Monday, September 8, 2014


I had an epiphany Thursday afternoon on my flight to Atlanta. I've always loved that word. Learned it sometime around my freshman year of college I believe, at Georgia Southern. Epiphany. It's melodic. Anyway, my epiphany came to me as I was deep into Dr. Jampolsky's Love is Letting Go of Fear... Page 84, "This book emphasizes that a shift in perception can reverse our way of thinking; it helps when you put the cart in front of the horse. I find that when personal guidance has established the goal (the cart), all I need to do is keep that goal firmly in my mind and the means (the horse) will take care of itself. Most of us expend so much energy in trying to find the means that we lose sight of the goal."
BOOM! There it was! What is my ONE TRUE GOAL? To work for 26.2 with Donna as their Social Media Specialist - for them to be able to afford to put me on staff. They have a staff of 4. FOUR. This would be a huge step. What does it take? For them to grow enough. For them to be busy enough. Popular enough. That they NEED me. That they have to have me on staff full time to keep up with the demand!
How does that happen? Well, that's been my goal from the start. I distinctly remember telling Donna at an event in 2013 prior to race day that I wanted to help this race explode! I wanted it to grow so big that we HAD to cap it! It takes amazing social media focus. It takes an ambassador team that won't quit for anything and is willing to do the work and think of crazy ideas to get us the attention we need!
Here's the really wild thing - when this all happens, it doesn't just benefit me. It benefits oh so many! It brings attention to our cause and what we are doing to finish this disease through our research at Mayo Clinic. It helps women and men ALL over the world deal with this disease. It makes the hearts of Donna and all those who are passionate for this cause, smile.
I like to say "it's all about me" - but for once, it really would be about a lot more.

Fast forward to Monday, today, and my world felt like it was falling apart. Again. So tonight, I decided to hang out with Joel. When I really need a good talkin' to, Joel comes through. It's almost freaky how his Sunday sermons hit at just the right time. This Sunday's, watched a day late, was #627 It's a Simple Thing. Through my faith I believe that my dream will come to pass. This dream that will make me happy, bring so much help and hope to others and make Donna absolutely ecstatic! God can provide the water without rain. He's lined up the right events and the right people.

So I'm putting the cart before the horse. I'm having faith that the best horse will be provided to pull my cart to its destination. Love over Fear. Simple Things. My God.
Have faith in your dreams... He's got this!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Maine Magic - Part 1

     Tears stream down my face for the first 15 minutes of the flight. Everyone wants to go home. I feel like I’m leaving mine. Sure I’d like to be in my own bed tonight, but there isn’t too much puling me back there. I could plop that same bed anywhere. Yes, I have friends, family, a passion I care about in Jacksonville - but I have those things in Boston too. The thought hit me as we flew over Hingham (tears still flowing) that this past weekend’s trip was just a two hour drive from “home” in Boston - no different than the two hour drive to Orlando/Disney from Jax that I have made so often in the past 20+ years. Would I miss that drive? I really don’t think so. But all the newness and beauty I could discover in two hour drives from Boston? Now THAT I could get used to. 

     My trip to Maine this past weekend was full of magic - the unicorn & rainbows (double rainbows even! ;-) ) kind of magic - that I am always so very thankful to be a part of. I had never been to Maine prior to July 31st, 2014, and I was so looking forward to this trip! Not only would I be traveling to Maine but I would be doing so in my position as Social Media Butterfly for 26.2 with DONNA. Then to add on top of that I would actually be traveling WITH Donna, her husband Tim, AND my friend & the executive director of 26.2 with DONNA, Amanda - well, could it get any better? Yea - it could! Throw in a historic 10k on the coast, Meb, Shalane, Ben True, Dave McGillivray and spending time with Joan Benoit Samuelson just days before the 30th anniversary of her historic gold medal performance in the first ever Olympic women’s marathon… I might burst from anticipation! 

Magic. All of it was just MAGIC!

     Thursday morning we arrived in Boston, hopped in our rental car and drove the two hours north to Portland, Maine. It was a beautiful drive thru rolling landscapes of lush green trees and really cool rock cliffs. When we arrived at our hotel and stepped out of the car, I was immediately hit with the very strong smell of the salt-filled air. The seaport was just across the street and you knew without a doubt that you were in a fisherman’s town! The gulls were squawking loudly all around. It was just a classic New England coastal scene - and I LOVED it! We dumped our bags and headed up the hill to lunch. We ate at a lovely little restaurant in the “business” district part of town called David’s. It had outdoor seating and since the day was flawless, we sat outside. I, of course, had to order a lobster roll for two very obvious reasons - 1. I’m in Maine - ya know, MAINE lobster! and 2. I had to compare Maine lobster rolls to Massachusetts lobster rolls! (I still say Boston’s Barking Crab wins. That’s just my opinion though!) 
The Lobster Roll at David's Restaurant
     The mood of this trip was different than any other expo trip I had done for 26.2 with DONNA. For the first time I was traveling with BOTH of my bosses. Some might be nervous about that but I took it as an opportunity to learn and grow as well as become closer to the cause I feel so passionately about! The other completely new thing for me was the fact that this expo was only open during the second half of the day! We had all morning and into the early afternoon to “do other things” before working the expo! It was so much more of a relaxing way to do things! So we leisurely enjoyed our lunch, walked casually back to the hotel, got ourselves together in our rooms and then headed to the expo to set up and work. 
Beach to Beacon expo 2014 at Cape Elizabeth High School
     The expo was in the gym of Cape Elizabeth High School. Small but effective and flawlessly organized! Bib and t-shirt pickup was a breeze, a variety of vendors with all of your running needs and LOTS of free food! I like free food! We were stationed next to a coffee company, Coffee By Design, who create a special blend each year for the Beach to Beacon 10k. Being next to them was somewhat tortuous as they would often grind the beans for their customers but were not able to brew any of it - the smell was amazing! Needless to say we all went home with a pound of coffee by the end of the expo! The local grocery store had quite the giveaway line with healthy veggie chips, Cabot Cheese and Cliff products. And get this, one of the vendors was cooking and serving up bowls of fabulous pasta creations to everyone for FREE! Simply amazing! And they do this EVERY YEAR! 
Coffee By Design
     At the end of our first night, we headed to a restaurant back in Portland called Boone’s. Located on the waterfront of busy and bustling Commercial Street, we window shopped along the way, pointing out all the fun stuff we wanted to come back and look closer at later. When we walked into Boone’s, we were met with the smell of cedar planks and wood fired stoves. The menu was tantalizing - and we were starving! Donna and I shared bacon scallops with a sweet potato puree and stole a few of Tim’s grilled mussels. Superb! We couldn’t get enough of the bacon scallops! They were divine! I ordered fresh caught Maine haddock in a beure blanc with bacon risotto (see a theme here?). The fish was wonderful. The risotto a little undercooked but still good. When you're a cook, you get a little picky with stuff like that! They also delivered to our table fresh Maine blueberry bread! My first, and thankfully not my last, taste of Maine blueberries! Yum! I added a local Shipyard Summer Ale and my meal was complete!

Boone's Fish House & Oyster Room
     Friday morning, Amanda and I went for a run along the waterfront. Just about a half mile from our hotel was the perfect waterfront trail for running. We went out for two miles and came back. The morning was warm and sunny but nothing like Florida heat - and it was already 9am! We would have died at that hour back in Jax on a run! Along the path was the local marina busy with sailing lessons and camp kids, an actual train called the Polar Express, and beautiful, un-ruined by human hands wildflowers growing all along the railroad tracks! There were trails that lead up into wooded areas that I so wanted to climb and explore but we didn’t have the time for. We also came across a few critters that we later discovered were woodchucks! (Insert the classic how much wood rhyme here!) It was simply beautiful and I soaked in every moment of that run! 

Our Friday morning run!
     Conveniently at the end of our four mile run sat the rather famous bakery The Standard Baking Co. So we immediately headed there for iced coffees and scones, then sat outside again in the perfect weather to enjoy them. 

The magic at Standard Baking Co.
     We returned to the hotel to clean up and get some work done before heading to lunch at Joe’s Boathouse. See? I told you, this was a very laid back expo trip! If only they were all like this! What a great way to see a town! At Joe’s I once again ordered a lobster roll, still in need of trying and comparing. (David’s was better!) 
Lobster Roll and homemade chips at Joe's Boathouse
     We headed to the expo for the final day. On this day we got visits from Joanie & Dave. Both days were filled with seeing old friends, meeting new ones and hearing many stories of loss, survival and hope. It can be hard to be surrounded by that but I was especially sensitive this time as I was about to go in for my first ever mammogram. Hello 40! The comforting part is that I truly believe that through our efforts to help fund the research at Mayo and with Dr. Perez’s incredible work, we WILL find a cure in MY lifetime. I really do believe that!
Donna & Joanie
     Friday night, Portland and Commercial Street came alive! So many people were out, music blaring from various locations, and a sense of “the weekend is HERE” everywhere! It was so fun walking through that to dinner! For the first time ever my pre race meal was a burger! That is usually my go to for post race or long run! But why not do it up different! We went to Elevation Burger, a grass-fed beef burger joint. I ordered an Elevation burger with cheddar, bacon and caramelized onions. It was awesome! The cheddar tasted extra cheesy and truly made the burger! 
On the rooftop deck at Elevation Burger - YUM!
     Race morning was filled with excitement. This was my first Beach to Beacon 10k! I heard it was hilly but I felt ready to tackle it! Part of me wanted a PR and the other part of me was scared and thought well maybe I’ll just take pictures… But you'll have to wait until later to find out about Saturday and Sunday's MAGIC! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Look Mom! I have abs again!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Beachbody coach. I am not trying to sell you anything! Yes, I have friends who are coaches but they did not convince me to buy this program. It looked like a simple way to get control back in my eating life. And it was. My friends wanted to know EXACTLY what I was doing so I wrote this blog post for them! xoxo  

     I finally did it! I dropped the excuses. I stopped settling. I went after what I wanted! No compromises! And guess what? Along the way I also learned some pretty big lessons too!

     After a fabulous 3 weeks in Boston, I came home ready to start fresh! I knew I needed a change! Ever since my marathon at the end of February, my life as far as diet & exercise was concerned had hit a huge downward spiral! Now, I am not going to say that this was a miserable spiral. I enjoyed every crepe in Paris, every new beer & restaurant with friends in Jax and every, single bite of lobster in Boston! But my body - well, that was a different story! It was changing too and not for the better! For the first time in my 40 years I developed a "muffin top." This made me truly disgusted with myself and I knew I needed to clean stuff up!

     While I was in Boston I started the planning of how this was going to be done. I had purchased the 21 Day Fix from BeachBody prior to leaving for Boston. I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald while I was in Boston. I came home and spent another week reading nutrition books, cookbooks on clean eating and prepping for the challenge ahead! I had noticed several things happening besides my muffin top. I had become slower and more sluggish in my running. I hurt when I ran. My knees hurt after I ran. All of this was a really bad sign to the athlete inside me. I had to shape up and lose this weight! I had gained over 15 pounds since February! THAT was why my running was suffering! I can't carry around that extra weight and expect to have the same goals or get any faster!

The set-up - containers, workouts, & guides
     And so it began! I cleaned up my life, my fridge & my pantry! I finally said no to ALL the things that were bringing me down! Now, I had never really been a horrible eater. I ate healthy most of the time. But between March and June there had been Paris, Boston (twice) and a whole lotta nights out for dinner! I'm a homebody by nature. I'd rather stay home and cook a beautiful, tasty meal with ingredients I want going into my body! So BOOM! Change! I began my 21 Day Fix on June 28th. It ended (round 1 anyway) July 18th. And here is how it went...

     Now I can here my RD friend in my head saying, "Marcia, you don't need a diet!" But don't worry, Marni! I'm treating this as a lifestyle change. A way to look at things differently and a reboot to healthy! Prep became a large part of this change for me - having things ready to go and portioned out to grab and go for work & long days out. Using the containers from the 21 Day Fix to learn what a real portion size should look like really helped - especially with carbs, fruits and veggies!

Veggie Prep
Protein Prep

     In most of my readings on runner nutrition, carbs were obviously noted as important, but two very important points continued to shine through. One, that I really already knew, was that whole grains need to be the focus of our carbs, and the other which I had never thought about, was the timing of carbs. Most of the authors agreed that carbs should be reserved for the day and should be limited or non-existent at evening meals. Now when I say carbs, I mean the whole grains because obviously there are carbs (sugars) in our fruits and veggies we eat at night along with protein.

Some of my meals portioned out for work
     Another important part of this change was going back to writing down what I was eating and really looking at my food intake. The 21 Day Fix meal plan is based on the calorie consumption you want so then there are prescribed amounts of each type of food using the portion control containers. So in my mind I could see where I was focusing or needing to focus - Oops, not enough veggies today! Double up tonight at dinner! Or I had all my carbs for the day, just veggies and protein for tonight. For me it helped. Everyone I've ever heard talk about weight loss or management has said how successful food journaling is. They're right!

Or more like tracking, for me!
Meal Planning


      I must admit I was not completely faithful to every single portion and type of food I was supposed to eat. Did that affect my results? Heck yea it did! But the knowledge that I was tracking my food intake and seeing everything - yes, everything, dinner at the Columbia while in Tampa, Manhattans with mom... - on paper, made me more accountable. Each day I tried to do my best. Did I take my containers out to dinner with me to measure my food? NO WAY! Did "life" get in the way sometimes? Yep! And I just let it. Knowing that each meal was an opportunity to do better.

     Now what about workouts? Well, being me, I thought I was smarter than the average bear and doing just fine! I kept up my running and my regular weights (40-45 min) & yoga (50 min) routine for the first two weeks. The last week of the 21 Day Fix you could do a "doubles" week to add that extra pow to the end so I thought, hmmm, I'll try out these workouts finally! Well! Let's just say silly me for waiting till the third week! The doubles week was tough but I loved ALL the workouts! The best part was that each one was only 30 minutes long! Two reasons this is awesome: 1. I can fit in a workout almost anytime and know I'll be done & get a good sweat session in quickly 2. I can tell myself "it's only 30 minutes! You can do this for 30 minutes!" (Because some of the workouts are pretty tough!)
     I am now in Round Two, Week Two of my 21 Day Fix. Why did I continue? Because I wasn't finished. Because everything was not a habit or a natural way of thinking. I am two pounds away from my weight back in February. I've lost some inches but nothing dramatic. What is dramatic is the tone and the cut that I am getting back in my arms, back and abs. THAT was truly a goal of mine. I feel stronger and healthier. I look stronger and healthier. My focus is also on my body fat percentage not just my weight. Body fat versus muscle can mean all the difference in your training & speed. I have reduced it but still seem to struggle with it. It is all about what you eat and the timing of that food. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of work ahead, but I am happier than I was a month ago with myself! I have many goals for my body, this is just part of the steps I am taking to become stronger, faster & healthier!

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!