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June 17, 2010

Tonia rocking her signature socks-and-skirt combo at mile 12 of Bermuda Half Marathon

From scouting numerous mommy-runner blogs, we know a load of you are already fans of Tonia Blanchet, 28, of Glen Allen, Virginia. And for good reason: A working, racing mother of three girls, she gives insight into how to juggle it all.

Best recent run? All my runs are awesome. And exhilarating. And quiet (living with three little girls ages five and under can get wicked loud.) But the best run? The 2010 Marine Corps Historic Half, where I got to pace my husband to his first half marathon finish. Definitely one of my easier efforts, since the hubby is built more like a defensive lineman than a runner, but it was a true test of my mental strength. I had to put my competitive nature aside and do whatever I could to help him cross that finish line. Afterall, it was his race, not mine. And honestly, sharing that experience with him (and holding hands when we crossed the line), was one of the most memorable moments in my running career.

Crazy? Insane? Or simply fanatical? I’m definitely a little crazy to run half marathon after half marathon. But, there is something about that distance that is so attainable, yet completely out of reach. I like that challenge. There is strategy in racing a half, much like a marathon, but with less chance for error. In a 5K or even a 10K, you can race all out. Yes, you might crash and burn, but you won’t be miles and miles from the finish. And in a marathon there is so much time for things (usually out of your control) to go wrong. A half is somewhere in between. For me, two hours is the perfect amount of time to push it to the limit and still walk away smiling.

Your definition of hot socks: Any pair of knee high socks coupled with a running skirt (my signature outfit). Doesn’t get much hotter than that (think Catholic school girl).  I never intended knee high socks to become a staple in my running wardrobe; it happened completely by accident. I was training for the Richmond Marathon last fall and I was concerned that I would be cold in just my running skirt, so I picked up some knee highs for my training partner and myself. I thought they were cute when I put them on, but I never could have guessed the response they would get from spectators along the race course. The cheers and comments about my socks kept me going for those 26.2 miles. Since then, I have completed all of my runs wearing them (including the miles logged on my treadmill). They are my way of standing out in a sea of runners.

Running while pregnant was: when I really started to love running. For most of my life, I was anti-running. But, after the birth of my second daughter, I decided I wanted to run a 10K. So, I did. And I hated it. I longed for each run to end. I was too competitive. I hated that I wasn’t faster. I hated that I wasn’t able to beat my friends. I hated how I trained and trained and didn’t get the results I wanted. But, all that changed when I found out I was pregnant with my third. Instantly, I could run without worrying who I was faster than or hitting another PR. No one expected a pregnant woman to run. And they definitely didn’t expect a pregnant woman to run fast. I started to take pride in the fact I was a runner. A runner who was determined to show people you can be strong and fit and pregnant at the same time. Speed began to matter less to me. Beating my friends lost its importance. I learned to love running for what it is. I began to enjoy the run, not just the satisfaction of finishing. Plus, seeing the looks on people’s faces when I showed up to race (especially at 35 weeks) didn’t suck either.

Hitting 40 [miles/wk] before 30: was a huge accomplishment for me. For a long time, I thought logging 40 miles a week was completely unattainable. Something only serious runners and people without children (or ones with kids in school) could accomplish. I was struggling to fit in 20 miles a week (if I was lucky). I was having success in 5Ks and 10Ks, but coming up short in the longer distances. But that changed when I got certified as a running coach. The instructors suggested I didn’t have the endurance to hold my speed over longer distances and to correct that I needed a bigger base. In that instant, I decided to make building my base a priority. And somehow, I figured out how to fit it all in. Now, I realize whether you want to run a mile or an ultra, you can. You just need to make it a priority in your life.

Pump it, pump it: Or in P90X terms, “Bring it, bring it” (Seriously. That’s their tagline.) I am nine weeks into this 90-day program and have never been stronger, leaner, or more flexible in my life. But it took a lot to get where I am. P90X is extreme. And combining it with a heavy mileage base is tiring. When I first started P90X, I thought I was in great shape. And I was, cardio-wise. But in all other aspects, I was severely lacking. I barely made it through the first week. By the end of the first video, I couldn’t hold my own body weight–I was face planting trying to do push-ups. And it only got worse as time went on. My entire body was sore. Getting dressed was a chore. But I don’t like quitting. I had to see it through. And now, two-thirds of the way through the program, I am thankful I did. Not only has my post-baby body changed for the better, but I feel that I am a more complete athlete.

Indulge me: with cupcakes. Of the gourmet variety. They are why I run. There is a cupcake shop in Richmond called Two Sweet Cupcakes. And I am obsessed with their specialty cupcakes. I ate one after (or before) every long run during marathon training last fall. I would eat them every day if I could. In fact, I am so addicted to them I have a self-imposed limit of 50 cupcakes this year. So far I’ve had 19. Trust me: I will be eating all 50.

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Tonia and her hubby at start of Marine Corps Historica Half in May

21 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 10:22 am

    Tonia was one of my first running blog friends – she’s so sweet!

  2. June 17, 2010 10:55 am

    WOO HOOO!!! You’re awesome Tonia!!! What an awesome way to set the bar very, very, high for us momsof3!

  3. June 17, 2010 11:13 am

    So wonderful!! Tonia is an inspiration to me and to so many other mothers who run!! hip hip hooray for this post!

  4. June 17, 2010 11:19 am

    Go T Go! You rock my socks! Literally! Racing with you is always such a blast and can’t wait to do it again! Rock on girl you’re such an inspiration! love LOVE love!

  5. June 17, 2010 11:25 am

    Tonia is one of my favorite runner bloggers! I look forward to her daily thoughts/life/rant/celebrations! She has a gift with words and is inspirational in that she does fit it all in – and can ususally find humor in any of her crazy situations!
    Congrats Tonia for being recognized as a pretty cool Mother Runner!!

  6. June 17, 2010 11:35 am

    AWESOME!! I follow Tonia’s blog and love to read all about her running and how she juggles it w/being a mom!

  7. beth permalink
    June 17, 2010 11:52 am

    Way to go Tonia! You’re an inspiration! I have been motivated to be more consistent with my workouts and running by seeing your daily mile posts on FB! Congratulations on the post!

  8. Stephanie permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:11 pm

    Tonia is truly an inspiration! I am a new runner and I am proud to know her! Run like a mother!

  9. June 17, 2010 12:12 pm

    HUGE fan of Tonia!! And I am in LUCK because she will be a Tall Mom House Guest the end of September for the You Go Girl Half Marathon. I am PUMPED!!

  10. Rebecca permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:14 pm

    Congrats Tonia! Your blog is always inspiring and entertaining..keep it up!

  11. June 17, 2010 12:26 pm

    WAAAHOO Tonia and RLAM are why I started running again and now actually enjoy it. Not only is she amazing, but she is down to earth and makes every goal seem attainable if you put your mind to it. Definitely follow this mother!

  12. June 17, 2010 12:31 pm

    Tonia is an amazing running mom. She sets an example for busy moms who doubt they can fit it all in. Tonia shows them not only that they CAN but they can and look good doing it too!

  13. Emily permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:38 pm


    EVERYONE loves Tonia!

    Awesome post.

  14. June 17, 2010 12:40 pm

    LOVE her! And super stoked that I get to meet her in September when she comes to Seattle for You Go Girl! Woohoo!

  15. June 17, 2010 1:01 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! Im smack in the middle of P90X myself and feeling a bit like giving up but this really inspired me!

  16. June 17, 2010 2:06 pm

    Love it! Great article. Tonia is an awesome mommy runner and so much fun.

  17. June 17, 2010 3:02 pm

    Loved reading this. Can’t wait to race, I mean RUN with you in September at YOU GO GIRL! Just an FYI I there is a cupcake place down the street from the finish line.

    Thanks for sharing all of that. I had no idea that you felt that way about running in the beggining and now look where you are. Great job and you are a total inspiration.

  18. Rene Whiteley permalink
    June 17, 2010 3:31 pm

    Love Tonia! She is so inspiring and even inspired me to go after the coaching certification. She is truly a great running mom to follow!

  19. June 17, 2010 8:05 pm

    Tonia is my running mentor. She is definitely one of my favorite blogging mamas, running mamas, inspirational mamas. Pretty much one of my favorite mamas overall! AND I am so lucky to be able to call her “Coach T”.

    Congrats, Coach! This is so AWESOME! Keep kicking tail and taking names!

  20. June 18, 2010 4:44 am

    Yay for Tonia! Great article!

  21. June 18, 2010 5:59 am

    Tonia and her blog rocks!

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