three choices

May 7th at 5:20 AM…

The alarm sounded. So it was, time to get up, time to lace up, time to race.

But we weren’t feeling it. Matt wasn’t. I wasn’t. Maddie wasn’t. We wanted to stay in bed. We wanted to continue sleeping. Mentally we weren’t there. Blame it on the cold weather, blame it on the chance of rain, blame it on the life happenings at the moment.

We wanted to give up,

but we didn’t. We laced up and headed to the starting line.

7:00 AM…

We stood in the starting corral and we waited and we waited and we waited. Talking was at a minimal. But our mind was speaking, sending us bad vibes even though there was an occasional smile here and an occasional smile there. Snap that selfie. Make it look good for the camera. Our minds told us give in. You can turn around now, if you want.

We wanted to give in,

but we didn’t.

Then we heard those magic words…RUNNERS TAKE YOUR MARK!

7:23 AM…

We were off, off running through the streets of Pittsburgh.

Matt racing in his 8th marathon (26.2 miles),

me racing in my 10th half marathon (13.1 miles),

Maddie racing in her 6th half marathon (13.1 miles)!

We cruised down the streets, up the streets, over the bridges, around the stadiums and there were spectators everywhere! And they were cheering!

Cheering for us! All of us who decided…

not to give up,

not to give in,

but to give it our all!

On May 7th we had three choices: to give up, to give in, or to give it our all. And give it our all we did! When crossing the finish line we were in a state of dismay, but smiles were on our faces. For we knew that when we crossed the finish line, it was so much more than just that. It was the training we completed, the challenges we overcame, and the choices we made.


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Matt’s stats

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Amy’s stats

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Maddie’s stats



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the best part of my ( ____ ) world

the best part of my RUNNING world…

Race day! It is right around the corner. As a matter of a fact, it’s Sunday! I will lace up with more than 40,000 runners from 49 states and more than 20 countries to run my 10th 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles). All this will go down in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh. I’ve planned. I’ve complete my training. Some of my training runs I nailed. Some of them I bonked, and some were right where they were suppose to be. What’s left? It’s time to get my mental game on and, of course, pick out which sneakers I will wear.

the best part of my READING world…

Poem in Your Pocket Day! My readers and Mrs. H.’s readers gathered the perfect poems, jotted them down on a pocket, and cut out all those pockets! Our school celebrated by passing out 600+ pocket poems! It was a day centered around sharing and celebrating poetry. Smiles and poetry galore were everywhere!

the best part of my ROCKIN’ MOM world…

This girl! Since we are running in her city, her city of Pittsburgh, I’ll be spending some time with Maddie this weekend. Matt and I will be pounding the pavement and sailing across the bridges as Maddie cheers us on for race day. And, of course, we will try to squeeze in a little celebration for the end of her junior year at college.


the best part of my RABBIT world…

Story time! Two of my fur kids, Joy and Buddy, enjoy story time. My little Yoshi, on the other hand, decided to just hang back. There’s always one in the crowd who doesn’t participate.


Joy reading Wally: The Life of a Punny Bunny


Buddy reading snacking on Wally: The Life of a Punny Bunny


Yoshi…just chillaxing

So there you have it!

The best part of my world!

Now I’m wondering, what’s the best part of your world?



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races, races, races!

In August I raced…

who was there: Livvy & Me

what was my time & pace: 1 hour, 25 minutes, 42 seconds @ 8:37 pace

where the race was: York County Heritage Rail Trail

when did the race happen: August 27, 2016

why the race was awesome: I clinched 2nd place for my age group! I won my very own 2nd place beer glass. It’s kind of funny since I don’t even drink beer. And, this was a 10 mile personal record (PR) for me.

how many miles: 10 long, flat miles


In September I raced…

who was there: Sandy & Me

what was my time & pace: 25 minutes, 13 seconds @ 8:04 pace

where the race was: New Hope, PA (Run Now, Wine Later)

when did the race happen: September 18, 2016

why the race was awesome: It was a *short* race and we were served wine and o’dourves after our race. I ran this race last year and both years I had the exact same time. Just think that’s kind of interesting.

how many miles: 3.1 miles (5K)


In October I raced…

who was there: Sandy & Me

what was my time & pace: 1 hour, 49 minutes, 25 seconds @ 8:20 pace. Yes, I crushed it!

where the race was: Hershey, PA

when did the race happen: October 16, 2016

why the race was awesome: I set another 1/2 marathon personal record (PR) for myself and came in 13th for my age group! The course was hilly, but I pushed myself and can’t even believe I achieved another PR.

how many miles: 13.1 miles (1/2 marathon)


And in November I will race again (Turkey Trot 5k),

but in December I will rest!



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goodbye, hello


goodbye to a fun-filled summer vacation,

hello to the hustle and bustle of school days jam-packed with learning.

goodbye to Maddie once more,

hello to her junior year at college.

goodbye to the ARC ten miler race,

hello to Hershey 1/2 marathon training.

goodbye to our family vacation by the lake,

hello to a beach get-a-way for just the two of us.

goodbye to the fireflies lighting up the night sky,

hello to the cicadas singing in the trees above.

goodbye to summer reading of nine ten, riding freedom, and booked,

hello to the thing about jellyfish, moo, and because of winn-dixie.

goodbye to you again as i start the school year without you here,

hello to the memories we shared and your words that echo in my ears.

goodbye to the sizzling days of the august summer,

hello to the crisp days of september and fall.


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Join Me at Starbucks!

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that I bit the bullet and signed up for *three* races. My first race will be a ten mile race right here in my home town. It’s on the local rail trail. I am so familiar with the course that there shouldn’t be any surprises. The ten miler is right around the corner, and before I know it August 27th will be here. I also signed up for a 5k in New Hope, PA. It’s called Run Now, Wine Later. I mean who wouldn’t want to run a race the serves you wine at the finish line! Actually, I ran this race last year with my friend Sandy and we had so much fun we decided to go back this September. And last but not least, in October I will be running a half marathon in Hershey, PA. This will be the first time I participated in this race. Several of my running friends will be there too. With all these upcoming races, my training is in full swing!

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that I attended the Scholastic Reading Summit in Leesburg, VA. It was a one day conference but we managed to make it a girls’ overnight stay for a little pampering at the beautiful Landsdowne Resort & Spa. The theme of the conference was the power of Independent Reading. Although it was a small conference it had a big bang of presenters. In just one day I had the opportunity to hear John Schumacher, Donalyn Miller, Nancie Atwell, Lauren Tarshis, and Sara Pennypacker. Everyone was so motivating! I came home with an AwEsOmE “swag bag” of books, compliments of the Scholastic Reading Summit, and I bought my own stack of books for our classroom library.  All the books at the Scholastic book fair were 25% off! I have so many new titles to share and book talks to present. ***throw confetti*** If a Scholastic Reading Summit is in your area, I highly recommend it.

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that summer is quickly coming to an end. Maddie and I have been busy getting ready for her move back to college. This year she will have an apartment off campus so we have been diligently shopping for big and small items for her new place. We’ve been pricing everything from mattresses, to curtains, to decorations. It’s an exciting time and she’s quite anxious to have her own place and space.

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that I am quite envious of the pastries you picked out to enjoy with your coffee. I would only be drinking a hot tea straight up with no sugar because I am on day 16 of 30 of my Whole 30 food challenge journey. I’m happy to say that I have successfully made it past the halfway mark. It’s been a challenge to say the least, but I guess if it was easy everyone would do it!

So, that’s what’s been happening this running, reading, and rockin’ mom’s world. I’m wondering what you would be sharing with me at Starbucks this morning!



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what’s next?

I have no races on the schedule.
Zero, zilch, nada, none!
And quite frankly, I’m starting to feel lost.

When I finished the Pittsburgh half marathon at the beginning of May, I could not wait to be off of a training plan. I was sick of it! Sick of being a slave to a training plan!

My goal after the race, to enjoying running and have F.U.N.!  The truth, I’m not even motivated to run, not even three miles. I’m going to blame the weather as part of the reason why…too rainy or too hot. Of course, I could always run on the TM, but no thank you.

Now, I will give myself some credit, I have been cross training. I’ve been doing BODYPUMP, BODYFLOW, CXWORX, and yoga.  And I’ve enjoyed them! I’ve really missed CXWORX and I’ve enjoyed the yoga classes immensely.

But this running funk needs to change. What I love is there are plenty of local races in my area to keep me on my toes! We have two summer series that have piqued my interest. The first one is the WellSpan Summer Series. It offers a 1/2 marathon, several 5k races, a 10k, and a 10 miler. I’m actually eyeballing the 10k and the 10 miler. Matt ran the 10 miler a few years back while I unofficially ran a section of the race as a training run with my BRF, Holly. The funny thing is it looked like we were leading the race even though we weren’t in the race. Heck, we weren’t even wearing race bibs! When we got close to the finish line we hopped off the course and wrapped up our training run.

Another series that is local that I wish I could do is the Shoe House 5 miler series. There are three 5 mile races in this series. Somehow the idea of racing 5 miles has become appealing to me. It seems to be the “just right” mileage, not too much and not too little. Just enough to challenge me but not! While this series is in my back yard and cheap, the bummer is I have plans on all the race days in the series. Oh well, maybe next year!

And then there is the fall! To race or not to race and where??? The Baltimore Running Festival in October is close enough to be considered local. It’s about a 50 minute drive from my house and we don’t need to stay over night. The full marathon has been calling my name, but I just don’t know if I can commit to a marathon training plan. Perhaps the half marathon then?

Some other races I’ve been thinking about are:
Hershey Half Marathon 2016: Hershey, PA (local)
Steamtown Marathon 2016: Scranton, PA (as recommended by my BRF)
York Marathon 2017: York, PA (local, literally in my back yard)
Pittsburgh Marathon 2017: Pittsburgh, PA (this is a definite, just not sure on the milage)

So it looks like I have lots of options! If you have run any of these races or are interested in any of them, let me know! Maybe you can help me decide what’s next!


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The Best of…

I love the city of Pittsburgh. I had never been there until we went college shopping. Now Maddie happens to go to school there, so I get to visit more frequently.  Quite simply, we have the best of times in Pittsburgh and this past weekend was no exception.

the best city for shopping:
We kicked off our visit with a quick stop at the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo. SO.MUCH.RUNNING.GEAR! Matt bought a new pair of sneakers and a running shirt. Then it was off to Shady Side on Walnut St. Maddie had birthday money so we stopped at Pandora and then went to Lululemon to buy her some running shorts for our 1/2 marathon the next day. We topped it off our trip with some delicious gelato from Mercurio’s.

the best city for dining out:
Saturday evening we had a delightful dinner at LeMont. The atmosphere and the service were excellent. And the view! It was spectacular.  Matt ordered a crab cake, Maddie a fillet, and I had sea scallops.  Dessert was on the house since we were celebrating Maddie’s birthday so she couldn’t resist the chocolate mousse cake.

the best city for running a race:
Sunday was race day! You know we are a family of runners.  Isn’t there a saying that says the family that runs together stays together? Well, maybe I made that saying up! Anyway, this was our second year of racing in Pittsburgh. Last year Matt and I ran the marathon and and Maddie ran the half-marathon. For as hilly as Pittsburgh is, the course is surprising kind and somewhat non-hilly!  This year Maddie and I tackled the half-marathon. The weather was so temperamental on race day and it really played with my mental aspect of racing. We weren’t sure if it was going to rain, thunderstorm, have cold temperatures, or even be a warm day.  One thing we were pretty sure…the sun wasn’t going to shine…and it didn’t. It ended up being warm and drizzly. So much so, that I was actually overdressed for the race.

the best city for site-seeing:
After the race Matt and I headed to Mt. Washington to get a view of the city.  It was magnificent! We could see the finish line of the race at The Point, Duquesne University, and the whole way down to the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Look at those skies though! Now you can see why the weather had me worked up and in a tizzy for the race.  Believe it or not, it only actually drizzled on and off. I can only imagine what our view could have been if the skies were clear and sunny.

the best city for casual dining:
We love to visit South Side Works for casual dining. Matt’s a fan of the Hofbrauhaus House. Me, not so much. But I did enjoy some post-race carb loading (if there is such a thing) and ordered the Hofbrauhaus pretzels and bier cheese for an appetizer. Lunch was a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant-nothing German about that! Matt had the Wurstplatte. Basically it was a sampling of Wursts. He was happy!
So today I’m celebrating the best of Pittsburgh, the time we have spent there, and the memories we have created.
 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!