awesome october


Anyone else out there thinking, “Where the hell did summer go?” I swear it was just a few weeks ago that the kiddles went back to school (although I know it’s been much longer than that), and now I’m watching the last remnants of my tan say goodbye as the daylight is already gone by the time I get home from work. I dread this time of year, not because of the fall but because of the s-word (snow!) It’s coming, and I hate that.

However, this October was particularly awesome! The weather was beautiful, and we were able to pack a lot of fun into 31 days. Here’s a rundown.

Flag football games with these studs

Walk-A-Thon for Harris Elementary with my Adrianna Banana

Cleveland Indians Game

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Halloween Hayride at Lake Farmpark

Birthday and Halloween Parties

Michigan Trip for Dan’s Birthday

Flu Vaccinations (okay, so it wasn’t necessarily fun, but these are hilarious!)

Trick-or-Treating and Eating Passing Out Candy

Happy Fall, Y’all! And with this being November, I hope you take a little time to reflect on things in your life that you are thankful for. Most of the time, my life is so busy that I don’t slow down enough to think about this, but I am very fortunate. Thank you for being part of my life.

downtown willoughby 5k recap


Yes, I understand that the Downtown Willoughby 5K was about a month ago, but I never got around to writing my recap. Life’s pretty busy around here, so I can’t be too upset at myself for not getting it done. And because this was an awesome race for me, a recap was needed.

The Downtown Willoughby 5K was Sunday, September 13. I LOVE this race. I really do. Downtown Willoughby does an absolutely fabulous job of turning a race into a block party, and the support from local businesses and the public in general is amazing.

We arrived at the race early to get shirts and bibs. The weather was not quite what I was hoping for that morning – cold and drizzly. I’m not a cold-weather running girl, so I was already worried about how that might affect me. Plus, I wore my “fast” shoes that aren’t the best for rain and water. Great, I thought, I’ll be racing in wet feet. We went back to the car to wait and warm up. Seat warmers are my best friend.

I hopped out about 15 minutes before the start, made a quick stop at the bathroom (racing when you have to pee is horrible), and tried to find a spot closer to the front. I’m no speed demon, but I had a goal in mind that I didn’t share with anyone before the race – I wanted a new 5K PR. I wasn’t going to get that if I started behind the people who planned to jog or walk the race. I got as close as I could but was immediately worried when I saw a guy in front of me puffing on his e-cig before the race. SERIOUSLY, DUDE?! Not my idea of pre-race fuel, but whatevs. The gun went off, and I had to do some weaving to get out from behind e-cig man and his crew. They obviously didn’t line up with the walkers like they were supposed to.

For some reason, I felt like I didn’t have it that day. By the time I was at half a mile, my legs felt tired, and my breathing was hard. I looked at my watch and it was in the 7:20s. A little fast I told myself. Slow it down just a bit and now hold that for another 2.6 miles. I had a first class ticket for the pain train.

I made it to the first mile and was feeling the same. Tired but still moving forward and keeping a good pace. A PR was still very possible. I saw the water stop and debated with myself whether or not to stop. Water won, so I grabbed the drink, downed it, and kept moving. Thankfully, I’ve greatly improved my drinking and running technique where I don’t need to stop and don’t end up choking anymore. That’s a plus.

My watch beeped at 2 miles, and I was thankful that I only had one more left. By now, I was breathing heavily and getting warm despite the cooler temps. Keep going, keep going.There was an incline near the end, and I kept looking at my watch. I was getting a little slower, and it frustrated me. Effing pick it up, Steph! You’re not going to blow this PR at the end of the race because you were tired!!!! I started to think of my speedy friends, and that motivated me. My legs found some energy, and I made it to the turn for the last stretch to the finish. Seeing everyone cheering on the finishers helped me sprint to the finish with a big smile on my face.

I DID IT! I crushed my old 5K PR. I walked though the finish area, grabbed my goodies, sat on a step of one of the buildings and cried. I was so happy and proud of myself. Who says you have to get slower as you get older?! I walked back to the car, and we made the trip back home. It wasn’t until we were home for a bit that I was able to check the results online. That’s when I REALLY started crying. Right there, listed as the #2 finisher in my age group was my name. Stuff like this does happen for me. I don’t place in races, let alone a race with 200+ people in my age group! My official race results were #2 in my age group with a time of 23:28 and #113 overall.


The excitement happened all over again when I received this awesome prize in the mail. This is definitely one medal I’m keeping because this may never happen again. I’ll enjoy it while I can :-)


And since I wore my Southern Tier Brewing Company shirt to race in, it only seemed appropriate to celebrate my PR with my favorite Southern Tier beer – Warlock! Cheers, everyone. May your feet be speedy and your post-race beverage cold.


#shareCLE – akron marathon relay recap


Awesome. Amazing. Fabulous. Those are some of the words to describe my Akron Marathon Relay experience. I was fortunate enough to run the relay with a few of my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon ambassador friends (Andrew, Melissa, and Jill) and Dan, who has kinda become an unofficial ambassador for CLE due to the fact I drag him around to lots of events. I’ve never run a relay before, like most of my team, so I was a little nervous about signing up and, frankly, worried about whether or not it would be fun. The race exceeded my expectations and then some.

Dan and I worked Friday but were thankful that they race expo was open late. Not being an Akron regular, I was impressed by how clean the city was when walking around and the organization of the expo. We got our bibs, made the rounds through the booths, and picked up our shirts. I was happy when I saw Joan and Ralph from the CLE marathon and made sure I stopped to chat and snap a pic. Seriously, they are both great people, and it’s always a pleasure running into them at races. And a special thank you to Joan and Mary for coordinating CLE marathon shirts for our relay team!


Dan and I planned to meet up with Andrew for dinner, but the recent rounds of sickness at our house coupled with Andrew’s desire not to share our germs (can’t blame the guy) kept us in. After a not-so-quick dinner at Bob Evans, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for race day.


We woke up bright and early Saturday morning, and I was relieved that Dan wasn’t feeling as crappy as he was the night before. I did my usual pre-race ritual, which included perfectly securing my side braid and Sparkly Soul headband and applying makeup. Yes, I always wear makeup for races, so laugh at me or call me a prissy runner or whatever. At least my race pics usually look decent :-) When we left the hotel, I was so happy that the weather was cooperating. No rain and mild temps. It was going to be a good race.

The ride to downtown was a quick one, and even though we didn’t make it early enough to miss all of the road closures, we had no trouble getting into downtown and finding a parking spot. Free parking?! Yep, free parking in one of the surface lots. That was greatly appreciated. Thanks, Akron!

We walked the start as I texted our relay team and some of the other fabulous CLE ambassadors to try and meet up. We haven’t seen each other in a while, so the Akron Marathon was a little mini-reunion. Slowly, our group assembled. Unfortunately, not all of us were able to meet up, but seeing Melissa and Jill (two of my relay partners), Melissa B. (who ran the half), Stephani (who ran the half), and Jamie (who completely CRUSHED the full) made me a happy girl and lifted my spirits and excitement levels. I was a little worried about not seeing Andrew, as he was the first leg of the relay, but he seemed to have it under control, even though he had a bit of a bathroom snafu and was worried he was going to miss the start.


4 out of 5 of team #shareCLE


some of the lovely CLE marathon ambassadors! (Steph, Jamie, Stephani, Melissa C., Melissa B.)


It’s rare that I get to see the start of a race, as I am usually standing in the corrals hoping was a great race and praying I don’t need to make one last bathroom trip. It’s was a great experience and exceptionally motivating! After the start line hoopla died down, Dan, Jill, and I talked for a bit and walked to my start for leg 3, which was right down the road. Bonus for me because I am directionally challenged! At my start, we saw Randy from Active Runner and chatted a bit. He mentioned that leg 3 was the hilliest one of the course and asked who was running that one. “That’s me!” I knew Akron was a hilly course but didn’t know that my leg was considered the hilliest by a super awesome and speedy runner. This was going to be fun. Jill and Dan left to take their respective places at their starts, and I settled in. After a few bathroom stops, I knew it was going to be about time for me to run. I was worried I wouldn’t hear my relay bib number called, and I was right. I didn’t hear it, but I saw Melissa speed in from leg 2 and look around for me. I shouted out to her, ran into the street, grabbed the slap bracelet, and bolted. I was so happy to see Andrew on the side yelling for me, and he gave me a little pep I needed after feeling like a failure for not being completely ready to take the bracelet from Melissa.

The first mile came and went, and my watch beeped at 7:44. Crap, that’s a little too fast, but I was feeling great. Then came the climb on Market Street (I think that was the name; I told you, I’m directionally challenged). The hill, though not steep, seemed to go on forever, and I was tired by the time I got to flat ground. Once my watch beeped, I was pleased to see that it was right around 8:20s so not too shabby. Miles 3 and 4 weren’t bad at all with a great pace, and I enjoyed the crowd support and high-fiving the little kids on the course. It’s amazing how a high-five from a kid can pump you up! Around mile 4 was a little less awesome. There was a steep hill that led up to Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, and by the time I made it up to the top and turned into the drive, my legs were depleted. That shit was hard! I tried to gain my strength back and push on, as I knew there wasn’t much distance left in my leg of the relay. Although I was feeling tired, I made sure I smiled for the camera!

akron relay

I gained back my leg strength fairly quickly and felt great for the remainder of my leg. Coming into the home stretch, I saw Jill waiting for me, ready to take off, and I smiled! I passed the bracelet, patted her on the back, and stepped off the road. My leg of the relay was done, and I was happy to know that I ran it as best as I possibly could. It was, by far, the most challenging course I’ve run (obviously, I’m a flat race kinda girl). I know it wasn’t the official time, but my watch said 5.6 miles at an 8:00 pace. I’ll take it!

I hopped on the shuttle to go meet up with my team at the finish but decided at the last minute to get off at the leg 5 start to see Dan. He told me not to stop, but I don’t always follow directions. It was nice to see him, tell him about my leg, and wish him good luck. Then I grabbed the shuttle and finally made it back to the stadium for the finish.

When I was arrived, I was happy to see Andrew and Melissa (who dominated legs 1 and 2 of the relay), Stephani, and Melissa B. Then we were joined by Jill and Mary, who works for the CLE marathon and helped get us looking fab in our CLE gear after the race. We had a prime spot near the entrance to the stadium because we wanted to cheer on Jamie as she finished her full and Dan as he brought home our relay. Let me give a little plug for how inspiring Jamie is. Over the past few years, she made a decision to get healthy and lost more than half her weight the old-fashioned way with diet and exercise. She started running, and now, no one can stop her. Girl’s fast, and her determination and work ethic are impeccable. I dare you to find someone who works harder because you would be hard-pressed. We saw her come into the stadium, and our group erupted in cheers. Jamie – we are all so proud of you, and congrats on your awesome PR.

The goal for our relay team was to run a sub-4 hour marathon, and as the clock got closer to 4:00:00, we saw Dan enter the stadium. He looked like he was on a mission and sprinted to the finish as we cheered him on. We did it! Our relay team hit our goal! Official time was 3:57:59.

IMG_20150926_125440 results from Akron

After the race, Dan grabbed our medals, and we celebrated! I’m never one to turn down free pizza, chocolate milk, and beer after a race, and it was nice to visit with friends and bask in the awesomeness of the race.


Mary, Andrew, Jill, Steph, Melissa C., Melissa B., Stephani


finish line celebration with the guy who puts up with my crazy running crap


team #shareCLE in all its glory (Andrew, Jill, Dan, Steph, Melissa)

All in all, Akron Marathon was a great experience, and I was so thankful to be part of the amazing #shareCLE team. The race was beautifully run, and I can’t even fathom the coordination that goes into a marathon and half marathon let alone a marathon relay! Akron, you were a well-oiled machine, and I look forward to more races. Team #shareCLE – you rock at life!!!!! Thank you, Andrew, for being our leader and putting together the team. This wouldn’t have happened without you. Thank you, Melissa, for being so positive and upbeat and for not freaking out on me when I wasn’t in the road ready to grab the bracelet. Your positivity makes me smile. Thank you, Jill, for kicking butt on your leg of the race and being our self-proclaimed “slow runner.” You are as much a runner as any of us and have even more heart. Thank you, Dan, for anchoring our team and bringing home a sub-4. With being the last leg, it all fell on you, and as always, you didn’t disappoint (P.S. I love you). Lastly, thank you, Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, for supporting us and letting us represent your organization. I hope we made you proud.

get your freekeh on! freekeh foods giveaway



Thanks to Fit Approach and Sweat Pink, I was able to try freekeh from Freekeh Foods. What the heck is freekeh? I had no clue, but I found out that it’s an ancient roasted grain (green wheat, to be exact) with a nutty, chewy texture. At my house, we all like brown rice and quinoa, so I figured this would be a great alternative. I was right! And with up to three times more fiber and protein than brown rice, less calories than quinoa, and a low glycemic index, it is a healthier option, too. Oh, did I mention it’s organic?

I chose to try the Original flavor first because I’m pretty plain-Jane when it comes to foods, plus I wanted to try it two different ways – one savory and one sweet. I cooked up my chicken and veggies like I usually do and substituted the freekeh for quinoa. It was great! I liked the hearty texture the freekeh gave the dish, and the flavor wasn’t overpowering. Although my kids weren’t there to try it for dinner, I’m sure even the pickiest one would have approved. Next up was the sweet freekeh, and I mixed it up like I would my oatmeal by adding some raisins and brown sugar for a little sweetness. The sweet version was really good, and I had a hard time deciding which version I liked better. I think next time I’m going to do a breakfast mix with freekeh, steel cut oats, and quinoa just for a little variety.

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Want to try freekeh? You have a chance to win a package in the flavor of your choice (Original, Rosemary Sage, or Tamari)! Here’s how to enter.

The giveaway starts today, August 26 and ends Wednesday, September 2. The winner will be announced on the blog and will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If the prize isn’t claimed, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!


it’s about that time…back to school


Adios, summer! We had a great run, but it’s about that time. Today was the first day of school for my kiddles, and judging from the pictures below, they all look pretty excited and happy. Alexandra boarded the bus for her first day of fifth grade, which officially make her a middle schooler. Just typing that makes me get a little emotional (I will note that no tears fell from my eyes today). It also makes me think back to my experience in middle school, and I cringe. Kids can be assholes, but I think she is going to have a great year. Adrianna started third grade and a new school, leaving the security of the elementary she has attended for the past 3 years. She’s ready for the next adventure. My (not-so-little) babies, Cole and Cael, took their talents to first grade – separate classes, of course, because sticking those two with one teacher would be considered cruel and unusual punishment. While Cael was a little more laid back about returning to school, Cole was most concerned about being a social butterfly and which shirt would perfectly coordinate with his new bright purple and turquoise Lebron James shoes. I lovingly refer to Cole as Uncle Stevie Junior, as my brother always had his outfits and shoes coordinated to a T!

So here they are! My beautiful and wonderful kiddles (yes, I’m biased).

blink and you miss it


The title of this post perfectly sums up my thoughts on this summer. Next week the kids start the new school year, and I’m left wondering, “Where the hell did summer go?!” When your family is as busy as mine, it’s easy for days to turn into weeks and then into months without realizing quite how much time went by. Here’s a recap of our summer.

Mom and Dad’s 35th Anniversary Celebration

Amanda and Zak’s Wedding (unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the lovely couple)

 Lots of Baseball and Softball

Uncle Stevie comes back to “The Great State”

Cedar Point Trips

Kelleys Island Day Trip with the Kiddles

Belated Birthday Weekend to Lake Chautauqua/Southern Tier Brewery/Panama Rocks

Running and Races (10 For Them and Milk Run 5K)

Goodbye Minivan, Hello Kia

Annie’s Girl Scout Picnic

Cole and Cael’s 7th Birthday

Beach Time

Family Time