win a free hot chocolate 15k/5k race entry!

Hot Chocolate 15K

You have already heard me sing the praises of chocolate and running, so find out for yourself how amazingly awesome the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K is by running it! A perk of being one of their blog ambassadors is getting a free entry to share with my readers, and it’s giveaway time! Here are the details.

Although I’m running the Columbus race in November, the free entry is good for ANY Hot Chocolate race throughout the nation during this race season! Totally cool, I know. Since Rafflecopter doesn’t play nicely with my WordPress blog, we’re going to do this the old fashioned way – leave a comment. Here are the ways you can enter.

1. Like Hot Chocolate 15K & 5K on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you did (1 entry)

2. Follow HotChocolate15K on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you did (1 entry)

3. Follow hotchocolate15k on Instagram and leave a comment telling me you did (1 entry)

4. Follow me on Twitter (@stephplusfour) and leave a comment telling me you did (1 entry)

5. Follow me on Instagram (@stephplusfour) and leave a comment telling me you did (1 entry)

6. Leave a comment below and answer the question, “What is your favorite chocolate item?” (For me, it’s probably dark chocolate covered pretzels, but any chocolate will do) (1 entry)

7. Tweet about the giveaway, something like “I will #runforchocolate with @stephplusfour & @HotChocolate15K http://wp.me/p2Sa1a-FX #giveaway” and leave a comment (1 entry per day)

8. Share the information about the giveaway on Facebook and tag Hot Chocolate 15K & 5K in the post. Leave a comment telling me you did (1 entry per day)

As you can see, there are lots and lots of ways to enter. The contest goes until Sunday, September 28 at 11:59 PM. The winner will be notified on Monday, September 29, and he/she has two days to confirm. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!

Also, don’t forget I have a code for a free running hat with your registration. Just use StephPlus4Hat, and you’ll get your running hat when you pick up your packet.

will run for chocolate – i’m a hot chocolate 15k & 5k blog ambassador

There are few things I love more than chocolate and running, so when I have the opportunity to merge the two, it’s like a match made in heaven! That’s why I’m happy to announce that I have been asked by RAM Racing to be a blog ambassador for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K in Columbus, which takes place on Sunday, November 16!

This will be the third year I’ve taken part in this race (my second as an ambassador), and I’m just as excited as I was the first time I participated. The first year, I did the 5K with my mom, and we had a great time (despite freezing our butts off and losing our car on the streets of Cbus). The highlight was the fact my mom actually ran some, and I was so proud of her. Last year, I ran the 15K with a group of my friends, and although the weather wasn’t fabulous, it was a lot fun. And seriously, who doesn’t love a finisher’s mug with chocolate and dippable goodies at the finish?!

That brings us to this year, and I’m planning to run the 15K. The course is fun and scenic, and the longer distance makes it worth my while to travel to Columbus for the weekend. An awesome thing RAM Racing is adding to this year’s Hot Chocolate races is a finisher’s medal for the 15K. I don’t normally run races for the bling, and although I think medals are awesome, they are not a necessity. However, there is NO WAY I’m passing up this gem. Check it out! Did I also mention you also get chocolate at one of the water stops along the race? I don’t know about you, but I’ll take chocolate over gels ANY DAY!

Hot Chocolate Medal

Another great perk of the Hot Chocolate races – the goodie bag! Forget the short sleeve race shirt that only manages to take up more space in your drawers. Hot Chocolate races go all out. This year, you’ll receive a full-zip, fleece lined hoodie (pink for girls and green for guys), as well as a reusable drawstring bag, and these are for both the 5K and 15K. I’m pretty much in love with it.

Hot Chocolate Hoodie

So now I bet you’re wondering, “How do I register?” Here’s the link for the Columbus race: https://ramracing.enmotive.com/events/register/52a77f18-fa30-4b36-9855-0916c0a86524. Not living near Columbus? No problem! RAM Racing holds Hot Chocolate runs throughout the nation, and some of the locations include Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle (hint, hint Stevie and Tracy). For a complete listing, check out http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/.

AND you have a chance to get a free running hat when you register if you use the code StephPlus4Hat. I have one of these by the way, and it’s actually cute. So when you register, use the code and receive your free hat when you pick up your packet and goodie bag at the Expo. Lastly, be on the lookout for a contest I’ll have coming up to win a free entry to any Hot Chocolate 15K/5K during the season!

For more info on everything chocolate, Like the Hot Chocolate 15K & 5K on Facebook, follow @HotChocolate15K on Twitter, and Follow hotchocolate15k on Instagram.

milk run 5k recap – cole and cael’s first 5k

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I’m really late writing this recap but no less proud because my newly-minted 6-year-olds totally rocked their first 5K at the Milk Run at Lorain County Community College about a week and a half ago. Yes, you read that correctly. Cole and Cael both ran an entire 5K…in less than 30 minutes. Another awesome little tidbit – Lex ran it, too, also in less than 30 minutes, which is about 3 minutes faster than her previous 5Ks. Needless to say, they brought home a little race bling that day.

Where was my (semi) sweet little Annie Bananie? She opted out of the run, and I respect her for that. Running isn’t really her thing, which is totally fine with me. The girl knows what she likes and doesn’t like and won’t be forced to do what she really doesn’t want to do. While this can be a total pain the ass when it comes to parenting her, I appreciate that she isn’t going to be a doormat when she’s older.

Race day was Sunday, August 3, and I woke the kids up early to get them ready and fed. Breakfast was the usual race-day staple – toast with peanut butter and bananas. Gotta start them off right. Then it was off to the college.

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pre-race smiles

 

I was pleased at the turnout when we pulled in the parking lot. I knew that a lot of people weren’t registered, so it was nice to see a full parking lot and lots of race day registrations. We grabbed our bibs and shirts, chatted with a few people that I work with, and got ready to race. The kiddles and I took our place in the middle of the pack. I knew we didn’t belong in the front with the fast people, but I wanted to make sure we were in front of the people who were walking. While lining up a comment was made by a man who seemed a little perturbed that kids were lining up in front of him. “Are they really going to run this race?”, he asked me. “You bet, and they have been training, too. This is their first actual 5K, and this is her 3rd, and they will run the whole thing,” I proudly quipped. His mood softened with this, and words of encouragement were offered to the kids. Now it was run time!

The gun went off, and we started on the course. The boys wanted to take off right away, but I kept telling them to stay with me as this was going to take a while. I think between the excitement of the race and the energy gel (yes, guilty, I gave them all a gel just in case they needed a boost…does this make me a bad mom?) they were having a hard time containing their energy, but we settled into an easy pace and cruised. Other runners were shouting encouraging comments to them, and everyone we passed seemed pleased to see such young kids running the race. Before we knew it, we were at the first mile, and it only took us a little over 9 minutes. My kids were flying.

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Second mile came and went, and they were still holding strong. Our time increased a little because the kiddles haven’t learned the fine art of drinking at the water stop while running (truth: I only recently learned how to do this without making a complete mess). After the stop we were able to pick up the pace a little. Cole and Cael were making this run look effortless, but Lex was struggling a little. She hadn’t trained as hard as the boys. When we would go to the park, they were the ones running 3 miles with me, not her. The most she trained to was 2 miles, so it was obvious that she was going to get tired before they did. Plus, the boy are just more athletic than she is, which really gets her panties in a bunch.

We were on the last stretch, and I kept telling Lex to breathe and find her kick. I knew she had it in there. The finish line was close, so I unleashed the boys, who were still brimming with energy. They took off in a sprint as Lex and I followed behind. As they ran toward and crossed the line, I kept yelling to them and smiling like a crazy lady. My baby boys just crushed this race! Lex kicked it in, and we finished a few seconds after them. They did it!

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So, how did they do? People were coming up to them after the race to congratulate them on a great job, and some even commented on how the kids passed them along the course (I was really proud of that one). I’m also very proud to say that the boys each got a medal (Cole first and Cael second), and Lex came in first in her age group, in addition to setting the age group record!

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no thanks to the clown who photobombed this pic with my winners…the girl on the left does not approve!

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milk run results

What’s next? Well, as soon as we got home, the boys asked me if we could go to the park and run! Seriously, they just ran and wanted more? Those are my kids! They all also want to do another 5K, so I think I’ll look for another small, local one for them. The Skeleton Run 5K in Amherst is great, although cold, and I don’t know if they want to wait that long. Better sign them up for something soon!

And then there’s Cael, my little running buddy who has logged more miles with me than any of the others. He chooses running with me at the park over riding his bike, playing on the playground, riding his scooter, or throwing the baseball. He and I are going to run a 5K, just the two of us, because I want to see this kid at full performance. He may have been listed as second place at the Milk Run (no chip timing, so the boys were directed down the chute and Cole got in first), but he would smoke the pants off of the others. We ran 3 miles at the park the other day, and our pace was under 9:00/mile! I’m really curious as to the times he could throw down in a race if it was just him and me. I’ll keep you posted.

why i don’t always feel like a “real” runner

To actually consider myself not to be a real runner is absolutely absurd, but there are times when that thought creeps into my head. It’s usually when I’m shaming myself after reading about all of the awesome people I consider real runners on social media (FYI studies prove that social media can be bad for your self-esteem). Anyway, here are some reason why I don’t always feel like a “real” runner.

1. I like the treadmill and look forward to my runs on it. Sorry, readers, but you won’t catch this girl slogging through the snow and rain or even burning sun for that matter. When the weather gets (semi) cruddy, I take it indoors. Plus the added element of daycare at the gym makes this a win-win for me.

2. I HATE the foam roller. Say what you like about the benefits of it, but I still hate it. In my defense, I like The Stick, which to me is a better and easier option. I already had my workout when I ran; I don’t want to get an extra one in when I try to foam roll.

3. I don’t eat clean. I’m not a horrible eater by any means, but I definitely indulge in my fair share of treats. Sweets are my weakness, and if it means a few more miles, so be it. Life’s short; drink the beer and eat the cupcake.

4. I wear shorts over my running tights, and those running capris won’t be found in my wardrobe. Something about showing that much in the front and back while wearing those tights makes me uneasy, so to make me feel more comfortable and not resemble the walking part of a camel, I wear shorts, too. Stylish…no, but that’s not what I’m going for anyway. And don’t get me started on running capris. I know a lot of people think they’re cute, and they really do look good on others. Me, on the other hand, not so much.

5. You won’t catch me waking up before the sun to get my run in. I’m not a morning person, and the thought of waking up even earlier to get my run in before work or whatever else I have to do sounds horrible. I prefer to fit my runs in during mid- to late morning or evening. It just works better for me. All of the real runners can be up before the sun rises. I need my beauty sleep.

Are there things that make you feel like you’re not a real runner? 

how is this freakin’ possible?! aka – happy 6th birthday, cole and cael

best buds

Truth: I’ve been getting all weepy over the thought of my babies turning six for a few weeks now. That’s right; my sweet baby boys are six. It’s amazing to me how quickly six years flew by. One minute they were these two little tinies, barely over six pounds, and now they are my big boys with mohawks. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom at work today when I found a folder of their babies pics because I needed a mirror to check my mascara.

I don’t want anyone to think that it wasn’t special when Lex or Annie turned six; after all, six is a big deal. But there is just something a little different about my boys. Maybe it’s the fact there are two of them. Maybe it’s that they admit that they love me more (Cole swears up and down that he loves me more than anything in the whole wide world). Maybe it’s the fact they are so darn cute and ornery at the same time. I honestly can’t resist their dimpled smiles, freckled noses, greenish blue eyes, and blondie hair. I know I’m being biased because I’m their mother, but they are seriously the cutest little boys that have ever lived.

When I first found out I was having twins, I was glad that my mom was there for moral support because I couldn’t even drive home. I had a meltdown on the ultrasound table. Since I couldn’t drown my sorrows in an adult beverage, I ate them at Cracker Barrel. Obviously, I’ve come a long way since then, and I couldn’t imagine my life without my boys. They are smart, energetic, and loving with just enough difficulty mixed in to keep it interesting.

Happy 6th Birthday, Cole and Cael! I love you more.

watcha been up to?

Summer’s a time when the kiddles and I don’t have to worry about being up at the crack of dawn to scramble out of the house in the hope of getting everyone to school and me to work before 8:00am. It’s also a time when I slack on the blog, namely because my working time is cutting into my blogging time (ahh…priorities). In case you’ve been wondering, here’s what we’ve been up to this summer.

Baseball…lots and lots of baseball.

Zoo trips! You just can’t beat the deal of a family pass.

Swimming

Mo Pop Festival

Check out the blog post about this: http://stephplus4.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/mo-fun-at-mo-pop-festival/. It was awesome!

Kids’ trip to Vermont (not with me)

A Day at Kelleys Island

Cedar Point…the best amusement park EVER (we only have one pic because poor Dan broke his nose a few days before)

V__374CAnd, lastly, lots and lots of ice cream because it is summer after all!

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY AND YOU DO FOR FUN IN THE SUMMER?

mo fun at mo pop festival

HOLY CRAP, did I have a great weekend! I’m still depressed that it’s over. On Saturday, Dan and I went to MO POP Festival in Sterling Heights, MI, and it was ah-maze-ing. What the heck is it? Think of the perfect mash-up of live music, food trucks, craft beer, and local art. That’s MO POP. Awesome, right?

We have been wanting to go since we saw something about it on Facebook earlier this year, and Dan surprised me with tickets! Saturday was the big day, so we packed up our stuff and road tripped to Michigan. The festival was held at Freedom Hill Amphitheater, which to me seemed perfect. Plenty of space for two stages, food trucks, beer gardens, artists’ booths, a Vaudeville side show, and lawn for lounging. We got there when the festival started because there were some bands that we wanted to see that went on earlier like Bear Hands, Wild Cub, and Bad Suns. The main draws for us, though, were The Neighbourhood, Young the Giant, and City and Colour. And they certainly did not disappoint! For The Neighbourhood and City and Colour we were in the front about 15 feet from the stage!!! (and I think I may have been the oldest person down there but whatevs). If you want to check out the whole lineup, here it is: http://mopopfest.com/lineup.html

This was probably the most fun Dan and I have had together. Although we loved the marathon, this was a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy a whole bunch of our favorite things at one time. And the ticket price can’t be beat – only $50 each for all of those bands! We would have paid that to see one or two of them.

Here are some of my highlights from the festival.

  • Saw the most amazing Frisbee toss I’ve ever seen – from the top of the amphitheater to the lead singer of Young the Giant on stage! And he caught it!!!
  • Getting up close and personal with The Neighbourhood because “Sweater Weather” is one of our fave songs (and our ringtone…I know, we’re dorky)
  • Hearing City and Colour sing “We Found Each Other In The Dark.” If you haven’t heard it, do me a favor and give it a listen. Dallas Green’s voice is beautiful.
  • Three words – food and beer. Bringing in food trucks was an amazing idea, and what goes better with food trucks than craft beer? We were able to try a whole bunch of new ones that we can’t get in Ohio. And the wood-fired pizza was delicious. Not as good as The Beautiful Flame but damn good.

Can’t wait for next year because we are making another road trip! Thanks, MO POP, for a great weekend!