Tag Archives: training

Creating a Deeper Self-Trust


My friend Jacqueline took this photo while she and her husband Reese were treating us to lunch at one of their regular spots in Taormina. Le sigh – I have friends with a “regular spot” in Taormina – who knows where life will take us next!

Regarding my progress with the blog, I’m gonna call mulligans or shennanigans or whatever golfers call when they want a do-over (I’m not actually going to do anything over, though). While the blog has been incredibly rewarding, led to virtual and local friendships and developed my running and travel memories, I am overwhelmed by the opportunities to engage in the living of life here.  My deeper self-trust comes from knowing to take this hiatus.

During my 7.5 mile run, which was my long, slow run this week, I realized I have built a foundation of self-trust that guides me.  That run ended earlier than scheduled in order to accommodate the heat and humidity that crept back into our weird Sicilian summer weather.

I am allowing myself more “easy outs” in the first 4-6 weeks of my training for this marathon. My previous training patterns show full motivation at the beginning, when I force myself to overcome circumstances in order to “get tough” – but I never allow for practicalities or realities to interfere with the training as prescribe on the paper. In other words, I previously gave all power to the training plan established by someone who doesn’t know me and who isn’t here, but who wrote down a course of training that they *predict* would lead to the results I desire. To achieve different results, I must take a different approach – thus, I am allowing myself to pay attention to how I am feeling and how I am responding to the training schedule in the first 4-6 weeks – and to make modifications accordingly. If I need to skip a run, or cut out early, then I will do so. I’m upping my mental game in this way and creating a deeper self-trust that I am hoping will carry me through the panic attacks I felt around mile 20 in my October 2013 race.

I am also re-instituting my rule of thumb to complete any run prior to 10am. It is just too hot under the strong Sicilian sun after 10am in the summer months. We have been having cool evenings (mid 60s F), and even some strong thunderstorms, so the weather this year is quite different than the blazing heat that lasted through the nights last summer. Our most recent thunderstorm left a significant amount of snow on Etna’s southwestern face – it was really strange to see a snow-covered peak on the drive home in July. We’ve been enjoying the mild temperatures in the evenings and happy to still get outside on the weekends. But, there’s always August and September to accommodate the typical Sicilian heat. We’ll see what comes next.

While I will not be posting regular updates, know that I am thinking of you and available by email.


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Filed under Running

Running on a Dream

Ciao a tutti!

I’m still hanging tough in good old Sicily, and have recently been out and about in mainland Italy (pictures at the end of this post). Equally as exciting, I began personal and marathon training!

Recap of last week’s travel training:
3 miles easy: Canal-side in Venice – saw different parts of the city and several cruise ships

4.5 hours of hiking from Vernazza to Riomaggiore – one of the most beautiful hikes of my life (and that’s sayin’ something after several memorable beautiful hikes in Ecuador, Glacier National Park, western Washington state and Alaska)

Ran 2 miles HARD of an attempted run in Vernazza – steep inclines seemed to defeat the “easy” nature of this run

7.6 miles easy: Intended to tack on the last mile from the previous run, and instead, got a little carried away in Rome. Started out easy and relaxed as I was leading our travel crew on a run from our airbnb to the Villa Borghese and over to the Tevere. I kept stretching the run another half mile here and there, to accommodate the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, and we ended up at 7.6 miles.

Duomo+PLUS run in Acireale.

Something that’s been on my mind is my footwear at work. A recent Runner’s World article addresses the extra foot stress that comes from wearing high heeled shoes:

“One study found that women who regularly wear high heels had calf muscles that were about 12 percent shorter and Achilles tendons that were about 10 percent more rigid than women who regularly wear flat shoes. A different study showed that basic walking mechanics were different (in a bad way) in women who wore heels at least 40 hours a week compared to women who wore heels less than 10 hours a week. Note to men: The heels in this study were only 5 millimeters high, so this might apply to you as well.

What To Do About It: Walk around the house barefoot. As much as possible, wear flat shoes with a toe box that allows your toes to spread. If heels are unavoidable in your profession, do the best you can to minimize the time you spend in time, such as wearing other shoes when commuting. Also be diligent about calf and Achilles flexibility exercises if you have to wear heels for work.”

Although I prefer to wear flats for my foot health, it is fun to wear heels sometimes; and, some days I just want the extra burst of self-confidence that comes along with the additional burst of height. Reading the whole article renews my yearning for a job that balances physical activity with desk work – the article points to long commutes (mine is 35-40 minutes each way) and long hours at the desk with poor posture (guilty) as two other major contributors to running injuries.

I would love to incorporate more motion into my work routine. Already, I am lucky to have two projects for which I collaborate with a colleague down the hall from me. I take advantage of the proximity to trek down the hall for the majority of our work – rather than use the phone or email. This gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs and spend 10-15 minutes standing while we hash out the next detail of our project. I also try to incorporate a stretch session into each work day, a habit I nurtured more religiously during my winter marathon training. I plan to return to this habit. Do any of you have suggestions for ways to incorporate movement into a desk job? Let me know in the comments section!

See you soon…

p.s. A few favorite pics from my recent trip to Venice, Vernazza (in the Cinque Terre),Rome and within Sicily! I traveled with my husband Dave, and his sister MariBeth and her husband Dan. We also had great trips this spring with Michael and Dan – pics below, too!

View from the hiking trail leading away from Vernazza toward Corniglia – you can see the balcony to our apartment rental.

Venice from the vaporetto (public transportation barge on the canal)

Venice from the Rialto Bridge

The Mediterranean Sea from atop the Turkish Steps in Realmonte (near Agrigento)

Dave, me and Michael – awaiting performance of Antigone

Scene from Antigone – performed in Italian at open-air Greek amphitheater in Siracusa

Another view of the amphitheater in Siracusa

Windmill at the salt flats in Trapani with Dan – we had a whirlwind trip filled with dynamic foods and sights

We also had world-class arancini (say it “are-on-chee-nee” – this is the plural) at Bar Giageri in Piano Tavola. Here’s a photo of the arancino di pistacchio (arancino is singular). Dan declared this arancino his favorite Sicilian food of the trip – risotto wrapped around a pistacchio, cheese and ham filling, lightly battered and fried.



Filed under Food. Cibo., Running, Travel

20. A running post.

The morning had snuck up and surrounded me before I knew what had happened. Just as my dream was getting interesting, a noise startled me awake and it was already 5:15. “Ughhhh,” I moaned as I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom.

I pushed my plush sleeping mask clear of my line of vision and squinted into the gray-green light of pre-dawn. Maki, Panther and Dave were moving around in the rest of the house and only the ceiling fan made any noise in Bill’s room. My mind was trying to remind me of something important, but my sleepiness confused the little logistician who ordinarily runs my life.

As I stood up from the toilet and thought about my hydration levels, the logistician slammed through the woozy fog: “Hydrate for your 20-mile run! HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRate! HYDrate! Hydrate! hydrate! … hydrate! …” The water hit the bottom of the glass and began to drown out my inner logistician as it filled. With several slow gulps, a rush of fluids began bringing my systems to life. Not quite ready for full wakefulness, I shuffled around until I found Dave, kissed him good-bye and clambered back into bed for another 30-45 minutes’ rest.

Though my mind was willing to return to restfulness, the water was working its way through my system. I lay on my back and listened to the gurgles and slooshes as my abdominal section twitched below my hands. Before the alarm sounded, I rose and began donning my running gear. Sports bra, softest training shorts, tech-T with best wicking ability and brightest colors (to keep me visible to the pazzo Sicilian drivers), cushy but breathable socks. I slid the body glide up and down the lines of my inner thigh muscles and under my sports bra. Then, I crept upstairs for my pre-run snack.

Munching on my snack, I reviewed Google maps images of my neighborhood and surroundings. “Naw, I’ve run that path before.” “It’s not even 10 miles to Milo? WHAT?” “crap, where am I going to run…” “maybe I will just run 18, or even 16…the benefits kick in after two hours anyway…” Thoughts swirled in my head as my body waited for one more void before heading out. My body knew the work and punishment that awaited it out on the road, and my body was ready for it. My mind knew well the challenge that lay in wait around mile 14-15, and that would become stronger and more difficult until the end of the run. My mind was less ready, less-than-thrilled, and less eager to depart.

Depart I did, and ran a haphazard route to knock off the first 13 miles. Lacking gear to take sufficient water, I looped back to a stashed bottle and headed up the mountain. My mind dared to doubt its own wisdom of taking on the 500 foot climb at mile 13, but my body shut it up good and quick by doing the deed with no pain. Pain set in at 14.5 and never left me again. Its effects waxed and waned, to be sure, and kept my mind busy for the last hour of my run.

As I approached the home stretch – the last two miles – a smile spread across my face. No amount of zippy cars, crotchety old Sicilian ladies, confused stares, steep hills, wandering pathways, or smelly garbage had kept me from my run today. No mental barriers succeeded. Even if I walked or crawled home from that point, I would have met my 20-mile goal for the day. I was as free and liberated as if I had just been born. I glanced down at the Ionian Sea, barely perceptible for the brilliant sheen it acquired under the strong morning sun. “I am free.”

“I am free.”

“I have the power. I am capable. I am free.”


Filed under 5-100, Running

Two walls, a sparkling mountain lake, and a finish line

Several weeks ago, I began the long journey toward a slightly sadistic destination: the marathon. At first, I started adding longer mileage runs to my weekly routine in support of a great food, fitness, and lifestyle blogger, Sara. Then, as my schedule-philic self got into the groove of my Hal Higdon training program, I was hooked.

Here are three great Runner’s World articles I liked today:

Pre-race warm-ups

A theory on why you get sick on long flights

Using hard workouts to prepare for the race

Although early on I aimed for the Budapest Marathon, the timing was not right with the demands of my current contract position, which runs on the U.S. Government fiscal year (Oct 1 – Sept 30 each year). Thus, I sought out other European marathons and decided to dazzle myself by running alongside Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) in northern Italy. What a treat!

Registering for the race was another unique twist on living abroad. The organization of the entry form online bodes well for the organization of the race. The option for a foreigner living abroad was available, and I had no problems with making my payment. I must provide two requirements previously unheard of to me: a one-time 7 Euro fee for using the roads during the race (charged by one layer of Italian bureaucracy called FIDAL), and a health certificate. The health certificate must state that I am fit enough to participate – what a great requirement!

The International Lake Garda Marathon combines the sparkle of Italy’s largest lake with the dramatic backdrop of the Alps. When I come up against either of the two walls in the marathon, I hope the landscape will provide inspiration to keep climbing.


Filed under 5-100, Running

Cross Continental Training Run

Ciao Cinquecento Amici,

I am quickly adjusting to my jetlag from a little over two weeks spent in the U.S. visiting family, friends, and attending one of the most romantic weddings of the decade. I started near my official Wisconsin hometown with my immediate family, as well as a few snuggle-bug family members. Then, I flitted over to my adopted hometown, Madison, Wisconsin, for a whirlwind 40-hour tour of favorite friends, restaurants, and running locales. I zoomed over to Dave’s Wisconsin home-region to visit with his clan and their kin – five nieces and one nephew between the ages of seven years and seven months. It was all topped off with a delightful first-time visit to Lawrence, Kansas, where I swooned at the aforementioned wedding.

Some people dislike the word ‘aforementioned’ because it is long and a bit over the top. I love it though; much like I love a run, even on days out of my comfort zone, with high heat and relatively high humidity. That is why despite the 82 degree weather at 8am, and the 66% humidity in Kansas on Saturday morning, I headed out to River Front Park for a 9-mile run.

I was running across continents with Sara from Real Fun Food. Sara took on the beastiest beast of basic running events, the marathon. After I berated her in the comments for her crazy choice, I offered myself up as a slightly-less-crazy long-distance running buddy. I plan to participate in her training runs until they hit about 15 miles, making me slightly-less-crazy than Sara, who will eventually run 26.2 miles (the distance of all modern marathon races). 15 miles is about the point where the running/time cost-benefit ratio runs out for me.

On Saturday, Sara ran through central London, you can read all about it here. She is quite funny, tells a good story, and usually writes about food in connection with the rest of her charming life. Sara has encouraged me to photo-document my running route; so, to commemorate our first cross-continental run, I did just that.

Enjoy the trek from University of Kansas through downtown Lawrence to the Riverfront Park and back. It is a lovely trip.

University of Kansas mascot, the Jayhawk, was everywhere in Lawrence. We stayed at a vrbo one block from the football stadium and campus. This statue was a few blocks off campus toward downtown. While in Lawrence I saw oodles of cardinals and a few robins, but never did spy a jayhawk, except like this.

A few blocks later, still downtown.

Kansas’s state flower, the Sunflower.

After crossing the bridge across the Kansas River, I left downtown Lawrence behind me and stumbled upon this intimate setting.

After about 2.5 miles, I arrived at the trailhead of Riverfront Park, a trail network spanning about 1000 acres along the Kansas River.

After a short water break, I continued on the grated, flat trail on the levee. First, I was running head-on into the burning sun.

Then I turned around for a brief reprieve before heading into the shaded trail for the return route. It almost looks like the yellow brick road!

After I delved into the wooded trail, I kicked myself for spending any time on the levee path!

Here I am just shy of the 7-mile mark; drenched in sweat, but still smiling!

I emerged from the Riverfront Park trail to once again cross the grand Kansas River before traipsing through downtown Lawrence back ‘home.’

Entrance to Downtown Lawrence.

The run was tough, slow, and sweaty. For the previous two weeks, I had been regularly drinking alcohol with breakfast (Bloody Mary?), lunch (beer?), or dinner (cocktails or wine) – some days it was all three! I was celebrating life with my family. Plus, many days I did not get inebriated; it was just that I was consistently having more alcohol and daily calories than my body is accustomed to managing. By the time I got to Lawrence, my body was confused and was seriously considering treating hops as a new form of bread. Considering those drawbacks, together with the heat and humidity, I was happy to finish the run with all my bodily organs still functioning!


Filed under 5-100, Awesomeness, Running