“Urgency” is not a word in my daughter Lucy’s vocabulary. She sees no reason to rush to anything. Getting her dressed and out the door for school in the morning is a continual battle, not because she dislikes school (she finds it quite enjoyable in fact), but because she has no concept of time. This is a trait common to most four year olds, but it is also inherent in Lucy’s personality. When asked by her teacher one day what she would do should she become president, Lucy responded, “I would live in a rainbow land, all day and all night, forever and ever.” She is curious. She likes to explore. She has a vivid imagination, and lives in her own very pleasant place, outside the realm of dates, deadlines, and alarms. It drives me insane, while simultaneously makes me insanely jealous of her relaxed, anxiety free, vividly colored and pleasant reality.
I consider myself “late” if I am not at least ten minutes early to an appointment, party, or work. I actually experience extreme anxiety over being “late.” I live my life feeling the urgent need to complete an endless list of tasks scrolling through my brain. Cook dinner, do laundry, make Lu’s lunch, grocery shop, prep student lessons, keep up on paperwork, pay bills, hug my daughter, kiss my husband, check in with my parents, remember to call this friend or that, find some sanity! Even running, that activity which is supposed to act as a stress reliever and anxiety reducer, is, more often than not, driven by a sense of urgency.
While attempting to complete a five-mile training run, last week, I found myself unable to run past four and a half miles. I was physically exhausted and experiencing a considerable amount of pain in my Achilles and shins. Though the Achilles pain subsided soon after my run, my shin pain did not, causing me to worry about an existing or impending stress fracture (I suffered from a stress fracture several years ago while training for my first half marathon. I was in so much pain that I could barely walk and was ordered not to run for 8-12 weeks. Needless to say, I was unable to complete my training and run the race).
Deciding rest was the best medicine for the present, I skipped the long eight-mile run I had scheduled for the weekend. I also began looking back on my training runs in the hopes of discovering some cause of and solution to the pain I was experiencing. One factor stood out to me in all of my past runs, my time. I had completed every run with an average pace of eight minutes and thirty seconds per mile or less. Times I am perfectly capable of running, but times faster than my average past training. Urgency had been chasing me while I ran.
I concluded that I would have to force myself to slow down, in an attempt to reduce the pounding on my shins and alleviate the pain. I tread carefully during my next four-mile run, feeling as if I might break glass with each step I took. My shins felt considerably better during my run, easing some of my anxiety. However, that evening sharp shooting pains once again began to torment me. Surprisingly, I did not feel the urgent need to make a doctor’s appointment. Instead, I allowed myself one more run.
My training schedule called for a six-mile run next. Desperately wanting to complete the six miles, but unsure of how my shins would feel, I planned a six mile route with the option of a four mile escape plan. Though my shins twanged during the first mile, they were not so painful that I felt the need to stop. Instead, I checked my watch, only to discover that I was once again running an eight minute thirty second pace. Taking a deep breath, I tried to fight off the ever-present sense of urgency and slow down. By mile three, the pain had almost totally disappeared and for the next three and a half miles, I felt more relaxed and comfortable in my new nine-minute mile pace. I felt triumphant, when, at the end of 6.6 miles, I experienced almost no pain.
Last night, after two weeks hiatus from a long run, I completed eight fairly pain free miles. I maintained just under a nine-minute mile pace throughout the run.
I am learning, through watching my daughter slide gracefully and joyfully down rainbows, to slow down. I am learning that urgency will follow me wherever I go, life is chaotic, but that in order to relax, enjoy, and distress, I must let that sense of urgency pass me by instead of chasing me down the road. It is not easy, but my body and my mind thank me when I succeed.
For the past two years, I have limited myself to running one long race a year, in the fall. I generally have used the warmer spring months to ease back into running, after a winter of hibernating (or cross training, as the case may be). The summer months, I have spent training for a longer half marathon. I have been content with this routine, until this year.

            This winter provided me little opportunity (and little motivation) to either run or cross train, leaving me out of shape and extremely antsy. Vacationing in Florida, two weeks ago, provided me the opportunity to run twice in the sunshine and warmth, and served as a disturbing reminder of how out of running shape I truly am. A week of sunshine, combined with the first hints of spring upon returning home to Vermont, convinced me that one race in the fall was going to neither whip my buttocks back into shape, nor appease the ants in my pants. Therefore, I decided to sign up for a spring half marathon.

            Vermont hosts maybe ten marathon races throughout the year. One of the half marathons (The Dandelion Run) begins not ten minutes from my house. I have avoided this race in the past because it takes place the second week of May. Depending on the severity of the winter, training can be challenging during the spring months in Vermont due to an abundance of lingering heavy wet snow, unpredictable temperature changes, and mud… lots of mud. This year, however, I vowed to ignore these factors and, with exactly ten weeks until race day, registered for the Dandelion Run.

            Yesterday, my first official day of training, dawned with gorgeous blue skies, and temperatures climbing to sixty degrees. Upon returning home from work, I immediately grabbed a bite to eat and rushed to change into my running clothes, anxious to participate in an endorphin-producing, vitamin D stimulating activity. After stretching and warming up, I turned up my iPod and hit the pavement with enthusiasm, only to be quickly reminded of why running and I have a love/hate, or hate/love, relationship.


            Because I run, people automatically assume that I love to run, or if not love it, like it. When the truth is, I despise the act of running. I cannot stand that no matter how hard I train, no matter how often or far I run, the act of running never gets easier. Every run is difficult, labor intensive.

I cannot stand the fact that every run hurts. I always feel out of shape when running. If my shoulders are not bothering me, then my lower back is. If my shins are not pinching with pain, then my knees are. 

I cannot stand the fact that no matter how hard I try to silence them; the voices in my head will not shut the hell up! My mind focuses on every painful twang, making pin pricks feel like dismemberments. The stresses of life, relationships, work, and motherhood buzz frantically in my head throughout my runs. Voices of self-doubt regarding my body’s ability to reach goals, or even complete a training run, scream in chaotic cacophony during my runs.

I cannot stand battling the elements; sloshing through rain and mud; feeling my lungs seize as they struggle to inhale thick humid air; transitioning from freezing cold at the beginning of a run, to unbearably hot and sweaty in the middle of a run, to feeling the sweat freeze on my body at the conclusion of a race.

All these things I hate and more!

I have to laugh at the looks of disbelief, confusion, and bafflement that cross people’s faces when I tell them I despise running. “And yet you run half marathons?” they ask in amazement. “Why?” The answer is simple: Though I hate to run, I love the results I get from running.

I have yet to find another activity that burns as many calories as quickly. It would take me an hour of walking to burn the same number of calories I burn in a twenty-minute run.  Furthermore, running builds muscle while also providing an excellent cardio workout. It kills two birds with one stone. Being a mother, and now a working mother, I need exceptional results in a short amount of time.

Running clears my head and relieves stress and anxiety. I inevitably begin and end every run with negative thoughts. However, within thirty minutes to an hour after a run, I feel my mind and body heave a sigh of relief. The stresses that life creates on a daily basis drain from both mind and body leaving me more at peace, more logical, and less emotionally charged.

Running gives me alone time. Mother, wife, daughter, sister, teacher, friend…fulfilling all these duties and more allows me very little time to connect with myself. Often times, they require more giving than receiving. Running allows me time to take care of those little parts of myself that need nurturing and attention.

Running allows me the opportunity to commune with nature. I am not an indoor person. Having been raised in sunny California, I spent the majority of my childhood outside, running, jumping, skipping, riding my bike, or playing sports with my brother. I am an outdoor person. However, the demands of the household, work, and a seemingly endless Vermont winter, often force me indoors and out of my element. Running allows me to get in touch with that piece of me that loves the outdoors.

            Running allows me to feel strong, beautiful, accomplished and confident. Like many women, I struggle with self-confidence. Images of perfection pervade our culture; images of too thin women with perfect hair, skin, abs, butts, thighs, and facial features. Though I know these images are often doctored and are not what they seem, I am not immune to the cultural ideal. When I run, I feel healthy, proud of my body and beautiful. I fall into bed after a long race feeling triumphant because though I have hated every minute of the journey, the struggle is always worth the destination.

            As I curse my way through my training runs for my upcoming half marathon, I will fight to remember all those things I love about running. And as I look around at those running the race next to me, I will wonder, “Do they love this, or hate it?” I ask you, “Do you love or hate running? Why?”

Written by: Alyssa Coupe


            One month ago, I did something I have not done in four years. I went back to work, tutoring five mornings a week, two hours a day. I was understandably nervous on my first day; not only have I not formally taught in four years, but I would also be teaching a student who had missed an extraordinary amount of school due to his lack of desire to attend. His seeming apathy made me nervous. My nerves were compounded by the fact that this was the first time in my career that I would not only have to struggle to get myself up, dressed, and ready for the day, but also be responsible for getting my daughter, Lucy, up, dressed, and to school two more days than she had previously been attending, and thirty minutes earlier than she had previously been arriving (feats, which on the best of days were difficult, due to her inquisitive nature and lack of urgency on her part).

            On my first day of work, I rose early with butterflies in my belly. However, these were soon tamed, though not eliminated, by frantic morning preparations. Lu excited about the prospect of attending school five days a week, as opposed to her normal three, was blessedly up early and eager to walk out the door, helping me by getting herself dressed and brushing her hair and teeth. Before I had to ask the customary three times, she had donned her boots, slipped into her coat, and grabbed her hat and mittens. Picking up her lunch box and slipping on her backpack, the two of us walked out the door in record time.

            After situating Lu at school, I kissed her goodbye, jumped into the car, and looked at my clock, happy to see that I was five minutes early; allowing me time enough to grab a soul-soothing coffee on the work.

            The craziness of the morning left my brain little time to mule over the anxiety simmering below the surface of my calm exterior. However, as I drove toward work the butterflies once again began fluttering wildly. They worked themselves into an incredible frenzy when my boss ushered me into a back closet, which was designated as my workspace, its location picked specifically due to the resistance I was told I would most likely encounter from my student. After arranging my materials, I walked to the front lobby in order to await my student, armed and ready for battle.


            I am not a winter runner. When the temperature dips below forty and snow starts to cover the ground, I move indoors and make the painful adjustment from terrain to treadmill. Even with access to a treadmill, my mileage drops of dramatically during winter, while my cross training and lifting increase. I simply do not have the mental capacity to run unmoving on a treadmill for more than thirty minutes or more than one to two times a week. My boredom gets the better of me. My brain begins to focus on every painful twinge; every second creeps by excruciatingly slow. Sometimes, I make it through my treadmill runs, feeling triumphant. Other times, I slam down on the stop button, unable to bear the mind numbing “thump, thump, thump” of each step a moment longer.

            Winter in Vermont is normally harsh. Moreover, long. Meaning my time indoors tends to drag like my treadmill runs. This year, however, has been an exceptionally warm winter. Unfortunately, the constant fluctuation in temperatures, combined with snow and rain, has left a thick layer of ice on the grass, sidewalks and roadways preventing my normal cross training on snowshoes. This combined with my new work schedule and winter full of constant sickness, has zapped my motivation leaving me little time and less desire to spend time in a sweat and germ filled gym.

            However, two weeks ago I was given a gift that allowed me to do something I have not been able to do in four months, run outside. It just so happened that the weather, which rarely cooperates with my schedule, awarded me a day of sun and temperature in the low forties on the one day of the week that Lu spends the entire day at school, as opposed to the half days she attends the other four days of the week.

            Upon leaving work, I immediately high-tailed it home with every intention of spending some time out of doors. After eating lunch, I quickly changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running shoes. Stepping into the delightfully blinding sunshine, I could not resist the desire to run. However, I had barely run at all in the last four months and did not know whether I could make it a mile, much less the 3.1 miles that comprised my normal village route.

            My nerves began to twang as I adjusted my iPod and fidgeted with my earphones. This feeling was familiar. I was having prerace jitters. I was worrying about my condition, whether my mind and body would carry me through to the end of the mileage. Pushing play on my iPod, I stepped off the curb and into the road, preparing to battle through a very long and painful 3.1 miles.


            The battles I prepared to fight on my first day of work and on that first out door run proved unnecessary. My student proved polite, amicable, and bright, working diligently throughout our two hour tutoring session. My run also proved less painful than I expected. Though buffeted by a near constant wind, I finished the 3.1 miles in just over twenty eight minutes; slower that my normal twenty six to twenty seven minute pace, but surprisingly quick considering my lack of foot time.

            It was taking those first steps that proved the hardest part of both events. It was taking a deep breath and conquering the nerves that threatened to consume and defeat me that proved the most difficult task; those nerves that could have kept me from taking those first steps. Had I not conquered those nerves and taken those first steps, I would not have experienced the rewards of engaging a student who was loath to be engaged, nor would I have experienced the lasting joy of a sunshine filled run.

            I continue to tutor the same student; it is not always as pleasant as that first tutoring session. There have been bumps in the road. Nevertheless, it feels good to have something of my own. It feels good to delve into the texts of Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson, authors that stimulate my intellect and reawaken my inner English geek. I have not had the opportunity to run outside since that beautiful day two weeks ago, which makes that rare moment even more memorable and enjoyable. When the opportunity to trek out of doors presents itself again (hopefully sooner rather than later), I know those first steps will be the hardest to take, but also the most crucial. I will step off the curb knowing that the end result is worth the initial nervous struggle.

Written By: Alyssa Coupe
T2M2R member from Vermont
"Endurance is patience concentrated." - Carlyle
The itch has returned! No, not the type that requires medical
attention; the running itch! Last week I started the '100 Miles in
January Challenge' and it really jump started me. I did 3 days in a
row of 5 milers and then I took Thursday off. I didn't realize how
hard taking a day off would be once the itch returned. I knew I
needed a break, especially since Wednesday evening I couldn't keep my
eyes open past 8 pm, and I had an amazingly sore buttocks.

However, I was left feeling so anxious all day Thursday. It was
beautiful outside and I hated that I was taking a day off. I wanted to
continue ticking off the 100 miles and make a huge dent in my first
week. Of course, running 15 miles in 3 days IS a huge dent considering
I was averaging 15 miles or less in a week gearing up to this
challenge. So, yes a break was indeed needed.

I'm not a patient person, AT.ALL. Well, I have my moments but
generally I have a very aggressive - go getter personality. I want to
get things done RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT. If I have something on my
"plate" I feel anxious and uneasy. I always feel the need to be doing
SOMETHING. So having this challenge is going to prove to be harder for
me than I anticipated. Getting in the miles won't be hard, I clocked
my 35th mile today and I have over 2 weeks left to go. It's going to
be hard because I have to be patient. I have to run the miles in a
smart fashion. Doing 50 in a week is just stupid. I know this, but my
patience - or lack there of - doesn't LIKE it.

On Saturday, I met up with my Team in Training peeps for an 8 mile out
and back on the trail. I was partially excited about the trail run and
partially dreading it. I get VERY bored running on the trail. Plus, my
gal pal wasn't going to be there and she's usually the one team member
that runs the same pace as me. When we started the run it was a frigid
28 degrees and my feet had turned into ice blocks. I took off from the
pack and never looked back. (Running hills has really proved to
increase my pace on the flats.) As I was coming out of a tunnel on the
trail I decided to look back and see how far ahead I was from the
group. There was literally no one in sight. I have no idea what pace I
was running, but I felt absolutely great so I kept going.

I planned on going an extra quarter of a mile to get the full 8 miles
(the out and back was really only 7.6) and I figured that would give
some other runners a chance to "catch-up" to me. Fortunately, for my
sanity, I was "caught" and I had a friend to run with for the last
mile before hitting the water stop. We were chatting and running at a
nice pace and I decided to challenge him to a race - "Race me to the
mile post!!!" Well this was a big mistake because he totally dusted my
sorry self, and I felt the energy drain from my entire body the second
we turned around. BONK.

On the 4 miles back, I struggled between wanting to run with the pack,
or hang back (in the middle) and finishing strong. I was really feeling
the weeks total mileage pulling me down. Somewhere around mile 6 my
coach caught up with me. We were chatting for a bit and he mentioned
that I needed to slow down. In true Holly fashion I protested. "I'm
fine! I'm talking, I'm running... I pass the test!!!" He was hearing
none of it. This is a 60 year old man, who just last year ran the
Boston Marathon, I have no business disagreeing with him. He started
talking to me about being a patient runner. (Uh oh, I'm in trouble

Coach J, who has no clue I am doing a 100 Mile Challenge, or that I
write this blog (and we will keep those on the hush!) explained to me
that the miles I'm running now are my "base miles." Base miles aren't
meant for being raced through or rushed. Base miles are for building
up to the long runs when the first 8 or so miles are critical for
preserving energy. So even though "I felt fine" and could easily talk
through the run, I was still rushing through it, unnecessarily to
boot. Enter patience...

I am going to ATTEMPT to demonstrate patience for the 65.85 remaining
miles of my challenge and hopefully that will translate into my
marathon training. It would be an added bonus if the patience found
it's way into my day to day activities, too!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,
"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about."
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian
Wow, what a whirlwind those 2 weeks were! I can't believe Christmas
has come and gone and we're in a new year! Before my little hiatus I
issued a challenge for January. I am challenging everyone to get in
 100 miles this month.* Will it be hard? Yes! Will it take commitment?
 Yes! Can it be done? YES!!!!

I did a fair share of running the past 2 weeks. Nothing too insane but
I did up my mileage and add in some pretty hilly courses. My increased
appetite and my sore buttocks are proof of both. I got my long run
back up to 8 miles and I'm hoping to do a 10 miler this Saturday. I'm
feeling pretty positive about my challenge and really looking forward
to getting back into tip top running shape. Marathon training starts
January 30th!!!!

I have been seeing a great deal of fitness goals for the year 2012. It
seems like now, more than ever, people want to get into shape. I have
recruited my mom, brother and sister-in-law to join my 100 mile
challenge and they seem really excited about it. I am hoping this year
I can influence a few people to incorporate fitness into their lives.
I didn't realize how important it was for me to have until I started
running regularly.

If you haven't committed to my challenge or challenged yourself to a
fitness goal, it's not too late! If you haven't been active in awhile,
start out small. You can challenge yourself to be active a few times a
week for 30 minutes. You can challenge yourself to make better food
choices. You can challenge yourself to run all the way up a steep hill
that you've never managed before. Whatever your challenge, or your
goals, make it so you won't fail. Choose things that are hard, but
within your capabilities. Also, try to get a buddy to do it with you.
It's a lot easier when you have someone else holding you accountable.
You can also make it a race - see who reaches the goal faster! Make a
list of your goals and post them where you'll see them often and get

My fitness goals for this year are:

1) To tone up (especially my core)
2) Run 100 miles in January
3) Run 1,000 miles (ore more) for the year
4) Write new, exciting and fun blogs for you fine people :)
5) Lose 10 lbs - the ones that don't want to go away
6) Run and finish my 2nd marathon
7) Run a few other races. Perhaps a fall marathon??

I am so excited to start another year with T2M2R. If there are any
blog topics you would like to see, please let me know! I may not have
all of the answers but I'm pretty good at making stuff up!

Happy New Year 2012!!!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,

*Disclaimer about the 100 mile challenge. You do NOT have to run all of the miles. The miles can be combined with biking, elliptical, walking and running. Please do not attempt this challenge if you have not been physically active. We don't want to see anyone get hurt! Aim for a smaller goal if you're just starting back up. The number 26.2 has a nice ring to it for a monthly goal :) 

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.  ~ John Burroughs

I know you're all too busy to read my bantering for the next 2 weeks (Really, I'm far too busy eating cookies, wrapping gifts and hiding in the bathroom from my over-excited, Santa-crazed children to write), so I've requested a leave of absence.

In full disclosure, I was told I won't be getting paid for this time off. Though, I haven't received a payment for past blogs. Those must be delayed in the mail :) 

I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate this holiday season! It has been so much fun sharing my running stories with all of you, and I can't wait to start a new year and new adventures right here on T2M2R! 

If you didn't see my previous blog, check it out. I'm challenging everyone to do 100 miles in January. You don't have to run all of them, you can combine cross-training, too! Encourage friends and family to join you in the challenge. Let's start 2012 off on the right foot, or left, whichever you're more comfortable with, and become healthier than ever!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,


“Something in human nature causes us to start slacking off at our moment of greatest accomplishment. As you become successful, you will need a great deal of self-discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility, and commitment.” ~ Ross Perot
I'm feeling bipolar about running lately. One day I embrace the fact that I don't have a training schedule weighing on my mind. The next day I'm kicking myself in the rear for being unmotivated and not getting out there like I should. So far I have really let myself down. I planned on averaging around 20 to 25 miles before marathon training starts again at the end of January. Last week I ran 7 miles and the week before 13. That's not even close to meeting my goal and I'm beating myself up about it.

On one hand, I know I have plenty of miles to look forward to. Marathon training is somewhat of a full-time job, especially near the half-way point and leading up to the race. I will be clocking around 40 miles per week during most of my training and that will include MANY early mornings. So, when my alarm goes off in the morning and I'm fighting with myself to get out of bed, I simply say "Eh, give yourself a break, you have plenty of these early days coming." The alarm is turned off and my state of becoming a sloth increases.

Even my husband has been letting me slack. I planned on getting up early a few Saturday's ago to get in a long run and he let me sleep in. When I told him I was supposed to get up he said "Don't worry about it. You have plenty of Saturday runs to come." While I love him for this, he's not doing me any favors! I'm really nervous about having a hard time getting back into marathon shape if I let myself slack too much. I pride myself on being able to run 6 + miles pretty easily. I promised myself I would not let that slip over the winter months. So why do I keep allowing myself to slack?

I can't decide - Do I want a schedule right now? Do I not want a schedule? Should I just enjoy running when I feel like it or should I stick to the promise I made with myself and get those 20 - 25 miles in per week? I'm sure if I had a trainer he would be saying very nasty things to me right now for skipping important running days. After all, I do need to maintain my health before the nitty gritty training starts. So, here's the deal... I've decided to give myself a challenge (a challenge is so much better than a goal, right?) and I'd like for all of you to join me. The challenge is '100 Miles in January.'

Yes, '100 Miles in January!' It may sound scary, but it's not! Running 25 miles per week is absolutely doable and when you're held accountable by others, you won't want to fail. So, who's in? I need to ditch the bipolar state of mind, get back to feeling good about my routine and quit my whining and excuses. January won't know what hit it with all of us out there keeping the asphalt warm!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,
I don't love broccoli, and I don't love the treadmill, but I love the way I feel when I’m healthy and strong. It empowers me in all facets of my life. So remember, that although something may not be fun in the moment, remind yourself of the ultimate reward, and allow that to motivate you through the tough times ~ Jillian Michaels
This morning I had one of what will become many early workouts of the winter. I begrudgingly rolled out of bed at 5:45, after a 10 minute battle with my brain about why I shouldn't stay in bed and how awesome I will feel once I get to the dreadmill, er treadmill. I got myself dressed in partial darkness, grabbed my water bottle and banana and headed outside, in the dark. I'm not a fan of being up when it's dark outside, unless it's nighttime and I have a glass of wine in my hand. Mornings and darkness, no thanks.

I traveled the 4 minutes to the gym, trying to pep myself up with some pop music blaring through the speakers of my mom mobile. Once I pulled into the gym parking lot I noticed there were a mere 5 other cars there. Well, that was not motivating to say the least. I trudged into the gym and gave a half smile to the man working behind the counter. He made a comment about my name being festive and asked if I was born in December. I'm pretty sure I shot him with a laser out of my left eye.

Once I got myself onto the treadmill and started moving (ie: waking up) I decided that if I were going to make morning workouts a part of my winter routine, I was going to need to get a better attitude about being confined to the hamster wheel at 6 o'clock in the morning. Sure, I could spend Tuesday and Thursday mornings being miserable and snarking the over-caffeinated gym attendant, or I could find the positive. So, since I had nothing better to do, I started to make a list of all of the things I love about running - indoors versus outdoors.

1) Music - Since 99% of my outdoor runs are done sans music, I am excited to befriend my iPod again. I get to channel my inner punk rocker, teenybopper and hip hopper without a single person complaining about my choice in songs. Also, I like to sing while I run - not out loud, I'm not a total nut job.

2) Warmth - Indoor running allows me to wear my favorite running attire; tank tops and shorts! Also, I sweat buckets and that makes me feel like I really accomplished something during my workout. There is something about icicles hanging from the bottom of my hair that doesn't give me the same feeling. Also, numb toes and frost bitten fingers are not a joy.

3) Lack of Road Kill - I don't care how far the road kill is from me, nothing can ever prepare me for when I run past the carcass of an animal. It takes me a good 20 minutes to recover, get my heart back where it belongs and my stomach to stop churning. Hopefully I won't encounter anything dead while working out at the gym. I pray.

4) No Litter - Nothing infuriates me more when I'm out enjoying a run then the piles of trash that I pass, especially empty cigarette packs. Come on people, (not you people, the litter bugs that probably don't read running blogs) it's the year 2011 and we're still littering? There are trash receptacles and recycling bins ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE. If you're ashamed of your choice in smoking, or the McDonald's that you just ate - throw it away INTO A CAN or *gasp* RECYCLE! Don't muddle up my beautiful, scenic run with your crap! There are some roads I feel like I'm running through a dump. Not cool.

5) Safety - While I've been known to *almost* fall off of a treadmill a time or two, they are safer than running in the dark. I dodge enough cars in the daylight, and I'd rather not chance becoming a part of the road kill that I discussed up there in #3.

6) No Fireplace Smoke/Exhaust - OK, really I know it isn't the fault of the homeowners who are keeping their homes toasty warm when it's cold outside. But, there is nothing worse than sucking air when it is laden with smoke. The same goes for car exhaust. Blech. I'm trying to get healthy and have strong lungs. It seems counterproductive when the air I'm breathing is full of fumes!

7) No Sticks! - This may just seem silly but I hate sticks. More-so, I hate sticks that disguise themselves as snakes, or vice verse. I have passed 4 snakes that I am aware of, and they have all looked like sticks from far away. Once I got close enough to realize what it was I found myself screaming and high jumping into the air. It may be funny to my fellow runners but for me it is traumatizing. I will run indoors all day long knowing I won't encounter any slithering serpents.

8) Consistent Weather - This is a little repetitive of # 2, but I just love that I don't have to worry about battling the elements when I'm at the gym. I don't have to compete with the wind, dodge the puddles, or skate on sheets of black ice. I do, however, have to avoid the man who bathes in cologne and always, always picks the treadmill next to mine.

9) Secret Races - There is almost always someone else running on a treadmill at the gym that I can pretend I'm running against. That always makes time go by faster and I love that they have no idea they have entered my little game.

10) No Hills - This is more of a con than a pro because hills are our friends. However, it is nice that if I want to have a nice easy run, I can accomplish that on the treadmill. I almost always run on an incline because it's a better overall workout and supposedly helps to prevent injury, but some days the flat surface is so welcoming.

So there it is - my ten reasons why running indoors isn't as terrible as I always think it is. While I'd take running outdoors over the treadmill on any given day, there are definitely circumstances where I feel blessed to have the option to hoof it over to the gym. This is my "no excuses" list for the winter to get me up and at 'em on the mornings I'd much rather stay snuggled under the covers. Feel free to message me on Facebook on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to see if I phoned it in or made it to the gym. Just be prepared for me to ask you the same!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run For You,
"Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see." - Jimmy Buffett
I'm not going to lie...running has sucked lately. It has been totally rotten and blah and less than fun. I've been doing everything I planned on doing during my "interim." I'm not on a schedule, I'm leisurely picking the amount of miles I feel like running and I have no pressure. Also, the weather! The weather has been unseasonably mild and absolutely amazing. So what gives? I started to evaluate my runs since the half marathon, when I felt like things started to unravel. Guess what I figured out? Pacing is the culprit.

When I first started running, which feels like eons ago, I was running around a 10:30/11 minute mile. I ran my first 5k in August of 2010 in 32:49 and almost died. These days I can run a 5k in about 26 minutes averaging an 8:30 minute mile, if I really push it. This isn't to brag about my "speed," but to show the huge leap I have made in just a short amount of time. I have never done speed work, I just naturally increased my speed over time and distance. Marathon training helped build my endurance so that when I run shorter miles I can essentially "burst" through them because I don't have to pace myself.

So what's my point? My point is that lately I have been KILLING myself to run at the faster pace, because I know I can. However, what I've found is that I'm sore, grumpy and overall unsatisfied by the run when I finish. Sure, I can brag that I hauled ass and PR'd, but who cares? I haven't even been wearing my watch for most of my runs because I am really trying to go out for fun and not time and distance. Though, let's be honest here, with or without our watches we know if we're pushing ourselves or going slower than our natural pace.

This weekend I ran 2 times. Once on Saturday and once on Sunday. Saturday's run was a hilly 4 miler that I ran around an average of a 9 minute mile. I was miserable the entire time and mentally unfocused and unhappy. When I got home I started to second guess myself about running in general, and especially training for another marathon. I was feeling an all time running low to say the least. Sunday I forced myself out of the house into the beautiful weather. I decided I needed to try things a little bit differently and go back to the beginning.

I took Sunday's run nice and slow. I headed towards a 6 mile loop that is insanely hilly and figured I could bail out at mile 4 and head home if I wasn't feeling it. I kept a close eye on my watch, without being too crazy and kept myself around a 9:45/10 minute per mile pace. This was faster than the "beginning" but closer to my training pace. I felt so comfortable and trotted along really enjoying the scenery. I conquered hills with absolute ease and took breaks when I wanted, not because I NEEDED to or HAD to (lest I pass out). I took the run one mile at a time and didn't worry about pushing myself and "beating the clock." It was so reminiscent of my training runs, and when I reached mile 4 I felt too good to stop. I continued on, and up 2 more huge hills, to finish out my loop. If it weren't for fear of injury and overuse, I would have done 10 miles because I was feeling that great.

When I got home I was smiling from ear to ear. I felt rejuvenated, happy and refreshed. I made a comment to my husband that those 6 miles were the best feeling miles I have ran in a long time. If all it takes is slowing down a bit for me to feel that amazing after a run, I'll do it. I'm learning that pace isn't just about time, it's about endurance, strength and most important, emotion. Pacing yourself one way or another can determine the entire outcome of a run. You may finish, you may even finish first, but it doesn't always mean you had a truly enjoyable run. For me, an enjoyable run will always beat the time on the clock.

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,
Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. --W.T. Purkiser
If I ran a mile for everything I am thankful for this year, I could run to California and back. There are specific years in my life that will always stand out as times I was specifically blessed. The year 2000, when I met my best friend who would later become my husband in 2004. The year 2004 is also when I graduated from college. The year 2007 when I gave birth to my amazing little boy. The year 2010 when my daughter made our family complete. Those years, plus many more, have had such events that undoubtedly made me feel like the most blessed person in the world. 

This year, 2011, hasn't had anything I would consider as monumental as past events. I turned 30 in April. While that was a milestone birthday, I didn't necessarily feel blessed so much as "Holy crap I'm getting OLD." Yes, I completed my first marathon in June, and while that's no small feat, it didn't change my life, flip it upside down and turn me into a new person, like becoming a mom did. 

Although running a marathon didn't change me as a person (aside from getting me in shape and in smaller pants), it taught me a valuable lesson. Running, and having the ability to run, has taught me how incredibly blessed I am, and how thankful I should be. Each and every step I take when I'm out running is a blessing. For me, running is simple - I don't have to think about it. I don't bat an eye at the thought of running 6 or more miles on a given day. I know there are people who wish they had that simple pleasure. People who once ran but now can't. People who have never even laced up a running shoe. Those people make me feel so incredibly thankful this year.

I obviously can't go out and run a mile for everything and everyone I am thankful for this year. However, before I go celebrate Thanksgiving with my family Thursday, I will take the time to dedicate a few miles to the people who inspire me to get out there and run. The people who encourage me to keep going when I want to quit. The people who wish they could spend a few hours a week with the wind in their hair and the road under their feet. The people whom I've never even met but who have touched my life in a way they will never know. For them, I am so very blessed and so incredibly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Take the time to think about why you're thankful this holiday season and share it with others!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,