13.1 with a Dead Battery

After I ran the Ocala Half Marathon last year I was completely convinced that I was done with them. It was my second 13.1 event, and it was two more than I ever thought I’d be able to do. The races were incredible – so much fun and such an accomplishment – but the training! Ugh.

For months prior to each of these events I trained, probably very poorly by any serious runner’s standards. I’d keep my runs short during the week and then complete a long run on the weekend, adding a mile to the previous weekend’s long run until I hit at least 11 miles. Then I’d run my half marathon and that would be that. All that training for one event. All those early weekend mornings spent alone on the road instead of snuggling in bed with my man. All those hours spent listening to podcasts instead of listening to my daughters giggle.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love running. But after the first half I realized that I really enjoy (and only have time for) 3-4 mile runs. I got sucked into the Ocala half because it’s just so gosh-darn gorgeous there, but after that I declared I’d never run another. And I meant it. At least, until a couple of weeks later when I was at the expo for a Valentine’s Day 5K with my friend Tina. She saw a booth for the Key West half, decided to sign up, and, being the sucker I am, I signed up too.

That was supposed to be my last one for sure. I was done. Until 2 miles into the run, when my friend Jen and I started contemplating the A1A half marathon (the first 13.1 I ran), which was being held exactly 4 weeks after the one we were currently running. Truthfully, at 2 miles in we were considering interval running the FULL A1A marathon, but by mile 8 or 9 we’d already thrown that thought out the window. Yes, you can laugh.

Our logic was this: we’ve already trained for a half… we don’t enjoy training for these long races… we were totally fine to do a mix of walking and running… we thought the medal was amazing and too good to miss… and the best reason ever: why not?

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The plan was to at least be able to run 6 miles, or half of the half. We didn’t care whether we broke it up into smaller bites or charged out the first six and then walked the rest, but we didn’t want to be so out of shape that we couldn’t complete it without crawling. So for the short few weeks between the two events, we ran 2-4 miles a few days during the week and a longish-er run on the weekends. I managed to hit 6 miles the weekend before the race, but man, I was pooped and not feeling it at all.

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Race day. We started out pretty chill, not really expecting much out of ourselves. We knew we were good for at least the first 5K, but beyond that we were just going to wing it. Mile 4 comes, we are feeling fine. Mile 6 comes around, and we are still running. I’m feeling great, so I tell Jen that I think I might be able to actually run the whole thing. She wasn’t as optimistic, but on we went. By the time we hit mile 8, we were both thinking it was possible. And once we reached mile 10 – knowing there was only a 5K left to go – we decided there was no way we’d be walking this one. We crossed the finish line about 2:40 later. Boomsauce.

We were flying high. We felt unstoppable. We didn’t do the funny little dance Rocky does when he reaches the top of those steps, but I know I was feeling it inside and I’m pretty sure Jen was too. It was awesome… we had just completed another half marathon – without walking as planned – just 4 weeks after running another. Invincible is an understatement.

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Then we get back to my car. Of the 3 of us that drove there (my car being one of them), apparently Jen and I were the only ones who brought enough energy to get back home. I was trying not to freak out, since whenever anything goes wrong with the engine of my car I’m convinced it could explode. Seriously, just ask my dad. Jen, however, was amazing. I had jumper cables in my trunk, and we found some kindhearted fellow half-marathoners who spent nearly 30 minutes trying to help me jump my car. Jen was the only one who confidently knew what to do, and we all just kinda watched her, commenting on how disappointed our fathers would be if they could see us. In the end, it was useless anyway, the engine refused to turn over. So, I called roadside assistance, Jen called her hubby, and we waited for our heroes to arrive.

Jen left when the tow truck guy arrived, and he took a portable battery out and jumped my car in less than 2 minutes, so I drove home, grabbed my family, and headed to PepBoys to get a new battery.

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❤ Did I mention all this happened on Valentine’s Day? ❤

The battery incident put a slight damper on that morning’s earlier miraculous accomplishment. But only a slight one. When I look back on what we did, I don’t even think about the battery. In fact, when I went to start typing this I didn’t even remember it happened until I wrote about crossing the finish line. Because the high was clearly greater than the low.

Free medal engraving was offered after the race, and instead of putting my race time I asked if I could put on a verse from the Bible: Psalm 46:5 – “God is within her, she shall not fall.”

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Seemed pretty appropriate to me! 🙂 ❤

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Family Values 5K (again!)

Running is by no means a “free” activity. I mistakenly thought that it was – I mean, you throw on some sneaks, head out the front door, run, get home, shower. But then you find out (via shin splints) that those sneaks you already had on hand are most definitely not intended for running. So you buy new running shoes. Then you realize that the clothes you have are awful: sweat soaking, chafing, and just uncomfortable… and that sports bra is giving absolutely no support. Now you’re buying a new sweat-wicking running wardrobe. Then there are activity trackers, water bottles, headbands, special socks, anti-chafing sticks, and a hundred other doodads that make the “free” sport more enjoyable.

Eventually, if you’re like most runners, you’ll find yourself signing up for a race. These cost money too – I’ve paid anywhere from $15 – $125 – and can come with all sorts of goodies and cool medals and free post-race mimosas. These events can be a ton of fun, and I have yet to participate in one I haven’t enjoyed. The energy at these events can be infectious, but none of them can compete with the emotion that comes with participating in a race that benefits others in a charitable way. And one of my favorites is the Sheridan House Family Values 5K.

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I’ve run this race for the past two years, (see my posts here and here), with the one I ran last weekend being my 3rd time participating. It’s a simple run, just three laps that take you through the front and the side of the Sheridan House property, then out along the road, then back into the property again. There’s only one water station, which you pass three times as you loop. As the name of the event implies, it’s very family-focused, and without a doubt you’re going to find kids on bikes, kids on scooters, and even kids running the course alongside their parents. There are timing chips on the backs of the bibs (which are turned in after crossing the finish line), and medals for the kids when they finish. As a side note, I’m a little worried… the past two years I’ve received a medal, and I’m not sure if it’s because I look like I’m 12 years old or if I mistakenly took one that was meant for a real kid! 😮

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It’s a really basic run. No gimmicks, no holiday-themed color scheme. But it’s got heart – more heart than any other run I’ve participated in. ❤

Sheridan House Family Ministries serves the local community by meeting the needs of children and families. As stated on their website, they work to train parents on how to lead their families in a godly way; to do marriage according to God’s plan and to raise up children to take responsibility for themselves and to be tomorrow’s leaders  – not followers. They offer counseling services, parenting workshops, a ministry for single mothers, marriage and a residential program for kids in middle school who are demonstrating behavioral issues. It’s a truly amazing organization.

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The best part – my favorite part – about this 5K run (and their mud run, the Goliath Gauntlet), is that 100% of the money raised goes right back into the organization. The 5K run is technically free, but because this is a fundraiser they encourage all participants to create a page to help raise money. Every dollar raised goes directly back into the organization and its ministries. They don’t even charge for the photos and videos they take during the 5K event, which is practically unheard of in the race-running circuit.

In the past I’ve participated with my family, but this year I ran with my friend Jen as a sort of warm-up run for another half we were running the following day. We had pre-registered online a few days before, and made our voluntary donations to Sheridan House online during the registration process. We arrived about 20 minutes before the start time of 9a, checked in to receive our bibs, and picked up our long-sleeve event shirts and bags. After dropping them off back at the car we headed to the starting line, listened to the anthem, and then ran our 3.1. When we were done we grabbed our water and left. That was it!

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The biggest difference between this run and others is that I know my money is being put to good use in my local community. I’m friends with someone who went through the Sheridan House residential program when he was a teen, and he gives the organization a lot of credit for turning his life around. I’ve been to some of the marriage workshops and listened to some of the parenting podcasts, and I’ve always felt encouraged afterwards. I’ve personally benefitted from what this organization does, and I’m more than happy to donate to them.

Running is not as free as it seems on the surface. But like any other hobby, if you love it then you’re going to spend money on it. My advice? Be sure that some of the money you’re spending is supporting a cause you believe in. Those runs end up giving you much more than you’re paying for, I guarantee it. ❤

Ho Ho Hoping this 5K is Enough…

…to burn off all those peppermint cookies I ate over the holidays!

Last year (which in this post means 2014 😛 ) I ran the Jingle Jog 5K, and I loved it so much that I signed up to run it again!

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This event comes with a Santa suit for every participant, and when I ran it last year I wore the whole ensemble (not the beard though, it tickled 🙂 ). Since the suit was made of felt and December in South Florida can still bring 90 degree temps, for this run I decided to chop the sleeves off the jacket and run in that and the pants…

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…but then the entire crotch of the pants disintegrated. I’m fun, but I’m not willing to be THAT fun during a race! 😀

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There’s no doubt you’re in the right place at this event. I just love that no matter where you look, there’s a sea of Santas.

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Then there are the costumes! My friend Carolyn ran the entire 5K with a reindeer hobby horse. (She’s the one who ran the St. Patrick’s Day 4-miler in a beer hat. 😀 )

This guy ran in a gathered Christmas tree skirt:

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And this guy’s dog was dressed up as a reindeer, with a little stuffed Santa hanging on for dear life:

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But my favorite was the guy dressed up as a snowman from head to toe. My friend Jen pointed him out as he passed us, and I ran to catch up with him so I could get a picture from the front too. 🙂

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There weren’t any carolers along the route this time, but we did have Santa – the REAL Santa – drive by to cheer us on!

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This run offered free mimosas to finishers, so I passed my free beer ticket to someone and finally enjoyed a drink I love! I think more races need to start offering free mimosas… or Starbucks frappuccinos… or shoot, while I’m dreaming, why not frozen cokes? 😀

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It was a ton of fun, and I absolutely LOVE my Christmas tree medal! Of course, as soon as it was over I went home to eat more of those cookies. Hey, I earned it! 😉

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I Run for Ribs

I’d heard of the freebies that can come at the end of a running event. Free pizza. Free massages. Free beer. I’ve even had a free mimosa after completing a 5K event.

But free RIBS? That was a freebie that definitely caught my attention.

The run was the Flanigan’s Rockin’ Rib Run 10K – and not only did the event offer free beer and ribs, but it also came with the BEST swag bag I’ve ever seen at an event.

Seriously, check this bad boy out.

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The backpack was solid. As in, real straps (not those nylon ropes), zippers, pockets, and even the little hole on top for your headphone cord to go through. It was FULL of goodies, too – Powerade and Red Bull, sunglasses, a pen, a sports bottle, a can cooler, Flanigan’s cup, shirt, and headband. It also included 2 free drink tokens and, unbelievably, a $10 gift card to Flanigan’s! Cha-CHING! (Who remembers that ad?)

The event was the first 10K I’d run in a while, so I definitely had to train a bit to get ready for it. It was held on what I think is one of the prettiest roads in the area, one I’d been wanting to run on for ages. I was pretty excited. My friends Tina, Jen, and Carolyn signed up to run it too, but Tina had to pass on it due to Peroneal Tendonitis, an injury that had her foot strapped in a soft cast. 😦 (We missed you, Tina! ❤ )

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It was a pretty easy run, and before we knew it we’d crossed the finish line and were ready for those freebies. The smell of barbecue ribs hung thick in the air, and we immediately headed over to the truck.

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I’ve never had ribs for breakfast, and to be honest, as much as I looooooooove ribs, my empty stomach was turning quite a bit after running 6 miles. I only made it a couple of bites in before I had to chug a bunch of water to rinse the BBQ flavor out of my mouth. So instead we went and got pancakes, a much more breakfast-y breakfast. 🙂

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The only bad part about this run? The really bizarre medal. Now, you all know I’m a medal junkie, and I get that Flanigan’s was a major sponsor of the event, but it never occurred to me that I’d have to hang a likeness of Mr. Flanigan’s head on my medal rack. It’s a super cool logo, and I’ve actually met Mr. Flanigan himself (he was a friend of Jay’s grandparents) – I just don’t know if I love it around my neck. Plus it weighs about a ton. And I’m just gonna brag a moment that I also know the guy with the deep voice who does the radio ads… his dog is the sweetest thing ever.

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There was nothing to make this run stand out – no theme, no costumes, no starting line dude with a mic tossing out free stuff, but I think between the giant swag bag, the friends, the 10K run, the too-early-in-the-morning ribs, and the giant bearded medal, I’d call this run a success!

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Podcast Shoutout

I find that one of the worst things I can do to my running hobby is get habitual. Always taking the same routes, always running the same milage, always running at the same time of day – all these things are easy ways to kill my desire to lace up my sneakers and go. I know for some runners (or exercisers) routine is key, but for me the way to unlock my inner runner is to mix things up.What I listen to on a run is directly linked to both my pre-run level of excitement and my during-run enjoyment.

As I became a better runner I began to crave an alternative to music, and I turned to audiobooks. These were excellent distractors from the heat and pain, but the length of the novels made it difficult to follow the stories on shorter runs. They worked best as my runs grew longer for my half marathon runs, and I even listened to one on my last half marathon.

Which brings me to my current favorite iPod choice: podcasts. My sweet friend Erin first turned me onto podcasts when I read the blog she wrote to document her half marathon training experience. I downloaded a few she recommended, and I was hooked. Podcasts cover many different topics of interest, come in many different lengths, and the best part is that most of them are totally free!

I’ve become more proficient at finding podcasts I enjoy listening to for my runs, and while I like to choose random topics that catch my interest, I’ve got a few go-tos that you’ll always find on my iPod downloaded and ready for a run.

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Probably my favorite, this podcast covers the most random events, people, and situations that have occurred in history.
Favorite Episode: The Princess Who Swallowed a Glass Piano

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Obviously a popular and well-talked about podcast (if you’re already a fan you’ll love the SNL skit they did). The series covers the case of accused murderer Adnan Sayed and the details that led to his conviction. The second season has finally arrived – it’s about U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl and the investigation into his 5 year capitivity with the Taliban – and while military-related situations rarely interest me, I find this stoyline well done and fascinating.
Favorite Episode: This series is sequential, be sure to listen to them in order!

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Crossway Church produces a podcast of their weekly sermons, and I really enjoy getting a dose of Biblical truth while on my runs. I find the pastor to be very real, down-to-earth, current, and relevant. If you’re looking for something with solid spiritual substance, I highly recommend subscribing. 🙂
Favorite Episode(s): The entire True and Better: series is phenomenal!

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I’m new to the Criminal series, but I’m already hooked. Basically, it’s a podcast about crime, and covers all sides of it – the clues, the victims, and of course, the criminals.
Favorite Episode: Episode 1: Animal Instincts

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If you enjoy Serial I think you’ll like Mystery Show. I find it to be very similar in style, with a much less serious vibe to the stories covered. I love listening to someone track down the answers to their questions, and that’s exactly what this show is all about… even if the questions are about the origin of a belt buckle. 🙂
Favorite Episode: Case #2: Britney
Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 10.54.44 PMAnother recent find, this series discusses a broad range of topics that settle around a theme, covering things like human nature, current events, essays, and such.
Favorite Episode: Episode 572: Transformers

I find the best part about podcasts is that they keep my runs interesting. When I download a new episode I find I’m more excited and eager to head out, and when I get back I’m not only a little more physically exercised but also mentally exercised as well.

Please let me know if you’ve got any favorites you think I’d enjoy! 🙂

UpdateWhen I shared this post on Facebook, I received a few more podcast recommendations. The two that most interested me were TED Talks and Snap Judgement. I’m looking forward to checking them out, and if I love them I’ll add them in with my other favorites above!

I Dream of a Genie Bottle Medal

Oh, how I dreamed of this medal.

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The minute I stumbled across it on Facebook I was scheming and plotting and trying to figure out how on earth I’d manage to train for another half-marathon – in the heat of the summer nonetheless – just to get it. I’d just about given up on the idea when I discovered a super cool way that I could run this event and still get my medal – without running the entire 13.1 miles myself.

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The Cocoa Beach Half Marathon offered a relay option, something I’d never seen at an event before. All you had to do was be ready to run/walk 6.55 miles and find someone who was willing to do the same! I checked to be sure that both runners would receive a medal, and as soon as it was confirmed that they would I sent a message out to my friend Jen, who  had just been telling me that she was looking for a 10K to run (a 10K is 6.2 miles, so this was pretty darn close). Our friend Tina decided to join us, and she had a friend who lived near the event who was also a runner and wanted in on the fun. We were ready to go get those medals!

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We prepped everything the night before and drove as much of the route as we could to familiarize ourselves with it. Nearly 3 miles of the course was on the beach, so we couldn’t drive that part, but the drive gave us a good sense of some important details, like where the busses would be picking up the runners headed to the starting line, where we would need to do the relay exchange, and where the finish line would be. Of course the race was perfectly planned to end on I Dream of Jeannie Lane. 🙂

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In the morning Jen and I said goodbye to Tina and Jennifer as they got on the bus. Don’t they just have the best smiles?

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We decided to mix up our partners since Tina and Jennifer run about the same pace and Jen and I run the same pace, that way we’d all have someone to run the course with. I was really eager to run on sand for the first time, so Jen and I took the second leg of the relay, meaning we’d wait for Tina and Jennifer to reach the exchange point at the halfway mark before we could start our leg.

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It wasn’t too long before Tina and Jennifer got the the exchange point, and they seemed pretty happy to be done with their half. Jennifer had finished long runs before, but it was Tina’s first official 10K+ distance, so she was extra psyched!

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As soon as they crossed the timing pad, Jen and I took off. The first part of our stretch was pretty uneventful, and the route took us down a main road past some shops and hotels and doubled back before turning north again for a bit. But then we were directed to a narrow wooden boardwalk, and after a short jog through the sand we found ourselves running south again right along the shoreline. It was pretty awesome.

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Since Tina and Jennifer were finished and our leg was headed back in their direction, they were able to meet us on the beach to snap a pic. 🙂

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Instead of sandwich board or digital timed mile markers, the event had genie bottle signs along the route with the mile number on them. The signs were held by gals dressed as genies, which was a pretty great way to keep the theme going throughout the course.

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Gotta love a running pic photobomb! 😀

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The end of the course took us back up the beach to the same road we started on, then kept on that road until we reached Lori Wilson Park where we crossed a very pink finish line… and received our super heavy and super awesome medals!

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Tina and Jennifer had already received their medals at the exchange point, so once Jen and I had ours we were all officially finished!

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This was the first time Cocoa Beach had held this event, and there were definitely some things they need to work out for future runs. But that won’t stop me from signing up for next year’s race, especially since they plan to hand out a different version of Jeannie’s bottle as a medal! Can’t you just see me with a little collection of genie bottles? I sure can! 😀

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The Mud Run Zone

Urban Dictionary defines in the zone as “being completely unaware of what’s going on around you, as you are so extremely into what’s going on right in front of your face.”

And it finally happened to me. I was in the zone.

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I’d been dying to try a mud run since I started running, but I was terrified of the obstacles. I knew I needed to build up my arm muscles (thanks to a friend’s advice), and since I hadn’t exactly been dedicated to my arm workouts I figured there was no way I was ready to attempt one. But when I found out a group of people from my church were signing up for the Goliath Gauntlet and that everyone was willing to help each other out, I was in.

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The Goliath Gauntlet is a 3.5-mile course with over 20 obstacles of varying difficulty. 100% of the proceeds from this event (including race photo proceeds) go to the children’s homes at Sheridan House, the same group that organizes and hosts the Family values 5K that I ran earlier this year and last. Obstacles included a tire wall, a tank of ice-cold water, and a log roll. Awesomesauce.

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IMG_1531Our group had about 30 participants, and my plan was to stick with the majority of the group so that we’d be able to help each other complete the obstacles as needed. We were all scheduled to start our wave together, so we joined hands, prayed, and climbed the mandatory start line fence to wait for our countdown. The first leg of the race was a short run until we reached obstacle #1, and I’d planned to take it slow and not worry about pushing too hard. I just wanted to have a good time getting through the course.

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I’ve written before about the energy in the air at running events, but I’ve never actually been overtaken by that energy before. I was completely (and unexpectedly) overtaken this time! My legs just didn’t want to go slow. I came up on the first obstacle and scaled it like it was a bump on the sidewalk. I dove in the sand to crawl through the tunnel, then scaled the next wall. I passed most of the people in our group during a long running stretch early in the course, and it was during that portion of the race that I realized I might actually have a chance at finishing under my own steam. I decided then and there that I was going to go at this run with everything I had. I felt a little guilty leaving my friends behind, but I knew I’d feel worse if I didn’t try as hard as I could.

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So I hit every obstacle hard. I was determined to give  one hundred percent effort in everything I came up against, and I did. If you didn’t complete an obstacle you were expected to do 10 pushups, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t need to do a single one – I tackled every obstacle with everything I had. Dude, I was in the zone. I climbed walls. I leapt over tires. I swam canals. I crawled through mud below a ceiling of barbed wire.

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I wasn’t successful at everything I attempted. I fell off of the rings before I even reached the second one. I tried running on water (this was the most INSANE obstacle), and only made it to the 5th platform. I needed help scaling a couple of tall walls after swimming the water I wasn’t able to run across. My legs were pooped… swimming with sneakers on is no joke. I’m obviously not hard-core enough for that.

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I was able to climb the rock wall unassisted, which totally rocked my world (pun intended), but then I came to the final obstacle – Jericho. Jericho is a warped (curved) wall with three different options to scale: an 11′ side with a rope assist, a 13′ side with a rope assist, and a 13′ side without a rope assist. I chose the 11′ wall. 😀 I managed to get halfway up the rope on my own, but as I was trying to climb the rope my feet couldn’t find the wall because it was curved inward, and I panicked. A man was at the top of the wall, helping anyone who needed it. He tried to encourage me to climb higher, but I just couldn’t do it. He grabbed my hand and pulled me up with one arm. It was amazing. I thought he was one of the race volunteers, and it wasn’t until later that I saw his bib in the photos and realized he was actually a participant.

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I climbed down the back of Jericho and crossed the finish line. Best feeling ever. It turned out that out of our entire church group I was the 5th to finish, and even more amazing, I was the first female in our group to cross. Boo-yah. 🙂

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After the race everyone who came up to me said the same thing: that I was in the zone. And they’re right – I had blocked out nearly everything around me, focusing only on moving forward and giving each obstacle everything I had until this beauty was hanging around my neck.

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One thing did manage to break through my focus though – my incredibly supportive family. ❤ Jay and the girls ran alongside the entire course, bouncing from obstacle to obstacle just to take photos for me. Anytime I had to wait my turn to complete a wall or swim or climb I’d look around for them, and there they were – waving, smiling, and cheering me on. I could hear Emily shouting, “GO, MOMMY!” across the course, and Julia screaming, “ARE YOU TIRED YET?” XD

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This event made it in the list of my top 3 favorite runs ever. It was everything I’d hoped it would be – and I did better than I ever expected. I was in the Mud Run Zone. And I gotta say, I’m really hoping to get there again someday! 🙂

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London on a Bicycle

One of our favorite things to do whenever we vacation somewhere is to locate a bike rental shop and check out the area at our own pace. Jay and I have biked through Williamsburg, Toronto, and even on Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island), and now we’ve added London to that list!

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This past June Jay and I decided to spend our 13th anniversary in London. We knew we’d want to go exploring on a bicycle at some point in our 3-day stay, and after doing a little digging online we came across BrakeAway Bike Tours. The company offered a number of different tours, and we were thrilled to see that one of them would cover many of the popular tourist attractions that we’d already planned to visit – which would save us a ton of sightseeing time on our trip.

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We met our tour guide, Matt, in Waterloo Station, then took a short walk to where the bikes were housed – a crazy tunnel where spray painting the walls was completely legal. The tunnel was frequented by graffiti artists who would just paint over the existing work on the walls, and as a result the walls were constantly changing daily – we were advised to take pictures of anything we liked because it would most likely be gone the next day! There were even artists spray painting in the tunnel while we were there, which was pretty cool to watch (albeit a bit smelly).

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We put on our helmets, grabbed our bikes, and headed off through the tunnel. I was a little nervous about biking on the “wrong” side of the street, but Matt was a great guide and always made sure everyone in the group stuck together. He explained biking signals, that there would be areas where we’d be required to walk our bikes, and that we could feel free to stop him any time we needed.

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Big Ben, Buckingham Palace (including the Changing of the Guard), St. Paul’s Cathedral, and MI5 were just a few of the stops on our tour. At every location we went to, Matt would give us interesting tidbits of information that made us feel as though we were really getting insider information – past and present – about the city. He quickly caught on that Jay and I are Harry Potter fans, and any chance he got he’d squeeze in a few factoids about the actors and the movies. 🙂

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The ride was an easy 7.5 miles, which we finished in only about 3.5 hours (including a 20-minute break). Despite the crazy traffic and not being used to everyone driving on the left, we didn’t have a single moment where we felt things were dangerous. Our tour included the bike rental (mine was named Audrey Hepburn – how perfect is that for a gal who loves Tiffany’s?) and helmets, and of course, an amazing tour guide. My bike had a little basket on the front, which was perfect for holding my purse, jacket, and water bottle. If you’re ever headed to London for a sightseeing trip, I highly recommend checking out BrakeAway Bike Tours! 🙂

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Jay and I have always enjoyed walking and biking through the cities we visit, but I think this tour has made us consider booking bike tours on our future travels to other cities, too! Now, where to go for our 15th…? 😉

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PS – I was not paid or perked or even asked to write this post. Jay and I just had such a good time that I wanted to give this company some internet love! ❤ 🙂

Running, Rainbows, and Relationship-Building

Back in May Emily and I participated in our second Color Run together. We’d had so much fun at last year’s run that there was no way we were going to miss it – especially when we found out that they were not only going to have sparkle-filled dust pouches, but they were also going to be handing out medals! Color us excited!
IMG_7568The day before the race we had to pick up our race-day packets. This year it was at our local Kohl’s store, which was a huge improvement over last year’s craziness at Sports Authority. It was much more open and much less crowded than last year. Plus they gave the girls some free cotton candy. Cotton candy makes everything better. 🙂

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That night Emily and I laid out all of our clothes in our downstairs bathroom so that we wouldn’t wake anyone in the morning. When our alarms went off at 5am we got up, got dressed, and stealthily snuck out of the house like the Color Run ninjas that we are. On our way we happened to look out of the car window and saw a fellow runner, which Emily thought was hysterical. Gotta love those silly headbands!

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The event was otherwise pretty much the same as last year. Emily and I were closer to the start line this time though, and it was pretty awesome being right in the thick of the crowd. There were bubbles everywhere, and everyone was just so happy! We sang the anthem, the start gun fired, and we were off!

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The route took us through the same tunnel we’d written our names in last year, but this time Emily didn’t want to stop running to do that again. Unfortunately, it might have been better for her if we had, because she had a pretty bad fall while running in it. A motorcycled officer was trying to get through the crowd behind us but was having trouble because even though he had his siren on, the echo in the tunnel made it impossible to pinpoint where the sound was coming from. I only happened to see him because I’d turned around to take a photo of the tunnel entrance behind us. When I finally got Emily’s attention to get her to move, she turned around to see what was going on. He zipped by, she stumbled while running downhill and looking backwards, and I thought for sure that would be the end of our fun together. One of her bib pins stuck her in the belly pretty bad, and her knees and palms were scraped up too. But that girl of mine got back up and said she wasn’t done running, and ran almost another full mile before deciding to walk a bit. I was so proud.

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The rest of the race was pretty uneventful – at least, accident-wise. We were definitely pelted with color, of course! We walked and ran to the finish line, holding hands as we crossed. ❤ They gave us our medals and our glitter packets, and Emily and I headed over to the stage area to celebrate in the after party and toss some powder in the air.

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We didn’t last too long though – people were a bit aggressive when trying to grab the freebies the MC was tossing out into the crowd, and Emily was almost trampled a few times. Not to mention the fact that we could barely breathe whenever the MC had everyone toss their powder in the air at the same time. That stuff gets thick – just check out our selfie below!

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Instead, we found a table, drank some water, and enjoyed watching everyone walk around like a big rainbowed mess. Emily ran around hunting for leftover powder in packets (everyone just dropped their color packets on the ground after opening them and tossing their powder), and she actually managed to score a couple of unopened packets in colors we hand’t been doused in. Of course, she remedied that immediately.

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And it wasn’t long before she looked like this:

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My best friend Sanne was there with her family again this year, and even though we didn’t complete the course together we made sure to meet up for a picture. 🙂

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At the end of it all as we walked back to the car, Emily looked up at me and told me that this was the most fun she’d ever had, and that she was so happy she got to do it with me. And for us, that’s what this is all about. Sure, we love the medal and we love the theme of this event. But doing it together is the part that we cherish the most, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. ❤

IMG_7630PS Is it just me, or does it look like I’ve created a medal junkie? 😀

Summer Headaches and Jiggle-Free Runs

Betcha can guess which one I prefer.

Let me define the Jiggle-Free Run (JFR), for those of you who aren’t runners. The JFR is that euphoric moment when at some point during one of your runs you realize that NOTHING IS JIGGLING.

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I always thought it was just a myth, right up there with the Loch Ness monster and those free Disney cruise tickets you see on Facebook. But I can happily say with confidence that it’s not just a myth – I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this phenomenon at least two times in the past 3 years I’ve been running. It looks something like this: one minute you’re trotting along, wearing the same clothes you always wear, along the same route you always take, keeping the same pace you always keep. And then… you suddenly realize your tushie isn’t bouncing up and down anymore. Your thighs aren’t rippling with waves of kinetic energy. Your arms aren’t flapping in the breeze. And just like that, you realize that you are, in fact, jiggle-free. Now, it doesn’t always last – like I said, over the past three years of running I can only remember this exact incident happening to me on two occasions. Just two. For some insanely unfair reason a Jiggle-Free Run on a Monday does not guarantee a Jiggle-Free Run on a Tuesday. 😥

Here’s where those evil summer headaches come into play.

You want a JFR? Then you gotta keep running. No excuses. That means even if it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk outside, you’ve gotta get out there. But running in the summer heat means you’re almost sure to get summer headaches. So achieving the elusive JFR means you’re just going to have to suffer with those horrid summer headaches. You just can’t have one without the other.

Or can you?

Not to brag, I think I may have cracked the code for avoiding the dreaded summer headache.

Now, before you give me my Nobel Peace Prize or whatever honorable award you feel should be bestowed upon me for my discovery, let me be straight with you. First of all, these are pretty no-brainer tips that I’m pretty sure I’ve chosen to ignore for the past few years. Second, they are working really well for me, but there’s no guarantee that they will work for you. Sorry. But hopefully seeing that these tips worked for me will motivate you to try them or find your own secret weapon and get you closer to a JFR of your own. 🙂

  1. GO EARLY. I know some people run later in the day or early evening, but that just doesn’t work for me. And if you think about it, running late in the day means you’re running in an environment that’s been heating up all day long. The pavement, the air – it’s all been cooking as the day has progressed. I’ve found that going early in the morning means that everything is cooler. Even if that means it’s only 95 degrees out at 7am instead of 100 degrees at 7:30am. 😀
  2. DRINK WATER. So basic, right? But seriously, a dehydrated body is a body that can’t function at optimal levels.
  3. TURN IT DOWN. If you run with earbuds in, check your volume level. It’s super easy to turn it up to overcome the noise of traffic, barking dogs, or whatever, but make sure you turn it back down! I’m completely convinced that a lot of my headaches have been the result of too-loud music pounding directly into my brain.

I’ve been following these 3 tips faithfully, and despite my previous complaining about summer running, this summer I have managed to get out for a 2-4 mile run at least 4 days a week – headache free!

Now, if only I could do something about the swoob*… 😀

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*swoob = boob sweat 😉