A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin
I am SO excited. My husband, Rich, has started to dabble in the world of running. He has never been a "runner" but he did run in high school for various sports. After two, very recent, back surgeries he has been taking it easy with exercising, and trying to do low impact cardio. However, I passed the bug onto him. He has been listening to me ramble on and on about my running and he's taking the plunge, slowly.

This weekend, after an amazingly relaxing day of shopping without the kids, Rich asked me if I wanted to do a short run on the trail with him. I was so excited that we would finally get to run together. Though, I was feeling lousy from a head cold and running would breach my "1 week off after the 1/2 marathon promise" I had with myself, I just wanted to get out there and experience something I love so much, with the person I love so much.

We both quickly changed into running clothes and headed for the trail. I was downright giddy about this run, a feeling I haven't had in awhile. In the 11 years we've been together, running is something we've never done as a couple. We were embarking on a new adventure! I will be honest, I wasn't sure if I would like having him out there with me. Running has been an activity I do with my girls, or alone. It's a break from everything familiar and constant. I use running for escape and my sole sisters are my sounding board for all of my vents. I was worried how we would "mesh" out there. Yes, I was worried how I would get along with my husband while we were running. Think about it, I was letting him into MY sport. It's like him inviting me to play football with his buddies, and him worrying I would go all girly on the field when my nail broke from the hard damn ball that was winged at me. You can see where I'm coming from, right?

We picked a section of the trail that had a small grade and set out to do 2 miles (his choice). I told him we would run at his pace, due to my head cold and stiff half marathon muscles, I was willing to go easy on him. The weather was absolutely perfect and there was a good amount of people out walking, biking and running. We headed south and fell into stride pretty quickly. I had to have been grinning from ear to ear running next to him. We chatted about a few things and he asked me some questions about running. I gave him a few tips about his form, and some pointers on how to lower the impact on his back by changing his gait. I also showed him my "coffee cup trick" for easing the tension in your shoulders (ask me about that one, it's pretty nice) and we just glided along. We reached the 1 mile turn around in what felt like 5 minutes. As we turned around, Rich mentioned that we ran a mile in under 10 minutes (he has been averaging closer to 10:30 minutes per mile). I laughed and told him that tends to happen when you run with someone else, and you're enjoying it.

When we made it back to the 2 mile marker, I was disappointed. I wished we could have spent a lot more time out there having uninterrupted chatting. I would have ran with him for days to catch up on life, sans children hanging from our legs and demanding our undivided attention. We ended the run feeling refreshed, energized and happy. I felt like we had fallen in love all over again, and it only took 20 minutes. I love that after 11 years together we can continue to open new chapters in our relationship. This chapter can take us anywhere, anytime, and I hope that soon it will take us over a finish line, together, just us.

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,

“Running has never failed to give me great end results, and that's why I keep coming back for more!” ~ Sasha Azevedo

Now what? That's the first question that popped into my head the second I crossed the finish line this past Sunday. Well, maybe it was after I got my medal, chugged my bottle of water, become reoriented with the world at a stand still and caught my breath. This weekend I completed my first half marathon. Yeah, I like to do things backwards. I wasn't even an hour post race before I started chatting about what I was going to do next. Before I had even completed the San Diego marathon I had signed up for the Hershey 1/2. I didn't want a lull in my training, because I knew I'd slack off and not run the weekly miles that I should. But now, now, I find myself in a lull. I have no race, no schedule, no prize to seek. I have "off" for the next 3 months.

This is the first time since last January that I don't have a race on the "books." I just completed 10 months (minus 6 weeks of broken foot hiatus) of training. I trained for eight and a half months straight, averaging 20 to 40 miles per week!!! I know in retrospect that's nothing compared to the amount a lot of runners do in a year. However, for me, it's huge. Before I started training for San Diego I maybe worked out 2 hours per week. Running 1 mile a week felt like a huge accomplishment.

Lately, it's been a bit of a whirlwind around Chez Chisolm. I have been adjusting to my son's daily school schedule, my daughter's StoryPlay group, play date schedule, a little afternoon side job, two weeknight sports, and general, everyday living. In addition to my training schedule, it has left me feeling a little overwhelmed. The thing is, I thrive under pressure. I love having a lot on my plate. It makes me feel wanted, needed and special. When things slow down I find myself bored, and longing for chaos.

My running schedule helps me manage that chaos, in some odd way. I feel a sense of control over my hectic day knowing that I will get to do something that I love. Somewhere in between school drop-off, laundry and dinner cooking, I will get to run. But somewhere, deep down inside, I'm sick of the schedule. I'm tired of eating, sleeping and breathing according to a schedule. I had great satisfaction taking the training schedule off of the refrigerator and throwing it away yesterday.

Then, here I am today, faced with the "now what's?" Training for my next event (ahem, another marathon!) isn't starting for another 3 months. We all know the winter is a tough time for runners. It's cold, the roads are icy, beds are warm and toasty. I am definitely going to keep running during this interim, and frequently. My goal is to maintain a 20 to 30 mile per week average with my long runs being no shorter than 10 miles. The fun part is that I get to make my own schedule, and if I miss a run, it won't matter. I am going to get back to running just for me, not because I'm training, not because I have a race to prepare for, just because. It will be nice to head and just run any distance on any given day. If I'm feeling good and I want to do 4 instead of my "scheduled" 2, good! I'm going to turn those "now what's?" into "so what's?"

The other day my kids each put on one of my Bondi Bands and raced around the house in their pajamas. I had the best time watching them run with reckless abandon. They didn't care about anything, except for the fact that they were "running like mommy." It was so inspiring to watch them run, and be happy. They weren't going anywhere in particular, they weren't wearing a watch to see how far they had gone, they were just running for the fun of it, and that is what I plan to do for the next 3 months.

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,
When I was training for my first marathon, my dad, an eight-time marathoner, said to me, “Anyone can physically run a marathon. I’m proud of you because of how much mental strength and determination it takes.”

Running is 90% mental (or so they say, although my knees are telling me a different story these days). Sure, you have to get your body into physical shape in order to run well, but pushing through mental blocks can be much harder to do at times. One of the best ways for me to overcome hitting a mental wall is to tell myself: pain is temporary; pride is forever.

I don’t think anything else sums up the mental vs. physical fight that occurs during a race as well as this does. It’s inevitable that, during a race, you’re going to get tired and you’re going to want to quit. Hitting a wall during a long run is not fun. But when this happens, think about the last two, three, or ten miles you have left. Can you handle that? Can you get through that? Yes, you can, and once you do, you’ll be able to say you’ve completed your goal, be it your first marathon, your second half marathon, or your 5k personal best. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and push yourself. It may not be fun for a while, but no one can ever take this accomplishment away from you once you’re finished. After all, you trained hard for this, so make your moment count.

Isn’t the glory worth a little pain?

Every runner this Saturday at the Baltimore Running Festival should be proud of themselves. Each and every person has set a goal and has worked hard to achieve that goal. So put yourself out of your comfort zone and think about crossing that finish line when you’ve hit a wall. Think of the pride you’ll feel knowing you finished your first 5k or third half marathon. Crossing the finish line is something you’ve strived for since you signed up, and it’s a fulfilling, proud moment that you deserve. After all, you’ve done this for YOU, which is one of the best reasons to run!

I’ve run one marathon, and am about to run my second this Saturday in Baltimore. I am already dreading the colored bridge over 83. You know the one. It’s orange, yellow, and uphill (and a long, steady hill at that). Oh, did I mention it’s at about mile 22 for the marathoners and mile 9 for the half marathoners? How convenient! I remember trekking up that hill in 2006 and repeating this phrase to myself over and over: pain is temporary; pride is forever. I told myself, “Just get up this hill and run four more miles, and you will be a marathoner, and no one can ever take that away from you.” It worked.

So this Saturday, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, push yourself, and think of that pride you’ll have knowing what you accomplished at the 2011 Baltimore Running Festival. As Billy Ocean once sang, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”Pain is only temporary, but you’ll have that pride forever, and no one can take that away from you.

Get it, ladies.

Written by: Amy Garland, T2M2R guest blogger

I'm not unique in any way, really.  My story is not tragic and I admit that the adversity or challenges that I have faced training for races this year including the IronGirl triathlon and Baltimore Half Marathon, pale in comparison to the inspiring and tough women out there battling illness, tragedy, real hardships.  There are soooo many women like me out there (which has kept me going up many hills by the way, so thank you to all of you).  However, this year of training was VERY different than in previous years.  I have completed 5 triathlons in the past, 1 marathon, 4 half marathons, 3 ten milers, and various 10ks and 5ks-too many to count.  I pretty much have always trained alone, raced alone, iced alone, recovered alone (besides the massive amounts of support and sometimes coaching from my husband). 

Having always led an active life, I wondered how it would be after giving birth to our daughter in January of this year. It was a lot harder than I imagined!  Putting your body physically back together (OUCH, I mean did anyone else’s pelvis still feel miles apart?), fitting in time to train & sleep, being a new Mommy, fighting off hormonal swings, being a supportive wife & teammate, going back to work full time (thank goodness I have a good sleeping baby) and holding it all together is tough.  I have learned that those challenges are hard enough and I am thankful I have my health and husband as my greatest support systems.  This year, kind of unexpectedly, I have also found such a loving and inspiring network of active moms, running moms, endurance moms (ALL OF YOU) that have inspired me to keep moving forward.   I no longer feel like I am training alone, racing alone, recovering alone.  This new camaraderie, network, encouragement and love filled a void that I didn’t know existed in me, when life threw me a major challenge (even the happiest and most amazing challenge of having a baby).

I train, I run, I race to be stronger for me, to be stronger for my family, to be a role model one day for my 9 month old daughter! 

Here’s to all of the SOLE SISTERS out there and to mine….

T2M2R Guest Blogger, Stephanie Blades