A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Mom’s Mystery Medal Walking Half Marathon: COMPLETE!

This weekend, I walked 13.17 miles and I earned my lovely half marathon medal, complete with the cutest finish line squad ever waiting in front of my house.
Half marathon

Some key details and lessons learned:

  • Gear matters as much for long walks as it does for long runs. I made a bad sock choice and ended up with both a blister on the ball of my left foot and a raw spot on my left heel. 😦 When I first noticed the heel area (which I suspect altered my gait enough to cause the blister), I should have called Darrell to bring me new socks.
  • Water is key; fuel really wasn’t (for me anyway). It was a PERFECT day in terms of weather and cool. I brought a big water bottle with me, with Nuun just as I’d do for a long run. I also brought some Sport Beans and a granola bar, but never felt like I needed them. Maybe because the calorie burn is slower with a long walk (this took 4.25 hours), I’m not depleting my glycogen stores in the same way? I ate lunch as soon as I got home, but otherwise didn’t feel super hungry that afternoon/evening or the following day.
  • Recovery was SO much easier. I was little tired in the afternoon, but I’m not sure if that was because of the walk or because I’m not sleeping well. Otherwise, the only real ache or limitation I had was the blister. I felt perfectly ready to work out again the next day.
  • It felt SO good to accomplish this. Yes, it was a finish line at my house and really just my own goals that drove me to complete all of the miles. However, that goal was super valuable as it kept me moving this fall and reminded me that I can do big physical things. That helped me see that if I can never run again, I can still be an active and healthy person.

What did I learn from this?

  • Long walks are a great way to exercise in a way that is low impact and much easier on my body.
  • Training plans and a “race” day are a huge motivation for me and even if I never run again, setting this kind of event goal is going to be key in my activity. This might include more walking half marathons, bike events, hikes or other events of my own making.
  • These big walks help my lupus symptoms as much as running did, whereas shorter walks really don’t help as much. Dedicated exercise really is worth it for me.

Now that I’m done with my fall race, what’s my next step? I think I’d like to try to run again. It’s been 4 months since my last run and 8 months since my herniated disk. I think it’s time to try again, gently. I have no expectation of getting back to long or fast runs anytime in the next year. However, being able to go out for a 20 minute walk/run in the morning would be lovely. I confess, it may be our beautiful fall weather that’s making me itch to run again.

This medal is definitely going on my wall, right next to my marathon medal. I suspect it will always be one of my favorites, because O made it for me and because it stands for a time when I got myself moving again rather than moping.

What makes a medal a favorite for you? Confession: I have my medal hanger still laying on my desk, but promise I will eventually hang it and this one will be prominently featured!





Ta Das for a Crazy Week!

Happy Friday everyone! This week has turned into a crazier week than I expected thanks to a last minute work trip to Little Rock, but there’s been lots to celebrate.

      • I just pulled out my “to do” list and realized I’ve already done most of this week’s “must dos” – Woo hoo!!
      • Today, I’m checking one of my “40 by 40” boxes and wearing an outside-of-my-comfort zone flashy necklace for my work meetings today. I must say, I like it. πŸ™‚

    New bling

    • Before I left home, my weigh in was the lowest it has been in 6 months. Progress feels good.
    • My vice chair liked my mentoring plan for the department. Yay!
    • This weekend, I get to do my Mystery Medal Walking Half Marathon and the mystery of the medal has been revealed:

Race medal

Isn’t it cute?

I’ll be back next week with a report of the walking half marathon. I’m curious to see how this compares to running a half marathon.

Are you getting gorgeous fall weather? I’m ready to crunch through leaves and break out sweaters! Have a great weekend!!



Taper time: Looking back on a walking training plan

Yesterday, I did my last long walk before my “Mom’s Mystery Medal Walking Half Marathon” on October 15. My last long walks were 9 miles the weekend of 9/24 and 10 miles this weekend (which ended being pushed back to yesterday due to scheduling issues). In that sense, long workouts up to 9 and 10 miles before a two week (ish) taper seems very similar to my prior training to run half marathons.


Oliver helped me finish the last of my 10 miler yesterday.


I thought this would be a good time to think through the differences between training to walk a half marathon and training to run.

  • Undoubtedly, this is physically easier for me than running (which is what I needed for my neck!). I haven’t been great about the midweek speed and tempo workouts and still I’ve had no real trouble with the weekend long walks. That likely reflects the leftover muscle strength from running more than anything else, but even though I’ve done mostly easy walks through the weeks, I’ve been fine with the steadily increasing weekend long walks and have no doubt I can walk 13.1 on October 15.
  • I have to block out a lot more time to get these long weekend walks done! It turns out that a difference of 5 minutes a mile between walking & running pace really adds up once you get to 7+ mile walks!
  • I haven’t really needed any fuel during the long walks. I always bring something, in case I feel like I need it, but haven’t felt the same kind of fatigue or hunger in walking 10 miles as I do running 10 miles. I also haven’t really focused on eating specific things before the long walks and haven’t felt any fatigue or GI distress at all.
  • I haven’t felt the same fatigue or hunger AFTER the long walks either. I haven’t felt like I needed naps or been starving when I get back home.
  • I do need to replace my shoes with long walks, just like with runs. I’ve been using my shoes from the marathon in January and they are definitely DONE at this point. My feet are the sorest thing about me after the workout is over. (Treating myself to new shoes before my race!)
  • I don’t get the same rush of accomplishment after a long walk. 😦 That might have something to do with the fact that my heart rate stays fairly steady and low (120s) even as the hills and miles pile up. Even as I push my pace to 17-ish minute miles as opposed to 18-19ish minute miles, I can only get my HR to the 130s with walking. I just don’t get the same kind of endorphins without that massive effort I guess.

Ultimately, this training plan has been educational (still need good shoes, still need water, still need to gradually increase miles, don’t need much fueling) and has served its purpose in getting to me to move. It’s also served an important purpose in making me realize how much I want to get back to running, even if I will be starting back at step zero in terms of rebuilding stamina.

Now, I taper, which is weird since I don’t feel like I’ve worked nearly as hard as I do in a running training plan. Nonetheless, I’ll respect the plan – and my busy schedule for the next two weeks! I’m heading to Florida this weekend for a bachelorette party at EPCOT’s Food & Wine festival and then heading to San Diego next week for a work meeting. Both will be chances to get in lots of walking, but not a long workout so my race will wait until I get home. That also gives Oliver plenty of time to make my medal while I’m not around to see it. I’m looking forward to the surprise of my medal and to plotting out the path of my one-woman half marathon. I’ve been saving a walk in my usual park for race day so I get to really soak in the scenery and feel-good vibes on my race day.


Isn’t it a gorgeous park? And isn’t that a gorgeous photo? Our family photographer rocks!!

The take home from all of this is that walking a half marathon (or any distance really) is a gentle way to challenge yourself to move more without jarring things around too much. I’m so grateful I’ve had this plan to keep me moving since my injury!

I can’t believe I’m about to walk 13.1 miles just for the fun of it! What’s the furthest you’ve ever walked? Want to take bets on how many miles I get in at EPCOT this weekend? πŸ™‚


Weekly Wrap-Up: Back to School!

It’s back to school time – and back to long workouts again! First up school: I have a first grader now! This transition is easier for all of us so far than kindergarten was. Thank goodness experience counts for something!
First grade!

Thank goodness elementary school teachers are so patient, too. πŸ™‚ We still haven’t gotten around to printing the lunch menu, so Oliver is not going to school with his lunch option picked (which is what they request) other than us saying “Shoot, no menu – Just go with #2. You normally like that!” I’m sure I’m not the only parent in that position.

This week, I got in all of my workouts (even if they’re still not on the right day!), some nice stretching AND implemented my no caffeine after 3 pm goal. Wow am I am sleeping better since that started! Apparently that was disrupting sleep more than I realized.


Monday No workout on the schedule, although it ended up being a really high step day thanks to a morning a spent doing presentations at Girls Inc in Omaha. I do lots of walking around when I do small group discussions!

Tuesday 35 minutes of easy walking, plus walking from our house to school for back-to-school night. Oliver was so excited to see his classroom!

Wednesday I took the day off and had a delayed “birthday” day with Oliver. We went to the movies (Despicable Me 3 – not great) and to paint pottery with Oliver. We also got some crafts to work on at home and in general, had a great time with each other all day. It definitely made up for the fact that I had to work all day on his actual birthday. No workout, other than hugs! It was raining so no zoo which was our initial plan. Despite a no-exercise day, I still managed to get an injury! I slipped in the rain and pulled a muscle in my left leg a bit. Boo 😦

Thursday Speed work day, with 8 rounds of 60 seconds speed – 3 minute recovery (confession: only 2 minutes recovery, but I added on the extra minutes walking to take O to school!). Today’s speed work was all about effort more than pace because I’d tweaked a muscle in my leg when I slipped in the rain Wednesday. Walking definitely help stretch that out, even if it did keep me from walking as fast as I’d have liked.

Friday 20 minutes of easy walking

Saturday 5 minutes warm up, 25 minutes power walking (where I was finding fall colored leaves on the road already!) and 5 minutes cool down. I keep ending up in the position where I’m working out on Saturday and Sunday thanks to getting distracted from the schedule. I need to be sure that I’m doing the easy walk for the week on Saturday rather than the tempo walk, to avoid two “hard” workouts back-to-back.

Crispy spring rolls

Saturday we also made some absolutely divine crispy spring rolls that Darrell & I learned at our Thai cooking class earlier in the summer. They were easier than I expected and came out great in our air fryer (rather than deep frying them). Even Oliver loved them and had a great time making them with us. If Paula (who runs the Creme de la Creme cooking class where we learned this) ever posts the recipe, I’ll link it. Do you love my notes I’ve got scribbled all over my copy of the recipe? LOL!

Sunday This felt like a REAL workout and reminded me that I’m training for a half marathon. I had 6 miles on the schedule, so I headed out with my water and a mini Lara bar (still not sure how much fuel I need for walking as opposed to running). I walked from my house, toward our neighborhood taco bar. Darrell and Oliver came to pick me up when I got 6 miles along the way, to take us all the rest of the way. I really like walking TO something as opposed to in a loop around the neighborhood and especially liked walking to TACOS. I was definitely hungry after 6 miles of walking, which made me think fondly of my running days.

I confess that I got down about the no-running thing on Sunday. This weekend is my “run-i-versary” and for the first time in the five years since I started running, I won’t be out running to celebrate that milestone. (Even reading the blog just now to find the name of that post to link, I found myself thinking how much happier I seemed when I was running as I skimmed posts!) This weekend, I’m also doing another writing workshop for our faculty, which is the same thing I was doing six months ago when my stupid neck herniated in the first place. And of course, this weekend while I walking, I had to jog across an intersection for a few seconds. That afternoon, I had horrible pain in the same spot it hurt when my disc herniated. It only lasted a few hours and I think it was a muscle strain thing, but it was still a VERY unwelcome reminder. I really want to go back to being a runner. It’s a small, selfish thing but that’s my truth. Sigh. Here’s hoping I get the chance!

All right, enough moping. Here’s some happy: A first grader’s view of the eclipse.
1st grade view of eclipse

That would be O, inΒ  his glasses, in front of his red brick school watching the eclipse. I’m glad he went out to see it because for a while, he was afraid of hurting his eyes. I definitely enjoyed seeing everyone outside and excited about something for all of this on Monday. πŸ™‚

This week, I’m up to 7 miles on Sunday. I’m swamped Saturday, so I definitely won’t have to worry about avoiding back to back hard workouts (writing workshop and birthday party Saturday). My plan is to do my speed workout today, an easy walk tomorrow and my tempo walk on Friday. Know what I did yesterday? Strength training! I know – it’s been ages! Maybe if I give myself two stickers for strength training I’ll be more motivated to keep it going? I’ll also keep up my no-caffeine rule, which is definitely helping my sleep, and stay on track with eating through this weekends events (more on that coming later this week!).

What are your plans this week? Anybody get awesome views of the eclipse? We were 98% or so in Omaha. It was still fun!


Weekly Wrap-Up: 4 weeks down!

I’ve checked off four weeks of boxes in the training plan “Mama’s Mystery Medal Walking Half Marathon” and apparently that’s enough to make this feel REAL in my mind. Yesterday, I was flipping through my calendar trying to find time to schedule something in October and steered clear of my scheduled race date. It feels like a small but very important win in committing myself to this training plan, in that I’m treating my race of one just as seriously as I would a big race I’d paid for. Wins!

Weekly Workouts: This week was a recovery week in the plan, so no speed or tempo workouts – just lots of easy walks. With the distraction of my lupus nonsense and travel, I was grateful for the easier week.

Monday Rest day, although I did get in lots of walking at an Omaha museum doing their cool new spy exhibit with Oliver (solved the mystery!)
Spy games

Tuesday 30 minutes easy walking

Wednesday Rest day

Thursday This was supposed to be 40 minutes, but I was slow getting out of the house. I’m proud of myself for getting at least 20 minutes rather than nothing at all though – again, a sign I’m moving in a better direction in terms of commitment to exercise!

Friday 20 minutes of easy walking (and I had to grab a jacket thanks to a lovely freak cool spell in August!)

Saturday 2.5 miles easy walking: Darrell & Oliver decided not to meet me at the ice cream shop, so I ended up walking an extra half mile home from the ice cream shop. That makes up for shorting that earlier workout, right?

Sunday 30 minutes of lovely walking in New Hampshire!Β  I wasn’t sureΒ  if the giant culvert you see behind me was something that I was supposed to walk through or not but decided to take the chance. It was. πŸ™‚ I felt very adventurous plunging into it nonetheless!
New Hampshire
It’ll be nice to be here among these gorgeous trees for my walks this week. This week, speed workouts and tempo work are back on the schedule. My 5 mile walk will actually be a 4 mile hike with the conference group (I’ll tack the extra mile on somewhere in the day). I think the added hills and technical challenges of the hike more than make up for the fact that I won’t do all 5 miles at once, don’t you?
Today’s workout will be cross training in a kayak and/or on the stand up paddle board. I won’t lie – I’m wary of any workouts at all this week. I’m hurting. I ache everywhere. Even one Alleve a day was apparently doing a ton to dampen my arthritis aches and I am seriously feeling it. It makes me pretty grumpy, which is probably dampening my effectiveness in networking at this meeting. Ah well.

Moving is definitely helping. Beer helps (the grumpiness and the aching and the impaired networking) but I’ve got to keep an eye on that – not the healthiest compensatory mechanism! I don’t have much of an appetite, I suspect due to the aching, but am trying to make the healthiest food choices I can.

Hopefully, this will be worth it and my kidney function will look better when we recheck next week. I think I’ll adjust to the aching with time, so long as I keep up with my activity, my rest and my sunscreen.

My goals for this week are simple: Get my workouts in. Get my sleep. If I can do that, that’s a big win for now.

Thanks for your good thoughts and wishes regarding my stupid lupus. πŸ™‚ I know it’ll all be fine – just a bump in the road.

Anybody else having freakish cool August weather? I wish I could share ours! It was such a lovely break and definitely one of my favorite things about Nebraska. These little cool spells almost never happened when I lived down South!




Weekly Wrap-Up: Feels Like I’m Training Again!

There’s something about checking off all of the workouts on a calendar that makes me feel like I’m REALLY on a training plan. It feels great to have met my goals for the week!


MondayΒ  Rest day!

Tuesday Speed work: 15 minutes easy warm-up followed by 3 cycles of 45 seconds of speedy walking and 2 minutes easy recovery, with 5 minutes of cool down. It is so tempting to shorten those 2 minute recovery periods (which seem SO long!) to 1 minute, but I’m respecting the plan and sticking to it. I do like the slightly longer “speed” intervals as I at least feel like I can get up to speed in that time. It’s still hard not to run though!

Wednesday I flew into Chicago late Tuesday night for an all day meeting in the Chicago airport Hilton, followed by a flight back home at 10 pm Wednesday night (ugh!). I’m very proud of myself for not letting travel disrupt the plan: 25 minutes easy walking, in the Chicago airport. I got dressed to go work out and couldn’t bring myself to walk on the treadmill in my hotel. Instead, I headed out to the airport walkways (hotel in the airport) to get in my 25 minutes and some early morning people watching.

Thursday No workout because I had a 7 am meeting (after getting home after midnight from Chicago!) followed by a 3+ hour Thai cooking class immediately after work. It was so fun to go to cooking class with Darrell and learn all of these yummy recipes! If you’re in Omaha, this was at Creme de la Creme andΒ  I highly recommend it!

Rolling spring rolls(Pic from the Creme de la Creme site – rolling spring rolls)

Friday I meant to wake up early for my tempo walk but was wiped out from Thursday and Friday. Boo! However, I did end the day with a surprising workout: tubing down the Elkhorn River. This was my first experience tubing and I will say, it is more of an ab workout than you’d expect -holding yourself steady in that tube – based on how sore my abs were all weekend! I had a great time with my team on our first group retreat. It also checked the box of my “adventure a month” from my 40 by 40 list!
River float

Saturday I know I said I’d stick to the schedule for which days were assigned to which workouts, but it is just easier for me to get a workout in on both weekend days than it is on three weekdays. If I’m going to do that, I need to shuffle things so that I’m doing an easy walk on Saturday and my tempo walk a little farther from my long walk. This week’s tempo segment got a little longer: 10 minute warm up; 15 minute tempo walk (17ish minute miles) and 10 minute cool down. I ended my walk at the new ice cream place by my house and stretched out front in the grass while I waited for Darrell and Oliver to join me. Nothing like Saturday afternoon ice cream in the summer. πŸ™‚ (Not that this lactose intolerant girl had ice cream – but it was fun to watch Oliver enjoy himself!)

Sunday It was a beautiful day for a long walk and I headed out for 4 steady miles, at a 18:30(ish) pace. I have a hilly neighborhood, so it felt like a good workout and that was so nice after a relatively lazy few months!
4 milesI actually ended up with closer to 5 miles, since I ended my 4 miles by meeting Darrell and Oliver at a park and then walking another mile home with them. It’s so nice that we have parks we can walk to!

In terms of meeting last week’s goals, I definitely did all of the workouts as prescribed, if not exactly on the day prescribed, which was an improvement. I also did some stretching on Saturday, but given the way my legs feel today I should definitely be doing more of that. I’m working out more than I have in a while and need to be careful or I’ll hobble myself. I confess there’s part of my mind that says “this is just walking” – ie nowhere near as strenuous as running, but I still have to be careful because a) I’m not in the physical condition I was in as a runner and b) 13.1 miles is a LOT, whether you’re walking or running. I have to respect my body and treat it well.

This week is built into the training plan as a recovery week, with all easy walks. I’ll have to shuffle the days so that I can be sure to get everything done as I have a SUPER early flight to New Hampshire on Sunday morning. Fortunately, with 4 easy walks and a 2 mile “long” walk, that shouldn’t be too taxing to move around. I’ll plan on walking the easy walks on Tuesday-Friday and the 2 miles on Saturday and leave Sunday for rest. I’m looking forward to next week’s walks being among the forests of New Hampshire. I’ll be at a work meeting in Waterville Valley in an off season ski resort all week. I’m sure there will be adventures to be had!

Have you ever done a river float? It was fun to just float, drink and chat – aside from the utter clumsiness of getting myself into and out of my tube!



Weekly Wrap-Up: Mama’s Mystery Medal Half Marathon Week #2

Apparently to make Mama’s Mystery Medal Oliver needs cardboard, glitter, markers and a picture of me. It should be interesting. πŸ™‚

This walking half marathon plan is the BEST idea I’ve had in a while. After years of training for running races, I’m very accustomed to having a plan to follow and workouts to hit each week. Working out falls to the bottom of my to-do list without a set goal (as I’ve learned over the last 6 months – and 30 pounds). Even this solo walking half marathon is enough to get me up and moving! I stayed up way too late last night rewatching Sherlock and still, when the alarm went off at 5:40 this morning, I hauled myself up to get out and do “speed” work. I definitely wouldn’t have been that ready to go if I didn’t have a race deadline.


Monday Rest day

Tuesday Speed day: 30 second speed walk/2 minutes easy walk. The intervals got a little longer, which was good. With last week’s 10 second intervals, things were too short to feel like I was doing anything. This week, it bumped up to 30 seconds and that felt a little more like I could speed up and maintain it for a bit like a true interval.

Wednesday 20 minutes easy walking – I am loving easy walks during this super summer weather!

Thursday/Friday I was supposed to do my power walk but missed it between life and heat and who knows what.

Saturday Oliver & I walked a mile and a half from Village Inn to Hy Vee after breakfast while Darrell drove home to get some things we needed for our day of errands. It was mostly uphill, but because I was occasionally pausing to encourage the small fry to come along, I don’t think I can count it as the “Power Walk” it should have been. It was worth it though, to see how excited Oliver was to help me get my sticker for the day. πŸ™‚


He’s used lots of sticker charts in his little life, so he’s definitely used to this and gets excited every time I get a sticker.

Sunday 3 miles easy walking, with my missed 10 minutes of “Power Walk” thrown in the middle. This time, the Power Walk portion was in the 16-17 minute mile range, which is a little faster than last week. Progress!

Man, does it feel good for my legs to work again. However, going forward I need to be better about:

  1. Follow the schedule – Keep easy walks and rest days in between the long walks and speed/power walks. I’m not in the shape I was 6 months ago and should respect the plan.
  2. Don’t combine workouts – Each one serves a purpose. Counting 3 miles as my long walk and Power Walk isn’t the same as doing those separately and I know that. I can get away with this kind of “cheating” early but will regret it later if I don’t follow the plan!

This week, I have a little travel but it shouldn’t throw things off too much. I’m flying to Chicago tonight for a meeting in the airport Hilton all day tomorrow and flying back home again tomorrow night. Happily, I already know that the food that’s going to be ordered for lunch is healthy (grilled chicken salad) and I’m in that airport enough that I know I can find a healthy dinner too.

Gifts!I’m bringing one of my favorite birthday presents with me to wear tomorrow to remind me that I can do anything I put my mind to – big leadership meetings or making healthy food choices or squeezing in quality mom moments among the work.

My goals for this week are to start incorporating some yoga and stretching into my week. Using these muscles again to train, I’m going to get stiff before I know it. I’m also going to follow the training plan as it is written – no combining things or cheating!

What are your goals for the week?