TGIF: What Training for a Half-Marathon is Teaching me about Writing


On instant coffee, Big Hairy Audacious Goals and Japanese wisdom.

It’s 3:56am.

I know so, because the stove and microwave flash emerald green digital reminders. The kitchen appliances are in agreement that this is an ungodly hour for me to be up writing.

My mind may be playing tricks on me but I swear I saw an exclamation mark at the end of the time. 3:56a.m.! It blinked.

I smile.

I set my coffee cup quietly on the counter and fill it with equal parts water and 2% milk. I punch ‘1:35’ into the microwave. It’s the magic number in this delicate equation. Ten seconds too long and the bubbling milk boils over. Ten seconds too few and the coffee doesn’t blend right.

Yes, coffee. I’m making a cup of Nescafé instant coffee. Don’t hate. I grew up on the stuff.

Preparing this caffeine concoction is the first step in my writing process. For me this ritual of making the coffee, is the writing equivalent of stretching before a run.

As the cup spins clockwise on the glass turntable of the microwave, my mind starts to wander.

Push down, then turn.

Writing these Friday posts are a complicated affair. I have to pry open the safety seal of my heart. Push down, then turn. It’s like stepping into a confessional and going over my week.

Sometimes the week goes by so fast and I have absolutely nothing to report. Other weeks there is SO much going on in my heart, words can’t do it justice. This is one of those weeks.

Life looks very different on the flip side of my BIG YES. (<- read story here)

Unfamiliar Territory

I’m the kind of person who always takes the elevator, avoids stairs, drives one block to pick up the mail and eats lunch at my desk, instead of taking a walk in the sunshine.

I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kinda girl. I still can’t believe that I publicly committed to running a half-marathon and now raising $50,000! I’m just glad 56 other ladies are joining me!

The simple act of stepping out of my house to go for a run makes my heart race and my stomach churn. Truth be told, it takes about five minutes of pacing up-and-down my room, praying in my running gear, before I can muster up enough courage to leave my house.

My run on Monday night nearly destroyed me. Six minutes into the run and I was breathless. It felt like the first day of training all over again. All my muscles ached, my legs were cramping and no amount of stretching seemed to help. It was a battle to finish my allotted time. I was so proud of myself for sticking it out, even as a sputtering, heaving, sweaty disaster.

The old Tina would never have done that!

My days are suddenly filled with one of two activities: Writing and Running

A lot of the writing is on the administrative front. Answering emails, writing responses to messages on the Facebook page and researching the logistics of everything–from training and nutrition to tax receipts for donations.

But …

The most fascinating writing that I have been engaging in lately is what I’d like to call “long-distance writing.” Seasoned writers would refer to it as writing practice. Suddenly I’m not battling the two identities of creator and editor. Words pour out of me. I’m journaling on every piece of scrap paper I can find. Maybe there really is something to this finding-a-bigger-story and going-full-throttle thing?

I find that training for long-distance running is teaching me a LOT about “long-distance writing.”

Being the Mayor of Nerdville, I wondered if anyone had written a book about how running helped them write better. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out that acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Run­ning addresses just that!

All the pictures below were taken on the track where I’ve been training. I love my iPhone.


– The Donation Page is LIVE! (Thanks for all your help, Rember!) Now you can tell your friends and family! YAY!
– We will be sending a message on Facebook with more info on how to download sponsorship forms and the fact sheet. We’re just putting the final touches on that.
– The fabulous Daniela Schwartz has organized for trainer/nutritionist Andrea Ferguson to come meet with us on Saturday morning for a cost of only $5 each! We are meeting at 10am at Relate Church. If you plan on making it, please leave a comment or send Daniela an RSVP on FB. This is a great opportunity to ask all your training and nutrition questions!

So loving this song by the SPIRIT FAMILY REUNION. ENJOY!



So … my global SheLoves sisters:
– What little rituals do you have?
– How have you surprized yourself this week?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, fears and inspirations!

Dear half-marathon Bravehearts,

– Soooo, how was Week 2 of training?
– What are you learning about yourself?
– How is running filtering into the rest of your life?
Share-share please. 🙂

For those of you who would still like to join the half-marathon: Click here

Love you more than Mini-Malt Cakes with Oreo and Raspberry Cream cheese Buttercream Icing, (<- Recipe)

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis