Happy International Women’s Day!

Many of the runners and triathletes I coach are strong women who work hard to accomplish their goals–whether it’s getting up for a 5am run, training for their first triathlon, or preparing for the Chicago Marathon. These are only a few of the women who inspire me to keep going every day. I’m so glad my mom encouraged me and my sister to pursue sports–she’s the original Greek athlete in the family who played football in the street as a kid and now challenges herself in cycling races today. She’s Sophia’s Yiayia, and she kicks butt every single day.

So, to all of the strong women out there, and that means ALL of you, today is your day. Get out there and show yourself what you’ve got!

Chicago Marathon

Chicago. Marathon #5. I had hoped that this marathon would be my fastest and best yet. It wasn’t.  Nothing was amiss–I had trained properly, had no major injuries, race day fueling was perfect, I arrived to the race in plenty of time and came off of a good night’s sleep. So what happened? A marathon happened. And in a marathon, despite all the good preparation, anything can still happen.

Race day was cool at the start, but the forecast predicted the temperature to climb into the upper 70s or low 80s. With that in mind, I knew Chicago would not bring a personal best–heat, humidity, and my body do not like each other. I told myself to run a good race with or without a PR and tried to pump myself up in the starting corral. “I am a fast runner. I am a fast runner. I am a fast runner.”

I took off at the start and almost cried. Here I was running one of the Abbot World Marathon Majors, crowds were cheering, and I felt like a champion. I never thought I would be able to even run a marathon, let alone five of them. Yellow jackets bombarded runners and dive bombed my ears from time to time. I swatted them away like the negative thoughts in my brain. A marathon is run in your head and not with your feet.

By mile 10, my legs felt fatigued and sweat dripped from my shorts. My feet swam in a pool of water trapped in my shoes. The half marathon ticked by, and I saw my awful split time: there was no way, I would get a PR, and this might be my slowest marathon yet if I don’t get it together. I kept swatting bees, took a deep breath, and told myself that even if I didn’t get a PR, I will finish this race.

That’s when I decided the hell with it. Screw running. Who cares if I need to walk? I looked around at the crowds, at the taiko drummers, at the dragon dance, at the humorous posters held aloft, at the brownstones, at the Sears Tower, and listened to the roar of the train on the El. I am in Chicago, and today I am taking a running tour of the city because I am fortunate enough to be able to run. I am healthy enough to run a marathon, and I am happy that I have the means to do so.

I earned my medal without a new PR, and now I’m setting my sights on a full Ironman in Chattanooga on September 30, 2018.

Thank you to everyone who came out to cheer for me: my mom, Aunt Shirl, Fred, and Eric. Also on this trip, I visited my childhood friends, Katie and Andy, whom I haven’t seen in almost thirty years, and caught up with Chris, my high school soccer and swimming friend who rocked Chicago with a new PR despite the heat! Congratulations!

Just Another Day

I often run the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia for my long runs. It’s flat for the area and has plenty of water stops; the trail follows the river into the city, past Boathouse Row and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and ends near the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Rowers dot the smooth waters of the Schuylkill, and the trail attracts runners, walkers, and cyclists alike. I love this trail.

I usually park just north of the Falls Bridge in East Falls, Philadelphia since Kelly Drive has lots of traffic right next to the trail. I take time to hide my stuff before leaving with my keys and phone, and I typically have a bag with a towel and a fresh shirt for after the run. I had been looking forward to a run on the SRT all week to escape the hills of my neighborhood–the air was crisp, and I ran fast.

Upon finishing my twelve miler, I looked at the front passenger window of my car and immediately thought I had left my window open in my post-run delirium. Then, I noticed the spiderweb of broken glass clinging to the door and peered inside. Crap. My bag was gone with my wallet, clean shirt, and towel. Glass littered the passenger seat, the cup holders and even the back seat of the car.

I was cold, hungry, and pissed off. All I wanted was for Phil to come and get me and bring me lunch, but he was at work, and my car was still in good working order, minus a window. I had to pull up my big girl panties and handle the situation. I think the thief would have taken my bag with or without a wallet inside in the hopes that there would be. A driver with a sweet bike on the back pulled in next to me. I advised him to park elsewhere since my car was just robbed. He stayed.

I texted Phil and called my bank. Sure enough, the thugs already tried to use my card at Home Depot. Why is it always Home Depot? The last time a skimmer swiped my card information, the crook went straight to Home Depot. Not Lowe’s. Home Depot. I cancelled my cards, called the police to file a report, and spoke with my insurance company. The cards and my driver’s license can be replaced, but I’m more angry about the long-sleeved tech shirt from the Atlantic City 70.3 and my Mile on the Sand beach towel from VA Beach that I lost. Losers. I hope the shirt doesn’t fit and my useless stuff ends up in some dumpster.

Despite all of this, it was still a good day. I remember listening to NPR’s Invisiblia, and how they interviewed a women who couldn’t feel fear: bad events like a robbery were just events that happened, neither good or bad, and didn’t influence the rest of her day. I thought about that and felt lucky that I wasn’t mugged because that would have been much worse. Even though I can feel fear, I’m not afraid. This was just something that happened, but I will be even more cautious if I park there in the future. I won’t even put my towel in a bag.