Monday, February 8, 2016

Running on the Mind of Lori H.

We all have a story, a beginning, a tipping point. A reason. That reason is everything.  It is weaved into your journey into your life story and becomes motivation, encouragement and fuel.  Just like how certain smells can trigger a vivid memory at any moment, your reason can appear and slap you in the face.  Some of us run to escape, as therapy, as weight loss and health benefits.  Some of us however, start with one reason and it turns into another.  

This week I am so happy to feature a piece written by one of my all time favorite running buddies. Our paths have crossed in and out over the years.  First when her oldest was a third grader and later after I joined a local woman's running club and she realized that the "Crazy Mama Runner" she had been following on Facebook was me and I was shocked to learn that the years had passed so fast and her tiny little 8 year old third grader is now a 16 year old high schooler who drives!!!! Over the last year Lori has helped me train for my marathon, running in the dead of a terrible winter 13 miles with me for the fun of it.  Making a special 3.3 mile birthday run this year complete with a surprise cupcake waiting for me at the end. And being there as I came back from having Sugar Plum and there as I head into running pregnant yet again.  It is a great honor to have Lori share over here her journey of becoming a runner! 

On the Mind of Lori: 


     I took one look at THAT photo, you know, the photo where you wonder who in the world looks so much like you but CAN’T POSSIBLY be YOU!  This photo bomber who looked so much like me had this marshmellowy belly pushing against the Kelly green t-shirt.  I was like what the hell is that!  Realizing this was me in all my glory, hanging onto those last pregnancy pounds four years later!  The photo was taken as we prepared to depart my husband’s family after a weekend visit to Cape Cod.  No visit is complete without the picture in front of the lovely hydrangea bush in the front yard.  That photo is THE PHOTO I zoomed in on, fretted about, silently screamed at myself for, left me speechless for the three hour ride home.  How in the world was I going to get rid of this?????

Lori and THAT PHOTO and an After shot!

 Think, think, think…… husband’s cousin had lost a lot of weight running telephone poles, a girl I worked with looked amazing since she had begun running six months before.  Surely if they could do it, I sure could!   There was only one teeny tiny problem…….I DON’T RUN!!  I can’t even run across the street!  So as the mini van arrived at our house, I had decided.  I WILL RUN!  We unpacked the van and once inside I geared up, sneakers, shorts, pony tail, check, check, check.  I made it to the local church and back running one or two poles, then walking one or two poles.  When I came home I was so happy!

     The next day at work a friend of mine told me about an app she had once used, called couch to 5K.  I couldn’t wait to get home and try it!  And so it went, I diligently plugged away, week one, two, three……week five, 10 minute run!  What!  You have GOT to be kidding me!  Run a whole 10 minutes!  At the risk of being discouraged, I contacted a friend who lived around the corner and her neighbor who had told me when I was ready they would run with me.  Abandoning my app, I set out with them.  They went nice and slow for me and I ended up doing a 2 ½ mile run!!

     About a week after that there was a 5K that I had signed up for as a walker.  Well, this walker ran the whole 5K without stopping in just over 42 minutes!  I was hooked!  Addicted to the definition I was beginning to notice in my legs as I ran!  Addicted to the clothes fitting better despite no change on the scale, I knoooooowwww!  Stupid scale!  But that didn’t slow me down.  I was addicted to the talking with my neighbors, that soon became my friends.  We chatted it up on every run.  I eventually met so many people through this hobby of mine, including one Crazy Mama Runner!!   I was also addicted to that feeling like I had the magic solution to feeling good about yourself! 

Lori and the Crazy Mama Runner ;) 

     One day, the following summer, I ran a local 5k and left shortly after it.  The next day at work, I was told congratulations on placing 2nd in my age division!  WHAT, ME, NO!  Oh yeah, they told me that I had earned a medal and a beer glass and my name got called!  As happy as I was, I was so sad that I had missed out on it!  Note to self:  always look at the column on the finishers time sheets as to which place you come in for your age group.  Another lesson along the way!  But after I posted my medal and mug photo on Facebook the next day, I received 2 messages from two acquaintances telling me how much I inspired them and asked me how I started and how they could!  There is no better compliment than that of inspiring someone else!  Yup, A-D-D-I-C-T-E-D!!!

    My 5k races turned into 10K, then into Five ½ Marathons!  I mean I never even wanted to want to run a MARATHON! No way, now how!  Never said never, but was pretty sure that I would never even desire to do one…….until I signed up for the Eastern States 20 Miler coming up this March.  If I’m training to run a 20 miler, I may as well go for it!  If I could find one that fit close enough to my 20 miler to use it as a training run, why not!  So my neighbor friend and I have signed up for the Sugarloaf Marathon in May!

Lori and her neighbor after their 16 mile training run! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Extra Bling and a GiVeAwAy!

I am a runner.  Plain and simple.  Most days it is not hard to tell that I run.  I am mostly spotted at weird hours of the day in all weather types hitting the pavement and pushing my limits. Or I am in the
school pick up line sporting my Seacoast Race Series running jacket and my Asics. Never a day goes by where I am not wearing running attire for all if not most of the day.  But what about those days where I have to wear regular clothes. You know get "dressed up", which I always know I look NOTHING like a runner when my daughter says "Oh mom you look so cute today, you got dressed up!" How will people know I am a runner then?  Will they see me get out of my mini van with my running magnets?  Will they see me chugging gallons of water and put two and two together?  Probably not! Which is why when I was contacted by Marie Scholl from Inspired Endurance Jewelry I was EXCITED to do a review!!!! (I was given product in return for my actual honest opinion.)

The mail arrived and I was in love before I even had the bracelets out of the packaging! They arrived
in such sweet and cute packaging that I instantly felt loved.  Like someone actually cared about me! I have been wearing my Sterling Silver Mini Charm Bangle Bracelet daily.  It is such a lovely and well made bracelet that I love slipping it on my wrist and going.  Most importantly for me I have a special remembrance of me as a runner (and a kick ass 26.2 mile one at that!) even when I am dressed up for date night.  It is like I am carrying my own little car magnet of my awesomeness where ever I go!!! I truly truly LOVE it.  It goes with my jeans and boots or with my dresses and heels.  I can wear it to PTO meetings or grocery shopping or a very rare mostly day dreaming on the couch about date nights on the town.  I love that the quality stands up to being a mom and having three littles pulling, tugging and needing on me all day.  The baby likes to point to the charm and make it move and I like when she does it because it is like she is saying look how adorable yet bad ass my mom is! Inspired Endurance Jewelry is a must have for anyone who wants a little something special to commemorate that being a runner feeling.  So if I were you I would totally head on over and make a special purchase today, for yourself or that special runner in your life!!! Or you know you could take a chance and feel pretty lucky and enter for a chance to win one......

YEP that is right!!! Kicking off the New Year with the best giveaway this blog has ever seen!!! To enter all you have to do is comment below with what your all time favorite running memory is! (One entry per person and giveway will close on January 31, 2016)

Happy Running and good luck!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

On The Running Mind of Jen M

I am so very very excited this week to feature another round of my favorite ever segment! This week it is a blurb from the running mind of Jen, one of the absolutley amazing women from my local woman's running club.  She is beyond inspiring, funny as all get out and always up for a running adventure.  I remember fondly one night on a 5 mile group run, a PR for distance for her then, the ride back to our cars was full of hilarious Jenisms and I knew right then and there this lady needed to write for me.  I am currently encouraging her to write more, because the world really does need more of what she offers.  Honesty, humor and the unshakeable passion to believe in herself! 

The Running Mind of Jen:

Many times in my life I was asked to run.  Many times I said no.  One time I said yes.  And my journey began.
The beginning.  My  ability was a level 0.  Just like in the movie Kung Foo Panda.
My very first run on my own was on a treadmill at my husbands Wellness Center for employees and their spouses.  I collapsed on the floor after using the treadmill.  Running in 1 min intervals with a 2 minute walk was more than I could handle.  I was dying.  I was discouraged.  I hated myself.  I hated running.  I hated it all. 
I floundered around with my own attempts at that thing called running for about 9 months.  What a
hot mess!  I was embarrassed by everything I did.  It was truly a nightmare.  I was chasing after my running friends.   I tried and I tried.  My heart was silently breaking. 
One day a friend  added me to a Lebanon lady running group on Facebook.  I accepted.  Why? I can't run like them.  I am not a runner.  I do not deserve to be in the same category as them.  But I accepted.  I posted many times looking for new runners.  Looking for slow runners.  I was embarrassed to ask.  I was ashamed to classify myself as a runner.  At last: the day that saved me.  A newbie group was starting.  I dragged a buddy to the meeting.  And off we went for an 8 wk program. 
This was different though.  I learned that I ran on my tippie toes.  I learned that I was not going to die.  I learned that my legs were not going to fall off.  I learned what true blisters were and how to avoid them.  I learned what running clothes were.  I learned that my anxiety was my biggest barrier. I got fitted for new shoes at Fleet Feet during my 8 weeks.  I got actual running socks.  I learned that running was a liberating, empowering and uplifting sport.  I learned the true meaning of friendship.  I met so many new friends along my way.  
Newbie Graduation Day
I graduated from the Newbie group.  What a great day.  I was more proud that day than any other graduation day.  My 6th grade graduation.  I got a migraine and missed it.  Anxiety.  High school graduation.  My mom was admitted to the hospital two hours prior.  My college graduation.  My husband and my father cheered me on, my mother and memere too.  But there was family conflict that took away from my moment.  It was another disappointing day.  Special events were challenges in my life.  Birthdays, holidays, confirmation, weddings, baby showers, bridal showers.  All came with conflict. Every event.  Every year.  It was my normal.  My Newbie graduation was none of that.  It was filled with joy and pride.  I ran for 30 minutes.  Me!  I did that! It became my new normal.

Today with the support of my husband, my children and many true friends.  I am proud and honored to say I run with the ladies in my running group.  I can run 30 minutes.  I can run a 5k.  I can run a
7 Miles Accomplished! 
10k.  I can even run 7.33 miles.  I can run for one hour 38 minutes consecutively.  I am a runner.  I am not sure when it happened.  But here I am!  My Newbie Coach never left my side.  A few started with me.  Not everyone finished with me.  They continued on their journey.  My Coach was a huge part of my journey. I tell her often.   I am a runner because of her passion, knowledge and her commitment.  I can only hope to bring those same gifts to another. 
I have learned that I love to talk to people when I run.  I run for the joy of it.  Not for the pace or the finish line time.  Having a PR is great.  But its not what drives me.  I love the people I meet along the way.  I love the people I run with.  The people I cross paths with.  I love the volunteers at the water stations, the finish lines, the starting lines.  I love that I can proudly say I ran with them!
I once chased after others.  Because if I caught up to them.  I was a real runner.  One day I stopped chasing them.  I realized they never noticed.  I realized I had my own pace.  My pace made me happy.  All I had to do was embrace it.  I realized I was a runner. 
I have learned that I am an expert at peeing in the woods. I have learned I can pee so fast my auto pause on my runkeeper doesn't come on.  I am always on the lookout for a portable potty.  Its amazing when one appears along my route. 
I have learned that I think of random things when I run.  I people watch.  I house watch.  I house watch.  Why you ask.  I wonder what their bathrooms look like.  I wonder if they have coffee.  I wonder if they have a chair to sit in.  I wonder if they will give me a ride.  I have learned that I can jump over snakes in the road.  I learned that I am the person my friends rely on to talk them through a run.  I tell random stories.  I tell them I am dying.  I tell them my legs are going to fall off. 
One time I ate a bug in my quest to run 4 miles.  It occurred at mile 1.  I now carry water.
One time I peed in prickly bushes on a 4 mile run.  I now watch out for those bushes.  They hurt.
One time I got my headphone wires stuck in my underwear during a 3 mile run while using my outdoor potty.  I now use a flipbelt. 
One time my music and my runkeeper stats shut off during a 5 mile run at mile 1.  I now know I can get through the run without any devices.  Warning to those who run with me.  I will talk your ear off when I finish.  5 miles of just me and my thoughts. Oh my! Ihave lots to catch up on! 
One time I was sad to see my friends run without me.  I am no longer sad.  We are all on a different journey. 
One time I ran with my beagle named Henry Ford.  I realized he is more social than I am.  I now bring him for walks and no runs.
One time I asked one of my beautiful cousins to run with me at the Santa Hustle 5K.  She said yes.  We ran.  We talked.  We ate candy.  We listened to Christmas carols.  We wore beards and Santa hats!  It was the best day.  She ran my pace.  I knew she could run faster.  But we were both so happy to run together.  It was one of my biggest honors.  To run with my cousin.  Soon I will run with my Aunt Christine.   I think she knows....
 I am not who I was in the beginning of my journey.  I started as someone trying to be like the others.  I know
now I can not control how others act.  But I can control how I react.  This includes how I travel on my journey.  Followed or unfollowed in life.    Its all good.  We each have our own road to travel.  Today I am proud to say I am a Lebanon Lady Runner with many great friends.  I am proud to say my family has been my biggest supporters.  They have heard and seen me at my worst.  I am humbled to say that 
people ask me to run with them.  I am honored to say yes.  I am honored when I ask others to run with me and they say yes too!   I am happy to run alone.  I am proud to have my health. 

One day I was asked to be a guest blogger.  I thought.  I love to write.  I love to share my story.  Am I worthy enough to share with others? I needed a reminder.  But here I am.  A runner to the core.  Oh core hurts. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

On the Running Mind of Karri

Here is the deal, the super exciting and amazing deal.  One night while I was in the shower after a group run I got to thinking.  I love running in groups, I love hearing the chatter of whatever pops into our minds.  I love sharing whatever the road brings out in us, whether we share it in person while we are out there OR we share it on our group page after a solo run.  I really just love hearing about it all. So I thought, and I thought and a new plan developed.  A blogging plan to open up the blog for guest segments of what is running on YOUR mind.  I first opened up this idea to my local women's running group and am very excited to say that Karri responded all in and wrote me a lovely, fabulous piece!!!!! So here it is!!!

Running Mind of Karri: 

What Running Has Done for Me

I used to make fun of runners. I was one of those people who said “If you see me
running, something is chasing me.” And, I meant it. I never ran, ever. I did the mile and
ran for volleyball in high school, but not since then. My husband, who was in the Army
until this year, tried to get me to run for years. I walked, nothing more. I had no desire to

The year I turned 40, I celebrated the year by doing a long list of random things I had
never done or tried. I was checking a lot off that list and loving everything about my life
in that year. Running was not on the list. In fact, there was no health-oriented goal
made. I was pretty healthy. I ate right most of my adult life. I kicked the smoking habit in
my early thirties and never had weight issues to worry about, thanks to genetics mostly.
I loved other forms of exercise, primarily yoga and walking. I could walk forever and my
husband joined me for walks most nights after dinner. But, running was never on my

That changed mid-way through the year. We lived at Fort Knox, Kentucky. My husband
was away for random weeks and the walks with him after dinner were sparse. Friends
who agreed to walks often got bogged down with young kids or simply didn’t want to go
after dinner. So, I found a treadmill on a yard sale site. I got it as my Mother’s Day gift. I
used it in the mornings and would walk while watching the news. My living room had a
huge picture window that faced the paved trail that ran past my house. Fort Knox, as an
Army post, had beautiful paved trails that led to tracks for training and families. The
trails ran through our neighborhoods, meadows filled with wildflowers and deer (lots of
deer), patches of woods ripe with sweet-smelling honey suckle, and streams with
wooden bridges over top. I loved those trails. The one outside of my window went
straight to the playground at Starbucks. As I walked on my treadmill, I could see Army
spouses and soldiers with rucksacks running past. As I walked on the treadmill, I
thought more and more ‘maybe I could try that?’ I also thought, if I don’t try now, I’ll
never be able to do it. One day, I decided to pick up the pace on the treadmill and run
for two minutes straight. This was a huge deal for me as I physically never tried it
before. I did it. I walked another six or eight minutes, then did it again.

The next few days and weeks, I upped those running minutes. I started running up to six
minutes at a time. I would text my husband every time I ran, declaring with exclamation
points and all, “I ran for 6 minutes!!!” Then, one day without planning it, I ran for 20
minutes. Before I knew it, I ran for 30 minutes. This was when I decided to go outside
on the trail. I wanted to be one of ‘those people’. I knew from walking that taking the trail
out of housing, past the meadow, and through the woods to the track where the soldiers
did PT was just over one mile. If you took the trail, went around the track, then back to
my front porch, it was 2.7 miles. I decided I would run to the track, walk that track, then
walk home. I tied my new shoes, tied up my hair, turned on my iPod. I took off down the
trail and had to stop before I even made it halfway to the track. Not even a half mile. I
didn’t understand. How could I run for 30 minutes on the treadmill and barely make it a
half mile on a paved, rolling trail I loved? I nearly cried as I walked the rest. I texted my
husband declaring my failure. He said it was probably my pace. He said “try again
tomorrow.” I did. I forced myself to slow down a little, watch my stride, take it slow. I made it to the track. Then I turned around and ran back, making it two miles. The next time, I decided to go around the track. I told myself after I ran to the track and around it, I could just walk the rest of the way home. I didn’t feel like I needed to walk after the
track. I ran the whole thing and made it 2.7 miles back to my front porch. I sweated. I huffed and could barely talk. My face was beet red. My legs hurt. My heart pounded and temples pulsed. I felt like I could lay down and die. And I was never so happy and excited to tell the world I, the anti-runner, ran 2.7 miles.

That route or the two mile run to Starbucks and back became my morning routine. My
meditation. My time to plan my day, think about plot holes or character flaws in my novel
I was editing, my time to stare ahead at the sunrise in front of me and feel alone, alive,
and ready to take on the world. That trail, those runs alone in the dead quite of the
meadow, stream, and patchy woods, became my happy place, literally. I picked up my
pace, I shaved off time, I got better shoes, I learned more about hydration, and I started
to feel like one of those people, those real runners. One day, soldiers were running PT
tests on the track and I ran my heart out trying to keep up and even passed one of them
as I rounded a curve. I felt strong, powerful, and unstoppable. I was in love with running
and kicked myself for not trying when I was younger.

Since I started in Kentucky alone and now that I run with friends in Maine, an amazing
runners group, I’ve learned a great deal about running and myself. I’ve learned, despite
what my mother always said and what some others thought, I really could be an athlete
of some sort. I learned I get the same mental effects from running as I did from
meditation and yoga, exact same. I learned mental tricks to keep going even when my
body didn’t want to. I learned I can set any goal and achieve it if I want. I learned to
listen to and watch others as they ran so I could adapt and improve. I learned runners
can be any size, age, and ability and truly be runners who can teach me something. I
learned having a support system, having people in front of me and behind me (as I am
typically in the middle of the pack) is just right for me. I learned how great it is to run all
alone and also how incredible it feels to see a friend loop back to join me or check on
me. I learned running can be about bonding, encouragement, or solitary reflections. It
can be challenging, painful, blissful, defiant, addictive, calming, a social event, and it can give me a feeling of immense power. Even though I generally feel pretty successful, healthy, happy, and confident in most areas of life, running added to it in more ways than I anticipated. Running made me feel badass, simply put. I’m not the fastest. I can’t run the farthest. I might never break a 10 minute mile, ever. But when I am running,
alone or with a pack, I feel that sense of ‘badassery’.

 I feel like one of those people I saw on the trails. I get it and I hope to pass it on or
spark it in someone else. Once, when my husband and I were driving my son home
from practice at the high school, we were jokingly arguing about something trivial. My
husband said, “I should just drop you off right here.” We were about seven miles from
home. Without missing a beat, my son said, “You do realize she can just run home from
here, don’t you?” That was the first time I realized others thought I was a real runner,
too. It is who I am now. It is part of how I see myself. It’s on my ‘list’ of things that make
me, well, me. It’s more than an accomplishment or something to check off a list. It is just
part of who I am now, who I want to be. Even though I never saw it coming, I’m so glad
it did and only regret not being one of ‘those people’ sooner in life.

Do YOU have a Running Mind?  Want to write down a thought YOU had while running, or why YOU started running or what YOU have learned from running.  I would love to read it and feature it so just let me know! 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out with the old and in with the new?

Out with the old in with the new, a fresh start, a new book, the new year is going to be the best one yet, and so the list of New Year's traditional sayings goes on. Then there are the lists of resolutions to be more fit, lose weight, tone up, get abs, run faster and so on and so forth until you end up making a better you or being burnt out by February.

image from

Except for me for this year. 2015 was my year to FLY and boy did I give it my all.  I tried and I failed and I tried some more with some success.  I love who I am, who I am becoming, who I am starting to to be without over thinking how I am being viewed.  The girl who used to worry about what everyone else and their mothers thought really no longer cares as long as I stick to the core of my values of being kind, helpful and at times funny ( I find myself hilarious and during certain rare occasions other people do as well).  The girl who always goes home and replays what she did, what she said and how other people reacted only does that when I am feeling worn down and exhausted.  It is a trait that is hard to fight but I am doing it and I am learning to just let it go, I really really am.  Which is why with confidence and joy I can announce to myself and have the courage to put in black and white as well my New Year's goal for the year.  While 2015's goal is not smashed by any means I am going to continue to learn to love myself but what I really want is to be present, enjoy the moment and soak it all in.  So for 2016, my goal for myself is to become to comfortable loving myself that I can sit back and just BE.  BE happy, BE sad, BE with my kids, BE alone, BE a runner, BE a wife, BE a mom, BE a friend.  BE anything in the moment that I am in. 

A lot, of my races this past year were run IN the mile I was in.  That is how I got through them.  Just run mile 9 you are in mile 9.  Just run mile 10 you are in mile 10.  And I have decided that that is how I want to live this year.  Just color with kids you are coloring right now.  Just fold this laundry you are folding right now.  Just soak in this laughter that is happening around you right now.  I want to be open and present in all that I do and I want to soak in all of the feelings I feel.  There really are no bad feelings just some uncomfortable ones ;)

So Happy New Year to you all! I am looking forward to being in the writing presence more and looking forward to connecting and communicating with a lot more bloggers in the upcoming year. What is your favorite blog to follow? 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hello from the Runner Side

Hello?  Hello from the other side.  The other side of running pregnant that is, and the other side of running with an infant, and the other side of running for marathon training and the other side of running with any race at all in my sight. 

Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why so quiet around here lately?  All really great questions and I am not sure that I even know where to begin to find the answers to them.  I just finished up a really great year of racing.  Not great because I am an elite runner with sponsors (I wish every single day that this was the case) but great because I did so many different and amazing races that I never ever thought I would do.  I ran a marathon, yes a MARATHON!!!! I am a marathoner.  I ran in Maine’s most popular race with a sellout time of under 5 minutes and it was an experience like none other. I ran my first ever Ragnar and can’t wait to do that again.  I may be a relay race addict, or become one very easily.  I also ran color runs with my whole family, 5ks and 10ks and virtual races and a half.  I ran with my heart and I ran with grit.  I PRd a 5k AND a half marathon.  I trained and I ran and I ran and I trained and the whole time my little family just kept growing up.

I no longer have  baby I have an 18 month old ball of sweet and sassy cuteness.  I no longer have a toddler, I have a preschooler who reminds me that the time they are dependant on me is so little in the grand scheme of things.  I no longer have a kindergartener, I have a first grader and let me tell you there is a HUGE difference between the two years.  The maturity and the opinions and the all of a sudden little adult like child I have walking around here is mind boggling. 

So I sit here and I struggle.  I struggle with me.  Finding me again.  I struggle with writing and being able to get the words down and out that I want.  I struggle with the passion that I used to have to become a real blogger.  A blogger who actually has followers and readers and gets picked to do reviews has a voice in this world of social media.  I am in a funk.  I became so overwhelmed with not knowing how to even start that I stopped before I started.  I watched as my niche of being a blogging pregnant runner slipped away.  Now, the mother runner of small children is slipping through my fingers and I am in a funk big time.  Who am I as a runner? As a mom? As ME?  2015 was my year to love myself, and while I made HUGE gains in this area I have realized that I don’t quite know who I am anymore. 

Here is what I know however, some day I want to be a blogger, a real one like some of my idols (Run Far Girl and This Mama Runs forCupcakes and Movin it with Michelle, and Taking the Long Way Home to name a few). I am a runner.  I am a middle of the pack, mediocre runner who dreams of inspiring people, who dreams of companies seeing me as someone with passion, kindness and gumption.  Someone that they think represents them well and wants me to be ME while living life.  I know that I am constantly discovering myself and going through highs and lows, through easy times and rough times, where things like writing come easy and where I can sit here for hours and not be inspired to write.  I know I just wrapped up a season of a life time and next year made a small slightly difficult promise of not paying to run any races with my husband.  It is like I traded my soul in on some days but I am determined to keep the promise so that I can run a runcation half in the fall, now only if I could find myself a coach who wants a special project, would rather be paid in cookies or beer and wants to help this mediocre girl go for a dream. 

I am really hoping that by sitting down today and writing about how I am all jumbled up will help with letting more writing flow.  I miss this emotional cleanse of seeing my feelings and thoughts in black and white.  My 2016 goal will be 1,000 miles run and 52 blog posts at least up!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from one Crazy Mama Runner   

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I will forever be Team Kyle in my heart

Remember that little 26.2 mile jaunt that I did way back in May?  The day that I became a marathoner was also the day that I discovered the amazingness of Team Kyle.  After I had run, after I
showered and changed, after I tucked my sweet little sick mini into bed I sat down with my runner's high and of course Facebooked that I was in fact a MARATHONER now.  After all, if you don't post it it didn't happen right?  The comments of congrats came flooding in, including one from a guy who happened to be out on the course with me.  Sean Kelley, a follower had recognized me as I passed him at mile 20 and although he didn't say hello (we were ALL struggling in that heat) he mentioned he saw me onFacebook.  Then, a few days later I received this message:

My wife and I are co race directors for the Team Kyle 5K. This year will be the 3rd Annual. We would love to have you join us for free in exchange for you writing a blog post about your experience at this race. (Including a TK5K tec shirt) Sound good? Please checkout the Team Kyle 5K run/walk page on Facebook as well as the regular Team Kyle page. This is a great family event. Please let me know if you have any questions.

I immediately went to the Team Kyle page.  And from the moment that I first started reading I knew that I ran that Maine Coast Marathon for a reason.  It was not for me to become a marathoner, I could have run any other 26.2.  I was not for me to push my limits or challenge myself, my kids do that to me everyday 24/7, I can get challenged and pushed without the running.  It was for me to have a connection to this little boy that is no longer Earth side.  It was for me to come into contact with people that do everything in their power to grow Kyle's legacy.  It was for me to become so humbled and yet blessed by the knowledge that a little boy who wasn't very big when he left this world had the biggest heart there ever was.  

Kyle St. Clair was born premature.  His life started with a 9 month stay in the NICU.  He accrued over 45 surgeries and many more long hospital stays.  He passed away on January 8, 2013, leaving his strength, love and hope inside all of the people that he had touched.  Kyle still touches the lives of people with his abundance of strength, love and hope by the work of the Team Kyle Foundation.  The mission of the Team Kyle Foundation is to "Pay it Forward". They identify needs of local children with illness and disability and offer any support that they can.

After reading about Kyle I knew that I would run that race even without having my registration fees paid. Paying it forward is right up my alley and I could feel the amount of love shining through the foundation in Kyle's honor.  I wrote back that I was all in and then sat back to wait for October.

Summer flew by and before I knew it, it was Friday night, the night before the race.  Although, they offered packet pick-up the morning of, I knew that my schedule of getting two kids ready for a soccer
game, a third packed to spectate with other fans on the freezing cold sidelines and myself actually to the start would be tight.  Having my bib the night before would take some pressure off.  We made it a family date night and drove the 40 minutes to Cabela's the packet pick-up location.  20 minutes away I knew I would barely make the 7pm end of the event so I posted on their page that I was in fact coming and VIOLA as I walked in with 3 minutes to spare they had my stuff already in a pile ready for me.  This was the beginning of the nicest group of volunteers and race personal ever to be found.  We chatted and they all admitted to following Crazy Mama Runner (YAY!!!!!), I admitted that I was crazy nervous for my first 5k that I would be racing myself since before I was pregnant (over TWO years ago!) and I grabbed my goodies (great tech shirt in orange for Kyle, bib, pens, pencils and sponsor swag). 

The day of the race dawned and with it the freezing cold and insane winds, along with the monster of a sleepless night entwined with the doubts of fear.  I dressed in my orange shirt for Kyle and a few more layers and headed out to make the drive alone, sending my mini support team in the other direction for a soccer game.  I arrived at a lovely location with the easiest parking I had ever had for a race.  Crossed the street and admired the live band they had playing as I made my way to the port-a-potties.  Four of them, which was more than enough and there was no line at all.  It was then that I contemplated just staying in the port-a-potty until the start of the race to try to stay somewhat warm.  Glancing down at the time I decided that 30 minutes in one was INSANE and so I headed back to the car.  Updated Facebook of course and worried some more.  I made up my mind that I was not going to let the excuses win.  It didn't matter that it was freezing, my legs were still dead from Reach the Beach, my support team wasn't there or that I am battling a pretty miserable case of the shingles.  Kyle endured so much more and still managed to look at the world and want to help OTHERS.  If it wasn't a day for a PR or even a sub-30 then who the hell cares.  I am honoring a little boy that left too soon and I wanted to be present in that face.  I said a prayer and I got out of my car.

I made my way back to the start line for the second time.  Used the potty again, and yes again contemplated staying in it as long as possible for warmth.  In fact I stayed in for 3 minutes before I sucked it up and stepped back out into the cold to shiver.  The band was still playing and the energy from the other runners was starting to kick up.  I joined in on the high knees, and hip swings as much to stay warm as to prepare for running.  The horn sounded and we were off.  I was out in the front of the pack and just stayed 
there, still ramped up on RTB running and counting my "kills".  I started to want to puke as the course left the dirt parking lot and made it's way into a development of adorable houses. My Runkeeper hadn't yet made a noise and I knew that I was not even near a 1/2 mile.  Then I heard her speak to me 5 minutes in and I was running an 8:26 pace.  SAY WHAT?!  That is when the first stroller runner passed me and I decided to run it all out.  The course wound it's way through more housing developments and around some gorgeous water scenery.  Cute little wooden pumpkins marked the mile points.  At mile 2 another runner and I gave each other the thumbs up.  We were both pushing it and with just over a mile left to go it was going to be all guts and glory to the finish.  Around mile 2.5 we made out way back out to a main road and headed back to the dirt parking lot.  The wind was something else as it was a strong head wind and here came the only sort of hill that was out there.  I powered through and turned in to the last tenth.  Not many runners had made it back yet but the crowd that was there was cheering everyone on.  Full on sprint to the end and I was done.  

TWENTY-FIVE minutes and FORTY-TWO seconds it had taken me to run the adorable and mostly flat course.  A PR by almost 30 seconds.  I stood next to the finish and started clapping for all the other runners coming in.  I stood there until the very last of the Team Kyle participants came through.  I watched his little sister run through the finish shoot over and over again with squeals of giggles and I watched everyone smile and chat.  I felt warm from the inside and I couldn't have been happier. 

I stayed through the awards and the raffle drawings and the mood of all of those people never wavered.  I listened to Kyle's mom speak and I couldn't help but feel like Kyle was there too, even though I had never personally met him.  The overwhelming feeling of community and love was everywhere and I walked back to my car when it was all over forever grateful that I had run that marathon way back in May.  

These are the races that I love doing.  The ones where the cause is in your heart the whole time.  You remember the charity that you signed up to run for.  The ones where you can actually see the lives that are changing and growing and helping.  I will forever be a Team Kyle runner.  This will not be the only Team Kyle 5k I do.  I am looking forward to running it again next year and to helping spread the word to others to run it as well.  I promise you that if you ever run this one you wont be the same.  And the coolest thing of all is that there is a virtual option as well.  I highly recommend Maine running of course but if you just cannot get here sign up for the virtual race and let Kyle touch your heart too.