Late bloomer


1st – 5th grade: a perpetual disappointment to my gym teacher Mr. Doritan (“you’ve got the PUSH the ball,” he would implore)

10th grade: Cut from the volleyball team

Freshman year at Ohio State: faithfully walked across campus to do Buck-i-Robics on Sunday nights

Age 23: Moved to L.A. and decided to try a kickboxing class at Bodies in Motion in Santa Monica (red acrylic nails? check. white bike shorts under bloomy black Umbros? check.)

Age 23 – 26: If I wasn’t working at the magazine or attending movie screenings at night, I was working out. Total gym rat. Kickboxing. Spinning. Almost. Every. Day.

Age 27: Back in Ohio, and back at home with parents. At a crossroads and in a what-am-I-doing? free-fall, with no gym to flee to, started running outside. That spring, ran first 10k.

Age 28: Now living in a cute apartment in Grandview, began teaching Spinning a couple nights a week.

30s: Somewhere in this decade, living near a running trail, I became a homeowner, wife, mother, corporate professional and runner. Never went past 8 miles.

39: For the first time, ran the Whitetail Deer trail half-marathon in September. Couldn’t believe the beauty, not to mention the treacherous terrain. Fell once.

40: Won the female category at a trail 25k. In November. What misery.

41: By now, had many race bibs in my top drawer. For the first time, ran the Columbus Marathon.

42: Got some Altra trail running shoes like the ones Patagonia ambassador Jen Shelton wears. Every bit of inspiration helps.

I never thought of myself as athletic until very recently. I guess it’s never too late.

Playlist for a half marathon


Yesterday I ran the Cap City Half Marathon. The weather was perfect and the course was great – a trip down memory lane. We started in downtown Columbus, looped around and across the Lane Avenue bridge, down High Street through Ohio State’s campus (right past the UDF where my mom ran for cleaning supplies 5 minutes after setting foot in my new apartment on 12th), around historic German Village, around COSI (where I briefly worked in my twenties) and across the finish line back in the heart of downtown.

The worst part was trying to remember where I parked my car afterward.

Thought you might like to see the songs that kept me going (these randomly played on my iPod shuffle out of 100+):

  • Keep the Car Running – Arcade Fire
  • Cruel Summer – Bananarama
  • Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix) – Coldplay
  • Flashdance (What a Feeling) – Irene Cara (Flashdance soundtrack)
  • Gloria – Laura Branigan
  • Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel
  • Timber (feat. Ke$ha) – Pitbull
  • I Am Goodbye – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
  • Burst Generator – Chemical Brothers
  • All My Life – Foo Fighters
  • How You Like Me Now – The Heavy
  • Maniac – Michael Sembello
  • Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys) – Jay Z
  • What Is and What Should Never Be – Led Zeppelin
  • Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
  • To Love Somebody (remix) – Nina Simone
  • Run Like Hell – Pink Floyd
  • None of Dem – Robyn
  • Real Gone – Sheryl Crow (Cars soundtrack)
  • Beautiful Day (remix) – U2
  • Intro – The XX

The songs I listen to during the last mile are important to me because I’m usually on fumes by then and in need of mental inspiration. Surprisingly, a slow song can be just as effective as a hard-driving one because it has a settling effect. Here were the songs I heard in the final mile:

  • Running with the Devil – Van Halen
  • Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko) – Rihanna
  • Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) – Mark Ronson

Bless you, David Lee Roth.

Trail race

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The race: Salt Fork 10-Miler at Salt Fork State Park (a two-hour drive!)

The finishing time: 2:25

Weather report: High 20s when the race started at 9 a.m.

The outfit: three layers, people…


{Patagonia sports bra, a technical tee from a half-marathon I ran this summer, and my favorite socks by Balega}


{Brooks Utopia Thermal Running Tights — love! — and a Patagonia All-Weather Zip-Neck Hoody}


{Patagonia Better Sweater gloves and Patagonia Better Sweater Beanie, both of which I wear every day when it’s cold, not just for races, and my blue Athleta ‘Striped Strength Hoodie, which is more like a jacket than a hoody; it’s also more of a royal blue but I had a filter on my phone for the photo}

Pre-race meal: Macadamia Nut Clif Bar

Post-race meal: a Stella Artois and bacon-swiss-avocado turkey burger at Ruby Tuesday’s in Cambridge, OH

Injury report: a bloodied and bruised knee from one spill on a rocky, rooty downward hill. Barrak = unscathed (this time).

Why I finished a few seconds ahead of Barrak: even though he’s much faster than me, Barrak stayed with me for the entire race. It was sweet of him. He even let me finish first.

Incredible sight: no, it wasn’t a doe and her fawn. It was the runner ahead of me, having a conversation on her cell phone

The swag: a pint glass and cool sweatshirt. Nice!

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The verdict: even though I just ran a full marathon and this was only 10.4 miles, it was a reminder that trail races are legit. MUCH harder than road races. Those uphills just gassed me. My calves were wobbling and seizing up during the home stretch. You have to be in tip-top shape.







And then there were nine

“Toenails are for sissies” — it’s a recurring theme for spectator signs at marathons and half-marathons. When I started training for the Columbus Marathon in July, I started to see some signs that I may not finish with all 10 of my toenails.

And yesterday, that came to pass.

I knew it was coming. Some of my other toenails have turned purple but my big toe really wasn’t looking right. And sometimes it hurt at night. Then yesterday at work, when wearing peep-toed heels, I glanced down and noticed the burgundy-painted nail didn’t even look connected.

So when I got home, I got out the clippers. I started trimming. And trimming. I kept going. And it wasn’t hurting. Finally I reached what I think is the root of the nail. I felt vaguely nauseous while cutting it. But strangely, it actually looks better than before. It’s just pure pink skin – no more nasty nail.

Keep scrolling down if you’re man enough to see the picture….







You can still back out….








Marcella's Whiskey Rosso -- pronounced 'row-so'

You might need a stiff drink, such as the Whiskey Rosso at Marcella’s…








Okay, here it is. See? Not that bad. You can’t even really tell my big toe has no nail, can you? But I’m a little worried about the 4th piggy in…



Burr Oak Lodge

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We got away for the weekend to Burr Oak Lodge, down near Athens, in the Burr Oak State Park. What a hidden gem!

Barrak and his buddies ran a trail marathon through the hills on Sunday morning. We drove down Saturday afternoon, played in the indoor pool, had dinner with some of the other families, and just hung out in our room. Sunday, we putzed around, swam in the indoor pool again, and cheered for the runners.

It was such a nice quiet place. You can stay either in the main lodge or in a cabin. The lodge rooms were recently renovated. Nothing fancy but pretty spacious. The kids had a separate area with a sofa pull-out bed (some other families got bunk beds in the adjoining area).

Lots of people were sitting around the main lobby in leather chairs reading by the fire. I would love to go back and do that. To just retreat. That’s a little hard to do with two kids. And I wish the food was better. But you could totally bring a bottle of wine and your own coffee maker for your room.






Marathon day

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{the kids on the curb to high-five me at mile 17, and again at the finish line} 

What an experience!

I’m so glad I did it, and very proud of myself.

My body is wrecked. It’s not so much my muscles but my joints: ankles, knees, hips. And my second toe on my right foot.

I wanted to finish in 5 hours. When I crossed the finish line, the giant digital clock read 5:08. OK, I’m just glad I finished. Then Barrak called to tell me he just got a final text (he’d been tracking my progress through real-time texts – a neat service the marathon did this year) that my final race time was 4:50. The reason for the difference was my corral didn’t shuffle across the official starting line until 7:48 a.m. or so, which I hadn’t factored in. So I did make my goal of a sub-5 hour marathon – barely!

While I was running, Barrak was doing The Amazing Race with the kids, running them from spectator sideline to spectator sideline, with road closures everywhere, using the real-time texts as a guide. It was a lot for him and the kids but it really gave me some critical boosts.

A lot of people — especially women were running in pairs or groups. I trained alone and I raced alone, and that’s fine by me. I did have a couple conversations with other solo racers. That’s a cool aspect of a race like that: the support and random encouragement from strangers.

Another sweet memory I’ll keep: when I got up at 4:55 a.m. Barrak got up too, and sat in the dark living room with me drinking our coffee and watching morning news anchors we’ve never seen before. He waved goodbye as I pulled out of the garage into the darkness, a fingernail moon still high in the sky.

My time: 4 hours, 50 minutes

My favorite neighborhood to run through: Bexley, with German Village a close second

Hardest part of the race: Upper Arlington and Grandview (miles 19, 20 and 21)

Neatest sight: the racers from Kenya lapping us – they were flying

Nostalgic moment: running past the Ohio State dorm I lived in my freshman year on 12th Ave (I was not a runner at all back then)

Where Barrak and the kids stationed themselves: mile 10 in German Village, mile 17 just outside the Ohio State horseshoe, and the finish line

Thing I lost during the race: my new Athleta headband

Thing I wish I’d done differently to prepare: nothing!

Things I ate during the race: half of a Clif Bar, some raspberry Gu, a red-and-white striped peppermint

No. of times I stopped to pee at a Porta-Potty 1, at mile 23

Best aid station drink: beer at mile 25 (it settles your stomach)

Lowest moment: trying to find my car in the cold parking garage afterward when I could barely walk and I was getting the chills

Highest moment: approaching the finish line, and just after. I was overcome.

Best moment of relief: getting in my car, blasting the heat, and changing into a warm hoodie

Length of my post-race shower: 25 minutes

No. of Advil I took: 3

Post-race meal: an ahi tuna flatbread from Matt the Miller’s and some of Greta’s leftover birthday cake

Time we all went to bed last night: 9 p.m.