a letter to my children on inauguration day

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For the most part, I keep this blog fun and lighthearted, and I usually do not post things that would bring criticism or cause backlash, as I hate confrontation. However, this is not one of those posts. Read it if you like. Disagree with my views if you want. Call me a sore loser or too sensitive or whatever you want. Right now, I couldn’t care less. Also, if you’re looking to post comments and argue with me on this, please don’t expect a response. You won’t change my mind just as I won’t change yours. 

Dear Lexi, Annie, Cole, and Cael,

As your mom, I try very hard to teach you life lessons and instill in you good values and behaviors that I hope you will carry into adulthood. I also know that the person you become can be shaped by forces outside our home, and some of that is truly terrifying to me. In particular, the person slated to take over as Commander and Chief of this great nation disgusts me to the core, and the example he’s setting for our youth is sickening. There’s so much I could say, but let’s take this as an opportunity to go over few lessons.

  1. Treat people with kindness and respect regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. Just because someone is different than you doesn’t mean they should be treated differently or mocked for those differences. Besides, diversity is what makes America great, contrary to what the guy in the red hat says.
  2. Be humble. No one wants to hear about how great you are. EVER.
  3. Lexi and Annie – your worth isn’t measured by how pretty you are, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. You know what matters more? Intelligence, kindness, empathy, drive, hard work, confidence, dignity…the list goes on. Use those traits to shatter that glass ceiling. Looks fade. Being a bad ass woman doesn’t.
  4. Be honest and tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Never lie to get ahead. Also, admit when you’re wrong.
  5. Sometimes bullies come out on top. This is a fact of life as unfortunate as it may seem.
  6. Cole and Cael – never, ever let me hear you belittle and disgrace women and then dismiss it as “locker room talk.” We may have a president who thinks this is okay, but it doesn’t fly in this house. We’ve had these talks before, and I know you are aware of what’s right and wrong.
  7. You are allowed to have different views than your family and friends. The way you choose to voice those views and respect the opinions of others says a lot about you as a person.
  8. Think before you speak…or tweet.
  9. Never think you’re the smartest person in the room. There is a lot to be learned if you only listen.
  10. And this last one is for my girls – if a man ever tries to “grab you by the pussy,’ break his fucking arm while you flash him that amazing smile.

Love,
Mom

cleveland marathon kick-off run take 2

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What’s even more awesome than attending one of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon’s kick-off runs to jump start my marathon training? Being able to attend both kick-off runs and having my sons, the dynamic duo of Cole and Cael, run with me! This past weekend, the boys, Dan, and I laced up our shoes and pounded the pavement in Westlake for the second kick-off run. Originally, we weren’t able to attend, but a change in plans made it possible. The boys had been itching to participate in another run/race, so the timing was perfect.

 

We arrived at Fleet Feet in Westlake, chatted it up with the wonderful Cleveland Marathon staff, and got ready to run. I’m convinced the boys are athletic freaks of nature. I have yet to find a sport where they don’t excel (except they tell me they are no good at water polo although they have never played). Running is no exception. These crazy kids don’t even have to train, and they rip off miles like it’s no big deal. They legit kicked my butt in the Grand Slam 5K this summer, coming in first and second in their age group and running with a 7:43 overall pace. This time, I kept the pace slow because I didn’t want them to be sore the next day for their wrestling match. It was so nice to be outside in the mild weather running together. It truly makes me heart happy to be able to enjoy the sport I love with my kiddles. We split off from the group when we reached the store on the loop, not because they were tired but because I wanted to save their legs. They weren’t thrilled, but I appeased them with the promise of another race soon. The perk of ending early was they were the first in line for bagels! BONUS!

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After the rest of the runners made their way back to the store, we had a chance to visit more with my ambassador friends. It’s always so nice to see them because it definitely re-energizes and motivates me. Thanks, friends!

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Oh, and if you’re wondering how wrestling went the next day, the boys crushed it! Did they win every match? Nope, but it was close. Cole went 2 for 2, and Cael went 2 for 3. And as for Cael, I was more proud of him in his loss than I was for his wins. He wrestled up a weight class, was paired against a much older and more experienced kid, and got pinned during the first period. He stood up, shook hands with the other kid and coaches, and went to his side of the mat with no crying or even tears in his eyes. This would not have been the case a year ago. Progress, my friends, progress…and maturity. Super proud mom moment.

kick-off to marathon training!

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The new year breathes fresh life into my running, and I couldn’t be happier! I have the pleasure of yet again being an ambassador for the hometown race I love – the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! This is my fifth year (wow…I can’t even believe that as I typed it) as an ambassador, and it’s exciting as well as humbling. Part of me can’t believe people still want to read about my journey, but I’m thankful that you do. I’m also extremely appreciative of the race and its staff for allowing me another year to share my stories, help to motivate others, and promote this great race. If you’ve followed my blog in the past, you know I can’t say enough about everyone who work hard to make the Cleveland Experience the best possible. Each year gets better and better, and I know this will be no exception. This year is also the 40th anniversary of the Cleveland Marathon, so let’s celebrate!

So…the big question for this year – what race am I running? There’s absolutely no freakin’ way I’m running anything besides the full marathon! I love everything about it – the training, the time commitment, the euphoria, the pain, and the wonderful accomplishment of crossing that finish line. That is something that can’t be taken away. And how can I pass up the marathon on the 40th anniversary?! Last year, I did the Challenge Series (8K on Saturday and marathon on Sunday), but I think I’ll stick to one race this year. The only way this will change is if my family wants to walk the race with me on Saturday (Mom and Dad…hint, hint).

Training kicked off in earnest this past weekend with the Kick-Off Run at Fleet Feet in Pepper Pike. It was quite a haul for us, but it was totally worth it to see my running friends, fellow ambassadors, and race staff. The arctic temperatures did nothing to deter the runners! We Ohio runners are a tough bunch, and hell, we survived “The Most Cleveland Race Ever” – the 2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! Sleet, rain, snow, hail, wind, thunder, and lightening have nothing on us!

If you missed the Kick-Off run last weekend, there’s still another chance this weekend. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and Fleet Feet Westlake are hosting the second kick-off run at 9:30AM on Saturday, January 14. Here’s more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/659262447578466/

Where do I go from here? Well, I’m in a pretty good position going into marathon training. I ran my second fastest and third sub-2 hour half marathon during the Santa Hustle in December. I needed that race to boost my confidence going into my training cycle, and it certainly did. Speed-wise, I’m not quite where I want to be, but I think that will come. If you’re wondering what kind of training plan I follow, the answer is the Stephanie Plan. I’ve found training plans are a little too restrictive for my life and leave me anxious. I know which runs need completed each week, and I fit them in around work and family life. It’s not going to win my any races, but it allowed me to run my best marathon ever. As far as races go, I have two on the calendar – the Lake Health Running Series 20 Mile Drop on April 23 and Brokeman’s 20/20 on April 30. I truly enjoy both of these, and they come at the perfect time during my training cycle. I highly recommend them if you’re training for the marathon. They are also perfect training runs if you’re running the half because both offer shorter distances. Lake Health Running Series offers the 10 Mile Drop, and Brokeman’s has a 20K option.

Looking for a little motivation to get you through training? Look no further than my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon ambassadors! Our team is made of speedy runners, slower runners, middle-of-the-pack runners (like me!). We have people running the full marathon, half marathon, and 10K. Some are gunning for a Boston qualifier. Others are looking to beat their personal best. Then there are some coming back from injuries and will be ecstatic to cross that finish line regardless of time. I believe no matter who you are, there is at least one ambassador you can look to for motivation, tips, and laughs. Check them out; they’re awesome! Also, did I mention each week a different ambassador will be giving away a free entry to a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race of your choice?!

Good luck and best wishes with your training, and I look forward to sharing more with you!

WHAT RACE(S) ARE YOU TRAINING FOR THIS WINTER AND SPRING? ARE YOU RUNNING CLEVELAND, AND IF SO, WHICH RACE?

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playing catch-up

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Hi, everyone! Remember me? I’m Stephanie – mother, runner, public health worker. I’ve been pretty absent on the blog lately for a few reasons. 1 – life is busy. I hate this one because it’s kind of a BS excuse. However, even I can’t deny the days and weeks fly by pretty quickly around here. I keep putting posts off for another day, and the day doesn’t come. 2 – I’ve started worrying more about what people think about my blog, so I haven’t been writing. This is also a silly excuse because it’s my freaking blog. I can write whatever I want. People who don’t like it or think it’s silly shouldn’t waste their time reading.

2016 is over, and I’m so glad. The year started off on the wrong foot and stayed that way. I suppose I should quit complaining, get over it, and get ready for a better 2017. And when I think about it, there were some pretty fun things that happened this year. Some I’ve written about, like the 20 Mile Drop and Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and some I haven’t. Here’s to playing catch-up with the rest of 2016 and welcoming 2017!

Dan ran his first triathlon and a half Ironman in Delaware, OH

 

I had an amazing vacation visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Washington.

 

Dan and I took the kids on a mini-vacation to Lake Chautauqua.

 

Cole and Cael got picked to play in their Little League All-Star Game.

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I took the boys on a super fun birthday trip to Kelleys Island, and we had a complete blast!

 

My kids looked awesome for Halloween, with 3 out of 4 in costumes we made from things we already had.

 

The Cleveland Indians basically kicked ass. They exceeded all expectations and almost pulled off a World Series victory!

 

Cole and Cael smoked my butt in a 5K this summer, won first and second in their age group, and got signed baseballs from Carlos Baerga!

 

I got to play in a mother-daughter softball game with my Adrianna…and she struck me out 🙂

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The health department I work for became nationally accredited! As the Accreditation Coordinator, this was a huge accomplishment and one I am very proud of!

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I ran my second fastest half marathon ever at the Santa Hustle in December in the cold and snow while wearing an ugly sweater.

 

The kiddles got what they always wanted for Christmas – a dog! A cute little mini dachshund named Loki to be exact.

happy 8th birthday, cole and cael

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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

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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

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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!

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  • 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.