Saturday, January 9, 2010

This Race is My Reward

A friend of mine told me to view a race as the reward, a reward for all the hard work and time you put into training to run it. If that is true, I've got a reward that is a long time coming. After a year of training, tomorrow I will run my first marathon.

This race is my reward.

I have to admit, the last two months have been a killer for me. Not only did my mileage ramp up to 17 - 20 mile long runs, my travel for work ramped up, as did the snow. And let me tell you, those three things, loooong runs, travel, and snow, do not go together.

Still I pushed through and got my last long run in two weeks ago... 20 whole miles... and it only took me four hours. Yikes. However, in that last three miles, when I thought my knee was going to finally protest enough to make me stop and when I almost starting crying because I had at least 30 minutes of running to go, I thought of this reward. I needed to earn it. And so I pressed on.

As I look back over the last year, I realize I've learned a lot. First off, I have a new appreciation for runners. They get up at the crack of dawn to log their long runs, they carefully schedule their lives so they can fit work, family, and their running commitments, and they are always open to sharing advice with others.

I have a new appreciation for my friends and family. Over the past year, my friends have run countless races with me (a few of those races - they literally ran with me), listened to my constant thoughts, concerns, achievements, set backs, and cheered me on the entire time. And the ultimate gift: they came with me to Orlando and tomorrow we will run the Disney Marathon together.

Finally, I have a new appreciation for myself. Somewhere along the way, on the road to my first marathon, I realized that I am physically capable of much more than I ever imagined. For the last 33 years of my life, I took this body for granted. Never again. But most importantly, I realized that if you put your mind to something, set your goals, and go for it, you can achieve it. Something that I think, in the years since I graduated from law school, I'd forgotten.

This race is my reward.

A reward that I never would have ever dreamt possible if not for Amy Ellis Oliver. I would never have had the courage to do this for myself. I would never have found the commitment and inspiration to train for a year to run a marathon without her. In fact, every time I thought I had hit a wall, I'd think of Amy. She kept me going, she was running right along with me.

Less than I year ago, I read a passage from from II Timothy at Amy's memorial service; a passage Amy had shared with us as one of her favorites. "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."

Amy's passage sums up the way I feel about this past year. It has been a fight. Tomorrow I will finish the race. For Amy.

This race is my reward.

Yes, this race is my reward, what a reward it is. And Amy, I share it with you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Running with a Hero

At 6 am on Friday morning, very, very, very early (what in the world was I thinking when I made these plane reservations?) I will board a plane.

Where am I going? I am going home. To Texas.

I am going to run the San Antonio Half-Marathon!!!

Back in January, only two weeks into my "marathon training" (I use the term "marathon training" loosely because at that point, I was doing good to be able to run one 15 minute mile without stopping), my baby brother returned from 15 months in Iraq. It was then that I did my first real long run.

That morning, the first day Patrick was back on U.S. soil, he got up and ran with me. I was one lucky sister - I had an Army Hero as my running buddy. He kept me going that morning and together we ran for 45 minutes without stopping. Never mind the fact that we were probably running 15 minute miles. Never mind the fact that he was capable of going so much faster. Never mind the fact that he was pushing me the entire way. He stuck with me. He gave me what I need to realize... oh my goodness... I REALLY CAN DO THIS!

This weekend, almost eleven months later to the day, I will run the San Antonio Half-Marathon. And guess what? I will have an Army Hero as my running buddy. My brother Patrick, a soldier with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, a Purple Heart recipient, will be running beside me.

Some things never change.

And some things do. Unlike before, I will not run a 15 minute mile. Unlike before, we will go much, much faster. Unlike before, he will not need to push me to finish.

I've been teasing him for weeks that I will beat him this weekend. Truth is, I won't. Just like 11 months before, we will stick together the entire time and just like 11 months before, we will pull into the finish at the same time.

Happy Veterans Day to all of our brave military men and women out there. I honor and thank you and your families for the sacrifice you have made and the service you have given to our country.

I run free because of you. What a gift. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

For Sale: 26.2 Miles

On January 10, 2010, just sixty days from today, I will do something I never thought was humanly possible. I will run the Walt Disney World Marathon. Yes, it is true. Me, a girl that a year ago couldn't run a block let alone a mile, will run 26.2 miles. At one time. In less than 4 hours and 45 minutes. (I hope!)

Those of you who know me, or at least have been reading my blog, know why this non-athletic girl would want to run 26.2 miles. For those of you who don't, let me tell you why.

In March 2008, my sister-in-law, Amy Ellis Oliver, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amy was amazing - she battled cancer head on. In the fall of 2008, we received the wonderful news, Amy was in remission! At that point, Amy, who was already a runner, made the decision to run the Disney World Marathon as her "I Beat Cancer Marathon." Two months later, we were devastated to learn that Amy's cancer was back and it had spread. Sitting there with my family that Christmas, I made the decision that if Amy could battle cancer, I could get off the side lines and run this marathon for her.

Amy passed away on March 9, 2009. She courageously battled cancer for nearly a year and during that time, she was blown away by the outpouring of love and support she received. Amy vowed that once she got well she would return the favour by helping other women battling breast cancer who were not as fortunate as she was to have the amazing support network she had.

On October 30, 2009, the day Amy would have turned 40, Amy's family founded The Amos Fund. Through this non-profit organization, Amy's dream of helping other women battling breast cancer lives on. The mission of The Amos Fund is to improve the lives of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer by providing financial assistance and supportive services to help meet their needs and the needs of their family while they undergo cancer treatment, surgery and recovery.

On January 10, 2010, I will be lacing up my running shoes and preparing for the run of my lifetime. I ask you to join me as I celebrate the life of Amy Ellis Oliver.

You can ride along with me as I run the Walt Disney World Marathon. A donation to The Amos Fund in the amount of $26.20 buys you one mile with me - and you don't have do any training or even break a sweat! Through auctioning off each of the 26.2 miles I will run that day, I hope to raise nearly $700 for The Amos Fund.

Should you wish to take advantage of literally 12 months of training and over 400 miles of training runs, you can join me, from the comfort of your own home, as I run the Walt Disney World Marathon.

If you'd like to donate, email me at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who's gonna run this town?

I live in the Washington D.C. metro area. Washington D.C. boasts the highest number of lawyers per capita - 276.7 lawyers per 10,000 residents to be exact. It also boasts the highest concentration of politicians, people that "run" this town... or at least think they do.

D.C. has more to offer than just lawyers and politicians. It has beautiful parks, monuments, and most importantly (at least to me presently) great running trails.

Over the last month, I have ramped up my mileage on my weekly long runs, offically crossing over from the the half-marathon distance of 13.1 and entering the realm of 15 - 20 miles. With this "promotion" came a change of running venue. Historically, I did my weekly long run around my neighborhood or at the local park. Recently, I've had to re-think that choice of venue - the thought of circling past the neighborhood Chili's 4 times is not that appealing.

In an effort to get away from Chili's, every Saturday morning for the last month or so, we load up, drive into the District, and run 13+ miles.

Yesterday, my run began at Teddy Roosevelt Island. I ran down the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River. As I approached Gravelly Point Park, planes passed just 100 - 150 feet above my head as they landed at Reagan National Airport. I looped back and ran over the Memorial Bridge towards the Lincoln Memorial, past the Washington Monument, the National Mall, and the U.S. Capitol. That, ladies and gentleman, is what I get to experience on my long runs. How lucky am I?

This got me to thinking. As folks rode past me in groups - on bikes, "Roll the City," on Segways, "Seg the City," I wondered, what about people that want to run the city? A quick google search upon my return home confirmed the fact that someone else also had this idea - for $60 you can pay someone in Washington D.C. to take you on a 3 - 4 mile run.

In this economy, who wants to, let alone can justify, spending money to have someone take you on a run? Coming to D.C.? I volunteer. Let me be your virtual tour guide. As I ramp up my mileage, I seek out new runs each week. There is something about fresh scenery that keeps you going as the miles tick by. I will share these runs with you.

Where ever you are out there - do you have runs to share? Whether you live in Providence or Portland, there has to be amazing runs in every one's home town. Rather than paying someone $60 to show you those amazing runs, what if you could just adopt one from a fellow runner?

As my long run came to a close yesterday and Georgetown University came into view across the Potomac, I had one thought -

Who's gonna run this town?

I am.

Wanna come?

Along the Potomac and into D.C. - 17 Miles

Begin your run at the Teddy Roosevelt Island Parking Lot and run along the Mount Vernon Trail. Head towards the Memorial Bridge and Washington Reagan National Airport. As you run along the waterfront, you can see, on your left, Georgetown University and the Kennedy Center. Pass under the Memorial Bridge and as you hit mile 3, planes will roar 100 feet overhead as they land on the runway at Reagan National Airport. Run past the airport and turn around as you hit mile 5. Run back along the Mount Vernon Trail to the Memoral Bridge. Arlington Cemetary will be on your left as you turn to run over the bridge at mile 11. Run past the Lincoln Memorial, along the Reflecting Pool, and past the Washington Monument as you hit mile 13. You will enter the National Mall and run past the Smithsonian Castle, National Air and Space Museum, and National Musem of the American Indian. At mile 14 you will run in front of the U.S. Capitol and down the other side of the Mall. You will pass the National Gallery of Art and the National Museums of American and Natural History. You will finish your run as you cross the Memorial Bridge for a second time, hitting your 16th mile and closing with 17.

Below is a link to my run on Garmin Connect. Enjoy!

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Along the Potomac and into D.C. - 17 Miles

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm Famous... Almost...Kinda

I had my first blogging-runner taste of fame last week. Yes, its true. I am famous, well, kinda famous... maybe a little bit?

I was the lucky blogger selected to be interviewed on "Open Mic Friday" on Runner's Lounge, an online resource, meet-up space, and blog for runners of all types. Each Friday, Runner's Lounge features a running blogger, asking them questions about their life, both running and otherwise.

Last Friday, on my birthday, I was that runner. I was lucky enough to be able to share my story - tell people why I run and who inspires me.

Since my interview, I've received emails from friends and strangers (aka - my new friends), sharing how Amy's story has inspired them. I cannot begin to tell you how happy that makes me - Like I said in my interview, if I can pass on the inspiration to just one person and get them out there and running, I'll consider myself to have paid it forward.

Amy blessed me with the inspiration to get out there, become a runner, and get healthy. The Runner's Lounge gave me the opportunity to share that inspiration with others.

Just in case you missed it, here's the link -

Thank you, Runner's Lounge, what a wonderful birthday present.