Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flight of Fire Half Marathon?

I'm in a post-marathon funk. There was so much excitement leading up to Pasadena that now, afterwards, everything just seems sort of blah.

I think I need another rush of adrenaline to get my spark back. And since I'll be in Vegas soon for my Marine Corps Marathon, I'm thinking about running the Flight of Fire Half Marathon.

It looks brutal. The first six miles appear to be all uphill. It's all trail running. And the best (worst?) part? It's June in Las Vegas, so the temperatures will start in the mid 60's and get up to nearly 100 degrees.

Still, it's the first running of this event. It's limited to 200 runners. And of course, there's a suh-weet finisher's medal at the end.

What to do, what to do?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Running Into Fifty

Yeah, it's new.

I started blogging back in 2005 as I was approaching my 40th birthday. The blog was called "Falling Into Forty," and it was my way of capturing all that was going on in my head at the time. It was a great experience and I was very happy with my focus at the time.

After I turned 40, though, I struggled. I tried to keep blogging, but my heart wasn't in it. I tried several different new ideas, including "Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful" and "That Kind of Guy." Ultimately, though, it was all hit and miss.

But I'm a different person now. I have taken control of my life and I'm no longer content to just fall into anything. These days, I can honestly call myself a runner. And thus, Running Into Fifty seems a more take-charge way of rolling on towards the mid-century mark.

So, here we go. It will be everything that is on my mind, from politics (some) to social issues (a bit more) to random life moments and experiences (way more).

Thanks for taking a bit of your time to read my little spot on the web.


Friday, May 25, 2012

On This Memorial Day Weekend...

A timely reminder.

On Monday, Memorial Day, I will be participating in the City of Laguna Hills Half Marathon. It's not only a chance for me to run a beautiful 13.1 mile course, it's also a fundraiser for Dark Horse 3/5.

The City of Laguna Hills adopted the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, of the 1st Marine Division. This infantry battalion, nicknamed "DARKHORSE" is based out of Camp Pendleton. Marine Corps participation in the half marathon will increase from 15 Marines running last year to 45 running this year.  Laguna Hills City Council voted this year to name the race in honor of the city's adopted  USMC Battalion 3/5, Dark Horse Marines.  Additionally,  members from a new team of Marine wives called "Stroller Warriors Camp Pendleton" will be participating with their children in the other events. A $3.00 portion of each registration fee will be donated to the support group known as Team Dark Horse, a 501 ( c ) (3) organization. Visit their booth at the FINISH LINE EXPO to purchase 3/5 T-shirts, hats, water bottles, and other memorabilia. Donations are gladly being accepted to help the Committee fund the 3/5 Welcome Home Ball in June. Visit the 3/5 Official Website HERE!
I have friends and family that have served with Dark Horse, and I am proud to take part in any event that acknowledges their commitment, service and sacrifice.

While you are enjoying this Memorial Day weekend with friends and family, please take a moment to remember those who have given so much for this nation.

The End of the Project.

It's been nearly a week since I ran the Pasadena Marathon, and I've spent most of that time thinking about this Project and what it has meant to me.

One hundred days. Five hundred actions. And a goal big enough that I really wasn't sure I had what it took to see it through. But I did. And it's truly changed my entire life.

I wrote a detailed recap of my marathon experience for my blog at Runner12, but I will say here that it was an amazing day for me. I spent four hours, forty minutes in my own head, and I crossed the finish line happy and comfortable with the person that I am. One hundred days ago, I wouldn't have been able to make that same statement.

I started Project One Five to help me prepare for the Pasadena Marathon. I hoped that it would help motivate me to stick with my physical training and healthy eating. I knew I would be posting five actions a day to the blog (and through to Facebook), and that sort of public activity would make it harder for me to quit or ignore.

The element of public accountability is huge with me. Telling my friends and family upfront about me doing something is my way of fully committing to it. I mean, once it's out there, I can't take it back. And so this project began.

Somewhere along the way, though, it began to be more than motivation to eat healthy and be active. It became a true journey for me, heart and soul. It became my outlet for things that I have needed to talk about but just hadn't. It became my therapist, counselor and cheerleader all in one.

Through Project One Five, I've shared things that I might never would have otherwise. I've shared dark moments and realized that I am stronger for having survived them. I have discovered that I truly am a good person living a great life.

I've had so many great moments, too. I stepped up to teach a class, I ran a relay in Arizona, I gave interviews for TV and print, and I made future commitments to myself and others that will ensure the legacy of this project lives on.

Most importantly, I've learned that I have an unbelievable circle of family and friends. I am loved so much more than I ever knew. And in this life, I can't think of a single greater lesson.

Thank you, everyone, for sharing this journey with me. It's been quite a ride. I'm going to take a few weeks and let this entire experience settle. After that, I see another project starting. What else is life for if not to challenge myself, right?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Color, Color Everywhere.

I love when people come up with fun ideas for fitness. What I do not love is when someone's idea is copied over and over until the once fun idea just seems tired.

Case in point? Color Runs.

You know what I'm talking about, right? It's a 5K run and you get splashed by all kinds of color powders along the way. As of right now, there are three separate events that all sound exactly the same. I'm not sure which was first, but here they are:

The Color Run
The Color Run is a one of a kind experience that is less about speed and more about enjoying a color crazy day with your friends and family. Our events, are all about people of all different speeds, ages, shapes, and sizes toeing the start line. Whether you are a casual morning mall walker or an Olympic athlete, the 3 miles of the Color Run course will be the most enjoyable real estate you’ve traveled in a VERY long time.  You will love this Color Dash of fun!

Color Me Rad
Start out as clean as a newborn babe, and throughout the run, you'll coat your chaffing thighs with blue, green, pink, purple, and yellow until your face, shirt, and body come out silkscreened like a tie-dyed hippy on the other side. Yup...that is how you turn regular running into The Art of Running tm!
Each section of the run adds a new explosion of color to your clean, painter’s palate until you cross the finish line into a final blitzkrieg of color.

If you’ve done a traditional 5K, you know they can be a bit bland. But CMY5K  is the running equivalent of Dorothy’s house landing on the Wicked Witch. Waves of virginal white runners and walkers will start every 3-5 minutes. Then, at each kilometer, CMY5K staff and volunteers will powder participants in Color Splash Zones.

I'm all for a fun event, but at this point, is there really any difference between these three?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Half Marathons, So Far.

Found this out at It's a summary of my half marathons, from my first (Safari Park) to my most recent (OC Half).

This is really helpful for me to see. My outlier times have been when I was pacing with someone else. My full-run times are all very consistent. Heck, even the wicked hills of the La Jolla Half couldn't slow me down that much.

And yes, I'm most proud of my Personal Record of 2:00:24 set at the Orange County Half. I ran with everything I had on that course, and I'll gladly carry that around as a PR for a while.

I've run eleven half marathons already, and I have another one scheduled for Monday, May 28th. I think there may be something addicting about this particular habit of mine.

My dreams...

My dreams come true faster when I drown them in sweat. 
~ Me, looking back on my life

Today, I'll look ahead to my next big dream and decide what I need to do to make it happen.

Race Report - Pasadena Marathon

Mile 4
After 100 days of planning and training and stressing, the day finally arrived. Race Day. I'm going to recap Project One Five separately, so this blog is just about the race itself. I'll jump right to the good stuff.

It was sunny and beautiful when the race began. I felt strong if a little nervous. I'd only run one marathon prior and that was with my running buddy, Jerry. This time, I was on my own.

First impression? "Where is everyone?" I knew it would be a smaller event than the 30k runners at the Marine Corps Marathon, but it wasn't until I was there and running that it really hit me how few of us were running.

The course opened with a few miles through neighborhoods, and it was beautiful and shady. There were a few friendly folks out cheering us on, and I loved that.

My first picture was at Mile 4 and I was making great time, 37:00. That's just about 9:15 per mile. 

Mile 9
I was really excited to run across the old Colorado St Bridge, and we got to do it twice, across and back. I know I looked like a goofy tourist, but I didn't care. I was looking right and left the whole time I was on the bridge, wanting to take in every detail of it.

At this point, I still felt pretty good. The day was warming up, but I had my single water bottle with me and I was hitting every stop. Just before Mile 8, the marathoners split from the half-marathoners. Over the next four miles, I experienced the loneliness of a smaller marathon. I could always see other runners, and this stretch was a two mile out and back, but still... it felt like I was running alone out there. I got a picture of myself here at Mile 9 at 1:28:10. Still running just below a 10:00 mile, so feeling pretty good.

Mile 14
After Mile 12, we met back up with the half-marathoners for a couple of miles. This time, though, they were the slower group, and there was quite a bit of "traffic dodging" to get around them. I'm all for walkers and slower runners, and most of them were fantastic, but it's a bit tough to pass a group walking four or five across. I was doing a little "out of the cones" magic to keep moving at my pace, but it was fine.

I hit Mile 14 in 2:24, so I was just over a ten minute mile pace at this point. But fourteen miles into the marathon, I was perfectly fine with the time. Then things got rough for me after that. The half marathoners split off and I had the worst mental mile of the entire event. Part of it was the heat, which was starting to be a factor. Part of it was the hill, which seemed to stretch on forever. And yes, part of it was the realization that I was only halfway through my run. I hadn't run farther than a half marathon since my full back in October. True story. I didn't run ANY longer runs in all my training. I just kept running faster and faster half marathons, instead. So running the fifteenth mile was mentally tough. But with some good music on my iPod, a little determination, and the coolest neighborhood kids handing out water, smiles and cheers, I got through it. And Mile 15 offered some much appreciated downhill distance.

Mile 19
The next four miles passed more or less uneventfully. I hit Mile 19 in 3:17:15, which is  still a bit over 10:00 miles. That far into the run, I was fine with that time. But the worst was definitely still to come. I was now running in the full sun with very little shade, and there were a couple of hills still to climb. When I was running, my pace was okay, but I had to walk quite a bit to keep from overheating. And in this stretch, my pace took a serious dive. I ran when I could, but it was not a fast section of the course.

After Mile 22, the course ran mostly flat with a little downhill. I struggled with the heat, but my body felt good otherwise. And after two little glasses of orange juice courtesy of more wonderful Pasadena residents, I was on my way towards the finish.

Mile 26
I will be honest and say that there were a lot of tears on this run. I had dedicated each mile to a different fallen Marine, and thoughts of them weighed heavy on my heart. And just before Mile 23, when I ran past the Marine Reserve Unit and Blecksmith Hall, the tears flowed pretty strong. I had no idea it was there on the route, and seeing the Marine Corps signs and vehicles and buildings... well... it just all hit me at once. And I was proud and emotional and more than a little overwhelmed.

At Mile 26, I saw my husband standing there taking photos. I was so happy to see him, partly because I loved feeling his support and encouragement and partly because I knew if I saw him, I was almost at the finish line.

Around the corner, then another, and there it was. The finish line. And it was sweet. I held my head up high, made sure my form looked good for the hometown crowd, and I ran like I was just starting out on a 5k. And crossing that line was sweet, indeed.
My Finisher's Medal
I crossed the line at 4:40:55, and I am absolutely thrilled with that time. I ran the best race I could and I have no regrets. 

Right now, I can proudly say that I am a two-time marathoner who will definitely run another one in the future. 

You can't be surprised. It's what I do.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pasadena Marathon - Done and Done!

I ran the Pasadena Marathon today and finished in 4:40:55. That's a new PR, beating my Marine Corps Marathon time by nearly nineteen minutes.
Nearing Mile 26 and still looking strong. Go, me!

It was brutally hot out there today and there wasn't a whole lot of shade out on the course. I just checked the weather report, and this is what they showed as a high for Pasadena today.  Yep, 98 degrees. No wonder I was so dang hot!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Action 500 - Get Ready To Run The Marathon.

After one hundred days, it all comes down to this moment.

Action 500 - Get Ready To Run The Marathon.

As I type this, I'm sitting in my car at the Pasadena City College (in VIP Parking!). In just over one hour, I'll step across the start line and begin the marathon. I'm excited, nervous, and a little bit anxious.


This has been an amazing journey already. I'll blog about it more after the race, because I really want to capture this experience. All of these actions have had a big impact on me, and I want to use all of this as I go forward to my next challenge.

For now, though, my eyes are on 26.2 miles of the beautiful city of Pasadena.

It's run time!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Action 499 - Meet The Press.

I've never really been a shy person. But Friday tested even my own "look at me, look at me!" tendencies.

Action 499 - Meet The Press. Earlier this week, an article came out in the Pasadena Weekly. Yesterday, the author published it on the Huffington Post website. Here's a link. How cool is that? Before and After photos of me, too.

At the Marathon Expo, I was interviewed for The Marathon Show. I had a chance to talk about each mile I am dedicating to a Fallen Marine, and I also had a chance to promote the Semper Fi Fund. The audio show will be available on iTunes early next week, I think.

After that, I met with a lovely young lady from Crown City News. It was a fun interview, and I had a chance to talk about SparkPeople and how it really made a difference in my life. We also talked about my other races, my excitement about running Pasadena, and even a bit about the Ragnar Relay races. The video interview should be up on their site soon, though it seems to be down as I write this. (Guess my popularity just overwhelmed their servers.)

It was all a little surreal, to be honest. I've never been to a race where people knew my name, wanted to interview me, take my photo, etc. I'm used to showing up, milling about for a while, and then taking off to run. It's weird to think that even one person along the course might have heard anything about me, this project, the Marines I'm running for, etc. It just adds a little more pressure to me to perform well, I think.

I'm ready. Bring on the media, the fans, the critics... bring them all. I'm ready.

Action 498 - Get The VIP Treatment.

Friday was an unbelievably amazing day. I have never felt like more of a runner in my life.

Action 498 - Get The VIP Treatment.

My day started with the drive from San Diego to the Santa Anita Race Track. It was overcast but still warm enough, so I took the top off of the borrowed convertible. (And the lesson I learned? It is entirely possible to get sunburned while driving around under an overcast sky. Sunscreen is your friend, people.)

The drive was a great chance to calm my mind. I even had the radio turned off most of the way, so I could drive without distractions. I spent the time thinking about the marathon, the miles to run, and all the things that had brought me to this moment.

I managed to get up through Los Angeles traffic quickly and made it to the Expo just after noon. There were already a lot of runners in line, though there were far fewer waiting to check in for the full marathon. I got in line and found out that, since I was a VIP, my bib and runner packet were elsewhere. They were very apologetic, but it was going to be a little while before my stuff was ready for pickup.

Wait. What? Me, a VIP? Yup. I credit my Marine Corps connection with the Race Director, but it was still pretty cool. While I waited for the VIP folks to get all the stuff together, I wandered over and helped some of the volunteers sorting out bibs. (Hey, it's true. ALL volunteers are VIPs!)

And then, just like that, there it was. My bib for the marathon. And it was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be.

I can't really explain my response to finally  holding it in my hand. I'm running with the number 1775. It's a tangible reminder of the reasons I am running - the Fallen Marine heroes that will carry me through each mile and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund that is now more than $2,000 stronger.

I'm proud of my Marine Corps service and I am honored to wear this number and represent those who came before me, those who served with me, those who will serve after me, and most importantly, those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice to this great nation.

On Friday, I enjoyed what it felt like to a VIP at a large running event. And I also was reminded what true VIPs are.



Semper Fi Fund Info

Want to donate to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund?

Click here:

Pasadena, here I come.

If it's Friday, it's weekend adventure time!

This time, I'm off to Pasadena to run a marathon.

What are YOU doing for yourself this weekend?

Action 497 - Admit That It Takes Time.

Have you seen this going around?

You Have 1,440 Minutes Every Day - Take 20 to Workout.

I call BS. Sure, it may only take twenty minutes to get a quick workout or run a couple of miles, but that's not all the time required. If you work out at a gym or run somewhere away from your home, there's travel time there and back. If you work out during the workday, there's time to change clothes before and then shower and change back after. Saying it only takes twenty minutes seems stupid to me.

Action 497 - Admit That It Takes Time.

Let me be absolutely clear. It IS worth whatever time it takes. I get up at 4:30am to be at the gym by 5am, work out for an hour, get showered, dressed, and make it to the office by 7am. Working out or running first thing in the morning makes my whole day better, so I am happy to give up the time for it.

It takes time. And it isn't easy. But it's worth it.

But for those just starting out, understand that the "only 20 minutes" thing isn't the whole story. Don't feel bad if you struggle with adding exercise into your routine and find it tough to find the time. It WILL be tough. But it's worth it. So stick with it, keep experimenting with different times and different workouts. Find what works for you. And soon, it will start to feel automatic.

Action 496 - Make Good Fuel Choices.

You would think that after nearly two years of this fitness journey and one hundred days of this specific project, my eating habits would be absolutely solid. You would think wrong.

Just this morning... literally, this morning... I found myself standing in a 7-11, pouring coffee, and eyeballing a pack of mini-donuts. I was thinking, "well, I'm running a marathon on Sunday, so I'll totally burn those calories off."

And then the light bulb flashed in my head.
"Here's an idea, John. How about you DON'T eat those donuts and burn off calories you're already carrying, instead?"

Action 496 - Make Good Fuel Choices.

It really is that simple. Garbage in, garbage out. If I want to run strong and feel good, I need to put good stuff into my system. It's a basic truth that, apparently, I need to learn over and over again.

I went with this, instead. Is it the very best breakfast I could have? No, and I won't let myself get that obsessed with it. But it definitely isn't crap like mini-donuts or some sort of sausage tan food monstrosity off the rollers at the convenience store.

Good choices make good results. So I will make good choices.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Action 495 - Stand At The Edge.

Today has been quite a day. The newspaper article came out in the Pasadena Weekly, and I'm a little disappointed. I feel like what I said and what was printed are very different, and the article makes me sound like a shell-shocked combat vet using running to numb my pain. I never said anything like that, and I understand that the writer was trying to convey a lot of my story in a few sentences, but still...

On top of that, since I am heading to Pasadena for the Expo tomorrow, I needed to get myself packed and ready to go tonight. I wasn't quite ready for that, the process of preparing everything for a race. And this is a big race, so my nerves are already a bit raw.

Action 495 - Stand At The Edge. I am a day away from finishing this project and two days away from running the marathon. Right now, my heart knows I am ready but my head continues to analyze.

Soon enough, that edge will be a start line, and I'll be on my way.


Action 494 - Ring The Last Call Bell.

Last month, I announced that I had reached my fundraising goal of $1,775 for the Semper Fi Fund. But I quickly realized that I was not going to be content with just meeting the goal and posted a new challenge. My counterpart, Don Thieme, has also continued to raise money and has far exceeded the amount I have helped to raise. But the ultimate winner is still Semper Fi Fund, so there is no loser in this contest.

Action 494 - Ring The Last Call Bell. The Pasadena Marathon is Sunday, and this action is my last request to friends and family. For those who have already donated, your generosity is appreciated more than I can say. And for those who have been waiting until the last opportunity, this is it.

The Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund is an amazing organization offering real help to real Marines in need, like Corporal Colin Faust and Major Justin Constantine.

As I have said before, I will continue to talk about this cause anywhere and anytime, to any and all who will listen. The work they do is so important, and the Marines they serve so worthy, that pushing for more donations is the very least I can do. But this is your last chance to donate as part of ProjectOneFive and the Pasadena Marathon.

Click here to reach my donation page. And thank you.

Semper Fi, Marines.

Action 493 - Honor Heroes (Final Distance).

I am dedicating my run in the Pasadena Marathon to Marine Corps heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that in my own small way, they may be honored, acknowledged, and remembered.

Action 493 - Honor Heroes (Final Distance). I will run the last two-tenths of a mile and cross the finish line in honor of 2nd LT James Blecksmith, born on September 26, 1980, in the city of Pasadena. A member of the famed Third Battalion, Fifth Regiment, Dark Horse 3/5, Blecksmith was killed during Operation Phantom Fury. On Veterans Day, November 11, 2006, two years to the day after Blecksmith's family heard he'd been killed in action in Iraq, the Marines renamed Pasadena's Marine Corps Reserve Center in his memory

I will complete my run and finish the marathon in honor of this hometown hero. Semper Fi, Lieutenant.

Marine 2nd Lt. James P. Blecksmith, 24, of San Marino, Calif, died Nov. 11, 2004, as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Blecksmith was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

(Photo and summary courtesy of

Action 492 - Run Lighter.

There is definitely something to the idea of making a plan and sticking with it.

I've dropped thirteen pounds since I started ProjectOneFive. That's going to make the marathon that much easier for me to run. (Well, not sure a marathon is ever easy. Maybe less difficult is the better description.)

Action 492 - Run Lighter. And I will. Because 185 is lighter than 198!

I love it when I see that my efforts translate into results.

Action 491 - Rev It Up!

This morning was my last scheduled run before Sunday’s marathon. I wanted to run at least six miles, but I wasn’t sure how much farther than that I would go.

Action 491 - Rev It Up!

I decided to start at 6.0 and work up every mile. The first mile felt awkward, sort of uncomfortable, like I was running on a new pair of legs. For a moment, I thought, “I should bail on this run today and save my energy for Sunday.” And then I thought, “shut up and run.” And that was that.

At mile 1, I kicked up the speed to 6.1. And I continued that way until I got to mile 5. I decided then that I would kick up the speed at quarter-mile intervals.

  • 6.5 mph until mile 5.25

  • 6.6 mph until mile 5.50

  • 6.7 mph until mile 5.75

  • 6.8 mph until mile 6.00

Then I kicked it up to 8 mph and ran like a crazy man until I hit mile 6.34 at 60 minutes.

It felt good. And once I stopped over-thinking everything in the first mile, the rest of the run was comfortable and almost effortless. And yes, I was a complete sweat monster by the end of the hour, but I still managed to look good.

My confidence is high. My training will be enough. I AM ready for this marathon on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Action 490 - Make My Own Dinner.

Nearly 500 actions into this project, and this may be the single most shocking thing I have done to date. But it's true.

Action 490 - Make My Own Dinner.

I know it's hard to believe, but yes, tonight, I had to make my own dinner. My husband was at work since early, early this morning, so he fell asleep as soon as he got home. I didn't want to wake him up, so it was up to me to find something to eat.

Back in the day, this would be easy. I would hop in the car and drive to Taco Bell. No problemo. But I am running 26.2 miles in a few days and fast food isn't going to help.

Instead, I whipped up a little pasta and meat dish. Nothing too fancy, certainly  nothing difficult, but it was just right for me.

It was touch-and-go there for a while, but I survived the night.

Action 489 - Be A Chip Off The Old Block.

My Grandfather turned 90 years old last week. I went to Austin to celebrate his birthday, but he was in the hospital and unable to enjoy a party. I did see him in ICU, though, and was able to talk and visit with him there. Back at my Uncle and Aunt's house, I found pictures of my Grandpa and I knew immediately what they meant.

Action 489 - Be A Chip Off The Old Block.

The first picture is my Grandpa competing in the Senior Games in Texas. He was a menace in that wheelchair if you made the mistake of getting between him and the finish line. And really, it's not like they were specific and actually prohibited the use of your own feet to move you faster across the course. I like to think that Grandpa just applied a very loose interpretation of the rules.

And this photo is him afterwards, sporting his medals. And now I know where I get my love of cheap, shiny jewelry. Here I thought chasing medals was something new that I was doing. Turns out, it's an old family tradition and I am just the next one in line to do it.

Thanks, Grandpa, for passing down the "I must have that medal" gene. Now I can blame genetics and heredity when I find myself signing up for a race just to get the finisher's medal!

Action 488 - Count My Blessings.

For the most part, I am aware that I am a very lucky person. As I wrote earlier to a friend,
My burden is light and my troubles small.

I take that for granted. My life is pretty good, my basic needs are met, and I have no worries that a good night's sleep doesn't seem to solve. I'm very, very fortunate in this regard. And today, I'm going to acknowledge and remember that.

Action 488 - Count My Blessings.

Today, I read about a baby diagnosed with cancer. I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of sadness for the little girl and her entire family. The news they received this afternoon about her condition was as good as could have been hoped for, but it's still a serious situation with dark, scary days ahead. And this is a baby. A baby. I can't imagine how those parents will be able to do anything but break down and cry, but they will. They will carry on because their child depends on them to be strong.

And to think, yesterday my complaint was that running was uncomfortable because I had a few mosquito bites. Imagine what suffering those parents would endure if it meant their child could be healthy again.

I still struggle with my spirituality. Is God real or a wish made by people desperate for a reason to have faith? I really don't know. But one thing is simple and obvious. Whatever and wherever the good things in my life come from, I am grateful for them. Each day brings with it another reason to smile, to laugh, to love and be loved. Whether it's random chaos of the universe or a divine plan, it doesn't matter. It makes each day a joy to experience and I am going to bask in that knowledge.

I will count my blessings today. I will continue to keep others in my heart and hold hope that they will know the same simple joy of the day that I do.

In the end, what else can I do?

Action 487 - Find Something "Special."

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm a snacker. And sometimes, the snack I want is salty and crunchy. But eating a big bag of potato chips is never a good idea.

Action 487 - Find Something "Special."

I don't know how long these have been on the market, but I am just now discovering the Special K Cracker Chips. For 110 calories, I get about 30 chips. I went with the Sea Salt flavor, and they were worth every single calorie. I'm definitely adding these to my list of go-to snacks.

And a note of caution to myself: Yes, they come in packages larger than the single-serving, 100 calorie bag. No, we will not be buying those larger packs. Because we will eat the entire big bag in a single setting.

Oh, yes. I know my weaknesses, and a bag of salty chip/crackers is among them. I'll only buy the sizes I intend to eat completely. Experience tells me anything larger is a mistake.

And tomorrow, I may try the Cheddar Cheese variety. Bring on the chips!

Action 486 - Share The Spotlight.

I've been ultra-focused on my upcoming marathon, and I make no apologies for that. This is a big deal for me and I'm proud of the progress I have made since I began this project. That said, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge two people who are inspirations to me and who are also running significant events this weekend.

Action 486 - Share The Spotlight.

First up is the amazing Katie, who blogs at RunsForCookies. She is running her first full marathon on Sunday, the Cleveland Marathon. This is her next step in a journey that has seen her drop 125 pounds. She is funny, adorable and absolutely motivating to so many people. I can't wait to see your finish line photo, Katie!

Second, a shout-out to the fabulous Mary. She blogs at ASmallLoss and has lost an incredible 151 pounds. She is running the San Francisco Bay to Breakers event this year, and she will be joined on the run by a long-time reader of her blog. How amazing is that? She has managed to not only motivate herself to change her life, but she is also motivating and inspiring others. I love that!

These ladies, along with several other running buddies, are hitting the streets this weekend all over the country. They will be giving all they have as they run mile after mile, and they are examples of what can be done when you set a goal and let nothing keep you from it.

I am happy to share the spotlight, because there is plenty of "oh my gosh, that is so awesome!" to go around.

Run strong, ladies!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Action 485 - Honor Heroes (Mile 26).

I am dedicating each mile that I run in the Pasadena Marathon to another Marine Corps hero who has made the ultimate sacrifice, so that in my own small way, they may be honored, acknowledged, and remembered.

Action 485 - Honor Heroes (Mile 26). I will run mile twenty-six in honor of Cpl Ramona Valdez. On June 1, 2007, the United States Marine Corps honored the memory of Cpl. Valdez by dedicating the II MEF Communications Training Center as the Valdez Training Facility during a building dedication ceremony. The building has a plaque with Valdez's name inscribed.

I will run this mile in honor of this fallen Marine warrior, dedicated wife, sister and daughter. Semper Fi, Corporal.

Marine Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez died June 23, 2005 serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom; She was 20, of The Bronx, N.Y.; assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed June 23 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq.

(Photo and summary courtesy of

Action 484 - Handle The Unexpected.

Just when I thought I had prepared for everything marathon-related, along comes something so completely out of the blue that it caught me by complete surprise.

Mosquito bites. Lots of them. All over my feet and my ankles. Apparently, while I was sitting at my Aunt's house late Sunday evening, I became the buffet for every mosquito in the neighborhood. I knew I had been bitten by a few of them, but it wasn't until today that I realized how bad it was. The sweat and the scratching from my socks irritated all the bites, so by the end of my six miles, I felt like my toes and my feet were on fire.

Action 484 - Handle The Unexpected.

I completed my run, and that was good. Tomorrow is a rest day, so no problem there. And I'm hoping that by Thursday, the welts will have gone down and the bites won't be so red and itchy.

Sheesh, who saw this coming? I have a marathon to run on Sunday, and I'll inhale a bottle of Benadryl before I let something this petty stop me.

Bring it, bugs!

Action 483 - Run Six And Only Six.

With the marathon only a few days away, every choice I make right now is important. If I don't do enough, I could be running the event cold. If I do too much, I could run the event tired or even injured. So a balancing act is required here.

Action 483 - Run Six And Only Six.

And I did. It was an easy six miles at a ten minute pace. I felt good, strong, and crazy tempted to crank up the speed a bit. But I stuck to the plan and ran my six miles in an hour.

Seems weird that I had to talk myself OUT of running faster. What kind of upside-down world have I created?

Action 482 - Enjoy The Entire Experience.

When I'm in, I'm in. And this weekend is no exception. I was planning to get up to the fitness expo just before it closes on Friday at 7pm, but I'm changing that plan a bit.

Action 482 - Enjoy The Entire Experience.

I'm going to work early morning Friday, then leave from here and head up to Pasadena by 10am or so. I want to get to the expo, meet the race director, claim my Bib No. 1775, and then wander up and down every single row. I want to meet the different vendors, chat with other runners, and gather all the swag and free samples I can.

These expos are celebrations of runners and running, and this time, I will not just dash in, grab my bib and t-shirt, and then dash back out.

Bring on the free stuff!

(Image courtesy of RockandRoll Seattle.)

Action 481 - Elevate.

With less than a week to go before the Pasadena Marathon, I finally took the time to go to the website and review the course.

Action 481 - Elevate.

Oh, Pasadena. You tricked me. I thought you were a nice, flat course, but no. Check out the elevation profile.

The bad news? There are some significant hills here. The good news? There are some great downhill stretches, too. And I love me some downhill. The best part? The last few miles are more or less all downhill. That works for me.

What does this mean for my run? At the end of the day, nothing, really. Whether the course is flat or hilly doesn't change anything. I'm still going out there with the intention of running steady and true. It's nice to know what to expect from the course, but my plan of attack on race day doesn't change.

Come on, Pasadena. Elevate me!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Action 480 - Wait By The Phone.

On Sunday, I will be running 26.2 miles in the Pasadena Marathon. And I am absolutely confident that I will be motivated the entire way. But I am also only human, and I am open to the idea that I may have a mile or two where I really struggle. That's where all of my friends come in. I need you folks to each make a call. Meanwhile, I'll be right here.

Action 480 - Wait By The Phone.

I am asking everyone to call my Google Voice number (619.630.4328) between now and Thursday and leave me a brief message cheering me on. On Thursday evening, I will download all the messages and add them to my iPod Shuffle so they will play randomly between my running songs during the race. One minute I'll be rocking out to Pink or Disturbed, the next minute I'll hear your voice encouraging me to get after it!

You aren't sure what to do? No problem. I'll give you a scenario. Imagine that you are standing near mile 20 on the course and you see me about to run by you. You have just a moment as I approach and then pass you, so you have to make it count. What do you yell to me as I come by?
Run, John! Run!

You trained for this. You can do this. Go, John!

Semper Fi, Brother. Almost there!

Whatever you feel like saying, go for it. You can say whatever you want, as long as it isn't a ten minute message extolling the virtues of sleeping in, walking, or lounging around. *laughing*

I did this once before, and I can't possibly explain how much it means to me to hear from my friends and family while I'm out there running. Your words inspire and motivate me, and I feel like you're right there with me.

So, pick up that phone and call now. I'm standing by waiting for your call! (Well, the call is going immediately to my Google Voice mail, but you get the idea.)

Thanks, everyone. You'll all be with me as I complete this milestone.

Action 479 - Drink My Last Diet Soda.

Oh, this one is not cool. I drink a lot of water each day already, but I am making the full shift after tonight. For the rest of the week, until the marathon, I will not be indulging in my once-or-twice-daily treat.

Action 479 - Drink My Last Diet Soda. And tonight, I will.

I spent some time researching the effects of diet soda on the body, specifically the effect on running performance. What I found was a lot of "it's just bad" opinions and very little documentation. So I don't know that there is any real science to support the idea that diet sodas negatively affect runners.

But I do know that water is more refreshing in large quantities, and that's my big priority this week. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

So, for now, it's goodbye, Coke Zero. I'll miss ya!

Action 478 - Stay Up Late... Again.

I know, I know. So much for being perfect this week. I know I should be getting a full night's sleep, but I really have had to balance my need for sleep with my need to spend time with my husband after being apart all weekend.

Action 478 - Stay Up Late... Again.

Tomorrow I'll go to bed early, but tonight my husband is working until 11pm. If I want to see him at all, I need to stay up. I'll pack my workout bag and have everything ready for my 5am trip to the gym. And I will try to be asleep my midnight. But tonight, I need time with the husband more than I need to sleep.

Meh, it's a balancing act.

(Image courtesy of

Action 477 - Make Them All Count.

I'm down to the last few days before I run the marathon, and that raises the stakes on each of the last actions. I'm confident that the past 90+ days have been good for me, and I want to finish strong.

Action 477 -  Make Them All Count.

This week, I won't be introducing anything new. I'll stick to foods I know and eat regularly, so I won't have any worries about nutrition. Physically, I'm planning a short run on Tuesday and Thursday, and I may run again on Friday if I feel like it. I want to feel loose and ready to run on Sunday.

I have been hyper-focused on this marathon for more than three months. Mentally, I think the next few days will seem a bit of a blur. But emotionally, I think I will be a bit overwhelmed by the time Sunday gets here. It's a lot to process, all that has led me to this point.

Spiritually, I feel like I am in a good place. With the help of very generous friends, I have managed to turn this all-about-me marathon project into a chance to make a real difference for other people. That feels pretty great.

All that said, I will not coast this week. I will work just as hard as I have all the weeks before. I will be ready.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Action 476 - Return Recharged.

It was a fantastic weekend, and I'm leaving Austin grateful for having come. Uncles and Aunts, cousins, my mother and my grandfather... so much family in the same place at the same time. It was amazing. But being away from home, work and my routine was a pretty big shake-up. It was tough to stay focused on my plan while hanging out and having fun with family. Still, there is a definite upside.

Action 476 - Return Recharged.

And I am. With only a few days to go, I'm back and ready to see this through. And I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow morning's run.

It's on.

(Image courtesy of

Action 475 - Influence The Family.

I've been running for over a year now, and my family knows that it's become very important to me. And this weekend, I got a chance to see the effect my running is having on other people.

Action 475 - Influence The Family.

In November, I am running the Silver Strand Half Marathon on Coronado Island. And my cousin, who lives in Washington, had already decided to come down and run it with me. It will be her first half marathon, and I'm excited to run it with her. (Plus, a friend of mine is coming down from Las Vegas, so we planned to be a running party of 3!)

But this weekend, my two other cousins surprised me by saying that they are going to run the event, too. Neither cousin has every run that far, but they have already registered and are ready now to start training. Both of them are responsible for their own decisions to run, but I know that they would not be coming along if I wasn't running. Influencing other people feels great, but influencing family? Love it!

Even though I have to say goodbye to the family tomorrow morning, it's exciting to know that I get to see many of them again in November.

Action 474 - Enjoy Texas Style BBQ.

It's Texas, and that means at least one night of dinner from a family favorite, Rudy's.

Action 474 - Enjoy Texas Style BBQ.

Tonight was a delicious dinner of brisket, ribs and chicken. And since a bbq meal isn't complete without side dishes, I also enjoyed cream corn and potato salad. I ate too much, but it was definitely a treat for me.

Oh, yeah. I'm happy to be heading home tomorrow. It's been a great time with family, but I really am looking forward to getting back into my own routine.

Action 473 - Drink More Water.

It's always a good idea for me to stay hydrated, but this weekend has my thirst cranked up a few notches.

Action 473 - Drink More Water.

It's Texas, and the warm weather and humidity are taking a toll on me. I've also been eating more chips and other salty foods, and that makes me thirsty. And of course, drinking more alcohol than usual has me dehydrated.

So, the solution is to drink more water. Since I've been here, I feel like I have had a glass of water in my hand constantly. Hey, if I'm going to be indulge, I need to at least do something good for myself, right?

Action 472 - Tick Off The Days.

After more than ninety days, it's really sinking in. I'm running the Pasadena Marathon in less than a week. It's no longer something that is happening in a while. It's happening at the end of this week. THIS WEEK! After Monday, then Tuesday, etc. I can now say this, next Sunday, I'm running!

Action 472 - Tick Off The Days.

This time next week, I'll be done. I'll be wearing my finisher's medal and celebrating the end of my 100 day, 26.2 mile journey. I'm down to the last week of the calendar and now, I'm ticking off the last few days.

Hurry up, Sunday!

Action 471 - Run The Same Neighborhood.

Despite a second late night here in Austin, I stuck to my training plan. I woke up early, threw on my workout gear, and headed out for another few miles.

Action 471 - Run The Same Neighborhood.

Rather than trying to find a new place to run, I decided to stick with the same course again this morning. That meant another go-round with the hills of Canyon Creek, but I was up for the challenge. Fortunately, the weather was absolutely perfect for running.

It was another three mile run, not too fast and not too slow. I felt a bit sluggish, but I'm blaming that on a lack of sleep.

Not a great run, but I am proud of myself that I didn't let partying with the family keep me from my training.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Action 470 - Honor Heroes (Mile 25).

I am dedicating each mile that I run in the Pasadena Marathon to another Marine Corps hero who has made the ultimate sacrifice, so that in my own small way, they may be honored, acknowledged, and remembered.

Action 470 - Honor Heroes (Mile 25). I will run mile twenty-five in honor of SSgt. Stephen Dunning. He was killed when a booby trap connected to a device he had just disarmed exploded, his father said. Almost a month before his death, he had been promoted to staff sergeant.

I will run this mile in honor of this fallen Marine warrior, son and brother. Semper Fi, Staff Sergeant.

Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning died October 27, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom; He was 31, of Milpitas, Calif.; assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Oct. 27 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

(Photo and summary courtesy of