Thursday, December 20, 2012


I was going to write a post last Friday morning but didn't get to it in the pre-dawn hours before the kids woke up.  And then the news broke of the unbelievable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and I could think of nothing else.  I wrote a post later that day, just to get all my feelings out, and subsequently deleted it.  It was just too raw and personal to share.

So much has been written in every possible media outlet in the past six days that I really have nothing new to contribute.  No insight to offer.  No answers to share.

I will say, however, that this tragedy was somehow different than the others that came before.  Usually when I hear of these incidents, I am sad for the families affected and it helps me to put my own blessed life into perspective.  For a while, at least.  (The fact that I have a "usual" reaction to these things is a horrific statement to the fact that they occur far too often and our society is becoming somewhat desensitized to them.)

This time it was different, though.  I couldn't hold back the tears as I heard the news.  I couldn't hold back the tears as I pictured presents under Christmas trees with the names of these little kids on them.  I couldn't hold back the tears when I imagined the many parents who rushed to the firestation to search for their child only to learn the horrific news that they were never coming home.  And I most definitely couldn't hold back the tears when pictures of their sweet little faces started popping up on facebook.

I didn't engage in the debate over gun control, mental health or the presence (or lack) of God in schools.  Instead, I did the only thing I knew how to do.  I prayed.  I choked back tears on Sunday morning and went to church to pray for all the lives lost and all the families affected.  When I glanced around the church during the sermon, I was amazed to see almost every single woman was wiping away tears.  An entire ocean of tears has been cried in the last week.

I can only hope that a tidal wave of change will come out of this ocean.  And that it will be the last tragedy of its kind.  That we, as a society, will find a way to stop this violence.  That we, as individuals, will reach out to others who are lost and lonely souls and help them find a place in this world.  That we will find peace again.


Okay, for some reason, I really couldn't move forward and post about anything but this topic today.  Now that I have written (briefly) about it, I am ready to live with hope and love in my heart and do my best to bring those same feelings to others.

- Kristen

Friday, December 7, 2012

Soul Food

When you hear someone mention soul food there is a good chance they are talking about ham hocks, chitlins, hush puppies and collard greens cooked in fatback.  (As a vegetarian, I have to admit that even just typing the word fatback makes me throw up a little in my mouth.)

However, I think of soul food as something that simply feeds my soul.  It could be anything from church to yoga to trail running to a much-needed lazy afternoon nap.  [I was going to add that soul food could be a relaxing afternoon with my kids but since two of my kids are toddlers, it seems like an oxymoron to even suggest it...]

Love my littlest ones...but would never describe any time with them as "relaxing"

All those things I listed above are things that feed my soul.  When doing any one of those activities, I can literally almost feel my soul being filled up again.  What it fills me with is a feeling of gratitude for my life and all the good things in it.  It restores my lost faith, happiness, patience, love and confidence in myself and in others.  It gives me passion to go out and live my life purposefully.


Last Saturday I was scheduled to run 8 miles as the first day of training for the Boston marathon.  On the Friday before my run,  a friend emailed to ask if I wanted to join her for 15 miles on Sunday instead.  Hmmm...let's 8 miles by myself or run 15 with a friend...  Is there really any choice here?!  Of course, I chose to run with a friend even though it meant almost doubling my mileage and would be the longest run (by quite a bit) since my early June marathon.

I should mention that this friend, Amanda, is someone I had only met a couple of months ago and had run with only once before.

I went to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night and was hoping for a good night's sleep before our run.  Unfortunately, that was the night I couldn't fall asleep for hours and then was awoken not once and not twice but three times by my little ones.  I slept so horribly that I seriously considered canceling on Amanda before realizing how much that would mess up my running schedule.  And, thanks to my sympathetic husband taking the kids out to breakfast by himself, I was able to eat some cereal and drink my coffee in peace while mentally preparing to run.

As I headed to the waterfront to meet Amanda, I finally looked up and noticed we were going to be blessed with blue skies.  My mood began to improve and I started getting excited to run.  I parked the car and walked to our meeting spot.  Within minutes, Amanda arrived with her big smile and her sunny disposition that matched the weather.  We waited for our Garmins to find their satellite signals and we were off!

The next 15 miles just flew by as we talked about everything from running to our kids to Christmas presents to things we had shared with almost no one else.  That's right.  On our second run ever (and first one where it was just the two of us), I was able to tell Amanda things that I have shared with only a handful of people in my entire life.  After our run, I drove home with a big smile on my face and the feeling that my soul was full once again.

I have spent the last few days thinking about how amazing it is that we can connect with other (for me, it is women) runners in a way that is unique to how we interact with everyone else.  I may see the same moms at school drop-off every day for a year and not have nearly the same level of closeness as I do after one long run with someone else.


Now go back in time to 2003.  I was training for the NYC marathon.  As with most of my training, I was doing all the runs by myself.  Speed work, tempo run, recovery run, long run...whatever it was, I was out there alone putting in the requisite miles.  One weekend, I decided on a whim to run with a group of runners who were training for the Portland marathon.  I didn't know a single person who was running that day but they had 18 miles on the schedule so I showed up ready to run.  We split up into various pace groups and headed out on the road.  About halfway into our run, there were four of us that were running together.  Not a single one of us knew each other before that day.

Fast forward 9 years and three of us are best friends today and the fourth is still someone I keep in touch with (and who has become an excellent chiropractor here in Portland -- I highly recommend her).  All as a result of that one single run.  I can't imagine my life without these women.  We bonded one morning over trails and toilet paper and gatorade and gu...and my life has never been the same since.

My peeps.  In Florida to celebrate my wedding.  LOVE their smiles and laughter.


I love to run.  I love neighborhood runs and trail runs and even treadmill runs.  I love what running does for my body, my mind and my health.  But above all those things, I love running for how it feeds my soul.  I love the instant bond it gives me with others and the relationships that have been formed as a result of my running.  I am continually amazed by the richness that running adds to my life.

I feel so blessed to have the gift of running and I hope to enjoy the soul food it provides to me for many years to come.

What is your soul food?  Have you made life-long friends through running?  

- Kristen