ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

Archive for the tag “Grandmas Marathon”

We Run in the Footsteps of Giants

One thing running has helped me internalize is that my thoughts are powerful. Thoughts, and the direction they take, can be the difference between having an amazing run and having a run that is torment. I’ve also learned that even when I’m having a run full of self-doubt and general suckage, I need to keep moving forward, just one foot in front of the other, in order to come out the other end. Stopping during a run, even one that feels awful, is never an option because then the negativity wins, and I get stuck there — and I will never let negativity win. I remind myself often that mentally or physically tough runs can be a gift, because those are the runs that steel you, that teach you what you are made of.

A few days ago I wrote a blog piece entitled “PETA’s Silence About Cyber-Stalking Speaks Volumes.” I don’t want to go into detail about the cyber-bullying and stalking that continues on Twitter, simply because I’m not giving a troll, or trolls, any more air than I am forced to. And because, in order to balance out the negativity, I think it’s time for a blog that focuses on being fearless.

Today a friend of mine tagged me in a video of a fearless woman who just ran the International Pars Marathon in Iran, which women are banned from running. But one woman, a woman names Mahsa Torabi, made the incredibly brave decision to run the marathon. She is a woman paving the way for other women, and girls, who will follow in her footsteps.

Running has taught me that I am stronger than I think, that I can do more than I believed myself capable of doing, that I can push through pain and come out the other side feeling unstoppable. And I am constantly inspired by my fellow runners — both female and male. I love my tribe beyond the telling of it. I love their positivity, I love how supportive they are, I love how freely they share their stories, I love how they are largely non-judgmental of other runners. I love that it’s a given that we each run our own race, at our own pace, but that we are all in this crazy-ass tribe together.

And I couldn’t ask for better role models for my children.  Meb Keflezighi is an absolute favorite in our house, and whenever I need a pick me up I watch this video of his victory at the Boston Marathon the year after the bombing:

Because how can you help but smile from ear to ear after watching that? Now that I’ve mentioned our love for Papa Meb I’ll go back to the women.

Deena Kastor is another favorite in our house:


and any mention of her name is usually followed by my oldest saying “she’s such a beast!”

Lauren Fleshman, whose sense of humor and outspoken advocacy for body positive thinking I admire every bit as much as the fact that she is a kick-ass runner:


The three women who will be representing the US in the next Olympics — Amy Cragg, Des Linden, and Shalane Flanagan. It was a thrill to watch them run in the trials and we will be on the edge of our seats when we watch them compete in the Olympics:

Kara Goucher, whose running is as inspiring as her absolute unwillingness to accept anything of herself that is less than what she can give. And she has the most infectious smile!

And, of course, Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run Boston:

Kathrine is a trailblazer for women in running, and was my first running hero. She has dedicated her life to bringing girls and women into running and now heads up 261 Fearless, an ever-growing organization that helps women join together in running and being fearless.

I am a very ordinary runner. But running empowers me, makes me feel strong, and I know I run in the footsteps of giants. Women who have come before me and fought for my right to do something I love, for my daughter’s right to run and compete. And women who are still fighting for themselves and others being held back by misogyny and bigotry. And the runners around me — both physically and virtually — inspire me every day. Sometimes when I need strength on a run I think of Deena Kastor and Kara Goucher. Sometimes I think of a woman I saw during a race we ran last time we were home. Eric and I had already gotten our bananas and Gatorade, we’d hung around for a bit soaking in the atmosphere and cheering runners as they crossed the finish line. Then we’d decided to head home, walking along the race route. I was clapping for the runners who were passing when I saw a woman running, she had the same look on her face that I’m sure I get when a run is really tough. I stopped walking and started clapping harder for her, I shouted encouragement — she looked up from the street and at me, got a huge smile on her face, nodded as if to say “you’re right, I’ve got this” and ran faster towards the finish line. She inspires me — her unwillingness to give up inspires me.

Sometimes in running you just have to remember it’s only a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, everything else is secondary. Which is pretty much how life works in general. One foot in front of the other, cherish the joy, know you can make it through the pain, soak in the beauty around you, get lost in the sound of your own heartbeat, smile when you feel like you can’t, don’t let negative thoughts ruin the gifts in your life, embrace your tribe wholeheartedly, and, always, always, always …



Rescue Runners: Help Us Help Animals

Sanity break! It’s time for some damn sunshine and puppies. Yes, actual puppies. Sloths, even! Here’s the deal.

Last summer Eric and I decided to run our first half-marathon when we were home in Minneapolis. *Side note: yes, Eric and I are actually married, he does not have a wife named Margaret with whom he lives in Minnesota, we do live in Honduras with our children, he does work for the US State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, and I am a stay-at-home-mom. If you have no idea why I’m bringing this up, congratulations, you live in the land of the sane. If you do know why I’m bringing this up, take off the tinfoil hat and let the cleansing sunshine in.* Anyhoo … half-marathon. We had a fantastic time! Though that’s not exactly what I was uttering during the heart of it. But, like childbirth, the memory of the pain fades. Soon you find yourself turning to your husband and saying “what would you think about running Grandma’s Marathon next June?” And, since your husband is every bit the lunatic you are he replies “let’s do it!” So we are!

Here’s where the puppies and dogs come in (also cats, kittens, and the occasional sloth). We decided we would really like to run our marathon for a purpose bigger than our own sense of accomplishment, which is pretty common with marathon runners (have I mentioned how I love my tribe? Yep? Okie dokie). There are so many remarkable rescue groups and shelters, it was really tough to decide who we wanted to run for. But we settled on two groups — Pitty Love Rescue and Animal Shelter Costa Rica. Unfortunately, the way Crowdrise (the fundraising site we chose) works you can only choose one organization and it has to be US based. When I mentioned this to Pitty Love Rescue what I got in response was an offer to make a donation to Animal Shelter Costa Rica once the fundraiser has finished. Which just goes to show you what a special rescue group Pitty Love is. Let me tell you a little about these two groups.

First, meet the pups currently available for adoption from Pitty Love Rescue:

Aren’t they gorgeous? As you’ll notice Pitty Love Rescue does not exclusively take in pittbull/terrier mixes — while that is their focus what they do is respond to need. Pitty Love centers around finding responsible, forever homes for the dogs who come to them but they also go one step further by acting as a lifelong resource for the folks who adopt from them. Whether it’s the hard to adopt dog who has behavioral/health issues, or the dog with no issues at all, Pitty Love Rescue is there for whatever the dog needs in order to find a forever home. They also have a secondary focus on education, advocacy, and helping families in the communities where they work stay together by providing them with judgment-free assistance if they hit a rough patch — be it with medical care or dog food. This is a truly remarkable organization. They are located in upstate New York and, in order to provide the very best forever homes possible (through their thorough vetting process), and be a lifelong resource to their adopters, they keep adoptions in-state. So if you’re in New York state and are looking for a forever friend, please check out those gorgeous hunks and hunkettes up there and head on over to the Pitty Love Rescue website.

Allow me to introduce you to our dog, Firu:


We adopted Firu from Animal Shelter Costa Rica, a shelter located in the hills surrounding San Jose. Firu was a street dog, though presumably “owned” by someone at one time. I use the word “owned” intentionally because his tail had been chopped off — you do that to property, not a companion. When Firu was rescued from the streets and taken to the shelter by a guardian angel his body was so broken they were unsure if he would survive. Firu was not only severely underweight, he’d been hit by a car and left for dead by the side of the road; his rear left femur had been snapped in half and his hip had been dislocated. After surgery, and weeks of rehabilitation, Firu began to heal and, through a bit of golden luck, he became a part of our family.

Animal Shelter Costa Rica (locally known as The Refugio) helps animals like Firu every day, animals for whom there are no other options, animals who have been tossed aside like garbage, sometimes left for dead. They not only run a large shelter (maintained by a dedicated group of staff and volunteers), they operate a full-service veterinary clinic for the community, a mobile spay/neuter program (which also provides other medical care within the communities they visit), a retirement sanctuary for older dogs, and take in wildlife who need medical care and rehabilitation. Because we adopted Firu from The Refugio, and volunteered there, we got to know Lilian, the remarkable and dedicated woman who runs the shelter, and she is a powerhouse, a dedicated and compassionate woman whose energy seems to know no bounds. I pretty much want to be Lilian when I grow up.

So these are the two amazing rescue groups we’re raising money for with our marathon. We are asking people to join us on our marathon journey, culminating at Grandma’s Marathon on June 18, by donating to our fundraiser for Pitty Love Rescue and Animal Shelter Costa Rica and by spreading the word so that others will do the same. Our goal is modest but, with the mentality of kookie endurance runners who think it’s loads of fun to push our limits and run for hours at a time, we’d like to bust past it and raise as much as possible.

We are honored to be running for these two groups, during our training their dedication and advocacy is providing us with inspiration and drive — and when we run our first marathon we will run it with strength and determination, knowing we, and everyone who joined us, are helping these two rescue groups with their remarkable work. Please visit our fundraising page to donate what you can for Pitty love Rescue and Animal Shelter Costa Rica!

With Many Thanks, Heather and Eric


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