You made it! Here it is... the blog where you get to sit back and laugh at - or be completely horrified by - life with 5 kids, 2 parents, 1 dog, 2 cats, 1 guinea pig, & 2 turtles (and those are just the creatures we know about).

Special Thanks To My Donors:

SPECIAL THANKS TO MY MARATHON DONORS: Caroline Alexis; Kristine Barry; Meghan Brunell; Jons Cardoso; Kevin & Suzanne Champagne; Paula & Eddie Connolly; Beth Crescenzo; Kelly Cunniffe; Rosie Diletezia; Matt Ennis; Michelle Forrest; Kathleen Hall; Vina Harvey; Sharon Keyes; Katharine King; Genteen Lacet Jean-Michel; Karen McHugh; Lesley Miller & family; Florence Molyneaux; Kirstin Peth; Jacqui Wade - 26.2 In The City She Loved - Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund


Boston Marathon 2016

It's done. That crazy/amazing thing that took over my life for months is over. I ran the Boston Marathon. It wasn't pretty. And it definitely wasn't fast. But I accomplished the task I set out to do. I crossed the starting line in Hopkinton and made it to the finish line in Boston. Here's an extremely detailed recap of how it went.

Krystle's team was seriously rocking the jerseys! We're just missing Jackie in the photo. She had the luxury of staying at her parents' place in Hopkinton the night before the race - lucky!
I started the day at the Frog Pond in Boston Common to meet up with the rest of the team who was running for Krystle Campbell. This was my first time meeting the runners face to face. It was so nice to see these amazing people in person. Most were friends of Krystle's and this was not their first time running in her memory. One of our runners was even running this year, on her birthday, in between chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. And let me tell you, she did it in under 4 hours. Totally amazing. 

I rode the bus to Hopkinton with Kelly. She was incredible. Funny as hell and full of so many great tips. Oh, and did I mention that she has run a marathon on every continent?? (My 12 year old wants to know if that includes Antarctica. I don't know about that. But, after hearing her story of running a marathon in a Kenyan wildlife reserve - where there are actual WILD animals - I feel like that should count as double!) **UPDATE** I talked to Kelly and she did, in fact run a marathon in Antarctica. If that's not total badass, then I don't know what is. PS she said the penguins act just like puppies down there. Best visual ever.

Walking to the starting line with Kelly
On the bus, I saw that I was tagged in this post on Facebook by my husband. It made me cry a little, so I'll blame him for my eventual dehydration issues. ;)

Those t-shirts were a surprise from my in-laws. I cried actual tears when I saw this on the bus!
One of the worst parts of the race was the port-a-potty line in Hopkinton. I'm not even kidding. Possibly worse than the leg cramps. I actually started to heckle people who weren't moving to their toilet fast enough. I was fairly certain I would die from a painful bladder explosion. It was pretty awesome.

As a charity runner, I was among the last group of runners to start the race. This meant we didn't even hear the gun go off until 11:15am. (And since there were so many of us, it took about 10 minutes before I actually stepped over the starting line.) It was hot that day, and after months of winter training, I didn't do enough to ward off dehydration. 

Props to the girl behind me who totally photobombed with the sweetest smile ever.
Around mile 7, I started to get intermittent leg cramps. I knew this was a warning sign, but I trudged along. It definitely slowed me way down. I've written before about the fact that I'm a slow runner, but I've never had trouble like that so early in a run. The cramps continued on and off for the rest of the race and added probably an hour or more to the (already slow) time I was hoping to finish.

But, I kept going anyway. Because the last thing I was going to do, after all of the support I had received from everyone, was to stop. So I trudged along. I high-fived a million little kids because I know my own kids have a competition every year at the marathon to see who can get the most high fives. Plus, you have to keep going when people are calling you by name. I had written Lissie on both arms. So I got lots of "Go, Leslie!" and delayed "I mean Lissie!" when they figured out how to pronounce it. It didn't matter. Every cheer sounded awesome! And I got to see friends along the way.

My mother-in-law's best friend, Ditto, was waiting for me right at the end of her street in Natick (around mile 10). It was so great to see a friendly face! Then, when I was feeling slightly better than death in Wellesley (and realizing that I was barely more than halfway), one of my friends from college actually tackled me on the course. She gave me a quick hug and then physically pushed me and told me to keep going. Karen, that actual push through Wellesley center was just what I needed. We have good friends who live just off the course in Newton around mile 16. I was so happy to run up to them and see the signs their kids had made for me. What a boost! All along, I knew I was running much slower than any training run I had ever taken. It was so discouraging to worry about all of the people along the way who might be waiting for me. But I was so thankful to them for hanging around. I never could've gone all that way without them.

I finally got to Newton-Wellesley Hospital to see my friend, Erin, and the rest of the gang who organized the team for Krystle Campbell. Erin jumped right in the course and ran along with me. I think she would've kept going if I hadn't forced her to turn around at the firehouse. She was unbelievable. Erin ran along in her jeans just to keep me going (& offering to massage my leg right on the race course when it cramped up). I still laugh thinking about it. As she ran with me, I was talking myself through the rest of the course. I said, "Okay, you'll run me to the firehouse. Then, I'll do the hills and my family will be at the top of the last one. Then, it's mostly downhill after that. I've totally got this." I wasn't entirely sure that I had it at all, but I figured it couldn't hurt to fake it. Erin heard me and said one of the best things I heard all day:

"Of course you've got this. You're not going to quit now. You want me to do those fucking hills with you??"

And I don't doubt for a second that she would've. Erin is amazing. But, I sent her on her way and made my way up the hills. Those Newton hills were a bitch. I trained on them. I was ready. Until it was actually that time and my muscles were no longer cooperating. I could barely jog up - it was more of a power walk up with a run on the downhill. It sucked. Along the way, I was looking for a friend who is a Newton cop stationed along the route. That's when I realized that all of those guys look exactly the same when they're in uniform with their hats and sunglasses. At last, I found Rocco and he sent word along to my group that I was getting closer (finally!). 

I texted PJ to let him know that I was walking up the hills and that it might be a while. I was feeling pretty down about being so far behind schedule. But he reminded me to just keep going and have fun. That's when I watched a girl drop right to the pavement. She got up and said she was fine, but was clearly wobbling on her feet. The police came over and called the EMTs for the poor girl. And I realized that I might not be even remotely fast, but I was determined to at least crawl across that finish line.

PJ and Patrick met me at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. They walked up with me to keep me company. Along the way, a very nice, drunk college girl offered me two dixie cups of beer. Knowing I was probably already dehydrated, I told her to give them to my husband. She also wanted to give one to my "friend." Apparently, Patrick looks older from behind because when he turned around and smiled with his 12 year old face full of braces and she said, "Oh, God, I'm sorry!" It was pretty funny. Hopefully we've got many more years before Patrick is actually drinking dixie cups of beer. 

At the top of Heartbreak Hill, I finally got to my squad. It was completely amazing. My mom, stepdad, stepmom, aunt, uncle, ALL of the in-laws, one of my nieces, two of my best friends from college (with family in tow), and my neighbor were all waiting for me in the t-shirts my father had made. It was quite a sight! I know they had been waiting a long time for me to make it 20 miles and it was such a relief to finally get to them. 

With my nephews included, it says, Go MOM Go!
Daddy & the gang
My squad. So amazing to see them all. Only sad that they didn't save me any of Lala's calzone.

After hugs and tears and complaining about the fact that everything hurt (plus a salty snack), I had to go finish this damn race. Patrick decided to run to the finish with me. I kept trying to talk him out of it because I really didn't think he could run 6 miles, but he was insistent that it wouldn't be a problem. Sophie was so upset with me that I wouldn't also let her go, but I had to draw the line at a nine year old in flip-flops.

Patrick came along for the run. Right by BC we saw a mom from the kids' school cheering for us. Then, at the top of Lake St., I ran into another one of my very best friends. Annette gave me the best hug ever and told me to keep going. Although, I thought she was going to give me a ride in her stroller (which would've been nice). 

Coming downhill into Cleveland Circle, my legs were toast and I told Patrick to slow down so I could walk for a bit. That's when we ran into some of my friends from work. This was around mile 22 and I felt pretty close to dead. I'm not even sure what I said to them. Something like, "I can't believe you guys are still here." and "Oh my God, everything hurts." It's a total blur, but I know I was happy to see them.

All along Beacon Street, I gained newfound respect for the spectators who hang on or come out for the late runners. It was so amazing to have these people camped out still cheering, high-fiving, and giving out treats along the way long after the bulk of the crowd has passed. I even saw some of the teachers from my kids' school and they had a great little cheering crew going!
Patrick was a real trooper. He ran the 6 miles in untied basketball shoes. He also spent those miles assuring me that I wasn't last and that there were, indeed, still runners behind me.

Sometime around Coolidge Corner, I saw my friend, Dawnie and her gang waiting for me with signs. There weren't too many people still cheering in that spot, so it was an awesome sight. Further down Beacon Street in Brookline, I spotted the Citgo sign for the first time. My breath hitched and I started to cry. It was just a tiny, red speck in the distance, but it was the first sign that I was actually going to make it to the finish line in my hometown.

Near Kenmore Square, the crowd got thick again. And thank goodness, because I had nothing left in me at that point. I was coasting on sheer willpower and the fact that I didn't want to stop in front of the crowds of people. As we were running under the little underpass outside the square, PJ texted me to tell me that the kids would be joining me at mile 26. Apparently, my father-in-law had asked the police officers if it would be okay, and they gave the green light. So, they handed the kids over the barricades and waited for me. 

Coming down Boylston St., I could see the finish line. Finally. At the 26 mile marker, I slowed down because I couldn't see the kids anywhere. Then I heard this piercing scream and saw a little letter M jumping up and down. Naturally, it was Sophie. Patrick and I ran to the kids and they tried, in vain, to line themselves up so their shirts said, "Go MOM." They kept screwing it up, which was some real comedy, but they finally worked it out and made the run for the last 2/10 of a mile to the finish line. 

It. Was. Amazing.

There were times during that run, that I was sure I couldn't possibly go all the way. But, to finally be jogging down Boylston, hand-in-hand with my five kids while crowds of people in the stands chanted, "Go, Mom, Go!" was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. All I could think right then was that I didn't even know these people and they were all cheering for me and my kids. 

Luckily, there was a photographer who works for Boston.com who just happened to be there to catch this shot of us just after the finish line.
People I knew were sending this to me after it went on the Boston.com Instagram page. I was the "Go, Mom" lady on the internet for a day. Fifteen minutes of fame, baby. Too bad Ellen never called. I thought, for sure, she'd want us on her show. ;)
And my husband caught this video so I can relieve those 40 seconds forever. It really was the most incredible feeling.

After we crossed the line, I got my medal, and a blanket to keep warm. I saw my cousins there, too, and Martha made sure the kids got the royal treatment for their 2/10 of a mile run.

Space blankets & snacks for everyone!
Lisa, Donnamarie, & Martha were the first to find us at the finish line. Love these ladies!
David Wade tweeted a picture he took of us just as we were crossing the finish line.
My sister was working the race course as a nurse, so I didn't get to see her until the end, but it was terrific.

Sisterly love right there!
I received so much support during my training and fundraising. Special shoutout to PJ for getting stuck with the kids for every long run I did on the weekends. Being a slow runner means they really take a long time. And a shoutout to my friend, Erika, for listening to me go on and on and on about running on every lunch break. She said she was relieved when it was over because she felt like she trained for it, too. And another shoutout to Tina for driving the kids to school way more than I drove hers, so I could squeeze my short runs in before work. A shoutout to Elliott, Erin, & Bonnie for organizing the team to memorialize their friend. And to all of my donors to the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. I feel so honored to have run in her memory. As tough as it was, I would totally do it again. (Hopefully a little faster next time.)



Training, So Much Training...

For the most part, the marathon training has been going pretty well. I've definitely struggled in the last two weeks to fit in some of my short runs because of weather and life, so I'm trying to keep an eye on that. I have a new-found respect for all of the lunatics who've done this year after year and trained through a New England winter. I can't even imagine what last year must have been like with our record-breaking snowfall. It's a huge pain in the ass (and calves, and hamstrings). We had been having an unseasonably warm winter, but Boston stayed true to form and went straight-up arctic. 

I now take it personally if you don't shovel your sidewalk because running over bumpy, frozen snow is like running at the beach and my legs just can't take it. Also, I try to avoid running in the street because Massholes are aggressive drivers (where do you think that name comes from?) and I'm trying not to get run down. My last long run was 12 miles of icy, slippery, snowy crap and it sucked. I started giving the finger to every house that didn't have a shoveled sidewalk. And I may or may not have shouted something passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggressive) to the lady getting into her fancy Range Rover with 6 inches of snow on her entire sidewalk. If you're too fancy to shovel, hire someone.

My long run day is Sunday which means I should've put in my miles yesterday. Except for the fact that the wind chill was -30* and I am not that stupid dedicated. I figured pushing it off to today was no problem. Until I checked the weather and realized that today was going to be 5*. So, now I'm moving it to tomorrow which is supposed to be 50* and raining. (Go home, New England weather, you're drunk.)

Feels more like -29*?? Come on.
My fundraising has been going really well. If you haven't had a chance to donate, I'd really appreciate your help and support for such a great cause. Go to the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund and mention runner Lisabeth Minihane in the comments. Thanks so much for any bit of support you can offer. It's helping my team to reach their goal!

Last but not least, if you have any amazing music that I should add to my playlist, send along the suggestions. My long runs take forever at my pace, but it's always great when someone's song suggestion comes on. I think of that person and it keeps me going!



My First Marathon

So, a few months ago, I ran my first half marathon. It was the first time in my life I'd ever gone a distance like that. Until that point, my longest race had been 5 miles. After accomplishing the whole 13.1 (& still feeling well), I started toying with the idea of doing a longer race. Like, a full marathon. Which is completely insane, because one half marathon at my snail's pace hardly qualifies me to think I could ever do such a thing. But the idea had been stewing in the back of my mind. 

Being a lifelong Boston resident, I kept thinking how amazing it would be to have my first marathon be one of the most prestigious marathons in the world - right here in my hometown. But, who was I kidding? That was just a crazy idea in my head. And really, even if it ever happened, it was just all about me. Something I would like to say I had done (or attempted to do). 

Enter my friend, Erin. Erin and I have taught together for almost 7 years. A few nights ago, she posted this on her Facebook page:

It was a sign for sure. This marathon wasn't just going to be some goal I wanted to accomplish for myself, anymore. This was going to be so much bigger than just me. I messaged Erin right away and quickly became part of the team of eight runners who will be running to raise money for the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. 

I am so honored to help raise funds in Krystle's memory by running the 2016 Boston Marathon. Which is where you all come in. I am going to need so much help. Maybe you have a great song  that I can add to my playlist. Or maybe you can like one of my many posts about running that will pop up on Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter). All of that is sure to keep me going during my training. 

What I will also need is your help in raising money for the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. If you'd like to donate, please click on the link.

****In the comments section, be sure to mention "26.2 in the City She Loved" and runner Lisabeth Minihane. This is very important. Without using my name, the donations can't really be tracked. 

If you prefer to send in a check, it should be made payable to “The Boston Foundation”, and should reference the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund in the memo line & runner Lisabeth Minihane.  Please mail checks to:

The Boston Foundation
Fund Administration
75 Arlington Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Please let me know if you have any questions. Any amount you can donate will help me reach my fundraising goal for the team. 

Thank you so much for all of your help, love, and support. I'm so excited & slightly terrified to take on this task, but I know the adventure will be worth it!



Lunches...How I Hate Packing Lunches

There are all kinds of chores around my house that I love to complain about. If you've ever read my blog, you know that the laundry pile comes up about a million times. But, there is nothing quite like packing lunches. 

Here's where the fact that I have five kids really comes into play. Anything times 5 can be pretty dramatic, but lunch making has to top the list. By the time I've come home after work, made and served dinner, and thrown in yet another load of laundry, the last thing I want to do is start packing lunches. So I wait until the morning. And then I wish I had just buckled down and done it the night before because it really is a chore. Now, if I could just get an assembly line of Nutella sandwiches going, that would be awesome. But, each of my darling children thrives on their individual personality and it really shows when it comes to what they eat.

One morning last week, I made Sean a Nutella sandwich. He's pretty easy because he only likes two things: sugar or chicken. Usually it's in the form of a Fluff or Nutella sandwich or popcorn chicken that I recently found out his poor teacher was heating up for him every day. Charlotte wanted a ham, cheese, & mayonnaise sandwich. Lucy likes tuna. But not on bread. So I whipped up some tuna with mayo, salt, and pepper, and found a container and a fork for her. Patrick likes ham, but also not on bread, so I rolled up individual slices of ham in a sandwich bag. And Sophie decided she'd really enjoy some sliced cucumbers (sliced the long way, not round) with a side of hummus. I don't know when I became a short order cook. 

I'd happily get up before the children to make these sandwiches (because I don't sleep all that much anyway), but these fools change their minds and tastes almost daily. And believe me, the hot lunch at school is a savior sometimes if not for the fact that it costs $5 per child (& I don't really have an extra $25 per day to fund my laziness) and they don't have Taco Tuesday every day (because that's the only day Sean actually likes the hot lunch).

Sadly, I will never be that Pinterest mom who turns her kids perfectly healthy lunches into adorable little animal faces. And if you're struggling with Christmas gift ideas for me, sign up for a week of packing my kids' lunches. Today was Taco Tuesday (amen and hallelujah), but we're wide open tomorrow!


 I just Googled "adorable kids' lunches" and now I have so many questions. Like how? why? and WTF?
Found this on Pinterest from Bentos on the Bayou. I'll never have that kind of time on my hands.


What Was I Thinking?

Tomorrow is the big day. My first half marathon. I didn't buy a clever t-shirt to wear, but one of my favorite ones that I've seen says, "This seemed like a great idea 3 months ago." Truer words were never spoken. I set this crazy goal for myself simply to see if I could do it. I'm still not sure if I'll even finish. And I'm a little terrified of the potential disappointment I'll feel if I can't make it. But I know that I've busted my ass training and I'm certainly going to try. In order to confirm my status as a total lunatic, I've already registered for my second half in May. So, if I don't finish this one, I've got another goal to shoot for. And if, by some miracle, I make it to the finish line, I can use May's half marathon as a way to beat my time (if only by a minute). 

I'm a slow runner. But I've plodded along for 185.31 miles since July. (But who's counting?) And even though this task still seems insurmountable, I can look back at all the runs I've logged over the summer and realize that those runs got longer and longer. Without me even seeing it, I've been getting stronger and increasing my endurance. 
So... Ready or not, here I come. I'm going to channel my inner superhero and try to make my it all the way to the finish line. 

Damn, I miss my WonderWoman Underoos...

If all else fails, at least I'll get to test out my sister's version of advice: 
(That middle finger emoji is perfect.)
So, wish me luck... I'm just hoping to make it to the tent with the beer and lobster rolls - even if I have to crawl!



The Rhythm Is Gonna Get Ya

Last week, I wrote a post about the fact that I've been training for my first half marathon. One of the challenges of training is keeping myself motivated for runs that are getting progressively longer. And, on those days when I can't get outside to run because I'm the only adult with the kids, this can mean running for 80 minutes straight on the treadmill. Ugh. I've done the whole "watch Netflix on the treadmill" thing, but I find myself getting so into whatever I'm watching that it actually becomes too much of a distraction. (I almost fell off during an old episode of The Office that cracked me up.) The only thing that really keeps me going, whether on the road or on the dreadmill (see what I did there?), is really good music.

So, I spent a bunch of time working on a playlist of songs that would keep me going. Some of them are just good songs that I like. Some have inspirational lyrics that keep me going when I want to quit. (Beyonce is right. Girls do run the world. And if Florence & The Machine are going to tell me to run fast for my mother and fast for my father, then that's exactly what I'm going to do.) And others aren't necessarily by my favorite artist (I'm talking to you, Macklemore), but they have the exact tempo that matches my rather slow running pace.

I thought I'd share my playlist here in case anyone else is looking to add something different to their running/workout mix. But, I'd also like some suggestions. These runs are getting longer and I need to mix it up once in a while. So, I'm putting it out there for input:

What are your must-have songs that really get you moving?

Share in the comments. I really need the suggestions!

Here are a couple screenshots of my playlist. I just hit shuffle and hope something gets me moving!

There will be no judgement of the fact that I just love me some Flo Rida.

Phineas & Ferb Are Pissing Me Off

If you have school-aged kids, or have ever flicked past the Disney channel, you've probably seen an episode of Phineas & Ferb. The premise of the show is cute, in that the boys try to invent wild things to do each day of summer vacation. I'm fine with all of that. It's the theme song that pisses me off. In reality, it's not even the whole song. It's like, the first two lines.

One hundred and four days????

I relish every single day of my summer vacation. I love the fact that most of my kids don't even wake up before 9am. Or the fact that they pretty much just live in their bathing suits (which seriously cuts down on my laundry). And they can serve themselves their own breakfast. It makes for some really relaxing mornings. Mornings that I just wish there were more of. Because there sure as hell aren't 104 of them. Come on, Disney! What school district do you come from?

I know I'm extremely lucky in that my career affords me all kinds of time off to spend with my kids. It makes up for how completely insane my days get during the school year. But, I got out of school on June 29th, and I head back for a week of professional development starting on August 21st. Now, I'm no genius, but I'm pretty sure there aren't 104 days between those two dates.

So don't mind me, I'm just over here bitching that my summer vacation is about 50% of the magical one mentioned in a cartoon theme song. {sad trombone}

And for those of you who work all year round, please put away your torches and pitchforks... I am well aware of how fortunate I am. ;)