{IMM Training-Week #1}

After taking a hiatus from blogging during basically my entire pregnancy, I finally feel like blogging again. It was weird, but almost immediately after seeing the word positive on that pregnancy test I stopped feeling like blogging. Then the tiredness hit and blogging was basically done. I’m back to training and consistently running, so it seems like a good time to get back to it. Notice I didn’t say I’m not tired, but that is a given.

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Going for a walk with the Ergo carrier. We love it!

Since having the little man 12 weeks ago I have slowly started running again after doing a lot of walking first. I read a lot about pelvic floor health and how important it is during pregnancy and after if you want to return to running healthy, injury free and not peeing your pants. I’d like to say I did all the pelvic floor exercises they recommended, but then I’d be lying. Why I hate them so I’ll never know.

Hiking at 38 weeks pregnant.

Hiking at 38 weeks pregnant.

What I did follow though was listening to my body when I was pregnant. I didn’t push the miles. Some days I ran and some days I didn’t. After week 33 there wasn’t anymore running, just walking, hiking and some ellipticalling (yes, it should be a word.) After birth I again listened to my body and started slow. My first post-partum run at 4.5 weeks was less than a mile and was only because the baby wanted to eat NOW and we were not home from a walk yet. But, it felt good so a few days later I went again this time making it 2.25 miles. I never pushed too hard. If my pelvis or lower abs were sore (which they were in the beginning) then I gave myself rest days in between run days.

As for this marathon training cycle I have tried to safe guard it as much as possible. I gave myself 11 weeks to ease back in and run without following a training plan. I started walking at 8 days post-partum when it was nice enough to get outside. Remember it is Wisconsin where I live. Even though the kid was born in April it snowed (flurried) several days after he was born.


After walking for four weeks, trying to always be conscience to engage my core throughout every walk, I started adding in one run a week, then two, then three and so on. Despite having abs that were weaker than I could have ever imagined, I avoided ab work because of having mild diastasis recti (ab seperation) and ab work can make it worse. Instead I did some pelvic floor work and non-crunch ab work. This 12 week no crunch ab workout plan includes planks which some sources I read said to avoid, but I did them anyway. I did not do the plan everyday, but tried to a few days a week.


For the four weeks before I started officially training I consistently ran 3-4 days a week adding mileage slowly and continuing to walk 10-20 miles a week. I’ve done some HIIT workouts, SOME pelvic floor work, and have been going to yoga once a week for the past month. Yoga has really helped with my abs and pelvic floor muscles as I feel how often they are engaged. I’ve been alternating between a Yoga Sculpt class with weights and a more typical yoga class.


With all of this in mind I feel I am ready to start training again. It is so important to listen to your own body and do what is best for you. I’ve read blogs about people racing at 8 weeks and heard from women who weren’t interested in racing until their baby was 9 months or older. Listen to yourself.  My first “race” was at 11 weeks and was not a big distance.  Check out my Firecracker 4 mile race report for more details.

My training plan will be completely different then in the past. Often past training plans had my mileage around 40-50 miles per week by mid-cycle. One training cycle I peaked at running 70 miles in a week. While I’m still proud of that number, my life is different now. My number one goal is to get to the start line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon healthy and injury free and feeling excited about the race, not burnt out or resentful.

To keep balance in my life the plan includes only four days of running a week, one day of cross training a week, and one 20 mile run in the training cycle.  In the past I’ve always ran 5-6 days a week and often completed three 20 mile runs during my training. Not only do I not think my body is ready for that, but I don’t want to either.

With getting back into a routine of running I’ve really noticed how hard it is to push yourself when you are tired. Sometimes the hardest muscle to work isn’t even a muscle-it’s your brain. I don’t want to be attempting tempo runs, track workouts with specific splits, or crazy amounts of long runs right now. I don’t have the mental energy to hit those paces or the desire. I don’t want that stress in my life right now. Just leaving for a run can be stressful enough.


Some days when I look at my little man it is almost impossible for me to leave for a run. I just want to hold him or stare at him. I want to enjoy being a new mommy and not feel like running is taking anything away from these once in a lifetime moments. I also know I do need time away to recharge and be a good mom. When he sleeps is usually when I run. I don’t feel so guilty then or like I might miss something. Only a few weeks in and already mom guilt!

This plan is longer than some I’ve followed to give myself extra time to ease into training. You can see the marathon training plan I’m following made by Hal Higdon. It would be a great plan for a first time marathoner or someone, who like me, wants to ease into training and keep a balance between life and running. I cut off the first 6 weeks to fit my timeline and did those next first few weeks as unofficial training. The training plan certainly won’t get you a PR or make you feel like the marathon itself was easy, but it should prepare you for the race. Of course, I’m not an expert so take my thoughts as only suggestions based on my experience.

I’m hoping to post each week like I did for the Wisconsin Marathon. I like to document my training to refer back to and to hold myself accountable.  Lastly, losing the baby weight is important to me.  Posting each week will help me stay on track with all these goals.

So much of how I feel is based on how I feel about myself.  This might be stupid, but it is my reality.  So many people said breastfeeding is the way to lose weight after baby, however I have not really found that to be true.  I’ve never lost weight at a slower pace than in the past 10 weeks which is frustrating, but ok since losing weight is not the reason I chose this option for my baby.

Previously I have been lucky so far in life and usually could easily lose 1-2 pounds a week if needed by adjusting my calories based on intake and exercise.  I’ve tried increasing calories to make sure I’m eating enough with breastfeeding, taking the middle ground, and cutting calories and none of it seems to make a difference.  My diet has been pretty healthy considering I’ve had to cut out dairy for the little guy.  No pizza, ice cream or sometimes I swear anything and you’d think I’d lose the pounds a little faster.  I’m losing the weight, but VERY SLOWLY.  I still have 10 pounds to go after all my effort, but I remain determined.  Of course meeting my baby’s needs always comes first.

After a long-winded introduction here is what week 1 of my training looked like.

Week #1 Training-

Monday-5 mile run (last weeks long run got moved)

Tuesday-off, 5 mile walk

Wednesday-3 mile run, 3 mile walk, yoga sculpt class


Caught the poor kid mid-sneeze!

Thursday-3 mile run

Friday-off

Saturday-6 mile run, 2.5 mile walk


Sunday-3 mile run with jogger (Our 1st!)
Running with a jogging stroller is no joke!  This is going to take some getting used to, but will give me freedom to run when the husband is gone. I only plan to use the jogger for shorter runs as my abs are still weak, and I want to make sure I run with proper form for longer runs until I get stronger.

Most sources say to wait until your infant is 6 months or older to use the jogging stroller on a run.  After talking with P’s pediatrician and seeing he’s been holding his head up for a month and a half, I feel it is safe.  He is also in his infant seat and we bought a quality jogging stroller (Bob Revolution Flex-Amazon has best price by like $100).  The kid’s head doesn’t even move. Do what you feel is best for your child!

Week #1 Training Miles-20 miles

Stay tuned for I’m sure many ups and downs as I continue to adjust to being a new mother runner!

Sarah

{Aloha, My Next State}

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No, I’m not in Hawaii, but a girl can dream and eat lots of fresh pineapple. Over the past few days I’ve been looking over everyone’s race reports and Instagram feeds about the Honolulu Marathon and their fun adventures before and after. All those photos got me reminiscing to when the husband and I went to Hawaii 5.5 years ago.

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It was an amazing trip to say the least. We vowed to make it back one day. While that day is still far away, I look forward to it whenever I see or hear about the Aloha State while also cherishing the memories made there already.

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When we traveled to Oahu and Maui in June 2009 I had not made my 50 in 50 goal yet so the fact that a marathon was happening while we were there really wasn’t something I was aware of. Now I plan for it to be my final race in my quest to race all 50 states before the end of my 50th year. So those thoughts of Hawaii and the big number 50 also got me thinking…what’s next.

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It is also that time of year when you start reflecting on the past year and planning for the upcoming year. Let me tell you it is hard to make plans for races and states when you are pregnant. How do you know how you will respond to having a baby? You can’t predict how your body will bounce back, how breastfeeding will go, or how tired you will be, so how do you plan?? For some they simply wouldn’t. Except the type A personality in me just cannot let it go. I need a race on the calendar. Something to look forward to. To hold myself accountable for. A goal to get back in shape. Staying committed to running is so much easier for me when I have a race planned out. Without a date, I get lazy and start making excuses.

What better excuse is there than giving birth to a human? Perhaps none, but I still want a plan. I was big on not pressuring myself and letting things happen and to just see how things were going a month ago. Now as the latest Runner’s World previews next year’s races and the time to register for some races even a year out is coming, I just can’t stop thinking about my next race. When will it be? How soon is too soon? How will I balance it all?

After doing some race research (my favorite kind of reading) I talked to my husband about my fears about putting my first race on the calendar and the pressure I would put on myself. I talked to my husband about not putting a race on the calendar and the lack of motivation that saddles me with and my fear of not getting back on the miles after the baby is born and therefore losing my mind. He confidently said I think you should register. “You know you cope with stress and change by running and you are more motivated when you have a goal in mind.” Boy does he know me. Or he is just terrified of an emotional me losing my mind while having a newborn. Whichever the case, his confidence in what I was already thinking in my head gave me the mental ok to register for my first post-baby marathon.

When picking my first race back I wanted it to be a race that would work towards my state goal, that was close by, inexpensive (a baby costs a lot of money), and far enough out that I could enjoy the first couple of months as a new mom in whatever capacity I need. If I feel good and want to start running at six weeks great. If I have complications, am too tired, or too whatever I have given myself time for that. The only race (and I can’t believe there is one really) that meets all these criteria is the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 7th.

This race is roughly six hours from where I live, has a New Year’s Day Special Early Bird registration fee of $60 (most marathons are $80-100) and will allow us to stay one night in a hotel or two depending on where we are at with time, baby and finances. Plus, the husband will be on paternity leave still so we won’t both need to take a personal day for the Saturday race.

It feels so good to say I know when my next marathon is while also not having created extra pressure on myself to be back running in a tight timeline. Between birthday and race day is 7 months give or take a couple of weeks depending on when the boy decides to arrive. I have no BQ goals or time goals other than to just enjoy being back and get to the start line injury free and balanced. I’ve run marathons with very little training (were talking a few weeks and a long run of 13 miles-wasn’t pretty) and with training that topped out at 70 miles (this happened one week, but I’m still oh so proud of myself). I know I can make the time for something in between and be both a mom and a marathoner.

Am I scared? Yes! Am I nervous? Yes! Am I excited? Yes! Oh, you were thinking about the marathon. I was thinking about being a mom. But seriously, I like doing things that scare me. I like some pressure on myself because I operate best that way. So on January 1st here goes nothing. What are you going to do that scares you a little? What goals do you have for yourself that might be equal parts overwhelming and rewarding?

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So that got a little long, but I threw in some pretty pictures of Hawaii to help!

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Between you an me I have another marathon race up my sleeve soon after Indiana, but I do need to talk it over with the husband. He has never read this blog so I could just put it in this post, but when I put something down in writing I rarely don’t accomplish it so it just doesn’t seem right. Stay tuned!

Sarah

{Wisconsin Marathon Race Report}

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On Saturday the husband became an official marathon finisher. Over the past 18 weeks I documented our training ups and downs on this blog. We had some great runs and some challenging runs. We ran in the negative temperatures of the polar vortex, indoors on treadmills to beat the chill, in rain, in sleet, in a foot of snow, in gorgeous spring weather, and everything in between.

Training for a marathon through all these types of weather builds your confidence and teaches you you can do difficult things. Marathon training prepares you for the difficult miles ahead not unlike those of life. Training teaches you there will be miles that hurt and miles that take your breath away. There will be miles that are lost and miles you want to lose it in. All of these miles add up to the distance we completed on Saturday and sometimes are experienced all in one race.
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Friday evening we left town to stay in a hotel just outside of Kenosha. We stopped at an Olive Garden in Madison for some pre-race fuel. We had been saving our Olive Garden gift card we received for Christmas and used Hotwire to get a deal on our hotel room. We arrived to our room at 9:30, laid out our outfits for the next morning and got to bed around 10:30. This may be the most rest I’ve gotten the night before a race in a long time.
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Saturday morning we were up by 5:15. We quickly showered, got our race gear on, and packed the items we had laid out that we’d need for the race like Gu’s. I’d carefully packed everything and laid it out the night before. My race outfit had been chosen three nights earlier. We double checked the weather, loaded directions on the phone, and were off. As we walked down the hall to the car, I thought about all the emotions Ryan must have been feeling and about how I felt on the day of my first marathon. It made my stomach flip just thinking about it.
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We arrived to the race and parked a few blocks away. Parking was a breeze and we arrived to the start with plenty of time to visit the bathroom, snap a few pictures, and enjoy the emotions of the start line.
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It was around this time that I ran into Stacy from In it for the Long Run. We had both ran at the Wisconsin Marathon and Half Marathon (her the full, me the half) last year where we’d hoped to meet, but it wasn’t our day. Today was. She was originally hoping to BQ, but was dealing with a “setback.” Check out her blog post about her Wisconsin Marathon experience.

Immediately upon seeing Stacy I noticed her purple Garmin 220 watch. I noticed this because I have the same one and it wasn’t on my wrist. I had forgotten the freakin’ watch in the car. I have been so forgetful lately that this shouldn’t even surprise me. I was immediately upset. This was Ryan’s marathon and I wanted to make sure we were running a smart pace the entire race. I told Ryan if the race course took us within a couple of blocks of our vehicle, then I’d run to the car and get the watch. I still couldn’t figure out how I’d left the watch in the car.

No watch...eek!

No watch…eek!


With the start only minutes away I didn’t have too much time to worry. The national anthem rang while I silently freaked out. I’d never run a marathon without knowing my pace. I decided I’d start the stopwatch on my phone as I knew from experience the RunKeeper GPS would kill the battery around mile 17-18, and I also wanted to be able to take a few photos. This is sick irony in a way as Ryan is a math teacher. The mental math we did during this race was crazy.

Finally we were off. We quickly learned that the course was not going to go near the car so it was time to suck it up, buttercup. The first miles took us through downtown Kenosha. This area is cute and kitschy in its own way. The next few miles looped out along Lake Michigan. The views were beautiful. The houses huge, and the miles fast. Around mile two we peaked at the stopwatch and saw we were running near nine minute miles. We were okay with this, but had a goal to run around 8:45 pace. This pace was conservative, but allowed us to bank some time, too. Around mile two Stacy caught up with us. We chatted about the forgotten watch, her “setback” and goals, and running races in general. Around mile five we separated and I wished her well. I knew she would do great considering her alternative race plan as she was rocking some awesome fast paces in her training earlier this year. I know a BQ is only a race away for her. Take care of yourself though, girl!
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Miles 5-7 took us back into the downtown area, along Lake Michigan (above), and looped back past the start. We checked our pace at mile five and we were just under nine minute mile pace. As you loop past the start and the half marathon splits from the marathon we naturally checked in with ourselves. How do we feel? Are we fueling right? What is our plan? We both felt good, felt the pace was manageable, and decided to keep on keepin’ on.
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It was around this time that we caught the above awesome view and ran up on a hilarious group of runners. They were so funny and we “drafted” behind them for a mile laughing along the way. At one point we came up on a mile two marker. Someone from the group commented, “WTF we are only at mile two. Son of a bitch this isn’t going well.” When running long distances things make you laugh easily (and other times nothing makes you laugh.) Next they were joking about making jigsaw puzzles out of the view and how you definitely had to start with the horizon line. A moment later they were singing I’ll Be There For You…cue Friends. Still one of the best shows ever.

Around the halfway point we moved around the funny group and double checked our time. We came through the half way mark at 1:54:30. We were running an 8:45 pace at the half way mark and we were pumped. It was around this time that I hit a mental funk. I just felt ugh. I can’t really explain it. At mile 14 Ryan had to take bathroom break at the port-o-potty that appeared out of no where as were due to enter the Kenosha Sand Dunes area. Excellent choice on his part as I don’t recall a bathroom for miles…err till the finish.
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I stretched it out and snapped a picture while he port-o-johned it. Ryan came out asking if something was moving the port-o-potty. Some nearby girls played along with me as I thanked them for shaking the port-o-potty. In reality, I have no clue what he was talking about. The thing didn’t move an inch.

The break and the laugh found me in a better mood. We also headed into a packed gravel road. Reviewers complained about the second half of the course, but I thought it was peaceful and beautiful. I enjoyed the marshish feel, the sounds of birds and frogs in early spring, and the seclusion. If you love rows of fans this isn’t for you. If you don’t mind you, your thoughts, and you then you wouldn’t mind.

The view for miles 20-24.  Beautiful!

The view for miles 20-24. Beautiful!


As we approached mile 19 Ryan started to have muscle pains. We came through mile 20 at 2:58:30. We were doing awesome in pacing for Ryan to finish under four hours (his goal.) Around this point however Ryan began to experience muscle cramps in his hamstrings, calves, and behind his knees. In all of his training runs he never had cramps once. I attribute this to the warmer (but so gorgeous-near 60) temperatures on race day. He also drank no water before the race because his bladder is similar to the size of a small child’s. I did not tell him to skip out on all water, but he took my suggestion to limit his water before the race to mean drink nothing. Lesson learned.

The next miles were hard. Mile 22 our time was 3:20. The past two miles took us 21:30. Not good. I was nervous. I helped us devise a plan. At each mile marker we would walk a minute and then run until the next marker-no walking. We carried this plan out almost perfectly. We had some intense exchanges as Ryan felt terrible despite never feeling bad in a 22 mile AND a 20 mile training run. I waffled between cheerleader and keep your damn mouth shut, he’s in pain. I felt terrible that he was feeling rough.

Near mile 25.5 I told Ryan he could not slow down. We needed to keep the pace to achieve his goal. At mile 26 he told me his whole body was cramping; I told him he couldn’t slow down or he’d miss his goal. As we came down the home stretch I spotted some of Ryan’s family with a big sign that said Happy 30th Sarah. My family and some of our friends were on the right. We came through the finish holding hands in the air. Our finish time 3:59:35. My stopwatch was 14 seconds ahead of the chip time. We did it. Ryan did it. And boy did he.
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I didn’t make the connection about why everyone was at the finish until later because I was so excited and proud of him for finishing in under four hours. I wanted him to soak it in, enjoy every moment, and feel prouder than ever.
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It was part of a surprise birthday party he had planned for me. He kept telling me he was running the marathon for my 30th birthday. I didn’t get what he meant. What he meant was he wanted to plan a birthday surprise that was all about the things I love, that was personal and special to me. He nailed it on the head. Running together and training was ultimately an awesome experience. To culminate it with family and friends was even better.
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Little did I know there was more. He had reserved a block of rooms at nice hotel (I heart!) in the Historic Third Ward (my favorite part of Milwaukee) where everyone met after the race for drinks, then we bar hopped along Milwaukee’s river walk, and finally he had a reservation for the 25 in our group at the Water Street Brewery for dinner. Then it was out with friends for the night. The day was me to a T. He combined my favorite things (friends and family, marathons, swanky hotels, Historic Third Ward Milwaukee, craft brews, breweries, and awesome food.) What an awesome husband I have. He took a day that should have been about him and made it into the perfect birthday surprise. He gets me. And for that I’m so grateful.
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Wisconsin Marathon
Time: 3:59: 34 (Ryan) and 3:59: 35 (Sarah) He won between us!
Pace: 9:09
Overall: 284/847 (Ryan) and 285/847 (Sarah)
Gender: 199/463 and 86/384
Age Group: 31/58 and 18/71

Happy Running!

SS

{Liebster Award-Part 1}

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I was nominated for a Liebster Blog Award which is super exciting. Thank you to JanaBananaRD for nominating me.

If you haven’t heard of this award, it’s an award for bloggers given by bloggers. When you are nominated for the award, you answer a set of questions asked by the blogger who nominated you and then nominate 11 other bloggers, and give those bloggers a set of questions to answer.

Below are the Q and A.

1. Why did you start blogging?
At first I started blogging to share my journey of training and running 50 marathons in 50 states. After catching up with the states I’d run, I found I really liked writing and sharing information about the sport I love with others. Writing has become a great creative outlet for me and place to not annoy my family and friends (most non-runners) with too many running conversations. I’ve also been reminded of how great and supportive the running community is. Running is like a secret club where everybody gets in by simply running some miles. It’s the best.

2. What is your favorite way to stay fit?

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Based on the previous question it is probably obvious that running is my favorite. I’ve always loved the freedom, problem solving, stress relieving, and energizing properties of the sport. I do love to watch any sports Wisconsin, and love to do outdoor sports, too. Hiking and biking are other favorites of mine. I’m also falling in love with yoga and how it makes me feel better as a runner.

3. Where do you live?
I live in the great state of Wisconsin. The state of cheese, beer, and extreme winter running conditions. I live where it can be 60 one day and snowing the next. I live where summer humidity can be just as brutal as winter windchills. I live where nature’s beauty is always steps away and the biggest freeway is only two lanes wide. I live where people are kind, passionate about their Wisco teams, and we have amazing seasons to run, hike, and bike through.

4. Who is your biggest inspiration?

Hmmm… This is a challenge for me. I get inspired by people everyday-my students, husband, other bloggers, quotes on pinterest…I guess I’m easily inspired. Perhaps the most inspiring people throughout a consistent period of my life was/is Suzy Favor Hamilton. As a young runner growing up in Wisconsin, Suzy Favor was the running hero. She won the state championship four years in a row and ran in multiple summer Olympic games. Despite her recent activities I still consider her an inspiration. We all have imperfections and challenges that we work to overcome. When I met her for the first time with the cross country kids I coached, she was nothing but sweet, patient, and kind. Today I consider Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan both inspirations, too.

5. What is your favorite food?
Do coffee and Diet Mountain Dew count? If not, then pizza. There are so many ways to change it up, make it healthier, or vary the flavor.

6. What’s the farthest that you’ve run (for fun or a race)?
26.2 miles plus some small negligible amount that is totally not negligible when you are in that position. That is until June 2014 when I attempt my first 50k.

7. What’s your favorite recipe to share?

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Cowboy Caviar. I simply love the stuff. It is delicious, healthy, and brings back fond memories of summer grilling, no snow, and warmer temperatures. Plus, I haven’t met someone who doesn’t love it.  I usually follow the above recipe and use half the sugar.

8. Who’s your favorite team to cheer for (any sport)?

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Any Wisco teams. Right now…the Badgers. Final Four, Baby!

9. What’s the best group fitness class you’ve tried out?
Where I live fitness classes are very limited, but I’ve loved both the spinning and yoga classes I’ve taken. Both are great forms of cross training and make me feel stronger and healthier as a runner.

10. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
Having a written record of the challenges and successes of the my journey and “meeting” other who love the sport as much as I do-that is not something I find often in my group of in person friends. Being able to gain ideas and insights as well as share them is invaluable. In a way we are all our own coach, so we help coach each other.

11. Are you going to pass on the torch and nominate 11 other bloggers?
Yes, but give me a few days. I’ve been really busy and like to make careful decisions. I will nominate 11 other bloggers in the next few days.

Thanks again to JanabananaRD for the nomination!

THE RULES:

1. Thank the blogger who has nominated you
2. Answer the questions given to you
3. Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 500 followers
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
5. Tag your nominees & post a comment on their blog to let them know that you have nominated them.

Sneaks & Stilettos

{2013 Running Review}

In the blink of an eye 2013 is over. The below link pretty much sums up my running over the past 365 days. The photos below are a glimpse of the year that was 2013.
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What did you do this year that you are proud of? Excited about? Worked hard to achieve? Where did your run that you’d recommend to others? I’m always looking for new routes and destinations to run.