Another Great Run

And again, this post will not be about running. And anyone who has been reading my posts for a while won’t be surprised.

About 15 months ago, I posted about my blogging days coming to an end, and you guys, and my fellow Chicks, were the awesomest, wishing me well on my journey.

And then about a year ago, I posted about how I apparently wasn’t out of things to say, and you all were even awesomer, welcoming me home with open arms.

I’m so glad I came back for another year. I got to post about some things I’m super passionate about, like eating local, summer foods, walking, my half marathon plans and my never-ending quest for balance. I got to Secret Santa with my fave ladies. I got more time with all of you!

It was another great run.

I don’t know about all good things coming to an end, but this one is, for me. I’m hanging up my blogging hat today. It’s hard to put into words exactly WHY. It just feels like the right time, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s to go with what feels right.

Thank you for reading my random musings for the last three + years. Scoot has been an amazing experience for me, and I’ll miss it a lot.





On Love and Friendship

heartsLately I’ve been having these epiphanies.

Well, maybe not epiphanies. Maybe it’s just remembering things I already knew. Maybe it’s because I have some time to myself while not training alllll the time.

Maybe it’s because in the three years since I picked up and moved  away from home and family and friends, I’ve been forced to think about, really think about, what it means to truly care for someone.

Yes, I’m talking about love.

Not just romantic love, though that is something I think about often, too. Philia. Love for your friends.

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics describes Philia as “affectionate regard” or “friendship,” which is a simple translation. In his Rhetoric, the definition goes deeper:

“wanting for someone what one thinks good, for his sake and not for one’s own, and being inclined, so far as one can, to do such things for him.”

Aristotle speaks of love as something selfless. Loving someone puts them first. Puts their needs and feelings and experiences first. Loving someone asks that one gives of herself and doesn’t demand for the same in return. Loving someone is giving yourself fully and trusting that love to nourish and enrich both souls.

It isn’t something that should be felt lightly, though too frequently, it is.

Hearing “I love you” from a friend should be something you cherish. It’s a tiny gift that you can carry with you, a light for your heart, a constant reminder that someone, somewhere, has your back. Cares about the state of your heart. Wants to protect it for you. Wants to guard you from hurt and suffering.Will do nearly anything for you to lift you up. To stand beside you and hold your hand when you’re frightened. To celebrate and laugh and cry with you. To remind you of your boundaries and to call you on your shit and to respect your limits. Love should be fearless in this way. It can be fearless because both souls know the other deeply and well. That fearlessness is born out of mutual trust and respect.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Jane Austen

To truly love a someone is to give yourself to it wholly. To put your friend before yourself. To take ownership in that relationship and to recognize that your words and actions always have an effect. What you do and say carry weight. Think about your dialogue. Be respectful of your friend’s truth.

Maintaining the old, far-away friendships takes work and I’m fortunate to have bonds with people that can withstand years and miles. Forging new relationships, though, has taught me how to value people and their stories in a way I’d never considered before.

For a long time, friendship was easy for me. School was a social situation I was comfortable with. My peers and I had plenty in common and those experiences brought us together. Moving halfway across the country to a city where I knew nearly no one changed the landscape altogether. I struggled, for a long time, to connect with people here and that was not something that I was comfortable with, or comfortable admitting. It was lonely and I let myself live inside that loneliness for a long time.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your hear. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” – Louise Erdrich

It took a while to find a way out of that lonely place – it was unfamiliar and I didn’t like it, but it had a way of keeping me there – but when I did, I found what I had been missing. New friendships, found almost by accident, but since nourished by a depth of mutual respect and care that I am overwhelmed by the affection that I have for them.

They give me more than I realized I wanted and fill my heart to overflowing. They teach me what it means to be brave and strong and genuine and kind. They are beautiful souls who have come through fire to light one in me. I didn’t realize how much I needed them until I found them and now? Now I gladly give of myself to repay that respect and generosity of spirit.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

Friendship, much like romantic love, is not without risk and it can hurt, deeply, when those bonds of love are disrespected or broken. But what is living without taking a risk? You will be forever changed by that person and what they can teach you.

“Hearts are breakable and I think even when you heal, you’re never what you were before.” – Cassandra Clare

You have the choice. Let others in, let them teach you and put them before yourself, or live in that dark place, alone, with nothing to keep you company but selfish pity. Let yourself be changed by the good in others and the love that you feel will be genuine. That is true friendship. And it is beautiful.

Take me back to Oiselle #birdcamp

I spent my big vacation this year with nearly dozens of women I’d never met before.

Sure, I’d chatted with a few fellow campers via social media and text. I’d even had the pleasure of meeting several Oiselle team members at recent races – like the New York City Marathon and Nike Women’s half. And I KNEW one of the ladies – the lovely Jen Bigham!

The first-ever team retreat, dubbed “bird camp” early in the planning process, was held by Oiselle, a small Seattle-based women’s running clothing company founded in 2007. The women who lead and run for the company shared their knowledge, home and dreams with 96 women from across North America.

Oiselle_-20Oiselle team at the Deschutes Twilight 5K. Pic by Thomas and Velo Photography 

We spent five days in Bend, Oregon, which sits at 3,623 feet near the Cascade mountains, about three hours southwest of Portland. Having never spent time in Oregon before, and having never attended an overnight camp as a kid, I had no clue what to expect.

I quickly fell in love with Bend and am already itching to go back.

We ran, (well duh) we hiked, we swam, we chatted, we ate, we drank, we raced, we meditated, we stretched. We experienced so much in such a few days.

Pro athletes Lauren Fleshman, Kate Grace, Stephanie Howe and (via skype) Kara Goucher shared advice, stories and fielded questions. They even hiked and worked out with us, along with the Oiselle’s CEO Sally Bergesen, team manager Kristin Metcalf and camp organizer/all around superwoman Sarah Lesko.

We talked about health, nutrition, training and goal setting. We spoke of our dreams – we admitted our challenges – and we leaned on each other for advice.

Oiselle_-17Stretching & meditating. Pic by Thomas and Velo Photography 

We hiked at nearby Smith Rock State Park and played in the picturesque town of Bend. We ate, we drank, and we floated in tubes on the Deschutes River.

For me, the experiences and the people made the trip.

I was finally able to meet Kelly in person after we’d first chatted online last fall. Hands down, she’s among my favorite people. We ran off, skipping a yoga session one afternoon and swam laps at a nearby outdoor pool.

camp11After the swim

It may not sound like much to others, but I loved our 3,200-meter workout. I hadn’t been in a pool in months and was thrilled to be able to hang in with Kelly for as long as I did. After more than a decade as a competitive swimmer, I loathe having to swim fast. (Been there, done that.) But its a whole different story when I want to do my best.

I’m also so thankful for my roommates Stacey and Suzie. I couldn’t have been with two more supportive, inspirational and fantastic women as you both.

stacsuzStacey, me and Suzie – a great trio!

And of course I loved spending time with my fun friends in our carpool van, dubbed the #vanbytheriver

camp1The Oiselle bird, drawn by me

camp2Decorating the van before our roadtrip

Oiselle_-31The whole gang: Front row (from left): Ashley, Kerry, Steph, Jessica. Back row: Becky, Kelly, me. Pic by  Thomas and Velo Photography

 I loved racing with such a large team at a smaller 5K race. We were literally about a fifth of the field of the evening 5K. I pushed myself a bit harder than I expected – especially since it was my second run of the day. I loved seen so many blue Oiselle singlets as I ran along the hilly course.

Even better was seeing a slew of ladies cheering one another on as I sprinted to the finish.

cheering birdsCheering birds! Pic by Kelly Burns Gallagher

DSC_3366Me, Kelly and Stacey at the 5K. Pic by Thomas and Velo Photography

Hiking with new friends at Smith Rock State Park was amazing. I love to hike, though I remain terrified of getting too close to the edge of a mountain and tumbling off a cliff. Smith Rock is stunning and I implore anyone in Bend to check it out.

camp5Stunning Smith Rock

camp12Up we go!

Oiselle_-59Hiking Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock. Pic by Thomas and Velo Photography 

camp10Near the summit with Kate

camphikeLoved the views (but not the snake!)

Also LOVED relaxing as we floated on tubes on the crystal clear Deschutes River. If I could do that every week, life would be perfect.

camp7With Jill and Kelly in Oiselle Rizzo before tubing

Much of what I loved about the experience was meeting so many incredible women, who find a way to balance work, their relationships, motherhood and running. These women reminded me that it’s good to dream big, and that it is possible to balance it all.

camp8With Lauren at the closing party

At a midweek session, Lauren spoke of goal-setting, and reminded us that it’s ok to let a dream go and focus on reality. But she also stressed the importance of setting meaningful goals – ones that mean something to YOU personally over an obvious goal, like running a best time or a specific distance.

“The best gift you can give yourself is to disregard what other people see as success and name it for yourself,” Lauren said. “You have to set your own definition for success.”

She couldn’t be more right.

Teamcheer~Oiselle_-2Team cheer Pic by Thomas and Velo Photography 

Have you ever been to Oregon? A sports team camp (as a kid or an adult?) Where’s your favorite hiking spot? And fellow birds – what was your favorite part of camp? Tell me in the comments!

Goal-Setting and Well-Wishing

It’s January! I love a new year. I don’t make resolutions but I always find myself making goals and lists and trying to be a better me even without committing it all to paper. This also happens before a new school year (because that is it’s own year, really) and before summer (because Pinterest makes it a Big Deal).

photo 3-8

My fitness goal is easy. I want to PR in the half marathon. I will PR in the half marathon. My current PR is 1:57:52 and really, I just want to best that. But deep in my heart, I want to best that in a Major Way. So we’ll see. I’m focused on the Glass Slipper challenge right now, and increasing my weekly mileage closer to 30 instead of in the lower 20 range. I’m also working on getting faster- I’m still not fast enough to reach my current race PR (which I reached before my last pregnancy). I’m giving myself until December because I am very generous and also, I’m trying to be realistic. (my fingers are totally crossed for reaching goal A in April and doing Something Major in December though.)

I am also making some wonderful chore charts and calendars to do a better job cleaning my house. I know that’s really boring stuff, (for me and for you) so that’s all I will say about that. If I come up with an awesome system, I’ll let you know.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my girlfriends and I have done a holiday gift exchange for the last ten years. Last month, we met for a delicious dinner, sans gifts but avec wine and good conversation. One of my girls said that this year, she decided that if she didn’t care enough to wish someone a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, she would delete them from her friend list. I’m not really sure how this qualifies as a resolution (I will have less friends? I will only be friends with someone if I want to celebrate their birth? I don’t know exactly.) but it made me think. My husband hates those Facebook birthday wishes. He thinks they’re insincere. Perfunctory. I don’t have a strong feeling about them- I mean, who doesn’t like hearing a birthday wish, no matter how it comes?- But I prefer to text or call my close friends. In 2014, I’ve decided to take a page from long-term, snail mail penpals, Mer and Vic, and send birthday cards. I will likely have to send them in a batch at the beginning of each month, because I am terrible with mail, but I know it will make my people happy, and that makes me happy.

Hanging with my girls made me wish for more time with them, so I am definitely making that a priority in 2014.

These girls! My favorites for  15 years.

These girls! My favorites for 15 years.

Lastly, some friends and I decided to start a club. A fit club, with a goal of taking one new class each month. In the past, I’ve tried to form book club, wine club, craft club, mom movie night club- and nothing ever sticks. I think this one will- and it will be fun- and I can’t wait to report back to all of you on our progress.

As the Floridian of the Chicks, I want to welcome the runDisney runners to Orlando this weekend! It’s going to be a hot one, so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and be sure to take a selfie by the pool so your friends are jealous.

Also, go to Epcot! The Frozen princesses are in Norway, along with a statue of runner Grete Waitz. You can have a cronut (omg, delicious) near Canada and a margarita in Mexico. All the salt and sugar will be good for your recovery. (So I’ve heard. I’m not a marathoner, so don’t take my word for it.)

Meeting Elsa and Anna was the highlight of our week (the 3 hour line was not).

Meeting Elsa and Anna was the highlight of our week (the 3 hour line was not).

I’ll be at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday to see our UCF Knights march in the parade. If you see me, stop and say hello and I’ll give you a high five and compliment your marathon medal. Happy running!

My baby with some guy. Who is he? (If you follow college ball, you probably know the Knights quarterback now!)

My baby with some guy. Who is he? (If you follow college ball, you probably know the Knights quarterback now!)

Roll call! Who is headed to the most magical place on Earth this weekend?

Do you make resolutions? What’s your fitness goal? What’s the best fitness class you’ve taken? Birthday wishes on facebook- yay or nay?

Our first meeting


Before we ever met in person, Meri and I were pen pals. We wrote letters almost daily for months before we finally met in person this week, 21 years ago.

I had been dying to meet Meri in person for months and, somehow, successfully badgered my parents to let me spend Thanksgiving break in NJ with Meri and her family.

It’s become quite the joke in both our families, that my parents were willing to ship me off to strangers for a few days, and that Meri’s family didn’t reject inviting an unknown teenage girl into their own home.

“They seemed like good people,” my mother says when prodded about the decision. Our moms spoke on the phone several weeks prior, approved of each other and decided to permit my trip.

Mother knows best. But little did any of us know, this journey was the first of many meetings for Meri and me.

I should further explain our background. Meri and I were pen pals for many months before our famed in-person meeting. We actually met through a mutual friend who I befriended at a concert in NJ one year prior. Meri was a close friend of the concertgoer, who months later moved to the Midwest.

We wrote daily, chatted on the phone and send each other “audio letters,” that’s a recorded, rambling message on a cassette tape. We shared a love of writing, music, books and Disney. And we loved address labels and stationary – still do!


The day before Thanksgiving I boarded a train alone for Trenton, NJ. Little did I know I was traveling on the busiest travel day of the year. I also didn’t have a clue I’d need to switch trains in Philly without anyone to guide me. Sure, I was 16 but I still hadn’t gotten my driver’s license and had never traveled solo before.

And, of course, I had overpacked. (Because every girl needs two suitcases and a video camera for a 4-day adventure to visit her bestie. Right?!)

I was a bit overwhelmed in the travel hustle, but managed the board the correct train (twice!) and hours later arrived in Trenton. Meri and her dad were waiting for me at the station.


We hugged, squealed and giggled like (well) teenage girls. Then we made a music video. (I wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not. We were so cool.)

Exhibit A of our coolness factor

Exhibit A of our coolness factor

The weekend festivities went all too fast. We danced, we sang, we swapped stories. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Meri’s family, which was also my first holiday away from my own home. We attended several parties with Meri’s friends and watched Aladdin in the theater.

It should be noted we are wearing each others jackets. Why? Because.

It should be noted we are wearing each others jackets. Why? Because.

We spent Black Friday in NYC – where ironically we did not shop, but visited the Natural Museum of History and Hayden Planetarium (I fell asleep!) then walked all over Central Park and midtown, avoiding subway vents on each block because we were afraid we’d fall down to the tracks.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

We stayed up until early morning hours gossiping and giggling.

And of course, we took lots of photos. We still laugh at our fateful decision to get portraits taken as a pair. That’s where we came up with this beauty:


The weekend was the first of many get-togethers over the next two decades.


Together, we’ve explored NYC many times, sang along in concert with boy bands, savored chocolate in Hershey, PA, hiked a canyon in California and ran hand-in-hand through Cinderella’s Castle in Florida.

I cheered alongside Mer’s parents as she earned her masters degree.



And she cheered as I ran my first marathon.

Philly Marathon 2010

Philly Marathon 2010

We were each bridesmaids in the other’s wedding and I am auntie to her two incredible sons.

vic-treeboysChristmas 2012

Ironically, we both lost touch with our mutual friend, but we were blessed with each other. And this week, I can’t think of a better reason to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Who else is thankful for a longtime best friend? How did you meet? Will you also share embarrassing photos with us? Tell us more in the comments.