Five Magical Motivations to RUN

So many conversations I have had about running over the past few months as I have made modifications to deal with my tachycardia issues have ended (on my part) with some variation of “but I am still grateful.”

My goal of running a 5K in less than 30 minutes is almost certainly not attainable at this point. Maybe if I checked in to a fitness retreat, ate 100% clean for an extended period of time, trained intensively, put my life on hold and went without the medication that slows my heart rate down and makes it feel like I’m running through mud long enough to pull it off it would happen. It’s not realistic, though, time-wise or budget-wise to put my life on hold. I’m doubtful it would be a good choice for my overall health, and the mere fact that cupcakes exist in this world is some type of evidence that it is possible to deny yourself too much!

Motivations For Running

Enjoying Baked by Melissa “Snowstorm” cupcakes after a run!

Jane Mahoney, a runner in the Kerri On: I Run for Remembrance group, a companion group to I Run for Michael in which members run in memory of people’s loved ones, said this today, after describing a run she and some friends had done in memory of a fellow runner and friend who had died of cancer:

Running is a magical thing, giving solitude, peace, friendship, honor and joy to life. ~ Jane Mahoney

In that one sentence, Jane captured the assets of running which have enabled me, one by one, to put a knot in the rope and hang on when I was almost at the end of my rope with running the last few months.

The Solitude of Running

I won’t lie. Despite the social benefits (discussed below), I still love running by myself. Especially since I am a primary caregiver for my father-in-law and almost never have the house to myself, I love being alone. The repetitive footsteps are like meditation for me; my thoughts have a chance to unfurl and wander, and the fresh air is rejuvenating. I also have the pleasure of listening to various Rock My Run mixes (read here for how you can benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by downloading this free app!).


We have a number of scenic running trails here in Tallahassee. A few weeks ago, I went out by myself and ran the Swamp Forest trail in preparation for last weekend’s Swamp Forest Quarter Marathon. It was just me, the trees, gorgeous views of streams, streaming sunlight; and a few animals skittering and fro. No screens to be stared at, no one who needed anything, just peace.

Motivations For Running

The Swamp Forest Trail. Photo courtesy of Robin Bennett.


Everyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for working toward a measurable goal. Even though I had heard about groups running from a local running store every Monday and Thursday night, I had declined to join for several reasons. Once a member told me the group was trying to get to 2016 miles in 2016, though, I was in! I joined them this past Thursday night, and Chris (the leader) said “I’ll stay with you.” Now, I have been told “I’ll stay with you” before and many times that commitment, which was sincerely meant at the time, goes out the window when the individual realizes how slow I am relative to them. Not this time. Chris stayed with me every step of the way, and the miles flew by. Three miles later I had a friend and a reminder of why the running community is second to none.

Motivations For Running

The Capital City Runners 2016 or Bust Group.


I didn’t attend the Gulf Winds Track Club awards ceremony last night, but as the names of the awardees (which are kept a secret until the ceremony) started rolling in on social media, I was thrilled for so many runners I respect who were recognized for their achievements. Although I am happy for everyone, I am exceedingly happy for my friend Maria Matheu, 2015 Female Runner of the Year. Maria worked so hard this year as she ran every race in the Gulf Winds Track Club Extreme Challenge series. Six of the hard miles were the ones she ran for me smack in the middle of a scorchingly hot Tallahassee summer when we ran from Madison Social to Capital City Runners and back, all for a free beer (okay, it was for more than a free beer but still….). She’s another one who said, “I’ll stay with you” and actually did stay with me. She had already run 8 miles that day, and only someone with a bit of a crazy streak would have headed out in the 100 degree heat index day, much less with someone who is going to take FOREVER to get it done. Maria proved (to me) who she was that day. She was (is) a friend. She honored her commitment. No one in our club deserves this award more than she does.

Motivations For Running

2015 Gulf Winds Track Club Female Runner of the Year, Maria Matheu


So much of 2015  has been spent staring at the screen of my Garmin, trying to figure out if my heart rate was going to behave or not. Over the past two months, it was reading exceptionally high. Skipping past the frantic calls I made to the pharmacist (is this batch of beta blockers bad?) and my electrophysiologist (WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!), it turns out my Garmin sensor needed to be replaced. Everything is still not perfect, but the malfunctioning electronics had me in a misguided  mental (and emotional) spiral of “this is never going to get resolved.” I have a new strap/sensor which seems to be recording correctly. When I ran with Chris Thursday night, I didn’t look at my Garmin for the whole run. Not fixating on my HR allowed me to be more open to the whole reason we do this: JOY.

Lastly, in addition to those five reasons, my son has started joining me at running events again. This may be pushing me even farther away from a sub-30 finish than my medical issues have, but it has me speeding toward something much more important: miles, memories, and, like Jane, a magical thing.

Motivations For Running

Billy Bowlegs 5K. Photo courtesy of Fred Deckert.


December 2015 #RunChatHunt

You know what #RunChatHunt does?

It gets under your skin and into your head … permanently … that’s what!

Even though this item was several RunChatHunts ago, I don’t ever pass the pay phone at Tom Brown Park without thinking of RunChatHunt. The same is true for road kill, but I don’t think I am ever supposed to talk about road kill again or I may get kicked out of future hunts!

This year’s list was fun! The most challenging item (to me) was the leftover Halloween decorations.

Running Scavenger Hunt

The goal is to find the items listed then Tweet them with the #RunChatHunt tag. Each tweet (that complies with the rules of course!) qualifies the participant for a prize. The prize list  this year is one of the most prolific I have ever seen! Visit the link and check them out!

Here are my finds:

Running Scavenger Hunt

The hunt lasts through January 1, 2016, so there’s still time if you want to participate!

In addition, there’s a separate yet equally awesome (and someone easier to pull off) hunt underway on Facebook.  Click here to join.

While it is totally fun hunting for the various scavenger hunt items, I have to say the thing about running that has sustained my year the most has been my running friends. In our town, with these people, you don’t have to “hunt” too far to find the very best. And the prize is in the time, the sweat, and the shared miles.

Enjoying cupcakes after a Christmas Lights Run!

Enjoying cupcakes after a Christmas Lights Run!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Sprinkles

Many people believe life is too short not to enjoy dessert first, so here’s the sweet ending to this blog:


Customer Service
Tenley’s and my trip to Charleston occurred primarily so that I could run the Cooper River Bridge Run with my sister-in-law Laurie to celebrate Laurie’s 40th birthday.  Tenley had come along, partially to help my brother-in-law Pat wrangle Riley (23 months) and Peyton (10 months) as Zane played his first t-ball game while Laurie and I ran.

Tenley saw an advertisement for “Aisle Style,” an exhibit of 150 years of wedding history at the Charleston Museum, and we decided to go there for the afternoon after our morning of running (me over a bridge, her after little girls).  Somewhere along the line, Tenley started fantasizing about red velvet cake and I breezily said, “gee we should be able to find that in downtown Charleston.”

The afternoon in downtown Charleston got off to a rocky mother-daughter start.  I was especially pleased that we were doing something quasi-educational instead of blatantly materialistic, especially since had I squeezed this trip into the family budget with a definite “bare-bones” mindset.  Before we even saw the first wedding dress, Tenley laid eyes on the coffee table book “Southern Weddings,” and declared that she wanted it.  We proceeded to enjoy “Aisle Style,” and cruised briefly through the Museum’s other exhibits, and were on our way out of the museum to walk around downtown when the book issue came up again.  The problem:  the $30 book did not meet my definition of “bare bones,” especially when I am a pro at finding bargain books; I would hate to spend $30 just to find this book for $12.95 at a remainder table somewhere.  When I said as much, Tenley’s response was, “well, then I don’t want it anymore.”  For about five minutes the afternoon’s entire karma hung in the balance.  My speech equating the cost of the book with the cost of a tank of gas to get us back to Tallahassee didn’t really do much to improve things.  I had forgotten the intense allure shopping holds for Tenley; “browsing” without buying holds zero logic or appeal.

But we were already downtown, and still on the red velvet hunt, so we decided to keep going.  We strolled through the downtown market, where we have had bargain luck before, and in the shops in the vicinity of the market.  I checked out every street cafe menu, with not a morsel of red velvet cake in sight.  When Tenley was hungry we ate at a Subway (not a lot of local flavor there!).  She found a dress that she thought would be awesome for the 8th grade dance, and I was able to rationalize that expenditure as slightly less offensive to my “bare bones” plan, but she decided it wasn’t just right.  That one little glimmer of retail hope did perk her up, though!  As 6:00 approached and we needed to head back to Pat and Laurie’s house, we poked in a few more places, the last being Boutique Henrieta.  I asked the gentleman behind the counter a) if I was headed the right direction for my parking lot at the intersection of Church and Cumberland Streets (yes), and b) if he knew of any place nearby that served red velvet cake.

I wish I could bottle the “desire to help the customer” that Joseph showed.  He said he didn’t know, but that he would make a phone call.  The first phone call led to a place that did not serve red velvet cake.  At some point, someone suggested a local grocery store, the same one my sister in law had recommended.  I’m sure Harris Teeter’s red velvet cake is good, but we ultimately ended up with GREAT!  Joe decided to call Jestine’s, and they asked if red velvet cupcakes would do (answer: YES!).  Apparently the cupcakes are actually sold at an establishment next door to Jestine’s, which had closed at 5 p.m., but Leigh at Jestine’s said if we would come down she would set us up.  I started talking to Joe about my penchant for blogging about people who treat customers right (even when they aren’t buying anything!), and he and I had about a five minute conversation packing in 30 minutes worth of good books, good software, and how doing the right thing usually comes back to you, along with directions to Jestine’s, and Tenley and I were off.

Customer ServiceCustomer Service

When we arrived at Jestine’s, we were confused by the line of 30 people snaking out the door.  Was the restaurant not yet open for dinner?  How were we supposed to get in?  I realized these were all people waiting to eat, since there was no indoor waiting area.  I was a woman on a mission, so I walked on in (those 30 people loved that) and looked for Leigh, who happened to be the first person I approached.  She promised to go to the mysterious “next door,” said the cupcakes were $2 each and she thought there were six available.  I told her I’d take what they had but I didn’t need more than six.  She invited me to sit down and, despite how slammed the restaurant was, asked if I wanted something to drink.  I asked if Tenley could come in and she said she could (those 30 people loved that just as much as when I had brazenly walked in!).  Lo and behold, Leigh provided us with a box of four beautiful red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and technicolor sprinkles!  We slunk out past the hungry 30 and worked our way back to our car.  It’s a miracle we didn’t drop our treasure sneaking peeks and trying to get the box closed again!

Once we were in the car, it was inevitable we would consume cupcakes before we went anywhere!  I was still fiddling with the GPS when Tenley ate her cupcake.  “You’re gonna die,” she teased, indicating how delicious the red velvet treat was ……… and that’s how a day that started 200 feet above the Cooper River ended on an even higher note.

Thank you, Joseph, for mapping it all out for us, and Leigh for “putting the icing on the cake”!