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40 by 40 challenge

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40 by 40 challenge

I am turning 40 this year!

What’s a big birthday without a big project? I needed something that would challenge me, be measurable, but would not make the delicate haystack of my emotions crumble like the foam from the inside of my bathmat after it had been washed one too many times.

The answer: Run 40 half marathon (distances) BETWEEN MY 39th and 40th birthdays!

The only rule I have is the run must be continuous (so no 6 miles in the morning and 7.1 in the evening). Walking, running, racing, intervals are all fair game, but it MUST be a continuous 13.1 recorded by gps.

I am kicking ass at this goal. Let’s recap the first quarter (12/8 – 3/7).

    #1–Kiawah Island Half (appx. 2:28).  Too much to say. This race felt strong and amazing, and this whole weekend was the stuff of which dreams are made.

It was my birthday. I spend the weekend with 18 of my running friends in a giant beach house in South Carolina. I ran a half marathon—which included stopping at the house to use the bathroom and get some candy— in 2:28

  • #2–Sunday morning figure 8 half (2:34).  Why did I think this was slow and steady?  

As you can see, I take visibility very seriously. Spibeams visor (available at, reflective vest, flashing light on the back, and reflective details on my pants.

    #3–5 am run with the Go with the Flowe group. Ran 9.5 miles with a group that generously waited for me to catch up, and, and then finished the last 3.6 miles on the final.


    • #4–Sunday morning run through Old Town (2:38).  This run was forgetable. Not bad, but I must not have been listening to anything amazing because nothing about it sticks in my mind. Usually I can remember exactly what I was listening to when I review the route.  Not here. (Hence no picture)
      #5–MLK Afternoon run (2:36)–Spent the weekend with the family, attempted sledding (until 20 minutes into the expereince, my niece went a little too fast, flipped her sled, and needed stitches in her chin.  She was a champion through the experience.) I HAAAAAAAAAAAATE running in the afternoon, and despite eating pancakes with the family in the morning, still had to make an emergency Starbuck’s stop to get some life-giving bantam bagels.
  • These two kiddos are the best.
    • #6–Windy Sunday morning half (2:48) Listening to Tara Westover’s book Educated.  Some of the descriptions of the abuse she suffered as a child were so real and striking that I felt sick to my stomach.  But I’m glad I had a calm, rainy, cool windy morning to not hurry through the run or hurry through the experience.

    This weather was so perfect for indulging in a good book. It was not really perfect for running. Take speed out of the equation? ALL WEATHER IS PERFECT FOR RUNNING.

    • #7–President’s Day Half.  Slowest one to date, but it was on the heels of leading a spin class.  My legs were TIRED.

    The park is damn pretty, and seeing the sunrise over this pond makes up for the geese that were actively mocking my slow pace.

    8. End of the Trail Half Marathon (2:15)–what a difference a PLAN makes!  This is a specacular, well organized, flat, fast, FUN race. I made a last minute decision to use a training plan I had loaded on my watch: 1 mile WU, 3 miles at moderate pace (10:30), then 1k run/90 second rest intervals.  It worked like a charm—13 minutes faster than the last half I raced, the first time I landed on the 2:15 mark in YEARS, and the whole race felt so good. PLUS! I got to meet a fellow Nuun Ambassador and see a whole bunch of local friends.

    I would not say I “slay”-ed anything, but I am damn proud of what I accomplished. #BeAwesomeToday

      #9–Sunday afternoon half. The husband and I had spend the weekend out of town visiting the kiddos, and that means that this early morning runner had to begin my run (journey on the struggle bus?) at 2 pm with two laps around the Dry Creek Park 10K loop.  Lessons learned–DRINK YOUR DAMN WATER. I started out the run thirsty, and it got so much worse as time went on.  BUT! I had a very smooth recovery and got to have all the Napa Marathon feels wearing the shirt and thinking about everyone who had run that morning!

    Things I am discovering–I am getting less mentally tough when it comes to these runs.  If I am alone, I have no desire to go fast and can find any excuse in the book to walk. I’m still determined to cover the miles, but there is a definite difference between my times running with peer pressure vs. running and not listening to the book.

    Here’s to getting stronger, perhaps faster, and settling into knocking this challenge out of the park.


    MIA. OMG. WTGDHHH (What the Gosh Darn Heck Happened Here). LOL.

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    Holy cow. It has been a long time.

    Just kidding. I still spin and run obsessively.

    I have a big birthday coming up at the end of this year, and I am trying not to feel down about it. MID LIFE CRISIS, Y’ALL. So I’m listing the good. Luckily, it comes as an update on what I’ve done over the last 2 years.

    • I still run a lot. I have run the Napa Valley Marathon (again–did I post a re-cap? Maybe I will. It was a trip); the Two Cities Half (the Clovis one! Tequila at mile 8!); The Kiawah Island Half (best birthday weekend a girl could have imagined); The End of the Trail race (both the 10k in 2018 and the half in 2019); The Santa Rosa Half (I left off with training for the full. That….didn’t happen. Oops.); a bunch of 5ks, 4 milers, 15ks, etc. Plus a LOT of long miles solo with me and my favorite podcasts or books.

    Sometimes I run. Sometimes I fly.

    • I still lead spin classes. Over the last 6 years (SIX YEARS??!?!?) my class profiles have whittled themselves down to about 12 different, really solid profiles that I rotate through with whatever music is speaking to me at the time. Spoiler alert: Not EDM.

    What’s a holiday spin class without a kindergarten style visual aid?

    • I still sew a lot. Do I sew fun things for myself? LOLOLOLOLOL. But I sew beautiful things, beautiful dresses, working with beautiful brides who for some reason believe in me when I tell them it is all going to be ok and they will both look and feel exactly the way they want to look and feel on their big day. And the STORIES!

    So that about covers basic updates. My goal is to write down all those race recaps I’ve been dragging my feet on, get more spinning profiles out there( maybe it will help inspire others in the oh-crap-what-are-we-going-to-do-for-spin-tomorrow rut.), all the amazing stories that come from being the safe person who gets to bond with brides before her big day, recap my current running challenges, and pretend the wider world cares deeply about what I’m doing.

    Will puppy pictures inspire you to check in more?

    But mostly? This a record for me. If my Jesuit education taught me anything, it’s that in reflection we can always find the lessons to lead us forward.

    Want more regular updates? Find me on Instagram or Facebook at spinrunsew.

    Want to see something specific? Comment below and let me know!

    The Last Three Months

    I started this post one month after the madness started.

    Then it turned into two months.

    We are now three months out.

    So much can happen in a short span of time.  

    TwoThree months ago, the husband and I were in a doctors office, first hearing the words “abnormal test results.”  “[Giant, bloodsucking] tumor” (<–that was added for flair.) “Cancer.” “Surgery.” 

    Three weeks later, the husband had surgery.  Level IIIa tumor was removed from his colon, Stage II cancer.  Inconclusive results on the lymph nodes (only 9 appeared to be removed–thankfully, they were all negative, but nothing concrete until 12 were confirmed negative.)

    Four weeks of recovery time.

    Five weeks later, we met with the oncologist: the husband is cancer free.  No chemo.  Monthly monitoring bloodwork, meet with the oncologist every three months, colonoscopy every six.

    It seems insane that this even happened. It seemed insane that it is over. And it seems insane because it almost feels like it didn’t happen, and everything that went on during the two months of madness seems far away.

    The friend’s wedding I missed because I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t process the idea of flying across the country? It seems trite and stupid to have missed it.

    The half marathon I skipped because I couldn’t comprehend taking on the stress of training? The reasons seem so small.

    Would I have done anything differently? Probably not.

    I found myself necessarily paring down a lot of the time-sucking crap that was filling my life with anxiety. Everything from Words with Friends (which is surprisingly stressful) to stepping down from a volunteer committee that was more of a “should do” rather than a “want to.”

    I’ve come to rely on my friends and family so deeply through all of this, before, during, and now after the madness. My running kept me sane, my spinning kept me pumped, and my sewing kept me calm.

    But on the other hand, it does. not. seem. fair. that my husband got off so easy. So, so many people are not as fortunate to have their cancer taken care of with a simple laparoscopic surgery. Don’t get me wrong–I am thankful every day that he is here, whole, and well. I am sad this is not everyone’s story.

    Here’s to hoping it continues to look up. It’s been a long road in 2013. I’m thankful to have my little family home and intact. We are fortunate.

    Here’s a picture from when the husband came home from the hospital–the puppy sat like this for days.


    Summer is what?!?! Over?!?!?

    What!?!? Summer is over?!?!? What on earth did I do?

    I certainly didn’t keep up my blog.

    Here are some of the highlights:

    1. I subbed a ton of spinning classes this summer, and was given 2 regular classes! So every Saturday morning and Wednesday night, I’ll be at the gym to kick some ass.


    2. Our garden exploded with tomatoes.

    Jars of sun-dried tomatoes, salsa, pickled jalepenos, and diced tomatoes are lining our pantry shelves outside–I am so proud of myself for overcoming my fear of canning and jumping right in.


    3. Camping for the fourth! Beautiful weekend in the mountains!


    4. So much running with my girls–so thankful for all the fun and the friendship, especially in the last few weeks. Another highlight–one of my runner girls has been training for the Nike Women’s Marathon in October with Team in Training, and I’ve been happily helping her with some of her fundraising efforts.

    5. Three whole married years with my favorite person! Love you babe!

    6. This is the first summer since I was 20 that I did ZERO traveling. On one hand, I’ve been so exhausted over the past year traveling to see family seemed like the most insurmountable hurdle. Call it intuition or what have you, but it seemed very important for me to stay low and close to home this summer. I am thankful I did, but could not have imagined the reason my intuition was right.

    We found out almost a month ago that my husband has colon cancer. Surgery day has come and gone, and we are waiting waiting waiting to find out the next step. My emotions have been all over the place, and I am happy to find solace in my time at the gym and my running therapy session with my runner girls.

    7. Holy crap, wedding season is upon us. ::big breath in:: Here we go.


    I’ll exhale in November.

    Because It’s Juuuuuune! June! June! June!

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    June is busting out all over!

    Who could forget the utter joy of Carousel? It’s June! In Maine! (And let us delicately ignore the themes of domestic violence. I hate myself for agreeing with Richard Rodgers–it’s my favorite R&H musical too.)

    This enforce runs through my head every June. It’s a really exciting month for me–it starts the 2 month hiatus from my 8-5 job (aka, kicks off ladies who lunch season.)

    First, a recap of last month.

    The good great stuff of May:

    1. Fabulous and fun time running a half marathon with my runner girls.
    2. Lots of spin subbing and few great playlists under my belt.
    3. I GOT MY OWN CLASS!!! Every Saturday at 7:00 head out to the gym and I’ll kick your butt (or at least make you sweat (which auto correct just listed as swear–lol).
    4. We painted the house!!! Old color on the right, new dark blue gray on the left. It looks divine.


    Onto June goals.
    1. More strength training. I went to an ab focused boot camp this am, and am appalled how far I’ve fallen. Run for 13ish miles? Sure. Two hours of spin? Bring it on. One minute of side plank dips or v-ups? OMG. Torture.
    2. Finish getting my paperwork filed, and get some business cards with 100% correct info. Feel appropriately lame until I do.
    3. Clean out my closet. There are some serious de-cluttering Goodwill trips in my future.
    4. 60 minutes of yoga per week. Whether it’s an hour long class or three twenty minute sessions, I need to get to it!
    5. Make one spinning playlist a week.
    6. Participate and kick ass on this plank challenge.

    7. Keep up with blogging!
    8. Do something social at least 2x per week AFTER 7 am. The majority of my social life currently happens early.
    9. Eat lots of green food. Eat lots of real food.

    That’s all to kick off week one of summer vacation–a very, very hot kickoff to summer. Tomorrow this one will get shorn:


    And I’ll show you what happened to these innocent little plants:


    Spoiler alert–it’s pretty leafy back there in the garden area.


    What are your big summer goals? Let’s hear ’em!!!


    Introspection Central!

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    First and foremost, how is it May 12? I had such grand plans to post about my goals for the month! So a post from my very full mind today, and a better, more focused post tomorrow.

    Sorry, very little will be about spinning (which has been back burner-ed by training for a half), running (training for a half) and sewing (it’s wedding season, and I’m exhausted.)

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!!

    Or, as I like to call it, the ultimate day of introspection.

    I have such a wonderful mom. She is my favorite person to talk to, and we are s much alike (which is one reason why I would never admit to her the dark place exists.) I am so proud to be her daughter, and I am so sad that it has been years since I’ve seen her on Mother’s Day. I know so many have lost their moms so this is small potatoes, but I miss her.

    My MIL is amazing. The way she has held herself and the family together since FIL’s passing has been awe inspiring. She is the only one I feel I can truly talk to when either my husband or I are standing on the precipice of the dark place–she gets it, never judges, gently guides you to the path that leads back to the good, and cheers you on until you get there. There are no words for how wonderful it feels to be unconditionally supported like that.

    I could go on and on about friends and family who are awesome moms, but I’m too wrapped up in my own head or that. Also, I would NEVER SHUT UP. I know so any great moms.

    It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, especially today. To all the moms out there, I wish I were one of you. But I’m not, and I’m not sure I ever will be, and I don’t know if that will be by circumstance or choice.

    It has been a hell of a year–hellish in some parts, hell of a fantastic ride in others. The dark place has been prevalent. On days like today, it is hard to fight the monster inside your mind that is quietly telling that you to forget about all of the amazing things that surround you. That tiny little voice is fighting like hell to make you believe you are a lesser person. Maybe if I had been nicer, kinder, less selfish, ate better, married younger, ran more/less, not gone out partying every night until 3 am (and anyone who know me knows how laughable that is), I could have that thing I’ve always wanted, and not having little monsters around is out of he question.

    On a day like today, it is impossible to pull my head out of my ass and quiet the monster.

    But then I look over at my husband, sit our patio and look at the life we’ve built, and know that we’ve got it pretty awesome on the flip side.

    Also, what is the cure for the introspection?

    Mother effing wedding season.

    I feel like a rock star–clean office, huge to-do list complete, challenging projects, happy brides, supportive husband.

    Seriously. I’ve got it good.

    Happy Easter Everyone!

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    What would Easter be without the traditional Rice Krispy treat lamb? My mom makes and sends me one every year–it makes home seem a little closer.

    Then again, the parents are celebrating Easter with 4″ of snow on the ground, so I’m happy to be basking in the sunny, floral-scented California spring.

    Enjoy your day, whatever it may bring. After sunrise church, I am anxiously awaiting a fabulous brunch at my mother-in-law’s house. She is a great cook on a regular meal, but when it comes to breakfast foods, she is knock ’em dead delicious.

    A few hours later..

    We got home from a delicious brunch and spent five hours weeding. Five hours with my hula hoe and–dare I say it–my new badge of awesome. A pair of worn through leather gardening gloves.

    Great day, but now I need a shower and some relax-o time!

    And for those who celebrate it–The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Booyah!!!

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