Training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon: I’m an Official #GameOnPGH Blogger!

Best. Marathon. Partner. Ever.

2015 Official Blogger #GameOnPGH

I am thrilled to announce that I am an Official Blogger for the Pittsburgh Marathon again this year.

Here’s me, having just finished the full marathon in 2014, with fellow blogger, Melissa Marks.


I enjoyed sharing my marathon training experiences last year. I made some new friends, learned a lot from my fellow bloggers, and even ran the full marathon with another blogger. I love my home city of Pittsburgh, and being attached to the marathon in an official way for my first full marathon felt ten different kinds of awesome.


This year I’m running the half marathon, as I wanted to experience that distance in Pittsburgh as well. I’ve already run the full, the 10 miler, and now the half. It seems appropriate!

I’m already a few weeks into training, trying to keep my paces slower and not focus on sprinting every single run. I’m also working hard on keeping up strength training and other cross-training as I have struggled with those aspects during every training season in the past. Maybe this one will be different! (So far, it’s improving.)

As I’ve been doing for quite some time now, my training, running, and fitness updates fall on Mondays. I feel a great way to start out my week is to look back on the previous week, acknowledge highs and lows, and then look forward to the week at hand and what’s to come. I’m looking forward to getting back outside and off the treadmill this week—even if it’s not warm yet!

I want to encourage my readers, fellow runners, and Pittsburgh Marathon participants to check out the blogs of the other Pittsburgh Marathon bloggers:

They’re a diverse, fun group, some of whom I’m just getting to know myself. I look forward to the rest of this training season with these people, with my husband who is running the full, and with the City of Pittsburgh as a whole. #GameOnPGH indeed!



The Land of Nod, design for kids and people that used to be kids

The Never-Ending Snow Day

Goggles on Snow Day 10

My children haven’t attended a full week of school since the week of December 8, 2014.

Goggles on Snow Day 10

Granted, the week of December 15th had nothing to do with winter and everything to do with The Sickness that caused 150 children to miss school in one day. Winter break fell the following two weeks. And since the week of January 6, we’ve had either a two-hour delay (I lost track of how many), a planned day off, or a Snow Day. Twelve of them, to be exact.

Twelve. 12. TWELVE. Snow Days.

Now, before you give me the “you’ll be in school until July” line, let me reassure you that’s not the case. The state of Ohio gives us five “calamity” days. Our school district then adopted a “Blizzard Bag” policy which basically gives us three more days with children doing make-up work at home. We’re now four days over those eight, but we also end school on May 22, so July isn’t really a possibility.

Additionally, we’re leaving on vacation whether school is still in session or not. So there.


I won’t speak as to whether I feel all canceled days were warranted or not. I will instead speak to how challenging these twelve snow days have been as a work-at-home mother.

In the summer, I plan our schedule quite carefully. I employ a babysitter once to twice per week to bridge the gap between my husband’s fire schedule and my heavy meeting days. I work from the park every now and then so they can play while I also get some fresh air. I work little trips and fun things in on slower work days.


In short: I plan.

The unknown of a Snow Day makes that planning nearly impossible. Why not just employ the babysitter on all Snow Days? Well, her family does their own impromptu Snow Day stuff like scheduling in an orthodontist appointment at the last minute so she wouldn’t miss school. It’s not always realistic to ask a teen to adhere to last minute plans—or fair. (I have hopes that someday, when my boys are teenagers, they’ll actually sleep in as you’re supposed to on Snow Days… and not wake up at 6:30 ready to GO.)

I really like to plan things, and not being able to plan makes me feel all kinds of stressed.

All that said, we’ve hit some sort of groove having had President’s Day on Monday and no school the whole week. It’s like an impromptu February break! That we’ll have to make up! As our boys don’t have access to technology Monday through Thusrday unless it’s a holiday or a Snow Day, I let them gorge on Monday. Come Tuesday, we changed it up and they only had access from noon to three o’clock. That worked well for all involved, especially as the bulk of my meetings fall during the 12-3 time frame.

During their non-tech time, they played with a ton of toys, drew all kinds of things, read all the books, practiced cursive writing and math facts, one kid took a practice test, built a fort, asked me eleven billion questions, brought me a cup of coffee, argued, cleaned their rooms, cleaned the bathroom, gathered laundry, argued a little more, told jokes, listened to the radio (music is not technology; music is life), dressed like ninja, puked, and generally enjoyed themselves. I answered those questions, made blueberry smoothies for snacks, helped with the laundry and the parts they can’t reach on the mirror in the bathroom, raised my voice but only truly yelled a few times, cleaned up puke, and laughed at jokes… all while working.

I’ve been doing this work-from-home thing since 2006. While it took me a few years to find my groove, especially because I added another child at one point, I mostly have it under control. I struggle during these Snow Day, but only with the uncertainty. In fact, my main problem isn’t getting my work done, but dealing with that nagging guilt feeling that I should spend more time with the boys since they’re home. I know they understand on some level, but I really like being with my kids. Being stuck in my office or even just half-paying attention at the dining room table with them feels like I’m cheating us both out of time together.

It takes a firm self-butt-kick to remember they’d normally be in school, that I am paying attention to them, and that my work still needs to get done before I remember everything will be fine. We’ve had a lot of fun, even when I’ve felt exasperated with the complete lack of planning and the constant togetherness.

Someday they’ll go to school for an entire week—all the days and all the hours (no two-hour-delay!)—and we’ll all feel both relieved and confused. Until then, I’ll keep taking breaks when I can to help them find ways to use their time at home, to steal a hug or kiss, or to have a cup of hot chocolate on a pretty darn cold day.

We will survive this never-ending Snow Day. Together.


In the Blood

Putting Out Fires

Taken February 15, 2010.

We pulled our jackets around ourselves as we exited the library.

“Mommy, will you call Daddy and see if we can say hi on the way home?”

I nodded, my teeth chattering in the wind. I waited to call until the doors shut around us, blocking the wind and blowing snow, and then I picked up my phone. I turned on the car to let it warm up and dialed the phone with frigid fingers. He answered in the affirmative that he had a minute to tell us hello, give us kisses. I pulled on my gloves and started toward the fire department.

At the stop sign a half block from the fire department, I saw the first fire truck roll out, followed by a second. Soon I heard the sirens. The boys realized it at the same time.

“We missed Daddy!”

I tried to play it off, make the two errands we needed to run sound fun. I babbled for a bit, made a turn or two, and then my husband drove by in his fire truck, lights and sirens, waving at the three of us.

They couldn’t have felt more excited. Me either.

Washing Trucks
Taken November 27, 2011.


Earlier in the week, my husband’s father helped a family get out of a burning house they didn’t realize was on fire. He was driving down the road, saw the smoke start to pour out of the house, and pulled over immediately—thus proving “once a firefighter, always a firefighter.”


Little Buddy
Taken March 8, 2011.

After we ran our errands, one of the Fire Jeeps drove past us, stuffed with firefighters like clowns in a clown car. The boys asked if we could follow it, but we we already a bit behind. BigBrother was the one to eventually spot the fire. We drove to a nearby neighborhood and parked for a few minutes to watch the activity.

We watched the clown car firefighters walk up the hill. We watched the smoke roll out steadily. I answered questions I could and mentally stored the ones I didn’t know. We sat for less than four minutes before I put the car in drive and headed back home.



On our short drive home, LittleBrother started in with his variation of 20 questions. Except his version of 20 questions involves approximately 18 billion questions.

“Mommy, can you buy some cones or something? I can pretend to put the fire out on the cones. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to use cones and the hose? When it gets warmer, of course. How warm does it have to be to play with the hose? How many days until spring? I like spring and summer better than fall and winter, don’t you?”

Putting Out Fires
Taken July 29, 2012.

He took a breath.

“Mommy, did you ever want to be a firefighter?”


“Why? Don’t you think it’s a good job?”

“Oh, I think it’s a fine job. I just… don’t really like fire.”

“Hmm. Do you not want me to be a firefighter then?”

“No, no. I think it’s great for you to want to be a firefighter or a teacher or anything you want. I just don’t like fire and I always liked words and wanted to work with them. You can be anything you want to be.”

“Okay. I’m going to be a firefighter. Do you think I will get to drive the truck? Or will I ride backwards? Will you visit me at the fire department? Will you watch my dog while I’m working?”

And on and on he went for awhile. I smiled and answered when appropriate. Once a firefighter, always a firefighter, yes. Likewise, the firefighting runs through the blood.

In the Blood
Taken February 15, 2013.