Yellowstone 5K 2017

One of my goals in my fitness journey, is to run a 5K.

I have technically done two Polar Plunge 5Ks before, but I walked both of those. Yes, I technically finished them both (and was at the back of the pack in both). Yes, I got a shirt from each one. This said, neither met my goal of running a 5K.

A couple months ago, Jason pitched me the idea of doing a virtual 5K together. I didn’t really know what a virtual 5K was… basically, you pay the entry fee, and you run a 5K wherever you want. You send in your time by a certain date, and they send you a medal and shirt. I decided it might be a good way to ease into this whole running thing. I have been doing some running at the gym, but not as much as I’d like. One day, Jason sent me a message and said, “Let’s do our 5K tonight.” Neither of us had done much training, but what the heck… why not? Jason had a goal of finishing in 45 minutes. I did not want to commit to that time, but was committed to finishing.

During the show I was recently in, I talked to one of the cast members who has been doing a lot of running and biking over the past couple years. I told him about the little training I had done, and about my struggles to maintain a running pace. My stamina was terrible! Even though I didn’t think I was very fast compared to other people I had seen at the gym, he told me I was running too fast. His advice was to take the speed down a bit, and shoot for small goals – running for x number of minutes, or one mile, whatever. My goal while Jason and I did our 5K was to run for one mile straight. I set it at 4.8, really more of a jog, but one I thought I could maintain. I was able to maintain a speed between 4.8 and 5 MPH for an entire mile, then walked (at a fast pace) for a short while. I jogged for a half mile, and walked a little more. I was able to keep the intervals of jogging and fast walking going for the entire 3.2 miles. The last half a mile was tough, but I kept going.

In the end, I finished in 42 minutes, 34 seconds. This was under the 45 minutes that I didn’t think I’d make in the first place! That means I averaged 4.53 MPH for 3.2 miles!! I can’t walk that fast, which means that I officially did it! I ran a 5K! The best part? I beat Jason by 20 seconds!!

Today, Jason and I got our medals and shirts from the Yellowstone Virtual 5K. This race raised money for Yellowstone National Park, which we loved when we went a couple years ago. It was a good cause for a first race. The medal was based on the Grand Prismatic Spring, and was much more beautiful than it looked online. The shirts were great quality too! I look forward to wearing it.

Jason and I, showing off our swag!

This summer, Today, Jason and I plan on doing a couple more. Not sure if they will all be virtual races (which feel like less pressure), or if I will run a race with other people at the same time, but I will definitely do more.

 

White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show 2017

Sleeping With the Television On – our opening number. Thank you to Jen Goplen for this great photo!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being a part of the 71st annual White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show. This is the local Lion’s Club‘s largest fundraiser each year. All the proceeds go back to the community in the form of scholarships, books for schools, food for the food shelf, etc.

My character, Heidi Bomboozala.

This was my third year being in this show. The title was “Lost in TV Land 2.” It was about a man, Herman, who has been disrespectful to his wife by spending too much time golfing and watching TV. The Spirit of Neglected Housewives took Herman through some of his favorite old shows to teach him about respecting his wife.  My role this year was to play a female villain from the show Get Smart. I was also a backup dancer in two other scenes – M.A.S.H. and The Munsters. This was a fun show to be a part of, despite quite a bit of down time in Act 1.

3 out of 4 of the members of the makeup and hair crew. Grace, Jen, and Kari.

 

 

 

My daughter joined in the fun this year by being part of the hair and makeup crew. This was perfect for her, because she loves doing makeup and hair, and didn’t have the same time commitment as those of us “acting” in the show. There were a few makeup changes mid-show, and it took the whole team to help get them done on time. Almost every scene of the show had at least one person wearing a wig. When they weren’t doing makeup changes, the group was helping prepare wigs, helping people put them on, etc. Shayna (not pictured) led the team. I think they all had as much fun being behind the scenes, as we all did on stage! Every time I was in the hall where they were set up, I heard a lot of laughing!

Scott E. aka Herman Munster. This was one of the main makeup jobs that needed to be applied mid-show, and then again before the end.

One of my favorite things about being a part of the Lion’s Club Show, is all the friendships made. The people involved in this show are mainly Lions (or friends/family members of Lions). They enjoy serving the community. During the rehearsals, we heard over and over how “we want to put on a good show, and make people laugh.” The focus is always on raising as much as we can, so the Lions Club would have more money to give back. Not only do most of the people in this show have a “heart of servitude”, they are genuinely pretty great people! I enjoy spending all the hours of rehearsals and dance practices with them. We all laugh a lot!!

Kathy, Suzie, and I. We all tap dance together, and participate in the show together. Both women are huge inspirations to me to keep on moving, no matter how old I may get. The best part? They are ALWAYS smiling!

In the show this year were: people I have only met and spent time with during show season (some I had watched in shows when I was younger); women I tap dance with; one woman I danced with in Jr. High (and her niece that used to dance with Grace); one guy I graduated from high school with; and lots of family members of people I went to high school with. I will miss the hours we all spent working on the show, dancing, and laughing together. I’m already looking forward to being a part of next year’s show!

After the Friday night show, the cast traditionally goes out for a karaoke party. This year, it was at The Stadium. There was lots of singing, dancing, some poker playing by the teenage boys (not for money), and a few other shenanigans. I don’t think anyone there didn’t have fun!

On Saturday night, a few of us brought all the teens out for Pies and Fries at Baker’s Square. I think this was the third year we did this. There was a lot of laughing coming from their table. I think they had fun!

 

Next March, if you want to laugh, and see a fun show, please consider coming to see us! It is usually the first weekend in March, at Central Middle School in White Bear Lake. Laughing for a great cause… what better way to spend a couple of hours?

Walk Your A.S. Off

For four years, my daughter and I have danced at Lake Area Dance Center. Over the years, we have gotten to know its owner, and primary teacher, Miss Maria, pretty well. We’ve also gotten to know a bit about a disease she has, Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S.), that makes it painful for her to not only dance, but often do every day activities. Some days are better, and some days are worse. By the end of many nights, it is painful for her to even sit, as her spine gets enflamed easily. She continues to teach dance 7 days a week. Although she tries to hide her pain, I sometimes see her wince during our adult tap class, and I can see the brave face she is putting on for the sake of her students.

As of right now, there is no cure for this disease. Miss Maria takes a plethora of medications and vitamins every day to try to manage the symptoms. She has tried diet changes, juicing, and living a “healthy lifestyle” as many people like to tell her she should do. Nothing helps completely…

She has joined a team (of mostly women) from all over the country to help raise awareness of the disease. I have decided to join her in this effort. The way we are doing this is by joining a movement called “Walk Your A.S. Off.” Teams from all over the world are doing this virtual walk by logging our steps each day. The goal for our team, “Spondy Ladies”, is to walk 1 Million Steps in the month of April.

While fundraising is not required, I am of the opinion that awareness itself isn’t enough. Raising money to help researchers find effective treatments, and even a cure, is going to go so much further than walking and spreading the word about the disease alone!

You can help by joining our team, or by donating. You can donate a flat amount by clicking the link, or by giving me a check made out to SAA or Spondylitis Association of America, which I will mail for you. You can also pledge a certain amount based on the number of steps I take over the month, or a certain amount for making my goal (240K steps is my personal goal for the month). Donations are tax-deductible. Some employers may even match your donation!

Thank you for your support!

*Note: There are several S.A. organizations out there you could choose to donate to. SAA is the one Miss Maria chose, and I did as well. If you prefer to donate to a different organization that researches treatments and potential cures for Ankylosing Spondylitis, your support is appreciated. 🙂

I Took The Plunge!

046Jumping into a hole in the ice when temps are hovering around 0F and windchills are even colder… sounds crazy, right?? Walking more than 3 miles before jumping into that lake in the bitter cold sounds just as crazy, right? Well, in both situations, you’re right! Yet, given the insanity of it all, this is exactly what happened last weekend!

Our team of 9 was to meet at Lake Calhoun for the Polar Bear Plunge and 5K to benefit the Special Olympics of MN. We parked in the wrong parking lot, and had to walk just over a mile and a half extra in the super cold morning. Not exactly the way to start out the day. It’s hard to believe how tight your muscles can feel, even just while walking, when it’s that cold outside.

020By the time we met up with our team, we had a very short amount of time to get everyone their bibs, etc. We had time to get hand warmers, and a quick group shot. We headed back out into the bitter cold to walk around the lake. Good thing we had great company! It helped us feel a bit warmer than we actually were.

We had originally intended to run at least part of the 5K. The ice and uneven road made walking difficult. The two boys managed to run some (in between slipping, sliding, and climbing snowbanks). We let them go ahead of us. They were having fun! As a group, we finished in just over an hour.

When we got to the warming tent, we met up with the husband of one of our team mates. He took my two kids (the girl and younger boy), and went over to the beach to video tape our plunge into the icy cold water. The remaining 7 of us headed into the changing tents to prepare to jump. As we walked to the lake, I think we all started to question why we were doing this on such a frigid morning.

I’m not sure I can capture the thoughts that were going through my head as I stood under that giant inflatable bear, staring into the water below. I was cold, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was trying to prepare myself for the shock that I was sure was to come as soon as we hit the water. Thank goodness the emcee reminded us that we were jumping in support of the Special Olympics. My thoughts went to my friend Lizzy (a Special Olympics athlete) just as I jumped.

So… there was this myth that I heard that said since the water was 32 degrees, and the air temp was well below that, the water would feel like bath water. This myth is FALSE!! The water was cold. In fact, it was shockingly cold!! It almost took your breath away as soon as you were in. I was not brave enough to go under water. Since I’ve been sick since about December, I thought it wise not to push it. It didn’t matter. It was still freezing cold. As soon as I started climbing the steps to get out of the water, I’m pretty sure everything that was wet started to freeze. I mean literally freeze, like, turn into ice. I went as quickly as I could back to the changing tents (I’m not sure if I actually ran or not, since I felt like a snowman). The tunnel taking us back was supposed to be heated. It certainly didn’t feel very warm!

Proof we survived!

Proof we survived!

Trying to get changed back into our dry clothes proved to be a challenge. I couldn’t feel anything from my hips down. My butt and legs were completely numb, and my fingers were very stiff from the cold. Peeling off wet (and partially frozen) clothes  in those conditions is more than a little tricky. Eventually, we all managed to get dry clothes on, and headed back to the warming tent. I welcomed the free coffee Caribou was serving, and didn’t even care there was no creamer!

So, why did we go through all this madness? To raise money for a good cause! Our team raised almost $2300 (and that’s not including the kids who weren’t registered online). Thank you to all of our donors!! While we didn’t get my husband a unicorn tattoo, we raised a very respectable amount to support Special Olympics and their programs. We appreciate everyone who cheered us on, supported us, tweeted or shared our links, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

People keep asking me if I will do it again. At this point, I’m unsure if I will take the plunge again… we’ll see.

Related link: Jumping in an Ice Cold Lake for a Cause

Jumping in an Ice Cold Lake for a Cause

I think the bitter cold of this winter may have officially gotten to my brain, because I actually agreed to jump into a frozen lake!!

The Vikings had a team of plungers just before team SQLPlunge.

The Vikings had a team of plungers just before team SQLPlunge.

For the past two years, my husband, and some of our friends have participated in the Polar Bear Plunge. What this means, is that they jumped into Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis in the middle of winter to help raise money for Special Olympics of Minnesota. It was dang cold the first year; last year’s temps weren’t too bad.

Last year, I participated in the Plunge 5K that takes place the morning of the Polar Bear Plunge. I walked the 3.1 mile path around Lake Calhoun with Jenny Timmerman, another SQL Wife who I’ve become friends with over the past couple of years. Later in the day, we watched the rest of our team jump into that icy cold water, followed by a dip in the hot tub. We jokingly said we “might” do it (the jump) the next year, but I don’t think either of us thought we actually would. Guess what? This year, we are both signed up for the 5K AND the jump!

Jenny and I, before the Plunge 5K.

Jenny and I, before the Plunge 5K.

I have a couple of reasons for agreeing to do it this year. First, I think I lost my mind. Second, my two kids, and one step-son wanted to jump in, so if they want to do it, I really should too, right? Third, I have a bit of a connection with the Special Olympics this year.

Growing up, one of my best friends’ brother had cerebral pulsy. He was like a second brother to me. He participated in adaptive sports (floor hockey, if I recall) at the high school. I’m not sure he ever got involved with Special Olympics, but he should have!

Special Olympics of MN has many programs for both physically and mentally disabled youth. Their mission (according to their website) is as follows:

“Special Olympics Minnesota offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition. Through Special Olympics’ athletic, health and leadership programs, people with intellectual disabilities transform themselves, their communities and the world.”

This year, I am helping two young women in a lyrical dance class at the studio my children dance at (Lake Area Dance). Both of these young ladies have special needs. Amanda has Down Syndrome, Lizzy has some cognitive disabilities. These two are a delight to work with. Each week, I learn about as much in working with them, as I hope to be helping them to learn. Lizzy is very involved with Special Olympics as an athlete. She is also one of the most positive people I know. She is always smiling, even when her sister is driving her crazy in dance class! I have heard so many wonderful things about the Special Olympic programs from her family, that I decided this was the year to jump in the lake. YIKES!

This was last year's team SQLPlunge. We'd love to have it grow even bigger this year!

This was last year’s team SQLPlunge. We’d love to have it grow even bigger this year!

The whole point of the event is to raise money for Special Olympics. Here’s where you can help. I have set a pretty high goal of what I’d like to raise for this event. My goal? $1,000!! I know that seems like such a large number, but I know that programs that help empower disabled youth is such a great cause. With your help, I can reach it!

Please consider helping me reach my goal with a donation of any amount. Every dollar counts! My fundraising page is at:  http://www.plungemn.org/plunger/sarahstrate

If you’d like, you could even sign up to jump with us!! If that sounds too cold, I don’t blame you (unless you’re Paul Timmerman) ;-). We’d love to have friends and family members cheering us on from the beach at Lake Calhoun on March 1st. As it gets closer to the date, if you plan to come out, you can talk to any of the team members to find out what time we are signed up to jump. It will likely be in the morning, as most of us are also walking/running the 5K beforehand. Hope to see you there!

Walking in the Relay for Life

In the past, I have walked the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure. While I still strongly believe in much of what they’ve done in making progress to ending breast cancer, I felt that this year, it was time to do something a bit different.

Last year, a very important man lost his battle with cancer. This man was the father of one of my best friends, and was almost like another parent while I was growing up. I also lost a friend who had previously been a mentor to me. Neither of these wonderful people fought breast cancer. Because of this, I felt it was time to support an organization that was looking for a cure for all types of cancer (even though, I still believe progress against one type of cancer will lead to progress against all cancers). The American Cancer Society is the organization I am supporting this year. In the past, when I sold Partylite, I also helped them raise over a million dollars a year for this organization.

This year, I am joining my friend who lost her dad, another friend who lost her aunt, and many, many others in raising money through the Relay for Life.

Why I Chose to Participate in a Relay Event

Because I know WAY too many people, who either have fought, are fighting, or have lost their fight with cancer! I don’t want this list to get any longer!! I don’t want anyone else to lose a father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, child or grandchild, sister or brother to this disease.

It’s amazing to think that millions of people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. A Relay For Life event is not only a way to join my community to fight back against cancer, but it is also a way to inspire hope by raising funds and awareness to help those facing the disease.

Who I’m Participating For
All the people I know who have lost their fight with various types of cancer:

  • Kathy Hong (a friend of the family, I didn’t know her well, but I have gotten to know the young children she left behind).
  • Janette Paulsen (a co-worker, mentor, and lover of life and children)
  • Eric Stevens (a close friend who lost his battle at age 29)
  • Jodel Blumenthal (one of my best friend’s aunt)
  • Fred Sjolander (my kids’ great grandpa who is probably singing around a campfire up in heaven right now)
  • Suzy Goodsell (a friend from church, also a mentor)
  • Mark Hayek (co-worker’s husband)
  • Tom Flater (a best friend’s dad, who was like another parent of mine growing up)

Those I know who are currently fighting cancer:

  • Yanni Robel (an amazing woman with blood cancer, she fights with medication, and by running marathons to raise money)
  • Tom Roush (member of the SQL Community)
  • Cathy Grimm (a secretary in our district, she’s our lifeline)
  • Ina Meyer (while I believe she is currently cancer-free, she continues to battle residual effects from the multiple surgeries she’s had for brain cancer)
  • Lynn (one of the parents of one of my preschoolers from two years ago. I don’t know the current status of her fight, as she was diagnosed toward the end of our school year)

Those I know who are currently cancer-free, or as they will tell you “currently not showing any signs of cancer in their body”:

  • Carrie Malicki (a good friend, past neighbor, advocate for breast cancer awareness)
  • Peg Traeder (Carrie’s mom, who was diagnosed just a few weeks after she was)
  • Brigitte Wolfangel (member of the family)
  • Holli Doyle-Sautbine (we used to sell Partylite together, had a long fight against breast cancer)
  • Sherri Vonderheid (a parent from the dance studio we used to attend in Eau Claire)
  • Rosie Zimmerman (my husband’s grandma, was diagnosed with breast and colon cancer in the same week)
  • Cheryl Simmons (my friend’s mom, also like another parent to me when I was growing up)

I hope you will consider making a donation in support of my efforts. My fundraising page can be accessed here: Sarah’s fundraising page.

Together, we have the power to help create a world where cancer can no longer claim another year of anyone’s life.  My hope is that  “the C word” is no longer be an active part of anyone’s vocabulary!

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