Daffidil 5K and 10K

On Sunday, April 29th, my running partner, M, and I ran the Daffidil 10K in Amherst, MA. Carlos and his friend ran the 5K. Despite weather reports indicating a gray but dry day, the weather was cold and rainy. That did not stop us! It was actually perfect running weather. The rain let up for most of the race, but started coming down at a good clip in our last mile of the 10K. The hills in this race were no joke. Thankfully we ended on a glorious downhill and a flat stretch to the finish line. Personally I like a challenging race. There is something about pushing myself during a race and using the experience to improve for the next time.

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Poncho action!

Since I got into running, I have run the Bridge of Flowers 10K every August. Much to my disappointment they are changing that race and making it an 8K. It’s not the same in my opinion so I have decided not to run it this year. It stands as my 10 KPR prior to the Achilles injury. I haven’t even come close to running that time. I know I am a different runner since the injury, but it’s been 3 years. It’s time to stop using it as an excuse to stall improvement.

Here’s the truth…I’ve gained a little weight this winter, about 10lbs. Yet my body feels like  it’s carrying 30lbs. I feel weighed down and that makes it harder to run. I’m still running and pushing myself, but it just doesn’t feel good. Today is day 1 of marathon training. My first marathon of 2018 is on August 26th, two days before my 45th birthday. If ever there was a time to make important changes in my life and promises to myself it is now. I know what needs to be done.

Someone once asked me why I can’t just lose the weight and be done with it. Clearly this was a person who has never struggled a day in her life with weight/food issues. On the contrary, she was the type of person who literally only ate because she had to in order to live. She experienced no joy in the act of eating. Food was food. Ahh! What must that be like? I love to eat. I eat too much. As a result I am overweight and have a difficult time saying no to food. I have succeeded in losing weight and keeping much of it off, but I am at a crossroads and if I don’t revert to the important habits that allowed me to lose weight slowly and healthily after Carlos was born, then the pendulum is going to keep swinging up.

To answer that woman’s question as to why I can’t just lose the weight and be done with it…the honest answer is I don’t know. If I knew I would probably be able to quit my day job. What I do know, is that I will not give up trying. The secret to weight loss is not so secretive. Eat less, move more. I’ve got the moving part down. It’s the eating part I need to continue working towards conquering.

Today is a great day to start fresh. It’s Monday, April 30th. Marathon training begins. A new graduate school course begins today. There are exactly 120 days between me and age 45. Let’s see what I am capable of in 4 months.

We will not be put off the final goal

We have it in us to attain…

Robert Frost

Dubai – January 2016

Another unpublished draft…

Our journey to Mozambique in 2015/2016 took us to three different continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Carlos might have missed having a Christmas tree, but he thought it was pretty awesome to be able to say he stepped foot on three continents in less than 3 weeks. We flew home from Johannesburg, South Africa via Dubai. We landed in Dubai after midnight and did not have to be back to the airport until about 11:30AM. So we made the most of the long layover. We went immediately to the hotel and slept for a few hours. We got up early and made our way to the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa. We arrived just as the elevators were opening for the day. We were only able to go to the 125th floor. Later in the day visitors can ride the elevators to the 148th floor. Throughout the visit we learned about the history of the building and the city. Although Carlos was actually quite interested in the history of the United Arab Emirates, one of the highlights of the trip was flying Emirates Air, a major sponsor of his favorite soccer team FC Barcelona!

I often hear people complain about long layovers. Because we went to Mozambique at Christmas time in 2015, the direct flights from NYC to Johannesburg were ridiculously expensive. Booking separate flights via Istanbul on the way to Mozambique and Dubai on the way home cut the cost in half, and we had the added bonus of visiting two places in the world we might not have otherwise. I didn’t see it as a nuisance. I saw it as an adventure!


Washington, D.C. – June 2017

I have a horrible habit of writing posts and never finishing them. Carlos and I went on an awesome road trip to Washington D.C. last year right after he got out of school for the year. Here are a few of the highlights of our trip.

The FC Barcelona jersey Carlos is wearing caught the attention of a secret service agent. The two of them chatted for nearly a half hour about all things soccer.

We stayed in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. I could have explored the area for days. There was so much to do and see.

Carlos and I are not all that keen on visiting zoos, but we were interested in seeing the pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Entrance to the zoo is free so we wandered in and found the pandas. I hate seeing them in captivity, but they are really interesting animals, and quite adorable.

Perhaps one of our favorite things on the trip was the International Spy Museum.

We strolled around the mall in the early evening to see the monuments lit up. I haven’t been to DC in so many years. It was as awe inspiring as I remember it.

We saw so much in the course of a few days. We walked everywhere or took the metro. It was very hot, but the air conditioned museums provided much needed respite from the heat. Carlos insisted on seeing the Holocaust Museum. He has studied World War II at length throughout the last couple of years. I had been to the museum before, but seeing it through a child’s eyes is very interesting. On our last day we went to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia because Carlos was very interested in the history of the freemasons. All I could think of was The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I love that Carlos has interests in such a range of topics. I learned so much on the trip.

What better way to end a wonderful trip than with a delicious cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake.

Today is Earth Day, 4/22/2018. I enjoyed a lovely early morning trail/road run with my running partner M. She is getting a little more adventurous on trail. We ran about 6.4 miles today and 4 yesterday. It’s been a real treat seeing the sun for two days in a row.

Marathon training begins on 4/30 as does my next grad class, Health Information Systems. Carlos is playing spring soccer and baseball while continuing with weekly karate.  I know that organization will be the key to maintaining my sanity. I began getting a few things in order this weekend. Off to a good start!

 

Winter running and 2018 goals

It’s April 15th and it still feels like winter here. Today was the inaugural Fort Hill Brewery Half Marathon. Proceeds supported the town high school’s track and field and cross country programs. The weather predictions called for freezing rain and temperatures in the low 30s. Well Mother Nature was on our side. It was cold, but it’s afternoon now and still no rain. The cold I can handle. I was dressed properly and my hands were nice and warm. The wind coming right at us at various points along the course was not very nice, but no complaints because it was not raining.

My running partner, M, and I have been training for this race most of the winter. However, the last 6 weeks or so haven’t produced the best running. She was sick, I was away, I returned and have been feeling really off, and this winter just will not end. We stuck with our training despite some runs that felt downright awful. We maxed out at 10.5 miles and that was by far the most horrible run thanks to unexpected GI issues after I worked an overnight shift at the hospital. M kept me laughing though. We still made it 10.5 of the 11 planned miles that day.

The half marathon went much better than I anticipated. We ran, talked, and enjoyed the course. It was a route we have never run. The race was small and there were virtually no spectators. However, my dear friend Nancy waited at the end of her driveway to cheer for us around mile 5. She even had a sign for me! At the end of the race there was beer and pizza. I’m not a beer drinker and I don’t eat cheese. I sound like a lot of fun, don’t I?! They did have these amazing little energy bars and then, of course, we went for coffee.

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Last weekend, I ran a local 5K with Carlos. It was a benefit for the town’s high school music program. I went outside after I woke up and was slapped in the face with 20 something degrees of coldness. The Tiger Pride Trot 5K started at 9am and at 8:15 I finally decided we should brave the cold and run. I do not love 5Ks because I feel like I have to hold a faster than normal/comfortable pace the entire time.  Self-imposed nonsensical thought process, I know. Carlos ran with his friend and his friend’s dad, also his soccer coach. He’s an awesome guy who really tries to motivate the kids to stay active. I moved ahead of them early on because I knew Carlos was fine with his friend and might actually enjoy the experience a little more without me right there. I was by no means killing myself, but once I warmed up, I felt great. This teenage girl stopped about 3/10ths of a mile before the finish and I passed her. About a 10th of a mile before the finish line I could feel her coming up behind me so I decided to fire it up for a little friendly competition. We crossed the finish line at just about the same time. She did beat me though! I was just thrilled to be back to a sub-30 minute 5K. Seriously the bounce back from the Achilles injury and subsequent 10-15 lb (depending on the day) weight gain over the last few years has really slowed me down. My attitude about it has been very relaxed, but I am finally beginning to contemplate running goals again.

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Carlos crossed the finish line shortly after I did and he was all smiles. It’s the first race he has accomplished by running the entire distance without walking or complaining. I was very proud of him and secretly proud of myself for beating an 11 year old! Of course, I did not gloat. A couple of days later, my friend who also ran the race with her 11 year old and pushing her 4 year old in a stroller, texted to tell me I came in 2nd and she 3rd in our age group. OK that’s not saying much about the speediness of our age group then. My friend would have come in first and smoked the competition if she didn’t have the stroller. I ran with her once a long time ago and literally thought I was going to die after a couple of miles. She is fast! But I still say hot damn! Who the heck would have thought I’d be running 5Ks never mind coming in 2nd in my age group? I am quite proud of that accomplishment.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting running year. I am registered for my 9th and 10th full marathon. On August 26th, I will run the inaugural New England Green River Marathon, a point to point course from Marlboro, VT to Greenfield, MA. After a few years of throwing my name in the lottery, I was finally selected to run the Marine Corps Marathon. I will run the 43rd MCM on October 28th.

I also signed up to work with a new running coach. My amazing running coach, Laura, suggested I talk with her friend, an accomplished trail runner, who also coaches. Laura thought she might be better equipped to coach me in running the back to back marathons. I was reluctant because Laura is amazing and has really guided me through the last few years. She assured me this was just a nudge to get me out of my comfort zone and try something new.

I started this running thing over 10 years ago as a challenge to myself. As a new mom strapped for time, running seemed the perfect activity for me as I tried to lose weight, become more energetic, and develop the ability to keep up with my already active child. I never imagined where running would take me. As I began to run longer distances, I have often suspected that I am holding myself back from my full potential. I am ready to dig deeper to find out what I am really able to accomplish. I have already accomplished more physically than I ever imagined was possible. I truly never believed this body could run a 10 minute mile or less than that. It seemed ridiculous at one time to think of myself running a mile never mind a marathon. I have proven myself wrong time and time again. So what if I stop saying I can’t for a little while and stop fearing the temporary burning in my lungs and legs? What will happen? I will never know until I try.

I am a bit nervous of this can of worms I opened in my initial conversation with this new coach, but it is part of the reason why I treat myself to the expertise of a coach. It may seem frivolous or ridiculous that I would pay someone to coach me for a marathon. I mean as someone kindly pointed out, I am not going to win the race! Perhaps I will never win a race, but in my opinion I win every time I cross a finish line or even complete a day to day run. Whatever crabby person. It is my gift to myself to work with a coach for both accountability and education. My goal is actually not to win the race, but to race better, run injury free, and improve MY skills.

I will be 45 in August. This is a tough birthday for me. I have never felt time closing in like I do right now. I wasted so much time before I had Carlos being sedentary and living a rather unhealthy lifestyle. I was moody and miserable. I’m none of that anymore, and I think only about embracing each day to make it more awesome than the day before. I want to do all the things, go everywhere, explore, engage with interesting people, learn new skills, try new activities, and live really live! My dream is to live to be a really old age, but with my mind and body intact. I feel like now is the time to start pushing myself again to see what I am capable of doing. I may never be able to qualify for Boston, but that’s not the only running goal I have.

Trail running and racing fascinates me as do ultra marathons. Running a faster 5K would be a huge accomplishment. The word triathlon swirls around my brain sometimes as does duathlon. For many years now, I have talked about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro when I turn 50. I want to be in good shape when I do (and I will). I want to be in the senior olympics in my 90s. I want to mentor senior athletes when I’m 100. Right now I really want to feel fitter and develop some much needed muscle tone and core strength. This just scratches the surface of my goals.

What are your goals, running or other goals?

2018 So Far

Cold winter

It’s cold here in Western Massachusetts. It’s winter, and we expect cold, but it’s been extremely cold. I’m talking too cold to run outdoors. That’s how I determine the force of the cold weather. Now I’m fine going for a run when it’s 18-25 with no wind, 20-30 with a slight breeze, but anything below 18 particularly when it’s windy is just brutal. Friday was crazy warm for this time of year. It was nearly 50 degrees. My friend rallied me to run with her late in the afternoon while it down poured. The rain didn’t bother us because it was so warm out, but we were soaked!! My running partner and I have been keeping a keen eye on our weather app. Yesterday we called off a morning run due to cold and wind. We decided to take a chance and wait to run in the afternoon. It was a good call. The temperature got up to about 28 and there was minimal wind. We snuck in 7 miles for our first long run of half marathon training.

Spinning, Boot Camp, Piyo, Strength, Indoor track

Since I’m not running outdoors so much, it has been a great opportunity to try new fitness classes. My running partner is adventurous and loves trying out new things as well. We participate in a free boot camp every Sunday morning. It is welcome to all, family friendly, and requires no equipment. The woman who runs it, Laura, began a running/fitness/health craze in the area after she took charge of her own health when her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age. Years later her daughter is doing well, and Laura continues to inspire many with her commitment to teaching others how to take one small step towards leading a healthier life. A local Cross Fit gym allows her to use the space on Sunday mornings to offer this awesome boot camp to her Run Your Health community. Laura leads us through a fun warm up which often entails a partner activity or group activity. It’s challenging, silly, and sometimes feels embarrassing, but heck we are all doing it. Then we do about 10-15 minutes of ab work. The last 20-25 minutes varies. Often we have a series of 5 exercises, we do 10 reps, run for 30 seconds, then repeat as many times as possible in the 20-25 minutes. Today we did a burpee challenge. Here it is:

Minute 1 – 1 burpee, rest for the remainder of the minute

Minute 2 – 2 burpees, rest

Minute 3 – 3 burpees, rest

You get the point. When you reach your breaking point and cannot possibly do any more burpees in a minute you could switch to 20 air squats and 5 push ups until the end of the boot camp round. I made it to 12 burpees in a row.

On Tuesday mornings at 5:30AM, my running partner and I go to an indoor track at a local high school for a monotonous run around the 10th of a mile loop above the basketball court. We usually squeak out a little over 4 miles in an hour. Sometimes we get dizzy because the loop is so short so we walk a couple of loops! It’s slow going, but we chit chat away and the hour goes by quickly.

Other mornings  during the week we have been going to spinning and strength classes at a local studio not far from my house. I bought a 12 class pass for the month. Our schedule this week:

Monday – 5:45AM Piyo

Tuesday – Indoor Track with possible parking lot loops if not too cold

Wednesday – 6AM spinning; possible 7:30PM boot camp at studio

Thursday – 5:30AM express spin; 6AM express strength and sculpt

Friday – 6AM Turn and Burn (half spin, half strength)

It has been such a fun change for me. I’m still running when I can. Sometimes I go to the gym and do the elliptical and a short treadmill run. I don’t like the treadmill. I still associate it with my Achilles injury so I am a bit reluctant to do it for longer runs. I’m feeling good with this new routine right now.

Yoga with Adriene

It’s January and that means a New Year 30 day yoga challenge with Adriene. I love her and her at home practice that she shares with the world. It’s manageable and beginner friendly. This year is the True – 30 Day Yoga Journey. Do it in 30 consecutive days or do it when it works for you. The classes range from a little under 20 minutes to 40 minutes. They are all different. Don’t care to do the challenge, check out Yoga with Adriene or her You Tube channel for so many different videos. There is a yoga class for every ability and every need.

Books

I’m taking a little break from grad school right now. The timing of the next eight week session runs into my trip to Mozambique. Since I’m not bound to read anything for school, I am elated to be reading for pleasure again.

Two recent reads:

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – just read it. It’s a quick read, seems like a light breezy romance novel to begin with, but then there is an interesting twist. Great for a cold weekend indoors or a long plane ride.

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel – I just finished this and my mind is blown. I loved the characters. I was touched by the outcome. It was a sweet, somewhat uncomfortable at times, and well-written story. The topic of this book could not be relevant to our society than it is right now. I am reminded of the invaluable advice Atticus imparts onto Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” While we can’t quite go that deep into another’s experience, this story offers the reader an opportunity to see a timely issue through the eyes of those living it even if they are fictitious characters.

Indoor soccer, friends, snow fort, electronics

Winter soccer season is in full swing. My son has been enjoying lots of time with friends during Christmas vacation and on weekends. He’s officially a pre-teen and I’m taking a back seat to his budding social life. He has good friends and he enjoys spending time with them. They are active and play outside more than inside. Carlos and his friend, Tyler, built a killer snow fort in our yard last week. He was so bummed that it only took one slightly warm day and rain to destroy their hard work. Electronics abound in our house, but as we try to find a healthy balance, the rule is weekends only for fun, and laptop during the week for school work. It’s a constant challenge to find the right balance between allowing Carlos the opportunity to learn how to properly use the technology and to remain physically active and attentive to his school work. I’m always open to suggestions or advice. I am the first to admit that this is all new to me and I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I’m just trying to do my best to keep my child safe and healthy.

Mozambique travel plans

My light at the end of the winter tunnel is an upcoming visit back to Mozambique. My house is nearly complete though devoid of furniture and kitchen appliances. I am hopeful a refrigerator will be installed before I arrive. I do not care about a stove or living room furniture. We do have beds. Most of the time I am outside so indoor furniture is really unnecessary. We will get it at some point, but this home has been a labor of love for Orlando. It has taken many years and extra work to earn the money to build the home. We have taken it one step at a time because there is no mortgage or home loan. This time around the bathrooms are tiled and equipped with a shower, sink, and toilet.

We are planning a family road trip up the coast to Ilha de Moçambique. It will be a first visit for all of us. This tiny island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was used by the Portuguese as a trading post en route to India. Though in disrepair, many of the original architectural structures remain and speak to the integrity of the building materials and quality of workmanship used so long ago.

Other than our road trip, I am really looking forward to visiting with family and friends, reading as much as possible, eating mangos and papaya every day, and taking long leisurely walks through the fields at sunrise.

Preparations for the trip include:

  • obtaining visas for entry to Mozambique – send passports to Mozambican embassy in Washington, D.C.
  • Travel Medicine for vaccines and anti-malarial medication. I am always given a prophylactic prescription for antibiotics just in case we get sick.
  • Carry on: healthy food for the flight, compression socks, herbal tea bags, toiletries, tooth brushes/paste, vitamins, chargers, notebook, pens, iPad with tons of books loaded, etc.
  • Pack Carlos’ Birth certificate in carry on for entry and exit to South Africa
  • Arrange snow plowing service for our time away in case of a storm
  • Put mail on hold
  • Clean the house top to bottom so I come home to a clean home
  • Order Peapod to be delivered the day after we return to save me a trip to the grocery store

 

Seasons Change

I write daily blog posts in my head. I am often sorry I missed the boat on becoming a professional blogger. I don’t think pursuing that now would be all that sustainable or financially lucrative for me.

Fall is nearing its end. It’s my favorite season. Yet for much of it this year we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather. I’m not complaining, but now we seem to be entering winter weather a bit prematurely.

Since my last post my life looks like this:

  • Wake up at 3:30/3:40AM, go to the gym to be home by 5:15 when Orlando has to leave for work. I have been participating in a Step Bet challenge so I use this morning gym time to get my steps in on the elliptical while reading my school assignments. It’s been a super productive hour or so.
  • Get ready for the day, pack Carlos’ lunch, make Carlos’ breakfast, prep patient visits or other work tasks.
  • 7:35 stop at Cumberland Farms for much needed giant coffee. I’m not a coffee snob and for 99 cents you can’t beat it. It stays super hot in my stainless steel travel mug for a good two hours.
  • Bring Carlos to school for 8AM.
  • Usually I see one to two patients starting at 9AM.
  • Home by 11/11:30AM. Eat something. Do some laundry.
  • Noon – 3PM paperwork
  • Some days I will take a break for a 30 minute – 1 hour run
  • 3:15PM pick up Carlos
  • The afternoon varies depending on Carlos’ activities. I typically do not plan on any work productivity between 3-6PM. I make work phone calls, cook dinner, and do some things around the house. It’s not a time I can use to do any focused work.
  • Most nights between 6-7PM, I head to the Mount Holyoke College library to tackle school work.
  • I have been committed to getting to bed by 11PM most nights. Some nights I actually make it earlier.

Then I repeat it all the next day. On October 1st, I began a new role at work as a Clinical Liaison for my team. So far I’m not so sure it was a great decision. Although my caseload is being lowered a bit, it has not had an impact on the amount of work in the present because the patients I have given up were not due to be seen for a month or two. I have the same amount of patients to see right now with the added responsibilities of this new position. I will be training new RNs on our team eventually, and I have already started leading WebEx trainings for new nurses across the state.

Work has been stressful for another reason. Last December my boss was let go. A nurse on my team took her place. She’s wonderful, supportive, approachable, and really reasonable. Our team is made up of two sections of Massachusetts. I work on the Western Mass portion of the team which is small in comparison to the Worcester portion. In the spring a nurse from my area became our supervisor. There was never a clear understanding of her role yet it became quickly evident that she was essentially managing the Western Mass staff. She’s the complete opposite of our manager. She is cold, unapproachable, task oriented, inflexible, and demanding. It has placed an unbelievable amount of stress amongst our group. One of my colleagues has taken the brunt of her wrath. The worst part is that her behavior is totally unnecessary and it is going to drive some great staff out of the job which will mean nothing to her, but will increase the work demands for those of us remaining.

I decided to return to grad school at the end of August. I had two more core courses to complete before I can begin the actual program specific classes. I was dreading these two courses – Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice. My fears were quickly realized. Each course is 8 weeks. I did get an A in Nursing Research, but I work my tail off to earn that grade. Not only was the course demanding and pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone, but the professor was absolutely no nonsense. I turned in a paper 37 minutes late and lost 20% on the grade. It was my own fault. I owned it and I didn’t offer any excuses. She was completely unforgiving and made a comment on my next paper to “watch those late assignments” as though I turned them all in late. It was just the one!

These courses I am taking are all online and follow a very similar structure. The course begins on a Monday. We have a discussion post due on Wednesday night by 11:55PM Eastern time. Between Thursday to Saturday we are expected to respond to two of our peers for a minimum participation grade, but if we are Type A overachievers and want the full participation grade then 4-5 responses are needed. The discussion post and responses are not a short blurb. Research is required and we must include references. For both the research class there were two extensive papers due midterm and at the end. We also had an actual midterm and final exam, timed online. The evidence-based practice class I am taking now also requires two larger projects, one of which is due tomorrow night by 11:55PM. I am nowhere near done, completely lost, writing myself in circles, and frustrated. Will it get done? Yes. Will it get done well? I’m not so sure on this one. It is like nothing I’ve ever done and I honestly don’t know if I am on the right track with it. This course ends on 12/15 and I am counting the days.

I ran the Zooma Half Marathon in Falmouth at the Cape in early October. I was there as a Zooma ambassador. I met some wonderful women and ran a lovely race with new friend Heidi. We chatted and chatted until I could see that she was picking up steam around mile 11 so we parted ways. My legs weren’t quite as perky at that point, but I was pleased with the race I ran nonetheless. I have no other races planned. I am not training for anything. I just run when I feel like it and for as long and as fast as I want. I am beginning to think about possible spring marathons.

Carlos, his best friend Tyler, and I did our annual Halloween spooky attraction. This time it was the Rails to the Dark Side haunted trolley and haunted trolley museum. The night was awesome!

Carlos and I are on a flight from Florida right now. He had Thursday and Friday off this week. I had a ton of time off to use before the end of the year. We also had Jet Blue vouchers to use before they expire. We planned a quick trip down south to visit my dad and sister. I used the opportunity to get some work done on my paper due tomorrow and to catch up on paperwork. Working in the sun by the pool made it much more bearable. The weather was gorgeous.

Time to land!!

A unicorn birthday

I am turning another year older and feeling very reflective as I typically do on my birthday. The years are going by more quickly now, or at least they feel as though they are. It’s not my age that bothers me, but the vast amount of experiences I hope to accomplish before I am unable. There is just so much I want to do and the time seems to be closing in around me. I truly want to live life to the fullest every day. I am proud to feel younger today than I did 20 years ago when I was living a rather unhealthy, inactive lifestyle, eating horribly and smoking. I definitely did not embrace life back then. Now I feel as though I am playing catch up in many ways. I could fill pages with my bucket list, but for this post I will discuss only one running dream.

I’ve been hesitant to say this out loud because once I do it will become real. I have a running goal that is so far-fetched it seems absurd at times to even consider it. However, it has become clear to me in the last few years that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for, and I am without a doubt not working up to my potential. It makes me wonder if I was committed to putting in the hard work might I be able to achieve this seemingly unreachable goal? They don’t call it chasing the unicorn for nothing.

I am a Massachusetts girl. I was born and raised in Western Mass. I have lived here most of my life.  I cheer for the Red Sox, Pats, Bruins, and Celtics. I am a terrible driver.  I say wicked, but without the accent because I’m not from Boston. Even before I became a runner, I would watch the Boston Marathon and cry as the winners crossed the finish line.  Then I would continue watching and crying as I listened to the touching stories of the regular Joe’s running the infamous course. In those days, I had no desire to join them. After running my first marathon, I understood the significance of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Of the many things that make Boston special in the world of running, personally I think qualifying for Boston is the crowning glory for the average runner. Getting into Boston after qualifying is still quite complicated, even impossible for some, but to say I achieved a qualifying time will be vindication enough for my own personal running goals.

And so the chase for the unicorn may begin very soon. I have no plan in place yet. I am very far from a qualifying time. If I wanted to qualify within the next year I would have to run a 3:45 marathon, but if I wait a year until I turn 45 that time goes down to 3:55. I will then have 5 years to achieve that time.

This dream is only known to a few trusted people in my life and has been on a shelf until now. I work hard when I train for a race, but I feel like I hold myself back from really unleashing my true potential. This extends to other areas of my life as well. I can be pushed out of my comfort zone and rise to the challenge, but I have never set really big goals like this one. I read inspirational stories often of people who overcome the most unbelievable circumstances and I think if they can do it why can’t I qualify for Boston.

In 2013, I ran the Montreal Marathon in 4:16:35.  It was a huge PR for me and currently stands as my marathon PR. The next marathon I trained for after Montreal, resulted in injury and months away from running. I am still fighting to get back to the paces I was running that year. If I did it once, I can do it again, and if I could get my time down to 4:16 then why not 3:55? The infinite wisdom of running has taught me that I am more capable than I think I am, and consistent work yields noticeable progress. Regardless of the outcome of my pursuit of a BQ, I am excited to push myself in a very different way while tapping into strength and determination I know exist, but have yet to be uncovered.