How Is It April Already?

I’m not sure how this happened, but the year is a quarter of the way through and it’s April already. Now is a good opportunity to look at what I’ve been up to and where I stand relative to the goals I set for this year.

February was a busy month, including three races and the first week of a twelve-day vacation. The first race was Surf City Half Marathon. My goal was to run 1:55 or better, and I started a little fast, couldn’t hold that pace, and ended up running 1:58:18. While this fell short of the goal, it was a PR. Next up was the Timberwolf 5k. This course is hilly, with a fast, downhill finish. I ran smart and took advantage of the fast finish to squeak in just under 25:00.

The message that I heard from these two races was “start slow to go fast!” I visualized this concept as I drove the course the day before the Special Edition Divas Half Marathon in Temecula. The rest of that day and into the next morning, I reminded myself to start slow and let the pace build in the later miles after the hills. And then the gun went off and I found myself swept up in the energy running nearly the same paces from the prior week’s 5k. By the time I hit the hills, I was done, and came in at 2:03:03.

Two days later, we left for twelve days in Italy and England. I didn’t run a single step and was OK with that. We did walk anywhere from eight to sixteen miles each day. My favorite part of the trip was hiking the trails of the Cinque Terre. The beauty of this area, the endless stairs winding through hillside vineyards, gorgeous views of the Mediterranean, and the old world charm of each village were absolutely breathtaking.

The day after I got home, I was back at it, logging miles and building back to my pre-trip long-run distances. I was really worried about losing fitness and singularly focused on distance. This proved to be the wrong approach. I registered for a 10k with the thought that I was good to run the distance so it shouldn’t be a problem. Because I hadn’t done any speedwork, other than racing, for the previous month or so, it was a problem and I couldn’t hold a pace that should have been hard but comfortable. Recognizing my mistake, I added an interval workout the week before my next 5k. My interval pace was overly optimistic. I couldn’t maintain it and I was left discouraged. On the morning of the 5k, I had a great attitude, tons of nervous energy, and was optimistic that adrenaline would carry me farther than my fitness would allow. It didn’t.

I have learned from the past couple months and am finding my way back to the path of hard work, focus, and smart training. I’m adding at least one speed session (intervals, tempo, fartleks) to my list of weekly goals. While I love to hate speedwork, there is a certain sense of accomplishment and a really “good” tired feeling that comes from completing a tough speed workout.

Here is how the rest of my goals stack up:

  • With the exception of my vacation, I have consistently maintained my strength routine.
  • While on vacation, Ken and I walked everywhere. Since returning, I think we’ve managed only a couple of walks. “Spring Ahead” has given us one less hour of excuse. Now is the time to get back on track.
  • I enjoyed good food, great wine, and some seriously amazing cappuccinos in Italy. I didn’t gain or lose weight, but I did bring home a crazy sweet tooth from all the gelato. I’m focusing on getting my nutrition back in line.
  • I have consistently read my bible daily, but have lost interest in reading the stack of books. I have also slowed way down on listening to podcasts. I am content with tabling the goal of finishing the stack of books until I regain interest in them.
  • Yoga has been hit or miss. I feel great when I’m done, but struggle to make the time. I continue to incorporate balance exercises whenever I can and find that my balance is improving.
  • I have fallen short of my blogging goal. That is not to say that I have given up on the thoughtful introspection that I was hoping for. I’m an introvert and tend to get lost in my thoughts. I have been analyzing and gleaning tidbits of wisdom from all my training, lack of training, and missed goals. I’m also insecure and shy and have struggled with putting my toughts out there. Accountability is the key. Perfection and perception need not get in the way.

Until next month,



It’s that time of year when the novelty of New Year’s resolutions wears off and the resolve to achieve them wanes. Even so, I feel like I am starting to hit my stride in regards to some of my goals and am encouraged by some posts and articles that I’ve read in the past week.

In a post entitled Already Everything on her Mile Markers blog, Kristin Armstrong reminded that you have what you need to achieve your goals. It already lies within you. I know this is true, yet I struggle to truly believe it.

In a post-retirement interview with Runners’ World, Ryan Hall was quoted as saying, “If we’re going to compete, we’ve got to be ok with blowing up. You can’t have that shake you or destroy your confidence.” Ryan’s style was all out ballsy. He is known equally for his amazing achievements and the training cycles that didn’t go his way. Playing it safe wasn’t an option. If I’m going to dare to achieve the goals I set for myself, I’m going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Missing a goal isn’t failure, it’s a learning opportunity, a chance to regroup and get things right the next time.

So where do I stand with my goals? Here’s a quick update:

*That ~15 pounds was actually 21. I have shed 4 of those pounds and am slowly changing my eating habits.

*I am doing planks, push-ups, and assisted pull-ups 3 times a week and feeling good about it.

*I’ve registered for two local 5k races, one in February and another in April. The first is truly ambitious: 6 days after a half marathon, hilly, lots of familiar faces in the crowd… I am excited to give it my all and prove to myself that I’ve already got what it takes!

*I’ve finished one of the unread books and am a third of the way through another.

*I managed to find the yoga DVD and was quickly reminded of how terrible I am at yoga. I continue to set an intention to breathe, be in the moment, and do what I can each time.

*I have only walked with Ken a few times. My intent was to give him time for his workouts as well as give us time to talk and connect. So, I choose to see this not as failure, but rather a chance to regroup and get it right.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, run with me, or offered support. Training is never easy, but when two or more share the load, it sure feels like it is.

A Shameless Endorsement From My Daughter

The other night as I was typing my goals and uploading them to my blog, my 11 year-old daughter asked me what I was doing. I told her and she said that she would like to write something for the blog. I was a little nervous that she might write about unicorns, or old TV shows, or who-knows-what. And, then I figured she would forget. The next day, she went up north to spend the week with her grandparents. Last night, she sent me a text with a link to her Google docs account and told me this was what she wanted to write. It is so sweet and thoughtful that I had to post it.


Hi runners! My mom is Michelle Landrith. She is the most wonderful woman I know. She enjoys the same things I enjoy. I can always count on her to put me to bed at night. She loves my family and me. She is really funny, at just the right moments, and she loves to run. I run too, which makes her that much better. I can’t even start to explain what an amazing coach she would be for you.

Oh yeah, you don’t know who I am. My name is Lauren, but my family and friends call me Lolo. Not after Lolo Jones, but just because it fits me. Anyways, most people hate running. By most people, I mean everybody, including runners sometimes. During a run I have so many friends that I usually run with, that by the time it’s over, I’m really happy. I am quite the talker when I run! (And when I am with my friends and family.) If you could believe it I am actually quite shy until I get to know you. I used to be so shy I would ask my parents to order for me at restaurants. Enough about me!

My mom is just AMAZING. She loves old cars and 80’s music just like me so you can count on her to be counting Volkswagen Buses and old Bugs as you run! 🙂 OBVIOUSLY, my mom would be the coolest, the all in all best, the most awesome, amazing, fantastic, wonderful running coach you can get in this world.

Your friend,
Lauren (Lolo)

**Lolo received no compensation for her endorsement. Aside from correcting a few run-on sentences and grammatical errors, these thoughts are her own. Also, I don’t coach Lolo, but I do run with way behind her.**

2016 Goals #womanup2016

You know, they say that you are much more likely to achieve your goals if you define them, write them down, and then share them. So, this year that is just what I’m going to do. I’m a shy, insecure, introvert by nature and the idea of doing this scares the heck out of me. I mean, there are critics out there that might wonder just who I think I am to be this audacious. Quite frankly, I am wondering who I think I am to dream this big. But, these goals are important to me and I am going to pay attention to the part of me that agrees that I can achieve them. And, I’m counting on the nudge that comes from sharing my goals with others.

  1. Finish both February half marathons under 1:55:00.
  1. Ditch the excuse that “the change” has caused me to gain weight, regain the mindset that food is fuel, and drop the ~15 pounds I’ve gained over the last year and a half.
  1. Strength train weekly—starting with planks and push-ups and then adding arm weights
  1. Run all 5k’s <25:00, moving closer to PR with each
  1. Walk (or run, bike, hike, etc) with Ken 4x a week
  1. Finish the SeaWheeze Half under 1:50:00 in August
  1. BQ at the California International Marathon in December. (Qualifying standard is <3:54:59; Ensuring that I get accepted in the registration process – <3:50:00)
  1. Read the stacks of unread books on my dresser.
  1. Practice yoga at least once a week and incorporate balance exercises wherever possible in my every day life.
  1. Blog, about my progress or other topics, at least once a month.

In reflecting on these goals, I’ve noticed two big themes: getting faster and not giving in when things get hard. Duh! I’m not going to get faster, or better at anything really, if I give in when things get difficult.

Thank you for allowing me to share my goals with you. If you think about it, ask me about my progress. Or, share your goals with me. I’d love to support your effort to achieve your dreams.


Daring? Yes. Greatly, I Intend To!

In his 1910 “Citizenship in a Republic” speech (also known as “The Man in the Arena”), Theodore Roosevelt delivered this famous passage:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who arrives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….”

I learned of this speech while reading a blog post written about Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. Brown’s book is about vulnerability, which as she states is not knowing victory or defeat, but is rather understanding the necessity of both. In a nutshell, it is being all in. She goes on to say that fear and shame prevent us from allowing ourselves to become vulnerable. She urges us to enter “the arena,” wherever that may be, and to be courageous and willing enough to engage, rather than sitting on the sidelines critiquing the situation.

This Saturday, as I attempt my first 50k (31 mile) race, I will enter a new physical arena. While I know it will be tough and I will wonder why I subjected myself to such a thing, I know that covering the distance is the easier of the arenas that I am entering.

I’ve decided to expose myself and my fears and the endless pre-critiquing that have already occurred. I usually shy way away from vulnerability and exposure, so this may be more difficult than the actual event.

Earlier this week, I realized that I wasn’t excited about this race. And, not only that, but I was fearing and dreading it. I was already going through my post race critique and the race was still many days away. Why, because it was forecast to be too hot, because it was going to suck, because I was going to be slower than I would like. How did I know any of these things? I didn’t for sure, but if I didn’t stop thinking these thoughts, they would most certainly come true.

I looked at my training log to see what I had already endured in preparation for this race. While my paces were nowhere near my best efforts, they did assure me that I had run some very long training runs in very hot and uncomfortable conditions; I have learned many things form the long list of errors and shortcomings during these runs; and that I am prepared. I needed to stop living with the fear of future shame and to redirect my thinking in a more positive manner, formulate a plan, and become head cheerleader for Team Michelle.

What I know for sure is that on Saturday, I will be marred by dust and sweat. God willing, blood will not be part of the equation. I will strive to run this race as best as I can. I will enthusiastically toe that starting line. I have demonstrated, time and time again, great devotion to this sport that I so dearly love. At the best, I will know that I ran a good race and can proudly call myself an Ultra-Marathoner. At worst, I will have failed while daring greatly.

NYC Marathon Recap

Mary Wittenberg, and the NYRR, promised a marathon that would be bigger, better, and safer than ever.  They delivered from beginning to end!  With over 50,000 finishers and thousands (millions) of spectators, that is no small feat.

I took a red eye and arrived in the city early Friday morning.  I was at the expo shortly after it opened and encountered a short wait in line as security checked larger bags.  Volunteers were friendly, knowledgeable, and supportive making bib and t-shirt pick-up a breeze.  I spent another hour or so wandering through the expo and then headed to my hotel to take a nap.

Ken and I both participated in the Dash to the Finish Line 5k on Saturday morning.  My plan was to remain as calm as I could at the start and jog just enough to feel confident for the next day.  I planned my race and raced my plan for the first time ever and left the finish area feeling good about race day.

I reserved a spot on the 7:00 am shuttle that took runners from midtown to Staten Island.  There was no time to sit around and get nervous as the bus took off before I even sat down.  The ride itself took about 45 minutes and then we sat in traffic for another hour.  It was cold (low 40’s) and breezy outside, so I was perfectly content to stay on the bus as long as the driver would let us.  We finally exited and walked towards the start village.  NYPD had a security area set up and all runners either walked through metal detector gates or were screened with hand held wands.  The officers were friendly, efficient, very supportive of the runners, and appreciative of my gratitude.  The start village was well marked, tables were set up with water, and there were plenty of porta-potties in the village and the corrals.  NYPD had established a presence that left me feeling reassured and encouraged by their genuine support.  There were officers on foot, others on rooftops, and others patrolling with bomb sniffing dogs.  Most runners reached out to say thank you to individuals and groups of officers.

My wave was set to start at 10:30.  As that time approached, we made our way over to the start line.  With nine minutes to go, my Garmin decided it was the perfect time not to find a satellite.  I struggled with it for a few minutes before it decided to cooperate.  The gun went off and a sea of humanity took off across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  I took in the whole scene and was so grateful to be there, doing what I love.  At the top of the bridge, NYPD had helicopters hovering on either side of the bridge.  This was both super cool and very reassuring.  I looked at my Garmin and saw that I had managed to keep my first mile semi relaxed and did my best to coast down the bridge’s decline expending as little effort as possible.

The race enters Brooklyn on the other side of the bridge.  Spectators in Brooklyn brought it!  I’m not talking about the usual, half-hearted “Woo, go runners” that you hear at most races.  They came out to cheer as though they knew every runner that passed them by.  Many called out to runners, by name, yelling encouragement.  One woman looked me right in the eye and cheered “Si se puede!”  “You know I can” I thought, then smiled, and had to high five her.   The miles were passing relatively easily and the crowds kept me in a great frame of mind.

The street grew much more narrow as we headed into Williamsburg, yet crowds remained excited.  I felt like the riders on the Tour de France where there’s barely enough room to get through, but it’s almost as if the crowd is carrying you so it doesn’t matter.

Somewhere along the way, a DJ was blasting My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy.  I.LOVE.THAT.SONG!  I literally laughed out loud as I remembered telling my kids that if that song was on my ipod, I wouldn’t be able to control myself and would probably sing out in my best (er, worst) ‘80’s hair band voice “I’m on fire!” as I fist-pumped my way down the street.  For the record, I managed to control myself.  A little bit.

Before I knew it, I was nearing the halfway point and realizing that I could break two hours.  Not sure why I chose this day to end a 5 year slump, but I wasn’t going to fight it.  Instead, I gained confidence knowing that I could go well under two in future half marathons.

One of the bits of advice I had received was to be prepared for the Queensboro Bridge to be eerily quiet and to use this time to regroup as it’s the calm before the storm that is 1st Avenue in Manhattan.  This was great advice and I did my best to heed it.  1st Avenue was insane.  People were packed 10 deep on either side of the road for what seemed like forever.  I had asked Ken to bring a bottle of electrolytes to 1st Avenue somewhere after 72nd Street.  I thought the crowds would wane by then.  Ha, rookie maneuver.  He was there, somewhere, holding up my bottle of water like the Statue of Liberty.  I just didn’t manage to see him.

At mile 18, I noticed a volunteer refilling a runner’s water bottle, and got her to refill mine.  Not quite the same, but it would have to do.  As I neared the Willis Avenue Bridge leading into the Bronx, I hit a low and walked across.  I mindlessly pushed forward through the Bronx, until another runner came up on my right loudly cheering, “Everyone clear the Bronx.  That’s it we’re getting out of the Bronx.”  That was just random enough to get my head back into it.

The hills begin as the course approaches Central Park.  My mental toughness had vacated the premises and I was back to walking short stretches.  Then a guy in a Boston Red Sox hat started heckling encouraging me.  “You’re not Boston Strong.  You’ve gotta do this for Boston.  You show them Boston Strong!”  I was not thinking nice thoughts towards him at that point, but he was absolutely right.  I started running and caught a second wind.

I passed the 25 mile banner, exited the park onto 59th St/Central Park South, turned the corner, and locked eyes on Ken.  “There you are! There you are! There you are!”  I pointed and screamed like a maniac.  I was super excited to see him.  He grabbed my hand, yelled something I couldn’t hear, and off I went.  The last stretch before the finish is uphill.  I pushed with everything I had left, raised my arms, and crossed the line.  Someone put a medal around my neck and I immediately threw up.  A medical volunteer was on me in a heartbeat.  She put her hand on my back, provided some comfort, and checked to see if I needed more help.  “One more,” I told her, “and I’ll be good.”  Done.  (Note to self: I need to get that under control before the next ‘thon.)  She gave me some advice as to how best to navigate the finish area as quickly as possible.  Next up were the mylar blanket and recovery bag, which was a thick plastic (reusable) draw string back pack with water, Gatorade, a power bar, an apple, and some pretzels.  Nicely done!

Prior to the race, I selected the “No Baggage” option, which meant that I would not be able to check a bag at the start, but I would be able to exit the park early and would be given a poncho to keep me warm.  The poncho was AMAZING!  It was orange nylon on the outside and navy blue fleece on the inside.  It was warm and cozy and exactly what I needed.  Although, watching the slow parade of runners slowly and gingerly limp their way down Central Park West in those orange ponchos was sort of like watching an orange zombie apocalypse.

We were diverted around Columbus Square because of all the congestion.  An older guy bumped into a cop and started to push and shove.  The cop asked him what he thought he was doing and managed to calm him down without any further incident.  Whew, I was not up for what could have transpired.

I met Ken at a bar near our hotel.  When I entered, EVERYONE stopped what they were doing to clap and cheer for me.  I completely lost it.  I mean my head was in Ken’s shoulders and I was crying like an idiot.  Who are these people and what did they do with the New Yorkers?  They did this every time a finisher entered or left the bar.  Love them!

The slogan for this year’s marathon was: 26.2 miles makes it a race, YOU make it the marathon!  I wish I could go back and personally thank all of the YOU’s that made it such a great experience for me.  Thank you guy from England for chatting me up on the bus.  Thank you to the guy from Philly that gave me a hand warmer when I was shivering at the start village.  (I hope you re-qualified!) Thank you Si Se Puede lady (Yes, I did!).  Thank you DJ spinning Fall Out Boy.  (You’re.On.Fire!!)  Thank you water stop lady.  (You really were a lifesaver.)  Thank you Boston Strong guy.  Thank you Ken!!  Thank you to everyone at the bar.  Thank you to Megan for comp-ing my beer.  Thank you to the NYPD and FDNY for coming out in force to ensure my safety.  Thank you to the city of New York for rolling out the red carpet and making me feel awesome!

The Transformation

In school this last year, my younger daughter had a science module on caterpillars.  The class watched as the caterpillars transformed into butterflies.  She was absolutely fascinated!!  Every time we walked past mallow, which is a caterpillar’s favorite food, she would shriek with excitement: “Mom, mom, it’s mallow! It’s mallow!”

Yesterday morning I woke up with only an hour to eat breakfast, feed the dog, get myself dressed, wake my daughter, and get her to track practice.  Because I usually only wake her up when we have somewhere to go, and usually in a hurry, the chances of her waking in a good mood are slim to none.  This morning was no different.  SHE.WAS.PISSED.OFF!

I used every ounce of restraint I could muster, and explained that it was a good idea to go since she would only get to one workout next week.  I knew the coach was going to work them hard, it was going to be hot, and I had to pick my words and battles wisely.  She finally got up and began to dress.  We agreed on breakfast and headed out the door.

Once there, one of the kids asked the coach if they would be running Big Red, a legendary local hill.  All of the kids breathed a sigh of relief when he said no.  Until he said we’d jog 2 miles to a different hill for repeats.  Thankfully, Lo wasn’t listening and/or her grouchy mood rendered her incapable of doing the math.  Four miles + repeats, uh-oh.

On the way to the hill, she said “Mom, you should have listened when I told you I didn’t want to come today.”  Oops, maybe she did do the math….   We jogged along in silence until we hit the repeats.  She dug down and cranked out repeats, until the coach told her to head back.

She plodded along, occasionally kicking rocks, other times whining about toenails.  To distract her from her grumpiness and pain, I told her that I had a secret, but couldn’t tell her until we got back to the start.  She ran along trying to figure out what the secret might possibly be.  Back at the park, I explained that she had just run over 5 miles, which is farther than she has ever gone.  I asked her if she was happy now that she woke up and went to track practice.  Now, in a much better mood, she was happy that she had run.

Like that caterpillar, she transformed herself into a beautiful butterfly and flitted her way through the rest of the day.

Confession from a Run-aholic

Hi, I’m Michelle.  And, I’m a run-aholic.  Seven weeks of illness, a bad marathon, recovering from that bad marathon, relapse of illness, and a family vacation have kept me from running consistently, and I am jonesing for some endorphins.

I am about to launch into another round of half marathon, triathlon, and marathon training and I need to get my mojo back in a big hurry.  The thing is that whenever I chase after that running joy, it becomes more and more elusive.  It seems that when I settle in and work really hard, that is when the joy of running comes looking for me.  But, how to get there when excuses are piling up faster than miles?

It’s time to swallow my pride, hop onto the proverbial wagon, and hitch a ride for as long as it takes until my addiction takes over and I’m running with joy and purpose.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lace up my sneakers and head out the door….


Wind in my sails…

This morning was my first long run in three weeks.  I took two weeks off to fight a sinus/respiratory cold.  I was excited to get out and run long again, but was nervous that my lungs wouldn’t be strong enough.  I’m also a little nervous about my level of fitness for a half marathon in two weeks, another half marathon three weeks later, and a marathon three weeks after that.  I cautiously decided on a flat 10 miler on the river trail.

No sooner did I step on the trail, then I felt a big gust of Santa Ana winds.  Where did that come from, and why did I choose to run along a wind tunnel?  After a few minutes of watching a coyote run along the other bank of the river, I settled into an easy pace and pushed forward.  My mind wandered and I thought of those top 5 and top 10 advice lists that running coaches and magazine writers love to give.  One of their favorites is to start your run headed into the wind so that you have the wind at your back when you’re tired.  Whew, good thing I’m headed into the wind, I thought.  And I started counting down the miles to the turnaround point.

Funny thing is, when I turned my back on the wind, it seemed to get a lot warmer.  I don’t say this as a complaint (as I enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine on my back) but more as a reminder that when I turn away from the wind that slows me down, I also turn away from the cooling breeze on my face.  Even though I was tired, and now getting warmer, that tailwind pushed me along at a good clip.  I had to make a conscious effort to keep my pace as slow as it should be for a training run.

I finished that run feeling strong and energized, and even a little less nervous about my upcoming events.  But, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the Santa Ana winds aren’t blowing on race day.

My first post!

Welcome to my blog.  I’m Michelle, a wife, mom, runner, and part-time running coach that also works full time as a project manager.  Don’t ask me to explain the project manager thing, because I have real trouble with that.  Running on the other hand, I could go on for days.

Most of my posts will be about running, but I’m sure something will happen at work or home that will make its way onto this site.