September 24, 2022

My First Mammogram!

For some odd reason, ever since I was a teenager, I associated age 40 with having yearly mammograms. Maybe I heard my mom talk about it, or saw info about it on Oprah, or something like that--but it has stuck with me ever since. You turn 40 and you get a mammogram. 

Well, this was my year. I don't know why 40 is the magic number, but I knew on my birthday that sometime this year I'd have a mammogram. I wasn't worried about it or anxious about it or anything. It just feels like a rite of passage when you go over the hill. (I've always hated that expression, by the way--"over the hill"--yikes!)

I saw my gynecologist last week for an annual exam, and he said that it was time to schedule a mammogram. The hospital called and said they had an opening today at 2:00, and despite being a Saturday, I said sure.

I actually laughed about it with Jerry because I have very small boobs (yes, I should probably be mature and use the word "breasts", but I call them boobs). At this weight, I am an A cup! And that A cup is mostly loose skin from my weight loss, hahaha. So Jerry and I joked that the machine would just keep flattening my boobs until they were spread out paper thin--kind of like when you use a press to flatten pizza dough.

My appointment was at 2:00, but they said to get there 15 minutes early. I brought my Kindle with me to read while I waited, but I didn't even get to read a full page before I was called back. The woman who did the mammogram was super nice. She told me to undress from the waist up and she gave me a gown to wear.

It was such an odd feeling putting on the gown--I remember when I was 253 pounds, the hospital gowns wouldn't fit me. I had to wear two--one with the opening in the back and one with the opening in the front to avoid exposing myself. Today, I was swimming in the gown.

I always pictured a big, cold, white, sterile room with a huge machine. Instead, it was small and intimate and I felt totally comfortable. The only other person in the room was the woman who'd given me the gown. I told her I was a blogger and asked if she minded if I took a picture--it's always a little awkward asking people that! But I like to have pictures in case other people wonder what it's like as well.

We chatted while she "arranged" my right boob on the machine (which was actually very comfortable--for some reason, I pictured it to be extremely uncomfortable and cold). 

My gown was wider than the machine, hahaha

Then as it pressed down for the images, it just felt a little like a blood pressure cuff when it tightens around your arm, only it didn't feel *as* tight as the arm cuff. It wasn't bad at all! She had me turn to the side for another image, and then we repeated the process with my left boob.

And that was it! It was so fast. Faster than getting x-rays, even. I went back in the changing room and was surprised to see that my chest was red above where it was squished a little; it didn't hurt, though.

I got dressed, and was back in the lobby by 1:57--three minutes before my actual appointment time! I couldn't believe what a fast and easy appointment it was. I told Jerry I'd rather do that again than any other doctors' appointments (especially the dentist--I despise going to the dentist!).

I won't have the results for a couple days, but I'm not worried about it. What I *am* worried about? I also have to have a colonoscopy this year! Most people don't have to have them until they are 50 (some say 45), but after my mom had a colonoscopy, she was told that she had something going on (I think polyps?) and that her children should start having the procedure at age 40.

Everything about it is scary to me, but especially the prep. I've heard and read that it's awful and you have to start a few days before the actual procedure--eating a low fiber diet for a few days (I have no idea what I'll eat, because as a vegan, I eat a ton of fiber); then nothing but clear liquids for a day before. And the worst part--drinking some awful liquid that basically makes you poop your brains out until there is nothing left. After reading about the procedure, I feel like I'll probably need to set up camp in the bathroom.

I haven't scheduled that appointment yet, but I am seeing my primary care doctor soon for a wellness visit, so I'll likely schedule it then. I'm definitely not looking forward to it! If you're not too embarrassed, please feel free to share your experiences ;)

September 23, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Gosh, I got so used to not writing a post all week that now it feels weird to actually find the time to write one! I just got home from our first cross country meet (well, it was our second, but the first one was canceled due to a thunderstorm just minutes before we were supposed to start).

It's now 8:30 and Jerry is making dinner so I can write this post. Oddly enough, I don't have a ton of photos this week (at least not very exciting ones). Most of the pictures on my camera are of measurements and pictures of electrical outlets and things like that--so boring!--because I sent them to my brother and/or brother-in-law to ask if I was doing things correctly in the bedroom and bathroom remodel.

Here are some photos, however...

I was SO COLD (I'm always cold) but I finally busted out my Detroit Lions onesie and even a winter hat to wear in bed, hahaha.


I have a Jeep Renegade, which is definitely not very big, but today I managed to fit a bifold door, 12 pieces of casing, 3 pieces of a door jamb, and a small bag of other stuff from Menards. I was pretty impressed with myself! Even more impressed that I carried the bifold door while pushing a cart full of the other stuff.

I made this General Tso's tofu a few days ago and I TOTALLY over-baked the tofu. I forgot about it in the oven until I smelled it--it was so overcooked that it had the texture of croutons. I tried to soften it with the sauce, but it tasted terrible and was still very crunchy. It looked great though! I'll try again another time and remember to set the oven timer.

I thought it would be fun to show this behind-the-scenes picture of my Wednesday Weigh-In selfie... since my room and bathroom are torn apart and there is stuff EVERYWHERE, I had to move this full length mirror someplace where it would be tall enough to see me, where the light wasn't causing a dark shadow, prop it up onto something so it was high enough, and put something behind it to keep it from falling over. This is what it looks like when it's not cropped! 

I went out to the garage to cut some drywall, and when I turned over a piece, I saw THIS ENORMOUS MONSTER on the drywall! We had our garage sprayed for spiders earlier this year, but I guess this one snuck in. I despise spiders and this gave me the heebie jeebies.

I was organizing some prizes for cross country and Chick decided that he could definitely fit inside this  box. (The buckwheat pillow in the box was not one of the prizes, hahaha--I got it for my dad for his birthday.)

I saw this on the wall in the garage and thought it was pretty--I couldn't figure out what was making it, though.

I saw this truck at Lowe's isn't it the coolest?! Even the color of it is perfect.

I wanted to burn the world when I heard CHRISTMAS music playing at Lowe's! And they were stocking the shelves with Christmas stuff. It's mid-September, people. Then I had Christmas music in my head all day.

Duck was "helping" me work on some cross country stuff. When I don't pay attention to him, he just lies on my binder so that I am forced to pay attention to him ;)

Duck doing his sploot. It never gets old!

My friend Jack, Jerry, and Noah all went disc golfing. I thought it was really cool that Jack and Jerry included Noah. He really likes playing.

I have no idea what I was thinking here, but clearly I was concentrating very hard. Or just looking at whatever it is I just messed up. I can't tell you how many swear words were uttered shouted while working on this bathroom. 

The baby squirrels that were born in the spring are getting so big! And very brave. They are coming closer and closer to the door for nuts now.

Jerry sent this picture to me--the bumper sticker is SO perfect for me! I really need it.

My parents' neighbors decided to cut down an enormous tree that was between their houses. It was pretty amazing! My dad was acting goofy here, like he pushed it over or something, haha.

These pictures kind of tell a story of how my sweet little Duckling is a genius cat...

It's 1:00 AM and I'm trying to sleep. I hear Duck playing with something in the bathroom, and since the bathroom has SO many tools and things in it right now, I got out of bed to investigate. Somehow, he found this string from a plumb bob that I'd put way in the corner of the counter (for the very purpose of keeping it away from the cats--we all know how much Duck loves to get into string). Well, that is what he was playing with--trying to get it out of the corner.

I put it in my tool box on the floor and tucked it underneath some stuff in there so that you couldn't see it. (no picture). Then I went back to bed. A couple of minutes later, I heard him in there again. I went in to see what he was doing, and he'd dug the plumb bob string out from underneath everything!

So, I tucked it back into the tool box and then put a hamper basket over the whole thing and went back to bed. Not even a few minutes later, I heard him again. Got out of bed AGAIN. Only to find this:

I swear, he is the smartest, most determined cat I've ever known. So, I just took the time in the middle of the night to take everything off the counter, put it in my closet, and shut the door.

Finally, this moment was a (small) "win" that I definitely needed this week. I hung two pieces of rectangular drywall, which was no big deal; but then I was trying to figure out how I was going to Tetris the heck out of the top part. 

I was thinking about how many pieces, where to cut, etc. Out of spontaneity, I figured, what the heck--I'll try to do the math and make the whole thing fit in one giant piece. It wasn't as simple as it sounds--the ceiling is angled, so I had to calculate the angle (4.4 degrees) and then cut out the shapes to fit the doorway.

I couldn't believe it when I saw it fit like a glove on the first try!

Clearly, I get very excited over the little things these days ;)  I've finished hanging all the drywall and now I'm working on taping and mudding.

And that's all I've got! I am going to eat some of the lo mein that Jerry made, get cozy in bed, and watch some Dexter. Tomorrow morning, my mom and I are headed to Eastern Market in Detroit (a farmer's market). We leave bright and early at 5:45 AM!

Have a great weekend! xo

September 22, 2022

Where to Begin? (My Wordless Week)

First, I have to say that this week went by SO QUICKLY. As a (hopefully quick) recap, I had been feeling extremely overwhelmed for the past couple of months for numerous reasons. When I wrote out my "to do" list, it felt like a mile long and I honestly had no idea where to begin.

I decided to eliminate any stressors that weren't time-sensitive, and blogging was one of them. Rather than skip my blog posts altogether, I did a "Wordless Week", where I posted a photo a day. Of course, I couldn't help myself but to write a quick sentence or two about the photo, but that was it.

When your tool belt feels too heavy, your mouth will do just fine

I let my family and friends know that I wasn't going to be available for the week--texts, phone calls, would be sporadic at best. Jerry offered to make dinner every day (and he did!--we both learned that he's got some cooking talent). He really liked cooking, so I think he'll do it more often. It's not that he never cooked or volunteered to cook before--he actually offers a lot--I just always considered it *my* job as a stay-at-home parent).

I started therapy a few weeks ago and it has helped enormously so far. I've learned that I have a very hard time asking for help with anything--especially if it's something that I feel like I should be doing--again, because I'm a stay-at-home parent.

Staying at home is not nearly as easy at it sounds, even though my kids are both old enough to take care of themselves. I do a ton of work at home: cleaning, organizing, meal planning, grocery shopping, running errands, making appointments, keeping track of everybody's schedules, fixing things around the house, taking care of the pets, planning out and adjusting the week's tasks, paying bills and keeping ledgers of our finances, and finally--blogging.

Blogging is how I earn an income, and there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Just yesterday, as I only had an hour before leaving for cross country, I got an email from AdThrive (the company that handles ads on my blog) saying that there was a problem with bots(?) causing some big issue--I don't understand computer language at all! I just followed their instructions and trusted them to fix it on their end, but I was completely stressed out about it.

I only earn a modest income from the ads on my blog, but I like to keep a balance for my followers the best that I can. I don't want to overload my blog with ads, even though I could earn a lot more money; however, I don't want to remove the ads, either, because it's my contribution to our family's finances. So, while I hate having ads on my blog, I really do try to keep it at the point where it's not TOO intrusive. I can't stand it when I go to sites (especially recipe sites) where you have to sift through dozens of ads to get to the content!

Anyway, the point is that blogging IS a job. I spend a lot of time on it--more than one would think--and in addition to all of the stay-at-home parent things that I do, I spread myself very thin when I have a lot going on. Adding volunteering as a cross country coach to the mix this fall threw me for a loop.

Then our bathroom/bedroom disaster happened (water damage on our subfloor, and now a complete remodel of the bathroom and bedroom) added an expense we didn't plan for. Not to mention what a time-consuming project it would be.

Eli hit a huge pothole with Jerry's car, requiring new tires and a rim (total of $1500)--again, not expected.

The house is completely cluttered everywhere because we aren't done with the remodel (we had to move everything from the bedroom and bathroom into our dining room, living room, and anywhere else we could put it).

Since I've been DIY'ing the disaster, it's taking longer than expected. Much longer! But this past week, I finished framing in the new closet in the bathroom and I installed most of the drywall yesterday. I'll finish that today. Then I have to tape and mud the drywall, sand it, and finally--FINALLY--I get to do the fun stuff! Painting, decorating, making it look decent again. (I want to stress that Jerry offers to help with everything; I just don't like to ask him to, because he usually works about 48-60 hours a week.)

Besides, he's super busy being a nerd. His new hobby is putting together/building a Ghostbusters outfit (he doesn't like me to call it a costume!).

Something I've learned in therapy is that it's OKAY to ask for help, even though I feel like I should be the one doing it. My kids can certainly do more chores around the house (something I felt bad about asking). They can cook their own meals on the days that I coach cross country, which is always hectic for me. I can make a schedule that includes my top priorities and then put the ones that aren't time-sensitive on the back burner.

So, that's why I chose to take a week "off" of blogging. I have blogged every day since January 1, 2020, and I really didn't want to break that streak, which is why I still posted a picture a day. But it was a huge weight off my shoulders knowing I didn't have to dedicate so much time to it.

I know that I can cut down the amount of days that I blog, but I really do enjoy it (most of the time). This past week, though, I decided that I'm going to do a "wordless" post once a week to take some time and get other things done--or even take a day of total rest! I can't even remember the last time I did that. Probably when I had COVID, so it wasn't even a "fun" day, haha.

Something else I need to work on is not feeling guilty for everything. When Jerry cooks dinner, for example, I feel guilty that I'm not doing it. When the house isn't clean, I feel guilty asking the kids to clean the bathroom or dust the living room, etc. I feel incredibly guilty when I don't cook dinner.

I feel guilty spending money on myself, even though I am thrifty (I think every item of clothing I own--aside from underwear and a few hoodies that I got for $8 at Kohls--came from thrift stores). Thankfully, thrift shopping is something I LOVE. I don't even know where people go to buy new clothes! Haha. 

Last year, I even felt guilty for the doctor visit co-pays when trying to figure out what was going on with my chronic pain. So, the guilt is something I'd like to work through in therapy as well.

I have quite a bit of blog content for this week, I think, because I haven't written in a while. So, I'll end this here. Several people have been asking me about my recent weight loss, what I've been eating, and how eating vegan/plant-based has affected my weight, etc. I've been planning that post for a while, taking photos of a lot of my meals, so I will do that soon. I also hope to post some progress with the bedroom/bathroom, and even some things I learn in therapy.

So, Friends, thank you for sticking around this past week! I definitely plan to do a "wordless" day once a week, on a day that is particularly busy or I just don't feel like I have anything to write about.

In the meantime, please send me some reader email that I can share in a weekly or bi-weekly (or even monthly) post! I'd love to hear about things like having a baby, running your first race, adopting a pet, a great thrift store find, a new haircut, etc. I want to have a nice, positive post to share from all of you! You can send it (with a photo, if applicable) to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. I'm no longer doing Transformation Tuesdays, but if you have a transformation to share, I can always add it to the reader email post!

I appreciate every. single. one. of you. Truly. xo

September 21, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Wordless Week Day 7

I wasn't sure if I should just post a regular Wednesday Weigh-In today and get back to the norm, or if I should give myself the Day 7 of "Wordless Week". It turns out I needed this extra day. So I'll just post my weigh-in, and then catch up tomorrow!


And of course a piece of my hair would fall on the scale before I took the picture!

I'll get back to writing tomorrow. This week went by SO FAST.

September 20, 2022

Wordless Week: Day 6

Not exactly *wordless*, but a quick explanation...

On Sunday when we were on our way to pick up Luke and Riley (Jerry was driving), I decided to do the Wordle. On my lap, I was holding a plate with a plaster of Paris skeleton Luke and I made. The Wordle ended up being TIBIA. What are the odds?!

September 19, 2022

Wordless Week: Day 5

The door behind me actually isn't installed--it's just leaning against the wall while I finish framing the closet!

September 18, 2022

Wordless Week: Day 4

A very intense game of Connect Four at cross country practice... (the kids have to run to the top of a hill and grab a game piece for their team, run back down and place their piece--until one team gets four in a row).  I can't count how many times I've been crashed into--hence the look on my face as "C" came flying down the hill toward me.


September 17, 2022

Wordless Week: Day 3

My dad teaching Noah how to take over as the family car mechanic one day 🥰

September 16, 2022

Wordless Week: Day 2

Jerry's birthday gift... 😇 😈

September 14, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 68 (and an announcement)

I hadn't take a picture yet today, and Jerry and I were working on the bathroom, so he took this one for my post. Today is his birthday, by the way! He's 42. 

I don't even know where to start with this post! I've been going back and forth in my head about it for a few weeks now, and today I decided it's time. (I'm truly not trying to make this sound like a drumroll or something...)

As I've mentioned way too often, I've been super overwhelmed lately. It's one thing after another after another that has been going wrong and/or stressing me out. I finally feel like I've reached a breaking point. I keep thinking that I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up a year later.

I love writing lists (I seriously have notebooks full of lists of all sorts) and today I wrote out a full "to-do" list of the things that I have to get done in a relatively timely manner. It took up two full sheets of notebook paper! I feel like I'm drowning and I'm never going to catch up on everything. I've felt so intensely overwhelmed that it's affecting my health. 

I like to use the word overwhelmed instead of "stressed" because it feels more applicable in this situation. I haven't been able to sleep (nothing new there, but it's gotten worse), I've been crying daily--and for once, it's not from being sad or depressed--just exhausted, I've been snapping at my family for no reason, and I've even lost my appetite.

I have never, in my life, felt worried about losing too much weight. I've certainly never tried to gain weight. This week, I added some high-calorie foods to my diet--like adding a big scoop of peanut butter to my oatmeal, or marinating tofu with oil, adding tortilla chips to black bean soup, etc.

But I'm still losing weight. Today? I was actually in the 120s:

I never ever thought I'd see the 120s again! My lowest weight was 121, but that's when I was training so hard for my goal 10K race. I wish I could be excited about it hitting the 120s (and I guess I am in a way), but I know that it's because of feeling so overwhelmed that I'm not eating enough. Last week, I was at 132.4, so I lost over three pounds this week. At the weight I am now, three pounds is a LOT to lose in a week; I've lost about 10 pounds in a month. If I wasn't feeling so overwhelmed, I'd be pretty thrilled!

However, my clothes are all too big and I don't want to buy smaller ones because I feel like I'll gain some weight when my to-do list gets smaller. But who knows? Maybe it's just the vegan diet that is making me continue to lose weight.

Anyway, as for my announcement: I've made a decision today that makes me feel a little nervous about, but like I said, I've been debating it for a few weeks now: I'm going to take a full week off of blogging. I need to eliminate as many things on my list as I can, and since my blog isn't completely necessary, I feel like it's a good start.

Since I've been on a blogging streak for nearly three years now of blogging every day, I really don't want to break that streak. So, I decided to just post a photo a day--no words, just a picture. I'll call the posts "Wordless Week: Day 1", etc., so you can skip over them if you're not interested.

Even though it may seem like a blog post doesn't take much time, I overthink everything and make it take much longer than it probably should. I'd like to use every moment I have to work on knocking things off of my to-do list (including catching up on my email, so if you've written me in the past six months or so, I probably still haven't responded--and I'm SO sorry).

At my therapy session yesterday, we talked about how I don't like to ask for help--ever. I always feel bad asking people for help with things and that's part of the reason I feel overwhelmed. It's something I need to work on.

I hate to start my week off from blogging with a post like this, but my Wednesday Weigh-In posts are my most popular ones, so I figured I could reach the most people. I'll be back to normal (well, my posts will anyways!) next Wednesday.

Until then, I'll share a picture each day that will hopefully be somewhat interesting (perhaps something on my list that I've been working on). 

Thanks for understanding, Friends! xoxo

September 13, 2022

Transformation Tuesday: The Final Chapter

Well, Friends, I'm sad to say that this is going to be the final Transformation Tuesday. I have always loved these posts, but I haven't been getting submission for them and honestly, it stresses me out if I don't know whether I'll have a post to write. I always liked Tuesdays because I could prepare some of it in advance, making it easier to finish up later in the day. On Monday nights, if I don't have any submissions, then I feel stressed to get a post done. (I know, I'm the one that is putting the pressure on myself; I can't help it! It's who I am.)

It has been so fantastic seeing all of the fun transformations you've shared! I appreciate each and every one. I'd like to try to come up with a new theme for Tuesdays (having a theme is super helpful to me in planning ahead). I've always loved the idea of doing a "reader email" post, where people share anything at all--cool thrift finds, tips for anything all/life hacks, crafts or projects they've made, fun news to share--getting married, buying a house, a job promotion, adopting a baby, etc.. But that still relies on, well, reader email! ;) 

So, I'll try and come up with something to do on Tuesdays. But in the meantime, I have one final transformation to share with you from a reader named Jenny. And it's a jaw-dropping transformation!

A few months ago, my shower stopped draining, followed quickly by the toilet no longer flushing. After several plumbers and sewer made visits, everything was draining properly again. HOWEVER, the floor of the shower was torn out in order to access the pipes that were causing all of the issues. So…new bathroom! I’ve always wanted a white bathroom. It feels so light and clean compared to the formerly popular beige phase. 


Jenny, your bathroom is STUNNING--and so modern! I especially like the gray tiles in the shower. Seeing how great your bathroom looks now gives me a little hope that someday, my bathroom will be finished. Yours is a great inspiration to not give up hope yet, hahaha. I'm so glad you were able to get your white bathroom :)  -Katie

Well, this is a sad moment for me, but perhaps someday Transformation Tuesday will be a thing again. It's been fun! (And if you have other ideas for Tuesday posts, please share--I'm wide open to suggestions)

September 12, 2022

Three Weeks Into Cross Country

I'm feeling much better after writing yesterday's post! Usually I don't like to write things when I'm very emotional at the time--whether it's angry or sad or annoyed, etc--because I usually regret it later. But I wasn't bashing Panera, and I just described the experience (the one that made me angry). I sent them the link, and I doubt anyone will read it, but I feel okay with it being out there.

I had a MUCH NEEDED good night's sleep last night. I was so sleep deprived last week that I thought I was completely losing my mind. It wasn't from being too busy to sleep, but just chronic insomnia that gets really bad sometimes. My body gets so tired but my mind stays wide awake. It's frustrating.

I've been so busy lately that it feels hard to even stop and catch my breath for a minute (figuratively). Thankfully, even though cross country adds a lot to my plate, it's something that I really enjoy. It's a nice respite a few days a week. Usually, I feel stressed about getting everything done and then having to go to cross country, but once I'm at practice, there isn't a single moment to stress or worry about anything. And I have so much fun at practices!

This was just a few moments after starting a six-legged race. We had to start over, haha.

I keep meaning to take a team photo of the kids with some of the goodies they've earned at practice and I never remember until practice is done and the kids have left. But they have loved the incentives! I don't have a structure in place as far as how they can earn the rewards--I did that before and it was way too complicated (tallying points for doing this and that, then spending points like money for awards).

Instead, Renee and I have just been making it up as we go along. We received a lot of items (thank you so much!!!) so we've been generous with them. Some ways we've used them as incentives:

-Leading the warm-up stretches
-Winning whatever game we play after practice
-If we notice kids who are working really hard to do what we ask
-If they complete the workout we set for them
-Going above and beyond in certain situations

Thursday was our long run day, so I looked at each kid's progress so far and set a personalized distance goal for them to hit on long run day. They run laps around the park, which is 0.33 miles around. I have rubber bands that I use to set goals for them--each rubber band represents one lap. So if I want someone to run two miles, I'll give them six rubber bands to start (they wear them around their wrists). Then each time they finish one lap, they drop a rubber band in a bucket as they pass by.

These girls saw me taking a picture and they stopped to pose--I yelled, "No, keep running!"

I always make sure keep their goals reasonable, but also push them out of their comfort zones. If their runs always feel comfortable, they're not going to become better runners. (Unless it's an easy run day, then they should be running comfortably.)

This girl is really sweet, and when I was walking back to the pavilion, I saw her showing her little sister how to run with her. It was so cute!

The absolute hardest part about this is that kids don't know how to pace themselves. They feel like they are racing the other kids (even during the warm-up) and after one lap, they complain that it's too hard and they start walking whenever they think I'm not looking, hahaha. Well, they don't know that I totally have eyes in the back of my head!

Coming around this bend is where the kids can see me watching, so they pick up the pace. The girl in back is impressive to me--she's very quiet and usually runs solo, but she always follows instructions and I never hear her complain.

There is one small blindspot where the path goes around a hill, and the kids are notorious for walking as soon as they are out of sight. So at Thursday's practice, I went to the hill to yell at them to keep running. (When I say I yell, I'm not yelling in a mean way--just a tough way.) If they're walking during a long run day, then they aren't running slowly enough, so I tell them to slow down.

Each time I saw them start to walk, I jogged next to them and told them to keep pace with me--not pass me--and get a feel for a very slow pace. If they do that the entire time, there is no reason they should have to take breaks.

So I had the idea today that for their next long run, we could possibly meet at the state park and split the team in two. The faster kids can run with Renee, and the slower kids can run with me. I will make them stay at a slow pace with the goal being not having to take any walk breaks.

I am 100% sure they are all capable of doing that, if they learn to pace themselves. It's a hard thing to teach, and usually comes with experience. (I'm sure they'll learn this at their first race a week from tomorrow!) In a race, pacing is EVERYTHING.

I remember a practice at cross country in 2019 where I told the kids that anyone who could run longer than I did would get an award. I was slow and pretty out of shape at the time, but I knew that if I ran slowly enough, I could run for the whole practice without stopping or walking. And I was determined to show them that it's possible.

The kids were so determined to run longer than me! It was funny. Eventually, the whole team was running with me (I felt like Forrest Gump) and if I remember correctly, they all made it--because I was going slowly.

This was a GREAT group of kids. I miss them!

I think that was an "aha!" moment for a lot of them. They realized that they were definitely capable of running much farther than they thought if they just slowed down.

When I showed the kids the awards they could earn this season, I had just one tutu and one of the boys wanted it SO BADLY. It was all he talked about. At each practice, he asked if he could earn it that day. Since I only had one, I told him no, that it'll be something that will take more effort to earn (reaching a particular cumulative mileage, for example).

I hadn't planned to give it out yet, but on Thursday, he was the only kid I saw that didn't take a single walk break. Every time he passed by me, he was in high spirits and kept pushing along. I was so proud of him! On his last lap, I asked him if he was going to stop when he hit his goal (2 miles) or if he was going aim for a little more. He said he was definitely going to stop. Then I said, "I *might* have a tutu in my car--" and he cut me off mid-sentence with, "I'm going to run extra!" and he went on to run two extra laps.

When each kid finished their laps (having no rubber bands left on their wrists), they got to choose something from the "award bag" (items that I have a lot of). I announced that there was one person who really worked harder than anyone else so I was going to give them something special. I grabbed the tutu from the car and I can't even tell you how excited he was to wear it! He said he's going to wear it to every practice. He definitely earned it :)

And as I finish this post, I've got to get ready to head out the door for cross country. Today is a short easy run followed by some "games" on the hill. I put that in quotes because the hill games are much more for building leg strength than play ;)  They will be WIPED after today's practice!

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