Comfort in my Skin


I have always been too tall.

Too loud.

Too quiet.

Too emotional.

Too direct.

Too curvy.

Too quirky.

My laugh is too loud.

I cry too easily.

I take things too seriously.

I don’t take things seriously enough…

For years, all I wanted to do was escape my skin.  To become someone else – ANYONE ELSE – so that this pain of being me would stop.  As I’ve shared before, I contemplated suicide.  Made TERRIBLE life choices.  Chose the wrong guys.  Shut out friends.  Cheated and lied and was unkind.  I spent ridiculous amounts of money on credit cards.  All in the quest to escape myself.

After my first marathon, I got a little bit closer to comfort in my skin.

I had done something an un-athletic, bookish girl should never be able to do.  I had run 26.2 miles and had the medal to prove it.  Finishing that race propelled my career forward – by helping me to believe I COULD do the things I wanted to do. And propelled my life forward – by helping me find someone to share my life with who provided the balance and stability I so desperately craved.

Running that marathon was my talisman.  A small treasure, like my graduate degree, that no one could take away from me.  Ever.

Overall, my choices had gotten better and my life had gotten better.  That stable, smart guy and I bought a house and started a family.  I got promoted at work.  I made, and kept, amazing friends.

But, truth be told, there was still a part of my that was so uncomfortable in my own skin I would look in the mirror and have no idea who I was looking at.  Who did things around money and friendships and work that were not true to what I really cared about, because I so wanted to be someone else. Or I wanted someone else to tell me I was good enough.

After crossing this finish line – I found the light in me.

That has been the gift of this experience.  The biggest difference for me today, is that I don’t need to believe I am worthwhile only if YOU like me, if YOU promote me, if YOU pay attention to me, but because I am intrinsically filled with light and love.

And so are you.

And so is everyone.

In shifting my thinking over to that simple belief, I have found that what I need from the people around me has shifted. I can let THEM be whatever they need to be – because their opinion of me is not only none of my business, but I do not need their affirmation to know who I am.  It has begun to make my relationships about actually relating and not NEEDING.

I am certainly still a work in progress, but I feel like my progress is headed in the right direction.

Thank you, again, for reading and coming along on this wild ride.




Baltimore Marathon Recap


On October 15, 2016 at 12:30pm, I became a marathoner for the second time.  The experience was nothing short of life changing and I am so very glad I ran the race I knew I had inside me – somewhere.

But this is a recap… So let’s back up to the expo, shall we?

The Baltimore Marathon, part of the Baltimore Running festival, does not offer same day packet pick up or packet mailing.  A bunch of running friends were going on Friday to go to the expo and stay over before the race, but we had a family wedding so that was not an option for me this year.

Late Thursday morning, my dear friend Jen and I headed up to Baltimore.  They had parking at the stadium lots, but we had a very exact window to get in and out of the city before needing to turn around to head home for kiddo pickup – so we got a Parking Panda spot about a block from the Convention Center.   The shirt, as advertised, was awesome and bib pickup was smooth.


We wandered around a bit to check out the vendors.  I grabbed a 1/3 zip commemorative top I’d been eyeing and new race dots with the Baltimore flag.  Nothing else jumped out for us, but we really wanted a picture with our bibs – so we found the official marathon table and snapped a couple.

That night I attended my niece’s rehearsal dinner, had a work lunch in Alexandria the next day, and the wedding Friday night, so I had laid out my flat mama before I went to bed on Wednesday.


Friday night was the wedding and it was beautiful!  The ceremony and reception were only about 30 mins from our house, and I wore flats – which was good because when your 6 year old son asks you to dance, you dance.


Bright and early on Saturday morning, four of us met up to get to Baltimore.  The ride was surprisingly short and we got great parking right at Ravens Stadium. After getting ourselves situated, we popped over to the festival to get our bearings, use the potties, and check our stuff.   We also got over to the MRTT picture and got this great shot of our traveling crew.


After another potty stop and some gear organization, we headed over to the starting line to meet the rest of our MRTT friends running the marathon.  At just about 7:55, we snagged some individual pics and a picture of our group before we all got ready to RUN.

And run we did.

Just as the starting gun went off, I completely lost the GPS signal I had been trying to get and decided that since every mile would be marked, many with timing mats, I would just go by feel and make sure I was staying around 10 minutes. (Forgetting that after mile 15, my marathon math would not be so great!!)  After 10o+ races, I know what that pace feels like for me.  It was an impulsive choice, but I figured I could always pull over and get a signal if I needed to do so.

Jen and I, as I previously shared, ran the first 22 miles together.  We did not talk much – as to conserve energy – but it felt great to know she was with me.  We passed others from our crew out on the course and at out-and-backs throughout.


Our strategy was 10-10:15 mm for the first half and fueling every 5 miles.  We also took water or gatorade from almost every water stop and walked through those.  The first half, as per the map and elevation charts, was fairly hilly to start as it wound up through the initial neighborhoods and the zoo (where we did not stop to visit with the adorable animals out to say hi).

We wound around Under Armor headquarters, where they had a DJ and tons of crowd support. As we got to the half marathon start, near the Inner Harbor, we realized we had just done the first half in 2:08 and change.  That was AHEAD of where we hoped to be and we were still feeling great.


Around mile 15 we began to climb again.  And climb. And climb.  It was NOT fun.  At ALL.

At mile 16ish we also merged with the back half of the half-marathon runners, many of whom were walking.  So not only were we going up never ending hills, but we were doing so while dodging around people.  Debbie had warned me about this, as had others, but I really wasn’t prepared for how frustrating it would be.

We started to walk the hills at about mile 16 and at mile 20, Jen’s knee gave out and she realized she had to just run if she was going to finish.  She left me to continue my walk-run pattern after mile 22.  That’s where our splits, split (her’s speed up for miles 23-27 because she is a rockstar!). She sent me her Garmin data, which was awesome information.

Someone told me that the last 6.2 is ALL HEART, determination and faith.  That was so true for me.  Once Jen left, I switched over to a podcast and put both earbuds in for the rest of the race.  I kept up my walking on hills, but did my best to just remind myself – just a 5k left, just a 5 miler left.  By the time I got to mile 25, I realized that if I could just keep up a 10:30 pace, I would make my A goal of under 4:29.

My dear friend from college, Kathy, had come up to watch the race and screamed “GO ERIN” between miles 25 and 26.  I was so happy to hear her voice/ see her running along the sidelines, but I could not even muster the energy to show her my excitement.  I just kept going.  JUST before the finish line, I saw my MRTT friend, Erin, and shouted at her that I was about to have a sub-4:30 marathon!!!  I am sure I scared her half to death!


The tracking was one of my favorite things about this race.  It had been sending instant updates to Facebook as well as via text to my husband and parents throughout the race so they knew how I was doing. AND Immediately upon finishing, I could scan a QR code on my bib and my results popped up!


I got through the shoot and wobble-legged to the finish line where I found my friend Kim, medals and food.  AMAZING.  All the things – just amazing.

We hung out a bit more and waited for our other friends to find us.  I also tracked down Kathy, who helped me gather my gear and get my medal engraved.  We hung around the festival for a bit longer before creakily getting into my car and heading back down to Northern Virginia.

Michael and John had treats for me upon arriving home and Michael REALLY liked my crab medal.  He said he’ll get one just like it when he runs his marathon when he is 20. But only if Miss Debbie helps train him like his mom.

SO now I am recovering and basking and feeling grateful for EVERYONE who supported my marathon adventure.  There is more to say about the heart changing aspect of this experience, but I’ll save that for next time.

For now — THANK YOU for reading. For supporting.  And for inspiring me every day!!

Highlights from the Marathon


I have so much to say about this amazing experience, but have not processed enough to really be able to write.  SO… for your reading fun, these are my highlights:

1. I ran my own race with my goals in mind and finished in 4:27:29

2. I had a great first half – 2:08

3. I ran with my half marathon buddy, Jen, until mile 22

4. The hills… so much to say about the hills

5. The half marathon merge was NOT fun – lots of dodging and weaving

6. That last 6.2 were all mental

7. The medal is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen (it opens!!) 

8. I will make shifts training plan next time to incorporate more strength

9. My watch didn’t catch so I ran by feel

10. I WILL do another one (but not for a little while) 

More to come… But for now – I AM A MARATHONER (again)!!


A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

Race starting lines are one of my favorite places on earth.

The energy and excitement of a race just before the start is something I want to bottle and take with me wherever I go.  In some ways it is a very holy place – regardless of how you see a higher power.  Filled with the energy of the collective human spirit. There is prayer and hope and fear and nervousness.

For one small sliver of time, we do not move forward and we cannot go backward.  There is only a starting mat and miles to go before we finish.

Part of why this energy is so palpable is because of the tiny moments each person took to get them to that line.

For me – the starting line of this Saturday’s Baltimore Marathon started four years ago on those very streets.  On October 13, 2012 I took my place for the first leg of my company’s relay team.  I was a last minute addition to the team after another member had to withdraw late in the game and I had barely run three miles before I took her spot. In that moment, I was so nervous about letting my co-workers down who had been training for weeks.

But there I stood.  And I clearly remember thinking – maybe one day, I can run another marathon.  Maybe I can be part of all of this running energy again.  And that little thought, that little voice carried me to right now.


I signed up for 5ks, 10ks, and eventually a half marathon the next year.  I got up and trained and ran and ran, with each step thinking – I have no idea if I can run that far again.  And eventually, I did.

I joined MRTT, so scared I wouldn’t find anyone like me. But every Saturday morning, and sometimes other days too, I put myself in the car (even when I didn’t want to) and ran with my new friends.  Wondering if I’d ever keep up with them.  And eventually, I did.

I found the right gear and the right shoes and sparkle skirts and training plans.

I racked up medal after medal after medal.

I set goals I made and set goals I fell short of again and again.

With every step – I got a little closer to that 26.2 starting line.

And this Saturday, that little voice will finally have her day.  I’ve put in the training.  I have a plan.  And a goal.   And I will toe up to that starting line knowing I am ready to get through whatever 26.2 miles can throw at me.

Not only will I stand at that starting line, but I will cross the finish line.  And you better believe – there will be some serious ugly tears to go with that medal.


Monday Mantra: Determined Women


This Saturday we completed our longest run to date for Baltimore Marathon training – 20 miles.  There is a lot of debate about the length and timing of this last, long run before tackling the 26.2 within the runner community. But lots of reading and chatting with experienced marathon runners has me confident we can get across that finish line having “only” gone to 20.

We decided to start out west in Purcellville, VA where the trail ends (or starts, depending on your perspective).  Laura’s hubby was lovely enough to drive us out there so we didn’t have to deal with a car shuffle situation after our run.  We convened at 6am and 6 of us began the journey back to Ashburn.

It was quiet and dark at that hour of the morning (and the potties weren’t open!), but it felt so good to be running in cooler temps.  As we headed further east, the sun began to peek out and we caught glimpses of farms, cows and mist rising over the countryside.


We were disappointed to find that our first planned pit-stop had a knocked over port-a-jon, so we had to press on into Leesburg.  Along the way, we came upon some pretty bridges that had just completed construction and, since it was finally light out, posed for some photos.

Eventually we reached Leesburg (around mile 10) were we stopped to fuel, etc.  I was so happy with how we were doing I went for the jump – knowing that by mile 20, that was not happening.


As you can see, I decided to take on the long run in my sparkle skirt.  I wanted to make 100% certain I could manage the sparkle for longer mileage than I was used to.  I also went with the same sock, tank, arm warmer and visor combo I was planning for the marathon.  Luckily everything felt great as the temps warmed up and we continued on our adventure.

By this point we were on a very familiar part of the trail and all started joking about which parts drove us the most nuts.  The good news was that we knew where every water fountain and bathroom was located AND almost exactly how long it would take us to get to Trailside Park, where we would pick up the road and head back to our meeting spot in the neighborhood.


Miles 15-18 were tough – mentally and physically.  My body was getting tired and we all took turns keeping one another going over the course of that last stretch.   At mile 19, I started looking at my watch every .10 mile, until my experienced marathon friend, Kim, told me to stop.  Nicely, but firmly – of course.  And our last mile was 9:14 (we’d averaged 10:04) because I think we were so happy to see the finish!!

We posed for pictures, including one with our 20 mile sign, and for many of us – it was our longest run EVER (for me in 13+ years!).

We stretched a bit and chatted before heading home to refuel and rest.

I got home and took a 20 minute ice bath followed by a shower and a 20 minute epsom salt bath.  I had a huge breakfast and when my husband and son headed out, snuck in a nap.  We all texted throughout the day chronicling our aches and pains, but the excitement amongst our group was palpable.  We ARE marathon ready and headed to the starting line of the Baltimore Marathon on October 15!

Today I am a little bit sore going up and down steps, but most of all I am SO grateful for this group of women (and the others) who inspired a new adventure to 26.2.