Seeking dirty clarity

About 6 weeks ago, I signed up for a 5K trail race – a much shorter race than I would normally have on my race calendar, but my reasons for doing so went far beyond the distance or how it fit in with my training plans.

The last trail run I did was a 10K in the middle of September, and for whatever reason on that day, I had a terrible run. I ended up walking about 4 kilometres of the course and was close to tears by the time I finished. I was disappointed in myself and there was no part of me that was smiling or having fun. I went home with my head held low. I was embarrassed, and in hindsight for no logical reason. I vowed to quit running, throw out my running shoes and “do something I’m actually good at.” The hyper critical part of myself can be quite ugly when rearing its head.

After I took a couple days to get over myself and sort through my irrational thoughts, I decided to keep the shoes and at least finish my run training for the season. In November, I took a month off before slowly getting back into a training schedule for Ironman this summer. I still wasn’t especially jazzed about putting the shoes back on, but I went through the motions anyway, and tried to re-focus my energy. For the most part of the winter, I tried to figure out how to screw my head on differently for 2017. Change is not easy, especially changing a mindset. I knew this was going to be a work in progress.

In early January, after I saw a friend sign up for the first Dirty Feet Trail Race of the season in March, I made the decision to jump back on the bandwagon. I needed something to get me back on course and something where I could leave my goals and own expectations behind – something just for fun. I had done this race four years ago and knew the course wouldn’t be too challenging and the distance was too short for any tantrums. It was a good place to start.

Two months later, I went to the start line with one goal in mind – to not have any goals.

The wind was cool, yet tame, the sun danced behind a sea of wispy white clouds setting the scene for a somewhat grey, mundane morning, yet I was smiling. I felt free and alive as my feet relentlessly pounded the pathway and my heart was beating almost in unison. Winding through the trails, I carefully but quickly sidestepped past the mud, flew down short, quick dips and charged back up. My cadence slowed down then sped up, slowed down then sped up, as I navigated the single tracked course. My mind and muscles felt much more engaged than any other run – a welcome change from the long stretches of flat, asphalt I’m used to from running on the road. Being out there amongst the dirt, mud and grass, and chasing the feet in front of me was wildly liberating. Something I was longing to feel.

I ended up beating my previous time by three minutes and was third overall female. While those accomplishments were amazing, none of it really mattered. To me, it was about my reason for being there; teaching myself how to let go of my own inhibitions. I think I’m slowly learning that I can keep my competitive nature without beating myself up in the process. I can want to win and set goals, but I can’t berate myself along the way.

Signing up for this race allowed me to get back into a competition that would be gentle and forgiving. I’m grateful to start the race season off on the right foot and for the simple opportunity to run wild in the hills. This season I am focused on patience, gratitude, humbleness and perspective, but mostly enjoying the ride. Not every race will be perfect, and there is no guaranteed outcome, but I can control my emotions and my mind set. If I can do that, then 2017 will be a success.


Finding success in failure

For the past 10 weeks, I’ve had one goal in mind – to set a personal best time in a half marathon. I’ve raced the distance in triathlon events a couple times before, but this would be the first without swimming or biking. I think it goes without saying that the goal of running faster in a pure running event should be fairly attainable, by at least 15 to 20 minutes. After some discussions with my coach, we settled on the goal of 1 hour 45 minutes. At the time, and to be completely honest, right up until the week before the race, it felt daunting. To run a 1:45 would mean I would be running at a pace that earlier this year was on par with my 5K pace. But, I trusted my coach, which in turn made me believe this was possible.
On the Friday morning before race day I was getting ready to hit the road when I started to feel a bit “off.” At the time I brushed it off as nerves, and for the next 12 hours that was all it seemed to be, until about midway through Saturday when it hit me like a ton of bricks. My stomach was in knots and nothing I ate stayed in for very long. I was curled up in a ball under the bed sheets, and that’s when the tears started. I was disappointed and frustrated for all those hours of hard work just to get to race day in less than optimal form. By around 6:00 that night, I found the energy to join friends for a pasta dinner, but by later that evening my stomach was doing somersaults.

On race morning, I felt like I had lost five pounds and my fuel tank was on zero. At that point, I could have opted out, or simply half jogged, half walked the race, but I have this relentless stubbornness, and going in half way wasn’t an option, even if my body disagreed. That mind versus body battle is an interesting one. I’ve had it a million times and each time I can never predict which one will be victorious.

At the risk of sharing too much information, I popped almost half a pack of Immodium and headed towards the start line. Within the first kilometre, I felt depleted and lethargic, but still believed there was a chance. By 5k, I was still optimistic and was only about one minute off my goal pace. By about 9 kilometres, I knew I was struggling because I started to look at my watch more than usual, and I could feel a wobble in my legs. At 35 minutes, as planned, I took my first gel, and realized my initial nutrition plan on a day like today would not be enough. My stomach felt like it was eating itself.

It was by about the 13 kilometre marker when I knew that I wasn’t going to hit my goal; now it was about finishing. As I rounded a downhill corner, I looked up to see a familiar face in the crowd, Keri. She was cheering loudly and I tried so hard to give her a smile, but feared that it came off more like a grimace. On a good day, my smile comes naturally, yet not so much on this day. About 500 metres up the road, I slowed to a brief walk, allowing my body a slight rest to see if it would help – not really – so instead I yelled at myself to get going; one foot in front of the other.screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-5-35-20-pm
When I finally saw the finish chute, I gave it everything I had. The faster I ran, the faster it would be over. I did not have the energy to celebrate; I could hardly stand. I barreled my way through the crowds of other runners, found a tree, and sat under it on the cold, wet ground. I was done. My mind and body could finally agree on one thing, it was time to rest.

My race time was disappointing – I did not hit my goal. I got a PB, but not the one I wanted, and it’s a difficult thing to find success in failure. It’s difficult to look at what went right instead of finding everything that went wrong. I have a bad habit of dwelling. I’m constantly having to remind myself that bad races happen. Sometimes we make tactical errors and fail in our execution, and sometimes our failure is simply out of our control. Not every day is perfect, and neither is my body; it goes through ups and downs. I recognize that dwelling on “down” moments does not do me any favours, and that it’s best to leave those moments behind and move on.

Tiger Woods once said, “Winning is not always the barometer of getting better.” I may have missed my goal on this day, but that does not define my accomplishments. That permanently etched time on the Internet does not always represent the work, the other successes, or me. This is something I am constantly working on – realizing what did go right and celebrating that. And, realizing there will be plenty more races and plenty more opportunities for failure and success. In the end though, it’s all a part of the learning experience and becoming a stronger and faster competitor.


Robbie King

It’s been awhile since I last sat down to write, and while I contemplate how to tell my Ironman story, I’ve had some fun writing a different story that highlights my training partner’s journey to the Boston Marathon.

I still remember when I first met Robbie – it was his legs that caught my attention. He didn’t have those skinny endurance running legs, they were more bull-like and perhaps better suited for out-running opponents in a sport like rugby – his sport of choice in university. Either way, he was fit and fast, and his effortless-looking stride was enviable.

For Robbie, running was never something he took very seriously. He ran for exercise and the fresh air. It wasn’t until a friendly, competitive run with his uncle and his first 10K race that his running goals quickly evolved.

On a visit home from university, after Robbie had polished off a milkshake, burger, and onion rings, his uncle asked him to go for a run – something they had been doing together for years.

“You would never ever say that we were racing, but every time we ran, we were always racing,” he admits. “And, I was always able to beat him.”

After Robbie gave his stomach an hour to digest the food, the pair tied on their running shoes and went out the door. Perhaps, it was the belly full of food, perhaps it was something more, but Robbie’s uncle was the faster runner that day.

It wasn’t until many years later that Robbie would have the chance to redeem himself when his uncle suggested they sign up for a 10K road race on Vancouver Island. It was all the fuel he needed.

“Now I’ve got to beat my uncle,” he smiles.

Robbie set a plan in motion and hired his coach, Maurice. Over the next couple months, his uncle would check in to see how things were going, but Robbie wouldn’t let on that he was doing any sort of training.

“I was so diligent on my diet; I was diligent on everything.” he laughs.

When Robbie finally admitted he had been training and was going for a personal best time, his uncle was “blown away.” Robbie had won the race before it even began.

On race day, Robbie not only beat his uncle, but he crossed the finish line in 41 minutes 39 seconds, which was one second faster than his goal, and more than three minutes faster than his previous personal best.


“It was then I realized how much I loved running,” he admits. “For me, running was never a racing thing.”

Robbie’s progression in running continued to take shape under the guidance of coaches and mentors as he worked diligently on his pacing, cadence, and form. His success would come from relentless dedication and commitment, and a little bit of help from those powerful bull-like legs that carried him from rugby runner to road runner. His story speaks of triumph, success, disappointment and redemption.

In the year after his 10K race, Robbie looked to his next challenge in the half-marathon, and eventually set his sights on the next big thing. He called up his coach, and said, “I’m thinking about doing a marathon.”  Almost immediately, Maurice asked if he was going for a BQ. Chasing a qualifying spot for the highly-sought after Boston Marathon wasn’t something Robbie had even considered.

10492106_10152576466581113_3414642372722888094_n 11036079_10153248544266718_2795763998669002078_n

“Way deep down there somewhere far away, I was thinking that’d be good, but not a reality. He believed that I could, I didn’t,” Robbie admits.

Either way, he went for it.

In the following months, Robbie did what he had always done in training and remained diligent and committed. On July 27th, at a qualifying race in his hometown of Kamloops, B.C., Robbie set to the start line of his first marathon and crossed the finish in a time of 3:11:54 – 3 minutes 6 seconds under the Boston qualifying time for his age group.

11800041_10153418269056113_7422014195798277837_n 11728781_10153418269041113_4047101598052371132_o 11218787_10153424766591113_3722496439473608680_n

“I was super stoked and excited; the fact that I finished the thing and had a qualifying time,” he says.

Despite his time, Robbie still didn’t know if he was going to Boston. It would all depend on his competitor’s times at other qualifying races. Each year there are a limited number of spots per age group and if those spots fill up with times faster than Robbie’s, he would be out of luck. All he could do was wait.

“It’s like anything when you’re waiting for something, you’re kind of holding your breath,” he recalls.

Almost two months after his qualifying race, Robbie received the news he had been patiently waiting for – he got in.

“It’s just like a college acceptance letter; you’re so excited; you’re relieved. You’re in this head space where you can breathe and you know it’s reality. You’re excited, but you don’t go ‘wahoo!’ It’s relief,” he says.

The final cut-off time was 3:12:30. Robbie had slipped in by 36 seconds.

“The best thing about that time is I went out and I studied that course. You want to run the tangents; you want to take the straightest possible route. I ran that race perfect to the tangents, and had I not, I could have run longer and missed the cut-off time,” he admits.

Once Robbie had officially registered and reserved his spot in Boston, he had almost seven months until race day. There was time for a short break, but determined to improve his time, Robbie quickly got back to training on his own. In the month of December, he set out on a run challenge after being motivated by his friend, Wayne, who ran 400 kilometres in December the previous year.

“I just ran every moment I had the opportunity. If I could run at night, I would run at night and it was always dark and cold. I ran every lunch at 45 minutes,” he recalls. “And then sometimes I would run at 5:00 a.m. and go for an hour and come home. So I was just putting in as any miles as I possibly could.”

In that same month, Wayne was also back to putting in the miles, and the two of them would watch each other’s stats as they posted to Strava, each of them racking up the hours and the miles.

“I didn’t want to be in a challenge with Wayne; that’s a whole other league so I was like, this not a challenge I want to take on. But deep down I kind of wanted to,” he says.

Towards the end of the month, Robbie logged a 32 kilometre run and that was enough to put him over the edge.

“I got an email from Wayne saying his legs were done; you win,” he laughs.

That December, Robbie logged more than 400 kilometres, which equated to about 100 kilometres per week.

“I didn’t miss a day,” he says.

By January, Robbie had a solid fitness base and was back into a scheduled training program with his coach. Together they laid out the plan for race day and set a goal time of 3 hours 8 minutes. As race day drew closer and Robbie excelled in his workouts, Maurice decided he could push for 3:05 if there was a tailwind and 3:12 if there was a headwind.

Watching Robbie at the track in the days leading up to Boston, you could see a guy who was fit and ready. He looked strong, he looked fast, and he looked relaxed. As Robbie put it, his training was going “super awesome.”

On April 20th, 2015, Robbie lined up with thousands of others on the infamous Main Street for his first Boston Marathon experience. He was proudly sporting a Canadian singlet and ready to put all of those long training days to the test.

Robbie ran the first 10 kilometres of the race in perfect pacing hitting 45 minutes bang on. He admits though that his legs felt heavy.

“I wasn’t exhausted or tired but I just didn’t feel how I should have felt and it was downhill and I love downhill,” he says.

As per the plan, he was supposed to pick up his pacing, but soon realized he would not be able to sustain it, so he settled back a bit and hoped maybe he would have a kick at the end.

He crossed the half-way point at 1 hour 36 minutes, which was about one minute off of where he should have been. Robbie says he knew in that moment he had to go for it, or it wasn’t going to happen. Within the next five to six kilometres, he says his quad went into spasms and then he felt a pull in his hamstring. Despite trying to stretch it out, Robbie knew his race plan was over and his goal time was out the window. In that same moment, he made the decision to turn over his watch, rip off his pacing tape, and just enjoy the Boston Marathon for what is was.

“People are cheering everywhere you go. It’s just a crowd on both sides of the streets the whole 42 kilometres,” he recalls. “People are BBQ’ing, giving out water bottles, cut-up oranges, and bananas. There was always somebody cheering the whole way. You never forget you’re in a race. It’s so liberating.”

Robbie admits that for the last 15 kilometres he was in some serious pain, but he allowed himself to enjoy the moment and take it all in. At the final aid station, he grabbed some water, wiped his face, and readied himself for the finish chute. He says that he didn’t want to walk through the end and wanted to make sure he had something left in the tank so he could run.

Robbie may not have achieved his goal for the day, but his finish line photo paints a picture of a winner; smiling and celebrating.


After the race, Robbie says he found a nearby park to eat and relax. He also picked up the phone and called someone he knew was closely following along his journey that day.

“This all started because of a stupid email from my uncle saying he wanted to do a race,” he laughs. “I knew he would be watching me online, so I wanted to call him right away.”

In the moment, Robbie recalls “riding a high” immediately following his race and it wasn’t until the next day that he started to feel some resentment towards his race and time. He was disappointed in his performance.

“I sound really competitive, but I’m not. I don’t race against others when I’m in a race,” he says. “I’m highly competitive with me.”


When I asked Robbie if he’d ever go back to Boston, he paused for a moment. “The feeling I’m getting says, no, but maybe if someone else got in, I might want to, that would be fun…” he trails off.

Boston may not be in the cards again for Robbie, but he admits he has unfinished business, including a sub 40 minute 10K and a sub 1:30 half-marathon. Of course too, he will continue to chase that sub 3:10 time in the marathon with the same diligence and commitment he’s had since that first 10K.




Katrina Cavaliere

On a warm April morning, Katrina Cavaliere is hunched over her bicycle in the most aerodynamic position she can manage as she grinds it out on a Saturday morning time trial. From a mile away, you can see a fire in her eyes burning with relentless determination, strength, and a hint of competitiveness. With every driving force of her legs, she is working to be better and stronger than she was the day before and to be one step closer to the athlete she wants to become.

Athletic hasn’t always been a characteristic Katrina would choose to describe herself. She spent almost a lifetime on the sidelines, spectating, but never participating. “I’ve always been kind of the fat kid in my head,” she admits. “I was not very athletic, even though I wanted to be. I often quit because I felt people were judging me or looking at me.” Katrina’s time was mostly consumed with building a real estate company with her husband and raising three children. It wasn’t until Katrina was in her 40s that she found a sport that would ultimately change her life and catapult her into taking on one of the toughest physical challenges she’s ever endured.

After spending a couple years running with a local club, Katrina stumbled onto the sport of triathlon when a friend suggested they try a local sprint race. From there, she slowly began to include more swimming, biking and running into her life, even taking on a few more shorter distance races on relay teams with friends.
164638_10200298600280019_1721397358_n 10269654_10152440000558209_3227608499347704001_nIn 2015, after spending a year of supporting her husband, Vince, in his journey to Ironman Canada, Katrina decided she was ready to step out of her comfort zone bigger than she ever had before, and signed on the dotted line for the half Ironman race in Victoria, B.C.

Once she had made the commitment to race, her mindset had to quickly adjust from years of saying, “I can’t,” to “I can.” She knew the road wasn’t going to be easy, but she was also not quite prepared for the workouts her coach would throw her into right from the start. “I remember he would give me a workout and in my mind I was like, are you f**king kidding me, Maurice?” Katrina recalls that in the beginning when she looked at some of the workouts on paper they seemed insurmountable. It took an adjustment and time for her to break through her mental barrier and realize that she could do it, she just needed to believe in the process, her coach and above all else, herself.

In the following two months, Katrina soon adapted to her new training program and started to feel healthy, strong and fit, but more importantly, she started to let go of her insecurities and her fears. “I realized about two months after I started training that I did not go to bed feeling fat, I did not wake up feeling fat, I did not think about it all day long,” she recalls. “I just realized that it’s about strength, and everyone is different.”
10320469_10205017316605765_2534546721129152669_nKatrina was physically and mentally in a prime place to begin her journey, but it was just a couple short months later when she would be hit with her biggest challenge yet. During an interval training run Katrina suddenly felt a “weird” popping sensation deep in her ankle. At the time though, she didn’t think too much of it and continued running. “I was trying not to be a wimp. I knew everyone was dealing with their own injuries,” she says.  But the pain was worsening and swelling started to hinder the movement of her ankle. Stubborn and determined to keep on track, Katrina continued to ignore her injury for the next three to four weeks until her coach finally ordered her off to the doctor. Admittedly, Katrina says she made the mistake of not acknowledging it soon enough. For the next two months, she would bounce around from doctor to doctor trying to determine her prognosis. She would also spend many hours in the pool water running. “It was frustrating because you’re watching everyone improve on their running, and you’re driving to go water run by yourself in the pool,” she says. “I had worked so hard to get where I was, but it could always be worse. You just move forward.”

In the weeks and months ahead, Katrina continued to do just that and forged forward with her training, doing what she could, making the most of it, and coming to an acceptance with her injury. “The ankle was going to be what it was going to be, I did everything I could,” she says. Nothing, not even this injury, were going to stop Katrina from completing her race, even if it meant hobbling through the run.

On June 14, 2015, Katrina walked under the Ironman starting arch and into the cool waters of Elk Lake with her husband by her side; his presence helped put her at ease. “Vince has always believed in me, more than I see in myself sometimes,” she says. In her mind, she knew the work to get there was done, and any insecurities and doubts had to be pushed aside; it was time to put everything to the test.
11062336_10205555768706731_8400553955955115463_n “Once the gun went off, I was calm. I couldn’t believe how calm I was. I thought, I can do this, I can swim.” Katrina settled into her rhythm and made it back to shore in a time that would position her well for the start of the bike. But it was not long after that when she heard the dreaded “pop” sound from her tire. She had a flat and it would be more than 20 minutes until she was back on course again. “I had practiced changing a tire once before,” she admits. “It was so hard watching everyone else ride by as time ticked on.” But Katrina did what she has done since day one of her journey and forged on, never willing to give up. As she approached the bike dismount line, she recalls being happy to be off her bike and back on her own two feet, but it also meant she was in for 21 kilometres of pounding on her injured ankle.
11425861_10205565653833853_4934052702926348750_n “By about 11 kilometres my ankle was throbbing,” she recalls. “The swelling had gone up so much that the tape was digging into my foot.” Katrina was forced to a walk. In her mind, she battled with knowing she was losing time, but it was all she could do to keep moving forward, one step at a time. “The last 5K hurt. My ankle wasn’t moving anymore and the swelling continued to get worse,” she says. As Katrina tried to compensate for the pain, other parts of her body felt the shift and become aggravated. She could feel it from her hips to her toes. Still though, Katrina wasn’t stopping for anything. “I wouldn’t stop, unless it broke, even then I would have crawled across the finish line,” she laughs.
11183466_10205565653313840_9110143333953860346_nWith less than one kilometre to go, Katrina mustered everything she had to turn up her cadence for the finish line. This was the moment she had worked so hard for, and in that moment, she was just grateful not to be dragging herself towards the finish.  “I remember seeing the red carpet and I saw my friends, and my mom waiting to give me my medal,” she recalls. “And then I looked up and I’m like, oh my god, I’m done.”
11407187_10205555793627354_8384677515528082510_n 11391531_10205565654233863_8406264640706543457_n 11400960_10205565656473919_6912255779107351125_n Katrina finished her race in a time of 6 hours 56 minutes, and with a smile on her face. “This was me doing something at 48 years-old; it took me a long time to believe in myself,” she says. “But it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still try something different and push yourself.”
11232232_10205565654673874_8307179600904249070_n Katrina credits the sport of triathlon for pushing her from the sidelines to being a competitor and an athlete. The fire that burns in her eyes during every workout comes from a place of determination and a place of knowing she is stronger both mentally and physically than ever before in her life.

“I knew I had strength, it was just finding it,” she smiles.

From running scared to running happy

In the past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with two incredible athletes who have shared their stories with me as age group triathletes. Throughout our discussions, I’ve learned not only about their personal ups and downs in the sport, but I’ve been challenged to reflect on my own story.  In particular, Vince and Katrina both spoke of their struggles with running, and it’s one that has also been a bump in the road for me.

I’ve been fairly candid in the past about my relationship with running and my fight to morph that into a healthy, loving relationship. For as long as I can remember, running has been hard, whether I’m on a casual run or running a race. It’s hard on my heart, my lungs, and my joints. It burns, it’s tiring, and it hurts. And to top it all off, I’m slow as molasses. I’m constantly at the back of the pack. No matter how hard I push, or try, the faster kids just keep getting faster and I feel like I’m moving in slow motion. The fact of the matter is, for most people, building your speed in endurance running takes time and patience – something which I have worked on building over the years, but still lack.

In my first year of training, I barely had a handful of 10K’s under my feet, and with the increase in mileage and intense training load, my body rebelled and I spent the majority of the season trying to combat shin splints. It wasn’t really much more than an extremely painful nuisance, but it made it incredibly difficult to develop as a runner when it felt like someone was stabbing a screwdriver into my shin with every step. I couldn’t break an hour for 10K, or 30 minutes for 5K. I was not a good runner. At first I started to come up with excuses – I don’t have the right build, or my quads are too big. Now while those things may be true, looking back on it, those excuses affected my performance. I didn’t believe in myself. Physically able or not, I was creating a mental disadvantage.

After a year of training, I started to see some improvements. The shin splints eventually disappeared as my body adjusted to the training and with time, I started to break through with some personal best times. But with a torn MCL just a few short months into the season, everything came to a grinding halt, and all the progress was put on hold. After missing more than two months of running, I would never realize my full potential for that year.

In December 2015, I started year number three of training. I vowed this would be the year of redemption for all the ups and downs, side tracks, health issues and injuries. This was the year for focus. I remember walking into my coach’s office on a cold December night, right before our first long-run of the year, and he looked me right in the eye, and said, “You’re running with the big girls this year. We are going to make you into a good runner.” I was terrified. The “big girls” were fast. Their long-run pace was almost on par with my race pace. I remember last year, I would look at their long-run distances to see how much ground they covered, and I was always in awe. Since day one, I have looked up to them and longed for a time when I could hang with them. I often wondered what it would be like to join them on long-run Monday – What did they talk about? Where did they go? What did they do? The world seemed so uncharted, but here was my moment, staring me straight in the face. So, I looked right back at my coach, and said, ok.

It wasn’t easy. For the first few weeks, my heart rate was higher than it probably should have been, and after a certain distance, I would start to get tired and slow, and I feared I was holding them back. But, I soon found my belonging. I learned that their long-runs weren’t much different than mine, and that we all had our own quirks, and pains and tired moments. I knew that once it came down to tempo running or speed work they would leave me in their dust, but for the time being I cherished the moments on long-run Mondays when I got to hang with the “big girls.”

Over the winter, my long-run pace dropped by 20-30 seconds per kilometre from the previous year, my heart rate slowed down, and I was hitting personal best times every week. And once we kicked things up a notch with tempo runs, my times continued to drop. Since I first started training with my coach three years ago, I’ve taken seven minutes off my 10K and more than five minutes off my 5K. While, the pain, the hurt, and the burning never went away, I was quicker and stronger, and at the end of every run, I was smiling bigger than I ever had before.

Looking back on my running journey, I don’t see a physical transformation. Yes, I am stronger, and I have more miles beneath my feet, but at the end of the day it became mental for me. All I needed was for someone to believe in me, and on that cold December night, my coach did. It forced me to stop over thinking, stop over critiquing and just do it. As Vince Cavaliere said, “stop running scared.”  I will be forever grateful to my coach for believing in me, and to my “big girl” training partners, including Vince, for spending all winter long running mile after mile with me, pushing me to be better and to just “stop thinking about it.” Pushing me out of my comfort zone, pushed me to become a better runner.

More often than not, it’s the mental breakthrough that will push our physical limitations to a place we never thought we could reach. Nowadays, my relationship with running is stronger and healthier. Yes, there are times when it hurts, but there are many more times when it feels freeing, empowering and simply, amazing. I may not be at the front of the pack, but I’m inching my way up and I’m teaching myself a lot of patience and happy thoughts along the way.