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!

Run Happy

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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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.

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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.

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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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The One Way I Know How to Be Brave Today

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

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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We’ve taught our boys since they were little to approach life and the things God calls us to with faith and bravery. Joshua 1:9 is a key verse we refer back to often:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

This is a lovely promise, but it’s not just that. This is a command. A command WITH a promise: be strong, be courageous, be brave BECAUSE the Lord my God is always with me. 

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The feelings of bravery will come and go a million times before I cross the starting line and every step of the 26.2 miles, but God is not that wishy-washy. Unlike my feelings, He is steady and true. He will never leave me or forsake me and that is the source of my bravery today, tomorrow, and every day of my life here on earth. Standing in this truth is the one way I know how to be brave today.

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!

What do you need the push to “BE” today? Cents of Style has an amazing Be Series with messages for each of us: be brave, be still, be true, be kind, be bold.

COS Be Series

This beautiful collection of shirts, hats, and jewelry from the Be Series is 50% off with the code BEYOU today! You also get free shipping! Choose your word and grab your favorite styles before they are gone!

One last thing: I’m running this marathon tomorrow in support of The Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya. I need less than $100 to reach my fundraising goal, so every little bit helps! Would you consider making a donation of any amount to help us hit $262 before the race starts? Thank you so much!

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Race Day Essentials: Post-Race

This post contains affiliate links.

We’re wrapping up the Race Day Essentials series with the things I need after the race is over. It took me a while to figure out what my body needed after a long or hard race, but that ended up being due mostly to not hydrating well enough in the days leading up to the race. Now that I have that part of the puzzle figured out, my stomach isn’t as sensitive and I’m not quite as picky about what I can eat.

Not included in this list is the MASSIVE amount of food that can be handed out at the end of a race. I usually eat 90% of this food and have ZERO guilt. I love when races have salty things like pretzels and chocolate milk – not necessities, but definitely favorites.

The lists have been more about food and products I use on race day, so I also left off a few experiences that must happen post-race: lots and lots of pictures, a long warm shower, wearing my medal everywhere we go, and maybe even a nap! There really is nothing like the runner’s high after a hard-run race!

Here’s today’s list:

MY POST-RACE

Banana – Some people like a banana before the race, but I prefer mine after! I think the banana has become a healthy post-race comfort food for me and they are usually available at the finish line, so I never have to look far for one!

Water – Again, this is a no-brainer.

Deep Blue Rub – We NEVER leave for a race without packing Deep Blue Rub. It is a MUST MUST MUST for us. The natural cooling and warming combination is just what our legs need after a long, hard race. I apply it to my problem areas (calves, quads) after a long, warm shower…sigh… I don’t sell essential oils anymore, but if you’re interested in this rub, you can get more info from a trusted friend of mine here!

Calf sleeves or compression socks – These get put on right after the Deep Blue Rub. As The Hubby once said after he put on his very first pair, “It’s like they’re giving my legs a hug!” He was totally right. And my legs are SO much happier with me the rest of the day (and for days afterwards) if they get a nice post-race hug. I don’t prefer one over the other, but use them in different situations, depending on the weather and what I’ll be wearing the rest of the day. I love these “Run Happy” calf sleeves from Brooks Running and Pro Compression makes my fave compression socks!

Bzees shoes – My feet are the most hurting part of my body after a very long run and the last thing they need is to be squeezed into an uncomfortable pair of shoes. I tried flip for a while, but I often get a blister between my first two toes, so flip-flops went bye-bye quickly. Then a pair of Bzees entered my life.

Bzees originally sent me a pair of shoes to review last year, and those shoes have been packed for every single race since. My feet need some support, but also some room to breathe. My Bzees feel like clouds from heaven for my feet. In the above photo is a new pair they sent me this year and my feet loved me for packing them on my trip to Nashville a few weeks ago for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Yes, I got these shoes from the company to review, but I would buy them again with my own money in a HEARTBEAT. They work in any weather with almost any outfit I might choose post-race. My love for Bzees has no bounds. For reference, the pictured pair is the Sparkle Sling Back and I also own the Relax Slip-On – they are all machine washable!

You could also add to this list food, food, and more food, especially a nice burger or steak and some frozen yogurt, but that all just depends on the race and the day!

And that is the conclusion of the Race Day Essentials series! If you missed them, check out my pre-race and race-time necessities and share your favorites!

What do you need or love to have after a race?

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Race Day Essentials: Race Time

This post contains affiliate links.

The “Race Day Essentials” series continues today with the items I must have during the actual race. If you missed day one, you can check out my pre-race essentials here!

One of the best pieces of advice about running a race is, “Don’t try anything new on race day.” This is especially true for me during the race. I don’t want to eat, drink, or wear anything I haven’t trained with, so my list is pretty specific. These are the items that have passed the test for my race day!

As I said in my previous post, these are the items I use and must have on race day, but your list may look very different. The posts are meant to give you ideas, not something you should copy exactly. Try lots of things and go with what works for your body!

Here we go with what I must have during a race:

MY RACE-TIME

The perfect shoe – Before I begin on my love for Brooks Running shoes, you need to know that running shoes are a very personal thing. Do NOT go buy a pair of shoes because someone else really liked them. If you are serious about running, you need to go to a good running store and have your feet measured and gait analyzed to get recommendations for your feet. I’ve tried a few brands and models, and Brooks shoes are the only ones for me. My race day shoe is the Ravenna and I’ll be wearing those awesome animal print ones for my first marathon! Side note: do not run a race on brand new shoes. Plan ahead to break them in before the big day!

Balega socks – Just the right amount of cushion, very few blisters, fun colors – Balegas are a winner for both The Hubby and me!

Arm sleeves – I obsess about the weather and what to wear for races. I don’t want to be cold, but I absolutely can’t stand having too many layers on and getting too warm. Arm sleeves are a fabulous solution for those races that start out chilly, but warm up fast. I can wear them with a tank top and push them down or even take them off if it gets too hot! I pack them for every race, just in case.

Honey Stinger Chews – I mentioned the Honey Stinger Waffle in yesterday’s pre-race post, but the chews are the first thing that got me hooked on this brand. They are soft, naturally sweet, and come in several yummy flavors. I have tried MANY kinds of fuel during a race, but I’m not looking back. Honey Stinger is the one for me. I particularly love Pink Lemonade, Cherry Cola (with caffeine!), Fruit Smoothie, and Pomegranate Passion Fruit.

SPIbelt – How do I carry those Honey Stinger Chews with me? I’m glad you asked! It took me a long time to figure out the best way to carry things with me because I HATE to carry anything extra during a race. I doubted I would find a fuel belt I really liked, but the SPIbelt totally won me over. It looks so small, but stretches to fit whatever you need to fit in it. You’ll have to experiment with how you like to wear it and how much you will carry, but I’ve found it to be handy, versatile, and comfortable. It always carries at least my fuel and phone, both which take up a good amount of room!

GPS watch – During a race, I need to know how I’m doing with my pace. Enter the GPS watch. Sometimes it helps me hold back at the beginning of a race. Sometimes it reminds me I need to push myself a little more. I try not to obsess over it and mostly just check in at each mile. I would go crazy racing without it. CRAZY. I have a very basic Garmin Forerunner (mine is older, but most like this model) that does everything I need and The Hubby has a model with more functions and details.

Pace band – I can get “running dumb” during a long run or race. Trying to calculate where I should be time-wise in the later miles is almost impossible. Pace bands do all that work for me. My next half-marathon goal is 1:55:00, so I have a pace band that tells me what I want my time to be at each mile. For the marathon, my goal is to finish, so I picked a pace band to help me keep steady and hold back a little. When I pass a mile marker on course, I check my watch and my pace band to see how close/far off the times are and adjust from there! The Hubby and I also use these when we pace races.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up this series with what I need to recover right after a race! See you back here for the final installment!

What is always with you during a race?

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Race Day Essentials: Pre-Race

This post contains affiliate links.

The only thing on my mind right now is running.

Ok, well there a few other things, but running has taken over most of my brain because my first marathon is almost here. There is a LOT of nervous energy flowing through me right now, so I’ve decided to combine it with my running obsession to write a few posts I’ve had planned for a while!

The Hubby and I really, really love races, so we’ve had time to really perfect our pre-race, during race, and post-race routines. This will be my first marathon, but after 13 half-marathons, I know what helps my mind and body get through a race and recover afterwards.

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I couldn’t wait any longer to get this series started!

Today is the first post in my series “Race Day Essentials,” so we’re obviously beginning with pre-race essentials. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to essentials for during the race. We’ll wrap it up the next day with my post-race must-haves. It’s going to be a fun week – at least I think so!

My disclaimer on all of these posts will be the same: These are the items I use and must have on race day, but your list may look very different. The posts are meant to give you ideas, not something you should copy exactly. Try lots of things and go with what works for your body!

With that, here are my pre-race essentials:

Pre-Race Essentials

English muffin + peanut butter (not pictured) – I eat an English muffin (or this homemade English muffin bread if I’m at home) with peanut butter (and sometimes honey) two hours before the race starts. If it’s a really early race, I’ll eat it and go back to bed, but sleep usually evades me at this point!

Coffee – This is a new development for me this year and I’m loving it. I’ve always loved coffee, but this is the first training cycle where I’ve had it before almost all of my long runs. I like the results. I plan to have some at least an hour before my first marathon – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Water – Do I even need to explain this? Good.

Body Glide – Necessity. Training for this marathon has revealed all sorts of new chafing problems, so I’m using Body Glide like never before. On my 20-mile run, the seam on the back of my pants rubbed my lower back raw. I had no idea, but that spot is getting Body Glide every time now, along with many other places. Body Glide – don’t run long without it.

Honey Stinger Waffle – I eat this amazing piece of deliciousness on the way to a long race. It is naturally sweet and just what I need for an extra boost of energy to start the race. We’re both obsessed with Honey Stinger products. You’ll hear about another one in the race time essentials.

Chapstick + sunscreen – One of the last things I do before dropping off my bag at gear check is put on some chapstick. I can’t stand having dry lips during a race and the sunscreen is a must to protect my skin for the 2+ hours I will be running! My chapstick must have it’s own sunscreen (the yellow EOS in my running bag and SoftLips in my fuel belt) and I prefer spray sunscreen so I can apply it quickly myself.

Come back tomorrow as we’re moving on to my necessities for the actual race!

What are your must-haves before a race?

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Get It, Girl: How I Wear Activewear and a Sale for You!

I received complimentary product to review from Cents of Style and all opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

I’m currently training for my first marathon. I shared some of that story here, but I have to tell you that as the days have sped by and my marathon is only three weeks away, a little bit of fear has started to creep in.

I’ve been a runner for four years now. I hated running before that, but now it is so many things to me. Running is about a healthy body AND a healthy mind for me. I run because it helps clear my head. Running used to disgust me, now it makes me happy.

Running also provides a way to challenge myself and this is where fear can factor in. I never enter a race thinking I might win, but I always have goals and sometimes those goals are scary. Like this marathon.

If I let my mind wander for too long, I start to think, “I’ve never run longer than 20 miles – how will I make it 26.2?!” or “What if feel sick or get hurt or can’t finish the race?” It’s enough to make me want to back off, but I’m not going to be that person. I don’t ever want to be the person who backs away from challenge.

Since quitting is not an option and I won’t let fear get me down, I find ways to keep myself motivated, like fun activewear with great patterns and sayings that make me want to crush the run and reach that goal!

Cents of Style Activewear Sale

I love the phrase, “Get it, girl,” and I often use it to cheer on my friends in their healthy pursuits. I love that I have that phrase to encourage myself now, thanks to this awesome tank from Cents of Style! I have a half marathon coming up tomorrow and I’m planning to bust out a new PR, so I threw on this sweet tank with a pair of heathered yoga capris (also from Cents of Style) for my easy run yesterday. I felt pretty darn good and a little invincible – ready for the challenge of pushing myself to a new best this weekend! Go ahead – tell me to “get it, girl!”

Cents of Style Activewear

Here’s the fun part for you: the fun activewear collection from Cents of Style is 50% off today with the code ACTIVELOVE at checkout! This includes great tanks and capris like mine for $14.98 each, as well as more yoga pants and sports bras. There are some GREAT sayings on these tanks – I know you’ll find one that gets your motivated or puts a smile on your face!

COS Activewear Tanks

Whether you wear activewear to run, lift weights, or go to the grocery store, grab this fun deal before it’s gone! Use the code ACTIVELOVE to get 50% off AND free shipping today only!

I have to know: which tank is your favorite?

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Miles for Mercy + My First Marathon

I haven’t mentioned it much around here, but I’m running my first marathon this year.

I started training in February, the race is in May, and I already have a million thoughts about the process. This weekend I ran 17 miles – my longest run yet – which meant I also had almost three hours by myself to think. That’s a lot of thoughts!

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I’m going to try to write more about the marathon training journey here each week because I don’t want to forget what all of it felt like, but I wanted to start with one of the things keeping me motivated and a way for you to join me in the journey!

Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya, has been close to my heart since it first opened several years ago. I was a reader of Kristen’s (the founder) blog and, through her writing and photos, she took us along as girls were rescued, buildings were purchased, babies were born, and God showed up through it all. My heart is stirred each time we hear of a new girl in the house or a new baby being born. This is life and beauty out of a hard place, which makes it even more beautiful.

I’ve shared the story here before many times and now I want to take your involvement one step further! This marathon I will be running will not be just about me. I’m running for Mercy House and I need your donations!

#MilesForMercy

Here’s the deal:

I want to raise $10 for every mile of the marathon for a total of $262! I’m setting small goals along the way with my training, so let’s do the same with our fundraising goals!

I have signed up for several shorter races leading up to the Fargo Marathon on May 21. My first is a 10-mile race this weekend. I’m looking for TEN people to donate any amount before my race on Saturday morning! Will you be one of those TEN?! Just click below or head over to my fundraising page to get started!

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise
When you donate, you are supporting the amazing work of Mercy House, but I want to help you get even more involved. As a donor, I will email you a specific prayer request for the ministry that I will also be praying for during my race. 26.2 miles means 27 different people and needs to pray for along the way!

So many others are taking on this #MilesforMercy challenge, as well. In fact, most of them have already finished their races and I’m feeling a little alone on the tail end of the challenge, so I need you with me cheering me on and making a difference for the women and children of Mercy House! Let’s do this together!

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These Kids Are Runners!

I’ve been a runner for just over three years now. The Hubby started running a few months before me. Running has changed so many things about our lives for the better and our boys have taken notice.

This spring, our nine-year-old, Big J, mentioned he would like to do a 5K. We looked at the calendar and picked out a race in our area for the end of July. Big J and I sat down with the Couch to 5K plan and made a training plan for him to check off for eight weeks.

He amazed us during those eight weeks. If you don’t know about the Couch to 5K plan, it starts with long intervals of walking and short intervals of running. As the weeks progress, you walk less and run more. Big J did some runs with The Hubby or I outside, but many of them were on the treadmill. He was so dedicated and got through every single training run, even during the week he went to camp.

Along the way, Little J, our seven-year-old, decided he wanted to try the one-mile race on the same morning. He did some treadmill walking and a few spontaneous runs during his big brother’s baseball practice, but no formal training.

On race day, the one-mile race was first and Little J had Daddy by his side. We really had no idea what to expect from him, but when they took off, I thought it might be a while before they made their way back.

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Imagine my surprise when we saw Little J headed towards the finish line less than ten minutes later!

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The Hubby was surprised as well because Little J ran the whole time and finished with a time of 9:50! He came in second!

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Little J says he can’t wait to do his next race to get better and get another medal. I love it.

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Big J’s 5K race started a half hour later and I had the privilege of running with him. We said a little prayer before we started – for strength, endurance, and a fun experience!

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Summer races in Nebraska are not my favorite. Even with an early start, the humidity was no fun and the sun was shining down pretty bright. All of this just makes it even more impressive that Big J only walked for a few seconds a couple times the whole race. And he’s just like his mama – talking most of the time.

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I peeled off at the end of the race to let him finish on his own, sprinting those last few minutes with cheers and pictures and an announcer calling his name, telling everyone a nine-year-old was coming in at 34:53!

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Yes, I cried. When both kids crossed the finish line. The perseverance and determination they showed through training and the race left us incredibly proud. We saw a new side of them. Running means so much to us and we could see how much our boys enjoyed this running experience. These kids are runners and are already thinking about what races they want to do next, maybe when it is a little cooler!

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Our boys also know the best way to celebrate after a great race. We teach them well.

Are your kids interested in running? Have they ever run a race?

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