Throughout our lives, we encounter themes. It’s my belief that these themes are one of God’s ways of nudging us and asking us to pay attention to what he has in store for our lives. These themes may change by the season of life we’re in, or they may remain steady.

Lately, the big theme in my life is about reconnecting to those things that I loved as a kid. In the past month, I’ve read a book and listened to two audio books that discuss this very thing; our church is also currently doing a sermon series that touches on this. I think this is a nudge that I should pay attention to.

The thing that comes forefront to my mind when I think about what I loved as a kid? Writing. I was always writing when I was young, and to some extent continue to do so. As a kid, I kept journals, though not always consistently. I wrote poems, one of which was published in my high school literary magazine. I wrote short stories, song lyrics, and letters. I took unnecessary notes in class, just to put pen to paper. My friends and I even wrote stories together, in which we wrote a few pages, then passed it along to the next person to add a few pages, and so forth. We had SO much fun writing for each other and reading one another’s work. Whenever I stumble upon these writings in my storage boxes, I can’t help but smile and fondly remember those friends.

What I’ve found from my recent pondering is that I find my hand itching to take pen to paper and write. I realized that I still harbor a dream of being a published writer, whether that means a magazine article, a novel, or something else.

Image result for writing

Source: Woman writing. Pixabay, Public Domain

Yet, I haven’t made the time to put pen to paper, which makes me question why I haven’t. One reason is that I don’t know what to write. I suppose I could start by journaling again, hoping for inspiration. Another reason is lack of time, or at least the perceived lack of time. I have a tendency to pack my schedule so full that a creative endeavor is the last thing I want to do at the end of a busy day. I know that I need to lighten my schedule to allow more time for creativity, spontaneity, and leisure, but have a difficult time doing this in practice; this is always an area that needs improvement.

While blogging is a form of writing, I do this from my keyboard. However, there is something magical about putting a pen to paper and physically writing. It’s hard to explain, particularly to those who have never felt that magic. But, it’s a magic that I’m longing for and will be returning to very soon, in some format.

Related image


For those of you who write, where do you find your inspiration?

What themes are you seeing in your life at the moment?

What did you love doing as a kid that you’d like to return to?

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Moms on the Run Recap

The last week of August ended the Moms on the Run (MOTR) 2017 Spring/Summer season. The final week of the 18 week season always includes a practice 5k, a banquet, and the season-end 5k/10k.

This season was a little different from last year for a few different reasons. First, the location I was at had the learn to run option and a V02 max option; the V02 max option consisted of speed work to basically increase how much oxygen the body can utilize during exercise. You can read a bit more about V02 max here.  The other major reason this season was different for me was the fact that I was marathon training for the first half of the season. Due to the marathon training, I bounced between the V02 max and learn to run group to vary my intensity. I found that I was more sore after the speed work than I’d been from running in a LONG time; therefore, varying the intensity helped me ease that soreness and stay healthy.

As a result of the combination of those long, slow miles from marathon training and the speed work, I found my short distance speeds increased. As I mentioned in my City of Trails post, I PR’d my 5k, effectively crushing a PR that had stood since my very first year of running (2011). Since then, I’ve been able to hit sub-11:00 paces pretty consistently at the 5k, which is fast for me. Also, I’m better able to determine my pace based on feel; it’s become a fun game to guess my pace, and then confirm with my watch. I find that I’m more accurate than I was prior to this year. Lastly, I can feel a huge difference in my leg muscle mass, even though it isn’t very visible other than in my calves. All around, I’m really happy with my accomplishments from this season.

The accomplishments from the season are the reason for the banquet; it gives us an opportunity to ditch the running clothes and celebrate our accomplishments together. It’s pretty special when a group of 400+ women get together to celebrate themselves and each other. The keynote speaker was Olympic runner Carrie Tollefson. It was a fun night.

I wore a dark teal dress that I instantly feel in love with the second I spotted it at the store. I felt glamorous and comfortable in it. It never hurts when you receive several compliments, including ones from women you’ve never met before!

Banquet Selfie

Pre-banquet selfie


The dress!

MOTRBanquet group pic

My MOTR ladies!


The season finished out with the 5k/10k at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, which is the same location from last year. I arrived early to help with some setup items, and ended up helping staff the merchandise table. As a MOTR Ambassador, part of my commitment is volunteering at events; as you probably already know from reading previous posts, I LOVE volunteering, so this is an easy one for me.

Last year I ran the 10k, but chose to run the 5k this year. I’ve put in a lot of miles and wanted to be able to take it easy and have more time to cheer others on and chat with friends, along with volunteering, so it was an easy choice for me.

The night before the race, I *may* have stayed up too late while drinking wine with Nate. Therefore, I didn’t have big expectations for the race. But, I lined up in the 11:30-12:00 pace corral and told myself to just enjoy the scenery and get the distance done.

Once I started running, it felt hard. I looked once at my watch a few minute in and realized it hadn’t started when I hit the button, so I chose not to look at my watch again. I rarely run with music, so I again went without it and just reflected on my running journey instead. It still amazes me when I think about what I’ve accomplished and the memories and friends I’ve gained from this craziness! I also chatted with, gave high fives to, and encouraged other runners along the course.


The first turn of the course. Photo credit to my friend Lynn.

The time felt like it passed quickly. As I neared the finish line, the course was sprinkled with MOTR coaches and participants, who were shouting out encouragement, giving high fives and cheering. I picked up the speed and sprinted across the line. Because my watch hadn’t started, I really didn’t know my time, though one of my friends told me I was under 35 minutes. Not bad, I thought, considering I hadn’t slept much and had fueled with wine.

Finish by Em

Crossing the finish line! Thanks to Emily Marie Photography for not only taking pictures, but offering them to runners for FREE! 

I was shocked when I got home and saw the posted results. My finishing time was 33:30, a 10:47 pace! While it wasn’t a PR, it was MUCH better than I expected for that particular day. Clearly, my training was effective this year.

After cheering on friends still finishing, and some of the little ones in the kids races, I headed back to the merchandise table to help out and buy the shirt I’d had my eye on. As the day wrapped up, I helped pack up shirts and then headed home, where I spent the remainder of the day relaxing.

It was a fantastic weekend, a successful season, and has been an awesome running year so far. With just over three months left of this year, I have already more than doubled my previous highest annual running mileage, run my first marathon, and PR’d my 5k.

Next up is my second Ragnar Trail Northwoods and I can’t wait to spend the weekend with another group of my awesome running friends.

What has been the highlight of your year?

If you’re a runner, tell me about your favorite race from this year!

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Mendota Bottoms Trail 5k

On Saturday, August 19th, I ran the Mendota Bottoms Trail 5k. While they also offer a 10 mile option, I chose to stick with the 5k. The race location was Fort Snelling State Park.

The 5k started at 8:15 am, so I arrived just after 7:30 to pick up my packet (race bib, timing chip, light-weight hoodie), have time to take said packet back to my car, and use the restroom before running. I even had time for socializing with friends before the race began.


The race swag hoodie (pic from the race website)

The race started just a few minutes late. The lollipop course looped Pike Island and the finish line was the same spot as the start line. Footing was mostly hard-pack dirt, with some patches of grass and sand. The trail is wide and flat, which makes it a great race for those new to trail running or those seeking a PR.

I started the morning with an upset stomach because I may have had some wine the night before. Thankfully, this subsided before running, but I figured it would be slow going. At one point, some runners ahead of me stopped just before a mud puddle, to figure out how to pick their way across it. I went around them and somehow my speed increased after that. I kept myself from looking at my watch because I didn’t want to focus on pace, so while I felt like I was working hard, I had no idea whether that feeling translated into running fast.

Once I knew I was about a half mile from the finish, I pushed myself to increase my pace and leave it all on the course. According to my watch, the 5k distance was actually 3.74 miles, which I was fine with since the race organizers had informed us ahead of time. My finishing time was 40:48 for a sub-11:00 pace, which is an off-road pace PR for me. I’ll take it!

The official results for the race are a bit skewed because they’re calculating based on a 3.1 mile course, rather than the 3.74 miles, so I was glad I had my watch.

Post-race refreshments included bottled water, muesli, strawberries, and pretzels. The awards ceremony was held at Lucky’s 13, a local restaurant, where we were also given a free beer.

Overall, it was a really nice race morning and I would consider doing this race again. The logistics were easy, volunteers were friendly, the location was pretty, and I love the hoodie. I would definitely recommend this one to runners who are looking to try running off-road for the first time because it is not a technical course.


Coming into the finish!

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Wicked Wine Run

On Saturday, August 12th, I ran the Wicked Wine Run 5k. The race started at 5:30 pm at St. Croix Vineyards in Stillwater, MN.

Runners had to pay either $10 for general parking at the Washington County Fairgrounds, or $20 VIP parking at St. Croix Vineyards. I chose general parking, which I paid for at packet pickup. From the fairgrounds, runners then took a shuttle to St. Croix Vineyards, about three miles away. Even though I had paid for my parking early, I still had to wait in the same line as the other cars, so the process was rather slow. I was glad to have arrived when I did because the line for parking only got longer!

Once at the vineyard, the location was small enough to easily find friends. Bag check went smoothly and the restroom lines went quickly; there seemed to be enough porta-potties for the number of runners.

The race itself started in three different waves, based on pace, with the fastest runners going first. I placed myself in the second wave, which was for those in the 10:00-12:00 minute per mile pace. The race started promptly, with approximately five minutes between waves.


Winding through the vineyard with a determined look on my face

The course itself was a combination of grass and dirt, as one could expect from a vineyard. We started out by winding through the apple trees, then through the grape vines, around the pumpkin field, and back across the lawn of the vineyard. While I knew that it would be an unpaved course from reading the emails and knowing what a vineyard typically looks like, many runners apparently did not know that it would be unpaved and therefore complained about it.


Headed toward the finish

I expected a crowded course and a slow pace. While the course was narrow and crowded, runners did a nice job of staying to the side so faster runners could easily pass. I ended up running a faster pace than I expected. At the finish, we got to choose a class of white or red wine, and the adorable glass was ours to keep. My finishing time was 35:47.

WWR Finish

Finished with vino in-hand!

At 7:00 pm, the 1k wine tasting walk started. Again, participants were released in waves. There were four stations, each of which had a single offering. Again, we got to keep the adorable wine glass at the end, meaning that those of us who did both the 5k and the 1k had two glasses to take home.

The wines I tried were: Seyval (white wine at 5k finish), Delaware (1st station of 1k), Frontenac Gris (2nd station of 1k), Frontenac Rose (3rd station of 1k), and Frontenac (4th station of 1k). All of the wines were fantastic and I ended up purchasing a bottle of the Delaware to take home. Since I’m in the area frequently, I’ll likely be stopping in for more of their wine in the future.

There were four food trucks at the venue to purchase food from. I had the Tot Nachos from Tot Boss and it was delicious. They had a long line most of the night (30-40 minute wait), but since I didn’t get dinner until after the 1k, my wait was only 20 minutes and worth it. There was also a fried rice truck, a pizza truck, and one that had Mediterranean cuisine.

The festivities also included a decent band and a few vendors, but really it was about having fun and drinking wine! I was fortunate enough to have several of my running ladies there to chat and laugh with.  It was a nice evening and the weather was perfect! I would do this one again, but wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is looking for a PR or wants to stay on pavement.

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Warrior Dash MN 2017

Warrior Dash MN 2017 was held on Saturday, July 8th, at Caribou Gun Club in LeSueur, MN. This was my sixth time running this event, but for some reason, it’s the only one I still get nervous about. I was more nervous about Warrior Dash this year than I was about my marathon!


Pre-Mud pic

This year, we signed up for the noon wave in order to sleep in a bit longer, since it takes us about two hours to drive to LeSueur from our house. Two of our friends joined me, Nate, and Kiddo for this adventure. We arrived at Caribou Gun Club about an hour before our wave, which gave us plenty of time to use the restrooms, pick up our packets, and drop our stuff in bag check.

fisherman catch

Fisherman’s Catch

Our wave started on time, with the appropriate number of runners. Last year, morning storms delayed the first few waves, so there was a backlog of runners; this created long lines at the obstacles. This year, there weren’t any lines, which made it easier to navigate the course in a shorter amount of time.


Pallet Jacked

I felt like the level of difficulty at Warrior Dash has decreased over the years. First, the race was moved away from a ski slope to mostly flat farmland, which I appreciate. Then, it felt like the obstacles slowly decreased in difficulty level. On one hand, I understand that Warrior Dash is geared toward the beginner obstacle course runner, it leaves me on the fence about whether I’ll register in the future. I feel that I may need to find another race series that provides a little more challenge, and that’s okay. I appreciate that there is a place for beginners to get the experience; I just feel that I need a step up.

Fire leap

Warrior Roast

After our entire group had crossed the finish line, we grabbed hosed off, grabbed our stuff from bag check, and enjoyed our free beers. We hung out there for about an hour post-race before heading to Pizza Ranch for a late lunch.


Right after the finish!

Overall, it was a rather uneventful day. I had a good time on the course and enjoyed the company of friends and family.

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Grandma’s Marathon Recap

My Grandma’s Marathon weekend started by heading up to Duluth on Thursday evening. We figured it was best to get settled in the condo Thursday evening, so we could hit the Expo early Friday morning and rest and relax for most of the day. We stayed in a two room condo at Beacon Pointe, which was gorgeous. Our condo had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, full kitchen, Jacuzzi tubs, and was right on Lake Superior. From our windows, we could see the lift bridge and watch the large ships coming and going.

Thursday evening was spent primarily sitting outside by the water, taking group pics, getting ourselves settled in, and lounging around while chatting excitedly about the race. What else would we talk about?

On Friday morning, we headed to the DECC for the race expo right after 10:00am. The expo opened at 10:00, so it was pretty quiet when we arrived. We were able to walk right up to packet pickup, browse the vendors, take pictures, and eat the spaghetti lunch without lines.

I had purchased tickets for Nate and I to participate in the spaghetti feed because I wanted the full race experience. We decided to eat it for lunch, just in case something didn’t settle right. We ended up eating just after 11:00, when it opened, so there were no lines. The food was good and it was one less thing I had to think about.

After the Expo, we headed up to Castle Danger Brewing. Yes, I realize that drinking alcohol the day before a long race isn’t recommended, but I’m a rebel. I ordered a Summer Crush.

Summer Crush is a beer brewed just for summer. It has a pleasant lemon flavor and aroma from using Sorachi Ace hops, which is a defining characteristic of this Japanese hop variety. The malted barley lends a slightly sweet, biscuity backbone. Summer Crush is a seasonable beer, and our take on a Shandy without being one. Like a Summer Crush back in the day, or Minnesota’s short summer season, this beer won’t beer around for very long. Enjoy it while you can!”

It was good, just a tad too hoppy for my liking. I’ve had some of their darker winter beers before and enjoyed those. We sat on the patio while we sipped our beers, enjoying the sunshine.

Friday evening, we went to Blackwoods for dinner. I had the Prime Rib Dip, waffle fries, one of Nate’s pub pretzels, and a Blue Moon. It was all delicious. Yes, I realize it may seem like a strange pre-race meal, but I figured I’d stick with my normal diet because that’s what my body was used to before long runs. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to make race day preparations, visit, relax, and get to bed early.

I woke at 4am on Saturday morning, mostly from the light coming through the large windows that face the lake. It was a beautiful, cool morning. I ended up staying in bed, awake, until 4:30. Then, I got up to prepare for the race. To my surprise, I wasn’t nervous at all, just ready to get moving.

Our hotel had pre-race goodies available in the lobby, which included the full continental breakfast choices, Clif bars, apples, bananas, coffee, and bottled water. From the lobby, we were also able to catch the shuttle the hotel provided to take us to the official race shuttle at Edgewater Hotel, saving us the walk of just under a mile.

When we arrived at Edgewater, we were able to hop right on the shuttle and were headed toward the start line within minutes. It was an uneventful ride. At the start area, we were one of the first busses to arrive, which meant we were able to grab a meeting spot and use the porta potties right away without standing in line. We had over an hour before race time, so we chatted with friends, took pictures, and stretched. The wait time went pretty quickly and before I knew it, they were calling runners into the starting chute!


Pre-race selfie

I lined up a little ways behind the 5:30 pacer, with my training partner. We started the race together, sticking at about a 12:54 pace, which was slightly faster than most of our long runs. I felt really good and we were chatting and enjoying the scenery.

with becky

My awesome friend and training partner

At the 10K split, my running partner said she needed to slow down, so we split. I was feeling good and needed to continue at our current pace. The next four miles flew by, as the first 10k had. In fact, I felt really good coming into mile 12, but told myself I’d make a restroom stop if I found a porta-potty without a line. Just after having that thought, I found one and dashed into it. Prior to my restroom stop, I’d had the 5:30 pacer in my eyesight, but lost them after my stop. I never quite had them in my sights again. I never expected to hit the 5:30 mark, but it was fun knowing I wasn’t far behind them, at least for a while.

After passing through the half marathon mark, the course got pretty boring and quiet for a while. I debated about whether to pull out my iPod, but by the time I decided I should, we were back into an area with spectators. I ended up keeping the iPod tucked away for the entire race, never using it; though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, considering I never listened to music on any of my training runs. In fact, I don’t use it during races very much anymore, either.

Things got a bit more exciting just before we crossed over from Old 61 to London Road. There was a group cheering, playing music, and handing out Jolly Ranchers. Then, we crossed over to London Road and headed toward Lemon Drop Hill. The next several miles had spectators and the energy among runners was up. The number of sprinklers on the road increase, too, for which I was grateful. Somewhere along the course, it had become a goal of mine to run through every one.

As we approached the dreaded Lemon Drop Hill, spectators were offering shots of booze, beers, ibuprofen, and Vaseline. These people knew what runners needed! I told myself that it was too early in the race to enjoy the alcoholic offerings, but if beer was offered after Lemon Drop, I was in. After all, anyone can walk three miles, right?

Finally, I was at the water stop at the foot of Lemon Drop Hill. I took an extra long walk break and told myself I would run up. This hill is all about where it’s positioned on the race course, not the size of the hill. Lemon Drop is nothing compared to the hills I’ve conquered at Ragnar Great River, so I gave it a go. Unfortunately, I only made it about 80% of way up because my muscles were tight and tired, but at least it wasn’t a mental defeat.

At the top of Lemon Drop, I spotted Nate and my friend Patrice. I stopped for a brief moment to say hello and take a breath, then continued on my way. But, it was a nice boost seeing friendly faces at that point in the race. I’ll note here that I also saw friends, who were spectating, a few others times earlier in the race and it made me smile to see them.

lemon drop

At the top of Lemon Drop Hill. I’m in the lime green tank top.

I was able to stick with my intervals for the next mile, but then lost some steam. I did a lot of walking in the last three miles of the race. As I approached downtown, there was a brief rain shower and some thunder, but it quickly moved past. The rain was a nice relief from the sun and heat.


About a mile after Lemon Drop Hill

post rain

Just a few miles to go, after a brief rain shower.

Coming into the last mile of the race, I made sure to run and look strong as I crossed the portion of road that was painted blue for race photos. Right after that, I rounded a corner and saw some of my Moms on the Run friends, who were cheering for me and shouting encouraging words. Tears sprang to my eyes because I was touched by their enthusiasm and support. I told myself I couldn’t cry, though, because I needed good finisher photos!

blue strip

Have to make it look good for the photographer!

After that, I took what I knew would be my last walk break. I was nearing the final stretch through Canal Park and needed to finish strong. I continued to walk until I made the final turn. Then, I broke into a run (though it was probably more like a shuffle) to bring it home. About halfway down the final stretch, I spotted some more Moms on the Run friends and coaches. Again, there was cheering and encouraging words. I was excited to see them, but again fighting back tears. Stop trying to make me cry in my finisher photos, people!! Seriously, though, I love all of those ladies.

finish stretch

Nate snapped this one of me coming down the final stretch.

finish butt

And, then he snapped a pic of my butt!

For the last burst, I attempted a sprint, though I’m sure it didn’t look like it. But, I had my sunglasses off, arms in the air, and a smile on my face. Thankfully, the finish line photos turned out like I wanted them to. Victory!  My official finishing time was 5:52:13.



After collecting my medal, shirt, and bottled water, I found my friends who had finished ahead of me. We shared sweaty hugs and took pictures. At that same time, Nate and Patrice were able to find me. I quickly swapped my running shoes for my Oofos sandals and ditched my handheld water bottle and fuel belt; I was tired of those things! Nate took all of my stuff and he and Patrice headed to the other side of the finisher corral, where I could meet up with them. I grabbed a chocolate milk, which was about the only thing left for food and beverage, and headed to a grassy spot near the Maritime Museum to stretch.

Once I had stretched out, we headed over to collect my free beer and wait for the rest of our friends to finish. That Alaskan White really hit the spot! I sat with Patrice and rehashed my race. Soon, I sent Nate for a second beer; once I was halfway through that, my muscles felt great and had no soreness.

When the last of our friends finished, we took more pictures and headed back to our hotel. Once there, we showered, and had our dinner of grilled steaks, baked potatoes, Caesar salad, and fruit. I’ll admit I had a few more beers, Watermelon Shandy this time. The evening was spent talking about the race and relaxing, with lots of laughter. It was a beautiful time with friends.

Overall, it was an awesome time. I loved everything about the race and the weekend. I’m so lucky to have had such a fabulous group of women to train with and couldn’t have done it without them. In fact, I wouldn’t have even attempted without a support group like this.

Obviously, my biggest supporter was Nate, who agreed to this crazy adventure while knowing that it would mean I would be spending a lot of time away from him and that there would be things I couldn’t/wouldn’t do during training (trying downhill skiing, hiking off-road, weekends away). Thanks, honey! I love you!

with Nate

I’m still on a bit of a high from checking this off my bucket list and still a bit emotional about. I don’t know if I’ll do another marathon, but I’m leaving it open as a possibility. As for Grandma’s Weekend next year, I hope to do the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon.


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I’m a Marathoner!

As you probably know, I ran Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday, June 17th. I am officially a marathoner!

I haven’t posted my race recap yet for two reasons: there were a lot of feelings to process and I am gathering up photos. I still don’t have everything I’d like to include, but it will be coming soon.

What I will say, though, is that it was FUN! I never in my life imagined that the words marathon and fun could go in the same sentence, at least for me, but it’s completely true. I am SO happy that I chose Grandma’s as my marathon and I am SO blessed by the group of ladies I trained with. The entire weekend was amazing and I can’t wait to re-live it all here soon.



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