That darn cancer is back, and I just don’t feel like it



We thought we were done.  We thought surgery took care of it.  We didn’t know there was more, lurking somewhere, ready to pounce.  And boy did it ever pounce.  Now there’s more in what’s left of his colon, his liver, his spleen, and his lungs.  For the last month we’ve been visiting doctors for more tests, multiple consultations, getting as much information as we can about possible treatments and weighing all the pros and cons.  We’ve shed some tears, but not too many.  We’re in fight mode.  Grief can wait.

At first I was a little annoyed at God, to put it mildly.  Why would He allow us to think we had dodged that cancer bullet only to have it come back and slap us in the face?  I mean, really?  The oncologist here in town told us that the average survival rate for a person with colon cancer that has spread like this is about two years.  TWO YEARS?!?  I’m sorry, that is completely unacceptable.  And then the Lord gave us a gift, at least I think He did.  The doctor pointed us in the direction of another doctor at Georgetown University (supposedly one of the top experts on colon cancer in the country) who gave us hope, proposed an aggressive chemotherapy regimen, and reassured us that we were not alone in this fight.  He took the time to do some digging for us and found a brand-new clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health that was worth looking into, and off to Bethesda we went.  Long story short:  My fabulous husband is the first colon cancer patient ever (EVER!) to receive a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.  It’s been done with other types of cancer, but not this kind.  I realized that maybe there is a higher purpose for all we’re going through.  Someday someone is going to find a cure for cancer, and now we’re part of that story.  If this can help him live a long and healthy life (I want us to be married ANOTHER 22 years, at the VERY LEAST) and help other cancer patients do the same?  Pretty cool.

Maybe it won’t work.  It’s certainly worth a shot.  Nowadays that’s what’s taking up most of my time and energy.  (I’m feeling guilty just taking the time to write this, because there are so many other things I feel like I should be doing.)  We’ll be driving to Bethesda four days in a row every two weeks, which depending on traffic on I-95 and the beltway, can take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours one way.  Immunotherapy the first day, chemo the next, a pump to take home only to bring it back the next day to be replenished with more chemo, and another trip the fourth day to unhook it.  Between that and working I haven’t had as much time for running, much less training for anything.  I still plan to run the Historic Half here in Fredericksburg on May 21, but I’ve ditched the Devil Dog Double.  I did not enter the Marine Corps Marathon lottery (and a friend who ran the 1775K this year gave me her “access granted” code because she wasn’t going to use it, and I was REALLY tempted to sign up).  Frankly training for a marathon isn’t something I’m really interested in right now.  I’ve also taken an unplanned hiatus from geocaching, and who knows when I’ll be able to get into that again.  I told Ray I didn’t really feel much like running, and do you know what he said?  That I NEED to keep running.  And I will.  Two days a week minimum, preferably three.  At least a couple of 10- to 12-mile runs between now and the Historic Half, plus some short runs during the week to keep me sane and in relatively decent shape.  I’m still trying to go to my power lifting class every week.  And I take walks at NIH; up and down the hallways and stairwells, and soon I’ll likely venture outside to explore the rest of the campus.  (Not to geocache.  It’s United States government property, where geocaching is not allowed.  Plus security is tight and you need a badge to get in, so it wouldn’t be a very good place for caching anyway.)  OH, and I ran the J. Brian’s 15K last weekend, and got a new pair of running shoes, so running is still a priority.  But no longer an obsession.


(My less-than-glamorous finish line photo.  Every time I’ve run this race I’ve PR’ed.  Not this year.)


(My New Saucony Zealots.)


(At the National Institutes of Health, in the little courtyard.  I’ll coming here to ponder life quite a bit, I imagine.)

Many, many people have been praying for us and offering lots of love and hugs and help.  The people that we work with have been wonderfully supportive and amazing.  This journey has convinced me that God puts us exactly where we need to be at the right time.  Cancer sucks, and we have a long and difficult journey ahead, but we have a lot to be thankful for.


Run(cache)fessions, February 2017


I runfess… I haven’t posted here since last month’s runfessions.  So much for my resolution to blog twice a month.  (Thanks Marcia’s Healthy Slice for hosting the Runfessions  linkup, and to Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for the 7 Quick Takes.  And I think that’s the most links I’ve put in one take.)


I runfess… I ran my third overall slowest half marathon last weekend, the Dahlgren Trail Half.  When I ran this race last year I felt strong and I think I did pretty well considering it was my first race strictly on unpaved trails.  This year, not so much.  My legs felt heavy and tired and the fact that I was fighting a cold didn’t help.  My other excuse is that I’d been pushing myself quite a bit the week before, so of course I’m going to be sluggish.  It’s a great race though, and I can’t wait to go back next year.


(With my MRTT friend Madeline, before the race.  She finished way before I did.)


I runfess… I’m not one of those bloggers who gets a race report up within a couple of days.  I’m doing well if I publish something a month after the fact.  So I hope you’ll bear with me, and I’ll try my best to post a recap of the Dahlgren Trail Half in the next couple of weeks.  Unless I give up social media for Lent, including blogging, which I’m seriously thinking about doing.  Then it will take even longer.  We’ll see…


I cache-fess… There are fourteen geocaches along the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail where I ran the half last weekend.  Guess how many of them I’ve found?  One.  It’s the cache right at the trailhead, underneath the old railroad car that’s displayed there.  The rest are along the trail.  Last year when I came to run the race I couldn’t find it, and I made big plans to come back in the near future to avenge that DNF and look for some of the other caches as well.  Did I?  Of course not!  I did manage to find the trailhead cache this time around though.  Hopefully I’ll have some time to find more of them before next year’s race.  Otherwise I might have to bring a pen and get one or two of them during the race, like The Geocaching Vlogger did in 2015 when he ran his marathon in Minnesota.


I runfess… I count walks and hikes when I’m adding up my weekly mileage.  Some people might consider this cheating but I don’t care.  I’m moving my body through space from Point A to Point B, getting my heart rate up, and even working up a sweat. On Presidents Day I walked five miles with some friends from Life Runners, and the previous weekend our family hiked four miles on the Chancellorsville battlefield.  Nine miles.  Totally counts.


I runfess… I’ve been faithfully taking my weight-training classes twice a week, that is until this past Wednesday when I missed it because my middle son and I spent the afternoon and evening buying him a car.  I can’t think of too many things that are more unpleasant than to spend two hours haggling with a used car salesman. (OK, I can think of at least one thing.  Your husband having cancer.  That really sucks.)


I runfess… I’m starting to think about maybe signing up for Premium on Spotify.  A couple of weeks ago I accidentally hit the “try premium” button when I had it pulled up on my phone, and for a week of runs, I was able to stream my music with no commercials and I could skip as much as I wanted.  Now that I’m back to the old free version I kinda miss that.  I’d love it if someone tells me that it’s totally a ripoff and I’d be wasting my money and I shouldn’t bother.  (And if I give up listening to music on runs for Lent, like I did last year, it won’t matter.  Until after Easter, of course…)

This is where I usually post my stats for the month.  I’ll try and do that next week when February is over and I’ve run a few more miles (probably won’t find any more geocaches, though, but who knows?)  Have a great weekend and be sure to visit Marcia’s Healthy Slice for more Runfessions, and This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!

(OH!  I realized I should probably give you an update on my smashed foot.  It’s totally fine.  Thank goodness.  See you soon, I hope!)

Run(cache)fessions, January 2017

It’s time for RunFessions!  Thanks to Marcia’s Healthy Slice for hosting, and to Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum for hosting the Quick Takes.


I runfess… I’m not all that upset about the fact that I smashed my foot on Thursday morning when a cast iron pot fell on it.  It’s a long story that involves me cursing and yelling at my son for being careless about the way he puts leftover food away but that’s beside the point.  I’ll be taking it easy for the next week or so at least, and stick to walking and strength training.  Maybe I’ll have some time for geocaching now.  (If it turns out to be worse than I thought and I can’t run for a month or something, well…I might be just a teensy bit annoyed.)  A cancer diagnosis in your immediate family will do that, I think.  A smashed foot?  Meh.  No big deal.



I runfess…I finally had to give up on my Saucony Ride 9’s, which were giving me plantar fasciitis over the summer.  I thought maybe I could run in them sometimes, to extend the life of my Triumphs, but after an otherwise great 13-mile training run last weekend I finally had to retire them.  My feet hurt for the next two days.  On the bright side, the fact that they’re a size too big makes them great for wearing when your foot is smashed and bruised.



I runfess…running in snow is awesome.



I cache-fess…last week my training plan called for a 12-mile long run with a 10 minute strong finish.  After running about eight miles with a couple of friends from Moms Run This Town and then doing maintenance on one of my geocaches that I’d hidden along our route, I decided to run an extra mile so I could look for a geocache by the river near the Gari Melchers’ Belmont House.  And then I forgot to make that extra effort to finish strong.  But I did run an extra mile, so….



(Pretty stream that runs into the Rappahannock near the geocache)


I runfess…I suck at Train Like a Mother.  I’m trying to follow the “Own It” marathon plan to train for the Devil Dog Double in May.  It’s not a marathon but I want to train for it as if it were.  I need to be able to run 5 miles in 45 minutes, 2 miles of which are uphill, and then turn around and run the Historic Half.  Every time I do one of the TLAM interval runs that says to do this many reps for this amount of time with this much recovery, and you’ll cover this many miles, I end up running about half the distance they say I will.  Like, just last Tuesday I was supposed to run seven miles on hills:  10 minute warmup, 2:30 in Zone 4 with recovery as needed, do that six times, and cool down 10 minutes. And that’s going to take me seven miles?  Try three and a half.  So what to do?  Repeat the workout?  I did not. I went for a trail run instead.


And it happened at least once before, last week when I was supposed to run 5-6 miles and barely covered 3.  Again, instead of repeating the intervals I just ran easy to cover the miles.


I runfess… I couldn’t go to the March for Life this year because our preschool had parent-teacher conferences.  (Probably just as well because I don’t really have any business walking around DC with a hundred thousand of my closest friends the day after I smashed my foot.)  I am so blessed, though, because I can put on my LIFE Runners gear any time I want, and get together with our Fredericksburg chapter on a regular basis.  LIFE Runners rocks, I tell ya.



And here’s one last look at Christmas, from earlier in the month when it was Epiphany and they hadn’t taken down the decorations at church because Christmas wasn’t over yet.  I runfess…I wish Christmas decorations could stay up until spring.


OH!  And I almost forgot.  This book rocks.  Dean Karnazes is a beast.  I had a fangirl moment when he left a comment on my Instagram asking me to let him know how I liked it.  Well Karno, you amaze me and your book is fascinating, funny, moving, and awe-inspiring.


Miles Run:  82.3.  Wanted to run 100, but…smashed foot.

Miles on trails:  11.  More than 10%. Winning.

Geocaches found:  1.  So far.  January isn’t over yet.

Races:  None.  Probably none next month either and I’m totally cool with that.

Books Read:  The Road to Sparta by Dean Karnazes

Have a great weekend, and be sure to check out the fantabulous blogs by Marcia and Kelly!

RunnerCacher Resolutions for 2017

It’s time for my second annual RunnerCaching Resolutions post!  Last year I listed sixteen specific goals.  I nailed and even exceeded some of them, some I worked toward but didn’t quite reach, and some I completely bombed.  This year I’m dividing my resolutions into seven categories, and linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes; and a new-to-me linkup, Tuesdays On the Run which has THREE hosts! Thanks Erika, Marcia, and Patty! (And yes, I know today is Friday…don’t judge me…)

One:  Running

-Run at least 100 miles every month, or 1,200 miles total

-Run 10 percent of my total mileage on trails

-Run at least one trail race.  Maybe the Dahlgren Trail Half, maybe something different.

-Volunteer at a race.  At least one.

-Run with a group (or at least one other person) two or more times a month.

-Be more attentive and diligent with leading the local LIFE Runners and Moms Run This Town chapters.

-Learn to keep a 9-minute pace on a mostly-uphill five mile course.  And no more signing up for races after drinking wine.

Two:  Geocaching

-Find at least 100 caches.  This will require some planning.

-Hide three caches, and do a better job of keeping my caches maintained.

-Attend a geocaching event.  I haven’t been to one in over two years.


Three:  Faith

-Read scripture and pray EVERY morning.  Whether it’s a Blessed is She or LIFE Runner Devotion, or  my Walking With Purpose Bible Study–it doesn’t matter.

-Go to confession at least every three months

I have a patron saint for 2017!  Jennifer Fulwiler, a Catholic writer and radio host, created the Saint Name Generator that randomly chooses a saint for you.  My saint is St. Gianna Beretta Molla, patron of mothers, physicians, and unborn children.  My resolution is to get to know her better and live by her example.

-Grow closer to Mary and ask her to bring me closer to Jesus.

Four:  Nutrition

-eat at least 3 servings of vegetables every day

-Plan meals at least a week in advance.  I want to make only one or two trips to the grocery store every week.  And take my reusable bags with me when I go shopping.

-Quit buying wine.  Seriously, if it’s in the house I’ll drink it, and even a half a glass in the evening makes me lazy and messes with my sleep.  Save it for special occasions!

-Visit the farmer’s market every Saturday (with my reusable bags, of course).  This will take planning too, because normally Saturday is when I do my long runs.

Five:  General fitness

-Strength train twice a week.  I have a cardio and core class I go to every Wednesday night; that leaves one more workout I need to do at home.

-Get 10,000 steps EVERY DAY, no exceptions.

-Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night.  Easier said than done.

Six:  Life, and other things


-If I learned anything in 2016, it’s to not take anyone or anything for granted.  It’s more important than ever to be present in every moment, and that no matter what challenges we might be facing, we can trust God to get us through.  I want to be fully present in every moment and be thankful and joyful even when I’m having a crappy day.

-Keep social media to a minimum.  Read a book instead. (And seriously, I don’t have to post EVERY run on Instagram.)

-Blog here twice a month, three if I have time.

-Take more photos with my DLSR camera.  Take it with me everywhere like I used to.

-Be more generous, more compassionate, more understanding.

Seven:  Words to Live By

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self control. -2 Timothy 1:7

A live worth living is frenetic, disjointed, breakneck, and quite fantastic.  Balance doesn’t lead to happiness–impassioned dedication to one’s life purpose does. -Dean Karnazes

Stay afraid, but do it anyway.  What’s important is the action.  You don’t have to wait to be confident.  Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow. -Carrie Fisher

Do you have resolutions and goals for 2017?  Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check out Marcia’s Healthy Slice, My No-Guilt Life, MCM Mama Runs AND This Ain’t The Lyceum!  Happy New Year!

Run(cache) fessions, December 2016

And now for my December RunnerCache Wrap, AKA Run-cache-fessions!  Thanks to Marcia’s Healthy Slice for hosting this fun linkup.  I’m also linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes.  Enjoy!


I runfess:  I entered the RunChat Holiday scavenger hunt again, and even though the odds of me winning for the second year in a row are slim, I made darn sure I found all the items on the list.  And I might have submitted more than the maximum twelve photos they require…accidentally…


I runfess:  I acted like a stalker on some of my runs, taking photos of random houses because I liked their decorations.


I cache-fess:  I had big plans to go running over the 2 weeks of Christmas break in places where there are an abundance of geocaches. Instead I mostly stayed close to my home on my runs–running past geocaches I’ve long since found–and the only cache I managed to find was one that happened to be near where I was taking a class to renew my CPR and First Aid certification.  I didn’t even do THAT one right because it was supposed to be a “night cache”, and I think I found it at about 12:45 pm.


In fact one day I got all dressed up in my running clothes, complete with my Santa hat, and drove out to the place where I had planned to run, find a couple of geocaches, and then do a little Christmas shopping.  I left later than I planned (typical) and on the way I decided, “Well, let me just go to this place first, then I’ll run…” and it was all over.  It was too cold, I needed to be home by lunch, etc. etc.  No running and no geocaching that day.  I runfess…I can get really lazy sometimes.


I think having “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” to my Spotify playlist helped me get that PR at the Blue and Gray Half.  I might or might not have been singing it at the top of my lungs at around Mile 9 of the race.  I runfess… I do that all the time.  In fact me and Gavin DeGraw have a unique and special running relationship.  And Rick Springfield?  He has a way of pulling me through the worst of running funks.


I runfess/cachefess:  I get all excited anytime I hear about some random person I’ve seen on TV who happens to be into running and/or geocaching.  Y’all know I am totally addicted to the Amazon Prime show, The Man In The High Castle, right?  It takes place in 1962, in an alternate universe where America is ruled by Japan and Nazi Germany because we lost World War II.  (We finished Season 2 the other night. It’s EVEN BETTER than Season 1.)  Luke Kleintank plays a chain-smoking,  drop dead gorgeous handsome young Nazi named Joe who meets a girl named Juliana (played brilliantly by the lovely Alexa Davalos), and he becomes so smitten with her that by the end of Season 1 he’s starting to think being a Nazi isn’t very much fun. So I’m surfing YouTube while back and I find an interview that Luke and Alexa did about a year ago, right before Season 1 came out.  Wouldn’t you know Luke likes to go geocaching?  He’s asked about it around the 3:07 mark.  The look on Alexa’s face when he’s trying to explain it to her, though…!

(OK. Dude.  I know it’s a hypothetical question, but putting cigarettes in a geocache is a big no-no.  The geocaching police would be all over you.  I like Alexa’s idea much better.)

I’ve been stalking following Luke on Instagram for a while, and he’s got at least one post on his feed about trail running.   Excuse me while I fangirl.


You would think from this post that I had a crappy running and geocaching month!  OK, for geocaching that would be a yes, but not for running!  I got a sweet half marathon PR, got to run with many of my friends from Life Runners and Moms Run This Town, and enjoyed lots of fresh air and beautiful local scenery.  OH, and I read a really great book called Nowhere Near First by Cory Reese.  It’s a very moving and inspiring story about an ordinary guy and his love for running.  (I now have a new epic run to put on my bucket list:  Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim.  Thanks Cory…I think…)

Miles run: 100.2

Miles on Trails: about 6.  Not enough! 

Group Runs: 1

Geocaches Found: 1 (But hey, no DNFs!  Woot!)

To the handful of you that actually read this, thank you!  Stay tuned for my Runnercaching resolutions for 2017.  Meanwhile, be sure to visit Marcia’s Healthy Slice for more Runfessions, and This Ain’t The Lyceum for more Quick Takes!  Happy New Year!

Year of Running (and caching) 2016

It’s time once again to post the highlights of my running and geocaching adventures in 2016!  I’m linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC.  It’s been an interesting year to say the least!

year of running 2016

Best Race Experience:  The Blue Ridge Half Marathon.  Those folks really know how to put on a race.  I’ve come to discover that a race is like a party:  some are big and loud, others are smaller and low-key, but they’re all fun in their own ways.  Blue Ridge was my slowest half marathon, but I enjoyed every second of it and smiled the whole time.  There’s lots of parking, plenty of porta-potties at the start, and the finish party is amazing.


Best Run:  Do I have to pick only one?  Hmmm… maybe my 9-miler along the coast of Maui?  Maybe my last MCM training run which was supposed to be 18 miles but ended up being 21 because I felt so good?  Maybe one of the amazing group runs I participated in this past summer?  My amazing 14-miler I did just the other day?  Running the Dahlgren Trail Half in February, which was one of my strongest races and SO MUCH FUN?  I’m going down a rabbit hole here.  Seriously, I’ve had so many great runs I can’t just pick one!  Sorry, Courtney!

Best New Piece of Running Gear:  My Knuckle Lights.  I don’t hate running in the dark anymore!


Best Running Advice You’ve Received This Year:  Go For It.  Same as last year.

Most Inspirational Runner:  Katie.  She’s been through a lot this year and still finds joy in running and in her family and friends.  She doesn’t give up and inspires and encourages the people around her to be the best they can be.

IMG_20160403_141230(Me and Katie, on a chilly springtime run.)

Favorite picture from a run or race this year:  This one that Ray took of me at the Historic Half.  After a miserable race in 2015 I decided that my number one goal for EVERY RACE would be to have fun.  I can try my best and set time goals, but if it’s not fun then it’s pointless.


Race Experience You Would Repeat in a Heartbeat:  The Historic Half.  I’m going to run the Devil Dog Double this year (run the Semper Five Mile in 45 minutes and then immediately run the half marathon), which will be a challenge–OK, it’s going to be FREAKING HARD–but I still want to have just as much fun!

Download (2)

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?  I’ll give you one:  THANKFUL.  I’m thankful for the gift of running.  I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made on my running adventures.  I’m thankful for the amazing doctors who have been with Ray through his colon cancer journey.  I’m thankful for his health, and that he won’t need chemo because we caught it before it had a chance to spread.  I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my job, and my health.

Best geocache found:  Pu’u’ula’ula (GC18Z99), the Earthcache at the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii.

Best geocache found while running:  A tossup between A Sanctuary for Humpback Whales (GC64A94) on Maui and Virginia Highland Bibliophiles #1 (GC4K6JP) in Atlanta.


500th cache (found March 28):  Leave It To Beaver (GC3GYVM).  I’m on number 570.  I’d better get cracking if I’m going to find No. 600 in 2017!

DNFs:  30

Total caches found in 2016 (so far):  83.  Dismal.  Maybe I’ll find a few more next week. I found some good ones, and ran over a thousand miles, though, so….


What were your running and/or geocaching highlights in 2016?

Head on over to Eat Pray Run DC to join the linkup!  Thanks Courtney for hosting!

Blue and Gray Half Marathon, Dec. 4, 2016


Welcome to my better-late-than-never recap of my eleventh (and fastest) half marathon!  I hope you’re having a great Advent season.  These last few days since school let out last Friday have been more lazy here than crazy, which is unusual to say the least.  I think my mindset has changed these last couple of years and I tend not to let myself get stressed out about the holidays.  Our cancer journey these last few months have reminded me of what’s really important in life.  (Things will get crazy here next week, though, when the relatives will be converging at our house for New Year’s.  It will be a wonderful celebration indeed.)

Going into the Blue and Gray race, I was already stoked about my 5K PR at the Turkey Trot.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I usually run with the Galloway method in training and in races longer than 3-5 miles.  For half marathons I set my timer to a 1:30/30 run/walk interval (1 minute 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking), and depending on how I’m feeling I might switch to 2:00/30.  This time I decided to start with the 2/30 interval, and it paid off!

The Blue and Gray Half Marathon starts and finishes in front of the VA Runner store in Central Park.  There is plenty of parking, and since it’s a small race I don’t think the parking lot ever fills up.  I arrived early though, so I could meet up with friends from Moms Run This Town and Life Runners before the race.


I spent so much time socializing that I didn’t have a chance to hit the port-a-potty before the race!  When the gun went off I thought, “well, I likely won’t PR here because I’m probably going to need to stop at some point.”  I started out running with a couple of friends for the first half mile or so before we got separated.

20161204_073731-1(I spotted this BAMR in the fabulous pajamas as we made our way down Cowan Boulevard during the first mile.  Turns out she’s a member of the Woodbridge chapter of Moms Run This Town.)

The first two miles are mostly downhill as the course heads down Cowan Boulevard and Hospital Drive (aka “Hospital Hill Road.”)  Then it levels off somewhat as it winds it way through the Fredericksburg neighborhoods and around the Canal Path loop.

Mile 1:  10:31

Mile 2:  10:05

Mile 3:  10:19

Mile 4:  10:12

About halfway between the 4 and 5 mile markers, I spotted a lone portapotty.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I pass one during a race, I’ll have this internal debate in my head:  “Do I REALLY need to stop?  Is there a line?  Should I see if there’s another one later on?”  I saw that it was occupied, but no one was waiting, so I decided to stop.  It was agony watching everyone run past me as I waited for the person to come out.  I debated just saying heck with it and keep on running, but dang it I had already lost precious time, so I might as well take advantage and at least run the rest of the race with an empty bladder.  The person FINALLY came out and after doing my business I turned off my timer and for the next mile and a half I ran at a fast-for-me clip without walk breaks.  I told myself I would regret it later, maybe crash and burn, but it was a risk I was willing to take!

Mile 5:  11:49

Mile 6:  9:13

Satisfied that I had made up some of the time I had lost, I resumed my run/walk intervals. Soon I spotted my MRTT friend Katie, who had come out to cheer on the runners.  She snapped a picture of me, gave me a quick hug, and wished me good luck.


Mile 7:  10:24

Mile 8:  10:00

Mile 9:  10:06

Mile 10:  10:24

Mile 11:  10:11

Here’s where the course heads back up the notorious Hospital Hill.  It’s the same one people dread when they run the Marine Corps Historic Half (and the one I’m going to have to contend with BIG TIME when I run that Devil Dog Double come May).

Mile 12:  10:33

Mile 13: 10:16

Mile 0.35: 8:51  (final rally to the finish)

Official Time:  2:16:46

Average pace:  10:26

PR:  1:47

When I crossed the finish line and saw the clock I could hardly believe it.  I did NOT crash and burn, and I ran this half marathon faster than I had ever run one, beating my previous PR of 2:18:33 at the 2015 Hokie Half.  Hospital Hill, potty break, and all!  I think the cold weather that day helped, and truthfully I’ve built up a pretty good base this year training for the Marine Corps Marathon.  Even though I ended up not running it, all that training paid off in the end.


I want to ask you to pray for a friend who I’ve never met in person.  Kim has a wonderful podcast called Our Catholic Way, where she interviews people who have converted to Catholicism.  She reached out to me a few months ago and in September she interviewed me.  I had a great time chatting with her on the phone!  Before she had the chance to air it she found out she had breast cancer, and she had surgery earlier this month.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers as they go through this difficult journey!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to post here at least once before the New Year.  As they say in Hawaii (‘cuz we went there this summer and all)…Mele Kalikimaka!

(If you haven’t seen my posts about our wonderful trip to the islands this past summer, check them out here and here. Merry Christmas!)

Run(cache)fessions: November 2016

I’m trying something new on this here little blog–my November RunnerCache Wrap is now Runfessions (RunnerCacheFessions?? Gotta work on that one), and I’m linking up with Marcia’s Healthy Slice blog.  It will be a 7 Quick Takes too, like my usual monthly wrap, so I’ll link up with Kelly as well.


As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up for the Devil Dog Double Challenge in May, which is something new in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Marine Corps Historic Half.  You run the Semper Five Mile Race at a 9-minute mile pace or less, and then turn around and run the Historic Half and finish both races in four hours.  When I first heard about it I said, “Forget it!”  Run 5 miles (including Hospital Hill, no less) at 9 minutes per mile, and THEN go run the half marathon??  Not a chance.  Then after running a 5K with an 8:49 pace…well…perhaps maybe I can pull it off..?   I runfess… if I hadn’t been drinking wine during Thanksgiving dinner (and before, and after) I might have been able to resist making such an irrational decision…


(Me around Mile 7 of the 2016 Historic Half.  Hopefully I’ll still be smiling when I get to this point…)


I’ve been a part of a wonderful Bible study these last couple of years called Walking With Purpose.  We read parts of the Bible at home, answer some questions about how it applies to our lives as Catholic women, and then we come together to discuss the material.  It really is a great program, and I’ve made a lot of friends through it.  I even set aside some time in the mornings (when I’m not running) to read and reflect on the scripture and the questions.  The problem?  Lately I’ve been jumping onto Instagram and Facebook and my WordPress reader to see what other running-obsessed (and geocaching-obsessed) people like myself have been up to, and getting ideas for this here blog.  And going online looking for races to dream of running–and geocaches to dream of finding.  I runfess… as a result I’ve been showing up to the Bible Study meetings without having done my homework.  Tsk, tsk…


I’ve managed to find a whopping TWO geocaches in November, and they were both my favorite kind–ammo cans in the woods! Four out of the last five caches I found have been that type, in fact.  Since I’ve started doing more trail running, I’m finally getting to those more out-of-the-way caches in my area.  I cache-fess… I’m not as consistent with geocaching as I am with running.


I runfess… I have done zero strength training in November.  I missed a couple of my cardio and core classes when we were preparing for Ray to go into surgery (cancer has a tendency to make you put other things on the back burner) and then our fearless leader Sarah went on vacation.  I do have some free weights in my basement, but I’ve been too lazy to use them.  (Note to self:  You know can lift and binge watch The Man In The High Castle at the same time, don’t you?  In between sips of wine?)


(Seriously, y’all.  The Man In The High Castle.  I’ve watched Season 1 twice.  Season 2 comes out December 16.  If you have Amazon Prime, you HAVE to check it out.  OH, and I learned something quite interesting–and relevant to this blog–about one of the stars of the show.  You’ll have to wait for another post to find out what it is…tee hee…)


Back in June I bought a pair of Saucony Ride 9’s, and ended up getting a size 11 instead of my usual 10, because Saucony up and changed their design to make the toe box smaller.  I ran in them for a couple of months and then started developing plantar fasciitis. It might have been the shoes, it might not have, but it was too late to take them back.  I went to my other running store and got a pair of Saucony Triumphs on sale, and have been running  in those with no problems.  The salesman advised me to send the other shoes back to the company and see if I could get a credit for something else.  I runfess… I’m too lazy to do that.  I finally dug those big Ride 9’s out of my closet last week and went on a couple of runs with them with no issues.  I figure I’ll use them for some of my slow, easy runs.  If nothing else it will extend the life of my Triumphs a little bit…


(I did manage to go on one fabulous group run in November!  That’s my big ol’ blue Ride 9 on the very bottom.  I have to wear my thickest running socks with them.)


I runfess… I ordered two new running accessories: my Knuckle Lights, and  a new pair of Bluez 2 wireless headphones because my old ones were trashed.  I got them right around the time of Ray’s surgery, although I don’t think I really planned it that way.  Thing is, he’s all about me staying safe out there on the road, and he was all like, “Yes, please buy them!”  He feels better when I’m running with other people rather than by myself.  He gets nervous when I run in the dark.  He got me the headphones for Mother’s Day last year, because not only are they wireless, but instead of sticking them in your ears you wear them on the outside, and the bones inside your head help conduct the sound.  I love them because they sound great and I can still hear what is going on around me.  And the Knuckle Lights?  Let’s face it, headlamps are uncomfortable and they don’t really help me see where I’m going all that much.  These are super bright, and I just wrap them around my hands.  (The only negative is that the strap comes undone easily and they’re rubber so they make my hands sweat.  If they were Velcro that would solve both of those issues.)

(See my headphones?  I can just put them around my neck when I’m not using them.  They bounce a little, not too much, and not at all when they’re on my head.  And they’re rechargeable, as are the Knuckle Lights.)

And there’s my product review which isn’t earning me squat.


I’ve saved the best for last!  Meet John Paul.  If you ran the Turkey Trot in Fredericksburg last week you might have seen him in front of his house dressed like Rocky, cheering on runners with the Rocky theme playing on his front porch.  His family made this video as part of his first communion prep.  It’s a great reminder that as we enter into Advent it’s important to take care of our souls as well as our bodies.  And a great running tour of Fredericksburg, too!

What’s that awesmeness got to do with me and my runfessions, you ask?  Well, I runfess… I often put St. Mary Church on my running route–and even as my “home base”– so I can stop in for a couple of minutes of quiet prayer and to reflect on the many blessings in my life.  I have a lot to be thankful for this Advent. (And a special thanks to John Paul’s mama for allowing me to share this!)

Miles run:  80

Miles run on trails: about 16

Geocaches found:  2

Group runs:  1

Races:  Turkey Trot 5K

We’re careening into the busiest time of year.  I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to post here again.  It might be after Christmas, but hopefully before.  Have a wonderful Advent, and don’t forget to get out there for a run or a geocache!  And please check out Marcia’s Healthy Slice for more Runfessions, and This Ain’t The Lyceum for more quick takes!

A little PR for Thanksgiving (in 7 takes)


We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  Ray is recovering well from his surgery.  There is a good chance he won’t need chemo.  We’ll find out next week.  He was feeling well enough to prepare the Thanksgiving turkey in the smoker.  The time spent with friends and family are more precious than ever.


Since I was going to be in town this year, I decided to run our local Turkey Trot, which is one of our most popular local races.



I met up with some friends from our Fredericksburg Life Runners Chapter before the race for a prayer for the unborn and a group photo.  We have three new members, and two of them came to the race!  It was great meeting them and seeing my other Life Runners friends, too.



I was assigned to the second wave at the start.  When I signed up I predicted I would finish between 28-31 minutes, with hopes of beating my 5K PR of 28:08.  I said hello to a friend from Bible study, who was running with her family.  I had left my run-walk timer at home since I wasn’t planning on taking any walk breaks.  I saw several people I knew along the course.  At one point there were two young guys leaning over their fence drinking beers and cheering for the runners, and I hollered that they should be out here too.  They yelled back that they had already run that morning.  Yeah, sure.  I had been a little worried that I would go out too fast and wear myself out before the end, but the enthusiasm of the runners and the relative flatness of the course (there were a few little hills, not bad) helped me keep a brisk pace throughout.  There was a radio on a front porch playing the “Rocky” theme.  I found out later that the house belonged to a friend of mine from church, whose son came out dressed as Rocky to cheer on the runners after I had already passed by.  During the last mile I saw a friend whose sons had gone to the preschool where I teach, and she got this photo of me as I passed by giving them high-fives.



When I crossed the finish line I knew I had gotten a PR.  My Fitbit said 27:42 with a pace of 8:49.  My friend P from Life Runners was waiting for me, and after chatting with her for a few minutes I headed back to the car.  (I saw a guy puking near the finish line.  Please don’t ever let me push myself to that point.  I don’t imagine it’s worth it.)


Check out my negative splits!



After stuffing myself with turkey, pumpkin pie, and the gluten free carrot cake my mother made, and several glasses of wine, I went online and registered for the Historic Half.  To be specific, the Devil Dog Double Challenge, which they’ve introduced this year in honor of the tenth anniversary of the race.  You run the Semper 5 mile race and then turn right around at the finish and run the half.  The catch is you have to maintain a 9-minute per mile pace during the 5 mile, and must finish the entire 18.1 miles in 4 hours.  I’m going to have to train my butt off for that one, and that will probably be my big spring race.  I’ll save my next full marathon for the fall.  Maybe.

Official time:  27:36

PR of 32 seconds

I’m linking up with Kelly from This Ain’t The Lyceum, so please check it out! And if you haven’t seen my recap of the Hokie Half in October, you can find it here.

Happy Thanksgiving, and have a great weekend!

Race Recap: Hokie Half Marathon, 2016!

I made the 3.5-hour drive to Blacksburg on Saturday and went straight to Blacksburg High School for packet pickup.  I was fortunate to briefly meet up with my friend Rhonda from high school and wish her luck running her very first half marathon!  We almost missed each other, too, because she was leaving just as I was arriving.  I stopped for a geocache on my way to my parents’ house, who were out of town for the weekend.  Later I picked up Matt and we went to Mass at St. Mary’s and dinner at Bull and Bones, then it was off to bed.

(See that bird?  It’s fake.  It’s really a geocache!)

On race morning it was in the 40’s, and it was hard getting out of the warm car to head to the start line!  I caught up with Rhonda but unfortunately we lost each other after I stopped for one last visit to the port-a-potty.  We tried to reach each other via cell phone (“Where are you?”  “I’m by the bag check tent, where are you?” “By the bag check tent!”)  After wishing each other good luck and hanging up, we were off!

I started the race with a 1:30/30 run/walk interval, which is what I’ve been using for the last year or so for runs and races longer than 9 or 10 miles.  We quickly exited the Corporate Research Center and ran along U.S. 460 to New River Valley Mall.  After running through the parking lot for a bit we hit the Huckleberry Trail, which this year made up about six miles of the course.

Mile 1:  10:36

Mile 2:  10:42

Mile 3:  10:41

I love the part of the race where the course leaves the mall and enters the Huckleberry trail.  The next several miles or so are heaven!  I can remember exploring this old railroad bed even before it was a paved trail.


(I’ve run this race the last three years, and every year the course is slightly different.  This year there were more hills, and I got to run past my elementary school!)

Mile 4:  10:34

Mile 5:  10:36

 Photo by Michael Shroyer

(I look like a goofball, but hey, I’m having fun!)

Mile 6:  10:47

Mile 7:  11:20

I think Mile 7 was when I decided to up my game and change my running intervals from 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  I guess I had to walk a little longer than 30 seconds to reset my timer…good excuse for that slow mile. Ha.

Mile 8:  10:20

I had turned on Spotify somewhere around Mile 4, and at one point Tech Triumph (Virginia Tech’s fight song) played in my ear–and of course I turned up the volume.  And then between Mile 8 and 9, I was treated to the same song by some members of the Marching Virginians.  Of course I had to stop and take a photo!


(To the left of this group is a geocache.  At least I think it’s to the left, because I’ve looked for it a bunch of times but never found it.  Someday…)

Mile 9:  10:28

Mile 10:  10:26

At Mile 10 we ran right by the house where my friend Mary grew up.  Mary died of cancer a couple of years ago, and I always run this race in her honor.  I took this photo for her brother Geoff, who has been extremely supportive and encouraging during Ray’s cancer journey.


Mile 11:  10:15

Mile 12:  9:34

Mile 13:  10:47 (a big hill that wasn’t on last year’s course…)

Mile 0.29:  10:03

Official time:  2:19:43


I set my half marathon PR here last year at 2:18:33, and given the fact that the course was more hilly this year, and I kept stopping to take photos, I’m happy with my finish time!

After I crossed the finish line and collected my medal, I went back along the course to see if I could meet Rhonda and cheer her the rest of the way.  For some reason I had this idea that she would be a ways behind me, and struggling–since this was her first half and all.  Boy was I wrong!  She was a quarter mile back at most, and ROCKING IT.  That girl is a rockstar, I tell ya!  She’s training to run the Myrtle Beach marathon in February, and her ultimate goal is to one day qualify for Boston.  I have no doubt that she’ll be there someday, and maybe sooner than anyone expects.


(My tenth half, her first.  May there be many more for both of us!!  Look for this gal in Boston.)

So it was back to my parents’ house for a shower, lunch at Mellow Mushroom with Matt, and then the 4-hour drive home.  I got stuck in some traffic (not much) and did not stop once to stretch my legs.  Maybe that was why I was so sore the next day…

I’m planning to run the Fredericksburg Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, and it will be my first 5K in almost a year and a half!  We’ll see if I can beat my PR of 28:08.  And on December 4 I’ll be running the Blue and Gray Half Marathon!  I’ve run the 5K a couple of times (that’s the race where I set my PR), but not the half.  It will be on a familiar course, and I’m going to try and run the whole race with a 2/30 interval. Wish me luck!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I’m hoping to get out to find at least one geocache over the Thanksgiving holiday… if not it won’t be the first time I’ve gone a whole month without geocaching, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  Gobble Gobble!!


(From last Easter.  Not a Thanksgiving turkey…)