#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.

IMAG2028 IMAG2032

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

cheers to 35 years



(Note: I intended to have this post ready to go this weekend, but due to my computer not wanting to cooperate, today will have to suffice.)

Thirty-five years. That’s the length of time that my parents have been married, having just celebrated their wedding anniversary on June 14. Most people can’t make a marriage work for more than 10 years (living proof right here), so for them to reach this milestone AND still be happily married is truly amazing and worthy of celebration. The two of them have spent much more time married than they did single, and together, they have witnessed some major milestones. Here’s a little rundown of things that have been noteworthy since Mom and Dad tied the knot.

1981 – World’s first laptop (Epson HX-20); the launch of MTV; wedding of Prince Charles and Diana; Raiders of the Lost Ark released…oh, and you became parents with an absolutely adorable baby girl

1982 – First person implanted with artificial heart; you enjoyed that baby girl so much that you decided to give it another go with a baby boy

1983 – HIV identified

1984 – You decided why not have another and welcomed your second baby girl

1985 – Back to the Future released

1986 – Challenger explosion; Chernobyl disaster

1987 – Since you were already outnumbered, you figured, “What the hell?!” and added another baby girl to the mix

1988 – Digital mobile phones; caller ID; seedless watermelon

1989 – Fall of the Berlin Wall

1990 – Release of Nelson Mandela

1991 – Emergence of the World Wide Web for the public; Kodak digital camera system; collapse of the Soviet Union

1994 – OJ Simpson murder trial

1995 – Play Station 1; Toy Story released; Oklahoma City bombing

1996 – First cloned mammal – Dolly the Sheep; first GPS available for civilians; Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore

1997 – Plasma TV; Toyota Prius (hybrid cars mass produced); Titanic released

1999 – DVR by Tivo; stem cell research 2001 Apple iPOD and September 11 attacks; human genome decoded

2001 – Terrorist attacks on September 11

2003 – Final deciphering of virtually the entire human genome

2004 – Nipplegate at the Super Bowl; Facebook created

2005 – Pluto’s planetary status revoked; Hurricane Katrina; you became grandparents

2007 – Apple iPhone; Britney Spears’ freakout

2008 – US elected Barack Obama (first black president)

2009 – Michael Jackson kicked the bucket

2012 – Mars Rover; Usain Bolt crushed records at the Summer Olympics

2013 – Play Station 4; good ole’ US government shutdown; Boston Marathon terrorist attack

2014 – Ebola in the United States; canonization of Pope John Paul II


And we’re all used to hearing about these famed Hollywood couples who make it work. Well, these people have nothing on my parents! Here’s a rundown of famous couples who have less years under their belts than my mom and dad.

  • Ozzy and Sharon Osborne (1982)
  • Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (1983)
  • Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham (1986)
  • Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick (1988)
  • Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (1988)
  • Michael J Fox and Tracy Pollan (1988)
  • John Travolta and Kelly Preston (1991)
  • David Bowie and Iman (1992)
  • Sting and Trudie Styler (1992)
  • Warren Beatty and Annette Bening (1992)
  • Faith Hill and Tim McGraw (1996)
  • Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos (1996)
  • Gavin Rosdale and Gwen Stefani (2002)

Congratulations, Mom and Dad! I love you and am proud of you. Thanks for being a great example of what love should be.


cheers to many more happy years together

running makes me do crazy things



With not having a major race on my calendar for the next few months, I’ve spent a lot of time just running for pure enjoyment, which is a welcome reprieve from training. With that time comes a lot of thinking, and my latest blog post popped into my head the other day. The premise – running makes me do some crazy and sometimes disgusting things. Let me explain.

Crazy Thing #1: I spend lots of money on clothing that basically fits in a clutch. I suppose I bring some of this on myself because I am a bit picky when it comes to my running gear. I’m a lover of Mac Roga shorts from Oiselle and have only been able to find them online, hence, not cheap. I’m a self-proclaimed addict for Sparkly Soul headbands, which at $15-$17 a pop, makes for a light wallet. I could probably pay one of my kids’ college tuition with the money I have wrapped up in my headband drawer (yes, my headbands have their own drawer). Don’t even get me started on sports bras. Never did I ever think I would spend $60+ on a sports bra, but if the girls ain’t happy, the run ain’t happy. The absolute worst part is when I fork over the money on a sports bra thinking it will do the trick when I try it on only to find it sucks when put to the running test. It gets added to the other D-list sports bras that are only used for short runs or times when support and comfort are necessarily needed. Sad face.

Crazy Thing #2: The sight of porta potties makes me happy. Past Stephanie would have never used a porta potty, let alone practically jumped for joy when spotting one on the race course or a training run. Everything about them made me want to barf, but try hitting mile 20 in a marathon and having your insides feel like they are about to explode. That smelly blue shack will be like an oasis in a desert. My personal faves are the ones with hand sanitizer. Nice touch, and it at least makes me feel a little better about all of the germs. This leads into my next crazy item.

Crazy Thing #3: Talking about pooping is acceptable and normal. Again, Past Stephanie would be shaking her head and completely embarrassed by this. I much preferred to live in fantasy land and pretended that waste just miraculously disappeared from my body, but running has a way of changing things. Basically, shit happens. I can even say that when Dan and I met at the Towpath half marathon in fall 2013, we bonded over stomach issues. If that didn’t mean we were supposed to be together, I don’t know what does.

Crazy Thing #4: I wear a fanny pack. Okay, so I exaggerated this a bit, but a hydration belt with a pouch is basically a glorified fanny pack that holds water. I thought I left my fanny pack days long ago when banana clips, pegged pants with double layers of multicolored socks, and oversized T-shirts with shirt clips went the way of the dodo. What’s old is new again, and I hear the 90s are back. My hydration belt is on point with fashion. #trendsetter

Crazy Thing #5: Paying hard-earned money to torture my body repeatedly. Call me (and any other runner out there) a glutton for punishment. As if it wasn’t enough to push my body to the limit during a race, I willingly pay for the torture and continue to sign up for more races! It’s kinda like, “Oh, here’s my fifty bucks. Let’s have me run as hard and fast as I can, so I feel like puking and collapsing at the end. I’ll talk about how miserable I feel after and then immediately sign up to do it all over again.” To quote the late, great Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Crazy Thing #6: Wet shorts are the norm. I know I’m not the only one here! I bet that most mother runners know what I’m talking about. The bladder isn’t as good as it once was, and sometimes I just can’t help it. Then there are the times during a major race when I say, “Screw it!” If it comes down to peeing my pants or setting a race PR, you better believe I’m not stopping. Besides, shorts dry.

Crazy Thing #7: I’m pick running clothes out of the laundry because “I only wore them for a short run.” It’s not like I was sweating buckets, and they passed the smell test I suppose. Sometimes I just think what’s the point of adding even more dirty clothes to the ever-present mountain of laundry.

Crazy Thing #8: I’m guilty of the occasional snot rocket. This was totally repulsive to me when I started running and vowed never to be one of “those people.” Well, wiping my nose on my sleeve only worked so well and in all honesty, is even more disgusting because then I was stuck with snot on my shirt. So, every now and then it’s time to just let it go.

What crazy, weird, and/or disgusting things do you do in the name of running?