Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rim2Rim4Roy - Mission Accomplished!

Team McGraw [My brother Scott-left, me-center and Jeff McMahon celebrity keyboardist with Tim McGraw-right] tackled over 24 miles, with 11,000 feet of elevation change and raised over $10,000 for the Tug McGraw Foundation in memory of our father Roy Hadfield, whose adventurous spirit lives on in all of us.

It’s difficult to translate our 12-hour fast-packing adventure across the Grand Canyon. Tuesday morning, we stood at the top of the North Rim at 8,200 feet and could see all the way across to the South Rim, or in our case, the finish line. It was an overwhelming view that literally took my breath away. It’s not that people haven’t traveled from rim to rim on foot, it’s just that most have done it over several days, not hours. I tried to digest the enormity of it all, but like geometry, it just didn’t make sense. It was the first time I had ever seen the finish line from the start, and what lay between seemed nearly impossible.

The temperature range was almost as extreme as the trail with the morning temperature at 29 degrees and 80 degrees at the base of the canyon. We followed the infamous North Kaibab Trail 14 miles and descended over a mile deep through layers of red rock glowing in the
morning sun. I took a million pictures, but knew there was just no way to capture the essence of what I was seeing. This view couldn’t be bottled it could only be earned. We had a schedule and had to move efficiently to reach it, but nature just kept tapping on our shoulders which made it tough to avoid stopping.
Our strategy was to fast-pack down the trail, which involves moving efficiently hiking and running and working with the terrain. We ran the more subtle declines and hiked the extremes to conserve energy for the toughest part of the day, the climb back up to the South Rim. The Phantom Ranch served as an intermission. It sits at the base of the canyon and was the lowest point on our journey (2,450 ft). I’m not sure what I was expecting at Phantom Ranch, but it surely didn’t involve the shadow of darkness that greeted me at the campground entrance. It caught me by surprise and chilled my soul.

We crossed the Colorado River on the Silver Bridge and began the dauntingly steep nine-mile climb up to the South Rim. At this point, the reality of the journey began to set in. The Bright Angel Trail is a series of switchbacks that weave straight up the side of the canyon. The higher we climbed, the harder it was to breathe, but the view certainly made up for it. Although my legs were faltering, my mind was racing with thoughts of my father, memories shared and how much he would have enjoyed the trip. He worked day and night to provide for the family and I think he would be happy to see us celebrating his life.

As the sun was setting, so too was our journey. I looked back and a flood of emotion filled my mind. I could see the North Rim and the magnitude of just how far we had come. It was as if my father was standing on the edge with us smiling and gently letting go. Our family journeyed to the depths and it was time to climb out of the canyon and celebrate the man that did so much for so many. It is the uncertainty of the unknown that fuels my fears, but it is my father’s spirit that leads me to unveil the mysteries of life.


**I want to thank everyone who supported the team and donated to Rim2Rim4Roy. I also want to thank my brother Scott for having the courage to take on this adventure is his busy life, my sister Wendy and mother Doris who were there with us in spirit, Jeff McMahon and Jennifer Brusstar from Team McGraw and Tug, for giving us reason to reach beyond our limits. And finally, I'd like to thank my husband John Bingham, who supported us every step of the way. He is the best life crew a girl could want.

100% of the funds raised will go to the Tug McGraw Foundation and enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease. Tug McGraw continues to inspire and help improve the quality of life for brain tumor survivors and their families. Rim2Rim4Roy was created to honor his mission and celebrate his life.

Friday, October 03, 2008

T-Minus 4 Days And Counting...

Four days to go until we head to the Grand Canyon for Rim2Rim4Roy.   The four of us (my brother Scott, Jeff McMahon-friend and superstar keyboardist, and my husband John-crew) will journey to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and run to the South Rim tackling 25 miles of rugged terrain and 11,000 feet of elevation change.  I can hardly wait to get started...

I want to thank everyone that donated to the cause.  100% of the funds raised will go the Tug McGraw Foundation, a charity that is near and dear to my heart.  We lost our father to a brain tumor two years ago and we created R2R4R in his memory.  It will be a cathartic journey that will celebrate his life and support a charity that is making a difference by enhancing the lives of children and adults with brain tumors.  A win-win for sure.

It's been awhile since I've done something "new" and the uncertainty of the unknown is bubbling up all kinds of nerves and nightmares.  My favorite dream was getting lost on the trail and ending up in the middle of Alaska at a Starbucks!  It's taper madness at it's very best.  Every time I get caught up in the madness, I think about my training, the people that have supported me along the way, and all the families that will benefit from the good work the Tug McGraw Foundation is doing.  The unknown, although it can be scary, fuels my inner explorer and challenges me to reach beyond my limits.  The view is much better when you earn it.

Off to packing and dreaming...


Monday, September 15, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

Wow, what a weekend we had in Chicago. Chicago Endurance Sports trained a team for the Chicago Half Marathon and for many, it was their first shot at the distance. So I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of them show up at the start Sunday even though the rain was coming down in sheets!

Chicago had what they are now calling a "20-Year Rain" with over 8 inches in some areas this weekend. It just kept coming down. The race staff had to make a lot of last minute changes due to flooding and tackled the huge challenge of putting on the race in horrible conditions. I must say I was really impressed with our runners for showing up and towing the line on a horrible day (and a day that was perfect for sleeping in). I am equally impressed with all the volunteers and family and friends that stood out there helping us run the race. The Chicago Half Marathon staff did a phenomenal job in challenging conditions and we all got through it one inch at a time.

Sometimes racing in the worst conditions make for the best of memories.

Congrats to all that were involved and here's to drying out!


Monday, September 08, 2008

Country Roads

There's something about a winding road that sucks me in and takes me for a ride. I was out in the country this weekend at our annual girls getaway and had the chance to run on an open, winding, hilly country road. There is almost nothing cars, plenty of wildlife and fresh, crisp air. It was the perfect training run for my upcoming Rim2Rim4Roy Adventure across the Grand Canyon and a most excellent way to defrag and unwind.

I'm 30 days out from my GC Adventure and getting in a lot of great training these days. Some long, fast hikes, some trail runs and a lot of climbing workouts. It should be a good recipe to get me through.

I want to publicly thank everyone for their support (emotional and financial). We're just beyond the half way point of our goal to raise $11,000 for the Tug McGraw Foundation. (Which also happens to be the total amount of elevation gain on our journey)

If you are interested in making a donation to the team (every penny counts), CLICK HERE.

Happy Trails,


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A fun training run and a bad hair day...

I'm back from a long weekend at the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon. This is one of my favorite races of the season and a fun way to end the summer. It was a funny race for me and I struggled a little with the humidity. I think mostly because the weather in Chicago has been dry and cool all summer that I just wasn't acclimated for the 87% humidity even though the temps weren't crazy hot (75-80).

I can always tell how I will do in a race based on what my hair looks like:) Nice, smooth curls = a strong race. Out of control frizz = a tough race. And the minute I stepped off the plane in Norfolk, my hair looked like Rosseane, Roseannadanna. It's actually a great barometer for knowing when to cut back on pace and go with what the day brings, and I did just that. I actually used this race as a training run for my Rim2Rim4Roy challenge in early October. I ran to the start, ran the half marathon and then walked back to the hotel. Twenty miles in total and a perfect training day for me.

So I guess we're headed into fall, and with that begins my search for the perfect carmel apple. Because what is fall without carmel apples? Not a fall at all...

Happy Trails,


Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Working...

I had the pleasure of cheering and supporting our Triathlon Team yesterday at the Accenture Triathlon (the world's largest ). We (Chicago Endurance Sports) had over 160 athletes racing and it was an absolutely beautiful day to swim, bike and run.

I sat for a while on the edge of the water cheering on swimmers and noticed a nice trend. Mothers, fathers, and grandparents walking along with kids in tow. Many of the kids had "Go Dad or Mom" on their shirts and all of them were eagerly awaiting a chance to cheer them on. I have to believe this is going to have a profound impact on the next generation and how active they choose to be. With parents as role models out there in the water and on the roads getting it done, their kids are going to choose to live an active lifestyle because it will be normal. And what a great way to be proactive in the battle with childhood obesity.

Way to go moms, dads and grandparents! You are a tremendous role model and your achievements today will make a huge impact on children tomorrow.

Keep it up...


Monday, August 18, 2008


I realized the past few months that I've pretty much been living in a fog for the past two years. After losing my father to a brain tumor, my gram and dog to old age, I just went "away" emotionally and physically. Almost in autopilot...

The good news is that I am realizing this and that must mean I am on the other side of it. Life rolls up and down and it sure is nice to be on the up part again! Speaking of up and downs, I am doing something that has been on my Life List for years. I've created an event (personal) called Rim2Rim4Roy to honor my father and put my strengths to good use.

This October, my brother Scott, a good friend and celebrity keyboardist Jeff McMahon (of Tim McGraw), my husband John Bingham and I will tackle twenty-five intensely rugged miles over 11,000 feet of elevation change in the Grand Canyon to raise awareness and funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation.

Our journey will take us 8-10 hours and none of us really knows what to expect (except maybe sore quads). I can hardly wait to take the first step. One, because it will be a cathartic adventure and will feel good to finally put action into something I've felt so helpless over. And two, it will be an epic adventure that I hope to bring others to down the road and continue to honor my father and raise funds and awareness. Stay tuned on that account...

We are shooting to raise $11,000, the total amount of the elevation gain and loss. If you are interested in supporting our cause, you can donate HERE.

More details on training and the Rim2Rim4Roy Adventure coming soon...

Happy Trails,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two Races In One Day

I'm having a great summer so far. The weather has given us plenty of cool running days and I'm really getting excited about the next few weeks. I haven't run a 5K in years and I headed up to Palatine Sunday, August 17th for the Jogginforthenoggin' 5K. It will be fun to run in honor of my dad and see if my legs still know how to run fast. A fun race for a great cause for sure. If you're in the Chicago area, please join us.

Then I'm going to attempt to run two races at the same time in two different cities! Holy bib numbers Batman! How can that be done? Easy...I registered for the virtual Nike+ Human Race 10K on August 31st. Nike is hosting the world's largest 10K in 25 cities around the globe...ON THE SAME DAY! Since I am going to be speaking at and running the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach that weekend, I am going to strap on my Nike+ system, put on my RnR bib and run two races at once! I'll finish my half on the beach (the best way to end the summer...), log in to my Nike+ account and log mile Human Race 10K miles too! Two races, one day, three great causes.

Life is good.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise

Well, we're back from the last frontier and getting ready for our next adventure, the Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon. But before I move on with CDC, I must do a recap.

Every once in awhile I find myself surrounded by an amazing "group" of people. Meaning everyone in the group is simply amazing.

Sometimes it is a small group and other times, like on our cruise, it is a larger group. In either case, the group is fueled by the collection of amazing energy that comes from each person. I like to call it "karma." The best way to describe this journey, the Great Alaskan Maritime Marathon was a fun adventure with some of the greatest folks I'd ever want to meet. We had runners from Thailand, Australia, Canada and all over the nation. All of whom immediately bonded at the cocktail party on our very first evening together.

I think it was because everyone was willing to put their preconceived expectations aside and went with the flow. We set up the staged marathon so that in each port you run a race...and by the end of the trip you complete 26.2 miles (the fun way:). That, in and of itself is a challenge, but we added to the adventure by asking them to gently step outside their comfort zones for the week. To try something new and challenge themselves in a less traditional way.  From learning to navigate, to running on a tough trail, everyone took on the challenge, embraced the path less traveled and grew from it in the end. BTW, I am a firm believer that you practice what you preach so I made myself wear pretty high heals (okay, high for me) and formal dresses most of the week (completely out of my comfort zone). It was tough, but I loved every minute. Except maybe when my feet began to talk to me.

Anyway, I am grateful that I get to do what I love for a living and others are willing to adventure on with me. It was a privilege to spend the week with such a great group of runners and walkers and we all now have a lot of wonderful memories to boot!

The Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise will set sail again in June, 2010. John and I hope you can make it!

Happy Trails,


Monday, June 23, 2008


It's a small world after all. Last fall as I sat in my office hammering away at blogs, emails and other fun coaching stuff my mind and heart was instantly pulled from away to watch this piece on the Today Show. It included a segment about a marathon runner from Palatine, Illinois named Jen McDevitt. It was an interview that left me speechless and also brought me to tears. You see, Jen is a brain tumor survivor. But more importantly, she is a runner. A marathon runner. She was diagnosed in 2003 only eight short weeks after having her son, Jack. What struck me was her amazing attitude and spirit. She trained for her first marathon in 2004 while under chemo (not to mention being a new mom, work...). It tugged on my heart strings as I had just lost my father to a brain tumor and felt a huge gravitational pull toward her and the cause (The Tug McGraw Foundation). I thought to myself, "self, someday I would like to meet Jen McDevitt and raise funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation."

Fast forward to now and Jen and I are quickly becoming friends (that's the small world part). I had the chance to meet Jen a few weeks back at a Tim McGraw Concert (read my blog about how serendipity plays a role here). She is hosting a race called the Jogginforthenoggin 5K
on Sunday, August 17th at 7:30 in Palatine, Illinois. I am going to run the race and I hope you can too. If you are in the area and looking for a fun 5K for a great cause, sign up here!

Or, if you want to volunteer and spread the good karma, shoot her an email and help out for the morning. Trust me, her energy and spirit will rub off on you:)

Watch Jen's Today Show interview post NYC 07 Marathon...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gearing Up For Alaska

This week's all about getting ready for our race in Alaska, The Great Alaskan Maritime Marathon. It's a cruise and marathon blended together and an event that I absolutely love. For one, it brings runners from all over the world together. This year we have runners from Thailand, Canada, Australia and all over the U.S. And once we get on board, the friendships blossom and the memories are made for a lifetime.

This is also the best way (in my mind) to run or walk a marathon. It is a "staged" marathon and one that you run over a period of days (staged) rather than hours. It sounds easy, but it is truly a challenge. The first day on the ship we run a short race and have the second day off to enjoy Glacier Bay. The third day is a half marathon in Juneau, followed by a 5 mile road race in Sitka and a trail race in Ketchikan. Every night we enjoy a fine dinner, drinks and dancing and every morning we run a different race in a new place! By the end of the week, everyone will have completed 26.2 and get a medal to prove it. Sound like fun? Stay tuned as we are creating another fun running adventure in 2009. Now off to more packing and re-packing...

Until June 30th.

Happy Trails,


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Looking For A 2008 Chicago Marathon Slot?

Greetings runners...many of you have written and asked about ways of getting into the 2008 Chicago Marathon (which is sold out). Well, good news...A charity that is near and dear to my heart has a few spots left for the Chicago Marathon. If you're looking, keep reading.

Team McGraw was established to raise funds for pioneering brain cancer research, increase public awareness of the disease, and support college students who exemplify leadership and Tug’s inspiring “Ya Gotta Believe” spirit.

Over 200,000 adults (my father included) and children annually receive a diagnosis of brain cancer, and the mission of the Foundation is to support research that will improve their quality of life in the physical, social, spiritual, and cognitive areas.

My brother Scott and I are raising funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation this year. More on that later...

If you know of anyone looking to get into the Chicago Marathon and wanting to raise funds for a great charity please send them HERE.

Happy Trails,


Monday, June 09, 2008

Fueling My Soul

My life has literally been on the run over the past few months. Not the good kind of running either. Running here, running there and literally squeezing in Better Than Nothing Runs. So, when I actually got out to run on my favorite trail Sunday, my soul smiled for the first time all season.

There is something about being on a trail that soothes my mind and nurtures my soul. Don't get me wrong...I love running in the city, but if I have a choice, it always leads to the path less traveled. The peace and tranquility provides a place to balance my energy and refresh my mind. The choice to be creative and take the fork in the road rejuvenates my never ending sense for adventure and brings me way back to my days of "toad hunting" in my childhood forest. The gift is not the trail. The true gift is understanding what the trail means to me. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Happy Trails,


Monday, June 02, 2008

Tag Along To Get Faster

I get asked all the time "Coach Jenny, how do I get faster?" One of the fun ways to get faster or improve your performance is to train with athletes that are faster or better than you.

I finally got my mountain bike out and rode about 20 miles at Waterfall Glen Sunday. It is a beautiful and rolling 10-mile limestone path and the perfect place to ride. While I was getting my butt back in gear (literally), a "jersey" rode by me. A jersey is one of those serious cyclists with a fast, very light road bike and cool jersey to match. The competitive side of me decided to tag along and ride the draft and I had a ball doing so. It's been awhile since I rode my mt. bike or road bike in "a line" and it is a great way to push that extra inch. Doing do makes all the difference in the world.

When I needed to learn to paddle, I trained with my champion paddling teammates. When I needed to improve my technical mountain biking skills, I followed my professional mt. biking teammate. Although it can be a little intimidating, training with athletes that are strong and more skilled than you brings out the best you have and can push you to a whole new level.

World marathon holder, Paula Radcliffe was once asked what her training secret was and she said, "I train like a man." I guess for her since there aren't any women that are faster than she is in the marathon distance, she'd have to train with men!

Men or women, train with your buddies that are faster. In most cases, they are happy to teach you the skills or even happier to push you that extra mile:)

Happy Trails,


Friday, May 30, 2008

Better-Than-Nothing Runs

Tis the season...this is the time of year when my time for running is at it's least and work hours are the greatest. I love what I do and do what I love so there is no need to feel sorry for me:) I've found the best way to get through these times is to launch a sequence of "better than nothing runs" that keep up my running fitness and motivational momentum until I have a little more time on my hands.

The BTN runs always start with 5 minutes of walking to warm up properly and conclude with 5 minutes of walking to cool down. Then it is a progressive ladder of faster running intervals for 30 minutes. For example, run 4 minutes at 9:30 pace, walk 1 minute to recover, 9:15 for 4 minutes...9:00...8:45 and so on. It is a short but sweet workout that kicks my butt and I get more value for my time. I run this workout 3 times per week and one more 45 minute run to top it off. I couldn't do this as frequently when my mileage is up higher because it would be too much and my body would not recover run to run. But because I am running every other day for shorter periods of time, it works.

Looking forward to things calming down in the next few weeks and getting back to my normal summer program with trail runs, mt. biking and long runs. Can't wait...

Special Note:
Girls On The Run is an organization that teaches middle school age girls how to respect themselves, proper sportsmanship & how to live a healthy lifestyle. It's a fabulous program and now one of their girls is up for an award!

Chicagoan Nichyria Byrd, an 11 year-old participant in Girls on the Run, has been nominated for ESPN's first-ever "Youth Achievement Award" as part of the 2008 ESPYs.

Nichyria, a 5th grader at Ariel Community Academy, is one of only five nominees from across the country, and the only from the Midwest. Her nomination reflects not just her own leadership on and off the course, but also celebrates the achievement of every Girls on the Run participant.

The winner will be selected based on online voting through June 15th, so we're asking everyone to vote for Nichyria today, and forward this e-mail to your friends, family and co-workers as well.

Click here to vote for Nichyria today!

Happy Trails,


Monday, May 19, 2008

You Get What You Give

You never know when your past is going to hit you. Sometimes it is a full force blow to the mind and other times, an emotional flood of wonderful life experiences you instantly wish you could be experiencing all over again.

I was recently writing my blog on and looking for a link on Eco-Challenge, an endurance race I have done three times. When out of the blue a link to a YouTube video pops up in my google search screen. It is a 10-year Tribute to the race that changed my life and I literally got chills watching it all over again.

Racing in the Eco-Challenge; Borneo 2001, New Zealand 2002 and Fiji in 2003 gave me a life's worth of lessons that I put to good use every day of my life. Some of us learn with books, some with a therapist (tried this too), but for me, the ultimate challenge of learning to work as a team through what is billed as the most grueling endurance event in the world was the perfect platform. I grew up creating adventure where ever I could. So Eco came into my life at the perfect time and challenged my mind and body to grow and expand my limitations. One woman's torture is another's opportunity to break her own perceived barriers.

I must admit, I really miss those days but still find a good challenge here and there to keep me honest. Because getting a little dirty, pushing beyond my limits makes me feel alive and happy.

Enjoy the clip...

Happy Trails,


Monday, May 12, 2008

When In Rhone...

I just returned from one of the prettiest half marathon courses I've ever run.  We brought a team(Chicago Endurance Sports) of about 100 runners to run the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon, and although it was hilly, they ran, they conquered, and they tasted wine at the end!  Now that's not what I typically recommend or even do myself post race, but when in Rhone, I mean Rome...

One of the coaching lessons I've learned in the over 15 years I've been at it is to go with the flow.  Some races you get out there and hammer, while others you go with what the day brings.  And when you run a race through Santa Barbara Wine Country, that means you make friends with the hills and enjoy the wine at the end.  And you can see from the picture that we did just that.  It was the perfect end to a challenging season.  

These days, running a race can mean so many things for so many different people.  There are charity runners racing for a cause, the elite runners trying to get the win, and every-day mortals getting away for a fun-filled weekend with a challenge thrown in the middle.  What ever your reason, find a race that you can enjoy.  Because if you're not having fun out there, what's the point.

Happy Trails,


Monday, May 05, 2008

BeeWell Miles

It's always great when you can run for a reason. Sometimes that reason is very personal, while other times it can really make a difference in someone's life. I have been working with Bumble Bee Foods on their new campaign to inspire people to get active, healthy and make a difference for Y-ME.

I write a monthly column for Health Magazine and the Girls Gotta Move Running Club. Bumble Bee and Health Magazine have joined forces to create the BeeWell Miles Program. Between May 1 and June 30, 2008, log the miles you walk or run at to support our $150,000 donation to Y-ME. When over 1 million miles are logged within that period, Bumble Bee will make an additional donation of $50,000 to Y-ME. Look for the pink Bumble Bee premium tuna cans at your grocer and support Y-ME.

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization™ (Y-ME) is a Chicago-based national nonprofit organization with the mission to ensure, through information, empowerment and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone. Y-ME® does not raise money for research. It is here today for those who can’t wait for tomorrow’s cure.

It is really a unique campaign and it has a lot of great features for runners and walkers. You can log your miles, track your nutrition and learn from the tips and articles too! Check it out and start logging your miles for a cause. Together we can move and make a difference.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Ya Gotta Believe...

Life is funny...It was a busy but great weekend. I was speaking down in Nashville at the Country Music Marathon. I drove down from Chicago and saw a sneak peak at spring heading our way (Chicago). Everything was blooming and green and it really gave me hope. Good thing because it is suppose to snow today in the windy city (argghhh!).

Anyway, here's the funny part. And by funny, I don't mean "ha-ha", I mean "aha". We were setting up our booth at the Expo and it was in a tight corner where we most likely wouldn't have seen very many folks. We asked Sandy, our friend and Expo Director if we could move to the booth behind and she said sure! We did, and in doing so, we were right across from a charity booth called Team McGraw. A nice guy named "Jeff" came over to introduce himself and asked me if I had lost my dad to a brain tumor. It took me back a little at first but I quickly realized why he was asking. He had read my blog about my father passing and his struggle with Glioblastoma (brain tumor) and wanted to tell me about the Tug McGraw Foundation. Remember Tug the famous baseball player?

"Ya Gotta Believe"-- The Tug McGraw Foundation was established by Tug McGraw in 2003 to raise funds to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease. The amazing part of all of this is Tug McGraw was diagnosed with brain cancer (same as my father), and on his journey developed this foundation. Tug wanted to create programs for brain tumor survivors and their families, friends and caregivers that would help them to face the often daunting challenge of this terrible cancer. He wanted to find partners fighting the same fight…with the same goals…and the same inspiration. He wanted to share his story, explain what brain cancer was all about, and inspire others to act. Truly Amazing...

The most difficult part of my father's final chapter for all of us was not feeling as if we were able to help him. We struggled with finding proper care, knowing which direction to turn and ultimately communicating with him.

I am in awe of what Tug was able to accomplish in his final months. They tell me he was given a few weeks to live and he turned that into a 10-month plan to make a difference. I've been looking for a charity to work with in honor of my father and it found me. Smack-dab in the middle of a race expo. If I hadn't been a runner I wouldn't have been there. If we hadn't moved our expo booth, we wouldn't have seen Jeff, Jennifer and Team McGraw. Life is funny...If you're listening, life presents itself to you.

Team McGraw is forming teams for the Chicago and New York City Marathons this season. To apply for the team or donate to the Foundation, visit their website HERE.

A special thanks to Jeff McMahon and Jennifer Brusstar for walking over to our booth. Jeff is the Keyboardist for Tim McGraw and a marathon runner. I'm not sure how he does it, but he trains for marathons is a very active spokesperson for the foundation AND is on tour! If he can do it... Jennifer is the CEO/President of the Foundation and was Tug's caretaker.

Happy Trails,


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Podrunner: Intervals

I've always been a huge fan of music. I can't make music and I can barely sing it, but I love listening to it. Especially when I run.

That's why I am thrilled to announce I am working with DJ Steveboy and DJ Beatsmith and their Podrunner:Intervals music mixes for runners. But before I go any farther, I need to take a few steps back in time...well, more than just a few!

A long, long time ago in a far away place, I used to teach step aerobics when I started my fitness career in corporate fitness. The key to teaching step well is to step to the beat, up, up, down, down. So I was always on the look out for great music mixes that flowed seemlessly from one tune to another at fixed beats per minutes. That way, I could optimally torture the folks in my class to the beat. It made the time roll by and the inches burn off. Loved moving to music then and still do now. Are you still with me?

Take that love of moving to the beat and think running. My friend Kathy turned me on to Podrunner and I have been running to DJ Steveboy's FREE fixed tempo music mixes ever since. In fact, I use the mixes to coach runners on form and efficiency. It is the most popular music podcast and a perfect musical resource for runners and cyclists. I am a firm believer that music improves performance. Every race I've run with my iPod has been my fastest. But that debate is for a very different blog.

Fast-forward to a few months ago. DJ Steveboy and DJ Beatsmith create another "most popular" podcast called Podrunner: Intervals or P:I for short. P:Intervals is a varied beats per minute workout mix of music geared to runners, run-walkers and walkers! They started with a "First Day to 5K" mix that took you from the couch to running 30 minutes or a 5K. I emailed him to tell him it was a brilliant idea - and here we are now co-creating training mixes for all levels of runners and walkers. Life is good. I get to coach in a new format (auditory) and work with two very talented and creative DJs. What is better than that?

So, I encourage you to try out the new Podrunner: Intervals mix we launched this week. It is called "Gateway to 8K" and is geared to helping you go from 30 minutes or a 5K to 50 minutes or a 8K. The mixes include a 5 minute walking warm-up - then intervals of 7 minutes of upbeat music for running followed by 1 minute of slower paced music to power walk - then a cool down. There are tones to indicate when the warm up begins, when you should run and walk and then cool down so you don't even need to look down at your watch...just listen. Plus there is a training tip from me at the end of every mix.

If you're running has been on break this season (you're not alone), start with the "First Day to 5K" series and build back up the fun the beat of some motivational music! You can find that series of mixes in the archives on the P:I homepage.

You can also download the free podcasts on iTunes. Just visit the iTunes Store, go to podcasts and do a search on Podrunner or Podrunner:Intervals!

It's Free, it's fun, and it will keep you moving and grooving...

Happy Feet, I mean Trails,


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Seasonal Bite Me Zone

Well, it sure it great to see the sun these days. It seems like all we're talking about in the midwest is the tough winter we've had. It wasn't just the snowiest, but just so darn gloomy! I slipped into the Seasonal Bite Me Zone in late March and just now coming out of it. The Bite Me Zone is that place you can reach in a race when your blood sugar drops too low and you want to bite your best friend's head off...We've all been there both in and out of a race and I'm just climbing out of mine.

Here is Chicago, you know its spring when the boats hit the lakefront. April 1st was a cold day, but the first day the avid boaters could unveil their treasures and hit the lake! For a runner, you know it is spring when your pale, dry legs finally see the sun on a run. I'm happy to report I've run twice now in shorts and every week it gets just a little warmer. The great thing about living in a four-season climate is you always appreciate the next season.

John and I are off to Columbus for our race, the Capital City Half Marathon and Commit To Be Fit 5K. We'll celebrate with 5,000 of our favorite runners in the area and reach record numbers.

until next week....happy trails


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Last Marathon

Wow, its great to be back. Well, actually we've been back for a few weeks now but traveling all over the place. The trip was fantastic and although I've been four times now, I still struggle with how to explain it all.

To me, the adventure is a huge part of it but it comes down to the people on the trip. Runners from all over the world on a ship for 10 days together, exploring a part of the world most will never see. The race is a tiny part of the experience and the runners and their stories become the spirit of each trip.

This year, we had a mountain runner from Poland slash the world record and run the course in 3:09, 30+ minutes faster than anyone has every covered the distance. On the women's side, two twins from Holland took first and second (we're not sure to this day which one won:). A fun race and another fascinating journey. By the way, that is me on the ATV on the top of the glacier climb leading the second place runner. John is on the other ATV on his way down. Very fun...

P.S. I didn't conquer my seasickness this time. Turns out we were on a much, much (much) smaller ship that was actually once used as an inter-island ferry to cross the Drake Passage. Although the seas were calm, I was rather sick. Hey, I'm a Cubs fan though so I have the words "there's always next year" embedded in my head!

Thanks for your patience and supportive emails!

Happy Trails,


Friday, February 22, 2008

Heading south for the spring

John and I are getting packed up for our annual trip to Antarctica for the marathon. After the winter we've had (rough), it seems a little weird to be heading south to more cold but it is their summer so it shouldn't be too bad. Actually, it really isn't. Since it is summer down there, the temperatures are typically around 20-35 degrees Fahrenheit so it is very much like Chicago winter weather.

We fly from Chicago to Buenos Aires and hang there for a few days to allow all the runners to arrive from all over the world. There are two ships with a total of 200 runners and many are trying to complete a marathon in all seven continents. One of the best parts of this expedition is meeting all these runners. So many stories and plenty of time to get to know them.

We then fly to Ushuaia,the southernmost city in the world! It is a beautiful city with mountains everywhere and the open sea, which is the gateway to Antarctica. We board the ship (actually two ships) and sail across the most turbulent seas in the world, the Drake Passage. I get sea sick in the tub so this is not my favorite part of the journey...but well worth it otherwise I wouldn't be returning for my fourth expedition. Check it out [caution: I had to turn off the volume while watching as I got sea sick at my desk on dry land - a new record for me:]

Anyway, once we cross the dreaded Drake, the crew [that would be us] sets up the marathon course for a day while the runners go site seeing and then the marathon is the following day [if the weather permits]. Course set up is quite demanding and old school. We mark with flags and markers so we leave no trace. It is quite an event, but having a GPS makes all the difference in the world. They use to mark it with a site marker....can you imagine?

This IS one of the toughest marathons in the world for a few reasons. One, it takes 6 days to reach the start line and by the time you get there you've been through miles and miles of travel in planes, buses and a rocky ship. And B, you don't really know what the race course is going to be like...once it was hip deep snow in areas and -20 wind chill. The next time, 35 degrees F and mud over your shoes!

I have a slide show from last year. Check it out...I will update with more after we survive this year's expedition.

Until March 19th...


Monday, February 11, 2008

A Real Winter...

Typically by this time in the winter season I am counting the hours until the warmer weather arrives but there is something mysteriously fun about having a 'real' winter. We've been hit with five major snow storms, record lows and sleet, rain and a tornado. I call this 'character building' weather. It makes me appreciate the warm weather when it does arrive.

When I was a kid, I remember the snow being up to the roof of our garage and how excited we would get when school was canceled. We use to play for hours and even attempted making a sled luge from the garage [never panned out and it was never a good idea].

So as yet another snow storm rolls into the Chicagoland area today I am planning my play time wisely. Snow shoes are at the door waiting and my mittens are being washed as I write.

Until then, I'll stick with my winter goal of cleaning out my office. Its a great time to do it, but its not as much fun as plunging off a roof!


Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Refreshing Recovery

I recently had the opportunity to meet and talk to World Record Marathoner Paula Radcliffe. She is a running phenom who is blazing the trail for all female athletes. Not only is she the fastest female marathoner in the world, she is also the fastest marathon mom in the world too! After giving birth to a baby girl in January of 2007, she won the New York City Marathon last fall! Simply amazing.

Okay, so back to talking with Paula... One of the questions I asked her was how she recovers from a marathon race. Her response was both predictable and surprising. Predictable in that she takes time off. Something most of us mortal marathoners don't do enough. Surprising because she really takes time off. No running and easy cross-training for an entire month! I guess I expected a graduated progression back to running like most of us do but she said invests four weeks to recover mentally and physically from the demands of her training regimen as well as the race.

So, as a coach and runner I was very intrigued with this method and decided to try it this month. I ran the Disney Marathon with my brother January 13th then another half marathon the next weekend and it was the perfect time to do it. I am happy to report it was one of the most effective recovery periods in my running career. I am finishing up my fourth week. I have done only easy cross-training and included activities I enjoy like yoga, cycling and walking and I haven't run a step in a month! It was funny at first because I almost felt guilty not running but soon enough I was in the flow of a new regimen and reaping the benefits.

So, having rested from running for one month I am eager to get back to a training regimen and have a rejuvenated sense of energy and motivation to do so. Mostly because my body has had time to relax and recover and I've had time to enjoy other activities my marathon regimen (and the holidays) wouldn't allow for like seeing movies, visiting with family, Bikram Yoga, snowshoeing. I am no Paula Radcliffe but I better understand her recovery strategy. She trains hard. She races harder. So it makes perfect sense that her recovery is just as hard.

It easy to overtrain or under recover.

It takes discipline to recover wisely.

Happy Trails,


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Adventure Running At It's Best

I just returned from one of my top five running races EVER. We took our runners from Chicago Endurance Sports to Cabo San Lucas for the Half Marathon and it was a very fun weekend of events. As you can see from the pictures, I ran and had fun along the way making sure all our CESers got in safely.

My husband John and I swam with the dolphins! This will go down as one of my favorite life moments for a few reasons...One, because I got to watch my husband and friends smile like they were kids again (me too:) And B, because we were up close and personal with "Maya" a rescue dolphin who had one eye and a heart the size of the Pacific Ocean. What a weekend...I think I need a little more time to digest to fully explain just how much fun I had.

Happy Trails,


Monday, January 14, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's to a year full of happy miles and plenty of smiles. I am looking forward to getting back on the trails this Spring and perhaps even tackling another Ultra Marathon or two. But before I can dream about what Spring and Summer will bring, I have to focus on the next two months of adventures.

Next weekend I am running the 15th Anniversary Disney Marathon with my brother. He's trained hard and it will be his first so it should be a fun journey. The following weekend our team from Chicago Endurance Sports is running the Cabo San Lucas Half Marathon. I know, it is a tough job but someone has to do it:) Then at the end of February John and I are staff and crew for the Antarctica Marathon Expedition. The trip down there is adventure enough! I put together a slide show from last year's race so you can see how hard the course is.

I am grateful to have so many adventures to conquer this season. It's what keeps life interesting for me!

Here's to your next adventure. Please share with us what or where you are going...