About Me

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What started as a little experiment in blogging has evolved into my renewed love for writing the raw, gritty truth. Running has always had so many parallels to life's ups and downs. As a new cancer survivor/fighter, running and writing has continued to be there for me in my quest to always move forward, always try to be better than yesterday. Find me: http://www.curetoday.com/community/kate or on facebook: running, cancer, and everything in between or on twitter: runliftbreathe

Friday, August 23, 2013


You know how sometimes life will throw you one of those curveballs that knocks the wind out of you? I'm talking the kind that leaves you in a state where you physically have to remind yourself to breathe...images of those oh so yuppy signs come to mind, "Keep Calm and Carry On." Like we have any other choice?!

I remember running a race that had me so excited and so nervous, I pretty much got my heart rate in a frenzy the first mile. As I realized what was happening and knowing that I would never survive the other 8 miles descending from Franconia Notch with my heart rate going at its' max...it occurred to me, I was forgetting to breathe. It reminded me of some of the new runners I had just advised a few weeks prior on the breathing cycle of running when they felt they didn't have control...in through the nose, out through the mouth. I would say this as we went uphill or sped up or hit a peak mileage for them.

As simple as that. Just breathe. I said this over and over again to myself until finally my heart rate settled into a normal rate for me at a 7:20 pace per mile. And there, I just kept repeating.

I'm not sure what happened to me at the start of that race. It was a new race for me and maybe the whole excitement of it...or maybe the nervousness of being on a team and having them rely on me and my time for that leg of the relay....I don't know. All I know is that it could have gotten pretty ugly out there.

Just breathe. We can't control everything that comes our way, and we certainly can't control all the things that can happen during a run...even with the best preparation. Tomorrow, I head out for what will be an easy 13 miles...and I will savor every mile....because of running, I have learned that sometimes the only thing you can control is yourself...and when life, like running, knocks the wind out of you, sometimes the only thing you can do is breathe.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Without Limits

Some might call it a fault others an asset...I don't like to be told I cannot do something...and I don't mean this in the Type A, overbearing, uptight way...I'm the farthest from that. But, when it comes to whether I can accomplish a task, a goal, a challenge...I refuse to back down, despite the odds against me.

Most recently, as I hobble around these past few days...I am wondering if it's biting me in the ass...or more literally, the achilles.  A few years back, a friend in a very non-controversial/very matter of fact manner commented that I was not built to be a runner. Clearly, I would never be fast with my broad shoulders and muscular build. While maybe his observation is not that far off, this comment was still hurtful and it fueled some major fire in various runs and races.

 Every time I am out on the road, I think of that comment...when I am dead exhausted, struggling out there, I remember what he said & I get angry & forge forward, running stronger, and faster. Every road race I've participated in, when the going gets tough, I hear that comment and it pushes me forward.

Which brings me to today...limping around the house, about more than halfway through my marathon training...at this point, I have already held a funeral for my speed. Now, I"m just hoping to finish the training, the race, and not rupture my achilles completely. And I am brought back to that comment...and it makes me  feel defeated...well,almost....but not quite....

Why? Because my own children come to mind. The reality is, I am 5'10 and my husband is 6'2...chances are, we just might not produce any Olympic gymnasts. My girls, however, are obsessed with gymnastics. They spend hours flipping their long legs over their heads....dreaming of Olympic gold while I have to bite my tongue from telling them genetically speaking, it's probably not going to happen. Maybe they will defy the odds...though deep down I know they have a better shot at being the next Misty May and Carrie Walsh (American beach volleyball queens)....it's not my dream to crush...why limit them?

 There is going to be a time when someone you know, love or are acquainted with is going to dream big. They will share this with you...it may be to run a marathon, start a business, or travel the world by boat...you have an opportunity. Do you want to be someone that puts limits on them? Or do you want to encourage growth?

I've decided that not only do I want to be that person that grows flowers instead of weeds for my children, but I want to be that person for myself. And so I continue the good fight...broad shoulders, tight achilles & all...I might go down, but I won't go down without a fight & I sure as hell won't let someone else limit my dreams.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In a perfect training week...

1. Yoga: I would get in some yoga after my runs. Running does not help with flexibility; it does quite the opposite actually. So knowing this, my hips & achilles scream to me every morning first thing as I stumble down the stairs that I should be adding in yoga to my weekly workouts. Instead what I am doing after my run is a half-assed downward dog while waiting for the coffee to brew before bounding up the stairs to get ready for work.

2. Planks & pushups: So effective for running strong & let's face it, looking good. I should get them done daily, really how hard is it? Unfortunately, lately I keep telling myself when I don't squeeze them in that I'll do them later that night after I put the kids to bed...which usually means I will think about doing them again that night but then, I settle down to have a glass of wine & get distracted by the various last minute bedtime requests (one more story, hug, fresh water, etc) that they get forgotten for another day.

3. Weight training 2x a week: And AT the gym....a day of kettlebells/TRX/interval training with another day of good old fashion, big girl weights/high reps total body workout. Throwing a couple of too light dumbbells in my living room while catching the news does not count!

4. Fuel:  Post run/workouts, fueling myself with anything that doesn't come out of my coffeepot & has some mix of protein/carbs...a nice recovery shake followed by a very healthy meal 1-2 hours later preferably some more protein with some fresh of the earth food. Shoving whatever is left in the fridge in my mouth while running out the door, driving in the car, or working on the computer....does not quite cut it. Nor does the fasting I manage to do all day until the evening hours when it's an all out eating buffet for me...and for the record, just because it says Trader Joe's on the label...does not make it good food...junk food is junk food...organic & natural or not...fancy crap is still crap.

5. Tunnel Vision: I would not be so obsessed with getting my run done that I would miss the opportunity to catch up with an old friend I haven't seen in 20 years. Yes, I admit, I did this...I was half asleep...and it was in the middle of an 18 miler up north...but still, once he said his name, I could have stopped the Garmin & paused for a minute to do a quick catch up. Instead, I tried to yell out my pleasantries as I continued to run...CAN NOT STOP....since when was I the girl that couldn't interrupt a run for a social hello?!

6. Forgiveness:  My family, friends, people I haven't seen in 20 years, & others I have been cranky, tired, & just plain boring with...will forgive me. I am aware that I'm not my normal easy breezy, you can interrupt me during a run, kind of mood...I am focused...and I know I am no fun right now. I've got a lot on my plate trying to balance this marathon training with my shortcomings (too many past injuries to list),a new job, my family & friends, and let's not forget, my gig as the lawn boy, maid, chef & overall family secretary/errand boy. It's a tough, tough balance. Most days I feel like I'm failing...but I appreciate the support & encouragement & when I finish, you will be the first people I thank for forgiving me when I was not always at my best.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


If there is one thing I have learned about marathon training, it is patience. There is no room for instant gratification when you devote 16 weeks of training for 26.2 miles. It has been a learning experience for me in so many ways but this one has by far been the hardest to surrender to and probably will be the biggest lesson of all.

Anything that is worth while doing well does take time right?  We devote one entire year or more to plan a wedding...and really it is just a party. But, we go over every little detail, set the timelines with dates and check them off accordingly. Even then, some of those details may get overlooked or need to be adjusted along the way. Patience is a necessity, otherwise, you end up on a show called Bridezillas or even worse, you're the only one not enjoying the actual wedding because you can't let go and give in.

I admit I am an all or nothing kind of gal...for good and for bad. That may be an inherited trait ...I swear it's something in my blood. I took surf lessons one summer & only a month into them, when a hurricane came rolling in, there I was trying to charge them. I practically drowned just trying to get out there...go big or go home.

 One look at my social life as an adult with three children, two jobs, one husband and a household to run...it's all or nothing. It's like I broke out of prison and am having one last romp with freedom, or I'm home sipping green tea, reading a book.

Up until a week ago, I was pushing it...training-wise...got to get it all in:  the long runs, the hill work, the tempo, the weights, the race pace runs...the worse that I felt, the more I felt the need to jam more in. I was like that hurricane I tried to surf in...all over the place, not getting anywhere, and setting myself up for disaster. Luckily, a dear friend/running mentor came along, took a look at the chaos I had myself caught up in and threw me a life raft.

We adjusted my program, and then, revisited the change a week later.  Really, what made me think I could keep up with that program when I had not completed a marathon before is beyond me...damn that all or nothing trait. Trust the program she said. It's designed for a reason. Focus on following the runs it calls for...keep to the pace for each particular run (so painful to run so slow on a long run)..it's designed that way for a reason. And stop obsessing over running the 26 miles before you actually run the 26.2 mile race. Be patient, and you will be ready.

I have to admit, it has helped. I am still a little tired  & definitely tight, but I am feeling more confident that my legs will be fresh and not burnt out by the time I line up for race day. Some days, I do have to remind myself...be patient, trust the program, trust myself. It's a hard thing to do. This is not an all or nothing race. This is a steady, well-paced endurance run. There is no room for charging big...this training, this race has all to do with being smart, being prepared, and being ready to make thought out adjustments when necessary...it's all about being patient.

 Preparation and patience...that is the key to success. Like life, this training has had some curve balls thrown at me...(heatwaves, respiratory infection, over training) but with some thought out adjustments, I continue to move forward. It may not be the pace I'm use to moving at, but that's part of the process. I can't move it any faster. I just have to ride it out, continue to plug away, and remember that it will all come together in the end.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Runner's Alley

Why you should shop in a running specialty store

I know why you haven't made the trip to the running specialty store...you think you're not a real runner. You imagine you're going to walk in and all the stick thin sub 6:00 minute a mile runners are going to giggle & then, direct you to the pizza shop next door. Clearly, you're lost and are just looking for directions to a good place for lunch, right? I know that because I was that person.

I cringe when I hear someone say, "well, I'm not a real runner." Why? Because I can relate to that all too well. There are days even now, that I still feel like an old washed-up college athlete trying to hang onto some kind of glory by posing as a runner...like some desperate testosterone driven high school football player who is now balding, in his 50's and still talking about the game winning pass to win the final game of the season & now charges Tough Mudder like it’s the Super Bowl.

I had created an image of all these silhouettes trying to help me figure out why I was having achilles problems & what shoes would best benefit me with my build, gait, and training. I thought they'd see my broad shoulders & bulging biceps & laugh & let me know that the power lifting contest was not in fact being held there, and that maybe the reason my achilles was so sore was because I was just not a real runner.

I was wrong. I have had the opportunity to work the past 5 months on the inside of what I thought was Oz where only the elite could hang out and run light swift circles past me on the yellow brick road. Let me tell you, these are some of the most knowledgable, the most warm & welcoming & intelligent, thoughtul group of people I have ever met. I have been around my share of athletes...and this group of athletes...runners...are some of the nicest, most humble people I have ever met. You would never know who runs the 5:30 pace marathon versus the 7:30 half marathon versus someone who runs recreationally and does not run races.
I never knew the ins and outs of a shoe...the many types of shoes for the many types of foot/mechanics/& build. Who knew that there were people who could actually assess a running gait, foot shape, & build and offer up something that might make running even more enjoyable. They are like shoe computers...and it doesn't stop there. They know everything there is about fueling, technical gear...and they are willing to offer up their knowledge & make suggestions because they are actually out there trying the different fuels...running in the different shoe brands...testing the products...and listening. They listen to all their customers, & they care.
Even though I have been a runner for some time now, I was a little nervous to not only shop here but then, to be an employee of such a place. 5 months is not a long time. But let me tell you something, I have learned so much from the employees of this store in 5 months...you'd think I just earned a degree in running gear & customer service. I have learned a whole lot of things I didn't know about breaking down that big wall of shoes. I have learned some new things about fueling. And, most importantly, I have learned to be a better listener.

The next time you need some new running shoes, go to your small specialty running store. Spend the time in there & let go of your own insecurities & ego, and you will get a plethora of information and encouragement from a great group of people. "Real" runners know that no matter the pace, build, mileage...it is all tough...tough mentally, tough physically... a love/hate relationship... a game & you never know when it's your day to win. "Real" runners know that just having the courage to lace up and head out is what makes you a runner...a "real" runner. So don't be afraid to pop into one of these running specialty stores…you just might love it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

If running is a metaphor for life...

If running is a metaphor for life….

Then, wow, is it kicking my ass today…talk about brutal. It was the usual early morning Thursday run…a long one…but on a lower mileage week, a mere 10 miles…awesome. I had worked in a couple rest days   already this week (thanks to the hotel wake-up call at 3am courtesy of “I have to pee Mom”). But today, I felt more rested this morning & ready to get to business.  I also had the  fortunate company of one of my running friends…the one who I aspire to be, knowing I’ll never come close to her talent. I could pick her brain & soak up all her knowledge from all the many marathons she has run (last one clocked in around 3 hours, 9 minutes.) She is badass & has a ton of experience.

And so off we go on another super humid morning…6am & it already felt like Florida. We head out & the chatting began…everything from what’s going on with the construction in the hood to how the kids’ are doing at x,y, & z….tips on my time goals for the fall marathon and then, bam, no reason at all…I just started feeling like hell.  We were not going fast at all, & I thought my stomach was going to drop out from beneath me, on top of the fact I was sweating buckets…bigger than my normal buckets. I looked at her & barely a glisten. What the hell is wrong with me?

Long story short, we do finish the run, but after it, I still didn’t feel well. Nauseous to the point I thought I might throw up or possibly stay on my porch steps for the rest of the morning. I can’t explain it…everything points to why I should have had at least a decent & comfortable run (other than the rainforest-like conditions).

Sometimes, there is no reason. Really…you are conditioned, you are hydrated, you have some fuel…& you just have a bad run. This is not an indication of what is to come…it’s just a part of the process. Running training has its’ peaks & lows & ebbs & curves throughout…some quite predictable & some leaving you doubting your training. It just is what it is.

So I had a less than stellar run. I can learn from it (coffee & wine not good hydration, snacks could always use some tweaking… more protein & less kid crap, & again, stretching & yoga would probably make everything feel better)….or I can dwell on it & doubt everything from my conditioning, my natural abilities versus my potential & just give up.

I choose to learn & move on. I have the good fortune of being surrounded by amazing athletes, runners, nutritionists, & trainers….all at my fingertips. So I turn to my team of people that keep me going, keep me informed, & keep me in check in general.  And then, I will file that run away as just another one down for the books.

I am chasing freedom & running from fear all the time. I think that’s kind of how life is. It doesn’t matter if you run or not. Sometimes you are not going at the pace you know you are capable of doing & sometimes you just feel like you are wasting your time. You might even want to give up. But you can’t. You have to keep moving forward…because let’s face it…like life, some days you win some & some days you lose some….but as long as you keep a positive attitude, assess mistakes & learn from them, &  most importantly, continue moving forward… one foot in front of the other…and repeat….

 Running training is like life…some days it will kick your ass & try to beat you down, but there will be other days, those days when you will have that moment, that sweet moment where it all falls into line…and all of it makes it worthwhile…the good, the bad, the journey along the way….one foot in front of the other.