Free Race Entry Giveaway!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why I Am Not a Perfect Mom

So I thought that it was about time that someone said it out loud. It might shock some of you but I'm not *gasp* a perfect mom. I know, I know... You can't believe I put it in writing for the world to see. You can't believe I admitted to not being the very thing all mommies work so hard to be seen as.

I hate to be the one to let the secret out of the toy box, but no mom is perfect. Moms everywhere are putting on a strong front and we may look put together on the outside but on the inside it's another story.

Let's back up a little. So in addition to this mom gig, I teach college courses on human communication and we recently studied the concept of nonverbal communication. When we study this concept I usually show my students a TED talk by Amy Cuddy, a brilliant researcher who studies how our nonverbals can actually change our minds, it's not always the other way around. If you have a few minutes you should take the time to watch her brief talk on "faking it until you make it." It truly is profound and could change your life.

The reason I brought this up, though, is not for you to study nonverbal communications (although it is really interesting). This semester when I showed the video I couldn't stop thinking about parenting. Sometimes I do feel like I am just trying to appear like a perfect mom on the outside, but on the inside, I feel like my world is an overwhelming, thankless, tiresome repetitive chore that never ends. How long do I have to fake it, until I make it?

Sometimes its the clothes that we wear, like putting together a trendy outfit when all we really have the energy to wear are pajamas or leggings and a baggy shirt. Sometimes its the countless activities we enroll our children in and then blast on social media so everyone sees what a great mom we are. Sometimes its the foods that we try to feed our children in public, like organic string cheese or gluten-free granola, knowing that when you get home the little minions will just grab the Oreo cookies out of the food pantry. Sometimes it's the homework or good news from their teacher that we shout from the top of the tallest building, while quietly deleting the concerning emails from the school or carefully throwing the lower scores underneath the cereal box in the recycling bin before anyone can see them.

Being a good mom or dad is no easy accomplishment. But being perceived as a good mom or dad is even harder. I'm definitely not trying to gain any sympathy from anyone because whether you are a parent or not we all have perception struggles that we are trying to overcome. We all save face, whether it be at work or with our friends, but there is something about this whole mommy perception that is harder for me manage. I get so worn out from making sure I bring the healthiest snacks for the team after the soccer game or posting the perfect family picture after church on Facebook, that sometimes I just want to stop trying.

The thing is, my kids know I'm a good mom. I know I am a good mom. So why is it that I care so much about what all of you think?

I say we all just stop trying so hard to be perceived as the perfect parent and we start focusing on actually being it. Our kids don't care if we wear our pajamas all day on a Saturday. Our kids don't care if the hamburger they are eating is free range. Our kids don't care if we Tweet about taking them to the zoo.

Our kids just want us to be there for them.

In a few weeks when schools lets out I will start my most favorite and yet, I'll admit it, sometimes most dreaded three months of limited adult interaction with an overwhelming amount of kid interaction. I know I am still going to take selfies of my kids and I at swimming lessons. I realize that I will choose to leave the Oreos at home and grab the Cuties when I know I'll be around other mommies. I admit that I'll pridefully post pictures of my little clan of kiddos all over my Facebook feed.

Maybe, though, if I'm lucky, I'll start to care less about what kind of mom you think I am and more about what kind of mom I think I am: A darn good one.

A picture I didn't post on Facebook.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Guest Post: The Pursuit of a Marathon

Through Twitter I have met an inspirational person who recently ran his first marathon. Philip Shelley is a fellow Kansan, runner, and overall incredible man who in spite of physical limitations has accomplished something that not many can say they have done. This past week, Phil completed his first full marathon, or 26.2 miles. I hope you enjoy reading his story as much as I did. Such an incredible journey. If you are interested, Phil has his own blog at
Philip before the Garmin Marathon.

The Pursuit of a Marathon
Life before the marathon
My desire to embark on the journey to a marathon began about three years ago. Of course, even then I had no idea I would end up running a 26.2-mile race in three short years! However, before I explain how I started training for a marathon, I need to give you some background on who I am and why running has become one of the things I love to do.

When I was born, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP). This was caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain at birth. In some cases, CP can mean severe physical and mental limitations. Although my family might argue the mental limitation part, God allowed me to have what is considered a very mild case. Even so, I have had and continue to face challenges on a daily basis: I am legally blind in my left eye, have limited use of my left hand and my left leg is a little shorter than my right. All that to say, I don’t drive, so getting around can involve a lot of walking or rides from Uber or friends!

As a result of these limitations, using my feet for exercise seemed to be a great fit. I started working out in the gym but just couldn’t get used to lifting weights, the elliptical, or the “dreadmill," so I began using an indoor track and a 5K training app. I was also inspired to start running when several in my family were running, and my sister-in-law, Dawn, was even doing full marathons! This inspired me to give it a shot and push myself in a way I never thought possible. As I started to train for a 5k, which was the Sprint Campus 5K in October of 2013, the spark to keep running began.

How I got to the marathon
As I started down the road to running, I had no clue what I was doing and ran that first 5K in just under 30 minutes. Boy was I worn out! I didn’t pace myself but rather gave it all I had. I would soon learn that was not the best approach from an endurance standpoint. I then ran the Thanksgiving Day 5K a month later and a 10K after that. The spark of the first 5K and subsequent 10K now had become a burning flame, and this running thing became not only a hobby, but a habit too. I had a “hobby” that was good for me, and I could just “run out the door” and keep challenging my limits.

After the 10K, the next goal was a half marathon. So I started training with my Nike+ app and Hal Higdon’s training app. Here again, I’m not sure I really knew what I was doing, but I put in the miles, and in October 2014 I ran the Prairie Fire half in Wichita, KS with my brother and sister-in-law. I was sore for two days after, but finished in under 2:30, and I told myself this would not be my last long race. So I set a goal to run 2-3 half marathons in 2015. The year 2015 came, and I kept running and enjoyed it, connected with runners on Twitter and even at my doctor's office. I loved to talk to anyone who would listen about my passion for running and learned all I could!

My goal of running 2-3 half marathons ended up being 5. The Heartland 39.3 series was a great adventure and allowed me to experience 3 great races the KC Metro has to offer. In the fall, I did a small half in St. Joe, MO, which was fun, especially when I found my brother and 6-year-old nephew chasing me at the end! My last race of 2015 was another half marathon at the Indianapolis Marathon. This was a beautiful course, and I ran most of the race getting to chat and learn from an experienced marathoner!

After running 6 half marathons and learning more about running, I was finally able to wrap my head around attempting a marathon. After running Indy, I decided to run the Garmin Marathon. My experienced sister-in-law, Dawn, told me to stay local so I could have the encouragement of friends and family. This proved to be some very valuable advice.

As I embarked on training, the Run Walk Run method taught by Jeff Galloway proved to be a great way to conquer 26.2 one interval at a time! I did some looking around and found that Runkeeper would allow me to set up running intervals, which was great because I could start the app and my music and RUN.

My training officially started in November, but I was fresh off a half marathon, so I didn’t have to start from scratch. The mileage each week began to grow, and I would average roughly 2-3 short runs of 2-4 miles each through the week and then a long run on Saturday on the beautiful Indian Creek Trail. Part of the adventure was to see how far I could get before I needed to turn around.

As February-March came, I had made it to the end of the trail & back and was able to get several 20+ mile runs and even a full 26.2 under my feet! Now that I had run the distance, I knew I would not surrender and would conquer the marathon.

The marathon and beyond
After running Rock the Parkway on April 9, race week was finally here. After six months of consistent training and 500 miles, I was excited and ready to RUN! I went to get my packet on Thursday and cruised the sponsor tables where I met Traci (of Mamagottarun) and Bubba (Garmin Race Director), who graciously provided me the opportunity to win a free entry! It was just great to take it all in and yes I was nervous, but after all the hard work and encouragement of family and friends, I knew it was just a matter of getting it done!

With packet in hand, I went home to get my running gear laid out to make Friday a simple night since I'm not one to leave things to the last minute. On Friday, my sister-in-law, Dawn, who has been an inspiration and encouragement throughout my pursuit of running, came to help and cheer me on.

The coveted restful night before a race does not always happen, and Friday proved to be no exception. I got up at 4:15 and surprisingly, got ready on auto-pilot. I showered, got geared up, grabbed a breakfast burrito, and we headed out the door. We got to the convention center with no problems around 5:15 and just waited until about 6-ish. Shortly after 6:15, I joined the other runners as we waited for GO TIME at 6:45!

We were off, and as the race unfolded, I continued to use Run Walk Run (1:30 run/35s walk). I was averaging an 11:30 pace through the first half and really felt great! At mile 11 my sister-in-law met me, and we ran together for a bit. Then at mile 12, we parted, and I started down the Mill Creek Trail.

Things were still going ok, but I was starting to feel the miles pile up on my legs. Also, my average pace was slipping a few seconds every mile. At mile 16 I really started counting down, not only because I was getting tired, but I knew I only had 10 miles left. The turnaround at mile 18.5 finally came, and I headed back down the trail, continuing to feel my heavy legs and even started walking a bit more.

I called Dawn to tell her I was headed back, and she said she was around a couple of corners, but those were some of the longest corners! I kept moving and running when I could, but I was heading toward "The Wall."

From a nutrition standpoint, I was alternating Stinger gels and half a Clif Bar every three miles and a SaltStick pill every couple of hours, so I knew my nutrition was ok. I just had to keep moving and pushing myself! I knew I could do it since I had done it before.

At about mile 23-24, I saw Dawn and was so relieved since I knew the end was even closer, and now I had the best encouragement, help and motivation I could ask for. She stayed by me, encouraged me, and told me to stop talking and just breathe. We walked, ran some, and after a "ridiculous hill" the finish line was in sight. I gave it all I had to finish my first marathon in 5 Hours, 41 Minutes and 47 Seconds.
Phil and Dawn.

It was a great feeling to have accomplished my goal. My brother Adam, his family, and my runner friend Laurel were there to greet me after many months of encouraging words. It was fantastic to see them, but boy did I hurt. You name it, and it probably hurt! We walked around a bit, and I got my results. Then I finally felt like eating. What better place to go than IHOP.

After a couple of hours, some stretching, foam rolling and a cool bath, I was feeling human again. I slept like a baby that night, but was pretty sore the next couple of days, even with a massage on Sunday. I kept stretching, and I woke up Wednesday with no pain or soreness. I still took the rest of the week off from running, but my first marathon will not be my last.

Even before running Garmin, I had registered for Running with the Cows Half Marathon on May 14 and then the Rock & Roll Marathon in Seattle on June 18! I've always wanted to go to Seattle, and what better excuse to go there than to run a Marathon? It's amazing what opportunities running can present, both personally and geographically.

Phil and Laurel.

Pursuing a marathon has proven to be a challenging but fulfilling learning experience. I have learned that "I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me." (Philippians 4:13) The Lord allowed me to be born with limitations, but running has taught me that He is able to strengthen, protect and enable me to do things I never thought possible. With a grateful heart I thank my Lord, family, friends and fellow runners (Traci, Stephanie, Liz, Laurel and many more). Your advice, encouragement and motivation have helped me to achieve something few have even attempted!

So keep running to finish!


The best finisher medal ever, made for Phil by his niece.

Crossing the finish line! If you have trouble viewing this
amazing video, click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 Garmin Marathon Complete!

Race director Bubba Gaeddert, me and one of our 
giveaway winners Philip Shelley, at the race Expo.

What a day! This was my first run in Oz with no gusty winds, hail, rain or chance of tornadoes! This past weekend I ran the Garmin Half Marathon and the weather was amazing, not something we have experienced in the previous two years I have run it. Not only was the weather a change, but there were several other new changes to the race this year.
  • This year the race had some new folks in charge. The race director was amazing and did such a good job of thinking about all the little things that needed to come together to make this event memorable. From allowing me to giveaway a few race entries early this year to making sure there was coffee available after the race for participants, hats off to the Garmin Marathon planning team.
  • Communication. Although it seemed like the use of social media and App technology was even better than previous years, this race has always done a good job (at least in the 3 years I've run it) at communicating with the Olathe community and participants. From the countless Twitter and Facebook posts with helpful videos and updates, to the awesome LIVE tracking App you could download to your device, communication was definitely top notch.
  • If you have run this race before, you realized that we had a new route. Due to construction around both the Garmin headquarters and the usual race route, this year the 10K, half and full marathon had a completely new location. I have to admit that it wasn't the most exciting route I have ever run but it did still have its perks. Although much of if felt like we were running up a very gradual incline nearly the entire race (so much for a PR!) is was nice to run through neighborhoods where people were outside cheering runners on from their front porches. I always enjoy being out in neighborhoods during races. Some parts of the run (and remember I just did the half) did bring us out into some of the open, undeveloped areas of the city too, which was a good variety of scenery. The full marathoners basically stuck with us half marathoners until about mile 12 where they jumped onto a trail and ran 6.5 miles up it, turned around, and ran 6.5 miles back. I will say that it felt pretty congested the first few miles, but that isn't something original to this race. Widening the start line would have helped a little too; I got in line about 20 minutes early and it was already impossible for me to get to the correct pace group before the start. I ended up starting in a group about 15 minutes slower than me and with the narrow start line-up it was difficult to get caught up to my pace group.
  • The expo, start and finish were all located outside of the beautiful Olathe Convention Center and Embassy Suites. What a wonderful change! The expo/packet-pick up was organized meticulously, was larger than in the past, and the location provided for areas of indoor waiting prior to the race event. In the past when the event was held at the Garmin Headquarters, there wasn't really an area to warm up inside before or after the race. This was much needed.
  • Because of the new location, ease of parking was also a change. As with any big change like a completely different race route, kinks need to be worked out. Unfortunately, many of these kinks can't really be addressed through any other means than trial and error. Parking, construction, road closures due to the race route, businesses not allowing parking on their locations... these all created quite a mess afterward. Personally, anticipating this happening, I had my husband drop me off prior to and pick up me up afterward. I know that isn't an option for everyone, but we did drag 3 sleeping kids out of bed at 5 am on Saturday morning to do it and I am really happy we did. I heard that some participants sat in their cars for over an hour or two before they could get out of the parking lots and back onto the highways and roads.

Warming up inside just before the start of the race.

There were also some things that did not change, all of which were still as wonderful as they had been in the past.
  • Best hardware yet. I have run the half the last three years now and every time the medal the next year outdoes the medal from the previous. I really respect the Garmin Marathon. Medals aren't cheap. And you know what, as someone that primarily runs half marathons, it is nice to have a race recognize that those are difficult to train for and run in too. Too many times the full marathoners are the ones who get the sweet hardware. The half marathon medals are just as awesome as the full ones in the Garmin Marathon events. Thank you! This year I got to add Glenda to my growing number of medals.

Courtesy @GarminFitness on Twitter

  • The party afterward. Not only was it easy to get a post run massage afterward if you wanted one, but the food and drink were once again very good. Bananas, yogurt and water immediately after the race, followed by coffee (my first race with coffee after- THANK YOU!) and yummy grilled chicken sandwiches. And TWO free beers if you wanted to partake in those festivities. Usually runners get one beer, so two was very a very nice touch. 

One of my cheerleaders and good friends Lindsey(oh and
my photographer!)

Just about to cross the finish line.

So how did I do? Just fine. Not my best, not my worst. I'll blame the over 2 hour time on the incline of the route and my lack of training. Remember this was my first race back after shoulder surgery 4 months ago, so I am completely fine with my finish. I will never be a Boston qualifier nor will a likely place in the top finishers of a race, but I still love to run. I finished in 2:02:14 with an average 9:20 pace. In my division I placed 43 of 219 runners my age and gender, or in the top 19%. Of all women who ran the half I finished 195 of 1149, or in the top 16%. I was about 9 minutes over my best half ever, but 5 minutes under my worst. All in all, not bad for a comeback race with not as much preparation as I usually like to have. 

Definitely got my steps in that day with my Garmin activity tracker!

This is definitely a race I would love to keep running in. Not only am I lucky enough to live in the same city as this race, but participating in it supports my local community. Thank you Garmin for another great year! 

Did you participate this year? If so comment below. I'd love to read about your experience too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

10 Reasons Why You Should Run the IMT Des Moines Marathon


My family after the IMT DMM in 2015.

10. Free stuff after the race! My food and drink experience at the IMT DMM these last few years has been amazing. Vendors with chocolate milk, beer, water, beer (did I say that already?), pizza, cookies, peanut butter on a spoon, fruit, sandwiches, granola bars...the list goes on and on... Oh and last year they even had vendors passing out food to spectators. How great is that?! No joke- several vendors walked around and gave out sub sandwiches to everyone. As a mom with three young kids cheering her on, this helped out tremendously!

9. You can run two races in one weekend! Yes, as many of you know you can complete the I-35 Challenge, by running a half or full on Saturday in Kansas City and then another half or full in Des Moines on the Sunday of that same weekend. However if you want to run two races on the same weekend but in the same city, you can register to run the IMT DMM Mercy Live Up Loop, which is a 5 mile run on Saturday and then choose a 5K, half or full on Sunday.

8. Guess what? The Junior Jog (kids run) is on Saturday, the day before the 5K, half or full. This is great for parents who want to enjoy a family "running" experience. I have always wished that my kids could run the "kids fun run" option with me at most of the races I particpate in, but these are always held at the same time as my run. The IMT DMM has you covered by holding the Junior Jog the day before! How awesome is that?!

7. The registration fees are really, very affordable. Right now (until April 18th), you can register for the full marathon for only $73.00. And, as the price increases in April and July, the highest fee is still under $100. That truly is a good value. If you run races, you know it is often the fees that sometimes dissuade us runners from registering. The half is currently only $58 and never goes higher than $68. You can even run the two IMT DMM Mercy Live Up Loop option for as little as $44 right now!

6. The expo rocks. By far, the best exposition/packet pick up I have ever attended. There are so many vendors, advertisers, companies, organizations and other races with booths and lots of free stuff to hand out. Deep discounts on merchandise and other race registrations are very easy to find. Plan on spending at least an hour browsing the exposition after you very quickly and efficiently pick up your packet. Last year there were guest speakers presenting during the expo, one I listened to for a few minutes was an ultramarathon runner. Wow, incredible stuff.

Outside the expo in 2014.

5. Pasta. Really- need I say more? The Saturday night of race weekend there is a pasta dinner, very affordable and you can bring the whole family. A great way to meet other runners and carb load.

4. So I don't like to admit it, but sometimes I run races for the cool shirts. The IMT DMM has included in the registration fee pretty awesome long sleeve, dry-fit pullovers both years I have participated. I get compliments all the time on mine. It isn't some cotton t-shirt that you will never wear again- these shirts are wonderful. I wear mine weekly. I love how they state your distance on the back too, and are color coordinated for whether you ran the half or the full that year. Very cool IMT DMM, very cool. I also heard that there are training shirts available on their website this year too! I need to get my hands on one of those!

In my awesome race swag!

3. Technology savvy. Not only is the #IMTDMM active on Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, Instagram and has a really great website, but the race has a wonderful App that you can put on your mobile device. It shows you where your runner is while they run, has route maps, gives you your race results afterward, and has several other cool functions. Follow this race on social media and over the next few months you will get a lot of good information about route changes, guest speakers, price increase dates, discount codes, etc.

2. Supportive. This is the most supportive race I have ever, ever run. There are volunteers during and after the race that truly make this experience what it is. From complete strangers cheering you on by your first name (yes they put your first name on your bib!) to helping you figure out where the Gatorade, water and GU stands are. If you have ever run a distance race you know that sometimes after a long run you can get a little disoriented. There are lots and lots of volunteers on hand to help guide you to get your finisher medal, move you through the stations afterward, find first aid or massages, point out the free nutrition and hydration vendors, and really are just there to answer any questions that you might have.

1. You could run for free! Ahem... My giveaway of TWO race entries ends at midnight on April 11th, so you still have several days to enter. You can enter multiple times on multiple days... so what are you waiting for?! Enter this awesome giveaway! Even if you don't win one of the free race entries, a few other lucky entrants will win free race swag. See the giveaway at the top of my website to enter. Most of you should be fine, but if you have trouble seeing the Rafflecopter giveaway above from a mobile device, try 1. scrolling to the bottom of the page and click "View Web Version" or, 2. try logging in from a PC or a non mobile device.