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.


Time to Get Healthy: Attempt #42

This past year, I was sick, a lot. As a teacher, I am exposed to germs all the time, but this year, I caught a lot more than usual (maybe my body was preparing for the latest craze by “Catching them all“). I seemed to have some sort of cold, the entire school year. Add to that, I gained about 13 lbs between March and June, and that was starting from a higher weight than I like in the first place. UGH!

I have many friends that are using Plexus or Thrive to help them get more healthy. Of course, they are all asking me to try their products. It’s not that I am opposed, but I have had so many asking, that are using either one or the other (and loving their results, whether it be weight loss, or just generally feeling better), it’s hard to know where to even begin.  Also, I don’t want to rely on a shake or supplement. What I really need to do, is change my lifestyle. I need to build my strength back up, I need to eat better, I need to be healthy.

I am a stress-eater, and this past year has had some stressful moments. Being sick all the time, didn’t help. I was eating, all the time. While I tried to make some healthier choices, I was still snacking more than I should, and eating lots of carbs. Of course, because I was always sick, I was always tired, that meant I was also drinking more pop, or sugar infused coffee drinks than I should as well. In the 80’s the slogan was “Just say no” in regards to drugs, my drug has been Caribou. I have a hard time resisting that one!

A few years ago, some friends and I did an online blog party called Get Hawt. That was helpful, having someone (or a group of people) to help hold me accountable in my goals. What my husband and I have found out, is that neither of us are the right person to be an accountability partner for each other, when it comes to health and weight loss.

My husband has done low-carb diets several times, and had some great results. I had no desire to give up my carbs. I love cookies, pasta, rice, bread, pita chips, and of course, pop (or as most of the rest of the country calls it, “soda”). I have been able to cut down to 1 can or bottle of pop a day pretty consistently. For a man, that might be enough, for a woman, not so much. I need to do more, but I did NOT want to give anything up. Despite his best efforts to get me on board, I pushed back.

About a month ago, I hit 171 lbs. That is about 20 lbs higher than when I first was disgusted by what I saw in the mirror. I didn’t like that my pants all bulged in the belly, and my shirts were all getting tighter. Flab was constantly sticking out the top of my pants, and out from under my shirts…  It’s summer. I like to wear tank tops, which of course show off my jiggly arms. I decided to start working out more, which meant I needed enough proper attire to wash them in between work outs. I was not happy to have to go up another bra size! All in all, I was getting more and more depressed by my weak, flabby body and decreased health. I wasn’t sleeping well, nor motivated to do things I enjoy.

Time for a change!!! OK, so it might not actually be the 42nd time I am attempting to take back control over my body and my eating. I am a bit of a geek, so 42 seemed to be a good number to use (you know, the answer to life, the universe, and everything).

So what am I doing? I am going to the gym a minimum of 3 days a week. I’ve met with Nichole at Lifetime Fitness a couple of times now. I am working on a plan to strengthen my core, and whole body. I am trying to make sure I get at least 10K steps every day

Jason (my husband) and  I are doing the Whole 30 diet. Well, he’s doing the Whole 30 all-out, I’m doing a modified version. I am still eating yogurt almost every day, and allowing myself a string cheese occasionally as a snack. I also told myself that I could still have one Mountain Dew per day, though, I usually choose iced tea with sugar instead of a beverage with high fructose corn syrup. People who are sticklers for the Whole 30 rules will tell me that’s not ok. That it should be all or nothing. That it’s pointless to do it if I’m not going to completely give up added sugar. Here’s the thing, I know what the program has to say, I also know that if I tell myself I have to give so many things up, I will fail. The Whole 30 book says to focus on the things I can have: meat, veggies, fruits, basically real, non-processed foods. I don’t have that much willpower… I am doing a modified version so I can be successful. I will write more about that later. For now, I will leave it at this: I have lost 5 lbs so far, mostly water weight and bloating, but I am slightly less disgusted when I look in the mirror… I am going to keep working, and will update my progress occasionally.

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. 🙂

Ingress – more than a game

What is Ingress? It’s a game from Google. Think Geocaching meets Capture the Flag, or tower defense. It can be played on a smart phone or tablet (that runs either Android or Apple IOS). You must have GPS enabled though, as it utilizes Google Maps.

Sometimes, people like to create pictures with their fields, like this one I made of the Star Fleet emblem.

Sometimes, people like to create pictures with their fields, like this one I made of the Star Fleet emblem.

In a nutshell, there are two teams, The Resistance (blue), and The Enlightened (Green). Each team tries to defend portals (interesting places out in the real world). You can hack the portals for gear; attack them if they have been captured by the other team; and/or capture them by deploying resonators, shields, or other mods to protect them.

The goal is to link at least 3 portals together to create fields. Each field is worth a certain number of “mind units.” At regular intervals, Niantic (Google’s division that runs the game) scores each team. The team with the highest number of mind units is then in the lead. Each team is fighting for domination.

Players can level up as they continue to play. This allows them to use higher level gear to defend or attack portals. Levels 1-8 are earned through game play alone. Levels 9-16 must be earned through earning badges (which are done through increased game play and focus on specific aspects of the game).

What’s great about the game, is that it forces you to get out in the real world. Portals are often sculptures, murals, parks, monuments,  playgrounds, etc. You can’t just sit at home and play this “video game”. You actually have to get out in the real world. It’s a great way to get exercise. Many times,  we have gone to different places and walked several miles to hack, attack, capture, and field.

All portals in the game are submitted by players, it forces you to pay attention to your surroundings. Players are constantly on the look-out for possible new portals. Once you’ve played the game for a while, you start to really notice sculptures, murals, and landmarks to submit. While players are often face down, looking at their phones, they are also quite aware of what’s around them.

This is one of the many cool places we've found while hunting for portals in Florida. It was such a pretty hidden gem!

This is one of the many cool places we’ve found while hunting for portals in Florida. It was such a pretty hidden gem!

Ingress is “played” all around the globe. My husband and I enjoy traveling around the country, as he speaks at technical conferences and training events. We have always enjoyed seeing unique places in each city we visit. Ingress gives us another level to the exploring we already do. A recent addition to the game, is that players can create various missions. This has helped us find even more unique places to visit, as we sought to complete missions.

One of my favorite things about Ingress is that not only does it give my husband, family and I something we do together, but we have also met many people through the game. “Agents” (or players) often meet up to complete operations (such as a giant field over a certain area). We also utilize G+ Hangouts to chat about the game, or other topics. When agents play the same areas over and over again, you are bound to meet them at some point in time. We have met many agents from both teams. Most players are fairly friendly. New friends are just one more perk of the game.

If you want to join the game, you can go to Just make sure you join the right team (that is, the Enlightened). Just kidding. Choose whichever you’d like. Just have fun. If you’d like, I can send you an invitation to the game too… just post a comment saying you need me to send one!

You can read the Wiki link at the beginning of this post for the complete back-story of the game.

Relay for Life 2013

My two best friends since 4th grade, Katie and Jessie.

My two best friends since 4th grade, Katie and Jessie.

On July 26th, I walked the Relay for Life in White Bear Lake, MN. I previously wrote about why I was walking. Here’s my follow up to the event.

I don’t know what I expected at the Relay. The only thing I had to compare it to, was the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, which I walked twice. I  expected a lot of hype, and everything to be a big hoopla. It wasn’t. It was fairly low key in comparison. That is not a bad thing, it was just different.

There was a ceremony, in fact, there were several over the night. At the beginning of the evening, they had the Opening Ceremony, followed by the Survivors’ Lap. Just after dark, was the Luminaria Ceremony, when they turned off all the stadium lighting, and the luminarias lit the way around the track. That was followed by a lap in Silence. In the morning, was the Closing Ceremony during which balloons were released with “messages to heaven” for those who lost their battle with cancer. Sadly, I missed this ceremony, as I thought I had about 15 more minutes before it started, and was bringing things out to my car. I did happen to catch though, that $208,000 was raised through this event for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

As with any event that is raising money for a charity, there were speakers that gave their stories. It was emceed by a local weatherman, Dave Dahl, who had his own battle with skin cancer a little over a year ago. I would have loved to hear him talk about it, but he didn’t. There were Boy Scouts to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and hold the flag for the National Anthem. The White Bear Lake cheerleaders helped with every step of the evening. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it wasn’t a big deal, just different than I expected.

Michael takes a minute to remember his Great Grandpa Fred, who he shares a middle name with.

Michael takes a minute to remember his Great Grandpa Fred, who he shares a middle name with.

Part of the night was really sad, like watching my two best friends stand up when they were recognizing Caregivers. I could tell both of them were reliving in their minds what it was like watching someone they loved fight for their lives, and eventually slip away. They are both stronger than I am… I don’t think I could handle that. I can barely even handle visiting someone in the hospital when they are injured or sick! I always say the wrong thing to those I know who are battling cancer, sometimes saying nothing at all, or focusing on their cancer when they might just want a normal conversation. In short, the Caregivers, the people who are there every day while cancer patients fight for their lives deserved the honor they received!

Equally as heartbreaking was during the Luminaria Ceremony, Grace started crying, talking about her Great Grandpa Fred who died of cancer a few years’ back. We lived in the upstairs of his duplex for the first 3 years of her life. We also used to go up to the lake camping with him fairly often in the summers when she was little.

I tweeted a few times during the night... tried to catch a few stats.

I tweeted a few times during the night… tried to catch a few stats.

When we first got there, different health care organizations had tables set up on one end of the track. They were giving marketing items away (pens, notebooks, stickers. squishy balls, etc). Unfortunately, they all left fairly early, so I didn’t get to see what they all were. My chiropractor’s office was there giving out free massages. I waited too long, and they left right after the luminaria ceremony. I was kind of bummed I missed my window to get a free 5 minute massage. That would have been wonderful! There were some teams that were walking in the relay who were giving out bandanas, and bags with pedometers (thank you Walgreens) throughout the night. There was a support tent for survivors, and a tent where people were donating their hair to Locks of Love. I have donated my hair at least 2-3 times. I think I will grow it out again to donate there next year!

One thing I really enjoyed about the Relay for Life, was how family-friendly it was. My kids ended up needing to come with me (not originally planned). Luckily, they were able to walk with me. There was also a tent set up for the kids to sleep in. My friend Katie had her two kids there for the night. Their dad came after he got off work. He walked several laps with us, and was going to take their two kids (Amelia, 4, and Jensen, 5) home, but they were having so much fun with my two kids, they ended up staying the night. People were free to come and go as they wanted/needed. I really appreciated that about this event!

I walked 6.75 miles based on the lap beads. According to my fitbit, I walked a total of 13.92 miles during the night (including bathroom breaks, going in to Silent Auction, back and forth to bleachers, etc.)

I walked 6.75 miles based on the lap beads. According to my fitbit, I walked a total of 13.92 miles during the night (including bathroom breaks, going in to Silent Auction, back and forth to bleachers, etc.)

Michael’s favorite thing about the Relay was “all of it.”  His most favorite thing though, was hanging out with Jensen and Amelia. Grace’s favorite thing about the Relay was the “luminaries and how they shut off all the lights at night, and we got to walk with the luminaries lighting up the track.” She also liked how she got to walk with us, and the “beads and the bracelets.” The beads Grace was talking about were from a group called “Laps of Love.” For just $1 (which went back to ACS), we could buy a bracelet. Every time we made a lap, we could stop and pick out a bead to add to our bracelet. For $3, you could buy a necklace. I was amazed that some people almost filled their necklaces. If it weren’t for a freezing cold night (at one point we could see our breath), and taking breaks with the kids (plus the hour and a half in the middle of the night I attempted to sleep), I probably would have gotten more laps in. The nice thing about having older kids, is I didn’t need to be watching them every minute. I could let them go off and play, and keep an eye on the littler ones, and be able to enjoy the night.

Lessons I Learned

I have blogged in the past about all the lessons I learned while walking The 3 Day. Why I didn’t follow my own advice during the Relay? I have no idea! My feet were so sore by the end of the night, and it was nothing compared to 60 miles!! Next time I do the Relay for Life, I will remember to Vaseline the bottoms of my feet, bandaid my pinky toes, and wear double layers of socks. I remembered that one in the middle of the night when I changed my socks halfway through the night. It was so cold, I put my “old” socks back on over my new ones, in order to try to keep my feet warm enough. The bottoms of my feet felt so much better once I had the second layer of socks.

I mentioned it was a very cold night. I was quite unprepared for that. We all had jeans and sweatshirts, but not much else. The kids had their sleeping bags to sleep in, but we should have had blankets as well. When my friend Jessie left around 1 am, she offered to let me borrow the blanket she had in her trunk. What a lifesaver!! Next year, I will make sure to have warm blankets to wrap in during the night. I might even bring hats and thin gloves…

The morning after the Relay, I felt super dehydrated. I know how important it is to keep drinking water while walking… not sure why I didn’t drink enough… I also didn’t eat enough food, and what I did, was mostly snack-food. Next time, I will eat better food the day before, and during the night. I will also make sure to drink enough water.

The Relay for Life was a wonderful experience. I look forward to doing it again next year!

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!

The 3 Day for the Cure 2012 Day 3

Our Safety Crew (in orange) were so helpful! It was sad there weren’t as many of them this year.

The morning of Day 3 started early. We had a lot to do, and had to be out of camp at before 7:30. Before that, we had to pack up all of our things, take down and pack up our pink tents, and eat breakfast. There was only a half hour window between the time they started scanning people out of camp, and when camp would close. We were all in a big pack walking down Beam Ave in Maplewood at the beginning of Day 3.

Finally got to meet another twitter friend, Kim!

There were good things and not-so-good things about everyone starting out at about the same time. Pit stop one was very slow. Not the Crew, they were awesome! The lines for the bathroom were atrocious! We tried moving to the lines that seemed the shortest. Twice, the lines stopped moving, and we ended up at the end of the pack. The up sides of standing in line for port-a-potties FOREVER, was meeting up with more friends. I heard a woman say my name, and when I turned around, there was a face I didn’t quite recognize – until she introduced herself as @ilovemyminivan (also known as Kim DeShaw). She was another person I’ve been talking to on twitter for about a year, but had not yet met. We also ran into the entire Mamalitia (Ally’s team). I promised them a picture of their team in honor of Mandie’s mom, a breast cancer warrior.

Me and the Mamalitia at Pit Stop 1 on Day 3.

Day 3 was a bit hotter, and the feet didn’t want to move quite as fast. We were close to the very last walkers in to lunch. Our feet were tired, and we were moving SLOW, but we were still moving… We kind of had to rush lunch due to being towards the end, but at least we got to eat. We were a bit lucky in that they ran out of the Panera lunches, so they had ordered some Subway for the last few walkers. They didn’t have any meat ones, but the veggie one was surprisingly good! After lunch, we managed to find some new energy, and started making progress again.

I really appreciated the Youth Corps and all the other people out cheering for us, especially towards the end of the day! I was exhausted. The motivation they provided was needed. At the point when you are approaching 50+ miles walked in the past 3 days, it becomes a mental game. You have to tell yourself to just keep going. Luckily, at about that point, we could see the Capitol building. The end was literally in sight!

Here’s Kathi and I at Jody’s Couch, the Capitol building is behind us in the distance.

Eventually, we made it into St. Paul, and onto the Capitol grounds. Jason’s mom, Janelle, was waiting just as we crossed the finish line. We got our victory t-shirts and roses, then sat down to relax for a little bit before the Closing Ceremony. I was so happy to get my shoes off, and put my flip flops on! I had no new blisters on Day 3! I think that smothering my feet in Vaseline, double layering my socks, and wrapping each of my toes as a precaution was the right combination to keeping my feet in decent shape.

We made it!

The closing ceremonies were amazing. I really can’t even come up with the words that describe it. The Twin Cities walkers raised $3.8 million to help fund things such as breast cancer research, emergency financial help for local breast cancer patients, screening and education for underprivileged men and women around the state of MN, etc. Click here to read where Susan G Komen funds went so far in 2012.

At the end of my 2nd 3 Day for the Cure, I was in much better shape than at the end of last year! I had a total of 6 blisters, all relatively minor. My knee was somewhat achy, but I had my knee brace one, so that helped. I was walking ok, but I was definitely ready to put my feet up! I had done my part to help find a cure for breast cancer for this year.

Related links:
3 Day, Day 1
3 Day, Day 2
Lessons Learned in a Tutu

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