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Join Me for the Miracle Marathon!

Before you run away because I mentioned the word “marathon,” take a minute to read about this unique and MUCH easier marathon that everyone can do!

I’m thrilled to share that I’m serving as a lead blogger for this fall’s Miracle Marathon, specifically in support of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska! Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raise funds for 170 children’s hospitals across North America. When a donation is given it stays in the community, helping local kids. Awesome, right?!

Miracle Marathon

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I would be excited about an event that involves running and helping children! I started running just over two years ago and it is a major part of who I am now. I love that the Miracle Marathon gives me a chance to use my love for running to benefit others! And I want you to come along with me, whether you’re a runner or not!

The Miracle Marathon is a 27-day virtual fundraising campaign in which participants run/walk (or achieve forward motion of any kind!) one mile per day at their leisure. The first 26 days are completed at your own pace—wherever and whenever you want. On Day 27, the final 1.2 miles will be started as a group at 2:27 pm EST. Get it? It’s a marathon, plus a mile, for the kids! And it’s perfect for those of us who like the idea of completing a marathon but would rather not complete all the miles at once!

Please join me and register to support Children’s Hospital & Medical Center or another Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and tell your friends, too! And if you register as a Miracle Maker (you’ll receive fun swag!), you can use my special code MiracleErin to get a 10% discount off registration!

Did I mention we have a team?! I would love to have you join Team Home with the Boys, either as a Miracle Maker or as a donor, and help us raise $5,000 together! Just sign up here to join the team in one way or another and we’ll help kids together!

I’ll be sharing lots more about this as September 16th approaches, but let’s get the ball rolling with some donations and registrations for the kids this week!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Miracle Marathon.

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Personal Bests

I approached my last race weekend without a clear goal. After having run a sub-2:00 half marathon in the fall, I wanted to pace a friend for their own personal half goal, but that plan fell through and I was left running the half by myself and not really sure of my aim for this race.

The Hubby, on the other hand, had a very big goal in his marathon: to qualify for the Boston Marathon. As he would move up to the next age bracket in time for next year’s marathon, he needed to run a 3:10 marathon or less to qualify. This was just his second marathon, but he is the most dedicated, hard-working person I know, and it didn’t seem crazy to me at all that he would shoot to take 45+ minutes off his previous marathon time.

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We chose to race in Fargo again because we love the flat course and the friendly people. And the weather that day added to the reasons we love Fargo – 45 degrees and no wind at the start. A runner’s dream weather.

Because of that weather, great crowds, and a healthy body, I decided to make another sub-2:00 half my goal for the day.

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It was hard, but it was fun. It was all about me and Jesus. I was constantly praying and calling on His strength to get me through. And He got me there in 1:58:43! A new PR for me by 50 seconds! And I remembered to look happy as I crossed the finish line! {see this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about}

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The best part about doing a half on the same day The Hubby does a full is I can be at the finish line when he comes through. Because of tracking, I could tell approximately where he was, and at the 20 mile update, I was worried. He was five minutes off where he wanted to be. I had no idea what he was thinking or how he was doing, so I just prayed – for God to give him strength and for him to know this race was a success no matter his finishing time.

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I get super emotional at races, so when I saw him come around the corner with just a few hundred feet to go, I started crying and yelling a whole lot to cheer him on. And that’s when I saw the best sight: he was smiling. A HUGE smile. With arms flexed, he crossed the finish line after running 26.2 miles in 3:19:22. AMAZING. 36 minutes faster than his previous marathon. 36 MINUTES.

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I couldn’t have been more proud and he felt the same. I think I was even more proud of him than I would have been if he had qualified for Boston that day because he trusted God + his training and listened to his body and did the very best he could do in those given moments. What could have been a great big disappointment was an overwhelming success for him because he had set more than one goal for the day, and he met two of those three goals – a new PR and breaking 3:20. He’ll have another shot at Boston. I just know it. But he wouldn’t have another shot at enjoying the accomplishment of that race on that day. I love how he latched on to the achieved goals and floated through the rest of the day on Cloud 9! I don’t think he stopped smiling for even a moment the rest of the weekend.

What did I take away from this day? Joy. A little stomach discomfort for the afternoon, but mostly lots of joy. An appreciation for setting several goals at different levels for one event, knowing some things just aren’t in our control. And the realization that we must always celebrate progress and personal bests.

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It is such a bonding experience for us to share this love of running. These race weekends away are fun, but knowing that your best friend in the world really gets what you love is just the best. And celebrating personal bests together is even better!

Congrats, honey! I am SO proud of all the hard work you poured in to this marathon and your freaking awesome finish time! You are my inspiration + hero! I love you!

 

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Why Race? {4 Reasons to Sign Up}

The Hubby and I are about to tackle another race this weekend: his second full marathon and my fourth half.

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In between all of those, we have done many other races of varying lengths – 5K, 10K, 10 mile, 15K, relays, and so on. Some people would say we are crazy to take on several races a year and keep paying race fees to participate, but we definitely have our reasons, and based on the turnout for most of the races we attend, I’d say a lot of people would agree!

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If you’ve haven’t taken a step into the world of racing yet, let me give you a few good reasons why you should consider it…

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The Motivation

Having a date circled on the calendar for my next race is extremely motivating. When you pay a race registration fee, you’re probably going to be more invested in your training so that money is not wasted. There is also the motivation of telling others you are doing a race and then wanting to give it your best shot for accountability reasons. For internally motivated runners, the idea of setting a personal record at a race is more than enough to get them running faster and longer! I keep signing up for races to keep my momentum going!

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The Gear

I’m not going to lie: I love getting race shirts and medals and all the other fun things that can come along with a race! And most of the big races have great expos the night before where you can check out the latest and greatest running gear and get lots of samples! Yes, we do have our race medals proudly displayed in our home! And yes, I LOVE dressing up for fun runs!

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The Atmosphere

Everything feels alive and exciting on race day. There is such a buzz in the air. And I love that most of the races I have done are in fairly unfamiliar areas for me, so I’m experiencing new scenery as I run. The start line, the signs along the way, and especially the finish line are all special and unique at each race and often set the tone for a fun run!

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The Community

This is reason #1 we keep going back for more races. There is nothing quite like the running community. Chatting with other runners anxiously as you wait for the gun to go off, the people who cheer you on as they pass you or vice versa, people lining the course with hilarious signs and lots of encouraging words, the shouts and whistles as you cross the finish line…if you haven’t experienced the community that happens at a race, sign yourself up for one NOW. I have never attended a race where I felt judged or unwelcome – I’ve always started the race with the contagious excitement that surrounds me and left feeling like runners are some of the best people in the world. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking a charity 5K or running a marathon, the community that happens on race day is one of my favorite things ever.

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And I can’t help but think of this verse when I am at the starting line of a race…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

I’m super excited for our race this weekend, but I know we are both feeling the nerves as well! If we come to mind, would you please pray for The Hubby and I? The race is Saturday morning and we would love prayers for healthy bodies + tough minds, great {cool} weather, a FUN race, and for God to be our strength + guide for every single step! Thank you SO much!

What do you love about races? Do you have one coming up?

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14 Miles

I ran 14 miles this weekend. In one run.

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I might not believe it if it weren’t for the fact that God made me hyper-aware of everything I was feeling and seeing and hearing during those 14 miles. It’s like He didn’t want me to forget a single thing about my longest run ever, one that only He could get me through.

It was 36°, sunny, a little wind here and there, but nothing unbearable. Only a runner would think this was a great day to run, right? But it totally was.

Of course I needed to use the bathroom once I got to the lake but it was locked for the winter. No worries – a port-a-potty saved me just before mile 2!

From my very first steps, I was surrendering the whole run to Him. 14 miles is daunting, terrifying, not my everyday thing. I needed Him from step one. And I felt Him the whole way.

My lungs were not cooperating the first few miles. I have exercise-induced asthma so this is an ongoing battle with varying degrees of difficulty based on the season, weather, my health, etc. I needed to adjust to the chilly air and the wind in my face at times, but as I warmed up, they worked with me better, too!

I run at a beautiful lake in town when I can and there is always something new to discover. That day I heard lots of fun new bird calls, probably from birds just happy to see a little warmth and sun returning to the area!

The lake was still frozen, but ice and snow and thawing and refreezing had given it the appearance of white caps in the middle of a windy summer day. In the few thawed spots near the shore, geese were hopping in and out of the water and making all kinds of noise.

My plan was five easy pace miles to start, followed by five miles at my goal race pace, and then four “easy” miles to finish it out. The fast miles started and actually seemed to help my breathing a bit…and I ended up going a little faster than planned!

Halfway through my fast miles, I rounded the corner to my car to grab a drink of water and found my guys waiting there to cheer me on! They had left a note on my car in case they missed me! That was just the boost I needed to power through the second half of my run!

The last mile of my race pace miles was a little less…fun. My knees were feeling a little achy on any hills, and this last mile had a big hill followed by a long stretch across a dam…into the wind. As this was mile 10, I was not really looking for an extra challenge, but it felt GREAT to just tackle it!

When you run around a lake two whole times, you’re bound to cross paths with some of the same people out running or biking or walking, and in this case, some of them several times. I try to smile at everyone I pass at least, even saying hi if I can muster it up – I can’t help it, it’s that positivity thing in me – and at this point I was getting lots of “sympathy” and “empathy” smiles. You could probably tell I have been running for a long time and some of these people had been, too! I even got a “Hot damn!” from a guy running the other way around mile 11 – it seemed to be in response to how many times I had passed him running, but my hubby thinks he had other thoughts :)

Just before mile 11 was also when my FitBit told me I had reached my calories burned goal for the day! It was only 3 p.m.! That was a good laugh.

I try not to do much counting down during along run, but once I passed ten miles, this mentality was totally helping out: “I only have ‘x’ miles left! I can totally do this!”

Miles 11, 12, 13 felt GREAT! I was supposed to be back down to my easy pace but when my Garmin chimed for each mile, I realized I was never quite as slow as I intended.

Yes, I did look at my Garmin the very moment I passed 13.1 miles, my previous distance PR, and I couldn’t believe I was almost there. Every step now was the farthest I had ever run at one time. It seemed appropriate that an older gentleman that had walked past me once or twice passed me not long after and gave me a nod and a thumbs up.

I’m not going to lie. As great as 11, 12, and 13 felt, I was starting to feel the drag during mile 14. I just kept wondering why my watch hadn’t beeped yet and looking for landmarks that might help me figure out how much farther I had to go!

And then it beeped. 14.02 miles. 2:11:45. BAM.

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And yes, my earwarmer was upside down the whole time.

I still had about a half mile to walk back to my car and my legs weren’t thrilled about that at first, but I was grateful for that cool down time, both physically and mentally – a little time to just savor the outdoors and the accomplishment of a new distance PR.

I ran the whole thing by myself, without music, and probably wrote 37 blog posts as I ran, of which only about two could be remembered worth anything afterwards. I prayed a lot and even talked out loud to God. I did not have one bored moment during the run – only peace and determination and a whole lot of dependence on the One who created this body and gives it every ounce of strength. It was all a very reflective time until…

I got back to the car and it wouldn’t unlock. I had kept the key fob in my bra the whole time and it got sweat in it. Well, this car needs that fob, because when I just used the key to open the door, it set off the car alarm. Let the embarrassment and panic ensue. It all worked out, but I will not be carrying a fob in my bra ever again!

I gulped down a bottle of coconut water to hydrate and headed home. I called The Hubby to tell him I was done and broke down in tears. Doing something you’ve never done before and never thought you could do can be pretty emotional!

In the past I’ve had trouble with stomach issues after long, hard runs, but since learning how to fuel and hydrate my body better, I’ve had very few issues. It was such a blessing to be able to scarf down a pizza after my shower, and then get right to work making a carb-loading dinner for The Hubby whose long run would be the next day. Sure, I was sore and tired, but I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse and that made the day even more of a win!

My longest run ever day ended just perfectly. Big J wanted to do everything he could to help me get comfortable – helping with a coaster for my smoothie, getting my ice packs ready, carrying things upstairs for me, volunteering to stay up all night massaging my legs! I took him up on everything but the all-night massage.

After foam-rolling and icing, I just soaked in the gift of this day and this life and drifted off for a really sound sleep.

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I ran 14 miles. In one run.

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3 Ways to Become a More Physically Confident Runner

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I love talking to women about running. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know running is a new passion of mine in the last two years. After years and YEARS of despising even the thought of running, this love snuck up on me out of nowhere and it is now part of me until God says I can run no longer.

In many conversations, I’ve heard women describe how self-conscious they feel when running. They are worried about what is “jiggling” or they feel like they are plodding along or they wonder if they look like Phoebe running through the park. Please tell me you get this Friends reference…

I totally get these feelings. I’ve felt all of them. And I want to tell you and every woman that IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU’RE RUNNING. What matters is YOU ARE RUNNING!

I’m going to make you all feel better for a moment. You’ve seen my triumphant photos from races, with hands raised, smiling from ear to ear. What you haven’t seen is the photos taken during those races where I look I will literally fall over and die any second. There are so many of these, but I didn’t purchase all of them because who wants to remember looking that way?! But this captures at least a part of my mid-race look of death…

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And the photos from the finish line of that race? This is one of the better ones. Oh heavens…

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I did actually collapse on a volunteer moments after this photo was taken and ended up overheated in the medical tent, but still. We don’t all look gorgeous while running and these pictures are Exhibit A!

That being said, there are a few easy things you can do to be a more physically confident runner. And these things will also help you run stronger, faster, and longer. Trust me. I’ve tried them all.

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Stand Tall

Running is a full-body workout. Yes, it is very lower body intensive, but what goes on above the waist is very important as well. When you hunch over during a run, you are impeding several functions of the body that could be helping you on your run! As someone with mild asthma, I am very aware of my breathing while running. Improving my upper body posture while running has helped me to manage my breathing much more effectively because I’m giving my lungs room to work! Standing tall also allows your core to be more engaged while you run – yes, running really will help strengthen your abs and a strong core will improve your running!

And have you ever ran in front of a mirror or reflective window? You might want to do it more often to train yourself to stand up straighter. I didn’t really notice how often I was letting my shoulders slump down during a run until the windows at our gym revealed it to me! Now I know what it feels and looks like to be running tall so I can correct it wherever I am. I’m keeping my head up more now, as well! We SHOULD hold our head high as we run! Plus, your mother always told you to stand up straight! Listen to her while running!

Arm Swing

The windows at the gym revealed something else to me: I looked a little ridiculous with the amount of arm-swinging I had going on. And I was also wasting a lot of unnecessary energy moving my arms wildly across my body hoping they would make me fly or something. I’m still working on this one, but when I focus on moving my elbows just from front to back at my side at a 90° angle with my hands lightly clasped, a lot of tension goes away and I can focus more on my stride. And I don’t have to worry I might accidentally smack myself in the face with an errant hand.

Foot Strike

If you feel like you’re plodding along while running, you just might be. During my second half marathon, it was very warm and humid and I was having trouble breathing. I was definitely plodding, even shuffling sometimes and it made the whole process of finishing the race even more grueling. I remember feeling like it was such work to pick up my feet and I forgot how to make my feet work FOR me in this situation.  There are many schools of thought on which part of your foot should strike first, so if you’re really interested, I would suggest reading more about it from Runner’s World or the ladies at Another Mother Runner in their books Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother {LOVED them both}.

But here is the important part: you should feel like your feet are helping to propel you forward. I think I tend to land more towards my heel and then roll forward and push off from the ball – a product of years of marching band – but I am wanting to study my strike more this year to see how it could improve all areas of my running. Having a good strike makes you feel more like you are running effortlessly and less like a horse! It also will help you prevent injury.

In focusing on these three things, I have noticed how strong and confident I now feel when running. Even in the midst of horrific speed work or hill repeats, I am reminding myself of the ways my whole body can work together to get me through and even improve!

If you’ve ever felt afraid to run in public, first of all, FORGET THAT because all those cars driving past you on the trail aren’t out there burning mega calories like you are! And then try these tips to show yourself and them that you ARE a confident runner, no matter the speed or distance you’re traveling!

One last note: If you have a running store near by, they are usually very helpful in analyzing your stride and foot strike if you’re having trouble with this or wanting more input on the topic! And they will give you great information on the types of shoes that will work best for your stride/strike/running needs!

How do you feel when you’re running?

 

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Five Tips for a Great Long Run!

If you’ve been running for a little while, but have stuck to the three or four mile distance, this is the perfect time to start upping your mileage! Before you know it, the weather will start to warm up and make outdoor longer runs much more bearable. We are hitting the prime season to start training for a half-marathon in my neck of the woods. You could find yourself knocking out 8, 10, or even 12 miles on a crisp, spring weekend morning!

Long runs aren’t exactly easy, and they do require some thought and planning ahead, but they CAN be fun and The Hubby and I wanted to share our top five tips for a good long run experience!

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1. Fuel Your Body

Your body needs fuel to function properly and that is even more important when you are running long distances. If you’ve only been running shorter distances, you probably haven’t had to eat during a run and eating before your run wasn’t crucial, but all of that changes with a long run!

Carbs the night before are a good idea, but don’t go overboard for every long run. The Hubby and I both prefer to eat a little something about an hour and half before the run – a half a banana or an English muffin with a little peanut butter. As far as during the run, according to Runner’s World:

Runners need to add in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate each hour that they are running longer than 75 minutes…Start taking in fuel within 30 minutes of hitting the pavement.

This past weekend, during my nine-mile run on the TREADMILL {blech}, I used fruit snacks and ate some at miles 3, 5, 7, and 8. That worked really well for me this time around! Sports Beans are my fuel of choice, but fruit snacks and Lemonheads have worked well in a pinch for me! The Hubby also likes Clif Shot Bloks.

2. Hydrate Well

I have learned this lesson the hard way. I have spent many afternoons post-race or post-long run sick because of dehydration. Drinking plenty of water is important on a regular basis, but even more so leading up to a long run. If I’m doing a morning long run, I drink water as soon as I get up.

Then there is the issue of hydrating DURING the run. The weather, the distance, and your body will determine how much water you need to drink during the run, but for me I always underestimated how much I would need. So how do you get that water in when there won’t be perfectly spaced water stations? I prefer to carry a small bottle that straps to my hand like this one. For longer runs and/or hotter days, drop water bottles along your route where you can grab them quick as you come by! Just don’t forget where you left them so you can pick up after yourself!

And drink well afterwards! You could also use Gatorade during and after to help replace lost electrolytes.

3. Take It Easy

Long runs are actually supposed to be quite a bit slower than your “normal” or goal pace. For example I was hoping to run my last half-marathon at an overall 9:08 minutes per mile pace. During training, my pace for my long runs {10-14 miles} was between 10:30 and 11:30 minutes per mile. It really feels like you’re crawling along, but it’s a great way to build your endurance and that’s the point of long runs! {And yes, with those slow long runs, I DID beat my goal!}

If you’re training for a race and trying to meet a time goal, you’re going to want to throw speed work into your plan as well. You can work on that even in your long runs, running 3/4 of your run at the slow pace and the last 1/4 at your goal pace. Most of the run is still “taking it easy” but you get a little taste of finishing strong for your race!

4. Plan Some Distractions

My distraction of choice is a running partner, but that is just not always possible. My next choice is great music. I’ve posted a few times about my running playlists here and here and they are seriously inspiring to me. Another great distraction is a good podcast. It almost feels like you’re running with a friend having a great conversation, but you don’t have to talk at all and can just focus on your breathing! Lately, it’s been a great “distraction” for me to run WITHOUT music. The Hubby has done so as well and says that enjoying the fresh air and nature around him is a wonderful distraction.

5. Mix It Up

Run somewhere different than you normally run. Do the first few miles at a slower pace, push yourself in the middle, and end at an easier pace. Don’t make your long runs the same old thing every time or you will get bored and being bored while running makes it much harder to push yourself!

I went from not being a runner at all to running a half marathon in nine months and these tips were very helpful for getting me there. Increase your mileage gradually and you’ll be running longer and enjoying {most of} it, too!

What helps you get through a long run? What questions do you have about running longer distances?

 

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The Family That Runs Together…

A friend recently told me Thanksgiving Day is now the most road-raced day in the country! And while we weren’t in a road race, our family joined the many others racing Thanksgiving morning before consuming all the yummy holiday food!

The Hubby ran a trail half marathon {the same one we did last Thanksgiving} in much colder, windier temps than we endured last year! He also crushed our time from last year without me to slow him down, but said it was much lonelier!

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And the boys asked the night before Thanksgiving if they could run the 400m Lil’ Gobbler trail run with me after Daddy’s race! Of course, we said yes! So we bundled up to cheer on The Hubby and then run a little ourselves…

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It was the boys’ first official race and we were so proud of them for taking it on, especially in that weather! Brrr! The Hubby and Double J stayed in the van to keep warm while we did the Lil’ Gobbler, so the boys ran to show them their medals after the race!

To cap off our running holiday, I did a Jingle Bell Run to benefit the Arthritis Foundation the day after Thanksgiving! I love a good fun run for charity! 

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They gave each of us jingle bells to tie to our shoelaces and we ran through beautifully lit up areas for Christmas! Fun and festive! And a 8:52 pace – not too shabby!

I love that we all got a little running in this holiday – even Double J did a few laps around the table! The family that runs together, right?!

Did you do a race or fun run this past long weekend? What are your favorite holiday races?

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Day 20: I Don’t HAVE to… Be a Runner

31 Days of NOT Having It All Banner

Are you sick of hearing me talk about running on here yet?!

Over the past year and a half, running has become a big part of my life and the life of my family. After HATING running for so long – I was the kid walking the mile during gym class or trying to figure out ANY way at all to get out of it – I had no idea how much I would love it at age 32.

Running is my way to stay healthy and fit. Running is my stress relief. I have accomplished goals I never thought I would reach in my wildest dreams through running.

But running isn’t for everyone.

Be a Runner

Running may be everywhere you turn these days, but you don’t HAVE to be a runner. Yes, I just had a little trouble saying that because I feel like if I could become a runner, ANYBODY could become a runner.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Hubby is a runner, too. He started about four months before I did. He is fast. And he has run a marathon. And he had NEVER liked running before he joined a gym that January and got started on a treadmill.

His job as a physician lends itself well to sharing his path to physical fitness, especially with patients who want or need to make changes for health reasons. He lost a lot of weight and changed his lifestyle through running, but he makes it a point to tell his patients that they don’t have to be runners. They just have to do something.

If you’ve given running a try and did not enjoy one moment, it’s ok! Maybe a fitness class or DVD at home is your thing. Biking or walking or hiking might be the healthy choice for you.

I had the best time in a Zumba class at our YMCA last year. Of course, the dancing was super fun. I will never be a good dancer, but that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had exercising. But I REALLY loved the class because it was a wide variety of women – all ages, shapes, and ethnic backgrounds – enjoying themselves while taking care of their bodies.

That is also why I love belonging to our YMCA. It’s not a gym where everyone looks like they just jumped off the pages of a fitness magazine. You will find every kind of person working out there and I am inspired by each one. Walking on the treadmill, climbing away on the stair stepper, rocking out in the spin class,  lifting weights, playing basketball. Our YMCA is the perfect picture of people finding their own way to stay healthy and just doing it.

Don’t get hung up on the running thing because it seems like everyone is doing it. If you ask me if you should try running, I’ll probably say yes. But if you don’t like it, I will also be the first to tell you to move on to something you love!

You don’t HAVE to be a runner, but please find something you love to get yourself moving and healthy!

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If you are wanting to start exercising or need some fresh ideas or motivation for health + fitness, I would love to talk with you! I am a Beachbody coach and would so enjoy answering any questions you might have and walking alongside you in your health journey! Email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com and we’ll get started! There’s even a holiday challenge you could start with us this Monday!

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Day 17: I Don’t HAVE to… Post on the Blog Every Day!

31 Days of NOT Having It All Banner

My 31 Days of NOT Having It All series was well planned out, but I did not write all of the posts ahead. Bad blogger, I know.

When last week became very busy, I had to decide whether to cram in some hurried blog posts just to fill the 31 days OR be present in my “real life” and help diffuse some of the crazy. Real life won.

I stressed about messing up the whole 31 days things for about an hour. Then the guilt went away. And I had an AMAZING weekend.

I missed writing a little bit, but I knew, after living some great offline life over the weekend, I would have a much clearer mind, fuller heart, and the fresh motivation to continue where I left off.

Bloggers – you don’t HAVE to post every day. Take a break. Live life so you can write about it. And feel no guilt in the process. Your readers AND your family and friends will probably – or definitely – be grateful you did.

A few highlights of life while I was neglecting 31 Days…

Carb loading at HuHot…

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Waiting in the cold with one of my bestest friends {of 25 years!} to run the Fargo Mini Marathon…

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Janna, The Hubby, and I all PRed in the half, despite the COLD and WIND! 

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My goal was to break 2:00 and I NEVER would have made it in that wind without Janna pushing me the whole way. I sounded like I might die during those last few miles in the wind, but we finished strong, her at 1:59:29 and me at 1:59:32!

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The Hubby was WELL ahead of us, finishing in 1:34:36, a new PR by 21 seconds. Yes. He is SUPER fast.

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And the best part is he was waiting for me at the finish. Totally the best. I absolutely love running races with this guy.

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We also got to celebrate my dad’s birthday and The Hubby’s dad’s birthday this weekend. They both turn 60 this week, just four days apart! It was so special to celebrate with each of them!

My dad…

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 And the fam…

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And while we were off running, the boys had a blast at Grandpa and Grandma’s and made these adorable pumpkins!

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Happy fall! And stay tuned as I play a little catch up with 31 Days this week!

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Market to Market: 78.7 Miles with My Girls!

It might not sound like your ideal girls’ weekend, but running 78.7 miles as a group with some of my best girlfriends last weekend was all kinds of awesome.

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Market to Market is a relay from {somewhere near} Omaha’s Old Market to Lincoln’s Haymarket. 500 teams of 6, 7, or 8 people run 78.7 miles total throughout the day, running the last .3 miles as a team to cross the finish line!

My friend Julie entered the lottery to get a team and asked me to join her and six other dear friends on this crazy running adventure and of course, I said YES!

We spent the night at Julie’s parents’ house in Omaha so we could be closer to the beginning of the race since we had to leave that house at 5:30 a.m. to start the race at 6:20 IN THE MORNING {It’s really dark at that time, in case you didn’t know.}

Despite our need to rise early, we spent the night before like we were having a sleepover – trying on our outfits, painting our nails all sparkly, staying up way too late.

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Oh, and grocery shopping. When you’re running ALL DAY LONG, you need to eat and drink, obviously. There was also van decorating because we wanted everyone to know that we were Team Sparkle!

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Teams were actually beginning their waves of the race as early as 5:00 a.m., but as I mentioned, our start time was 6:20. With eight members on our team, each member had two or three legs during the day. Each leg was between 2.7 and 5.5 miles. Each runner would run somewhere between 6 and 13.1 miles by the end of the day.

I was Runner #2, running three legs total – 3.4 miles, 5.5 miles, and 2.9 miles, plus the .3 team finish. You would think those shorter distances spread out would make the day not too difficult. You would think wrong.

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First handoff!

My first run was glorious. It was still dark and chilly when I started. I love running in the cold. Night gear I could do without, but it was still fun! That leg was all in Omaha on a paved trail and a great way to start the day!

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We weaved our way out of Omaha, dropping off and picking up runners, checking out the fun costumes and decorated vans of other teams. We even stopped to tailgate a little with these guys who were handing out warm hot dogs!

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My second leg was not what I expected at all. I knew it would be long, but the hills were quite a surprise, as was running on a highway with no shoulder! Thankfully, cars were very aware of us and moved over with no problems. The hills on the other hand, were not so fun. Nice, gradual, LONG hill after hill. But all of that was rewarded with the loveliest rural scenery and fall foliage, as well as running across the Platte River. I felt like that river crossing was a huge blessing from God – flat and gorgeous – so I had to stop and take a few pics!

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Oh, and I had to stop for a train. I thought that was funny.

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After my second leg, the hip flexors really started to ache. Turns out running and then sitting in a van for hours is not so good for those muscles! We did get out at very exchange point to cheer on runners, which was also a great chance to stretch and do some stick rolling on those sore muscles. On a side note, I don’t think I’ve used a port-a-potty so many times in one day in my entire life. Staying well hydrated + lots of running = lots of potty breaks for all.

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I saw parts of Nebraska I had never seen before as we made our way from point to point in our 15 passenger van. We stopped in lots of fun little towns and in the middle of cornfields and on gravel roads. What would a race through Nebraska be without cornfields?!

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Leg #3 looked pretty easy in the race packet, but my legs disagreed! But again, the scenery was so beautiful and everyone I passed and that passed me {more of the latter} was so encouraging and happy to be out there.

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A girl has to stash her running fuel and inhaler somewhere, right?!

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THAT is why I love races – the community is just awesome and Market to Market did not disappoint in this area! Fast or slow didn’t matter {at least to us!} – we were all running the same distance and having a great time with our teams!

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And speaking of teams, Team Sparkle was just THE. BEST. Conquering a race like that is made even more awesome when it’s done with wonderful friends. These girls made the day amazing and I definitely teared up as we ran the last o.3 miles together.

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Wind block for the next runner!

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Sparkle skirts made by our very own team member, owner of The Berry Patch

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Finish a leg of the race, check your box!

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A proper reward for finishing my miles!

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My awesome guys surprised me at the end!

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Team Sparkle – Market to Market 2013!

Love those girls. Loved the whole day. I can’t wait to do all it again next year!

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