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One Tough Mother: My Interview with Wendy Flynn

Recently I celebrated my first substantial blogging milestone with a contest.  I promised my 1,000th visitor an interview, and was truly delighted when I discovered that the lucky prizewinner turned out to be One Tough Mother Runner, Wendy Flynn!

Despite my highly entertaining propensity for witty nicknaming, I can’t take credit for this one.  It’s all Wendy, in every way.  Intrigued?  Good.  That means I’ve done my job.  Without further ado, let me make the introductions. 

(FYI: All red parentheticals, for those of you who get confused by tangents- in which case, I question why you are reading this blog- are my own little interspersed thoughts on what Wendy had to say.  Shout out to the T-Rex Runner, whose excellent blog interviews inspired my own formatting.)

Meet Wendy (and Her Blog)

If you head over to Wendy’s blog– and you should!- you’ll find a wild, winged heart tattooed beside a punchy little slogan draped across her title banner: “Tough runs don’t last.  Tough mothers do.”


It makes quite the first impression.  So naturally I began with the beginning…

Love the slogan: “Tough runs don’t last.  Tough mothers do.”  Tell us about the moment it came together.

I love it, too.  I knew that I wanted to create a great running blog, and I’m a huge fan of motivational quotes and pictures.  There’s one quote that inspired me through difficult times in my life: ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.’ As I was thinking about my blog, this quote came to mind, and I adapted it for my blog.  A dear friend designed my blog site, and she did a wonderful job encouraging me and helping the vision become a reality.  {Clearly I need to make Wendy’s dear friend my dear friend, as well.}

See Wendy Run

Tell us about your first run (as a grown-up, now, no cheating).

I’ve never been a runner until now.  I was more into drama and my social life when I was in school.  My husband trained with USAFit to run a marathon and has been actively running since that time.  He always encouraged me, but I was resistant.  Luckily for me, one of my close friends sent me a message to tell me that she was going to join a running group (coincidentally, USAFit) and she wanted me to join her.  I’m so thankful that she did that.  I would not have done it were it not for her encouragement.


Wendy and her friend who invited her to run a half-marathon

My first run? Oh, I was a hot mess – literally! I didn’t have any appropriate running clothes.  I was very overweight and out of shape. I wore a cotton t-shirt, a pair of capri sweatpants, and the best athletic shoes I had at the time (which had a hole in the big toe!).  {Say what, now??}  It was June 23 in Texas – hot and humid, even though we were running at 6:30 am.  I made it through with a new friend I met through the group and with one of the running coaches.  We walked and ran.  This was a huge surprise to me, by the way, because I thought it was required that you run the entire time. 

I made it through, and I was thrilled that I completed the two-mile run.

The group meeting coincided with the opening of the new running store in our town.  So, we all got coupons to go into the store and shop with a considerable discount.  I went in and talked to one of the young, fit salespeople. I asked him, ‘What do you think is the most important thing for me to buy?  I’m on a very limited budget.’  He looked down at my big toe showing through my shoe, and said, ‘Well, the first thing you need to get is new shoes.’  {Fair assessment.}  I came back the next week with a new pair of shoes and moisture-wicking shirt and capris.  I’ve been running ever since!

How about your favorite race experience?

“My first 5K has to be my favorite race experience.  We had a very sad incident in our community where a widely-known and well-respected constable was shot in the line of duty.  The gunman shot several other bystanders as well.  Our community banded together and put together the ‘OneRun 5K’ to support the families of those who were killed or injured.  So, the cause was a great one to support. {Hear, hear!}  My running group met at the race, and we ran together.  I’m the slowest in the group, and so gradually, the rest of the group went ahead.  My husband was keeping the kids busy somewhere else so I could focus on my race.  What I did not know is that he purchased markers and posterboard to make signs for me.  And they made adorable signs for me.

I did not expect them, but they were standing at the bottom of the last hill of the 5K with their signs cheering for me.  My youngest two ran up the hill to greet me and they all ran the end of the race with me.  My coach also came back for me and ran into the finish with me.  It was a wonderful feeling to have such wonderful support and enthusiasm.


Wendy, with her beautifully supportive family

Me, after hearing that story

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made with your running, and what did you learn from the experience?

I’ve made a few big mistakes in my running. In every case, I’ve learned that I should listen to the conventional wisdom of the running world.

The biggest mistake I ever made was wearing new shoes in my first half-marathon. The new shoes caused my plantar fasciitis to act up, and I had to walk the last 7 miles of the half-marathon.  It was discouraging, but I am happy that I finished the race. 

At another 5K, I did a training run prior to the 5K because our running group was scheduled to run 9 miles on that day.  So I met a running friend at 5:00 am and we ran our 6 miles prior to the 5K.  While running the 6 miles, I started to get sick.  The night before I’d had a rare opportunity for a date with my husband (and no kids!). We went to a favorite Italian restaurant and had a little too much wine and fried appetizers.  I was dreadfully ill but determined to make it through the 6 miles.  I barely made it back to the race to start.  The 5K was even worse, and I hoped to just quietly cross the finish line.  I did not realize, however, that this was a race where your name was called – loudly, over a speaker – when you cross the finish line.  So, there was no quiet finish for me on that day.  {I hope you won’t mind that I chuckled at that, Wendy…Yeah, okay.  I outright laughed.  But I did NOT guffaw.  There are some lines I don’t cross.  (See what I did there??)}  The two lessons from this experience were 1) don’t eat anything different the night before a race and 2) don’t do a training run on race day.

Meet Wendy’s Kiddos

Your children have clearly been inspired by your running, but what do they think of your blog?

Oh my goodness, they love the blog.  They are constantly saying things that they think are funny, and then look at me and say, ‘Mom! Put that on your blog! I’m hilarious!’ {I say the same thing to myself all the time.}  I enjoy including them and showing them how an entrepreneurial small enterprise can work.  It has rubbed off on them as well.  My 11-year-old (who I refer to as the Fashion Queen on the blog) started a very successful gift wrapping business just before Christmas (Rappamania – Rapidly Rapping), and my 9-year-old (aka Miss Sassy Pants) has formed her own running club at her school (they call themselves the “Quicksters”).  {Awesome club name.}  My 6-year-old son is currently trying to create a business for himself.  I suggested “Lego Consultant” but he’s still mulling it over. 

Wendy joins her daughter for a school Turkey Trot

Wendy joins her daughter for a school Turkey Trot

See Wendy Kick It with Samuel L.

Favorite Samuel L. Jackson movie and/or quote? {What do you mean, “random question?”  Check out Wendy’s blog and you’ll understand why I asked.}

I loved his character in Pulp Fiction, which is really unusual because I stay away from graphic and violent movies.  I cringe a little as I say this, but I love how he recited the Bible verse (Ezekiel 25:17)  just before he shot people in that movie.

I don’t usually care for “the ‘B’ word,” but I can’t help it. This cracked me up.

See Wendy Dash My Hopes to the Ground

Can you use your influence to get me onto the Tough Chik 2013 team?

I love Tough Chik – it’s a great group.  It was put together by a woman who is a graduate of Texas A&M (my alma mater).  It’s closed for 2013, but I’m sure you can join for 2014.  {Drat!}  I’m also an Ambassador for Sweat Pink and Girls Gone Sporty.  I like all three because they are like-minded people coming together for a common purpose.   {FYI, friends, Sweat Pink has re-opened to ambassador applications…!}

Where She’s Been and Where She’s Going

Tell us about your freelance work and where we can find it.

I have a few interesting projects on the horizon. 

Let me give a little background here.  I became a stay-at-home mom in March 2012 in a somewhat unexpected turn of events.  My youngest son was experiencing some difficulties and our doctors recommended that the best action would be take him out of preschool and keep him at home with me.  When your family needs you, there is no question that you’ll do what is needed. 

From March through August, my attention was focused solely on taking care of my children and our home.  Once my son started Kindergarten, he only attended half-days.  So, while it was good to have time alone to work on professional projects, it really was not enough time to accomplish a lot. He is now attending full days and is doing much better.  However, returning to work full time is not an option for me at this point due to his needs after school and during the summer. 

Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, I worked for 24 years in higher education, admissions specifically.  For the last 15 years, I directed the admissions office of the MBA Program at Texas A&M. 

So, I’m going to be launching two ventures in the coming month.  One is a freelance writing business.  The other is an MBA Admissions Consulting business.  I’ve done both informally for friends, and now it is time to formalize these and move them forward.  The success I’ve had with my running blog has really pumped me up for these two future ventures.

If your twenty-year-old self could see you now…

Twenty-year-old Wendy would be totally amazed at where I am today.  At 20, I was on a very different path.  Today, I’ve made my own path and I’m thrilled with where I am!

The family that races in costume together...stays together...

The family that races in costume together…stays together…

I want to thank Wendy for taking the time to submit to her fate as my first interviewee.  I enjoyed getting to know more about her and I hope you, did, too.  You can currently find Wendy hosting her January “Planks A Lot” challenge and creating Ryan Gosling bra memes (now those made me guffaw!) on her blog, One Tough Mother Runner.


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19 thoughts on “One Tough Mother: My Interview with Wendy Flynn

  1. Loved Wendy’s story and love the interview format! More please! 🙂

  2. Good interview with a different format from what I’ve seen. Nice work.

    Thanks to you and Wendy I now know what that 13.1 sticker on a car window in the parking lot means. And planks, of course. 😉

  3. Love the post AND Wendy AND the tangents…I can’t get through a complete thought without at least two tangents popping in!

  4. Great format and loved the interview! I’m going to have to check out a fellow Texan’s blog now. Thanks for introducing us to this fabulous mom/runner/writer!

  5. This makes me seriously miss running. Ever since baby T was born I stay home and play and take care the boys. I think this summer I should just run to work it is three miles one way but if I get a little prep time at the gym I should be good. I should start a runners club for people who are beginner runners with kids and Call it “Running Dads” we can arrange stuff for the kids so we can get running time in each week.

    • You must do this. You’ll probably get a good response- and every jogger-stroller pushin’ dad I’ve ever raced against was HARD CORE. Would make a fantastic blog with opportunity for a sizeable twitter following. Seriously. You should do it!!

  6. Thanks so much, my friend, for creating such a great list of interview questions! I’m so glad we’ve had the chance to get to know each other through the #PlanksALot challenge, and through our shared love of social media (and Samuel L. Jackson).

    I’m grateful for the opportunity to be your first interview! I’m confident your blog will flourish and continue to grow!

    T.W. – there’s still time to join the #PlanksALot Challenge! We’re going to bring it into February and add a surprise element! No? (This is a bit of an inside joke, because RunItOffWriter and I have been pestering him to join the challenge!)

  7. Pingback: Momentum | One Tough Mother Runner

  8. Totally enjoyed getting to know Wendy through your post. Awesome job!

  9. Congratulations on your 1,000th visitor! 🙂 What an awesome accomplishment! I’ve been perusing your entire blog, and I’ve got to say, I love your writing style. 😉

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