{State #19} South Dakota

Every race teaches me something about myself.  With each race I learn that I am stronger than I thought I was in new, often unexpected ways.  I learn more about the power the mind holds to keep us moving forward during difficult times.  I learn new coping strategies to push through challenging parts.  Sometimes I consider what makes me love marathoning is not just exploring new places, but exploring more of myself.

The Brookings Marathon had a lot going for it.  First of all, it was FREE!  In honor of the Brookings Marathon’s 50th anniversary the first person from each state to register received a free entry.  I found a surprise refund check in my bag when I explored my race expo bag at my hotel.  Free marathon…yes, please!

The race was a small race which makes the expo, race day parking, navigation and finding where things are much simpler.  The race expo and race were extremely well organized and staffed with volunteers and organizers.  The event was clearly planned by runner(s) with runners in mind as it showed in so many of the details.  You would think this would be obvious at most races, but it is not always the case.  There was a stepped up bag, a quality shirt I actually liked and will wear (I’ve worn it three times already), and a map on the back of the bib.  The race course had tons of volunteers, close water stops, lots of restrooms and awesome signs put out throughout the entire race by organizers.  And did I mention this race was free for me.

Coming into this marathon I was more exhausted physically and emotionally than I can remember being before a race.  I was still getting used to eating normal meals after the nasty bought of food poisoning I had less than two weeks before that caused me to barely eat for days, not drink my morning coffee for NINE days (no coffee at all for FIVE days) and lose five pounds in five days.  Physically I did not feel I had full strength yet.  Emotionally I was so exhausted due to the passing of my son’s friend that week and attending the visitation the night before I left.  Consequently, I went into this race feeling pretty empty.  I guess that put me in the perfect spot to do some struggling…er, learning.

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The morning of the race, I woke up in good spirits framing my mind about what I knew would grow difficult at some point.  The marathon, no matter how many you do, I feel always hits a point or points where things get hard.  You just know it is going to happen.  Mentally preparing for it helps me to stay calm when this hits and know that I can work through this because I have before.

Mile 1-9:12
Mile 2-9:04
Mile 3-9:34
Mile 4-9:15
Mile 5-9:25

This race definitely taught me about my own strength as is was not very scenic.  Like at all.  Small parts went through parks and areas I’m sure the organizers tried to highlight, but alas it just isn’t in that scenic of an area.  Without the mental distraction of beautiful sites, this race was a bit of a slog fest for me.  The course also had lots and lots of turns.  Running tangents is something I think all marathon runners know about, but with some almost 100 turns I read someone say that brings it to a new level.  It was very distracting in a not great way to turn so much.

Mile 6-9:30
Mile 7-9:14
Mile 8-11:01 (Bathroom stop)
Mile 9-9:19
Mile 10-9:13

The roads were also not closed to traffic as it was a small race.  This was kind of new for me.  Even in smaller races I’ve done before, roads were closed or partially blocked off to provide runners space and peace of mind that they could focus on their race and not worry about the person who is not paying attention or looks down at their phone and sideswipes a runner.  This may seem like a small detail, but when my mind had been working on focusing on the task of running a marathon and working through those details, focusing on where I was in relation to traffic on some busy road stretches is NOT what I wanted to be doing.  It was extra tiring.

Mile 11-9:04
Mile 12-9:32
Mile 13-9:30
Mile 14-10:06 (change shirt and moved race bib to tank)
Mile 15-10:01

Despite these challenges, each race reminds me of things I often forget about.  In regular day to day it is easy to forget about the power of physically pushing your limits to exhaustion and the accomplishment this invites.  The power of people to encourage, uplift and inspire.  The power of a comment or phrase at just the right time.  The power of positivity in changing mindset.

Mile 16-9:37
Mile 17-9:35
Mile 18-9:37
Mile 19-9:33
Mile 20-10:14

The friendly people I chatted with on the course saved me.  Two in particular were both working on their 50 state goals also.  I got to meet and run with a woman who quit teaching after ~ten years to open a running store.  She is working on her second round of running 50 marathons in 50 states.  Her first round she completed by age 40.  She also told me about her recent running adventure of running a marathon in Antarctica followed by a week of exploring.  Later in the race when I swore I just didn’t want to talk to anyone came along a friendly mom of teens working on her 50 states goal.  This was state number 30 for her.  She’s was from Ohio, recommended the Flying Pig Marathon and invited me to stay with her when I run Ohio.  She was exactly what I needed to see and talk to at that exact moment in the race.  I was uplifted, encouraged and inspired by these people so much.

Mile 21-10:06
Mile 22-9:49
Mile 23-10:24 (Bathroom stop)
Mile 24-9:31

Since I ran a marathon six weeks prior without maintaining the training I’d hoped to (I know we’ve all heard that story before from me :), I did not have a set time goal in mind.  I needed to simply run and not have any extra pressures that day.  This was a slow marathon for me.  Even though I knew I didn’t have the training or the mental/physical state to push it, it is hard for me to know times I have ran in the past compared to what I’m running during this busy season of life.  I try no to dwell on that too much though.  I also like to remind people we all have our fast, slow and in between paces.  We all know what it feels like to run each of them.  The numbers really don’t matter so much as the sense it brings us in knowing what we are capable of running versus what we actually run.

During the last mile and a half of the race I was just so ready to be done.  At the halfway point of mile 25 I passed a sign that said I can and I will.  This became my motto for the rest of the race.  Every ten steps or so I would say out loud to myself, “I can and I will.”  Over and over again.  It got me to the finish.  It kept my mind on the task at hand.  It kept the negative out.  It kept me running when I wanted to stop.  And in the end, even though I was talking to myself and probably looked slightly crazy, I did it.  I can and I did.

Mile 25-9:44

Mile 26-9:00

Finish Time-4:13

The Brookings Marathon was mentally challenging to my already taxed brain with its extra challenges, focus zappers and negative distractions.  Had my headspace been better prior or had I had some companions, I might have viewed this a bit differently; take my description with a grain of salt.  I was so proud to have finished this race with only half my head and body in the game.  Not easy for me for sure.

No matter how a race goes running wise, I never forget that part of my goal is also to experience a state or city when crossing a state off of my list.  I did know going in that this wouldn’t be possible with every state to the extent I wanted it to be.  South Dakota was one of those states.  Since I had already taken a trip to South Dakota a few years ago to visit the Badlands (see below), Custer, Mt. Rushmore, etc. I was okay with this being a quick trip.  Let me be honest though it was not easy.  A six hour drive Friday, running a marathon, driving home six hours and getting home to put my kids to bed the same day was very tiring.

I did squeeze in some quick hiking in Garretson to visit Devil’s Gulch on Friday, a post-race celebratory brew at Eponymous Brewing Co. and stretched my legs in Sioux Falls at Falls Park on Saturday. The drive home took an extra shot of espresso in my coconut milk latte from Starbucks AND a stop at Caribou along with lots of singing to the radio.  Whatever it takes to accomplish this goal of mine.

As I finish this post two weeks post-marathon I still don’t know what my next running goal is exactly.  I’ve got some ideas, but no plans for sure.  It is both lovely and terrible to not have committed to what’s next, but it is also fitting for life right now.

Sarah

{State #18}-Indiana

You know you are a mother runner when you post and share that you finished your 17th state in your life goal to run a marathon in every state by your 50th birthday and a couple of weeks later you realize it was actually your 18th state.  But who is keeping count?  I’m not on a race to achieve 50 in 50, rather I’m on a journey. Hence the by 50 part of my goal.  50 in 50 by 50.

Indiana made me work for it for sure.  I had heard rave things about the Carmel Marathon including its cute town, the flat and fast course, the awesome support and the great organization.  I picked it because it worked with my timeline, and I was looking for a close spring race to impact my family and finances as little as possible.  While the rain certainly distracted me from the course and I’m sure reduced the fan support, I would say the above are all true about this race.

I headed to Indiana on Friday after taking a personal day from work.  The proposed drive time was longer than expected due to traffic, but when I arrived it was 60 and there was green grass everywhere so I really didn’t care too much.

I headed to explore the Arts District and grab some dinner.  I ended up enjoying a delicious local IPA, perhaps the best sweet potato fries of my life and some March Madness game time.  Eating in peace without someone asking for something, spilling their dinner or saying “I don’t like it” was well, perfect.  I love my kids, but sometimes meal time is not my favorite.

Packet pickup was a breeze.  Since the expo was almost over when I arrived, I grabbed my race bib and shirt and headed back to my hotel for the night.  After laying out my gear for the next day, reviewing the race course and reading a little Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor (awesome book about running and mindset), it was time to get some rest.  I looked forward to a night of sleeping alone in a comfortable bed knowing no children were going to wake me in the night.  I had no problem sleeping.

The next morning I heard rain and thunder as I woke up.  The weather was as forecasted.  Rain and wind.  Chilly.  After getting dressed in my gear, I got a coffee at Starbucks and headed to race parking.  Parking was a breeze and I lingered in my car longer than I normally would to stay warm and psych myself up for what lie ahead.  You’d think with a weather forecast of rain and having been a runner most of my life I would own a proper running rain jacket.  That would be a no actually.  I figured after 26.2 miles nothing would be dry, so I just didn’t worry about it.

By the time I walked the couple blocks to the gear drop and the village of port-o-potties, my shoes were soaked.  With the rain pouring down and the wind whipping, I stood in line for my turn to pee.  I was filled with disbelief.  I was actually going to run in this.  I was trying to get my head right for the weather conditions I would have never done a long training run in.  Just knowing others were out there about to do the same thing reassured me I could do the same thing.

By the start of the race, I was pretty much soaked.  I could not wait to run so I could generate some heat and take my mind off what I had been doing for the past half hour. Standing in the cold, wet and wind.  Once in the corrals the body heat of others warmed me up a bit.  As I looked at a few others with ponchos, I recalled my inner dialogue with myself the week before about whether it was worth it to attempt to run part of the race in a heat and moisture trapping plastic poncho.  I had decided no, but on race day sort of regretted that thought.  The camaraderie of other runners near me in my corral was the perfect distraction.  I chatted with a mom of two-year old twins running her first post-babies half marathon and her brother who was using the race as a training run for Boston.  I met a member of Oiselle’s Volee which kind of inspired me to consider joining in the fun.

With the start of the race came a warm up.  Running took my mind off the precipitation and the rain did lessen for a bit.  I normally feel like I remember my races pretty well and have mental notes about each mile, but I don’t have that for this race.  I’m pretty sure for the hardest miles my head had to really go somewhere that would get me across the finish line, but wouldn’t allow me to remember much else.  I also have no pictures from the marathon except for the one race photo I purchased to document this actually happened.  Below is what I do remember about race day.

The early miles didn’t feel too bad.  I welcomed the warmth and the lighter rain.  Just before mile 4 I got rid of my outer layer at an aid station and made a fast potty stop…less than one minute.  It felt good to get that wet layer off.

mile 1-8:58

mile 2-9:02

mile 3-9:51

mile 4-9:03

mile 5-9:14

A light rain fell during the middle miles of the race.  I don’t remember much about what I saw.  I felt good.  I said I would do whatever I needed to do to accomplish this race.  I even took Jolly Ranchers the kids were handing out and enjoyed my first Green Apple Jolly Rancher in a lot of years.  Whatever I needed to do to distract myself, I was all for.

mile 6-9:08

mile 7-9:00

mile 8-8:40

mile 9-8:59

mile 10-9:32

At mile 11 we got on Hagen-Burke Trail which then met up with the Monon Trail.  I love running bike paths and rail trails, so this gave me an uptick in my moral and the tree cover made me forget about the rain some.  I ran past a sign that said mile 25.  I thought about how I might feel at mile 25.  No matter how a race is going that last mile doesn’t ever really feel good.  It’s a place of pain, excitement, exhaustion and emotion.  It’s complicated to explain until you experience it.

mile 11-9:31

mile 12-9:49

Mile 13 took us by the finish and we got to see the half marathoners split off to finish their race.  It is usually not easy to see the finish and know you are not finished.  It either reminds you that you are half way done or you have half way to go depending on how you are feeling.  On this particular day it was a mix of both.  I felt good, but knowing I had more rain and wind to come made me think at least once how nice it would have been to have been running down the finish chute rather than continuing on.

mile 13-9:10

The race continued on the Monon Trail for a bit longer.  At mile 14 ish I felt some fatigue set in, so I began listening to a podcast for motivation and distraction.  My current favorite is Women in the Woods as I’m really getting intrigued by the idea of some longer hiking adventures.

mile 14-9:28

mile 15-9:18

mile 16-9:14

mile 17-9:05

The rain picked up some.  After a few miles the rain let up a little.  At mile 18 I realized I was colder than I thought when I struggled to open my Huma gel because my fingers were so, so cold.  My hip started to bother me more.

mile 18-10:48

mile 19-9:25

Mile 20 is where the race really becomes a race with yourself.  It is where the fatigue starts to catch up to you.  On race day it was also when it began pouring rain.  The skies just opened up and let it rain down.  I remember feeling so discouraged and frustrated with not feeling like I was enjoying being out there as much as I’d hoped.  Drips of water poured off my hat.  The wind whipped.  That rain and cold and wind was about to catch up with me.

mile 20-9:20

mile 21-10:10

mile 22-8:46

mile 23-9:37

At mile 24 my hip, which had been giving me a sensation for part of the race so far, became much more than just a feeling.  It was painful.  I tried to walk some, but the slower pace just made me colder which made my hip hurt worse.  I tried to stretch and work it out, but nothing was helping.  In my head I knew if I had to continue walking I would not be able to finish without warmer, dryer layers.  I also knew quitting wasn’t a choice.  I had no one to pick me up.  I seriously feared hypothermia if I attempted to walk in the rest of the miles as cold as I was.  I felt tears welling up.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so close to crying in a race.  I almost took my phone out of its fancy waterproof case (i.e. a plastic bag shoved in my sports bra) and called my husband to talk me through the last miles.  I did not call him as I knew he was busy with the kids and likely did not have time to handle my hot mess self.  Not finishing wasn’t an option though.  I didn’t drive this far to not finish.

mile 24-11:31

My choice of shorts came into question a few times during the race, but having run races in colder temps in shorts without issue I didn’t think it would be as big of a problem.  Hindsight: I should have worn capris.

I eventually pushed through what I was feeling.  Between miles 24 and 25 the rain let up some allowing me to warm up also.  This made my hip hurt less.  My favorite fans of all also helped me out.  The elderly residents cheering and smiling in the rain with signs for beer ahead at the finish were so motivating for me.  My other favorite fans were the little kids cheering for their moms and dads with huge smiles and hugs for their favorite runner on the course.  Speaking of smiling.  I know there is research about smiling through challenging tasks such as running that makes the perception of pain and difficulty less.  I made myself smile a bunch of times during this race just to experience this…and it works to some extent.

mile 25-9:34

That last mile I was so eager to be done.  I just wanted to be finished.  I was so cold and numb physically and emotionally.

mile 26-9:18

Crossing the finish line was anticlimactic with no one waiting for me…like at all.  No one stuck around at the finish.  The post-race party was get to your car to warm up and try to get dry.  I was relieved to have a mylar wrap to block some wind, but I was shivering so hard.  Uncontrollably.  I was so cold I didn’t take a picture.  I’m not sure I could.  You know I’m cold when a pictures is not happening.  The temperature had dropped 8 degrees since the start making it in the upper 40’s.

I limped my way to the car as my hip was in super pain making it hard to walk.  I was just so cold.  I blasted the heat and got the congratulations from my husband and kids.  I then headed to Starbucks to get a coffee to warm up.  The barista thought I was insane with my visible shaking and spilling of some of my coconut milk latte as a result.  I could not wait for a hot shower and warm clothes.

After a couple hours of warming up, I was ready to head somewhere dry to explore.  I spent part of the afternoon at Newfield’s before heading to downtown Indy for dinner and some exploring.

Then the snow began as the temperature had continued to drop all day.  Winter apparently just loves to follow me.  A quick stop at a brewery for a celebratory brew and I headed back to my hotel.

While this wasn’t perhaps the most fun I’ve had during a marathon, I am so glad I did this race and experienced racing in the rain.  Never before have I had to push through like I did on this day.  It was a great exercise in mental toughness and perseverance.  So many times during the race I said to myself-head up, wings out.  Every time I saw a bird in the sky I borrowed Oiselle’s slogan that I’ve grown to use as my own.  I reminded myself to just keep flying over and over during this race.  I have a history of getting caught day dreaming with my head up, looking up at the sky and watching the birds, so this is really fitting for me.

I now see myself not dismissing a run outside because it is raining.  I know I can do difficult things and push beyond some of the mental obstacles that I wouldn’t have before.  I feel like my grit IQ increased a few points because of this experience.  The only way to do that for me is to put myself in those challenging places and experiences and struggle through.

The next day I went for a slow stroll on the Monon Trail before making the long trek home. I just love the art and inspiration all around Indianapolis.

I’m now in the market for a new running rain jacket.  I think I earned it.  Please share some of your own recommendations if you have any.

It turns out running in the rain isn’t so bad after all.

Sarah

Next up:  South Dakota-Brookings Marathon in May

 

{Those 20 Milers…}

Yesterday I ran 20 miles. Then I celebrated.

It wasn’t the first time or the last time I will run 20 miles. I actually have no idea how many times I’ve run this specific distance. I do know we work so hard to achieve goals that forget to appreciate what we do to get there. We judge ourselves and dwell on our failures and missteps along the way to reaching our goals…and I’m over it. I’m currently as slow as I’ve ever been with my running paces, but I celebrated my accomplishment because it is just that.

20 miles has such significance for me. It’s so much more than just breaking out of the teens for mileage. It’s the distance that you look ahead at on the training plan. The long run you both dread and get excited for. It feels like a test of your training with its outcome a measure of how the big race day will go (it’s not always accurate, but it feels like it sets a tone). It’s the confidence builder we need before 26.2 and is often the starter of the taper. 20 miles is a barometer of the type of training I’m doing. One 20 miler is a just going to finish marathon. Two or more 20 milers and I probably have a time goal.

It’s the long run I failed to complete because of mother runner life in my last marathon training cycle before running the San Francisco Marathon last year. As a result, it’s the long run distance I haven’t run since before I had kids and got pregnant in 2014. It’s a mileage goal I haven’t checked off since having my kids… until yesterday that is. So yesterday I celebrated the one distance that has always meant so much to training for a marathon, and that I can finally cross off my training plan again.

I think we all need to celebrate more of our successes and those little victories we casually overlook or dismiss on the way to a bigger goal. These little successes set a tone and give us hope in our daily lives that we can achieve bigger things. They make you feel that pride that no one or no bad life event can take from us. We keep them as ours and use them on days when life throws its challenges at us.

So this 20 miler I’m celebrating a little longer, a little bigger and because I love champagne. I made a goal to do something every day that makes me happy. Running and champagne both do that for me.

What little victory should you be celebrating right NOW?!?!

Sarah

{Being Honest About Food}

My first round of Whole30 is done and all the treats are before me. Well, not really. It felt nice to be able to enjoy a treat yesterday, but I also really don’t want to go back to the way I was eating. I did feel slugglish after the sugar and it felt, well, gross.  It kind of reminded me of how I had let things slide since adding grains back into my diet last February.  I had also started experiencing some digestion issues, fatigue and acne since returning to the school year.  Knowing I wasn’t feeling my best and worried that each month my symptoms were seeming worse, I delved into Whole30 hoping for a solution to what seemed to be unconnected symptoms other than food.

The past 30+ days have been the perfect reset to remind me why I like eating so clean and of how good I can feel.  I am starting to believe that most health issues truly are connected to food. I am feeling better than in months, lost a few pounds (no idea how many, but I feel it in how my clothes fit), my skin, nails and hair are looking better than ever and I’ve had more energy than I can recall in a long time.  I’ve also felt stronger on my runs lately.  My digestion issues have improved, although they are not completely gone, and I have had no major acne since beginning Whole30 (two very small clogged pores is all!).  It’s hard to quit something even when it’s a challenge with results like this.

In a strange way there was and is an ease with restriction. It doesn’t matter what I was craving or what foods were in front of me… if I was not eating them, then I couldn’t have them. I am no stranger to elimination and restrictive diets.  I did not eat dairy for a year when my son was a baby and I was breastfeeding as he had issues with the dairy proteins through my breast milk.  Four months after adding dairy back into my diet I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with baby number two and the carb restrictions began.  Seven and a half months after having baby number two we found out she had FPIES to all grains and bananas.  I spent the next almost nine months eating no grains or bananas.  I also did not eat any added sugar for two months after getting her diagnosis to help clean up my eating and better my gut health.  Less than a year after returning to eating without restrictions I started my first Whole 30.

Saying no to Whole30’s food restrictions was also easier than it sounds because there was a reason for it-healing my body and breaking my bad habits.  I understood that a slip up meant that food protein would be in my body and affecting my bodies healing process with the full extent of a setback not something I could really know.  This process also led me to realize as much as I did not think I had much of any sort of emotional attachment to food, I learned that I wasn’t really being honest with myself.  On really stressful days I noticed how much I wanted a sweet treat to help the day along or a latte from Starbucks to help me cope with that days challenges.  Not having those emotional supports led me to learn to handle those emotions without food.  I found myself reading more than scrolling.  Sticking to my workouts more than wasting time. Writing in my gratitude journal instead of snacking or having something sweet.

I’ve also realized over the years than sometimes allowing the cannot haves back in to my diet is a slippery slope. A few this usually leads to a few more after a while.  Sometimes I use restriction because committing to saying no or avoiding certain foods is easier than the slippery slope of I will have just one or today I can have it because…without it turning into every few days.  Whether this is uniquely me or due to following some sort of restriction diet for the last almost four years, I don’t know for sure.

I do feel I’ve got a new respect for my body and a greater understanding of what these foods can do along with why limiting or avoiding them is important. Armed with the knowledge I gained from It Starts With Food, I know I can’t unknow what I now understand about food and the body. Still, I feel a little unsure of what to do next and am defaulting to all Whole30 foods otherwise as I follow their reintroduction plan with my own spin. It’s scary (and also empowering) to bring all the foods back in and have to face the reality that a specific food might not be a good choice for me.

Going forward I plan to carefully reintroduce each food group one at a time to really see how each affects my body following their suggested introduction plan (with a few of my own modifications). What’s the point of the sacrifice of the last 30 days if not to really learn how each food makes me feel. I’m interested in avoiding dairy (I didn’t miss it) and gluten except for on special occasions going forward (if they don’t give me problems during the reintroduction). Other than missing enjoying a beer here or a slice of pizza there, these two food groups are not that appealing to me any more. I really know I feel best when I eat clean, real foods despite our modern fast pace and busy mom life chaos always challenging this.

In a world where we often rush and cram food mindlessly into our mouths without thinking about it, I really found so much value in reading this book and completing this experience.  It forced me to really look at my eating habits, investigate some health concerns I was having and how foods might be the cause, and it got me to be honest with myself about my emotions and how they are tied to food.  The experience also got me questioning how I feed my own kids and what I am teaching them about food.

There are so many stories of success out there with Whole30 healing digestive issues, autoimmune issues, diabetes, and a host of other concerns with people’s health.  If you are struggling with something health related I urge you to explore food as a way to heal along with seeing your doctor.  I did visit a doctor who offered no explanation for my symptoms or suggestions other than to keep doing what I am doing and come back in a few months if my symptoms worsen.  This experience with a medical doctor was exactly what I expected it would be, but I went to make sure I checked that box.  Then I took my health into my own hands…er, kitchen!

If you’re interested in beginning your Whole30 journey and experimenting with what works best for your body, here are a few of my tips for success:

1. Meal Plan and Prep-Have a plan every week for what you will eat each day and prep as much as you can ahead of time. Hangry people with no fast fixes are not pleasant and they make Whole30 feel harder than it has to.

2. Research your grocery store options! Living in a small town I learned quickly my options were even more limited. I could not find any compliant deli meat, bacon or non-almond nuts (all had peanut protein listed as an ingredient). I also struggled to find any not standard grocery store items like sunflower butter, ghee or clarified butter. I had to make trips to the next larger city to find these things.

3. Read It Starts With Food before and during your Whole30. It explains the why for each restriction in such a way it makes you want to keep going.  Without understanding why a food group is off limits the restrictions will seem too extreme to some (no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no added sugar, no alcohol, no processed foods).  Several times I found myself wanting to quit due to failed meal prep or not finding something at the store. Reading this book helped me stay the course because I understood the why behind what I was trying to do and how it would benefit me in the long run.  The bottom line for me is when I’m concerned enough about my health I’m not sure what I wouldn’t try if it meant feeling my best.

4. Use a daily tracker to stay on track. I found perhaps more satisfaction than I should have in shading in a circle after a successful day of following Whole30. I love commit 30’s trackers on their website such as the one above.

5. Consider doing a trial Whole30 and using what you learn to set yourself up for a successful Whole30. 10 days in I forgot to put my lunch in the refrigerator at work only realizing this 4 hours after it sat out. Having to throw away my lunch was frustrating because I also threw away ten days of progress. There are no Whole30 compliant lunch options in the community in which I live (I’m pretty sure).  That night I figured I might as well have a couple beers since my meal was not compliant in several categories.  I accepted the failure and took a few days off to better prepare (meal prep and grocery shop) and then restarted my 30 days. I felt much more prepared the second time I started because of what I learned the first ten days.

6. Surround yourself with at least one person who will encourage you (or at least not be a completely negative force on what will already by difficult).  For me this was my husband.  He didn’t always love that I was doing Whole30, and he might have enjoyed a few beers and treats while noisily savoring their deliciousness, but he did talk me off the edge a few times when I was starving (because of bad planning!  When you eat as they suggest you will not be hungry!) and frustrated and just so done with this process.

7. Find healthier swaps for your favorite foods. Your tastebuds will adjust! There are so many ways to replace less healthy for more healthy with a little research!

Food education is something I find to be so important. I also believe all of us has a unique body. What works for one may not work for all as they state in their book, but starting somewhere and taking responsibility for your health is always imperative. Learn about the food you eat.  Be honest with yourself about how you feel right now.  If it’s not your best or what you believe can be your best, then you are in charge of changing that.  We all deserve to feel our best, and food is a big part of that!

Who else has done Whole30? What was your experience?

Sarah

{Hard Days}

With a heavy heart and a discouraged soul, I logged a few miles less than my training plan called for this morning. I walked away from a daughter saying, “I don’t want Mommy to run in the basement” despite not being more than two meters from her at any point during the 14 hours the day before. While I pushed “go” on the treadmill a Gigantosaurus (who is really enormous 🦖) roared his displeasure with me taking a few miles to myself.

Truthfully it’s been a hard week. Perhaps the most frustrating part of my life currently is that despite my Type A tendencies and all my planning and organizing it’s accepting that I actually have little control of my own life. It’s something I fight and tell myself isn’t true, but weeks like this remind me that I am under the control of two tiny people.

Their early wake ups and the winter weather causing my husband to leave even earlier than usual in the morning are making working out in the A.M. impossible. I live a life where if it doesn’t happen in the tiny window of planned time, then it won’t happen because there is no later or move it to here or adjusting.

When the husband also surprised me on my midweek long run night with an unplanned late meeting and daycare calls work to pick up a sick child early, along with all the early, early wake ups (why do they have to wake up between 5:00 and 5:15???) and leave times, I’m not so gently reminded I have no control over these things.

I said I wouldn’t let these things weigh on me or get me down, but I did and I have been. It’s hard to want something, but literally feel like you can’t make it happen. Some days are so challenging, but I know I’m a better mom for making a bit of time for me. I know I have to let things go in this season of life, but some days are just hard. The important thing is I keep moving forward.

Unlike some, getting to the starting line of any marathon for me is filled with missed runs and training plans that didn’t go as planned. I do the best I can with the supports and resources I have. As I reflect and stretch myself to find some learning from this hard week, I acknowledge that perhaps the beauty in the hard days is appreciating the good days more.

The marathon journey isn’t in the 26.2 miles ran on race day. It’s the hours of training, obstacles and focus that come from committing to training and accomplishing that training as best as we can. My training is never as planned, perfect or easy. I’d hate for anyone to think it’s all easy for me. It’s not. Ever.

But it’s worth it.

So I keep going. I shake off a hard week. It doesn’t have to be perfect or as planned. I move forward knowing this because it IS worth it. With fresh eyes I see my kids as the amazing little people they are. Sometimes they just need their mom, and that won’t always be the way it is.

Sarah

{26.2…again}

I have this silly dream of running 26.2 in every state that I just can’t let go of.

There is just something about 26.2 that pulls you back in.  Runner’s World recently featured a collection of stories, 26.2 Reasons We Love the Marathon, about what makes this distance just so special.  I thought about making my own list, but they just got so many of them spot on that I can’t dictate the difference between their ideas and my own.

Some of my favorites from their list:  it’s a reason to travel, post-race beer, the good its runners do for worthy causes, it’s an excuse to get a new wardrobe, the signs (on the course), because it takes over your life-and it’s awesome, the unique thousands of fans cheering on runners, the post-race feast, the swag, it makes the world a better place-really!, playlists, finding your own **** yeah moment (if you don’t know Shalane Flanagan then this means nothing to you), running the same course as the professionals, the best shower of your life afterwards, the runner’s high and the final .2.  People joke about the last 1,155 feet, but the final .2 moment is different for every race.  It is truly a moment that is unique and rewarding and special every time.

This goal has never been about accomplishing the list as fast as I could.  I never wanted the goal to interfere in an overall negative way with life in other ways.  I like the slow process of building on this goal every year.  I like getting to really see a place when I run a new state whenever possible. Each year it is fun to plan where the next race(s) will be.

So it is, I find myself training again.  Spring marathon training officially began last Monday for me. Even though the snow and cold are just taking hold for good, I know that in a few months (ok, more than that perhaps) warmer weather and greener sights will be back. To help me tackle my ultimate goal, stay on track all winter and feed my need to explore, I’m signed up to check Indiana (Carmel Marathon) and South Dakota (Brookings Marathon) off the 50 State list this coming spring. While I’m excited to get back to following a training plan, I was kind of enjoying running when I could and focusing on the BeachBody LIIFT4 program.

This training cycle I will be running 4 days a week and lifting 3 days a week. I’m going to continue another round of LIIFT4, but I will follow the workouts consecutively by doing 3 each week. My weeks will not match up with the program weeks because of this. The eight week program will become 10.5 weeks long. I know yoga is going to need to be a regular part of my training along with a focus on core and hip work.

Due to running these upcoming races six weeks apart, my mileage will be a little higher than training for San Francisco. That was a pretty low mileage training plan to begin with as I eased my way back into training for my first post-babies marathon. I’m thinking my body can handle this now.

If I’m being honest though, I do have some serious concerns about how I’m going to make all this happen, but having a goal race on the calendar is usually the best way for me to stick to something. I feel my best self when I’m active and training for a race. To accomplish this, I HAVE to get better about getting to bed earlier. I HAVE to get better about leaving work right away a couple of days a week. All of these things will enhance my overall health, but actually doing them is a challenge. My new Fitbit will be reminding me everyday of what my goals are.  And like I mentioned before, 26.2 sort of just pulls you back in.  It can make you irrational in a wonderful way.

As with any new training plan I try to focus on my week ahead only. Dwelling, stressing or worrying about future week plans does not build confidence. When I see some of the miles on my training plan in two or three months, I can start to feel intimidated. Even though these upcoming races will be my 16th and 17th marathons they never get easier really. Running 26.2 miles is always going to require hard work, perseverance and overcoming unexpected obstacles. While my body knows what to expect and can complete the distance, it doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk for me.

I can’t wait to explore two new states on foot. Half the fun of my goal is getting to see a new city/state, taste yummy food and local beer, and feed my exploring needs.  I will be posting training updates to help me stay accountable and to serve as my training log since these are helpful to look back on.

26.2.  Here we go…again.

Sarah

{Goodbye School Year}

Goodbye school year. Hello summer.

The end of a school year is filled with so many emotions. The last few summers have really stopped me in my tracks and made me think about how quickly the years pass. I find myself reflecting on my teaching of course, but on everything else too.

My kids have grown so much. Moved on to new milestones and phases. Their baby faces growing more big kid each month. I feel so sad for moments to be done already, but so hopeful for the years to come. I always am reminded I only have 18 summers that they are mine. I need to make the most of them. Memorable. Quality. Present. Filled with love. Connections. Sticky fingers. Ice cream. Sandy feet. Lake water. Summer strolls. Swimsuits. New adventures.

The end of the school year challenges me to think about if I’m living my life in the way that makes me happy and fulfilled. If I’m being honest, I’m not. I’ve got some things to work on. How can I make mornings less rushed? Playtime more connected and make the most of family time during the school year? How can we make more moments to connect as a family and not just follow the routine of what has to be done? How do I fill up their cups and still meet the demands of life? How do I fill up my own cup?

The end of the school year is a chance to try new things. Slow down some. I look forward to new adventures, travels and places this summer.

The end of a school year is also a chance to see how far we’ve come. How much we’ve grown, and how much life can throw the unexpected our way, but that despite the challenges you somehow end up ok. A new normal takes over.

And grown we have. A year ago we had just received a preliminary food allergy diagnosis for my daughter and we were waiting to see our new allergist. A week later our lives changed forever. No grains or bananas of any kind for our daughter until at the earliest she’s 2-3 years old. Worse case scenario-ever. It didn’t seem so horrible at first until you start reading food labels. Corn is in everything.

This end of school year I celebrate how far we’ve come. What once seemed so overwhelming, challenging and impossible has become our norm. Our sweet Aria girl is growing and thriving without an entire food group. As a family we’ve learned so much and changed so much too. You can’t unlearn and unread what you’ve seen. It has changed us for the better and made us stronger. I know that whatever challenges we are given we can overcome them.

We’ve learned how to meal prep like a boss. We know that wherever we go that might occur over meal time or where food is offered we must bring our own. We know that when we go to restaurants, we must still bring our daughter’s food. We know every eating surface must be washed before she sits to eat. We know to watch other toddler’s hands for snacks she can’t have. Our love for Starbucks is just so big because mama loves coffee, but also because they actually have snack foods our daughter can eat.

This school year I cut, prepared, packed, dated, labeled and carried 180some breakfasts, lunches, containers of almond milk and breast milk, and days worth of snacks every work day for her to eat each day at daycare. Every night we washed those containers and repacked them for the next day. Despite it feeling more normal it was never easy.

We are embracing the world of a young toddler who wants what others have, but doesn’t understand why she is the only one who can’t. Mama and Aria twin at eating a lot to make her feel more a part of the group. If I eat what she eats she doesn’t seem to mind so much.

We are constantly looking for grain alternatives and reading food labels in hopes we might find a new food for her to eat. We have the opposite problem of most toddler parents in that she often will only eat fruits and vegetables. She’s never had candy, juice, fast food, processed anything, or sweets other than fruit sweetened or honey sweetened on a rare occasion. Lara Bars are her treat.

She can’t eat the birthday cake at the party. She can’t have the doughnut on the family stop. She can’t have the candy when trick or treating. She can’t have the treat at daycare. She can’t enjoy the family tradition desserts on holidays. We try to find alternatives to make her feel included but its not always possible. It’s a hard lesson she just has to learn.

Her brother has learned many of the things Aria can’t have saying, “Aria can’t have that. She’s allergic.” When he’s not sure, he asks if she can have it. He’s learned to eat almond flour crackers and pancakes because they really are pretty good and we aren’t always getting two kinds of things. It’s also safer that way. He knows to pick up food she can’t have in case she might get it. As parents we are expert scanners of our surroundings at all times. Think of how often someone accidentally leaves something out unintentionally where a curious toddler is just waiting to find it.

As a family we’ve had to change how we budget. We’ve given up haircuts and colors and nights out to spend significantly more on food each month. We know it’s healthier for all of us so it’s not the sacrifice it seems. Plus many people don’t get Aria’s allergy and mistake what foods she can have so leaving her with others is still scary for us.

Having a ten month old at the end of last summer eating virtually no solids due to her previous violent reactions to food before will do that to you. Seeing your child’s growth slow on the growth charts will scare you like that. Thankfully we always had breastfeeding to carry us through until a few months ago.

This school year we’ve grown, celebrated, struggled, faced challenges and overcame. Here’s to looking ahead to the next year. Looking to the unknown. The fun filled days of sweet summer. Those slow down and smile moments with kids. Reflecting on what we have, where we are headed and how far we’ve come.

I’m ready for this summer thing!

Sarah