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Do You Know What a Woman is Worth?

A book titled What a Woman Is Worth was released this week. It’s a compilation of stories from various women describing their journey to discovering their own worth. It’s complied by Tamara Lunardo (aka Tamara Out Loud) and I wrote a chapter that’s in it.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

My chapter is titled, From Under a Bonnet to Freedom. I didn’t pick the title, but it fits my story. It’s a synopsis of my struggle to recognize my own worth as a woman, which has been an issue from day one due to a domineering/controlling father who saw women as second-rate and because I spent many years in communities where women didn’t have equality, starting with my mennonite childhood and continuing in the traditional evangelical community.

I open my chapter with a scene from one of the many extended family dinners we had as I was growing up.

Our intense game of dodgeball is interrupted by a call to dinner. My cousins and I are hungry, so we stop the game knowing we’ll play again after the meal.

We noisily file into the house already filled with dozens of aunts, uncles and other cousins. The kitchen counter is covered with serving dishes filled with familiar PA Dutch food. An extension table surrounded by chairs stretches through the kitchen into the adjoining living room.

I’m starving — but instead of being able to eat and chat with most of my fellow dodgeball players, I have to stand by watching and serving them.

My extended family is too large to all eat a family-style meal at one time, so we eat in shifts. The normal practice is for the men and boys to eat first and the women and girls to serve them. After the males finish eating, the men find comfortable chairs in the parlor and the boys return to the dodgeball game.

Before the women can eat, we wash the plates, silverware and cups. After the table is reset, the serving dishes are retrieved from the oven, where they’ve been put to keep the food warm.

The women in my family are a fun, lively bunch and we chat as we eat, but half my mind is on the dodgeball game happening outside without me.

This was my world in 1975 and I accepted this type of thing as normal because it was all I knew. – Janet Oberholtzer in What is a Woman Worth


What a Woman is Worth is divided into five sections covering relationships, abuse/healing, society, expectations and faith. So if you or a woman you know has struggled with recognizing her own worth, this is a great book for you/her.

Get you paperback or Kindle copy here: What a Woman is Worth.


Two Cookbooks = Two New Recipes each Week

I’ve had a few crazy months in the second half of 2013… with a 1,000 mile move, which involved three trips between PA and FL, plus remodeling our new house as we lived in it.

Due to a lack of routine, I was not cooking regularly, and the minimal cooking I did was simple easy meals… like tomato soup and grilled cheese.

I decided with no travels on my immediate horizon and the remodeling now finished, it’s time to do some more cooking again. Plus, in the last few months, I received two new cookbooks and I want to try a number of recipes in each.

The No Meat Athlete website was a big influence and my number one resource as I switched to a vegetarian diet 4 years ago… now I look forward to trying the recipes in his newly released book.

no meat cookbook

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook

When I was a blogger for the Runner’s World Half this fall, one of the meals they provided for us was completely made with recipes from this cookbook… and every single thing I ate was delicious. So I look forward to making the recipes I tried and many more. (will be skipping the meat, poultry and fish chapters)


I plan to make one recipe from each book each week… and to take pictures of the process and the completed dish, along with my thoughts about it.

Time to pick the first recipes and make a shopping list…

My New York City Marathon Recap

On November 3, 2013 I did the New York City Marathon for the IM ABLE Foundation.
I did it… because I can and to help others who can’t.

There were five of us doing the marathon for IM ABLE and together we raised around $12,000… because of that many people’s lives will be enriched. Thanks to each of you who encouraged and supported me with words, kindness and money.

Everything about the day—the weather, the organization, the race, the spectators, the other runners and how I felt— everything was far better than I thought it might be!

This recap is detailed, if you don’t have time for that… go here for the abbreviated version. 

NYC start

6AM—ready to do what IM ABLE, Because I Can!

My Goals:

To enjoy the day.
And to finish! (I think I can, I think I can, I sure as hell hope think I can…)


The Start
Quick memory: Very well organized sea of humanity
Feeling: Excited, but concerned about whether or not I could finish. 

NYC ferry station

The sea of humanity on race morning

Details: It took a subway, ferry and bus ride to get me to the start. The subway ride was on my own from the upper west side where a friend of a friend had graciously offered to host us, to the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry ride was part of the race organization. The station was a mass of organized chaos. I met cool runners like:

NYC runner I met

Mary (I think) recently lost 80 lbs and is a half-marathon maniac doing her first full marathon!

And a super energetic and inspiring bathroom worker who entertained us as we waited in line with creative sayings like… “Let’s get the royal flush going!”

NYC bathroom worker

Doing her job with energy and a smile… because she can!

At my previously selected time (8am) I boarded the ferry with other runners.

NYC staten island ferry

Freezing on the ferry, but had to step outside as we left Manhattan.

Not having had time (or being too lazy) to go over all the race start details, I was winging the day… so as I got off the ferry, I wondered what’s next. But it wasn’t hard to figure out, I simply followed the sea of people to the waiting busses for a ride (part of the race organization) to the other side of Staten Island where the start village was.

NYC the village

Flags from NYC’s 5 boroughs greeted us at the marathon start village

Arriving at the start village, I was frisked with a metal wand (new procedure this year). I had a green bib, so I followed the large green signs and flags to my designated village. (There was security and people everywhere, but well organized.)

I walked around the village to stay warm, but wasn’t as cold as I thought I might be. There was complimentary food (bagels, bananas, bars) and water, tea and coffee. I had some Dunkin Donut’s coffee (a big sponsor of the race) and ate the oatmeal I had picked up at a Starbucks (adding the chia seeds I had stashed in my pocket—gotta have them!)

I was in Wave 4 (last wave) and at the posted time, I added my sweatshirt and sweatpants to the mounds of other discarded clothes (which were donated to homeless shelters) and joined others heading to our corral.

NYC clothing

Doing a great job gathering the clothes for others… because they can!

I noticed lines of people forming at gates. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be in a specific line, but I didn’t want to stand still and get too cold, so I wandered over to the other side of the corral. Doing that I noticed a range of numbers posted at each gate corresponding with bib numbers. After I saw some of the lines start slowly moving, I found my gate and got in line. The line snaked out through the gate to meet the other lines, which created a sea of humanity headed to the start line on the bridge.

The crowd walked slowly out of the corral and over to the start right beside the bridge. At one point, there was an endless row of porta-pots with no lines, so I made one last stop. I figured that was better than having a federal offense on my record.

Announcements were made frequently that it’s a federal offense to urinate off the side of the bridge. In the past, I’ve heard countless people talk about other runners urinating over the side of the bridge, but still others said that it was an urban myth, but since they kept making announcements about it, I assume it has happened.

During our slow walk to the start, I was thrilled to run into Sheryl, a friend I had met at a conference in the past year or so. It was her first marathon and she was dressed with her usual rocking style for the occasion. Read her excellent marathon recap here. 

NYC sherly

The famous Sheryl Yvette – aka BitchCakes

Near the start, everyone paused as the national anthem was sung, then the cannons fired and we were off right on time. (Totally impressive!)

Mile 1 
Quick memory: Windy and uphill
Feeling: Glad to get started, wishing the wind would die down. 

NYC on the bridge

Taken on the Verrazano Bridge

Details: The start is only a short distance (maybe 50 feet) from the bridge, so we were soon on it and headed up an incline. I was debating if I’m going to run the whole hill or give myself a walking break. I soon noticed some runners stopping to take pictures along the side, so I decided to do the same after about 5 minutes of uphill running. It was extremely windy to run near the side or stand there taking a picture. Made me glad I was on the lower level, I can only imagine how windy it was on the top level.

Mile 2
Quick memory: Falling. Yes, falling on the cold hard asphalt.
Feeling: Cold… and wondering why the hell I was doing this. 

Details: There was a fair bit of lane-changing in the first few miles as people moved from the side to the middle of the bridge or vice-versa. At one time when I was running in the middle of the road (to avoid the wind along the side) someone moved over in front of me and tripped me. For a second I thought I would be able to recover, but then before I knew what happened, I was on the cold, hard asphalt. I didn’t fall hard, but both legs/knees hit and then my hands as I reached out to stop myself.

A few runners stopped and helped me get up (very kind) My thought was to get up and check out the stinging pain I was feeling on my legs, but as soon as I was up someone behind me pushed me in the center of my back (not so kind) and I had no choice but to run as soon as I stood up. I assume the push was to get me going again, so no one else would run into me.

As I ran again, I carefully made my way over to the side, where I could stop and check out the damage. Thankfully there was no blood, only light surface abrasions. The cold, stinging pain died down after walking a minute or so, then I started running again.

Mile 3 and 4
Quick memory: People peeing and discarding clothes.
Feeling: Fascinated… and happy to have a few miles behind me.

Details: Coming off the bridge, I noticed a few people who must not have made use of the empty porta-pots right before the start head to a large bush off the side of the road. (Does that give new meaning to the phrase “community watering hole”?)

NYC clothes urine bush

Dropped clothes… and the community watering hole (orange tree/bush) ahead

I tend to stay at the edge of the crowd along the side of the road, so my walking breaks don’t interfere with anyone. Apparently many runners warmed up on the bridge and needed to shed clothes. For the first 1/2 mile off the bridge, I had to be careful not to trip on sweatshirts, beanies, gloves, etc. discarded by earlier runners. I was still comfortable in my capris, a long sleeve and a short sleeve shirt, along with gloves and a headband over my ears.

As we came off the lower level of the bridge, the runners from the top level divided and half came down the ramp on the left of us and half on the right. It was so cool to see runners everywhere. At that time the groups didn’t combine, each group stayed on their own road.

Shortly after the bridge, we came to the first water stop and were greeted not only with gatorade and water, but with cheers and encouragement. I was feeling great, so it was fun to chat briefly with other runners, especially others that were taking walking breaks also.

Somewhere in mile 4, we made a right turn until 4th Avenue, and joined the other two streams of runners (the orange and blue bibs) that were already running on it, though we were divided by the low concrete barrier in the center of the road.

Mile 5 and 6
Quick memory: Celebrity time!
Feeling: Great and loving everything about the NYC marathon!

Details: Everyone had encouraged me to write my name on my shirt, which I had done with fabric paint. (Thanks Bev!) I soon realized why. In many races while running through residential areas, there’s an occasional spectator, but in NYC, there’s spectators everywhere!

NYC spectators

Random rocking spectators!

They watched the runners and as soon so they saw a name on someone’s shirt, the personalized cheering started. “Go Janet, you can do this!” “Looking good, Janet!” “Janet, you got this.” “Janet, you trained, now enjoy the race.” And on and on and on…

Sometimes the cheers were from one person at a time, but others times when the spectator’s friends heard him or her use a name, they also added personal cheers, so suddenly you had a crowd of people chanting your name.

Seriously, one starts feeling like a celebrity.
The NYC marathon spectators deserve a trophy for their cheering. Seriously!
My arm got a workout also, because I must have high-fived 10,000 spectators as I ran.

I loved it all!

Mile 7 and 8
Quick memory: Feeling great!
Feeling: Good and making sure I wasn’t running too fast.

Details: I wore a run/walk/run timer which I turned on soon after the bridge (I planned to run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute) But sometime in the first few miles, it quit working, so I gauged my walking breaks on the water stops, inclines and how I felt.

My left thigh had been tight and complaining from the cold before the start and during the first few miles. Massaging it during my walking breaks helped and it slowly warmed and loosen up.

Other than the first incline on the bridge, the route was relatively flat through this residential area, and I was feeling good, so these miles went by fast. With the sporadic training I had, I knew I couldn’t maintain anything faster than 13 or 14 minute miles for 26.2 miles. So even though I could have run faster at this time, I made sure to stay in that range, so I wouldn’t die during the last miles.

Mile 9 and 10
Quick memory: More runners and mountains of cups
Feeling: Super happy with how good I felt. 

Details: The first few miles had been crowded… I couldn’t move more than a few inches left or right without checking to see if someone was there. And at times I even had to be careful that I didn’t elbow the person beside me.

Then it had thinned somewhat, but at the start of mile 9, we turned off 4th Avenue until Lafayette Ave where everyone combined on one road and for a short time, the road felt somewhat crowded again.

NYC cups


During the first 8 miles there were lots of cups on the road right after the water stations, but once all the runners combined, there were mountains of cups! But I was totally impressed, not only with the number of water stops and aid stations along the course, but with the amount of volunteers at each one. At each one, several people were continually raking (with yard rakes) cups off the road so they weren’t in the runner’s way.

I was careful with my footing at the stations, because the asphalt was not only wet, it was also sticky/slippery from spilled gatorade. Somewhere in this section, I warmed up and peeled off my long sleeve shirt (amazing endeavor since it was under my short sleeve shirt, because I wanted my IM ABLE shirt on the outside all the time)

Mile 11 to 12
Quick memory: Getting smiles from solemn Jewish men.
Feeling: Physically, on top of the world. Mentally, sad.

Details: The marathon course goes through a number of different NYC neighborhoods. Mile 11 is through one of the largest Hasidic Jewish community in America. The only cheering spectators for this mile were folks who had wandered down the street from nearby communities, because the Jewish folks consider the marathon an annoyance and most ignore it.

They go about their own business and give limited attention to the runners. In their defense, Sunday is a normal work and school day for them, because their holy day is on Saturday (the Sabbath), so having the marathon go through their neighborhood is an inconvenience to them.

They all appeared to be dressed in mostly black and they were all very solemn, especially the men. While I’m sure the details of their lifestyle and their dress are different, they reminded me of the Amish and strict Mennonites I grew up with.

I only saw a few Jewish women out and about and most were slowly pushing strollers. Whereas the men hurried down the sidewalk (often talking on their cellphones) intentionally avoiding eye contact with the runners.

After repeatedly seeing their solemn faces and their refusal to acknowledge the world around them, I was both annoyed and sad. So I started saying to them, “You should smile, it’s a beautiful day!” This usually made them look my way and offer me a small smile before quickly glancing away. (Why would anyone go through life avoiding the world/people round them?)

Groups of Jewish children (also dressed in dark clothes) were walking down the sideway (maybe going home from school?) They would cautiously glance at the runners, but they didn’t easily smile or wave. I ran/walked near the side of the road, so I could smile, say hi and throw wristbands at some of them. (I started the race with both arms full of BECAUSE I CAN wristbands and finished with two left). This usually generated some smiles and waves. But it made me sad to think that those children will grow up with such a limited worldview. (I dream of a day when all children are raised with a balanced worldview.)

For a few miles, I kept thinking about the fact that their religion (and most other religions) is based on texts from long ago, so they focus on the past and try to maintain a way of life that was normal in the past, but isn’t anymore. I’ve fine with anyone keeping any traditions they want… but what makes the past more holy than the present? (there’s lots of time to think during 26.2 miles)

Soon my wandering thoughts about religion were overtaken by a more urgent-present-moment thought. Time for a bathroom break! I had passed numerous porta-pots (there were some every few miles) but each time there was a long line and I didn’t feel like standing in line.

Thankfully around mile 12, I spied at least 6 porta-pots near the water station and with only about 10 people in line, I knew the wait wouldn’t be too long. Standing in line, I texted Bev with my progress, because in about 6 miles she was joining me!

I’ve been in many porta-pots at races, and I must say these were about the worse I’ve been in… but then again, I was probably in the last 5,000 people of a 50,000+ person race, so what did I expect?

Mile 13 
Quick memory – Still in Brooklyn? Almost halfway!
Feeling: First thoughts of “when will this be over?”

Details: I had checked the course map before, but I hadn’t taken note how many miles we’d actually be in Brooklyn. Nothing wrong with Brooklyn, but knowing we were going to run in all 5 boroughs, I started wondering when we would leave Brooklyn.

NYC halfway

The Pulaski Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens—not sure how I missed getting the 13.1 sign in the pic.

So I was happy to see the Pulaski Bridge which divides Brooklyn from Queens. The half marathon mark is right on the bridge, so as I walked up the bridge incline, I took a second to tweet/facebook an update and a picture of a donut hole to my amazing supporters online.

NYC donut

A young girl had been handing them out. Ate a bite or two and then discarded it.

Mile 14 to 17
Quick memory – Getting tired… running for others.
Feeling: Annoyed that I wasn’t done yet, but determined

Details: It’s exciting to reach the halfway point of a marathon, but it’s also one of the most difficult times, especially if you let yourself focus on the fact that you have as many miles to cover as you just did!

So instead I thought about the days/weeks/months/years when I thought I could never run again. I thought about the first time I did try to run post-accident. I thought about the many, like my sister Rosene, who never could run. I thought about many, like Chris Kaag, who used to run, but who can’t run anymore.

And I thought about my son and his friends who recently lost a friend to suicide. During a walking break, I posted an update dedicating some miles to them. Doing that gave me motivation/energy to keep putting one step in front of the other, even when I didn’t feel like it… just like they will need to do as they adjust to life without Jeremy.

NYC my supplies

Checking my supplies in the morning at the start village

I was carrying my homemade sports drink with my fuel belt and had a Chia Bar and some Shaklee Energy Chews. I nibbled on the bar and took bites from the chews before some water stations, then washed them down with a small cup of water. I sipped on my sports drink occasionally, but I had forgotten to add salt to it (and I sweat a lot) so I looked for some salty snacks at an aid station. Thankfully I found some pretzels, but looking back now I know that I needed more salt. (was nauseated after I finished).

As for the scenery along the course, I took note of some of the beautiful fall trees and of the city, but for the most part, I focused on the spectators. I get energy from people! During this section, I didn’t have quite the energy to give high-fives anymore, but I still enjoyed the cheers and encouragement along the route. (more than once I was tempted to grab one of the beers I saw spectators drinking)

Mile 18 to 23
Quick memory – Seeing an angel – Beverly!!
Feeling: Exhausted!

Details: Bev had done both the marathons I did last year with me, but her work/life schedule didn’t allow her time to train this year, so she came to NYC as my support crew. I had no idea how tight security would be, so I didn’t know if she could jump in for a few miles, but we talked to a running friend the day before who has done NYC many times and she said it can be done.

NYC bev and I


So around mile 18, she joined me and I’m not sure I could have done these miles without her. She was feeling fresh and could probably have run at twice the speed I could, but she held herself back and we ran/walked and talked our way through the 5 miles and before I knew it, she had to leave me.

NYC kate and family

Kate, Ercu and Ellie!

But not before a quick picture with the family (a friend of a friend) who had graciously offered us a place to stay. It had never dawned on me the day before why Ellie was asking me what my favorite kind of candy is… but here she presented me with a York peppermint patty! So thoughtful of her!

Their condo was only about a mile from this section of the course, so here’s where Bev rejoined them and I was on my own again. (I was tempted to walk back to our condo with Bev from here… after all, who needs to do the last few miles of a marathon?)

Mile 23 to 26
Quick memory – This is freaking doable!
Feeling: Missing Beverly, but rejuvenated.

Details: I knew running without Bev again would be hard, so I had decided I would dedicate the final miles to IM ABLEChris and Russell and others they helped in the past and to the folks they will help in the future.

Thinking of the adjustments many of them have to make to a life with physical challenges and of the determination and hard work each of them puts into living life well fed my determination and helped these miles go by.

I loved when we turned from 5th Avenue into Central Park. I still had over 2 miles to go, but the grass, the trees, the leaves… it was all beautiful!

And being in the park meant the end was coming! And my whole body was tired and aching… I had no major pain. And none of the nemesis that had bothered me during long runs/races in the past were bothering me. No blisters, no tightness behind my knee, no lower back pain, nothing!

nyc altra ortholite

Altra—best shoes on planet earth and beyond!

I credit a lot of that to my Altra shoes! (With Ortholite insoles because I do most of my training on trails, so I knew my feet would appreciate more cushioning on asphalt) Between the two of them, my feet/legs/hips were as happy as they could be doing 26.2 miles.

Coming up the final stretch, the crowds of spectators were huge again. This was around 5pm and temps were dropping. I tell you NYC spectators deserve their own medals!

While their energy did help me finish… it’s not like I floated in. It was still a matter of making it happen by putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again…

And that final .2 of a mile… that felt super long!

And then there it was…
The Finish!!

NYC finish

Sometimes pictures do lie… I felt worse than the impression this picture gives.

Quick memory – I want a taxi!!
Feelings: It was great to finish… but dang when can I sit down?!

Details: The superb organization continued… as soon as I crossed the finish line, I was given a medal and then a foil sheet. The sheet kept sliding off, so one volunteer firmly wrapped it around me and made sure I was holding two corners with my hand at my neck before I walked on. Which was extremely thoughtful of him, because the sun and the temps were dropping fast and it wasn’t long before I was shivering.

NYC goodies

Memorabilia from the New York City Marathon!

Soon I was also handed a clear backpack with water, drink, fruit, a bar and more. The backpack is a great idea because then my hands were free to hold my foil sheet… because then the walking starts…

The race ends on a path in Central Park and when you finish you have to keep walking on the path (security fences on each side) for at least 20 miles 1/2 mile until you are out of the park. It would be so nice if they could avoid this… but with the mass of people and the layout of Central Park, omitting this would probably be impossible.

As I walked out of the park, everything hurt and I wanted to cry, but suddenly I started laughing. I was surrounded by lots of others runners and we all walked/shuffled slowly with foil sheets wrapped around us… and though I’m not really into zombies, I’m sure  we looked like an exhausted group of zombies on our way home from an invasion gone wrong.

As I exited the park, I expected to be able to flag down a taxi and get back to the condo. But instead we had to walk along the street for another 50 miles 1/4 mile and then we were handed fleece-lined hooded poncho. Putting that on felt like I was being wrapped in a warm blanket.

NYC poncho

No energy to take a pic of me wearing it on race day, so here I am cozy at home with it.

After that, I headed to a street corner to flag down a taxi, but there was none to be found. I chatted with another orange zombie also looking for a taxi and we decided there weren’t enough taxis in the city for all the runners. Thankfully he knew where the closest subway station was, so we trudged over to that. Thankfully arriving right on time for my train. After a short ride north, I had a final 1/4 mile walk to our condo.

For the next hour or so, I was nauseated and weak. Our original plan had been to go out to dinner, but I felt too lousy to do that. Beverly catered to my every whim by going to a market down the street for food and drink. I thought I’d be starving, but I felt too lousy to eat or drink much, yet I forced myself to eat a little soup, crackers, nuts, etc.

At some point in the next hour or two, I fell asleep… totally exhausted, but extremely happy with three things!     

~ I finished!
~ I helped others while doing it.
~ I enjoyed it and even felt better than I thought I might. 


For more pictures, see my NYC Facebook album
and feel free to connect with me on my personal page
and/or like my Because I Can page.

Quick Recap of the New York City Marathon

On November 3, 2013 I did the New York City Marathon for the IM ABLE Foundation.
I did it… because I can and to help others who can’t.

There were five of us doing the marathon for IM ABLE and together we raised around $12,000… because of that many people’s lives will be enriched. Thanks to each of you who encouraged and supported me with words, kindness and money.

Everything about the day—the weather, the organization, the race, the spectators, the other runners and how I felt— everything was far better than I thought it might be!

This is the abbreviated recap… click here for the detailed one with more pictures. 

NYC start

6AM—ready to do what IM ABLE, Because I Can!


Start – Very well organized sea of humanity
Feeling: Excited, but concerned about whether or not I could finish. 


Mile 1 – Windy and uphill
Feeling: Glad to get started, wishing the wind would die down. 


Mile 2 – Falling. Yes, falling on the cold hard asphalt.
Feeling: Cold and wondering why the hell I was doing this.


Mile 3 and 4 – Urine and discarded clothes.
Feeling: Amused and annoyed.


Mile 5 and 6 – Celebrity time with the spectators!
Feeling: Great and loving everything about the NYC marathon!


Mile 7 and 8 – Doing NYC rocks!
Feeling: Great! Having to make sure I wasn’t running too fast.


Mile 9 and 10 – More runners and mountains of cups
Feeling: Super happy with how good I felt.


Mile 11 to 12 – Getting smiles from solemn Jewish men.
Feeling: Physically, on top of the world. Mentally, reflective.


Mile 13: Still in Brooklyn? But almost halfway!
Feeling: First thoughts of “when will this be over?”


Mile 14 to 17: Getting tired… running for others.
Feeling: Annoyed that I signed up for a marathon, but determined


Mile 18 to 23: Seeing an angel – Beverly!!
Feeling: Exhausted!


Mile 23 to 26: This is freaking doable!
Feeling: Missing Beverly, but rejuvenated.


And then there it was… the Finish!!
Where’s a taxi?!

NYC collage

For more pictures, see my NYC Facebook album
and feel free to connect with me on my personal page
and/or like my Because I Can page.
Posted in Personal

If I could parent again…

I would worry less and love more.
I would scold less and laugh more.
I would say no less and yes more.
I would talk less and listen more.
I would stress less and trust more.
I would frown less and smile more.
I would discipline less and teach more.
I would hurry less and take more time.
I would plan less and be more spontaneous.
I would assume less and pay more attention.
I would complain less and enjoy each season more.
Boys as kids

Joseph – Joshua – Jonathan (now ages 23, 25 and 20)

My Game, My Rules—Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Director

Along with all the bling, the running (5k & 10k and half marathon) and connecting with new blogging/running friends, the weekend at Runner’s World included a motivating keynote speaker on Saturday evening.

The speaker was Dave McGillivray, the director of the Boston Marathon since 1988 and the author of a newly released book, The Last Pick.

rw dave m race course

Dave McGillivray – Boston Marathon Director

Dave’s personal accomplishments are extensive… check out this impressive list that another blogger in the group, Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake, compiled:

  • He’s run 126 marathons
  • He ran a 2:29 marathon
  • He’s a running philanthropist, who has raised over $100 million for various charities. (RW calculated this number because Dave is too humble to put a number on it.)
  • He’s the original Forrest Gump. In 1978, he ran across the country—from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Massachusetts. He average 45-50 miles every day for 80 days with no rest!
  • He’s run 41 consecutive Boston Marathons. He directs the race during the day and then runs it at night. He’s the last one to finish every year.
  • Each year on his birthday, he runs his age. Last August, he ran 59 miles on his 59th birthday.

Since I’m a motivational speaker and I use my personal story as a catalyst to encourage and challenge others, I was totally thrilled that Laura, the fantastic coordinator of our weekend events at RW, included this in our lineup.

Dave was dressed causally and spoke with a relaxed, conversational style. His speech title, Defining Moments, was extremely fitting for the speech that followed. I wish now that I would have taken more notes, but I’ll have to rely on my pictures of his slides I took from my seat way off center. 

Dave didn’t say this in these words, but from his slides and his message, it’s not hard to see that one of Dave’s goals in life is to make life better for as many other people as he can.

rw dave m do good

Katie and Dave

This slide accompanied a great story about Katie, a mostly wheelchair bound young lady, who wanted to do the Boston Marathon, but her physical challenges prevented her from doing so. Her desire and determination touched Dave’s heart, so he set up a modified course of 26.2 feet, complete with finishers tape for her to break as she finished running her marathon.

rw dave m ability

We all have some abilities, it’s up to us to use them.

Of course, this is a message that is near and dear to me. Each of us doing what we can with the ability we have. “Instead of watching others and wishing you could do what others do, why don’t you try to see what you can do?” – Dave McGillivray

As he shared defining moments in his life—from failing in the first marathon he attempted to a promise made to his grandfather that he would run Boston every year to last year’s bombings at Boston marathon— he interwove inspiration and challenges for his audience to inspire us to be bold and to never give up.


rw dave m dreams

Keep dreaming and doing!

Dave is short and that issue bothered him growing up, especially because he loved sports, but he was always picked last (hence the title of his book) for every sports team as a kid. But he has learned that even though he was picked last, it didn’t mean he couldn’t accomplish his dreams.

rw dave m game

My favorite slide of his!

I’ve saved the best for last! Love this slide and what he had to say about it. Your life is your life. Therefore you should make the rules for how to live it. Yes, get and listen to advice from others, but only you can determine the best way to live your life.

This goes against the grain of most of what I heard (and wrestled with) for many years. The message I heard repeatedly from family, culture and religion was that life has to lived by a certain set of rules and those rules were determined by others… and you were damned if you didn’t follow them.

My game, my rules also goes against the grain of the typical keeping-up-with-the-Joneses attitude. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking because so and so has this or that, that we need it also. It would benefit us all to pause and think before we do/buy things simply because others have done/bought something similar.

Some will say My game, my rules is a selfish way to live life… and while it could be, it can also be the exact opposite way of living life. As Dave’s life story shows… he’s all about doing what he can to help as many others as he can.

My game, my rules… simply means you set the rules for your life.

Trying to live in ways that goes against your own wiring and/or in ways to impress others is the surest way to feel depressed and frustrated with life. It took me way too long to wrestle free from those mindsets… and the truth is, I still struggle with not trusting myself more than I care to admit. But life is too short to be lived by the rules of others, so therefore, I will keep on being the best me I can be!

My game – My rules!


Have you ever heard a saying or speaker that changed a mindset you had?
Or helped you have more confidence in something you believed?

What’s your favorite inspiring saying?


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My Runner’s World Half Marathon Recap

All kinds of great things happened on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Runner’s World Half and Festival, but the main event didn’t happen until Sunday morning—the half marathon!

bermuda half

Bermuda Half Marathon in 1996

I’ve loved half marathons since soon after I started running back in the early 90s. I’ve done almost 20 of them. (11 pre-accident and 8 post-accident) They are a challenge, but a lot more manageable than a full marathon, both in training and on race day.

The difference with this half was that I had never run a 5k and a 10k the day before a half, so I wasn’t sure how my body would handle it.

As I woke up about 30 minutes before my alarm (why do I do that?) I found complaints running through my mind. Which made me think about what odd creatures us runners can be. We sign up for races on our own free will. No one forces us to, nor is there a law that says we must. We sign up willingly, but then on race day, we complain about having to run x number of miles.

During the years I struggled with severe pain, limitations and depression, I thought I would never complain about running, if only I could run again. Yet how quickly I forget, because here I was, complaining and annoyed at myself for signing up for this half.

Occasionally I need to reshift my mindsets and Sunday morning was one of those times… as I thought I about it, I wrote this…

I don’t have to run today. 
I GET TO run today. 

What a privilege!
To breathe.
To run.

And that made all the difference in the world. I went to the starting line with a smile and I finished with an even bigger smile.

before and after half

Runner’s World Half Marathon with Toni Church from Running, Loving, Living

Toni from Running, Loving, Living was also one of the RW bloggers and over the previous two days we had connected. Toni is a faster runner than I am, but her achilles bothered her during the 5 and 10k the previous day, so she wanted to run the half slower, so she asked if she could run it with me.

Other than running with Bev, I’ve gotten in the habit of running races alone, because I like to be in my own zone. (Jerry says I have personal space bubble issues – whatever) Since I wasn’t sure how I would feel during the race, I knew running with her could be helpful, especially during the last few miles. Or it could be the opposite and frustrate me… because running with someone makes it harder to quit or to walk/crawl to the finish.

But she convinced me that she will run my pace, walking breaks and all, and wouldn’t push me to go faster than I can. So I broke my own rule about running races alone. I’m so glad I did!

Since I was up early, I had a non-rushed morning of coffee, oatmeal, banana, stretches, foam roller and making my sports drink (yes, I had packed all the ingredients). Instead of the blogger bus, I caught a ride to the start with David and Scott of #RunChat fame.

It wasn’t quite as cold as the morning before, but still chilly, so we waited indoors until the start. (kudos to RW for having a few buildings open with indoor bathrooms) The start for the 5k and 10k had been right outside the buildings, but the half started about 1/2 mile up the road. The walk up there was the perfect warmup for me, because I like/need to walk before I run to keep my exercise-induced asthma from acting up.

Toni and I said bye to the rest of the bloggers (all speedy gazelles) and lined up at the 12-minute mile sign, which was at least 2 to 3 miles slower than normal for Toni.

rw half start

Runner’s World Half Marathon start – love the glimpse of the full moon!

I love the start of this half, because it’s downhill for the first half mile or so… though that did cause our first mile to be faster than it should have been. But then a left turn into the streets of Bethlehem changed that when we encountered the first of many hills.

I recently lost my run/walk/run timer (living between two states/houses can do that). I had assumed I could buy one at the expo, but none of the vendors had any. So I decided I would gauge my walking breaks with the hills and water stops, so this hill was our first walking break.

We continued like that over the next few miles. And I soon knew that running with Toni had been the right choice. I loved her company, because we chatted at times, but she was also comfortable with running in silence and I liked the mix of both.

Miles 4 to 7 were tough… lots of hills and for a short time I got caught up thinking about how far it was to the finish. Reminding myself what I wrote that morning helped, “I don’t have to do this… I GET TO do this”.

Then I also remembered a mantra I heard from David Willey (editor of RW) “Run the mile you are in” and instead of thinking ahead, I thought about the moment. About running each mile the best I could… about stepping straight and making sure I had good form which Golden Harper from Altra talked about at a running clinic the day before. (post coming soon about that) 

Toni’s the perfect race partner/encourager. She didn’t push me, but she gently said things like:
You got this.
You can do this. 
One step at a time.
Only a few more miles.

She also proclaimed more than once, “This is the best half I have ever run!” Which was true because RW puts on a great race, and also because Toni wasn’t pushing it as much as she usually did, so she was able to enjoy the run more. As she says in her post, “Slow and best can go hand in hand.”

Toni loves mile 7 of a half because that’s where you start counting down. Picture time!

rw mile 7

Runner’s World – Mile 7!

Mile 9 ran through a residential street with the coolest trees… the leaves were various colors and the tree trunks were cool and knobby/gnarly. Seeing them and remembering them from last year gave me a boost. I was reminded, I’ve done this before, I can do it again.

Plus after that, there was a long down hill back into the streets of Bethlehem… headed home to the Steel Stacks! The last mile or so, plus the finish, for all three races was at the same place, so it really felt like coming home by the time we hit mile 12.

The bottom of my feet were hurting during the last few miles. I ran in my fairly new Altra Intuition shoes, which I had done my training runs in the past few weeks. Love them! But since I prefer to train on trails, my feet were complaining about the asphalt toward the end. I adjusted my foot plant and stride a little, trying to land on the outside of my foot sometimes. That alleviated some of the pain (or at least distracted me from it).

One last hill in the final mile and we were on the home stretch. The last 1/4 mile is between building making a long finishing chute. There’s spectators along most of it, so it’s an exciting finish with cheers, music, and a high-five from Bart Yasso.

rw half finish

Three medals in two days!

I finished this half more excited than I have been about any half. Yes, happy to be finished… but even more excited about how good I felt. Which gives me some much-needed confidence for the NYC marathon happening in about a week.

And I was reminded how doing life with a friend makes every step sweeter. 
Rw toni and I finish 1

Thank you Toni!

Have you done a half?
Do you like to run alone… or with a friend?
Most of these photos courtesy of Running, Loving, Living


Disclaimer: RW sponsored my weekend there and Altra provided me with a pair of shoes, but my opinions are my own. Trust me if I didn’t like the race or the shoes, I would tell you, because I’m all about organized races, along with comfortable, healthy shoes and all that jazz. 


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A Runner’s World Event involves Running—Imagine that!

David Willey, the editor of Runner’s World calls the Runner’s World Half and Festival weekend the place where “the Runner’s World magazine is brought to life”. And that is a perfect description of it. So along with an expo, seminars and speakers about all things running related, guess what else a weekend like this includes?

Miles of running. 
22.4 miles to be exact. 
In a 5k, 10k, and half marathon.
Up and down the hills of Bethlehem. 

And I decided I want to do them all! Because I can!
Or I should say… to see IF I can. Plus, I figured all the runs combined would count as my last long training run for the NYC marathon which happens in two weeks.

One reason for my move to Florida this year is that cold weather and my beatup legs don’t have a good relationship. Whenever those two get together, there’s nothing but screaming and yelling (I measure pain by sound levels) along with too much whining.

So doing a race in PA in mid-October was taking a chance, but what’s life if you don’t throw in some risks? But waking up to temps in the low 40s had me cursing the risk-taking side of my personality and made it hard time for me to maintain a pleasant attitude.
Hence my face in this group photo taken about 6:30AM.

rw - run eat group pic

Smiles from everyone – except for yours truly!  Photo by Monica from Run, Eat, Repeat

But it’s next to impossible to pull from a race or to stay miserable when you are surrounded by excited, smiling runners. So before I knew it I found myself at the starting line for the 5k. Shivering, cursing (under my breath) and trying to stretch while rubbing my leg. (it felt like a giant pair of pliers had a solid grip on my left thigh). 

True to my Runner’s World experience last year, everything, from the baggage check to the start, was again very well organized and the start was promptly at 8am.

rw 5k start

Runner’s World 5k start

With 5ks being the shortest distance most people race, everyone tends to run them fast and since I’m not fast, I don’t really like 5ks. So I tried not to think about this as a 5k, but instead to view is as a 3-mile warmup for the 10k I would be running within an hour.

And that mind game worked! I soon warmed up—the hills helped with that! Plus, rubbing my thigh on walking breaks helped it loosen up by mile 2 and that allowed me to enjoy the run more. I took note of some cool historic buildings and beautiful colored leaves on the trees along the route.

I used the running app on my phone to track my miles, but I turned off the audio pace/minute cues, because I didn’t want to put pressure on myself. This gave me the freedom to strike up a conversation with other run/walkers who were embracing the experience rather than being concerned about finishing times. Before I knew it, I was headed to the finish line.

RW 5k finish

Race 1 – Done!


There was water, banana and some other snacks available. And thankfully the visitors center was open and us bloggers hung out indoors between the races.

It was somewhat tough to know when and what to eat that morning with back to back races, so I was cautious. I had eaten a little oatmeal and some of a Belvita breakfast bar (warning: they taste good and are somewhat addicting) from my swag bag about 90 minutes before the 5k. And between the two races, I ate a banana and a few bites from the Belvita bar.

At 9:30, I was back at the start line ready to double my distance. Some of the course was the same, but over half of it was on different roads (Yay!). The first mile or so my entire body was stiff from the wait between the two races. Again there were regular aid stations with energetic volunteers handing out both water (yes) and gatorade (no).

The second mile again proved to be the place where I loosen up and felt better. (so don’t give up in the first mile!) Between doing a few more Bethlehem hills and the sun warming up, I paused at a water stop to peel off my long sleeve shirt. Over the next few miles, I chatted with some runners who remembered me from running here last year. (a funky leg will do that)

By mile five I was tired. Every step was difficult and I wanted to quit. I had to dig deep and remind myself that running is not only a good thing, but it’s a lifesaver for me. A phone call from Jerry the night before served as a good reminder how far I’ve come from the days when confusion and the depression dragon had me wanting to end my life.

The phone call had brought sad news that Jeremy, a good friend of my youngest son Jon, took action to end his own life the day before. So I ran on in his memory. And I also ran for Jon and all Jeremy’s friends and the pain they are faced with.

It wasn’t long before I was feeling gratitude at the privilege of being able to place one foot in front of the other…. even if I only have a calf and a half.

Breathing and running is a gift!

rw 10k finish

Race 2 – Done!

I was thrilled when I finished! (though according to my face above, I wasn’t as thrilled as I remember feeling) I was happy the 9.3 miles were done, but I was even more grateful for the way my body felt doing it. Not fantastic, but not as bad as I thought it might considering how sporadic my last two months of training had been.

For the rest of Saturday, I celebrated the two completed races and tried not to think about the half happening the following day, because whenever I did think about it… I almost panicked. I was concerned whether my legs would be able to do 13.1 miles… but worrying is pointless, so instead I ate, drank and rested!

Janet-purse wine

Celebrating with purse wine—because I’m classy like that.  Photo by Heather from Relentless Forward Commotion

I’ll recap what happened in the half marathon in the next post.

UPDATE: Half-marathon recap


Have you ever run back to back races?
Has depression touched your life?
What motivates you to keep on when you want to quit?


Recap of the two days prior to these two days of running here:
A Spectacular Weekend at the RW Half and Festival


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A Spectacular Weekend at the Runner’s World Festival

I spent the past weekend in Bethlehem, PA at the Runner’s World Half and Festival and had an amazing time! Other than the cold temps in the morning, the weather was great and the scenery was beautiful—the leaves in PA are just starting to change colors.

Along with that, I met great people and I ran not 1, not 2, but 3 races!
And the best part, I felt better for each one than I thought I would. 

Naturally a world-class magazine like Runner’s World (RW) does a world-class event. I did the RW half last year and loved it. So I was excited a few months ago when I received an invitation from RW to be a blogger for this year’s event. Which meant along with the races, I was treated to a fantastic weekend of seminars, seriously good food, celebrity meet and greets, a running clinic and bags full of swag—goodies from the weekend sponsors.

Thursday and Friday Recap

After checking in at the Courtyard Marriott in Bethlehem (thanks RW for the great accommodations!) I met my roommate Heather Gannoe from Relentless Forward Commotion. My husband is always amazed that I will share a room with a stranger, but I’ve never been disappointed, because I love meeting new people. Plus anyone who runs and blogs is cool (duh) and Heather tops the coolness chart. Great gal, endless energy, kind, competitive, and more. Love her blog tagline, Adventure may hurt you…but monotony will kill you. 

rw heather and i

Our selfie!

RW brought 20 bloggers in for the weekend… they provided us with some cool, unique experiences and we helped them blitz social media with tweets, updates, and pictures. Here’s the bag of goodies from the weekend’s sponsor that waited for us in our room.

rw swag first


By five on Thursday the plan was in motion as all 20 of us were in a party bus headed to the RW headquarters for dinner, a tour and a chance to meet many of the RW editors and staff.

RW party bus

The Runner’s World Party Bus

RW seems like a great company to work for. Not for its fancy building, because it wasn’t over the top, but it was nice, comfortable and efficient, but rather for all the cool people that work there. Everyone, from chief editor David Willey to the mayor of running, Bart Yasso to their new intern, Ashley, was all smiles and eager to chat with us and hear about our blogs and why we do what we do.

The dinner (along with a few other meals during the weekend) was provided by RW’s parent company Rodale, which is all about living well and eating natural, organic products. What’s not to love?! Well, for me, the meat… but they also had delicious plant-based options at each meal. It was so nice to have great food that I don’t have to make or clean up after.

After dinner us bloggers were asked to introduce ourselves and then we heard from RW’s chief editor, David Willey along with a few others, including Golden Harper from Altra—the main sponsor of the weekend. FYI… Altra has the best shoes on the planet!

(If you follow my Because I Can page on Facebook, you’ve been seeing endless bragging about my new Altra shoes, because they are everything I’ve ever wanted in a running shoe.) 

Rw Golden and I

With Golden Harper, founder of Altra. Guess running makes you look young – 30, but looks less than 20.

Friday at 7AM – It was time to board the bus again for a trip to the ArtsQuest Center, the buildings surrounding the SteelStacks. This was the hub for all the weekend’s activities, including the start and finish of the 5k, 10k and half marathon.

RW steelstacks

The stacks of the former Bethlehem Steel Plant

The morning started with a shake-out run with Bart Yasso around Bethlehem, but what’s considered a slow run for most is usually too fast for me, so I opted out of that and did my own 2 mile shake-out run/walk.

After breakfast (provided by RW again) we had a seminar and an informational running clinic (detailed post with all I learned coming soon) with Golden and others from Altra. Golden comes from a family of runners, so running is in his blood, so when he sees something, he must run it.



The running clinic was followed by another seminar and then a running recovery yoga class with Melanie from Icon Fitness (largest fitness company in the world). And we were given another bag of swag! Seriously, it was a great swag-filled weekend!

RW swag

Swag from ICON Fitness! (Available at Walmart)


rw heather yoga

My roommate Heather, striking a great pose with the Xfinity fitness band.

Lunch was over-the-top-delicious with recipes from the newly published Runner’s World Cookbook. And they gave us each a copy!

rw cookbook

The Runner’s World Cookbook

After lunch, it was celebrity time. Summer Sanders, 1992 Olympic medalist—two gold, a silver, and a bronze! She is now a runner and appears on this month’s RW cover. She shared a few funny and inspiring stories from her life with us.

rw summer and I

Summer Sanders

The afternoon ended with a demonstration of the Pro-form Boston Marathon treadmill using iFit, an app that will revolution the way you work out. I’m not a big fan of treadmills, but if I had to use one, I’d pick this one. For starters, it has a fan, so you can feel the ‘wind’ as you run. It inclines and declines and has a top speed of 15 mph, so you can do any type of run your little heart desires. 

The accompanying iFit technology is super cool! Along with tracking your workouts, it allows you to use Google Maps and run anywhere in the world that you desire, including the Grand Canyon, up Mount Everest or through your own neighborhood.

Being an outdoor person, I rather run those in person, in real life… but then again Mount Everest is cold, so it would be neat to run that in a warm room with technology that adjusts the treadmill inclines and declines to coordinate with the gps position on your screen (your screen can be the treadmill screen or your tablet or your large-screen TV!)

rw blogger group

The Bloggers – incredible, cool, hardworking, savvy, kind, funny runners!

There were some evening activities, but after such a fun-filled, exhausting day… all I had energy for was dinner and an early bedtime. Plus, the next two days meant doing 22.4 miles – could I finish 3 races in 2 days?! (Recaps coming soon.)

UPDATE: 5k & 10k recap
Half-marathon recap
Keynote speaker – My Game, My Rules by Dave McGillivray


Have you ever experienced an event that you expected to be good, but then it was even better than you expected?
Were you at the RW Half and Festival?


Thanks to Runner’s World and their sponsors for the weekend and for all the cool swag. 

Altra – Running Skirts – iFit – Ortholite –  Icon Fitness – Bondi Band – Injinji – PRO Compression – SPIBelt – The Stick – Belvita – Run Donna 


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Posted in Your Story

Declaring “Fifty is Fabulous”… Because She Can!

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared one of Your Stories, so I’m happy to bring you Tess’s story today. I met Tess when she came to one of my book signings. We soon discovered we share a few interests… running, eating well and drinking wine.

Since we only live a few miles apart, we’ve enjoyed connecting via all three… including a few fabulous Cook N Share evenings, Tess hosted at her house.

So when she recently accomplished a major goal after dealing with some delays and challenges along the way, I asked her if she’d share her story with us, because I love her positive attitude about turning 50. (maybe because I’ll be looking at that in a few years) 


Tess first run

During one of her first runs in 2009

Tell us a little about yourself.
I began running in 2009 during a stressful time in my life. It gave me the chance to be alone and sort through my thoughts…. or to not think at all.

Actually, I began walking, which turned into occasional jogs and then eventually running. My husband was shocked by this new behavior because I never liked to run, but soon I was hooked.


You set a goal for yourself a few years ago,
what was it?
After signing up and running a few local 5k races, I wrote down that I wanted to do a half marathon before I turned 50.
At the time I was about 46 or 47 yrs old and 50 sounded so far away.

In reaching that goal, what did you discover about yourself?
I had originally planned to run a half marathon in October of 2012 but because of IT band pain and going to 2 physical therapist… I had to pull out of that race.  It was disappointing and I was afraid that I may have to give up running altogether.

But, I kept doing the exercises from my PTs and also starting to go to a chiropractor which helped tremendously. (I love how she didn’t give up. She kept doing what she can!)


And what did you discover about age, especially the ‘big’ one you recently reached?
I learned that I was stronger than I thought, because the old me WOULD have given up.  Now I am running mostly pain free and I did meet my goal.  I ran my first half marathon 5 days before my 50th birthday. (Woohoo!)

tess half marathon (1)

Exhausted, but happy! (Official time was 2:41)


I don’t feel that old…
not what I thought a 50 year old should feel like.
I believe I am fitter and stronger than ever before!
Fifty is Fabulous!
- Tess Eby


Have you set any goals for the future, either for soon or for the next decade?
I am surprised that I am thinking about doing another half marathon… maybe the Garden Spot Village half in April of 2014.  So I continue to train, running 3-4 days a week. I hope to be able to keep that up over the winter months.  Maybe my goal to do just one half will turn to 2… or 3. Winking smile


What does a well-lived day look like to you… or in other words, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do today?
I hope to live a long, healthy life and to still be able to run 5ks well into my 70s.  I am so inspired by the older men and women I see along the trails that are still out there doing what they can.

Of course there is no guarantee that if you take care of yourself… eat a healthy diet and exercise… that you’ll live a longer life. Only God knows the number of our days.  But,  I believe that if you do those things you will live a happier life and in turn make those around you happy too!


Thanks for sharing your story Tess!
Keep on doing what you can, because you can!

Readers, if you have an comments/congrats or questions for Tess,
please share them below.



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