Tag Archives: #running

We can do hard things.

This summer has been a crazy one for me. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling, working on my sparkle empire, celebrating milestones with friends, and adjusting to a new puppy in my home. Overall, it has been a very happy summer with lots of wonderful new memories.

I entered this summer with the thought process that I wanted to have an amazing time, but I also knew that there were a few hurdles I wanted to tackle, and they both involved moving forward in the grief process with my father.

I’ve talked about this many times before, but I always feel like I need to remind people that the grief process is one that is different for everyone, and for many people, it is one that never ends. November will mark the two year anniversary since my father’s unexpected death, and while I am more capable of talking about the loss now, I still struggle with it every single day. For me, it helps to face things/situations/places that I find to be the most emotional and connect to my dad. Somehow, facing them head on and working through those emotions allows me to get a better grip on the reality that my dad is no longer here.

As those of you who have been following my blog for awhile may know, one of my best friends, Whitney, and I have birthdays exactly a week apart. Each year we try to do something fun and different together to celebrate. We’ve done a lot of really cool things over the years, including meeting Brett Eldredge , my favorite country singer, last year. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to top that because it was such a neat moment. However, when Whit mentioned that one of our friends, Steve, would be doing a rollerblading half marathon in Chicago the week after our birthday and thought we should go, I knew that this was the moment for me to cross off something major from my list of grief hurdles.

I had to go to Wrigley Field.

My dad was the World’ Biggest Cubs fan….his tombstone actually has the Cubs logo on it, and his love of the Cubs is one my entire family shares. Going to Wrigley with him was always something that we were going to do, and once we lost him, I didn’t think I could emotionally do it. Going to any baseball game was a challenge for me after the loss, and there were times during the past year and a half where I could not physically make myself step foot into a baseball stadium. I missed a good friend’s bachelorette party because I had panic attacks at the thought of watching a baseball game live. I cried throughout an entire game once I finally worked up the nerve to attend and missed everything. It took a lot to get comfortable with freaking baseball. If I was that emotional watching teams I didn’t even like how in the world could I get through a baseball game watching a team that I had an emotional connection with and that had been a part of my life since the day I was born????

We arrived in Chicago Friday and were able to explore the city and do some things before Steve’s marathon Sunday morning and the Cubs game Sunday night. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t anxious as hell the whole trip. So much of my life is in the public spotlight, which I am okay with, but one thing I try to keep out of it as much as possible are the moments where I have a complete meltdown, because they aren’t pretty. I was terrified I would have one of these meltdowns inside Wrigley Field.

Surprisingly, I held my shit together, but I cannot begin to tell you how I felt walking through Wrigleyville, walking up to that iconic Wrigley Field sign, sitting down in that stadium, or singing “Go Cubs Go” with a stadium full of my fellow fans. I had a few weird moments inside of the stadium, but I was able to get past them.

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This was such a cool moment. The W flew for you that night, dad!

I shared on Instagram that it started to rain in Chicago hours before the game. Deep down I was so worried that the game would be canceled and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to get over this milestone in my grief process. However, as we got dropped off in Wrigleyville, the rain stopped, and the rest of the evening was perfect.

I believe very much in signs, and as I sat there eating my burger before the game I couldn’t help but realize that this had to be my dad’s way of letting me know that he was missing me and sad that he wasn’t there to walk into the stadium with me, too.

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Enjoying the view of Wrigley and the city.

That same sign came from him again two weeks later as I prepared to tackle something that most of you know I have been dreading for a long time: The Star Trax 5k he and I used to run together.

Last year I had every intention on running it in honor of my dad, but emotionally, I just wasn’t able to, so I backed out of attending. This year I HAD to do it. I signed up a few months back and invited my friends and family to come and run/walk/or watch in support. In my mind if I had a bunch of people coming there to support my family, I knew I wouldn’t back out of it even if I wanted to. I encouraged everyone to wear Cubs gear (or blue or red if they weren’t a Cubbies fan) and had about 50 panic attacks the day of the race. Somehow, my mom and I got there.

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My mom and I before the race.

As challenging as I knew it would be for me to run a race and not have my dad there waiting for me at the finish line, I knew this race would be so emotionally hard on my mom if she was a spectator. She supported us every year and watched both of us finish every race. Only getting to see one of us do it this year would be hard on her heart. I was so proud of her….she ended up signing up and walked the 5k with my uncles and her best friend. We had so much support that night….it meant the world to us. We had family there. We had our best friends there. It felt good to be surrounded by so much love.

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Our crew! Love these people so much!

As the race start inched closer and closer, it began to rain. Again, I couldn’t help but think of my dad and this being his way of letting us know he was missing up and was there in spirit. If you know me, you know I absolutely loathe getting my hair wet. However, for some reason, at this moment, I didn’t care. The rain continued through the first mile then let up.

I was worried about two specific moments in this race: starting and finishing. Those who have run this race know that you start it inside of Salem’s high school football stadium, taking a lap around the track and then hitting the streets before entering the stadium for the finish. My dad and I always started the race together, and it wouldn’t be until we hit the street when he would take off and leave me in the dust. When the race started, my tears started. All I could do was keep my head down, not look around, and focus on Skrillex, which was the bulk of the playlist for the night.

The rest of the race I did okay….no weird emotional moments. Instead of changing up my playlist, I listened to my favorite Skrillex song, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, on repeat the ENTIRE race. For some reason the song helped me hold it together.

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My cheer squad at the finish!

After making the final turn into the stadium, I started to get really weird. I felt tears in my eyes, I felt puke in my throat, I felt lead in my legs. Again, I just kept my head down and powered through my feelings to the finish line. My dad wasn’t there at the finish line for me, but I wasn’t running into a stadium with no support. Two of my besties, Erika and Melissa, drove down from Cleveland to cheer me on and give me hugs when I finished. They also were able to capture some footage of me starting and finishing.

Once I finished the race and the rest of our crew had finished, I had to split. The longer I stood around the more emotional I got, so my mom and I made the decision to get some Arby’s, eat our feelings, and go home.

Moments like these two may seem so trivial to others, but to me they were a huge deal. Every time I cross off one of those milestone moments or events I encounter a new range of emotions. I’m proud I overcame something challenging, and I know my dad would be, too. At the same time, my heart hurts because I had to do something alone that we would’ve done together. That mixed emotional state can really do a number on someone, but I continue to try to see the good in the challenging times. That’s really all I can do.

I continue to be reminded how lucky I am to have the people in my corner that I do. They say that in really happy times and really sad times one’s true colors come out. There have been a few friends who have completely ghosted me since things happened, but the majority of my friends have continued to show me that they are ride or die and will be there for me whenever I need them. I know that throughout our lives there will be more challenging times, not just for me, but for them, and I’ll be there for them when they need me.

As this summer comes to a close, there is one last major milestone I am going to be doing without my father: buying a new car. Due to her profession, he was always the person to get me the cars I wanted, check out their backgrounds, and help me get everything rolling while also serving as my voice of reason. I’ve been putting off the car search for awhile, not only because he won’t be able to help me, but because I have such an emotional attachment to Farrah, my Xterra, because that was the last car he got for me. Even though I’ve done well with avoiding the emotional attachment with most inanimate objects, my car is one that I can’t seem to shake. We will see how this pans out.

Those reading this that are going through the grief process like me…..I have to encourage you to not run away from those milestones…..those moments you are scared to face because they now are different. I know it’s scary. I know crying isn’t fun. I know feeling that hole in your heart is painful. But sometimes you just have to push through because this is what our lost loved ones would want for us.

I used to run with my dad at Star Trax; now I run for him. Every year moving forward I will be having a team of people join me to do the same because this is how I can continue to keep his spirit alive with that race.

Find a way to make those moments meaningful.

Find a way to keep your loved ones alive in your heart.

Find a way to turn your pain into purpose.

And always remember……..life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.

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#IrunforDSS

 

 

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Fill your cup.

Let me let you in on a little secret……my life lately has been HECTIC. That happens when you are an entrepreneur and active in organizations outside of your business….things just tend to compound and before you know it you don’t have time to do the things you love.

About a month ago I sat down and really put some thought into where my focus and energy was directed. It was long overdue. I kept thinking to myself….I need to slow things down….and because of this, I knew I had to step away from something I had been a part of for the past few years and truly loved with all my heart.

The Summit Athletic Running Club.

I joined SARC several years back when I moved to the Akron area with the hope of finding some new friends to run with and the skinny on local running trails. I loved the club immediately and after some time joined the Board of Directors as Membership Director. It was a role I was very proud to have….and a role that led me to many great friendship and runs with incredible athletes.

However, serving on the Board the last year was rough on me. Once my father passed away I had a difficult time making myself go running, and it was challenging to talk about running in a positive light. It took awhile, but I finally got right in the mind with running….but when I started to think about what needed to go in my life, my up and down relationship with running was at the top of the list.

So…..I submitted my resignation to SARC as a Board member and also as the Race Director for my beloved Shamrock 5k and 15k race. I knew it was the right thing to do.

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Interested in a great run club? Join SARC!

I got to thinking that I know many others who load their plate and try to be superwoman. You may be one of those ladies. There’s no shame in trying to do it all….but what’s the sense in doing it all if you are sacrificing things you love….or doing all those things half assed?

Here are some ways to prioritize if your plate is loaded up higher than one at a Golden Corral buffet…..

1. Make lists. People who know me know that I love lists, but this really does help. Make a list of the things you spend the bulk of your time doing. Also make a list of the top priorities in your life, numbering them from most important to least.

2. Delegate when able. We all think we can do everything, right? However, some of the items on our plate can be delegated to those in our family, our coworkers, etc. Don’t be afraid to give up control….it will help you…trust me!

3. Have a tribe! I talk about my tribe a lot….those on my team and the incredible coaches I work with every day within the community. By having a tribe and sharing challenges I face, I am allowing others to potentially help or offer solutions.

4. Always have ME time. This could include reading a book, taking a bath, going for the run…..but make sure you have some time to enjoy something you love. Ever hear the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” You have to take care of yourself, too.

5. Know the difference between importance and urgency. Assign deadlines to complete tasks based on their overall importance. Some tasks on your plate may not be needing as much focus as others, which can help lessen your task load.

It’s never easy to start this process, but if you feel overwhelmed like I did, it is important. Am I sad to leave the Board of Directors for SARC? Absolutely. However, I know I can still remain involved by volunteering when I’m able and running with the club as a member. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that it’s okay to be involved in a lesser capacity.

Listen to Dolly Parton…..never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

Thanks for the memories, SARC!

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With Boston marathon great Dick Beardsley

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Rock the Reset: Day 14

ONE MORE WEEK!!!!!!!!

Can y’all hear the jubilation through my typing????!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong….I love how I am feeling internally, how I’m sleeping, and the food I am eating, but I definitely am looking forward to getting back into my normal routine.

Coffee….Energize….workouts….I can’t wait to be reunited. I honestly cannot believe I have not cheated with COFFEE once!!!!! I’m very impressed with myself.

This week is the Restore section of the detox, meaning legumes and grains are eliminated and my focus is on simple nutrition. I also add in a new supplement, Revitalize, which helps restore the healthy bacteria in my digestive tract.

So how did Week Two end up? Well, let me tell you…..

Earlier in the week I connected with two local bakers who own a start up vegan doughnut company in the area. I loved all of the info on the company, and they invited me to a doughnut tasting they were hosting today. Knowing this was something awesome and something my bloggers would absolutely love to know about, I attended the tasting with my friend Julie and new friend Erica. I’ll be blogging about the company very soon, so be on the lookout, but let’s just say…..this happened:

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I can’t wait to share about these beauties!

The bonus to trying the doughnut samples….I had extra calories, so I was able to get in a lovely 3 mile run. On this beautiful March day, I have to say….it was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries and refocus me for this final Reset week. Tomorrow, back to yoga…but only for another week.

Here’s a look at my meal plan this week:

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My final week!

This week I am finally giving tempeh a try. I’ve heard many great things about the recipe that came with the program, and since I’m trying lots of new things with this Reset I figured I would build it into this final week. Other than that I am incorporating my favorite recipe thus far, the zucchini cashew soup! It’s so easy and good!

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Let’s see how this goes. 

Tomorrow I will weigh in to see how I’m doing, as well as take measurements. I’m not super focused on the numbers on the scale….I’m more focused on just getting through this week!

Shoutout to my Shakeology for pretty much saving my life. It’s nice to still have a serving of chocolate every day…makes me feel like I’m having a cheat when I’m not.

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! This week is going to be a great one, I just know it!

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Bucket Time, Baby!

Every December, as the current year comes to a close, I sit down and create a vision board for the upcoming year. The board is full of personal and business oriented goals that I am working to achieve, and I make a cute little graphic to go along with it so I can hang it in my office for viewing every day.

To me, goals are extremely important. It’s not just a business or financial thing; it’s about personal growth for me….about pushing past limits and challenging myself. Do I hit every item on my vision board? Sometimes…some years I fall wayyyyyy short.

Shortly after creating a vision board for 2017 I had a conversation with a friend about bucket lists. She asked if I had ever created one, and I told her that I hadn’t. To me, a vision board was different than a bucket list. The items that I have goaled for myself are things that in my mind I MUST achieve this year to get to where I want to be professionally. A bucket list is something that includes things I would love to do, but that aren’t at the forefront of my mind like my vision board items are.

After that discussion I decided I wanted to make a small bucket list for 2017 and fill it with some of the fun things I always say that I want to do but end up not doing. I like little things like this…you may remember a few years ago I tasked myself with completing 31 things in 13 different categories.

Here are my bucket list items for 2017:

1. Visit Falling Water

I have a mild infatuation with architecture and have been obsessed with this Frank Llyod Wright masterpiece for as long as I can remember. It’s a quick day trip for me, so why I haven’t gone there yet…I don’t know. This year though….I am going.

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Photo Courtesy of Redbubble.com

2. Build my own Terrarium.

I have zero green thumb skills and zero interest in anything related to plants. However, I love succulents and how cute they look when assembled into a fun little glass container. Sure, I could buy an awesome one (like this one from Doodle Birdie), but wouldn’t it be fun to make my own so it is EXACTLY the way I want it? My office will be happy when I create this.

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Doodle Bird Terrariums on Etsy.

3. Cook Thanksgiving dinner.

I love to cook and bake, but the thought of cooking a turkey has been one of those things that I didn’t think I would ever want to do…I’ll blame the turkey incident in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for that one. Deep down I WANT to try to make one, so this year, it is happening. Mom, I’m probably going to want your supervision on this one.

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Shoutout to The Huffington Post for this sweet turkey pic…hope mine looks this good!

 

4. Complete the Ultimate Reset.

I’ve wanted to complete this nutrition program since I started coaching over three years ago, but my fear of eating a plant based diet for three weeks has scared me off. Lately I have been doing a lot of research into nutrition , and I really want to complete this to reset my body. Double Whammy: I will be doing this with the 3 Week Yoga Retreat, which will be another hurdle for me….I love intense workouts and haven’t done well with low key workouts like yoga in the past. I can do hard things…..I keep repeating that to myself.

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Image courtesy of Beachbody

5. Make Sfogliatelle!

My favorite Italian treat of all time. When I want one of these I go the lame route and visit a local Italian store to get an authentic one. Why? They are so difficult to make! I look at Sfogliatelle as a lobster tail’s little sister….they aren’t as big but taste similar. A few years ago I bought the stuff to make them and never followed through with the baking process. This year I am not only making these fabulous treats, but I will master them!

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6. Family Photo Shoot

We attempted to get pictures around Christmas with both dogs, but we ran into some photographer issues and schedules, so they didn’t end up happening. This year I want to make sure we get some awesome family photos with the two dogs….we haven’t had a family shot since our engagement photos, and only Bubba was in those!

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7. Go Glassblowing.

No one ever wants to go with me when I bring up glassblowing! The Glass Bubble Project is a local shop where I can learn how to do this and make some fun creations, and damnit, I’m doing it this year even if I fly solo!

8. See the Rockettes at Christmas. 

New York City is my place….as in the one place I’ll never get sick of visiting, the one place I would love to live in, the one city that I think reflects the way I am as a person. I love the city at Christmas, yet I’ve somehow never seen The Rockettes. I was thisclose to going last minute this Christmas with my mom, aunt, and cousin, but we decided not to since we didn’t plan things out with enough time. I know I can talk them into it this year with some planning!

9. Run a race I’ve never done before.

I’ve run a lot of races during my life, but I tend to run the same ones every year. This year I want to run a 5k (or half or full)  that I have never done before. That shouldn’t be difficult to do…there are so many great races out there!

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The Hall of Fame Half, April 2016

10. Beignets at Cafe DuMonde.

I can’t wait to finally try a legit beignet! This summer we will be heading to New Orleans for our Coach Summit and visiting the iconic Cafe DuMonde. I don’t care how many burpees I have to do…I need to try one of these….maybe two to be sure 😉

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Photo courtesy of Onevanillabean.com.

I’m excited to cross these items off of my 2017 bucket list….and I encourage you to join me if you are local!

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O’Kramer for a Day

I’ve always been a fan of St. Patty’s Day.

Back in the day it was all about drinking…..I would hit up every St. Patty’s parade, spend the day at the bar enjoying green beer, and acted like a complete foolish leprechaun. I’m not Irish….not one bit….but I was on March 17th!

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The Old St Patty’s Day Katie

These days St. Patty’s Day is totally different, and I couldn’t be happier! The holiday for me is all about one big event that I am in charge of, the Shamrock 5k and 15k race, which is put on by my running club, Summit Athletic Running Club. I still get to rock green and put an “O” before my last name so others think I have a little Irish in my blood….so I am a happy camper.

This year the race was a little bit earlier in the month of March and took place this past weekend. Thank heavens! Originally it was scheduled to take place when I was scheduled to be in Jamaica, so I was happy we could move the date around and I could be there.

I’ve talked about my running club before, and I can guarantee I will talk about it again. It is a club that I am very proud to be a part of, not only as a runner, but as their Membership Director. Of course I think everyone should join us! We are fabulous! If you ever want to come to a meeting, let me know….I’d love for you to be my guest! (P.S. We serve pizza at the meetings…..we all know how I feel about that).

The Shamrock 5k and 15k is a race that has a very special place in my heart, so I was thrilled when I was asked to take over it prior to it taking place last year. Back in January 2013 I attended my very first SARC meeting, attending with major nerves since I knew absolutely no one and did not know what to expect from the club. All I knew is that I was relatively new to the area and wanted to find some people who shared my love of running. I also had a very lofty goal that year to run 31 races (you can read about that here ), and I was hell bent on achieving it.

The very first race I ran that year was the Shamrock 5k and 15k. Not only was it my first race of the year, but my first race as a SARC member and my first SARC race. Of course I rocked a tiny hat and some green! Since I was just returning to the world of running, I knew that I would be slow and was worried about the cold weather, and I was happy when one of my BFFs, Whitney, agreed to run with me. Fortunately for us, my two biggest cheerleaders, my mom and dad, drove up to brave the cold and support us, even making signs. It meant the world to me.

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During my red hair days

Fast forward to this year, which was my first year running the race completely by myself (Last year I Co-Directed with a fellow SARC member who was retiring, which helped me get my feet wet with directing a running event.) I had a lot of emotions with the race this year, mostly because I knew my dad would not be there physically to support me. Anything involving running gets me emotional…that was our thing. He is so missed.

Race directing is so much more involved than a lot of people think. Last week I felt like I was living, breathing, and eating Shamrock, and my friends and family can attest to that….I was MIA! Following up on permits, police officers, porta potties, food sponsorship, bobble heads for the award winners, volunteers…….there is a lot involved to make sure the day goes off without a hitch!

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Our bagpiper was phenomenal!

I decided to bypass my complete leprechaun costume this year (yes, I have one) to pay homage to my original Shamrock getup, a tiny hat and faux leprechaun tuxedo. Something about doing so just made me feel a little bit better, which may sound a little weird, but it’s true. I found an amazing faux leprechaun tuxedo that was perfect for the day….several people actually thought it was a real tuxedo! I also contacted my favorite hat maker, ChikiBird, who has made several custom hats for me in the past, and purchased a special little St. Patty’s Day leprechaun hat. Look how cute it was……..

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Our crowd this year was awesome! We had 665+ runners join us at Woodridge High School in Cuyahoga Falls to run the 5k or 15k, and I’d like to give a shout out to the weather for being so kind to us….it was perfect running weather! I couldn’t have been happier with how the event with, and I think everyone had a great time! I was super proud of Whitney for running her first 5k since having Baby L….she did great!

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Whit and I before the race

These events could not be the success they are without the many amazing volunteers who help behind the scenes. Many were up before the sun came up to help get things set up on the course, and some were with me until the very end of the day, which was about 5pm…..a long, long, long day. I had two very special volunteers assist me this year….my mother in law, Diane, and my incredible mother, Sherrin. It was wonderful having them both there to see the behind the scenes activity, and I was so happy my mom could be with me to help me if I had an emotional moment or struggled.

Thank you to everyone who ran, volunteered, donated and supported not only me in this event, but SARC. Your kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm for running is so greatly appreciated! I have to give a special shout out to Earthfare, who donated food for the event (and happens to be one of my go-to favorite grocery stores), Eat N Park…who provided their signature Shamrock cookies and coupons for the runners, Acme Fresh Market, who hooked us up with water for the runners, Giant Eagle for the bananas, Winking Lizard for their delicious soup, and Bumble Bar, who provided their gluten free bars for those who aren’t fans of the gluten. Our event couldn’t have been possible without you!

I know my dad was with us in spirit Sunday….. I like thinking that….it definitely helps me get though the difficult moments. Dad, I hope you had fun cracking jokes about my outfit….because I know you had them.

Mark your calendars now….next March you have a date with me to run the Shamrock 5k and 15k!

I’m off to get ready for Jamaica! Keep sparkling, my friends.

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Yes, I’m just really tall. 

 

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The Domino Effect of Life

Life is a crazy thing.

You wake up, you go places, you do things, you meet people, you eat, you exercise, you go to bed, then you wake up and do it all over again. Every day you have the opportunity to start over and do something new. Every action, every decision, every person has the ability to set forth a change of events that can forever alter your life.

Have you ever sat down to think about how actions and choices have the ability to lead you into other directions that perhaps you would never consider? How certain people may not have come into your life had it not been for certain events?  I really started to think about this last night after our Summit Athletic Running Club meeting and almost reverse engineered my involvement with the club. Let me break down to you how running led me to an awesome evening last night:

Many of you know that my father is an avid runner and a real life Benjamin Buttons, as his racing times get faster the older he gets. Because of him and his love for running, a domino effect of choices and decisions took place to bring me into the running world.

I made the choice in 2010 to run my first 5k with the hopes of someday beating my father in a race. (I still haven’t)

I then relocated, gained 60 pounds, fell in love with alcohol, and gave up on running because “I was too fat.”

I entered into a sad relationship with my couch, and one day decided to type running clubs into an internet search engine, realizing there was one in my area named the Summit Athletic Running Club.

I decided to get healthier so I could run with my dad again. After losing most of the 60 pounds with at home workouts, I finally reconnected with my inner runner and made the impulse decision to show up at the Summit Athletic Running Club monthly meeting. I was terrified.

I knew no one at the meeting, and chose to sit at a table in the back of the room. Sitting to my right was a gentleman who told me he ran the Naked mile previously. Sitting to my left was the club president. I didn’t know what to think. Over the next three years, I became friends with many club members. I ran countless club races, volunteered at many events, met incredible speakers, and found myself immersed in a wonderful, supportive running community. That naked miler, also known to the world as Steven Sisco, is now one of my dear friends and one of my favorite people to run with (especially with headlamps). The club president, Steve Hailer, is not only a friend, but a mentor. Steve eventually asked me to serve on the SARC Board of Directors, an invitation I greatly accepted.

Throughout this time I remained motivated, not only by my father, but by others in the running community. I loved stories of hope and positivity and would often find myself searching youtube videos for inspiration and reading articles in various running magazines. One night I came across the story of  Rick and Dick Hoyt, and I truly realized what a gift running is. Two years ago I read a story about a local duo also inspired by the Hoyts, Zeke Petrie and Andre Travis, and followed their story. I was fortunate to watch them finish their first marathon together in Akron, cried like a baby with pride for them, and thought to myself, “those are the kind of people I’d like to know.”

Fast forward to a board meeting back in the spring when Steve asked us members to think of some speakers for our upcoming club meetings. I knew I wanted someone inspirational to come and talk, so I got creepy on social media, located Zeke, reached out to him and asked if he and Dre would be willing to come talk to the club. They agreed. I was elated.

Last night was our monthly meeting and the meeting where Zeke and Dre were finally able to speak to our club. It was incredible. I loved hearing more about them and their journey, and I loved their message. Both men came from rough backgrounds….Zeke had been imprisoned in Haiti and later cleared of all wrongdoing; Dre had a difficult life coming through the foster care system with a disability. They came into each other’s lives by happenstance, Dre asked Zeke if he would take him running, and the rest is history. Here’s an awesome video taken after they completed their first marathon together:

I am always looking for inspiration and motivation….it is good for the soul! To hear a young man who is confined to a wheelchair talk about how running makes him feel and how his dream of becoming an athlete came true….it is a feeling words cannot describe. It also puts into perspective that our excuses are only as big as we let them be.

Running really is a neat thing because anyone can do it and truly enhances the lives of those chose to partake in it. It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow, what you wear, what kind of training you have done, how strong you are….anyone can get out there and start!  You just have to be willing to try. I’ve often referenced a quote that sums up running to me. “I don’t run because I like the feeling of running. I run because it makes me love the feeling of living.”  

Zeke and Dre have been able to experience this feeling of living through running together and motivate not only each other, but everyone who sees them as the beacon of inspiration that they are. The two continue to run together and last week actually finished their first half Ironman….such an awesome accomplishment!

Had my dad not inspired me to run, I would’ve never tried it. Had I never started running, I would’ve never known the feeling it brought into my life and the feeling I fought to get back in my life. Had I not surfed the web, I would’ve never found SARC. Had I not attended a meeting, I wouldn’t have gained the friendships and support I have gained through events. Had I not participated in these events, I wouldn’t have formed the relationship that would result in obtaining a position on the Board of Directors. Had I not taken the position, I wouldn’t have thought to reach out to Zeke and Dre. Had I not reached out to them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear more about their story. Had I not learned more about their story, I would never have had the opportunity to have these two badasses as friends. That domino effect…..man, it is crazy.

Zeke and Dre, thank you so much for speaking to our club! I’m proud of you both and am proud to call you my pals!

Me, Zeke, and Dre.

Me, Zeke, and Dre.

Make sure all of you Facebookers are following Team Dre to learn more about their races and accomplishments!

 

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Brooks Was Here; So Was Katie

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” -Andy Dufresne Isn’t that an amazing quote? I cannot think of a single human being that cannot connect to that quote in some way. Ahhhhh, The Shawshank Redemption. One of my absolute all time favorite movies. I literally will watch it every single chance I get like it’s the first time, and if you have cable and TNT, you know that’s pretty often. I’m okay with it, though. It is a classic with an amazing message, and it just makes me feel great when I watch it.

Take this as your instruction to watch it if you haven’t. 

Speaking of favorites, I have blogged many times about my love of running, so when I learned about an event several months back that combined running with Shawshank, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. That event, my friends, was The Shawshank Hustle, which took place last weekend in Mansfield, Ohio.

This building is just amazingly cool to look at it.

This building is just amazingly cool to look at it.

I am fortunate to live not far from the Mansfield Reformatory (it’s only about an hour from our house), and I frequently pass Mansfield as I go back and forth to Columbus….yet after all this time I have never visited. To be 100% honest, part of me has refrained from visiting because I have heard countless ghost stories about the prison, and I think we all know I am a little bit of a wuss with that stuff. My family has continually brought up doing the overnight ghost tour throughout the years, and while part of me is intrigued….the other part is terrified. I figured if I can handle the prison during the daytime, maybe I could consider the overnight thing.

Back to the Shawshank Hustle, the run itself began in front of the Reformatory and ended in front of the Reformatory with a lovely hilly 5 mile run through Mansfield in between (lies I was told….I thought it was only a 4 miler). This was the first year for the event, and being a seasoned racer, I had some trepidation knowing that often first time races are a hot mess, as there is typically a lack of organization and mass chaos. For those of you who love running, creepy places, and Shawshank, here is my review of the race.

-Running Course: I found the course to be really great. There were some crazy hills, but the run itself allowed me to see what a cute town Mansfield was. I found it challenging (the heat had a big part of it), but it was a good kind of challenge, and I loved seeing the Reformatory displayed in front of me as I ran the final half mile, known as Redemption Road (those of you on Periscope who tuned in saw me live broadcast as I ran into the finish).

Gary, Sharon, and I getting ready to start the race!

Gary, Sharon, and I getting ready to start the race!

-Water Stops: One area that could be improved next year. There were two within the same mile (mile 2), and for a hot July morning, I definitely feel like there should’ve been another and they should’ve been spaced out some.

-Race Swag: The swag was pretty cool. All runners received a Shawshank Hustle tech shirt that glows in the dark, a custom medal upon completion, and free entrance into the Carousel and the Reformatory.

We just love medals!

We just love medals!

-Post Race Food: There was a good selection of your typical race food for all runners (Nans, mixed nuts, corn thins, chips, apples, and water). The post race food also included vendors with a variety of fair like foods if you were interested in gyros or funnel cakes.

-Pre/Post Race Party: The atmosphere was awesome….the individuals pumping up the crowd did a great job, fun music, plenty of Port-a-johns, and some great vendors around with merchandise and giveaways, like Saucony, hooking people up with cool headbands and other items.

Got to run another race with one of my BFFS, Jodi!

Got to run another race with one of my BFFS, Jodi!

-Transportation to and from race: This was my biggest complaint. Nearly 3000 runners participated in the Hustle, however the Reformatory was only able to accommodate 300 cars in its parking lot. Due to this fact, all runners who did not arrive in time to park at the Reformatory had to park at the Speedway about a mile away. There were shuttles to take runners back and forth, however, there were only three school buses that were actually transporting. When Gary, Sharon, and I arrived, the line to get onto the buses was over a mile long (this is not an exaggeration), and by the time we got to the front of the line, it was definitely closer to 2 miles. The delay in transportation actually caused the race directors to push the start of the race back a half hour.

Selfie as we wait? Sure!

Selfie as we wait? Sure!

-Post race tour of the Reformatory: Due to the amount of runners, we all did self guided tours. I was a little concerned at first because I was interested in hearing some of the stories, but I figured if I enjoyed the tour I could always come back and take advantage of a guided tour in the future. We were able to check things out at our own pace, including the Warden’s office, the tunnel Andy Dufresne climbed to freedom using, the room where Red met with the parole board, and several other sites from the movie. In addition, we got to actually walk through the jail cell area, which was super creepy to me. Some may know that I have a little thing with heights, so the small catwalk I had to scale across past the cells was extremely uncomfortable for me. Not only did it feel like it took forever (the corridor is extremely long and narrow), but it gave me a chance to see the cells up close and personal. I must say, that is how a jail cell should be……very small and confined, gross, and uncomfortable.

This place is def not the Hilton.

This place is def not the Hilton.

Because you should take a selfie with Brooks......

Because you should take a selfie with Brooks……

-Creepiness Factor: Somehow I missed some of the creepiest locations in the reformatory, including the tuberculosis room, however, I still felt really strange in most parts of the building. Sharon and I experienced a weird feeling of extreme pressure on our chests as we passed by one of the strange closets, but it was gone once we were past the doorway. Honestly, some of the creepiest locations were allegedly after we got out of the jail cell area, but since I was still in half panic mode because of the heights, I missed them. Maybe that’s a good thing….

After I got home, I did some research on the Reformatory, which I wish I had done before. Even though it is creepy and I was uncomfortable, my level of intrigue greatly heightened after reading some of the tales and talking to some of my friends who have completed the overnight tour. I won’t say Im sold on doing it yet, but I am way more on board with the idea than I was a month ago. We’ll see.

Bottom line: If you are a runner, this race was absolutely worth the entry fee. The minor hiccups of the shuttle system will most likely be addressed next year, and the rest of the experience was so fantastic I would highly recommend it to others. If you aren’t a runner, but you like cool places, absolutely check it out. And if you are into ghosts and have experienced something crazy there, I would love to hear about it.

Learn more about the Reformatory by visiting http://www.mrps.org.

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