Emotions Running High

Have you ever experienced a truly emotionally run?

Sure, there are days when you squeeze a run in when you can, and it suits the purpose to get in some mileage, get home, showered and on with the rest of your day.  You’ve got things to do and the run is just something you do right before the next place you need to be.

Then there are the runs that help to jump-start your mind. These are the highly productive runs that can make you feel like an Olympic athlete, mom of the year, and CEO all rolled into one. A mental house cleaning run enables you to get inside your head and visit each room one-by-one, prioritizing and creating mental “to-do” lists.  These runs are pretty awesome, and always bring about a huge sense of accomplishment because you feel like you not only got your run in, but you simultaneously sorted through your life’s worries and changed your mental “to- do’s” into practical “to- done’s”.   No list is too great when you’re high on Endorphins. You can do it all.  Bring it.

Once in a while I even have a run that I would consider to be a serious training run.  These are the runs where the entire time my legs are moving and my heart is pumping  hard within my chest,  I’m concentrating  on an upcoming race, and mentally preparing myself for how I might feel on race day.  These runs are comprised of mental body scans…connecting directly with every twinge or ache that might be talking to me and sending little warnings from my hip or Achilles to my brain.  I go inside my head and think about what race day may bring- the mileage that day; the heat or weather;  and how I will feel in my head, and my stomach, and, of course,  crossing the finish line.

Then there are the emotional runs.  The ones that feel like I’m the only person on the planet, and my legs feel powerful and strong but my mind is a blank canvas – until I hear a certain song on my iPod, or a very emotionally charged thought pops into my head, and stays there like a cement kite.  The thought runs with the rhythm of my legs and moves me emotionally, often times evoking tears that make my even breathes feel like exercise induced asthma.   I can count on one hand how many times I have burst out into an audible sob while I was running.  Today  I added one more to that count on my virtual Abacus.

The weather today is cold, so I had to psyche myself up to go outside to run.  Often times these end being my best runs – much like the nights when you don’t want to go to a party, but you tell yourself you’ll only stay for an hour, and end up staying until 2:00 a.m. I stepped out into the crisp early January air with the hope of getting a 30 minute post-holiday mental house cleaning run, but ended up with an emotionally driven and empowering 90 minute run instead.

At about 20 minutes into the run I was feeling quite tall, and my legs were machines set to auto-pilot.  I wasn’t cold anymore, and everything seemed right in the world.  Even the sun came out, causing me to squint like a happy, rebellious Vampire.   My IPod was set to shuffle because I like my music to surprise me, and to see how my body reacts to the random eclectic playlists that are chosen for me.  When Swedish House Mafia’s “ Don’t You Worry Child” played in my ears- I was instantly transported into my soul, and felt that the song was not only written for me from my father, but that it was specifically chosen for me to hear today- while my mind, body and soul had its full attention, and could properly receive its message.


As a child I had some trauma that wasn’t dealt with properly, and as a result there were some pretty dark times in my life as a young, blossoming adult. I was a hot house flower with a hot head, trying to survive in an (often self-imposed) cold world.  I never felt sorry for myself, which is a good thing, but there were some out -of -control years that I’m not proud of, with the period between age 21 until about 28 among my worst.  These were the years that the anger, self hate, and feelings of worthlessness reared their ugly head and I was given the choice to do the work and slay the beast, or to become the beast.  I was admittedly scared.  It was extremely frightening to think about where my life was going to end up, and to face the long road of confronting my inner demons, and forgiving those who wronged me, while learning to love myself.  These were daunting and seemingly impossible tasks at that time.

The one and only person who always stood by me, even at my worst, was my dad.  He was my rock, and he always told me that heaven had a plan for me. He used those words.  He believed in me when no one else did, and constantly told me that I didn’t need to worry.  My father is no longer alive, but his love for me- and the messages he wishes to remind me of- are often placed in my heart while I’m running.  This time I heard it loud and clear, even though I keep my iPod volume way too high, and I burst into a sob.  My legs just kept going (while my breathing was chopped to bits) choosing to ignore the cries, as if they had their own set of ear buds with the volume cranked too high.

The tears weren’t all about me, however, and the message was two-fold, because it brought to light the many emails, phone calls and conversations that come from so many of my girls in GWS.  They often tell me how scared they are; how out of control their lives feel; and how they fear their feelings of worthlessness or ugliness will never go away.

It’s now my turn to be the rock and to let them know there is a plan for them.  The plan is to show them that there are people in their lives that care- and that I know things can seem hopeless, but if you take care of yourself and stay healthy and strong with exercise and hard work on yourself – anything is possible.  The plan is for me to be there and to bring Girls With Sole to them, so that, they can bring themselves across life’s many finish lines.

“Don’t you worry child, see, heaven has a plan for you.”



Gland To Meet You

Fellow sweaters unite!
No, not the knitted kind. Please, put away that crazy, blingy beaded Nutcracker sweater that your Aunt Ruth gave you last Christmas.  (In fact…just burn that thing.)
I’m talking about people who sweat: REALLY sweat; and do it with unabashed pride!

I often wonder why sweating has gotten such a bad rap, and what the heck the stink is really all about over something that is so incredibly awesome? Why do people insist on reinforcing the negative image of sweat with expressions that conjure the vulgar and the ugly, such as: sweating like a pig; Blood, Sweat and Tears; “Never let them see you sweat;” and (dare I go there) Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies?
In the 21st Century, women shouldn’t be saying things like: ” I don’t sweat; I glow.”

Well, if that’s the case, then slap my face and call me Chernobyl, cuz if sweating is wrong….I don’t want to be Right Guard.

I’ll admit that there are a few cases where sweat isn’t welcome.

But for the most part, if a person takes care of themselves, eats right, and has good hygiene….sweat is clean, pure and magical. And I’ve got the sticky note to prove it.

Sweat brings positive and wonderful things, and should be worn like a badge of honor. You did something fabulous for your body and soul to have earned it -so why not embrace it and flaunt it proudly?

In grade school, I  was the only girl who played with the boys outside at recess. I shared their determination and verve to make every second of their freedom from the classroom count.
We took recess very seriously, and couldn’t let a  single minute go to waste with standing around. So, I tore it up with them, in my plaid jumper and sneakers, playing “Kill the Carrier” or racing to see who was the fastest runner, because being faster than the boys gave me power and respect on the playground, which, back then, meant everything.  It also meant that when the bell rang, and it was time to go back to our desks and sit still, my body let the flood gates open. While some of the other kids had red cheeks, and a dampness to their brow, I appeared to have jumped into a swimming pool.

Sure, a few people may have called me a Sweat Hog, but I took it as a compliment!  I loved the Sweat Hogs (they were endearing, funny and cool), and besides, I felt electrified – and no amount of sweat dripping onto my fractions worksheet was going to dampen my spirit.  (I hated fractions anyway) I was onto something that made me feel good and brought a sense of calm and cleanliness to my often chaotic and cluttered mind. The sweat seemed to wash away all the heaviness in my heart and my head, and replaced it with a joyful and light-hearted feeling that I couldn’t wait to experience again after it began to fade.

I had reached an epiphany at my desk as my white cotton blouse clung to my body: sweat is GOOD!

Now that I’m a “grown-up” I know that not only is it good,  but it’s also good for you, and pretty damn sexy too.

I’ll take a fit, sweaty body over a lump on a log any day of the week.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Michael Bergeron, executive director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance says, “The reason why a sweaty body looks attractive to people is because the image implies: active, fit, tough and resilient.”
(Well, that  about sums me up in four words.)

Yet, lots of people still hold onto the myth that people who sweat a lot are out of shape.  I’m going to serve as a myth-buster on that one, and not just because I am a self-proclaimed, DYNAMITE Sweat Hog, either!

 Here’s a quote from Neal Pire (hey…even his last name evokes heat) who is a New York-based personal trainer and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.  He says, “It’s people who are the most in-shape who will sweat the most, and the most quickly, because their bodies are conditioned.”

When you work out, your muscles generate heat when they contract, and people who exercise regularly are better able to handle the heat than those who don’t bust a move as often as they should. A fit person starts sweating sooner because their body is extremely efficient at cooling itself, since it’s programmed to recognize the need to do so.  In addition, the “sweater” has a 20 percent higher blood volume than the “glower” – and since blood is what carries oxygen to the working muscles, it provides the fluid for the sweat to flow more freely.  Ahhhhhhh.  I feel refreshed just thinking about it. Really…unless you earn your shower daily….why bother taking one.

Rock Stars sweat, movie stars sweat, professional athletes sweat.  Sweat is vital, beautiful, powerful and awesome.  I know it -and you know it now too….but I still have a hard time convincing the girls in my Girls With Sole programs.  I think that might be one of the biggest challenges I have with them: getting them to embrace the beauty and necessity of a good sweat.

I won’t give up trying, though.  One day they will have their own epiphany.  In the meantime I shall continue to serve as a deliriously delighted and drenched example.

I don’t think I’ve made it through a single program session without hearing  various observations, such as: “Miss Liz!! You’re sweating!!”  “Miss Liz …you’re so nasty!”  “Miss Liz…what is that? You have something in your hair”  “OMG..You’re SO sweaty!”
To which I always reply: “I know, isn’t it awesome!?”  Usually their answer is a resounding, “No!” but I stick to my guns!

When that doesn’t work I resort to humor.

Many times the girls will be running or playing games, and when they begin to sweat, it’s like a siren goes off in their brain that tells them they should stop what they are doing immediately.  They don’t want their sweat to flow freely, and instead, would rather keep it bottled up and hidden from the world.  It’s as if they have been “conditioned” to keep themselves from sweating at all cost.

One young lady was running around in programs the other day, having a blast and enjoying the exercise, until she realized that her Ugh-boots were making her feet begin to sweat.

She stopped what she was doing immediately and ran over to me, explaining her plight as a reason why she should sit out.  I just smiled at her brightly and told her that my feet were sweating too.  Upon realization that I had confused this predicament with something that was remotely close to a good thing, she explained that she had fuzz in her shoes, and that I did not.  So, I continued to smile and told her that I had fuzz in my shoes too!  I asked her if she had ever seen the bottom of my feet? For all she knew, I might have a grotesque fuzzy foot condition.

It worked!  She laughed it off, and went back to what she was doing.  She was OK, for the moment, with her sweaty feet, because someone else’s feet were sweating too, and it wasn’t a bad thing.

It’s my mission to teach the girls to embrace their sweat and let it flow from their bodies with blatant disregard to what anyone might think about how it looks as it creates bologna slices under their pits.
A good sweat is like a tidal wave that knocks out stress, clears the cobwebs from your mind, and washes the dust from your soul.   I want this for each of them, and I know once they “get it”…they’ll never let it go.

We are the only ones who can reward ourselves with this liquid gold ~ and each of us should feel worthy of the rewards that it brings.  So, let them see you sweat!

Don’t be afraid or ashamed!

It’s beautiful- and you will be too (inside and out) if you do it!

Amish Paradise

I have hundreds of road races and triathlons under my belt and in the books. Over the past 22 years I have done 18- marathons, 2- 50Ks, 4 Iron-distance Triathlons and countless other races of every type and distance.

I love to run in Cleveland – it’s my “home course” and brings me the joy and freedom derived from running, without having to venture much further than my own “backyard.”

Having said that, there’s still something very  special, intriguing, exciting and fun about finding races and run courses in “undiscovered territory.”  Places that are new to me, and can only be discovered in my running gear.

My friend Larry is a pro at finding the most obscure racing destinations. He continuously calls me on the phone to tell me about a crazy adventure race, ridiculous triathlon, or remotely located 5K.

And invariably I give the same response to every new suggestion. All he has to do is tell me about the newest nuttiness on his radar, and I’m instantly sucked in.

It usually goes something like this.  Larry tells me about a race and says, “Wanna do it?” And without a thought my answer is pretty much always…”Yeah!!”

The two of us are like Shrek and Donkey- out on another quest to discover a new race course, have an adventure and meet a lot of characters on the way! Since Larry farts more than I do- and I can be an ass at times- I guess that makes him Shrek, and me Donkey.

One might think that after racing for 22 years, there aren’t too many “firsts” to be had, and nothing new to experience.  Not so, my friend!

We’re talking about running; a place where experiencing something new and amazing awaits on every trail and road in the world! The adventure never ends…especially if you’re friends with Larry!

On November 24, 2012 a whole slew of “firsts” occurred.  In typical fashion, it all started with a phone call from Larry.  I answer the phone with, “Hello, Lawrence.” (Pronouncing his name the way Sylvester the Cat says Suffering Succotash, because that’s how Larry and I like to speak to each other.  Yeah…we’re children trapped in adult bodies…what of it?)

Larry skips the pleasantries of small talk and leads in with,

“Hey- there’s a Half Marathon in Amish Country. We should do it.”

Per usual, I answer with, “Cool, I’m in!”

I’m not one to look at a course map or ask any questions: I just want to run!  That’s the beauty of running, and to me, what makes it an adventure. Whatever the course presents me with is what I’m gonna have to do anyway…so why look at it ahead of time and take all the fun  out of it?  I don’t like my surprises spoiled with research. (For all the anal retentive runners out there…this is where you insert your gasp of shock and indignation.)

Each race literally becomes an adventure from start to finish.  Some work out better than others, but each one is a true experience that reminds me that life is beautiful, exciting, and worth living.  Running does that for me, and it’s even more fun when it’s someplace I have never ran in before.

So, when you combine the Inaugural Berlin Amish Country Half Marathon and 5K with my admitted curiosity of the Amish in general, you have quite a few “firsts” to be had!

Here’s my top 10 list of “Firsts” that were experienced as a direct result of another phone call from Larry.  (One day I’ll learn to stop taking calls from him.)

1.    November 24, 2012 was the very first Berlin Amish Country Half Marathon and 5K.  I hope we didn’t do anything to make them regret it, and as a result, they don’t have a 2nd Annual race.

2.    First time I ever ran in Amish Country, and was instantly reminded that it’s hilly as a mother there! We did some dirt roads, and some paved, but all of them were steep rollers.

3.    First time I have ever worried that a horse and buggy might run over my foot.

4.    First race that had such well-dressed spectators.

5.    First time I have seen so many children and families come out to watch a race! The whole town came out to support the runners- or perhaps it was just to see the spectacle.  Either way- it was really cool.

6.    I have never had the opportunity to pet so many asses on a race course……or other farm animals for that matter.  I stopped along the way, and pet every animal that allowed me to.  I had the chance to pet a donkey, and a pony.  The cows wanted no part of my shenanigans. I even got to pet a really cool Jack Russell Terrier who bounded happily from a barn to see what all the commotion was about.  She playfully rolled around in the grass while I rubbed her belly, and then joined us for a few lightening quick seconds, as we continued on our run, before bolting back to her home.

7.    I believe it may have been a first for me to swear on a race course, or say something perverse…(wait..let me finish!) only to be made aware that we were running next to a Reverend. His name was Reverend Randy and ended up being an awesome sport about it.

8.    First time I have run with other race participants who were sporting dresses (not running skirts) but full-length dresses…..which leads me to the next first…….

9.    First time EVER that Larry and I met a woman on the course who was wearing a skirt….and actually took it off while we were running up a huge hill, only to put it on Larry!  She took a picture of Larry wearing the skirt, but since I don’t know her, I don’t know that I’ll ever see it.  Who knows..maybe she’ll find me and send it along!

10. Very first (and probably the only) race that presented each runner with a block of cheese when they crossed the finish line!

So many more firsts to be had……I can’t wait to see what the next run or race will bring.  Life is good when you Lace Up for a Lifetime of Achievement!

Taking Control and Compliments!

I’m thrilled to have a Guest Blogger today! She is an amazing woman, runner and friend. Her name is Ruth Coffey and she has this wonderful post to share with us…..Enjoy!

This post comes with a challenge. Over the next few days, consciously notice how many times someone compliments you and you brush it off as nothing. Why do we do that? It’s as though we’re not comfortable with others noticing the good things about us. We’re not even ok with acknowledging the positive in ourselves! Girls with Sole is helping girls and young women turn that around.

The world for women is filled with judgments about body image and how we should look in order to fit the current aesthetic of what is considered beautiful. Check out the magazine covers next time you’re in line at the supermarket. I’m betting you’ll notice three things:
(a) There will be a variety of recipes listed. These will be right next to
(b) Headlines telling you, you need to lose weight and here’s how. These announcements will be placed around
(c) A celebrity with no wrinkles, no blemishes and no flaws whatsoever.

When you are fit, you gain confidence. Making fitness and exercise a part of your normal routine early in life is one of the best gifts any young woman can receive. You are armed against the craziness and unrealistic expectations being sold by magazines when you are strong, fit and healthy. From a physical standpoint, exercising as a child and on into your teenage years means that your energy level is higher. This results in blood carrying more oxygen allowing your brain to function better. Learning is easier when your body is fit! When you exercise from childhood on, the body develops muscle, making tone and definition part of your natural body shape.

Most importantly, exercise becomes part of who you are. You start to feel strong inside and out, knowing that if you’re tired you can push yourself that little bit extra and reach that mile-marker. Your team mates know they can depend on you to get to that ball first. Running, walking or whatever activity it is that you enjoy, becomes your positive place. Even if you don’t feel like it when you start out, you know that you’ll feel better when it’s done. Nothing feels as good as post workout when lungs are pumping, sweat is pouring and your spirit knows you’ve given 100%.

Girls With Sole is letting young women know it’s ok to be proud of who you are. It’s important to accept the compliments you receive, graciously. You are worth that compliment. You have earned it. If someone says you look fit, strong, healthy, beautiful, say thank you! If they say something negative, let it go. Think of it this way. Someone with perfect skin may say to you ‘you’ve got zits’. Then you have a choice. You can either get upset and decide to hide indoors feeling bad, or you can realize ‘yes but they’ll clear up and I can still go out and run fast today.’ I’m going for that option!

Girls With Sole is sharing this secret of taking control of self-image to the amazing young women who participate in their programs. These young women will not be slaves to the propaganda touted by magazines. If they want to cook that recipe, they can do it! They will laugh at the ridiculous fad diets, knowing that a week existing on lemon juice and grapefruit only to return to unhealthy habits on the eighth day, is not healthy in any way. They will know in a split second that the celebrity on the cover has been airbrushed beyond any resemblance of an actual human.


Girls With Sole have control of their own bodies and of their own body image. They are strong, active, fit and in charge. They are on the move and are learning to focus on all the positive things about themselves. They’re worth it. They’ve earned it. They deserve it.








Liz’s Full Revolution3 for Team LULA 2010

I want to thank every one for their kind and generous donations to Team LULA for my Full Rev3, in support of Girls With Sole!

The whole event was an amazing journey!  I was fortunate to have some very dear friends to train with all Summer!  I already miss the long workouts, and all the laughs and silly camaraderie that helped us get through the tough stuff!When race day finally came it was a windy and dark morning on the beach in Sandusky…but I was able to draw strength from knowing that I had a higher purpose to the race, and that kind hearted people like you were supporting me and Girls With Sole.  I need to thank you for that, because it carried me.

The 2.4 mile swim was a little choppy….but somehow it calmed me down from all the pre-race jitters and got me into a groove to begin the long day ahead.  Next up was the 112 mile ride.  It was pretty windy out there…but I just reminded myself that everyone had to do the same course! Finally….the 26.2 mile run!  I have to thank Angela Forster for the wonderful coaching she provided in support of this goal for GWS…because I had a great marathon!  I finished strong and ended up taking over an hour off my best Ironman finishing time, and also placed 2nd in my age group!  My time was 12:08, on my watch. I wish I could describe the elation, joy and pride I felt when I came across that finish line and the MC announced to the whole crowd that I had completed the race for GWS, and raised over $5,000.00 for our cause!  The look on Frank’s face, the pride my children felt, and having my training buddies there pulling for me, was enough to make my heart overflow with gratitude for what I did that day…and for our GWS!Together…we are all helping girls in need feel what it is like to cross that finish line!!!

It is always scariest at the start…..but so worth it in the end.  We all are inspiring Soles,  because we are helping our girls Lace Up for A Lifetime of Achievement!Thank you again..from the bottom of my heart (if there is a bottom) for the kindness and support shown to Girls With Sole!


Liz Ferro

Founder/Executive Director