Friday, May 24, 2013

Race Day Inspiration

I have completed quite a few races in the last couple years. And during every one, I still recall my first half marathon (IMT half) through downtown Des Moines. I was beyond excited to know that I had trained for this race and even more excited that I was on my way to accomplishing a huge goal by finishing it. During the first two miles of the race, the streets were lined with family members, friends and race volunteers. I remember being overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of these complete strangers and found a new level of confidence in myself. Their cheering kept me moving, one step closer to the finish with each stride. And the nerves of running my first race, 4 times as long of my usual 5k (at the time), lessened as the race went on.

I am so appreciative of the time and motivation every one provides to runners during race season. After being on the receiving end so many times , I knew this year I wanted to give back to the running community. Here’s a look at my first (and very small) opportunity…'s not much, but it's a start.  

A good friend of mine spent the last three months training and mentoring a group of girls at a local elementary school through Girls on the Run. The 3rd-5th grade after school program met twice a week over the course of 10-12 weeks. During this time, the girls participated in interactive lessons and running games that taught life skills and inspired an appreciation of health and fitness. The program ended with a celebration 5k run for the girls.

I had the great opportunity of participating in the Girls on the Run 5k last Friday as a running buddy for one of the girls. As I waited to meet my girl, I chatted with another girl’s running buddy. Apparently her girl was a quick little thing whose family was full of runners. At her young age, they were already giving her tips on her 5k “fun run”. It kind of made me nervous about keeping up with the young, energetic and excited girl I would run with that night.

And then I met my runner. She was so excited to be there around her family and friends. I don’t think she knew what to expect and wasn’t as prepared as some of the other girls. I snapped this picture of her shoes before the race, knowing that running in these, on gravel….wasn’t the best idea. At this time, I didn’t realize what I was in for the next hour (that’s right….the next hour).

As the race began, the smile on her face grew and grew. She was so excited to be participating in this event with friends and even more excited that her family was there to cheer her on. We started out fast, but once we turned the corner onto the path that would lead us through the 5k, she was ready to walk. So, on and off for an hour, we pushed and struggled to make it around the 5k loop. I tried everything I could do to motivate and encourage her to keep moving….And she did everything she could to find a reason to walk (which ironically is usually me with our running group). I answered question after question about running, porta pottys, myself, our distance and anything else she could brainstorm along the way. When we finally cleared the trees, we could see the finish filled with her classmates and other fans encouraging us on. About 200 meters out, her family joined in on the running and shared in her victory across the finish. The smile on her face was just as big as her proud parents.

Even though she complained (my specialty) about running almost the entire way, at the end, she realized how much it was worth it. And if you asked her to do it again, I bet she would. That, to me is running. A struggle, a challenge, an obstacle right in front of you and you make no other choice but to push through and finish.  I never doubted that this experience would amazing….What I didn’t realize is how enjoyable it would be for me. As I push and struggle to finish Dam to Dam next weekend, I know I'll have her smile in the back of my mind, motivating me to finish. Well, that and our reservations at Americana!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Another Year Bites The Dust (Almost 30!)

Thanks to all the amazing family and friends for the birthday wishes today!

One year from today, I will be the big 3-0! Since I turned 21 (the only birthday that seemed to matter), it doesn’t seem like I’ve been getting closer to 30 each year. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was at Drake, living on my own for the first time and enjoying FREEDOM! Birthdays seem to come and go….and besides all the appreciated love and wishes from friends and family, it has always been just another day, another year passed.

Awhile back, I decided I needed to challenge myself and redefine each year. I started thinking about all the things I have always wanted to do, but for some reason, hadn’t gotten to yet. I feel like a lot of plans or dreams get lost in the shuffle of our busy lives and every day to-do lists. And as another year passed, I thought….what am I waiting for? If now's not the time to do everything….then when is the right time exactly!
I envisioned a list of comprised trips I’ve been putting off, challenges I’ve been procrastinating on, skills I’ve been waiting to acquire, roadblocks I needed to overcome, and plain old amazing things that I’ve never even thought about doing before.

So, here’s my bucket list of sorts that I intend to finish before May 7, 2014—my “30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30”.

(Since I created my list, I have actually accomplished a few!)


1. Run another half-marathon (under 2:15)
2. Do more volunteering (Girls on the Run 5k- coming up)
3. Take golf lessons (and get good…. But not sure 1 year is enough time)
4. Sew something (even if it’s just reattaching a button!)
5. Pay off any debt (with exception of student loans….those may take a lifetime)
6. Build a piece of furniture from scratch
7. Study the Bible
8. Master Grandma Mary’s coffee bread (Attempt #1=FAIL) and other recipes (borsch, cookies, etc.)
9. Blog (regularly- define regularly and set goals)
10. Try new recipes and create some of my own
11. Take more road trips
12. Get better at documenting moments (actually use my camera!)
13. Take a graphic design class
14. Reupholster or refinish a piece of furniture
15. Coach a softball team or help out at practices
16. Travel outside the country (Italy, Costa Rica)
17. Travel inside the country (Colorado, South Carolina, visit Alex)
18. Refinish an old piece of furniture
19. Create a 5 year personal plan
20. Go zip lining
21. Take a cooking lesson
22. Join a book club (or start reading more)
23. Grow an herb garden
24. Sister for Crosby (another wheaten terrier)
25. Ride a day or two of RAGBRAI
26. A new house
27a. Run a marathon…..I may be kidding on this one? But if I try, JD must do a half-marathon
27b. If not, run a half-marathon under 2 hours (aka, keep up with Stacy and Shelby an entire race)
28. Visit 3 baseball stadiums/new cities…change it up from Chicago/Wrigley
29. Reach out to family/friends more frequently (birthday, anniversaries, etc.)
30. Start a family

As I read through my list, there are many people that come to mind who can help me achieve these in 1 year. And you better believe I will be reaching out to them (YOU!) for great advice, experience and to share some quality time!
For instance, there is no way I can build something without my dad’s help….mostly because I wouldn’t have the tools! I ask for each birthday/Christmas, but apparently my dad (and JD) don’t trust me with a table saw!
Sewing…I think of my Aunt Kathie who can make anything and everything. Me on the other hand, I tried to sew on a button once and the outcome was very sad. I’m not sure why I asked for the sewing machine for Christmas (thanks Mom!) but I need to start putting it to use.
Running (no matter the goal), I know I couldn’t do any of it without my great running buddies! It’s mostly true that “The hardest step is the first step out the door” but not when you know you’re meeting up with great friends! Some days, 12 miles doesn’t seem like a long enough time to spend chatting outside on a gorgeous day! When we finish, I always look forward to the next run! Even if I can't walk to my car because my legs are SO sore!

I have made a few small dents, but it looks like I’ll be busy this next year! So, wish me luck as I continue to tackle this list. And feel free to share your suggestions or expertise!