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.

14 Miles 1

I ran 14 miles. In one run.

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3 Ways to Become a More Physically Confident Runner

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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…

Running Form Race

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.

Running Form

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!

Great Long Run

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!

*****

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.

M2M Sleepover

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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M2M Renee + Me Last Leg

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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My Half Marathon Playlist!

I’ve shared with you some of the songs I enjoy running to, but I feel like you need to see the WHOLE playlist from my last half marathon to get an idea of what keeps me going step after step!

Half Marathon Playlist

A few things you might notice about this half marathon playlist:

  1. A lot of the songs are Christian songs, but not all.
  2. I like Glee music. In fact, it’s some of the only “popular” music I know. And I usually like the Glee version better, especially for running.
  3. I have some kids’ songs on my list. And they’re some of my favorites.
  4. It’s a really long playlist. And this is the cut down version. I like all of the songs on here and like the option of having any of them come up when I hit shuffle.

Here it is in all its eclectic glory…

My Half Marathon Playlist

  • After All {Holy} – David Crowder Band
  • Alive – Avalon
  • All Day – Hillsong United
  • All is Grace – Shaun Groves
  • All of Creation - MercyMe
  • All This Time – Britt Nicole
  • Awake My Soul – Chris Tomlin, featuring Lecrae
  • Beautiful Day – U2
  • Beautiful, Beautiful – Francesca Battistelli
  • Break Free – Hillsong United
  • Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
  • Do Everything – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ – Glee
  • Everywhere – Mark Schultz
  • Fighter – Christina Aguilera
  • Firework – Glee
  • Get Back Up – TobyMac
  • God’s Great Dance Floor – Chris Tomlin
  • Great I Am – New Life Worship
  • Hall of Fame – Glee
  • Hang On – Plumb
  • He Reigns – Newsboys
  • Hello, My Name Is – Matthew West
  • Hosanna – Hillsong United
  • How He Loves – David Crowder Band
  • I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas
  • I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
  • Just to Know You – Mark Schultz
  • Larger Than Life – Backstreet Boys
  • The League of Incredible Vegetables – Newsboys
  • Light Up the Sky – The Afters
  • Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher
  • Loser Like Me – Glee
  • Me Without You – TobyMac
  • Middle of Your Heart – For King & Country
  • My Life Would Suck Without You – Glee
  • Promises – New Life Worship
  • The Proof of Your Love – For King & Country
  • Psalms 100:1-2 {Make a Joyful Noise} – The Rizers
  • Raise Your Glass – Glee
  • Revelation Song – Gateway Worship
  • Set Free – Matt Redman & Chris Tomlin
  • Set the World on Fire – Britt Nicole
  • Shine – David Crowder Band
  • Sing – Glee
  • Start Me Up/Livin’ On a Prayer – Glee
  • Stronger – Mandisa
  • Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
  • Unbreakable – Fireflight
  • Wake Up – All Sons & Daughters
  • We’re All in This Together – High School Musical
  • You’ve Got a Home – Christa Wells
  • 2 Peter 3:18 {Glory, Glory, Glory} – The Rizers

 Would any of these songs make it on your running playlist?

I’m linking up with Works For Me Wednesday today! Check out all the great tips being shared over there today!

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A Dream Fulfilled Together

On Tuesdays, I’ve been writing about my God-sized dream, but there’s another dream that has been in the works here. Last Saturday, that dream was realized.

I’ve shared my running journey with you, but The Hubby has been on quite the running journey as well. In fact, he is the reason I started running at all.

The Beginning of the Dream

It all began in January of 2012. The Hubby started running and working out to be a better healthy example to his patients. He lost over 40 pounds in the process and discovered a love for running. Within a few months, he had run his first race – 10 miles – and a half=marathon less than two months later!

I was pregnant when he started running, but as soon as I was cleared to start exercising, I decided to give it a go. Running became something we both enjoyed and I worked my way through races, upping my distance slowly along the way.

We ran a half-marathon {my first} together in November and I would not have made it through that crazy course without him.

The Dream Grows

His running dream got a whole lot bigger after that – in fact, it doubled. He signed up for a marathon and got to work training. Marathon training is no joke, my friends. People should get a medal just for making it through training.

When race day arrived, anticipation was high. The boys and I had signs ready and spots picked out along the course to cheer him on. We yelled and screamed and caught the long sleeve shirt he threw at us at mile 6.5, and then cheered on several friends running that day at the same spot before we moved on.

And then he called. He should have still been running, so I was worried right away. He had turned his ankle at mile 9 and finished at the half. It was a major half PR for him, but it was still devastating. I was so proud of him, but I knew it hurt badly to see that dream slip away.

But God wasn’t finished with that dream.

I was all signed up to run my second half-marathon just two weeks later, and when The Hubby’s ankle was feeling better the day after the race, we decided he should register for the full marathon at the same event. He was still in training mode. Two weeks was just the perfect amount of time to try again.

We were blessed that my parents were willing and able to watch the boys so we could make this all happen. We dropped them off Friday afternoon and made our way up to Fargo!

The weather was stormy, which made me more nervous than The Hubby, but thankfully the storms moved out overnight and there was just a light drizzle when my race began. The full started 45 minutes after the half.

Although neither of us knew anyone along the route cheering us on, it was such a cool feeling to know we were both doing this at the same time. This race was my second half, but it was my first solo race, and knowing The Hubby was running twice as far as I was gave me a lot of strength when things got hard.

My first 7 miles were great – humid and warming up, but really fun. Fargo knows how to put on and support a race. The crowds were awesome, the course was flat, I was on a high…until mile 9. I had set three goals ahead of time, and I was still on track with two of them at that time, but the weather and my breathing forced me to adjust the last goal at that point.

I struggled through my last few miles, but I crossed the finish line with a new PR by over 22 minutes: 2:03:23!

And then I collapsed on a volunteer. It wasn’t pretty for a while after that – my lungs and the humidity had battled the whole race and I had given it everything I had and my body needed a little help to recover post-race. The medical volunteers were AMAZING. I am so grateful for their help and smiles and great attitudes.

But all I cared about was where The Hubby was and how his race was going. I am so thankful for friends and family who were able to update me on his progress when the map wouldn’t update on my phone. I said a prayer of thanks when he passed the halfway mark.

And then I waited. The finish line for all of us was in the FargoDome and the atmosphere inside was SO fun – a great distraction! When you see the running community together like that – people of all shapes and sizes and abilities but ALL runners – it is truly inspiring and emotional.

I knew The Hubby’s goal, but I also knew the weather had heated up considerably {anything over 60 makes it harder on runners and it was up to 75 at that point}. My best friend called me to say he had passed the 25 mile mark and I started crying. He was almost done.

The FargoDome had big screens up, two showing the runners as they came in from outside and two showing the finish line. My teary eyes were glued to the screen for any sign of him…

On the Screen blog

I snapped this picture of the screen and then pushed my way to the finish line just in time to yell and scream my heart out as The Hubby finished his first FULL MARATHON in 3:55:47!!! {It was loud in the dome, but he said he heard me loud and clear as he crossed – mission accomplished!}

Marathon Finish blog

DREAM REALIZED.

And now I’m crying again.

Marathon Done blog

I couldn’t be more proud of this guy. The way he trained, the way he rebounded from a setback, the way he persevered through the heat and humidity. And he humbled me by celebrating my race even more than his afterwards. I am blessed beyond measure.

Fargo Finishers blog.jpg

And I can’t even tell you how much it meant to go through that day together. We did separate races, but it felt like it was OUR thing. And there are few things quite as powerful and bonding as supporting each other all the way through to seeing a dream happen and knowing God was directing every step.

And the finisher medals  have Hebrews 12:1 on the back, the coolest reminder ever of just how we came to see the dream realized:

Fargo Medal.jpg

Honey, YOU are a rock star. I love you. What’s next?! :)

I would love to hear your story about dreaming with someone! How did you support one another? How did it improve

It was also part of my dream to raise money for Operation Christmas Child running as part of Team Samaritan’s Purse! We didn’t quite make our goal, but we still raised $238! Thank you SO much to all who donated and prayed for this race! YOU are part of the dream, as well, and a blessing to me!

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Let Him Pick the Song {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five-Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Song.

And go…

I’ve been messing with my playlist for months and tomorrow we’ll see how it serves me. Each song has been handpicked because of its words or beat or peppiness {is that even a word?!} and tomorrow those songs will keep me company as I run 13.1 miles.

I went back and forth about planning the order of the songs or just hitting shuffle as I cross the start line. I know certain songs get me more fired up than others and maybe if I put them at just the right mile, it will be enough to help me meet my goal.

But The Hubby said the best thing to me last night when I asked him what he would be doing.

“I figure God can put together a better playlist order than I can.”

Amen, dude. So I will let Him direct my steps and direct the songs and trust that He knows just the song I need to hear and just the right time.

Shuffle

Isn’t that how it works in the every day for me as well? Let go. Trust Him. Let Him sing into my life. It’s always more perfect when it is in His timing and not my own.

The surprise of that perfect song when the legs ache or the miles drag on – I can’t wait to see what song He picks.

Stop.

*****

Team Samaritan's Purse OCC

Tomorrow, I will run my second half-marathon. I’m excited and nervous and just want it to be here already, but I’m especially honored to be running to raise money for Operation Christmas Child with Team Samaritan’s Purse! We’re almost halfway to the $500 goal, but the hours are dwindling! I would love your prayers for the race and any help you can provide to support Operation Christmas Child! Thank you for praying, donating, and sharing as you feel led!

And take a few minutes to read the song-filled words of many other writers linked up over at Five Minute Friday today!

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