Black Girls Run

Yup, it happened today. I used a popsicle stick to smear Vaseline on a guy’s nipple.

You see, I volunteered at the Capital City River Run with my running group, Team Playmakers. It was at mile 9 for the half marathoners; mile 22 for the full marathon. The weather was perfect for standing around, handing out oranges, M&Ms, pretzels, Gatorade and water. Too warm for running, really, so a lot of the runners coming through were on the struggle bus.


Great set up to volunteer for today’s race.

But we thoroughly enjoyed helping runners — or at least giving them a few words of encouragement — as they came through.

A welcome sight for most runners: paper towels dipped in ice water.

A welcome sight for most runners: paper towels dipped in ice water.

Everyone helped out, including some friends who ran their races then came back for the fun. I was inspired by so many who kept running or walking, even when they were obviously suffering.

My friend Vicki came back to help after she finished her half marathon.

My friend Vicki came back to help after she finished her half marathon.

I even got to run for the last four miles with my friend Angela who was running her first full marathon. She was hurting. She was miserable. And she probably wished she were anywhere but on that race course.

Yet, she just kept going. All the way to the finish line.

Angela killed that race course.

Angela killed that race course.

In the end, she and our friend Dena celebrated their accomplishment: they joined the marathoners club.

Dena and Angela join the marathoner tribe.

Dena and Angela join the marathoner tribe.

As for the guy and his Vaseline-needing nipple. He was on mile 22 of his marathon when his chaffing got so bad that he stopped by our table to see if we had Vaseline. I went to hand him the stuff on a popsicle stick when he lifted his shirt, pointed to the spot and I, well, swabbed it.

He thanked me and ran off. It’s not what I had in mind when I signed up to volunteer, but I did say that I wanted to pay it back for all of the people who have helped me during all of my races. Can I consider that debt paid now?

Have you ever needed Vaseline for race-day chaffing? Have you volunteered at a cheer tent? What’s the weirdest thing you have seen on a run or race? (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

It was a gorgeous sunny, blue-sky morning perfect for a three-mile walk with one of my favorite people who lives close by. My good friend Karen and I got to catch up and try to solve all of the world’s problems.

The afternoon brought another kind of sunshine with a Black Girls RUN! gear swap at casa de Gendreaus that saw two brand-new runners taking home a few items to get them motivated. The rest of us did pretty well ourselves. If you’ve not done or attended a swap, the premise is that everyone brings their gently worn running gear and participants take turns picking out something to take home. Here’s how to host one, if you’re interested.

Black Girls RUN! running-gear swap.

Black Girls RUN! running-gear swap.

Despite my lack of running, I’m beat but already planning what I hope is tomorrow’s run. Most of my running friends have other plans, work or are injured (sorry Mira!), so it’ll probably be me running around my neighborhood with my boys Pitbull, Daddy Yankee and Juan Luis Guerra.

My kids’ abuela made an appearance at the gear swap and talk eventually turned to her lasagna, which prompted me to add it to this week’s meal plan. We don’t have a recipe, but you can search for one on or even buy a frozen one. Hope you have a great rest of your week!

  • Lasagna, green salad, garlic bread
  • Sloppy Joes, baked fries, corn
  • Frozen meatballs (we like Target’s) with sauce (we like Aldi’s), spaghetti, rolls, green salad
  • Breakfast-for-dinner. In this case, it’s homemade waffles with cherry-pie filling topping, bacon and fruit
  • Cilantro-lime grilled chicken, white rice, green beans
  • Source:


What are your meal plans for the week? Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Today’s Tuesdays on the run is all about inspiring others to run. MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice host Tuesdays on the run to encourage bloggers to connect and readers to find new blogs to enjoy.

In my case, the list of people who inspire me is very long, but I’ll try to list some of them because they’re all worthy of mention. Let’s take a moment to appreciate some of them:

  1. Black Girls RUN! This group of ladies is amazing and several of them have become some of my closest friends. I’ve said it before and will say it again, I wouldn’t still be running if it weren’t for them. These are the women who get up to run with me at 5:15 a.m. on a weekday or at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Who answer weird questions about topics that shall not be uttered (or written about) in mixed company. Who waited for HOURS while I finished my marathon so they could jump up and down and celebrate with me. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.
  2. Team Playmakers. Another group of the nicest people you will ever meet. Because I’m not a speedster, I run with the 13-minute milers and — let me tell you — there isn’t a person who hasn’t overcome some challenges to show up week after week.
  3. Slow runners. Back-of-the-pack runners deserve two medals  — heck, and a paid trip to the Caribbean — when finishing any race. It takes a lot of discipline to finish when you’ve been pounding the pavement for so long that most other runners have gone home and the race volunteers are packing up to leave.
  4. Disciplined runners. These are the runners who decide to totally change their lives one step at a time. People like Derek Mitchel who was profiled on Runner’s World magazine after unning at least one 5K per month, oh and losing almost 100 lbs. in less than a year. Seriously.
  5. Returning runners. Whether they were sidelined by an injury, having a baby or another life event, people who take a break from running and come back are always inspiring. These are people who have a perfect reason not to run and who know exactly what they’re getting themselves into and yet choose to start over. Sometimes from scratch after many years. Their stories give me inspiration on days when I’d rather stay home and watch Jane the Virgin episodes (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Running has this aura of being such a lonely sport. It’s just you and the road. But I am never really alone when I run because I know all of my running friends are there with me. Mostly in my head, as I replay their words or wisdom or encouragement. That’s normal, right? Right?

Who inspires you to run? Have you inspired someone to take on running? How did that go?

La chica is a marathoner

by lachicaruns on

Thanks to God, a slew of friends and family, and Dr. Awesome, I finished my first marathon today.

Here’s photographic proof:

marathon finish line

I am even prouder because I spent the three days before the race at a work conference that involved walking up and down hills and very long days. Oh, and I took a nasty fall that made my arms and hip hurt. I do not recommend it.

That all said, I prepped my gear the night before just to make sure I didn’t miss anything since I’ve been known to forget things like shoes, socks and headphones. Ahem.

marathon gear

Race day morning was perfect. It was in the 40s and sunny, meaning I started stripping layers about three or four miles in.

marathon with Brandess

My friend Brandess dressed as a rock star for her pace group, the Mullet Crew — the party in the back.

marathon with BGR

Black Girls RUN!

My pacer was awesome: 71-year-old Arlen on his 97th full marathon despite having a hip replacement less than a year ago. He also climbs mountains, does ultra marathons and tris, and did an Ironman just a few years ago.

marathon with arlen

I felt really good for the first half of the race and kept a decent-for-me 13-minute mile pace.

marathon selfie

I got to enjoy the gorgeous day and beautiful scenery through the Michigan State University campus farms and fields. But the best things I saw during my run were my friends who turned out to cheer or who came back after they were done with their own half marathons plus messages my friends wrote for me in chalk.

marathon message

Fast forward to about mile 20, when I start to slow down a bit. I was still running, fueling every four miles and drinking all of the water and Gatorade offered on the course.

No big deal. I figured I could run 10K no problem.

Then miles 23 and 24 came. My nemesis. I had a peek into what I’ve heard people call “the wall.” I couldn’t feel my legs. I was shuffling more than running. My mind was alert and I knew I would finish, but my body was just plain tired.

I kept moving with Arlen giving me encouragement, just concentrating on moving forward. I must have muttered “trust the plan” dozens of times.

And then I saw a bunch of my Black Girls RUN! Lansing friends. I can’t imagine what I would have done had they not been there.

marathon near death

That’s Brandess’ butt.

My training partner Janet even joined me for the last two miles, sporting a green tutu (she was a pacer for the half) and giving me the strength to just keep going. I won’t call it a second wind, but it was a boost and for that I am forever grateful.

As soon as I saw the chute, I knew I could draw some energy reserves only available to pigheaded women. I high-fived them, then saw my husband, daughter and youngest son, waiting near the finish line. I smiled and finished strong.

marathon high fives

In the end, I met most of my goals: I ran at about 13:27 per mile pace, finished in under six hours (5:52:50) and didn’t die.

I’ll call that a win.

Marathon with Janet
With most of la familia.

With most of la familia.

Now what?

Have you ever run a marathon? Did you hit the wall? How did you recover?


If you’ve not run a team marathon, go grab a few friends and sign up for one. Trust me on this one.

In Lansing, it doesn’t get better than the Lake Lansing Team Marathon put on by Playmakers. Teams of women, men and both can race 26.2 in increments of about 5 miles in this case, around Lake Lansing. Individuals can also sign up to run one loop.

Why am I so enthusiastic about team marathons? Let me show you…

There’s running, of course:

lachica lake lansing in action

Sometimes with beautiful views:

lachica lake view

And hanging out with some of your favorite people:

lachica lake lansing team lachica with Angela

Plus, if you’re hanging out with Black Girls RUN! teammates, there’s lots of food:

lachica spread

You can eat All. The. Food.:

lachica brandess and shannon

And you get marathon swag!

lachica marathon swag

But the real reason is the feeling of accomplishment when you get to see so many of the people you’ve trained with for so many months cross the finish line.

lachica team picture

Disclosure: A couple of years ago, I ran a team marathon that wasn’t nearly as enjoyable mostly because we took school buses to each relay exchange zone. It was cold, uncomfortable and I had to wait for hours with a bunch of strangers.

Part of Lake Lansing Team Relay’s charm is that all teams begin and end at the same spot so you can comfortably wait for your teammates, cheer them to the finish line and take lots of pictures.

It’s definitely on my must-do list for next year.

Have you ever done a team marathon? What are some tips for someone considering a team marathon?