Keeping it Fresh

I had no plans figured out for some physical activity today. I wasn’t sure how my knee would react after yesterday’s 13.1. Turns out it was pretty swollen and aggravated. But my attention immediately went another direction because it finally happened, Friends; I woke up to SNOW!!!

I know I am not the demographic norm, at my age, for those who are even mildly okay with it. I’d guess about 93% of those folks here in MN HATE the white stuff. But I couldn’t be more excited! In fact, I never put my snowshoes away last spring…they’ve been sitting in my garage, waiting all year!

They were just as anxious as I was to get out in it today, but it was not to be. We only got 2.5 inches. It will take another 10 plus for these guys to see any action. Patience.

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I already knew I couldn’t push things at the gym today, so I had something perfect in mind to change things up. I settled for a short walk to the park with Eric; how could one stay in on a beautiful, snow blanketed afternoon like this anyway?

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The crisp, fresh air was invigorating. We walked right up to my favorite part of the park, not having to wait our turn. We had the place to ourselves.

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I spent the next 10 minutes or so forgetting about my angry knee; it seemed more than happy to participate in this opportunity to soar!

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Some of you may think I’ve lost it, but I invite you to jump on a swing and not have the experience bring you back to the simple joys of childhood! I could do this all day, except that it was 33 degrees and I may have forgotten quite how to dress for this weather. Regardless, I was refreshed. Renewed. Energized!

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As we left the park headed for home, I noticed how clean and new everything appeared…untouched. There was really only one thing left to do…

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My first snow angel of the season. Not the most impressive, but it’s a start. I walked home satisfied in knowing much more snow will fall, and when it does…these guys will practically jump on my feet!

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2016 Mission Accomplished!

It has been a fantastic day of multi-tasking, and I’m so excited about that, Friends. I finished something I’ve been working all year to complete! My 2016 goal of a half marathon each month was realized today in a unique and heartwarming manner. Yesterday I told you how I intended to fit in those last 13.1 miles here at home. With several participants along for the walk, it was a blast!

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I walked 7.2777778 laps around Silver Lake with great company. As a few friends finished a lap or two, others arrived. I was thankful to have someone with me for each and every mile from beginning to end. Their presence really warmed my heart on this 30 degree day!

We shared wonderful conversations and bounced some ideas around for a new challenge or two for 2017…something I’ve been trying to figure out for weeks; but you’ll have to wait to hear about that.

So remember the part about multi-tasking? Not only did I finish my 2016 goal, I continued to chip away at my Facebook Friends Resolution…you know the one, to do something fit/active with each of my Facebook friends. I’m happy to report I marked Sherri and Marisa off my list. Thanks for your willingness to join me, Ladies!

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But the awesomeness didn’t end there, fellow FIT BFFs! I was also able to record today’s activity on my December challenge…the Advent Calendar of Activity!

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If you haven’t joined in on the fun this little calendar provides, stop by here to read about the challenge and print off your own little gift of motivation right now! It’s never to late to get with it…start today!

It feels great to have achieved my goal, but I must admit, I am tired. I plan to retire to the couch tonight. But I won’t plan to get too comfortable, because tomorrow is another opportunity to be consistent…one more way to put my Best Foot Forward!

Fulfilling a Promise to Myself with Your Help!

Hi, Friends! For a middle-aged beginner runner, I set a pretty lofty goal for myself this year. I aimed to complete one half marathon each month of 2016. Although logistics, finances, multiple injuries and untimely surgery took their turns challenging the completion, I have every intention of finishing what I started because I am not a quitter!

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By the numbers, I’ve already done it…that is, I’ve participated in 13 half marathons this year, and although I wrecked my knee on one and only made it to mile 8…I’ve still already completed 12. Heck, I even threw in a marathon for good measure. But something in me says that’s not good enough. I haven’t technically done a half each month until I mark off December!

Mind you, it’s difficult to find a December half marathon in the Midwest. The only one remotely close has a time requirement I will not be able to meet.

So I’ve decided to do a bit of a virtual race tomorrow morning here in Rochester, MN, and I’m inviting local readers, friends and family to participate in helping me see this thing through!

I’m not asking for money. And I’m not just referring to runners either. No, I’m inviting anyone in the local area to join me for any portion of my 13.1 mile walk at Silver Lake. I’m still experiencing some minor knee issues, so the pace is not at all intimidating…in fact, Friends, YOU CAN PICK THE PACE!

I will begin at 10 am tomorrow, Saturday, December 3rd at the old Silver Lake fire station. Since it will take me at least 4 hours (maybe even 5) to complete this thing, feel free to drop by at any point. And because the Silver Lake loop is only 1.8 miles, if you drive around, I should be pretty easy to spot all bundled up in purple.

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PLEASE take just a few minutes out of your crazy-paced holiday preperation mode to get some fresh air, burn a few calories and help me see this thing through!

Here’s one more thing I will invite you to do…since I initially set this goal to keep off the weight I’ve lost in the past 4 1/2 years, I will be adding weight as a component of this half. I’m asking those who are willing to bring along a canned or boxed food item to benefit Channel One Regional Food Bank that I will pop in my backpack and carry along…some extra weight to remind me why I’m doing this. And a wonderful way for us to help our community. I hope to collect at least the number of pounds that I’ve lost in food.

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So let me repeat the details…

Who: Any of you local peeps, whether you are friends, family or readers (cause that makes us friends!)

What: Walk any distance with me…anywhere from 1.8 to 13.1 miles your pace

Where: Silver Lake, Rochester, MN

When: Saturday, December 3rd any time between 10 am and 2pm

How: Bundled up for the 35 degree high and with a can/box of food to donate to Channel One

Why: Because I’d love YOU to be a part of my final half marathon! And 13.1 miles is a LONG way to walk alone!!!

A major bonus would be if any of my Facebook friends show up that haven’t participated in my Facebook Friends Resolution…I can mark you off too! I hope many of you can join me tomorrow to put our Best Foot Forward!

December Challenge: Advent Calendar of Wellness

Happy December, fellow FIT BFFs! Not sure how it arrived so quickly, but here we are in the final month of 2016. I know how crazy December can be. Prior to the beginning of my journey toward wellness, the holiday hustle and bustle threatened to take me down…year after year. One December actually found me in the ER with what I thought were heart attack symptoms. Thankfully, it was an anxiety attack, but I should never have allowed that month to feel so out of control. I’m happy to say I’ve made diliberate changes to avoid recurrence. In reminding myself, I thought it also helpful to share this little idea with you.

Two years ago, I prepared an advent calendar. You’ve all seen these, it’s a December tradition with little doors that children open, one for each day leading to Christmas…some even include chocolate.

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Having lost a significant amount of weight by that time, my calendar did NOT include treats, but instead, was chock-full of motivation. It was simply a blank calendar I posted on my fridge as a constant, visual reminder to move. Each day as I completed a workout, I recorded it. Here’s a glimpse…

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I found with each passing day, I was more and more motivated to fill those boxes. By the end of the month it had been completely filled which left me feeling accomplished. I’m ready for that sense of satisfaction again…I’ve got a fun calendar printed off, posted and ready to fill with my fit activities.

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I invite you to join me in this festive fitness challenge. Simply print off this free printable calendar made available by the fine folks at iMOM here, and get busy gifting yourself a little wellness every day this month.

Let’s give ourselves a gift of wellness every day this month…one festive way to put our Best Foot Forward!

To Arizona and Back!

Hey Friends! I know it has been a while; I’ve been on another adventure where I had very limited writing time and wi-fi. But it’s all good! Remember how I’ve been devoting one day a month to me, to rejuventate and recharge? Well, I took that one giant leap further to enhance something I don’t normally look forward to…here’s what I mean.

For the past few years, my brother and I have taken turns driving with my mom in her RV, accompanying her to and from her winters in Arizona. Although I enjoy spending time with her, I never looked forward to this trip. It was three days of nonstop driving and very little sleep, and also required extra travel to either fly there or home to complete the journey. I had a tough time imagining the trip again this year until I considered reconfiguring it into something more fun and enjoyable for both of our sakes. Continuous improvement at its finest!

So why not make this a we trip. Not the kind where we kill ourselves to get there in three days, but an adventure with multiple stops to make memories? Looking at my November calendar, it was very right that this trip would coincide with my monthly me day and some races I had previously registered for. So here’s a look at Arizona Roadtrip 2016!

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We left Rochester early one morning, determined to put lots of miles behind us before stopping for the night. My mom traded in her previous Winnebago for a shorter, sleeker model this year, one that’s a diesel dream to drive…great choice, Mom! We headed west to avoid major construction to the south of us. I mean, why make things any more difficult than they need to be? As we stopped for gas that night, we were treated to this amazing sunset…

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We ended up in Rapid City, SD that night. Incidentally, it happened to be election night. It seemed only right we take a little time that next morning for a bit of a detour here…

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A chance to ponder some amazing presidents of our country’s past as we hiked along the Presidential Trail. A chance to become one with nature as we were greeted by this goat, perhaps enjoying some me time of his own.

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That was a great opportunity to get some activity in before we hit the road for several hundred more miles. As it grew dark, this guy wouldn’t budge, so we took his suggestion to stop for the night in Rawlins, WY…

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Our next day was filled with breathtaking scenery as we traveled through the rest of Wyoming and into Utah. Here are just a few glimpses of what we saw from the road…

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I made a point to continue my healthy eating on the road and was delighted to find two of my favorites just yards from each other in Provo. We have neither of these at home, so what tremendous luck!

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Thanks Pita Pit and Bowl of Heaven, just for being there! We stopped in Cedar City for the night and indulged in a soulful pause the next morning where I enjoyed a coffee for my favorite peep currently deployed in Afghanistan. We texted over a delightful Ethiopian blend…

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And we were off! I was really looking forward to this part of our journey…Vegas, Baby! I had plans to meet up with some running buddies at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Expo where we picked up our race bibs…

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Soon we were running the 5K together. My legs had had several days of rest, so things went well. It was a gorgeous night to earn some bling! Incidentally, I was able to mark Lindsay (in the pink) off my Facebook Friends Resolution…YAY!

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Meanwhile, my mom and I had parked the RV in front of my cousin’s new home in Henderson and we enjoyed some R & R the next afternoon…what’s not to love about this?!?

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And being mere days from snow at home, I relished in the chance to soak in some sun…ahhh!

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Later that evening, it was back to the strip to complete my 13th half marathon this year. I’d like to say it was my best, but with all the injuries, aches and pains this fall, it turned out to be my slowest and most difficult. Regardless…a WIN!

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We spent one more wonderful day recovering/sightseeing with my cousin and her husband before we continued on our way. We made a stop in Flagstaff for some shopping and more Pita Pit. I had one more magical stop in mind before our destination, a place that feeds my soul…Sedona! We spent the night there and woke up to this natural playground!

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We took time to wander to places we hadn’t seen the last time we were here…

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There is stunning beauty around every corner in this place!

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After some shopping and lunch, it was time to finish our trip…we rolled on toward Coolidge, AZ. We just finished setting up in my mom’s winter playground when we were greeted with this…

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And just like that, she was all tucked in and home for winter!

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What a fantastic trip we had, stretching out our travel to take in some beauty, family, friends and fun along the way…a major improvement from the migration of previous years. I think we got it right this time! There was only one more thing to do, just a few more hours of me time before I as back home.

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And as Delta says, there’s no stop in me, only go! This turned out to be the perfect trip, but I have to admit, there’s no place like home!

Friends, next time you are faced with a task you are less than excited about, look at it from another direction. Figure out how to make it time well spent doing something you love. It’s one more great way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

A Marathon of Respect and Solemn Appreciation

Hello Friends; it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I couldn’t let Veterans Day slip by without thanking all the men and women who put their lives and hearts into defending our freedom every single day. I’ve had an extraordianry lesson, recently, in just how amazing these folks were/are, and it’s time I attempt to put that experience into words.

Two weeks ago, after months of training runs and weeks of injury rehab, it was time to trust in my training. Still stunned by the reality of this great opportunity, I was about to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC! It was time to do my best, to hope for the best…it was really all I could do!

Reality hit at the race expo. With that bib in hand, I knew there was no going back now…but I wouldn’t dream of it. Here’s a pic of my long distance training buddies, Matt (who’s bright idea and support made this happen) from Alaska and Jackie (our interval queen) from San Diego…It still blows my mind that we’d come together to do this!

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I prepared the night before, laid out my Flat Carla to make sure nothing was forgotten. Note the Air Force dog tags, a tresured reminder from my dad to persevere. And then there was the photo, and the kinesio tape. Two more things that would assist!

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I didn’t get much sleep that night before; I couldn’t turn off the anticipation that filled my head. I had no idea how my body would hold up. I was stressing about my ability to meet the time requirement to finish. But most importantly, I had the privilege of running in memory of a Marine Veteran, John Guthrie, who succumbed to PTSD…I just couldn’t let this fallen hero or his family down. I wore his picture…a lot was riding on my back and heart!

Early the next morning, as I taped up my knee (what an amateur job)…

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I couldn’t help but consider what irony it was that John was a wounded Vietnam soldier, sent home with a gunshot wound to his knee. No matter how tough things got out there, I vowed to press on in John’s memory.

We quickly found ourselves on the shuttle that started the forward motion of this life-changing event.

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We still had a couple hours before go time, so I made some friends…

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One glance of the sky at the start assured me this would be a truly memorable day.

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And so it began. Matt, Jackie and I briefly ran together, but eventually separated with our own paces. And that was a good thing, because as I approached the blue mile where many fallen soldiers’ pictures were placed, followed by their loved ones holding flags and encouraging us to continue…I needed my space. These young men and women gave their lives to protect us! I barely held my emotions together.

I was reminded of what a wonderful country I live in, what rich history was right here. And how blessed I felt to be running past such national treasures…

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But the real treasures here were all the active duty and retired Marines here to encourage and thank us for running their marathon…there were simply no words.

My pace continued to slow, it was 80 degrees and my knee was starting to squawk. I don’t know how it happened, but when this sign came into view, I was so relieved! I’d reached mile 18 before I was cut and I, thankfully, had beat that doggone bridge!

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That bridge had been a mental block in my head since the day I’d registered, and John Guthrie and I beat that thing. Together.

The rest is a blur. Once across that bridge, my running was over. I walked, limped and dragged my sorry body forward. I was thrilled to reach the Pentagon because I knew I was getting closer to the finish line.

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The sun continued to beat down and its effects were responsible for taking many people out of the race. But I refused to be one of them. I did everything I could to continue fueling and hydrating my body. I did a pretty good job of keeping it together. I was more determined than I’d ever been in my life…I was going to finish this thing. But I was only inches from falling apart.

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Around mile 25 (I think), at the final waterstop, a retired Marine must have sensed I was avoiding eye contact. I was doing everything in my power to hold it together when he got in my face and told me I was amazing.

And that was it. I lost it. I bawled like a baby, in continued, forward motion, for that final mile. My eyes and emotions leaked all over…so much for that hydration.

That last .2 was a miracle, Friends. I was never so happy to receive a medal! I think I even hugged this young man when he gave it to me.

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I don’t know how I crossed that finish line. Wait, I do I had…the memory of John Guthrie USMC on my back and in my heart. He was the driving force that pushed me forward, over that glorious finish!

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And just as suddenly as it had began, it was finished and recovery began. It had been a whirlwind weekend. As I flew out the next morning, it was kismet I would fly over the Pentagon.

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One final, lasting reminder what all the dedicated men and women of our armed forces have done and continue to do so that I can continue to live life as I know it, here on the land that I love.

Happy Veterans Day.

A Brilliant Plan!

Happy November, Friends!

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I have survived my marathon hangover, have torn the much-edited training schedule clear off my fridge and am ready to set and accomplish new goals!

I very recently (like yesterday) accepted a challenge hosted by a kindred spirit on a Facebook page I adore, From Fat to Finish Line (the closed group). John Hulsey has challenged readers to “A Healthy, Happy, Holiday Challenge.”

This is the same incredible guy that was willing to meet up with me a few weeks ago in San Diego…

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So this is his fantastic challenge…it’s simultaneously simple yet genius!

Here’s how it goes…

“From Halloween to New Year’s Eve. Two months. Sixty days. And yes, you can do this. The specifics of the challenge are up to each one of us. Maybe you need to track your food. Maybe you want to commit to a training plan. Maybe there are foods (or drinks) that you want to avoid. Pick your own accountability plan. Share it with us. And then get (and give) support. It’s that simple. And in sixty days, while everyone else is worrying over how much weight they have gained over the holidays, we will all be feeling great knowing we stuck to our plans and made it through even better than when we started. If you want to be held accountable, it’s up to you to share your plans. Let’s make this holiday season a time to remember!”

In the true and giving spirit of the holidays, I hope John is flattered that I am stealing passing along his brilliance, rather than considering legal action against me lol! After all, we are all in this pursuit of health and happiness together, right?

So, fellow FIT BFFs, I say we commit to this challenge here too. I know we are a day late, but that’s the story of my life haha. And no, it’s not my original idea, but why reinvent an already perfect wheel? I will plan to post a How’s it Going kind of post every week and those participating can chime in…I hope you will ALL participate because Baby, you’re worth it!

We put so much time, money and energy into everyone else’s enjoyment of the holidays. Let’s make investing in our health and happiness a priority too! I can’t think of a better gift we can give ourselves and, in turn, our loved ones.

I’ll start right now…

Today I commit to doing these for the next two months:

  • Tracking my eating…nutrition has been a struggle for me lately and I need to rein it in!
  • Set aside time to read some books I’ve been meaning to read on healing and mindfulness.
  • Amp up my strength training and continue some running so I am able to join John at the starting line of San Diego’s Holiday Half December 18th (if he’s still speaking to me after today).

This is my plan for this part of my journey. Likely, you have different ideas for yourself. Whether it’s one goal or more…nothing is too big or too small…I’d love to hear them!

So what are you committing to do for yourself for the next two months? Please leave a comment below, then get busy. Let’s all put our Best Foot Forward this holiday season!

Another Year Later…Warning: Emotional as Hell!

Well I don’t know how it’s been another year already, but it can still cut like a knife. Five years ago today was the last spent with my dad. He was suffering the effects of end-stage lung cancer and I remember every detail of that day and night like it was yesterday.

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Those of you who’ve been reading for a while know the story, but if you are a new reader, here’s last year’s summation.

I’ve continued to struggle on my journey to wellness, hit some walls that didn’t necessarily make sense to me. In a session with my all-knowing health coach, she shared with me that, although I’ve made great strides, she still sensed an underlying sadness, which left unaddressed would continue to come back again and again. Well it didn’t even take a moment for me to pinpoint what that could be and I proceeded to open the floodgates wide. Everything spilled out. See, I’ve spent five years convincing everyone (including myself), that I was fine, strong, okay. But inside I was not.

Does that hurt ever go away?

She recommended something so simple, I might have laughed…had I not been blubbering. But it made sense and I was ready to try anything to ease the hurt. So I did.

One afternoon, recently, I drove out to a place our family shared many fond memories. A place I continue to feel my dad strongly. It was a gorgeous autumn day. I sat myself down, drank in the sunshine and allowed my mind to recall anything at all it wanted to. And I began to journal. I hadn’t realized how sad I was that memories had started to fade, but in that place, it all came back. I couldn’t seem to write fast enough to get it all down. It simply poured out. And the tears did too.

I’ve been encouraged recently to let it all spill out. We’ve been taught to stuff it down, to be strong. At a young age we’re told to stop crying, right? But it’s in stifling that stuff that we do more harm than good. So I didn’t try to stop it.

It wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d expected. And when hours had passed and I had to head home, I was astounded at what I had recollected and recorded. What really hit me was a valuable realization. It was right there before me, yet it never registered until now.

My dad lived six years following his diagnosis; he’s been gone for five more. That’s 11 years my spirit has been crushed and at 44 years old, I’ve lived a fourth of my life in grief. There it was…my A-HA moment!

So what have I learned? When the feelings hit, let them come. Honor them. Think about where they are coming from and start writing, because, likely, they are trying to tell me something.

I felt like I’d made significant progress. And just a few nights later I dreamt my dad showed up at my door to spend the day with me. I could smell his Aqua Velva ice blue aftershave, could feel the softness of his flannel shirt. He hugged me. Twice! And I could feel those hugs…feel the squeezes, just like those he used to give so freely. Best. Dream. Ever.

Although I know today may hit me continuously in the feels, I know I’m not alone. I’m catching a flight to DC this afternoon to run the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend. Yes, my dad’s dog tags will be tucked close to my heart, but I will have someone else along for the run…I will be a living memorial for a fallen veteran I never had the honor of meeting.

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We’ve got this, John!

I know it will be a wildly emotional experience, but hey…I know exactly what to do with that now. And I know I won’t be the only one!!!

Win-It Wednesday OOriginal OOFOS Winners

Happy Win-It Wednesday, fellow FIT BFFs! I want to thank my friends at OOFOS for another opportunity to educate and reward fellow FIT BFFs with fantastic products.

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I’m excited to announce the following winners of OOFOS’ OOriginal Sport Sandals…

Congratulations to Wendy, Mallory & Nicole!!!

I will email each of you for shipping details.

Many thanks to all who entered. If you did not win this time, but are still interested in the amazing support technology this footwear has to offer, stop over to the OOFOS website to see what all the excitement is about.

I’ve got my OOriginal Sport Sandals packed and ready to travel to Washington DC tomorrow, because there is nothing I’d rather slip into after the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday!

Properly supporting our feet after an intense workout is one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!