the hardest route I ever ran, plus a savory cake

No pictures of the sunrise for you today, but I do have a story.

It’s called The Hardest Run I Ever Ran, and it takes place on this small hill in my hometown of Brentwood, Tennessee.Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 5.59.25 AM

Even though I have run some pretty tough marathons over the past few years, I still think that the hardest route I ever conquered was this two-mile loop around my house in Brentwood. At the age of 17, I had just started running. At first, I had to walk up the hill pictured above… and was sore for days! I was not a good runner, nobody was cheering for me, I wasn’t training for anything, and I had to run from the neighbors’ dogs. Motivation was low, results were low, and the elevation climb was high.

But I had a goal to finish the two-mile course, and kept chugging along on sore legs to get there, day after day.

I’ll never forget the determination required during each step (literally!) of the first years of my running “career.” It doesn’t matter whether you are a two-miler, a marathoner, or an ultra-marathoner: running is hard, no  matter what your goals are.

Oh, and that hill? By the end of my first summer of running, I could 100% run it: twice. 🙂

If that didn’t get your brain buzzing, here is A LOT of food for thought. First, the famous chili:_DSC0700-001What is chili without its cheese? Not chili in my opinion._DSC0704-001Then, a new recipe! I have been all about NPR’s food articles lately and attempted a savory “cake.” RECIPE._DSC0693It’s stuffed with veggies and made with chickpea flour for an extra nutritional punch! I added red peppers and mushrooms for even more fun._DSC0696Served with the recommended sautéed white beans and spinach combo, which was excellent. _DSC0707Anthony and I were completely shocked how simple yet delicious this was! I was skeptical of the short ingredients list, but it totally worked._DSC0711Keep conquering those routes… and try a new recipe!

  • What was it like when you first started running?
  • A new recipe you tried lately?
  • Where is your hometown?

Of interest:

Anthony Lambkin of Arlington tore through his heat to finish second in 5:11.49. The race itself was straightforward compared to his usual conditioning — touch rugby (it’s apparently very popular in the D.C. area). The Australian native got into running three years ago thanks to his fiancé, Mary Doman. He has since run a marathon, a half and a smattering of 5ks. “I don’t feel great now that the race is over, but I enjoyed it,” he said. “That last lap hurt.” Doman didn’t have that problem, cruising through her heat to win in 6:12.03. “I didn’t run in the right heat, but I really didn’t feel like coming in last today,” she said. “That’s no fun.”



  1. Sophie @ life's philosophie

    savory cake?? wow. Is it anything like a quiche?? regardless it looks delicious! I think conquering hills are the defining moment for a runner. I remember a huge hill on a golf course near my college that I would struggle majorly on. I would always have to stop at the top and take some time to catch my breath. Eventually I got to the point where I would just continue on as soon as I reached the top. Pure victory in my mind.

  2. Thanks for sharing your inspiring words, Mary, and your beautiful pictures. Your posts have been showing up on my facebook feed and I started reading them just as I started trying to run religiously. They help me convince myself that running can be fun and this one was just what I needed this morning!

  3. I love this! Its a good reminder that we all started somewhere. I began running when I was 18 and my goal was to run a mile, without walking. It took me a few weeks, but I did it! My hometown is on the coast of NC, which has all of 2 traffic lights. Haha, nice quote! 🙂

  4. This story just brought back so many memories!! My neighborhood growing up was a big circle and it was .7 miles. Running around it once was the death of me. I would give myself the biggest high five if I was able to chug around it 2x. I actually just google mapped my old house and did a street view around the neighborhood. Thanks for the jog down memory lane : )

  5. Runner Girl Eats

    I was convinced I had a mystery illness that made it impossible for me to run when I first started. I thought there is no way this could be so hard for a healthy 20 something year old. The first time I ran a mile I thought I had conquered the world lol

  6. That cake looks incredible. A definite “must try” recipe!

    I remember when I first started running I used to beat myself up over how slow I was going. Then after a little while I noticed I could run a little faster for longer periods of time and that was a HUGE feeling of accomplishment! I sometimes am still amazed at my ability to run X number of miles. I never would have thought it was possible a few years ago.

  7. hahaha i love your shoutout in the article!! Especially your last quote.
    I started running in high school to get in shape to march the Rosebowl Parade with my marching band–7 miles with a trombone! My first “learn-to-run” course was also 2 miles and 100% flat, but I also thought it was the hardest thing in the world. Props to your hill determination!

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