Saturday, May 25, 2013

You're Still Fat

There was a break in the rain this afternoon. The kids had just laid down for their afternoon nap, and hubby was following suit on the couch. I did what every mother runner would... slipped on my sneakers and snuck out the door.  I quickly decided on my 10k route and set off down the street.

The air was refreshing and cool - what a blessed change from last week!  I happily turned down my neighborhood streets without a care in the world. With no concern for pace, I took in all the sights, smells and sounds around me. It was a peaceful afternoon and I was delighted to be taking it all in. There is a special calmness to the air after a rainfall that pleases me. This running naked thing is really started to grow on me. It may take awhile to strap that Garmin on again.

My legs felt so strong and I was sailing down my favorite part of the 6.2 mile route. I didn't know my pace, but was feeling good about how quick my feet were moving. Honestly, I was having a "proud moment"... some people nap in the afternoon to refresh themselves. I run and it has the same effect for me. I used to be the prior, and now am so happy to have changed my life through running.

And then a car of young men drove by and yelled out the window at me...


I tried to wipe it away like the sweat on my brow. But like the rain that was spitting again, it slapped my face and wouldn't go away.  It hit a chord in me that will forever be my weak spot. As a former "fat girl" of 230 pounds, I've come a long way. I started my run journey to lose weight, but now I run for so many other reasons. But make no doubt about it... I will always be self conscious about my weight. I will always be trying to hide my imperfect tummy that gave me two perfect babies.

Will there ever be a time that I look in the mirror and like what I see? Probably not.  I love running and so desperately crave a "runner's body", but also know that it's most likely not in the cards for me.  For the most part, I'm okay with that. I like how running makes me FEEL. Yes, there are physical benefits, but when it comes right down to it, I run to feel alive. I like the healthy balance that running adds to my life. The peace and sanity it provides. The pure joy it adds to my days. And no one can take that away from me.

So to the punks in that car today...
To you, I flip up my finger ponytail and keep on running. 
There is nothing you can say that will keep me down.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Things Thursday

My spring calendar is always my busiest race schedule. I train hard all winter and pray for results come spring. Since I nabbed a new marathon PR last month, I'll deem this past training cycle a success. After the relay race last weekend, I put my Garmin away for awhile. It's time to let my body recover (heal) and just relish in the joy of the run.  This week I've done a couple Spinning classes and a several runs as well.  I find running naked (no technology gadgets) a completely FREE feeling... releasing myself from the analytics of a watch and the expectation of how fast I should be moving. To be able to finish and feel good is enough. I plan to run naked for the rest of May. It's so old-school running and I love it.

It's been a busy week in our house, wrapping up the school year. Tomorrow is Big Girl's last day of school... and yesterday was Little Girl's preschool graduation. Both my kiddos will now be in grade school!  I can hardly believe how quickly the years have passed since they were babies. I'm taking extra effort to make this "the best summer ever" for us. It takes tricky coordination to squeeze in my runs, so I better get used to that 5am alarm.
Proud parents a new Kindergartener!

My arm needs to be wrapped when I run
since I have poison ivy all over
the underside. UGH!
Nature bit me back for clearing trails through our back woods. After relentless washing, poison ivy still found its way into my system. I went running to the doctor as soon as I saw the rash develop. Obviously, the doc didn't understand my explanation of "I'm highly allergic". The rash and blisters have only gotten worse, despite the prednisone. I returned yesterday for more pills, prescription-strength cream and a nice cortizone shot in the ass. I'm so uncomfortable in my skin right now... praying for relief to come soon.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Recap: River City Marathon Relay

My history with relays is not good. In fact, it's quite clear that if you are ever on a relay team with me...
1) At least one person will get injured the week before the big race.
2) It will be the first scorching hot day of the year.
3) We'll get lost driving to exchanges several times.

All this has made me steer clear of relay events, but when Peoria announced their first marathon, I had to be a part of it! I already had a full race calendar though, plus a wedding the night before. My choice for a shorter distance was clear, so I reached out to my out-of-town Tough Chiks to build ourselves a team.

The River City Marathon restored my faith in the relay... or at least made the logistical chaos seem 100% worthwhile!  This past Sunday, my Team Tough Chik kicked some butt and had a fantastic time in the process at the 1st annual Run River City Marathon in Peoria, IL.

Getting to the start line was not completely void of obstacles though... Our fast closer, Carmen, suffered an benching injury one week out, but found a quick replacement... who then also bowed out with an injury the night before. OMG. We sat in a circle Saturday night with our cell phones busy, trying to find a new runner. We got lucky with Katie, who just happened to be traveling to Peoria to watch her hubby run (kick ass!) in the marathon.

Weather is out of our control, but the forecast got worse day by day. A humid, hot and sunny day was awaiting our team. We were prepared (as much as you can be) and relaxed on our time goal a bit. We didn't want anyone pushing themselves outside a safe zone in this heat.

One of the downfalls of "first time" events is the organizational stuff. When we found out there was no shuttles for the relay, I immediately started to fret over the driving and directions. This is MY town and I didn't want my team to get lost... and leave a runner hanging in the chute. (It's happened to me before and it is a really sucky feeling.) I got frustrated with the instructions provided by the race (wrong and then multiple revisions), so I made my own and did a trial drive through. I'm happy to say we did not get lost or leave a runner hanging. Success!

Race morning came and I was so damn excited you would have thought I was doing the full 26.2! Our team of five (The injured Carmen still came to town to be our coach and cheerleader) met up downtown Peoria and were ready to go... finally!
Shannon, Amanda, Katie, me and Carmen

The marathon started downtown and Katie took the first leg so she could stay downtown and cheer in her hubby. While she ran, the rest of us watched the later 5K take off (which my hubby's PR'ed on a wedding hangover!). And we goofed around downtown with the camera...

For a last minute replacement, Katie completely smoked her 6 mile leg with an 8:29 average pace! At the first exchange, Amanda sped off for leg #2...

During Amanda's 7 miles, the sun started to heat things up on the course. It was obvious by watching the runners coming through the second exchange, drenched with sweat and dumping water over their heads. When Amanda came in, I could tell she was miserable, but she did a fabulous job - hauling it in just over an hour (9:03 pace).  Shannon was now up for the leg #3 and I couldn't believe how fast this race was going by!

The third leg was the shortest in distance, but involved a long elevation climb. Shannon is from Orange County (CA) and didn't seem as effected by the heat as the rest of us. She kicked those 5.5 miles with ease (9:29 pace).  Before I knew it, it was my turn!  I suddenly got really nervous. My soaring adrenaline was making me hotter than the weather. I dumped cold water over my hair - before I even started running. And then it was time to take the baton and wrap this baby up...

The final leg of the marathon relay was 7.75 miles (my Garmin read 7.8, most likely due to the early pushoff in the exchange chute). There were a couple little rollers along Forrest Hill with a big descent back to the riverfront.  

Mile 1 - 8:11  I started off way too fast through the residential area. Runners were pretty spread out at this point on the course. To keep myself driving, I focused on a runner up ahead and picked them off one by one. Side note - when I run 26.2, it annoys the crap out of me when relayers come flying by in those tough final miles. Ha! Today I got to be that person!  I'm usually getting passed up in the 20+ miles, so it was kinda fun to be the passer for once.

Mile 2 - 9:21
Mile 3 - 9:07  I was surprised how much community support was out in these late miles of the marathon. Many residents had unofficial water and ice tables set up, along with sprinklers and hoses to cool us down. I took advantage of every single one! I grabbed water every single time, took one big drink and then dumped the rest over my head and down my shirt.

Mile 4 - 8:52
Mile 5 - 9:49  Now I entered into territory that I run often near Glen Oak Park and Springdale Cemetery.  I guess it calmed me because I slowed down a bit. I was having trouble breathing with the humidity and slowed several times to stabilize myself. Oddly enough, my legs also started getting tired at this point.

Mile 6 - 9:34
Mile 7 - 9:36   It was a long stretch on Madison Ave to get back into the downtown area... but a nice flat straightaway with a little shade now and then. The local water company had their mister up and several people were spraying us with hoses. It felt so good! Amanda met me at the Mile 25 marker. My initial goal was to hit a sub-9 pace on my leg. I knew I'd need help bringing it in and she volunteered to come push me. I didn't quite make my goal (9:08 avg pace), but she certainly kept me honest in the final mile.

The last 0.8 - 6:32  The final stretch was fun because I know it so well from multiple years of running the Steamboat Classic. It's exactly how you want to end a race - fast smooth downhill on Main Street and a great crowd along the finishing stretch.  Carmen and Shannon met us at the final turn and we all ran it in together.... four strong TOUGH CHIKS!
Thanks to my hubby for getting the money shot of us coming down the finish!

It felt so good to cross the finish line with these ladies and hear the announcer call us out one by one. It was nice to be on the early end of finishers... we had a clear lane all the way to the finish and got lots of cheers.  The community was super supportive. I didn't always see who was cheering, but I heard my name a lot - so thank you friends!!  In the end, we hit our team time goal (sub-4 hrs) after all!!
Official Chip Time 3:56:49
(9:03 average pace)
4th Place Female Team!!

Were there issues with this inaugural event? 
Absolutely. As with any first time event, there are mistakes and things that could be done better...  communication, porta-potties, written relay instructions, mile markers, post race food.  I believe race organizers learned (and heard) many ways to improve for next year already. I personally had a FANTASTIC time and our team had no problems. In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable race experiences I've had in a long time. I could brag on and on about my great teammates. I saw wonderful acts of community support... and runners pulling each other through the adverse weather. The finisher's medal is outstanding with a stained glass look. I witnessed so many of my run buddies achieve huge achievements.  I am so very proud of everyone who ran - and the community that I live in!!

I will definitely be returning to Run River City Marathon in 2014.  I hope you'll join me!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Four

Last week, we turned on the heat. This week, the air conditioning. It seems Mother Nature forgot about spring. {sigh}  I'm not a fan of running in summer heat. I'd rather run through winter snow and spring rain than the horrid humidity of a Midwest summer. So as the temps soar this week, I've realized that I need to return to my summer schedule of running. I set the alarm for 4:45am this morning. Hard crawling out of bed, but once I got outside, it was a fantastic run. The atmosphere is so peaceful and quiet before dawn - except for the crazy chirping birds. My legs took a little longer to get warmed up. By time I wrapped up 6 miles, I was sweating and panting like I just finished a race. I came storming in the door as my hubby pulled out for work. BOOM!  6 BEFORE 6. 

I've been working feverishly in the woods behind our house this week. Our old neighbors used to maintain a little trail through the woods, but it got overgrown in the past few years.  I decided to resurrect (and expand) the trail for the summer. The kids are old enough now that they like to explore. Hubby and I want to use it for a running trail... especially since school will be out next week and time for my runs will be minimized.  We're about 75% done now with the trail. I haven't measured it yet, but we're hoping one loop will be a 1/2 mile.  My legs and arms are scratched up from all the brushing work... and I'm inspecting my body every day for poison ivy. (I got a really bad case of poison ivy last year. My body seems to fuel the rash! So far, so good...) 
Now WHO wants to come run my trail?!

I'm making a big cupcake tower for a wedding tomorrow... so my house smells amazing right now. That alone is worthy of point today because I'm not going to eat any. Oh, the temptation! I love cupcakes!

I'm running a relay race this weekend as part of the Run River City Marathon event in my town of Peoria, IL.  We've pulled together four Toughie bloggers - Amanda, Shannon, Carmen and myself - to make TEAM TOUGH CHIK.  Unfortunately, Carmen has an injury so her running partner Angela will be subbing in her place. I'm excited to run the relay, but slightly nervous over driving to exchange zones. Today the event released a third revision on directions. It's been a headache every day trying to make sense of the logistics. Since it's "my town," I kind of feel responsible for not getting our team lost or late to transition zones. I hate it when organizers appear unorganized. It hikes up my OCD anxiety greatly! Hopefully, all will go well on Sunday...

How do you beat the summer heat??
Do you like to run nature trails?
Where are you racing this weekend??

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Race Recap: Iron Mom Half Marathon

This was the best Mother's Day I can remember since becoming a mom six years ago. My little family of four packed up the camper and headed south six hours to Paducah, Kentucky, home of the Iron Mom Half Marathon. My two favorite recreational activities are running and camping... so this was the perfect gift for me.

As we made our way across the Ohio River, leaving Illinois and entering Kentucky, I was already in awe of the richness of nature in this part of the country. If you ever have the chance, be sure to include northwest Kentucky in your travel plans.

We headed straight to the packet pickup, where I received a custom race bag (with goodies inside) and a tech shirt - both in a pretty teal blue color. I was happy that for once, the women's shirt wasn't mini-sized.  My size fit! After setting up camp outside Calvert City, I tucked in early for bed. The race start was early... 6:30 a.m.

When the 5am alarm sounded, I grabbed my pre-packed bag of race clothes and snuck out of the camper. I did a quick change in the bathroom, stopped for a big coffee and headed towards the start line (a 1/2 hr drive from camp).

I cruised right into downtown Paducah and had no problem finding a parking spot (love small races!). I headed straight for the bathrooms... OMG, they had the cleanest, most sparkling white porta-potties I've ever seen in my life! Then I found the ladies from Moms Run This Town. Several chapters were represented at this race and it was nice meeting so many great mommas!

My goal for this race was to have fun... find my race happy mojo again. I purposely left the Garmin at home and went old school with a regular stopwatch to record my splits. I knew I was back in the Bible Belt when there was a pre-race prayer, similar to my Alabama race. I like it, but it just doesn't happen anywhere else. The starting gun went off and I ran by feel - which means I went out too fast. The 2-hour pacer (and his big pack) were right on my tail from the start. I couldn't seem to pull away from them. Grrrr. Shortly after mile 2, I heard him say, "Huh, I think we're a little fast."  8:45 pace, ya think?
Mile 1 - 8:45
Mile 2 - 8:48

Huge flag hanging over the course - at the beginning and at the finish

Some rolling hills introduced themselves in the next couple miles. We cruised through some neighborhoods - nice houses, lots of trees. The little hills were actually a nice reminder for me to slow down.  I wasn't suppose to be pushing; I did just run a marathon two weeks before! Happy pace, find your happy pace...
Mile 3 - 9:15
Mile 4 - 9:07
Mile 5 - 9:30

At the mile 7 marker, I saw my family (mom, dad, hubby and two kids) from down the street. I gave them a SuperMom leap and some high five's before continuing onward.
Mile 6 - 9:19
Mile 7 - 9:05

Shortly after I saw my family, we entered into a park area and ran down a really nice gravel trail. I really enjoyed this area and the change of scenery. Every 3-4 miles through the race, there was a relay transition zone. The one at mile 10 was full of energy and lots of cheering. It was fun to run through!
Mile 8 - 9:25  *GU
Mile 9 - 9:49  *walked water stop
Mile 10 - 9:19

The final miles were standard city blocks, nothing too exciting... but we made our way back to the riverfront and a finish line packed with cheerleaders. I heard the announcer eagerly calling me in - "We have a Superwoman making her way to the finish." I swear he said it three/four times or was I hearing things?  With all that fanfare, I decided to be goofy. So I gave a couple Superman "fly" poses as I came down the stretch. Hey, it got me some extra cheers! Haha!
Mile 11 - 9:26
Mile 12 - 9:38
Mile 13 - 9:25
and change for the final 0.1
Coming in for my big finish!

While I was so close to a sub-2, I'm not going to even fret about it. I stayed true to my goal and ran this one happy without straining. Race day temps were absolutely ideal. The course was done well. Volunteers were over-the-top encouraging. The start and finish lines were smooth. I really have nothing negative to say about this race. It was perfect!
Nike tank (with my own SuperMom emblem added), SparkleSkirts tech skirt,
ProCompression socks, BondiBand headband and I made the cape.

Kentucky - State #14
Half Marathon #16
Official Chip Time 2:02:10
9:19 average pace
Overall #182 out of 593
Div F30-39  #37 out of 176

Just over the river from Paducah is Metropolis, IL... home of SUPERMAN! Being so close in proximity and already dressed in a SUPER costume, we decided to make the short drive - if not simply for the photo opportunities...

Because we all feel a little INVINCIBLE after a race, right?!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Race Recap: Eugene Marathon

I haven't been this anxious going into a race in a really long time. My nerves were shot and my brain was on overdrive. Eugene was my A race of the spring, but I was not feeling ready. And yet, I came to Eugene, Oregon prepared to give it my best effort. This would be my last full marathon in awhile and I felt pressure to do well (completely all my own doing). My training goal was to hit a 4:15 marathon, but the time to beat was 4:18 for a new PR. What do you know... I split the difference - somewhere between satisfied with a new PR, but yet not completely happy.

Pre-Race Activities in Eugene... read here.

We arrived at the starting line with ample time to take our turn in the portapotties, grab some pre-race photos and then line up in corral C. I was a big fat bundle of nerves. I plugged an earbud in and listened to This Is The Time by Billy Joel. It helped relax me and yet gave me focus at the same time.

Alma, Kim, me and Sally
I lined up behind the 4:15 pace group. My plan was to try to stick with them for the first half - mainly to keep me honest in the beginning. But their pace felt inconsistent to me, and running with a big pack got annoying. So after the third mile, I moved ahead to give myself some distance.
Mile 1 - 9:48
Mile 2 - 9:11
Mile 3 - 9:28

I decided not to carry my water bottle for this marathon. Instead, my plan was to grab from the water stations - small amounts but often. Staying true, I grabbed a cup within the 4th mile against my inner will. I was trying to run this race with my head rather than my heart. I tend to come to the start line with a great race plan... and then toss it all out while I run.

The first part of the race was kind of a blur to me, mostly neighborhoods. By mile 7, we ran by Amazon Park, which was a pretty change of scenery. The road had a bad slant, so I concentrated on my footing and trying to find the flattest area. Then suddenly, I smelled something horrible... It snapped me out of my focus to glance around. That's when I SAW it... the woman in front of me had crapped her pants!! Seriously, poop all down her capris! It took everything I had not to hurl. I sped up and got around her quickly. OMG, it really does happen.
Mile 4 - 9:34
Mile 5 - 9:22
Mile 6 - 9:23  **GU
Mile 7 - 9:25

Right at the mile 8 marker, we hit a significant hill. The steepness of the climb surprised me. There were quite a few spectators on the hill so that helped to keep pushing forward. By mile 9, we were re-entering the university area, right past the finish line. Man, I hate seeing or even hearing the finish when I have 17 more miles to go. Ugh.

The route crossed over the Willamette River and we entered a trail that led into a peaceful park setting. I noticed Kim and Sally up ahead, but lacked any kind of energy to try and catch them. I was having a hard time finding "my groove" in this run. I was all business and not enjoying it much. Very unlike me, but I just couldn't find my "run happy" mode.
Mile 8 - 9:27
Mile 9 - 9:44
Mile 10 - 9:38

At 10.5, we split from half marathoners and zigged along a nice wooded trail.  Shortly, we emptied out into a residential area. The next 5 miles were a boring stretch through neighborhoods in Springfield. At mile 12, I felt tired - which then wore on my confidence since it was way too early to be feeling this way. For the first time, I slowed to a walk through the water station to catch my breathe.  Then came the halfway point, and the math game began for the rest of the race. With the first half in the bank, I quickly calculated that my pace needed to stay just under 10 min/miles to keep the 4:15 in striking distance.
Mile 11 - 9:45
Mile 12 - 9:44
Mile 13 - 9:55  **GU
Half Split - 2:05:28
Mile 14 - 9:38
Mile 15 - 9:55

Shortly before mile 16, we entered into Alton Baker Park. I let out a big breathe, knowing that the worst of the course was behind me. The remaining miles twisted through parks and followed the shoreline of the river. It was pretty and peaceful, but then spots where a burst of spectators would remind me this was a race.  I tried to keep my pace just outside the comfort zone. However, by mile 18, the sun came out and the new heat compounded my exhaustion. I felt my legs slowing down, and before I knew it, the 4:15 pace group was passing me. Sh*t!
Mile 16 - 9:44
Mile 17 - 9:45
Mile 18 - 10:12  **GU

I tried to hang onto the pace group, letting them drag me along. At the mile 20 water stop, I dawdled longer than necessary. Before I knew it, it felt like the pace group sprinted ahead. I began breaking up the remaining miles up into manageable pieces. At this point, I focused on getting to the Owosso Bridge, where the course would turn back towards the finish. This of course, required a little climb to get up and over the bridge. My legs were hating life at that moment... and I turned on my music for the first time - mainly to block out the spectators on the bridge. "Oh, it's just a little hill. You can do it... blah, blah, blah"  I just wasn't in the mood to hear it.
Mile 19 - 10:12
Mile 20 - 10:19
Mile 21 - 10:03

I was now walking through every water station, eagerly looking for any reason to stop running. When I saw the 10:33 split flash on my watch, it kinda woke me up out of a trance. I've gotta keep this together! I was thankful that I took the time to tweek my playlist. The perfect song seemed to talk me forward, step by step.
Mile 22 - 10:33   **GU
Mile 23 - 10:01

With two miles to go, I got a sudden strain in my right groin muscle. It was downright painful and nearly stopped me in my tracks. Then a pain across the top of my left foot... Shoot, I was falling apart! I had a hard conversation with myself. This was it... 2 miles to go. "No doubt. No excuses. No fear." had been my mantra throughout the race... and I was using it in full force right now. I pushed through the pain, determined to finish this thing. The last few miles were so incredibly hard for me, and I'm positive my face showed it. Every time I glanced at a spectator, their face gave me this "you poor thing" look. I focused on the pavement ahead and stopping looking up.
Mile 24 - 10:23
Mile 25 - 10:10

By now, I knew the 4:15 goal is gone, but a PR was still within grasp if I didn't totally give up. My math skills were getting fuzzy, so I just pushed forward as hard as I could.  Empty the tank... Use it all up!  We ran past a softball game in progress. I don't even like playing softball, but at that moment, it looked like a lot more fun. Suddenly, we turned a corner and headed up a long incline. I recognized it from where we had parked earlier. Holy crap, I'm really close to the finish! I found some energy and pushed down the final stretch.

Thanks Kim for the great shot!
Mile 26 - 9:49
and change...
Right at mile 26, I heard and saw Kim and Alma cheering me on. Somehow they forced a smile out of me. The ending happened all too quickly. I came into Hayward Field, turned onto the track and gave all the speed left in me. Regrettably, I didn't even look around or soak in the magnificent atmosphere of this sacred track. I practically fell across the finish line... or so it felt.

Oregon - State #13
Full Marathon #5
Official Chip Time 4:16:53
~ 9:48 average pace ~
PR over 2012 Wisconsin Marathon by 2:03
Overall  #1617 out of 2565
Female  #671 out of 1221
Division 122 out of 210

I have mixed emotions on this race, which made it incredibly hard to make the time to recap it... and even more taxing to relive it. Yup, I just finished with tears.  Eugene was a mentally and physically tough run for me. I PR'ed and yet there was no jubilation at the finish or even a runner's high afterward. Instead, I couldn't shake the feeling of great relief. I was more pleased it was over than about a new PR. So I'm done with full marathons for awhile... back to 13.1 where I can run hard, have fun and not fall apart. Next up... the IronMom Half in Paducah, KY on May 11.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother's Day Challenge & Giveaway

This week we celebrate Mother Runners! You are the person your children look up to... and want to be when they grow up. You are their ROLE MODEL. By living a healthy life and keeping your children active, you are making a huge impact on how they will live the rest of their lives. Congratulations on a job well done!!

I will be featuring mother runners from all over the country this week with a daily photo collage (Mon-Fri). If you have a photo you'd like to submit, email it to If your photo is selected for one of the daily collages, you'll receive a bonus entry into the giveaway contest below. Like my Facebook page {here} as that is where the daily collages will appear. Feel free to share and tag yourselves.

I'n honor of Mother's Day Week, I invite you to participate in a

This special challenge is two-fold...
Take time this week (May 6-12) to plan one special fitness activity with your child(ren). It can be as simple as setting up an obstacle course in the backyard, creating your own "race" for your family, going for a bike ride, spending an evening at the park... anything to get the young ones active while spending quality time with Mom (Dads too!).

Get the kids in the kitchen with you. Give them a job in helping to prepare a healthy snack or meal together. It may take more time than normal to make dinner, but the important part is doing it together and teaching them good foods. There are a ton of fun ideas online for making healthy food fun for kids. Don't forget Pinterest for some fun ideas!

Commit - Plan - Do It!
Be A Mother Runner!
You could win this Prize Pack...
Train Like A Mother, the book by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
Badass Mother Runner, a Sweaty Bands headband
2 packs of Chocolate Raspberry GU Energy Gel
Brooks 'Women Run' candle

Here's how it works...

  • COMMIT to participate now. Enter the giveaway's first four options. (Rafflecopter below)
  • PLAN your activities and food. Grocery shop if necessary and tell your kids you've got something special planned this week for the family.
  • DO IT. Have fun with your children. Savor your motherhood. Take pictures.
  • REPORT back AFTER you complete the challenges by then entering the giveaway's final three options.  If you have a blog, write about it this week for Mother's Day and leave a comment below with the link so everyone can check it out (+3).

This is a FUN contest and free to participate.  
There are no "rules" except... Mother Runners don't cheat.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Running Retreat

Yesterday, I traveled to Madison, WI for the very first Run Like A Diva Retreat, hosted by Running Diva Mom.  I have always wanted to do something like this (both participate and organize one!). So when Jamie asked me to be the keynote speaker, I happily agreed.

The day had a big variety of events to kept it quick-moving and fun. There were active sessions (zumba, runner's yoga, boot camp and a run), information sessions (foot strike, running form, stretching, speed work) and time for fun too - like a fashion show, mini expo, cupcake party and giveaways. Jamie did such a great job of organizing everything. I was so honored to be a part of the event.
I've been reading Jamie's blog forever, so I kinda feel like I KNOW her...
and yet, this was our first time meeting face-to-face!
A fabulous group of women runners! Run Like A Diva!
Thankfully, my speech was the first thing on the agenda. I shared my story of how I found running and how it saved my life, some tips for busy mothers and how to stay motivated. I was relieved to be done (is anyone really comfortable with public speaking?!?!).  I could now relax and enjoy the rest of the activities...

One of my favorite parts of the day was the Runner's Yoga session. It's no secret that yoga is a great compliment to running, but this session was amazing! The instructor did a wonderful sequence that lasted 30 minutes. There were several new poses in there that I was not familiar with. Afterward, I begged her to make a YouTube video of exactly that series. I would do it every day!

The retreat was sponsored by Catalyst, a local fitness store. The owners were very involved in the retreat, putting on a cool fashion show and many of the informational sessions. They were super nice people, down-to-earth and very helpful without the condescending vibe you get at some running stores. One of the owners is UW track/cross-country coach Jim Stintzi. He gave a great talk on running form, which I always need a reminder...

Madison is one of my favorite cities - ever.  It's a three hour drive from my house and we don't go there nearly enough!!  So... I snuck out of the retreat a little early to take in some of my Madison favorites before heading home. This city is so green and activity-orientated... very biker/runner friendly. There are trails everywhere through the city... but my favorite are those along Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, which are the heart of the city.
These bike-rental stations are everywhere... I love this concept!

I parked at the bottom of Observatory Hill, laced up my sneakers and set out to enjoy the beautiful afternoon. I ran along the lakeshore, up State Street with a loop around the State Capitol (where I worked during my college internship), wound through the University of Wisconsin campus, and then back along the lake trail for an enjoyable 4.6 miles. The coeds were out in mass on a gorgeous spring day. It took me back to my college years and what a fabulous time of life that was.

What a fabulous Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin!