Sunday, June 29, 2014

Starting a New Year

Well, ok. I think I will. 
     Hello there. It's been awhile. Time to start off the new year fresh! What? I know, it's not December. Don't worry, I haven't lost it! But it has been a year! And I am ready to close it out! 
     2013 started off great for me! I knew it was MY year! Then June came. Everything changed. The last months of 2013 and the first six of this one have been... interesting. But before I go any further I must say I have also been very blessed in many ways the last 13 months. I am just ready for a new light and a new love. 
     My grandmother was diagnosed with an extremely rare and inoperable bile duct cancer in June of 2013. Only those closest to me knew the exact diagnosis as we were not telling everyone. The roller coaster began. I have been close to my grandmother since birth. For most of my life she has been only a few hours away and at one point was less than an hour from me. She was always there. For everything. To have her diagnosed with cancer was heart wrenching. And not only did she have cancer, she was also dealing with dementia. She could no longer live alone. My parents gave up there lives here in Jax to take care of her. Yes, my grandmother still lived in her house. Alone. The same house she had lived in for 60+ years. 
     Every day was a new day. One moment things were fine, the next she was near death. This went on and on everyday until she passed away April 19, 2014. This constant back and forth kept me continuously on my toes. I had many big plans past June 2013! (Yep, this is where the selfish part of me shines VERY bright!) Trips to Boston, races, expos to work for DONNA, a 40th birthday bash in Paris... I didn't want any of that to be ruined! Well, it never was.

     I returned from Paris and was actually able to spend my spring break with her. I was scheduled to run the inaugural Tomoka Marathon when my parents called and said I should plan on coming to say my goodbyes. I opted to not run the race and drove straight down to Tampa instead. Three weeks later she was gone. She passed away while I was working the Boston Marathon expo for runDONNA. It had been a busy day starting with the BAA 5k that morning, typical expo work & the surprise interview for a website promoting our race. I didn't find out until later that night. My expo partner, Melissa, and I were on a street corner in the North End of Boston heading to one of my favorite places for dinner. I received the text from my dad and started crying right there on the corner. We continued on to dinner - there was nothing I could really do - and as we walked, Melissa brilliantly stated that she had waited. My grandmother had waited until I was in my favorite place on earth. Somewhere she knew I would be happy and surrounded by all that I loved. She was so right. 
     It's been a little over two months since she passed and it is still very weird and fresh. (This in itself is harder to write than I thought it would be!) I catch myself at least once daily thinking some random thought like she is still here, and then it hits me, she's gone. I realized just the other day that this will be my first school year in my almost 20 years of teaching that she won't be there to quiz me about what's going on at school. She herself was a teacher. But deal with it all I must. She wouldn't want it any other way. She was very good at picking up and moving on. I guess that's where I get it from!
     So as June comes to a close, I have decided to treat it as the end of my "year" and move on to the new! July signifies the last half of the year anyway so why not start it off right and end 2014 my way! July is also the start of my marathon training season and a new season full of goals! In order to achieve those goals I have had to really look at my diet and fitness. I have been all over the place with my training since DONNA in February. I have let myself go in so many ways! (Hello! Crepes every day in Paris?!? Yep! They were lovely too!) 

I have also just returned from an amazing 2 1/2 weeks of wonderful in Boston - yes, again! I ate and did as I pleased. I also ran a lot of hills. Oh, and achieved a 10k PR, but I'll save that for another blog post! So now that I am home and redirecting my life, I have spent this past weekend doing a lot of purging! Cleaning out my life of things no longer needed or serving a purpose, emptying the pantry and fridge of the unhealthy (yes, the Girl Scout cookies are gone!), and organizing my workouts and meal plans. I even purged a tree from my back yard! 

Who needs a gym when you can haul tree trunks??
Dad did the cutting, I did the hauling!

     Not one to follow anyone else's strict rules, I have been reading many books on nutrition, racing weight and eating clean. I am combining them and making a ME plan. I am using the 21 Day Fix to help me meal plan and get portions under control and I am sticking to my workouts! Yep, even if I sleep in too late to run - it's HOT here - I go do it anyway! 

Saturday - 6 miles at 9:30am - 85* and 80% humidity!
     I know it won't be easy leaving the old and moving on to the new, but I have a lot of fire and strength inside me. I have a strong belief in myself and what I want. I have a passion that is driving me forward. Nothing and no one can stop that combination! So, look out world, I'm back! I'm taking the end of 2014 and making it mine! I'll be doing better about my blogging as well. I won't sacrifice my life to blog, but I will tell my story! There's a few old ones I've been meaning to tell you! It's about time, don't ya think?!? 

Happy New Year! Let's end 2014 with a bang! Get after it! Reassess your goals and finish it your way! I'm sure going to! Join me!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The ABCs of Fundraising for Donna!

Updated: 2/11/14   
 Today for our training run for Donna we ran the first few miles of the course. We started right near the start line, ran through where the corrals will be, the parking lot, the UPS bag check area... It was SO exciting and inspiring! It's February 1st! We are 22 days from race day! I feel like I could just pop I am so excited!
Scenes from our run! 2/1/14
     There is so much going on this year and I am so much closer and more involved with #runDonna than ever before thanks to my volunteer position as their Social Media Butterfly! I have a TON of friends coming down/up for the race and staying with ME - major slumber party! I just can't wait!
     But I do feel a twinge of sadness and worry when I look at my fundraising page... My first year with Donna I raised a little over $600. Last year with the help of the amazing social media community, I raised over $1000 and exceeded my goal! This year I upped my goal, sure that everyone I knew and that followed me would come through! I pushed my goal to $2000! A crazy amount! I am sure that I can do it! But when I look at my 3 little donations that equal $42, I get a little worried about my crazy goal.
     So let me tell you about the money I'm raising. 100% goes to breast cancer research and care. Not one penny of the money you donate will go to race fees, lodging, shirts, medals, etc. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!!! Who can say that? Not many if any! 70% goes to breast cancer specific research at Mayo Clinic. We are close. We can FINISH this disease! 30% goes to the Donna Foundation, taking care of the critical needs of women and men with breast cancer! This is an amazing cause and one my heart beats for every day! Nothing. Nothing makes me happier than the work I do for Donna.
     So, in an effort to amp things up around here in Fundraiser-ville, I knew I had to cook up a scheme! An idea that would be so much fun, people would want to do it! WANT to donate! So, inspired by my wonderful & brilliant runner friend (and fellow Donna Ambassador), Krissy Murphy, I came up with my own little tour of the country - maybe world! I am a teacher for my day job and what says teacher more than the ABCs? Well, maybe an apple but I digress...
     This year we are going to fundraise across the ABCs! Your city, your friends city, can be on MY ABCs of Cities List! Let's get started! Below you will find my list. Can you add to a letter? I think we might have some challenging ones to cover but I bet we can do it! And remember, any dollar amount helps! $3 for my third year with Donna. $5 cause it's nice and even (or odd!) plus it's also my time goal this year (5 hours)! $7 for our seventh year of Donna Marathons. $10 because that really is an even number! $13.10 for getting me to the halfway point of the race. $26.20 for my full marathon distance I will be running on February 23rd. Or maybe $31 or $50 for that crazy distance I did last weekend - yes, I ran a 50k or 31 miles, just because I wanted to see if I could do it! I can! :-) Of course if you feel extra generous and just want to donate LOTS more than any of these numbers, feel free and know that your money is going to an amazing cause! ALL of it!
     Here we go! To start us off, my first three donors get the first three letters! Thank you Erica, Angie & Jen! Love & hugs to you all!

A - Atlanta, GA - Jen
B - Boston Strong TJ / Baltimore, MD - Kat
C - Chinchilla, PA - Kristin
D -
E -
F -
G - Gaithersburg, MD - Lauren
H -
I -
J -
K -
L -
M -
N - Neptune Beach, FL - Alison / NYC - Katie
O - Orange Park, FL - Angie
P -
Q -
R - Running For Robyn - Danyse
S - St. Augustine, FL - Misha
T -
U -
V -
W - West Hollywood, CA - Erica
X -
Y -
Z -

     Time to add your city or town to my list! Let's get these donations rolling in! Feel free to get creative - Use you birth city if your current city letter is already taken! Or any other excuse you can think of to fill this list! I'm a little worried about U - Z but we shall see!
Thank you!Just click HERE!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Running with the Amish - My Version!

     Have you ever had one of those magical experiences you know you'll never forget? Well, I certainly had one on October 18th, 2013!
      It was my second year attending the Runner's World Half in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I already felt that this was a wonderful, magical place. For this runner, being among the Runner's World staff, writers & editors was truly a dream come true! Talking to Bart Yasso & David Wiley like they were old friends and laughing at stories being told LIVE by Mark Remy are moments I will never forget! I felt very blessed to be there the inaugural year and here I was again, working the Run Donna booth at the expo.
The #SocialMediaButterfly manning the #RunDonna booth
     While perusing my twitter feed Friday afternoon, I came across a tweet from Bart Yasso announcing a Full Moon Run with the Amish for that evening! I immediately responded that I would definitely be there! I could not believe it!
The Tweet
     I would be able to live Bart's story, Running with the Amish. The article in Runner's World is what made me fall in love with this amazing community! I had briefly "met" the Amish runners Bart had brought to an event at the first year's festivities and was excited to spend more time with them this year!
Runner's World Half 2012 picture with Bart Yasso, Matt Long & the Amish!
     We met in the lobby of the ArtsQuest building around 8:15pm. I arrived a little early as did one of the Amish guys I had met earlier in the day, Jake. We chatted for a while about running and the upcoming races for the weekend. We talked about pace for the half on Sunday. I knew these guys were fast from reading Bart's article and when Jake mentioned he hoped to finish in 1:30, I laughed as I told him I could only hope to one day break 2:00 hours!
     Eventually a small group formed. Bart handed out head lamps to a few people and we headed outside.
Our little group ready to run
  It was a bit brisk! I was so happy that I had worn shoes and clothes I could run in to the expo that day! I added a quick long sleeve layer and I was ready to run! Not in my normal running attire but this was no ordinary run!
Classic bathroom selfie #classy but ready to run!
     As we first headed out, the lights from the town were lighting our way. I was near the back of the pack of 13 runners. All ages, male & female, were running in this little group. I felt very special! Bart wanted a small group and that is what he got. I was also alone, no friends to run with, so this made it easy to talk to everyone and meet new friends!
The start line for the 5k & 10k at the start of our Full Moon Run
     The Amish guys stayed way ahead of us for a while even though Bart was trying to rein them in! I remembered some of the path we ran from last year's race. Then suddenly we were headed down some steep steps that led under one of the bridges. This had NOT been part of the race! I found out that we were headed to the "tow path" that ran along the canal. The lights of town started to fade away as we headed deeper onto the path.The full moon was now very evident above us. I couldn't believe this was happening.
Entering the Tow Path under the full moon
      As we headed down the dark path, Bart explained the history of how the path came to be. He told stories of how it was used to transport coal many, many years ago. It was wonderful to have a right there history lesson! I wished he could run with me throughout the race and tell me all the little ins and outs of his town of Bethlehem! At this point the Amish guys had also spread out among the group & I was fortunate enough to get to talk more with them as we ran. It was truly a wonderful shared experience!
     As I ran in the dark with nothing to light my way but the light of the full moon and my new friend Tina's dim head lamp, I worried that I would step in or on something and get hurt. It was quite a feat for me to focus on my footing, strain to see the path ahead AND hold a conversation! I was feeling slightly stressed with the Marine Corps Marathon only a week away and the Runner's World Half in two days! I did not want to get hurt! But I survived. Didn't even so much as twist anything! And I would not trade the experience for anything!
Post run photo under the full moon
     Although I was able to experience my own "Full Moon Run" right there in Bethlehem, I still would love to actually run one in Lancaster County with the rest of the Amish running community! It would be really fabulous to meet some of the women and to truly experience their culture and way of life.
They run every full moon so I'm going to have to plan a trip! The community also has a half marathon that they put on every year called the Bird in Hand Half Marathon. I am already planning to participate in this very unique event! You should see the incredible hand-made horseshoe medals! So very cool!!!
The Medal!!!
     So if you ever get the chance to run in Pennsylvania, check out Amish country! They are a wonderful group of people who really know how to run!
Me & my new Amish friends! Can't wait to see them again!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October!

     I have been waiting for this month to get here! I am so excited that it is finally October! I have such big plans for October! This month, I kick off my fundraising for the 2014 Donna marathon and finally begin official travel as Donna's Social Media Butterfly!
Donna Deegan & me earlier this year at The Players 5k with Donna
     I cannot wait to get started on this year's fundraising campaign! I have tried to give everyone a break since my last campaign finished up in March. I was so successful last year that I am upping the ante this year! I have made a new goal! And if I thought last year's goal was lofty, this one is SUPER lofty! Ready to find out? Okay – here goes… I want to raise $2000 this year! I know I can do it! With the amazing support from the social media community plus the support of my friends and family, I believe my goal will be reached! The most important message to get out to the people who are thinking of donating is this: 100% of all funds raised goes to breast cancer research here at the Mayo Clinic and to care for those dealing with breast cancer. 100%! This money will not fund my race, my travel, or anything like that! What other charity race can say that??
Representing #runDonna at The Great Candy Run September 28, 2013
     In addition to this years lofty goal for fundraising, I also have a new idea! I'm borrowing this idea from one of my customers I met while working at Athleta. She's running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco through Team in Training and decided to add ribbons to her tutu for every certain dollar amount that was donated by her friends and family. I think it's a wonderful idea! And I'm going to do the same! So for every $50 you donate I will add a ribbon to my tutu that I will run in on February 23, 2014! The ribbon will be a white or light pink. For every $100 donation from my friends, family, and social media peeps, I will add a hot pink ribbon. That'll be a lot of ribbons on my tutu! Which, by the way, I've never run in a tutu! Also on each ribbon I will add either the name of the person who donated or you can have me add a name in honor of or in memory of. Remember, you don't have to have been directly touched by breast cancer to help finish this disease! I chose this philanthropy in college, never having known anyone who had breast cancer. I just felt a calling. And now, here I am many, many years later doing whatever I can to help finish this!
Me & my buddy, Jeff Galloway at the Peachtree Road Race Expo this summer
     As many of you know, part of my work in helping to finish breast cancer is to be a part of 26.2 with Donna. This month begins my official travel as Donna's Social Media Butterfly! And I couldn't be more excited! Each weekend in October I will be in a different race location representing #runDonna at race expo's and also being a part of many of the races as a runner. Stay tuned to my blog for recaps of the races and don't forget to follow 26.2 with Donna on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the #SocialMediaButterfly!! 
My first #SocialMediaButterfly expo, Jacksonville's Gate River Run, March 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

How my decision to run Marine Corps Marathon came to be...

    We are now one month from the Marine Corps Marathon. I wasn't planning on running the Marine Corps Marathon this year. It wasn't even assigned a date yet on my Bucket List of Races. But I am officially registered and running it with some of my favorite and best runner friends!
     So here's how the decision came to be: A rumor came out about runDisney making the undergraound "Dopey" race a reality. In the world of runDisney, you can earn an extra medal, a "Goofy" medal, by running the half marathon and then the full marathon the next day. You were considered "Dopey" by the fans of runDisney if you ran ALL of the races on Marathon Weekend which meant a 5k on Friday, the half  on Saturday, and then the full on Sunday. Well, runDisney decided to make Dopey a real thing but also added a fourth race to the mix, a 10k. So now in order to get an official Dopey medal you had to run all four races that weekend. The bling count would be a total of six - one "medal" for each race and then the Goofy and Dopey medals.
     My heart broke a little with these rumors and then the confirmation and pricing of the new runDisney Marathon Weekend. You could also say I woke up from the runDisney stupor I have been in for the last year or so. I had several issues with this official announcement. And yes, I am ready to let the world know how I feel and risk losing followers, readers, friends. I'm about honesty, so here goes. It bothered me that this lovely little "underground" movement was becoming official. But not only official, it was getting one-upped and being labeled with a very large price tag! Friends broke it down to "it's only $10 a mile" but that's not how I look at races. To run Disney is truly an experience. An experience I have enjoyed many times with many people over the last year and a half.
My 1st runDisney - Wine & Dine 2011

Expedition Everest 2012
Tower of Terror 10 Miler 2012
Wine & Dine 2012
WDW Marathon 2012
Princess 2013
     I do NOT consider runDisney events to be races. I do not go there to race. I go to play and have fun and take lots of pictures and make TONS of memories. I truly do not understand the thinking of people who would pay the amount of money these races cost and then just go run as fast as they can and don't stop to enjoy the "event." For that is what runDisney is to me, an event. I suppose if you have a lot of money to just spend on whatever you want, then it doesn't matter. But that is not me. I have to choose wisely every day how and what I spend my money on. Yay for being a teacher! When I choose a race to BQ on or run for a PR, it will NOT be any race where there are distractions (ie. characters) or even great scenes I just want to capture with my camera. It also won't be a race I've only run once. I learned that lesson at Sarasota this year! I'm also learning that I really love the experience of running, either alone or with friends and especially in new places!
     So, I fell out of love with runDisney and back into just like. I'm just not a runDisney girl. I'm a runner girl. More specifically a traveling runner girl. I want to see the world through my shoes! And not just Disney's World! So I made some tough decisions about my race calendar and then filled it with other dream races and dream activities! My plan was to get my Coast to Coast medal next year with runDisney. (When you run a race at Disney World and then at DisneyLand in the same calendar year, you get an absolutely beautiful medal for your efforts!) I was going to run the Donald Half at Marathon Weekend and then The Tinkerbell Half the following weekend in January 2014. That has all changed now! Now I may do my Coast to Coast in 2016, the 5th anniversary of Tinkerbell Half. Hopefully the medal will be spectacular!
     I also plan on doing the Goofy in 2015 for it's tenth anniversary. This leads me to my last bothersome point of the new runDisney announcement. Goofy scares me. Friends have continued to try to get me to do it and I just refuse! I know what my body is capable of right now and I know that this would be a big undertaking - even if I play through both races! I was scared to run back to back halves. I've trained and have now accomplished that feat. I was scared to run more than one marathon a year - I am now signed up for two within four months of each other. I will train and train hard so that my body is prepared. I think that serious training is essential if you plan to do something like a Goofy or a Dopey. Yet some people will not train as they should and will hurt, may not finish or suffer through it all. I won't ever do that to my body. I do NOT enjoy pain and suffering - not even to earn a medal. Never say never, but right now I'm saying I will never do the Dopey.
     I realize that some people budget only for runDisney events/races and that is all they do all year. But I truly love races and the atmopshere of a race weekend wherever it may be. I did not become a runner because of Disney. I want to run Boston, New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Paris, Milan, London! I want to see places and run the towns and be with the people and eat their food! THIS is who I am. So I'm running my nation's capitol on October 27th in one of the most fabulous marathons on the planet! I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Turtle vs Hare: Joy vs Defeat

     I've come to a realization lately that maybe I'll just always be a turtle. I always tell people who claim they are slower than me that speed is relative. I can hear them laughing now at the first line of this post. I have myself laughed at friends who complain that their 8:46 pace on their 6 mile run was sluggish - Haha! Really?!? I wish I could hold that pace for more than 1/2 a mile!
     Over the last nine months or so of racing & running I have found that the times I enjoyed the most were when I just ran - not for time, but just to feel the run as my idol, Kara Goucher, would say. When I ran the Sarasota Half this past March, my goal was to PR. It was a new-to-me race, in a city that I had been to many times but had never run through before. I should have enjoyed the moment. I should have taken in the sights and enjoyed running with my friends, so many of which were there. But instead, I tried to beat my 2:09 half time and ended up not enjoying the race and finishing in 2:12 - getting passed at the end by a friend! Ouch! That race has haunted me all year! So when I ran the Peachtree Road Race in July, I ran just to run it. It was a HUGE bucket list race for me, so just being there was amazing. I took in the sights, the crowds & the holy water sprinklings, felt great during & after the race & did not PR. But I had a GREAT RACE!

     When I think about what is best for me, I look back at my past and learn from those times. Experiences like Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World where we barely finished in under SEVEN HOURS! But we had the time of our lives!
Marathon Weekend 2013
     Or Princess Half Marathon where I ran and played all by myself and finished in a tad over THREE hours!
Princess Half 2013
     But then there was that Gate River Run in March where the third time was the charm and I PRed using consistent Galloway run/walk/run intervals AFTER working the expo all the previous day...
Gate River Run 2013
     I really wanted to PR the Boston 10k this year! I did everything right and skipped late night concerts AND drinking - but my "time" was the worst yet! But running with my friends Linzie & Adam made the time much more special. NOTE: I will NOT be skipping Buffett the night before in 2014! I had a much better "time" in 2012 after attending! ;-)
Boston's B.A.A. 10k
     Running with friends, running in new places, running to just experience the act of running - That is why I run. I really don't do it for the medals or the t-shirts. They are a nice side item and I used to be all about that. But running to me is so much more now. I really love running. If you don't love it, I'm not really sure what the point is! I even look forward to and love my speed work sessions I now attend every week! It's the atmosphere, the others who are like me, the challenge of what lies ahead and the beauty of the world that make me want to run it!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Uncertain Summer

     As the new season nears, I am thankful for the change, the newness, the hope of things to come. I have been absent too long from my writing. Absent too long from my sharing of stories of races, meals & friends. I look forward to reconnecting to my blogging world in the weeks to come. I feel so much has happened since May! Some good, some not so good and some really tough challenges have been a part of my new story.
     A few weeks before my summer break began, life entered a very uncertain phase. My job position was cut & I was suddenly a free agent grasping at ideas of where to go next. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital and she remained there for a full month, undergoing many tests and procedures. My family's life - my mom, dad & me - was suddenly very interupted! Traveling South, my family and I spent much of the next two months taking shifts to care for my grandmother and her home. After a month in the hospital, we had to get her back on her feet and moving around again. She is 89. Things were not easy for any of us but when it comes to family, you do what you need to to care for them! As I spent time in South Florida, I used whatever free time I could to send out resumes and schedule interviews. Whenever I could be home I would pop in for an interview here & there. I was offered jobs and then would lose them to budget cuts. It was a very unsettling time but also a time that presented many learning opportunities. 
     By August, I had a new job and grandma was doing well enough to be on her own for a bit. Change is never easy but I welcome it and try to adapt. The dream is still not a reality, but I am reaching toward it every day. In moments of sadness or frustration I took the advice of my friend Lee who suggested I find something to focus on that is happy. Fortunately for me, I was still able to take the two racecations I had planned for my summer - my annual pilgrimage to Boston for the BAA 10k and my bucket list race trip to Atlanta for the Peachtree Road Race! Race, food & travel recaps will be coming in the following weeks! Also during this time, I was blessed by my best friend in a way I could have never imagined. She called me from Germany to tell me that she was paying for my ticket to Paris so we can celebrate our 40th birthdays just like we had planned. All I have to do is by my ticket home... which I have not done yet! (Enter sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun here...)
     Fall will soon be here! It is my favorite time of year and I intend to get fully lost in it! Football, food, and fall smells! I love it all! My marathon training is really ramping up as I head toward Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. My Social Media Butterfly duties for 26.2 with Donna go into full speed ahead the first weekend of October! Oh, and among all of the craziness this summer, I also started formal speed work sessions! (Even though I still think speed kills, I would like to get a little faster! #competitive)
     Then there's the best news of all to end this post on and begin my new story with: Athleta! Jacksonville is the lucky recipient of a brand new Athleta store and I am blessed to be one of the chosen few to be working there! To say that I am excited about this opportunity is a major understatement! I love my team, my management and I am over-the-moon excited to get into the new store to get it ready for all of our new customers, many of which will be my friends! I see this as one more door to opportunities leading to the achievement of my dreams and goals!

     So, from an uncertain Summer to an exciting Fall I go!