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Missing Dad

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Yesterday wasn't just the 4th of July, it would have been my dad's 94th birthday. I remember how we always celebrated his birthday with lots of Red, White and Blue. He was a "Yankee, Doodle, Dandy" as my mom would sing. Lots of great memories I hold tight.

Today has been especially difficult for me, for some reason the 20 year anniversary of his death has left me in tears several times. His life was like a circle, it began on 4 July 1917 and ended 5 July 1991.

I celebrated his life yesterday while out on a walk with the dogs. We stopped on the high moor and looked out across the horizon towards the west and the Irish Sea. I let tears flow, and memories flood, and looked skyward and let the breeze lift my hair and prayers. I was thankful for him being my dad and the love he passed on to me.

Today I dedicated my speed run to him. During the difficult parts of the later middle miles when I wanted to slow up, I thought of him and mentally focused on doing my best for his memory. I was pleased when I finsihed, as I had kept to the pace I wanted.

My dad never saw me run. He never saw me take part in a race. He never saw me get my first half marathon shirt. He never saw me receive my first marathon medal. But I know he is smiling at all I have achieved. I know he would be proud. He was that kind of dad. Love you Dad! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GYMRAT_AT44 8/25/2011 5:18PM

    Loved reading this. Brought a tear to my eye. Lost my dad this March. He was the runner in our family, so it was very hard to watch his stuggles with Parkinson's.

I'm amazed when I see how fresh the hurt is for others after so many years and it "scares" me a bit. How will I handle it, etc....I guess, only time will tell.

Truly though, it has helped to write blogs about it and to read what others have written.

Thanks for sharing... I am pretty sure he is PROUD of those marathon accomplishments.

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LESLIES537 7/7/2011 10:05PM

    I know anniversaries are so hard. I'm glad you were able to express your emotions and have a good cry...that always seems to help a little. Dedicating your run to his memory sounds like a perfect idea. ((hugs))

Beautiful blog! You've inspired me today. This was just what I needed to read. Bless you!

Comment edited on: 7/7/2011 10:06:33 PM

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RAIDERMOM2277 7/7/2011 9:40PM

  Mary, your dad is proud of you, you are an amazing lady. Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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FLGIRL_4EVER 7/7/2011 8:44PM

    I am so sorry about your daddy. I bet he was an amazing man and would be so very proud of the daughter he raised. emoticon

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FABAT402009 7/6/2011 9:37PM

    Another Dad misser!

Beaming with pride and joy, sure he is!

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EUPHRATES 7/6/2011 5:50AM

    I'm sure he would - and is - incredibly proud of you!

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TERJEGOLD 7/6/2011 12:11AM

    I'm so sorry, Anniversaries are so tough. I am glad you blogged about it.

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PATTYOMALLEY 7/5/2011 11:26PM

    It sounds like your dad was your hero. In reading your blog, I'm betting that you are his hero too. Love never leaves us; we grieve for the loss of their physical presence in our daily lives, so let those tears flow.... they are therapeutic.

I lost my mom in 2002, there is not a single day that passes without loving thoughts of her and gratitude for all that mom imparted in this lifetime. What a blessing to have had these wonderful parents in our lives....they have taught us what love is, and that it knows no bounds.


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    I lost my mom 4 years ago today...it's been a tough one!!! Hugs!!! emoticon

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KIWIEVIE 7/5/2011 5:51PM

    You said it perfect.....
He would be smiling at all you have achieved.... And be Very Proud!
I know my Dad would be doing and thinking the same....
Thanks for sharing.....
Evie emoticon

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TERP_TERP 7/5/2011 5:50PM

    emoticon I can relate, I miss my dad too.

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Picture Perfect...a Mooooving story

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I am an avid outdoor runner for sure. I also love being able to do what I call "ramble runs" ...off road adventure type runs on local footpaths through the woods. Sometimes those aren't possible due to the wet conditions over here in England, and I head for the more rural roads.

One of my favorite routes takes me on a dirt track passed a farm with several fields often dotted with a variety of sheep, lambs, cows and calves. I want to relate my latest adventure along this track.

Friday afternoon I was enjoying the early miles of my planned 6 mile run. Nearing mile two I was in the shade of the trees and approaching the lower field and noticed about a dozen cows in the middle of it. They were your typical black and white variety with a few with more black.

I glanced over to see one cow standing alone watching me as I moved passed the field. Her gaze remained on me as I continued a few more strides. It was as if her eyes were saying, "Hey look over at me! I wish I could join you!". I was captivated by her and with her intent focus on me. I stopped, shut off my Garmin, and music and spoke to her, just saying what a lovely cow she was.

Next thing, and still watching me, she hurriedly walked all the way over to me, to the edge of the field and up to the hedge separating us. If it wasn't for the slight gully I could have touched her. Speaking to her in a soft voice I got my phone and prepared to take a picture of her.

Well.. as if to not be outdone...the rest of the cows, noticing my attention to this lone one, ALL came hurrying over as if to say.. "WOAHHHH....we want in the picture too!!" They were each right up to the edge of the hedge as well almost crowding her out of the way as they nibbled on the branches.

So with this chorus line of bovine beauties before me...I snapped their group picture. Of course I made sure I took a special picture of the first lovely one...and I think she showed me her best side as well!!

I couldn't help but chuckle as put away my phone and said goodbye as I needed to get back to my run. After setting off I chanced a backward glance, and yep, they were still all watching me perhaps wishing they could join me for the rest of the distance!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALILA1229 6/14/2011 2:05PM

    That is too cute! :)

Where I go its the Canadian geese that like to hang out on the paths in abundance. I swear they give me shifty eyes each time I pass them and wonder if they're going to give chase or join in.

Love you!


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ALLDAY 6/13/2011 10:10PM

    Thanks for sharing a piece of your run! It's so nice to have those country roads to run on and the company of our animal friends! Your cows are cute!

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    What a fantastic run - I wish I could say I have runs like this, unfortunately I run by gas stations and fast food restaurants.

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LYNNANN43 6/12/2011 11:44PM

    I'm still grinning from ear to ear! emoticon

I SOOOOOO miss the cows/farms that used to be on our road!

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CHELLES_BELLS 6/12/2011 10:28PM

    Awwww... this made me giggle. I lived near farms all of my life and loved watching the cows graze. This makes me want to run near home and see what animal attention I could attract! Right now, the only thing that seems to run with me are the city pigeons!

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MICHELLE1083 6/12/2011 10:09PM

    aww cute blog Mary! I love that you are a real serious marathoner, yet you take time to really appreciate your runs and the awesomeness around you! emoticon

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ANNERBEES 6/12/2011 9:38PM

    Thank you for this! I just LOVE the pics!! That is exactly what I remember about the cows when we lived down state! Every time we walked by they would hurry over to the fence to 'talk' to us!! I miss those times a lot! What a great trail for you to take especially when you want company! emoticon

I just showed Nicole the pics and she just loved them!!!

Comment edited on: 6/12/2011 9:40:01 PM

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DISP715 6/12/2011 4:24PM

    You know what I found interesting about your blog? You took the time to stop and appreciate what was around you. You didn't obsess over your run time or finishing or looking straight ahead. You stopped and experienced something that was special. THAT is life. So often we rush through, not seeing, not appreciating, not living. I think it was great what you did. Have a great day and LOVE life! PS: I would be curious to know if the next time you run by, if they all come to the hedge again!

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GRAMPIAN 6/12/2011 4:05PM

  Interesting pictures. emoticon

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FLGIRL_4EVER 6/12/2011 4:03PM

    Mary, that was an awesome blog. Made me smile all the way through it :o) I am so glad that you don't take your runs so seriously that you miss the beauty around you and that you take time for friends in unlikely places.

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In the PINK....Race For Life #8

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's become an annual event for me...Cancer Research UK Race For Life!

I walk/ran my first one back in 2004. A novice to the whole idea of running! I finished it red faced slightly out of breath but elated at my accomplishment. I did it in tribute to my mom's battle with cancer.

The local park had been my testing ground to what I was capable of....and what I could/would become. Every June since I have laced up, pinned on my front number and my tribute back sign (for my mom) and joined the other thousands of women to help bring awareness to the dreadful disease and raise much needed funds.

The distance is just a bit short of a measured 5K (3.1 miles) but long on sisterhood, comaraderie, smiles, friendships and good vibes, oh and a LOT of Pink! My walk/run style has changed to a complete run and my finish times (recorded only by me) have dropped minutes.

This is the race that marks my next year of running and something that I will continue to do every year. This year, as in previous ones, I met up with my neighbor and started the course with her. She's a bit quicker and is always waiting for me at the end. Of all the races that I run, this is one that remains very special to me. It's a tribute... and every step I take through that park is one that I wish I could have with my mom....so I run and know that I carry her along in my heart....every medal I receive at the end I dedicate to her!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALLDAY 6/13/2011 10:06PM

    You are adorable in your pink! It is so special that you get to celebrate a new year of running while remembering your mom and running for a cause. Amazing.

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LYNNANN43 6/12/2011 11:41PM

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mom!

I just love all of that pink!


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ANNERBEES 6/12/2011 10:38PM

    This is just precious! How proud your mom would be!

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TERJEGOLD 6/12/2011 9:31PM

    Gosh how proud your Mum would be of you. I also think my 5K Race for the Cure runs are my favorites. I love that you use this race as a marker for your new year. You rock!

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BRIDGIE1028 6/12/2011 8:16PM

    You brought tears to my eyes as well. What a wonderful tradition and tribute.

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SWAN47 6/12/2011 3:26PM

    You brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. It made me think of my mom and how I miss her. What a great tribute and inspiration for all of us. I can tell you are a beautiful person with a loving spirit. Thanks for sharing! emoticon

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Neither Wind nor Rain…A Marathon Report

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I truly believe that a race is run in an athlete’s mind before ever reaching the course. It all starts with the desire, a goal, an ambition and unwavering determination to cross the finish line. Putting my own goals, desires, ambitions and unrelenting determination to the test in Edinburgh on 22 May moved the mental race plan once again to the physical.
Sixteen weeks prior, on a cold 31 January, I began on the road to Edinburgh, my 9th marathon. This city, the capital of Scotland, is where five years ago I learned to respect the 26.2 mile long-distance race. It is where I crossed my very first marathon finish line and realized what I was capable of; to become a Marathoner, and knew I had more within me. So it was only fitting to revisit the location of Arthur’s Seat, The Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, and stroll in Holyrood Park, to return to absorb the atmosphere of bagpipes, tartans, windswept streets and the mix of the amazing architecture of Edinburgh Old and New Towns.
We planned our arrival time to be in Edinburgh before the morning commuter traffic built up. It was a scenic drive up the motorway through the Northern Lake region of England, across the border passed Gretna Green and onto a duel carriage-way, then a more rural road from our western approach to the city.
Arriving early at our hotel meant we needed to wait for our room to be ready. With no race activities scheduled for the day, while waiting, we took in the fantastic sites of the city. This would be the only day we would be able to walk any great distance, and we did.
Friday morning my husband left for his three mile run and shortly after I followed the same route. Memories of five years ago flooded back to me as I retraced the route I had taken then. Even though it was early, the city was waking to commuter buses, cyclists and taxis. I ran along the well visited Princes Street with the beautiful and majestic Edinburgh Castle high above me on my right. I ran passed the Scott Monument, The Nelson Monument, and finished at my turn around point of the Balmoral Hotel. Before reaching my halfway point, my speedy husband and I passed each other and stopped to exchange a bit of encouragement before continuing on our way; he back to the hotel and me yet to complete my half way distance.
Saturday was the final two mile easy paced run. I was out again in the early morning following the same route to Princes Street but this time turning just passed the Scott Monument (dedicated to Sir Walter Scott). I had hardly stepped from the hotel and my earlier- out-the-door husband was finishing his run. After a quick exchange we continued in opposite directions, with me on towards the one mile mark. Once reached, I briskly retraced my steps with the knowledge that the next run I would undertake would be more than 24 miles longer.
The afternoon was very low key; focus on packing the remaining items to our kits bags, organizing our race gear, setting a wake up phone call for 0400, and a last walk over to Starbucks for lunch and the local running store across the street. We were concerned about the weather as winds and rain had been forecasted for the next morning. We made sure that included in our kit bags were the appropriate rain protection.
We went to the hotel restaurant to enjoy our pre-arranged, pre-race staple dinner of jacket potato, cheese and salad. Disappointingly it wasn’t satisfying enough so on return to our room we rounded it off with a bit more carbs of a cheese sandwich and a quiona salad. Then, to try and calm my nerves, I feel asleep mentally re-running my last long. The restful silence was shattered by the wake-up phone call; Marathon morning had begun.
Once again I followed through with the well memorized pre-race routine; natural peanut butter sandwiches , fruit, and a recovery drink prepared for after race fuel, my Camelbak filled to the rim with SIS sport drink, a breakfast of muesli, soy milk, banana; then showered and dressed to be ready for a 0700 hotel departure to walk the 1.5 miles to the start.
There is a unique quietness that accompanies the migration of racers to the start on a marathon morning. It’s like a homing beacon signalling and lighting the way through the city streets to beckon us along. Thus it was for my husband and me as we walked along the route we had run just days before in training.
There were two start areas, and due to my husband’s quicker finishes he was with the faster racers and their start was a further half mile along a different road. We walked and talked about the race, our preparations, our shared goals, and our finish area meeting plans. The quiet buzz of anticipation was beginning to accelerate as more runners arrived and the race marshals made adjustments to nearby equipment. Knowing that I needed to walk back to my start road and begin my own preparation, I embraced and kissed my husband, wished him an incredible race and made my way through the approaching athletes.
The half mile walk to my start road enabled me to see the starting mats that I would soon be crossing. Continuing up the hill, music and race announcements mingled with the voices of thousands of anxious runners. I found a low wall to sit on while I made my final preparations; over-pants removed, shoes and socks replaced with race ones, jacket and after race items placed in kit bag and throw away sweatshirt and space blanket secured around my shoulders. All this done before the first of the rain started. I received one more text from my husband wishing me well, and after replying, I stowed my phone in my waist belt, secured my stars and stripes bandana and turned my kit bag in to the truck that would take it to the finish for my retrieval. One last port-a-loo stop and it was time to position myself toward the beginning of the purple corral.
Somehow amongst all those thousands of runners I was alone with my thoughts. I drifted from wondering how my husband was doing in his start area, when would he start, to keeping warm by doing a bit of foot shuffle while clutching my sweatshirt and space blanket. Unexpectedly we began to move, I draped the sweatshirt over the side rail to be collected for charity distribution. I wished the woman next to me a good race as I continued my approach to the start line. I tied the space blanket to another rail as the pace quickened. Soon I could see the first of the timing mats and I crossed over with the electronic beep registering my foot strike and start time exactly as I started my Garmin.
I had prepared a race pace band with a new goal time of 5:35:00, an ambitious time as this required a 12:47min/mile pace, quicker than I had ever planned before. I glanced at it as I continued the downhill towards Holyrood Park and the impressive Arthur’s Seat. This was not the time to doubt my training, or worry about previous marathon quad and calf issues. I needed to focus on my breathing, keep my thoughts positive and watch my pace.
The rain at the start had given way briefly as I momentary looked at my watch near the first mile marker, 10:33! Once again I had been caught up in the adrenaline fuelled beginning miles. The course made its way passed the Leith Links and the rain returned. Flashbacks to five years ago and running on some of these same streets jarred my memory as I approached the four mile mark, my watch showed less than 46 minutes, I was getting faster.
I could see the sea front road ahead and once more my thoughts went back to 11 June 2006 and my first marathon on these same roads. The course had changed but I couldn’t forget the spot where I crossed over twenty miles for the first time, I was now crossing over it at just five miles. Onward along Portobello Promenade and the Firth of Fourth to my left and the 10K mat; my time was 1:12:40 and I was four minutes ahead of my pace band. The cheers and encouragement from spectators fuelled my determination to keep to my finishing goal. My breathing was comfortable, not laboured; my stride was constant , not difficult; my pre-race niggles were not even whispers.
As I approached the double digit miles, the course had a frustrating twist, it took me right passed the finish line! It would take me another 17 miles to get back to that spot! I turned my focus to reaching the half way point and perhaps catching a glimpse of the lead runners as for the majority of the rest of the course we would be passing each other in opposite directions.
Soon after passing mile 12 and the welcome water station I caught sight of motorcycles, then the lead race vehicle as they approached and followed by the lone swiftest racer. He was nearing 24 miles to the applause and cheers of spectators and us fellow racers who had only completed half his distance. I watched as additional racers came into view and hoped that I would catch sight of my husband before my route turned away from the oncoming soon to be finishers. However, I was forced to follow the road as it turned away from the shared road and missed seeing him. I crossed the half way mat nearly 10 minutes below my watch band time; 2:37:16…I had never run a half distance that quickly!
Could I keep this pace? Could I run a sub 5:30 marathon? Could my legs hold out without cramping? Would my breathing remain steady and constant? Questions started to filter into my mind as the rain started again and the wind became more pronounced along the openness of the seafront rural type road. I just wanted to reach the distant turn around point passed the 30K and feel the mental reward of running towards the finish line. If only I knew what awaited at that directional shift!
The WIND! There was a slight incline to the turn around point and once I changed directions the wind was unrelenting. Except for two detour type turns from the sea front, the remainder of the course would be with a head wind!
With these conditions and the fatigue I started to experience my time was slipping. The rain briefly returned, I noticed the oncoming runners behind me, I pushed my body and took necessary walk breaks. I kept my concentration by timing these breaks and then forcing myself against the wind to pass others in front of me.
I counted down the mile markers…..5 left, 4 left…just 3 more miles. My breathing was still strong, my body was getting weaker though. The wind made for added effort and my mind needed to sharpen me to keep focused.
At the 24 mile area there were crowds lining the street. I saw finished racers walking with their kit bags and medals around their necks. I was so close now, I had to push on. My time had slipped even more and I was beginning to doubt if I would finish better than in Philadelphia 6 months earlier.
My calf muscles were getting tight, my hamstrings were aching. I could just walk it in if I wanted. I could let a personal best wait until next time. NO! I had run this race in my mind and in my mind I had done a PB, and that is what I wanted. Somewhere, somehow and with the cheers of those spectators in my ears and a little more than a mile to the finish , I regained my rhythm. Run, then quickly walk, run, then a quick walk and then mile 26!
My legs wanted to buckle and they ached. My hamstrings wanted relief, but I pressed on. RUN IT IN!, my mind shouted. RUN! Finally I could see the finish banner, my time was still good. I could do this, I WOULD do this. RUN and you will make that PB time! Don’t give in, you can stop and rest when you cross that final mat. RUN till you hear the electronic buzz! Breathe, press ahead.
This was my own final battle. Here is where my months of training, cross training, boxing, reading, nutrition and mental talk would show. I RAN! I focused on the finish gates ahead of me. I watched as the clock numbers moved. I RAN! Then finally and with a last push of body and mind I heard the electronic buzz! I had done it! I finished my 9th marathon in a new personal best time of 5 hours 36 minutes and 37 seconds…close to a minute better than in Philadelphia!
(P.S. Speedy hubs finished with another PB: 3:17:59!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 6/7/2011 9:16AM

    Another well-run race! emoticon

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LYNNANN43 5/31/2011 9:58PM

    I know that I'm behind reading this. So sorry, but i finally found it! (Darn rural SC and their iffy internet!)

I felt like I was with you in your blog. What amazing story telling! What an AWESOME time! Congrats to your speedy Hubs too!

You are my running hero!!!

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MOSTMOM1 5/30/2011 10:06PM

    Wow! You're so hardcore! Thanks for sharing and WELL DONE!!
emoticon emoticon

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CEEBEE200 5/30/2011 11:58AM

    Amazing, Mary, well done!!!

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MICHELLE1083 5/29/2011 11:00AM

    5:36 in rain and wind? Amazing! You and hubs are phenomenal! emoticon

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CHELLES_BELLS 5/29/2011 10:10AM

    You're incredible!

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ALLDAY 5/29/2011 9:37AM

    emoticon emoticon Ohhh Marrryyyyy!!!! Great job!! Wow, if you got a PB in those conditions I can't wait to hear how you do when the weather is better!!! I LOOOOVVEEEE your race blogs!!! You inspire me so much and get me pumped up about my marathon goals. Thanks for being so awesome and such a great role model!!!

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    First - A very big congratulations. You are so inspiring.
Second - you write awesome race report blogs. I am lucky I even remember the start of the race let alone all that you remember in 5+ hours.

I love the pictures too. Thanks for letting me run along with you with out the pain & effort.

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ANNERBEES 5/28/2011 10:26PM

    emoticon For sharing this whole experience! From the beautiful pics to each and every thought you put in here.....amazing!! I felt as if I was right there with you! What an inspiration you are Mary! emoticon

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TRILLIUM22 5/28/2011 9:38PM

    Great Job Mary. So glad you shared your marathon with us. emoticon

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    Reading your blog, I really felt I was there with you. What a wonderful experience. It makes me really nervous for mine. Such and inspiration!

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MEGLUVS2RUN 5/28/2011 9:10PM

    What a great job! This inspires me to keep it up. I'll get there one day! emoticon

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FLGIRL_4EVER 5/28/2011 8:28PM

    Agree with Terje totally. You are fabulous in everything you do. Thank you for a wonderful blog. It was worth the wait emoticon

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TERJEGOLD 5/28/2011 7:22PM

    Oh Mary, this made me dry with tears of joy for your accomplishments. You write so beautifully, I could almost feel your excitement and experience your sights and thoughts.

I am so proud of you. What a women! Thank you for letting us feel your marathon with you. You and your stars and stripes!

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CHARLIE215 5/28/2011 7:19PM

    Well done Mary!

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The time is here

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

IT's late, I should be asleep, but I'm putting these thoughts down before hubs and I leave in a few hours to drive up to Edinburgh.

I'm honored and excited about another marathon. I can't believe that we are doing this again...that it's even possible. The girl who was never an athlete, who never really did sports, is now again running the 26.2 miles.

This is a short shout out to all of those who have read my blogs, who travel the same road, who stand by the side lines and cheer, Thank you for your support. It means so much.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALILA1229 5/20/2011 2:33PM

    Good luck! I ll be thinking about you both this weekend!


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FLGIRL_4EVER 5/20/2011 7:25AM

    Good luck sis & AB! Not that you need it because you are emoticon and talented just as you are emoticon

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IFDEEVARUNS2 5/19/2011 3:52PM

    Good luck!

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JOPAPGH 5/19/2011 3:40PM

    Run strong and have fun!

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    Always an inspiration!!! Love you!!! emoticon

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PKCTTS 5/19/2011 12:26AM

    So exciting - enjoy every minute of it! Good luck.

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THEHEALTHYCHEF 5/19/2011 12:06AM

    Good luck! I can't wait to hear from you. I will also be ghost running.

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LYNNANN43 5/18/2011 11:55PM

    I sure as heck will be ghost running with you this weekend!

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/18/2011 11:55:38 PM

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TRILLIUM22 5/18/2011 5:48PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

but don't forget to emoticon

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CHELLES_BELLS 5/18/2011 5:28PM

    Will be thinking you! You are an inspiration to all of us CAMOs!

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AJLSINGER 5/18/2011 5:10PM

    It's so inspiring to hear about your journey! I've never considered myself "athletic" either, but I realize now that I'm getting there, and it's something I'm very proud of. Keep trekking! :)

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