Marathon Motivation

I might be too happy to run a marathon.  Yes, I think that might be the issue.

I’m registered to run my second marathon in October, the Twin Cities Medtronic.  I ran the Chicago marathon back in 2015 and frankly, training went a lot better that time.

My dad checking on me at mile 13 of the Chicago Marathon

I was also in a very different place in my life three years ago.  My husband and I had been separated for a few months, I was living by myself for the first time in my life, and I was doing a lot of work on who I was and who I wanted to be.

I named him Rexacoricofallapatorius.  I get loopy when I run.

Getting up to run at 5:30am every morning seemed to come naturally at the time.  Running was wonderful therapy, gave me time to think, time to escape.  I got to explore Minneapolis in a new way as I ran all over town.  I named a metal dinosaur in a yard along my route.  I was pretty fond of the big fella.  Running was something that was purely and wholly mine.  It was healthy, it made me feel better, and it reminded me I could do more than I believed was possible.  Running helped me to heal so that when my husband and I reunited, I could be a support to him through his healing.

This time around, I am incandescently happy most of the time.  Overwhelmingly content.  I love my work and what I do.  I love the volunteer work I do.  I have great friends that I love to spend time with, and my relationship with my husband is better than I ever could have imagined.  So what the heck do I need to run for?  Yeah yeah, it’s good for me, cardio, fitness, blah blah.  A marathon seems like a bit much.  What is actually keeping me going this time around is who I’m running for.

A CAP Client and her son coming home for the first time

I’m running as a charity athlete for the CAP Agency, the organization that I work for.  I’m running to raise money so that CAP can continue to help people in poverty find their way out.  My life is pretty darn good.  Other people face obstacles every day that I cannot possibly comprehend.  What I can do is run.  I’m working to raise just $1000.  It isn’t really that much.  But $1000 is enough to house a previously homeless family for a month.  It is enough to feed a family, to provide emergency childcare to mothers escaping domestic violence, to provide meal for six home bound seniors for a year.  The good that can come from this marathon will impact the lives of people in need right here at home.


I think that’s more than enough to make me get off the couch.

To donate to my fundraiser, go to  No matter the amount, your donation makes a difference.  Thank you.

7 Things that make me happy (That I think other people should do because maybe then they would be happy too)

I, on occasion, have been known to think that I know what is best for everyone.  What follows is a list of things that I have recommended or wanted to recommend that people do in order to be happy.  I am a generally happy person and tend to want to spread that around, whether others like it or not.


So I am aware of the thousands upon thousands of blogs and websites and magazines and books and podcasts dedicated to the joys of running.  And yet, people still don’t believe me when I say that running fixes everything.  I guess maybe they don’t read/listen to those thousands of running dedicated media.  It’s true though.  I took up running about 6 or 7 years ago, starting out very slow with low mileage.  Since then, I have run two half marathons and one full.  And there has never ever been a time when I regretted a run.  There have been runs that weren’t what I expected or hoped they would be, but I have always felt better afterwards.  My friends and family have seen the (sometimes dramatic) improvement in my mood after a run.  And still, there are those who are all like, “Nah, I think sitting on the couch watching TV will be better for my mental health.”  They are wrong.  Dancing also falls into this category.  Dancing and running have never failed to make my life better.

I am also aware that running is not a possibility for all due to physical constraints. To those of you who are not able to run (not wanting to is not the same thing), I am a firm believer that going outside and moving, or sitting by an open window, is a decent alternative.


Books are amazing.  Not all books.  Some books really had no business being written.  Some books have turned out to be a waste of my time.  But books, in general, are fantastic.  Reading is calming, a safe and healthy means of escape, and can actually make you smarter.  I’ve been an avid reader my whole life.  I highly recommend it.  I have also become an avid listener of audiobooks lately.  Thanks, hour long commute.  The best thing I have found to feed my reading habit has been Overdrive.  This amazing app lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the library and download it right to your phone!  It has saved me piles of money and allowed me to make better use of my commute.  Most recently, it nearly caused me to drive off the road from laughing so hard at “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson.

Spending time with kids

Kids are hilarious.  I don’t have my own, which may be why I think so.  But working with or volunteering with or even just hanging out with kids tends to make you check your problems at the door.  Kids do not care that your check engine light is back on for the third time this month, or that your work deadlines are insane, or that your mother in law is driving you bonkers.  (That last one I made up.  Love you Kathy and Debbie!  Yes, I have two mothers-in-law.  It’s a stepmom situation, not a married to each other scenario.)  Kids demand and require all of your attention in the time that you are with them.  Their joys and concerns are the biggest thing in the world to them, and need to be the biggest thing in the world to you too at that moment.  I have taught pre-school and had to say things like “Stop punching the duck,” “We do not make our friends into horses,” and “Nope, that is definitely not food.”  Little ones are a fun escape if you don’t have any of your own.  I can’t speak to what it’s like to have kids of your own.  I’m now a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run and work with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  I don’t have to say quite as many ridiculous things, but their joy and learning is still a bright spot in my life.  Spending time with them makes my day better.

Spending time with dogs

Similar to kids, dogs are hilarious.  And I still get to say “Nope, that is definitely not food” pretty frequently.  Plus, snuggles.  So many snuggles.  And they depend on you, so it kind of forces you to get yourself together.  I’m just going to leave this picture of a dog here to prove my point on why they are fantastic.  Feel free to hear the “Jaws” theme song in your head.


Making things is amazing!  You start with stuff that isn’t anything, and you turn it into something!  Gives one a feeling of accomplishment.  And if it’s total crap you can start over or throw it out.  No pressure, just something to do that has no connection to whatever else might be stressing you out.  Arm knitting and cross stitching have been my latest endeavors.


If you have the means, travel the world.  If you don’t, this site has some interesting ideas on how to travel for cheap. (Disclaimer- I am not on board with their hitchhiking recommendation.)  Travelling is incredible.  Seeing things you’d never have seen otherwise, experiencing other cultures, meeting new people – there really isn’t anything else like it.  I believe some of this experience can be found in your hometown.  I love Facebook’s Events feature.  It is so easy to find things going on near you any day of the week.  A lot of it is free, too.  Art, music, dancing, sporting events, comedians, activism, charitable events, it’s all there.  And if you live in the Twin Cities and can’t afford a study abroad program for you or your child, check out City Stay.  This unique non-profit brings study abroad to the local community level by arranging stays in the homes of families from other cultures.


I’m putting these two together because they are similar in my mind.  For the love of God, if you are having trouble, talk to someone!  Here is a list of 81(!) mental health resources that are low or no cost.  Finding a professional to talk to is the best thing you can do if you are struggling.  But it’s important to have an everyday outlet too.  If you have a close friend you can talk to, that’s awesome.  That can be such a help.  I find that writing helps me.  I try to journal most nights before bed.  This gets all my thoughts out and allows my brain to slow down enough to go to sleep.  This does not solve all my issues or get all my crazy out, but it helps me to be calm enough to see the good around me.

I will continue to recommend these and other happiness inducing activities to my friends and family to the point of annoyance.  I’d love to hear what others do to keep calm and find joy in the midst of life’s craziness.  Leave a comment or contact me!

The Inner Beauty of Girls

Last Monday, a group of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls were learning about inner beauty.  While running laps.

These girls are part of a team for Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run is a non profit organization founded in 1996.  The organization’s mission is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”  Over the course of ten weeks, girls and their volunteer coaches meet twice a week to run, play games, and prepare for life.  The proven curriculum covers topics like peer pressure, making and maintaining healthy friendships, expressing emotions, dealing with bullies, staying healthy, and making a difference.  At the end of the ten weeks, the girls, with an adult running buddy (a parent, teacher, neighbor, etc) participate in a 5k just for them.  Last Spring’s Girls on the Run Twin Cities 5k had over 3,000 runners.

One of the girls, a very squirrely one, had sprained her ankle at soccer over the weekend and was not able to run laps.  This was a bit worrisome to her coaches, as running laps was usually 100% necessary for this girl to burn off enough energy to listen to instructions and not distract her teammates.

The lesson that week began with all of the girls being given a piece of paper with a list of adjectives and some blank space to write.  The girls were asked to take a few minutes and write down the qualities that helped to make up their inner beauty.  They wrote down words like “kind,” “funny,” “smart,” and brave.”  The team then talked about which was more important, inner or outer beauty.  They talked about which was easier to change and control.  The girls decided that inner beauty was easier to control because you can’t always change the way you look, but you can change how you choose to act.  Pretty good for a bunch of 10-year-olds.

Girls on the Run Coaches go through thorough training every year on the curriculum, how to build relationships with the girls and how to encourage friendships among the team.  

After the initial activity, the team went outside to the soccer field and warmed up.  The warm-up consisted of out and back sprints.  After the first sprint, the girls shared with one teammate what some of the qualities were that they had written down.  After the second sprint, they shared their qualities with two teammates.  After the third sprint, they shouted what gave them inner beauty to the world.

Each lesson in Girls on the Run consists of an introductory activity, followed by a warm-up that builds on the day’s theme.  The girls then stretch, choose their lap goals for the day, and begin to run their laps.  After up to 45 minutes of running, the girls cool down and wrap up the lesson.

For this lesson, the girls were given the name of one of their teammates to think about as they ran their lap.  At the end of each lap, they would take a moment to write down on notecard with that teammate’s name a quality they felt that teammate expressed.  Then they would receive a new name to think about for their next lap.  As the girls chose their lap goals, the coaches checked in with the injured girl.  On her own, she came up with a creative way to still participate in the lesson and support her teammates.  She would spend the lap time writing down qualities for each of her teammates on a poster along with their names.  She also volunteered to help the coaches and girls keep track of laps for the day.  As the team ran their laps, the coaches watched the notecards fills up with the beautiful qualities these girls saw in each other.  The injured girl filled an entire poster with these qualities, then cheered her teammates on as they ran, telling each of them how amazing they were and that she knew they could keep going!

At the close of each practice, the girls and coaches give each other “Energy Awards.”  A girl nominates one of her teammates, who stands in the middle of a circle formed by the team.  The nominator tells why she thinks the girl deserves an energy award.  The reasons range from “She ran my laps with me” to “She kept going even when she was tired” to “She encouraged me to keep going.”  The team then does a cheer just for that girl.  

As the girls finished their laps and prepared to head inside, holding their new notecards filled with the beautiful qualities their teammates saw in them, the coaches noticed something.  The girls were being kinder to each other. They were offering to help each other with bags and water bottles.  They congratulated each other on laps.  They thanked each other.  They held doors for each other.  They listened to each other during the wrap up.  This was different.  This was a change even from the beginning of practice that day.  And all it took to create this change was forty minutes of focusing on the inner beauty they saw in themselves and in their teammates.  The energy awards were flying that practice.  All the girls wanted to thank or recognize someone else on their team.  As parents came to pick up their girls, the kindness continued.  The girls hugged and said goodbye for the day.  The coaches just stood there and smiled.

Imagine what a world full of Girls on the Run could look like.

For more information on Girls on the Run, including how to become a volunteer coach, a donor, or a Solemate Charity Runner, how to sign up your girl, and more, visit

Photo credit: Kathleen Cannon