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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!

    For Shame

    I got a text last night from someone in my running group asking if I wanted to join in on a 5 am run.

    Want to? No. Will I be there smiling? You bet.

    Then I woke up at 5:37.

    I feel terrible.

    So now I off for a quick 3 miles, half in the dark (hope I don’t get scandalized. I hate running alone before the sun is completely up.)

    But the little one crawled unto bed with me. Small consolation.


    I still feel awful.

    I would be an amazing SAHW

    Yesterday: cleaned the house, walked the puppy, ran errands, run 6 miles with my running group, spin class, FaceTime with the husband and talked to my mama, relaxed with the puppy and a movie.
    Look how nice my kitchen looks!!
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    Today: relaxing coffee time, spin class, paint my nails, walk the puppy, laundry, volunteer at my church, help a student with a project this afternoon, happy hour with friends (or, in the event no one is available, spin class #2), relax with the puppy and FaceTime with the husband.

    I am not even a little bit looking forward to going back to work next week. This is freaking glorious.

    I am, however, really looking forward to helping a student with a patterning project today. I am looking forward to getting referrals from the bridal shop and altering dresses again. I am looking forward to getting back to work. I am especially looking forward to tomorrow night! I miss you, husband!

    But going back to work? I need to warm up to the idea. Rather, I think I just need to warmup to the idea of waking up at 445 every day to get my workouts in. Sleeping in + being a gym rat is marvelous.

    I am reveling in the next 2 days.

    The Torpedo Missed

    I woke up feeling different this morning. Maybe it was skipping spinning in favor of sleeping in ( thinking I can go at 8…and then woke up at 8:10.) Maybe it was just plain getting enough sleep. Maybe it was having a relaxing weekend with my husband–a genuinely relaxing weekend not weighed down by preparations for Christmas/visitors/whatever.

    I woke up ready to start altering dresses again.

    It was finally time to go back to the bridal shop and ask them to take me back.

    I have been terrified of this. I cut off working last April very suddenly. I wouldn’t say that I left them in a lurch per se (they don’t do alterations in house, they just refer people to local businesses.) I was the number one place to which they referred brides, and then I was gone.

    I was certain I’d be told to go screw myself.

    I am shocked–shocked–when I was welcomed back with open arms (and tears! The manager cried! Tears of joy!). I had no idea alterations professionals were so hard to come by in this town.

    I am so grateful. I was certain I had destroyed my business when I hit the skids last spring–and with that, a piece of myself. I’ve missed it.

    Cliche as it is, I know that this time it will be different. I have an office with an entrance that is not in our house. No more disruption to the whole family whenever I have appointments. I know my limits better. I’m also much, much better at altering clothing in general–faster, sleeker, more streamlined.

    I have experience and outside entrance on my side.

    I celebrated with a 7 mile run wearing the awesome jacket my mom and dad got me for Christmas. The sleeves are the absolute perfect length. Note the angry puppy who wants to go for a walk in the corner.


    Sky Harbor

    Friday I ran the locally famous Sky Harbor run. A glorious 28 degrees at 7 am, an adjacent casino providing pre run warm bathrooms (and the temptation to drop a dollar just to see…), beautiful views of the lake, and fabulous company made for the hardest 12 miles I think I have ever run (save, of course, the last 12 miles of the SF Marathon) seem to fly by.

    Keep in mind I have been running a lot lately, but usually my favorite 4-6 mile loops. Just over 12 miles was really intimidating, especially when you factor in the hills. Here’s some stats!

    12.16 miles (out and back)
    Starting elevation: 762
    Max elevation: 1263
    Lowest elevation : 619

    The only one of the group had run it before, and it was strangely comforting when she to,d us that she had the exact same running base. It was an easy, make your own pace for the run, walking when needed–or as I discovered, walking uphill when my “running” turned into more of a waddle. It was a pretty dangerous run–not much of a shoulder, blind curves, some traffic, and a touch of black ice. Not one for the solo runner or someone with a love of ninja style running clothes.

    Coming around the bend of the last uphill was an amazing experience–it was so exciting to be that close to the end and to feel like I was going to make it. Coincidence that a large cross at the top of a foothill comes into view at the same moment? It made the “Thank you LORD I’m almost there” a profound existential moment.
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    Pretty awesome.

    Here is the glorious view of cresting the last hill.

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    Here is a view of what, in addition to working my legs out on the old foam roller, saved Saturday.
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    It’s two days later and I am still so freaking proud of myself. Until we meet again in March, Sky Harbor…

    Another Sunday, Another Funday

    Sunday Funday at its best: 5.5 mile run, cooking, walk with the puppy, finally putting up the tree/decorating, watching the Packers clinch the NFC North, Christmas party, and now relaxing at home with this view.

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    Although I’m not a Niners fan per se, it is damn fun watching them destroy the Patriots.

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