Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon: Running My Own Personal Half Marathon

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I’m about a week behind on training for the Pittsburgh Marathon as an awful stomach virus ripped through our family at the end of one training week and stuck around well into the next week. I decided not to stress about it though, because I’m me. I’ll get to that 20 mile run before Marathon Day and all will be well. By well I mean that hopefully I won’t fall over on the course. You know.

Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon

Stomach virii aside, let’s talk about something I am pretty excited about: THIRTEEN POINT FREAKING ONE MILES!

On Saturday, I set out on my 13 mile training run. I wore my FuelBelt hydration belt. I had extra water sitting on the front porch in case I ran out. (I am very careful with hydration due to my kidney disorder.) I also had a plan: Run a two mile loop which brings me back to my mailbox, then run to the bottom of the hill, and then walk back up the hill at a fast pace (approximately 120 quick steps) while drinking water. And then repeat! ALL THE TIMES!

I decided to throw in the 120 step walk and water breaks to practice for hydration stops on the course and to give myself the break I’m needing as I ramp mileage back up. I really, really started to look forward to the walk and water breaks around the 8-12 mile loops.

All the Green Socks

Anyway, it went really well, other than my speed tanked in the last two miles. My legs felt strong, though my hips continued to tighten the whole run. The walk breaks helped the stiffness a little bit. I kept a 10:41 pace until those last few miles, which is what it looks like I’ll be shooting for come race day—somewhere in between 10:30 and 11:00/mile. Much slower than my half marathon pace, but I’m being realistic as to where I am right now. It feels good in that pace zone, and while I find speed every now and then, nothing that I can maintain at this point.

One thing I thought of as I ran 13 miles, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, was how weird it was to be running that distance solo. My normal long runs don’t exceed 12 miles. Any time I’ve run 13 miles, it’s been on a race course with cheering spectators, funny signs, my family, and a general ambiance of awesome. My neighborhood was all but empty yesterday, save for the Horse Neighbor who shouted a word of encouragement when I passed his house for the fourth time. Running that distance with no support felt weird, lonely even.

What 13.1 Miles Looks Like

It also felt really awesome.

I have a number of long runs left before race day. Prior to this weekend, I felt kind of nervous about them. Less so about my legs and lungs and body and impact and exhaustion, and more so about that whole lack of support. It makes a difference when people are cheering you on, when you know that people are watching and caring and sending you forward with the best of wishes. The funny signs that make you laugh. The high fives from little kids. The bands. Just the whole thing. So when you’re running 13.1 miles alone, just for yourself, the only thing you have to keep you moving forward is… yourself. That’s a lot of pressure.

And I survived the pressure. I ran 13.1 miles. And I’ll run 16 and 18 and 20. And then on race day, Pittsburgh will carry me to the finish as I run home. I’m a pretty determined person in general, so finishing that run all alone made me feel really proud that I put my mind to something and saw it through to completion.



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17 Days of Green, 2014: Week One

Coming off of two months of not really wearing more than yoga pants and workout gear, getting into the spirit of 17 Days of Green by actually getting into my closet felt a little challenging. At first. Now, with one week under my (green) belt, I’m reminded how much I love green and clothing I already own.

A friend asked this week if I have a game plan for what I’m wearing on which day. Answer: Nope. I totally fly by the seat of my pants, the main bonus being that my wardrobe is largely comprised of lovely green things. It’s pretty easy for me to pick. I do have a general idea of what I might like to wear on our Pittsburgh getaway this coming weekend. And I have something really cool, or three really cool somethings, to wear this week sent to me from my great aunt. But otherwise, yeah, this is just me, wearing green clothes.

17 Days of Green: Day 1

17 Days of Green: Day 2

17 Days of Green: Day 3

17 Days of Green: Day 4

17 Days of Green: Day 5

17 Days of Green: Day 6

17 Days of Green: Day 7

17 Days of Green: Day 8
I had no energy to take a “real” picture after this 13.1 Pittsburgh Marathon training run, so an Instagram compilation has to suffice!

17 Days of Green: Day 9

Notes from this week: My shamrock necklace broke today. I feel devastated. I don’t know if I have enough time to grab any from Etsy that would be delivered in time for us to leave on Friday. I’m really kind of sad about it. I love my shamrock necklace and wear it as a casual, everyday necklace much of the year.

If you’re wondering, I have lots of green left for this week and into the official St. Patrick’s Day celebration next Monday. Don’t worry!


I Just Want to Know Who You Are

I’ve been taking the dog on a walk every afternoon since Ash Wednesday. It’s my Lenten activity. A one mile walk to exercise my dog, to talk to God, to breathe the air, to give thanks. The adding in of this time feels like a good choice right now.

I missed my window during school hours today due to work load and conference calls and life as it happens. I didn’t have time to take my walk until after the boys had been home for an hour. I asked BigBrother if he wanted to walk with me—down to the creek and back. He agreed.

I asked the questions I normally ask over dinner. Who did you eat lunch with today? Who did you play with at recess? How was your talking? Was everyone on green? Did anything surprise you today? He talked about his day. And talked some more.

We walked down the big hill, his little feet taking three steps to my little feet; his body not quite used to the gravitational pull of the big hill, the teeny rocks, gravel, salt, and ash of winter mixed together under our feet.

“Do you run down this hill sometimes?”

I nodded.

“Do you run up the hill?”

“Slowly,” I admitted.

We got to the bottom, turned around, and started back up the hill.

I started to ask him more questions.

What’s your favorite color? Green. What’s your favorite song? Oh, wow. I don’t know. I like all kinds of songs now. At first it was just “Gangam Style,” but now it’s “Wake Me Up When It’s All Over” and “Gangnam Style” and the Frozen song. What’s your favorite drink? I like lots of drinks! Soda—I know you like me to say pop, but I like to call it soda. Milk—I really like milk. Gatorade. What’s your favorite TV show? I like watching Pokemon DVDs right now.

He paused.

“Why are you asking me all these questions, Mommy?”

I looked down at him. “I just want to know who you are.”

“Oh, well. That’s cool. Just so you know, I like the red Bakugan even though my favorite color is green. The red one is for fire. The green one, grass, his weakness is fire. And so that’s why I like the red one more.” On and on he went. I smiled and looked up at the sky.

I gave up a little of my alone time today, a little of my intention with my Lenten activity—but not really, I suppose. I had a God moment today, out on the road with my oldest son, my mini-me.

With my Mini-Me

I am thankful.



On the Fire Truck

I don’t think we’ve been to the fire department to visit since before Christmas.


The phone rang in the middle of the night, forcing my husband out of bed and allowing me to stretch out and cuddle into that sweet spot right in the middle. A garage fire kept him out all night, leaving him just enough time to come home and shower before heading back to the fire department for his normal shift. In his rush, he forgot his toiletries bag.

So after Children’s Choir tonight, we ran it over to him—showing up just in time to wash the fire trucks. We meaning that the boys jumped right in, washing the trucks with sheer joy while I sat on the couch in the garage and snapped photos. I watched as LittleBrother skipped—a new skill—from fire truck to fire truck.

As a special treat, the boys got to “ride” in the fire truck as it was pulled out of the garage so the other firefighters could squeegee the water down the drains. All the joy.

As we got back in our car, LittleBrother asked an important question.

“Daddy, when I’m a firefighter, how old will you be?”

My husband’s heart darn near exploded with joy. I love being part of this family—our four person unit and the fire department.

On the Fire Truck


52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Fight

Writing Sentences

The boys got into a fight this week, on the 16th Snow Day to be precise.

I figure the brothers might be well over all this forced togetherness, the forced inside-ness, the forced everything. I know I passed my tolerance for All Things Inside and Winter many weeks ago, so I can’t fault them for being tired, for being over it.

But I can fault one brother for holding the other brother’s arms down so hard and so long that the held down one started to cry.

I can fault the held down one for, once released, reaching up and scratching the ever loving crap out of his brother’s face.

LittleBrother Writing

To be fair, this physical altercation marks their first real physical fight. A push here, a shove there… sure. But never before have these two set out with intent to hurt one another, with malice aforethought. Never before have I stood before them, hands on my hips, looking down at two little guilty faces — one scratched, one blotchy and red with anger and tears.

As I related this story to various people, I heard many of the same reaction: “Brothers.” “Boys will be boys.” Along with the popular: “It may be their first but it won’t be their last.”

BigBrother Writing

I loathe “boys will be boys.” I hate the way we push gender onto our children and then excuse the acts of boys in this manner. Nope. Not happening in our house. In our house, boys will be raised to respect others’ bodies — male or female, and yes, that includes your brother. Rough-housing is one thing; physical harm is unacceptable.

I sent them to their rooms while I calmed down, while I figured out what I needed to teach them regarding hands on another’s body.

Awhile later, we sat round the table as they wrote sentences — I will not hurt my brother. Ten times, which took forever for LittleBrother as this sentence writing punishment was his first ever. I talked about the importance of our own bodies, of having our own personal safe space. I talked about the importance of respecting others’ bodies, their personal safe space.


I laid down the line I’ve mumbled, grumbled, near-shouted, and whispered over the past few years. “He’s the only brother you’re ever going to have.”

They nodded. I got them a snack, feeling that the discussion and time alone and the sentences were enough for the time being. As I left the room, I heard one say to the other, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t force that apology, and so it felt like the best apology my ears ever heard.

Later in the day, I walked into the living room to find LittleBrother giving BigBrother a “head spa,” ala Bugs Bunny.

Head Spa!

This learning process — of being brothers, sons, boys, human beings — seems hard at times, but I’m hopeful that they’ll end up getting it right.