happy 8th birthday, cole and cael


It’s official. My babies are not even close to being babies anymore. Today, Cole and Cael turn 8 years old. I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed, but I am still thankful for the fact they are not embarrassed of me yet. I’ll take the hugs and kisses while I can still get them. Happy birthday, my handsome little dudes! I love you more than I could ever say.

giveaway – nutcracker 5k dash entry


nutcracker dash

Hi, everyone! It’s been a while since I blogged. Life has been consumed with work and baseball/softball and summer, so blogging took a back seat. However, I’m writing for a good reason – to promote a new, local 5K and give away a free entry to the race!

The Ohio Dance Theater, a 501(c)3 charity, is putting together their first ever race as a 25th anniversary fundraiser for their organization. The studio is located in Oberlin, and it’s the oldest professional ballet company in Lorain County. It’s also a dance school, where thousands of children and adults have learned to appreciate the art of dance. The purpose of fundraising is to provide scholarship for local children in need to attend dance classes and to help defray the cost of the Ohio Dance Theater’s major production, The Nutcracker! A Lorain County tradition, the Ohio Dance Theater puts together a spectacular production of The Nutcracker at Lorain County Community College each holiday season. Other counties, like Cuyahoga, are fortunate enough to receive an abundance of grant money for the arts. Lorain County art companies are not so fortunate. The Ohio Dance Theater relies on the support of the local community to provide scholarships, put on productions, and promote the arts.

The Nutcracker 5K Dash and Mouse King 1 Miler will take place on Saturday, July 23 at Lorain County Community College (1005 Abbe Road North, Elyria, OH). The 5K starts at 9:00AM (chip timed), and the 1 mile fun walk/run starts at 9:10AM (non-chip timed). Make sure you dress in your festive holiday gear because there will be Clara’s Costume Competition at 8:30AM, with awards given for the best kid and adult costume. Another great selling point of this race is it’s only $25 to register now and $30 on the day of the race.

Although I won’t be in town to run this race (and I’m bummed about that!), I wanted to help my friend Vanessa promote it. I think the arts are incredibly important, and I want to support my community. Because of this, I was given a free entry to give away on my blog. Here’s how you can win a chance to run the Nutcracker 5K Dash or Mouse King 1 Miler for free!

  • Leave a comment about your favorite holiday tradition.
  • Like nutcrackerdash on Instagram and leave a comment below.
  • Like Ohio Dance Theater on Facebook and leave a comment below.
  • Share the race on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and leave a comment below letting me know you shared.

The giveaway runs from July 5 through July 12. The winner will be selected on July 13 and has 24 hours to confirm the entry before another winner is selected. Good luck!!!

final marathon musings



I can’t believe a week has passed since we kicked off Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon weekend! As I sit here by my computer admiring the blue skies and sunshine, it’s hard to believe that we were absolutely freezing our butts off on Sunday in the cold, rain, sleet, hail, snow, and high winds. I’ve been thinking a lot about the #mostclevelandraceever and have a few final thoughts I wanted to share.

  • Despite having a crazy busy weekend with working the Sparkly Soul booth, walking the 8K, and reveling in the Ambassador fun, I still ran an absolutely awesome race, in my opinion, and I’m damn proud of that! I shaved nearly 28 minutes off my previous marathon PR (4:24:52 in 2014 to 3:57:19). However, I keep thinking if I could have done just a little bit better if I wasn’t so stretched. I know for the next big race I will make sure I give myself more chill time.
  • That being said, the thing I will not cut out is participating in the 5K or 8K on Saturday before the CLE Marathon if my family is involved. My mom and dad aren’t runners, but they sure can walk. They said to me that this is one way they can take part in something I love so much, and I am proud to have them there. Possibly running a bit quicker on Sunday isn’t worth not participating with my family.
  • During this week, I said I was pretty satisfied with my marathon time and wanted to focus on improving my half in CLE next year. I said I already proved what I wanted to prove to myself, which was running a sub-4:00 marathon in Cleveland. Well….I changed my mind I think. With it being the CLE Marathon’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2017, it seems only fitting to run the full, and my thought is the weather can only be an upgrade from this year. I’m sure I will be able to shave off a minute or two for next year, providing I stay healthy and injury free. This also gives me something to work for, as I always run better when I have a goal in mind. I think I will focus on getting a new half PR this fall and then run the full for May 2017.
  • The fact I am already looking forward to my next marathon does not mean I’m not satisfied with my race last Sunday. I’m more than satisfied; I mean, it was the race of my life! I don’t think on that particular day with the other circumstances surrounding it that I could have done any better. That is a satisfying feeling. But I can envision more, which means I am driven. I can do better, and I will. Continuous improvement keeps me motivated, and seeing the progress and accomplishing goals I never thought possible are infectious.
  • I still have tingling in a few of my fingertips. I’m sure this is from the cold and wet conditions and the fact I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I didn’t ditch my gloves (which were just the cheapy cotton ones) until about mile 17, but my hands pretty much had no feeling starting around mile 12-13. I couldn’t even freaking put earbuds back in or open a gel! Note to Stephanie: next time, be smarter. My hands felt warmer and better almost as soon as the gloves were gone.
  • I will make sure that if I am staying overnight for a race, I will pack every possible clothing option. The only reason I had tights and a warmer top was because I brought it to walk the 8K with my dad. Otherwise, I would have been absolutely freezing in my tank top and shorts or wearing my throwaway pants and sweatshirt to run a marathon.
  • Anyone who was outside for the races on Sunday, May 15 is a complete badass and deserves respect. This means race participants, volunteers, race staff, spectators, police officers, EVERYONE! The conditions were, by far, the worst I have ever run in, but pride swells when I think of how we survived a race that will go down in Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon history! Hell, they are even making shirts to commemorate the craziness!


  • I’m bummed that this race cycle is over, but that doesn’t mean that the other Ambassadors and I are done supporting one another. We are already planning to meet up again and hopefully soon! I miss you guys!
  • I need to keep my crying in check during races. Holy crap, have you seen those ugly race pics? Yuck. I can cry at the finish, but during the race, I need to hold it together, at least for the photog.
  • I have no desire to take time off from running. Following Sunday, I was not able to move around much on Monday and was thankful I took the day off. Tuesday was quite a bit better, and by Wednesday, I was hitting the pavement again for a short, easy run. I don’t feel burnt out at all from training and the race. It’s quite the opposite; I feel energized. While I don’t have a major race lined up yet, I look forward to sunshine and runs around my neighborhood, local 5Ks with my sons who are dying to test their speed, and participating in races with my entire family. This summer will be about fun, which is what running is supposed to be.
  • I know a time will come when my times starting creeping upward and setting PRs at races is a thing of the past, but that time is not now. I have more speed left in me. Who would have thought that my 35-year-old self would be running circles around my 28-year-old self? I would even be leaving 32-33-year old Stephanie in the dust! But when the time comes, I will try my best to embrace it and accept the fact I am still able to run. It is a gift.

CLE runs with heart – marathon weekend recap



Warning: this is going to be a long post, so get comfy and enjoy🙂

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon weekend is like a holiday in our house. The anticipation builds for months, and it all culminates with one race. Countless hours and miles have been put in to get me to this point, and on race day, it’s all a huge mixture of heart, motivation, perseverance, and grit.

My race weekend kicked off on Friday. I volunteered to work the Sparkly Soul booth at the Expo, so I was there bright and early for set-up (thanks, Uber driver, for getting me through downtown traffic!). So glad I got there when I did because it took a lot longer to set up the headbands than I thought! But when it was done, the table looked beautiful and super sparkly! I was thankful when lunchtime rolled around because my friend Melissa, CLE marathon ambassador and fellow Sparkly Soul lover, volunteered to help me at the booth. We had a blast sharing the sparkly love with CLE, as this was the first time the company had come to the Expo. It was also fun to visit with my ambassador friends who showed up to grab their bibs! Seeing them always makes me smile. And Jamie! She knew that I was feeling very unsure about the race and raised my spirits with her encouragement and treat bag. Thanks, sole sister! I needed that! I would also like to say thanks to my cousin, Katie, for helping Melissa and me work the booth for the last few hours of the Expo, so we could get ready for the Marathon’s VIP reception. Sorry you had to deal with the person who wanted to steal the headbands but glad you stopped her in her tracks!

As always, the VIP reception did not disappoint! The marathon coordinators, race sponsors, elite racers, ambassadors, and marathon supporters have a chance to get together and celebrate the race. Held in The Arcade, the reception is definitely a highlight of my weekend. It’s also a time for the ambassadors to have one last get-together before race day. It’s funny to see us dressed in something other than running clothes, but I think we clean up pretty well. We’ve become more than just race ambassadors; we are like a little running family that helps support and motivate each other. We have fast runners, slower runners, and sprinkling of middle-of-the-pack runners, but that doesn’t matter. We are one team.


sometimes we get fancy🙂

Saturday morning came bright and early. No rest for me because as part of the Challenge Series, I was participating in the 8K that morning. I was very excited for this race because I was walking it with my dad. My mom and our family friend, Julia, were walking the 5K. I had my own little crew! I waited for the shuttle at the hotel, but there was a little issue with its coordination. Ultimately, I hitched a ride with Andrew (another awesome ambassador friend) and his brother to the start at Edgewater. After frantically trying to meet up with my parents, I found them under the pavilion, gave them their bibs and shirts, and got ready to walk. The weather was cold and rainy, a precursor of what was to come on Sunday, but we smiled through it.


Dad and I had a great walk. We admired the houses in the Edgewater area, chatted about all kinds of stuff, and enjoyed each others company. I don’t get to do many things with just my dad, so this was important to me. I was super proud of him, too, because he stepped it up and ran a bit with me, even at the finish in the crazy winds! Although I was proud of my dad, I started getting really down on myself about the marathon on Sunday. When we made our way into Edgewater for the last mile, the winds were just punishing us! I told me dad how upset I was that I put all this time into training just to have it derailed from weather. As I fought back tears, I told him that running a sub-4:00 marathon would be impossible. We crossed the finish, grabbed our medals, met up with mom and Julia, and had to jet. I had to be at the Expo to work the Sparkly Soul booth again on Saturday.

I have to thank Dan for saving my butt Saturday morning. With walking the 8K, I was running really short on time. So short, in fact, I didn’t have a chance to go back to the hotel to change clothes and grab the supplies needed for the booth. To help me, Dan brought me the necessary items and even stayed a the booth a little to help. He knows Sparkly Soul well because when he had long hair, he would wear them sometimes (the more manly ones, of course). He also hears me talk about them non-stop. Shortly after Dan arrived, Melissa and her friend Lynanne came to the booth. I can’t tell you enough how thankful I was for their help! If it weren’t for them, I don’t know how I would have been able to prep for the marathon on Sunday. They let me take off around 2:00pm to rest and get off my feet, which I badly needed. Thanks a million, Melissa and Lynanne!

Saturday evening was filled with nerves! I was freaking out about everything for Sunday’s race – the weather, what I was going to wear, meeting up with the ambassadors in the morning, wondering if I would bomb my race from being super busy leading up to this point. Lots of doubt was running through my head, and I was trying to mentally prepare myself for my B goal (4:05 marathon) and C goal (4:10 marathon). I thought my A goal (sub-4:00) was completely unattainable at that point.

Sunday morning came early, and the mood was a somber one. Dan and I got up and dressed relatively quickly. I know he wasn’t feeling his best either, so we were both kinda hot messes. I was contemplating bailing on the pre-race pic with my ambassador friends (glad I didn’t). We stepped out of the hotel, and holy coldness! Mother Nature was playing a cruel joke on us yet again. Obviously, she didn’t get the memo that it was spring! I was dressed in warm clothes, but Dan decided he was racing in normal May attire (shorts, tank, calf and arm sleeves). I was so glad I had a spare foil blanket from a past race! He looked super cute in the silver foil skirt.


pre-race selfie!

When we got to The Q, we found some of our friends, and that helped put me at ease. We were all in the same boat – freezing our butts off and hoping for the best! Some of the CLE marathon ambassadors made it for the pre-race picture, and after we hugged goodbye and said good luck, we split for our corrals. My plan was to run with the 4:00 pace group. This was the first time with a group of any sort, as I almost always run by myself, but I was doing everything I could to help me reach my goal. Starting with the pace group seemed like a smart idea. Before I knew it, it was race time! I kept telling myself, “I can do this!” but I was worried.



I was surprised how crowded it was at the beginning and at the number of people who didn’t start in the correct corral. I’m not knocking slower runners at all because I used to be there, but good race etiquette is to start in an appropriate spot for your speed. At the beginning of the race, it was a bit frustrating to have to dodge people who were walking. There was also the stress of staying right by the pacers, and that was hard to do until we got to about mile 2.5-3. I could tell early on that the pace group just wasn’t my thing, but I wanted to give it a fair shot before peeling off. I had planned to put on my music later in the race, but I needed it sooner, at mile 4. I stuck with the group through approximately mile 8 when my friend Will came up behind me. We chatted for a bit and ran together before he pulled ahead. At this point, I was ahead of the pace group and running a much more comfortable pace for me.


snapped on the course by my friend Tony

I don’t remember much until about mile 12 or 13 because I was on autopilot. I was already cold and wet, but my spirits were fading quickly. I didn’t know how I could keep this up for another 13 freaking miles!!! The weather turned worse, too, because we were running into the wind. Hail/sleet pounded me, and I had to put my hand across my brow to try and block it from stinging my eyes and face. My earbuds fell out, and this was when I realized I couldn’t feel my fingers to put them back in my ears. This scared me and made me worried about hypothermia or some nonsense like that, and this was the point in the race that I really needed a little musical motivation. It seemed like I would never reach the turnaround, where the wind would be at my back. I must have looked like complete hell because the guy running next to me looked at me and asked if I was okay. In a half sob, I said no but kept pushing forward. I had to give myself a serious pep talk at this point and tell myself to get my shit together and finish this race. I felt a little boost when I hit the turnaround and kept putting one foot in front of the other. I finally got smart and ditched the cold, wet gloves and was able to put my ear buds back in. Time to buckle down and finish the race.

Throughout the race and especially for the last 8 miles, I kept checking my watch. Since the miles were way off, I was making sure that when I hit the mile markers, I wasn’t over/just barely over 9:00/mile. That way, I knew I would have time in the bank for the dreaded Shoreway. And THANK GOD I had some time in the bank. Miles 23-25 were absolute hell for me. My whole body was hurting like it never had before, and I was doing my best to not go into panic mode. There were two times on the Shoreway I had to take a tiny walk break for about 30 seconds to collect my thoughts and chill the hell out, but I started right back into my run.

I thought I had pulled myself together until I saw Dan at mile 25. I found out later that he completely crushed his half marathon PR and decided to come back near the end of my race to help me if I needed it. He wasn’t expecting to see me so soon and knew I was way ahead of my sub-4:00 goal. I saw him and started crying, partly because I was happy to see him and partly because I didn’t want him to “see me failing.” (yes, I thought I was failing even though I was crushing my run) I was tired, beat down, and so over being cold and wet, and I didn’t want him to see me that way. I had to walk a little because I thought I was going to start hyperventilating. After a short break, we started to run again. I told him I couldn’t talk until the end, but I was glad he was there. He peeled off at the downhill to the finished and cheered me on as I completed my race. Before I even hit the finish, I was crying yet again (yes, I get it. I cried a lot!). I DID IT! I ran a marathon in under 4 hours. And not just barely squeaking by to be under 4. I did it in 3:57:19!!!! Which is a nearly 28-minute PR from my previous best marathon!


super ugly cry face as I realize my goal is a reality

At the finish, I sobbed big, ugly tears as the kind volunteer placed the medal around my neck and told me congratulations and cried again as I hugged Dan across the fence in the finishers’ area. I looked at the medal, squeezed it, and felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride. This was, by far, the hardest race I have ever run and the most satisfying race I have ever run. Wind, sleet, hail, snow, rain, cold temps, lack of rest time for my body, lack of sleep, and a packed weekend didn’t stop me from accomplishing my goal. And this wimpy runner just kicked CLE weather in the face! Reflecting back on yesterday, I don’t think there is anything I could have done to run any better. When I would talk about the race to others, I said I wanted to leave it all on the course and have nothing left when I finished. I did exactly that. Yesterday wasn’t about running with your legs. It was about running with your heart. As it’s been repeated many times already, but it totally was the “most Cleveland race ever!” And we survived and thrived, proving yet again that Clevelanders are a tough bunch.


stole this gem from the CLE marathon FB page. it’s so fitting!

I would like to take some time to thank some amazing people who have been on this journey with me. Thanks, Dan, for being there for all of this. You were there to celebrate my great runs, pick me up from my bad ones, motivate me, and give me a kick in the ass every now and then. Congratulations on your great race, too! I am proud of you, just wish they would have taken a race pic so I could see you in your badassery. Love you.

Thanks to my family! I don’t come from a family of runners, but that doesn’t stop them from being involved in the sport I love. Whether it’s walking a 5K/8K with me or tracking my runs or coming to my races, they are behind me 100%.


gift from my awesome parents

Thanks, CLE marathon ambassadors! You have been there when I needed you. We were in this together and supported each other along the way. There are no other people I would have wanted to have on this journey than all of you.

Thank you to Jack Staph, Ralph Staph, Joan Freese, Kayla Henderson, Mary Suter, and the rest of the amazing team that comprises the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for allowing me to be part of the race family for another year. I appreciate everything you have done for me over the past 4 years and can’t wait for next year!

Lastly, thank you to people who doubted me because you helped fuel the fire that got me across the finish line. I was thinking of you when my body was killing me, rain/hail/sleet/snow were pounding me, and I just plain wanted to quit. I know the doubt was well-intentioned, and I don’t fault you for that. You were looking out for me. I’m not a risk taker, but this was a huge risk that I needed to take. I had something to prove to myself, and I proved I am stronger than I originally thought.


winner – copper river salmon run/walk 5k


Copper salmon_final

With all of yesterday’s excitement from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, I forgot to pick a winner for the Copper River Salmon Run/Walk 5K! Sorry about that. Thanks to those who entered, and the lucky winner is…Joe F. (Cleveland Joe)! Congrats! You have 24 hours to confirm the free entry.


Joe winner

Didn’t win but still want to run? You can register for the race at http://www.hermescleveland.com/roadracing/events/pierw.asp. Online registration closes on Friday, May 20 at 9:00AM, and it’s only $30, which includes the usual race goodies plus a Pier W patio lunch!

giveaway – copper river salmon run/walk 5k


Copper salmon_final

Who likes running a 5K and then relaxing on a patio while a fabulous lunch is cooked for you, AND you get to support a local charity? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me! Pier W in Lakewood is hosting the Copper River Salmon Run/Walk 5K, a race that celebrates Alaska’s Copper River salmon season and benefits Cleveland’s Malachi House. Malachi House provides care for terminally ill people regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality without cost to the resident or family. Founded in 1988, Malachi House has served more than 2,000 people since opening its doors and has given those residents support and comfort in their last days.

The race is Saturday, May 21 at Lakewood Park, 14532 Lake Avenue, Lakewood OH 44107. Registration begins at 9:00AM, and the race starts at 10:00AM. The awards and lunch are held at Pier W.

In addition to running through Lakewood, which I love, the race features a lunch on Pier W’s patio. This is not just any lunch. Race participants have the choice of salmon burger, black bean burgers, beef burgers, or turkey dogs all served up by Pier W’s Chef Regan Reik. And for those of you who have been to Pier W, you know the food is delicious! It’s seriously one of my favorite restaurants.

Want a chance to run this race for free? Today’s your lucky day because in return for sharing information about this race, I was provided an entry to give away. The giveaway starts today, Tuesday, May 10 and goes through Saturday, May 14. Winner will be selected randomly and announced Sunday. He/she has 24 hours to confirm before another winner is selected. You can have up to 6 entries by doing the items below:

  1. Leave a comment letting me know why you want to run this race (besides the obvious reasons which are to help charity and eat delicious food).
  2. Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment letting me know you did.
  3. Like Pier W on Facebook and leave a comment.
  4. Follow Pier W on Twitter and leave a comment.
  5. Like Malachi House on Facebook and leave a comment
  6. Follow Malachi House on Twitter and leave a comment.

Good luck!

CRSRP_Party_Pier W



silver linings


I try hard to be a positive person, but the one word that sums up last week is craptastic. Bad, it was just bad, and it definitely messed with my mindset for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Instead of enjoying my birthday and Mother’s Day week and preparing for the big race, I was under the most stress I’ve had in quite a few years, and it took its toll. I was not eating, waking up early and staying up late, driving in downtown Cleveland rush hour (you know I do not drive in CLE very well), not being able to run to relieve stress, and spending many hours in the federal courthouse. There was anger, frustration, hurt, embarrassment, defeat, but I suppose there was also some relief. Relief that this will pass. My boss has a knack for “taking the high road.” I, on the other hand, want to take someone out at the knees. But in an effort to rise above and be the better person, I am going to point out the silver linings and other little gems I learned from this week.

Negative: Driving into and out of Cleveland and spending many hours in a courthouse.
Positive: I actually learned a route to the Tower City parking garage that has less traffic, and the views from the 15th floor of the courthouse were amazing.


Negative: Having personal details of my life brought up in court for no other reason that to make me look like a horrible person.
Positive: Knowing I am not that person and feeling some sort of satisfaction in telling my little part of this whole twisted story.

Negative: Missing basically a week of running.
Positive: I bet the rest helped my legs, and I’ll be ready to go on Sunday!

Negative: Having my social media stalked to be used against me.
Positive: Chuckling over the amount of time and energy it must have taken to read every single tweet and blog post to find controversial/juicy ones. Who seriously has time for that nonsense?

Negative: My sons leading a group of runners on the wrong course for a local color run and my daughters getting into a shoving match at the finish line.
Positive: My first grade twins were fast enough that they were leading the majority of the 5K. That is freaking awesome and makes me a proud mother runner! Even with taking a wrong turn and running over the 5K distance, one managed to finish second overall, and the other finished approximately 6th. Wish I would have been wearing my watch for this one!


There are more to list, but I suppose what’s the point in listing them? Life sucks at times; it really does. I’m not telling you anything new. I guess that isn’t what defines you. It’s what you do from that point that speaks to your character. I’m still mad, still hurt, still defeated, but I can choose to wallow in that or chalk this one up as a life lesson and let it go.

I need to have a one-track mind this week in terms of preparation for CLE. Having a busy week at work won’t necessarily help, but starting Friday, I’m off until Tuesday! I look forward to seeing my fabulous ambassador friends at the reception and race. I look forward to walking the 8K on Saturday with my dad and having my mom and family friend walk the 5K. I look forward to running my 6th marathon and, if all goes right, setting a huge PR! And, lastly, I look forward to being positive again.