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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.

Mystery Runner, Will You Be My Friend?

I went for an easy run in the cold yesterday, and plan to talk about it in (minor) detail at some point, but felt this little somethin’ special deserved its own mention.  Like right away.  (Yes, I know it happened yesterday.  I’m a writer.  I don’t miss irony.  I exploit it.)

I got out of my car, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a hot mess of a car parked beside mine.  Gas cap hanging free from a cap door slightly ajar.  Impressive dent in front of the rear passenger wheel.  But I missed all that at first.

I was too busy admiring the perfectly placed pink half-marathon sticker lovingly applied to the rear window.

Instant friendship waiting to happen.

Alas, when I returned from my run the car was gone. *sigh*

Fortunately I’d snapped a pic before I set out, and I was so inspired by the juxtaposition of glory and chaos in my friend-in-waiting’s car that I put this little beauty together for all you runners out there…

half disciplineAnd mystery runner, if you’re out there, give me a shout.

If You Are…

If you are a runner, be thankful for every obstacle, every burning breath, every hill you think will never end. They make you stronger.

If you are a writer, appreciate every slight, every trial, every moment you spend with your face in the dirt. They make the best stories.

If you are a ranter, consider running or writing. You’ll never run out of material, and in the midst of your misery you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been in your life.

Cold Turkey

The mystery of the windshield-darting fowl has been solved.

And not only am I unable to differentiate hawk from owl, but hawk from owl from…..turkey.

Yes, my friends, contrary to all probability and reason, a turkey has made up its mind to sail into my life (and windshield) on a regular basis.  With a chip on its proverbial shoulder (turkeys have no actual shoulders of which to speak).

The encounter was brief, but I got the message.  It went a little something like this:

Okay, we didn’t arm wrestle.  (But I would totally have kicked that turkey’s ass if we had.  Stick legs vs. arms?  Please.  Or it might have scratched my eyes out.  Probably there would have been pecking.  Alright, the turkey totally would’ve kicked my ass.) Read more…

Beauty Borrowed

*Just came across this and felt it was worth a share. Enjoy, my friends!

The First Step from Impossible

Every once in a while youtube offers the world something truly worth watching.  This video just made my week.  It tells the story of Arthur Goorman, a disabled Gulf War paratrooper who decided to draw his own conclusions about what was and was not possible.  If you can watch this footage and not be moved, I suggest you spend a few moments alone and examine yourself to make sure you do, in fact, have a soul.

Building a Writer


Bricks (Photo credit: robynejay)

I have a dear and close friend I’ve named Novella.  She’s like that.  A lesson and a full blown story packed in a punch. I’ve been out of town the past few days supporting her in the biggest contest of her career.  Though hopes and expectations were high and everything looked favorable for her, she unexpectedly fell short.

What followed was a step into devastation. And guilt. A feeling like I’ve been here before. Not exactly, last year was a little different; the scale was smaller and it ended far better, though not as well as it could have. On both occasions I was the go-to gal, the pep talker, the one who’s supposed to have the words.

The words didn’t work. Read more…

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