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Thursday, May 25, 2017


The coolest guys I know
Motherhood is hard.

Most days are a whirlwind; by the time I finally get a chance to catch my breath I'm exhausted and ready for bed.

As I drove my kids to their grandparents yesterday, for the first week of summer, I found myself aching with guilt. I saw mom's on social media posting and celebrating anticipating a fun summer and here I am sending my kids to their grandparents because I have to work. So, instead of continuing to beat myself up over the fact that I have to work to make a living for my children, I started to reflect on the fact that guilt is a huge part of motherhood.

Before I became a mom, I don't think I ever really felt guilt. Yes, I had felt bad about missing an appointment or letting someone down but, I had never felt the heartbreaking feeling of disappointing someone until I had my boys. I don't know why bringing children into this world made me suddenly feel like I developed super human powers and could be everywhere and do everything, but it did. This feeling of super human abilities leads to days of worry and days of complete exhaustion. Neither of those are good for mom or kiddos.

I always know when the guilt is going to hit and I am well aware it's not always rational, but it's hard to suppress it. But I have found, the key to surviving motherhood is figuring out how to deal with the guilt and worry. Every mom is different. For me, I have an amazing woman who is my partner in life and who does more than I could ever thank her for. Before her, I was just treading water to make it through the day. Besides an amazing partner, I also have running. It's something I do for me and me alone and it saves me on the days when I am down on myself and can't poke my head out of the cloud of guilt. For those of you who don't have a wonderful partner or an outlet for your stress, I am telling you right now. You are enough. You are a fantastic mom.

There are days when the kids will spend too much time in front of a screen, it's ok.

There are days when you will go through a drive thru for dinner, it's ok.

There are days when you will want to scream if you hear "mom" again, it's ok.

There are days when you will hide in the bathroom enjoying the escape, it's ok.

There are days when you will not be everything to everyone. Your super mom cape will be at the dry cleaners and you can just be a woman doing her very best, it's ok.

I love my boys. I always put their needs before my own. They have everything they need. But there are the days I face the fact that I can't do it all, I'm not a super hero and that's ok. If I don't take the time to care for myself, how can I possibly care for two little boys who need me to care for them? 

As I get older, I realize more and more my limitations. I have days where I'm okay with laundry unfolded, dishes in the sink and the boys eating leftovers and that's okay. I feel the guilt creep up when I plan an adult only trip or when I look forward to a day to myself, but I know I need it. I know I am more than just a mom. I am a lot of things to a lot of people and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with being Heather. When the boys are grown and have lives of their own, I have to live mine. I have to have my own identity outside of being a mom. The guilt and worry will always be there, but I know I am doing my best.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Another year on this earth..

This morning I took a run to start out my birthday.

I spent each mile reflecting on how amazing and life changing this year has been. There have been moments of complete stress and turmoil, balanced out with more happy days than I have known in my entire life.

On my run, I thought about the birthdays where I felt completely alone and how different this birthday started out already. I woke up to my oldest son in the kitchen fixing my favorite breakfast and a cup of coffee. I don't think this time last year he would have even thought about doing something like that. He has learned in a years time how to show love to someone. He was so proud and I was so proud of him. The gifts, which I started getting earlier in the week, were exactly what I needed in my life. It may seem like an insignificant thing, but, to know what I say matters meant more than any single material thing I could have got.

As each mile passed, I reflected on having survived a year of drama and hate. I am more than happy to have made it through one of the toughest times in my life. To look at someone who has so much hatred for you is a hard thing to handle. I honestly didn't think I would make it through that tough time. Just being completely unsure of what the divorce would do to the boys was probably one of the hardest things to endure. But now, I realize how amazingly resilient they are and how I can see so much improvement in their quality of life already. They no longer have to comfort their mother when she is crying, they no longer have to stand between the two adults in their life while they scream at one another, they no longer have to feel the hate radiating through their home. Now, I see the small things they do for me around the house to show they care. I see how they have become more confident and loving and it warms my soul. Being raised in a home where objects being thrown and curse words yelled frequently between parents is hopefully a past they won't remember or will easily forget. My worries have been silenced by the actions and behaviors of two little boys who are finally growing up in a home where there is love on a daily basis. A home where kindness is the only language we speak. A home where everyone is loved and respected.

I also reflected on how amazing it feels to be treated like a queen. She makes me feel like everyday is my birthday. I have someone who shares their complete self with me and it is something that will never get old. To just share life with someone, the good and the bad; to look at someone and see the love they have for you and to feel that love makes me so incredibly lucky. I look forward to spending every single birthday with her.

As I get older, another birthday has always been a reminder of getting older. I don't look at it that way, now that I am living the life I want, I look at it as another year to enjoy the people I love and a life I thoroughly enjoy. I know I survived all of the bad in order to really appreciate all of the good and happiness in my life. I am saying goodbye to 31 but not with sadness, I am saying goodbye to year of growth and self discovery and love. I am saying hello to a year of adventure and happiness.

I am so thankful to celebrate another year on this earth.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pittsburgh Marathon Recap

So this morning was a little out of schedule but I was looking at my next two weeks of ultra training and there was a big run looming next weekend. I decided to move some runs around and use Pittsburgh Marathon as a part of my Iceland Ultra training plan.

I had been up to 20 at this point so I knew I could handle the distance, I just had not done any long runs on the road so I was a little nervous about pounding pavement when most of my multiple hour runs have been on the dirt. My plan was to take the race slow and easy like it was any other long run. I carried my Nathan Hydration Pack,  just like I would ordinarily and like I plan to in the ultra. I thought today would be a good practice run for what's to come in July.

My wardrobe today was determined by a new thigh tattoo I got on Friday that needed to not be rubbed raw in tights all day. So, the shorts I wore were my new Lululemon shorts and my shirt was a long sleeve Under Armor cold gear shirt.  I wore calf compression socks, mainly to help keep the bottom of my legs warm. I wore my Brooks Ravenna because my feet doesn't do well in much else on the road.

So, the race was set to start at 7:00 AM, but by the time the elites got started, I believe I crossed the start line around 7:45 AM. The weather was scheduled to be rainy and in the 40s. Luckily, there was no rain just cold temps for waiting around in the corrals. I left my house at 5 am, which with an hour drive and eating my oatmeal on the way, I timed getting to the parking garage well. There was ample parking at the corrals were marked perfectly.

The corrals were very well organized and I think the number of people was somewhere over 40,000. The course was clearly marked and the first 11 miles was ran with the half marathon runners.

One of the iconic bridges
Miles 1-11: I managed to keep my pace slow and easy. I was somewhere between a 10 and 11 minute mile. I had my pack so there were no water stops, there was a porta potty break or two but there were porta johns spread out throughout the course so the wait was fairly quick. I got nutrition in at mile 4 and 8, which seemed to keep me going well.

Miles 12-17: This part of the race included quite a hills, with the biggest coming right after the split off from the half marathon crowd. I reapplied body glide at this point.

Miles 18-23: This is the section of the race where I usually hit the wall. I struggle with digestive issues usually and just can't stop taking walking breaks. This race was completely different. Whether it is a sign of my ultra training going well or the fact that I am more used to trail running, I felt great this entire section. I even started picking up the pace a bit around mile 21, which is really unlike me.

The best sight in any race

Mile 24-26.2: This race had the best downhill at the perfect time. At around mile 24 coasting down felt wonderful. The steepness wasn't enough so that my quads hurt but it was really appreciated. The finish line was packed with spectators cheering and waving signs which brought awesome energy into the finish. For some bizarre reason I got a little emotional once I saw the finish line in sight, but that passed as I kicked it up a notch to finish strong on very tired legs.

My thoughts:
I am completely happy with my results which were 5:08, this is faster than I thought I would be for a training run but I kept it easy and didn't push myself. I was coming off 22 miles earlier in the week so my legs were not going to handle finishing a 48 mile week with a marathon PR. This race was a great confidence booster for my 55k coming up in July. I have 72 days left of training and I know I will be ready.
I recommend this race for anyone who is looking for a destination race in the US with an opportunity to see a beautiful city. The crowd brought amazing energy, the race was so well organized and the medals were awesome! Now time to rest for a day and get back to training!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Beauty in imperfections

Body image is something women all over the world struggle with. Media portrays women in a very negative light. We should all be a certain size and look a certain way.  I don't know a single woman in my life who fits that mold. Hell, most of the women in media don't fit that mold. They are airbrushed or edited to make them look itty bitty and perfect.
There is no such thing as one perfect body type.

The body you inhabit is perfect.
Women come in all different shapes and sizes. But, loving the skin your in isn't an easy thing. When you see women in the media it's impossible not to compare. Not to look at yourself and see flaws but instead, see the uniqueness that makes you beautiful. A woman's body is an amazing thing. Be proud of it. It has took me a long time, a lot of failed diets and weight gain to finally be happy with where I am at this moment when I look in the mirror. Finally...

I am proud of my thunder thighs that carry me across miles and miles of every kind of terrain.

I am proud of my big hips even when I'm told they are disproportion to my waist.

I am proud of my stretch marks and war wounds of carrying two boys.

I am proud of my stomach that is far from washboard but holds me upright through hours of running on the road.

I am proud of my strong arms that can hold me upside down in yoga class.

I am proud of every single flaw on my body.

There are so many things I could see as imperfections but I make an effort when I look in the mirror to see the beauty. I will never be a size 4 and look like a model. I'm okay with that. I will however, enjoy trying new foods and run my ass off; not because I need to lose five pounds but because I enjoy it. I enjoy pushing my body because, my body is strong. My body is beautiful. No matter what size I am now or what number is on the scale.

Now, I am an athlete and I'm all about eating healthy. I have struggled, like most women, throughout my life with dieting and losing weight and hating my body. I think being healthy and taking care of yourself is incredibly important but, that has nothing to do with fad diets and starving yourself. Health is fueling your body. Health is taking care of the only body you will have in this life. Health is finding a balance between eating things that are good for you but, giving in to indulgence. Food should not be a source of stress and anxiety. Food isn't something to be avoided. Food should be enjoyed.

When you stop fighting yourself, when you stop fighting food and focus on nourishing your body, when you start to nourish your body and appreciate the beauty you see when you look in the mirror; that's when the real transformation begins. Love the way you are right now. Love what you see right now. Stop being unhappy with what you see in the mirror, you are beautiful exactly how you are.

Photo by my fiancĂ©, who looks at me like I'm the most beautiful woman in the world..