Friday, January 9, 2015

rsz_img_6047 (1)

Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to start running.  Maybe you’ve signed up for your first 5k or half marathon and are getting started with your carefully researched training plan.

Here’s the one (unsolicited) tip I would give you:  keep going.

I started running in 2009.  Ryan was training for his first marathon.  I was intrigued competitive and quickly followed suit.  My first race was an 8k.  I found a training plan then stepped onto a treadmill at the YMCA.  I ran for about two minutes and thirty seconds before I had to walk.  I was embarrassed and more than a little bit surprised.  I was young, thin and at least vaguely in shape.  And I couldn’t run one mile.

It took several weeks of run/walking to work up to being able to run a couple of miles.  So often friends say that they’d like to start running and then they begin by lacing up and trying to run a few miles.  This (almost) never works.  Running, especially in the beginning, is painful and hard.  Your lungs burn and your legs get heavy so quickly.  So, you stop and walk home after ten minutes.

When I found myself in this exact situation, I remember thinking “But this is what all my runner friends do!  They just go out and jog a few easy miles, so why is it impossible for me?”.  The key is to keep going — not by painfully extending initial outings, but by committing to seeing through the slow process of becoming comfortable running.  Allow yourself to be a beginner.

Set realistic expectations from the outset.  Going out and running a few miles is not realistic (at least for most of us) at the beginning.  Setting a five to ten week schedule to get to you to the start line of a 5k may be.  I wish someone had shared this 5k training schedule with me when I was getting started.  I know several marathoners whose first steps towards becoming a runner began utilizing this run/walk training schedule.

I often tell new or aspiring runners that the first time I ran 20 minutes continuously was almost as significant an accomplishment as crossing the finish line of my first marathon.  The beginning is hard, but keep going.  It will be worth it.


Monday, December 29, 2014






When in Antananarivo (or Tana as everyone calls it), here’s what you do:  first, you spend the afternoon at the Marché de la Digue and second you go to La Varangue for dinner.  It’s that simple.

Any cab will know how to get you to the Marché de la Digue — this market is sprawling and situated just a couple kilometers from the airport.  The only skill involved is in selecting which pint-sized vintage cab you’d like to be transported in (keep in mind that vintage charm is inversely correlated with the shocks and overall vehicular stability) and then acting tough while pre-negotiating the fare.  A word to the wise:  negotiate the cab driver’s waiting time into the fare so that you don’t find yourself searching for a cab back to the hotel once you finish shopping and are loaded down with 14 baskets, 7 embroidered table clothes, 3 paintings and an over-sized hand-woven light fixture.  Also, ask your hotel to make a recommendation about how much your fare should be.

Now that the souvenir shopping is done, it’s time to eat.  Hopefully you’ve made a reservation and now you are on your way to La Varangue.  Prepare yourself:  this is going to be a slightly dislocating experience.  You’ve just spent the day in a buzzing African capital city and now you are about to be transported to a serene, decidedly French, whimsically curated dining experience.  The restaurant is on a hill and you are going to feel miles (or kilometers, I suppose) away from your hectic market experience.  Try the melting chocolate orb dessert.  You won’t be dissapointed (this coming from a girl that rarely likes chocolate anything).


Monday, December 8, 2014













A few more photos from travels in northeast Madagascar.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014





Sometimes you just get lucky.  That could basically serve at my New York City Marathon race recap.

Leading up to the race I had a few things going in my favor.  Namely:

  • A late race start and rolling the clocks back an hour meant that I actually slept eight hours the night before the race. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve ever done this.
  • I hydrated well the week before.
  • I watched my nutrition the week before.
  • I stayed off my feet on Sunday.
  • I stayed warm at the race start by wearing an embarrassing amount of layers. Shivering = wasted energy.
  • I started out really conservatively and didn’t pick up the pace until after mile 20.
  • There were water stations every mile and I took advantage of every one of them.
  • And most importantly, I (am not ashamed to admit that I) downloaded the new Taylor Swift album the night before the race and told myself that I could listen to it once I got to mile 18. Pre-determined head game.

There were, however, two very significant factors that I thought would all but guarantee a terrible race:

  • I went in to a marathon completely undertrained. One should never, ever do this.
  • The weather. Twenty mile an hour headwind for the majority of the course; gusts that topped 50 mph.

I lined up at Fort Wadsworth nearly certain of what the day would hold:  a few fun miles at the beginning and then an irreversible, very painful downward spiral on the second half of the course.  The only question was exactly when things would get miserable.  Being underprepared, I feared that things might get bad by mile 13.  So, I went out really conservatively.  I incorporated walking from the beginning and watched my hydration and nutrition very closely.  At mile 20 I was still feeling good, so I picked up the pace and ran it in.  I have never felt good at mile 20; I was absolutely shocked.

That’s part of what keeps us coming back to the marathon, isn’t it?  The unpredictability, the unknown, the uncertainty.  It’s the convergence of what my body brings on a race day and what those 26.2 miles demand.  It’s an intersection that requires an offering up of our whole selves; it tests our resolve and our ability to endure.  It allows us to push ourselves to the edge and see what remains.  It affords us the rare opportunity of running right through our own doubts.  Every now and then, the stars align and that intersection is magic revealing reserves of strength that we didn’t even know we had.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014


photo 1




We are back from an amazing weekend in New York City.  The purpose of the visit was to run the New York City Marathon, but we also managed to squeeze in some of our favorite NYC activities.  We visited MoMA (for free) on Friday night, enjoyed a great Thai dinner, sipped lots of coffee, saw a show (with James Earl Jones!) and had a delicious pre-race (gluten free) pasta dinner.  We stayed at Gild Hotel which was a total treat and made for an easy walk to catch the ferry to Staten Island for the marathon start.  Sunday night we traded marathon war stories over pints of pumpkin cider and craft beers.  All around, it was a really, really good weekend.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

shorebreak waves in hawaii

A few summers ago there was a tropical storm off the coast of Florida that churned up the surf here at home.  On a perfect weekend afternoon our coast was just starting feel the storm’s reverberations and big, rolling waves were breaking on the shore.  I was at the beach with a group of friends, all of us born and raised in this coastal town.  We are good swimmers and so we waded in through the breakers and churned up whitewater – the kind that nearly holds you in place with the repeated force of incoming waves.  Past the breakers, we proceeded to play in the surf for the next several hours.  Diving through, floating over and riding in the waves.  The waves were humongous and we laughed at each other as we were barreled over and tossed around.  We left the beach that day waterlogged with swimsuits full of sand, tangled hair and a sense of buoyancy.

We closed on a house while I was in Madagascar.  A little hunter green beach bungalow that was built in 1955.  We are ecstatic.  In our ecstasy, we are able to look past the flaws of our new home:  the lack of air conditioning, the pet stained floors, the kitchen that hasn’t been updated since the 50s.  To put it gently, the house needs an immense amount of work.  So we’ve been spending our every waking hour outside of nine to five fixing it up.

This weekend my dad and I rented a couple of sanders to refinish the floors.  I knew going in that this wouldn’t be a diy for the faint of heart, but I sort of figured “what the heck how hard can it be?”.  (The answer, of course, is quite hard.  Quite hard, but doable.)  I googled how-to’s and read a few blogs and then off we went to Home Depot.

Tomorrow morning at 6:00am we board a plane for New York City.  A little (26.2 mile) run through the five boroughs is on the agenda.  My last long run was 17 miles the morning I flew to Madagascar…on September 8th.

It sort of struck me yesterday, as I was sitting at my desk, abs sore from ten hours spent wrangling an industrial floor sander:  life is a bit full right now.  Full, but doable.

We undertook a massive home reno with a little budget and crazy travel schedules, but I knew we could do it.  I signed up for a marathon because I knew I could do it.  Sure, I’m in over my head, but I waded into the water because I know I can swim.  Every now and then we dive in knowing we are going to get barreled.  But, hey, that’s half the fun, right?

See you on the other side of 26.2 and the home renovation.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

IMG_2248 copy

IMG_2251 copy

IMG_2253 copy

IMG_2257 copy

IMG_2269 copy

IMG_2349 copy

IMG_2272 copy

IMG_2289 copy

IMG_2300 copy

IMG_2324 copy

IMG_2334 copy

IMG_2296 copy

IMG_2311 copy

IMG_2319 copy

IMG_2320 copy

IMG_2305 copy

IMG_2341 copy

IMG_2344 copy

IMG_2356 copy


Lemur spotting was at the top of my to do list in Madagascar.  One afternoon we drove to Parc Ivoloina to try our luck.  Parc Ivoloina is part zoo, part lemur natural habitat.  The Parc houses a dozen lemur species, most of which are endangered.  Species include black and white ruffed lemurs, white-fronted brown lemurs, crowned lemurs, red-bellied lemurs, grey gentle lemurs, bamboo lemurs, brown lemurs, and blue-eyed black lemurs.  A path curves along the lakeside and lemurs ruffle through the tree branches above.  These guys are incredibly quick with feline agility — kind of like a cat crossed with a flying squirrel.  We lucked out and happened upon feeding time which afforded us the perfect photo opp and the chance to see a few lemurs up close.  All in all, a great afternoon.


[Parc Ivoloina is located about 30 minutes from Tamatave on the east coast of Madagascar.  The parc is open every day from 9am-5pm.  The price of admission for foreign visitors is about $8 and guides are available for an additional $4.]


Monday, September 22, 2014

madagascar landscape

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel in Antananarivo having a cup of vanilla tea and sending a few emails before I hop on my flight and start the journey home.  Work has taken me up and down the northeast coast of the island and what an experience it has been.  I look forward to sharing more this week.


Friday, September 5, 2014

photo-4 copy

I spent yesterday in DC getting a new passport.

I vividly remember standing in line at my college town’s post office waiting to submit my passport renewal paperwork ten years ago.  Ten. Years. Ago.  It was finals week in December.  I rolled out of bed and threw on a t-shirt and a fleece.  As I waited to be called to the counter I remember thinking about how old I would be when that passport expired – almost 30 (I know, I know).  I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and as I thought about the decade that passport would carry me through everything looked so fuzzy.  I wasn’t sure where I’d live or where I’d work – heck, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to find a job when I graduated.

I was about the travel to Africa for the first time.  On Monday, I leave for Madagascar.

Ann Lamott poses this question:  “Where is meaning in the meteoric passage of time, the speed in which our lives are spent?”

My instagram feed has been inundated with images of children boarding school buses and captions decrying the speed at which babies have grown up.  There are efforts to soak in the last moments of summer and there are efforts to embrace the changing seasons.  (Inaugural pumpkin spice latte, anyone?)  It seems that we are collectively asking, “where did the summer go?” or maybe even “where has this year gone?”.

To be honest, I’ve found it a bit irritating – relatable, but irritating.  I mean, come on people, let’s come to terms with it.  The seasons are changing; it iSeptember.  Then today, I found myself asking a similar question:  “where did the last decade go?”.

And that’s where Lamott’s words started to resonate.  We can’t stop time, but I wonder if we can’t slow down it’s meteoric passage to a gentler calendar page turn.

After yoga on Monday night, I rolled up my mat and walked outside to my car.  I said goodnight to a friend, then looked down at my phone and noticed I had missed three calls.  My phone started to ring again and at that point I realized I had mistakenly taken my husbands keys leaving him stranded at the house.  An urgent work email came in from a different time zone.  I started my car and music came on.  I scrolled through my instagram feed, liked a few images, and then I checked my personal email.  I put the car in reverse and as I drove home to rescue my stranded husband I thought about how many things I had given my attention to in the preceding three minutes.  At least seven.  In three minutes

My least favorite part of Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is when he describes the space between a stimulus and a response – a space that we control.  How inconvenient.  I find it much easier to be reactive than to give a careful, considered response to a given stimulus.  Covey says, “quality of life depends on what happens in the space between stimulus and response.”

Also, I need to consider the fact that choosing not to respond is a response.  If I chose to respond less, I wonder if my life might feel a little less frantic.  I wonder if the passage of time might slow a bit.  I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out.  I mean, isn’t that part of the reason why we love to run?  The solitude, the singular and intentional pursuit of something worthwhile?

I think it may be time for me to do a bit of editing — less mindless responses, more intentional action.  It’s time to own the space between stimulus and response.  Because the next time I go to get my passport renewed, I want to make sure I’m not just standing in line dumbfounded about how fast time flew by.  I want to be flipping through that old passport’s pages reminiscing about a hell of a good decade.


Friday, August 29, 2014

homemade peace ice cream


Running last night it hit me:  I’ve been home for almost two months (save a quick trip to Boston, meetings in DC and a weekend at the beach in North Carolina).  After traveling for the entire month of June, being stateside this has been both unexpected and welcome.

There is something magic about being seaside in the summer – maybe it’s simply the proximity to water.  Our favorite trail ends at the bay – the ideal place to recover.  After work we hop on our beach cruisers and bike to the bay – the perfect punctuation between the office and a summer evening.  On Friday nights we order takeout (or we did until our long runs got really long, now we have pasta) and head to the beach to eat and watch the sunset.

I’ve got 16 miles on tap tomorrow morning.  Afterwards, I fully intend on taking advantage of everything a seaside summer has to offer – there are plans to kayak, steam clams, make ice cream and relax at the beach.  Wishing you a long weekend full of the your favorite summertime things.

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie