MAF Training Update (Part II)

I’m feeling rather giddy about yesterday’s MAF test.  (What MAF training is and why I’m doing it, see here.)

The last time I did a MAF test was in February.  It went OK – I didn’t think it was indicative of my progress but you get what you get on testing days.  Then I got sick, didn’t run for 2 weeks, etc., etc.  I spent the last 3 weeks getting back on track.  It was frustrating to say the least.  My HR monitor would beep incessantly.  I was running 10:00-10:30 average pace on most runs.  Then, last Monday, I had a really great run (9:32 average pace).  I waited a week (was it a fluke?!) and decided to do a MAF test yesterday.

MAF testing days always make me nervous.  You can have a good day or a bad day and it is what it is.  No redos (at least I don’t allow redos).  I generally run a 3-mile warm up at well below my MAF HR (~ 130), then run 4 to 5 miles at my MAF HR (143).

Baseline MAF test from November 30th (when I started MAF training).  Shown below are the MAF miles (purple) and their corresponding HR.

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Month 2+ MAF test from February 8th.  This was a blah run.  My stomach was rumbling (note the GI issues!) and I felt that my paces were faster on other runs.  There is definitely progress though.

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Month 4.5(ish) MAF test from April 13th.  I felt amazing yesterday and decided to add a 5th MAF mile.  I got so excited about seeing 8:xx pace that my HR was a smidge high for miles 4 and 5!

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 6.23.21 AM

I do take yesterday’s results with a (slight) grain of salt – it was a good run day.  Just like February 8th was a blah run day.  But you cannot deny the data!  MAF training – it works, folks!

I still have 6 more weeks of MAF training.  Unless I plateau…then I’ll stop MAF and start adding in speed work.  Part of me will be sad to set aside the HR monitor but I’m actually looking forward to moving my legs (fast) again!



Fall Plans

Once you put it out there on Facebook, you’re committed.

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Honestly, this makes me very excited.  My last marathon was before I got pregnant (December 2012) so I may as well get back at it.

I chose Lehigh Valley Marathon as a last ditch effort for Boston 2016.  I ran it in 2011 and BQ’d so the race means a lot to me.  It’s also a great course and a not-too-crowded one (although it has grown in popularity since 2011).  I’m not sure yet what time I’ll be going for (PR is 3:41).  With MAF training and missing out on the LOVE Run, I have no clue where my speed is right now.

Then there’s the Monster Mash Marathon in DE…5 weeks later.  This was a deferral from 2014.  If I can snag a PR/BQ at LVM, then maybe this will be a fun run.  If LVM goes bad, then maybe this will be a redemption run.

I’ve never done 2 marathons so closely together but I think this will be my new standard (well…we’ll see).  I love to run 2 marathons per year and generally do Spring and Fall but, after the winter we had and being sick, I don’t think I’d ever do another Spring marathon (outside of Boston, of course).

And then there’s the Philly Half Marathon…because I look forward to running it each year.

I’m taking the next 7 to 8 weeks to build my mileage back up to the 40 and 50s.  Slow, gradual, and strictly adhering to the 10% rule.  I’m still MAF training too.  My intention all along was to continue MAF though May and then add some speed work back in when I began marathon training.  Last week I hit 40 miles for the first time in over a month.  And on Monday, after 2 weeks of thinking I was back to square one with MAF training, I was finally hitting my pre-bronchitis MAF paces.  (And then I thought it was a fluke, but it wasn’t!)

I’m still mulling over how I want to train for these marathons.  I’m tossing around the idea of following Pfitzinger’s 55-70 mpw plan, with some modifications.  I find that I’m very bad at coaching myself after creating plans for clients all day.  It totally falls by the wayside. Pfitzinger’s plan is pretty much where I would want to go with my training this time around.  But we shall see :)







50K out. Marathon in.

Turns out I’m running a marathon on October 18th.  Something I distinctly remember saying that I would not do this year.

Months ago I registered for the Blues Cruise 50K after much research.  I scoured photos of the course and read every race recap I could find.  The course was hilly but not technical (per the race website).  And the terrain didn’t look technical in course photos (the leaves on the ground were hiding something).  I’m a terrible technical runner.  I have issues with uneven sidewalks. The Blues Cruise 50K appealed to my clumsy side…and the hills I could handle.

So for 10 weeks I logged lots of slow miles on trails (some technical), ran up and down hills, and got 2 20-mile runs under my belt.  A few Sundays ago I headed out to do a test run on the course itself.  I wanted to see if my hill work was adequate or if I needed to step it up a notch.


bad omen (and I was wearing blue)

Turns out my hill work was adequate and the course is technical (in my opinion)!  I did email the RD to see which portion of the course was the hilliest.  I didn’t really notice the hills too much since I was too busy dancing around tree roots and rocks.

So this picture does not show how technical the course was.  To add some perspective – I could only manage about 11:00 minutes/mile due to all the “dancing”.  Feel free to mock me and my clumsiness.


I drove home defeated and not one bit excited about the race.  I couldn’t imagine running 31 miles of terrain like that.  I do have access to some technical trails but not 20+ miles of them.  I emailed the RD (who was awesome) and found out they did offer refunds.  Score!  Now I could sign up for something else…

I knew another 50K around the same time and location would be unlikely so I settled for the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, DE.  Local?  Yes.  Good timing?  Yes.  These were my top requirements.  The race had decent reviews on but it’s the complete opposite of what I have been training for – flat, fast, and on roads.

I am excited though.  This will be my first marathon since December 2012, a few months before I got pregnant (which was oddly also a DE marathon).  Might as well rip off the bandaid and get back at it!  And it will be good prep for a PR/BQ in Spring 2015 (my goal).

I’ll write a whole post devoted to training soon, including the challenges I’m encountering with training post-baby.

Speaking of baby…an unrelated picture of Fiona!


Finally Here!

The last time I posted I was 37ish (?) weeks pregnant.  Little did I know that I would go to 41 weeks and 1 day before giving birth.  The wait was agonizing and there were frequent bouts of hysteria.  In the end, just like everyone said, it was well worth the wait.  

Fiona Catherine was born on 1/9/14 at 5:50AM.  An early riser, just like her mom and dad.


She’s 12 days old today and I’m finally getting the chance to sit down, gather my thoughts, and write a post about it.  It’s hard for me to adequately convey in words how life changing labor and delivery was (I seriously cannot stop thinking about it) and how blissfully happy I am getting pooped, peed, and spit up on.  I have discovered there is nothing in the world better than baby snuggles, the smell of her head, and how her tiny hand grasps my finger.  Matt and I are both smitten.


I feel obligated to share some of the birth story.  But since this is a running blog, I’ll spare you the gory details and instead give you the cliff notes version.

Since I was late and my OB didn’t want me going too much past 41 weeks, I was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday night (1/7).  The plan was to begin Cervidil overnight and then start Pitocin on Wednesday.  I wasn’t thrilled with the plan but I knew Fiona was not coming out on her own.  My big concern throughout pregnancy was the possibility of being induced, not progressing, and ending up with a C-section.  I know a C-section is always a possibility even if you go into labor on your own, but I’ve seen far too many friends go down the induction-not-progressing-C-section road.  I was terrified.

I was actually surprised to learn I was having “contractions” when I went to the hospital on Tuesday night.  I say “contractions” because I felt no pain whatsoever.  I remember the nurse saying she didn’t consider them contractions if I didn’t feel any pain.  I agreed with her although the doctor felt differently (note:  this OB was NOT from my practice).  The OB felt that since my “contractions” were 1-2 minutes apart, Cervidil would send me into abrupt labor and put the baby in distress.  It was best just to monitor me overnight and maybe I would progress on my own and we could start Pitocin on Wednesday morning.  I was still not dilated at all but Matt and I were hopeful with this news.  Even though my gut was telling me otherwise.

On Wednesday morning I met with an OB from my practice.  She was on call for the next 24 hours, thank god.  After hearing that my cervix was still thick, hard, and uninducible (her words), I pretty much lost it.  This was the exact opposite of what the doctor told me on Tuesday night.  She also said Cervidil would not be effective enough for me and suggested we start Cytotec instead.  Matt and I knew a little bit about Cytotec and had reservations – it’s a nasty drug – but talked with the doctor and decided we really had no other choice.  My cervix needed to be prepped for Pitocin and my OB felt that Cytotec would do the job.  I was still not dilated.

The next 12 hours were pretty much uneventful.  I was still having “contractions” but felt no pain and was still not dilated.  I was beginning to think the baby would never come out without a C-section.  In fact, around 6PM on Wednesday night, my OB came in to check on me and I was all prepared with an argument for a C-section.  I didn’t want another dose of Cytotec.  I had been at the hospital for 12 hours at this point and was still at square one.  During the check I had dilated to 1/2 a centimeter and my OB went ahead and broke my water.  There was no mention of breaking my water, she just went ahead and did it.  She also told me to give her 12 hours and she would have the baby out.  I never got my chance to argue for the C-section.

After that my “contractions” were no longer painless.  My pain level was about a 5 but I could still walk around and talk with Matt.  The contractions were still 1-2 minutes apart.  Around 9PM they started the Pitocin.  I was terrified of the impending pain since my contractions were so close, I hardly got a break from the pain.  Let’s just say that Pitocin is no joke.  Before I knew it, my pain level was a 10 and I was shaking and nauseous.  I have never experienced any pain like this before.  I would oscillate between sitting on a medicine ball and standing.  All I could do was look forward to the brief, pain-free moments between contractions.

I immediately asked for the epidural.  I was only 1 cm dilated at this point (typically too soon for an epidural) but my OB agreed to it since my contractions were so close and my pain level was so high.  Ahh, the epidural!  How can I convey in words how wonderful it was?!  I was a completely different person afterward and it allowed us to get some sleep and let the Pitocin do its job.

Around 3AM I started to get nauseous, shake, and vomit.  I repeated a cycle of shake-vomit-sleep about 6 times.  I think it was due to the epidural but the nurse said it was due to pain (even though I felt no pain).  But the good news was I was progressing fast and furious!  I was about 8 cm dilated.  This was the best news I could have ever heard.

Around 4:40AM I began pushing.  This is the part that was life changing.  It was like an out of body experience – like the last 6.2 miles of a marathon.  Your mind is sharp but your body is tired.  I was exhausted and kept falling asleep between pushes.  I felt no pain, just some pressure.  I kept thinking give 110% every time you push and it’ll go faster.  Kinda like the faster you run, the faster you get done.  Even though Matt and the nurse were right there with me, encouraging me every step, I felt like it was just me in that room…on a mission.

One hour and 10 minutes later, I pushed 4 last times and the baby came out with a small cry.  The feeling of her exiting my body is something I will never forget.  I heard my OB say it’s a girl which confirmed what Matt and I instinctively knew for the past 10 months.  And my OB made good on her promise – Fiona was born just shy of 12 hours after my water was broken.  She was perfect – 10 fingers and 10 toes – and all ours…finally!





PS – To answer a burning question that I was always curious about:  which is more painful – racing a marathon or labor?  Labor, hands down.  No comparison there!


pregnancy confessions

I’m just shy of the 6 month mark and time is moving fast but not fast enough, if that makes sense.  Once I hit 20 weeks, time seemed to sloooow down.  I’m hoping for a very fast Fall.

I’m grateful to still be feeling fine – other than feeling large (I’ll get to that later).  But I do have some confessions…

I’m not sad to see the summer go
So long to BBQs, shore trips, and (not) drinking on the deck.  Do I sound a bit bitter?  I am.  I really missed drinking this summer.  Before you peg me as a binge drinker, let me explain.  There is nothing quite like an ice cold beer over the summer.  On the deck and down the shore.  After a long run.  Especially after a long run.  I had no idea how much I would miss it.  I think a lot of it has to do with being pregnant over the summer.  I probably would not have minded as much over the winter (uh, maybe).  And thankfully I’m not into anything pumpkin so my bitterness will not extend into the Fall with the arrival of pumpkin-flavored beers.

I did not miss training for a marathon over the summer
This shocked me.  I love long, sweaty 20-milers during the summer (see why the ice cold beer comes in handy?).  Again, I thought it would be bitter city seeing everyone train for their Fall marathon.  Not at all.  Guess it shows how much of a mental break I needed from training.  I’m so happy with where my running is right now; I’m perfectly happy with 10-13 mile long runs.  And I know that, come 2014, I’ll be fresh and raring to go again.

The weight gain is tough
Obviously this is something you know is inevitable but it’s still mind blowing.  When I walk by a store window, I don’t recognize myself.  I’m up 14 lbs, which I assume is normal (reading about “normal” weight gain would drive me more insane…so I don’t).  This is the most I have ever weighed and some days it’s hard.  To grow so rapidly out of your pre-pregnancy clothes (seriously, one week they fit and the next they don’t) and to have T-shirts be snug?!  T-shirts?!?!  Thank god for maternity clothes (also thought I would never say that).  I can’t believe I resisted them for so long.

IMG_156923 weeks, 5 days…and feeling large.

I’ll be waddling my way through the Philly Rock n’ Roll Half next Sunday.  I’m feeling pretty good about it.  Excited too.  This is always a balls-to-the-wall race for me so it’ll be nice to enjoy myself.  I’m guaranteeing a PW (that would be anything over a 2:16 – my first HM finish time!).  I plan on walking through the aid stations and running very slow.  This may be my last distance race until after the baby is born.  We’ll see ;)

Any of your own pregnancy confessions to share?
Running the Philly RnR Half?

Be Your Own Coach

Most of my running clients are half marathoners and marathoners.  Some are first timers and some have a few races under their belts and are looking to improve their time.

When they first contact me, they complete a questionnaire where I ask them all sorts of questions.  I call this “getting to know them more as a runner”.  It’s so important that I gather as much information as possible so that I can properly develop a plan for their goal race.

When I begin to lay out a training plan and begin to work with my clients I always keep the following in mind…

Plan, plan, plan
I always tentatively plan the long runs first.  I say tentatively since my training plans are highly adaptive and, in general, I only plan 3 weeks of training at a time.  I would be weary of a coach that hands you a 16-week training plan at once (unless you asked for it).

Long runs are the bread and butter of any endurance training plan.  I take into account tune-up races, drop back weeks, vacations, and any other things I may need to work around.  It’s easier to manipulate the long runs later on if you pencil them in for the entire training plan.

Keep your eye on the prize
Speaking of tune-up races, I ask my marathon clients to keep racing to a minimum during marathon training.  I generally allow 1 HM and they either race it or use it as a marathon-paced training run.  Either way, it’s a great confidence booster for race day.

For chronic racers, marathon training can get a bit boring.  Long runs are the priority and racing has to take a backseat temporarily.

The more you run, the better you get at it
I have my clients run as much as they can.  What constitutes high mileage is unique to each runner.  Thirty miles can be enough for some while 70 is enough for others.  I like to have enough time during marathon training to do adequate base building…slow and gradual increases in overall mileage and long run distance.  This increase in aerobic capacity will not only make you faster but will lay a solid foundation for marathon or HM-specific speed work.

There’s a time and place for speed work
Many clients want to jump right into speed work thinking it is the only thing that will make them faster.  Speed work will make you faster…to an extent.  Over time, without proper increases in aerobic capacity, your speed will plateau.  As I said above, the right time for speed work is after we have a solid foundation of base mileage.  Your body is stronger and can handle the increased stress of speed work.

When clients begin training for a HM or marathon after a period of low mileage, I begin with so-called “pre-training” to base build.  After an adequate base is established, then we can layer on the speed work.  I sometimes use strides and hill repeats during the base building phase just to break up the monotony of all those slow miles and to help with leg turnover.

That’s just a few of my basic principles I follow when coaching.  To find out more, hire me as your coach! Winking smile

expo fun and st. pat’s

On Wednesday, I – well, RTLR Coaching – was a vendor at a local health and fitness expo.  This was my first vendor gig and I was pretty pumped about it.  It didn’t draw a large crowd – definitely not race expo size – but it was big enough for me to connect with local runners and other local vendors in my area.

Each vendor was provided with a 6’ table and was told to “make it look nice”.  When you’re a running coach, what are you supposed to put on said table?  It’s not like I’m selling merchandise or demonstrating anything.  Instead, I made a nice alternating arrangement of business cards and trifold brochures I created.  It took me a whole 5 minutes to set up my table.


Let’s talk about the last minute homemade sign.  On Monday night Matt asked me if I had a banner or anything to hang on the table, identifying myself.  Um, no.  Didn’t even think of that.  Ensue frantic shopping trip to Michael’s to stock up on crafty items.  The result is a homemade sign that screams newbie.


Another lesson learned?  In addition to ordering a banner, get a T-shirt made.  When in doubt, throw on the Boston jacket!

All in all, I got to talk about running for 3 hours, which is always a good night.  Hopefully I got some new clients too!

St. Patty’s Day
One of the best times of the year!  Another reason to drink beer and (college) basketball!

I wasn’t sure how long I was going to run yesterday but in the spirit of SPD, I decided to make it a 17-miler.  Turns out, yesterday morning was the best time to be out and about…drinking green beer.

Because the afternoon was miserable.


But not too cold for beer.


It seems the Luck of the Irish was plentiful this weekend at the races!  I’ve seen numerous mentions of PRs on Twitter.  I can’t wait to read the race recaps.

If you raced this weekend, brag about it!  If you didn’t, brag about how much beer you drank or something else. 

I had a strange urge to run a 5K this morning – that never happens – but decided on 9 recovery miles instead. 

happenings and training

This is the longest stretch I ever went without blogging.  Every time I sat down to write a post over the past 2 weeks, I ended up just deleting it.  Quasi-training doesn’t lead to the most fascinating posts.  Some people can make the mundane sound interesting.  I’m not one of them.

Quasi-training is going really well though.  For right now, it’s just what I need.  I have no interest in racing a marathon this Spring.  Running a 50K or a trail marathon?  Maybe.  But I enjoy being noncommittal at the moment.

I’ve fallen into a pattern with training.  3 weeks of 40-50 miles and then a big drop back week.  That’s good enough to maintain my base until I decide to be committal again.

Wk of 2/4:  40 miles with 13 miles long
Wk of 2/11: 43 miles with 17 miles long
Wk of 2/18: 46 miles with 20 miles long (first 20 of 2013!)
Wk of 2/25: 30 miles with 10 miles long

Besides running, we celebrated a very important birthday.


And I laughed till I cried, drank too much, and chatted until 3AM with these ladies.

5 of 8 Mains

All is good.

a good year

Happy New Year, folks!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time off and perfecting my “lady who lunches” routine.  Next Wednesday is going to be cruel and painful.

First things first – RTLR turned 2 this week!  For those of you who have been reading from the beginning – (1) kudos, (2) thank you, and (3) you deserve a tall cup of coffee or a stiff drink (your choice).

I wouldn’t be a proper blogger if I didn’t reflect back on 2012 (in terms of running, of course).  If I could sum it up in one word?  WOW.

What could be better than kicking off the year with the Boston Marathon?!   90 degrees or not, it was an amazing ‘experience’ (due to the heat, the B.A.A. refused to call it a race but instead an ‘experience’).

finish_race photo
this picture says it all…

My Christmas ornament from Matt this year…


After Boston, I ran my first “ultra” (50K) and discovered that running on grass isn’t as fun as it was when you were a kid.  But…ultras ARE fun!


After that came a 5K, 2 HMs, and the Rehoboth Beach Marathon – all PRs (thank you, ultra training).  Some were surprise PRs and others (err, RBM) were I-could-have-done-better-PRs.

I also learned some things along the way:  (1) when in a rut, run an ultra and (2) drop waaay back on mileage during drop back weeks.  In the past I don’t think I was cutting my mileage back enough to really absorb the benefits of my training.

Your turn to brag!  Tell me about your best (or favorite) 2012 race or maybe something you learned about running in 2012?

Rehoboth Beach Marathon Recap

Marathon #11 can best be described by one of my Dad’s many sayings:  sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.  I won’t leave you in any suspense – I didn’t get the bear.

the good
I didn’t have a terrible race.  I didn’t go out too fast, didn’t hit the wall, didn’t dehydrate, didn’t develop aches or pains, or didn’t fuel properly.  My first 13.1 was run in 1:48 and the second 13.1 in 1:52.  A 4-minute positive split.  Not terrible – I’ll never be a negative split marathoner – even splits are the way to go for me.

All I can say is that I got tired (no shit, right?).  My mind was saying “go, go, go” but my legs could not maintain MP.  My pace would slip, I would rally back for a little, and then my pace would slip again.

the bad and the ugly
On paper, a sub-3:40 (8:20 average pace if you’re using 3:39) should have been easy.  I just ran a 1:41 half 3 weeks ago (7:45 average pace).  My MP would have been 35 seconds slower than my HMP.  That’s huge.  This was not a stretch goal.

But the marathon is a fickle bitch of a race.  Anything can happen.  You’re on top of the world for one mile and praying that it will all end the next mile.

miles 1-10

I wanted to use the first 2 miles as a warm-up and then settle into 8:20 pace.  I was holding back here.  I obsessively checked my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t going out too fast.  The first few miles were within RB and then we entered a rails-to-trails section.  This was definitely my favorite part of the race.  It was gorgeous and the trail running put me at ease.


And then we headed out for a long stretch to Lewes and Cape Henlopen State Park, passing some of the biggest and most beautiful houses I have ever seen.

on my way to DQ…

miles 11-19

I needed to pee.  Like real bad.  I first noticed it around mile 7 and I thought the feeling would go away.  It only got worse.  With the exception of my first marathon, I never have to stop and pee during a race.  Ever.  I gave some serious thought to just peeing myself but my stage fright is way too bad for that.  Plus it’s really difficult to “let go” while running!

I HAD to stop at the next porta potty.  I was going to lose time either way.  If I didn’t pee, the feeling would only get worse and slow me down.  I ducked into the next porta potty I saw, peed as fast as I could, and then tried my best to make up for lost time (that’s why mile 18 is 8:53).

Miles 14-16 went through Cape Henlopen State Park.  This is where the so-called “hills” were.  It was more like gentle rolling hills – nothing that will really break you.  The payoff was gorgeous views of the sand dunes and ocean.

miles 20-26.2

This is where the tiredness set in.  I didn’t hit the wall; it was just harder to maintain MP.  I felt OK and tried to rally back with mile 21 but my paced slipped again in mile 22.

still giving a half-hearted thumbs up…

We made our way back to RB via the rails-to-trails section.  I saw Jess around mile 22.  I have never met Jess before but we both knew we were running the race.  I introduced myself and we ran together for the next 4 miles.  We were both having a tough time and although we didn’t talk it was nice to have someone there with you…providing silent encouragement and motivation.  Thank you, Jess!

I passed mile 25 in 3:30.  I didn’t know how close to 3:31 I was but I remember thinking I can do this.  I can run a 3:39.  It’s funny how you forget that you have to run 1.2 miles to finish.  I would have had to pull the fastest 1.2 miles of my life to get a 3:39.

I saw my Garmin switch over to 3:40 and my heart sank.  I was so close…I could see the tent where the finish line was.  I crossed the finish line in such a fog I never stopped my Garmin until 30 seconds later.

Official results
Overall – 197/823
Female – 47/323
AG – 10/45

I so badly wanted to run a 3:3x marathon and was totally capable of doing so but it wasn’t my day.  I left nothing on that course and did the best I could do on that day…which is all you can really ask for in a marathon. 


the race itself
I would definitely, absolutely, positively recommend this race.  The course was beautiful (and flat) and RB Running Company organized a small and fantastic race.  I lucked out with the weather – it was 100% overcast with no wind.  I could see how even the slightest bit of wind could cause havoc on some of the out-and-back portions.

I also got to see Matt about 4-5 times on the course.  He kept popping up every couple of miles.

The best thing about the race was the after party.  A huge, heated tent with catered food, live music, and beer!

I mentioned this in another post but it’s worth mentioning again.  I stayed at Avenue Inn, right around the corner from the start line.  The race started at 7AM and I didn’t leave my hotel room until 6:45AM.  I was warm, dry, and used the bathroom to my heart’s content.

we ran right by the hotel at the start

Writing this recap has been cathartic.  I was hoping it would be.  Up until yesterday, all I could think of is how I didn’t run a 3:3x marathon.  I hate how that overshadows that fact that I PR’d by 2 minutes.  If I were a client I would have looked at those splits and told them they ran a terrific race and they should be proud.  I need to listen to my own advice.

On the plus side, I get a break.  A real break.  Not a let’s-run-a-50K-and-then-another-marathon break (remember how I said I was going to take a break after Boston)?  I’m going to focus on barre and running what I want, when I want.

I literally could not keep up with all the comments on FB, Instagram, and Twitter.  Thank you, thank you!  It really did mean a lot.