Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: A Year in Pictures

Y'all. 2018 is literally next week.  What?!?!

In lieu of a long post about 2017's triumphs and tribulations, I bring you my favorite photos/memories from each month in the past year- I can't wait to see what 2018 holds!


So many awesome and cool things happened in January 2017, but the absolute coolest thing was spectating the Inaugural Pop Art Half Marathon when the WDW Half was cancelled. Pure Disney magic.


After running in the sunny weather of Florida and the Bahamas for the Castaway Cay Challenge, coming home to very chilly and snowy runs in PA in February was rough. But luckily, this month was short and sweet and cold.

Meeting Princess Tiana at Tiana's Place on the Disney Wonder? Easily the highlight of March. See the full review of the trip here.


New race distances mean automatic PRs.  Matthew and I ran the Rails to Trails 15k and we both got shiny, new, personal best times. :-)


For our first wedding anniversary, Matthew and I snuck away to Walt Disney World for a quick weekend trip. And we met Baymax- definitely a highlight of the trip.


June brought plenty of firsts for me- first mud run in several years, first time admitted to a hospital for an illness (pneumonia), and the first time I ever went parasailing. Two of those were pretty cool.


Much of July was spent recovering from pneumonia, one week of it in Cape May, NJ with my love. Cape May is one of our most favorite places and we are always thankful when we can escape to the beach.


Still recovering, August was a month of lots of rest and a few bike rides. It's also an insanely busy time of the year for both Matthew and me at work so this is typically a month we don't do much other than work, sleep, and eat.

Finishing the Harrisburg Half on very little training was a favorite memory from September. You can read the full race recap here.


The entire Runner's World Half & Festival Weekend was such a blast! HUGE shout out to the folks at Altra and Runner's World for inviting me to be part of the RW Run Crew. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience!


Crewing and cheering for Coach Jeff at the JFK 50 miler with our running ohana was one of those life-affirming events that made me love the running community even more than I already do.


Most of my favorite memories revolve around this guy. ♥ Christmas-ing with my husband will always be the highlight of my December year.

With 2017 almost behind us, what's your favorite memory from this past year?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend- Last Minute Tips

If you're headed down to Walt Disney World for the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend, you've got just seven days until your magical journey of 3.1, 6.2, 13.1, 26.2, 39.3, or 48.6 miles begins!

This will be my 6th trip to WDW Marathon Weekend and I consider myself to be an experienced runDisney runner and spectator. I've gathered up some last minute tips here in this post to help you prepare for the upcoming race weekend. Enjoy!

What to Pack
There are a ton of packing lists out there in the interwebs that I think are fantastic (see my favorite list here and one I came up with a few years ago here). However, there are a few things I always make sure to pack that aren't necessarily on other lists:
  • Static Guard Spray. Nobody likes a tech shirt sticking to your body in all the wrong places. πŸ˜‚
  • Sleep Mask & Ear Buds. This helps drown out noise or lights from other resort guests on those nights when we're in bed by 7 pm for a 2 am wake-up call.
  • Safety Pins & Bobby Pins. There's really nothing a safety pin or a bobby pin can't fix- running costumes, hair emergencies, etc.
  • Portable Charger. This is a must when spending hours racing and then hours in the parks.

Track Your Runner/Yourself
Sign up for runner tracker here. You can track yourself, your friends, your runner, or sign other folks up to track you, etc. My mom and dad LOVE getting texts at 6:30 am race morning letting them know I crossed the start line. πŸ˜‰ I like to track my friends to I know when they finish and get a better gauge of when we can meet up after the race for beers.

Runner Tracker is extremely helpful if you are spectating for someone during the races- for the half and full marathon, there are several times you will get a text message letting you know where your runner is. These alerts help you stay on pace with your runner if you are planning on seeing them multiple times on the race course.

Check out my Spectator's Guide to Running for more tips.

Spectating Matthew and my Dad at the WDW Marathon in 2015.

Get Your Head in the Game
No matter the race distance, getting in the right headspace before a race is crucial to your experience and performance. The folks at Cigna created this really cool infographic for a mile-by-mile breakdown of the full marathon distance:

In the next few days before your race(s), try some meditation or some visualizing exercises to calm your nerves. Imagine each mile of the race and how you'll feel as you pass each one. Trust your training. Read race recaps so you'll know what to expect (find all my runDisney reviews here). Take some time for yourself, relax, and mentally prepare your game plan for your race(s).

Make Plans to Celebrate
One of the best parts of running at Disney is celebrating the race afterwards in the happiest place on earth! Whether you want to celebrate in the parks, at Disney Springs, or at your favorite restaurant with friends, be sure to make a plan and get the details in place before race weekend (who's coming? what time? how are you getting there?). The last thing you want to worry about after literally running your butt off is making dinner reservations.

Last year at Disney Springs after a celebratory dinner and
pint of Guinness at Raglan Road with Matthew's cousin.

Enjoy Your Miles
Most importantly, this next week, focus on how much you're going to enjoy running through Walt Disney World with 30,000 of your closest friends. The WDW Marathon Weekend is a truly unique and inspiring experience. Try not to worry too much about the races, the weather, or your finishing time. Focus on soaking up as much of the magic of race weekend as you can- it'll pass so quickly and become just a memory before you know it. Revel in the wonder and magic of Disney for as long as you can. ✨

I am sure there are things I'm forgetting- leave your race weekend tips- and which race you're running at WDW Marathon Weekend in the comments section below!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Accountability Monday: 12/26/2017

Good morning! And Merry (belated) Christmas to all who celebrate!

We just wrapped up the holidays with one family and are currently en route to our second of three Christmas celebrations- we put a lot of miles on our cars (and our feet!) this time of year.

With eight days left until the start of Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, my training for the unofficial Goofy Challenge and unofficial Castaway Cay is officially over! 😁

I finished my last long run, 20 miles, on Christmas Eve, so now I'm a legitimate resident of Taper Town. And it feels so damn good!

Tuesday: 3.1 miles, 10:56 pace
Thursday: 3.1 miles on the treadmill, 12:06 pace
Saturday: 4 miles walked, 15:00 pace. 3.53 miles ran, 11:20 pace
Sunday: 20 miles, 13:41 pace

33.73 total miles

This week felt good. Strong. Fast. Look at those overall paces! This week felt super speedy for me, especially with the total mileage being as high as it was. The only downside to this week's training is the lack of strength workouts. Going into this short taper period (only 13 days until the start of the WDW Half), I'm going to focus on making sure to get in at least four quality strength workouts between now and the race start(s).

Best Run
I had been equally dreading and looking forward to Sunday's 20 miler. Dreading it because my last few long runs have been mentally tough and physically painful. Looking forward to it because I knew it was the last hurdle for this training cycle before heading into a relaxing two weeks of holidays and time with family.

But once I started running, I stopped dreading it. I relaxed. I settled into the run. The miles ticked by and before I knew it, my watch said 18 miles and I'd be done in less than 25 minutes.

And I felt GREAT! Sincerely, honestly, great. My legs were a bit sore and my feet were a little beat up but I could have definitely run 6.2 more miles and finished the marathon distance.

I don't know what changed or what was different, but it was such a solid long run and I feel 100% more confident going into WDW Marathon Weekend than I did just a few weeks ago.

All smiles after 20 miles.
And yes, I wore the Santa hat during the entire run :-)

Bravo Moment
See above. I ran 20 freaking miles. On Christmas Eve. 😁

Quote of the Week
Accurate. Especially when it comes to running.

And because this is the "Christmas edition" of Accountability Monday Tuesday, here's a holiday card from our family to yours! May you find joy, love, and peace this holiday season and in 2018!

PS- Need a little running motivation this week? Check out this weekend's guest post about using running to overcome life's obstacles.

Have a great week, friends!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cigna Inspires: Combating Drug Addiction and Homelessness Through Running

Hi friends! I've got something really special for you today- a guest post, courtesy of Cigna!

Cigna has invited me to share some inspirational stories of all kinds of runners with one thing in common- they're all running next month at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Today, I'm excited to share Tony Randolph's incredible running journey: facing drug addiction, homelessness, and suicidal thoughts, running helped Tony get- and stay- back on his feet.


“I was at the end of my rope- using drugs at my Mom’s house, on the verge of homelessness, feeling suicidal, just tired of myself. My nephew told me about the Helping Up Mission, so I decided to check it out. It’s a spiritually-based program that helps with recovery for people who are broken. I was working in the kitchen, and some co-workers came in looking happy and joyous, and I decided I want some of that!”

For lifelong Baltimore resident Tony Randolph, that joy came from joining his co-workers in Back on my Feet (BoMF), an organization that combats homelessness through the power of running. Their running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength, and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes, and new lives. After a 30 day commitment to running 3 times per week at 5:30 am, showing up on time and putting in the miles, teammates progress to Next Steps, a program that looks beyond running to set goals for the next steps in their lives: re-entering the workforce, job training, education, securing housing and health resources.

Tony appreciates that with BOMF, “nobody ever walks or runs alone, everyone starts and stops with you. From the first day, staff showed me they cared even though they don’t know me. That first run is called ‘Miracle Mile’- if you haven’t run in awhile, it’s a miracle to get through it! Running regularly at 5:30am gets you into mindset of getting up and going to work, and repetition is good.” 

Having Cigna come to the mission where he was living to do blood pressure checks and other tests for residents made Tony “commit to my health and pay more attention to my heart, my head and my feet- they’re all connected.”

Tony continues to run 3 times each week with his BoMF team, moved from the mission to full-time housing, and now operates his own landscaping business. BoMF helped him get his driver’s license and even paid half the cost of his first riding mower to get his business off the ground. 

As a result of Tony’s hard work and commitment to his health, The Cigna Foundation, a partner of Back on My Feet, is bringing Tony on an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney World in January. As a symbol and extension of his health journey, he will participant in the Walt Disney World® 5K on Thursday, January 4.

“Enhancing the well-being of people and the places where they live directly connects to Cigna's mission," said Mary Engvall, Executive Director of the Cigna Foundation. “We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their best health, but sometimes those opportunities are limited by factors outside a person’s control. The Cigna Foundation’s philanthropic giving focuses on creating health equity to help people achieve their best possible personal health and enjoy living their best lives.” 

Now Tony says, “Life is great! Back on My Feet showed me I can do anything, and they gave me the confidence to do it. I moved back in with my Mom, and where I used to do drugs now I run my landscaping business. I call it getting a raise- I’m not wasting my money on drugs! The confidence BoMF has given me makes me a much better man and father, and I’ve gone from being someone you didn’t want around, to now being the Fred Sanford of the family- whatever you need, call Tony and he’ll help you out. I’ve run several races with my youngest son, and I’ve completed 8 courses including the Baltimore half and some shorter races. Without the help of Cigna and BoMF, I don’t know where I’d be.”

BoMF Program Director Marybeth Moran said, “Tony truly is Back on My Feet for Life. We couldn’t do the important work we do for teammates like Tony without a good partner like the Cigna Foundation, whose mission to promote health, well-being and sense of security so closely mirrors our own.”


How inspirational is Tony, right?!

I'll be sharing a few more stories here in advance of WDW Marathon Weekend- if you're in need of some running motivation, just come on back next week! πŸ˜‰

Monday, December 18, 2017

Accountability Monday: 12/18/17

Good morning!

It's been a busy week in the McShupp household as we prepare for a few weeks of holiday celebrations and lots and lots of travel!

With our Disney trip just around the corner (less than three weeks until we are in the house of the mouse!), we are finishing up all our last-minute to-do's, including our last long run that we'll complete this Sunday.

Tuesday: Treadmill 5k, 37:51
Thursday: 5k outside in 19ΒΊF weather, 37:57
Sunday: 6.27 miles, 1:18:35

12.47 total miles

Missed all my strength workouts this week and each run was a bit of a struggle. Ugh. Sometimes this happens during training- I'm just going to ride it out and keep my fingers crossed that our last long runs of this training cycle this weekend go smoothly. We are going to try for 10 on Saturday and 18-20 on Sunday.

It was a bit weird seeing all my friends that are also Dopey or Goofy training completing their last long run this past weekend while we scheduled ours for this upcoming weekend. Even though I wrote this training plan based on our schedules, our running ability, and our plans for the races, it still gave me a bit of panic to see other folks out doing their long runs while we weren't.

Hopefully, all goes well this weekend and we can enjoy about two weeks of Taper Town before the WDW Marathon Weekend begins!

Best Run
Even though my headphones died at mile .75 and my watch died at mile 5.37, Sunday's long run was the run that I felt the least crappy. That qualifies as "best," right??

Proof that my feet do leave the ground when I run. 😏

Bravo Moment
This weekend, I made brownies with black beans. Black. Freaking. Beans. In brownies.

I have no picture because they are not pretty. But they tasted kinda ok and were zero Smart Points, so there's that.

Runner Gift Wishlist Items of the Week
First this week, I've got a gift for you that isn't even necessarily for runners, the Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats. If you know someone who spends a lot of time outside in the winter, walking over snow or ice, this would be the perfect gift for them! You already know I'm a big fan of Yaktrax- get some of these for a great discount (50% off until 12/23!) and find out for yourself how awesome they are.

Please note that by purchasing through the link above, not only will you get a sweet discount but I may also earn a small commission through the Amazon Associates Program: Sparkly Runner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to[If you aren't comfortable with that, you can always head over to amazon and search for "yaktrax run" instead. 😊]

The second gift this week is one of my all-time favorite products, especially because I tend to end up injured no matter how hard I try not to be- KT Tape! This stuff is amazing and affordable- I just bought a roll yesterday at Wal-Mart for $9.97. 

KT Tape has helped me tremendously with my knee and my feet- for me, nothing works better on my tendinitis than this stuff. If you know a runner in your life that struggles with any type of common running injury, gift them a roll of KT Tape- they'll love it- and you!

Minnie Mouse inspired KT Tape keeping my knee together
 at the 2016 Princess Half Marathon.

Don't forget! There's still time to get a discount for last week's featured gift- StrideBox!

Use the code SPARKLYRUNNER10 for 10% off 3 or 6 month gift subscriptions. 

Use the code SPARKLYRUNNER5 for $5 off your first purchase. 

And congratulations to Maureen @PerpetuallyInjuredRunner, who won last week's contest! With an IG handle like that, she's a girl after my own heart. ❤ Happy running, Maureen!

Quote of the Week
With projected 18ΒΊF weather for our long run this weekend, I'll be repeating this all day. 

And because we're so close to Christmas (and because I'm a sucker for pug puppies), here's your Monday dose of cuteness!

Santa, I wouldn't mind one of these under the tree this year. ❤😏

Have a great week!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Accountability Monday: 12/11/2017 + StrideBox Giveaway!

Good morning, friends!

It's quite chilly here in the mid-Atlantic this week so grab a cup of coffee- or hot chocolate if that's more your style- settle in, and check out all that happened this past week, plus, the awesome folks at StrideBox are giving away a cool prize to one of my readers- how cool is that?!

Tuesday: 3.1 treadmill run, 37:59 overall time
Wednesday: strength training (10 reps x 2)- push-ups, squats, clam shells, glute bridges, side-steps with resistance band, crunches, superman
Saturday: 5 miles, 11:58 overall pace
Sunday: 13.1 miles, 12:46 overall pace + strength training (10 reps x 2)- clam shells, glute bridges, crunches, superman, side steps with resistance band, hip extenders with resistance band

21.2 total miles

Positives of this week- completed two strength sessions and got in the mileage I wanted (20+ miles). Room for improvement from this week- fueling. My long run on Sunday was miserable from mile 4.5 on. I was hungry, cold, and tired. I thought I'd eaten enough before I started running but I clearly did not as the later miles were ugly. This will be something I work in the next few weeks before WDW Marathon Weekend.

It might look pretty, but it was an ugly training run.

Best Run
Saturday's 5 miler felt great, even though the temperature was in the 30's! Being able to maintain a sub-12 minute mile pace for anything over 3 miles is a reason to celebrate in my book. 😍

Bravo Moment
Ever since I attended Altra's Run Better Clinic as part of the Runner's World Half & Festival Weekend, I have been working on incorporating all the techniques I learned to improve my running form. Seeing some pictures from this weekend's run gave me some photographic evidence that my form is indeed getting better! I can definitely feel a difference when I'm running and using the techniques so it's cool to actually see a difference. I still have some room to grow but overall, I'm very happy with my progress.

Heel strike? What heel strike?!

Runner Gift Wishlist Items of the Week
Yaktrax has another great offer for you this week, this time on the Yaktrax Run (35% off until 12/16/17)- these feature actual cleats that attach to the bottom of your running shoes that assist with traction in ice and snow. I used these a ton last winter when we had significant amounts of snow and was able to get all my miles in without sacrificing any safety concerns.

Please note that by purchasing through the link above, not only will you get a sweet discount but I may also earn a small commission through the Amazon Associates Program: Sparkly Runner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [If you aren't comfortable with that, you can always head over to amazon and search for "yaktrax run" instead. 😊]

Looking to purchase a gift for the runner in your life that keeps giving all year long?

No, no, it's not the Jelly of the Month Club- it's a membership to StrideBox!  StrideBox is a "monthly subscription box to fuel your running adventures." Each box is filled with runner nutrition and accessories, curated for a wide variety of runners. The best part? Each month is a fun surprise! I love getting my box each month and discovering what's inside- it's usually super cool. 

Especially for blog readers, StrideBox has some awesome discount codes for you to use this holiday season!

Use the code SPARKLYRUNNER10 for 10% off 3 or 6 month gift subscriptions. 

Use the code SPARKLYRUNNER5 for $5 off your first purchase. 

Both discount codes are valid until 12/24/2017. 

And because StrideBox is especially awesome, they've partnered with me to give away a prize to a lucky blog reader! 

Wanna win this? Read on below.

To enter:
1. Follow @StrideBox and @SparklyRunner on instagram.
2. Leave a comment on this instagram post with what running product keeps you running.
3. Winner will be drawn randomly.
- This giveaway will run from 12/11/17 to 11:59 pm EST on 12/17/17. 
- Winner will be direct messaged on instagram on 12/17/17.
- Winner must live in continental US. 
Winner will be announced here on next week's Accountability Monday post. Good luck! 

Quote of the Week
Here's hoping the crappy training runs set up an awesome unofficial Goofy Challenge in a few weeks! 

Have a great week!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Accountability Monday: 12/4/2017

🎢 It's [officially] the most wonderful time of the year! 🎢

I love the month of December because it's socially acceptable to wear Christmas leggings, drink peppermint mocha everything, and listen to holiday music round the clock. Welcome to my favorite season of all!

December is a month of reflection for me- what worked this year, what didn't, and what goals I want to set moving forward into a new year.

It's also a month of colder weather which means good things for my running game. We've got one more long run on the schedule, several 8-10 mile distances, and then two weeks of taper before the unofficial Goofy Challenge and Castaway Cay Challenge starts up in just about a month. Wow!

Wednesday: 3.1 mile run outside with 12:28 overall pace per mile
Thursday: Knee PT workout
Saturday: Volunteered at local race (I'm counting this as training πŸ˜ƒ)
Sunday: 6.2 mile run with 12:06 overall pace per mile

This week was tough for training because of work and other social engagements getting in the way of my usual routine. If I've learned anything in the last seven years of running and training for races, it's that strength training is a must. I'm looking forward to getting more strength sessions in this week.

Best Run
I had the most fun on my 10k this weekend on our beautiful, local trail. These six miles definitely felt longer due to some major headwinds from mile 3 on, but I feel like it's getting easier to maintain my "easy" pace in the 12-12:30 range.

Fancy pants make any run better.

Bravo Moment

If you're keeping track, I'm down 5.6 pounds from early September! I finally feel like I am moving forward instead of slipping backwards with my weight loss/maintenance journey.

Check out this downward trend.

I attribute much of my recent success to the new WW Freestyle program which was just unveiled yesterday. As a WW Leader, I've been living the new program since September and I absolutely LOVE it. I'll write more about that in a separate post this week.

Runner Gift Wishlist Items of the Week
Because it's that time of year, each week on Accountability Monday in December I'll be highlighting an item or two that the runner in your life (including you!) might be wishing for this holiday season.

First up this week, one of my favorite products for winter running, Yaktrax Pro!  I've been selected as a Cold Conqueror again for 2018 and they're offering a sweet deal (15% off) on these until 12/10/17!

Please note that by purchasing through the link above, not only will you get a sweet discount but I may also earn a small commission through the Amazon Associates Program: Sparkly Runner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [If you aren't comfortable with that, you can always head over to amazon and search for "yaktrax pro" instead. 😊]

The second item on this week's list is this awesome Neck Gaiter from Hoo-rag. I have several of these and use them anytime I'll be outside for a significant amount of time- hellooooo winter long runs! Hoo-rag's also got a sale going on and all their performance gear is 35% off!


Quote of the Week
A few years ago, work sent me to a Tony Robbins seminar. Some of it was good, a lot of it was weird, but most of it was positive. This week's quote is a good reminder about the consistency of change:

Have a great week, friends! Happy December!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gratitude in 2017

For the first time in four years, I missed posting an annual blog for Thanksgiving. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, I put together a list of all the things/people I was grateful for and posted it here on the internet for anyone and everyone to see.

But I missed it this year. Not because I don't have anything to be thankful for, but because I wanted to dedicate a post specifically to folks that I've never thanked in writing before- strangers! Not all strangers, of course, but the kind of strangers you meet through running races.

Kids standing on the sidelines of a race with their expectant hands out, waiting for sweaty high-fives.

Volunteers shouting "water" or "Gatorade" at an aid station until their voices are hoarse.

A coffee-drinking couple sitting on their front porch, sleepily clapping as the runners pass them.

Enthusiastic cow-bell ringers, shouting encouraging words, motivating runners to keep moving forward.

Clever sign makers whose messages always elicit a moment of laughter during a tough section of a race course.

Medical personnel quick to jump in and help in both life-saving and blister-saving situations.

Police and security keeping all runners, spectators, and volunteers safe.

Some of my favorite strangers :-)

As a runner, sometimes I tend to think that races are all about me. My race, my pace, my experience. But that experience wouldn't be anything without all the strangers that come together to make it happen.

I've always been grateful for strangers in the running community but during an experience I had a few weeks ago, I had such a deepened level of respect for all the people who make a race what it is.

My friend Jeff, whom I affectionately call "coach," turned 50 this year and one of his goals was to run a 50 mile race for his 50th year on earth. He chose to run the JFK 50 miler, a race that winds through highly technical trail, tow path, and road in an extremely challenging 50 mile course. He set this goal a year in advance and some of our friend group reserved the date on our calendars with plans to help pace him during the race.

Coach and me after the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

Then the race changed its policies and folks were no longer able to run/pace with the race entrants. After exchanging emails with our group, some of us decided that we would come down and crew (meet Jeff at certain parts of the race and basically be his pit crew) and cheer for him- unbeknownst to Jeff.

Through the expert coordination of our friends Lauren and Chelsea, myself and another friend, Steff, successfully surprised Jeff at mile 15.5 of the course and then were able to see him at two other points of the race.

Selfies or it didn't happen.

While you're waiting for someone to run 50 miles, you have a lot of downtime. In addition to exploring the surrounding areas (and finding super cute coffee shops and restaurants), we would get to each checkpoint a little early and cheer for other runners and then after we'd seen and helped Jeff, we'd stick around and keep cheering for folks.

Cheering is serious business that requires a serious wardrobe.

At about the halfway mark, there was an aid station set up and staffed by my local running group, the Chambersburg Road Runners Club. These volunteers were out in the cold rain (it was the WORST weather in the morning), preparing food and serving runners. It was so awe-inspiring to see these people, who didn't have any runners in the race, showing up and working their station to help runners. They were making soup, cutting up fruit, and refilling water bottles. For complete strangers.

Jeff, slurping down some Ramen from the CRRC volunteers.

But these volunteers weren't the only ones standing around in the rain cheering for runners. We kept seeing the same folks at each aid station/checkpoint, each waiting for their runner like we were waiting for Jeff. And each continuing to cheer for other runners once their runner came through.

Towards the end of the race, we headed to the finish line about an hour before we expected Jeff to come through. We were all so inspired by the runners and we wanted to cheer for as many folks as we could.

We got out our clappers and cow bells and screamed until our voices were gone. We danced, chatted back and forth with the DJs, and cheered our hearts out.

Cheer Crew Extraordinaire.

When Jeff came through the finisher chute, I cried as I cheered. I can't articulate the emotions I was feeling- it was one of my most favorite experiences in the running community. He just finished running 50 freaking miles! In one day! I am still so impressed with his tenacity, strength, and grit. Way to go, Coach!

Once we made sure Jeff was ok, Lauren took him inside to so he could get a shower and get changed and Chelsea, Steff, and I made our way back to the finish line to cheer for the very last finishers.

Blurry, happy, finish line selfies are the best kind. CONGRATULATIONS, JEFF!! 

Every time I've run a race, there's been someone- a stranger- that has helped me significantly by doing something small. Every "Looking good, runner!," "You got this!," "Stay strong!" shouted from the sideline has helped me find the strength to keep going when I felt like quitting.

I hope our cowbell-ringing, clapper-clapping, shouting and cheering group of ladies were able to be somebody's stranger at the JFK 50 miler. Cheering is the very least I can do to give back to the community that's given me so much.

So, thank you, to every stranger I have encountered out on the race course. You are appreciated more than you'll ever know.

Have you ever encountered a stranger on a race course that made your day? Tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Accountability Monday: 11/27/2017

Good morning, friends!

I hope you are reading this feeling refreshed and ready to start another week- and month! Can you believe it'll be December by Friday?

It's my absolute favorite time of the year for so many reasons: time with family and friends, time away from work, gifts, colder weather, Christmas lights, peppermint mocha everything- I could keep listing things but that's another post entirely! Basically, I adore the month of December and am looking forward to another fun-filled holiday season.

Tuesday- Treadmill 5k, 38:23, 12:23 overall pace
Thursday- 7.06 miles, 1:30:36, 12:50 overall pace
Friday- 16.01 miles, 3:32:01, 13:15 overall pace. Last four mile splits: 13:03/11:52/11:31/11:42
Sunday- 30 minutes on the stationary bike, light strength workout, foam-rolling, light yoga/stretching

26.17 total miles

Y'all, that 16 miler on Friday was no joke. Matthew and I ran the first 12 together and it felt like a struggle- I was over dressed, dehydrated, hungry, and just grumpy. I ran the last four by myself (after grabbing some Belvita breakfast biscuits and a bottle of water- which was incredibly helpful) and was shocked to see the paces I was able to keep. 11:31?! After running 13 miles?! Who am I?!

Best Run
Though the first part absolutely sucked, the 16 miles on Friday was my best run of the week. Each run teaches you something- this one reinforced for me the importance of staying hydrated and fueled properly. I'm grateful for the crappy runs; they help me appreciate the great ones. 

Bravo Moment
I hit every single workout I wanted to this week and I feel great! I have very little muscle soreness overall- even though foam-rolling yesterday was rough- and I feel like I'm getting stronger, mentally and physically, during this training cycle. 

Quote of the Week
In a season full of happy distractions, it can be hard to stay focused on what you really want. What I really want is to get to the start lines of the WDW Half Marathon and WDW Marathon healthy, happy, confident, and strong. So I have to keep myself on track, laser-focused, and taking steps each day towards my goal. 

Stay the course, friends.

What keeps you focused on your goals?

Have a fabulous week, folks!