the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Halloween 2011

Wow. That wasn’t as awful as I had anticipated! I keep telling you guys that low expectations are the key to happiness, because either way you win: something turns out better than you thought it would, then what a pleasant surprise! Something turns out just as bad as you knew it would? YOU WERE RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME.

Why am I not giving seminars? You’re Not Happy Because You’re Doing It Wrong.

I think I was dreading Halloween this year because I knew it was going to fall just a few days before I have to leave for New York and that 26.2 mile race I’m supposed to run. Do you know how much space the idea of 26.2 miles takes up in your brain? It’s like someone shoving all 32 feet of your small intestine inside your skull and then they pull out a gun, hold it to your head and demand that you solve a differential equation.

Here’s the thing I discovered when I ran on the treadmill Sunday morning. I set my pace for a 10-minute mile, and five minutes into the run I looked over at the turtle on the treadmill next to me and he was rolling his eyes.

But a 10-minute mile is a pretty safe pace for someone who will have gone from zero to marathon in two months. So I continued at that pace just to be careful with my ankle until the last five minutes when I wanted to experiment. I kept pressing the up arrow to increase my speed and realized that when I ran that half marathon in Moab I was maintaing a sub-8-minute mile until the injury hit me at mile nine. Way too fast, way too soon. You know who I blame? RIHANNA.

Hear me out. I promise I’m not high.

I was trucking, feeling like a giant passing whole city blocks in one step, and I didn’t know there was a void in my life that running was filling. But out there in the desert I watched that black hole disappear. I was still feeling that exuberance when I hit the beginning of the eternal incline, one so steep that it started stealing my energy like some giant gash in the fuel tank. I walked, I jogged, I walked… and then when I could see the end of the hill several hundred yards ahead this song came on my iPod:

(Warning, the video is not particularly safe for work or young children or anyone feeling bad about the state of their ass.)

JOLT! How can you walk while listening to this song? (Let’s be honest, there are only two things you should be doing when listening to this song, and only one of them is legal. Both make a total mess of a hotel room, if you know what I’m saying.) An adrenaline rush hit me like a brick to the back of the head, and I just took off up that hill. Way too fast, way too soon. Because at the top of that hill I came down on my right foot and my ankle was like, GIRL? YOU BE ILLIN.

This song came on at the gym today while I was lifting weights with my trainer, and I told her this story. She asked me if I was going to send Rihanna a letter, and I was like, RIGHT. Dear Rihanna, Your song is so inspirational that it made me run faster than I was supposed to. UNFOLLOW.

You’re tired of hearing me go on and on about running, I know. It will be over in less than a week, you guys. So why don’t I just get on with it already:

I tell you WHUT. There is nothing cowardly about this lion.

The End.
Did I forget something? Let me check… No, that pretty much covers it.
Why are you looking at me like that?
STOP. You’re starting to freak me out.
Oh, for crying out loud.

(For your reference.)

  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/11/01 at 2:46 pm

    The kids are adorable. Congrats on running. Sorry about that awful, mean Rihanna.

    I would type a better comment, but I just wet myself from laughing at the picture of Chuck. Must change.

  • Anu

    2011/11/01 at 2:52 pm

    Hell yeah!! No post on Halloween is complete without Chuck. Awesome!

  • BuenoBabyGirl

    2011/11/01 at 2:55 pm


  • laurenr

    2011/11/01 at 2:58 pm

    King size bars. Yesssss.

  • ScooterMarie

    2011/11/01 at 2:59 pm

    Oh my god, those costumes are AWESOME!! Chuck included.

  • harugirlie

    2011/11/01 at 3:00 pm

    LOVE IT! Especially Chuck!

  • EJoyner105

    2011/11/01 at 3:05 pm

    If I lived near you…and I live nowhere remotely close to Utah…I would have totally trick-or-treated at your house last night. You give out excellent candy.

  • Trish Wise

    2011/11/01 at 3:15 pm

    I would totally take a cab with Chuck, anywhere, anytime. Heck, you could throw in the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy and Toto too. What a great family!! Love you guys!

  • jenonearth

    2011/11/01 at 3:16 pm

    You never know, Rhianna seems pretty nice on twitter. I find that song fairly inspiring as well there is something that goes straight to the gut about it.

    The kids look adorable and Chuck is the master.

  • slappyintheface

    2011/11/01 at 3:23 pm

    I am so dressing up my daughters’ gerbils for Halloween next year!

  • erin

    2011/11/01 at 3:28 pm

    Leta, Marlo, and Coco are adorable. Chuck just made my entire day.

  • kristanhoffman

    2011/11/01 at 3:29 pm

    HO. LEE. SHIT. I haven’t even read the post yet, b/c I had to comment on the AMAZING CUTE AWESOME HAPPINESS that is those costumes. Leta, Marlo and Coco FTW!

  • Sarah McDougall

    2011/11/01 at 3:42 pm

    Hello?!? What about, “It’s T-Shirt Time!” Oh how I love Chuck.

  • pehuff

    2011/11/01 at 3:43 pm

    The girls are adorable and that’s hands-down the best dog costume ever. EVAH

  • tokenblogger

    2011/11/01 at 3:47 pm

    Okay, how is it that the dress is too big, but the ruby slippers are too small?

    AND! I remembered my password on the first try!

  • Kelly_09

    2011/11/01 at 4:49 pm

    Awesome costumes on everybody! I’d have no problem getting in a cab with chuck

  • UpperBottom

    2011/11/01 at 5:03 pm

    ok i have to ask, what is wrong with leta’s shoes/slippers? did she actually wear those out? they look like socks that are 3 sizes too small.

  • mybottlesup

    2011/11/01 at 5:36 pm

    lady, this post really REALLY made me smile for you.

  • green eggs and spam

    2011/11/01 at 5:36 pm

    That doesn’t look like a slipper or sock( ^ ) to me…

    Sorry Heather very inappropriate of me to say. Just took me a minute to be like “oh, ruby slippers got it”

  • lori.ann.mcvay

    2011/11/01 at 5:45 pm

    OK. I love that song – mostly because the video was filmed just up the street from where my hubby and I lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland for 2 years!

  • The Prima Momma

    2011/11/01 at 6:18 pm

    Yes! Yes! A thousand times YES! You have once again made my day. Chuck can even make the Jersey Shore palatable.

  • edenland

    2011/11/01 at 7:25 pm

    God how I adore Bobo’s tooth.

  • MelissaJ

    2011/11/01 at 8:10 pm

    oh this is what i have been waiting for; just don’t be upset i wasn’t waiting to see Chuck. Those two girls are the cutest! Leta is amazing as Dorothy and the cowardly lion, well i would take her home with me (and then return her i am sure in no time).


    good luck on your marathon this weekend.

  • ladylozreena

    2011/11/02 at 5:59 am

    Is Leta wearing one shoe back to front!?!?

  • Laura Jones

    2011/11/02 at 7:14 am


  • beritron

    2011/11/02 at 7:40 am

    A 10-min mile is totally respectable. I’ve been running for most of my life and figured out early on that I best enjoy it when I don’t expect too much from myself. (Which I can continue to do in other parts of my life.) I push myself when my mind or body asks for it, otherwise? It’s always invigorating & mind-clearing to simply get my blood pumping. Sometimes I finish races at the 8-min-mile pace, other times at 10, depending on how/if I trained and how I’m feeling. I’m OK with both. Figure out how *you* (& your body) can enjoy it, right now. Every body, year, run is different.

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2011/11/02 at 8:24 am

    Love it! Love the whole thing. Too much love to be witty. Sorry.

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    2011/11/02 at 8:34 am

    maybe this happened to you. before falling asleep last night, i lamented my choice of hand-out candy (the 150-count of snickers, kit kats, m&ms) thinking: EVERYONE gives out the same thing. why didn’t i get chuckles or something DIFFERENT??

    thank god today’s a new day.

  • Kora

    2011/11/02 at 8:41 am

    Coldplay has already covered Rihannas song, good, but doesn’t really stimulate you to run an eight minute mile.

  • CO

    2011/11/02 at 9:04 am

    Duuuude! Thank you! My lord, that Marlo is a ham! Love it!

  • doocelurker

    2011/11/02 at 9:10 am

    Love the kiddos! Honestly though, I think Coco looking dejected in the basket is almost the best part. It’s the saddest Toto I’ve ever seen. She looks like you are holding something she loves hostage just off camera.

  • montana mommy

    2011/11/02 at 10:17 am

    you were running a sub 8-minute mile for your first half marathon??!! i’m impressed! and a 10-minute mile for your first marathon is as equally impressive. if you are looking for speed try some 10ks and 5ks to get going. good luck, i’ll be tracking you this weekend!

  • dragonfish

    2011/11/02 at 11:52 am

    you have made some stunningly beautiful children.
    i’m so glad leta looks happy to pose for photos for the internets. there is no doubt in my mind how very special these creatures of yours are.
    chuck blew my mind.
    have a GREAT race weekend, no matter what. be KIND to yourself, and have FUN.
    armstrong family F.T.W.!

  • poopinginpeace

    2011/11/02 at 12:04 pm

    What you were talking about at the beginning of this post, is what is known to us in my circle of friends as the “Beth Dodd theory”. We’ve been saying it for years. You expect things to go badly or not the way you want and that way if it is better then what you expected “oh what a nice surprise!” It really helps to make you feel less miserable about your life. So go ahead and just figure the marathon isn’t going to happen, because then when it does, oh what a nice surprise!

  • amost

    2011/11/02 at 12:05 pm

    This post made my day. My week. You’re such a great family, with such a great sense of humor!

  • kheenan.halvorson

    2011/11/02 at 12:15 pm

    Not that you need more advice for this marathon but definitely picking out music with a steady tempo instead of that song playing on repeat is a good idea. My first half marathon the music i listened to was like techno and it pushed me for the first 7 miles and then all of a sudden i lost it. I slowed down and had to actually walk two miles. i hated it. After i took some time to analyze what went wrong i went into my playlist and found my issues there. Now i cant make excuses cause i trained for a while. But that half took a lout of me physically and emotionally. The songs took over as i was just concentrating on running. Either way i would definitely keep it smooth for a while then at the end of your FULL MARATHON i would kick it up just a little bit. I will be tracking you as the race goes on to see how you are doing and cheer you on. I am sending all my positive energy from wisconsin to you.

  • ladygray

    2011/11/02 at 2:18 pm

    BWAHAHAHAHAHHAAA! Cannot. Handle. Chuck.


  • ochampion

    2011/11/02 at 2:22 pm

    ADORABLE costumes!

    I sure hope you don’t stop writing about running! I just completed my first marathon this past weekend – the Marine Corps Marathon (ya know – the one that Oprah ran). Aaaannnnddd – I beat her time!

    I’ve been a follower of your blog for sooo long – and then when you took on the NYC marathon in the midst of my marathon training I was ecstatic and have so enjoyed following your progress. Even the bang-ups you’ve had because it reminds me that we all have bang ups and hang ups. So anyway – I hope you continue to write about your love of running.

    And you should check out this interesting article from yesterday’s WSJ about training injuries:
    I feel like it speaks to all of us runners!


  • crikkett

    2011/11/02 at 4:52 pm

    Yes, please, please pace yourself. I made the mistake in a half this summer of just going balls to the wall because I felt good. I ran a 7:40 pace until mile 10… and I just crumpled. My body couldn’t take it. I ended up walk/jogging to the finish.

    The last time I ran a full (2 years ago), I made a promise to myself to stick with a 9:00 min/mile pace, and it turned out very well, comfortable with no crash. Save the record-breaking for 5Ks and 10Ks.

    Also, about women and running, I read this yesterday and I just love the hell out of this woman. I had no idea that women faced so many hurdles in getting to compete in road races in the relatively recent past. It made me want to go out and run just because I COULD.

  • katiecarman

    2011/11/03 at 8:16 am

    I live right off 1st Ave on 72nd Street, and will be cheering you on (you’re the only person I know crazy enough to actually do the marathon!) Also happy to let you use our bathroom or facilities mid-marathon if need be!

    I’ll be holding some ridiculous sign like “Heather B. LEGstrong!”

    …Ok, I promise to come up with a better sign!

  • PlanetA

    2011/11/03 at 9:19 am

    Honey, you should stop apologizing for writing about your running journey! You’re working hard and for a good cause. I’m inspired by and proud of you! and an 8 minute mile?!!! Impressive.

  • Lesparker

    2011/11/03 at 10:07 am

    Laughing so hard…Chuck’s expression in the second-to-last picture is priceless. Thanks for posting

  • Palola

    2011/11/04 at 1:13 pm

    Your kids are beyond adorable. That last pic of Marlo going for the candy is absolutely priceless! And Chuck, OMG! I can’t stop laughing. You lady are a genius!

  • kma2girls

    2011/11/06 at 9:03 am

    Oh my! They are all so cute! Chuck is like the best effing dog…EVER!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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