Resolution For a Cause

Snowy greetings, fellow FIT BFFs! I’m back home in Minnesota today after a whirlwind weekend working on my Facebook Friends Resolution…you know the one, to do something fit/active with each of my Facebook friends. This adventure began to take shape back in July when I messaged my friend Jill to see when she’d be in town. Her response thrilled me. She said she’d actually considered my resolution and thought I’d enjoy coming to Jacksonville to walk the Donna’s half-marathon to finish breast cancer. Here’s the kicker…she would fly me out with her miles and I could stay with her. That was a generous offer I simply couldn’t refuse.

And this just kept getting better, because not only would I mark Jill off, but her sisters Julie and (my childhood playmate) Beth too. In the process, I met Jill’s friend Kris, became Facebook friends with her and marked a total of FOUR off my resolution! But that was not the best part. This weekend was a gift that continuously kept giving! Here’s a peek into our extraordinary time together.

Julie and I roamed to Jacksonville Beach Friday morning to catch a breathtaking sunrise. A soulful stroll on the beach was a most beautiful opportunity to soak up some coffee and sunshine.

Jacksonville sunrise

Soon we were off to the 26.2 with Donna The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer race expo. This was an impressive expo with a wide range of clothing, gear, inpirational novelties, medical/health organizations, (as Mayo Clinic is one of the race’s partners) and this guy (also a race partner)…running guru, Jeff Galloway!!!

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This was my second opportunity to meet up with Jeff at an expo. And here’s a little secret…with all the running this man does, hugging him is like embracing concrete…he’s SOLID muscle! I’m so in awe of him; I’ve easily been inspired to continue with that quick squeeze!

Our team had a great time exploring everything the expo had to offer. The photo booths were fun, and the mimosa I had at lunch may have contributed to this impromtu shot…

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We picked up our race packets, made some purchases and were more than prepared for the event!

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Now all we had to do was sit back and relax until Sunday, so we made great use of our time, like a shopping adventure that led me to one of the most enchanting, uplifting stores I’ve ever experienced…Natural Life.

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Then there was this little souvenir of an activity with some of Jill’s great friends…

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And finally some pre-race pampering prep…

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We were completely race ready! And that’s great because Sunday morning rolled around quick, as we rolled out of bed at 4 am to reach the start!

Now you’d think that a race in sunny Florida would be a warm kind of thing… but waiting for it to begin, we were mighty thankful to huddle around one of many heaters!

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Before we knew it, it was time to begin. We followed thousands of people through the chute to the start line for our half-marathon together. What a surreal experience to have come all this way to be together. I was especially excited to know this was Beth’s first half, and she owned it! We enjoyed every step of the way together. The spectators/cheerleaders were fantastic; they really added something special throughout the route…like this Bud handing out beers to enhance the festivities!

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Or this very encouraging, boob-loving ape!

Jacksonville Boob Ape

Even a stop at one of the many first aid tents provided comical relief…introducing the Blister Sisters!

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It was unbelievable how quickly 13.1 miles flew by as we talked, laughed, hydrated, talked, took port-a-potty stops, laughed, fueled, hydrated, talked, laughed. Eventually, the finish line came into view and soon we accomplished what we had set out to do! Together, we helped finish breast cancer, put in a terrific workout, got fully caught-up with each other’s lives and put an amazing half-marathon behind us!

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Through Jill’s generosity and hospitality, I was able to mark four more friends off my resolution in fabulous, Floridian style! Thanks, ladies for the best weekend a gal could hope for!!!

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Resolution Progress

Hello, fellow FIT BFFs! I’m back at it, working on my Facebook Friends Resolution for another year. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know what this resolution is all about…I resolved in 2014 to do something fit or active with each of my Facebook friends. I marked 75 off my list last year, but have quite a few to go, so, energetically, I continue!

I never thought I’d ever mark this person off my resolution list, because until this week, he was not on Facebook…can you imagine, someone not being on Facebook? Well, that would be my husband Eric! Not only is he not a social media butterfly, it nearly takes someone to drag him, kicking and screaming into this century’s tech age. So although we’ve done some pretty fun, active and wildly adventurous things throughout this past year, none of them counted for my resoultion…until today!

A quick check of the temperature told us it was a balmy, mild morning here in southeastern Minnesota. Twenty-one degrees is nearly a heatwave compared to what we’ve been experiencing lately. So without considering the windchill, we took off for my favorite little snowshoe trail.

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Good thing we bundled up, because it was crazy-cold, cold enough to sting whatever body parts were not well covered and layered. But after hauling ourselves up the first mammoth hill, we were no longer cold. And after 50 minutes of meandering ascents and decents on the trail, we both enjoyed one heck of a workout…my app claims I burned 600 calories…hooray!

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Thanks for agreeing to put down some tracks out there instead of hibernating today, Eric! Fellow FIT BFFs, if you are dealing with winter weather right now, don’t just wish it away. Make it work for you. Find an activity you enjoy in the weather that you have. It’s not only a great way to make it seem to pass more quickly, it’s a fantastic way to put your Best Foot Forward!

2015 Resolution Wrap…Hello 2016!

It’s nearly here, fellow FIT BFFs…2016! So many folks on social media are discussing New Year’s resolutions, and for very good reason!

I want to take a moment to look back at my resolution for 2015, where I resolved to do something fit or active with each of my Facebook friends. It was my hope, goal and determination for 2015 to meet up with each of those people and get moving. It was not my intention to put anyone through anything too strenuous, grueling or painful (unless that’s what they wanted).  I simply wanted to reconnect with friends and family that I had not seen for however long in a manner other than sitting at a bar and grill, ingesting the next three days worth of calories.

Having declared my resolution to anyone willing to read it, I put myself out there. I held myself accountable in front of my blog and social media. And although I didn’t complete my resolution, I kept at it all year. And isn’t that really what it’s all about? Take a quick look at all my willing participants…

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So there’s a depiction of an insane amount of calories burned. If you look close enough at the pictures (and I know they are extremely small), you’ll notice smiles on every one! I had the time of my life catching up with family and friends from near and far. Although I was not able to get together with all 252 of my Facebook friends this year, I had an amazing time with the ones I did. We walked many distances including a stroll for UCP, snowshoed, hiked, multi-day backpack hiked, biked many distances including a 28 and 50-miler, water aerobicized, hit the crap out of balls in the batting cages, rock climbed, horseback rode, badmintoned, kayaked, stand-up paddle boarded, did some yoga, paddle board yoga, hot yoga, aerial yoga, won a 24-hour adventure race in Vegas, San Diego and even Tijuana, ran many distances including several 5Ks for good causes, a half marathon, a full marathon, navigated a multi-tiered outdoor high-ropes course, headed to the beach, mountain climbed, kick-boxed, and gave a PiYo and a belly dancing class all we had. Phewww, I’m a little tired just thinking about that.

Please allow me this opportunity to thank you all for your willingness to keep me moving! I had a great time with each and every one of you!!!

 All in all, 75 Facebook friends accepted my challenge…friends from the local area, all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Alaska, Hawaii…and even Slovenia!  I wish I had found more time to invite more friends to join me, but the year got away from me for various reasons. But that’s no reason to for disappointment!

Why? Because I know what I’m resolving for 2016! I have all kinds of places left to go and so many friends and family left to catch up with. I’m downright giddy with the possibilities this next year holds for more adventures and quality time with more of my Facebook peeps. I’ve already got some pretty magnificent plans in the works to get moving…YIPPIE!!!

The other resolution I am making for 2016 is in all things, have FUN!

I’d love to hear what resolutions you are making for 2016…drop me a comment and let’s inspire each other. Happy New Year, FIT BFFs!!!

 

 

Life’s a Beach Resolution!

My final Facebook Friends Resolution activity of 2015 found me on beautiful Kailua Beach on Oahu. This was not a resolution activity I even thought possible this year, but some pretty surreal circumstances made it happen…you can read about those here. I could not have dreamt a more perfect reunion for my cousin, Bonnie and me to enjoy.

I had been to Honolulu 3 1/2 years ago and saw all the best Oahu had to offer, thanks to her. She and her husband, Ron immersed me in Hawaiian culture, taught me how to decipher the pronunciation of the native language, introduced me to some of the most exquisite foods/dining, and revealed the most intriguing spots on the island. We did all the touristy things, saw all the sights…she spoiled me rotten!

Bonnie and I even climbed Diamond Head, despite our physical limitations back then…

Bonnie

But that was then. We’ve both put some pretty astounding dedication and determination to work since that time and have both experienced transformation. You can read more about Bonnie’s amazing weight loss success here.

What a gift it was to spend time with her again in paradise. And what a beautiful way to celebrate our VICTORY!

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This was a resolution activity I won’t soon forget. I can still feel the refreshing water and warm sun and sand, hear the waves and the delighted screams and laughter of children at that beach. This adventure fed my soul, Bonnie, and I’m so thankful we were able to make it happen. Mahalo and aloha ‘oe…until we meet again!

High-Flying Resolution D-O-N-E!

Happy New Year’s Eve, fellow FIT BFFs! I have a couple more Facebook Friend Resolution activities to report before I call it a wrap for the year. If you’ve been following me lately, you know I resolved at the beginning of 2015 to do something fit or active with each of my Facebook friends. Unfortunately, I got behind and didn’t blog this one until now, but hey…better late than never, right?!?

This was a multiple-session kind of activity. One I had wanted to do for a long time, but was less than excited about trying it alone. So how awesome was it to have Cody, my personal trainer, Reiki practitioner and friend offer to sign up for the class with me? Not just anyone would do that. Especially when the class is aerial yoga, or one that starts at 8am!

Thursdays became something I really looked forward to. I found this form of yoga to be an incredible way to stretch everything out as I was in the midst of marathon training. Nowhere else can a person lengthen their spine quite like this and live to tell about it!

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Our instructor, Leana did a stellar job of teaching us how to get into some pretty fantastic poses, like the impressive pigeon that Cody demonstrates here…

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And all the while, she kept us safe, both demonstrating and explaining each move before we attempted them for ourselves. Good thing too because one could easily fall out of the harness onto his/her head if they didn’t know what they were doing. The great news is, throughout the entire session of classes, no one did.

No, there were no accidents…only laughter, hanging, flying, swinging, laughter, stretching, focus, laughing, breathing and the best darn savasana I’ve ever experienced week after week. Did I mention there was laughing? There was some dizziness, near blackout and nausea too, but that was my own fault HAHA!

My favorite part of this class was feeling like a kid again. And that’s extraordinary because not many things can do that for a middle-aged mom anymore.

I don’t know why I waited until now to try this amazing class…I guess it was so I could mark Cody off my list, and I’m so glad I did! The lesson here, friends, don’t let apprehension hold you back from trying something new and awesome. Grab a trusted friend and TRY!

Arial Yoga

Namaste, Cody!

Never Say Never or A Marathon Fairy Tale of Miracles

Fellow FIT BFFs, often we don’t see the extraordinary blessings headed our way. Rather we doubt they are possible, or can’t imagine nor comprehend them happening.

Warning: This is one of those LONG ones!

Once upon a time…back in April, my friend Kris gifted me one heck of a challenge for my birthday…one I wasn’t quite sure what to think of…

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It was a genius gift, really, with motivational strings attached, that went like this:

  1. I could only wear the charms I earned
  2. I must earn them in order
  3. I had one year from my birthday to complete this challenge

I couldn’t decide whether this gift was a blessing or curse! I had previously only run no more than five miles and frankly, distance terrified me. Some of you may also recall I was only a year out from a car accident that left me with multiple fractures, sprains, strains and contusions. An experience that instilled fear of re-injury, yet ignited something within that refused to be extinguished…my comeback!

My mind was in constant turmoil over accepting and possibly accomplishing this challenge. I couldn’t turn it off in my head…should I do this? Why would I want to do this? Why wouldn’t I want to do this. I know I can do part of it. Could I really take it all the way? Note: I NEVER imagined in a million years I would ever run a marathon before I receieved this gift!

I kicked off this crazy challenge that same month with my friend Rhendy, running the Unleash the SHE 5K…DONE!

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It felt great to be on the board as I placed the first charm on my necklace. The next had me apprehensive, but I knew it could be done. So I registered for my first 10K, the SOS or Stay Out of the Sun Run. And mid-May, although I had trained, it took everything I had to run the entire distance. But with the support and encouragement of my dietitian Branda and trainer Kasi, how could I fail?

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Boom! Another charm on the necklace, but now this is where things got scary for me. I just ran 6.2 miles and I dug as deep as I could to get it done. How could I possibly run farther?

When my trainer and a new friend, Andrej (from a company that shows interest in my journey and is generously encouraging me to succeed with their cool app) propose a new challenge, do I have a choice? Not so much! They coaxed me to set the insane goal of a half marathon. Me! The 43-year-old who’d recently lost 80 pounds. Who used to weigh 246 pounds!!! A lady who before this year hated running! Run a half marathon? I thought they were crazy. And I thought I was even crazier to consider it. But what if I could?

A funny thing happened; that necklace mocked my apprehension. Whatever had ignited after that accident went beast within and answered for me…before I could even reason with myself. Of course I would do it! And when we selected Chicago for the location, things got real! I continued strength training with Kasi, and later with Cody (when Kasi went on maternity leave). I completed 12 weeks of half-marathon training and at the end of September, supported and motivated by Maja and Andrej of 24alife, this happened…

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Earned another charm! I didn’t know what hit me. As I crossed the finish line of 13.1 miles, exhausted to the core, mind and soul…something ludicrous washed over me. For a while I believed it was merely endorphins and an overdose of oxygen to my brain, but something deep within craved MORE!

For some strange reason, instead of halting my training, I continued. I turned ideas over in my head for days after that. I’d looked at a few local fall marathons and even a winter one in Honolulu, but for various reasons talked myself out of all of them. Sure, Hawaii would be nice, but the money factor alone convinced me to forget it…I could NEVER afford that trip right now. So  I did forget about it. I thought this was where my necklace tale ended. I could still proudly wear it with only three charms, right?

When I should have felt accomplished, in all honesty I was a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual mess. My trainer Cody picked up on this and invited me to try a holistic healing session at his office, as he is also a certified Reiki practitioner.

Cody

A one-hour treatment at his establishment A New Beginning in Rochester, MN calmed my nerves and subsided my anxiety. His intuitive nature beckoned me to declare my next race. Because I had set it all aside, I didn’t have an answer. And when he persisted, I still had nothing. He urged me to keep alert, and that it would make itself known and it would be amazing.

And just the next day, October 23rd, I read a pivotal Facebook post by Rhonda Martin of Living Instead of Existing…a page I’d followed for a couple years, drawing inspiration from her astounding 277 pound weight loss journey. In this post she announced that although her friend Matt decided to run their first marathon at his own pace and she would be alone (26.2 miles is a long time to be alone), she decided, although worried and concerned, she was going to go ahead and run the Honolulu Marathon by herself.

The moment I read Honolulu Marathon, I replayed Cody’s words in my head and without a moment’s hesitation, knowing this was exactly THE race, I messaged Rhonda that I would run it with her. I was overcome with emotion, but knew this was kismet. My husband came home to his wife bawling like a baby. When I told him everything, he said I had to do it.

Although my heart knew this was meant to be, my mind could not wrap itself around what this all meant. I shared this experience over that weekend with my extended family on a Wisconsin Dells getaway. By Monday it had sunk in and Branda (not only dietitian but marathon runner/mentor) devised a seven-week abbreviated marathon training schedule which I immediately attacked.

As the weather turned colder, I feared the climate differences I would be up against, but I trained. My generous friends at 24alife agreed to sponsor my race registration. I used my Christmas money to book airfare for my husband Eric and me. And although none of it made sense, I continued to train.

My nerves were getting the best of me, so it was time for another Reiki session with Cody. He put me in a whole new focused, renewed calm. His intuitive gifts reminded me everything would work out and to be patient and let it all happen. Although the next weeks still didn’t hold answers, I waited patiently, yet prayed like crazy. I made a few pilgramages to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, WI. I burned my Saint Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes haha) candle nearly constantly. I wore my Saints Jude and Sebastian medals everywhere. I talked to my guardian angels and my dad multiple times each day. I had my dream condo favorited on the VRBO website but didn’t book. I found it curious that it was booked for the entire year, except the 10 days we’d be in Honolulu. I just didn’t have the money in place yet. I calmly reminded myself if it was meant to be, it would wait for me!

I watched for my next miracle. I knew it was coming. I had worked on the financial piece of it throughout this final chapter and I knew it would fall into place. And the day before we flew out, the blessing of a settlement check from our car accident found its way into our mailbox. That night I booked the condo that waited for us. We flew out the next morning. I was so involved in finishing last minute details, completing my spot-on training, planning meticulous nutrition, and looking forward to meeting Rhonda and her friend Matt, I had no time for marathon apprehension.

Meeting them at the race expo was a surreal experience. I was still stunned at how everything had worked out. When we met and walked through packet pick-up, I felt as though I was dreaming!

Rhonda and Matt

The rest is simply icing on the cake! Matt arranged to pick me up from my condo so we’d arrive at the start together amongst tens of thousands of other runners. We anxiously awaited the fireworks signaling the start…thus beginning one of the best days of my life!

Honolulu Start

The miles all melted together, as Rhonda and I got to know one another and found our rhythm…walk/run intervals with some stretching every now and then. Gatorade/water stops were oases with coveted hoses, misters, and even sometimes ICE! There was free-flowing sweat and sometimes tears, but luckily no blood. The sun was strong and hot, but our resolve was steadfast. We were fulfilling our destinies!

Honolulu determined

We were here to declare our transformations and prove to ourselves we could finish what we started. We spent nine hours and three minutes together on that route. I was running with THE Rhonda Martin, inspired beyond belief. And simultaneously, at the same age, through similar journeys and both on our first 26.2, in Honolulu, Hawaii, another miracle occured…we became MARATHONERS!!!

Honolulu finish

I’ve learned a few most important life lessons leading up to this moment of victory…

Honolulu Medals

With one small change at a time and with focused perseverance, and the right amount of healing, one can certainly live Happily Ever After!

and

Never say NEVER!

And with that, I’ve just marked two more friends off my Facebook Friends Resolution…BOOM!

Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind”

I have added the last charm to the best birthday present a girl could ever ask for…not just a necklace, but a fairy tale finish with four months to spare. Thanks to everyone who played a part in this story, I am forever grateful. Thanks, especially, to the ultimate gift-giver…Kris!

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Another Resolution First!

I’ve been at it again…working on my Facebook Friends Resolution…you know the one, fellow FIT BFFs, to do something fit/active with each of my Facebook friends. Last night found me exploring something I never imagined I would do…belly dancing!

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My friend, Sarah invited me to join her at Third Eye Tribal’s American Tribal Style (ATS) belly dance class at Studio On Third. I have zero experience or knowledge of this fit activity, but that’s part of what this resolution is all about. I will do just about anything once! Although I knew nothing, I was definitely excited to learn! Sarah even provided me with a loaner skirt so I would fit right in. Now what kind of friend is that?!?

The hour-long class introduced me to some simple terminology and techniques, and before I even knew it, I was hip bumping with the rest of them. I gained a huge respect for this art and look forward to learning more about it. Why? Because from the minute I stepped foot in the studio, I felt warmly welcomed and was instantly made to feel like I belonged.

And the takeaway bonus: my core burned for hours…thus the “belly” in belly dancing! Thank you, Sarah and Third Eye Tribal for furthering me along on my Facebook Friends Resolution; my belly and I had a blast!

 

Another Resolution Reunion

I’m still at it, fellow FIT BFFs, my Facebook Friends Resolution is still going strong. You know the one…to do something fit or active with each of my Facebook friends. I haven’t seen Angie in several years…don’t even know for sure how long it’s been. But one thing’s for certain…it was high time!

Angie picked me up this morning and we escaped out of town to Oxbow Park…I was just there last week with my son Connor, but I would go back every day if I could. Its beauty is compelling. We parked the car and took for the trails. In mere moments, we were surrounded by nature. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Angie

We had a phenomenal time catching up. I don’t think Angie or I even noticed we were hiking…we just had that much to talk about lol! We soaked up some fantastic sun and were serenaded by birds. We had no hope of catching a glimpse of deer this morning, though…they heard us coming a mile away. But it didn’t matter; our laughter was priceless and we had a blast!

Sun-soaked beauty followed our every turn…

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Is there a better way to start a day?

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And before we knew it, we hit the bridge that would return us to civilization…

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Just like that, our hike was over. But it had been such a long time since we’d seen each other, we moved the party to Caribou. And we already have plans for more adventure next week. This resolution continues to be the gift that keeps giving. Thanks, Angie…you are officially marked off my list!

Unlocktober Day 16 Riverside Resolution

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Happy Weekend, fellow FIT BFFs! My month of Unlocktober is half over and I have found that making intentional decisions to nurture my soul and feed my spirit are helping me get through the tougher parts of this month. If you don’t know what I mean by Unlocktober, you can read that here.

My son, Connor and I drove a very scenic hour this morning toward the Mighty Mississippi to work on my Facebook Friends Resolution…you know the one…to do something fit or active with each of my Facebook friends. Today’s trip mission was twofold…lunch for Unlocktober and a walk for the resolution.

We met my cousin, Micki in Winona…a chance to catch up while sampling some local cuisine with one of Winona’s culinary experts. I left the venue up to her choosing and she did not disappoint. She surprised me with a healthy recipes cook book…how nice was that?!? We enjoyed a leisurely lunch before heading out for part 2.

It was cold and windy in southeastern Minnesota today, but a stroll along the river was worth it as the leaves were still stunning across the valley. Micki showed us Levee Park and explained all the different types of events that occur there. We are going to have to come back in warmer weather to enjoy some of the festivities!

We checked out the progress of the new bridge connecting Winona to Wisconsin and listened as Micki gave us some interesting history of the surrounding area. I’m embarassed to say this was my first time visiting Micki in Winona, but certainly will not be my last. We had a great time and there is still so much more to explore…we decided to make this an annual occurance!

Micki

Thanks, Micki, for helping me mark you off my resolution list and for lifting my spirits too…next time we’ll do the lake!

Another Resolution Ride

Friday night I received a text from my husband asking if I would be interested in accompanying a Scout from our Troop on his 50-mile bike ride requirement for his cycling merit badge. I’ve done this once before with my older son, Logan a few years ago. It was the longest ride I’ve done, and it took everything I had in me. But how could I say no now?

I couldn’t. At the time my son did this ride for his merit badge, his Scoutmaster, Steve was kind enough to accompany us. He was an invaluable resource to our Troop and really knew his stuff as the cycling merit badge counselor. I’ve learned so much from him through my attendance at Scout meetings, camp-outs, backpacking, ice fishing and cycling trips. I always feel safe knowing he’s going to be there!

So how fantastic to hear Steve would be joining us on this ride as well. His wife, Ginny decided to ride too, and pretty soon my husband was on board as well. Eric has never done a 50-miler, so I was excited to be there for his first too.

Our route had been well planned and mapped out by Boy Scout Michael. He gave us each a copy of the map in case we got separated. We were riding an out-and-back section on the beautiful Root River Trail beginning in Rushford. The morning started out cool and breezy, but the weather was fantastic for mid-October in Minnesota…an outstanding day to ride!

We enjoyed breaks at each of the many towns on the route, great opportunity for some stretching, re-fueling, hydrating and restrooming. We had to stop for world famous pie in Whalen…tradition! Lunch was at a quaint burger & pizza joint on Parkway in charming Lanesboro. On our return trip, Michael insisted on a second stop at the pie shop in Whalen. Since this was his ride…we had to appease him LOL!

Taking numerous breaks was key in surviving this very long ride. Michael’s requirement was to complete this ride in 8 hours or less and he got it done with time to spare. His parents would have been so proud to see him finish it; the smile on his face was priceless. I was pretty proud of Eric, Ginny and Steve too…none of us are spring chicks, but we are pretty tough.

I plan to continue cycling in the gym over the winter because one of my upcoming long-term goals is to ride RAGBRAI next year. Steve and Ginny have done this before and they might just join me next summer. Eric is still on the fence, but hey…it could happen!

Here’s our after pic…

Merit Badge

You are looking at five people very happy to be D-O-N-E!!!

I might be smiling just a little more, because although it was Michael that just finished his merit badge, I just marked Steve off my Facebook Friends Resolution!