Thursday, September 15, 2016


This morning, I returned from my run in tears.  Sometimes you have good runs.  Sometimes you experience the bad.  This morning was just an emotional one for me. 
I was running my typical 5K route around my neighborhood.  The little one was sleeping in the jogging stroller.  The sun was shining and the weather was perfect.  I was planning my day, goal-setting, soul-searching and contemplating opportunities in my head.  You know, the typical daily thoughts that go through a runner's head.  As I was circling back around at the half-way point, I approached an elderly gentleman.  I maneuvered the stroller to the side to let him pass.  As I approached him he smiled, then tipped his hat.  He said something and encouraged me to take out my head phones.
"What was that?", I asked, removing my head phones.
"You are setting a good example for your little one, there", he said.
(stunned) "Thank you.".
"She looks content.  She's going to be stronger one day because of you".
(jaw drops) "Why, thank you so much.".
"You both have a good day".
"We will.  Thank you.  Enjoy your walk.".

I immediately broke down in tears, as I logged my final mile home.  It touched me.  It moved me.  The run and the moment felt *right*. 
The day prior, I was wearing my Fellow Flowers Green Courage Tee at Target.
Three years ago, I was gifted the tee from Mel at Fellow Flowers.  Yes, *THE* Mel from Fellow Flowers.  She believed in me, as I was taking the steps to making Running Diva Mom legit, a reality and continuing to follow my passion towards helping others achieving goals.
As I was shopping for an anniversary card for my husband in Target, an elderly man approached me on his scooter.  He smiled at my daughter and started a conversation.

"Courage", he said.
"Oh ... yes.", I replied, as I realized that he was reading my shirt.
"Your daughter is sweet ... and her mama must have a lot of courage".
"Yes, I'd like to think that I do.", I replied.
"I am 92, can no longer walk, but I still am strong and have been courageous my whole life.  I could tell you stories of the war and the courageous battles we fought.  We were brave.  But I have fought courageous battles my whole life.  And I always survived.".
"Wow, I am sure you did.", I replied.
He went on to tell me what the Bible states about 'courage' and how much you need it throughout life.
He finished with, "You continue to be courageous and enjoy your little one."

As I contemplate and plan all of the paths that I am taking through life, I only see these two recent interactions as great signs of great things to come.  Either that, or there are only little-old-men and stay-at-home moms out-and-about on a Wednesday afternoon.

Be courageous.  Be brave.  Be you.

I Run Wisconsin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Life is but a dream - together.

So, there was a boy who didn't run ...
And a girl who ran ... a lot ...
The girl was looking for a boy, but it had to be the right boy.  She had so much love to give and had such a passion for running.  And the girl was looking for someone to love her two children, just as much as he loved her.  Someone that had that much love to go around - had to also be passionate about something in their life.  It didn't have to be running.  But they had to understand her dreams and commitment to the sport.
The girl didn't care that the boy didn't like to run. But, he was curious enough to ask her to go for a run one day.  So, one dark, snowy January night they headed outdoors - to run together.  Those steps in the snow would develop into an amazing love story.  Running made their love grow deeper and stronger, as she watched the boy change.  Her passion became his passion.  Her therapy became his therapy.  Their lives became one.
The boy ran his first 5K within months of dating.  Six months later they flew across the country to run his first half marathon together.  And the following spring they crossed the finish line of his first 26.2 mile adventure together - in the rain - hand-in-hand.  Months after that, they said their vows in front of 140 family and friends.
The boy and the girl exchanged vows that they had written themselves.  Vows that they would reflect on every single day. 

I ___, take you ___, to be my ___.I promise to be your faithful partner,your best friend,and your one true love.I promise to encourage you each day,to support your struggles,and to believe in your dreams.I promise to listen to you deeply,to embrace each concern,and to resolve every conflict.I promise to appreciate you always,to take you for better or for worse,but not take you for granted.I love you today,and I will love you just as deeply always.

Just like their vows stated, the boy has fully supported the girl's dreams and goals.  He's motivated her to set more goals and do everything possible to attain them.  He's pushed her to grow her passion into a thriving business, while connecting with other runners and proving to other women that their dreams can become a reality.   Their life together has changed, become more complex and hurdles have been added - but they navigated the route together hand-in-hand and conquered every hurdle together.
Now the boy has goals of his own.  As the three year anniversary of their vows are being celebrated, he has committed to one major goal - completing Ironman in 2017. 
The girl was fearful that this commitment may change them or stand in their way.  But, she finally realized that her dreams are his.  And his dreams are hers, too.  And as their vows state, that they will support each other fully.  The commitment is not an obstacle - it is just another dream to navigate - together.

Life is but a dream - together.


Monday, September 12, 2016

96 miles.

It's September 12.  Less than two weeks into the month.  This is my favorite time of year to be pounding the pavement.  I'm really feeling in my groove.  I'm not necessarily feeling fast.  But I'm feeling stronger.  Leaner.  And like my endurance is at it's best.  I have a number of big races coming up in October and November ... two marathons and two half marathons.
I just added up my mileage for the month of September so far.  And I had to add it up three times.  I thought I'd made a mistake.  96 miles.  96 miles??  96 miles!!  Just twelve days into the month.  Sometimes that is what I've ran an entire month previously.  96 miles. 
This week marks my eleven year running anniversary.  And before that I hadn't ran 96 miles in my entire life.  Just those one mile runs at the end of every year of high school.  That scared girl with low-self esteem.  She finished at the back of the pack.  Huffing and puffing.  Walking and wishing it was over.  No confidence.  Not knowing what she was capable of.
It just goes to prove what can be done with passion.  With goals.  With a plan.  With commitment.  With support.  With confidence.
And with smarts.  I'm taking tomorrow off.

Wet miles.

I coached 17 miles in the cold rain on Saturday morning! Yuck! A warm shower and some coffee were never so much appreciated. Big shout-out to Traci who pushed herself along to her first double digit run ... Ten miles!!

34 pounds gone.

34 pounds gone! So much more fun shopping when things fit. Six new pairs of pants. All approved by my tween!

Just the girls.

Completed my second run on Sunday morning with these two beauties. No complaining from either of my training partners. #fitfamily #intervals

Eleven years ago.

Eleven years ago this weekend, I watched a friend compete in Ironman Wisconsin. The inspirational athletes gave me the motivation I needed to get off the couch, focus on me and try to run around my neighborhood. Small steps turned into miles, then races, 5ks, half marathons and then marathons. And now it's my passion that I am can now share with others. It has changed my whole world. It was such a joy watching my son and husband volunteer at a run aid station at Ironman yesterday. Life and this sport are such an amazing journey.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 2016 Half Marathon Race Report

I returned to the windy city this summer for another epic race.  This time it was a repeat of Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  The race took place mid-July and I would be serving as a Team Chocolate Milk ambassador, something that I have been doing for the past two years.  Learn how science proves that chocolate milk can help with muscle recovery.  Chocolate milk contains the perfect ratio of carbs to protein to aid in muscle recovery after a long run or workout.
My family and I got on the road early and headed down to McCormick Place for the huge race expo.  Parking was extremely pricey for the couple of hours that we were there and we had to walk a ton from one end of the building to the expo.  But, it was fun and we enjoyed browsing the booths and tried tons of free samples.  I also picked up a magnet and a couple of running tanks. 
After the expo, we parked in one of the parking garages downtown, walked around and grabbed some lunch.  We followed that up with a walking cupcake tour of Chicago.  For 90 minutes, we visited six different bakeries and carb-loaded with cupcakes.  We always love food tours, but this is the first one that the kids had joined us on.  It was super fun and a great way to experience the city.
After a long day being tourists, we headed back up to Schaumburg where we were staying.  Hotels were extremely costly in downtown Chicago that weekend - especially for the five of us to have a comfortable space.  So, we got a cheap room for around $150 in Schaumburg.  We grabbed dinner in Schaumburg, too and headed to bed early.
The race would be starting at 6:30 am, so we had to wake the kids up early.  The alarm went off between 4:00 and 4:30 and we packed up the gang and all of our belongings and headed back down to the city.  With no traffic, it was a breeze.  We parked in the same parking garage that we used the day prior.  We racked up about $75 in parking fees over two days.  We weren't going to be able to take advantage of the hotel's continental breakfast, so I ate a PB&J while I drove.
Port-o-potty lines were long and I was rushing to the startline area, as there were only fifteen minutes until the start.  I said good-bye to my family and stood in the line.  I had flash-backs to six years earlier when I was in the port-o-potty when the National Anthem was about to be sung at the same event.  I rushed to the startline, only to wait eighteen minutes until my wave got to start.  There were close to 12,000 participants and the waives were starting a couple minutes apart.
Once we were off, we headed under bridges, through tunnels and along the flat course through the city.  Much of the route was shaded, due to all of the tall structures.  My Garmin was all over the place and reflecting that I was running 7:30 - 8 minute miles.  I figured that it was losing signal through all of the tunnels.  I felt that I was pushing it harder than my training runs.  But, I also knew that I was not fully capable of running THAT kind of pace.
Crowd support was awesome and the music and entertainment along the course was nice.  I wore my headphones, but turned down my tunes as we passed some of the acts.  Around mile five, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was Margaret, another Wisconsin running blogger that I had met through Running Diva Mom several years back.  I was astonished that we crossed paths during this huge event.  I didn't even know she was participating.
My family was walking around the course, grabbing coffee and some breakfast.  They were able to spot me on foot twice during the first half of the race.  After we did the first loop of the figure-eight course, I wouldn't see them again until the finish line.
I consumed some energy chews before I started and sipped on a gel at miles 5 and 10.  I carried my handheld with water and consumed sports drink along the course.  One time the volunteer handed me my sports drink and the entire cup splashed in my face, causing me to cough.  I chewed on gum throughout the race, unwrapping a new stick after each gel.
We headed out on a more industrial route for the second half.  It wasn't as scenic or lined by too many spectators.  For the middle of July, the temperatures were quite a bit cooler than normal and the skies were mostly cloudy with dark clouds off into the distance. 
We headed underneath McCormick Place and it was almost pitch black.  With chopped up blacktop, I almost tripped a few times.  At the end of the tunnel, a DJ was playing "Whoomp there it is!" and there were disco lights.  I started getting disoriented with the flashing lights and darkness during those final miles.  We ran along the lakeshore for the last mile and circled around to the park and the finish line.  I could see and hear my family to the left in the large crowd.  The finish line seems so close yet so far away in these big city races.  I picked up my pace a little, but didn't sprint across the finish line.

My chip time ended up being 2:02:00 on the nose.
Chip time:  2:02:00 (9:14 min/mile)
3,295 / 11,074 overall
151 / 924 division
1,321 / 6,497 females

This was not a PR for me by any means.  But I am getting closer and closer back to my sub two hour half marathon finishes.  Baby Diva was already seven months old and I've been feeling great with every mile logged and every pregnancy pound lost.  I could feel myself getting lighter, stronger and faster with each step. 
Even though these big city races tend to be a more expensive experience and sometimes an organizational nightmare for a small family - it is worth it in the end.  It gives us additional opportunities to see and do things, too.
After the race, we sough shelter at a hotel over-hang as those dark clouds rolled over, less than a half hour after my finish.  It was down pouring and cold.  I also went down to our vehicle to change and feed our daughter.  Once our family exited the parking garage, the rain had stopped.  We walked to the Willis Tower to explore the skydeck.  My blood sugar was getting low and I was starting to sweat and shake.  After consuming a baggie of goldfish, I felt better and was ready to head up 100+ floors to explore the city from up above.  We also walked to Lou Malnati's for some amazing post-run food.  The sun came out and we ended up walking back through Millennium Park, explored the trails near Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain and did a little more wandering on Michigan Avenue.

Recovering miles.

After 22 miles and 49,000 steps yesterday, today we decided to take it easy. Four recovery miles with a stop at a new park mid-run. I love our adventures together! It's hot out ...yes! But at least there's no snow!

I almost cannot believe it myself.

22 miles in yesterday morning! 44 miles for the weekend. I almost cannot believe it. 7 solo. 10 with hubby and the jogging stroller. 5 solo. I ran all morning and enjoyed the gorgeous morning.

I learned that that low-fat waffles and sugar-free syrup are not equivalent fuel to my standard English muffin and peanut butter. But I made it through. Every run is a gift and an opportunity to learn more about running and what your body can do for you.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Early mornings.

I haven't always been an early-morning person.  It was running - and three kids - that changed me.  I'm not saying it's always easy to hop out of bed to log some miles or get things done at home.  But, I always know that it will set a better tone for my day.  Our little one has never really woke us up in the night.  She's eight months old and I thinks she's only woke up twice on her own.  I CHOOSE to set the alarm one or two hours before she rises for her day.  Yes, you read that right.  I do that so I have some time for myself.  And have the rest of the day to focus on getting other things done at home; focus on my family; and focus on my business.
This morning, the alarm went off at 5am.  It was dark.  I didn't really have anything planned.  A few miles maybe.  When the alarm went off, I didn't want to get up at first.  And then I remembered that the forecast was going to be amazing for today; and that these beautiful days are limited.  That was enough for me to get out of bed and put on my running clothes and have my morning cup of coffee before heading out the door.  There are going to be so many days during the cold, Wisconsin winter where I will be stuck running downstairs on my treadmill or running in place at the gym or dressed in layers-upon-layers outdoors on snow and ice.  Every run is a blessing.  Every opportunity is a blessing.  Every day is a blessing.  And today is going to be great, because I got up and ran this morning. 
I ran four miles with the dog.  I followed that with five miles by myself.  Nine miles.  I met my step goal - 17,000+ steps - all before 7:30 am this morning.
Now go tackle YOUR day.  You will get a lot more compliments for getting up and getting your workout in; than you will for sleeping in.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

You are capable.

Another thunderstorm is rolling through today. I had to cancel a class early this morning. We will instead be logging the miles tomorrow morning. After finishing up my emotional words for my grandmother's funeral this morning, I decided to head downstairs to the treadmill for the five miles that I was supposed to log with the group.
I PUSHED start - and PUSHED myself - until I PUSHED stop.
When I pushed stop ... the treadmill read 40:57. I thought, "That is a number that this middle-of-the-pack runner is not capable of." But, obviously I am. I did that. I have never maxed out my treadmill. And this morning I did. Something came over me. I ran at 9 and 10 mph for the last third of a mile. I started at 7 mph and only went up from there every half mile. My slowest mile was 8:36. Outside, I typically am running a 10:00-10:30 these days. But, apparently I am capable of more.
I am capable. Me. This girl who couldn't run the mile in gym class. This girl who thought that those five miles was unconceivable just over a decade ago.
Sometimes it feels really good to be uncomfortable. You are capable of anything, too. All you need to do is press START.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Morning running fuel.

When I wake up early to tackle a long run, I tend to always turn to the same breakfast items.  I have cup of coffee while I start my morning.  And then I fuel with yogurt and a light English muffin with peanut butter.  I follow that with a glass of water.  I have gotten so efficient with my morning runs, that I don't even mess with the fork-splitting of the English muffin.  I just top it off with my huge dollop of peanut butter.  This combination of protein and carbs really fuels my workouts and I feel like I have a lot of energy to tackle the miles.

Rained out.

Due to funeral tomorrow's funeral arrangements for my grandmother, I moved this weekends classes around a bit.  This morning, my alarm was set for 4am, to meet my sweet (and determined!) client, Jenny for a run.  We are both running Lakefront Marathon in early October.  She traveled all the way from Poynette to run together at the early hour.  We met in the dark and had just missed the overnight rain.  There was a nice breeze and the air felt cool which was very much welcomed.  We headed out for ten(ish) miles around town and I showed her my city on foot.  On our way back, a scary looking cloud appeared out of nowhere.  Lightening and thunder boomed in the distance.  With two miles to go, we had to decide to seek shelter or run a little further to find cover.  We decided to book it up the Orfan Park hill and run closer to the west side of Sun Prairie.  As the rain started to pick up, the wind did too.  Our running shoes were quickly soaked and we found cover under a bank drive-through.  We avoided the lightening and missed our final mile home.  After deciding it wasn't the best idea to approach the stranger at the ATM for a ride to our vehicles, we called my husband to come get us.  This is the first time in eleven years that I have ever had to be rescued during my run.  Just another adventure to add to Jenny's marathon training log.  Last week she had to run twenty miles - on the treadmill.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tips for Running with a Jogging Stroller

Are you a mom on the move?  Here are several tips for running with a jogging stroller.

·         Focus on your posture and don’t arch your back.  Stand nice and tall like you would running by yourself.  

·         Try using one hand, both hands, or alternating hands until you find that you have a comfortable grip that is right for you.

·         Bend your elbows and try to keep your elbows level with your belly button.  Relax your shoulders.

·         When going up a hill, lean back; not forward.  Take short, choppy steps and shorten your stride.

·         Always use the safety strap on your stroller, especially when running downhill.  Keep a firm grip on your handle bar.

·         If your stroller has a front wheel lock, make sure that it is unlocked if you are making many turns.  This will allow the front wheel to swivel.  If you are running an easy out-and-back route, you may want to keep it locked.

·         You should be able to hold a conversation with your children or running partners.  If you cannot speak comfortably, slow down your pace.

·         When changing directions on your route, make sure that the sun isn’t in your child’s direction.  Adjust your stroller’s shade as needed.

·         Always keep an extra blanket, diaper, wipes, snacks and a drink on hand.  If giving your child a toy, make sure that it is tucked into the lap belt or affixed with links.

·         If your stroller doesn’t come with a caddy pouch, invest in one.  This will come in handy for storing your water bottle, sippy cups and securing your cell phone and keys safely.

·         Remember, it is okay to stop if your child needs you.  Make sure that your child is comfortable and happy.  Then you will be happy, too.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Her Half Madison 2016 Race Report

Back in June (yes, another long overdue race report!), I ran the Her Half Madison.  This was the second year for this half marathon and 5K event for women.  I had wanted to participate in 2015, but I was pregnant and had just ran Grandma's Marathon the weekend prior up in Duluth.  We wouldn't want to push it, or anything??!!

I served as an ambassador for the spring leading up to the half marathon.  Ambassadors had to volunteer so many hours.  I volunteered at Capital City Triathlon doing body-marking earlier that month.  There was a social gathering the night before Her Half, which I volunteered at the registration table for.  There were hundreds of exciting ladies that evening.  I didn't participate in the party, but it was really fancy and looked like a lot of fun.  I was going to have a busy weekend of running and coaching and I wanted to spend the remainder of my Friday evening with my family.  I also volunteered at the registration table the following afternoon at the expo.  There were events all weekend for women that were on a girls weekend or wanted the whole "weekend experience" - shakeout run, yoga for runners and a lot of other informal social gatherings.  It seemed that most women came in pairs or small groups.
The morning of the race it was raining.  Dark and rainy.  But I was armed with my waterproof mascara.
I ate my English muffin with peanut butter and a yogurt and cup of coffee.  It was supposed to be warm and humid, so I wore a tank top and brought extra clothes to change in after if I was drench from rain - or sweat.
I headed out to Hilldale Mall, where the race was to start.  Parking was a breeze and the back lot was lined with port-o-potties - with absolutely no lines.  It was amazing.  After using them a few times, I was recognized from my blog after exiting a third time.  The gal from Chicago and I chatted a bit - and did an awkward and laughable post-potty handshake.
I consumed my energy chews and headed to the startline.  I met up with a client and her friend who was running her first half marathon (who I found out later smoked my time - you go girl!).  It was one big dance party at the startline and I recognized a lot of familiar faces. 
And we were off, heading through neighborhoods and onto a running path that heads towards the UW campus.  I was familiar with the route, because I had ran the course preview weeks prior with a client.  So I felt pretty confident about what layed ahead.
We headed up a few hills in Shorewood Hills and then past the UW clinical campus and around the campus area.  I saw some clients meandering their way through the route as well.  I kept drinking a lot of water and refueling my handheld.  It was humid, but at least the clouds were still covering the sky.

After heading up Observatory Drive, we headed back down and meandered onto Lakeshore Path by the Memorial Union.  The gravel was a little sloppy from the rain, but the view was spectacular.  Heading back to the clinical campus, the path turns into paved path.  And I enjoyed the flatter route.

We headed back to Shorewood Hills and up quite a few monsters.  Many of the ladies were walking.  I probably looked like I was walking, but I was slowly running forward, trying to lean back and stand talk and taking the shortest stride of my life.  Just one step at a time.  We headed through more of the neighborhood and past the golf course and then more homes.  As we approached mile 10ish, we were out on University Avenue and in the home stretch.  Just then, the sun came out.  Ugh.  It was hot and humid as heck.  I had some motivating songs on my ipod that sang encouraging words in my ears.  I needed it.  Even though I had taken gels at miles 4 and 8, I was feeling lethargic and hot.  There were some more inclines and the sun was beating down -hard.  I felt miserable.  But, I knew if I crossed under the University Avenue bridge, that there would be a little relief from the sun after that.  And some shade.  I just kept trudging forward.
There was a gal walking the last half mile and I motioned her to come along with me and pick up the pace.  The finish line was right around the corner.  She ran with me for a minute or two and then out of no where, she took off.  Later she thanked me.  We rounded around the mall parking lot and into the finish line.

I didn't get anywhere close to a PR or even near my 1:56-1:58 pre-baby times.  But, I am getting closer.  And I will get there again.  This was a really tough course and the humidity got me in the end.  I still was pretty amazed by my overall pace, under ten minute miles.

9:41 min/mile
23/178 age group
102/818 gender
I ran into quite a few clients running the 5K and they all had a similar experience with the heat and humidity.  Everyone agreed that it was an awesome, empowering event regardless.

As a Got Chocolate Milk ambassador, I thoroughly enjoyed refueling with my chocolate milk while I stretched in the grass.  The medal and race shirt were pretty sweet if you ask me - and another bonus to an amazing event.  The Her Madison events are perfect for new and experienced runners.  The weekend experience is empowering and the vibe the whole weekend is amazing.
She liked my pretty, sparkly medal, too.