Monday, March 31, 2008

Comfort Books

I'm a big fan of the Scottish writer, Alexander McCall Smith, who pens both the No. 1 Ladies Detective and Isabel Dalhousie series. It's not exactly high art or great literature, but it typically fills the reader up with "warm and fuzzy" good feelings - a type of "comfort read for the soul". The Miracle at Speedy Motors, the latest in the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, will be released on April 15. However, my dear friend Mary, who lives in the London and Glasgow, presented me with the U.K. version of the latest title when a group of us had lunch at the Isabel Stewart Gardner museum (which could be referred to as a "comfort museum for the soul").

Here is the book jacket of the UK edition:
I actually prefer the Random House book jacket designs they will use for the U.S. edition:

Mr. Smith will also be speaking at the Harvard Bookstore on Wednesday, April 16. And I am hoping to FINALLY have the opportunity to hear him speak. (I am very drawn to the Scottish culture/history plus I like men in kilts!). Of course it would be a thrill to meet the man (who inspired me to travel to Scotland and run the Edinburgh marathon) but I can only imagine that there will be hundreds of people at the event.

I love his description of the "Old Botswana ways...where people looked for and valued those invisible links that connected people, that made for belonging. We were all cousins, even if remote ones, of somebody'; we were all friends of friends , joined together by bonds that you might never se, but were there, sometimes every bit as strong as hoops of steel".

"Mr. Smith reveals with all his brilliant storytelling skill that there are very few troubles that cannot be solved with kindness, and very few dry seasons that do not end with welcome rain.

Okay, Jeff, it's not exactly Moby Dick, but it is VERY sweet! And sweet, simple and real works for me.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


At the Boston Marathon Start (Hopkinton) with Suburban Strider, Michelle, and DFMCers Mary and Lynn.

Celebrating our 21.4 mile FINAL LONG RUN at Dunkin Donuts. Mary was fortunate enough to be offered a lay at the Children's Hospital Cheering Section.

Followed by another type of run: A run to the dump (at least I was able to take a quick shower before the "reminder" to attend to this chore )

Good Luck to the rest of the DFMC Team on their long run tomorrow! I hope you are able to avoid heavy trash lifting after your workout.
"Have a Holly, Jolly Taper...It's the best time of the year"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Yep...looks as if the event is really happening and I'm signed up to do it:

  1. The official 2008 marathon banners are posted around town

  2. My official bib number and packet arrived in the mail today.

My 2008 bib number is 6066 - take out the "0" and I'm a running devil!

Monday, March 24, 2008

TREK New England

I'll try and give myself a break from running (4-5 days) right after the Boston Marathon. The timing is great as it allows me to spend quality time limping my way through family adventures during April vacation. However, after the short break I'll be bumping up the milage again as I have yet another fundraising/running adventure in May: 2008 TREK New England

The 2008 TREK USA Charity Relay for Kids is a 10-day running adventure through the six New England states from May 9 to May 18th, starting and ending in Boston, MA. The purpose of the annual TREK event is to raise money for The DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation (DCFF), which supports non profit programs that use running as a primary vehicle to promote physical fitness in children.

There are four team levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze) for TREK 2008 ranging from 3 days to 10 days. As in years past, each runner will be hand-picked and committed to running an average of 15 miles a day. In addition to the mileage commitment, each runner is required to raise a respective dollar amount depending on his or her team member status. All TREK team members will receive an online account through to assist in fundraising efforts.

We are not expected to run 15 miles all at once, but rather 3 small runs of approx. 5 miles each day. So it's kind of like 10 days of Reach the Beach (or in my case 5 days of Reach The Beach as I'm only doing half of the event). DFMC runner, Judith Forman, is a veteran treker who ran down the East Coast (Boston to Palm Beach) in 2007.

The REALLY exciting part is that Fit Girls has been selected to receive matching funds through the TREK USA Matching Funds Program. All this fundraising gets a bit tricky, but in this case I will be looking for local business and corporate support and not friends and family who have been so generous to my DFMC run (grand total is now over $7,000!)

It should be an interesting adventure!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And Life Goes On

I've been running and training for too many marathons over the years to expect any sort of special treatment from the family after my long runs. After 13 years of weekly long runs, the minute I step in to the house it's back to business of living in a busy home with three kids. I didn't do the group run with the rest of the DFMC gang in Waltham which would have required at least one hour of commuting time. That is precious time as I've got a grocery store trip and Easter Bunny duties on my list of chores today. So I ended up running two loops of 8 miles around my home in Medfield, allowing me to swing back home for a couple water breaks. Upon my return there were no high fives on yet another solid run, but instead a request to take the garbage to the dump. Great - can I at least take a few minutes to stretch and grab a gatorade! (Of course I'm VERY careful to keep those little gripes to myself!)

This reminded me of last November when I collected my running bag after finishing the New York City Marathon. I was soaking in the accomplishment with some of the other finishers wrapped in mylar blankets when my cell phone rang. When I picked it up the first order of business was, "Do you know where the top of the crock pot is?"

I finished New York in 3:12. And my children had beef stew for dinner.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do Unto Otters

Ah...the first day of spring. A time to let go of old baggage and negative patterns and start fresh.

And as our family prepares to celebrate Easter, I've been thinking about changes I can make to improve my personal health and well-being - physically, emotionally and socially - with the well-being of my family, friends and community.
I think it all comes down to at least trying to live by the GOLDEN RULE. Quirky author and illustrator, Laurie Keller, wrote a hilarious book featuring the Golden Rule with the title, Do Unto Otters (ha!)

In her story Mr. Rabbit is concerned about his new neighbors, the Otter Family, who recently moved into town and he just doesn't know ANYTHING about these strange animals. Mr. Owl advises him to just "Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you". This includes the saying please and thank you, sharing, being honest and "co-otter-ating". This book would be a great addition to child's Easter basket. (And there are a fair share of adults who need a reminder about the golden rule too!).

And here is Keller's list of "office otter-quette":

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Charlotte Bronte runs Boston

There are so many far-fetched Austen/Bronte related titles out there that maybe some day I will pen a novel about Charlotte travelling through time to run the Boston Marathon (raising funds for DMFC, of course).

The Secret Adventure of Charlotte Bronte is the latest title for Bronte obsessed fans to add to their collection . Here is the review from Book Sense:
Laura Joh Rowland's newest book may be a departure from her San Ichiro mysteries, but this ripping good story is sure to delight her steadfast fans and win her legions more. In this fun and fast-paced story, the author of Jane Eyre tackles a mystery, which includes a charge of plagiarism and murder." -- Karen Keyte, Books Etc., Portland, ME

I love the idea of Charlotte romping around with Anne and Emily trying to solve mysteries PLUS an exciting romance with a Mr. Rochester type of guy. Silly, yes... but Reader, I'm buying it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

20 Mile Run Number 2

Because of the Yoga Fundraiser I co-hosted with Barry this weekend (to benefit the Fit Girls Grant Program) I chose to add on 11 miles to the regular "Doing the Thursday" 9 mile run and get the long run out of the way for the week. I was hoping to have DFMC runner Mary's company on that day, but unfortunately Mary was sick and had to cancel. Bummer...running 20 miles solo is long and boring!

So a little after 5:00 on Thursday afternoon I headed out of the Woodlawn T stop running back on the course to mile 11.5 (Natick/Wellesley line). That leg of the course is really depressing as you're getting farther and farther away from the final destination (Crossroads Tavern). My spirits started to pick up when I could finally turn around and focus on heading into Boston and it was helpful to be able to pop into the Wellesley Booksmith and Marathon Sports for water/power gel stops. My timing was just perfect as I managed to hook up with the some of the Thursday Night Hill runners (Yea...running friends!), and Alison was a peach in pushing me to run those last 9 miles at a steady sub 8 minute pace.

And it's ALWAYS wonderful to finally finish a 20 mile run (2 down; 1 more to go before tapering). I know this picture is lowsy and blurry, but I think it captures how psyched I was to finally reach Crossroads as it was starting to get cold and windy ( and while I was excited to show off the Dana-Farber Middle School Challenge short sleeve t-shirt, I was beginning to freeze when the temps dipped into the low 30s.)

The Yoga Fundraiser at Exhale was terrific, and I can't thank Barry enough for coordinating the event. We were able to raise over $2,000 which will allow 35 new girls to participate in the Fit Girls Grant Program for girls in underserved communities in Boston. You're the best, Barry - Namaste!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dana-Farber Middle School Challenge

I’ve been working part-time at the Medfield Middle School library for the past year. It was somewhat difficult to walk away from my other part-time job as a children’s bookseller at the fabulous independent bookstore, Wellesley Booksmith, located at mile 13 on the marathon course. (It’s great to have a personal cheering section on race day as well as a rest stop on training runs!) I adored my customers (mostly parents) and the staff at the Booksmith, and my work day was filled with lively dialogue and conversation about the latest and greatest books.

Don’t get me wrong - the staff and faculty at the Middle School are wonderful, and the kids are great too. Plus, the commute is only a 100 yard walk across the street. However, for every one student who is excited about a new title we recently purchased, there are about 50 who could care less. While my children aren't exactly bookworms, they do read, and I don’t ever remember my two older children bringing home a book from the school library. I’m guessing that also may be due to the fact that their mother has a personal and extensive home collection of literature ranging from picture books to young adult novels. They are robbed of an excuse NOT to have a book to read every night. Most of the students (including my children) enjoy reading, it’s just that they are very busy with all their classes, their friends and after-school activities to spend much time chatting about literature with the woman behind the desk at their school library.

So to add a little zip into my job at the library, I’ve coordinated the Dana-Farber Middle School Challenge. I’ve "challenged" students (and faculty) to run 26 miles over a period of 4 weeks. This works out to be an average of 6 – 7 miles per week. Run, walk, skip, dance jump…it doesn’t matter. Just keep moving and log the miles! DFMC runner and graphic designer, Jenny Ross, designed this AWESOME logo that will be screened on bright blue t-shirts:

Group runs (a safe 2 mile loop) will be on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and perhaps there will be some sort of final celebration at our last workout (5 days before the Boston Marathon). The kids wil also have the opportunity to help me fundraise for cancer research by making donations to DFMC. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that DFMC coaching guru and Boston Marathon winner, Jack Fultz, will join us at one of our workouts…but Jack, let’s pass on the skirt for this workout! (see Men in Skirts Post)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Windy Nights in New England

The alarm went off at 8:30 this morning (feeling like 7:30 considering it was the first morning of Daylight's Savings) and while the wind outside sounded pretty fierce, I looked forward to joining the other DFMC runners in an "unofficial" group run in Arlington. I grabbed a quick cup of coffee, checked my emails, printed out directions to Tyler's house from Mapquest, then headed out the door. And THIS is what I discovered in our driveway:

"Um, honey...can I borrow your car this moring? There's a tree on top of the Tahoe."

As you might imagine, this jolted Brian into action for the day. I felt a bit guilty leaving him with the natural disaster in the driveway along with the mess in the kitchen left over from Saturday night fun with the Sullivans. But hey, this is March, and the long run is a priority - at least for a few hours. Despite the early morning shock and trauma, the 16 mile run along the Minute Men Trail through Arlington and Lexington was fabulous. A nice, flat out and back course followed by a quick brunch hosted by Tyler and his bride, Angie.

The "tree guy" should be able to come over tomorrow and remove the mess, and until then we're the talk of the neighborhood. Men just love to gather around and admire fallen trees on vehicles!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thursday Night Frogger

Remember the video game Frogger… the game where the frog has to avoid being hit by a variety of speeding motor vehicles including cars, trucks, buses, taxis, bicyclists and motorcycles? Running the hills on Thursday nights is a live version of Frogger, and the risks are real! Let’s add trains on the Green Line to the list of dangers too. Alison and I started our “game” a little before 6:30 and cruised up the hills last night at what was probably a 7 minute pace. We were very excited about our speedy running rhythm, however this put us at risk of being flattened trying to maintain that pace through intersections. A quick grab to Alison’s running jacket was necessary to avoid elimination at a few points along the course. I always try to take a quick look at the traffic light at each intersection, but very often that light suddenly changes to green when I’m in mid-stride heading off the curb. WATCH OUT! Thank goodness my “free love” psychedelic running skirt, combined with my new neon orange Mizuno racing flats, served as a type of reflective running attire forcing drivers to hit their brakes. (I was going to wear the zebra print, but black, pink and white stripes clashed with the orange running shoes – a fashion faux pas!).

Froggy takes one step at a time

The way that he moves has no reason or rhyme

He hops and jumps, dodges and ducks

Cars and buses, vans and trucks.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Men in Skirts

Check out these legs on some of our speedy male DFMC runners posing for the upcoming issue of skirt! magazine! (I really like Jack and Tyler's pointed toe poses!)

I'll be wearing my zebra print skirt on the hills tonight now that the temps are over 40 degrees. I'm still on the fence about the whole running skirt craze, but it adds a bit of humor and fun into the workout.

My favorite running skirt company and Babes Bookin' It sponsor is skirtsports...and the zebra print is now on sale!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

20 Miles and a Raspberry Hat

I know, I know...I am involved in WAY too many nonprofit organizations. Yes, I run the Boston Marathon for DFMC and typically raise $10,000 each year. I'm also the volunteer Chair of the local Boston chapter of the literacy nonprofit First Book (and we're currently searching for enthusiastic literary loving folks to join our Board) , and now I'm working with the Children's Fitness Foundation to grow the Fit Girls Grant program for girls in underserved communities in Boston. My husband would like to see a little bit more of "for profit" in my daily routine, but what can I say, I LOVE these programs and really enjoy supporting them. And it's always great to combine one's personal interests and talents with fundraising endeavors.

My latest brainstorm to support First Book is the Warm Heads - Bright Minds project. I recruit "knitting athletes" to donate a hat or two per month to sell at independent bookstores where the proceeds benefit First Book, a literacy nonprofit with a mission of giving children in low-income families the opportunity to own and read their first new book.

So my philanthropic activites this weekend included a challenging 20 mile run on Sunday and knitting a raspberry hat for Warm Heads -Bright Minds (I specialize in fruits and flowers).

These fruit caps make great baby gifts when paired with Bruce Degen's Jamberry.