March 31, 2014

Motivational Monday #58

Happy Motivational Monday! I am getting SO excited for my Ragnar this weekend. I leave for San Diego in just three more days! I started packing yesterday, and got all of my running clothes ready for my three legs of the relay. This trip really couldn't have come at a better time. I'm ready for some stress-free time with friends!

This week is off to a rough start as far as my eating goes. After the race yesterday, I had a reuben when we went out to lunch. My sister is in town for a couple of days, so I went for a run with her this morning, but then we took the boys out to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. Definitely not great choices, but I haven't been bingeing, so I can at least be proud of that this week!

I won't be doing a Motivational Monday next week, because I'll be in San Diego until Tuesday. But if you have something you want to submit, just send it to my email, and I'll save it for the following week. Here are some motivational stories for today--enjoy!

Ali just completed her first half-marathon! She had been planning to run her first half at the end of April, but her boss/friend suggested that she do a local one a month earlier than planned, and she agreed. Her longest run was only up to 6 miles when she agreed to the race, so she changed her training to include a 7-, 8-, and 10-miler before the big day. She had to walk a little more than she would have liked during the race itself, but she was SO proud to have crossed that finish line!

Sam is very proud this week that she managed to stay on track in a very difficult situation--she was visiting her parents, which meant being surrounded by temptation and good cooking. She enjoyed the food in moderation, and she even managed to lose a pound while she was there. She's lost a total of 30 pounds since August 2013!

Julie (in black in the photo) completed her second half-marathon over the weekend, just a couple of weeks after her first! She even placed fourth in her age group, with a finish time of 1:53:19!

Stacy ran her second official 5K on Saturday, a superhero-themed fundraiser for a three-year old boy, Jack, battling cancer. Her main reason behind the race was to support Jack and his family, so she didn't consider the race course when she registered, and was a little surprised to see that she had to run up a mountain halfway through! Her goal had been 33 minutes, she finished in 36:50--still a time to be proud of, considering the challenging course!

Meg just ran her first double-digit run! She completed 10 miles in preparation for her first half-marathon at the end of May. She never thought she'd be so excited to run on purpose ;) (Meg's blog) I have to say, I wish I looked this cute after a run!

Rachel (along with her husband, Gerrad; friend, Maura; and Maura's boyfriend, Billy) completed her first 5K race this weekend! She never imagined she'd be able to run that far. She says she was the slow kid in gym class, who always dreaded the mile run because she was embarrassed that people were going to laugh at her weight or how red her face was. After having lost her sister, who was in hospice care, last month, Rachel decided to put her insecurities behind her and find joy in running. When it felt tough, she thought of her sister's struggles, and she pushed on. Her sister was a big inspiration to her! (Rachel's race report)

Katie (wearing glasses in the photo) ran her first 5K race! She was hoping for a time under 40:00, and she ended up crossing the finish line in 36:30! She had fun at the race, and the proceeds from the race went to the Kent Center--a program for adults with special needs. She said she received lots of thank you hugs from the residents :)

Last Saturday, Julie Anna and her mom ran their third 5K together--the Bacon Chase! She credits their awesome 26:02 finish time to a finish line with all-you-can-eat bacon ;) They finished a full five minutes faster than their previous PR, and refueled with about 10 pieces of bacon when they were done.

Don't forget to read more motivational stories on the Motivational Monday Facebook post!

March 30, 2014

2014 Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon race report

I think I'm going to go back to posting in the evenings. I like writing in the mornings when I have time, but some days (like today) are hectic.

Today was the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon. I hadn't planned to do this race, but my friend Audrey was going to run it for her first half marathon, and when I heard she was going to be running alone, I asked if she wanted some company. She was happy to have someone to run with, and since I had a long run on the schedule anyway, it worked out really well.

I told Audrey I'd meet her at her house at 6:30, so I got up at 5:00 this morning. I was really tired, and it was hard to get up, but I got up and checked the weather to see how I should dress. I ended up wearing my Cold Gear tights, a Cold Gear long sleeved shirt with a light jacket over it, a fleece headband, and gloves.

Audrey had picked up my packet for me last night, and I was really excited about the shirts for this race! The design is so clever... (the CF in the race name stands for Cystic Fibrosis, which is where the proceeds of the race go to).

It says, "They keep you alive"

Even though it was for Cystic Fibrosis, the shirt reminds me of Mark, because he had lung cancer.

Audrey drove us to the race, and we picked up her friend along the way. We got there really early, because we were afraid that parking would be a problem. We went inside and waited around until the start. We lined up toward the back, because Audrey was estimating her pace to be around 11:00/mi. It was absolutely freezing cold while we waited! I couldn't believe there was still snow piled up in spots, and it's almost April.

The race started, and off we went. I hadn't seen or talked to Audrey in a long time, so we had a ton to catch up on. We started off at a 10:30-ish pace, and Audrey seemed pretty comfortable with that, so we just chatted and kept running. Before I even knew it, we'd run five miles. Seeing our pace then, I knew that Audrey was definitely going to beat her goal of 2:30.

The rest of the race went by SO fast. While we were running, someone behind me said, "Hey! You're in my magazine!" (I could only assume he meant Runner's World, and not Women's World, haha!). I learned his name was Ryan.

At one point, we went through an airplane hanger, where there was a band set up... but of course, right as we went through, they were taking a break! After we got out of the hanger, the wind was really brutal for the last three miles. I could tell that Audrey was really tiring out after mile 11 or so, and I tried to keep talking to distract her from the fact that she was running. The most she'd ever run was 11 miles, so the last couple of miles were uncharted territory.

I was trying to do the math in my head to see if she could pull off a sub-2:15 finish time, and I thought it would be close, but possible. Once we hit mile 12, I told Audrey that she could probably run a sub-10:00 mile. She said she really didn't have any energy left in the tank, so we kept going along at around at 10:05 pace. Once we were in view of the finish line, however, she found some energy in the tank. ;)

She finished the thirteenth mile in 9:57, and when I glanced at my Garmin, I could see that she would be able to do it. I told her that if she gave it everything she had left, she'd finish under 2:15. And then she took off "like a bat out of hell" (one of Mark's favorite expressions!); I actually had a hard time keeping up with her at the end! With about 100 meters to go, we were running really hard, and there was a woman in front of us, so we each went around her. We heard her yell, "You bitches!" (in a joking way). Haha!

We crossed the finish line in 2:14:09... more than 15 minutes faster than her goal!

A couple of seconds later, her friend came across the finish line, and we realized that it was Audrey's friend who we'd passed with literally just about 100 meters left! Even when she yelled to us, we didn't realize it was her--we both thought it was just a random stranger who wasn't happy that we passed her. We all had a good laugh about that.

I was absolutely freezing after the race, so we headed back to the high school to warm up and get a cookie. Audrey's husband and son were there to see her finish, and her son gave her a 13.1 sticker for her car :)

I took a Panera salt bagel (for later) and a sugar cookie. They had a ton of different cookies to choose from! I wish I'd seen them all before choosing. We sat down and waited for one of Audrey's other friends, and then we all went to lunch afterward. Audrey's friends were super nice, and I had fun (both during the race and afterward).

It's exciting to run your first half marathon, so I'm really honored that I got to be a part of Audrey's special day! She did better than she even dreamed she'd do, and she had a great race. She's already looking forward to doing another, so I'd say it was a success. :)

March 29, 2014

Getting back to normal

Being sick sucks! I've been SO congested for a few days, and it's thrown off my routine. Usually, I'll run even when I'm sick, but this cold has really knocked me down. I haven't run since Tuesday. Wednesday was a rest day, but I skipped Thursday and Friday because I was just too sick. I woke up feeling a little better today, but I'm not sure yet if I'm going to run. Another rest day wouldn't hurt, considering I have a half-marathon tomorrow and Ragnar on Friday!

Tonight is Mark's memorial service. His nephew had him cremated, and they're having a very short visitation and service tonight. My parents, Jerry, the kids, and me are all going up there together. I made a few picture boards out of all the pictures I have of Mark, because I don't think his nephew has many pictures.

My Ragnar SoCal team had the idea to make Mark an honorary 13th member of our team. I found a slap bracelet in the shape of a mustache (Mark's signature mustache!) and I'll write his name on it. Then we'll pass the bracelet from runner to runner along the entire course from Huntington Beach to San Diego. They actually came up with this idea before Mark passed away, but I didn't have a chance to tell Mark yet. Mark was excited for my trip, so I love the idea of making him an honorary teammate.

These are the magnets that we ordered to "tag" other vans with. Dean made our logo, which I think looks awesome!

It's so hard to believe that I'll be almost DONE with Ragnar a week from now. Our start time is 5:00 AM on Friday.

I finally got my preordered book, Hansons Half Marathon Method, from Amazon. After reading (and loving) Hansons Marathon Method, I was really excited for this book to be released. I don't have plans of doing another full, but I would like to use their method for half marathons.

Since I've been so sick, I've done quite a bit of laying around, and it was perfect timing to get my book in the mail. Once I started reading, however, I was really disappointed! The book is nearly identical, word-for-word, to the Hansons Marathon Method. "Marathon" was replaced with "half marathon" throughout the book, and the training plan is obviously slightly different; but the training plan can be found online.

So, if you already have Hansons Marathon Method, don't waste your money on this book! But if you don't have either book, I highly recommend reading it (either one). Their training plans are unique and very effective. I wrote my thoughts about it here, after using it for the Chicago Marathon.

I wish I had more to write about, but I've been so sick that I haven't done much of anything the past couple of days. I've been doing well with Weight Watchers. Even with all the emotion and stress surrounding Mark's death, I've only had two bad days out of the past couple of weeks. Jerry and I did our week without alcohol, as part of a challenge in our meeting. One of the other challenges was a week without sweets, and I don't know if I'm even going to attempt that one! Maybe when I get back from San Diego I'll give it a try.

Jerry's back on his regular work shift, so he won't be working nearly as much as he has been the past few months--I'm so glad! He was working on a special project, and that's done now. So when I get back from San Diego, things should be much less stressful and I can get back to a routine. I almost forget what that's like! ;)

March 28, 2014

Weight Loss Success Story: How Hilary Lost 64 Pounds!

I had a tough day yesterday, because I went through all of Mark's photos and scanned them into the computer. His family asked me if I had any pictures of him, and I offered to make a photo board for his memorial tomorrow.

With all that has been going on with Mark, the time has been flying by for me. I leave for San Diego in less than a week! I still have a couple of teammates I'd like to introduce before I leave, so I'll share Hilary's story today.

Hilary has overcome quite a bit to get where she is today. I'm looking forward to meeting her in person in just six more days!

Hello! I am Runner #5 for Ragnar SoCal, and my name is Hilary. I currently run on the sunny Central Coast of California. Being a runner was something I never thought I would do. Sharing my story is a little out of my comfort zone, because I tend to be fairly private with people I don't know, but I am learning that living within your comfort zone can be a little boring. So here's my story--enjoy!

I topped the scale at 240 pounds in my late teens. Many factors were involved with "how I got there"--depression, anxiety, a knee injury which put me onto crutches for months--but there I was.  I did manage to lose the weight in my early twenties. Unfortunately it was through non-healthy, restrictive and unsustainable ways.

On my thirtieth birthday, I was once again weighing in at over 200 pounds--214 to be exact! I knew I had to lose the weight, so I tried the HCG diet. I lost weight quickly, but the highly restrictive menu was not good for me. I felt deprived, sluggish, and very nervous about how it would affect me emotionally and mentally due to my previous history of restricting what I ate. The second I stopped the diet, I gained back the weight--easy to do when you have been eating roughly 500 calories a day! I was back to needing to lose weight. 

The biggest change for me this time was a mindset change. I wasn't going on a diet to lose weight; I was going to get healthy. I quit smoking. I started Weight Watchers as a way to monitor my eating. I loved that I could eat anything I wanted; I just had to do it in moderation. 

I also learned a lot about my eating, including the fact that I was drinking a ton of calories every day! Numerous cups of coffee with flavored creamer, sodas, juice, etc. I cut down to one cup of coffee a day with fat free half and half and brown sugar. I know that every day, the coffee will be a part of my WW points and it's worth it to me. For a solid 6 months I recorded everything I ate--EVERYTHING--and used all my daily points, weekly points and activity points. I didn't go over my points, though. I found what worked for me.

I also started running by using the Couch To 5K program. God--in the beginning, it sucked! But it started sucking less. Soon I was running 10 minute stretches, then 20, then the 35 minutes at the end of week 8, day 3! I didn't run an actual 5k that day--hell no, my pace was too slow. But, I ran for over half an hour without stopping and without dying!

I started running more and farther, and slowly became faster. My first 5k was 46:06 and I felt awesome! I then trained for my first half marathon which ended horribly. I limped the last 5 miles, past my own front door TWICE, but I finished it. I had not trained appropriately, had jumped in too fast and too soon, and my awesome shoes that I bought off the rack were not right for me. I went to the doc the next day, was diagnosed with severe tendonitis and placed in a walking boot for 2 months. 

I could have stopped running then and there. I thought I was not "meant" to be a running, but I went back to running once I was cleared by the doc and PT. The injury taught me a lot. Having your running analyzed for the right shoes is very important. I also learned a lot about stretching, foam rolling and body weight strength training for my legs. I jumped back in with two feet, trained my butt of and complete my second half marathon six months later--bettering my time by an hour!

Running has not been easy for me, but it has been worth it! It would have been easy to quit before it got good and I'm glad I didn't. I've learned that after running a half marathon, my stomach can hate me. I've been heard saying "I used to have pretty feet" more then once.  I've learned that no matter what I do I will never get rid of my running shorts tan lines! But the doors running has opened have been amazing.

I have started swimming again for the first time in my adult life, I have taken yoga and Pilates classes, I have zip lined through jungles, and I have found a love of trail running! I hit my goal weight of 160 just before I turned 32, and have maintained for four months so far. I know that maintenance will be the hardest part, but I have a good feeling that this change in mindset will help with that.  I am also so glad to have found 11 strangers to run across Southern California with and cannot wait to share a lifetime of running journeys with!

Hilary has just started a blog of her own. You can follow along at The Simply Imperfect Homemaker

March 27, 2014


First, I want to thank you all so much for all of your kind words about Mark and my family yesterday. My mom and I were in total disbelief at all of the nice comments.

Mark's actual death hasn't been as hard on me as when I learned he was dying. I feel like I really mourned and grieved for him a week ago, when he got to go home and then wasn't able to get out of bed. That was when I realized that the treatments hadn't given him much extra time. As awful as it sounds, I am glad that he passed away quickly once he went downhill. I would have hated for him to suffer for weeks, because I've heard that lung cancer is very painful in the end. I'm glad that he's at peace now.

Yesterday, I went to the nursing home to bring is occupational therapists a thank you card. I got Tiffany a Tim Horton's gift card, because she used to stop there and get coffee for herself and Mark in the mornings sometimes, since he was her first patient. She worked so hard with him to get him ready to go home, and without her, Mark probably would have died in a hospital setting.

My older brother, Brian, and his fiancé, Becky, came in from Minnesota yesterday. Brian had been wanting to come visit Mark, and we had plans of going for a visit yesterday when I picked them up from the airport; but then we learned that Mark died just after midnight yesterday. Brian and Becky decided to still come out here, so I picked them up from the airport after I left the nursing home.

It was nice seeing them, and we picked the kids up from school to take them bowling. My parents, Brian, Becky, my younger brother Nathan, Jerry, Noah, Eli, and I all went. I didn't bowl, because I was feeling really sick. I had a bad headache and I was really congested. But was fun to watch everyone else, and my mom brought her iPad along so we could read all the comments about Mark on my blog and on Facebook.

I was so excited when I read a comment from Kimberly, about her random act of kindness yesterday in Mark's honor:

Mark would have loved that idea! :)

Even with the news about Mark, I decided to still go to my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday morning. Jerry is back to swing shift, so he went with me, too. Glenda, my leader, is so nice! She sent me a nice card in the mail during the week congratulating me on the Runner's World and Woman's World articles. And at the meeting yesterday, she gave me this:

It was definitely not necessary, but VERY thoughtful! I really look forward to going to my meetings each week now. Even when I get back to a free Lifetime membership, when I'm only required to go once a month, I'd like to continue to go every week.

Yesterday was a busy day, but by the time I got home last night, my headache and congestion were awful. I couldn't sleep much at all during the night, and I actually woke up with a fever. I haven't felt this sick in a long time! I'm going to rest all day today, with tea and Lifetime movies to keep me company. Jerry has the same symptoms, but just a day or two ahead of mine. He's feeling a lot better today, so I hope that this doesn't last long. I leave for San Diego in a week!

I have a busy weekend--Mark's memorial service is on Saturday, and my friend Audrey is going to be running her first half-marathon on Sunday, the Rock CF half that I did a couple of years ago. When I learned she was going to run alone, I offered to run it with her. So I registered for the race, and I'm just hoping that I'm feeling a lot better by then!

March 26, 2014

Home Home

It is with a very heavy heart that I let you all know that Mark went "home home" last night (when he was in the hospital, he referred to Heaven as "home home"). I'm not really sure what to write here, because I feel like I've already shared it all.

Before Mark got sick, I only saw him a couple of times a year, when my dad would pick him up to go fishing or when we celebrated his birthday on Halloween. When I learned he had Stage 4 lung cancer, I was shocked. I went to the hospital for a visit, and after spending that afternoon with Mark, I was hooked on him!

All of my stupid little problems and worries of day-to-day life seemed to disappear when I was chatting with Mark. I always left feeling excited to see him again, because he had this way of making me feel so happy! With each visit, I really started to know Mark more and more. I wished that I'd visited him in the group home the way that I was visiting him in the hospital (and then nursing home). I wished that I'd have more time to spend with him.

Mark's attitude could reel anybody in. The nursing staff and doctors all fell in love with him from the first day he was admitted. How could they not, when he actually thanked them for giving him another injection or gross-tasting hospital food? He was so grateful to everyone that popped into his room, and he made sure to let them know it. He loved to share his candy with anyone that came in to see him.

Mark really wanted to fight this cancer, but he also knew that he may be going "home home" soon. He made it his mission to go home, back to his group home that he's known for over 35 years, and he did everything the nursing staff and therapists asked of him in order to get his wish. He did radiation treatments, chemo treatments, and physical and occupational therapy day after day in order to get well enough to go home.

And he did it! First, we brought him home for a day in order to let Mark throw a party for the other residents in the group home. He had gotten some money from his cards, and he wanted to spend it on a pizza and cake party for his friends. He had a great time, and I'm so happy that we were able to make that happen for him.

And after his treatments were done, he was finally discharged to go home. Once he got there, he was very content and happy to see his friends (who were like family to him), and to sleep in his own bed (he hated the hospital beds). I am grateful and happy that I got to spend a few minutes alone with him to say anything I'd like to say, knowing that his cancer had taken a turn for the worse.

Even though I've only truly gotten to know Mark over the last four months, his death is devastating to me. I wish that I had done more with him, and I wish that I could have done more for him in the end. But I think that Mark felt very loved over the last few months. He told everyone he came in contact with, "I have SO MANY people that care about me!" as he pointed to all of his cards.

I want to say a very heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who sent him a card, gift, well-wish, prayer, or positive thought. The one positive thing to come out of Mark's illness and passing away is that he touched literally thousands of lives in one way or another. He was the most selfless person I've ever known, and he loved to do things for others.

In honor of Mark, and his loving and generous attitude, I want to ask all of you to do one last thing for him: Do a random act of kindness for somebody else. It doesn't have to cost any money (Mark didn't have any money, but he was always looking for ways to help people), or be anything extravagant; but I ask that you actively seek out a way to do something kind for someone else today (or whenever you can).

If you are unsure of what to do, I'd like to suggest visiting a nursing home. Mark spent a couple of months at a nursing home, and I was so sad for all of the people there who didn't get any visitors. Mark's room was decorated with cards, but most of the people there didn't have anything to show they are being thought about. You can really brighten someone's day by bringing them flowers, or a card, or to go and chat for a little while. Or bring them a strawberry milkshake--that's what Mark would probably suggest :)

If you care to, I'd love for you to post a comment here to share the random act of kindness that you did. Let's see just how many lives Mark can touch, even now that he is Home Home!

March 25, 2014

A day off

Yesterday was a busy morning. I got up at 5:00 and prepared the whole Motivational Monday post by 7:15. Usually I get the kids up at 7:00, so it was a little hectic getting them ready a little late, but it ended up working out well. My mom came over to take the kids to the bus stop so that I could get a head start on my run.

I ran five miles at an easy pace. The past few runs, I've gone a different route, one that takes me down by the lake. Even though it's late-March, the lake is still pretty frozen, and there are HUGE piles of ice on the lake. This has happened in front of my parents' house before, and it's so pretty! The water just keeps piling up and freezing, forming these enormous piles. I tried to get a picture on my run, but unless I went into someone's yard, I couldn't get very close.

It seems I deleted my pictures from my run--bummer!--so I had to steal this collage from my Instagram. This was from my long run on Sunday. I ran 10 freezing cold miles, and then warmed up with Panera's tomato soup.

Anyway, yesterday, I wore my Garmin but I set it to display just the time of day, because I didn't want to get discouraged by my pace that seems to be getting slower by the minute. When I checked out my splits later, I was a little amazed to see how consistent they were.

My body always knows when I'm close to home, because I tend to pick up the pace a little ;)

After my run, I had a quick breakfast and shower, then went to pick up my mom so we could go visit Mark. When I got there, my dad decided to go, too, and we waited a little bit for him to get ready. Then he ended up driving, which I was glad for later. We had to drive down Gratiot Ave. in Detroit. I don't go to/through Detroit much, but I saw the really bad parts of the city on our drive yesterday. It was kind of interesting to see, though.

Mark's nephew's house is just outside of Detroit. After the drive yesterday, I don't think I'd really feel comfortable driving there by myself--which is unfortunate, because I won't be able to visit Mark as often as I'd like. Anyway, Mark was in his wheelchair in front of the TV in the living room when we got there. He was awake and tried to get up when he heard us come in. So it was good to see that he seems to be doing better (physically) since the last time I saw him!

You could tell he wanted to chat with us, but it's hard for him to form his thoughts into words, which I think is because of the cancer in his brain. Mark doesn't really like to watch TV, so I felt kind of bad that he was sitting there. I would have loved to bundle him up and take him outside in his wheelchair for a walk, but when Mark asked to go outside, they told him it was too cold.

Mark's physical needs are being well taken care of, though, so I'm grateful for that. I was sitting on the couch right next to his wheelchair, and several times while we were there, he reached out his arm to hug me. He even told me while he hugged me, "I miss you. I miss you a lot." That was the only time that I really couldn't help but cry. There is just so much that I want to do for him, but can't. 

When it was time to go, we took Mark into his bedroom and got him comfortable in his bed for a nap.  I gave him another hug, and told him I'd see him soon. I wish that the visit made me feel better, but I felt worse after leaving. I do plan to go back, though, for Mark.

Jerry is off work today, and I am SO excited! I know that sounds kind of ridiculous to get so excited over, but over the past three months, he's only had (I think) three days off work. He's finally going back to his regular schedule, and I couldn't be more relieved. It's been really hard doing everything without him--taking care of the kids, doing stuff around the house, dealing with all that's happening with Mark.

Today, after we get the kids off to school, we're going to run a few errands, then go to lunch, and then to a movie. There are two movies I want to see right now: Divergent and God's Not Dead. I'm not sure which one we'll see yet. Our movie theater just got new seats--recliners, La-Z-Boy-style. I'm excited to try them out. But mostly, I'm excited to spend some quality time with Jerry today!

March 24, 2014

Motivational Monday #57

Happy Motivational Monday! I had a whole bunch of MM submission left from last week, so I decided to prepare this post to go live this morning, rather than tonight. I'm not sure if I'll continue morning posts, but right now I like it. Anyway, I hope everyone has had a great week!

I've had one of the toughest weeks of my life, at least emotionally. I'm really sad that Mark's cancer is in the final stages, and that's all I've really thought about this week. My mom and I are going to visit him today, which is another reason I wanted to get this post up this morning. I probably won't be home until it's time for my kids to get home from school.

For Motivational Monday, I am proud to say that even though I have wanted to binge several times this week, mostly out of emotional eating, I only acted on it once. I really don't want to let all that's happening with Mark become an excuse to stop taking care of myself, because I know Mark wouldn't want that! So I'm taking it a day (and moment) at a time, doing my very best.

This is a very long MM post, so I have to use a page break. Sorry, but if you're reading this in a reader, you'll have to click through to read the whole post. I discovered that when my posts are too long, or have a ton of pictures, it messes up the feed. So this post will be truncated to avoid any issues. But there is a TON of motivation to be found in these stories... enjoy!

Meg signed up for her first spring half-marathon EVER, and unfortunately, many of us have had a terrible training winter! She's been steadily training through winter, and has done 90% of her runs outdoors (she lives in Michigan, too, so I know how tough that must have been!). She's proud that she hasn't used the weather as an excuse, and she's looking forward to running her first half--the Cocoa Classic in Detroit next month! (Meg's blog)

Charlotte and some friends just ran their first 5K, and were very proud to say that they all beat the goals they'd set for themselves! They were thrilled with their finish times: Herb- 31:40, Chris- 38:21, Adam- 24:31, Charlotte- 39:06, and Emily- 38:07. Chris has lost over 20 pounds, and Charlotte has lost 20 pounds!

Becca weighed 250 pounds when she graduated from high school; she decided to stop worrying about weight, and start thinking of her health. Gradually, over the last 20 years, she's been implementing positive, healthy changes, and is 60 pounds lighter. She does some running, and has completed 5K races with her mom; but she discovered that her true love and passion is for yoga. She loved it so much she decided to get certified to teach! She just completed her 200-hour teacher training certification. (There is a 20-year difference in the photos--is it just me, or does she not look a day older?!)

March 23, 2014

Summer clothes

I really liked writing a post in the morning yesterday, and here I am today, unable to sleep, so I'm writing again. I think I may start posting in the mornings from now on, before the stress of my day starts. But I'll see how it goes.

I really need to write about something other than Mark today. I don't have anything in mind, but Mark has been consuming my thoughts every hour of the day, and it's weighing heavily on me. But first, let me share a brief update: My parents went to the group home before Mark left yesterday. I was torn about whether to go or not; I felt really good about the last conversation I had with Mark, and didn't want to mess with that. I ended up not going, but my mom told me how things went.

My dad with Mark, just before Mark left

I didn't write my feelings about Mark's nephew ("D") before, because I really wanted to keep everything about Mark (and I still do). But I was bitter--it bothered me that he never visited Mark, and then wanted to take Mark home all of a sudden. He hasn't been the most likable person over the last few months. Anyway, my mom said after seeing D when he went to pick up Mark, she felt very good about Mark going home with him.

D had been up all night getting a room ready for Mark--painting, moving furniture, etc. He is friends and neighbors with a certified hospice nurse, so she is going to be Mark's primary caregiver. My mom said that Mark was happy to see D (he hadn't seen him since December, I believe). D told my mom we can come over any time we want, even if it's every single day (the downside is that he lives an hour away).

Mark seemed happy to leave with D, who took him to his house in time for the hospice nurses to arrive and evaluate Mark and get his bed and everything set up. My mom called D last night to see how Mark was doing, and D was getting ready to give him dinner. He said Mark was awake, and let my mom talk to him. Mark spoke very clearly, and when my mom asked him how he liked his new house, he said he really liked it.

I planned to keep this very brief, and here I am rattling on :)  Anyway, I feel MUCH better about the situation after hearing the updates. My mom and I plan to go visit Mark tomorrow (Monday). I'm still hurting for the fact that Mark's time here is almost over, but the fears that I was imagining about him staying with his nephew are gone. I think that his nephew has truly decided to step up for Mark, and take good care of him.

I went for a run yesterday morning, even though it was the last thing I felt like doing. It was before Mark had left with D, so I was worrying about that all morning. I was scheduled for six miles, but I'd run six the day before (when I was only scheduled for five), so I decided to run five. I just really wanted to avoid the awful wind blowing in from the north, because it gives me a headwind the entire second half of my out-and-back route.

I decided to run around the four neighborhoods surrounding me, which is a perfect five miles. I think this winter, I've forgotten how to dress for outdoor running. I was definitely too warm yesterday in a long-sleeved tech shirt, fleece jacket, Cold Gear tights, gloves, and ear warmer headband. The "real feel" temp was 30, so I thought that would work. But after last week's horribly cold long run, I didn't want to take any chances, so I definitely dressed too warm!

I couldn't believe how difficult it felt to run yesterday. I maintained about a 9:30/mi pace, which should have felt very easy. In the fall, I was regularly running 8-10 miles at an 8:45-ish pace. But yesterday, I was huffing and puffing though the entire run, which was kind of discouraging. I'm hoping once I get back to regularly running outside, I'll get my fitness back quickly.

Last night, I decided to get out my summer clothes to try on and see what I should pack for San Diego (less than two weeks away!). I'm not kidding myself into thinking I'm the same size as I was in the summer (or even in January), but I couldn't believe at how tight my clothes had gotten! My goal weight is 133, and I maintained that pretty much all of 2013 (it started creeping up in November, but it wasn't until February that I gained quite a bit). Anyway, at 146, that means I'm 13 pounds over my goal weight. Seven of those pounds came on since February.

When I was obese, 13 pounds wouldn't have made a bit of difference in my clothing. But now, 13 pounds can equal 1-2 clothing sizes! I can barely squeeze into my size 4 shorts that were actually pretty baggy in the summer. It was depressing to try it all on, but also very motivating. I honestly didn't realize that those 13 pounds would make such a big difference. I obviously don't have enough time to lose it all before I go to San Diego, but hopefully by summertime I can.

I wanted to binge SO BADLY yesterday... it was driving me crazy all day long. My parents had the kids pretty much all day, to give me some space to grieve over Mark. It was very helpful, but being home alone, feeling sad all day made it hard for me not to dive head-first into a pint of ice cream. I thought about it constantly--curling up on the couch under a blanket, watching a Lifetime movie, and eating ice cream--the whole cliche.

The thing that stopped me was that I tried swapping out the ice cream for a mug of tea in that same scenario--it's just as comforting and relaxing, but it wouldn't leave me feeling like crap. So that's what I did. And later, when Jerry was home, I wanted to binge after dinner, but he told me he'd give me a really good back massage. It felt awesome, and definitely made the craving bearable until we watched TV with the kids before bed. I had tea instead of wine in the evening, per the challenge by my WW leader, and I found that I really didn't miss the wine as long as I had something to sip.

I think I'm just going to have to take each day, and each craving, as it comes. Having to re-lose this 13 pounds is bad enough; I don't want to add to it. And I certainly don't want to use Mark's illness as an excuse to comfort myself with food--he would feel awful if he knew I was doing that.

This morning, I have my long run--10 miles. I'm considering doing it without my Garmin, but I don't know if I'll be able to do that ;)  It would be really nice to run as slowly as I want, with nothing to tell me how slowly I'm running; but I do like looking at all the fun data when I'm done!

March 22, 2014


Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. I had a really hard day, and I just didn't have the energy to write a post. I spent the entire day with Mark. My mom and I went to the group home at 9:00, because we knew the hospice nurse would be coming to evaluate him at 10:00, and we wanted to be there. Nothing went as we'd hoped.

Ever since December, when Mark was hospitalized and diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, my parents really wanted to take him to their house under hospice care. Mark is very comfortable when he goes to their house, and he's spent a lot of time there over the years. Mark and my dad have been very good friends for 35 years, and when my dad mentioned to Mark about going home with him, Mark was thrilled.

Unfortunately, because Mark has a nephew, we don't have guardianship or durable power of attorney, so we can't make any medical decisions for Mark. When the hospice nurse evaluated Mark, we were hoping that she would find him competent enough to sign himself into hospice, and sign over durable power of attorney (decisions for medical care) to my dad. It was really hard having to explain to Mark that the treatments didn't work, and that he wasn't going to get better. When the nurse asked him where he wanted to go for the rest of his life, he told her several times that he wanted to go to my dad's house; but when she asked him what the date was, he thought it was 2007. She said he wasn't competent to sign, and because there was a living blood relative, Mark's nephew had to sign the papers.

They contacted Mark's nephew, and he did sign Mark into hospice (which we were grateful for), but he decided to take Mark to his house instead of letting us take care of him. Since we aren't blood relatives with Mark, there was nothing we could do to change it. So today at noon, Mark will be going to his nephew's house. His nephew said we can visit if we call first, but I didn't want to assume that would happen, so I acted as if yesterday was the last day I would see Mark.

Mark was very tired, and could hardly open his eyes all day. My mom and I sat with him for about eight hours, and he just wasn't very lucid when we tried to talk to him. He did sip some of the strawberry shake I brought him, and he took a few bites of broccoli cheddar soup (from Panera!). But mostly, he slept.

When it came time for us to leave, I had a heavy pit in my stomach, knowing it was likely the last time I'd see him. My mom asked if I wanted to spend a few minutes alone with him, and I said yes. It was the strangest thing--once we were alone, Mark opened his eyes, and really SAW me. He kept his eyes open while I told him everything I wanted to say. I could see that he actually heard me and understood. Those couple of minutes were the most lucid I've seen him recently, and I felt really good about leaving like that. The last thing he told me was, "I'll be okay". I needed to hear that, and I think he knew how much I needed to hear that.

I turned on his favorite Jackson Browne CD for him, and he kept his eyes open long enough for a picture :)

It's my hope, more than anything, that Mark's nephew really wants to take good care of Mark, and make his last days the best they can be. I want Mark to feel loved during the time he has left, and I hate feeling so powerless. I really hope that the hospice nurses make sure that he's getting the best care, too.

I'm just so sad right now. I've never felt this much grief before. I'm very lucky that nobody really close to me has ever died; but this is the first time I've ever really experienced this, and it's awful. I've spent the last four months seeing Mark a few times a week, and trying to make him as happy as possible, despite the cancer. He has made an enormous impact on my life, and I just wish that I could do more for him.

Again, I am sorry for such a downer of a post. I feel bad, because with the Runner's World and Woman's World articles out right now, I've gotten some new readers, but all I've written about this month is death and dying! On the bright side, I did manage to get out for a run yesterday evening. I ran six miles, even though I was completely drained, and I'm glad I did it. Mark was excited for me to go to San Diego and run with my Ragnar team, although I was prepared to cancel my trip to stay and take care of Mark; but now, I plan to go run because he would want me to.

I'm not sure how consistently I'll be posting for the next few days, but I want to say thank you all so much for your kind comments and emails. My mom and I were both very touched by how supportive you've been, now and for the last few months!

March 20, 2014

New update on Mark

Today was a very rough, emotional day for me. I spent the morning procrastinating my run (per usual), and when I finally get dressed to run, my mom called. She told me that she got a call from "C" at Mark's group home, and it turns out that Mark isn't doing very well. His health went downhill very quickly once he was back home. C said that the doctor was going to go to the home to check on him, so I wanted to get there to hear what the doctor had to say.

I changed clothes as quickly as I could, and rushed out the door. When I got there, Mark was sleeping, so I talked to C for about an hour while we waited for the doctor to get there. She told me what was going on with Mark--he can't get up and walk, even with his walker, he's constantly sleeping, and he was having trouble swallowing. His memory seemed a little fuzzy, and some of the things he's said to her have been "off". 

I had attributed the sleepiness and lethargy to his pain medication; but C said that she had cut back on his pain meds, because she thought the same thing. His pain felt worse, but it didn't help with his lethargy or anything else. The only thing that I can think of is that Mark was SO determined to go home, and he worked really hard to be able to go home; and once he got there, maybe he just gave up. He's happy to be home, and now he can just relax. 

After talking to C for a while, we checked on Mark again, and he was awake. He looked SO tired and pale. He couldn't keep his eyes open long enough to really talk to me. He did say he was glad to see me, like always, and when I asked how he was feeling, he said, "Great". He's afraid to tell anyone when he doesn't feel well because he thinks he'll have to go back to the hospital.

The doctor came and checked him out, basically confirming what we already knew. He wrote prescriptions for the pain meds that Mark needs, but that was all he could really do. We need to hear from Mark's oncologist to know where the cancer stands, but in reality, there isn't anything else to do except make Mark comfortable. He called to have a hospice nurse go out and evaluate Mark, to see if he's ready for hospice (the nurse will estimate how long he has to live, and if it's less than six months, then he would qualify for hospice). The nurse should be going tomorrow, I hope. We'll know more once we find out if he's ready for hospice.

In writing about all this, it seems so matter-of-fact, but I had a REALLY tough day. I cried the whole way to the group home, and the whole way home. I tried to run on the treadmill, but only made it a half-mile before crying again and giving up. I cried in the shower. I cried when Jerry got home, and I told him the whole story. The whole evening has felt like I've been in a fog. When Mark went home a couple of days ago, I felt some sort of hope that he'd have another year or two. I never expected to get this call so soon.

I don't think Mark knows that he doesn't have much time left. I could barely understand what he was saying today, but I did hear him say something about fishing with my dad. I'd hoped that he would be able to go fishing one last time.

Something that completely broke my heart today was when C and I were talking in Mark's room. We said how hard Mark worked to be able to go home; that he went to physical and occupational therapy every day and worked through the pain. And he did it! He was home. I thought Mark was sleeping while we were talking about this, but then he said, very weakly, with his eyes still closed, "See? I did something..."

He was really proud of himself for doing it. Mark has always enjoyed his chores and when people ask him for help with something, and I think it's because he likes feeling needed. It gives him a purpose. When he was in the nursing home, he couldn't wait to go home and do chores like sweeping the floors. When he said today that he "did something", I just felt so sad; I hope he realizes that he's done SO MUCH MORE than I could ever explain.

All of this makes me scared. I'm scared about what's happening with Mark. I'm scared about being a primary caretaker for him if it comes to hospice care at my parents' house. I'm scared he's going to be in pain. I'm scared to tell him that his cancer isn't gone.

I just found this pic of him with my sister's dogs from several years ago

I know this sounds totally selfish here, but I'm even scared of what all this is going to do to my weight. I skipped my run today, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've skipped a run for no "real" reason. I'm an emotional eater, so I'm scared that this is going to make me want to eat everything in sight.

I didn't want this to be such a downer of a post, but it's hard to think positively about any of it right now. I know a lot of you look forward to updates about Mark, so I wanted to fill you in on what's going on. Thanks for the prayers and positive thoughts you've sent his way!

March 19, 2014


When I went back to Weight Watchers last month, and discovered I had to pay again (I was a free Lifetime member for over a year, but if you are over goal weight, then you have to pay), I had a big reason to get back to goal. I guess I just thought it would be easy--eat right for a few days, and I'd be back under goal. (My WW goal is 143, my weight was 146, so it was "only" 3 pounds).

Wednesday weigh-in today... my weight didn't budge (I forgot about taking a picture until after I'd drunk a quart of water, so you'll just have to trust me). I'm not going to pretend to be surprised that my weight hasn't changed, though! I think the best word to describe my actions lately, as far as eating goes, is "inconsistent". Over the past few months, I went through phases of counting every point, not counting anything, trying to eat only whole foods, eating lots of vegetables, caring about the numbers, not caring about the numbers, binge-free streaks and eating everything in sight. It's not surprising that my weight went up when I haven't stuck with anything long enough to see results!

Those three little pounds have NOT been easy, like I thought they'd be. I've been feeling SO stressed out lately, and I've learned that when I feel stressed, I go for food to forget about the stress for a moment. Textbook emotional eating! The biggest form of stress right now is just Jerry's work schedule. It's going to be like this until I go to San Diego, which is in a couple more weeks. But I am hoping that San Diego will be totally carefree and fun, and will help me feel more relaxed!

My team was talking about going to the San Diego Zoo while we're there, and I took out this old embarrassing photo from when I was 17 and went to the zoo with my mom.

There was a green screen and a green bench, and they told me to lie on the bench and "look scared". This photo was the result, hahaha! My mom and I happened to be at the zoo the day that the first panda to be born in the United States was born at that zoo. We didn't realize what a big deal it was while we were there, but later, we saw the news on TV in the hotel and it was a huge deal! That's the only memory I have of the San Diego Zoo, but I'm excited to go back next month.

Anyway, after I took the kids to the bus stop this morning, I ate breakfast and then went to my Weight Watchers meeting. I brought a copy of Runner's World with me to show my leader. I also stopped at Kroger to see if my Woman's World issue (the March 31st issue) was on the shelf yet, so I could bring that, too, but it wasn't there yet.

I showed Runner's World to my leader when I weighed in, and she was SO excited for me. I told her she could keep it, and she even asked me to sign it for her ;)  I was early for the meeting, so I sat down and chatted with a couple of the members while we waited. Everybody (the members, leaders, receptionists) are so nice. I really enjoy going, and despite my shyness, I feel very comfortable talking there. One of the members next to me, who has been really kind to me since I started going there, reached her goal weight this week. I was going to have to leave the meeting early for Mark's doctor's appointment, but I wanted to stay for when she got her award.

I made it out just in time get to Mark's appointment. My dad's truck was in the parking lot, so I parked near him. He came over and told me that he'd gone inside, and the receptionist told him Mark's appointment isn't until the 27th!! I have no idea where the miscommunication happened, but I was really disappointed that we wouldn't hear Mark's test results today.

My dad said she stopped at the group home on his way home, so that he could still see Mark. Mark was very out of it from all the medication :/  I had been hoping to ask the doctor today about decreasing his pain meds, because he seems way too drugged up sometimes.

The doctor's office was near Sam's Club, so I stopped there before going home. We love these ciabatta rolls to make sandwiches for dinner sometimes, so whenever I near Sam's, I like to pick some up.

They're 5 PointsPlus each, which isn't bad at all, considering that they make really hearty sandwiches. Today, I made pulled pork in the slow cooker to put on them--so good!

My Weight Watchers leader posted weekly goals for March, and I decided to try and do one of them this week: no alcohol for a week! Jerry and I like have a drink at night (usually wine for me, beer for him); but I'd like to try and challenge myself to come up with a different routine this week. Maybe a mug of hot chocolate, or tea and biscotti instead. Jerry said he'll do the challenge with me.

Today is the last "official" day of winter. I really hope that we start seeing signs of spring here soon! We still have snow on the ground, but it rained today, so I guess that's a good sign ;)

March 18, 2014

Mark went home today!

Tuesday is speed work day, but I was SO not on the mood for speed work (am I ever?!). I was procrastinating all morning, and then I finally got on the treadmill to do 6 x 800's.

-1/2 mile warm-up
-6 repeats of the following:
     -1/2 mile at 7:30/mi pace
     -1/4 mile recovery jog
-1/2 mile cool down

I did the warm-up, and then halfway through the first interval, I decided that I just couldn't make myself do it today. Instead, I wanted to run outside! So I changed clothes and headed out for a four-mile run at whatever pace I felt like running. It felt pretty tough today, for some reason.

It was much better than doing speed work, that's for sure. But I'm looking forward to a rest day tomorrow!

I'm a little disappointed that I don't have pictures to share of Mark, because today was his big day--he went home! I had assumed that my dad and I would be the ones to take him home, but the woman who owns the group home called me this morning to say that she was going to pick him up. She said that sometimes the whole discharge process takes a while, and she would have to be the one to sign papers and all that stuff, so it was better that she go. Which makes sense, of course. I was just disappointed I didn't get to see how excited he was to get out of the nursing home!

I spent the morning working on getting the rest of his cards into "books" on a ring.

This is probably only about half of the total cards he received (his nephew took several hundred home, and we haven't seen them since). I cannot thank you all enough for sending him love and well wishes over the past few months!! Mark LOVES the cards, and it was a big topic of conversation with the nurses at the hospital and nursing home--who is this patient? why does he have so many cards? ;) (If you still want to send cards, you can do so indefinitely! I'll continue to bring them to him at the group home. The address is on the left sidebar of my blog.)

The nursing staff all fell in love with Mark, of course. He is truly the perfect patient--he does whatever they ask of him (with a smile on his face), never complains about anything, always greets them warmly and tells them he's happy to see them, and treats them will the respect they deserve.

I definitely plan to continue to visit Mark a few times a week, but I just have to say that the last few months have been life-changing for me. I feel really lucky that I've gotten to know him and understand him a lot better. There have been numerous times throughout the past few months that I've gotten upset over something, and then stopped to think, "Is this really worth being upset over? Mark is doing chemo with a big smile on his face, knowing that at best, he'll get another year or two to live. Is this REALLY worth getting upset about?" (And the answer is always no, of course!)

If there is one thing I've taken away from getting to know Mark better, it's this: To be a good person, it doesn't matter what possessions we have, what car we drive, what clothes we wear, where we live, what we do for a living, how we spend our free time, what we eat or don't eat, what places we've traveled to, whether we have a Ph.D or a G.E.D. or no education at all, how much money is in our bank account, or how many friends we hang out with on the weekend. At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters to others is our attitudes and how well we treat people.

Pretty much everything that Mark owns can fit in a small box. He hasn't traveled the world, and he doesn't have a ton of stories about the things he's done in life. But he has the cheeriest attitude of anyone I've ever met, and he is SO grateful and happy for everything that comes his way. It truly is impossible to NOT like him. I've been trying really hard to be more like Mark--complaining less, being happy with everything I have, and trying to find enjoyment in everything I do. It's not as easy as Mark makes it seem, but I'm getting there :)

Anyway, I'm really happy that Mark is back at home, and tomorrow we'll go to the doctor with him to find out where is cancer stands right now. I'm praying for good news!

March 17, 2014

Motivational Monday #56 (St. Patrick's Day Edition)

Well, I asked, and you all delivered! After several weeks of not getting many Motivational Monday submissions, I was considering retiring the MM posts; but today, I was flooded with emails! Normally, I like to post them the week that I get them, so they aren't too untimely; but I had nearly 30 submissions, so I decided to use some today, and some next week (and maybe some the week after that!).

Since today is St. Patrick's Day, and a lot of people did St. Patty's Day races over the weekend, I thought it would be fun to post all of those first. Looking at the pictures, it kind of makes me wish I'd done a race over the weekend, too :)

My friend Stephanie and her son, Jamie, ran a (very cold) 10K yesterday! Jamie really wanted to do this race, despite the fact that he had THREE hockey try-outs between Saturday and Sunday as well (each one was 90-minutes long). It was only 13 degrees during the race, but they had fun showing their St. Patty's Day spirit! (Especially after warming up at Panera after the race)

You may remember Julie (on right) who lost her husband to cancer last September, and she was struggling with binge eating after his passing. She'd been training for her first half-marathon, the "Run for Life", to take place yesterday, the day after her late husband's birthday. The last six months have been very tough for Julie and her daughter, Sasha, and celebrating her husband's birthday without him was harder than she even imagined. She didn't sleep much, she was sad, and feeling anxious about the race, but she got up, got dressed, and ran the streets of NYC. She felt incredibly empowered and lucky to be alive to enjoy every moment!

Amber completed her fourth half-marathon yesterday! Because of her husband's schedule, she knew it was going to be tough to train with her kids in tow (1.5 year old son and 8 year old daughter); but she didn't let that stop her, and she blew her goal time out of the water. She hoped to finish in 2:24, but she finished in 2:16! She's been maintaining a 70-pound weight loss, and is proud to set a good example for her kids.

Jodi just completed her very first race--the Shamrock Shuffle 3K in Lexington! She's lost a total of 123 pounds, and is already registered for her first 5K in June! She said that after this race, she feels "unstoppable", and someday, she'll be posting about her first marathon :)

Dean ran the Wearin' of the Green 7K race and despite the freezing cold and windy conditions, he had his fastest race yet! He finished in 36:58, which is an 8:32/mi pace; his 5K PR pace is 9:01 (clearly, he needs to update that 5K PR!). Dean is on my Strangers to Sole Mates Ragnar team, and when we first invited him to join the team, he was running an 11:00+ minute mile. He's lost a LOT of weight and gotten a LOT faster over the last year! (Dean started a blog, which you can find here)

Emily completed her longest run to date: the 15K Shamrock Run in Portland! She had a foot injury that sidelined her for the whole month of February, so her longest training run was only 6 miles. Despite the training injury, she finished in 1:51:37, even with the tough course! The race renewed her confidence in her goal for a half-marathon in June.

Melissa ran the Chicago Get Lucky Half-Marathon! She planned to run with her sister-in-law and maybe run a sub-2:00. Her sister-in-law was sick and not able to run, so Melissa decided to try and keep up with her husband for a few miles, and then just run easy for the rest. She ended up staying with her husband for 10 miles, running just at or below a 9:00/mi pace, on target for a sub-2:00! She struggled a little, but was so close that she pushed herself to keep up with the 2:00 pacers... and she did it! She finished sub-2:00, which was a big goal for her. And later, they celebrated with some well-deserved deep-dish Chicago-style pizza ;)  (Melissa's blog)

Robin (in the middle) and her "Soul Sisters" ran their second Shamrox 15K! They are all training to run their third half-marathon next month. Robin said the weather was perfect for the race, and the scenic race course was fantastic!

Kylie (in the green shirt) ran her very first half-marathon, the Get Lucky Half, with her boyfriend and her sister! She originally started running last summer as a way to lose some weight, but she never thought she'd take it further than a 5K. She was really nervous about doing the half, but she had so much fun that she immediately said she wants to do it again!

On Saturday, Jill, along with her two daughters, Emily and Julia; her two nieces, Monica and Natalie; her sister-in-law, Angie; brother-in-law, Reid; and their son, Sean, ran the Irish Feet 5K in Topeka! Jill has NINE children, and she says that running together has been a huge motivation to get the kids moving, as well as a good, healthy way to connect with them. They all finished the 5K in under 30 minutes, too!

My brother-in-law, Shawn, didn't submit this, but I just have to do a little bragging for him... he ran a 1:40 half-marathon yesterday! He's only been running for a little over a year, and he and my sister, Jeanie, are training for their first marathon (which is next month). They registered for a half-marathon in San Diego to take place yesterday, so that Shawn's mom could watch them run (she hadn't been to a race of theirs). Unfortunately, Shawn's mom unexpectedly passed away recently. Jeanie and Shawn decided to still go and run the race, and Shawn wanted to put in all his effort to crush his PR of 1:48. He made a playlist of Bob Seger songs (his mom's favorite music) to listen to, and Jeanie and Shawn both wore urn necklaces that contained some of his mom's ashes. Shawn ran his best, and took a whopping 8 minutes off of his PR!

Don't forget to check out the Motivational Monday Facebook post for more stories!

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