Parks Half Marathon, Sept. 11, 2016 - Open up the champagne, pop!

There are those runs you know are gonna be hard, and you head into them as if you're about to do battle.

But when you finish you feel all the more celebratory.

That's where I am with this morning's Parks Half Marathon, which meanders through Montgomery County's gorgeous parks.

At packet pick up yesterday at RnJ Sports in Rockville I overheard a woman tell her friend that although there were 2,500 people registered for the race, 20 percent probably won't show up. 

"Because of the weather?" I jumped in. 

"For whatever," she said. "Just because." 

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When life gets in the way, yeah

Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

This popped into my head after I instinctively extended my arm to help a woman, probably in her late 50s, as she walked from her car into a theater in Warsaw, Indiana, a few weeks ago.

We were standing on a slight incline steps from the entrance.  A bus pulled up and began to unload. I was seeing the 2 pm matinee of "Grease" at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts with my close friend Carmelita Watkinson, and it was a gorgeous day. We were there to see her awesome and talented son Sean play the role of Danny Zuko.

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Magical mystery ride

"If you don't believe in yourself, why should anyone else believe in you?"

"You have to love yourself before you can expect another person to love you."

These phrases were etched into my being years ago, but in the past couple of weeks I've had a bit of an epiphany.

I used my early morning walks to catch up on podcasts after my finger surgery when I could not run or swim or bike and zoomed in on an interesting connection from one podcast to the other.

Sometimes it makes sense to hang back and let someone else have confidence in you. 

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As long as I can feel the beat

“Will this affect your exercising?”

My cousin Jonathan was hosting his annual summer barbeque for the Washington Belkins. While most of my family members are still in New York, there’s a respectable number in Washington as well as in Florida.

It was a little more than 24 hours after Dr. David Moss, a hand surgeon, removed one of the joints from my right ring finger and fused the bones together with 3 wires.

 “Yes,” I started to say, “more than I anticipated.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Jonathan’s mother, Leslee, was visiting for a few days. Stanley, Jonathan’s father, died not too long ago.  He was a celebrated master chef, and Jon himself does an awesome spread year after year.

“It’s ok. Thanks for asking."

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Cape Henlopen Triathlon, June 12, 2016: I can turn it on

"I hope it's not her."

After my swim coach Terrence Oakley completed Sunday's Cape Henlopen Triathlon and was waiting with my family for me to cross the finish, he told Mia that when he heard the announcement that a woman was missing her wetsuit, he was worried that woman might be me.

It was just before the National Anthem that I discovered that my wetsuit had disappeared. I looked everywhere around my then-tidy transition area, but it was 100 percent gone.

And I was 200 percent certain that I brought it with me.

My voice was trembling as I let the crew member with the microphone know that I was looking for my wetsuit. I knew there was a slim chance that the suit would turn up before the race start. Already many athletes had begun the 1/2 mile walk to the beach. Only a few people would hear the announcement.

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Go crazy, punch a higher floor

Terrence: There are so many inefficiencies in your stroke.
Terrence: That’s a good thing! It just means there are so many areas where you can improve! What you can change!!

Ironman Terrence Oakley, my new swim coach, had been walking along the side of the pool and observing me as I swam 200 yards. It was our first session working together.

I committed to competing in the Cape Henlopen Triathlon on June 12 with my triathlete friend from work, and even though I finished the swim portion of the Bethany Beach Triathlon last fall, I still have major fear issues related to swimming in the ocean. I thought a coach might help.

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Invite the Whole World to Play: Meet Gini Fellows

“You’re continuing to grow.”

Actually, no, I’m not, and wouldn’t that be wonderful, but I know what she meant.

Jamie Dodge is my new running coach at RunnersConnect, and in our initial meet and greet we were talking about how ridiculous I feel sometimes about training hard and doing races.  I had just joined RunnersConnect, an incredibly supportive online community of 600 runners of all ages, coaches, a team doctor, and a team nutritionist.

I had a great experience with my first running coach, Ann Alyanak at the RunSMART Project, who got me across the finish line at the Reggae Marathon in Negril in December, and it was a natural progression for me to join RunnersConnect as I began to understand how my personality can impact my fitness goals.


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Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon: Give into Low Tide

Here’s the thing about doing races.

Running is hard. "Easy runs" always appear on my training calendar, but they’re never easy.

Whether I’m sprinting and doing intervals or going easy or going long, running is always hard.

So signing up for races keeps me motivated. It’s just that simple.

Because although running only gets easier but never easy, like anything else, the more you expose yourself to difficult or uncomfortable things, the less difficult or uncomfortable they become.

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Take it all in your stride

I’m in the habit of checking myself out, body part by body part, when I wake up in the morning.

Ok I’m checking out the status of the ring of fat around my abdomen I’m working hard to crush but mostly I do this so I can decide how much time I’ll need to warm up before running.  If it’s a swim day, I just make a mental note of what’s achy or crunchy and figure I’ll sort it out in the pool.

If I don’t self-assess in the morning I usually regret it. 

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A whole lot of history

I hesitated for a moment but decided I needed to do this. Before my swim on Saturday, I stepped on the scale at Equinox Bethesda.

Down 6 pounds.

I was having lunch with my colleague Sarah Budds the Tuesday after D.C. Rock n Roll when Sarah told me about an article she had just read in the New York Times about a guy who starts every day with a cold shower.

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Rock n Roll Washington, D.C.: It’s a Good Life

“It’s a hill,” the sign read as I approached Calvert Street from Beach Drive.

“Get over it.”

That hill is also the spot where volunteers from Wear Blue to Remember line the marathon race route honoring the legacy of fallen service members.  They carry photos of loved ones and American flags on heavy poles. They offer high fives to runners as we scramble up the hill. 

I saw the sign just as I passed the last volunteer and lifted my head.

Yeah man, get over it.

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If you're waiting for the moment, here it is

“Just go do something else.”

I was 1 mile into my long run last Sunday when it occurred to me I’m still having the same conversation in my head a year after running the D.C. Rock n Roll Half Marathon, my first half marathon.  It was a miserable day that day in Washington in March 2015. There was a steady downpour and the air was cold and raw. I was soaked, my phone was soaked. My gloves were soaked.  Yeah I was exuberant at the finish but I couldn’t move my fingers they were so cold.

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Strolling so casually

I'll tell you my one great business idea.  

When we travel - and sometimes our journeys can be 15 hours or more, like mine is right now - we still eat and drink and in many airports we can shop for real, get our nails done, and even sleep if we can get a pass to one of the better airport lounges. When we travel we still make it a point to take care of our basic needs.

Except exercise...

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Call it a moment, I call it life

Here is what I know now. Being an athlete is about being resilient.

If I had thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the Reggae Marathon on Saturday, my first marathon, I would have canceled the trip. So even though I didn’t feel 100 percent, I trusted my training, stuck to the plan, and arrived in Negril on Wednesday evening. For the five days I packed two suitcases...

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Switch up the batteries

I was half watching the Redskins – Giants game in my kitchen when I happened to turn my full attention to the TV screen just as the Giants’ Odell Beckham made that catch.  My house was quiet after the long Thanksgiving weekend.  It had been wonderful having everyone home, and cooking for 24 was therapy for the stress I was feeling as I continue to rehab my hamstring.

I’m a Ravens fan but since I’m originally from New York I’m also a Giants fan.  I had my laptop open, and I was thinking about my plan to get ready for my run in Jamaica on Saturday.

But that catch?...

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Woke up an optimist

My race in Jamaica on December 5 is one of the 100s of marathons happening every year all over the world for regular-people runners like me. So if I skip it there will be another one around the corner. Maybe not in Negril but probably in some other beautiful place.

But when I heard, and then felt, my left hamstring snap on Friday morning during my run with the Nike Run Club in London, I wanted to know right away whether I could heal in 3 weeks...

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How we do

I was having a conversation with a friend who asked me how I’m able to keep up an exercise regimen 6 days a week.

I exercise before work, setting my alarm for 4:30 and getting to the gym by 5:15 or the track by 6:00 am.  So her question is a good one.  At least half of the time I am fighting the alarm and trying to talk myself into the benefits of sleeping in just this once.

But I don’t.

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