Life Lessons: Hard Work Pays Off!

I have been involved on the operations side of running events for the past 14 years and the thing that keeps me always coming back, or taking on more, is seeing the faces (young and old) cross the finish line having accomplished their goal and dream!

A couple months back I was asked by my  fellow past Red Crosser, Annie Taff, if I wanted to help lead up the course volunteers for the Girls on the Run of South Central Wisconsin 5K event.  How could I say no to help with this amazing event that helps to build self-confidence in girls 3rd-5th grade while preparing them to run a 5k at the end of 10 weeks. I wish I had something like this when I was growing up.

From my experience course monitors are always the last area to fill for every event I am involved with, but I feel one of the most critical areas. I am happy to say we had 25+volunteers for race day and had an AMAZING crew to make sure the girls were safe on the course while for many of them, completing their first 5K.

I watched at the finish area for a bit and it was so incredible to see the faces of these young girls, as they crossed the finish line and realize what hard work, perseverance and dedication feels like.

These are life lessons that all young girls and boys can hopefully hold on to as they get to junior high, high school, college and adult hood.

I feel people want to take the easy route out now a days, and as a society we are loosing the essence of a hard work ethic. In my life, the harder I work for something the greater the reward. I feel if it comes to easy we don’t appreciate the end result as much.

Two years ago, I completed my first half marathon. Running is not easy for me at all, fitting in the training was hard, race day was HOT, but I finished. I will never forget that feeling and I can honestly say I am so proud of myself for completing that dream of mine.  I hope everyone who crossed the finish line on Saturday continues to feel that feeling of “crossing the finish line” in everything they do and know….. that if you put in the hard work, it will pay off!

ps. I also got to volunteer with some amazing friends too = BONUS!

Volunteering = Mood Changer

Working full-time, it is hard to find time to volunteer for organizations I want to give back to. After a long work day, sometimes you just want to go home and kick back. That was my day today. I was tired, my allergies were driving me crazy – itchy eyes, sneezing and I didn’t want to volunteer.

I am a person though when I make a commitment, I am going to follow through.  I get ready and walk down to the Goodman Community Center. Taking the short walk on this beautiful day instantly boosted my mood, and by the time I got to the doors of the Goodman Center, I had an attitude shift.

Tonight was their Family Fun Night – a free event for the community including a  BBQ dinner, games for the kids, and a special theatrical performance by some of the children.

I helped with registering the families. Taking down their name, ages of the children and the school they attend. Rough estimate I would say we had around 500 adults and children attend tonight. By the time everyone was through, we ran out of almost everything!

It was an amazing two hours filled with laughter, smiles and a great event bringing our community together!

Next time you commit to something and don’t feel in the mood:

1. Go – because as a fellow volunteer manager, nothing is worst than having volunteers back out last-minute.

2. You will surprise yourself in how giving back is an instant mood changer.

 

Snail Mail!

Last weekend I participated in a class at the Dreambank in Madison. “The Lost Art of Snail Mail”, presented by Taryn of theLoveSum.  She shared her views on the benefits to you and the person you are sending mail too. She didn’t have to twist my arm. I love sending cards and all the better when I receive a card back.

The best type of cards are homemade ones.  Taryn went over a few different techniques for making homemade cards.  This was our chance to play and get messy.  She showed us a technique using paint, water and soap, to make colored bubbles to stain our card paper.  She also showed us a super messy but fun technique using shaving cream, paint and toothpicks.

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays coming up, take sometime to unplug, get messy and make cards to send to some special people in your life. Trust me, this gift is not only good for your soul, but a homemade card with a special note will also touch the person you are giving it to, and would mean more than any store bought gift.

As a challenge……  Make a list of 5 special people in your life, and send them a homemade card.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be heartfelt.

Need some inspiration?  Check out the links to these blogs to inspire you!

Finish Line

finish lineIt has been ten days since I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon! Yesterday morning I went out for a two-mile run. This was the first time I have run since completing the half. It was an amazing feeling to run because I “wanted” to, not because I had to for training.

What a mind shift. When I started this journey on January 9, 2016 I couldn’t (or didn’t think I could) even run a mile, and now I am a 13.1 mile finisher, and I am running for enjoyment and exercise.

My head has been flooded with different thoughts, feelings and emotions that it has taken some time to sort it all out and share my race weekend experience.

Friday: I signed up for the race weekend experience and well worth the extra money. Friday night there was a cocktail party sponsored by Fellow Flowers. You got a sweet swag bag, free drink ticket, lovely display of appetizers and desserts + a badass dj, that cranked the tunes and kept the dance floor packed all night.  I was a good girl all week, and didn’t have any alcohol and drinking extra water to stay hydrated, but I couldn’t resist a free cocktail so I did have the “flowertini”. I was on my feet all day at work, so I was not your typical dance machine, but it was so much fun to absorb the positive energy and excitement of 500 ladies.  Check out this cool video of the party & see if you can spot me! 🙂

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A few of my Foundations Training Run ladies. We clean up nicely!

Saturday:  You could start the day with a “shake-out” run, but there would be no more running for me until the big day on Sunday.  I did take part in the yoga yogaclass led by Kula Yoga and Wellness. That is exactly want I needed to get ready. It was the perfect amount of stretch and relaxation. After yoga is was time to pick up my packet and visit the expo full of running goodies. I splurged on a bracelet and a 13.1 charm. I then met up with one of my fellow Foundations training partners, Lori, and we walked around the farmers market and then rolled out our yoga mats on the grass outside the Capitol Square and bib pick upenjoyed the beautiful sun, blue sky and trees.  We had time to kill before the guest speaker series at DreamBank. The day ended by listening to two inspiration women in their own way talk about their adventures in life and in running.

After an amazing day, I went home, put my feet up and kept drinking my water.  I was actually in bed by 10pm and slept!

Sunday:  I got up at 5pm. I made myself breakfast consisting of a veggie omelet, toast and coffee. This is what I had the last two long training runs and it seemed to give me the fuel I needed and helped me “take care of business” before I left the house.

I got to Hilldale Shopping Center at 6:45am. I wanted to cheer on the 7:00am 13.1 walkers. Thank goodness the main storms passed by 6:30am and the set up crew scrambled to get everything in place. Thanks to Race Director, Jen Anderson and her crew, the walkers were only delayed by 15 minutes. Now it was our turn! Coach Flo had us gather for our traditional Foundations Training Run picture. On the way I ran into my friends from Green Bay, Brian, Kate and her boyfriend!

brian kate and i

Brian, me and Kate!

I was so excited to see these friendly faces on the morning of my first half! It was a weird déjà vu feeling that I was the one running and they were cheering me on, versus the other way around.

Ten minutes to the start.  It was a weird feeling….. I thought I would be more nervous but I wasn’t. I was ready to do this! I was not excited about the temps and humidity, but it was weather similar to my 12 mile training run, and if I had to walk, to make it, then I had to walk.

at the start8:00am – I line up with the pacing group at the 3 hour mark. My goal was to come in at 3.5 hours, so I thought if I stayed with the 3 hour group for most of it, if I have to walk some, I could still come in with the time I was shooting for.

The horn sounds, and I start running.  It was amazing to see as I rounded the first corner, joining Brian was Marla, Stosh and Sarah. They made it for the start! I was all thumbs up and smiling.

blood signWe are starting out uphill and we run past the Red Cross building.  There is Megan with the best sign ever! Before I know it I have made it to mile 1 – only 12.1 to go!

On Saturday, at the expo, I attended Jen’s race day course talk.  She said there will be ice on the course and if you feel yourself overheating, to put ice in your sports bra and over your heart to cool your blood. Rookie mistake….. I forgot to ask WHAT “AID STATIONS the ice will be at.

We get to the first aid station, and I was starting to feel pretty warm… “Do you have ice?” Awesome volunteer, “no”.  Get to the second aid station, “Do you have ice?” again a no…. this is happens again at mile 6 – still no ice.  By this time, I can feel my face getting beet red. My saviors and amazing “Route Rockers” were there for me to cheer me on just past mile 6, and I go to them (could have been in a demonic voice at this point) “GET ME ICE”.

Sarah pouring ice down my pants and sports bra!

Sarah pouring ice down my pants and sports bra!

Mile 7, I see my angels and Sarah has a cup with ice, and I let her dump it right down my shirt and sports bra.  I also had them dump ice down each leg. Instantly, I could feel my core temp starting to lower. This went on for every mile.  My team was there with a cup of ice to dump down my sports bra.  I did finally see ice at the aid station, but it was not until mile 10.  I would have over heated by then and left to the buzzards. This course was a tough one.  Observatory Hill, some additional hill beasts and some full sun areas that made you want to melt. I did have to walk the last mile.  It was mostly up hill, full sun and I was starting to feel a little dizzy.  Slow and steady has been my motto and I really channeled that mantra in

Finish Line with high Fives!

Finish Line with high Fives!

the final stretch.  I passed the Red Cross building again, and after that I knew it was all downhill (literally). I started to run again. I get to the final stretch and I see the finish line, I see about 20 women lined up on both sides and I picked up the pace, running through their dance party,  giving high fives and finally crossing the finish line and this little girl handing me my medal!

Now I know why people do this crazy shit! After all the training, hard work and sacrifices, crossing the finish was AMAZING.

WE DID IT!

WE DID IT! My official time: 3:42:07

Amazing Route Rockers and Ice Team!

Amazing Route Rockers and Ice Team!

After I crossed the finish line my “ice angels” where there, and some of my Foundations running teammates. No matter how tired and hot I was, I was so excited and proud of myself. I finished the day with a beer at Great Dane with my Route Rockers, then I went home, showered, slept two hours, and had a smile on my face for the rest of the day!

BEER!!!

BEER!!!

 

MY FINAL COMMENTS! I wrote this a few hours after I finished and still holds true.

blingIt is hard to put into words how amazing today was. My “word” going into today was “Believe” my word after finishing my first Half Marathon is “Grateful”. Grateful for all the messages & cards of support, Grateful for my training run teammates, grateful for my Route Rockers who saved me by being my own personal ice delivery crew & provided needed words of encouragement on the course, finally grateful for my legs & health that allowed me to be a Half Marathon Finisher!!!!!

Double Digits

11I am two weeks away from my goal race of the Her Half Marathon on June 26. The last 3 weeks, I have been doing double digits for my Saturday long training runs. I am still in awe of myself for hitting these HUGE milestone!

As I look back on this journey here are some things I have learned.

  1. To help make your goal a reality, you must vocalize it. By telling people about your goal, it helps keep you accountable.
  1. I have some pretty incredible friends and family who have been amazing in giving me the encouragement I needed and words of support along the way to keep going.
  1. Doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, the point is you are doing it. Your butt is off the couch, you are being physically active to better your health and creating life long healthy habits.
  1. Learn to love the body you are given. Did I drop 50lbs from running? No, in actuality the number on the scale barely moved, but I am ok with that. I feel stronger, my body is allowing me to do something I never thought possible, and for that no matter the shape or size of it, I have learned to love who I am inside and outside.
  1.  Running is more mental than physical. If you get in your own head with negative thoughts, all those aches and pains you are experiencing will take over. Strong mind, strong body.
Foundations Training Run Team before our 12 mile run at Fireman's Park in Verona.

Foundations Training Run Team before our 12 mile run at Fireman’s Park in Verona.

I started this journey on January 9th and it is hard to believe I am two weeks away from making it a reality. I am so grateful for my fellow Foundation Training run members and Coach Flo for helping me get this far.  I have put in the work, and next week is our taper week to absorb everything we have done so far and gear up for race day. I look forward to towing the line on June 26 and run, walk or crawl…. I will make it across that finish line!

I Hit A Wall!

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January 9th is when I started my 13.1 running journey. On March 13, I did the 10K Shamrock Shuffle in Madison and then in week two of the Summer Foundations program, I joined my fellow Foundation friends and did the MadCity 50K relay on April 9. Two 10K’s in a little over 3 months of running, I felt awesome….. and then I hit a wall.

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Our MadCity 50K relay teams!

That week, I went out on Monday to run, and I was .5 miles into my run, and I just couldn’t do it. I stopped and walked the rest of my 2 mile run that day. Wednesday, April 13 was our Foundations training run program night and we had 3 miles to run. Again, I felt tired, in my head I was saying I hate this, and I ended up doing 2.5. A very tough 2.5. Saturday, April 16 – 5 mile run on the schedule. Instead, I did 4. Ok, I thought, one bad week, is ok.

Then comes the week of April 18. Monday, went out for a 2 mile run. I did it, but again, it felt so hard. I am thinking what is going on? I did a 10K, no problem less than two weeks ago.

Thursday, April 21st I left for vacation with a good friend to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM. (GREAT VACATION SPOT BY THE WAY). I did not run on vacation but I did do a lot of walking, if that counts for anything.

Albuquerque, NM

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Camel Rock, Sante Fe, NM

I am sitting in the Denver airport right now, and Monday will start a new day and a new week. I have to follow the advice of Taylor Swift and “Shake it Off”. I have to put the bad two weeks behind me, and focus on getting back to my training. I guess with anything in life, there are ups and downs. Here’s to going back up!

Round ll

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I survived my first round of half marathon training thanks to my Foundation teammates. March 13 was our goal race – the Madison Shamrock Shuffle 5K/10K. Proud of all my teammates on making it across the finish line.

Our Foundations Summer Training Run participants.

Our Foundations Summer Training Run participants.

April 2, 2016 was the first day of Foundations Summer Training Program. I signed up for another session because of my positive experience in the spring session, the camaraderie of my fellow runners/walkers, and the accountability a training group provides.

I was excited to see so many familiar faces signed up again from our Spring session and new faces taking on the Summer session challenge. Our first training run was one of the weirdest weather days in Wisconsin. It was sunny, it was snowing, it was sleeting, it was crazy, but we all did it!

I must admit I am still in awe, that I went from zero running on January 9th to running a 10K on March 13! I am excited and nervous for what this next step of the journey holds, but I know I can get through it with the support of my Foundations friends!

 

I am Running a 1/2 Marathon……

These are words I thought I would never utter. Over the past ten years I have worked behind the scenes of some pretty incredible running events including the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, Door County Triathlon, Fall 50 and Bellin Run.

I have seen the pure joy and excitement of people of all shapes, sizes and abilities cross that finish line and accomplish their dream. Over those ten years, deep down, I hoped to one day have that same feeling….. the problem, I hate running!

imageTen months ago I moved to Madison after living in Green Bay for 23 years. I think this was the catalyst I needed to give me the confidence to try. On Christmas eve I lost my uncle to a short battle with cancer. With the loss of a loved one and the start of a new year, you start to look at your life and it is a reminder to live life to the fullest, take chances and don’t wait to check off those “bucket list” items.

December 27, 2015 I signed up for the Her Half Marathon in Madison. Having the courage to sign up is half the battle. Now to put together a plan to help me go from behind the scenes to crossing that finish line.

Hope you enjoy reading about my journey.

Change – It is a good thing

change

It is hard to believe it has been over six months since my last blog post. So much has changed in that time frame, but one thing stays the same, my passion for engaging volunteers and getting people involved in their community.

To catch you up on the change in my life I moved to Madison, WI, took a new job within the Red Cross and left my life in Green Bay after 23 years. Why you ask? Change. I loved my life in Green Bay. I had (and still have, distance does not change that) the greatest friends, loved my volunteer family who gave so much of their time to the Red Cross and I was heavily involved within the community.

I wanted more….. Last summer, I was in Madison a lot supporting a good friend during his Ironman WI training. I kept saying, I can see myself living here. That voice in my head kept gnawing at me, and around December 2014, I decided, I am going to move to Madison.

I put a plan into motion. I set a time-line. My goal was to find a new job and move by spring so I could experience all the amazing things Madison had to offer in the summer time.

I updated my resume after 13 years, and started job searching. I never really thought there would be a position within the Red Cross that I could transfer to, so when one presented itself, I jumped at it.

Mid March I accepted a position as Donor Recruitment Manager for the areas of Sauk, Juneau, Columbus and Adams counties within the blood services division.

Now I needed to find a place to live. This is how I knew this new move was meant to be. I looked on Craig’s List, and my sister and I went down one Saturday to Madison and we looked at three apartments. Turns out, I went with the first duplex I looked at. It was perfect for me – great location, two bedroom, parking and within my price range!

11078171_10205218153426193_6871061646355355865_nApril 11, 2015 I moved into my new place. Hard to believe four months has passed from that day. Living in Madison has been wonderful so far. The bike trails, the festivals, the food, beer and so much more. Of course, some days I miss my old life. Going from being a big fish in a small pond to no one knowing who you are is a strange feeling (later blog post on that concept). I know in my heart this was a great change for me and every day is an adventure and I am having so much fun finding new places to explore.

My blog will continue to be about volunteering and giving back, but I will also be sharing some of my new Madison adventures. Hope you enjoy and keep reading.