Do you have a limit? #courage #motivation #inspiration #run {}

I have to gloat.

I fought with myself for probably 2 hours, but I finally made it out for my scheduled 9–miler yesterday. Only 3 weeks till my first half marathon; I can’t skip my last few long runs. “Just go, Larissa, get it over with. So what if you don’t feel the best ever. You feel rested/fueled enough and the time doesn’t matter; just go run.”

My long run on that trail are half the distance out, half back. In my 3 I decided I could go for 10. Might as well get double digits. In mile 4, I felt good enough, I decided I could do 12. “Say what? 12??” Yes 12. Six miles out with permission to finish at 10+ miles if I wasn’t feeling it and walk the rest to my car.

And you guys, I ran the whole 12.

Early last summer I had a bike accident that busted up my foot and knee; I swam for most of my workouts all summer. The last time I hit 10 miles was in October and my knees were a lot of pain. Then in November I bullied through a 7–miler that I absolutely should not have. I literally couldn’t walk when I got home. Jon had to help me move at all; help me into the tub, set me up on the couch with ice, help me wrap it because the slightest movement was terrible and listen to me practically sobbing because I was in so much pain.

This spring’s training cycle is about a lot more than running my first half marathon. It’s about completing the race – and training – without injury. I have problems in both of my knees. So to say I felt good enough to finish 9 strong and then power through 3 more, all without significant knee pain, is huge.

I’m sore today. My calves and hips are protesting a lot of movement and my knees are tight. But no sharp pain. Nothing that tells me something is wrong again. And that feels amazing. I’m on a runners high hours later I think.

And so, today’s motivation is about having the courage to start, never giving up and pushing your limits.

Have a fantastic week!


What is one of your health or fitness triumphs?

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Merrell women's barefoot run bare access arc 2 {}

Fitness Friday Linkup #RunningBloggers {}I’ve somehow managed some good workouts this week, even with being sick and out of town.*success*

Breakdown of my week:


• Saturday & Sunday

• 8.13 miles on a hotel treadmill, 1:31:03 (11:11 pace)

Last weekend we went to Peoria for GP’s funeral. All in all it was a good weekend of quality time with family. I got up early on Saturday to pound out my scheduled 8 miles on the treadmill – I don’t know how people run on those things regularly. Those were the longest, most boring miles of my life!

• Driving up to Illinois, we saw the Missouri and Illinois rivers very high. Driving home, though… we had to detour a Missouri river crossing, saw houses flooded, people stacking sand bags, train tracks completely under water, entire fields turned into miles–wide lakes, and drove many sections of road with water scarily high on both sides. No question that drive wouldn’t have been possible a few days later.

Unfortunately I’m a bad blogger and didn’t take any pictures.

• Monday

• Monday I was home sick with a stomach bug that carried over from Sunday. I got up for breakfast, then slept clear through to lunch.  By late evening, though, I thought I felt well enough for a short run and went out after dinner. Probably not the best idea ever. I’m feeling the pressure, though – my half mary in 3 weeks! – and I knew I didn’t have time on Tuesday.

• 2.98 miles, 35:11 (11:48) I jogged about 2.5 miles, then walked the rest home. Very slow, low energy run.

• I’ve been looking for my next pair of running shoes, and I knew I wanted to go with a natural running minimal shoe. I also did enough reading to know I should find a good transition to minimal shoe to avoid injury. I settled on Merrells and got these over the weekend.

Merrell women's barefoot run bare access arc 2 {}

Merrell women’s barefoot run bare access arc 2. Who thinks up these names??

The two main things I wanted were a zero–drop profile and a flexible sole. This shoe has both, plus a little support for my high arches and a fun, bright color. Turquoise is one of my favorites and they, like, PERFECTLY MATCH the blog. It’s the little things.

Anyway, I’m only doing short runs in them right now because they are definitely different to run in; I need to work up to the long distances. But after two runs this week, I know I made a good decision. I’ll write more about what I like, what I don’t, what feels different, etc. after a few more runs in them.

• Tuesday

• I haven’t talked about this a ton, but Jon has been hard at work this semester curating, organizing and putting up a really cool exhibit at the Missouri School of Journalism. It  combines photography and artifacts from a photographer’s (published in National Geographic and plenty other magazines) and his writer wife’s travels in the South Pacific.

Anyway, Tuesday was a silent auction event at the exhibit and we took home some pretty cool pieces. Jon was all business, as it was his event, but we had a lot of fun.

• Wednesday

• I feel like every other day this week I’ve felt pretty sick. Not giving myself enough time to recover, maybe? Hm….

I intended a run and scrapped that idea as soon as I sat down on the couch. Well, laid down is more like it. Then I made dinner, talked to my parents in Brazil, and did some random light strength work while watching Nature with Jon. (Wednesday evenings is pretty regular Nature/NOVA PBS “date night” for us. Probably quite nerdy… but we see a ton of cool stuff on those shows).

PBS Nature {}

• I managed 50 each pushups, back extensions and bridges; 80 reps plank variations (wide toe tap, leg raise, knee tuck); 40 reps inverse plank variations; & 8:00 of this arm routine from Tracy Anderson.

Also, this happened Wednesday morning. Is this really necessary?

Snow in April {}

• Thursday

• 4.01 miles, 41:15 (10:17 pace)

I didn’t officially do hill repeats, but I did take a hillier route to get an extra workout. No pace goal; I just wanted at least 4 miles. It was a pretty average run. Weather was absolutely perfect and lots of people were out at the park. I definitely run there enough to see other regulars with whom I exchange smiles or hellos, and I always like seeing families enjoying the park. It’s like this little unofficial park community.

• Wasn’t ready to leave the perfect weather in the park, so I finished with some post–run strength work. 50 each elevated dips, pushups, plank tucks, back extensions, bridges and core for 300 reps. Half a mile walk home + a good stretch session + early to bed.

• I also found out one of my grandfathers, who’d been in the hospital all week, passed away this evening. That kind of put a damper on a good night. Tough month, this April. Two deaths in two weeks for Jon and I.

• Weekend

• Friday will probably be some light Yoga, nothing more. Saturday morning is a community 5k #runforboston that I will probably participate in. We’ll see how I feel. I also have a 9–miler on the schedule and that’s the more important run.

Just three weeks away!


Any big training plans this weekend? How about normal life plans?

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Dove Real Beauty Sketches {

If you were on social media at all last week, you probably watched the new video from Dove telling woman we are more beautiful than we think.

It’s a lovely message. I loved the video at first – and really, I still do. It’s beautifully done, the concept is interesting and the reactions seemed meaningful and real. Ignoring the obvious contradiction of Dove being part of Unilever, a company that literally survives by telling us something is wrong and providing a product to fix it, the video provides a very tangible way to communicate a message of beauty.

“This is not an issue of vanity: this is a pervasive problem that is paralyzing a generation (if not generations) of women from reaching our individual potential and from advancing as a gender,” wrote blogger Julie Zeilinger, founder of The FBomb. “Which is why the concept of being more beautiful than we think we are is akin to feeling a burden being lifted from our shoulder — even if just for a few minutes.”

I watched it several times last week and something began to feel off to me. Something about it made me uncomfortable (aside from the previously stated Unilever issue) but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Until I read this blog from The Body is not an Apology. The post author Megan Rylan asks an important question: What is considered beautiful? “Thin, white, abled, young. ‘Thin’ was consistently used as a positive, while ‘fat’ was always used negatively. Signs of aging were also seen as flaws,” Rylan wrote. One of my first thoughts watching it was that anyone non–Caucasian in it seemed an after thought.

Rylan gave my uneasy feeling words with this line: “Really, the big reveal at the end of the video was that the women participating were closer to the stereotypical standard of beauty than they thought, not the realization that they themselves are uniquely beautiful.”

With or without makeup {}

Now, I’m not sure addressing our standards of beauty was the ultimate point of the video; it was more about how we perceive ourselves compared to how others look at us. I think that’s a very important piece of the loving–our–bodies puzzle. I just wish Dove had taken that additional step of saying, “So what if I have wrinkles? So what if I see them more than someone else does? Those wrinkles represent the life I’ve lived, they make me beautiful right now and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”

Someone else doesn’t like them, too bad. Society tells us those are wrinkles make us look old, and that old is a bad thing? Oh well. I won’t buy into that nonsense anymore. I’ve told myself those things – I’ve even told other women those things! We are bombarded by negative body image messages all the time, so at the very least, let’s stop sending those messages to each other, women. We can redefine our own standards of beauty.

Again, Rylan expresses it better than me: “We need more. Dove’s reinforcement of the beauty standard, the limited representations of beauty and bodies, and pinning the blame on women for having internalized negative messages make it fall far short of being an empowering, radically unapologetic message.”

All this thinking led me to do a little social experiment of my own. First, I jotted down some descriptions of my face, like the women in the video.

• I have long, extra thick dark hair. So thick it’s really a pain to manage. My hair falls into the wavy category, which means it can’t decide if it actually wants to be curly but is still a bear to straighten. I also have plenty of grays cropping up the last couple years.

• My face is thinner than it used to be, but I’ll always have those “baby fat” cheeks. Likewise, though my face is thinner, some double chin–ness happens when I smile.

• My eyes are easily my best facial feature. My eyelids, however, are pretty droopy, so my blue eyes aren’t shown off as much as they deserve.

• I’ve never had an acne problem or anything wrong with my skin. I do have plenty of freckles and light Irish skin that just turns into a tomato in the summer.

• My teeth… well, they’re never going to be perfect. More than four years of braces couldn’t fully straighten them. A crown in the front makes it hard to whiten. It is what it is, and I will never have braces put on again.

Next, I asked my husband to describe me (having not seen what I wrote yet).

• She has thick long flowing curls that falls to her elbows and is rich in tones like mahogany.

• She has a light complexion and her face is pointed to the chin with rounded cheeks full of freckles. Her face is almost perfect thirds at the top of her eyes and top of her mouth.

• Her eyebrows are low and pencil-thin, and her eyes are almond-shaped and the bright blueish-grey of the sea after a storm.

• Her nose isn’t small but does not flair out wide, and her lips are full but not puffy or exceptionally wide and when she smiles it is a big teeth grin that lights up my heart.

This is from Jon, so he should say sweet things, but this is quite different from what I first wrote. The face shape description took me most by surprise.

Finally, I went back and took an additional step Dove missed. I asked why.

• My hair is bothersome simply because it takes more work to look nice. But is that actually true, or am I just saying that? Having my hair longer is easier; I sleep with a braided, then just pull it out, add some quick hairspray, and it’s wavy and nice for the day. Shorter takes more work, but it’s also cute. Thinking again, it’s not so bad after all. Would I trade my incredibly thick, wavy hair? Actually, no.

• Why do I have problems with my face shape? Much of that is probably residual from being heavier and I need to stop thinking those things. When I make myself stop and honestly consider, I can’t think of a single thing wrong.

• Yes, my eyelids bother me, but do you know where that thought came from? Someone told me once that I’d probably have to get brow lift eventually because they’ll just get droopier. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind before that conversation a few years ago. Women, let’s stop talking to each other like this.

• Teeth, well, I know what they used to be like, so I’m satisfied with the smile I have now. A “better” smile is not worth more dental work. Period.

Guess what? I am my own beautiful. I believe it, my husband believes it (and really, does anyone else count? 🙂 ). Thank you Dove, for taking steps toward positive advertising. Truly, despite some shortcomings, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is more empowering than most advertising to women.

I just need to remember that I am not Dove’s beautiful.
I am not Vogue’s beautiful. I am not your beautiful.
I am my own beautiful.


What do you think of the Dove commercial?
If you did this yourself, could you answer the “why’s?”

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Fitness Friday Linkup #RunningBloggers {}Wow, what a week.

I’ve had some happy moments this week, but mostly it’s been sad. So much death. Both close to my family and across the country.

I was back on my training schedule after a last week’s rest and then my 10k. It’s been a great week of running and I really needed that.

Here’s what I’ve done:



• 1.23 mile run to the race, 12:12 (9:55), then a 1.23 mile walk home afterward.

It was close enough to home that I decided to jog there rather than deal with parking. Made for a good warmup.

10k race {}

Few minutes before the race started. Ready to roll!

• 10k race! Finished in 59:46 (9:38 pace)

I’m super happy about this pace. Still a little slower than I wanted, but still a personal record for the distance! The majority of the course was really hilly so I knew right away I wouldn’t make my goal. My fastest time for 6.2 was a 9:42 average and I was determined to beat that. Success!


After the race with a student in our department, Nathalia. She finished second in her age group for the 5k!

Sunday & Monday

• Recovery and rest days.


• 4.09 miles, 37:32 (9:10 pace)

I had 4 miles on my schedule. Then Boston happened and those 4 miles took a lot more meaning. The distance was to mark the bombings 4 hours and 9 minutes into the marathon; I was on a mission and ended up with probably my best run ever. 9:10 pace? Very fast for me.

#runforboston {}

I had my race shirt on all day under my sweater, then added the note for my run.


• 30:00 vinyasa flow yoga, some stretching and some rolling.


• 3.1 miles, 30:25 (9:49 pace)

This run was scheduled as an As You Feel run. We’re between thunder storms (hello tornado warning and golf–ball hail last night!) and quite windy. It took plenty of willpower, but I did not look at my pace until the 3 miles mark. My GPS announces distance as I go, but I don’t have it tell me my pace for days like this.

I really focused on my actual running. “Shoulders down, watch that back, keep your weight forward, front foot strike, protect those knees, elbows in, don’t cross your arms, shoulders again, keep breathing steady…” All those things that are not yet second nature to me and start to get lost when I focus on my pace. It felt good to have a more “technical” run with no concern for speed.


Cold, wet and windy. That water is usually quite calm.


• I’ll only get in a short walk today, and then we’re heading out-of-town early. We have a funeral to attend and family to be with this weekend. I plan to spend some time on the hotel tread mill Saturday morning and get my 8 miles in.

Four weeks until my very first half marathon! Sheesh…. only four???? Scary. Gotta stick to the plan and I’ll be ready.


Happy weekend, all!

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#runforboston {}

#BostonMarathon #prayforboston #runforboston {}Like the rest of the running community and the country, I’m a bit shell-shocked about Monday’s events. I started this post yesterday but couldn’t finish it then.

Runners are a giant, international family. I know this sounds silly to someone who may not be a runner, but it’s true. Not only are we a big family, this is an incredibly supportive community. Spend 5 minutes on Daily Mile and you’ll see what I mean.

The bombs on Marathon Monday rocked our runner family. I have just a few thoughts I need to get out:

• With 27,000+ runners, thousands of spectators and all the race staff, this attack had the potential to shatter many many more lives. Reports have speculated that the size of the bombs could have packed a lot more explosive power. Thank God this tragedy was not any worse.

• Events like this happen are common occurrences around the world – and at equally innocent activities. It’s terrible; it’s evil; it’s hard to imagine living with this level of fear day in and day out. I hope one of the things we take from this attack is to appreciate, mourn with and take what action we can for the families and communities who face this kind of evil daily.

• As is so often the case, the worst in a few people brings out the best in a lot of people. The event staff, volunteers, runners, spectators, National Guard, police, fire fighters, medical personnel… to everyone who helped and protected fellow human beings, you are the reason I still have hope after senseless acts like this. So much in this world is horrible and messed up, but so much more is good and powerful and true.

#runforboston {}

Yes, I ran with this pinned on my shirt in public. You can download it here to use on your runs dedicated to Boston this week.

It’s safe to say this is really shitty week. With a family member passing early Monday morning, the funeral this weekend and now the grief I feel after the bombings added to the mix, I’m drained. Yesterday I wore a race shirt to work and ran 4.09 miles in honor of the Boston Marathon victims. It was cold and wet, but those were the most cathartic – and fastest! – 4 miles I have ever run.

I started feeling angry and I fully expected to use that anger and sadness to fuel my run. But you know what? Right after the 1 mile mark, I hit some sort of runner’s high. I couldn’t stop smiling, I was greeting and encouraging the runners and walkers I passed at the park… I was happy.

And then I felt guilty. Such a terrible thing has happened, I shouldn’t feel happy. So many marathoners and Boston residents don’t feel happy today, why should I? And then I thought, that’s what this sport is all about. It’s about doing something we love, it’s about community, it’s about support, and if I could just bottle up the joy I felt on that run and send it to the victims in Boston’s hospitals, you better believe it would be in the mail already.

I saw a tweet yesterday that said “The best thing we can do right now as #runners is keep #running strong and proud.” And that’s what I did.

This week, our #RunnerFamily is standing strong. This week, Boston is standing strong. This week, myself, Jon and our family are standing strong. And if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that the Boston Marathon will be back in full force this time next year, and the entire running family will be cheering louder than ever.



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