Here’s to 2 years and another half marathon in the books


Two years ago today, I wrote my first blog post. It was on running a half marathon in my hometown. It was my third half marathon. Writing about the experience and it’s reflection on my past was a great way to start blogging, something I had been contemplating for at least a year by that point. You see, my zeal to run was borne from following the musings of others who felt similarly challenged with regards to their personal wellness.

And so, Hot Heels, Cool Kicks, & a Scalpel came to be. It’s a blog about what a traumamama does to get through the days and still be whole–a whole surgeon to her patients and their families, a whole researcher to the university and funding agencies, a whole teacher to her trainees and students, a whole peer to her colleagues, a whole friend, a whole sibling, a whole daughter, a whole spouse, a whole parent, a whole person who takes care of herself.

I was lucky to have hoodwinked my fabulously witty and sarcastic fellow traumamama @surgeoninkicks into this whole blogging thing soon after this first post. Our original connection was that we were both trying to make running part of our lives at a time when life and work was overwhelming and causing us to neglect ourselves. I had no idea how compelling her writing would be but I knew I needed to do this with her lacking the time to keep the content flowing on my own. Working on the blog together (it’s our form of joint therapy) has help our friendship grow in ways that I don’t think either of us imagined and we have also run together on many an occasion since then.

Finding time to run is still the hardest thing I do and running is my biggest physical challenge. Since my first real run without stopping at a whopping 15min/mi pace in August 2011, I have logged just about 1100 outdoor miles (and very few on treadmills). But I consistently run at an 11-11:45 pace these days (depending on hills and whether or not I have done a recent barre class!) and have finished 4 half marathons and a Ragnar Relay just this past year alone. Four days ago I ran that same hometown half marathon again. It was my third time. I posted this photo at the corrals with the caption “Suck it high school self-esteem issues.” It was a hit with my Facebook friends. (PS. if you hit Old Navy’s clearance rack in the summer you will have lots of $5 throw away fleece that comes in handy when the temperature at the start line is 29F)

With the 2 year anniversary of this blog, I want to say a continued suck it to self-neglect and thank you for continuing to read the random, somewhat disjointed, musings of two traumamamas who engage daily in the push and pull between their families, their patients, and their own well-being (fueled through food, fashion, fitness, humor, and sentimentality). Together we have written 195 blogs that have been viewed more than 1.2 million times and we now have 787 followers.

I hope you will continue to read, and subscribe, and share and I will continue trying to run as much as a I can.


Assigning Blame for My Crappy Summer Run

Remember my summer goal? I haven’t exactly kept up. During a recent summer run I did, however, manage to assign a lot of blame.

1) The humidity

Running through soup is the worst. I almost died a little while back running in Park City; but honestly, I much prefer the cardiovascular agony of that experience to the feeling of swimming through hot, thick fluid while pounding the pavement. I would like the only tackiness on my skin during and post-run to be my very own sweat and not the atmosphere building up on my pores. Gross! Humidity ruins running for me.

2) My thighs

I know the blogosphere is rich with those who argue that thigh gap is an unnatural and unreasonable body goal. But when it’s hot and humid (see #1 above) running capris or layering shorts over compression garments is really not feasible due to the substantial overheating they cause. However, the absence of thigh gap in running shorts results in a burning from chafe that escalates throughout the run. And the thought of the tackiness of body glide to prevent it in the soup (see #1, again!)….ugh I can’t even imagine despite the fact that rubbing thighs make for a less than awesome run.

3) That barre class that I took

Speaking of thigh gap (see #2 above), the effort to make the hammies and the quads along with the sartorius, tensor fascia lata, and gracilis (that’s right these baby muscles I didn’t even know could hurt until I started barre) lean, long, and strong might eventually abate the kissing inner thighs. But, in current practice, running too soon after a barre class leads to quite of bit of muscular agony with each step. Don’t get me wrong, the muscle strengthening I have gained from barre has made me a better and stronger runner (and led to a wider set of summer beach wear options) but, ouch!, the soreness does distract from being able to enjoy the run.

4) The sun

Typically it’s bright sunshine that lures me out to run. I have dark skin. I don’t burn. But on a sunny summer day the sun is my enemy (perhaps not as much the humidity but still). Constantly looking up for a cloud, or tree, or building to cast a shadow and alleviate the fire raging in your skin definitely ruins a run.

5) My hate of mornings

I know I could have avoided some of this bitterness at the weather ruining my run had a simply gotten out there before the sun (see #4 above) became such a foe, lingering mid-sky cockily, an while the refreshing dew was still cooling the early dawn air.  But I suck at mornings and, despite my best efforts, runs after 7am are easier for me than runs before 7am. This time of year, though, the conditions are oppressive soon after 7 and I spend my run cursing myself for having slept in. Calling yourself bad names makes you feel like less of a badass runner.


6) My running partner

My husband is my go to running partner. Typically he keeps up with me or I keep up with him; we make a good pair with our matched 29 inch inseams. But evidently the humidity is less of a battle for him. He runs ahead of me and then waits, patiently, for me to catch up. This waiting part seems so smug to me. Maybe it’s just the humidity getting into my head but a this moment I want to both stop running immediately and divorce him and thinking about divorce tends to take away from the joy of running with your life mate.


On Spring Running and 3 Races in 30 Days

The first day of summer has finally arrived. I am making plans to stay fit for the coming months so that I can head into fall half marathon season both motivated and rested. 

You see, after a long, hard winter it ended up being a glorious spring for this aspiring runner.

Between Christmas Day and April 4th I never stepped foot outside in my running gear near my home base. A total of 120 inches of snow had accumulated out side my front door. The roads were too narrowed by eyeball height piles of white fluff that lingered into the early days of April. Thankfully, a few work trips to Vegas, Chicago, and Orlando allowed me to squeeze in 7 short runs. That was it. I ran the Disney half on January 10th and only ran seven more times during the rest of Jan, Feb, and Mar. 

It was a long, hard winter.

When the roads and sidewalks finally emerged in early April the pressure was on. I had signed up for a Ragnar Relay months before and it was less than 5 weeks away. I didn’t feel pressure to train for distances (my 3 relay legs were supposed to range in distance from 3.2 miles to 7.6 miles and I was confident that my untrained body could pull that off based on past experience) but I did feel urgency to become comfortable running in the dark (something that I had tried once and it had freaked me out) and running on little or no sleep (I had previously never run post call; it turns out that the post-call runs are perfect for Ragnar training).

And so it began. Random runs of random distances at random hours. #RagnarPrep

Meanwhile, there was Ironhorse half marathon on the horizon. The event that had become an annual tradition for me and my best friend from residency. She moved just two hours south of me and a really lovely half course was just an hour between each of us in Simsbury CT; and, it did not occur on a prime weekend thus making it easy for me to get the time off to run. In years past, we (I run with my husband too) had loosely adhered to a 8-10 week half training plan on the Runner’s World app. Loosely because until recently getting my act together to get in the weekday runs was impossible; it would have required waking up sufficiently early enough to actually run. (Thankfully, I have pretty much turned that around with my detox.) This year, we had to get through Ragnar before before we could wrap our heads around training for a half.

And then the May call schedule came out. I cannot remember the last time since graduating medical school 15 years ago that I had all 3 days of the Memorial Day long weekend off. Since my first half a few years ago (the half that started this blog and the half which I did on a crazy whim with just 3 weeks to go having never run more than 6 miles in a row), I was always envious of my running friends who ran the Boston Run to Remember that weekend. I never could. I was either on call, pre-call (and thus needed to be available as back-up), or post-call (there’s no way to get to a 7am gun let alone run 13.1 miles after being up all night). So, when the May schedule gave me the gift of the weekend off, I was delirious to find out that the race was not sold out.

And there it was. My 30 Day Race Plan. From May 8th, the day the vans pulled up for Ragnar, to June 7th I ran an overnight relay with 3 legs that ended up ranging from 3.2 to 9.0 and two half marathons–one urban with a huge field with thousands of runners and the other through the Connecticut countryside along with just over 1500 other runners. 
And now my plan for the summer. 

I am in no hurry to pack in the miles. I am ready for a break from distances for a few weeks but I do want to keep up the running momentum. This is something I have struggled to do in the past with our humid summers. But I am a different person now, capable of getting in run in the wee hours before it warms up if needed. I have trained my body to do distances on very little prep. Now, I want to get a little faster (and hopefully drop the 7lbs I gained during the sedentary winter–one craves comfort food when snowed in and please don’t ask about the high quality cardio equipment I house in my basement gym). 

My goal is to run 3 miles 3 times a week no matter what. There are lots of hills in my area. Though I managed to run my first leg of 3.2 miles at Ragnar at a 9:59 pace running a 10 min/mile has never been within my capacity. I hope to turn that around too by the end of the summer. While running for has never been about speed for me, I do feel that I will be much more consistent getting in quick running workouts in the future if in can do three miles in 30 minutes. Along with the weekly running goal, I also plan to hit my local studio for Pilates, Barre, Zumba, or HIIT at least three times per week for additional strength building, core work, toning, and cardio (with different muscle groups than running) that will all make me a better runner. 

I am honestly relieved not to have a high pressure race goal this summer. Instead of focusing on a date and location I am focusing on myself and looking forward to a fun running summer which will leave me well rested but fit and energized for a couple of fall half marathons that I am eying depending on the call schedule. 

Happy Summer Solstice running friends. 

Reasons I Loved Ragnar


It’s been a busy week back to work after Ragnar Cape Cod so I have been a bit delayed in my promised glut of #Bragnar posts. Find a recap of my actual legs here. More than a week after Ragnar Eve, I am still giddy from what a great experience I had. Here’s why.

1) The views

I haven’t run any other Ragnar Relay races before but this particular one came with some killer views.

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2) Letting out your inner kid out

Evidently it’s a thing to decorate vans for the race. Doing this as an adult tends to make one giddy.

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3) Speaking of acting like a kid

Again, sticking magnets on vans is a bit of silliness that we tend not to manifest in our grown-up lives and some of the team names were hysterical.

magnet2 magnet1

4) The crazy night gear

Overnight runs call for gear that will make you stand out in the dark and I love things that sparkle and glow!

nightgear1 nightgear2nightgear3

5) The other crazy gear

Typical road races have water stations ever couple of miles or offer little other the backs (if you’re as slow as me) of other runs to view but we supplied our own water and got to take a movie over the Bourne Bridge.

watergear3 watergear1 watergear2

6) People acting crazy

Let’s face it, being up all night in a hot sweaty van in between running a lot will lead to some insanity. Who doesn’t love some insane behavior among friends. (Okay, it was mostly just this one chick who was crazy but I love her!)


7) The cheering

I loved people rooting for me and I love rooting for them.

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8) Sharing the starts and the finishes

In most races, you run from start to finish but in a relay you get to hand off to your buddies at each exchange and this camaraderie is special.


9) The friendships

Even if you find yourself in a van full of strangers, it doesn’t take long to get to know each other really, really well.

sleeping friends

10) The Swagnar

You get cool Ragnar stuff to commemorate your effort.

swagnar2 swagnar1swagnartatoo

Ragnar 2015 Recap: My Runs Along Cape Cod


IMG_3631Before I go onto to multiple posts about the bonding and the beast mode and the best trail mix ever, I will simply recap my role in this relay race with all the bells and whistles of my Nike Running App, Fitbit Charge HR, and Ragnar materials along with a fashion play by play brought to you by my obsession with Athleta.

IMG_3641For those who don’t know, the Ragnar Relay Series is a series of overnight relay races in cool places across the country where teams of 6-12 runners run various legs from one point to another covering about 200 miles in about 2 days. Historically, the non-running teammates follow along in a rented van that also doubles as a hotel room for most teams. With a few half marathons under my belt since I ran for the first time in 2011 (2 miles at 14+min/mile), I thought it was time to mix it up. So when a Facebook friend asked for a couple of more teammates for her Ragnar Cape Cod Relay team I was intrigued and felt up to the challenge.

My husband and I essentially joined a team of strangers, hence our not-so-original team name “Never Get in a Van with Strangers,” nicknamed #StrangersInAVan for race weekend social media shenanigans.

We all met for the first time about about three months before race weekend. We picked our legs based on known abilities and desire. With a 12 person team, we were each destined to run 3 legs each. I was in van#2, runner#9. I was scheduled to run a 3.2 mile easy run, a 5.6 mile hard run, and a 7.3 mile very hard run. I was concerned by the incremental increase in difficulty as time passed but the ninth spot was a good fit for me with other spots being better for others in my van.

Strangers In a Van: Van#2

Strangers In a Van: Van#2

A few days prior to race weekend, my final leg was increased to 9 miles. Ugh. With just 7 on the docket, I hadn’t run more than 6 miles since the Disney Half Marathon in January. But, it was what it was and I was in. All in. And so it began. My first ever relay race.

On race weekend, van#1 started in Hull, MA at 7am. Using the Race Pace Calculator, we needed to arrive at the first major exchange at Duxbury Beach by 10:30. My first leg began in Plymouth MA. Here’s how it went.

IMG_3644IMG_3635IMG_3638 Leg9outfitLeg9

I ran in my Athleta Be Free Knickers and a mesh run top from last season. As with all the runs to follow I ran in my Newton Fates, RoadID sneaker pouch, Asics Kayano running socks, Under Armour Braided head band (discontinued as far as I can tell), Shock Absorber run bra and Nike sweat band (really any sweat band will do). Since it was daylight I also work my Nike Running sunglasses (Nordstrom Rack purchase from ages ago-but they never slip or fog and haven’t been damaged in multiple trips). It was warm inland where I started so I did not wear a jacket (I had brought along 3 Athleta running jackets for contingencies) and unfortunately this ended up being a really chilly run for me as I approached the ocean. I never warmed up and I think the cold made me run faster than I every have before for this quick run which sadly had little in the way of a view but had plenty of horse poo to assault the senses along the way.

After van#2’s first round of runs, we stopped for dinner and a quick rest before our overnight runs began. I curled up in the fetal position resting my head on my husband’s shoulder as he leaned against the window. In this gloriously comfortable position I got about 45 minutes of restless sleep. Then we were off to van#2’s second round of runs. Mine began in Yarmouth MA. Here’s how it went.

IMG_3643 IMG_3636IMG_3639Leg21outfitLeg21

This was my overnight run. I have run in the dark before to prep for Ragnar but never truly in the middle of the night. The light and reflective gear made it impossible to garner an action shot but I ran in my Athleta Be Free tights and Stripe reflective, waterproof running jacket. The mist was heavy that night and it kept me dry. My Amphipod Xinglet reflective harness, Petzl Tikka+ headlamp, and Nathan strobe light met Ragnar code and totally did the job during a really, really, dark run. About a mile in a lovely young woman named Lindsay came up beside me. “I hope you don’t mind me shadowing you?” she asked. “I am really nervous in the dark.” I didn’t mind at all and we ran the remaining 4+ miles nearly side by side. It was reassuring when there were animal sounds by the roadside. I will say, though, that this stretch of run had one of the most generous side walks ever and that was appreciated.

When our second round of runs were over the sun was rising. We were at a critical decision point. We were close enough (an hour round trip) to our overnight cottage rental in Truro to refresh with a proper shower or we could try to catch 2-3 hours of sleep at our next exchange point in Eastham MA. As a trauma surgeon who often must function at a high level of performance for 36-40 hours in a row, I know that a shower is equal to at least 4 hours of sleep so I chose the shower. We all met up again at the exchange point in Eastham as van#2 began its final set of runs with my personal anchor run to begin in Wellfleet MA. Here’s how it went.

IMG_3642 IMG_3637 IMG_3640Leg33outfitleg33

This was my unexpectedly long run. It was hot. The elevation was a bitch. I was on just 45 min of sleep but at least I was clean when I took off in my Athleta Maze Be Free knicker  and Forerunner Tee (discontinued as far as I can tell). I wore my Brooks ventilated running cap (a TJ Maxx purchase from long ago) over my Under Armour headband to keep my head cool. I was a mess after this run. It was long, hot, and uphill. I was lucky that the van could stop at multiple points along the way to give me water and cheer me on.

As you can glean by the stats on my distance, pace, and heart rate, things got harder for me as time, distance, and elevation simultaneously increased. My heart was clearly working hard, at points clocking in at 170 bpm. You will also see that the Nike Running App running on my phone’s GPS, the Fitbit Charge HR app running on an accelerometer on my wrist, and the Ragnar maps are pretty good fidelity for a novice leisure athlete like myself in terms of mileage and route for each of my Ragnar legs. In the end, despite the challenges, I felt like a beast when it was all over and I know my teammates did too.


Brace yourself for #Bragnar


As many of you may have gleaned I participated in the Ragnar Cape Cod Relay Race this past weekend. I had hoped to blog about it in real time with play by play blog posts but the vagaries of cell reception along the Cape and the gradual onset of exhaustion got in the way. Nevertheless, I have so many thoughts to share about what was arguably one of the best weekends of my life so prepare yourself for some #Bragnar reflecting on the race and so much more from friendship to fitness to fashion to a kick ass trail mix recipe.