It’s funny how your perspective of what constitutes “a lot of miles” completely changes as you get deeper into a training cycle.  When you first start your training plan and your long run is 5 miles long, to think that at some point 5 miles will be easy is very hard (maybe impossible) to imagine.  And then when you are in the thick of the highest mileage weeks and running 5 miles is an “easy” run, you just have to think of that and smile.  You realize how far you have come.  You remember and respect how hard that 5 miles once was, but you understand you are stronger and you feel proud of yourself for doing what it took to get there.

I ran 55 miles last week – the most I have ever run in a week, in all my life!  This week I’m cutting back and hitting 48.  The fact that 48 miles = cutting back these days, really tells me how much things have changed.  My long run today was “just” 14 miles – a nice break when you think about the fact that I ran 20 miles on a treadmill last Saturday.  I mean, really.

One year ago today was my due date – I was about to give birth to baby #3 (he was late by 5 days) and one mile seemed like a huge journey to me.  One mile was a huge journey for me.

Me & My BIG Belly ~ Due Date: 1/28/11

(Don’t I look happy in that picture?  I have had three babies and two of them were born after their due dates.  I prefer when they are early, but of course they are always worth the wait!!!)

Today I ran 14 “easy” miles, and as I ran I thought about where I was exactly one year ago, and how I would never have been able to imagine the life I am living today.  I remembered how I was feeling back then, filled with wonder and – I’ll be honest – FEAR, about how I was going to balance it all after the baby came.  I really had no idea how I was going to handle a new baby plus two young children plus my business, plus my teaching, plus all my responsibilities at home, plus my position on the board of the preschool (handling a major renovation project), plus making the time for my running and whatever else I wasn’t thinking of.  I was EXCITED beyond words —  but I was also totally freaked out.

Amidst all of the anxiety about the unknown though, there was a very strong sense of peace inside of me.  A confidence and a love that was steadfast and strong.  I would take it one step at a time, one day at a time.  In my heart, I just knew it would all be okay.

What I didn’t know was that it would be THIS GREAT.

I could not have imagined him.

As I ran today, I smiled (I’m pretty sure the entire way).  Gratitude washed over me.  It has been an amazing year.  It has not been easy.  But it has been worth every sleepless night.  Worth every moment of chaos and confusion.  Every instance when I felt like giving up or giving in – but didn’t.  Every step I have taken.

I have some anxiety and some fear about the race I am training for and the goal I am going after.  My running is in a place that I have never been to before.  Running 48 miles as a recovery week is insane to me.  That’s a lot of miles!  Running an 8:27/mile average pace for a 14 mile long run is insane to me.  That’s really fast!  But it is where I am and where I am meant to be.  I need to trust in that and go with it.  I need to listen to my heart, to that voice inside of me that assures me that I am strong enough for this.

My splits from today’s long run ~
Mile 1 – 8:50
Mile 2 – 8:54
Mile 3 – 8:57
Mile 4 – 8:29
Mile 5 – 8:21
Mile 6 – 8:16
Mile 7 – 8:30
Mile 8 – 8:11
Mile 9 – 8:32
Mile 10 – 8:27
Mile 11 – 8:24
Mile 12 – 8:03
Mile 13 – 8:13
Mile 14 – 8:06

It is all going to be okay.  Maybe even more than okay.  Maybe GREAT.

a pretty good year

Well.  That’s an understatement.

2011 was an incredible year for me.  I hardly know where to start and am amazed just thinking about all that happened over the course of the past year.

At the beginning of 2011, I was very pregnant – due with sweet baby Gus at the end of the month.  It is really hard for me to imagine that we did not even know that he was a boy, because now of course I can’t even fathom our life without him being exactly who he is.

I remember those last weeks of my pregnancy – feeling so big, so tired and so ready to meet my little baby and welcome him into our family.  I remember not wanting to rush it even though I felt so ready, because to be pregnant was such a gift and I knew it would be the very last time I would ever experience the blessing of carrying and growing a sweet little life inside my body.

a miracle waiting to be born

My due date was January 28th, and the day came and went without baby’s arrival.  I kept my spirits about me.  My running had turned into more of a waddle, but I still got myself on my treadmill for speedy walks almost every day.  It wasn’t easy, but it really, really helped me.

still moving at 40+ weeks

 And then, on February 2nd, my family was complete when sweet Baby Gus entered this world.

i cry happy tears whenever i look at this picture

From the moment he was born, my whole life changed.  Don’t get me wrong, things were good – wonderful even – before he was born.  But after he was born everything in life became more vivid, more colorful.  More ALIVE.  I am thankful beyond words.  Speechless.

Life as a family of five can best be described as an adventure.  There really truly is never a single dull moment.  It is a busy life, but the blessings do not go unnoticed.  Simple things happen every day that keep me going.  Keep me wanting to slow time down.  Like the moment my son Will met his baby brother.  Will was 4 1/2 when Gus was born.  The entire time I was pregnant, any time we would talk about the baby Will would call it “the stinky baby” and he wanted to hear nothing about it.  But when Will came to meet Gus at the hospital, he was mesmerized instantly.  He wanted to inspect every inch of his baby brother and he whispered softly into my ear “Mommy, I’m really into babies now” and from that moment he has adored him whole heartedly.  I frequently hear him say to Gus “Well Hellloooo there,  my best friend!” and every time I hear it, my heart melts.  Abby is equally enamored with him and is claiming that she is going to teach him everything he ever needs to know.  She cares for him so deeply and is so sensitive to him, it is incredible to witness.

my three miracles.

And over the course of the last year, as I have gotten used to being the mother of three children, juggling responsibilities of being their mom with managing our home and my work and just life in general, I have also been running.  And running has kept things in balance for me – an internal balance physically, emotionally and mentally that is all my own that carries forth to making life balanced for everyone in my family.

Because a happy healthy mom makes a happy healthy home.  And running keeps me in touch with who I am and what is important to me.  It helps me see everything more clearly.

So I have been dedicated to making the time for my running, as hard as it has been at times.  I went for my first run of 2011 on February 27th.  Since then, I have run 1,062 miles this year.  Every single race I ran (except for the first one, which was a 10 miler on my 35th birthday, less than 10 weeks after my baby was born) was a new PR.  I ran several 5ks, a 10k, a 15k, two 10 milers, a half marathon and 2 full  marathons.  All while nursing my baby (he has never had a drop of formula) and balancing the responsibilities of being a mom of three.  I look back at all of this and am simply and truly so amazed and grateful.

VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon

I’m thankful that I didn’t ever give up, even though there were so many moments when I thought about it.  I remember early mornings last winter, pumping before heading out for a 3, 4 or 5 mile run.  I was uncomfortable and every step took so much strength – physically, yes (running was SO hard again!) but more so, emotionally.  Every single run was like a marathon in those first few months after having my baby.  I didn’t give up when faced with a back injury, a weakened pelvic floor, muscles so tight and achy I couldn’t believe it.  I refused to feel broken.  I kept on going, moving forward.  And it was worth it.

fighting to the finish

2011 taught me that good things are always worth fighting for.  That daring to dream is a necessity.  Because at the beginning of this year I never would have thought this is where I would be today.  And I would not have gotten here if I had given up, plain and simple.

I cannot wait for the year ahead and am so very grateful for this precious life I have been given.

Right now I make a promise to myself – I will live each day to its fullest.  I will never give up on the people and things that I believe in, and I believe in me.

Was 2011 a good year for you?  Are you dreaming about the year ahead?


This week has been good, but a little bit weird.  And way too fast.

I’ve been so blessed to have all three of my sisters and their families under one roof.  Two of my sisters live far away – one in NY and the other in NC – so this happens maybe twice a year, if we are lucky.  It was completely wonderful and completely chaotic all at the same time.  There are 10 grandchildren in my family, the oldest being 14 years old and the youngest are 11 months old (two baby boys, just 9 days apart!).  Everyone is unique and fun and sweet and just absolutely wonderful and I am so blessed to be a part of this family.

The time went by too quickly and now I feel sad because one of my sisters already left and the other is still here but she and her family all came down with the nasty stomach virus we had on Christmas Day … so we didn’t exactly get to spend quality time together today.  It really is a major bummer and I’m sad about it.  I hope tomorrow they feel better so we can spend a little more time together before they have to head home.

My running has been really nice this week.  On Monday I went for a solo run on my favorite paths right in my back yard.  7 beautiful, hilly miles.  I did the same run on Tuesday with my buddy Chris.  A wonderful way to start the day.

a sunrise hill, right in my back yard

I took yesterday as a rest day and this morning Jodi and I went to the track before sunrise for our weekly workout.  It was cold and dark when we got there, but we got the work done and were invigorated by the time we got back in the car.  Oh so worth it.

My husband is taking this whole week off from work, and I am so grateful for that.  We are enjoying being together just hanging around the house, playing outside, visiting with family.  Taking the time to be grateful for one another and for all of the blessings in our life.  There are so many.

I’m finding myself reflecting a lot on all that we were blessed with in 2011, and I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.  The other night Robert put on a slideshow of all our 2011 pictures and I just stared at it and noticed tears were trickling down my cheeks.  I wasn’t sad, really, just so grateful and amazed.  Grateful for a beautiful family, for our health and for all the love and laughter that happens here.  Amazed at how my children have changed soooo much in just 12 little months.  I’m so proud of them for the people they are becoming – so very very very proud – and I also just want to slow time down because it is going too fast for me.  I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to bottle it all up and hang on tight to it, to all of these precious moments to the giggles and the sounds, the hugs and the snuggles.

I want to use these next few days, the last of a really truly incredible year, to reflect and be thankful.  And then I want to move forward and greet the new year ahead with open arms and a big happy heart.