Guest Blog: Wade, Boston Marathon and running happy.

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He was FLYING down the hill. Smiling big time. As he should. The work paid off and he was enjoying the race.

Wade ran the Boston Marathon this past weekend.

He had a great race!

Wade ran a 2:44 marathon (world record is around 2:03ish)  with a 6:16 pace (that’s minutes per mile.).  Uh… That’s fast.  Just for the record.

Congrats to my friend on an amazing accomplishment, a race well run and more importantly a race run happy. 🙂

Run with it Wade… 🙂


Treadmills and the quest for happiness.

Betsy has an expression… “run happy”.

I can’t tell you how many signs I saw during Boston that had that expression on them… at least two (signs get a little hard to read when you are concentrating on not bouncing off the guy next to you and squinting through the rain, I’m sure there were more…)…  (I did see one from a Wellesley College girl about using her tongue…)

Anyways… I always tell Bets “I don’t run happy, I run hard”.  And that second part was especially true at Boston. I ran my legs off. But something else has occurred to me in the days since the race, and Betsy’s blog about ‘Force’ really cemented it for me.

In the lead up to, and since the race, people have asked how I trained, if it hurt (duh) and why I do it? All of the usual questions that Betsy has already outlined. Apparently we runners have a third eye on our foreheads… Do yourselves a favor and go read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Don’t read the reviews, just read the damn book. Then you will know why we run; to catch dinner.

One of the conversation themes has centered around the tough winter that the East coast has had, and training through it. Specifically (and this is a topic amongst both runners and non-runners), do you run inside?

NO!!! NO &$^#^#&#&&!!!!! WAY!!!!

For the record I ran ONE TIME on a dreadmill training for Boston. I never get blisters, and I got a blister. It was the most miserable five miles I have run in a long time.

So as I thought more about the race, and about Betsy’s blog on the connotations of “force(d)”, I also thought about why I submit my body to the stupidity that is a marathon. And, revelation here, it’s because running is fun and it makes me happy. Long cold snowy training runs are fun! (I don’t run on treadmills, because they suck, and it’s not fun.) I run because its enjoyable, I like it, I am happy when I run.

The exercise is a benefit, and don’t get me wrong, its an important part of the overall experience, but I wouldn’t run just for the exercise, exercise isn’t fun, its work. Running is FUN! Granted there are days where you have to embrace the suck. Hell there are weeks where you have to embrace the suck. There are days when you HAVE to go run in the cold, and the wind, and the dark, and it will not be entirely enjoyable. BUT it will beat running on a treadmill in that hot stuffy gym (treadmills are right next to Dementors in my book).

But at the end of it all, you get to run through some town, on some race, with a bunch of kids holding their hands out for a high five as you cruise (or trot, or hobble) by, and you will get to give them a high five. Their joy will give you joy. When you are at mile 22, and you are starting to hurt, you see your friends, and your mom cheering you on and you get to give them high fives (and not run into the fence) and they take awesome pictures to account for the craziness. And at mile 26.2 you will stop, and it will hurt like little else you have experienced. And you know what?! IT.IS.FUCKING.AWESOME!!!

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Mile 23.5. Family and friends screaming and cheering like maniacs. 🙂  Photo Credit to Thomas Griffin.

As Betsy said in her last blog, no one is forcing her to do this, she, and I, and Hannah, and every other person who sticks with running, or swimming, or under water basket weaving does it not because someone is making them, but because they find some joy in it, however twisted that joy may be.

“Training is what makes you into the athlete.  The ‘event’ is the celebration, the party!  You have done the WORK, put in the hours and learned a lot about yourself during training. The event is where you put it all together and see it in action!” ~ Betsy Hartley

If you aren’t a runner, its OK we understand… (But we really think you should buy some running shoes and give it an honest 3 months worth of effort… you will thank us at the end).

But understand that this is our sanity, and it’s fun. If you think it sucks then don’t do it. Life is too short to be miserable.

Go find something you enjoy, and kick ass at it.

Just so long as there is a party at the end.

Run Happy, Run Hard!

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Forced.

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Mary, Thomas, Joe, Shannon and Miriam… BOSTON MARATHON elite and energetic cheer leading crew! 🙂

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of running TO something vs. running FROM something.

This basic theme keeps cropping up and brushing at the fringes of recent conversations.


I flew to Boston to cheer for friends running THE BOSTON MARATHON this past weekend. (Hannah, Wade, Ana Lu and Spencer’s friend Matt – ALL ran their first Boston!)

Flying is fun for me. Especially now that I don’t need a seat belt extender. 🙂

I’m an extrovert. I love to talk to people. I think everyone I meet can possibly become a friend.

I’ve met some phenomenal people by striking up random conversations, heard amazing life stories and made new friends.

This trip was no exception.

I was on planes FULL of runners! Everyone was excited, lots of chatter about running.

Conversations about running usually start with ‘how did you get started with running?’ or ‘how long have you been running?’. I can now tell my running story in a few short sentences…

“I used to weigh close to 400 pounds. I’ve lost 220 pounds. I was type 2 diabetic, taking three shots a day less than four years ago. Eating less and learning to run have very literally saved my life.’

I got asked twice on this trip ‘what forced me to finally change my life?’

People usually ask me the same question using phrases like ‘what made you…’, ‘what drove you…’ or ‘why did you finally decide…’

This time they used the word force. I feel that ‘force’ is an odd word to use in regards to personal changes. So when I walked away, I thought about why the use of the word ‘force’, in a casual conversation, was irritating me.

‘Force’ is a negative word.

But I knew that wasn’t all that was bugging me.

I thought about it over the next two days. What I started to discern was related threads of a life-long pattern: Any time I have ever failed at anything or given up or decided I didn’t want to do something — it was because there was an element of being ‘forced’.

Meaning…

It was someone else’s idea about what/how I should be eating.

I was not buying into the idea at all. (‘I don’t believe in myself’ could be inserted here…)

I was afraid, defeated and/or desperate. (Not a choice, a lack of options…)

A key differences this time around? This has all been MY CHOICE. 

I was ready to fight and I was feeling brave.

I was RUNNING TOWARD something.  I wasn’t fleeing. I wasn’t running away. I wasn’t being forced.

This has all been my decision. I want it. I work at it every day. 

Reversing Type 2. Losing weight. Running. Finding a way to stay healthy for the rest of my life. 

I wanted this change more than anything I have ever wanted in my entire life.

I also realized that I was slightly offended that someone would think someone/something else was actually, or specifically negatively, to credit for all of my hard work.

Forcing someone to do something is NOT a recipe for long-term success.  We all know that… Right?


I lucked into a great conversation with some women at the airport, post-marathon. Three of them had run the marathon, two of us had not. They asked us what kind of running we did; and quickly and generously brought us into their conversation.

After talking about times/paces/the course, the conversation went to funny signs, grossest porta-potties, weirdest running attire, best shirts, supportive volunteers.  The funny and incredible stories that a large event brings to the surface!

Talk moved to coaches and the process of how you go about getting ready for a really big event. All of us had coaches. We talked about the positive impact of preparing for a big event with someone by your side the entire time who cares about your safety and growth and goals. Lots of laughter and eye rolls and stories about how our coaches individually torture us in their own ways.

We all acknowledged that our coaches had more belief in who we were and what we could do than we had in ourselves at points and times. And that running was actually only a small part of what they are actually teaching us.

We talked about training. Training is what makes you into the athlete.  The ‘event’ is the celebration, the party!  You have done the WORK, put in the hours and learned a lot about yourself during training. The event is where you put it all together and see it in action!

Training is the process that makes you, builds you.


I had mostly figured out why ‘force’ bugged me.  But it seemed related to the bigger idea of running to/from something… So I spent time on the first leg of the flight home thinking about why I run and train.

Training and running for me is entirely about moving TOWARD something.

It’s really that simple.

I am not running FROM anything. Learning to run wasn’t someone elses idea. Even when Spencer gives me ridiculous hill repeats and I know I’ll hate that specific workout; its still ME choosing each day to use running as a process to stay healthy.

Even in the very beginning of this crazy odyssey to learn to run, I wholeheartedly accepted and appreciated that everything (even the really hard stuff!) was part of the process of moving toward a place I really, really wanted to be.


‘Force’ is the not the right word. Not at all.  I don’t like it. I’m sticking ‘force’ in the same category as ‘have to’ and ‘can’t’.

But it served as a great catalyst to frame my thinking about some things that really needed to be considered in greater detail.

It helped me get crystal clear about the fact that I am literally and figuratively running TOWARD a whole bunch of really great stuff!

What are you running toward?!

Can’t.

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‘It’s a lifestyle, it’s a choice. ‘ Wade  (Pacific Crest Endurance Triathlon/Duathlon 2014)

I can’t eat that. It’s not on my diet.

As soon as you utter those words, someone will instantly search for a way to ‘help’ you get around the ‘can’t’.

Can’t means restrictions, deprivations.

It means something is unfair or that you MUST be unhappy.

Can’t is a signal word that others respond to, usually in a sympathetic or negative way.  They want to fight for you, convince you otherwise, remove the barrier…


‘Quit saying you can’t. 

Quit saying it’s a diet.

It’s a lifestyle, it’s a choice.

Quit feeling like you have to defend your choices to everyone. It’s none of their business.’Wade

One of the biggest AH-HA! moments for me was when I finally HEARD what Wade was telling me.

I started practicing and learning NOT to defend or explain. I worked on believing in and stating my choices.

I started trying to help others understand I wasn’t being defensive simply by intentionally choosing different words to talk about my relationship with food…

Words.  Who knew? 🙂

When I’m at an event and have limited choices, or I’m being offered cake (trigger food of all trigger foods for me…) or I’m fueling very carefully for a race/event…

I say…

Thanks! I’m choosing not to eat that right now…

So far, in the last 18 months of my word experiment; no one has really argued with me.  When I said ‘can’t’ — people argued with me, questioned me all the time.

Seriously. 🙂

Now they respond with something like ‘OK! It’s over here/there if you change your mind.’  Or ‘can I get you something else?’

The conversation is totally different.

They don’t pressure me, they don’t fight my CHOICE, they don’t try to convince me otherwise.  They seem to simply respect that I am doing what I WANT to do.

SUCH a magic trick!

And it ONLY takes words!

‘Can’t’ and ‘have to’… Or ‘my choice’ and ‘get to’…

Which conversation would you rather be in?

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BTW — the dude in the middle is Wade. And he’s running the Boston Marathon this coming Monday. GO WADE!

Baby steps.

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Liz. 22 years of friendship and adventures.  More to come. Ditto, my friend.

I was eavesdropping on a conversation Friday between two women encouraging each other to be more active. They kept gently reminding each other not to get overwhelmed with the big picture; ‘start small’ they kept telling each other. They were casting around for ideas on how exactly to start with something they could do now, maintain, enjoy and build on…

They got rolling with some great ideas…

I really enjoyed their conversation. And TOTALLY had to fight the urge to just jump in uninvited! 🙂


Think about watching a child learning to walk….

They crawl. They pull themselves up on things so they can stand, assisted. Then they attempt to let go… Halting, uncertain, determined focus.  Throw in a few temper tantrums. Plenty of falling down and getting back up. Countless failed attempts.

BUT, they will NOT give up.

Then ONE step finally leads to two and… before you know it… they’re off and running with abandon. 🙂


Liz, one of my best friends, sent me this note, when I asked her for some feedback on my blog.

“You told me you got started with more exercise just by parking far away at work.

I think that’s a fantastic tip/story for your readers. Where did you get the idea? How many more steps did you get in?

You’ve come a long way from getting your exercise by walking to your car.

Show your readers just how slow you started.

Baby steps.” — Liz

Three and half years ago I was taking lots of baby steps.

They genuinely felt like HUGE, monster steps to me! But they were actually just the right/bite-sized pieces needed to get to the much bigger goal.

I was down to 285 pounds from a high of 392.  I was taking 3 shots a day.  Handfuls of pills.  Walking in from my car to my desk took genuine effort. To change all of that; I knew I had to take ALL of that stuff and break it down into small, tiny, manageable, must-not-panic-and-quit pieces. It was the only way I was ever going to get started with building a healthy lifestyle and being active.

So what were some of the first and small steps I took towards moving more?

  • I parked farther away from my office.  Grocery store.  Mall.  I no longer took the closest parking spots.
  • I took the stairs EVEN when if it meant I showed up to a meeting with a sweaty head, red face and gasping for air.  (I carried baby wipes and a bandana in my bag.  No excuses.)
  • I wore a pedometer every day and tried to hit 5,000 steps. Then 10,000. Then 15,000.
  • I put on workout clothes and went for walks on purpose at least 3 days a week ON TOP of the 10,000 steps.
  • I picked meeting spots that were as far away from my office as possible so I was required to walk.  Given that I tend to cut timing close — it meant it was always a ‘brisk’ walk. 🙂
  • I turned lunches/coffee meetings into walking meetings with willing and understanding coworkers.

Baby steps.  Adding on a just a little at a time.

I often get asked how long my first run was – what was ‘my starting mileage’. I ALWAYS start by explaining that I walked for years.  Literally.  I walked.  A lot.  I walked faster, walked farther — I worked on walking before I ever tried to run a step.  And when I ran?  I wanted to be able to run between telephone poles.  I made it across a driveway.  My starting mileage was FEET.  And I was PROUD OF THAT!  (Still am to be honest!)

I abso-freaking-lutely walked a TON before I ever, ever tried to run.

Baby steps is what this whole adventure is really about. 🙂

What baby steps did you take when you were teaching yourself to make exercise a habit?!

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Liz’s wedding to Andy! SUCH a happy and fun day!

Drawstrings.

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Ok… Maybe not THIS baggy. 🙂

I really like to wear baggy clothes.

Yes.  I hid in them as a fat woman. Positive extra material would totally camouflage my obesity and no one could actually see just how big I was…

Yes.  As I was losing weight it was a cool reminder through the day that the clothes were big and getting bigger. Positive re-enforcement of a sort.

Yes.  I still have a bit of a distortion about what my body really looks like. I was a size 26/28 or 4X.  I’m now about a size 8 or 10 or Large.  Left on my own, I will happily buy size 12 and XL. 🙂

But all of the above means I frequently buy things too big.

As I was losing weight, I would wait for things to be 2 sizes too big, and make it work as long as I could…  Maybe 3 sizes if they had a drawstring or belt loops…  I don’t have an unlimited clothing budget.  And I like wearing baggy clothes.  I was in no hurry.

At work one time I had to bunch up the waistband of my pants and use an office binder clip to hold them up for the day. Even I could tell they were too big for me. (In my defense; I had NOT tried them on before throwing them in my gym bag, for the day, they were ALL I had…  Tacky. I know. But you do what you have to do. 🙂 )

Then one day, recently, I discovered a strong preference for pants with drawstrings.

And a stark reminder that maybe finding clothes that actually fit might be a good idea…

Let me explain.

My friend Hannah kept telling me ‘Bets, your pants are too loose. They look like they’re going to fall off…’

(Cue music….)

I would insist they fit JUST FINE thankyouverymuch and continued to wear them for weeks.

Man.  I was about to find out how right Hannah was.  And how wrong I was.

I was talking to one of our male senior administrators one day at work, in the halls of our building.

And suddenly felt a draft…

A draft where there really should not have been air during the work hours.  Or maybe there shouldn’t be a draft there at any point… Anyway….

Pants.

Holy smokes.

With NO WARNING whatsoever those suckers fell straight to my ankles.

ALL THE WAY TO THE GROUND.

MERCIFULLY a few things happened at the same time….

This senior level administrator, while having a great sense of humor, also has fairly poor eyesight and happened to be looking down at a printed email I had just handed him…

I was wearing a long shirt. (And underwear!)

And in a normally busy classroom building on a college campus — there was oddly, NO ONE else in the halls.

I suddenly developed catlike reflexes and retrieved my pants from around my ankles and then proceeded to pretend like NOTHING unusual had just happened.

He never said anything. He never indicated he saw anything beyond the email in his hands.

I kept the conversation going and then walked away.  Cheeks burning with embarrassment.  Hand clutching my waistband of the stupid pants. I actually thought I had maybe, JUST maybe gotten away with it and he hadn’t seen what had happened.

Until…

A few days later were were in a large meeting and we were talking about managing the well-intentioned impatience of one of our stakeholders.  The senior administrator looked right at me, in the room full of people, and said ‘maybe we should just tell him to keep his pants on.’  And then gave a little chuckle.  He never missed a beat.  Just kept right on talking.

I turned about 10 shades of crimson.  And got a horrible case of the giggles.

I knew then that this was going to be the running joke for the rest of our professional working lives together.  He is witty and funny and sharp and KIND.  When I think it’s forgotten he’ll make a subtle and funny joke about pants. I know that he is reminding me that he understands that LIFE happens and you have to be able to laugh at yourself; and it’s a BONUS if your friends can laugh with you…

I have since then — with Hannah’s advice and guidance (and patience!) — bought some new pants.

They fit.

Almost every pair I now own has a drawstring. 🙂