{Friday Fab 5-Pro Compression Stars and Stripes, Whitewater Rafting, Orange Is the New Black, Chaos…}

My first week of summer vacation is coming to a close. The week was filled with coaching responsibilities, visiting lots of babies and their mommas (6!) and catching up with yard work (it is never-ending).

{#1-Pro Compression Stars and Stripes}

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Believe it or not the 4th of July will be here in no time. This year I have an actual, real race to run (Foot Traffic Flat Marathon outside of Portland, Oregon) on the day, so I’m giving you a sneak peek of my race day outfit. Proper recovery will be essential as I will be running another marathon nine days later.

{#2-Whitewater Rafting}
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I added this to my 30 things in my 30th year list. The husband and I will be going whitewater rafting on the Snake River while in Jackson on our field trip (that actually came to my mind first) vacation west.

{#3-Orange Is the New Black}
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My affinity for dark shows continues. I did JUST learn that this show is based on a true story. This is both disturbing and interesting. Spoiler Alert: Thank God Pensatucky got some new teeth. I cannot handle her teeth, especially at the start of season 2. Brush and floss at least twice a day and stay away from meth folks.

{#4-Celebrate YOUR Runs}
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Summer running and humidity can easily get you down. Celebrate your progress. Hydrate right. Stay strong. One of my favorite cross country sayings is “Autumn holds no secrets about how summer was spent.” Those hot, steamy miles you put in this summer WILL benefit this fall.

{#5-Sneakers Before Stilettos}
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Saw this recently and found it fitting. The true hierarchy of shoes. Although I love both types, my favorite are days when I lace up my sneakers and then slip on stilettos for a fun night later on.

Happy Weekend? Any fourth of July races planned for anyone?

I run because…I need balance in my life.

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Some people will be wondering what is next after my 50k. After following (although somewhat loosely at times) a training plan since the last week in December, I’m sort of ready to run what I want when I want. I’ve got some recovery action that will take place this next week, followed by some inbetween marathon training that will let me be flexable while also keeping me in shape for my next races-the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on July 4th in Portland, Oregon and the Missoula Marathon on July 13th in Montana. The plan will allow plenty of time to enjoy summer, the husband and whatever else I feel like doing.

Finding balance between being a runner and a person is so important for me.  I love my time alone on the roads and trails, but I also need the social fun of being with others.  Too much of one or the other leaves me unbalanced and feeling cranky.

All day I’m surrounded by people-from the adults I work with to the 130 students I see in a day to the athletes I coach. Running offers me time to hear my own thoughts in my head, to process what I feel, and to rejuvenate myself for the next day.
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On the flip side too much time alone on the road or the trails makes me sad and puts feelings of discontent in my heart. Being around my students, friends, family and the husband help to restore the fun in my life in a way running doesn’t always fulfill. After too much time alone I crave being around others.
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I find I am happiest and most content with running when I am happiest and most content outside of running. When my life is full (but not too full) running provides me with the greatest joy. When life is challenging and difficult running provides me with an outlet, but often it is not my best or favorite time to run.

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I like this image, but tend to think that life is more good than bad. The yin-yang would need to be a little uneven to represent how I view this balance.

Running encourages balance in life.  Running allows me to sort through all my responsiblities and still make time for myself.  Running helps me see that work is work and sometimes there is more to life than just your job.  Running also helps me to see how much I love my job and gets my creative juices flowing while my feet hit the pavement.  While out on runs I’m reminded of how great the people are in my life and all they do to support me.  This is especially important when people in my life are frustrating me.  Running simply gives me time to think about all I’m juggling in life.

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Balance in all parts of life is always important. I don’t believe for a second that I have this figured out, nor do most people (I think, I hope). Running miles helps me find more balance than if I were not a runner. This is just one more benefit and reason why I love this sport.

How do you find balance between running and the rest of your life?  Tips?  Suggestions?

S & S

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 15}

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As I sit starting this post it is pouring rain outside and thundering and lightening. My hopes of running a long run on Saturday this week are pretty much gone. Instead I’ve been blissfully stalking reading race reports about the Wisconsin Marathon and searching for other races to add to the spring training schedule. With so many long, long runs for my 50k training coming up, I feel the need to break up the monotony of running in my boring city with only six miles of trails.

Speaking of my 50k I recognize I haven’t really mentioned how I’m training for it exactly. I’m basically following the same training plan as Ryan is for the Wisconsin Marathon with longer distances on some days and hillier and/or trail routes on other days. My actual 50k training plan is below. I’m currently on week 9.
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I’m not looking to break any times or records, rather I’m hoping only not to die or end up hurting so much I never want to do it again. I want to enjoy the trails and running and training in nature more. I want to accomplish a new distance I never have before. I want to get a taste of ultra running.

Back to the focus of this post…Wisconsin Marathon Training.

Monday-5 miles (Sarah)
3 miles with the track kiddos and two miles on my own.

Tuesday-5 miles (Ryan)

Wednesday-7 mile tempo run (Sarah) and 7.5 miles (Ryan)
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I had a dinner date with friends so we did not run together. I left school right after I could and got my miles in and Ryan ran his after baseball practice. I had a phenomenal run. It was a run that makes your heart feel full and bursting with happiness and contentment. I needed that-it had been too long. My legs just wanted to go fast. My lungs still struggled to keep up with some junk in them yet, but they are improving. I managed what I think is my fastest 10k time during this run. Hmmm…now I might need to set a PR goal in this.

Thursday-6 miles
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4 miles with the track kids plus 2 miles on hilly trails.

Saturday-5 miles (Sarah)

Sunday-22 miles (both of us)
We are so bored with the running scene in our community, so we decided to take a road trip to La Crosse. La Crosse is so runner friendly with lots of runners, beautiful trails and scenery, and lots of places to celebrate a long run. Below is our route for our 22 miler. We basically went out 5.5 miles then came back. Then we went out 5.5 miles in a different direction and came back. If you ever get the chance to visit all locations below are great for running.  We took a GU every 4-5 miles to stay fueled and drank water in the middle of the run.
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Running into MN and back. The WI-MN state line is in the middle of the Mississippi River.

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After running in a light rain from miles 11-19.75, we felt lucky it only poured on us for just over two miles. Even though we were drenched we were happy to have felt as good as we did.
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After all of our hard work it was time to relax a bit. I chose a delicious bloody mary from a local favorite of mine, Fayze’s.

Tip of the Week: When long runs get mundane and old running routes lose their allure it is time to change up your running route. There are so many running friendly trails, state parks, towns, and bike paths that there isn’t really a good excuse not to try new routes. We are usually willing to drive an hour to these places if needed for specific runs. It gives you new scenery, a chance to try new local fare, and a renewed mental appreciation for runs. More on this idea later!

Total Miles for Week: 45 miles (Sarah) and 34.5 (Ryan)

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 6}

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This week was a down week in our training plan. It was nice to have some lower mile runs this week as we both were pretty busy outside the running world. As you will see below, we only ran two of our runs together this week as our schedules didn’t really allow for us to log any other miles together.

Monday-3 miles (Ryan)

Tuesday-3 miles both of us

Wednesday-5 miles (Sarah)

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5 miles fueled by Picky Bars. You know it has been a cold winter when the temperature above feels normal and not cold.

Friday-6 miles (Ryan on treadmill)

Saturday-8.5 mile trail run (Sarah)
I’ll warn you in advance that I took a gazillion pictures on this run. I knew I had no pictures from earlier this week, the run was amazingly beautiful, and Ryan HATES when we stop for 30 seconds to take a picture and start running again. It makes him instantly grouchy, so I try my best to avoid the start and stops when running with him.

My decision to drive 35+ minutes to get my run in was based on having other errands to run, and the fact that I am bored to death of running the same freakin’ routes in the city I live. Seriously, bored out of my mind. So I grabbed a Bearded Brothers for some pre-run fuel, my shopping list for post-run, and jumped in the car to run somewhere different. I secretly hoped my favorite trail would be runable. And, yes, runable is a word!
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This run was also my favorite run of the winter so far.  I soaked up the vitamin D and was high on endorphins for the entire run.  I also was pleasantly surprised to find my favorite trail to run on in the summer was perfectly groomed by this winter’s snowshoers and skiers.  I was beyond pumped to find the trail in excellent condition.  I welcomed the new terrain and scenery with smiles and a happy heart.  The 8.5 miles below passed by faster than most miles I can remember.  I love runs where you get so taken away by the scenery, your music, and/or, the weather that the miles fly by.  Saturday was just one of those runs that makes you fall repeatedly in love with running.  Just you, nature, the crunch of your feet on snow, and the sunshine.  Perfect!

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My favorite tree in winter (left), sunshine on snow, and my shadow.

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When I got to the part of the trail that goes under the highway, I couldn’t figure out at first why I had to nearly duck in the tunnel. Upon exiting the other side I realized there was some two feet of frozen material making the tunnel seem shorter. Proof is in the photos. It was neat.

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As much as I enjoy training with my husband, running alone is still time very much cherished by me. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss my alone miles at times. I don’t seem to forget about miles, my troubles, or my to do list when running with the husband versus running alone. The mental fix isn’t the same. Some days though I know that without him training with me, I’d be tempted to skip a run here or there. This run was the break I needed to feel good about training and the many miles we have ahead of us in the coming weeks.
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Post-trail run my jacket and hair were partially frozen. After all that sun and endorphins though I just didn’t care.

Sunday-Yoga Class and 5 mile trail run (both of us)

We ended up staying with friends in the city where I love to run trails is, and we all got up and went to a delicious breakfast in the a.m.  I had one of the best veggie omelets EVER.  Then it was onto yoga which was the perfect way to stretch out our tight runner muscles, reflect on the past week, and relax the mind.  After yoga we hit up a nearby coffee joint, Moka, that we hadn’t been inside (I had never been to).  Their decor was modern and fun, the coffee delicious, and the company…well, amazing.

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Then it was time for some guy time and girl time. The guys headed to some hunting, boating, RV show and the girls caught up on some qualify TV, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Finally, it was time for us to get in some more miles, and I suggested the gorgeous trail I ran yesterday. Since my Garmin’s battery had died, I guesstimated the miles to be around 5 based on the day before’s run. The husband enjoyed the change in scenery on our run, too.

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Ryan’s Tip of the Week-Stretching is important to feeling good when running. Even though it can be easy to skip (Sarah and I do this all the time), the end result is a happier and healthier runner. Yoga is a great way for runners to stretch and strengthen their muscles and yes, even for guys.

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Vary your runs even when training with other people. Some people prefer to be on their own for most of their runs. Other runners thrive on the company of others. No matter what your preferred training method is be sure to add in variety by running alone and with others. The balance you get from doing both is rewarding and rejuvenating. Seek out other runners who you work with, running clubs, and fitness groups to meet other active individuals.

Total Miles-
Ryan-17 miles
Sarah-21.5 miles

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 5/Fueling for Your Training}

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Monday-3 miles on the treadmill
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It was too cold for outside running today. The weather channel’s choice of background is slightly deceptive. True-the sun may have been shining, but at temperatures this cold it is quite unnoticed. Regardless of the temperatures staying hydrated is always important. One of my favorite ways to get myself to drink more water is to add fruit to water to add some flavor. My favorite-simple lemons in water. Ryan takes his water straight up.

Tuesday-6 miles on the treadmill

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This was a rough run for me. I actually wavered between throwing my iPhone against the nearby wall and bursting into tears. I kept it together (barely) but had to walk .75 miles to regain my composure. Treadmill runs do little for my mental health during the run-that comes later. Ryan on the other hand, rocked his miles out like the devoted-training-for-his-first-marathon guy he is.

Wednesday-6 miles outside (!) and Ryan lifted
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This run was a cold one with chilly winds blowing and gusting, but it was a chance to get outdoors. It was an ok run, but not one that made you love running. It made you more love running when you were done.

Thursday-Danced it up in my cowboy boots for several hours
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Friday-Ryan lifted after work and I skied it up on a school field trip
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Saturday-12 mile long run outside
Saturday’s long run was the warmest day we had this week.  The temperature was 18 degrees with no windchill. That is right no windchill.  As a result, there was no chance of us running inside today.  The windchill was slightly misleading as the wind certainly had a chill, but running in the fresh air on open road was so refreshing.

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That is bare road folks…the first run of the winter that had more than a few open blocks.

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Half way through our run we were feeling great. We swung by the house for a drink and were back on the road. I thought about taking a GU, but didn’t really feel hungry and I usually prefer not to take GU’s on runs of 13 miles or less. Ryan was sticking with the same plan. When I first started marathon training, I needed more calories to finish my runs and learned the hard way what calories worked for me. I don’t believe in set rules for all. We each have different bodies and will, therefore, require different foods and drinks for fuel. I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or certified anything when it comes to fueling needs of runners. I simply have ran and found what worked through my own experiences. Below are some of my personal findings with eating on the run or preparing to run.

During my first marathon training cycle, I started getting stomach cramps that would last hours after long runs. Sometimes they started during runs after taking in some form of fuel. I felt trapped; I needed to eat or I would be starving, low on energy, and unable to finish my long runs, but I was feeling sick from what I was eating.

Learning what foods you can eat and can’t eat on long runs requires some experimenting. There is no way to know for sure until you try things out. I remember it being a frustrating time. You are hungry, need fuel to accomplish quality runs, but know you are going to feel sick later. Ugh! You can try not fueling, but you will bonk and runs will feel way worse than they need to. Try no to get frustrated if this is happening to you. We all learn by doing.

After far too many stomachaches post-long runs, I started to do some research. I bought the book, Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald, and learned so much about fueling my body for running. If you’ve had issues with fueling I strongly recommend you purchase this book. He breaks fueling for running down into easy to follow ideas that you can take home to your kitchen and use on the run.
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I learned that so called sports bars and drinks that had lots of sugar were giving me my stomach cramps and really were not designed for runners. I swapped out sugary Gatorade for G2 and felt some improvement.  I later switched G2 for Ultima Replenisher which has no sugars, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners that were easier on my stomach. I also ditched the Snickers Marathon bars and Power Bars for GU’s and simple granola bars that were easier for my stomach to digest. Some of the experimenting was simply getting used to digesting foods while on the run. I can now eat more real foods than ever before because my body has learned to fuel my muscles and supply blood to my stomach at the same time (in moderation). When it comes to fueling the body for running, eating real food for meals and snacks leading up to runs is almost always the most filling, easiest digested, and the best for you. Since this post is already getting long, I’ve made a separate post for those of you who have asked me questions about fueling for long-runs-Fueling for the Long Run

As for Saturday’s run and fueling, our run continued to go well however around mile nine the damp, cold air started to chill the muscles and joints. Around mile ten we both got hungry. The next couple miles were a little challenging being hungry and having cold set in. The last mile home we talked only of which Bearded Brothers flavor we would eat and the Nuun flavor we would drink when we got home. Definitely should have at least brought a couple GU’s along just in case. Other than the hunger and cold, we both felt great on our longest run of our training plan thus far.
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12 miles is Ryan’s longest training run ever. He has ran four half marathons, but never ran training runs longer than 10 or 11 miles. We are unconcerned by pace right now as winter always causes slower times and greater perceived effort.

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Bearded Brothers is a new favorite bar of ours. Bearded Brothers bars are 100% natural with organic ingredients, vegan, gluten free, soy free AND taste delicious. Plus, they come in compostable packaging.

I am not always a huge bar person, but sometimes they are perfect for a pre-run snack or post-run snack. I love that Bearded Brothers offers a healthy and natural snack. I usually prefer to eat a meal 1.5 hours before a longer run. I can eat a smaller meal or snack minutes before leaving for a run. This training cycle we are both trying to eat healthier and not use our miles run and hard burned. In the beginning of my marathon training I often rewarded myself with treats and candy after long runs. After running more miles and marathons, I felt the need to do that less and less. I’m trying to continue on the healthy eating path as it really does make me feel better on a regular basis and I think I run better, too.

Ryan agrees with the feeling better when we eat better, and we are both looking to get in better shape. After our long run Saturday and Bearded Brothers snack we roasted up some chicken and veggies for dinner. I’d eaten most of my veggies when I thought to take this picture. We did enjoy some frozen yogurt later in the evening as we were hungry again.

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Balancing the hunger you can experience with marathon training and eating healthy can be a challenge. Making sure to fuel properly in advance of a long run and during a long run can prevent post-run pig out sessions. I also follow the rule that I only eat when I’m hungry. I’ve never been a snack just to snack person. I truly eat when I’m hungry and don’t when I’m not. Sometimes this gets me in trouble like on Wednesday when I didn’t feel hungry at lunch. I was then starving on my run on Wednesday.

Ryan’s Tip of the Week-As runs start to get longer, break the miles up into smaller sections to give yourself a better mental approach to the distance. This week I looked at the 12 miles, my longest training run yet, as a six mile loop and then an out and back six miles (3 out, 3 back). This approach mentally broke up the run making the distance seem much less mentally challenging.

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Make sure to listen to your body and provide it appropriate hydration and fuel as your runs get longer. Rather than get frustrated if you bonk or have a rough time fueling, think of it as part of the training process. You are not just training your mind and legs to go the distance, but your entire body to travel many miles. Check out my fueling for the long run post tomorrow for more details-How to Fuel for the Long Run.

Total Miles-27 miles

{Friday Fab 5-Chicken Tikka Masala, Roadtrippers App…

{#1-Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala}

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Ever since going to Taste of Madison in August and trying Chicken Tikka Masala for the first time, I’ve wanted it again and again. While pinteresting the other day I found this recipe, and we ate it on Monday for dinner. It was yummy, however I will add extra garam masala to add some extra spice. The cilantro and lemon added the perfect balance to round out this dish. Yum!

{#2-Roadtrippers App and Website}
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This app and website are amazing. After taking our first roadtrip last summer, we are hooked. There is something about driving through towns, local food and beer, nature and landscapes so different from our own that we love. We have, of course by we I mean I, been busy planning here and there for a couple of months already.

I discovered this website while planning away this past weekend. It lets you plan your route, which can be adjusted, and then add in things to see, do, etc. along the way. It has tons of options from hikes, to national parks, to out of the way attractions, to breweries, to sweet tooth stops. I’ve got our routes and stops planned with a general itinerary made. On top of that it keeps track of the hours, miles, and gas cost to take your road trip (you punch in you mpg, it calculates $ for you). Check this website out, then add the app to your phone. Your trips will show up on your phone and give you turn by turn directions. Above is a glimpse at our trip-Go West 2014! Check out the quick video below about Roadtrippers, too. Anyone already made a trip out West and have suggestions? Can’t miss stops? I’d love to hear about them!

{#3-Fun Makeup}

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I don’t normally share makeup stuff on the blog, nor do I usually buy discount makeup products as I usually find you get what you pay for, however these colors were too fun and cheap to not buy (clearance @Target for $7.10). I was also pleasantly surprised at the quality. The colors are smooth, long lasting, and highly pigmented. If you’ve been looking for some fun colors to add to your makeup routine, but don’t want to spend all your money, then these are it! Just don’t have too many of number 4 below or you could end up looking frightening!

{#4-Shiner Holiday Cheer}

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My dad and stepmom know how Ryan and I love us some Shiner beer, so they rarely travel to Wisco without restocking us up. We love that they do this! The family reunion packs are always filled with a variety you can’t find here. This year they also brought the seasonal Shiner Holiday Cheer. It is delicious and unlike any beer I’ve tasted before. Holiday Cheer is a Bavarian-style dark wheat brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. It is really smooth, too!

{#5-Happy New Year to you all}

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Thanks to all of you for reading! I hope the new year brings happiness and cheer to you and yours!  Our new year brought us some major gambling cheer as I walked away the big winner in the group with…$40 bucks.  Our lives will never be the same!

Stay tuned for Sunday’s post to find out how week 1 of marathon training went for the hubster and I!

Happy Weekend!

{Motivation Monday-Marathon Training Begins Today}

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Today marks a day I never thought would occur. My husband (and I) start marathon training. Ryan was the guy who was adamant that he never wanted to run a marathon. He said over and over that he had no desire to run long training runs and race 26.2 miles. He didn’t ever want running ten miles to feel like nothing. He liked his toes unbruised and unblistered. I respected his choice and never pushed him to sign up for the full marathon.

You can imagine my surprise when he announced this fall that he wanted to run a full marathon. We’ve ran four half marathons together, yet I never saw this coming. When I met Ryan he ran, but never more than 2-3 miles and not during the cold of winter. I guess being around me started to rub off on him.

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Our training starting today is perfect in so many ways-the holiday weight gain from too many treats, new year and new goals, and cold weather lack of motivation.

What new goal or challenge will you go for this year? Running a marathon may not be for you, but what else might be. Dream big. Work hard. Persevere and you might find yourself a happier, healthier, better version of yourself in a few months. Overcoming challenges will give you the reward of knowing you accomplished something difficult for the rest of your life.

Happy Monday!