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A mile or two

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Holding the fence as I squeezed under

Brushing the dirt off each other

Sneakers wet from the morning dew

Stretching, as I listened to you

Explain the morning’s adventure.

A light warm up, a mile or two

Then peel the sweats.

Off I went around the track

At blazing speeds, or so I thought.

Half way ‘round, “speed up!” you’d yell

And sometimes “slow down!”

At workout’s end, you gave results

And always encouraging words

Ending with “a mile or two”

As you walked across the field.

Minutes later we squeezed back under,

Leaving our place until next time

Never thinking that our adventures would end.

If I only knew…


1990 WMASS Track One Mile Champion

1990 WMASS Track One Mile Champion


My dad was my high school cross country and track coach.  I wrote this in college when I was away from home for the first time in my life, missing my family, and being coached by someone new for the first time.   While my dad does not coach me anymore or run anymore, I feel that the lessons I learned from him as a runner and coach have helped me become a better runner, coach, and person.  I decided to post this poem as a blog entry for Father’s Day weekend as a way of thanking him and remembering those special moments.  I would also like to thank my mom for being the most amazing, patient, and supportive mom, team mom, and volunteer assistant coach ever.  She was there at every meet no matter how far away or how bad the weather.  She would help injured runners out of the woods, take pictures, and be there at the finish never knowing what to expect.  One of the two most memorable races with my mom was a home cross country meet when I was trying out a new insert in my shoe.  The insert bunched up so badly and caused me so much pain that I literally crossed the finish line, pulled off my shoe, and threw it.  Let’s just say I was a little frustrated and uncomfortable!  I did not throw it at my mom, but she jokes that I did…it may have been in her direction since she was waiting for me past the finish line.  The other was my junior year when I ran the mile in track and my mom took me to the WMASS championship when my dad was out of town.  I ran as an individual since my school did not have a track team.  We arrived at the meet and I was headed to the infield to pick up my packet and competition number when the coach from a neighboring school told me I would be disqualified if I went on the infield.  I was so nervous since I had never been to such a big track meet before.  My mom was not about to let another coach intimidate me so she took charge, went to the infield, picked up my packet, and I ended up winning and qualifying for state.

Once I figured out that I wanted to be a running coach, all I have tried to do is be like my parents and do all the amazing things that they did for me.  They kept it fun, always pushed me to be my best, and were supportive, caring, encouraging, strong, and understanding no matter the outcome of each race.







The Darlings of the team

The Darlings of the team








The good old college try

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

When I ran cross country and track at Brown University, there were so many levels of competition.  We competed in NCAA Division I and the Ivy League, yet the highest level of competition always seemed to be amongst ourselves, as we were all trying for one of those coveted top seven varsity spots on the cross country team or trying to hit a qualifying time or be in a top spot for an event in track so we could make the traveling team.

This competition started in the fall of freshman year in cross country and never let up.  In high school I had always run easy on my long runs, you know, conversational pace for the most part.  Not in college!  I remember cold, slushy winters in Providence when we hit the streets and hammered out hard 10-12 milers with the upperclassmen.  And all we ever tried to do was not fall off the back.

Then spring arrives and it’s time to head to the track.  Brown has an awesome stadium and all weather track.  But, it is two miles away from the main campus.  So that meant a two mile warm up run to the track, hammering away these workouts that left me wondering if I could finish, and then, yes, you guessed it, a two mile cool down jog to get back to campus.  And no matter which route you took back to campus, you had to run uphill at some point.

I remember heading to the dining hall after practice with teammates and as we stood in line with our trays, I recall not wanting to eat.  I had run so hard that although feeling hungry during the workout and knowing I needed to refuel, my stomach was feeling kind of sick and food was the last thing on my mind.  One guy put his tray down and left.  The rest of us knew we needed to eat so we stayed.  After a while, that feeling passed and then we felt hungry and devoured insane amounts of food and stuffed snacks in our back packs for later too.

That feeling I am talking about mostly comes when doing speedwork or really putting forth a strong effort.  I felt that a little today.  And as crazy as it sounds, it made me smile!  I was doing a five mile tempo run on a nice trail but the head wind was strong and cold.  Despite the wind and softer surface, I was determined to complete the workout at the pace I was supposed to so I really had to work.  I fought the wind and even felt hungry during the workout.  When I finished the five miles, slightly faster than goal pace, and started my super slow cool down jog, I felt that sick feeling just a little.  And all I could do was smile as it brought me back to my days at Brown.

I am training for the 2011 Boston Marathon, which his only 14 weeks away.  My training has been challenging and after today’s run and feeling like I used to back in college, I knew I must be doing something right.

Keep your easy days easy, but don’t be afraid to run hard on your hard days no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

Get your butt kicked

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Today I ran the 1500 meters in an open track meet.  This is something I have not done since 1995.  I raced with Di and Amanda from the high school track team I coach.  I rarely go “head to head” in competition with the teenagers I coach but today was the exception.  Di beat me by a couple of seconds in our 1500 meter time trial a week and a half ago but I still thought I might have a chance today – meet conditions, adrenaline, competition, and all that good stuff.  I mean, I am a COMPETITOR!  ;)

My finishing kick is not what it used to be so I knew I had to run the first three laps a little faster.  Comparing the time trial to today’s race, I ran the first lap one second faster, the second lap one second faster, the third lap two seconds faster, and the last lap two seconds slower than the time trial.  While my overall race time was two seconds faster than the trial my legs just had nothing left on that last lap.  As predicted, Di flew by me with a little over 200 meters to go.  I thought I might be able to close a little of the gap in the last 100 but no luck.  She ran a perfectly executed race.

As I walked around out of breath after crossing the finish line I thought about how I had no speed left in these 36 year old legs!  Di beat me in a race.  It’s official.

I was a little down for a short time.  Very short.  The trip to the track meet was so much fun with my husband, Di, Amanda, and Taylor.  It’s hard to feel down with such a wonderful group of people.  Between the car ride, name that tune, and lunch my spirits were quickly lifted.

Today helped me make a decision.  I was going to see how I did in today’s 1500 meters before deciding about running in the 1500 at the Sunshine State Games and the Southeast Sports Festival later this summer.  With the lack of speed I felt today, I knew that the only way to get some of that speed back would be to do lots of speed work and strength training.

If there is one thing I have learned since my injury plagued days of running in college, it is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  That is the best advice I can offer to anyone.  So based on how my hamstring has felt after my short, fast speed sessions of the past few weeks, I know that my track days are behind me.  I will not race the 1500 this summer.

Instead I will stick to my original plan of racing a few key races between now and the final Picnic Island of the summer (July 9).  I will then take a short break and start working towards my three big races – Daytona Beach Half Marathon in October, Disney Half Marathon in January, and then the Boston Marathon in April…of course racing some shorter stuff along the way.

So sometimes it is good to get your butt kicked to help you realize what PRs might be behind you and which ones are still ahead of you.

Me leading the first 3 laps of the 1500


Check out Di’s smile/smirk as she gives me the “nice race” shake


(Almost) Feel Like a Teen Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

As I mentioned in previous entries, I have gone back to my roots, literally!  Since November 2009 I have raced four trail races – true cross country with hills, roots, rocks, mud, and loved every mile.  I started out at age 11 running cross country.  These trail races have been a way for me to return to some of my favorite running and racing times – high school and college cross country.

I guess I enjoyed the cross country racing so much it seemed like a natural progression to hit the track too.  As a high school cross country and track coach I see the year in seasons – build a base, strength work, speed work, peak at the end of the season in key races, and then recovery time.  I don’t see a year as road racers do – train and race pretty much the same all year.

So as the high school track season has come to an end I find myself entering an open track meet on May 16 where I can race the 1500 meters, a race I have not run since college!

Wanting to be as prepared as possible, I decided to run a 1500 meter time trial today at 1:00 in the afternoon on a black track with no shade in sight.  Let me just say that summer is here in Florida!  Luckily I was joined by some young runners – Di, an 18 year old senior from the track team and two early twenty-something guys, Maverick and Eric.  We were timed by Kaitlyn and Amanda from the track team.  It was great having all this support!  I mention the ages here because it should be noted that I am twice Di’s age.  I am now twice the age of the seniors I coach.  Still trying to accept that fact.

Anyway, today was my day to not be the coach.  So we warmed up as a group and prepared for the task at hand.  I told everyone my goal pace and even though they were faster than me, they ran with me, paced me, and encouraged me.  It was awesome!  I ran the first 2 and 3/4 laps at exactly the pace I thought I might be able to run based on current race times.  It was so cool, 1:07 for the first 300 meters, then 1:30 and 1:30 for the next two laps.  The last lap was the fastest in 1:24, as it should be.  I always aim to run negative splits.  Di blasted by me in the last 200 meters and finished a few seconds ahead of me.

I guess I expected that.  She is amazing in her ability to pace herself and run negative splits.  She does it nearly every race.  She does it so perfectly that I never worry if she happens to be in last place on the first lap or two of her 3200 meter races.  I know she will run those negative splits and catch so many that have gone out too fast ahead of her.  She works so hard and has truly become a student of her sport.  She learns all she can to be her best.  As a coach, I feel very proud watching her races unfold so perfectly.  And she has one heck of a kick.

After the 1500 meter time trial, we ran 6 x 400 meter repeats.  My goal was 1:20 but I really didn’t know if that would be possible after the 1500.  The four of us lined up in lanes, using the stagger.  Something most of us had not done before since we don’t race the 400 and when running them in training we usually just run in lane one.

Maverick started us on each one.  Again, me trying to just run and not be coach today.  I went out pretty fast in lane 4 and crossed the finish line in 1:18.  I could hardly believe it.  My legs were a little wobbly but I was pretty excited.  We hit 1:18 again.  Changed into some racing flats and ran the third one in 1:17.  Whoa.  Didn’t care for the racing flats so ran #4 in them just to be sure and crossed in 1:19 then changed back to my other shoes.  By the fifth 400 my legs were pretty heavy and wobbly as I walk/jogged the recovery lap.  That would be my slowest in 1:20.  But this was my original goal pace so not too bad!  I thought I would have nothing left for the sixth 400, especially as the other three runners made up the stagger and flew by me with more than 200 meters to go but I still managed a 1:16 which is pretty amazing for these 36 year old legs!  I have not run 1:16 since my college days.

It was hot, I ended up sunburned, but had one of the best speed workouts I can remember.  Training with a group is definitely more fun, can really help you push past your personal limitations, and allows you to share in the joy and pain of running fast.  I must say that I did not feel 36 years old today.  I know I have lost some leg speed over the years, but today I could almost visualize myself running track workouts at the Brown stadium or at the old cinder track at the old Palmer High School (Monson did not have a track when I was in high school).  I almost felt like a teen again.  Coaching definitely has great benefits like getting to know amazing young runners like the ones I shared a two hour workout with today.


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