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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.

    Posted on

    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!

    Crossing the Finish Line

    This week, I found out that the San Francisco Marathon is on of the 15 toughest marathons. In 2008, I ran it! See? Here I am crossing the finish line!

    Crossing the Finish Line!


    Here is an outline of my experience in something written on August 6, 2008. (Little did I know I’d be getting married 2 years later on that day!)

    Mile 1: Wow, this is crowded–but it’s so beautiful! San Francisco is amazing this early in the morning. The buildings, the smell of the bay (which smells like Manitowoc), the excited chatter of the other runners, wow. I love this.

    Mile 3: I love this.

    Mile 4: I love this.

    Mile 5: Wow. The first hill up to the Golden Gate! This is the first of the three big hills! Here’s to kicking some butt!

    Mile 7: I’m on the Golden Gate Bridge! I’m running across it! I love this.

    Mile 7.5: This vista point is awesome. Energy gel? Not awesome. It tastes like flouride from the dentist. Thank goodness for water to wash it down.

    Mile 8: I’m on the Golden Gate Bridge! I’m running across it! I love this.

    Mile 10: So this is the bad hilly part? Ok. I have the energy. I can do this! And it’s actually fun!

    Mile 13: I’m half way there! Wow! I’m still doing ok! And I’m in a beautiful park. Wow. I love this.

    Mile 14: Who knew–mile 14 = the beer mile. Thank you for the best water stop to date, hashers!

    Mile 16: Hey, I might actually finish.

    Mile 17: Holy crap, I’m still running.

    Mile 17.5: Energy gel–effective but really, really, really gross. Toothpaste power!

    Mile 18: My side hurts. Must contract abs.

    Mile 19: I need to walk for a bit. My legs hurt–a lot.

    Mile 19.5: Seriously? Another hill?

    Mile 20: Ok, I’m going to try running again.

    Mile 20.1: Ok, my muscles are too tired to control my body running down hill. I think I’ll walk.

    Mile 21; Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

    Mile 22: I am in so much pain. This sucks. This sucks a lot. Note to self–remember how much fun the first half was? Maybe I should stick with half marathons.

    Mile 23: Another hill?

    Mile 23.5: Dear observer who is cheering me on,
    Please do not cheer me on and single me out by name. I am in pain and hate everything right now. I’m sorry to be unappreciative–but curl up and die. Please?

    Mile 24: Another hill? Are you effing kidding me?

    Mile 25: I’m turning the corner and heading toward the bay bridge. Thank goodness! Calypso music suits this moment.

    Mile 25.5: AT&T park is neat from this angle. I like this marina thing…one more mile. One more mile! Yea!

    Mile 26: Holy cow! I’m actually going to finish this! And then I never have to run this far again!

    Mile 26.2: (as I burst into tears) I did it! I never have to run this far again. I did it. Thank you Lord. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My legs hurt.

    Mile 26.3: This medal is gigantic. I love post race food–candy, chips, bananas, and super expensive promotional granola bars. Yea!

    I am very proud to have finished. Unless there is an exceptionally compelling reason, I do not think I will run a marathon again. (I won’t even start with how much I hated training. HATED.) Half marathons, however? Count me in!!!

    The Dread Dissipates

    I have been dreading tomorrow’s half marathon. Dreading.

    My schedule for this week has sucked. I was in Memphis for a wedding all last weekend (only got one very fast 3 miler in), and came back to madness.
    Monday 8 am to 11 pm
    Tuesday 8 am to 5 pm, then 6 pm to 11pm
    Wednesday 8 am to 11 pm
    Thursday 9:30 to 5 (I took a mental health morning. Totally worth it.)
    Friday 8 am to 3 pm, then 6 pm to 11 pm
    Today 9 am to 4 pm, then 6 pm to 11 pm

    I am tired. Also my foot hurts ( specifically, the place where my right big toe joins my foot) and has since Sunday. So the idea of waking up to run 13.1 miles tomorrow has been filling me with the most intense sense of dread.

    Until I got on the highway to go pickup my packet. I started getting excited. Really, really excited. By the time I got to the race pickup, I was practically skipping. Look at my new shirt!!!!

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    I promptly went home and signed up for a turkey trot.

    How can the surly be replaced with such elation so quickly? I wish I could explain how light I feel right now, and how thrilled I am to get to experience another gathering of a community of runners.

    I’ll chalk it up to having the love of running. That deep, somewhat crazy love of everything about running–the good (The camaraderie! The burn! The wind in your hair! The post run glow! The post run beer!), the bad (windy days), and the ugly (The chafing!! Oh my God, the chafing!!!!!)

    I’m happy I’ve still got it.

    Tomorrow was, in fact, another day

    I am so pleased.

    Eight miles this morning. Eight! I finally feel like I’m back.

    This is also very impressive effort the morning after practically prom. The husband is a member of a local golf organization, and we attended the awards banquet last night. It had quite the “old boys club feel” complete with a gift presented each of the wives.
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    It feels a little sexist and wrong to accept something for “letting” the husband hit the links once a month, but what the hell. I may as well set back feminism another couple of years and go get my nails done or buy a purse.

    Busy morning so far. Up at 615, finished up the beaded dress, ran, church, cleaned up the massive mess that was my workroom, swept the house/cleaned, dropped the husband off to watch some football, appointment with a bride at 11:30, and then making dinner for tonight–this fabulous concoction of noodles, veggies, chicken, and chicken with rice soup.
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    Yum. Tastes like my childhood with Kay, the casserole queen. Thanks Ma!

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