Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Quest for a Marathon

Today's guest post is brought to you by my friend, running partner and fellow Sole Sister Laura Renn. Next weekend, she tackles her very first 26.2 at the Chicago Marathon. I've had the honor of running with her for some of the training miles and am so very excited for her to cross that finish line next Sunday!

The Quest for a Marathon
By Laura Renn

How it began
A year ago, I ran my very first half marathon race at the IVS Half Marathon on September 11.  I had no idea that I could run long distance before this achievement. Shortly thereafter, I decided that if I could do the half, I could do a full!  I decided to run the 2012 Chicago Marathon last November.  I registered and there lay the seed.  I became injured this past January with an out-of-nowhere calf pain.  I rested for several weeks and was back on track. At the end of April, I ran the Illinois Half Marathon in Champaign and knocked 20 minutes off my first half time! 

Devise the Plan
I was ready for the Marathon challenge now! With the guidance of a good trusted experienced runner, I adopted the Run Less, Run Faster (RLRF) training program.  I had used Hal Higdon in the past, but wanted to be injury free and involve more cross training workouts.  This program lasted 16 weeks and I could do it!  Thank you Jess for the recommendation.  This program involved 3 runs a week (one track, one tempo, and a long run).  The other two days are cross training. 

The Training
I started training in June for the October 7th marathon.  At first, it was easy to train with the RLRF plan.  I lead an active lifestyle and enjoy biking and swimming.  I printed my schedule out and carried it around with me wherever we went all summer.  I checked off the workouts as I completed them.  Week by week.  I am a teacher so I had more free time in the summer to train. I found myself getting up early to run wherever we were during summer vacation.  It was a HOT summer to say the least, but I continued to train despite the heat.  A few times I was forced into an indoor track but tried to run outside to condition my body.  I ran in pouring rain and a storm in Michigan, but it felt so liberating! The school year started back in mid-August, and my training slumped in the cross training area.  As a busy mom and teacher, it was hard to fit it all in, so I fell back to just running.  Here's how my long runs built up over the weeks: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 10, 15, 16, 12, 20, 13, 20, 13, 10.  The high point was reaching the 20 mile runs!  I was amazed to do this mileage and felt so awesome for accomplishing this feat. After the last 20 my high bottomed out and I was struggling to keep motivated.  I had finally reached the end.

My Mojo
Believe it or not, my inspiration is all of you reading this... even if you aren’t a runner!  I get my running mojo from watching and being inspired by others who are achieving their goals. So many people have made me want to reach further and push outside of my comfort zone.  I would not have signed up for this without my Sole Sisters leading us on each week.  Watching Jess, Patty, and Barbara complete their marathons last spring was alluring to me! I wanted that too. Showing up at Sole Sisters each week puts a smile on my face and I am ready to make someone else push to get their goals.  I come to Sole Sisters each week not just for me, but for all of the women who inspire me and yet to inspire. 

My Partners
I did not do this alone. I have running buddies! Several of my Sole Sisters run the same pace as me, so we join together for runs as the miles increased each week.  THANK YOU Heather and Michelle for joining me! We also partnered up for track runs, which was helpful because I don’t like them at all.  Every week for the past four months, I've been running long on the weekend with a variety of my Sole Sisters. Thank the Lord for all of them!  The long runs were tough and running parts of runs with others made them seem like just a few miles.  I love you each and every one of you!

My Family
Yup, they have suffered.  My boyfriend knew better than to plan anything for a weekend without consulting my run schedule.  Everything circled around the long runs... going to bed early the night before and being exhausted the whole next day.  My boyfriend has been a real trooper to put up with all of this and help out with more than his fair share of house and parental duties. I will be glad when it is over.

What I learned 
  • Having a proper fitting hydration belt and enough water is important.  
  • It’s hard to drink out of sprinklers.  
  • Going up another half size in shoes helps blisters.  
  • Body Glide is my best friend.  
  • Don’t drink (alcohol) and run the next day.  
  • Go to bed by ten before a long run or you'll need a bathroom halfway through the run.  
  • You can never have too many waffles, GU, gum, or water breaks on hot days.  
  • A visor is better than a hat to stay cool and keep sun off your face.  
  • New music is vital on long runs.  
  • Don’t start walking after mile 15 or it'll be hard to get your legs running again.  
  • My boyfriend is a saint.  
  • Marathon feet aren’t pretty. 

In conclusion, here are MY MARATHON GOALS...
#1 - Don’t poop your pants in the race. (As Michelle has said and I agree)
#2  - Complete the race 
#3  - Finish in under 5 hours
(Maybe #1 should be don’t die?)
Training is done, so lets roll!  Oct 7th is the big day for reaching my goals. I plan to smile big at the Chicago Marathon finish line!  Good luck to all the other ladies running this race. I applaud you!!

Are you running Chicago Marathon?
Have you run a full marathon before? 
What was the biggest thing you learned from your marathon journey?
Any advice for a first timer?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm Having An Affair

Dear Running,
It started as a little infatuation, but I can't deny the obvious. It's grown into full fledged LOVE. That craving, that unexplainable high, that calorie burn... you're not the only one who can give it to me anymore. My dearest running, you will always be my first love... but there's another stealing my heart. 

I'm having an affair with Cycling.

Since the Air Force Half Marathon on Sept. 15, I've been holding myself in the "penalty box"... no running to let my little toe heal. (Are you sick of hearing about it? Yeah, me too...)  I have to admit the disabled list has been easier than in the past. Why?  I give full credit to Her Majesty...

When I bought this bike several months ago, I went way over my (hubby-approved) budget.  Just last week, I came clean. The hubs caught me off guard when he asked, "So really... what DID you pay for this bike?" The truth came out and I'm still alive

Once my first triathlon was done, it did not become a dusty item in the garage as my hubby expected. I have kept up my riding. Even when I was running, I felt drawn to take Her Majesty out at least once a week. It sounds so silly, but I seriously feel an emotional attachment to that purple beauty!  She has helped me through this injury more than anything. I might even be sad when I have to trade a long ride for a long run.

Last weekend I brought Her Majesty along to the Quad Cities Marathon. When the kiddos took a nap on Saturday afternoon, I snuck out for an adventure on the Great River Trail. This trail is so bike-o-licious!!  It is nicely paved, minimal cross traffic and goes on forever and ever. I managed 31 miles total (Moline to Port Byron and back), which is my longest bike ride to date. 

The scenery was absolutely stunning along the Mississippi River. When I wasn't right alongside the Mighty Miss, I was gliding over bridges in quaint little parks and campgrounds along the way. Truly the best way to spend a fall afternoon. I was in heaven. I saw runners along the way, but gotta admit, I was happy to be flying along on the bike.

So my running shoes are stacked up neatly.
My hubby's at work. My children at school.
And here I go, sneaking out again... for a bike ride.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quad Cities Marathon: Cheerleader Style!

This past weekend, I packed up the cowbells, made the signs, had a good cry, and then rallied myself to be the best cheerleader possible at the Quad Cities Marathon.

First up was the Happy Joe's Mini Marathon for the kids on Saturday. My girls absolutely love running this race. They literally talk about it all year long. With bouncy houses, trampolines, mascots, and loud dance music, the entire atmosphere is just fun. Both my girls ran the 1/4 mile race and Big Girl went one more in the 1/2 mile race. (There is also a 1 mile race.) Kids can run one or all. The announcer does a nice job beforehand teaching the kids about race etiquette and proper attention during the National Anthem.
 Little Girl is my fiesty competitor... she's only 4 years old and ran a great 1/4 mile race!
I'm giving her the thumbs up here as she heads to the finish line.

 Big Girl always runs with a smile, but takes her own sweet time.

Both of them are super pleased with their medals. Now that they each have 2 medals, they want a medal display rack on the wall... just like mommy.

That evening we met up for dinner with some friends... the pre-race pasta feed. It felt weird to be amongst this crowd (all clearly excited for the upcoming race) and I wasn't running. I couldn't shake this feeling of being a third wheel, like I didn't belong all of sudden. So I drank beer...

Sunday morning, we awoke early and watched from our hotel room as the starting line came to life. We had thee best view from the Radisson's 6th floor of the courtyard below, the Mississippi River and the starting area. My hubby was running the 5k that morning, so in another twist of events, I was in charge of the kiddos while he prepped for this run.

We met up with the Sole Sisters for a group photo before the race began. They were all so excited... so many "firsts" happening that day. Lots of hugs, high fives and photos.
There were many more Sisters that ran, but didn't make it to the pre-race photo.
As the runners made their way to the starting line, I took my "cheer crew" and headed down the street. We set up shop in front of the Subway, which was a great decision since every one of the kids had to use their bathroom in the short time we were there.
My cheer crew!
It was pretty neat to watch the start of the race, since I normally don't see the elite Kenyans in the front. Yup, they're fast! I held my sign high for the Sole Sisters, hoping they could see it as they passed by in mass. I couldn't believe how long it took for everyone to go by. My arms were killing me. Chalk up to a good bicep workout!

After hubby finished his 5k, I adored his medal with great jealousy. It was a whopper for their 15th Anniversary! After running his first half last weekend, he said the 5k felt... short. Ha!

Then we hopped in the car. I was hoping to make it out to the 8 mile mark before the Half and Full split, so I could catch everyone at least one more time. I didn't think ahead very well, realizing I didn't even have a course map when we got in the car. After running the full last year, I was pretty confident I knew every turn in the course. Sure enough, we managed along just fine off my memory.

As we drove along the course, hubby and I rang the cowbell out the car window like mad. Runners waved and waved at us. We must have looked crazy to those drivers who had no clue there was a race in progress. We found a parking lot near mile 8, jumped out and set up "shop". My girls lined up to for the High-5 station, hubby on cowbell duty, and me holding the Sole Sister sign, handing out Kleenex (cold mornings = snot!). While we were cheering there, I was thrilled to see and catch up with Amanda (my Ragnar buddy!). She had run the 5k (took 2nd in her age group!) and was also on the run trying to cheer on friends in the longer distances.

On the go, we bounced back over the bridge (ringing more cowbell as we drove), and caught my friends Emily and Patty at mile 12 of the full marathon course. I wished them well and promised to catch them again when they came off Arsensal Island (no spectators are allowed on the military arsenal). We were so busy cheering for runners that I didn't snap one picture. Bad cheerleader.
More Cowbell Please!
We headed to back to downtown Moline, where all the runners exit Arsensal Island. The Halfers turn right to head for the finish, while the marathoners turned left for additional 6 miles. As you can imagine, it was a very festive area... and lots of fun! (Much more so than the previous year when the rain scared spectators inside)  I was so happy to be able to catch many of my Sole Sisters coming off the bridge as they finished their half marathons.

My family cheering at mile 20
Then we moved over to the marathon side. All the memories of the previous year came flooding back. It's mile 20, you get a glimpse of the finish line, but turn to do a 6 mile out/back. Some runners looked great, and others already struggling. We tried to look at bibs (for their first names) and cheer for as many individual runners as we could. When Patty came down the turn, she was smiling, doing her princess wave, but said she was hurting. We waited for Emily and Steph to make the turn (both doing their first 26.2)... they were smiling and happy as can be.

I stood there feeling really bad for Patty, wanting to help my running partner. I knew how hard that out/back stretch was. I turned to hubby and asked, "Can we shoot down the road to give a cheer at the turnaround?" He didn't want to move the car again (great parking spot), but reminded me that my bike was in the back. We unloaded Her Majesty and down the road I went. This was perhaps the most emotional part of the day for me. I saw runners excited to finish and those in despair, trying to put one foot in front of another. I could totally relate to every facial expression and weak stride I saw out there. This final stretch is truly the battleground for marathoners. There are few spectators and feels like forever before the turnaround. I tried to offer motivational words to everyone as I went in search of my friends. I bounced around from friend to friend, trying to offer a momentary distraction or friendly face.

As each one of my marathon friends came down the final stretch, I was so utterly happy for them. 26.2 miles is such an awesome achievement! My girls even jumped out there to run with Patty in the final mile...

While I was really sad to chalk up my first DNS, by the end of the day, I was just as exhausted as if I would have run the QCM myself. This cheerleading thing is a lot of work! I have a new respect for my hubby, kids and parents who always come to my marathons and cheer for me. Thank You!
Congratulations to all the Quad Cities finishers!
See you there next year, when I will be running!

#LoseAMarathon - The Final Weigh-In!

Back in June, my friend Heather and I thought up this little weight loss idea to "lose a marathon" in pounds. I had lost almost 30lbs this past spring, but was feeling the laziness coming on with summer. I really wanted to stay focused and lean down over the summer to enhance my fall races. And Heather is running her first 26.2 in October and knew it would be easier if she weighed less. So the Marathon Weight Loss Challenge was born... and over 1000 people signed on to participate. Oh, holy crap!

Over the past 13 weeks, it has been a period of trial, frustration and success for participants. I was among the frustrated. Two pounds per week doesn't sound so hard, right? I fell short of my goal (big time). The more I pushed and weighed the same, the more frustrated I got. The busy days of summer came on in full force and I quit calorie counting... and that's when the weigh loss completely stopped. I ended -8 lbs for the challenge, which is more than I've ever been able to do over the summer months. I'm not pleased or satisfied, but I'll take it. I learned a lot about myself (and my weight loss struggles) through the mini weekly challenges, which focused more on the psychological process of losing weight rather than physical exercise.

I am please to announce these "LOSERS" who hit both the 26.2 and 13.1 levels of the challenge. There were many on the list who were a mere fraction of a pound from making the final clubs. 
Congratulations to everyone! 
Together, we lost over 3500 pounds!

* To quality for the final Marathon and Half Club, you had to report back your final weigh-in.

Many have already asked, "Can we do it again?" The answer in short is yes, but after a short break... maybe the New Year? But DON'T YOU STOP! It's Monday morning and without breaking from routine, I got up and weighed myself. <sigh> Did you?

I have a variety of prizes left over, so I made up some goodie packs for a couple lucky winners. Please email me at with your address to claim your prize. Thanks!

Maria Quezada-Jensen
Mindy Still
Bridgette Warner

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Live to Run Another Day

This morning we are packing up to travel to the Quad Cities Marathon. We'll hit the race expo to pick up our bags, which always contain the best goodies. For their 15th anniversary this year, runners receive a pair of running gloves, waist pouch and a tech shirt.

The one thing I won't be taking home this year is... a finisher's medal.

The decision to DNS is difficult. The Quad Cities Marathon was my "first" and I was really looking forward to running it again. The beautiful course along the Mississippi River was home to my first 26.2 last fall {read about it here}. A place like that holds a soft spot in a runner's heart, hands down.

As soon as I crossed the finish line of last week's half marathon, I knew that I shouldn't lace up for QCM. Last week was a painful race that only did more damage to my healing toe; however, I still debated the decision to run or not to run all week. I burned my hubby's ear, recalling all the reasons I should sit out, but all the reasons I wanted to run. In the end, I convinced myself the end-goal is more important. (Thanks to all the advice from you, my readers.)  There is no way I can properly prepare for the Route 66 Marathon (Nov) unless I give my toe time to heal. I already feel behind the plan, but there is still time yet... I hope.

So I haven't run all week. In fact, during the past 14 days, I've only run once (the Air Force Half). This makes me feel cranky, depressed and anxious. Every morning, I wake up and wiggle my toes, bend them one way and then the next, hoping that today will be the day that I am miraculously healed overnight. Yeah, that hasn't happened.
Rocking the bike this week

My plan this week has been no running and biking every day. On the bike, I use the mid-forefoot rather than the toes to push off, so it doesn't bother the injury. My legs still get a great workout and I'm able to enjoy this beautiful fall weather. I've logged nearly 50 miles on Her Majesty and snagged a couple Spinning and Core classes at the gym. Honestly, it doesn't feel like enough, but I need to take what I can get at this point. Similar to running, biking along country roads gives me serene quiet time. My repeated silent prayers have kept me focused...
Lord, please give me the
Wisdom to make the right decisions
Strength to overcome
Patience to heal

If you're a runner whose been injured, you surely understand how it can consume your every thought. There is nothing that can make up for the 'missing run' in your life. This weekend, I plan to put it all aside... and lineup as a cheerleader to support my many friends, readers, Sole Sisters, kids and hubby in the Quad Cities Marathon events (5k, half and full).  And just in case I would have the foolish thought to run... the powers that be gave me a horrible head cold today. Perfect.

I will live to run another day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Race Recap: Air Force Half Marathon

The Air Force Half Marathon, held at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was a big roller coaster ride, full of awesome highs and then some unusual lows. I was looking forward to this race all summer, and came home slightly disappointed. In a year that I've been breaking PR's at every turn, this race was a slap in the face that left me stunned. Lesson learned.

Let me start with the good stuff...
We are an Air Force family and joined Team USO for this event. Thank you to all my supporters, we were able to raise $1118.20 for the USO. That is truly the highlight of this race. It was our honor to support this fabulous organization that assists so many troops and their families on the homefront and abroad.

I've been a bit enamored lately with the notion of 'endurance running' and reading books by the ultra-marathon man himself... Dean Karnazes. I was thrilled to meet him at the Air Force Marathon expo. He gave a nice presentation and graciously signed my book for me.

Hubby and I scored some last minute tickets to the pasta dinner at the Air Force Museum on Friday night. (If you ever run this one, don't delay - the pasta dinner sells out fast!)  As we entered the Museum, we were escorted back to the dinner by an extremely friendly Colonel (who we ran into again the next day again at the race). The food was great and we enjoyed our evening wandering through the neat exhibits.

On Saturday morning, we took the hotel shuttle to the starting line. This was truly the best way to go as the bus slipped right on base for dropoff within 10 minutes. It was a perfect morning for running, clear skies and slightly chilly. The finishing stretch was lined with planes and looked so serene in the morning light...

Before the start, I was able to meet up with bloggers Kim and Lisa. It's funny how "imaginary" friends feel so real once you finally meet face to face. I also felt really short... Thankfully Jill arrived!  And later we met up with Melissa near the huge rows of porta-potties. Seriously, I've never seen so many bathrooms at a race. No lines; just in and out. Sweet!
Kim, me, Jill and Lisa

There was a (very quiet) flyover before the marathon/10k start at 7:30am. Rather un-monumental in my opinion. The half marathon started an hour later. It was disappointing we didn't get another flyover, but there were some parachuters. I guess I'm used to the exciting flyovers here at home (loud, low and fast). I found the few flybys of the day rather boring. Were they even flybys or just planes in the sky? This is the Air Force, right?! I expected more on that end.

Kim and I lined up together for the start. I had taken ibuprofen earlier to dull the toe pain I've been struggling with (since my collision with a door). As we started running, I felt good and decided to run as normal. Let's just see what happens...

Mile Marker 1 - 9:02
Mile Marker 2 - 8:43
Mile Marker 3 - 8:45
These first three were the best miles of the race for me. I had a nice pace going and liking the scenery. Congestion was pretty minimal and everything was going smoothly. I pushed my pace a little faster to get away from some annoying chatty guys behind me... talking nonstop about their previous night's booty calls.

And then, it happened... the turn that would devastate many. The whole race took the wrong turn around mile 3.5. Seriously, how it happened still puzzles me. About a 1/4 mile after the turn, I see a mass of runners weaving towards us through the crowd, frantically waving their arms, "Turn around, we're going the wrong way!" I couldn't believe it and surely my heart wasn't the only one that sunk. As we turned around into the runners behind us, it was like one big traffic jam. I followed several others onto the grass to run along the golf course path. In an attempt to "catch up", I knew I was running too fast for this early in the race.

Mile Marker 4 (which was 1.5 miles worth after the "detour") - 12:15
Mile Marker 5 - 8:52
The wrong turn affected pretty much anyone running a 9:20 pace or faster (my guess). Suddenly we were behind the runners that we had already passed. Faster runners were scrambling, trying to get around and move. It was kind of a dangerous situation at this point because the roads weren't as wide as the beginning. The poor volunteers at the water stations were completely overwhelmed and slightly trampled by the mass the runners trying to squeeze down the street.  (The 1:45 pace group reports they ran almost 2 miles extra in this half marathon due to this mishap.)  These miles were kind of a blur to me as I was just trying to keep solid footing. I had stepped onto the grass several times to get around people and that made my toe injury suddenly noticeable again.

Mile Marker 6 - 9:17
Mile Marker 7 - 8:56
Mile Marker 8 - 9:42
The best part of the whole detour was that Kim, Lisa, Jill and I were suddenly all together again! We ran near each other for a couple miles, but my foot was hurting and I lost them somewhere in mile 8. I under-pronate in my natural stride (which means the forces of impact are on the outside of my foot, and in the push-off phase, most of the work is done by the smaller toes on the outside of the foot). Because it is my outer little toe that is injured, I was heavily altering my stride to reduce pain. I was trying to over-pronate, which in turn made my arches throb! I could feel every muscle in my left foot screaming at me. Honestly, this is the only time I've ever considered a DNF... but I kept on going.

Mile Marker 9 - 9:53
Mile Marker 10 - 10:07
Mile Marker 11 - 10:17
Mile Marker 12 - 9:50
Then came the constant little hills of this last part (I thought this was advertised to be flat?). I was cranky and just unhappy to be running. This doesn't happen very often to me. I turned my music on to dull out the pain and negative thoughts rumbling in my head.

13.1 Finish Line - 11:09
We made the final turn into the finish area and I tried to give a little push to the finish. The last mile seemed so so very long. The final stretch was pretty neat with the planes and flags on both sides. My face must have portrayed my pain because I heard a lot of "Go Jessica" cheers as I sprinted down the finish. By far, the worst feeling I've ever had crossing a finish line. Even the Air Force officers draping the cool medal around my neck couldn't fade the disappointing feeling I had at that moment. Not that I ran a "bad time"... a 2:06 is respectable indeed, but it certainly is not my potential right now. Most of all, it was a painful and miserable run. I should not be running on an injured foot. It's just not worth it.

Official Chip Time 2:06:47
With the "detour", I ran approx 13.6 miles, which puts my pace about 9:19
Overall  #1548 out of 5447
Females  #532 out of 2990
Age Group  #120 out of 507

Afterward, I wobbled across the field to wait for my hubby to come in... He was running his very first half marathon. I relaxed in the grass, tore my shoe off, massaged my foot and cheered for runners coming down the final mile. Unfortunately, my hubby wasn't having a very good run either with calf and knee pains. What a crew we are, huh?!  As he came down the stretch, I slipped my shoe back on and jogged with him to the finish. 

State #7 OHIO is done on my quest to Race All 50
The run is one I'll be happy to forget, but at least I walked away
 with a neat finisher's medal, a cold beer, new friends and
a great fundraising effort for Team USO!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

To run or not to run

After yesterday's race (Air Force Half), I'm left pondering which direction to go. As we travel home, I stare out the window dreaming of a run, but know in my mind how wrong that would be. The ongoing clash of my heart vs head.

Without getting into too much detail (race recap to come), the 13.1 race was rather painful in the back miles. Not only does my poor little toe throb, but now my whole foot hurts from overcompensating with an altered stride. Of course this resulted in a disappointing time for me. It's hard to enjoy a run and succeed with a nagging injury. It was a blow to my race confidence, not a feeling I'm accustom with.

With the Quad Cities Half on deck next weekend, I sit wondering what to do. Of course I WANT to run. Shoot, my heart wants to go run right now, despite sore muscles and a bum foot. But the question is... should I? With a larger goal on the horizon (Route 66 Marathon in Nov), my head is telling me to revise my calendar and truly give my foot time to heal. I think it may be time to respect this little injury before I make it worse. This means minimal running (if any) and vamping up the cross training that doesn't stress the foot, namely swimming, cycling and spinning. This neither excites me, nor makes me happy.

What would you do? Run thru the pain (just one more race...) Or put yourself on the DL??

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bring it Home

This photo of my family was taken in 2009, shortly after I started wogging (not sure I'd even call it running at that point). My husband had just returned from a deployment in Iraq. Most people smile and say, "Awwww" at this snapshot. It is cute, yes? But for me, the emotions I felt at the time flow back, tears welling in my eyes as I type now. This deployment had been a tough one for me. The kids were little and so very active. Communication with my hubby was pretty limited. I felt extremely alone and slightly overwhelmed trying to keep our household afoot. I was like a juggler with about 20 balls up in the air, moving from one to the next with constant focus. I literally fell into bed every night, exhausted both mentally and physically.

I was also battling my excess of weight, which further eroded my emotions. By this time, I had started to chip away at the baby weight, but the deployment put a huge pause in that. To put it mildly, I was slightly distracted from my fitness routine... and that made me cranky, frustrated and little mad. I had finally found the motivation to exercise and lose the baby weight... and then this was thrown on my lap. My "free time" was zapped and workouts came to a halt. Meanwhile, halfway across the globe, my husband was bored on his off-time (so he started to workout) and had healthy options awaiting him at every meal in the chow hall. He lost over 30 lbs during deployment! I can't lie, I was slightly bitter.

Like any difficult journey, I took it one step at a time. The day my sexy thin husband returned, no one rejoiced more than me. When I look at the photo above, I feel RELIEF, like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. I was grateful to have my little family back together and even a little proud of fulfilling "my role" in his deployment. Through this experience, I became greatly appreciative of the delicate role military spouses play in our country. We really haven't endured a ton of deployments, but many military families in our country are divided on a constant basis. I have huge respect for how they manage to stay married keep it all together. That is why I chose to run the Air Force Half-Marathon as part of Team USO.

The USO has worked for decades making deployments more comfortable for our soldiers and their families. I invite you to check out all the great USO programs here. If you feel inclined, a donation towards my USO team is greatly appreciated. Visit my Team USO page here. I'm trying to raise $1200 before race day!

I will run the Air Force Half Marathon in just TWO days. I have no idea what to expect. My injured toe has been a pesty pain the past week. (I walked into a door a couple weeks ago and tore a ligament more severely than I initially thought.)  Besides my race last Sunday, my running has been fairly limited. In fact, I didn't even run with my Sole Sisters last night! Instead, I've been keeping my legs moving on the bike, which doesn't put the pounding on that poor little toe.

The Air Force Marathon will be my husband's first 13.1. We are leaving the kids in care of the grandparents, so it will be a nice getaway for the two of us. I also finally get to meet bloggy friend Kim and her better half.  I plan to pack the ibuprofen and run whatever I feel that day. I certainly still hope to come in under 2 hours, but we'll have to just see how the toe cooperates on race morning...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Cupcake Classic 2012

Virtual 5k Fun Run!
FREE to participate!

The Cupcake Classic is a fun run for women of all fitness levels. There are no awards, as fitness offers its own rewards! You can run, jog or walk. As sisters, moms, daughters, friends, we make choices every day to lead our families and communities towards a healthier life. The Cupcake Classic celebrates those daily efforts.  Gather up your friends, go for a run and then treat yourselves with a cupcake... because the FIT LIFE IS SO SO SWEET!

WHAT: A virtual race is running a specified distance, timing yourself, without actually being present in a race location. A 5k equals 3.1 miles.

WHEN: October 14 - 21, 2012

WHERE: Pick your favorite local route or jump on the treadmill.

WHY: Fun, Fitness, Friendship... and PRIZES!

HOW: Late registration? No problem... click HERE for the virtual race packet.

Print Race Bib HERE.
Report finish time HERE (earn 1 entry into the prize drawing)
E-Mail a photo from your Cupcake run (earn a bonus entry into prize drawing)

Like me on Facebook for Event Updates

Come run with me on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 8:30 a.m. to kick off the Cupcake Classic.
I will supply scrumptious cupcakes at the finish line! 
**Raindate is in effect: Wed, Oct. 16 at 6:00pm at Midstate College

Make your Cupcake Classic spectacular!
Deluxe Finisher's Medal featuring a glimmer pink sparkle around the edge of a 2.5" high quality gold medallion that dangles from a pink neck ribbon. Serious bling.  Limited quantities.
Sorry, no extras available.

Cupcake Shirt featuring a fun cupcake design printed in pink on a classic black runner's shirt... moisture-management 100% polyester fabric.
Womens sizes XS-2XL. Size chart here.
Please note that the 2nd printing will ship at the END OF OCTOBER.
Thank you!

After the race, there is a random prize drawing for finishers to win awesome prizes from the great sponsors listed below. Photo updates of prizes will be posted on my Facebook page.  Winners announced Oct. 23.

These companies support the running community... Let's support them!