October 31, 2014

New Halloween traditions

As of yesterday, I still didn't know what I was going to do today for Mark's birthday. It's been our tradition every year to go to my parents' house for dinner, cake, and ice cream, let Mark open his presents, and then hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. 

It rained pretty much all day today, starting just after I started my long run. My long run was only six miles this week, so I didn't mind running in the rain. I kept the pace slow, and just tried to enjoy the run.

I got an e-mail that I thought was so awesome I just have to share. It's from a woman named Kimberly Cherry, who followed along with Mark's story (I asked her permission to share the email):
"Hi Katie,
When Mark died and you asked for random acts of kindness.... ice cream came to my mind instantly : )  I grabbed vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, along with every possible topping me or anyone I asked in the grocery store could think of, and headed to a nearby nursing home. 
The look on the residents' faces was priceless... and the staff was in tears.  
When I told my son (he's 11) about it that evening.... he said, "let's do it again !"  So... I arranged for with the nursing home for us to come out and have a "dessert party" once a month....every month.  We chose dessert...because that's our happiest meal and Mark taught me from so far away... the value of being happy.
It has been SO MUCH FUN, I can't even begin to tell you... It's always the second Saturday of the month so the residents look forward to it and know we'll be coming.  We've done: a cookie, cobbler, cake, brownie, ice cream (homemade) month.... and since we live in the south- you have to have a pie month!  And we've done a couple of "international dessert" months when we've made desserts from other countries and even made a PowerPoint presentation about the countries to share with the residents.
We've lost a few residents.... a couple have died, a few went home (but their families have brought them back for the parties!) and we've gotten new residents.
We can't imagine not doing this.... we've carried some of our family members with us, friends of my son... and some of my co workers.  Everyone has such a GOOD time !
And I think of Mark every time ...and thank him for reminding me to be happy...and how so often it comes from creating "happy" for someone else.
I'm thinking about you Katie and your family.... and I know Mark is too."

Isn't that just amazing? That is more than I ever dreamed would happen when I suggested that people do random acts of kindness in Mark's honor! After reading that email, I knew what I had to do today to celebrate Mark's birthday.

This afternoon, I went to the store and bought two gallons of ice cream, some whipped cream, and several topping choices for sundaes. Then Jerry, the kids, and my parents went to Mark's group home to bring them the sundae supplies to enjoy for dessert tonight.

The last time I was there was when Mark was dying, and hospice came to evaluate him. I wanted to go back several times, but I feel like I don't really have a purpose to go now that Mark is gone. Bringing the sundae supplies was a good reason to go, and I know Mark would certainly approve ;)

My mom had a bunch of ring lights that she passes out with candy on Halloween, so we handed those out to the residents, and they thought they were pretty cool. Most of the residents are very quiet, but there are a couple that are talkative, and I always like listening to what they have to say. One of the guys proudly showed us some Halloween buttons on his shirt, and another guy told us about the doctor coming to check out his ear, because he hurt it while he was sleeping.

We didn't stay long, because they were getting ready to have dinner, but I'm so glad that I went. I feel like I did something good in Mark's honor, and I know the residents will be happy to have sundaes tonight. Afterward, I went home to pass out candy to any trick-or-treaters that may come. I've never actually been home on Halloween, so I wasn't sure how many kids come down our street, but my neighbors said they usually only get 3-4 kids each year. (As I ended this post, trick-or-treating was over. We got a total of 8 kids! Haha. The leftover candy is going in the Kitchen Safe.)

My kids went trick-or-treating with Jerry's mom. I have no idea what Noah's costume is supposed to be... he just saw it at Goodwill and wanted it. Eli is a zombie, and I bought make-up to put on him, but he didn't want to use it ;)

My parents went to the movies tonight instead of passing out candy. They asked if I wanted to go, but I really wanted to stay home tonight and pass out candy. When we left the group home, my mom handed me my own treat for Halloween:

Coffee Crisp!! I adore these candy bars, but you can only get them in Canada, so I don't get them very often. It's kind of funny, because whenever someone in my family goes to Canada for whatever reason (we live about 30 minutes from the border in Detroit), they come home with a ton of Coffee Crisp candy bars ;) It was 7 PointsPlus, and the perfect treat for Halloween. I went all of October without having any Halloween candy, so this was worth the wait!

Anyway, I think I will make it a new tradition to bring dessert to the group home every Halloween in honor of Mark (and hopefully more often--maybe monthly or every other month). Kimberly's email was very inspiring, and I hope that it inspires people to do something kind for someone else. I wish Mark was around to see just how big of an impact he made!

October 30, 2014

Calibrating a foot pod to a Garmin Forerunner 620

My sister wanted some help calibrating the foot pod for her Garmin 620, so I spent a while this morning searching for any info I could find. I've tried to get an answer from Garmin several times over the past year about it, but I've never gotten a response (I love my Garmin, but their customer service is terrible). I knew that there was a calibration factor (a number that is factory set at 100.0), but I had no idea what that number meant. So this morning, I was determined to find out.

I calibrated my foot pod a long time ago with the 910XT, but I've noticed that it's been "off" lately when I've used it, showing that I'm going a slower pace than I actually am running. After a ton of searching online, I found out how to manually calibrate the foot pod (the newer Garmin Forerunners don't have the calibration tool built in), and I actually understand what the number means now.

If anyone is interested, to calibrate the foot pod to the Garmin Forerunner 620:

1) On the watch, go to Settings - Sensors - Foot Pod - Calibration Factor
2) If it's not already, set it to 100.0% (this just makes the math easier later)
3) Choose a measured course to run (ideally, this would be a 400-meter track, but you could also use a treadmill if you want to calibrate the watch to read the same as what the treadmill shows).
4) Start the watch, and run 800 meters (you could run farther, but make sure to do at least 800). Note: Run the 800 meters as measured by the track or treadmill--just ignore the watch for now, because it probably won't be accurate. Stop the watch when you're done.
5) Take note of the distance that is shown on the watch.
6) Use this formula to figure out the calibration factor:
    Actual distance in meters/(recorded distance x current calibration)
For example: You run 800 meters on a track, but the Garmin showed that you ran 0.48 miles. Convert the miles to meters (I just use Google to do that for me), and you get 772 meters. So you plug in the numbers... 800/(772 x 1.000) = 1.036. So the new calibration factor needs to be changed to 103.6% (see step 1).

The number just shows that you ran 103.6% of what the Garmin was showing (slightly faster).

That was a whole lotta math, but you know I love numbers, so it was fun for me ;)

I had three miles at goal race pace on the schedule today. My goal is a sub-2:00 half-marathon, which is a 9:10/mi pace. So My goal for today's run was to stay between 9:00 and 9:10 per mile. (When you run a half-marathon, the total distance is usually longer than 13.1 miles, due to weaving and not hitting the course tangents. So I like to have a small buffer in my pace, aiming for about 5-10 seconds per mile faster than needed.)

I wanted to calibrate my foot pod, so I went to the high school track. I decided to run 800 meters as a warm-up, and calibrate the foot pod with that number, then run my 3-miler at goal race pace. I ran at an easy pace for the calibration, then cleared my Garmin and started the goal pace run (using GPS, not the foot pod).

My legs were tired today! I'm not sure doing cross-training the day before a goal pace run was a good idea. I wasn't sore (well, except the bones in my butt! They feel bruised from the seat of my bike), but my legs were definitely feeling tired. I did really well at holding pace, even though it felt very hard today.

I'd like to go back to the track and use the foot pod rather than GPS, just to see how accurate it is when I run at all different speeds. Maybe I'll do that next week. I'm hoping to not have to use the treadmill much this winter, like I did last winter; but if I do, I'd like my foot pod to be accurate.

I've been really consumed with a missing persons case for the past few days. On Saturday night, there was a house a few miles from me (actually, it's on my favorite long run route) that had a Halloween party. It was a huge party, with upwards of 600 people there. The house is surrounded by cornfields and woods, and it's a pretty rural area. There was a 22-year old woman named Chelsea Bruck at the party who went missing sometime around 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

She didn't have her cell phone or purse with her (she left them in a friend's car). Supposedly, someone saw her talking to a guy near where the cars were parked, so he is now a person of interest. But there are truly no real leads on this case--it's like she just vanished.

I've been seeing several news vans there all week, and they've had search parties and candlelight vigils. Here is the poster they've been handing out (click to enlarge):

The police have also released a sketch of the person of interest:

I didn't know her, but because this was so close to my house, I've been following the case really closely. Her case was on Nancy Grace tonight, so hopefully they'll get some new leads. I just really hope that Chelsea is alive and comes home safely! It's so scary how someone can disappear just like that.

October 29, 2014

Adventures in bike riding

Wednesdays are normally rest days for me, but after I got the kids off to school today, I started thinking about what I could do to be active today. I thought about going for a walk, but then my bike popped into my head. We are nearly finished with building the garage (it has taken since spring!) and I've been meaning to get my bike from my parents' garage and move it over here. So I decided to go for a bike ride this morning.

I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to riding a bike for fitness. I bought a pretty nice hybrid bike in 2011 when I had maintained my weight loss for a year, but I've only ridden it a handful of times. I honestly just don't enjoy bike riding very much, probably because I'm so nervous about getting hit by a car or getting a flat tire. But I want to like it, because I know that the cross training will be good for my running, so I'm hoping that if I do it more often, I'll get more comfortable with it.

Old photo: this is my bike when I first got it in 2011

Anyway, I figured I'd do 16 miles--the same 16-mile route that I ran when training for the Chicago Marathon--from my house all the way to the State Park, around the 5K loop at the park, and then back home. I packed a backpack with some stuff that I thought I may need: water, gloves and a hat (it was 39 degrees), some money, and my phone.

I went to my parents' house to start the ride, because that's where my bike was. The tires were totally flat, and I couldn't find an air pump anywhere. My parents have two large garages, so I spent a good 30 minutes searching for an air pump. Finally, I called them to ask my dad where it was (he was helping my brother move some people out of a house he just bought--a story for another day!). My dad usually uses an air compressor, which I didn't feel comfortable trying to use, so his options for manual pumps were really limited. One was a pump for a football or something, and the other was SO old that it was all rust. It basically disintegrated when I tried to use it!

I was getting really frustrated--here I was, actually wanting to go for a bike ride, and I couldn't. My final option was a manual hand pump that I have attached to my bike. I've tried using it before with no luck, so I wasn't sure I could get it to work out. Using the little hand pumps like that are a lot of work! To make a super long story a little shorter, I messed with it enough to where I finally got air in the tires. Not enough air, unfortunately, so I had to keep adding more until it felt okay.

Next came time to put on my helmet. You would think a helmet would be the simplest part of the whole adventure, right? I probably spent another 15 minutes rearranging straps, tightening and loosening, and trying to get it right. It felt weird, especially on my forehead, but I figured that was just because I had to get used to it.

Finally... FINALLY... I was ready to ride.

I wore my Garmin 910XT because I was curious to see what my speed was. It was actually pretty slow going at first. I had a headwind for the first half of the ride, and holy cow, is it ever hard to pedal into the wind! I really wanted to turn around and forget the whole thing, but after all the work I put into the tires and the helmet, I wanted to get in my 16 miles.

It was really scary riding on the roads. When I run, I run against traffic, so I don't feel nervous at all about being on the roads. But on a bike, you're supposed to ride with the flow of traffic, and every time a car came up behind me, I was pretty much bracing myself for impact. We don't have bike paths, so I was just on the narrow shoulder of the road.

Once I was at the State Park, I was on a paved path, which is closed to traffic. Once I curved back around at the halfway point, my speed picked up quite a bit because I had a tailwind. I was surprised just how much of a difference there was when the wind was at my back--it felt SO much easier! My Garmin did splits in 5-mile increments (when I run, the splits are 1-mile), and the first two splits took about 30 minutes each (10 mph).

The third split seemed to fly by, and I finished that one in 21:32--more than 8 minutes faster than each of the previous 5-mile splits. Over all, I ended up doing 16.19 miles in 1:26:31, with is an average speed of 11.2 mph. I have no idea whether that's good or not, because I don't know anything about cycling! I earned 9 Activity PointsPlus for it, though, so I am happy ;)

Speaking of which, the funniest thing happened when I got home. I had taken some selfies while I was at the State Park, so I'd have some sort of pictures to post. When I looked at them when I got home, I thought my helmet looked kind of strange. I looked up some photos online to make sure I'd adjusted it correctly, and I realized what the problem was... I was wearing it backwards the entire time!

I immediately thought of all the people that had seen me out riding today, and was so embarrassed. Might as well post the pic here, so we can all get a good laugh at my expense! ;)

I showed the photo to the kids, and asked them if there was anything wrong with the picture. Without missing a beat, they both said that I was wearing my helmet backwards. Bahaha! Even my kids know better. When I was in Pennsylvania for the RW Half, there was a book in my welcome bag about cycling for beginners. I guess I should probably read that :)

I especially should have looked at this page about the helmets. It would have saved me a lot of trouble this morning if I had!

Anyway, I'm really glad that I went for a ride! Despite all the trouble getting ready to go, now I know better for next time. I'd like to start using my bike more, so I'm going to aim for once a week until it's too cold outside. I'm still super nervous about traffic, but hopefully as I get used to it, I'll feel more comfortable. And maybe the cross-training will do me some good :)

October 28, 2014

Getting my running groove back

Yesterday morning, I was feeling SO nervous about my run. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to get nervous about running (unless maybe before a race), but I always tend to get nervous before doing speed work. Yesterday, I had a tempo run on the schedule:

5-minute warm-up
20 minutes at tempo pace
5-minute cool down

Tempo runs are tough. Those are the runs I get the most nervous to do, but also the most rewarding when I'm done. Going into yesterday's run, I had no clue what my tempo pace was. Typically, a tempo run is done at a pace that you could sustain in a race for about 45-60 minutes (roughly your 10K race pace). I used to do them at an 8:00-8:15/mi pace, but that was back when I was in my peak running shape. I figured that I would just aim for 9:00-9:10, but even that seemed really daunting. Almost all of my runs for the past several months have been between 9:45-10:45.

The weather was really nice for running yesterday morning. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, which was perfect. I also wore the new Altra Paradigm shoes. I've been wearing them ever since I got them at the RW Half, and I love them! The cushioning is very similar to my trusty Brooks Adrenalines, but they have the Zero Drop heel and the foot-shaped toe box, which are Altra's signature designs to keep your feet in a very natural position. I haven't worn them on a long run yet, so that will be the big test for me; but as long as I don't get blisters on a long run, I'm totally sold on them, and will use them exclusively.

I took the 5-minute warm-up very slowly, and then when my Garmin beeped at the 5-minute mark, I picked up the pace until I felt like it was about where it should be. I was surprised to see that it was in the high-8:00's/low-9:00's. After a few minutes, it sort of settled in around 8:45-8:50, so I made it a mission to keep it at that pace for the rest of the run. The hard part about running for time rather than distance is that I couldn't really visualize where I was running hard to. I just knew I had to maintain that pace for 20 minutes, and speeding up wouldn't get me "there" any faster.

I focused on my running form, I focused on my long-term running goals, I focused on what I was going to eat for lunch--basically anything to get me through those 20 long minutes ;) Finally, my Garmin beeped to signal me to cool down, so I jogged the last 5 minutes and caught my breath. It was a tough run, but not SO hard that I couldn't have kept going (which is what a tempo run should feel like). My pace for the tempo portion ended up being 8:41/mi, which I was very happy with. (Still, I can't believe I once ran a half-marathon at a 8:33 pace!) I felt fantastic all day after this run.

Yesterday afternoon, we got a phone call from the principal of Noah's school. She said that in the cafeteria during lunch, a boy sitting near Noah got a little rough with him and then pulled his hood from the back, which cut off his airway for about 10 seconds. A girl sitting there ran and told on the boy, and Noah was obviously really upset. The principal said he had a mark around his neck from it, but he was okay.

I was really upset, and wanted to talk to Noah. Jerry and I went to the school right away and spoke with the principal, who called Noah down to the office to talk to us. He was okay, but he definitely had red marks going across his neck. He said he thinks the boy was just trying to be funny and play around, but Noah had told him to stop it (he had been poking Noah in the arms and chest before he did it).

I don't think the boy was intentionally trying to choke Noah, but he certainly needs to learn to keep his hands to himself when someone doesn't want to be touched. The principal said that he'll be disciplined for it, although I'm not sure exactly what will happen. The main thing I was concerned with was Noah. He's a super sensitive kid (he even thought he was in trouble when the principal called him to the office yesterday), but he seems fine.

Today, I had a three-mile easy run on the schedule. One thing that I'm definitely going to take seriously this time around in training is the pace of my easy runs. I've always tended to do them faster than recommended, and there really is no benefit to doing that. Since I'm doing speed work 1-2 times per week, I want to focus all of my energy on that, and use do the easy runs at the recommended easy pace.

I plugged in a few numbers today, based on my current fitness level, and I think my easy runs should be done at around 9:53-10:47 per mile. I'm not even going to aim for the fast end of that range, but rather just run at whatever feels very easy--probably toward the slow end of the range.

My run today was fantastic! It was oddly warm outside (66 degrees), but I ran at what felt to be a super comfortable pace. It was really windy, but it felt good because it was warm. Today was one of those runs where I just felt great the entire time, and I enjoyed the whole thing!

Getting back to a running schedule, including the speed work, has really renewed my running libido. I feel excited about it again, and I'm looking forward to seeing my improvement (well, hopefully!) over the next several months.

October 27, 2014

Motivational Monday #84

Happy Motivational Monday! I'm so happy to be back in a routine this week. I don't have anything major going on until at least January, so I feel like it's a good time to get focused on my goals. Other than the binge I wrote about a couple of days ago, I've been doing really well back on Weight Watchers. I've also been following a new running schedule, including speed work, so I feel like I'm getting my "groove" back ;)

I have a few Motivational Monday stories to share with you today... enjoy!

Mary had a great racing year in 2013, including running her first marathon (!), but felt very burnt out on running. She stopped running completely after a race in February, and wasn't sure she would ever want to do it again. She finally decided that she wasn't happy with how her body had changed after she stopped running, and she was tired of feeling unhealthy, so she got serious about eating well and training again. On Saturday, she ran her first race since she stopped running in February, and it went really well! Her time was only four minutes slower than her PR, and she had so much fun that she now feels excited about running again! (Mary's race report)

Amanda had a fantastic week of running, starting with her first half-marathon! She ran the Detroit International Half (this pic was actually taken very close to where I was standing and watching for my brother at that race). Just two years ago, she never would have believed that she could run a single mile, let alone 13.1! At around mile 8, the song, "Best Day of My Life" came on her headphones, and she immediately got tears in her eyes. She says it truly was one of the best days of her life, and she was so determined to cross that finish line looking strong! Just a week later, Amanda toed the starting line again--this time with her 7-year old son and her mother, for a 5K race. It was her son's first 5K, and he did great!

Rebecca and her running buddy hit a big milestone--they ran 13.1 miles! She began running a little over a year ago, and never imagined that she would be able to run HOURS at a time. She's now lost 141 pounds, and is super excited to technically be a "half-marathoner" now ;)

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

October 26, 2014

Wicked Halloween 5K race report

I was really looking forward to the Wicked Halloween 5K, because it was going to be such a big deal for Noah. Noah did two 5K's over the summer, but that was before cross country, and he had to do a 1:1 run/walk ratio during the races. After six weeks of cross country, his running improved so much that I was pretty confident that he could run the entire 5K, even if it was very slowly.

Noah's main goal was to run the entire distance, something he'd never done before (even in practice, he only ran about two miles). I was extremely confident that the would get a PR. His first 5K time was 43:13, and his second one wasn't timed, but I'm pretty sure it was closer to 50:00 because of the course and the heat.

Eli said his goal was to run the entire distance, which I (as horrible as it sounds) kind of blew off. Eli is VERY lofty with his goals (just yesterday, he asked if he could train for a marathon... and I told him he has to train for a 5K first, haha). I told him that running the 5K was a great goal, because I didn't want to discourage him, but in my mind, I knew that he'd be doing a run/walk, and probably complaining the entire time.

Usually, Jerry is Noah's favorite parent, and I'm Eli's favorite, but Noah really wanted to run with me for some reason. So, the plan was for me to run with Noah and for Jerry to run with Eli. Even though all four of us were doing the race, I was really thinking of it as "Noah's race", because he'd been working hard on training for it through the cross country season.

My plan going in to this for Noah was to pace him at a 12:00/mi pace, just to be sure that he could finish. I didn't want him to go too fast and have to walk, because his goal was not to walk. I was pretty sure that he'd do great with a 12:00/mi pace, and be able to run the entire distance.

We left the house just after Jerry got home from work this morning. I felt bad for him--he worked a 12-hour shift overnight, and then we went to the race. He was super tired, but excited for the kids to do the race. I had gotten a ladybug costume at Goodwill, and Eli had gotten a zombie costume. Noah refused to wear a costume (he's at the age where everything is somehow embarrassing for him) and Jerry just wore a dog hat and mittens. We should have put more thought into the costume ideas, but I didn't think much of it until this morning!

We picked up our packets (race shirts, winter hats, and a canvas bag--nice!) then went to the parking structure next to the park where the race start was. As we were driving to the structure, we somehow were on the race course at the back of the pack. I felt like we were the "sag wagon", so we tried not to creep too close, but it was fun to have been able to see the runners in their costumes.

After we parked, we went into Panera so the kids could eat a bagel, and when they were done, it was time to head over near the race. We watched as the 10K'ers came in, and there were some pretty cool costumes! This one was really unique (a head in a freezer), and later ended up winning the costume contest:

As creative as it is, I can't imagine running a whole 10K in that costume!

When I chose the ladybug costume, I mainly picked it because it would be easy to run in ;)

A few minutes before 9:00, we headed over to the starting line. We got just in front of the 12:00/mi pacer, which I hoped was a good place to start. I tried to get a picture of the four of us at the starting line:

There were three waves to start the 5K, and we happened to be in the second wave section. Five minutes after the first wave, it was our turn to go. Noah said he was super nervous, but I told him there was nothing at all to be nervous about! All he had to do was stick with me, and I'd make sure he didn't go too fast. It was then that he told me he had a secret goal of sub-11:00 miles,  because he wanted to finish the race under 33:00 minutes. Hahaha, it would have been nice to have known this ahead of time, but I just readjusted my plan to run at around a 10:55 pace until we got close to the end.

As we crossed the starting line, it was pretty clear we were going too slow. The people around us were walking, so I decided to pick up the pace to get around them, and we were running comfortably at 10:45/mi. The race was so crowded that it was easy to just keep passing people. Noah was doing great, so we just kept going around people, hoping for a clearing that didn't feel so claustrophobic.

We noticed that the 10:00/mi pacer was just ahead of us, and our pace was gradually getting toward the lower-10's. When we hit the first mile split, I saw that our pace was 10:06. Faster than planned, but I figured that would just give us a cushion when Noah inevitable slowed down. Noah said, "Do you think we could pass the 10:00 pacer?" and I said, "Sure, if you want to!" I told him we should do it gradually, and not an all-out sprint. We passed up the pacer, and our second split was at a sub-10:00 pace. We came to the water station at the halfway point, and Noah walked for about 15 seconds to down a cup of water. When we started running again, our pace was still at a 10:02-ish, which was awesome!

We started passing people again, and when we hit mile two, I saw the split was 9:41. So much faster than I'd planned, but I didn't want to hold Noah back from his potential, either. I kept asking him, "How are you doing? Do we need to slow down?" but he just said no, that he was good. He gave me his hat and gloves to carry, because he was hot.

During the third mile, he picked up the pace even more! I was constantly expecting him to tell me that he needed to slow down, or take a walk break, but he never did. I was trying to distract him any way that I could, by telling him stories or telling him how many "laps on the track" we had left. The third mile split was 9:17! (Noah's best mile ever was 9:13 at his last cross country race.)

Once we hit that third mile split, Noah could hear the announcer at the finish line, and he started to recognize that we were right next to the park. He started running his hardest, and I couldn't keep up ;) I yelled to him, "Go Noah! Fast as you can!" and he crossed the finish line WAY ahead of his goal time, in 30:31! His dear old mom crossed a few steps behind, in 30:33 ;)

The 5K'ers didn't get medals for this race (just the 10K'ers did), which was kind of a bummer, because I felt Noah really deserved one; but I had told him ahead of time that he wouldn't get one, and he was okay with that. We grabbed some water, and then headed to the corner to watch for Jerry and Eli. I was expected them to go by at around 45 minutes in (Eli's previous 5K was done in 48:02). I was messing with my phone, to get ready to take pictures, when I saw them right in front of me, running past. They were way ahead of schedule, so I totally missed them going by.

They crossed the finish line in 36:24! Jerry told me that Eli had run the entire race, not even walking at the water stop. I was completely blown away! I had no idea that he could do that. I hugged both the kids, telling them how proud I was, when one of the volunteers saw me and asked if they'd run the 5K. I said yes, and she told me to wait there a minute. She came back with two of the 10K medals to give to the boys! (A friend of mine, who was volunteering at the race, later told me that they had a lot left over). The kids were thrilled that they got a medal, and I was so grateful that she'd recognized how big of a deal it was to them.

Eli was really excited to get the post-race food, because I told him that this race always has Panera bagels. He loves their Asiago bagels, so we headed to the food tent and got our Panera bagels and cookies.

This was the first race that all four of us have done together, and it was fun! Jerry's employer pays for race entries (for employees and their families) on certain local races (including this one), which I think is so cool. What an awesome family thing to do on a weekend!

October 25, 2014

A binge

When I started back at counting Weight Watchers points the first of this month, I decided not to weigh in until at least a month had passed, because I didn't want to get discouraged by a stupid number on the scale. I could tell that I had lost some weight, because my clothes were looser, and I even went down a notch on my belt. I've been having a great month, but for some reason, I decided to get on the scale today. It was just a spontaneous decision--I was in the bathroom, saw the scale, and thought, "Why not?"

I shouldn't have done it. My weight was down, which was good--but only by three pounds.

Now, if any of you were to email me and tell me this same scenario, I would have said, "Three pounds is great! The scale is going in the right direction, and your clothes are looser. Keep doing what you're doing, because it's working!" However, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. I've been at this for three and a half weeks, and when I was losing weight before, I would have lost at least three times this much by now. Ever since I turned 30, the weight just seems to come off much slower, even when I'm doing the same things I did before.

I wish I could say I handled it well today, but I didn't. I had a short-term "Screw it!" mentality, and binged. I regretted it from the very first handful of almonds, but I didn't stop myself. Afterward, I felt sick and full and just pissed at myself.

When I was in Pennsylvania last week, I had a conversation with Dani (from Weight Off My Shoulders) about tracking food, and she mentioned that she tracks EVERYTHING, even if she ends up 100+ points in the negative for the week. Usually, a binge will throw me off for the whole week, because I don't tend to track it. So today, I thought about the conversation with Dani, and I decided to track the food and just see what the damage was (hopefully not as bad as I imagined).

My week starts over on Wednesday, so I am now 31 PointsPlus in the hole for the week, with three more days to go. It's bad, but not as bad as I was imagining. In my mind, it might as well have been 400 PointsPlus in the hole ;)  I don't know if I'll be able to get out of the negative (I'd have to earn 10+ activity points per day, and only eat my minimum daily target, which is extremely difficult for me); but even if I don't get out of the hole, I am going to try to keep the damage to a minimum. If I hadn't tracked today, I would have just let myself get further and further into the negative until my week starts over.

Now that I know the weight isn't going to come off as fast as it did before, I think I'm just going to keep off the scale as long as possible, until I drop a jeans size or something drastic like that. I'm normally pretty good about not letting the scale get to me, but I think I was expecting so much because I've been 100% on-plan all month.

Even though I'm now starting over with Day 1 of being binge-free, this month hasn't been a total waste! I've been feeling really good and in control (until today), and my weight was going in the right direction. I'm bummed that I ruined my streak, but I am more determined than ever to get back to goal. It may not happen before I go to Portland in March, but it's still possible, and I'm going to try my best!

Tomorrow is Noah's big day--he's going to attempt to run an entire 5K! The farthest he's run in practice at one time is about 2-2.5 miles. Yesterday, he ran 2 miles at a fairly slow pace, and seemed like he could have gone another mile or two, so hopefully he'll feel the same way tomorrow. I'm going to make sure to pace him to stay at a slow pace for at least the first two miles. If he's feeling good, and wants to pick it up for the last mile, then he can go for it! We'll see if I can keep up with him ;)

October 24, 2014


I am loving this weather lately! It's been in the 30's for the past few days when I've woken up, which is perfect for running (and wearing sweatshirts and jeans). I put my fleece sheets on my bed--those things are heavenly! And I dug the electric blanket out of the closet.

Today was my long run, and it feels silly even calling it a "long" run--because I just started a new training schedule, the long runs start at 5 miles. I thought about doing 10, just because I'm capable, but I was really looking forward to following the training schedule as written. It says 5 miles for week one, so that sounded good to me! ;)

As I was getting the kids ready for school this morning, Eli asked me if I would drive him to school today instead of taking the bus. He never asks me that, so I said sure. His school is about a 10-minute drive from home, and it's halfway to the Metropark, so I figured I could just drop him off and then go do my run at the Metropark.

I wore my Cold Gear running tights for the first time this season, and a long-sleeved top. I even wore gloves today! This time I made sure to remember to put on my heart rate monitor, too. After I got Noah on the bus, I ate breakfast, and then drove Eli to school. When I got to the Metropark, I realized I'd forgotten the most important thing (besides my running shoes)--my beloved Garmin. I remembered my heart rate strap, but forgot my watch!

I was super bummed, but I was 20 minutes from home, and certainly didn't want to go get it. I decided to use the Map My Run app on my phone (I hate using phone apps for running, but it was that or nothing). I didn't really have a goal for today's run, but the recommended pace for my long runs is 9:33-10:50/mile--that's where my easy pace falls anyway, so I didn't think that would be a problem.

I started the workout on the Map My Run app, then spent about 10 seconds fumbling around with my gloves on, trying to put the phone in my Flipbelt so I could start running. I felt pretty good once I started running, and there is something about running in the colder weather that just makes me feel so happy! When I hit the one-mile mark, there was a (very loud) voice on the app that announced my time, pace, and distance. My pace was at 10:05, which included the 10 seconds or so of not moving at all in the beginning, so I was doing okay on pace.

I stopped on the bridge and took a couple of photos, because it looked so pretty outside this morning. The lake was really calm.

In the third mile, I was completely lost in thought as I was running through the woods, and suddenly, right in front of me, was a doe. I could have reached out and touched her, she was so close! My heart leaped into my throat, and I think I scared her half to death as well, and she darted into the woods a little. She stopped and we just stood staring at each other for a little bit. I dug out my phone to try and get a picture of her.

She's hard to see here, but she was just standing there staring at me

Surprisingly, even with the stop for the deer, my mile time was still under 10:50. The last couple of miles were uneventful, so they were faster. The run went by pretty quickly--not that I expected it to be long, at just 5 miles ;)

I don't really have a whole lot to write about, but here are some random tidbits that didn't really fit in anywhere else...

My sister bought some Jamberry nail wraps and brought them to Michigan with her for us to try. She, my mom, and I watched a video on YouTube how to do it, and then we all gave it a try. I never knew what the nail wraps were--I always assumed Jamberry was a brand of nail polish. But they are basically stickers that go on over your nails, and they last a long time (up to a few weeks). I never paint my nails, because they chip within hours, so I was curious how well these would work. I was surprised at how easy they were to apply, and I loved them when I was done!

My hand is on the right--a checkerboard pattern

I recently tried something new for breakfast, and I'm in love. I've been pretty obsessed with sourdough toast for breakfast for a while now, and I've been spreading real butter on it. But I finally tried something that my friend Jessica and my mom told me about several times before, and it just didn't sound good to me--spreading coconut oil on the toast instead of butter. It sounded kind of gross to me, which is why I never tried it, but I finally gave it a try recently, and I love it! It has a really mellow coconut flavor, and I can get away with using less of it than butter (I use 2 tsp. for 2 slices of toast). 

I've been 100% on track all month with counting Weight Watchers points. I think taking a break from the counting was good for me, because I finally feel like I have my whole heart into it again. I am super determined to be back at goal by the time I go to Portland in March, and because of that, I haven't even had a hard time sticking to it. I even counted everything while I was on my blogger trips last week (including an overindulgence of wine one night). I got frozen yogurt while I was in NYC, and instead of just saying, "Screw it! I'll eat everything in this store!", I was conservative with the toppings and I estimated the points spent.

See? Conservative. ;)

Estelle's favorite thing EVER is the electric blanket. She hasn't moved from this spot on the couch in days.

The gerbils are extremely smart. They piled all the wood chips under their wheel, to keep the wheel from spinning, and then climbed to the top of it. The black one has been working on chewing a hole in the plastic at the top of the aquarium. 

Halloween is a week from today. Normally, I'd be very excited for Halloween--it's always been my favorite holiday to celebrate, because it was also Mark's birthday. I've always looked forward to going to my parents' house to have dinner, birthday cake, and ice cream, and to give Mark his birthday gifts before handing out candy while we sat next to a fire. (If you're new to my blog, you can start reading about Mark here. He was a friend of our family who was intellectually disabled, and had known my dad for 35 years. He passed away in March of this year from advanced lung cancer, which you can read about here.)

This was taken last Halloween, just before his stage IV cancer diagnosis.
We had no idea it would be the last time we'd celebrate his birthday. 

This year, I'm dreading Halloween. I'm so sad that Mark isn't here, and handing out candy won't be the same without him. I don't plan to go to my parents' house to hand out candy, because it would just make me feel worse. My kids really want to go to Jerry's parents' neighborhood to trick-or-treat, so his mom is going to take them; changing things up in that way will be helpful, I think. I'm not sure what I'll do. I think I may go bring some candy to the nursing home where Mark spent his last months. I've never handed out candy at my own house, because we've always gone to my parents' house, so maybe I'll start doing that this year. Regardless, I know what I won't be doing, and it makes me feel sad.

I hate to leave on a sad note, so here is a picture of Phoebe just begging to have her belly rubbed ;)

October 22, 2014

Back on "track"

I did something yesterday that I'd been putting off all summer long--speed work. After training so hard for the Chicago Marathon last year, and then continuing on with Hansons' Half Marathon training for the Heartbreak Hill Half in June, I was so burnt out on running. I never wanted to do speed work again. I cut my training days down to 3-5 (usually settling on 4) per week, and I can probably count on one hand the number of double-digit long runs I did over the summer.

I was starting to wonder if I had ruined running forever by training so much last year. I watched as my pace got slower and slower, and my mileage got shorter for the most part. I didn't do many races over the summer, either; and the ones I did do were to run with someone else.

But I gave myself a date to get over it and start training again--the week after the Runner's World Half & Festival, I would start a half-marathon training schedule, including speed work. I set some goals, and the first is to get my half-marathon time back under two hours at the Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon in May (if this first round of training happens to go REALLY well, then I may aim for a PR in May, which would be sub-1:52:07).

As of right now, I have no idea what my race pace is. I haven't really "raced" in a long time, so my half marathon time could be anywhere from 2:00 to 2:20--and that's a big difference. If I had to make a fairly educated guess, I would say probably around 2:08 (based on my last 10-mile training run).

My first plan of action is to follow Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Marathon program (slightly modified so I can do my long runs on Fridays). When I was at my fastest, in early 2013, I had followed this plan (again, with a couple of modifications), and my speed went from 10:45-ish long runs to 8:45-ish long runs in a matter of just 3-4 months. I was also at my goal weight then, which probably had a lot to do with it. I've been working hard at Weight Watchers this month to get back to goal, so I am doing what I can in that aspect.

I have speed work scheduled on Mondays, and a short easy run on Tuesdays, but Jeanie asked me to go for a run with her on Monday--I was super tired from the weekend, so it was actually best for me to switch the two workouts anyway. Jeanie and I ran three miles together at the State Park on Monday, and then yesterday was the day I'd been super nervous about... a track workout!

Something about going to the track makes me really nervous--I think it's because I expect the best of myself, almost like when I'm racing. Yesterday, I honestly had no idea what to expect. On the schedule was 5 x 400's with 400 meter jogs (plus a 1600 meter warm-up and cool down). Basically, this means:

Run 1600 meters (four laps) at a very easy pace to warm up.
Run 400 meters (one lap) at a very hard pace (I wasn't sure what pace this would be yet).
Run or walk 400 meters to recover.
Repeat the 400-meter intervals for a total of five hard laps and five recovery laps.
Run 1600 meters at a very easy pace to cool down.

Jeanie went to the track with me, but she was just going to run five easy miles while I did the speed work. I was bummed when I realized I forgot my heart rate monitor, because that would have been good info to have, but I didn't want to go home to get it. My plan was to do the 400's as hard as I was able, and still be able to finish. My hope was to at least do them under 2 minutes each, which would be a sub-8:00 pace (At my fastest, I was able to do them in about 1:40, which is a 6:40-ish pace.)

It was pretty cold and drizzly with rain outside, so I didn't procrastinate once I got to the track. I just started lightly jogging around the track to warm-up. I didn't set my Garmin to do automatic intervals, because I wanted to do true 400-meter laps, as opposed to a quarter-mile. A quarter mile is actually 402.336 meters, so it's a couple of steps longer. Does it make a big difference in training? No, not at all. I just wanted all of my laps to start and stop in the exact same spot, instead of gradually shifting forward.

As soon as I reached the line for the fourth lap, I pressed the lap button my Garmin, and started running hard. About 100 meters in, I knew I was going too fast--there was no way I could hold that. I looked down and saw it was a 7:11 pace, which was better than I'd expected, so I decided that running all my intervals under 2:00 was definitely possible.

Intervals are tough! Usually once I'm about 200 meters in, I start to think about how I went out too fast, and there is no way to sustain it. Then at about 300 meters, I think, "Only 100 meters to go! You can run 1/4 of the way around the track... keep going!" Then I give it my all the last few steps.

Because I was going to be pushing myself so hard on the intervals, I decided to walk (rather than jog) my recovery laps. So as soon as I crossed the 400-meter line, I pushed the lap button on my Garmin and slowed to a walk. I walked about 300 meters, then jogged the last 100 before starting the next interval. And on it went. Every time I do intervals, I always get through one or two before I start thinking there is no way I can do all that I have on the schedule. But somehow, I mentally talk myself into doing "just one more" until I get through them all ;)

That's exactly what happened yesterday--I felt spent after just two, but I kept going. I told myself it was okay to slow if I had to, but I was going to get them done, no matter what. In the end, I was pretty happy with how I did!

My interval splits were: 1:54, 1:55, 1:58, 1:57, 1:56.

I was aiming to keep them under 2:00 each, so I managed to do that, which was great. And hopefully, from here on out, I'll see them improve as I continue to work on speed. I felt really good all day long that I did that workout and met my goal for it. I feel like it's a good start to this round of training.

My legs were pretty tired all day after that, but my sister took Noah to get his own running shoes, and he wanted to go for a run when he got home. He was really excited about getting the shoes, obviously (Brooks Adrenalines), so I told him I'd run with him. We just ran a mile, taking a short detour to my parents' house. Noah was running at a 10:00-ish pace, which seemed to be pretty easy for him, and his dear old mom was struggling to keep up ;)  He even sprinted the last tenth of a mile or so, and I certainly couldn't keep up then!

I love that he still wants to run even though cross country is over now. We are running the Wicked Halloween 5K on Sunday--I'll run with Noah, so he can actually run the entire 5K for the first time, and Jerry is going to stick with Eli, who will likely walk most of it. I'm so curious to see how Noah does, especially compared to his first 5K. I'm sure he's going to have a pretty major PR!

October 21, 2014

Nathan's first marathon!

I could not be any prouder than I was on Sunday when I saw my "little" brother, Nathan, cross the finish line of his first marathon! It was an amazing day, and I'm so glad that I was there to see everything.

I got up super early on Sunday, because we had to drive Nathan up to Detroit for the Free Press Marathon at 4:45 a.m. I'd been planning this day for weeks--exactly how I was going to be the best, most supportive spectator that ever spectated a race! ;) Also going along to cheer him on were my mom; my sister, Jeanie; Jerry; and Kendall, his girlfriend.

Kendall had gotten us shirts that said "TEAM NATHAN" to wear to the race. It was going to be pretty cold outside, so I dressed in a lot of layers--I had on two pairs of Cold Gear tights, FIVE shirts (four long-sleeved, including Cold Gear, and the t-shirt on top), gloves, and a hat. I felt like I could barely move my arms because of all the layers, but the clothes ended up being a good choice. I also wore my rainbow-colored tutu, just to be easy to spot.

I made a few signs, but forgot to get pictures of them!

"26.2... Yeah, b*tch!"
"Hurry up! The Kenyans are drinking your beer!"
"Nate the Great, you just passed mile 8!"
"Remember when you thought you couldn't do this?"

When Kendall came over, I found a couple of good ideas for her signs as well:
"I don't do marathons; I do a marathon runner!"
"Marathon runners do it longer!" ;)

I also ordered an enormous cutout of Nathan's face to hold up. I'd seen a lot of people with them when I ran the Chicago Marathon, and I loved the idea. I asked my older brother, Brian, to conspicuously get some nice/funny close-ups of Nathan, and he got some good ones. I uploaded one to Shindigz.com, and placed an order for a 3-ft. cutout. Just 24 hours later, it arrived on my porch! That was uber fast service, and I hadn't even paid extra for fast shipping. Here is a post-race photo, so you can see what the cut-out looked like:

Nathan knew nothing about it, and I didn't want him to see it until he saw us cheering at mile 8. We arrived in Detroit and parked at the casino to meet up with Kendall, and then we went down to the starting line. There was a bar right next to Nathan's corral that was letting people in for $2, just to sit and stay warm. We had about an hour until the start of the race, so it was worth it. We got coffee and hot chocolate, and waited until it was time for Nathan to go to the corral.

About 10 minutes until race time, Nathan got in his corral (E) where the 4:00 pacer was. He hoped to finish under 4 hours, and barring any unforeseen stomach issues or something, I was sure he would do it as long as he didn't start out too fast. Once we dropped him off in the corral, we wanted had to head back to the car to get the signs, and then make our way to mile 8 (which was just after the tunnel coming back into the U.S. from Canada). We took the People Mover (a small train that runs in a 3-mile loop around downtown Detroit) to mile 8, and just as we got there, the wheelchair participants were coming through.

I've been battling a cold all week, and my voice was pretty hoarse--but I brought clackers and cowbells to make some noise, and I yelled when appropriate. I was really hoping to see Adam from The Boring Runner, because I knew he'd be running. He wrote a guest post for me a couple of years ago about "The Unmentionables of Running", and I've been reading his blog for a long time. I felt like such a stalker, tweeting him several times that morning, but somewhere around the 3:20 pacer, I saw him go by. He knew I'd be carrying the "head" sign, and he later said I was super easy to spot--success! ;) That was the last I saw of him during the race, though--I was hoping to get a picture with him, but there were so many people there, that it was impossible to find anyone!

After the 3:55 pacer went by, I got really nervous about spotting Nathan. I really didn't want to miss him, and I certainly didn't want him to miss us. Someone from the newspaper came up to me and asked for my info as well as Nathan's info, because she'd gotten a photo of us from across the street--how fun! A friend saw it on RunMichigan.com today:

I wish they'd snapped the picture when I was actually cheering instead of looking desperately for Nathan, but it's a pretty cool pic :)

Right on pace, we saw Nathan! He looked surprised and we yelled and cheered like crazy, and then just like that, it was time to go to the next spot. Our next plan was to go to mile 15.5. We had to take the People Mover back toward where the car was, and then we had to drive to E. Grand Blvd. There, we had to park and walk about a third of a mile to get to the course. We got there right as the 3:20-ish groups were going by.

That was a good spot to cheer, because a lot of the runners were starting to look tired. The pace groups were getting smaller, which is what happens in a marathon. We just hoped that Nathan was still on target and having a great race.

Just ahead of the 4:00 pacer, we saw Nathan! He ran over to our side of the street for high fives, and then he ran to Kendall to give her a kiss. He nearly biffed it when he stumbled on the curb (yikes) but he stayed upright and kept on going.

He was feeling good at the halfway point, so (against my advice) he picked up the pace a little, and was slightly ahead of target. After he passed by, we just had to walk one block to where the 19-mile mark was. We saw a lot of the same runners going by once we were there. That was a fun place to cheer, because the runners go onto an island right after that (Belle Isle), and then off the island at mile 22.5. It was at mile 19 that I kind of fell apart when I ran the Detroit Marathon back in 2012, and the island felt like it was FOREVER long. Later, Nathan told me the same thing happened to him--it was all he could do to keep on going, and he wanted to quit, but it would be stupid to quit that far in!

Again, just ahead of the 4:00 pace group, Nathan went by, looking very strong and like he was doing great. After he went by, we knew we had to book it to the car. I had been hoping to stay to see him at mile 22.5, but there was no way we'd make it to the finish line on time if we did. When we got back to the car, we had to drive back to the casino to park. It took longer than planned, because of the road closures, and when we got there, they were charging $40 for parking! It had been free before we left, but there was a Lions game in the afternoon, so they started charging for that. We didn't have much time to find an alternative, so we just sucked it up and parked, then took the People Mover as close to the finish line as we could.

When we finally got to the finish line, the 3:45 pacer went by, so we had made it just in time. We were searching for Nathan, and finally, we saw his bright green shirt, so we yelled and cheered as loudly as we could as he ran the finisher's chute. He crossed the finish line in 3:57:06!

We started making our way to the runner's exit, which took a while because it was super crowded. As we waited, I held up the giant cardboard head so that he'd know where to find us. I saw a woman take a photo, and it later wound up on the Detroit Free Press website:

When Nathan came out, he looked extremely pale, and I was a little worried about him. He wasn't talking much, which I knew meant he wasn't feeling all that great. We took a couple of pictures, but Nathan said he nearly passed out at the finish line, so we wanted to get him to the car ASAP.

Nathan and Kendall
By the time we got to the car, he was feeling better after eating a protein bar and drinking some chocolate milk. We had plans to go home to shower quickly, and then go to Anson's, our favorite place to get pizza. Jerry and I drove separately to Anson's, because I wanted to "set up" his "cake" before he got there. Nathan's not big on desserts (yet we are blood-related--what the hell?!), so instead of getting him a cake, I made him a "cake" out of his favorite beer:

I also got him a card and the book signed by Bart Yasso. My dad and kids joined us for pizza, as well as a few of Nathan's friends, so there were quite a few of us there for pizza. We ordered all kinds of yummy pizzas, including Reuben, chicken bacon ranch, jalapeƱo popper, barbecue chicken, and a couple of others. I ate four pieces, and easily could have eaten more (it was the first I'd eaten all day), but I reined it in after tasting those four that I really wanted to try. ;)  The pizza was delicious, and perfect after a day of running all over Detroit! (I'd gotten in about 15,000 steps)

We got a picture of our TEAM NATHAN group--Jerry, me, the kids, Kendall, Jeanie, Nathan, and my parents:

I was SO COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED after the week of traveling, getting up early, and running around spectating that I actually fell asleep on the couch at 6:30. I went to bed at 7:30, and slept the whole night. As tired as I was, I wouldn't have missed it for anything--I am SO proud of my brother! I know how hard it is to train for a marathon, and he's only been running for a year. He works 12-hour midnight shifts, and he never missed a training run. He's lost about 40 pounds, and has gotten super fit in the process. The whole day was just amazing, and I hope that we made his first marathon experience as memorable as it could be :)

October 20, 2014

Motivational Monday #83

Happy Motivational Monday! This has been a crazy-busy week for me. I had a very fun week, but I'm also proud to say that I counted every Weight Watchers point eaten all week long. I had two blogger trips, so I was worried about how I'd eat while away from home, but I just made the best decisions I could, and it worked out really well!

It looks like a lot of you had a great week also. Here are some motivating stories for this Monday:

Alma (in purple) ran the Long Beach Half last year, and lost the running bug a bit. She thought about doing the 5K this year with her friends, but couldn't get excited about running. At the last minute, one of her friends realized she couldn't make the race, so she offered Alma her bib. She actually was pretty excited about it, considering she had friends doing the race also. She ended up finishing the race in 34:21, completely crushing her goal of 40:00! Best of all, she says she feels like she was bitten by the running bug again :) (Alma's blog)

Jennifer finished her FOURTH marathon at the Chicago Marathon! She actually met a girl on the train on the way to the expo, and they hit it off as fast friends, so the two ran the race together. Nothing like running a marathon and making a new running friend in the process!

Jennifer just completed her first marathon! She ran the Chicago Marathon, and finished just under 6 hours with a time of 5:59:53. She ran the race as a St. Jude Hero, helping raise over $2500, and she said the experience was amazing and rewarding. Her family from Detroit went to cheer her on, along with her college roommate and a surprise appearance from friends.

Kathleen (on left) started losing weight in August, and she signed up for a beginner's running class with her friend, Meredith (center). The class would prepare them to run a 5K on October 19th, the Pumpkin Run 5K. They started by just doing one mile--running 30 seconds, then walking 30 seconds.  She said she nearly died that first week--it was tough! Each week, the running volume increased a bit, but Kathleen stuck it out and even bought good running shoes and compression capris. Her goals for the race were to finish (hopefully under 45 minutes) and run the entire way. She ended up finishing in 41:40, never stopping or walking!

Jen just completed the "Remix Challenge" at the Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis weekend of races! She completed a 5K on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday. She was hoping for a PR, and ended up finishing in 2:32:05--a PR of over 6 minutes, despite a hilly course! (Jen's race report)

Anne wrote in to share her dad's big accomplishment--he ran his first 5K! Steve turned 65 this year, and spent the last two years losing weight and getting into shape. His only goal was to not come in last, and he didn't even come close to last. He got to drink a post-race coffee while watching the other participants finish :) He shaved 10 minutes off of his training time, and has already signed up for two more 5K's!

I have to brag for a moment about Dean as well. He didn't ask me to share his story, but I tell everyone I can when I get a chance to share his accomplishments! Dean first submitted a Motivational Monday early last year to celebrate his first 5K. He's been working like crazy to lose weight and get faster at running, and yesterday, Dean ran his first marathon--in 3:52:43!! You would never guess that he used to weigh 317 pounds. Now he's super speedy and just about to his goal weight. (Dean wrote a guest post here before, as part of my Ragnar SoCal team, but I've asked him to write another post because so much has changed since then. You can read his blog here.)

As always, a huge congrats to everyone who is celebrating an accomplishment this week--big or small!

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