cheers to 35 years

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(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

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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.

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cheers to many more happy years together

running makes me do crazy things

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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?

happy national running day

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HAPPY NATIONAL RUNNING DAY! In honor of my and every other runners’ favorite holiday (well, aside from Thanksgiving because a pastime of mine is crushing food), I celebrated by doing something I never do – I got my lazy butt out of bed before work and ran. I’m pretty sure my body was in shock and had no clue what it was doing, hence the reason I was able to rip off my fastest mile to date since July 21, 2014 (but who’s counting?…thanks, Garmin). Two miles and one sweaty ponytail turned work hair later, I felt accomplished and ready to face the day. I should really do this more often.

Besides thinking it was way to early for this, I was thinking of all of the reasons why I run and/or like to run. In no particular order, here are some from that list.

  1. I love to eat cupcakes and ice cream and drink beer
  2. Setting a good example for my kids
  3. STRESS RELIEF!!!!
  4. Keeps me young
  5. I can chase after my kids…and catch them
  6. I want to be a sexy old lady
  7. Great excuse to buy more Sparkly Soul headbands, Mizuno shoes, Under Armour and Oiselle clothing, etc.
  8. Running is fun (duh!)
  9. Adding more medals to my collection
  10. Always room for growth (farther distance, faster times, better form)
  11. Lifelong fitness activity
  12. Inspiring other to run or adopt a healthier lifestyle
  13. Camaraderie among the running community
  14. I like to wear short shorts
  15. One-upping race finisher photos
  16. Enjoyment of setting goals and crushing them
  17. Concern for my health and wellness
  18. Maybe one day I can qualify for Boston
  19. Satisfaction of fitting in clothes that I wore in high school
  20. Accomplishing things I never thought possible (who would have thought I could run a marathon let alone 5!?)
  21. Minivan swagger in the form of running stickers
  22. Proud feeling I get when one of the kids wants to run with me
  23. The reason for meeting and falling in love with my boyfriend
  24. Therapy but way cheaper
  25. Because I can

WHY DO YOU RUN? And if you don’t run, what’s stopping you?

my 2015 cleveland experience – race weekend recap

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Amazing. Fabulous. Accomplished. Those are a few words to describe my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race weekend. It kicked off Friday with the VIP Reception at the Hyatt Regency. One of the perks of being a race ambassador is an invite to the annual VIP Reception, and this year did not disappoint. Dan and I had a chance to rub elbows with the race coordinators and staff, as well as race sponsors and elites. The best part was getting together with the other ambassadors. It was fun to see them all dressed up in clothing other than shorts, tank tops, and running shoes, and I must say we all cleaned up well.

Saturday morning was the kids’ big race – the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 5K! As you know, they have been training for this for a few months. I was more than a little nervous for this day because my darling Adrianna had been emphatic about not running this. Despite wanting me to sign her up, she did not want to train, and during every training run, she complained and quit. I wasn’t sure how she would complete 3.1 miles, but since she made the commitment, she was running it. I knew Alexandra, Cole, and Cael would be fine, but Annie was unpredictable.

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We arrived with plenty of time to spare and walked to the start line. The girls were calm, but the boys were another story. They were bursting with energy in part from their very nature and then from the GU Chomps I gave them pre-race. I wasn’t sure if the kids would need a little jolt to help with their run, and I figured they would think the Chomps were a treat. Turns out they didn’t need them. I gave them the pep talk – no running ahead of me, stay together as a group, and no complaining! The gun went off, and it was time to race!

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We didn’t have much trouble reaching a comfortable pace for the kids, and I was surprised how easy it was for us to run as a group. I have to admit I was that paranoid mom who had visions of losing her kids in the crowd of runners, but it didn’t happen. We reached the first mile, and all of the kids were still looking strong and smiling. We made it to the water stop, and they were more enamored with the person dressed as the water drop than drinking the water. I made them take a quick drink, and we kept running. They were still looking and feeling great, even my Adrianna! The part that really got them excited was running through the tunnels as we made our way back to Edgewater Park. I have to admit the tunnels do make you feel pretty awesome.

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Once we got into the park, the boys were ready to take off. They didn’t understand there was still a substantial bit of race left, but I kept us together as a pack with the caveat that they could sprint when we had the straight-away to the finish. Lexi and Annie were still hanging tough, and Annie, despite not really training much, didn’t seem fatigued. We made the final turn to the finish, and Cole, Cael, and Lexi took off. Annie hung back with me as we sprinted to the finish. I cheered for them as they crossed the line and received their medals. They had done it! All four of my kiddles ran the entire 5K! This was the fourth one for Lexi, the second one for Cole and Cael, and Annie’s first. Super proud mom moment!

Saturday was filled with more pre-race fun as Dan and I headed to the Expo. This year, it was at the Cleveland Convention Center, the new venue definitely classed up the affair. We browsed the booths, spent some money (I mean, who DOESN’T buy stuff at the CLE Expo???), and gave the Brooks gait analysis a try. I’ve been running CLE marathon events for 6 of the last 7 years, and this was my favorite Expo to date. Great job!

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Dan and I were fortunate enough to stay at the Hyatt Regency the night before the race, so after the Expo, we headed to the hotel, drop off our goods, and went in search of dinner. Staying in downtown relieves SO much race-day stress, and it lets you enjoy the day and mentally prepare for the race. It allows you to be a tourist in your hometown. And did I mention you don’t have the headache of parking and making it into the city before roads close on the morning of the race! I highly recommend saving your pennies and getting a room downtown before the race. You’ll be glad you did.

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I woke up Sunday morning, and the first thing that went through my head was, “Holy crap, I am running a half marathon this morning!” I haven’t run the CLE half marathon since 2011, and since that time, my times have gotten faster and my goals loftier. Before, I was content with just finishing the race and not walking. This race was different. I was shooting for a substantial PR (my previous was 1:58:30 set in October 2013). When Dan and I talked about the race, he thought I was going for just under a 9:00/mile pace. My goal was bigger than that; I wanted 8:45/mile or less. With the humidity and heat, I was more than a little worried that my goal was unattainable.

As we made our way to The Q for the start, I saw more and more runners, and the nervousness turned to excitement. All of us were in pursuit of the same thing – a great race. Then I got REALLY excited seeing some of the other race ambassadors! We met for a group picture at 6:30 at the start, and that was a great way to kick it off and gain a little motivation. Unfortunately, not everyone was there in person, but we were all together in spirit!

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Dan and I headed to the corral with ten minutes to the start. We weren’t running together, so I gave him a kiss, wished him luck, and took my place among the other runners. I was ready to do this! The gun went off, and it was go time. Months of training culminated at this moment. I had a little trouble at the start and didn’t realize quite how fast I was going. My watch was telling me I was in the 9:30s, and I knew that wouldn’t work if I wanted a PR. I sped up, and when my watch beeped for the first mile, it said 8:22. Crap, too fast, and my body could tell! I guess the watch was having trouble locking in my speed with running through downtown, so I backed it down a little. My plan was to hang around 8:30-8:35 for as long as I could, knowing I would have to back it down on the Shoreway if I wanted to have any gas in the tank for the finish. I wanted to run hard and be so physically exhausted at the end, so I could say I left everything I had on the course.

Second mile came, and I have to admit I was in a bad place mentally. With the heat and humidity, I was already feeling a bit fatigued, and I thought I was going to have to stop for the bathroom (dreaded PR killer!) Thankfully, I was able to make it through the mile without a bathroom break, and my body kept moving at a steady pace. I knew from the start this run would be hard and tried to not think about the remaining miles. It felt like I had so far to go! Instead, I focused my race one mile at a time.

The next few miles came and went, and I was still holding strong. I made sure to hit up every water stop because I was concerned about dehydration and cramping and also took advantage of the sprinklers and hoses to cool off. While the heat may not have been as intense as the races in 2012 and 2013, the humidity was killer! Once I hit mile 10-11, I was substantially tired mentally and physically and took my last gel. Note to self: buy more Honey Stinger Gold! That stuff is liquid gold! The only thing that stood between the finish and me was the Shoreway. I started the incline, and my legs felt like lead. I tried not to look at my watch for fear of crying. I had held a steady pace between 8:30-8:45 for the whole race and saw my pace drop by more than a minute as I ascended. I felt defeated and was glad Dan didn’t make the trip back to run the last bit with me. Having him see me like that would have made me feel even worse. As bad as it felt, I kept running. I had to. I worked too had to walk now. I worked to had to let some hills stand in the way of my goals.

I was elated when I made it to the top of the last hill and knew it was all downhill time. My pace picked up as I saw the finish and glanced at my watch. I was totally going to PR this race!!! I tried to make my legs go faster, but they were already giving it all they had at this point. I smiled, well at least tried, as I approached the finish line and crossed. And then I jumped and threw my arms up and celebrated a little because I crushed my race – 1:54:45 (8:45 pace). PR Party for me!

With my medal hanging proudly from my neck, I walked through the finisher crowd, grabbed my favorite post-race food item – chocolate milk, and tried to find Dan. Thankfully, he spotted me, and when I saw him, I started crying. Yes, I cry a lot when I run, especially when I run well. And a PR always warrants a good cry.I was even happier when Dan said he set a PR in the 10K – sub-8:00 pace! He has battled injuries since last year’s marathon and was unable to even get back to running until late fall/early winter. Cleveland Marathon races didn’t even seem like a possibility, but he made some crazy training commitments (i.e. waking up at 3:00AM to go to the gym before working an 11-hour day) to bounce back. I was so proud of him.

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After enjoying the post-race festivities including the Great Lakes Brewing Company beer at the finish (GREAT local addition to the race) and the VIP breakfast, we packed up to head home but not before continuing the PR celebration at Fat Head’s Brewery in North Olmsted. There, we ran into Brian, one of the inspirational Parma Height’s firefighters who ran the marathon in their gear to raise money for ALS research. I was a bit awestruck because running a marathon is no joke. Running it in full gear for charity takes it to another level. As a thank you, Dan and I covered dinner for his family, and he repaid us by buying a round. Thanks, Brian! The other firefighters and you are amazing!

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just hanging out with Jack, pres. of the CLE marathon and all-around awesome guy

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post-race and PR festivities

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picture with a real life hero – Brian, one of the firefighters

The weekend couldn’t have gone any better. With our race PRs, the great run with the kids, hanging with my fellow race ambassadors, the generosity of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and meeting Brian, my heart was full. This was my third year as a race ambassador/blogger, and this group, by far, was the best. The support and encouragement helped push me through when I felt I was failing, and you were all there to help me celebrate my successes. I gained so much more than I expected when I signed on again to help promote the race. We are not just race ambassadors; we are friends. Fast, slow, middle of the pack, we all bonded over this experience, and I can’t wait to see you again. I love that we are already planning ambassador reunions and races. Thank you, Jamie, Andrew, Melissa B., Melissa C., Jessica, Pam, Debi, Emily, Christine, Jill, Joe, and Stephani for EVERYTHING! You are all rock stars in my book!

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon staff – the race and you have a special place in my heart. We have been on this journey together for the past three years, and I appreciate that you continue to allow me to promote my hometown race and share my running story. Being an ambassador helped add a sense of purpose to my running, and I am thankful for the people I have inspired and the ones who have inspired me. Thank you so very much! I can’t wait for next year…hint, hint :-)

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pier w copper river salmon run giveaway winner!

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I know I’m a day late, but I wanted to announce the winner of the Pier W Copper River Salmon Run race entry. Thanks to those who entered, and the winner is…AMANDA! Congrats and email me at stephplus4blog@gmail.com for more info. This is going to be a great race!

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find your motivation

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It’s takes more than a little luck to power you through 13.1 or 26.2 miles! As we near the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon races on Sunday, I’m making a mental checklist of items that motivate me, things I can recall when my legs are tired, lungs can’t breathe, and I just want to see the finish line. I feel as though I’m well-trained but go forward with trepidation, so I know I will need a little extra to get me through. Here’s the list of motivators for my CLE half marathon.

  1. My kids: they are the reason I run – to set a good example and be a healthy mom AND because as much as I love them, they drive me bat-shit crazy! With each major race, I have each of them select a mile for me to run in their honor. Sunday will be no different.
  2. My boyfriend/running partner – this has been an interesting training season without Dan running beside me. Between work commitments and battling injuries, we haven’t been able to train together. I want to run well on Sunday because it would make him proud.
  3. My family: they continue to put up with my running craziness and support me along the way. Each individual family (Mom & Dad; Stevie & Tracy; Sarah, Rhett, Sophia, and Beckett; and Susannah, Billy, Savannah, and Mackenzie) has their own mile.
  4. Myself: Damn right I’m using myself as a motivator! I’m proud to say I have been a runner for a little over 6 years and have come so far since my first run. I didn’t even make it a mile without stopping, and now I have a number of marathons and half marathons under my belt. I’ve slimmed down, disciplined myself, and pushed my body to the limits. Races are a chance to celebrate that.

And because I love motivational quotes and pictures, here are a few that I hope motivate and inspire you!