than I AM NOW.

I want to GROW as a runner.

I want to LEARN as much as I can about this sport.

Because I am in LOVE... with running.

This is why I surround myself with wise, fun, clever, knowledgeable, professional, & sometimes, it's true, elite runners.  No matter their specialty or distances, these people say things worth hearing.  There is a well of knowledge out there from which I am, sometimes, invited to drink.

I just want a taste.

And a laugh.

Because why do any of this if it's not fun?

* a little side note here, Team Adrenaline is not limited to Richmond VA.  Currently, Team Adrenaline is in: San Francisco, Ca., Stewart, Fl., Ontario, Canada, Kansas City, MO., Indianapolis, Indiana, Erie, Pa.  and much more to come.  check Paulie's website at for more details.  Or shoot my Bestie an e-mail and tell him I sent you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


"I think what some people never grasp is that when you're a natural runner, you're always going to be in competition with yourself. You have to be a gracious winner and gracious loser. And it's never 'losing' if you're running."

~ 3L ~  (maybe the wisest GBA** of us all).

~savor the run~

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Letter for Bobbi

Dear Bobbi,

This weekend you're running a marathon.

Can I just say a few words here?  Even though we've never met, I'm 100% certain that the following statement is true.

You're going to freaking ROCK.

'nuff said.

But just incase, let's seal the deal.

Miles 1 - 4 you're going to go out super easy and relaxed.  Like, "hello, this is just a training run".  Miles 5 - 15 you're going to get in a zone and just cruise.  At mile 16 your legs are going to be light and strong.  At mile 20 you're going to be thinking "wow, I've just run 20 miles!?".  At mile 22 you might be tired, but you will know that we ~ all of us ~ are running along side you, with you in the moment, encouraging you!  At mile 24, when you see the mile marker, you know that I am there reminding you that you are Galactically Bada** and T's quote "you did not train for 4 months not to bring it for the last 2 miles on Race Day" applies to you.

And when a spectator is holding a cow bell, maybe you "NEED MORE COW BELL!"?

And when a spectator yells out, "just keep going!", maybe the appropriate response is "That's what he said!"?

And when you see a hill, maybe you need to make that hill your b*tch?

And if you get tired and don't want to run any more, maybe you need to look ahead, find a red shirt, hunt him down and chic him ~ because that's how we roll. (and it will change your focus to an external point).

Run Like Snot.

Try Not to SUCK.

There is no such thing as the wall.

Believe in your own greatness.

THIS is your moment.

savor the run.

GBA gf.

((ps - Bobbi's blog can be found here if you have anything YOU'd like to share with her.))

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

worth repeating

Well.  I've decided.

I don't suck at coaching.

Even when I'm not  technically the coach.

For my GBA's, not sucking at coaching usually just means trying to make smart decisions.

Mostly those are related to routing in the dark, choosing non-traffic'd routes, and encouraging people to stay in their pace zones as appropriate for the day's goals.  Sometimes this means I get to be the safety NAZI.  Recently I even had the privilege of grabbing a runner by the arms and stopping her from running in front of a car.  All it really means is I carry a spare head lamp and visor in my beige mini-van.  ~ NAZI ~

But sometimes I get to play coach.  I send encouraging e-mails to people.  I have even sent a text ((hug)).  Weird, i know.  I get to travel to races and run people in at Half & Full Marathons.  I get to stand on the side of a 5K or Triathlons and cheer.  I get to run alongside of runners on training runs at their pace, chat them up, listen to their story, encourage them as needed, celebrate as appropriate, & share the glory of their victory if invited to do so.

It doesn't suck.

And as I was saying, neither do I.

I had a moment last week where I found myself talking to one of my favorite coaches.  He was about to race for the first time since "coming back" from his "troubles".  During the conversation, the following words were spoken:

"Yeah, well race pace is pretty slow these days."

I thought about it for a minute, and reflected on the fact that this person is a Richmond Elite.  He's bordering on epic, and a smokin' hot runner ~ it was 100 degrees here last Thursday, true story.  He doesn't need some brightly dressed sock wearing "make-believe-coach" in the background spoon feeding him canned wisdom, while telling him to "bring it" or "have fun".  

He knows how to "bring it" or "have fun" without any silliness from me or anyone else.

But I ultimately realized that I wasn't really satisfied with his statement.  It didn't sound like a good way to go into a race, and I eventually said,

"Race pace is relative to effort.  You're still going to put out the effort.  The results will be impacted by the heat, the time of day, the return to running after X number of weeks off, etc.  Don't belittle the effort because there are circumstances outside your control."

His excessively brief response assured me that I had, in fact, hit the coaching nail on the head.

Don't belittle the effort.

Pretty wise sounding, eh?

Now.  If I can only remember to apply this sort of "coaching" to myself.

Or, is being your own coach a bit like, "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."?

Monday, June 13, 2011

exclusive, we're not.

I admit.

I will invite almost anyone to run with my group.  almost.  If I sense even a hint of GBA potential, you'll be invited.  That's just how I roll.

That's not to say that EVERYONE fits in lock & key.  Sometimes people are just "there" at the runs.  They're part of the group, but I don't spend every run for those first few weeks wondering how we'd ever gotten along without them.

Some people, however, join the posse on Monday, and on Tuesday I'm thinking about all the opportunities we've missed by not finding each other sooner.

Kc is a great example of this, because I'd seen Kc running for months leading up to the actual INVITE. 

And Mer, who I've known for years, but never had the privilege to "play" with until recently and I am kicking myself for the lost time ~ that girl's got heart ~.

There is something great about having good chemistry in a group, true?

Well we have a new posse member, Mustang Sally.

She fit into the group like.... like.... well, like she's a GBA**.  I sensed something in her the day we met.  Something that I am certain now that I identified correctly.

As I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep after putting B'nut back to bed at 4am, I thought about how perfectly she not only fits into the group, but how completely she seems to intuitively understand the GBA principle.  

GBA isn't about cute socks ~ though they might help you feel GBA.

GBA isn't about runningskirts and pigtails ~ though they're fun, and we're fun.

AND being Galactically Bada** isn't about speed.

In what part of the world is someone's worth or amazingness judged on pace?

Nowhere I want to be, that's for sure.

Are we a stellar group of runners?  Sure we are - Illusive placed 3rd in his AG at a 21K trail race on Saturday, and Kc was 4th in her AG at the same race.

But what makes us GBA isn't about running fast.

GBA is about heart, fun, running for the love of the sport...  none of us are getting paid to run.  
We run because we love it.  We love the challenge.  We love the company.  We love what the conditioning does for the shape of our a**s.

All this really comes back to Mustang Sally.  She gets GBA.  She understands that worth is not based on pace.  She spreads the GBAness through encouragement, laughter, marginally inappropriate stories at completely appropriate times, and, most of all, love of sport.

I am waiting for the day that Mustang Sally realizes that she, too, "... can do anything."

Believe it, Mustang Sally, because it's true.  

~ savor the run ~

Friday, June 10, 2011

Savor? or Sucktastic?

~Savor the Run~

I say it all the time.  I mean it too.  You never know when it's going to be your last run.  One day you could be running along and roll your ankle and be sidelined for a month.  One day... one day... anything could happen.  You never know.  Treat every run likes it could be your last one.  Savor it, lap it up, enjoy it, be in it,... right?


Yes and no.

I had some rough running this week.  Sundays run was ugly but DONE.  Mondays Run & Tuesdays Run didn't happen at all.  In fact, parts of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I laid in bed, laid on the couch, or laid on my floor.  I was laid up with a virus.  Or laid out.  My Md said I needed to ease back into my training.

So on Wednesday I ~gasp~ missed Adrenaline.  I KNOW.  I freaking KNOW.  It.was.devastating.  But I did go for a run.  I figured I could manage between 4 and 6 miles.  I scraped in at 4.  It was a freaking near miss on that too.  It was one of the more sucktastic runs I've had in a while.  My watch beeped "4" and I walked from there.  This isn't me.

Needless to say, I didn't exactly "enjoy" the run.

Thursdays run was not a whole lot better.  It also kinda sucked.  On a suckage scale of 1 - 10, this was around an 8.  I managed 5 miles.  Again.  The watch Beeped and I walked.  There was a mid run walk break too.  I couldn't have run one second faster.  I finished with waves of nausea rolling over me.

That run was freaking HARD TO SAVOR.  I was a little bummed about it.

And then I remembered something.  

You don't always have like every minute of every run, even if you love running.  

Besides, no one comes out to train for a marathon with the expectation that they’ll enjoy every single run, and if they do come out with that idea… well… yeah, we probably need to have a little talk.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


"Things may happen and often do to people as brainy and footsy as you" 
— Dr. Seuss (Oh, the Places You'll Go!)

~savor the run~

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Form Follows Function

I’ve been going to this class lately.  The owner/CEO of the company is beyond GBA.  I know, is there such a thing? 

Maybe… and if there is, BFF Paulie is IT.  He puts the GBA in track coach...

(i know, i know, "track coach" doesn't seem to have a "g"... or "b")

Now, my obsession with Paulie is well known in my social circle.  And I just want to say real quick that it’s not. my. fault.  I’m human and female, and he is epically cut....  I mean, he makes the cut... er…  I admire him as a running coach.

I started going to this class because I thought I would get stronger.  Like, I thought it was a strength class.  As it turns out, BFF Paulie’s class is like a speed workout with strength circuit incorporated. 

You know it’s bad when you’re doing planks during the week to train for the class that’s supposed to be training you because you can't do the planks IN class.

A typical class has a speed element followed by some kind of other work.  Sometimes I can DO the work.  Sometimes, not so much.

I feel a little over my head in his class.  Not that I’m going to stop going.  The day BFF Paulie says “I can’t do anything for you.” I will stop going.  Since what he usually says to me is, “I can do SO MUCH for you.” I figure I’m OK.

I go.  I suck.  I go back the next week and suck again.

Like a musician who commissions a piece of music from a composer, only to discover it’s technically too difficult for them to play well… I struggle with the elements in Paulie’s class. 

How will I get better if I cannot even execute the 'practice'?

During the speed portions of the class BFF Paulie watches us all run.  Sometimes when he looks at me, it seems like he’s cringing.  Ouch.

Paulie’s distress over my pitiful attempt at running is on one hand frustrating, and on the other it makes me want to work harder and soak up every word he says.

For years I rode horses – I rode Western, English, Dressage, and Jumpers and one thing that stays constant in riding, no matter what discipline you're riding, is form - shoulders~hips~heels:  in line.  This form is functional.  No matter what you’re doing on a horse, shoulder~hips~heels will help keep you on the horse, in control, and well seated.

I rode horses in this position for 20odd years.  "Don’t get your shoulders forward, you’ll fall off the horse if something unexpected happens"...  In all the years I rode, I believed strongly that form follows function.  There’s reason we ride shoulder-hips-heels in the ring.  Just as there's a reason a jumper or horse race jockey rides "forward" during parts of their event.

After I’d been riding about 8 years, I started teaching riding and doing a little training here and there.  I specifically remember a young adult student who was self taught.

Ah.  Yeah. 

She was loose in the saddle, hands flying high in the air, and the horse under her was strung out from nose to tail.  Her upper body was forward.  Folded at the hips, heels up. It was a disaster waiting to happen. An EPIC disaster waiting to happen.

Her leg position was soft as well, sliding sometimes forward and back as the horse’s cadence increased and decreased in response to her flying hands. 

She was tough to work with too. 

I’d been hired to train her by her boss, because she needed to ride better to preserve the image of the farm she was employed by... BUT, she was an unwilling student.  She’d been “riding for years” and could “stay on just fine”. 

Great.  Fine.  

Say what you want, but I will argue all day long that FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.  Shoulders hips heels holds you solid on the horse.  So the function of your seat is a base for keeping your hands still.  This is important, even if form isn’t your number one priority.  Just sayin’.  I ~ah~ was kind of known as the Nazi.  Again with the word…

So when I show up on Wednesday mornings to spend time with my BFF Paulie, I know I am the running equivalent of the self-taught rider.  cringe.  I have been running since 2008, and in that time some improvements have been made, but let's be honest, for the most part... I'm...

Loose in the cage, running with my body placement too upright all the way until the point when my torso collapses from lack of strength.  My hip angle is also probably off as I over correct.  My cadence might be OK at my cruising speed, but I can’t seem to hold it properly at the varying paces he runs us through.  This is also a problem.  I KNOW I have issues here.

I can feel them in BFF Paulie's cringe.

The difference between me & the unnamed rider is that I WANT to hear what BFF Paulie says.

IF form follows function…

june '10
Then the real question is, am I self aware enough to fix it, or not?

Aug '10
It’s one thing to know you need to lean, it’s another thing to be able to do it in the moment when you are running.

Nov '10 - note how I'm almost leaning back? 
of course, I'm also running a marathon in this photo, I'm clearly not in my right mind.
And arms, and shoulders, and knee drive and… no wait g.  One thing at a time. 

April '11 
So what are the mechanics of good running function?  If form follows function, let me first consider the words being shouted at me by my BFF.

Lean. Turnover. LEAN.

Picture of my BFF Paulie...  

there's no purpose in showing this photo except that 152 of my blog followers are women,  and I figured you'd all appreciate this... I mean, seriously ladies, look at his form?  could it be any more beautiful perfect?
...  ah.... I never ever miss class…  Where was I?  oh....  OH!  Right.

Paulie took me aside after class recently and talked to me about the fact that I apparently run with perfect posture... as in PERFECT RIDING POSTURE.... sadly... perfectly upright is SO not good running form.

I apparently have no forward lean.

He placed his hands on my car and showed me how much lean he wants to see.  It was a LOT.  But then looking back at all those photos, I can see, I almost am running leaning BACK.  Seriously.  

He says he needs me to run in an ellipse.  I'm not leaning so I'm wasting energy I could be using to carry me forward.  and that is the function.  The function of the lean is to go forward ... using less energy... so ultimately you can go faster.

So.  I need to channel my inner road runner.  (beep beep)

S'ok, because even though I make Paulie want to vom, or, maybe not vom, but definitely cringe when I run, he did pat me on the back after class on Wednesday for good effort.  Well.  We have to get our little kicks somewhere, true?

So for the next several weeks I’m going to be spending my time working on form… well, function really.  I believe that the form will follow...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marathoning Monday!

Sunday kicked off Marathon Training!

Here's a quick recap of how it went down.

We came.

We saw.

We KICKED SOME Galactic Bada$$!

Well I knew it was going to be good when FurtherMore (she got married so she needed a new name) showed up in the identical shirt as me... we are "Freakishly AMAZING".  Mustang Sally was as bright as she is loud (it's a compliment), and DeNiece & 3L were... dressed really appropriately for MTT.

Seriously ~ we looked like a circus pouring out of the van.  Of course we car pooled - let's be responsible with the environment folks!

so remember that scene from Ocean's 11 where the whole group shows up and...

Reuben says Q says:  "What? Did you guys get a group rate or something?"

KC dropped by straight from work, listened to the "orientation talk" by Don and Jon, and she went home to go to bed, and we went for a run with Team Yellow Submarine.  ~lame~  I'm on the campaign trail to re-name us Team Yellow Snow, because you can't touch yellow snow (or, you shouldn't try to at any rate) and we are untouchable. and cool.  and gross.

So the run was fine.  There is a little drama and I have a lot I'd like to say, but none of it is blog worthy, and I have no interest in being the President of the Drama Club.  And then due to circumstances beyond our control the run was cut short.  This is probably a good thing, as I was bit by a spider on Thursday afternoon, and was still pretty sick on Friday & yesterday.  So.  I didn't need to run 7 miles.  We did 5.5 miles instead.

With that 5.55 miles down, I dedicated myself to my marathon training.

Richmond Marathon.  November 12, 2011.

A marathon takes dedication, hardwork, and dedication.

I said dedication twice, because it takes twice as much dedication as hard work. 

I mean, seriously, if you don’t stick to the plan there’s not a lot that hard work can do for you on race day.  Right?  right?  well...  I came to realize recently that it’s quite possible that all this time I have been dedicating myself to the wrong thing.

I mean, a typical marathon training cycle starts with:
I, g, take you marathon training plan to be my partner for the next 23 weeks, to have and to hold, through crankiness and heat,…

…but the last 8 months have shown me that would be like dedicating yourself to the institution of marriage, instead of the actual person across from you.

Cue the Seinfeld – “…not that there’s anything wrong with that…”

When, all these years, maybe I really should have been dedicating myself to me... my body.

To love and cherish, honor and obey…. and forsaking Nutella, enduring icebaths as needed, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall run…

I won’t harp on it, but sometimes as a marathoner, people I know (ahem) but surely NEVER me, will run through aches and pains that probably should be rested.  um.  Right.

They do this for a number of reasons.  One being the fear of losing your place in the training cycle.  What if I missed this one run.  And then I can’t get caught back up.  13 weeks of training up in smoke.  Don’t ask me why we’re, uh, this hypothetical runner is so stupid in the heat of the moment…  runners are dumb.

Another thing I’m considering is that no amount of running can get you away from a bad diet.  I don’t mean, restricting calories.  Slashing calories and marathon training are non-compatible.  I eat pretty clean already, but there’s room for improvement.  ahem.  portion sizes and nutella being two things worth mentioning here.

So it’s time to dedicate myself to myself for another season of Marathon Training Team, but the more I think on this, shouldn’t I just be dedicating myself to myself for … ever? 

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing.  
~Oscar Wilde

Today my posse will show up at my house in a few minutes and we will drive down to Sports Backers Stadium in my beige mini-van.  Our destination won't be realized until November 12, 2011 when we stand at the start of the Richmond Marathon.

Today marks the first official day of marathon training. We will meet the coaches and other participants for Sports Backers MTT 2011.  While only about 300 (plus or minus) of the 1100 MTT participants will be part of the SUNDAY FUNDAY crowd, it's still interesting to think about this many people moving toward the same destination.  


The large team is broken down into color group "sub teams" of about 70 - 100, and the GBAs are going to be on Team YELLOW this year.

I believe that good things are bound to happen whenever you put this many runners together in one place....

Because remember?  

Runners are weird... 

...and I am a runner.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lessons and Apologies

First off, I think it's important to remember that the written word doesn't always convey the way you think it does... for example:

Beyond the english lesson, there is something else we should consider seriously...

We've established that runners are weird.

I am a runner.

So by definition, I am weird.

I am also a runner who blogs.

Sadly, this does not make me a writer by definition.

I like to write.  I do.  It usually makes me happy.  Because for the most part I am honest, and generally in life I find that if you're honest with yourself, that you can be proud of what you've published on the blog.  Writing this blog is an escape.

And, yes, I have seen my name in print.  But that also doesn't make me a writer.  Thus, the name in print was in small print, not big print.

Still... despite the fact that some editor somewhere was so desperate for a piece about running that he published me...  I'm not always perfectly articulate in my communication attempts...


Sometimes my message gets lost.

..."So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads." 
— Dr. Seuss

When I write on this blog, I write, generally, for my own entertainment.

If you find it entertaining, great.  Bonus.  Go me.

I write in a self depreciating style that is aimed at me.  If there is fun to be made, or mocking to be done ~ chances are better than good that the person I'm mocking is me.

Unless I'm mocking a politician.  Then all bets are off.

So let me explain.  When I talk about runners on this blog, I mean every runner.

fast, slow.  curvy, slight.  short, tall.  men, women.  coaches, athletes, volunteers, social elites, and kara.  We're runners.  All worthy of respect.

...“A person's a person, no matter how small.”
— Dr. Seuss

Those of us who are obsessed passionate give our best effort.

Effort is not measured in speed.

It's measured in ... well... I'm not sure how YOU measure effort.

I think it's probably measured in heart.

You know?  Heart.

Heart, as I see it, is balanced neatly somewhere along the lines of LOVE and COURAGE and SPIRIT.

It is the CORE.  The heart is MOST important or VITAL PART.

This is why I do this.  This has NOTHING to do with being first. or last.  This is about knowing myself and doing what I do because I love it.

For me, marathoning has less to do with natural ability, and more to do with love, drive, passion and courage, than any thing else I have ever done in my life.

So for me to say that I would rather not be the sweeper, was not a cut aimed at the runner who is the last athlete participant to finish the MTT route.  This isn't about anyone else.

Yesterday's post was not about PACE.
It was not about being LAST.
Or being FAST.

It was also not CLEAR.

If you read yesterdays post and thought that I was judging, or thought that I was making some kind of comment on speed in relationship to worth, I'm terribly sorry that that is what you read.  It is certainly not the message I was intending.

It was a post about me.

It was a post about friendships and the kind of friend who feels she can say anything to you, even if it comes out weird, because she knows you know what she means.  She's a runner.  Runners are weird, so by definition...

It was a post about the kind of friend who knows when to stick by your side and run your pace offering support, when to be the rabbit for the chase, and, finally, the kind of friend who knows that when you claim parcheesi, she is free to run ahead and pick off the red shirts as she sees fit.

It was a post about mental strategy and knowing yourself.  Or, specifically, myself.

It was a post about following my gut instinct and reacting appropriately.

...“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own.  And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”
— Dr. Seuss

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gazelle versus Barney Rubble

"So a Gazelle, a Kenyan and Barney Rubble walk into a bar…"

Sometimes it’s hard to feel graceful on the run.  It’s hard to feel fast.  

I run with some wicked good runners.  They’re stellar.  I mean, my regular posse typically AG’s at the local races.  And I’m not talking about those 5K’s with 18 runners signed up.  I’m talking about a 1000 runner charity 5K.  I’m talking about some large club races.  These are seriously serious runners I run with…

Someone recently said something to me about my MTT team choice.

If I was overly sensitive I would be hurt by what was said.  But I wasn't really.  Because it was mostly true.

I am probably running on a team that is qualified as the slower MTT Intermediate group.  This doesn’t bother me a bit.  My GBA posse and I signed up for the team to be with El.  Could we have “qualified” for the fast team?  Sure.  All but one of us could have.

Guess who the ONE GBA is who doesn’t have a qualifying time?

That would be… me.

No worries though.  I could have done one of two things.

I could have encouraged, or insisted, that the GBAs run fast with SNOT.

Or I could have asked the MTT coaches for an “allowance” or presented a 5K time, and I suspect they would have put me on the fast team.  I chose not to do that though because I’d rather be the “fastest” (not literally THE fastest) on the slow team than the "slowest" on the fast team.

Still, what was said to me was, “I am worried about 3L.  How in the world is she going to run with you?...” (awkward pause)

I had to chuckle.

I know 3L is fast.  

Everyone in the 50-55 year old A.G. in Richmond knows 3L’s name because she’s always there at the top of her group.  She beats me at every race we do together.  It’s not like it never occurs to me that 3L could leave me in a hott minute.

But I looked at the person who said this to me and replied, “I'm not holding 3L back.  We've been running together for more than a year now.  She chooses to run with me & the gang, and on the days she wants to run fast, she does.  She hunts down some poor red shirt and chic's him.  I don’t worry about her."

That said, I'm not here to hold anyone back.  Including myself.  3L will run where she wants, and I will run at my (awkward pause) pace.

I'm still not going to sign up for the fast marathon training team in an twisted or confused effort to "get faster", because being the sweeper every week for 23 weeks seems counter productive to my goal of building confidence and becoming a stronger runner.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Follow the Yellow brick road...

So about 6 months ago my H & I were informed that it was very likely that our 11 year old daughter was ... is.... autistic.

I felt like the worst mother ever.  Not because she was autistic.  I mean, how was I supposed to change that?  

I felt like a bad mother because I had failed to SEE it.  I had failed...

I was too selfish?, perhaps.  Too in denial?, perhaps.  Too something?, perhaps.  

Anyway, now it's done.  

The autism diagnosis is official.  We've got her in 200 different forms of Therapy designed for the autistic kiddo.

She's adjusting really well, and seems very happy now that people seem to understand her "language" a little.  I admit, I had one moment there where I thought "Oh this is going to be bad".  But, she rallied.  She was cool, chill even.  

As I would expect, I suppose....

AND she EMBRACED THIS.  She did.  She ran the AUTISM 5K with SpeeDee, her running coach.  

All of TEAM GBA Running was out in force, running with her, ahead of her, behind her, etc.  


"Like, I'm running for me, mom.  OK?"

"Yes, we are all running for you.  Including you."

"I like that."

AND I realized, after that pre-race conversation, that I am not upset anymore.  Shouldn't I be angry?  Shouldn't I be upset?  Shouldn't I be SOMETHING?  I am her mother.

And then I realized, we're all a little happier with it all, because now we know where we are... we know what language we're speaking.  

I have a map.  And a translator.  

I mean, I'm obviously NOT in KANSAS anymore, but, now that the rose colored glasses have been removed, at least I know which COLOR the bricks are under my feet...  I don't know exactly where the road goes, but I know my daughter & I are on it.  Together.