“I am slow, I have fought my little voice, and I have won.”

I’m coming off a lousy night of editing into the wee hours. I’m drinking my usual glass of low hanging fruit (world’s greatest name for cheap wine) and peeking at margarine, when i see the pending quote above. it’s amazing.

her name is sarah. She has a blog.

Here’s her story, in her words.


My name is Sarah. I have CF (Cystic Fibrosis). I share that same introduction with so many people, I won’t even give you a count.

We are the people who leave parties or events to go do treatments, yes, I may have an extra glass of wine at home, but I am sucking up albuterol while I stare at water condensing on my glass.

Yea, I know. I shouldn’t tell you I have a glass of wine in front of me while I do my treatments. I also shouldn’t ever put onto paper I went to wine club instead of run 3 miles. . . but I did.

I have made life choices that have landed me where I am at, in this very moment. I wish I could tell you I would trade my low lung function, but, honestly without it, I would never have put on a pair of running shoes. I never would have met some of the most inspirational runners, who happen to have CF out there (who qualify for Boston BTW).

Some day, I want to write a book, tell my story. It isn’t glamorous, it is pretty average. I am not amazing, I just keep living. I don’t try as hard as other people, I wish I did, I wish I had the courage and strength they possess.  I think I have a very realistic look at what life is like for an average person living with something that is trying to kill them on a daily basis.

Here I am. My name is Sarah, I am a runner, I love people, I love to craft, I have a heart for hurting people, I love to serve others, being a Barista makes me smile, I work at a Children’s Museum and it has been more challenging (in a good way) than any other job I have worked, I love Texas, I enjoy every moment (even the hard ones) of my marriage, I love my best friends, I love my running partners, I love to run alone, I love to encourage people, I LOVE TO SMILE, I am loud, I am rowdy, I say things I shouldn’t, I love cats, I embrace the weird in people and myself, I look for the positive in all people, I have the best parents ever, and I have CF.

In no particular order, this is my life, but CF is never at the top. It has given me an outlook I would not have otherwise, but it is not the only thing I am.

So she loves Texas, coffee, cats and running. That’s pretty much all I would need to know to sign up her as the coolest person in the world. But she also has an adversity that she chooses to make just a footnote in her life.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent, Eleanor Roosevelt said. Got a situation that causes you to run a little slower? You run a little slower. I’ve got a monkey heart that doesn’t have a second gear. Stop running? No chance. Sarah has a lung problem. Sidelines? Hell, no.

Her amazing blog is the tale of a fighter. Someone who already has beaten the odds. I wouldn’t bet against her. She hasn’t posted in a while. Maybe she just needs a proper kick in the butt. Maybe this is it.

“When you are struggling, you want to meet the people who have struggled and come out on the other side,” she wrote. She was writing about other peeps with Cystic Fibrosis, but that quote is the essence of running as well. Aren’t we all looking for those stories of folks who have endured the bad moments in a race and came out on the other side? It never always gets worse, the old ultra saying goes. We learn from each other. Our victories. Our setbacks. Our challenges. They all make us who we are.

She reposted the “winning” post because she’s a back-of-the-packer like me (although I saw the time for a half marathon she ran that was way faster than mine this weekend. showoff!) She’s a lot like me, working with the hand she was dealt. And not afraid to sneak an occasional card off the bottom of the deck.

I stayed up way too late reading her entire blog. You should too. It’s a great story. I hope there are many more chapters ahead. Thanks, Sarah. See you at the races …


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the quotable mo sheppo, part 10

“I made chicken and rice, but without the chicken.”

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The half marathon has been going on for nearly four hours. That’s not unusual.

Nobody has left. That’s unusual.

Back in the old days, 4 hours was the cutoff time for a marathon. Many years later, the mass of participants has resulted in increasing times and waning interest for the later finishers. Until today.

The race team had a genius idea. They’re giving away prizes to 10 people in a raffle. There aren’t that many people in the race, so odds are pretty good. And it’s not a $10 gift certificate to Marlene’s Frangrances that you’ll never actually go to. It’s just a hundred dollars in cash. A HUNDRED BUCKS! 10 PEOPLE! SIGN ME UP! The catch? The raffle won’t start till the last runner finishes.

As I continue to get slower, I’m fascinated with the folks in the back of the pack. Bill Rodgers once said he couldn’t imagine how people could stay out there four hours running a marathon. What would he say about the peeps who take that much time for 13 miles and change?

If you’ve never run way in the back, you don’t know how hard these peeps are working. There’s just as much suffering here as in the lead pack with the gazelles. Maybe more. We’re just doing it in slow motion.

I’ve had the world’s crappiest run today, coming in a nudge under 3 hours, so I know exactly what they feel like as they wage war with the clock, which is quickly ticking down toward the cutoff. I’m alone on a sunny day with free beer and pizza, so I prop my feet up near the finish and watch the last guys come in. And I find myself cheering like crazy.

Finishing clearly is a huge thing for them. The fast guys quibble over seconds. These peeps just want to cross that line. They do it with arms raised, smiles extended, medals gratefully accepted. They’re celebrating in a way you forget about when you’re going to a lot of races. It’s a Big Deal.

A pair of women come across, hands locked and extended overhead. Another pair. What is it with women? Guys would be tripping each other. It takes a village to run a half, I suppose.

And then, the clock ticks past 4 hours. I snap a photo of the last guy, and the race director starts handing out the cash. I’ve got the number 969, so I figure in a pinch I can flip it and claim 696, doubling my odds. Or not.

It goes along at the same pace as every other running auction — 62,000 numbers called out with nobody claiming. Slowly but surely, they find a few winners.

And then.

A bike escort guy pulls up, waving his hands up and down like he’s an NFL linebacker revving up the fans on a fourth-down stand. And there she comes.

She’s shuffling along in pretty much the same fashion I was, except that she looks more determined and does not appear to want to kill herself. She’s got a huge smile and clearly couldn’t be more delighted to be here. She crosses the finish line triumphantly, high-fiving anyone with an outstretched hand.

She’s 10 minutes past the absolute cutoff, which suddenly becomes not absolute at all. The race official leads the applause and then asks someone to grab the lottery number from her bib so she’ll get in on the drawing. I’m suspicious.

She sits down on the raised curb, taking off her shoes and basking in the congratulations from her family. The drawing goes on.

The closest I come is 959. I consider asking for 20 bucks and calling it even, but I’m not quick enough. “Not quick enough” is something I’m thinking a lot about these days.

And a few tries later, whose number do they call? Hers.

The race official, who has insisted that people come up to get their money, takes it over to her. Coincidence? Nobody seems to care. She earned it.

As he’s leaving, I run over and ask if I can take their photo together. A woman who must have been her relay partner gets in the photo as well. They all beam. After a really depressing day of running, I’m happy.

I stop by on my way out to congratulate her. I shake her hand and tell her simply, “that was a great race.” Because it was.

I finish my beer, get my $200 Honda out of the valet parking of my $200 a night hotel, and head home.

I think about it all the way back. I still get so hung up on times. I’m too slow. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m not a runner, just a pretender. Why bother.

Then I see someone finish an hour later, and I realize it’s not about time at all. It’s about winning. She won this race. Maybe I did too. Maybe we all do, every time we put on a number and face down the demons.

The running philosopher George Sheehan said it best: “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” 

She heard the voice. She told it to shut up. A champion indeed.

Maybe I sort of loved that race after all.

But would it have killed him to call 969 …


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Yesterday: I get this email for our half marathon.

Today: Mo says she’s moving down to the 10K.

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scenes from a run

Sometimes you just want a run to end. Sometimes you want it to go on forever. This was the second kind.

Today was Pie Day. Pie was had.

Spectators on the beach. I love this photo. Woman’s best friend, indeed.

I have heard of some people using the Yakima aid station attachment to carry bicycles. weirdos.

I was running 20 miles on the Jesus Etc course when they set up a 5k around me. It was pretty hilarious. I ran through the finish chutes four times and they still wouldn’t give me a medal. Snobs.


St. Patrick’s Day festival offered quality entertainment.

In Texas, it’s all about the cowboy boots.

Sad that Mo wasn’t here. Mo loves her bagpipes.

I loved this guy’s shirt and asked him if I could take his photo. He gave me a disinterested shrug in that teenager sort of way. Only when I looked at the photo later did I see he’s looking like the proudest guy in the world.

I could run fast too if I had a jaunty hat and my feet weren’t required to touch the ground.  I found myself going the wrong direction in a quite popular 5K on a quite small sidewalk.

And then it was 20 miles later and I was sorry to see it end. My legs were not. And then I had pie. Because, well, you know …

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does the pope run a trail race in the woods?

Would you run a race held on the Pacific Coast Trail? Well, sure you would. It’s where Cheryl Strayed hiked, and …. well, it’s where Cheryl Strayed hiked. It’s sorta like running Western States because Oprah did.

But beware. The diabolical Pacific Crest Trail Association is advising the U.S. Forest Service to ban all trail race permits. Although that’s as far-fetched as banning the Badwater 135 from Death Valley (yeah, right), it could happen.

Solution? This is America. We take swift and decisive action! We sign an online petition. THAT will show them! I dutifully opened the petition and began to read. I was in full agreement until I got past the first four words.


Ummmm, what?

First, a confession. I have been hiking and running trails since the days Ronald Reagan was a B actor. I always pretend to read the fine print on how you must go 200 feet from the trail and stay away from water and dig a 6-foot pit and plant a small magnolia tree on top after you’re through. And I DO make efforts to blend in with the environment (it’s not easy to find camo toilet paper. well, ok, in texas it IS easy, but you can’t just steal it from the toilets at the ranger station.) But I stopped packing with my little shovel back when my mustache was still brown, and I am less than careful on trail runs.

You know that feeling. You’re at mile 35. The tequila/peanut butter combo at the last aid station wasn’t such a great idea after all. Nature calls. You let the answering machine pick up, but nature just keeps calling over and over and over. Finally you answer, bringing you to The Squat of Doom. You carefully crouch as your quads begin to quiver, the calves think about cramping, and your entire body begins to sway menacingly. You finish up, hopefully still upright, leave a little bit of toilet paper disguised under a rock and some leaves, and you’re back on the trail. Done and done.

If you follow rule no. 1, exactly what happens? You’re supposed to use some sort of dog glove scooper, insert into zip-lock bag, hope you’re able to seal it shut with numb fingers, and stick it in your vest next to the wool hat, rain shell and Oreo stash? Then run with it for 3-4 miles to the next aid station?

And not to get too scientific, but ultra poop earns its name. Too much liquid nutrition, coupled with junk food and defizzed Coke, tends to create a texture that reminds me of Aunt Dorothy’s tapioca. How exactly would one remove that from the scene of the crime?  Backpacker Wet-Vac?

And what about aid station volunteers? These are the guys who get up ridiculously early to hike in to inaccessible spots so that you can have your precious pretzels. They already do so much. Now you’re asking them to tote out poop?

Realistically, though, who’s actually going to do this? It seems one of those environmental things that is a great idea that nobody will ever do, like composting orange peels and recycling plastic grocery bags. yeah, right. With pretty much zero chance of getting caught, would you actually do it?

I don’t know. I understand the need to protect a runner’s rights to trails. But maybe it’s time to give up the idea of races on them. Is it less of a run to go rim-to-rim-to-rim just because you don’t get a medal? (and they have a BUNCH of portapots on the course!!!!)

I just watched an amazing video of Anna Frost. She says something in it about how maybe she won’t feel the need to race anymore. Maybe just run for joy. What a concept.

The point? Beats me. Just that government regulation is silly, promises you can’t keep are futile, and it would likely be easy to poop in a plastic grocery bag. I could be on to something here.

mmmmm. tequila and peanut butter …

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the quotable mo sheppo, part 9

“oh, well. it’s only for six months or so.”

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