Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness - for Family, Health, and Friends

On Thanksgiving, I want to give my thanks. I'm incredibly thankful for my family. I've been blessed to have been with my wonderful husband Steve for 16 1/2 years, for more than half my life at this point! We've had two gorgeous children, Marissa (4 years) and Sophie (1 week from turning 1 year old). My sweet girls.

Sophie and Marissa - October 2011

But I have to give so much thanks for my current state of health. This could seem like a warped emphasis on my running obsession unless you knew that I have fibromyalgia and at one time suffered greatly from the condition. I was basically bedridden, dosed to high heaven on painkillers, and couldn't work even for some time.

So beyond my family, my running and everything it has brought me is what I give a ton of thanks for on this holiday. And especially the health I've worked very hard for since Sophie was born by C-section 51 weeks ago. Here's a review of my running for the last year, with an emphasis on the amazing friends who have been part of it all and the journeys I've taken.

  • I made a ton of new friends, and I'm blessed to some new time seeing some of them every couple weeks.
  • I formed a new running club, North Texas Runners, that has about 130 members.
  • I ran two long-distance 200-mile relay races (Texas Independence Relay and Hood To Coast Relay).
  • I ran my first trail race and then found the addiction to trailrunning (Grasslands, Hells Hills, Chupacabra, Rocky Raccoon, Wild Hare).
  • I ran 5 half marathons (Austin, Dallas Rock N Roll, Grasslands, Big D, North Trail Half) and 2 25Ks (Hells Hills and El Scorcho), bringing my lifetime total to about 30 halfs/25Ks.
  • I ran my first 3 marathons (San Francisco, Kauai, and Chicago)
  • I ran my first 2 50Ks (Rocky Raccoon and Wild Hare).
  • I cheered on my fellow runners (Hottest Half).
Mid-month I was cleared to start running again. 2 weeks later, I discovered that 1 good long run on the last day of the month would tip me over 50 miles on my first 2 weeks back running post-baby. I asked for help, and my friend Michelle answered my call. So thankful for her help in my recovery as we got a long run in on a weekday night in the cold and dark.

I had a 6 week recovery from the C-section, and then I came back to do 25 miles a week right away. I did the Austin Half Marathon 5 weeks after I was back running. I traveled with my friend Elaine and even met twitter friends like Arlyne (@acokertx) on the course!

Elaine and I before the race start

Twitter Love!
MARCH 2011
I organized another team this year for the Texas Independence Relay. 12 ladies, 12 friends, 40 relay legs, 203 miles.
Team Mad-Dames
Sharing a van with 4 other ladies brings some strong bonds of friendship. I forever love Elizabeth, Corina, Shannon, and Elaine!

Next was my first ever trail race at the Grasslands Half Marathon. It was my first race also representing the San Francisco Marathon after I was chosen as one of 15 Ambassadors from across the US. At Grasslands, I stayed the night before with Fawn, a crazy awesome trailrunner and mom whose a role model to me more than she may even know.

I was caught mid-bite of bagel. But Greg and Michelle don't look like they're about to do a trail marathon!

Me, Michelle, and Erik
After surviving the sand at Grasslands, I did the Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon the next weekend. A cold race, but I was able to hang out with friend Tracy the last 3 miles, and Elaine afterward.

APRIL 2011
My first trail 25K, Hells Hills, kicked off April with a big road trip of friends down to Bastrop, Texas. This race was an eye-opener and made me officially hooked on trailrunning.
Katie, Me, Dat, Julie, Greg, Corina, Derek, Sarah

Big D Half Marathon was my first half marathon so I ran that one again this year, marking my 5th time to run it. It's a chance to see a ton of runner friends too!

Before running Big D
April 2011 was also the first meeting of a new running club I had formed called the North Texas Runners. Frustrated by so many people I met up in Collin County who loved to run but trained alone because the drive to and from Dallas' White Rock Lake wasn't convenient, I wanted to give people a chance to connect, run together, and informally train for the same goal races.
Kickoff Run for North Texas Runners - April 16, 2011
A trail run later in April with good friends is good for the soul!

Me, Erin, Corina enjoying trails at Lake Grapevine

MAY 2011
I ran the North Trail Half Marathon and for the first time ever, had miles before and after the race. That's something I thought was previously for crazies, but it's just part of marathon training! Thankful for Lesley running before and after with me so I could do my first 20 mile run.

Late in the month was a run with the Beer & Bagel Group at Lake Grapevine, although it was more bloody marys & breakfast burritos.
Me, Fiona, Corina, Erik, Michelle K, Stacy, Gretchen, Michelle B

JUNE 2011
I turned 31 at the beginning of June and celebrated my own way. Instead of a party, I hosted two runs and invited all my friends, in an attempt to run 31 miles in my birthday weekend. Thankful for all the friends who didn't laugh at the idea and came to help me accomplish it - 20.5 miles Saturday and 10.5 miles Sunday. It was such a good birthday!

Some of Saturday's Run Crew: Robin, Amanda, Marcie, Shannon, Dana, Me, Fiona

Sunday run crew - Me, Mike, Corina
 Later in the month, a long run in Allen with friends.

Catherine, Lesley, Shannon, Me

JULY 2011
I ran my 3rd 25K race at El Scorcho, a midnight race in the Texas heat. It was a hard race for me, my first time to puke on a run, but my spirits weren't shattered. Plus I had shared that evening with so many good friends - thankful for the cheering of friends like Corina, Cassie, Megan, and Marci!

Yay for Tutus! A guy I had just met, Corina, Megan, and Me.
 I ran my first marathon at the San Francisco Marathon! It was a great experience.
With my BEST friend and husband
I then set up a gummy-bear-and-ice cheer station like at the Hottest Half again this year. Shannon and Greg joined me and we had so much fun cheering on the runners and seeing friends.

Shannon, Me, Fiona, Corina, Marci
Later in the month, after recovering from being sick, it was great timing for a group trail run at Erwin Park. 16 hot icky Texas summer miles.

Alicia, Me, Lesley, Shannon, Kristi, Sharon
I finished off August running the Hood To Coast Relay with Bart Yasso on the Runner's World Team. I had won a contest when raising money for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation to earn a spot on the team. It was an amazing experience at a great race, running in the middle of the night and making new friends!

I had come home from the San Francisco Marathon at the end of July and immediately signed up for one of those marathons I'd always wanted to do: Kauai Marathon. Known for being hilly, hot, and humid, it was also tagged as "beautiful but brutal." I had an amazing time, traveling alone and running this unique marathon. But even when I travel alone, there's always time for friends. Bart was there again and got to see and chat with him, I made new friends Joanna and Jessica, and I even ran into Twitter friend Eva (@evatesq) three miles into the race!
Eva and Me at Mile 3

My third marathon in 70 days! I ran Chicago Marathon, because I had signed up in February when I decided to do San Francisco Marathon because I didn't want to be a one-and-done marathoner. Again, I traveled alone but I'm always with friends. I met up and hung out with Amanda A., Dana, and Amanda H., and got to catch up with SF Marathon fellow ambassador Page over pizza after the race. Running with 44,999 other people is something I will not soon forget.

Dana, Me, Amanda A., Amanda H.

Against my better judgment, I couldn't resist a chance to run with friends and signed up for El Chupacabra, a trail 10K at Rockledge Park in Grapevine in the dark. Luckily, I didn't fall. Unluckily, Shannon did. But I loved getting to run with some of my favorite runner girls.

Catherine, Me, Shannon, Alicia

I started out November running my first trail 50K race at Rocky Raccoon. Just like my first marathon, I had a perfect race day. And I'm still amazed my body could let me run for 8 hours, 20 minutes. I traveled with the best running companions ever with Corina, Alicia, and Fiona, and was able to run with each of them at different times through the 31 miles. But I also got to see friends Fawn and Tony!

Fawn, Me, Kerry, Fiona, Tony, Corina, Alicia
Driving home the day after the Rocky Raccoon, I committed to the crazy plan to run my SECOND 50K two weeks later at the Wild Hare 50K in Warda, Texas. So Alicia and I drove down, meeting Corina and Tracy down there. We were able to see a lot of friends at the race, some came to cheer, some to run, and some I hadn't seen in months and months. My goal was to just survive the 50K, because I knew I wouldn't get to do much distance running or racing the following 6 weeks with preparing for race directing the New Years Double. I ran into trouble around mile 27 but Alicia pulled me through, and the cheers of a dozen friends a half mile from the finish gave me the final push to finish in 8 hours, 45 minutes.

Tracy, Corina, Alicia, and Me
To end
So you see, my running has brought me the health I could never have imagined 10-15 years ago. But it has brought me unforgettable experiences and lifelong friends. For these things, I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day!


  1. You are simply amazing. Speechless.

  2. Thank u for being my good friend and bringing such blessings to my life! Luv u!!