Lacing Up

I was really tired when 6 p.m. rolled around today. I’d gone to work, I’d gone to a Geek Squad appointment, I’d been late to pick up Jack from his after-school activity, and after all of that, Alex dragged me out to pick out a new refrigerator. I was beat.

I mention this because I’d planned to go running today. But by the time I actually had a chance to do so, running was the last thing I wanted. However, I’ve been trying to get back on a regular running schedule and I know that it is so easy to talk myself out of one run and then do it again the next day and before I know it, it’s been a week and all I’ve done is sit on my couch.

I had good reasons to take the day off, but my fitness level doesn’t really care if I have a good excuse.

With sadness, I laced up my shoes and headed out for a two and a half mile loop.

Selfie taken in dusky evening light of me after a run.

After. I was cutting it close with the oncoming darkness, but it was worth it.

I am writing about this because I am struggling. I am struggling with getting out there several days a week. I’ve signed up for a spring half marathon, so I have some motivation, but over the next couple of months, I’m trying to build a solid base and bring my speed back up to where it was when I was putting in decent weekly mileage.

It’s going to be some work.

In an effort to make myself accountable, you might be seeing more Stimeyland Facebook posts that look like this:

Selfie of me after a run.

“Proud of myself for getting outside for a run this afternoon! #runner #sweaty #obnoxious”

Feel free to unsubscribe now.

Or! Feel free to join me there and comment about your exercise victories and struggles. We can motivate each other!

Because I had a great run this evening. I was hungry and tired and annoyed and didn’t want to go, but once I was out there, I was so glad I went. I came home feeling one million percent* better than when I left.

That is a feeling worth chasing—even if I think I don’t want to.


* approximately

The Half Marathon That is Trying to Kill Me

Last year at this time, I ran the Parks Half Marathon. I have slacked off a lot on my running this year (although over the past couple of months I’ve been coming back), so there was no way that I was even close to thinking about wondering if I could race a half marathon. The race goes close by my house though, so I dragged my family out first thing in the morning to cheer on the runners.

Photo of Jack, Alex, Quinn, and Sam at a picnic table. Quinn is playing on an iPad, Sam is listing to headphones and staring off into the distance. Jack and Alex are just sitting.

Good job, family.

The best though, the absolute best, happened when we were walking down to the race course. I was literally mid-sentence about how the kiddos should be careful walking along the side of the road because there were cars and…BAM.

I stepped halfway off the edge of the walkway, my ankle caved, then my other knee collapsed and before I knew it, I was roll-sliding through the grass and mud by the side of the road on my face. I know I fell face first because that’s where all my abrasions are, but I also know that I ended up on my back, because I felt the bag of pretzels I had in the backpack for my kids crushing, so I must have done some rolling too.


I am sometimes not good at things.

I really did appreciate the irony of the fall, what with the perfect timing of me being all, “Okay, guys, listen to me, we need to be careful walking there, because—AAAAAAAAIIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!”

Also, if you remember when I ran the Parks Half Marathon last year, I fell twice. So obviously the only conclusion I can come to is that the Parks Half is trying to kill me in a hilariously ironic manner.

Thanks, Parks Half Marathon.

I pretended I wasn’t hurt and hobbled with my family down the side of the road to where we planned to stand and I unfurled my sign. I had never brought a sign to a race before, especially a sign that was making an effort to be funny, so I was very worried about its reception.

Photo of me holding a sign that reads, "Keep going! Your free banana is waiting for you!" There's also a drawing of a banana wearing a race bib (#42!) and running hard.

I was more animated that this photo lets on. I promise.

See, I was worried because my family of non-racers was all, “What if there aren’t bananas at the finish line?” and I was all, “Dudes, it’s a thing. It’s almost irrelevant whether there are bananas there or not,” but they just wouldn’t let it go. Fortunately the runners were with me and I made a lot of them smile and laugh.

Close up of the banana drawing on my sign.

My running banana helped with that, I think.

Jack made people smile and laugh too. He spent a good chunk of time boogying down and singing, “I am a banana! I am a banana!” He was the only one of my kids who was willing to do any cheering. Alex wandered off to look at a bird. Happily, my mom is visiting and she was willing to stand near me and clap for the runners.

Although I did have to shush her when she started saying, “Geez, my hands are going to be blistered from all this clapping,” because someone running their tenth mile in a row probably isn’t all that interested in hearing about your applause-related injury, Mom.

My family bailed after about a half hour, but my mom and I stuck around until we couldn’t see any more runners at all. I hope that all those runners are proud of themselves. I was so happy to be able to cheer them on. Maybe next year I’ll be one of them again.

At least if I run it next time, I won’t be injured at a race I didn’t even participate in.

Disaster Struck! Running Edition

Photo of me running to the finish line in a pink shirt with a race bib attached to it. It is NOT an attractive photo of me.

It can’t all be smiles and PRs and flattering race photos. (Photo by Ken Trombatore)

This photo was taken at a 10K race I ran in April. I did not share this photo then for obvious reasons. I share it now because I am kind of delighted by its awfulness and also because it sort of eloquently makes the point that sometimes in a fitness journey, you biff it.

Over the past several months, I have very much biffed it.

I went from running 4-5 times a week to running once every couple of weeks. I lost a huge chunk of my fitness base. I got so bogged down by pace and distance that I had to entirely ditch tracking my runs and wearing my Garmin for the indefinite future.

It’s been ugly.

I lost motivation and then I got sick and then I was out of the habit and then I got sick again and I got busy and then I just didn’t feel like running and then I developed this cough that came with decreased lung capacity and all of a sudden, I wasn’t a runner anymore.

I’m clawing my way back though. I’ve been making an effort to get on the road or the treadmill every day and not feel bad if I walk instead of run. I’ve made peace with shorter mileage. I’m postponing the Big Running Goals I wanted to accomplish this fall and not beating myself up about it.

But I went on a run today that felt incredible. (Hooray for increased lung capacity again.)

My new mileage goal for the year is just to keep running. I’m going to finish out the year with no races longer than a 10K. I’m going to aim for a spring half marathon if I can find a good one. I’m going to sign up early for those big fall running events that I originally intended to do this year.

I’m finally feeling inspired to be a runner again and I’m realizing that inspiration is what I was missing. I hope it is here to stay.


* Disaster Strikes! Soda Edition: As long as I’m coming clean about my inactivity, I should let you know that even though I haven’t mentioned it, I am a soda drinker again and have been for months and months. I know. It’s shameful.

A Taste of Spring

The great thing about running a race in Florida in March is that you get to go to Florida in March and it will be warm and happy and also the only time ever that you will be grateful that it is humid.

Seriously, it was awesome.

I was with my friend Heather (of Disney fame) and my friend Lyda (of my trip to run a race in Florida fame) and we stayed at Lyda’s family’s house on the beach.

Photo of me with a big smile on my face. I am standing in front of the ocean.


I kid. It was wonderful. And there were many exciting things about this particular beach.

Like this jellyfish… (and all the other dead jellyfish strewn all over the beach)

Photo of a jelly fish on the sand.

I touched it. Then I felt sad that it was dead.

And these shells…

Photo of a big pile of shells on the beach.

I didn’t collect any because I didn’t think my kids would want any and when I got home, Quinn was all, “Where are my shells?”

And this crab guy…

Closeup of the beach with some shells and a small brown crab.

He was an anomaly though. I only saw the one.

These adorable birds…

Some birds on the beach. There are sandpipers in there and maybe some other birds.

I think some of them are sandpipers, but I don’t remember if the sandpipers are the big ones or the little ones.

And pelicans!

A pelican flying through the sky.

I know this is a terrible photo and this pelican isn’t actually ON the beach, but IT IS A PELICAN AND PELICANS ARE COOL.

This stick family…

Picture of sand with five stick figures (my family) drawn in it.

It took me WAY longer than it probably should have to draw these stick figures.


Selfie of me on the beach with a very grumpy look on my face.

I find sand to be very upsetting.

These goofballs…

Photo of my friends Heather and Lyda.

Hi friends!

All of that great beach stuff happened on Friday. Then on Saturday we had to run nine miles, like saps.

Photo of four women runners.

This is before the race. Please to notice our friend Holly who didn’t stay with us, but did run with us.

After the race, we ate everything that we could find in Jacksonville. And I made my friends pose with every weird animal sculpture we encountered.

Two photos. One of Heather posing with a brightly painted jaguar sculpture; the other of Lyda sitting on a brightly painted sea turtle.

My friends are good sports.

Sunday was Sightseeing Day, also known as Lyda Faces Her Fears Day. Seriously. We did everything that Lyda found frightening on Sunday.

We started by doing an elevated obstacle/zip line course over an alligator park. Also, it turns out that elevated obstacle courses are vaguely terrifying.

Photo of Lyda and Heather standing on a platform in a tree. I am walking up a series of "stairs" leading to the platform. The stairs are dangling from cables.

Can you see the terror in my posture? I can. Can you see how relaxed my asshole friends are on their stable platform? I can.

That said, courage is not about not being afraid, but keeping on even when you’re scared. ‘Round about halfway through the course I got my shit together and transitioned from terror to fun.

You know what is NOT terrifying though? Ziplines.

Photo of me mid-air on a zipline. I am making a happy face at a camera.

Holy hell that was fun.

After we finished the “45 minutes to an hour long” obstacle course that took us a good hour and a half to get through, we headed off to tour the alligator farm.

Photo of Heather and Lyda watching alligators in water from a wooden boardwalk.

For the record, Lyda isn’t afraid of alligators.

Photo of Heather crouched down with her head inside the open mouth of a fake alligator.

Neither is Heather.

No, the alligator is not real.

The alligators were cool, but I really enjoyed the hayseed tortoise they had there.

Photo of a giant tortoise with a piece of hay sticking out of his mouth.

It is *great* to be inside my head. I find myself to be extremely amusing.

There is a lighthouse near the alligator park and on our way out, Lyda was all, “Ha, ha, I assume you don’t want to climb the lighthouse,” and Heather and I immediately replied, “Yes. Yes, we do,” which was unfortunate, because Lyda doesn’t care for stairs you can see through.

Photo of me making a face as I lean out over a spiral 15-story staircase made of black metal stairs, each step of which is made of metal with round holes cut in them so you can see through them.

Fifteen floors, friends.

The lighthouse was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I like lighthouses. I think they’re neat.

Photo of a convex mirror. In it you can see a lighthouse reflected with me, Lyda, and Heather standing in front of it.

I bought a little wind chime model of this lighthouse. It makes me happy. I also bought some fudge in the gift shop. I don’t know why they had fudge, but who am I to question their logic?

Selfie from the top of the lighthouse.

This is me at the top of the lighthouse.

When I got to the top of the lighthouse, I found some tourists talking to a staff member about the efficacy of said lighthouse as a safe place during the zombie apocalypse. I’d found my people. Even if they thought zombies couldn’t climb stairs. (They obviously can. They’re just not very good at it.)

We left for the airport on Monday at the crack of damn dawn, but it was even kind of worth it because we walked out of the beach house to this amazing scene:

Photo of a hammock suspended between palm trees in a pool of light. The photo is otherwise dark except for a crescent moon in the sky and reflected on the ocean.

Note: the reality of this photo was about 800 times prettier than this picture.

Photo of an airplane wing in front of a sunrise.

Then on the plane, I annoyed the hell out of my window seatmate (Heather) by elbowing in front of her to take 17 photos of the sunrise.

That is our trip to Florida. We arrived back in Maryland to what suddenly felt like extremely cold and grim weather. I gotta say, I see the appeal of living in a tropical place. Spring is a-coming to Maryland finally, but it was really nice to get a little preview.

Thanks for putting us up, Lyda, and for suggesting the race. Thanks for putting up with me, Heather. You guys rock. I had a blast.

Victory. Is Mine.

There is something to be said for walking into a race with extremely low expectations.

Usually when I go to a race I am hoping to meet or beat a time goal. For the 15K I ran last weekend, my out-loud goal was to somehow ambulate through the entire course. My in-my-head goal was to actually run it—at whatever speed I could.

Per usual, I walked through water stops. Because of this:

Panel from The Oatmeal web comic showing a runner choking on water at a race aid station. The text reads "Do not stop running when getting a drink at an aid station. By enduring the "sprint-choke," you could shave three, possibly four seconds off your 5+ hour finish time! Remember: marathon success does not come from training or perseverance, it comes from waterboarding yourself at aid stations."

Please go buy the book this comes from immediately. You won’t be sorry.

But other than that, I ran the whole damn thing. All 9.3 miles of it. I really wasn’t sure I could do it based on my total lack of training—or any running at all—over the past month and a half. I was hopeful, but skeptical, especially considering the sharp incline that I knew I was going to have to run up roundabout mile eight.

My strategy? Run super ass slow. I averaged 13ish minute miles. I actively worked to not run fast for the first couple miles when I was still fresh. I was the tortoise letting all the hares pass me.

But the tortoise finishes.

Photo of me post-race with my Finisher medal around my neck. I am also holding a popsicle stick.

Related: The strawberry ice pop that used to be on that stick I’m holding was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

I’m proud of me. Plus, since it is the first 15K I have ever run, my, like, two-hour time is totally a PR.

What’s more, I feel reinvigorated. I am ready to start hitting the (snow-free) sidewalks. My new treadmill was delivered to my house so I am prepared in case of rain. I have a full and fun race calendar ahead of me this year and I am ready to go. This race was hard, but I am so glad I did it. Bring on the next one.

Remind Me Never to Sign Up For a Spring Marathon

I’m in a bit of a pickle.

I’m running a 15K race on March 14th and I am seriously undertrained. I was doing really well on my training and then I got sick and then it started snowing all the time and then I lost motivation and then I got really busy and then it snowed some more and then I lost even more motivation and then I realized how totally screwed I am.

I keep trying to run, but all of my good running paths are either covered in snowy ice or feature invisible spots of the even better kind of ice that makes you fall down. Usually that’s not a big problem because I have a treadmill and can just run on it. But my treadmill is broken so I can’t run on that either.

I feel trapped.

Part of me is all, “Fuck it, I’m running through the ice.” I tried to do that yesterday. I got two houses down my block before I slipped on some of that invisible sidewalk ice and clonked my knee. I stood up, dusted myself off, turned around, and walked home.

Do you see how it is?

I did manage to go on an 8ish-mile run last weekend, which at least makes me believe that I can ambulate through 9.3 miles, but that doesn’t make me any less undertrained. I say 8″ish” because I had to walk sections of the route due to deep, crunchy, uneven snow.

Photo of my foot in a running shoe in ankle deep icy snow with frozen footprints that I am stepping in.

It was extremely frustrating.

Needless to say, I am devastated about my treadmill.

I believe it to be irreparable. It’s been weirdly bouncy for months. Then it got kinda bumpy. Then it felt as if a hole was forming in the deck. I checked under the belt and it is all kinds of cracked all over.

At first I was all, oh the shame of being a chubby runner who smashed through her treadmill deck, and then it occurred to me that the deck might have gotten cracked during our move last year and gotten worse over the months since due to, well, due to me being a chubby runner. But once I started thinking about when the weird bounciness started and flashed back to the shoving and pushing and pivoting the movers did to smash the treadmill around our basement corners and into position, it occurs to me that I may not be entirely at fault.

While it is too late to file a claim with the movers, all is not lost because yesterday I did run at least a tenth of a mile while doing reconnaissance at the treadmill store. If you add in the six laps I took around the running shoe store earlier in the day, it’s almost like I ran an ultramarathon.

I mean, I feel proud of myself that I can just go out and (mostly) run almost 8 miles after not doing any significant exercise for a while. I think that says good things about me. Crawling the last mile of my upcoming race will say fewer good things about me.

Even better? I’m flying to another state for this race, so I get to embarrass myself in front of a whole new crop of people. Wish me luck. Or at least wish me funny stories.

Sad Cone

I don’t remember if we were driving or running the first time Alex called my attention to him, lying on his side in a muddy puddle. We couldn’t figure out what his purpose was there. There was no logic to his being placed by the side of a running path in the center of a collection of rainwater where it was unlikely anyone would step, whether he was there or not.

“You know what I feel sad for?” Alex asked, pausing before gesturing to the side of the road and answering himself. “Sad Cone.”

Photo of a bright orange cone lying on its side in a puddle of water.And it was. It was so sad. There he was, lying face down in the muck and the freezing cold and the rain. And no one cared about Sad Cone.

Except Alex and me. We cared about Sad Cone.

Sad Cone lived in a puddle by the side of Alex and my running route. We would also regularly drive by Sad Cone. We always made note of him as we passed, checking to see how deep his puddle was or whether his mud coat had climbed higher. Sad Cone became a character in our lives.

During our runs, I told Alex about running mantras and how sometimes internally repeating such a mantra can keep a runner moving when they think they can’t go on. One day, during a particularly difficult stretch, Alex said, “I AM NOT SAD CONE!” and thus was born a running mantra.

(He also sometimes uses, “OUTTA MY WAY, JERKASS!” complete with flailing arms and shoving, but I prefer the Sad Cone mantra.)

We kept Sad Cone company all fall and he gave us a smile every time we ran passed him. We noted when his puddle seemed particularly cold or dirty. We commented when tire tracks appeared around him. His mantra pushed Alex to run when it was hard. We were contemplating bringing a Sharpie on a run so we could give Sad Cone a face and share him with the other runners on our path.

Then, just as Sad Cone’s puddle shallowed and started to ice over so that we could start thinking about reaching him, we drove past one day and noticed that someone had saved him. He was still on his side, but he was on dry pavement on the other side of the road. By the time we went running the next day, Sad Cone was gone entirely.

We didn’t even get to say goodbye.

We’ve been running a few times since Sad Cone left and it’s just not the same. We’ll never know who put him in that puddle or why and we don’t know who took him away. Sad Cone is gone, but we will always remember him.