Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Feature

Whew! This week was a doozy! First I fell down the stairs and then we were socked with more than two feet of snow in a blizzard Tuesday. In the meantime, I came down with a cold that left me feeling like a cross between the Winter Olympics Bob Costas and Super Bowl press conference Tom Brady: ugly and wiping my nose on my sleeve.

Anyhow, I'm rebounding and back to work today and was totally pumped up by this empowering English ad campaign: This Girl Can.

Uncovered in the This Girl Can study and inspiring the campaign was the fact that many girls and women don't start exercising because of a fear of judgment. Good Lord, the judgment has got to stop. Girls, it's time to prop each other up; to encourage one another to keep going; to tell our lady friends damn right you're hot.

Learn more, meet the girls, and check out the making of the videos on the The Girl Can home. When I'm snuggled up working on eking my way back to 100% this weekend, that's what I'll be doing.

Have a sweaty, jiggly, kick ass good time weekend.

(Go Patriots!)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Change In Plans

Good morning! Did you have a nice weekend?

This is how I spent mine:

Yes, that's a hospital. 

I wish I was kidding. 

Don't worry -- I'm FINE -- but, Saturday afternoon, after putting Henry down for nap, I fell down a flight of stairs. Luckily, I didn't lose consciousness, but unfortunately, my head bounced and each and every step on the way down and my ribs took a beating from top to bottom. I ended up with a concussion, a likely hairline fracture in my ribs, and a full-body bruise. With two or three feet of snow headed our way in the next day or two, I'm counting my blessings for the excuse to stay home and snuggle. Gently.

As you can imagine, I'm feeling fantastic. Actually, I feel better than expected, despite not being able to take anything stronger than a Tylenol, but the doctor made it abundantly clear that I cannot exercise for at least two weeks. The entire ordeal and that's what brought me to tears.

So, since I won't have any workouts to share, we'll be featuring some recipes, how to dress for winter running, fueling advice, and book reviews here in this happy place.

Meanwhile, I hope you stayed upright for both household chores and long runs this weekend.

Tell me something GOOD on this Monday morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A double-digit weekend

Welcome back! I hope those of you who had yesterday off (like me!) enjoyed your long weekend! Not only was it a wild weekend of playoff football; in New England, we endured some truly crazy weather with our AFC Championship victory. 

Saturday morning, my alarm went off and it was a chilly 7 degrees. Ohmygosh. Who knows what the "real feel" was with windchill; I decided it was better if I didn't know. I layered up, grabbed a steaming cup of tea with my English muffin and headed out to meet some CRR runners.

I pulled into the Starbucks parking lot at 7:28, two minutes to spare to the official meeting time, and wondered if the posse of four runners a couple steps down the road were the ones I was supposed to be meeting. 

Do I chase them down? I thought to myself. Bag it and go back to bed? But then I wondered if those runners were passing by coincidence and those that I was meeting hadn't yet arrived. I sat in the car debating, but was pretty sure I missed the boat, since the SUV next to me boasted a 26.2 bumper sticker. 

I revved the car back up and hop-scotched the runners, deciding instead to park up the road and join in. Will power, I tell you what. I stood on the side of the road as they approached and then joked, I hope it isn't too creepy that I tracked you guys down mid-run! Scanning their faces, I realized NONE of them were the girl I knew who was supposed to be there. My stomach turned, thinking I had just flagged down a completely random group of friends, unrelated to the group I was meeting. Wait, are you guys with CRR? I asked, panicked. They were, and apologized for leaving early. They explained they had been freezing waiting around and assumed most people who RSVP'ed had skipped out.

We were on our way.

To be honest, the cold was better than I expected, since I was dressed appropriately. With only one layer of tights on, my legs were cold, to be sure, but not to the point that I felt unprepared. On the contrary, I felt strong and comfortable. We ran a route I was only partially familiar with and when we popped back out on the road I knew, I was thrilled by our progress. I finished seven miles easily and in good company, my longest run in almost a year.

It was a good thing I didn't try to make a habit of running the same number miles and degrees Fahrenheit because Sunday was 45 and Lord know that wasn't happening. Ever. It was windy, grey, and raining buckets for most of the day and I just wasn't feeling it. Henry's nights have been pretty rough since I went back to work, so workouts have been day to day. Sunday was a stay-in-our-pajamas day from start to finish.

Luckily, Monday was darn near perfect, especially for January. The warm temperatures stuck around and the sun came out, so I knew from the moment we woke up that I wanted to take Henry out in his stroller; you never know if we'll see weather this good again before April, after all. 

My sister and her boyfriend Chris came over to see the baby and decided to come with us. Cait walked Henry, I did a 5.5 out and back and Chris joined me for the first mile and a half to get three miles in himself. I forgot my phone at home and without music or pacing information, it was good to just go. It was so nice out and I felt so good, I must have been running with a big smile on my face... until the turnaround, at least. Then, the entire way back the headwind was unbelievable. Still, my legs felt strong, the weather was beautiful, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to be out running on such a nice day while Henry had time with his aunt.

Even though I bailed on Sunday, which would have given me another four miles, it's been ages since I had a double-digit weekend and it felt great to be back. I've been completely floored by how strong and healthy I feel easing back in after baby and am encouraged that the healthy choices I made during (and after) pregnancy are paying off now, even if they didn't do anything to expedite labor. 

Let's hear about your weekend. Did anyone run with friends or have an outing that made your day?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Feature

Last night turned into a kind of funny, ridiculous night. It went like this:

Earlier in the week I booked a ticket to see David Romanelli on his book tour. I took Dave's class at Wanderlust a few years ago, then read his first book, and have followed his e-newsletters ever since. His new book, Happy is the New Healthy, is about the pillars of happiness he learned from a 110 year old friend he met through volunteer work in New York City. The premise: be happy NOW.

Anyhow. I picked Henry up at daycare and rushed home to get squared away before heading back out. My sister came to sit with him until Nik got home a little while later, but got caught in weird cross-town traffic and arrived much later than anticipated. Running late, I sped out the door and driveway and kept half an eye on the ETA programmed into my GPS, getting annoyed by the delay. But then, you're going to a YOGA event, I told myself. It's about finding INNER-PEACE and HAPPINESS. Breathe in, breathe out.

I made it to the event with about 30 seconds to spare and skidded through the doors from the snowy, traffic-laden chaos of the parking lot to a super zen, beautiful yoga studio lobby, with a front desk serving as bar, bottles of red abound. Dave greeted me at the door and we chatted for a few minutes about parenthood, since he's the new dad to a seven-week-old. He had the same easy-going manner I remembered from Stratton (even though I didn't relay that I'd met him there before... why am I so awkward?!) and I was glad I spent those last few minutes of my drive getting centered instead of frenetic.

The event was fantastic. I made small talk with a woman named Shae who drove up from Cumberland, Rhode Island for a class and the book event. We talked about the prospect of Dave's Wine and Yoga or Chocolate and Yoga retreat: the picture of balance and moderation and fun. Dave laughed easily as he relayed stories. Other people in the crowd lent their expertise and ideas. We did a couple of simple mantras and meditations and coupled with a small cup of Cabernet, I thought about spontaneity and how glad I was that I left Henry in Caitlyn's capable hands to take an evening to do something fun for me.

The event ended and I scooted out to get home to feed and snuggle my baby. My gas light was on and I tried to remember how far I had driven since it showed up on my dash. Henry had cried on the way home from daycare so I didn't want to stop and then, there hadn't been a moment to spare between home and the reading. I made my way north up the highway towards home, ultimately deciding to pull off early instead of stretching to get to the gas station I prefer (full serve!) by the house.


I pulled into the station behind another SUV, that took the front spot at the first bay. Instead of pulling in behind that car, I drove down to a farther bay and as I turned to pull up to the tank, my car dead stopped. Done.


Not an hour earlier I sat on a bolster in a yoga studio listening to Dave proclaim the importance of being able to laugh at yourself. Case. In. Point. I couldn't stop laughing. My car was a mere three feet (okay, maybe six) from the tank, but oh, how far that distance was.

I went inside the station and asked if there was a gas can I could borrow, but the owner said no, I'd have to buy one. Fine. I bought the can and paid for two gallons of regular, schlepping back out and filling it up. A good-humored man in a landscape truck pulled up and asked, you didn't really run out of gas THERE, did you? He parked and helped add the gas to my very, very empty truck, which was good since I had attached the spout backwards on my own. The entire ordeal lasted ten minutes, maybe. We got the car filled up and both went on our way. I could have easily taken a dozen photos, unable to contain my laughter. It was lucky I hadn't been on the highway, or an on-ramp, or in an intersection, I know, but because I was three feet from a gas tank, I couldn't contain myself.

So, as we enter the weekend, I remind you to laugh at yourself. Don't take yourself, or life, or anything, really, so seriously. May your weekend be full.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

To Sum It Up

Making: progress on the daycare front. Drop-off and pick-up are both becoming more seamless. Still the same, though? Drop-off is kind of devastating and pick-up, the most exciting moment of my day.
Cooking: loads and loads on Sunday nights. It's like a nervous tick. This week it was a bolognese and potato and corn chowder to get us through the first half of the week.
Drinking: maybe a touch too much red wine. Reeling it in.
Reading: It Was Me All Along by one of my favorite bloggers and local girl Andie Mitchell. So far it's outstanding.
Wanting: just a few more hours in the day. A few for sleep, a few for running.
Looking: for a truly great pair of [wait for it] distressed, light wash, reasonable skinny jeans. 
Playing: a couple of new songs on repeat: Uptown Funk, Ghost, I Bet My Life, Lips Are Movin.
Eating: really, well, actually! Meal planning and cooking on Sundays, and packing a full, nutritious lunchbox at night seems to be paying off. Even though I'm starving from nursing, I've been pretty good about making good choices.
Wishing: my hair would stop falling out. I was warned it was a four-month-post-partum thing. I had hoped I would dodge that bullet.
Enjoying: reading before bed. I'm thinking of adding some book reviews to the blog for wellness, food, and fitness related tomes.
Loving: a new set of Stila liquid eyeliners that I found at Nordstrom Rack for next to nothing. I've always worn deep purple or jet black liner, but these days I'm loving the softness of brown instead.
Hoping: for a snow day one of these days! That, or skipping to springtime really fast!
Needing: very little, as it turns out. I'm happy, satisfied, and full. Okay, so maybe I need a way to finagle a weeknight run or two, but overall, it's all good.
Smelling: this delicious face wash I picked up last week. I'm off salicylic acid cleansers until I finish nursing, but this smells fresh and feels clean.
Feeling: solid about our morning routine right now. Nik and I both get some morning facetime with the little man and we're all making it to our destinations on time. For the win.
Wearing: my hair natural for the first time in a long time. It saves me an hour every morning and believe it or not, I get compliments. Who knew?!
Following: a new-to-me e-newsletter, The Broadsheet, a daily update from Fortune on the world's most powerful women.
Noticing: ...okay, trying to notice when I'm setting double standards with Nik, primarily when it comes to cellular device usage and distraction.
Bookmarking: a handful of editorials in the LA Times about motherhood. The Mommy Wars, Stay-at-Home by Economy or Choice, and (my god) Breast Pumps.

Help a girl out: who has a distressed, light wash, reasonable skinny jean recommendation for me? Oh, and share some of the tunes you're loving. Time for a new treadmill playlist!

To give credit where it is due: To Sum It Up is inspired by and based on tales of me and the husband.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Goals only took me half a month to be decisive enough to put this one together! It helps my odds of success, though, with only 11.5 months left to stick with the plan.

My goals for 2015 are, as usual, a combination of fitness, nutrition, and general life aspirations. As I was fleshing them out, I was tempted to go lofty with my numbers... abs four days a week! Mass every Sunday!... but then, I wanted to be realistic and respect my current state of being, trying to figure out the elusive balance, this year with an infant on the hip.

Sub-1:50 half marathon. No, for real this time. I'm so darn close and while I'm coming into 2015 without the base I'm used to, I'm confident that I can train efficiently and that with the inclusion of concentrated speed workouts (see below), that I can eek in with a one-forty-nine-something.

Dedicate myself to regular speed and ab work. This isn't that complicated (or so I'm telling myself). Coming back after baby, I can definitely tell that my core isn't nearly as strong as it used to be and I want to remedy that. I want to dedicate one workout to speed each week and incorporate simple ab exercises at least twice a week. Small, but measurable.

Get comfortable upside down and perfect an unassisted headstand. Over the past few weeks, I've added to this list here and there. Added, deleted, revised. Now that I'm working through it one final time, I'm realizing how much these first three resolutions impact one another. A stronger core is going to carry me through my races faster and is going to stabilize me in inversions. I can already do a headstand comfortably with the wall as back-up. This year, I want to pop right up there without assistance.

Attend mass; bring the baby; say our prayers. At Easter mass two years ago, I noticed a note in the parish bulletin that said people who attend mass regularly are happier people. As someone who loves the quiet, reflection, and solitude of that dedicated time, I believe it. Over Christmas, I learned about a book by Anne LaMott called Help, Thanks, Wow. The concept has been bouncing around in my head ever since. My goal: twice a week at the office, once a month on a Sunday.

Do a closet cleanse and purge, purge, purge. My wonderful friend Stephanie posted on her blog this morning about starting a new semester and included a "mini-manifesto" graphic she found on Instagram. The first two points rang especially true, since I've been thinking about ways to simplify all of my stuff. Eliminate the non-essential, it began, followed up by, you don't need as much as you think you do. Working on social justice projects, I'm pretty keyed into needs versus wants. I'm hitting the closet(s) with trash bags, cleaning out, and donating some excess.

Commit to meal planning and Sunday food prep. This just might be an essential for survival at this stage of the game, but I need to make it official so it lasts past January. Actually dragging out a few cookbooks and planning two or three meals for the work week helps me eat healthier and feel less stressed, especially now that I'm much more interested in coming home and laying on the floor reading books with Henry than pulling together a weeknight feast. Sunday afternoons are for planning and evenings are for prepping two meals for the week.

Read 15 books. This should be no problem, but checking Facebook and watching the news is more mindless than picking up a book, which is exactly why I'm putting the goal in writing. Put down the cell phone (that could be a goal all its own), pick up the paperback. I started this one last night.

I'll check in on my progress intermittently throughout the year to keep myself accountable and you entertained at my struggle. Are you into resolutions? Goals? What's on the docket for 2015?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Finding the courage to say no

Just before Christmas, I got a phone call with the absolutely unbelievable news that I had been awarded a race waiver to this year’s Boston Marathon. A Christmas miracle! I thought to myself excitedly, picturing myself making the turn from Hereford to Boylston, finish line in sight. I imagined Nik and Henry cheering me on, the little man decked in his “My mommy runs faster…” onesie. I thought about pre-dawn training on the treadmill and weekends running alongside new friends in my club.

I knew it would require a lot of support, but I also knew my sisters would be pumped for one-on-one time with Henry. No matter that our routine wasn’t quite seamless or that I’d be jumping back into a full-time job with night and weekend needs only a few days later; I would be triumphant! 

Are you sure it's a good idea? Nik asked me almost right away. I was annoyed--disappointed--but had to think hard about his question. As usual always, I am the dreamer and Nik, the more practical. 

I had already made up my mind to run, even though I promised to think about it. I could train on weekends, one morning before work, and another evening when Cait or Corey stepped in to help. I could take yoga on Friday nights, when Nik's office closes early, before long runs. Put on your own mask before assisting others, I reminded myself. Running is my peace of mind. It makes me 'me'.

A few nights later, waiver in hand, I told Nik I was ready to talk about it again. He simply asked the same question: Are you sure it's a good idea

And with a question, he carefully brought me back to earth.

And of course, in spite of myself, I knew the answer. I needed to give my waiver back.

I didn't have a running base that would lend me confidence and that made me more susceptible to injury. I knew I could do it, but wasn't certain I could run my strongest, and after a rough Boston Marathon in 2008, I considered how disappointed I might be the second time around. I knew we were still having a night once or twice a week when Henry would wake up and want to play, or eat, at two in the morning. I still hit snooze at least once as I ease back into the real world. I occasionally blow off workouts because Henry is fussing, or sometimes, because he's so happy I don't want to leave.

Just because I was certain I could do it, didn't mean it was a good idea, or that I should.

I felt terrible. I fought back tears and felt a little sick to my stomach. I felt guilty, like I was letting an incredibly opportunity go, and worried my club would find me ungrateful. I worried the chance might not come up again. I wondered if I would look bad. 

The answer to all of those questions: maybe, and I suppose I'll find out.

Passing up a great opportunity isn't easy, but in this case, is the smarter, braver route to take. Calling my club coordinator and saying thank you, but I'm sorry, didn't feel good, but felt necessary. Keep volunteering and stay involved, he told me. You're chance will come again.

Friday, January 9, 2015

To Sum It Up: one last look back at 2014

We are facing sub-zero temps here in Boston this week (this morning was 26 and felt downright tropical), which means I picked the right week to take off from working out. I decided to take it easy this week due to heading back to work and needing some transition where I didn't push myself in all arenas, so since I don't have any workout recaps or morsels to share, I wanted to take one last look back at 2014.

On New Year's Day, we set up shop around my sisters' dinner table with some family and friends for a nice dinner to kick off the year. Conversation inevitably turned to resolutions, but also, looking back. Could you name a highlight for each month of the year? our friend Katie challenged. It got me thinking and I thought it might be a fun exercise for all of you, too, if you're interested in playing before we're completely entrenched in the new year.

January - January was cuh-ra-zy in all good ways. First, I finished up at my old job and jumped into a new one. In between, we found out we were expecting Henry. Surprise! To wrap up the month, we traveled to New Jersey for a surprise 80th birthday party for my grandmother (amazing) and we shared the baby news with my parents that weekend, too. Not a bad kick off to the year.

February - Nik had worked in Portland, Maine for more than a year when I finally made the trip with him for a weekend getaway. I was feeling fairly mediocre pregnancy-wise, but was so excited to see his beautiful hotel, eat at some of his favorite restaurants, and indulge at Standard Baking Company and The Holy Donut. Yum.

March - Last year, I decided to give Facebook up for Lent. It was a totally spur of the moment decision (the morning of Ash Wednesday), but I absolutely loved it. I am definitely social-addicted, but taking some time away from FB to just be present was a welcome break. The side-effect, though, was that I was instead hardcore into Instagram.

April - We took an absolutely crazy, but completely worthwhile week-long trip to India in April in honor of my father-in-law's 75th birthday. The travel was insane, but the visit was precious. Aside from the wonderful birthday party, another highlight was celebrating Easter mass. Mass was celebrated in English and Gujurati, which was tremendously interesting. Given the high ceilings and echoing, I actually couldn't understand anything in either language the entire time.

May - One of my oldest and best friends, Andrea, got married in May at a beautiful venue on Long Beach Island. Nik and I drove down from my parents house with another set of best friends, Dave and Kim, and at the party we also got to celebrate with my maid-of-honor and cousin Heather, and my aunt and uncle, Dan and Kim. We had a blast and there's nothing like celebrating alongside wonderful family and friends, especially when worlds collide!

June - I ran my only race of 2015 in June, the Heartbreak Hill 10K with my friend, Kaitlyn. It was a scorching hot weekend, but so much fun to get out and make it happen. My cousins were also in town to run the half marathon, I ran into some Team In Training friends on the course, and the whole thing had a distinctly celebratory air. Lots of fun.

July - When I lived in California, my wonderful friend Christy and I went to the second night of Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveShow tour and had the time of our lives (even if we felt like the oldest people there). Since then, we've made a habit of seeing big productions together, like the JT/Jay-Z show at Fenway in 2013. This year, I traveled to Pennsylvania to celebrate Christy and my godson Austin's birthday, seeing Bruno Mars perform at Hershey Park Stadium while I was there. One word: charisma.

August - It may have taken eight months, but my gosh, in August my pregnancy felt really real. My mom and sisters threw me a baby shower at my mom's house in New Jersey and it was the perfect, intimate affair, complete with a children's book theme. Henry's little library is ah-mazing.

September - To put it simply: Henry.

October - After Henry's arrival, we had lots of company to meet the little guy. My mom and grandmother visited a couple of times, my brother visited from Philadelphia, and between that and having my sisters living just 10 minutes away, I enjoyed a lot of quality time with my tribe as I figured out new-motherhood.

November - With my in-laws visiting from India, we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving -- my favorite day of the year -- with both of our families. It was really fun to introduce my in-laws to one of my favorite traditions alongside so many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and for Henry to meet so much extended family, as well.

December - While Christmas and the holidays are an obvious highlight of any year, my favorite memory of December was Henry's baptism. Henry was baptized by the same priest, in the same church where Nik and I married. Henry was an absolute angel, giggling through the ceremony when he heard Father Jack's booming voice. He wore a beautiful Christening gown that my mother made from my wedding dress, was baptized with a beautiful dish gifted to him by my sister Corey, and was celebrated by so many family members, including his fantastic godparents, my cousins Allison and Owen. We had a nice, intimate service followed by lunch at our favorite restaurant, and despite terrible weather, it was one of the best days of the year.

Your turn! Did you have an especially special highlight or favorite month in 2014?

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Normal

Big day here in mi casa: I went back to work and the little dude started day care. I didn't think I was going to cry (spoiler: WRONG), but made it through the day and felt strangely at home despite my four month leave. A sign I'm in the right place? Maybe. First day back adrenaline? Probably that too.

In any case, I've had some outstanding workouts in the past two weeks or so, and have felt completely inspired to write and talk with you guys, but my gosh, between snuggling, working, running and nursing (seriously, it's a second full-time job), squeezing in writing is going to take some getting used to. As I write, Henry is asleep on my chest and I'm drafting in my iPhone notes.


So, even though I'm taking a break from running this week to ease into this new schedule, I've had some fun outings recently that I've been excited to share. Last weekend, Henry and I participated in the winter iteration of my club's fun run series, taking on four miles with the jogger. We were coming off a nasty cold and so a few unanticipated rest days, but we finished right in the middle of the group and I was excited to see from the results that at my usual pace and without the stroller, I likely would have logged a top five.

New Year's morning was awesome, too. Nik promised to join me at the club's annual BrrrRUNch (get it?!), so he and Henry camped out in the church's banquet room while I ran 5K with about 100 other runners. It was chilly, but bright and clear, and I ran with my Daily Mile friend Gina. I held her back a bit, I think, but I loved catching up and hearing her advice and war stories, since her little guy is only a few months older than mine. It felt great to be out on a winter morning and really fun to experience the camaraderie of such a nice group of athletes.

via Bud Morton / CRR

I'm working on brainstorming and finalizing my goals for the coming year, running a little late because I'd rather set them strategically and thoughtfully than just throwing 'em out and seeing what sticks. One of them, for sure, is to finally run a 1:4x half marathon, with my sights set on New Jersey April 27. I'm toying with including conquering a handstand in yoga, too.

Any ideas for me, athletic or otherwise? How did you ring in the new year? What are you going after in 2015?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

For those who are interested, check out my 2013 year in review!

After lots of races and new experiences in 2013, this year had me going back to the basics when working out -- basically, keep moving! -- albeit for a totally new reason. Being pregnant and then a new mom meant fewer miles, usually performed more slowly, but they were still pretty awesome. As we cruise into the new year, here's my annual fitness year in review to provide a quick look back.

Best Race Experience: If I'm not mistaken, I only raced one true race this year: the Runner's World Heartbreak Hill 10K in June. Luckily, it was fantastic. I ran alongside my wonderful college friend, Kaitlyn, who was also featured in the 2013 "Best Run" category. We ran the race to celebrate our 30th birthdays and while it was scorching hot and I was six months pregnant, we had a ball.

Best Run: This year, I also took part in my running club's summer fun run series, which was a fantastic introduction to the group and takes top prize as a cumulative "best run." In particular, I loved that some club members brought their children with them each week, either pushing joggers or running alongside them. I wrote a few times this summer about my running buddy Tommy. Following his progress this summer was one of my personal highlights. I wrote about it a bit here and again here.

I popped in for the winter edition of the fun run this past Sunday and was thrilled to see familiar faces and feel like I belonged!

Best New Piece of Gear: This year I was thrilled to discover Gap's GatFit line, which for me, was just as comfortable as lululemon and the mainstream running brands, but at a fraction of the price. GapFit maternity tanks and tees were ultra comfortable and might just be sticking around as part of my post-pregnancy workout wardrobe. I've always had a hard time with running tank tops -- I usually find them too clingy and unflattering -- but the stretchy and fitted material on these was close cut, but didn't make me feel like I was wearing a casing.

Best Piece of Advice: You can't stop running because of what other people think. Amen, Mom. Amen. When I took an epic digger back on my 30th birthday, landing me and Baby P on monitors at the local hospital, I immediately worried about how I'd deal with everyone's inevitable advice that I put away my shoes for the rest of the summer. On the phone with my mother, she reminded me to keep on keeping on and to tune out others' opinions. Do what feels good within my limitations, she reminded me, but don't quit because other people think you should.

Most Inspirational Runner: Can I be a creep and shout out someone I don't even know? I loved discovering the running blog Sweat Once A Day this year and was completely inspired by the writer/runner Emily's adventures. Like the ladies who keep all of my favorite blogs, I want to be friends.

Emily runs ultra distances and mostly on trails and her photos are killer, fitness is incredible, and attitude is so much fun and real. As far as inspiring me, she definitely makes me want to venture out on trails more than I have before. If you aren't already reading her stuff, I recommend it.

Sum Up Your Year In A Few Words: Overall, I think this year might have actually been all about discovering a true love of running. Yes, I always liked it (in the past decade, at least) and I'm always inspired and motivated by having a race on the calendar, but carrying Henry and learning to run with a new and different set of limitations actually enabled me to move just because it felt good. When I took a bit of time off at the end of my first trimester and into the second, I realized how much better and happier I felt -- more like ME, I started saying -- when I went for a run, no matter how slow or how short. Finding that realization and embracing it is going to set me up perfectly to dive back into 2015, especially with a completely different set of challenges like fitting running in with my job, daycare drop-off and pick-up, and the literal limitation of hours in a day.

I think that appreciation and simple joy will make me use my miles more efficiently, train smarter, and balance life better. I'm excited and grateful and wish you all a very happy new year.