Girls on the Run 5K Race Entry Giveaway!

I’ve slowly been getting back into running with some 2-2.5 mile runs over the last week. Getting back into running has me looking ahead to my next races.

I wrote about my next big race, the New Orleans Half with Team Challenge, but I’ve got a couple of other races in mind to finish out 2015. One is an annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day where they give you a mini pumpkin pie at the end. It’s pretty much the best. 🙂

Who needs a medal when there's pie?!

The other race on my calendar is the Girls on the Run Twin Cities 5K on November 14.

Photo credit: GOTR-TC

If you’re not familiar with Girl on the Run Twin Cities (GOTR-TC), it’s a youth development program offered in 35 elementary and middle schools across the Twin Cities. The program aims to strengthen girls’ physical, mental, social and emotional competencies to positively navigate life experiences. Coaches follow a curriculum to teach life skills through interactive lessons and running games. The program ends with the girls being ready to complete a celebratory 5K.

I know how much running has helped me build my own physical, mental, social and emotional competencies. I didn’t get to experience all of the amazing benefits of running until I was in my 20s, but GOTR-TC offers girls a chance to experience them at a young age so they can carry the lessons and confidence long after the program is done.

Photo credit: GOTR-TC

I’ve attended a few events for GOTR-TC in the past and I’m really excited to run alongside and support these girls. They give me motivation to continue my running journey and see what other amazing roads it will lead me down.

Photo credit: GOTR-TC

Now the best news: GOTR-TC has provided a free race entry for one lucky On A Fun Run reader! This is a great race for all ability levels. It’s not a competitive run; it’s all about fun and celebrating the accomplishments of the girls.

To win a free entry to the GOTR-TC 5K on November 14, leave a comment telling me what gifts running has given you or what motivates you to run. I’ll select a winner on November 4. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry. All opinions are my own. 


So you ran a marathon – Now what?

Crossing the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon earlier this month was an amazing experience! (Yea, I splurged on a few finish line photos. Figured it was a good thing to spend some of the Pact App money I’ve earned.)


So, how do you follow that up? What’s the next running goal?

I’ve got the perfect thing! I’m dusting off the Team Challenge singlet to join them for the New Orleans half marathon in February!

TC singlet

Team Challenge is an endurance training program where participants train for a half marathon and raise funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

I participated in Team Challenge for the first time back in 2013. In fact, that’s the reason I started this blog! I wanted to give family and friends a way to follow my training.

finisher with medal 2 hi res 550

You can read my very first blog post for more on why I wanted to join Team Challenge, but the short story is I have ulcerative colitis. It’s a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Until I joined Team Challenge and started volunteering with CCFA, I rarely talked about my UC and only with family. It was lonely and scary to have this disease that I didn’t really understand and thought no one else would understand. Through Team Challenge I learned that I wasn’t alone and found an amazing community of people who share a love of running and dedication to finding a cure for these diseases.

This time I’m also a mentor for our team, so I’ll be helping my teammates with fundraising tips and making sure they reach their goal. I’m already starting to brainstorm some creative fundraising ideas.

It’s going to be tough training in the Minnesota winter, but I’m up for the challenge!

If you’re so inclined, you can check out my fundraising page here.

Stay tuned for more updates on my training and fundraising with Team Challenge over the next several months!

What are some fun, creative fundraising ideas? Have you run a race for a charity?

Marathon Recovery

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since the marathon. In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday and it others it feels like forever ago.

I’ve been keeping busy the last couple of weeks. The day after the marathon I worked from home, which was a good idea because my legs were SORE! I literally couldn’t help but groan every time I sat or stood. I’m sure my coworkers appreciated not having to hear that all day. 🙂 I got to elevate my legs and enjoyed some coffee in my MNspired mug.

mnspired mug

That evening I went for a short, slow walk to move my legs a little and work out some of the soreness. As I walked, I thought about everything I’d been through the day before. Some of the emotion that didn’t come when I crossed the finish line bubbled up and I got a little teary eye (happy teary eyed) as I walked. It was a nice moment to just enjoy my accomplishment.

The soreness progressively got better each day after that. By the end of the week it was basically gone. Just in time for my sister and I to take a trip to Albuquerque, NM. We visited family and got to explore the beautiful southwest.

One of the coolest things we did was going to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. About 500 hot air balloons launch from a field and it’s pretty amazing. You can actually walk right out on to the field where the teams are preparing the balloons, inflating them and taking off.

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We also headed to the top of a mountain to see a spectacular view.


It was the perfect long-weekend trip and a great break after all of the running/training.

This past week has been pretty low-key. I’ve done a couple more walks and one elliptical workout, but no running just yet. I’ll be slowly working my way back into it soon.

The leaves are turning all kinds of pretty colors in the Twin Cities right now. I know it’s fall cause I started fighting my first cold of season a couple of days ago. Celebrating a friend’s birthday last night was super fun as we danced the night away, but singing along and talking over loud music did not help my voice at all. I sound pretty miserable today. Hope the cold goes away soon.

How do you recover from a big race?

2015 Twin Cities Marathon Race Recap

I’m still in disbelief that I actually ran a marathon. In a way, it feels like a dream. My version of pinching myself has been looking at my medal or finisher shirt. I feel like I have to do it every now and then just to make sure it actually happened.


Well, it did happen. And it happened just as I expected and not at all as I expected (if that makes any sense). I’ll do my best to recap the day (and sorry for how long this is).

My alarm went off about 5 a.m. I got up, got dressed and ate some cereal and a banana. I also made sure to keep drinking some water. I headed to my planned parking spot near the finish line and got on the light rail about 6:40 a.m. to head to downtown Minneapolis. As soon as I got off the train I got in a bathroom line. The lines weren’t too bad, but I wanted to make sure I’d have plenty of time to find my corral, etc.

I found corral 2 and just wandered around a bit and waited for the race to start.


Pretty soon, they were playing the national anthem and then corral 1 was off. Corral 2 started walking forward and at 8:06 a.m. we were set free.

Miles 1-2 go through downtown Minneapolis. I tried to control the adrenaline and make sure I wasn’t starting out too fast.  I glanced at my Garmin several times and tried to settle in to no faster than a 10 minute mile. That was a little tough given my Garmin was acting up with some of the tall buildings, but I was running a comfortable pace.

Soon, we were out of downtown and headed towards the lakes. I did a lot of training runs around these lakes, so it felt like some familiar territory. I was looking forward to getting to Lake Harriet because my parents were planning to be around mile 7.5. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t see them, but before long I spotted them on my left side.

My dad caught my excitement of spotting them :)
My dad caught my excitement of spotting them 🙂

I gave them high fives and handed them my arm warmers which I didn’t need anymore. With some added energy after seeing them I continued on. For a lot of the first part of the race I was feeling like I might have to go to the bathroom. Not bad, but it was a nagging feeling. I passed several bathrooms that had long lines and didn’t want to stop. But around mile 9 I spotted a porta potty with only a few people in line and decided I’d feel better if I just stopped. I did.

The first 10 miles flew by. That feels weird to say type, but they really did. As we made our way towards Lake Nokomis (miles 11-13), my excitement grew because I knew a big group of friends were going to be cheering around mile 12. I was so excited when I spotted them!


I gave more high fives and shouted thank you as they cheered. I didn’t stop when I saw them. I was still feeling really good, but wanted to keep my momentum.

I had lots of friend support in these “middle miles.” I spotted Lara around mile 14.


Hyedi and a few friends were waiting for me with big cheers around mile 15.

mile 14-15 mile14-15(2)

By mile 16, my legs were starting to feel fatigued, but nothing I hadn’t dealt with on long training runs. The course started heading up along the river and soon I was at miles 17-18. I was beginning to feel my legs get more tired by this point and then I heard Ashley, Jill and John cheering for me from the side and got a great boost of energy.

Even with that, miles 18-20 were where it started to get tough. My parents were planning to be at mile 20, so I continued to chug along to “the wall.” I saw them and my sister at mile 20 and made a short pit stop to grab a Gu they were holding for me in case I needed it in those last 6 miles. They gave me some words of encouragement and then I headed off — walking. My legs needed a slight break. I hadn’t really taken a break since mile 9 with the bathroom stop because I was doing a good job of running through water stops.


I only walked for about a minute. My pace was starting to slow down a little, but I was feeling determined to conquer this difficult part of the course. Miles 20-23 are mostly uphill. The “Summit Hill” is notorious for TC Marathon runners. I had been warned that this part of the course was the worst. I spotted my friend Katie around mile 21 cheering loudly and used that energy to fight my way up the hill and over to Summit Ave. It was a slow run, but I ran that whole damn hill! My legs were pretty dead and mad at the end, but I was feeling great about not walking on that hill.

As I made my way down Summit, I had a new game plan — run into water stops, grab a cup and then walk for a minute while you drink. My legs were so tired and I just needed the break. It was a little hard to do because I normally never intentionally walk during a race. This race was different. And that’s ok.

The last 4 miles of the course felt like they took FOREVER! This was my payback for the first 10 miles flying by. Finally, I spotted the top of the St. Paul Cathedral over the trees and I knew the finish line was ahead, and downhill! I felt my breath catch in my throat and thought I might start crying, but I pulled myself together because I needed to keep up some steady breathing to finish.

The street opens up and you can see a big American flag, the crowd of people, the state capitol, and the finish line. On my dead legs, I pushed my way over that finish line. I put my hands in the air as I crossed it and exhaled in relief that it was over.

To my surprise, tears didn’t come. Given how emotional I was when I finished my 20 mile long run, I totally expected that I’d break down at the finish. I didn’t. Honestly, I think I was simply too exhausted. I slowly walked down the shoot and volunteers put my medal around my neck, wrapped me in a thermal blanket, and handed me water and food. I had a banana and a bunch of other stuff in my arms when the banana fell to the ground. A guy almost stepped on it, but stopped just in time. I had to bend down and pick it up. OMG did my legs HATE that!

I stayed on my feet while I waited for my family and a friend to find me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get back up if I sat down. I was tired and sore, but I still managed a smile and a photo opp with my medal!


My official time was 4:41:02. With an overall goal of just finishing, I’m very happy with that.

I dedicated 18 weeks of training and years of mental preparation to accomplish this goal and it paid off.

I’m a marathoner!


TC Marathon Training – Week 18

Well, spoiler alert: I’m a Marathoner!


I’ll have a race recap soon, but for now I’ll fill you in on the week leading up to the big day. It wasn’t full of a lot of running, but had some emotional ups and downs.

Monday – rest

This was the start of the emotional ups and downs of the week. If you live in the Twin Cities you probably heard about the protest drama, but if you don’t, let me fill you in. On Sunday night I heard that a group was planning a protest at the Twin Cities Marathon. They weren’t protesting anything having to do with the marathon, rather trying to bring attention to some alleged police brutality. Protesting at the marathon is one thing, but the group’s goal was to disrupt the marathon and stop runners from getting to the finish line.

We got word from race organizers that they knew about the planned protest and were working with city officials and police to make sure the course was safe for everyone. I had no doubt that they were doing all they could, under very difficult circumstances, to ensure a safe race, but the news still brought up a lot of questions and emotions. This was not the news I wanted to get the week before the race, but it meant there was still a week to (hopefully) get things figured out.

Tuesday – 4.02 miles (10:04/mile pace)

I got home from work and got in my 4 mile run. There were more stories about the protest throughout the day, but no solutions had been made. I was admittedly working through emotions of fear, anger and frustration at the idea of something stopping me from finishing my first marathon. But then I came to a realization that protest or no protest, it didn’t change my game plan for race day. I was going to show up to that start line with a smile on my face, butterflies in my stomach and my sheer love of running in my heart. I knew there were things I couldn’t control, but I could control what I did and I was going to run and enjoy the journey no matter what.

Wednesday – 3.1 miles (10:18/mile pace)

I got up early to run before work. I’ve come to like morning runs during training, but this one was different now that it’s fall in that it was still totally dark out when I needed to start. I don’t normally like running when it’s dark, but I wanted to get out in the cool air since it was similar to what they were forecasting for race day. I ventured out for 3 miles and took a couple of extra runner safety steps by wearing reflective clothing and leaving the headphones at home. I was treated to some pretty views on this run.

mile 1
mile 3

Thursday – 2 miles (10:10/mile pace)

I had to do one more morning run since I was hosting book club after work. I considered heading outside, but since it was such a short run and I wanted to save some time, I just hit the treadmill.

Around lunchtime, we got word that the mayor and the group planning the protest had met and came to a resolution where they would not disrupt the course! YAY! I could finally exhale and focus getting ready for Sunday.

Friday – rest

I met my sister and some friends to head to the expo on Friday night. They were picking up packets for races of their own.


I got my bib and picked up a few goodies for myself.

bib expogoodies

After the expo, I relaxed and headed to bed fairly early to get some rest.

Saturday – rest

I got up and headed to the finish line of the TC 5K to cheer on my sister and a couple of friends who were running races that morning. Then I ran to the grocery store and came back home to chill out for the afternoon.

I made sure I had all of my gear ready for the morning and prepped my race outfit.

marathon outfit

I met up with my parents and sister for a spaghetti dinner and to strategize where my parents would be spectating. I headed home to try and get some sleep, though I knew that would be tough with the pre-race nerves.

Sunday – 26.2 miles

More on that later!