A “Be Brave” Update & Sale!

I received the featured product to review from Cents of Style. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

It’s been two months since I first wrote these words…

I feel just about everything except brave today.

I felt brave seven months ago when I decided I would train for my first marathon the following spring.

I felt brave when I filled out my registration for the Fargo Marathon and sent it in.

I felt brave as I started my marathon training plan in February with my eyes set on conquering my next running goal.

I even felt brave as I finished my 20-miler a month ago, the longest run I would do during my marathon training.

Today, the day before my first marathon, those brave feelings escape me, so I’m writing this now to remind myself of the brave moments that led me to this one.

I’m also writing this to remember that I am not brave on my own. I am brave because my God looks at me and says, “You can be brave because I am with You.”…

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I’m wearing my Be Brave shirt from Cents of Style today as we drive north to Fargo for my first marathon. It is just the encouragement I need running through my head as the time to run (a REALLY long way) draws closer. Be brave – embrace it with me (and maybe pray for an extra does of it for me?!) today!

Just a few days later, I completed my first marathon and it was incredible. You can read all about the race here, but you should know that running those 26.2 miles made me feel like I could do just about anything. Two months later and I’m still feeling that bravery. I even signed up for my second marathon!

Do you need a reminder to be brave? Or be still? Or be kind or bold or true?

Be Series tees

The whole line of “Be Series” tees from Cents of Style is on sale today only for just $15.95 each + free shipping with the code BRAVE1 at checkout!

Pick your word and grab your tee during this great sale – I know you will be inspired wearing your reminder!

Which of these words do you want to BE?

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Cleaning is Better with FREE Caldrea Products!

This post contains affiliate links.

TRUE OR FALSE: Cleaning is a necessary evil in my life.

Most of the time I would say TRUE. I’m not the best at keeping a clean home and I can’t really say I love it. However, since cleaning is a necessity (yes, with three boys, but also just cleaning up after my messy self), I have to decide whether it is going to be a burden or a blessing for my family home. Sometimes, you just need the right perspective to change chores into happy, productive work. Maybe a spoonful of sugar would help, too?

I also think having the right cleaning products – ones that work well and smell good – can make any chore better. And when those amazing products are FREE?! Well, you know it will be a good cleaning day!

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Have you joined Grove Collaborative yet? It is this amazing subscription service for all things natural and healthy for your home and family. Cleaning supplies, personal hygiene, hair care, and much more are offered in this easy to use and affordable program! I love the ease of use and the great variety of fabulous products they offer, but my favorite thing is when they offer FREE STUFF!

Pear Blossom Agave

Today, you have the chance to try out Grove Collaborative and get a gorgeous set of Caldrea products, including:

  • Free Caldrea dish soap
  • Free Caldrea countertop spray
  • Free Grove Collaborative dish brush
  • Free shipping

This set is valued at $30 and is yours free as a new Grove Collaborative customer!

Want to get your Caldrea set and see for yourself why I love Grove? Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative here and you will receive the Caldrea offer for free!
  2. Answer 4 quick questions about your home that Grove Collaborative will then use to customize your products — this takes under 30 seconds!
  3. Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your household needs by adding or removing items.
  4. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box. I’m a big fan of Method hand soap and I’m giving Dr. Bronner’s organic hand sanitizer spray a try this month!
  5. You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order. Don’t forget this special offer is only available until July 24 or while supplies last.

Bonus savings tip: Don’t forget to sign up for Grove Collaborative’s free 60 day VIP trial after you complete your first order! I love being a VIP ­­ it saves me time and makes shopping with Grove even more affordable. For 60 days, you can save too, with free gifts and shipping, price matching, exclusive sales, and personal service.

If you are already using and loving Grove, you can still get free stuff! Just click here to get a beautiful free wooden scrub brush with your next order!

This offer is only good through July 24, 2016 or while supplies last, so claim your free Caldrea gift now! Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll help you out!

Please note that Grove Collaborative currently does not ship to Canada, Hawaii, or Alaska.

Which yummy scent will you be choosing for your free gift?

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At Home in the Good Life

I received this necklace for review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

I grew up in South Dakota. The same city and state my whole childhood. I loved “my” state.

When it came time to choose a college, however, I needed to spread my wings a little. I didn’t fly too far, just to neighboring Nebraska, where I found my place as a Husker. Lincoln was just supposed to be my college home, but it became much more.

In Lincoln, I found a personal relationship with Jesus. My faith changed and grew and made me a new person in Christ starting my freshman year of college.

In Lincoln, I met my husband. We were both in the Cornhusker Marching Band. He proposed to me in the Sunken Gardens. We got married in Lincoln and made it through some major challenges together in those first few years.

In Lincoln, we bought our first home. Just two months before our first child was born, we found a cute little place to call our own. We moved in record time with the largest moving crew of friends ever just one month before Big J made his arrival.

In Lincoln, all three of our children were born. Three handsome boys joined our family in the span of six years. Each boy was dedicated to the Lord at our church in Lincoln.

We no longer live in Lincoln, but we have found our place here in Nebraska. It truly is the Good Life. While South Dakota will always be my birth state, Nebraska is home.

When I saw the new state necklace design from Cents of Style, featuring the state name and the coordinates of that state’s capitol, I knew immediately it would be a treasure for me.

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Lincoln is the capitol of Nebraska and holds a very special place in my heart, for all the reasons listed above and more.

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I was hesitant to leave Lincoln at first, but we love our new hometown and I can’t imagine living anywhere else but Nebraska. I still love Lincoln and I can hold it and all its wonderful memories close with this beautiful double-bar necklace.

State Necklace Alone

This new state necklace design- with state name and capitol coordinates – AND the original Cents of Style state necklace are just $11.99 each with free shipping this weekend with the code NEWSTATE at checkout!

Tell me about the state that has captured your heart! Which state necklace will you order and why?

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To the Person Who Wants to Be Great “Someday”

This post was sponsored by Nature Valley as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

When I ran my first marathon in May, I was overwhelmed by the support, encouragement, and congratulations I received in the days leading up to and following the big day. Our world really can be full of kindness and joy and I felt every bit of it!

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Amongst the congratulations, I also heard many people say, “You’re making me want to run a marathon someday!” These statements made me excited because I would love for more people to find a love for running and accomplish a huge goal like running a marathon or race of any distance. But I couldn’t ignore the “someday” part of their comments.

Here’s the deal: when we see people doing great things – writing a book, running a race, going on a grand adventure – we think these things are out of our reach at the moment. Since we can’t do them right now, we tuck these things away in our “someday” file, never sharing them with someone else. Most of the time, our “someday” dreams of greatness never happen.

How do we fix this? How do we move past “someday” and towards being great right here, right now?

First of all, I needed someone to tell me that I didn’t have to wait to pursue my dream. A marathon slowly worked its way on to my bucket list, but making it a reality seemed so far off until my husband said, “I know you can do this.” I didn’t full believe in myself, but he spoke those words and I suddenly couldn’t wait to prove him right.

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There is power in our words. You never know when your encouragement, like my husband’s, will be the catalyst to someone else doing something amazing. Be the one to encourage someone else to pursue their dreams and surround yourself with people who will do the same for you!

Secondly, my idea of “greatness” needed to change. Being great doesn’t magically happen in an instant. The reason “someday” often stays “someday” is because we don’t see the greatness in getting started on our dreams. I would have never been able to run a marathon unless I took that first step on the first day of the Couch to 5K program four years earlier. That first run/walk didn’t feel so great, but when I look back, it really was. Committing to a program, getting started, and putting in the work IS being great.

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For those who dream of running a marathon, I say, “Get out there and run!” 1 mile, 3 miles, 10 miles – every mile is another closer to your dream. The first step is just as great and important as achieving the dream and the latter wouldn’t happen without the former!

This is what I want you to know: you don’t have to wait to be great. You can be great out there today. Your great will definitely look different than someone else’s, but it is just as great. Go get it.

When you do take that first step of greatness, please tell me, because I want to cheer you on!

General Mills Nature Valley® and Facebook are partnering together to give you the opportunity to speak words of encouragement and support to that important person in your life looking to tackle a huge challenge or chase a dream. Nature Valley focuses on giving you the energy to do great things and now they want you to pass on those good vibes! It’s super easy – just visit their Facebook page to find our how to send a positive, encouraging video to your loved one! If you need some extra inspiration, check out this awesome video from Nature Valley!

You can also get involved in this movement by sharing supportive messages on social media with the hashtag #BeGreatOutThere. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see our timelines and feeds filled with words of encouragement?

Nature Valley also wants to share some of there wholesome goodness with you – just print this coupon to save on your next Nature Valley purchase! The Hubby and I have gone gluten-free lately and I was pleasantly surprised to find some yummy gluten-free options from Nature Valley. The Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein Bars are amazing!

Nature Valley Gluten Free

You can get connected with Nature Valley and the #BeGreatOutThere movement on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but let’s get the encouragement started right here!

Who has inspired you to #BeGreatOutThere?

Who could you encourage to #BeGreatOutThere right now?

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The Good Kind of Pain and Managing It Naturally

This is a sponsored post with Savings.com and LivRelief. Affiliate links included.

Training for a marathon pushed me to what I thought was the very end of my physical limits and then showed me I could go even further. Along the way, I experienced all new kinds of muscle soreness and went on the hunt for ways to help manage that good kind of pain in natural ways. I found a few successful things and managed to keep healthy through training and the race.

I have now switched my training focus from distance to speed, aiming for a 5K PR this summer! While the mileage is shorter, the pain is still there, just in different ways. The good kind of pain from training has shifted to my calves and glutes. Some of my favorite remedies for soreness are still in use, but I learned about a new pain relief product and had the chance to try it recently with great results!

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LivRelief is an over-the-counter topical pain relief treatment made of more than 90% natural ingredients. The active ingredient, capsaicin, is found in hot peppers and known for its antioxidant, anti-viral, antiallergenic, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. LivRelief is also paraben-free, petroleum-free, gluten-free, and free of SLS and propylene glycol.

Most natural pain relief remedies come with strong smells or strange tingling, so I was surprised that LivRelief had neither of these. I was a little worried about whether I would feel the effects from this mild topical cream. I tried it on my sore legs after a tough speed workout the other day and realized a few hours later that I wasn’t uncomfortable as I had been after speed work in previous weeks! I’ve only had a few weeks of experience with LivRelief, but I’m a happy customer so far! Combined with foam rolling, proper nutrition, and good rest, I plan on staying healthy for these new speed challenges this summer!LivRelief Box

LivRelief is now available on Amazon! Buy LivRelief now and receive $2 off your purchase when you use promo code ONU56TLN during checkout on Amazon!

If you or a loved one have the good kind of pain from working out OR the not-so-good kind from chronic pain, LivRelief is worth a try! With the natural ingredients and no-greasy-mess, no-smell formula, I think you’ll be pleased!

How do you manage muscle soreness after a hard workout?

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American Dreamers + a Free Tee for You!

I received this tank for review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve written a few times on here about the American dream. It is a concept which makes me both a little bit uncomfortable and a little bit hopeful all at the same time. I suppose it has to do with the perspective with which you view the phrase “American dream.”

It started out all hopeful so many years ago – people coming to the United States to freely pursue their dreams. Most of these people just dreamed of providing for their families. Some had bigger dreams. All associated the American dream with hope, joy, freedom.

Somewhere along the way, the American dream became something to chase. Instead of holding on to our own hopes or pursuing our own dreams, we started to compete and compare. This is the world we live in right now.

The American dream has drove many of us to despair, but I want to be a different kind of American dreamer.

American Dreamer Square

Hope. Faith. Generosity. This is my dream.

American Dreamer Tee Outfit

I don’t want to earn more money to get ahead. I want to bless others out of God’s abundance.

I don’t want to cram my calendar full with things that make me look “good.” I want to leave time and space in my schedule to love others well.

I want to care more about people than stuff, more about service than recognition, more about Kingdom than earthly treasures.

The typical American dream floating around out there leaves me with anxiety and pressure, but the dream God has placed in my American heart fills me with joy and freedom. That’s what the American dream was all about in the first place, right?

American Dreamer Tee Square

This American Dreamer tee from Cents of Style has me all fired up about living out this dream again and I love getting to share a sale on it today! It is the perfect tee to wear for the Fourth of July and spark some discussion about living out a new American dream.

Today only, get this tee FREE when you make a $30 more purchase from Cents of Style! How fun! The Fashion Friday collection is FULL of great pieces to share your American pride, so buy $30 worth from that collection (or anywhere else on the site) and get your American Dreamer tee FREE! The tee comes in navy v-neck or white crewneck! Did I mention shipping is always free, too?!

Just place a Cents of Style order of $30 or more today and the American Dreamer tee is yours for free!

The FREE shirt will be offered with a pop-up upon checkout with any purchase that is $30 or more. This offer is not valid with any other coupon code or promotion. Limit one shirt per order/customer.

Now, please tell me about YOUR American dream!

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When You Don’t Know What to Pray

I like to spend time with Jesus when I run outside.

This morning, my heart was aching for three women who are very dear to me. Each is going through her own personal tragedy right now and I can’t get them off of my mind. I’ve been praying for them for weeks and months, but today, words failed me.

The heartache for each women is reaching new depths this week and I felt led to pray for them, but I didn’t even know what to pray. Everything that came to mind seemed so trivial, pointless, not enough. I was so frustrated, but God is so good and He reminded me of a truth I need so desperately at that very moment.

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Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. -Romans 8:26

That’s exactly how I felt: weak. I can’t really do anything physical to help these women right now, so I thought prayer would be my way of “helping.” When I couldn’t even come up with what exactly to pray, I felt weak and helpless.

God met me in my weakness.

I prayed this very thing, “Lord, I don’t even know what these precious ladies need right now, but you do. I lift them up to you right now and ask for You to hold them close. Amen.” I know He heard me and I know the Spirit did the work where my words failed.

When you don't know what to pray

There are so many reasons we might not know what to pray: an unspecified prayer request, a prompting from the Lord to pray for someone without any other details, an unfamiliar situation, or a tough decision with no clear right answer.

I find myself in this place often. Sometimes I try to force it and come up with prayers that sound pretty good, even though no one but myself is hearing them. Not today. My sadness and frustration was too deep and that’s where the Spirit shows up.

We don’t have to have the right words. The Spirit knows our hearts and knows the needs of our loved ones. This is the time and place for us to recognize our weakness, rest in His strength, and let His power take over. Our friends and family are safe and loved in His hands.

Don’t give up on praying because you can’t find the words. The Lord gives us the Spirit to intercede for us and He fills in all the gaps.

If you need prayer for yourself or a loved one, please let me know in the comments. No details necessary – the Lord knows your heart and it would be an honor to lift your name and needs to Him.

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Sweet Meets Spicy with the New TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® Pods!

This post was sponsored by Starbucks as part of an Influencer Activation. I received compensation and complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I had my first chai latte in college. There was a place just off campus that started making them in the fall. Several of us music majors stopped in their one day between classes and saw a chai latte on the menu. I think I remember the barista raving about it, so we all decided to give it a try. Oh my goodness. It was heavenly. We called it “Christmas in a cup.” Any rough day could be cured by a chai latte with its perfect blend of sweet and spicy deliciousness. Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger…ahhh…

I’m sure there are many coffee shops that still make them, but I hadn’t had a chai latte in years. The memories of that first chai latte are still fresh in my mind (many, many years later!), so I was absolutely delighted to learn I could make one at home with my Keurig® and the new TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® Pods!

TAZO Packaging

Have you ever tried chai? Chai is a black tea blend known for its combination of sweet and spicy tones that originated in India. Mix that with the creaminess of milk and you have a drink that satisfies all your tastebuds!

TAZO Packets

How do you make this delightful drink for yourself at home? It’s an easy two-step process with the TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® Pods:

TAZO Step 1

STEP 1: Pour the powdered milk packet into your favorite mug. You can choose from classic or vanilla caramel. Both are delicious!

TAZO Second Step

STEP 2: Place the mug under your Keurig® and brew theTAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pod into your mug.

TAZO Mug

STEP 3: (Ok, yes, there is a third step) Stir well and enjoy!

I know you will enjoy the creamy, spicy, sweet taste of this made-at-home chai latte! It may be the middle of summer, but with the first sip I was thinking “Christmas in a cup” all over again. There were lots of happy sighs coming from this mama!

Adding to your wonderful chai latte experience,TAZO® has partnered with New York Times Bestselling author and host Padma Lakshmi to bring us some amazing recipes to pair with this delicious drink! Padma grew up with the flavors of tea and chai, so her recipes come from a lifetime of experience and memories and they are fabulous. The cinnamon tea cookies are my pick for an afternoon chai latte date with girlfriends!

TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pods are popping up in stores now and you can find out what stores are carrying them by clicking here! Grab some and enjoy your own sweet, spicy, creamy, wonderful chai latte in the comfort of your home!

Which of Padma’s recipes would you love to try with your chai latte?

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Three Ways to Wear Your Cowboy Boots This Summer!

I received complimentary product to review from Tecovas Boots. I was not compensated in any other way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own.

It’s the Boy Mom/Girl Mom Style Challenge! Shannon – mom to four girls – and I – mom to three boys – will be posting a style challenge twice a month and we want you to join in!

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Each #BMGMStyle challenge will have a theme. You just need to post a pic on Instagram following that theme and use the hashtag #BMGMStyle to be a part of the challenge! Shannon and I will pick our favorites to feature each week and one participant per month will win a giveaway from the month’s featured companies!

Are you ready for #BMGMStyle Challenge #4?

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My love for cowboy boots began only a few short years ago, but it grew very quickly. Now, even as a “city girl,” they are a must-have item in my closet. I will never, ever be without a great pair of cowboy boots ever again.

The very best classic cowboy boots I’ve ever seen come from Tecovas. You’ve seen the shorter style – the Penny – around here often and they still wind up on my feet all the time. Today, I’m sharing my love for the Jamie, a classic western boot that has stolen my heart.

Here’s the deal: boots get a lots of love in the fall and winter, but they don’t have to go away when the summer sun comes out to play! I’ve found my cowboy boots to be the perfect pair of footwear for every single season, including summer. I’ve got a few ideas of how to wear them for all your fun in the sun!

with a shorter skirt or dress

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This is the perfect summer option to keep you cool while LOOKING cool in your boots! I paired my Tecovas Jamie boots with a dress for a trip to Nashville earlier this spring and it was just right for the warm weather. You could just as easily pull off this look with a sundress or a skirt and tank top. So many options!

with a midi or maxi dress

Tecovas Boots Dress

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I already shared this look with you on a previous #BMGMStyle Challenge, but I just love it so much! Because of their versatility, cowboy boots can be worn with a longer dress – show as much of them or as little as you want! Midi dresses, like this one, are very popular and I love how the classic cowboy boot pairs with them.

with distressed skinny jeans

Tecovas Jeans Look 1

Boots + skinny jeans is one of my favorite looks of all time. We can make it work for summer with a flowy, sleeveless top and distressed skinnies to keep you cool!

Tecovas Jeans Look 2

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All of my reasons for loving Tecovas boots still apply: handmade with excellence, classic details, and an affordable price! Can we also just talk about the gorgeous color of this pair?! The Jamie in Desert Calf is my dream boot.

Check out Shannon’s styling of cowboy boots for summer over at The Simple Moms today and then, because we love you, enter to win a $100 Tecovas gift card to get some amazing boots for yourself!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I Ran a Marathon

I ran my first marathon on Saturday.

It was not at all what I expected and I mean that in the best way possible.

The panic and fear didn’t really set in until the week of the marathon. Every negative scenario that could ever happen in a marathon was on a loop in my head – bad weather, nobody to run with, intestinal problems, leg cramps, hitting the wall and not getting past it, the race being canceled, and a million more horrible ideas. The forecast for Saturday was not helping at all – high of 82º and sunny, also known as a marathoner’s worst nightmare. Hot = BAD. We had a nice long drive on the way up for me to really freak out about all the “what ifs.”

Pre Race Jitters

The Fargo Marathon is unique in a lot of ways. First of all, it starts and ends in a dome. This is GREAT for chilly mornings when you would normally be shivering at the start line, and it is really cool to run into the dome to cross the finish line with everyone watching from the stands. Fargo also has participants from all 50 states and a large Canadian presence, so the race starts with the singing of both the Canadian and American national anthems. The race also starts with a prayer (I TOTALLY needed that) and the finisher medals have this inscribed on the back:

Let us run with perseverance the race that is before us. -Hebrews 12:1

The Hubby and I dropped off our bags at gear check, then walked hand-in-hand to the floor of the FargoDome. He gave me one last kiss after I found my pacer and headed up closer to the front (where the fast people are). I knew I needed The Hubby’s hand leading me to the start because he has been my #1 supporter through my entire running journey and has believed in me 100% as I trained for this marathon, even when I had no faith in myself at all.

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As my hubby taught me, so much of running a marathon is mental. I knew I would need to be focusing outside of myself most of the race to not let my mind get the best of me. This is one of the main reasons I decided to join a pace group – not because I really wanted to finish in 4:15, but because I wanted to be with other people who had approximately the same pace as me.

Once in the starting corral, I quickly found a few other women who were running this marathon with a similar mindset. There were four women I ran and talked with throughout the race. They were a huge help in calming my nerves before the start and quickly found many things in common besides being crazy enough to run 26.2 miles! One had flown in from California and was running her second marathon. Another was a medical student from my hometown in South Dakota, and another was a mom from Omaha who shares my love for the Run Like a Mother community.

Because the internet is a crazy, awesome place, I was introduced to Andrea by my friend Crystal. Crystal knew I would be running my first full in Fargo and saw Andrea mention the same thing. We found each other at the start and had the best time running 15 miles together. I was lost in great conversation with her and the miles just clicked by. I am super thankful for those 15 miles because I know they kept me from freaking out about the warm weather and many miles that still lie ahead.

Between mile 15 and 16, I ended up on my own. I was so terribly worried about this very thing happening, but I was in such a good mood that it didn’t phase me like I thought it would. Here’s the thing that I REALLY didn’t expect for my first marathon: I couldn’t stop smiling.

Run Happy

The whole race, I had a goofy smile plastered on my face. I can only give you two reasons for that smile in the middle one of the most grueling things you can put your body through:

  1. I had been training so hard for this day and it was finally here. I was actually running a marathon, not just thinking and worrying about running a marathon. This brought me so much relief.
  2. The joy of the Lord. You know those things you just can’t explain? That’s what this felt like. I had prayed that God would help me enjoy the race no matter what happened. I wanted the memories of my first marathon to be joyful ones and God answered that prayer abundantly.

I received so many comments in the last ten miles about how happy I looked and that is exactly how I felt.

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The race was not without its struggles. During mile 17, without anyone to talk to, I started to think too much about how my body felt and how many miles were left. Bad idea. Thankfully, I had a plan in place ahead of time for just such a struggle. I was running this marathon to raise awareness and financial support for The Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya. Although I wasn’t wearing my “Miles for Mercy” shirt (because it was WAY too hot), I knew I wanted to pray for the women and children at The Mercy House and all those responsible for its existence and continued service. For the next two miles straight, I prayed for the founders, the staff, the supporters, pregnant moms, new moms, and moms transitioning to a new way of life.

Those two miles were both extremely meaningful and important to me, getting me through what could have been a very rough patch. That time of prayer led me right up to mile marker 20. The mile marker I had been so scared to face. My longest run during training was 20 miles, so every step after that mile marker would be the longest I had ever run. TERRIFYING. Except it wasn’t. On race day, I passed mile marker 20 and felt invincible because I could feel God with me. My joy was still bubbling over.

The last 6.2 miles were also amazing thanks to the spectators. Fargo really comes out to support all of the runners. I especially love running through the neighborhoods: people out on their lawns, music playing, funny and inspiring signs, kids giving high fives. The atmosphere is always so great, but I had two new favorite things this year.

In the later miles of the marathon, there were official water stops, but there were also lots of unofficial water and fuel stations. I took some Kleenex from a spectator early on (lifesaver) and I grabbed an orange slice to suck on twice in the last six miles. Those orange slices were GLORIOUS. Sticky, but delicious. And the stickiness wasn’t a big problem thanks to my most favorite thing from the local spectators: WATER.

Fargo residents, thank you for turning on your sprinklers and hoses and setting up misters at the curb. I’m sure your water bill from that day will be insanely high, but myself and every other runner around me just loved you for it. Oh, and my favorite, the group of kids with water guns who (with my permission) absolutely drenched me sometime after mile 20. Kids, I love you.

A lot of things happened in those last few miles and I can’t remember exactly when they happened. Miles 21 through 25 are a bit of a blur. One of the most uncomfortable moments was somewhere between mile 22 and 24 when I dumped water over my head and ended up with salt from sweat in my eyes! It took me a good mile before my eyes weren’t stinging or blurry at all, but that water sure felt good on my head!

People have asked me if I “hit the wall” and the answer is yes, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I’m not sure why, but it could have been because I walked through every water station through the whole race, kept myself fueled with my Honey Stinger chews, and made sure I didn’t let my thoughts go negative. My legs started to feel heavier, but there was never a point where I thought I couldn’t keep going. Praise the Lord for that! 

Then it was there in front of me: the FargoDome, with lots of people lining the way and the glorious finish line waiting inside. I was grinning from ear to ear, but I also felt the emotion start to well up, especially as I passed mile marker 26. Just .2 to go. I also knew from watching my husband finish this marathon three times that there would be a camera just outside of the dome filming runners and showing us up on the big screen inside the dome so our friends and family would know we were coming.

I entered the FargoDome with no one else around me. I’ve never been alone entering the dome or crossing a race finish line. It was surreal. I spotted my best friend amongst all the other spectators before the finish line. She had finished the marathon relay an hour before me and was snapping pictures and cheering me on. As if I wasn’t joyful enough already, this made me smile even bigger.

Crossing the Line

Just a few steps later, I crossed the finish line of my first marathon with a time of 4:21:28.

VictoryBW Finish

As I crossed, I heard my husband yelling my name and saw him with the biggest smile on his face. The tears came quickly. I sobbed behind my sunglasses, but they were all tears of joy. I walked right over to him for biggest hug, kiss, and congratulations. He was beaming with pride and I was overflowing with joy and gratitude.

Getting the Medal 2 Getting the Medal 1

I had to keep walking or I might have fallen over from exhaustion. I also had to keep walking to get my medal, get to my husband and friend, and get to the food! My medal around my neck, my favorite people next to me, a banana in my hand, I left the floor of the FargoDome as a marathoner – tired and sore and a little bit in disbelief of what I had just accomplished, but overwhelmingly happy and so extremely thankful.

Three Musketeers Post Race Blog

I’ll save those thanks for another post because this is already the LONGEST BLOG POST I’VE EVER WRITTEN (appropriate since this is the longest I’ve ever run!), but I had to process all the feelings and remember every moment of the biggest accomplishment of my life. If you read this all the way to the end, you deserve a medal, too.

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I ran a marathon and, call me crazy, but I can’t wait to do it again.

Official Finisher Photo

Marathon finisher. Boom.

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