If 13.1 is half crazy…am I losing my mind?

losing my mind?

I’m no longer only “half crazy”.

Evidently my train has fully jumped its track. I’ve dropped my full basket. I’ve tipped fully off my rocker. And I’ve lost my full bag of marbles.

In other words, I just registered for my first full marathon.

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d do. I’ve been content with my 5k’s, 10k’s, 10-milers and half marathons. I was one of those who, when inevitably asked, “when are you going to run a marathon?” would just smile and shake my head. It was not on my radar at all.

Then earlier this year, I read an article about Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to legally run the Boston Marathon. I was just over six months old when she ran it in 1967, and I don’t recall seeing that famous photo until the last couple of years. This year, the 50th anniversary of that run, at age 70, she ran it again. She was quoted in the article as saying “If you can run a marathon, you can do anything.”

That really got me thinking.

When I started running, I didn’t even know if I could successfully finish a 5K. But I trained for it and I did it. Same with 10K. A half marathon wasn’t on my bucket list at all, until I was presented with the opportunity to run in one. So I trained for it. I actually finished it. And I loved it.

The reason I started this blog is to encourage others to try new things, even if they’re not sure they can. I feel that everyone deserves to feel that sense of accomplishment, knowing you’ve stepped out of your own “norm” and tried something you may have thought impossible.

For me, it’s not that I think I have to run a marathon…it’s that I believe I’m capable of doing so. And in a way, because I am capable of doing it, it follows that I should.

And there it is. Once the thought entered my head, it was only a matter of time.

I did some research and started asking around about the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento. It’s a popular one in my area and as it happens, many of my friends (my age, older and younger) are doing it. And for quite a few it is also their first marathon. Plus we all have access to local professional training through Fizio.

And first-timers have the chance to earn an additional first-timer medal when we cross the finish line. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that extra bling factored in to my choice!

Maybe I’m not crazy after all. Or, if I am, I’m in good company!

So, here we go! Official training doesn’t start until Labor Day, and I have a few races scheduled between now and then. I’m looking forward to doing the training with my friends and sharing our experiences – the bad and the good.

And I’m looking forward to really knowing that I can do anything.


If you have experiences, ideas, tips, you’d like to share regarding stepping out of a comfort zone, facing challenges, etc., please share them in the comments!

Reno Tahoe Odyssey Recap 2017

Shelley's DiaryThis post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of these links I make a small commission.

It has been a busy couple of weeks since I’ve updated. The first weekend in June I ran my fourth Reno-Tahoe Odyssey, and the following weekend was a marathon of concerts with the ensemble I play with, Tintabulations. (check out our website and concert schedule here: we have a handful of concerts left before taking a summer break!)

RTO Recap

The RTO is a 178-mile relay which starts in Reno, loops through the Sierras around Lake Tahoe, into the Carson Valley, up the mountain into Virginia City, and ends a bit past the starting point in Reno. There are almost 300 teams competing (well, really only a handful of teams actually competing; the rest of us are in it for the fun of it!) The majority of teams consist of 12 runners, split up between two vans. There are 36 legs of the relay so each runner theoretically has three legs to run. Distances vary from a few miles up to 8, and range from very easy to very difficult.reno tahoe odyssey recap 2017

It was in training for my first RTO in 2014 that I really began to feel that running was no longer just something I did. Running became a part of my identity. Also, because of the RTO, a half marathon seemed do-able, seeing as how I practically ran one then (over a 24-hour period). Each year has presented its own set of challenges, triumphs, and firsts. This year was no exception!

Team Spirit

A big part of running the RTO is choosing a team name. Scroll through the team roster on the RTO website and you’ll see some very creative names. Ours this year has to be said out loud to be fully appreciated…Hoof Hearted. Let’s just say the name is descriptive of the RTO life in a van with five other people!

reno tahoe odyssey recap

Our teammate Kris designed our shirts. The design depicted a mechanical-looking flatulent unicorn breaking wind in colorful fashion, as one would expect from a unicorn! She also pulled together two sponsors for our team, Bison Construction and Port of Subs, who paid for our shirts.

Tutu Girl, and A First for Me

There had been heavy construction traffic getting to my exchange. By the time we arrived I barely had time to slap on some Body Glide and fill my water flask before our runner came in and I was off.

The first legs of this relay kind of set the tone for the rest of the race. You see what kind of van support you’re going to get and what kind of support each individual might want.

I feel like I’m a “clingy” runner when it comes to this race.  It was a hot day, so I requested team support about every mile and a half of the almost six-mile leg. And they complied, with water guns aimed and ready. Strangers in tutus were generous with their spritzer bottles, as well.  My team also helped support their teammate, nicknamed “tutu girl”, as she and  I leapfrogged each other the entire route! That’s what this race is all about!

Around 4 miles in, just after my teammates gave me support and went ahead to the next exchange, I started feeling the urge to pee. I became much more aware of forest and the large trees alongside the road and down a slight embankment, and I began to realize that I would not be able to make it two miles. By this point I didn’t see any runners coming up behind me, nor much traffic. A quick scan of the area yielded no signs of wildlife except the birds who seemed to be mocking me from above. So for the first time ever in my five years of running, I took advantage of mother nature’s outhouse and copped a squat behind a tree. I was so glad I did. I felt much better and able to run in strong to finish my leg.

Mind Games

I really hate the games my mind plays when I’m out there. I’m usually a confident runner and don’t worry much about my pace. But as part of a team, and the oldest on the team, it’s different. Seriously, some of my teammates are the same age as my children! So when I was out there tackling the hills in the heat, thoughts crept in. “yep, you can tell I’m the oldest runner on the team!” “I’m the slowest so far.” “I wonder how long these younger friends of mine will want to have home on their team?” “I wonder if this will be the last year?” “Maybe I should have taken the ‘princess’ legs” (this is how one of my teammates jokingly refers to the easiest legs).

Then I would see my van and speed back to a run while they cheered me on, cooled me off and called me a “beast”!  After my leg was complete, my teammates assured me my pace was strong and steady. Yes, I walked the uphills (no shame in walking!) but made up the time on the downhills and straight-aways.

In my rush at the beginning of the leg, I didn’t start my Fitbit until about a half mile in.

reno tahoe odyssey recap

After we had completed our first six legs and handed off to Van 2, we found a nearby park and gobbled down the Port of Subs sandwiches & chips provided to us. Turkey sandwiches and Cheetos never tasted so good!

Then we changed into fresh clothes, spread out some picnic blankets and relaxed until the time to venture the 30+ minute drive to meet up with Van 2 and run the next set of legs.

Round Two

This is perhaps the most beautiful part of the RTO course, with views of the majestic Lake Tahoe at  sunset, particularly around Emerald Bay. Lake Tahoe never ceases to take my breath away with its pure beauty. Although the legs running closest to the Lake are longer and in some cases, hillier, the scenery is worth it.reno tahoe odyssey recap 2017

My leg in this section was just over three miles. By the time I started running, it was dark. I began in a community called Tahoe Keys, running through upscale neighborhoods without much audible van support, as this was designated a “quiet zone” by race officials. The course then went down the main drag in South Lake Tahoe. Maybe it was because we had to be quiet, and maybe it was because the portion along the main drag was on a pseudo sidewalk and not well lit. It just wasn’t my favorite part of the course. Again, my teammates were supportive and we even hammed it up for some fun pics.reno tahoe odyssey recap

I felt bad for our final runner in this section. Sarah had requested little support, and that’s what she got! Our attentions turned toward discussion of which pizza joints were nearby, and whether we should eat in the van on the way to our sleeping destination! Sarah later quipped that she could have been taken by a bear and we would not have known. (I like to think we would have noticed sooner rather than later!)

We ordered pizza and planned to take it in the van. But the Pizza Hut was comfortable and quiet, and the bartender was very congenial. He brought us all ice water while we waited and invited us to sit at the bar. We were so comfortable that we ended up eating there.

The drive to our next destination was about 20 minutes. The parents of one of our teammates lives just off the route, minutes from the next van exchange point. They are SO hospitable; there were 4 cots with pillows and blankets, along with a double bed and a sofa . In the kitchen there were bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, assorted granola bars, trail mix, and an ice chest filled with water and Gatorade! We thanked them profusely and sleepily as heads hit pillows. At least, I’m pretty sure we did!

Sleep Deprivation Motivation

We were a team of 12, but it sometimes felt like we were two teams competing to allow the other as little sleep as possible. Only a little over an hour after we had gone to bed, unhappy people were yanked out of deep sleep with the call that it was time to meet the other van.

We were highly motivated to finish our third legs as quickly as possible. The faster we moved, the sooner we could return the favor and wake up Van 2!

This leg for me was just over three miles, all uphill to Silver City (about halfway up to Virginia City). This time the only van support I wanted was “moral”. I didn’t want to stop for water or rest. I just wanted to push through and finish!

Somehow in my sleep deprivation, I started then paused my Fitbit for the first three-quarters of a mile. You can see the gap in the screenshot. But I pushed up that mountain!

Reno Tahoe Odyssey Recap

Speaking of sleep deprivation; it was here that I realized that our loss paled compared to the Race Directors’. They were at the Start Line. They were at the “Donner’s Downfall” exchange mid-afternoon when my husband volunteered there. We saw them at the Lake Tahoe van exchange at dusk and the Carson City exchange at dawn. As I ran up the mountain to Silver City, head-honcho Eric passed me and cheered me on. And they were at the finish line. I can only imagine how late they stayed after the finish line festival. Do race directors earn medals, too?


It’s a rite of passage for Van 1 to celebrate completion of its portion of the relay at the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City, with Bloody Mary’s. We decided to forego this tradition at that early hour, and instead headed back down to Reno for a full breakfast.

Notice the recurring theme here. Run. Eat. Rest. We ran as well as we could have, I believe. The food was consistently the “best ever”. The rest could always have been better, or at least longer!

The Big Finish

reno tahoe odyssey recap

Our team was consistent and ran strong. We may not have had much sleep over the course of the race, but the trade-off was that we crossed the finish line before noon on Saturday! It was fun to watch for our final runner, then run into the park together and cross the line as a team. It was rewarding as Team Captain to hand out medals and reward stickers to teammates. We had our official finish line photo, post-race drinks, and enjoyed visiting with one another for a little while before heading home. Many of us had never met prior to this race. Now we have more running buddies, and you really can’t have too many of those!

Each year the RTO is a new and different experience. I think this one was my favorite so far. I’m looking forward to next year’s relay and wondering which legs I’ll be doing then!

Maybe I’ll go easy on myself and do the “princess legs”!

reno tahoe odyssey recap

Global Running Day

Happy Global Running Day!

Global Running Day 2017

The first Wednesday in June is Global Running Day, which is a day for people all over the world to celebrate running. The idea is to share your passion for running and to inspire others to keep moving.

Just Run

So how do you celebrate Global Running Day? How else … by running! Just run. Wherever you want. As far as you want. With whomever you want.

Global Running Day
Make a Pledge

If you want to be more formal about it and find out more information about the global initiative, you can make a pledge to run here. The only information requested is your first name, how far you plan to run and what is inspiring you to run. That’s it. You can even create a personalized bib if you want.

Fundraising Option

And although you are under no obligation, there are also links to fundraise for your favorite charities through Charity Miles and Crowd Rise. I am downloading the Charity Miles app as I write this, and plan to start using my miles to raise money for great charities such as the ASPCA, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and more.

I’ll be celebrating Global Running Day by running about 3 miles with my pups. My inspiration is to stay healthy and keep moving.

What’s your inspiration? Who will you run with today?  Maybe today will be your first day of running? Or your first day back after a break? I’d love to hear about your celebration! Please share your Comments.

Happy Running!

Memorial Day Trail Run: Opt Outside

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This morning Desert Sky Adventures co-hosted the monthly Run & Brunch with Bighorn Racing. The theme was #OptOutside, and in lieu of the usual neighborhood run, this time we met at the trailhead for the Steamboat Ditch Trail. I think I’ve only run this part of the trail twice, both in times of severe drought. Last winter’s snowfall decidedly ended the drought, so this run of the trail offered a brand new experience for me.

Also, I ran mostly without music, as I’m trying to make more of a habit these days. It was a thrill to enjoy the sounds of nature around and below us as we traced the hillsides inward and outward. Even as the morning sun rose higher and hotter, a light breeze met us as we rounded the last switch back and accompanied us to the finish. It was blissful.

Discovering and Sharing

As I was taking it all in, it occurred to me how long I lived in Reno before I even knew – or cared – that these trails and views existed. That would be, oh, 19 years. And if not for running, I may still not know about them.  It made me a little sad to think that our lifestyle choices back then interfered with giving my family these types of experiences. But, hindsight is what it is, and there is plenty to be discovered and shared.

By the way, running is not a requirement for such adventures. I would encourage everyone, everywhere, to #OptOutside occasionally. Get out there and discover what your community, your area, your little nook in this world, has to offer.

Memorial Day Trail Run: Opt Outside

Here’s my Fitbit snapshot from today’s run. I forgot to start my Fitbit and actually put in 6 miles. My intention was to do 3 0r 4 miles tops. But nature enticed me and I was feeling good, although I forgot about the 20 degree rule and was regretting my decision not to wear shorts. It was overall a lovely morning with friends and the perfect way to spend the holiday!

What discoveries have you made in your area lately? Or, what may be holding you back from opting outside? I’d love to hear from you!


Time to Be Real

It’s time to be real. I mean, that’s why I started this blog in the first place.

Not that I haven’t been “real” up this point. I’ve been sharing information from my own experiences and from folks who know a heck of a lot more about running than I do. And that will continue.

But I don’t only want to share information. I want this to be a space where anyone who has questions, or doubts, or stories – about running, about simply moving, about life – can feel at home.

Five years ago, I didn’t know that I would love running and be able to do the things I do now. I knew I needed to move and exercise. I also knew from past experience that a gym membership alone wasn’t going to cut it for me.

When I made an attempt to run and saw that I could, my confidence absolutely soared. I went from feeling like a loser smoker to feeling like a badass runner! No, it didn’t happen with the first run. Not even close. As with most everything in life, there was (and still is) lots of trial and error, and sometimes baptism by fire! The point was that I could no longer tell myself I couldn’t do it. Because I had proven otherwise.

Really, I don’t expect everyone to love running. I certainly didn’t expect to love it. But it matters to me to share my stories because maybe, just maybe it will help someone else do more than they ever thought they could. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves, and learning to push yourself beyond what you think you can do feels sooooo good!

My Diary

So I’m sharing my Diary with you. You’ll see ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, cheers and insecurities. I may not write an entry for every run, but I’ll at least share my Fitbit snapshots. With times and everything. To quote the great Scooby Doo, “Reeping it Real!” And I invite you to help keep it real with your comments.

Saturday, May 27

Yesterday is a great place to start. I met up with members of my Reno Tahoe Odyssey (RTO) team to do Leg 34. K, who organized the get-together, is one of the team’s fastest runners. And evidently she is not a morning person, because she planned it for 10 a.m., with the intent to enjoy post-run brunch at Peg’s, a favorite local restaurant. As it turned out only three of us showed up; K, E and myself. E is another of our team’s fastest runners. So I apologized in advance for potentially slowing them down; K offered to run my pace with me (which would have been painful for her, I think) and E joked he wasn’t out to set any records that day.

We had modified the leg for our purposes to include Peg’s as the finish point, and so as not to extend the run by too much more, K suggested we start at a different spot, the local high school. On the way to the high school, we re-evaluated and decided instead to start at the parking lot of a local shopping center. So while our intent was to run the 5.8-mile Leg 34, we ended up running our own version, sub-3 miles.

Which was just as well. K and E took off, leaving me in the dust. I had to chuckle because I am used to being one of the slower runners in the group. But as I approached the end of mile 1, I couldn’t understand why I started tiring so quickly. It could have been the heat of the day, though it wasn’t terribly hot and there was a nice breeze. Maybe it was the Charley horse that had been nagging me all morning – the one that had thrown me out of the bed the night before and still ached a bit…but strangely, it wasn’t hurting me while running. My breathing seemed heavier and I was burning energy quickly.

As I got about half a mile from our destination, I saw K running back to join me. I urged her to go on ahead and maybe reserve a table. I would be along eventually. She stayed with me and cheered me on, as good friends do, We sprinted the last 100 meters or so and I was spent. We did our stretches while we waited for a table, enjoyed our late breakfast, and parted ways.

When I got home, I checked my Fitbit app for my mile splits and learned why my energy depleted so quickly. I ran my first mile in 9:38. (my average time is around 10:30…okay, 11:00!) I must have subliminally planted the message in my own brain that I needed to try to keep up with K and E, and even as they disappeared over the horizon, tried to maintain a faster pace than I normally would.  Obviously I slowed way down in the second mile; partly to consult my map to be sure I was going the right direction. But it’s nice to know I’m capable of running that fast, even if it’s only for one mile!

Time to Be Real

Sunday, May 28

This morning Maddie, Milo and I joined up with the Sunday morning group at Reno Running Company. After I checked in, we set out on the 3-mile route. It was clear about halfway that it was really too hot for M&M to be running, and I stopped to give them some water. Maddie plopped down on the grass, which is a sure sign. We were literally 1.5 miles from where we started, so 3 miles was inevitable.

Some of my two-legged friends caught up to us and we started running with them…and poor little Milo got dragged on his little tush again! (At least this time it was only a couple of feet, at the most!) We took it easy the rest of the way, and ran in the shade when we could. M&M enjoyed lots of water and attention when we arrived back at the store! Here’s our post-run selfie.

Time to Be Real

Running with Dogs: Blessings and Wisdom

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Some of life’s greatest blessings come with four legs. Especially in the life of a runner. When running with friends, the more legs, the better, I say!!

Learning curve

I didn’t always run with my dogs. To be honest, in the beginning, I barely knew what I was doing. I was excited to realize that I could be a runner, and I just knew Maddie would love it, too.

So I took her with me on one of my first neighborhood runs. No sooner had we turned the first corner and another dog started chasing us. Maddie strained against the leash, trying to get at the alleged imposter. When she pulled, she yanked me off-balance, and I panicked. I turned around, took her straight back home and continued the run without her. In hindsight, I could have slowed to a walk and focused more on Maddie and less on myself. But I was focused on learning a running rhythm, and I didn’t have the confidence yet to train both of us!

We eventually got the hang of it and Maddie became my best running buddy. Then Milo joined our family, and we’ve become quite the trotting trio. It has taken some adjusting and adapting, but we seem to have the hang of it now, and it has become a major part of our lives together

Blessings and Wisdom

Here are some of the blessings and wisdom I have gained from running with my dogs:

They hold me accountable.

We don’t run every day (as of this writing), but we would if they had a say in the matter! They are ready to go the instant my feet hit the floor, and they expressly lay on the guilt when we don’t! I wouldn’t go so far as to say they sulk; it’s more the canine equivalent of “(sigh) it’s okay, don’t worry about little old me!” They are forgiving when I don’t run with them every day. Disappointed, but forgiving . (I’m lucky, though. My friend Bridget’s dog, Dolce, has a different way of dealing with disappointment; she steals and hides Bridget’s shoes in the backyard!

They teach me to keep trying until we find what works.

It was challenging to run with both of them at first. For awhile I took them out separately, but leaving Maddie caused her great anguish. While the distress described above is mostly passive, taking Milo and leaving her behind resulted in major sulking and scolding on her behalf! After all, running had been “our” thing for quite a while before Milo came along! How could I betray her in this way?!?

So I tried running with both of them. It was a lot of trial and error. Running with one on each side of me was a logistical nightmare. Keeping both them on one side was difficult with two leashes, as we all tried to go different directions and tripped over ourselves. Finally, a quick research trip to the pet store yielded a solution: an adjustable leash coupler.  Each end attaches to their collars, and the adjoining loop attaches to a leash. It works because Milo’s side can be extended, they are less likely to get tangled on a “short leash”, and they are practically forced to stay together. Thanks to the leash coupler, Milo was essentially trained by Maddie!

They teach me selflessness.

When I run with my dogs, the run isn’t just about me and my training anymore, it’s about making it a positive experience for all of us. I have to be aware of when they are getting thirsty and tired, or when they need to take care of “business”. There are times we’ll be running along and my mind will wander, then the next thing I know my body is jerked to the side of the road because Maddie can wait no longer to relieve herself. And poor little Milo; during one of his first outings with me and Maddie, he stopped to pop a squat, but we didn’t notice until we’d dragged him on his little tush for a good 15 feet!

A sure sign that they are tired is when they start to pant heavily, lag behind me, or when they simply plop down in the cool grass of our neighbor’s lawn.

Running with Dogs: Blessings and Wisdom

They teach me to run with purpose.

They are laser-focused, eyes and ears always on alert. This means my eyes and ears must be equally tuned in. I’ve stopped listening to music when I run with them. I have to see what they see, hopefully before they see it…because if they see that rabbit dash across the road before I do, or stop on a dime to investigate the waste in the road, we could be in trouble. So I have to be just as focused and prepared to steer us away from distractions and danger.

They don’t complain about distances, terrain, or speed.

I think they would keep running whenever, wherever, and as long as I wanted them to. But experts recommend that dogs need to acclimate to running just like humans do. We took it in smaller bites in the beginning: Maddie and I started out at about 2 miles and worked our way to about 6. I started Milo out just running down the block and back, then up to a mile, until he was just over a year old. These days, we average about 3 miles at a leisurely pace. This seems to work well for both of them, as Maddie is not getting any younger and Milo is not getting any taller! I’m also leery of taking them out onto the trails until they’ve had rattlesnake diversion training. When we do run on trails, I keep them on leash for their safety.

They teach me how to rest.

I mean, they really have this one down. We usually run early weekday mornings before I go to work. Often while I’m getting ready, I’ll realize they are not following me around as they usually do. Sure enough, I’ll find them in each of their favorite resting spots; Maddie under the coffee table, and Milo curled up in the corner of the coat closet. With their morning exercise and breakfast out of the way, they are settled in for R&R. They barely even notice when I leave for work!

The best part about having dogs as running buddies: they are always ready to go, and will always stay by my side. Do you run with your dogs? I’d love to hear about your adventures with your running buddies!

Running with Dogs: Blessings and Wisdom

Five Things to Love about Running

This week is my five-year Runniversary! On Mother’s Day 2012 I ran in my very first 5K, and life as I knew it has not been the same since. I’m happy to say I’ve never looked back

To commemorate five years as a runner, I’ve decided to share the top five reasons I love running:

1. I’m healthier at 50 than I was at 30.

Seriously! Cigarettes no longer have a place in my life or in our home. And okay… I may be carrying a few more pounds, but the truth is I’m within my healthy weight range and I do pay more attention to what I eat and drink. I definitely consume more water and fewer diet sodas throughout a given day. And I enjoy a much better quality and quantity of sleep.

2. Runners are some of the most generous people in the world.

While I started out running on my own, I quickly found the running community to be the most generous people I’ve met. They will encourage you, support you, cheer for you, give you great advice, stay by your side during the lows and celebrate with you during the highs.

3. Running is for the dogs.

Running is something I can share with my dogs; and the fact that I usually run with them in the mornings makes them extra happy to see me when I roll out of bed. It’s the ideal way to start my day, and sets them up for a lazy day of staying out of trouble!5 Things to Love about Running

4. Shoes.

Running gives me a great excuse to buy new shoes at least twice a year. What other pastime (other than retail therapy) actually encourages frequent shoe shopping. And where else could you get away with wearing those neon orange kicks?

5. Speaking of therapy…

Running gives you the opportunity to get “out of the box” and think things through. Lots of problems are worked out and ideas are born during a run. And you have the added bonus of knowing you’re doing something good for yourself. Running is something you can and should do at your own pace. As my friend Michael said, “Running does not judge us, rather it accepts us every time we go.”

Running continually surprises me; I’m always discovering something new to love about it, and something new about myself and what I am capable of doing. After that first 5K five years ago, I set a new goal to run a 5K race every month. I never dreamed that someday I’d ever run one half marathon, let alone achieve the goal of four half marathons per year.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through running, it’s “never say never”. Some things that sounded impossible five years ago don’t seem so far-fetched today. I can’t wait to see what lessons my 10-year Runniversary brings!

Fitbit Ionic