Lessons learned running a half-marathon

It’s still funny to me that thousands and thousands of people PAY money to run.  There’s a good chunk of the population that doesn’t get this at all.  We be crazy is all they think.  There’s another chunk who totally gets it.  I used to think running for the sake of running was ridiculous.  And then one day, I don’t know what changed, but I decided I was going to train for and run a marathon.  That was 16 years ago.  Since then running has saved me a lot of therapy bills.  I have no explanation for why, but it helps me find my happy.

I had plans to run the Ogden marathon this year, but changed my mind as I’ve been focusing more on strength training to prepare for the Spartan race I signed up for in August (may heaven have mercy on my ridiculously weak arms).  But a week before the race, my sister-in-law text me to come run the half-marathon with her.

Now, I exercise 5-6 times a week (30-60 minutes each day), but I’ve only been running once every few weeks.  And the farthest I’ve run in the last several months is about 7 miles.  I wasn’t prepared for a half.  At all.  And prepare (more like OVER prepare) is what I do best.  I don’t like doing things I’m not prepared for.  But I’ve been in a bit of a funk the last few months and thought I could use a good dose of racing “spirit” (if you’ve been in any type of race, you know what I’m talking about).  So on a whim, I signed up–6 days before the race.

I was nervous all week long.  I wasn’t nervous about not finishing.  They’d have to carry my cold dead body off the race course before I didn’t finish.  But I’m competitive.  I have certain expectations of myself and didn’t want to get a slower time than I’m used to.  I tried to get to the mental space of “just finish” but I never did.

This was really a test to see where my mental strength was at.  Could I push myself through discomfort, pain, probably some suffering?  I’m admittedly not as mentally strong as I’d like to be so I saw this as an opportunity to strengthen that a little.

I read a quote once from Amelia Boone, one of the toughest obstacle course racers on the planet (she wins Spartan races all over the country–she’s legit).  She said “I’m not the strongest.  I’m not the fastest.  I’m just really good at suffering.”  This quote sticks with me.  Sometimes getting where we want and what we want has less to do with being the strongest or fastest (or smartest) and more to do with pushing through whatever fear, pain, or discomfort we may have to get where we want and what we want.

So race day came and went and I learned a few things from the experience:

**Being prepared is definitely not overrated.  There’s people who seem to be good at winging things throughout life.  I’m not one of them.  Being prepared matters.  I NEED a lot of preparation time for things.

**Though our mind can push us through things, there’s always a cost.  I was hurting through much of this race.  At mile 5 I saw a sign that said “That voice in your head saying you can’t is a liar”.  I held on to that through the rest of the race and kept telling myself “Keep pushing.  Keep pushing”.  And I did.  I pushed.  And I finished with a decent time (for me).  But there was definitely a physical price to pay for doing so.  My muscles weren’t prepared for a run that far.  My body in general wasn’t prepared for a run that far.  There are some people who seem to be built for running and endurance sports.  I am not one of them.  I normally have to train, a lot, to do these type of races.  I paid for this in the days after (and am still paying for it).  Our minds can push us to do amazing things, but if we haven’t properly prepared, there is a cost.

**The aforementioned “cost” was worth it.  Sure I couldn’t walk down stairs for 3 days, I had a horrible stomach ache for several days, my right quad still screams at me when I move it certain ways, I still can’t squat, and a few other physical ailments I don’t want to discuss on the www, BUT I proved to myself I can push myself through pain.  I can push myself to do things I wasn’t sure I could do.  I learned just how powerful the mind is.

**Many times, I hold myself back from doing great things because I’m afraid to fail.  Or afraid to look dumb.  But in the end, it’s almost always worth taking the risk.  I miss out on too much for fear of not doing well when I try.  I don’t like not being good at something.  But I have to start somewhere if I want to get anywhere.  Life opens up when I get rid of the fear of looking dumb (even if it’s just to myself–most people aren’t paying any attention to what I’m doing anyway).

**This isn’t new to me, but every time I run a race I’m reminded how amazing the running community is.  People are just nice.  And encouraging.  And excited.  And positive.  I really dig the running community.

**Knowing someone is at the end of a race waiting for you makes a difference.  My husband and kids weren’t able to come because, Hi, I signed up for the race 6 days before and we had too many scheduling conflicts to get them there.  But my little brother was there and I knew he’d be at the end.  Not the same as having my husband and kids, but still made a difference knowing someone was there.  Having people is a HUGE blessing.  It rained the entire race and there was my brother at the end with a towel and blanket which I’m pretty sure saved me from hypothermia.

**Rain mixed with long runs makes you chafe in places you’d never dream possible.  Just so you’re aware next time you run in the rain for 2 hours.

**The crowd in general matters.  There’s a few points in races where your mind starts to think “Whyyyyy am I doing this?”  And then you respond to yourself “I really don’t know”.  And then the conversation continues with thoughts I probably shouldn’t type.  But then you see people.  Volunteers who came to hand you water, and bananas, and….pancakes (why was someone handing out pancakes at one of the stations–I got nauseous just smelling them, but then again, my stomach was not pleased during the entire race so coulda been that.  I’m curious if anyone actually grabbed one of those pancakes dangling from some strangers hand as we trudged past….).  And streets lined with people holding signs and cheering for people they don’t even know.  For those of you who go to races and cheer, you matter.  Trust me.  You matter a lot.

**We, all of us, can DO more than we think we can.  I’d say the majority of us are our own worst enemy.  We’re the ones keeping ourselves from doing those things we want to do.  We can do more.  We just have to believe we can and then we just have to DO.

And what’s a life event without photos.  I would have loved to snap a few during the run but my hands weren’t working at all.  I couldn’t grip or hold on to anything.  I couldn’t even unzip my ziploc to eat the gels I had.  I tried.  It wasn’t happening.  No food for me.

But I got a few pics before the race and a few after.

The finish line street when we got there to catch the bus.  At 4:30am.  An hour that no one should ever be awake.


Starting line at Eden park.  I need a cabin in Eden.  That place is SO pretty.


Pre-race shot.  When our hands still had feeling and our quads weren’t screaming “I hate you”.


All of the crazy people who joined me and payed to do this.  Love the shot of the masses.  Lots of good, hard-working, goal driven people in this crowd (with a side of crazy).


Annnnnd after the race.  As we ran down the final stretch (longest mile ever), there were what I assumed to be some older war vets on the course handing out little American flags.  Totally brought tears to my eyes (or maybe that was just rain on my face) and gave me just the boost I needed at the end (I love this country SO much) although it was incredibly difficult to keep hold of the tiny wooden stick.



Those thin silver whatever they are (emergency blankets?) provide a surprising amount of warmth.  Maybe it’s just in your head, but it doesn’t matter.  I was really grateful for that thing.


We didn’t linger after the race at all.  It was straight to the car.  I had to sit in there with the heater full blast for a good 20 minutes before I could grip the steering wheel to head home.


I ran my first marathon with NO music and NO time tracker.  No idea how I did that.  I’m super inconsistent with my pace so it’s really helpful to have my Garmin to keep track of how fast (or in most cases how slow) I’m running.  Helps me know how hard I can push without completely tanking at the end.  Although I still always run too fast in the beginning.


Always interesting to have the heart rate monitor results.   I stopped it when I made it back to the car.  My heart rate was actually higher than it usually is.  Nerves maybe?  Or the cold?  No idea.  But when the race started, my heart rate was already around 175.  And it hovered around 185 the rest of the race.  Normally when I run it’s around 170 (yes, that’s still high but normal for me.  I have a resting heart rate a little below 60 but when I exercise it goes crazy high).


My legs were crazy sore the next few days.  Sore to walk.  Sore to the touch.  I never realized how much my 4 year old touches my legs until it brought tears to my eyes every time he touched me.


Definitely a race I won’t forget and one that taught me a few things along the way.  Trying to say “yes” to more things than I say “no” to.   “You know all those things you’ve wanted to do?  You should go do them.”

ELEVEN tips to help with your fitness goals

After I had my last baby, I started taking more interest in my health and fitness level.  I’ve always been very active, but never focused much on truly being healthy.  And being strong. I shared my weight loss experience and how I lost all my baby weight (from all four babies that added up over time–over 50 pounds) in my “Getting Healthy” series which you can read about here.  

Today I wanted to share some of the things that help me reach all my health and fitness goals.  I’m currently training for a marathon in May (well, still trying to talk myself into this one–it’s a huge time commitment), a triathlon sometime this summer, and a Spartan race in August (soooooo excited to do a Spartan race for the first time).  All of these things below I use on a regular (or daily) basis to help me train and reach all of my fitness and health goals.


ONE:  Photive PH-BTE70 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Things to help you reach your fitness goalsCan we talk about how many times I’ve launched my phone across the room from hitting the chord on my earphones while running on the treadmill.  An embarrassing number of times.  It’s a really good thing I have a tough-as-nails case for my phone.  It’s been airborne and I’ve nearly had a Youtube worthy spill trying to dodge it more times than I’m comfortable with.

These wireless earbuds are my favorite.  No more flying phone on the treadmill.  And no more tangled chords when I’m running outside or riding my bike.  I can put my phone anywhere near me and they work great.  And they stay in my ears super well, even when doing high intensity activities (like burpees).  By far one of my favorite purchases lately.


TWO:  Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar Heart Rate monitor--great help for achieving fitness goalsThis is one thing I wish I would have used when I was initially trying to lose all my baby weight.  You can read all about this Polar Heart rate monitor here and why it will make losing weight easier here.    Definitely worth the investment to get some sort of heart rate monitor (doesn’t have to be this kind–I’ve had a few but like this one the best).


THREE:  Camelbak Eddy Bottle

Things to help you reach your fitness goalsIf there’s one thing I’ve learned, drinking loads and loads of water makes a HUGE difference in losing and maintaining weight.  I leave a water bottle out on my counter and take one in the car with me so I remember to drink all day long.  I don’t know the science behind it, but drinking more water makes a difference.  I like Camelbak water bottles.  I also like the bottles with hard straws so I can take quick sips every time I walk by.


FOUR:  Procompression Socks

Pro compression socks. Things to help you reach your fitness goals.I’m new on the compression socks bandwagon and I plan to stay on the bandwagon.  I LOVE these socks for days I do long runs or sprints.  They’re comfortable, they’re cute, and they help my legs feel better.  True story.  They’re awesome.  I get the Procompression brand–they always have GREAT sales so keep your eyes out for those and stock up!  I often wear them for hours after I’m done doing long runs as well.


FIVE:  Good Shoes

Nike Free 5.0. Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This one will be different for every person.  But investing in GOOD shoes that fit your feet right is important.  I’ve tried a lot of different brands of shoes.  Right now, I’m loving the Nike Women’s Free 5.0+ Running Shoe  for running.  After reading the book Born to Run, I decided to try a more “free” type shoe and loved them.  It took my feet some time to get used to not having much padding, but now these shoes work great for me.  I have a different pair of shoes when I do cross-training stuff (exercise videos or lifting).  My suggestion is to go to a store that is specifically catered to selling running/exercise shoes and do a running test on their treadmill.  They can give great suggestions for what type of shoes work well for the way you run/exercise and for your specific feet.  Or they can give recommendations for cross-training shoes (activities other than running).  I personally like something light-weight and not bulky.  And the arch has to hit my foot in just the right place.


SIX:  Garmin Vivoactive

I don’t have the Vivoactive, but I’d love one.  They track a lot of things I’d love to track.  And you can get a chest strap for these so it can read your heart rate (as talked about above).  They can also track distance for exercise.

I do not have a step tracker (Fitbit, Nike Fuel, Jawbone, etc.).  You can see what I discovered when I wore 7 different pedometers on the same day at the same time here.  It was really interesting.


SEVEN:  Garmin 305 Forerunner

Garmin Forerunner. Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This is what I have for tracking distance when I run or bike.  Although lately I’ve been using my phone more.  I use the app Map My Run (you can change the setting for when you’re biking).  I also hear great things about the app Strava.  If I didn’t already have this, I’d invest in a Vivoactive.


EIGHT:  BlenderBottle

Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This is great to put my protein shake in after I exercise.  I make this protein shake often and love having the Blender Bottle to put it in.  The little wire ball helps keep the shake mixed up.  And it’s the perfect size to hold my after-exercise shakes.


NINE:  Good exercise clothes

Things to help you reach your fitness goals.This will sound super shallow, but having “cute” workout clothes I think makes a difference.  If you’re wearing a baggy t-shirt and 10 year old sweat shorts, I think you feel different than when you’re wearing something you feel good in.  Does that make sense?  The clothes we wear can often affect the way we act and the way we feel.  So I recommend investing in some exercise clothes that make you feel like a bad a**.   And lay those clothes out the night before so you’re all ready to put them on and exercise the next morning!  I like to get clothes from the Nike outlet (I especially like Nike’s running shorts) or the Under Armor outlet when they have good sales.  Old Navy sometimes has some good exercise clothes as well.


TEN:  Exercise Program or specific goal.

You have to find some sort of program you like.  Or set a specific goal.  If you’re working toward something, it makes exercising so much easier.  I did the BeachBody program Insanity to lose my baby weight.  My husband likes P90x (I didn’t so much).  I’ve also done T-25, Insanity Max:30, P90X3, and Body Pump.  I like having a set number of days, knowing exactly what to do each day, and working toward that goal.  I’ve also trained for several races which helps me know how much to run and when to do it.

If you don’t like exercise programs, try joining a gym like Crossfit or OrangeTheory fitness where you go to a set class and have some accountability to show up.  Or come up with a specific workout program to do at home so you aren’t aimlessly making up things to do each day.  You do NOT have to go to a gym to lose weight.  But having specific goals and/0r programs can definitely help us be more efficient in the time we spend trying to lose weight/gain muscle and be healthy.


ELEVEN:  The right food at the right time.

I shared some of the food I ate while losing weight here.  People say abs are made in the kitchen.  And a widely used statistic is weight loss success is 80% food and 20% exercise.  You can’t out-exercise bad eating habits.  Eating the right kind of “real” food (at the right times) can make a HUGE difference in your success.  I also shared a few good food finds here.

I also share a bunch of super good healthy (and easy–easy is my jam) recipes on my Pinterest boards (come follow me there!).    I’d also recommend following @cleansimpleeats on Instagram.  I have no affiliation with her (don’t know her personally) but she shares a lot of really good recipes.


Getting healthy, getting strong, staying healthy, losing weight–it’s all a LOT of work.  And it’s hard to find time.  But if we’re smart about it and set ourselves up for success, it’s completely doable.  We make time for what matters most to us.  And health should certainly be on that list.  Here are a few more tips to help you on your journey to good health.

If YOU have anything that has helped you on your fitness journey, I’d LOVE for you to share them with me.

(affiliate links to amazon included in this post.  Nothing is sponsored.  I just use and LOVE these products.)

Grilled corn, avocado and tomato salad with honey lime dressing. So good.

I’m grateful for Pinterest for so many reasons.  The biggest being all the new recipes I’ve found there.  I’m not a great cook, nor do I love to cook (though I love to eat) so any help I can get in the kitchen department is welcomed with open arms.

My biggest beef with most recipes, however, is that EVERY Pinterest recipe is “the best thing you’ve ever tasted”, “your family will love you”, “your life will never be the same” recipes.  Turns out–not true.  There’s some pretty awful recipes on there (or I executed them wrong which could totally be the case).  But THIS recipe.  This recipe is a keeper (and I so wish I could remember where I originally found it).  SO SO SO good.  And easy.  Trust me.  Your mouth will love you.


Grilled Corn, Avocado, Cilantro and Tomato salad with Honey-lime dressing.


1 pint grape tomatoes cut in halves (super good with home-grown tomatoes)

1 avocado cut into chunks

2 ears of fresh corn-on-the-cob (I’ve tried canned corn–it’s just not the same)

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped


3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp honey

Juice of 1 lime

1 clove garlic, minced (or use already minced garlic from a can if you’re efficient like me)

sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste


Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  I use a special pan (I call it special because I don’t know the real name for it) for this on the stove but you could also do it on a bbq or a George Foreman type grill.  It definitely makes a difference if you grill the corn.  Rotate the corn every few minutes until all sides are cooked.  There will be some brown spots on the corn.  You want it to be tender, but not mushy.


Slice the tomatoes in half.  Cube the avocado.  Chop the cilantro.  High-tech kitchen stuff.

IMG_4949Once the corn is cooked, let cool for a few minutes (seriously–it’ll burn you if you try too soon.  Yes, I’ve tried too soon).  Once cooled enough to handle without burn-risk, cut the corn off the cob.  Mix the corn, avocado, cilantro, and tomatoes in a bowl.  Be careful not to be too aggressive and mush the avocado.

Add all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well to combine.  Pour the dressing over the salad and let sit for 10-15 minutes to let it all blend.

IMG_4938You can eat this plain, but it’s reeeeeally good with tortilla chips.  I like the blue corn tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s because they’re really salty (gosh I love salt).  But any tortilla chips would do.


If you want some ideas of other GREAT food finds, you’ll want to read this.

You can also follow my “healthier dinners” board on Pinterest for some healthier meal ideas.

Or, just follow ALL my boards on Pinterest.  Cause I pin good stuff.  And only good stuff.

And if you’re looking for some good sites to follow for GOOD recipes and many that are relatively simple, I recommend checking out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and Damn Delicious.  I don’t know either of them.  Just found them through friends.  Both great sites!!

A few things we learned from our vaccinated daughter contracting whooping cough

I tend to shy away from highly controversial subjects in such a public forum.  I’m always up for a good discussion about most things, but I realize I can be easily misunderstood in this format.

{And this is NOT normally the type of post I put on this blog.  If you want to see what kind of beneficial things we usually talk about around here, click HERE and I hope you’ll join this incredible community}

Regardless, I feel the need to share a few things we learned from our 9 year old daughter having a confirmed case of whooping cough.  She has been vaccinated.

It started as a mild cough.  Just at night.  No big deal.  It progressively worsened in the evenings and throughout the night, disrupting her sleep.  It continued to get worse, lasting through the night AND day.  She had NO fever.  No cold symptoms.  NO WHOOPING sound when she coughed.

I thought it was allergies.  Or maybe asthma.  I had a doctor listen to her lungs for signs of asthma.  She sounded fine.

After about 3 weeks of this progressively unrelenting cough, I finally took her to her pediatrician.  After an initial exam, my doctor said she needed to be tested for whooping cough.

My response “But she’s been vaccinated”.

Because we live in an area  where increasing numbers of people are not being vaccinated, and because whooping cough vaccines can start to wear off between the ages of 9 and 11, there was a chance she had it.

So we tested.


(at the beach after she was done with antibiotics but still unable to function much)

The next morning my doctor called first thing and said she indeed had a confirmed case of whooping cough.  She missed school for a week while she was on antibiotics.  She was also on an inhaler and steroids for her lungs.  She had already been going to school for the past TWO WEEKS while she had it because we had NO IDEA it was even a possibility.

The health department called and asked me a bunch of questions.  We e-mailed all our friends, family, church members, and entire neighborhood.  A lot of people panicked.  And rightly so.  I answered a LOT of phone calls and e-mails.

Thankfully no one else we had been in contact with got it (as far as we know).  We were all lucky.

When the doctor told us she could have the cough for up to 100 days, I teared up.  ONE HUNDRED DAYS???

The cough is hard, persistent, and unrelenting.  Her biggest complaint was a sore throat from coughing so hard.  She coughed so hard she threw up for the first few weeks.  She couldn’t breath several times.  My husband and I took turns sleeping in the same room with her.  That lasted for well over a month.

I remember riding in the car with her during the week she was home from school.  She was coughing and coughing and coughing.  But she rarely complained.  I told her how sorry I was she had to go through this.  But I also told her that because of what she was going through, I had the opportunity to teach a lot of people about whooping cough.  And dozens of people I knew (adults) went and got their whooping cough booster shots.  And because of that, lives would certainly be saved.  She smiled at that.

Whooping Cough (also known as pertussis) is not generally fatal to 9 year olds.  But it is absolutely fatal to newborns who have not had the chance to get the vaccine as well as immunocompromised individuals.  When I first found out my daughter had it, I was sick to my stomach about who we may have exposed.  What if I had a newborn in my home?  What if we had been around someone else’s newborn and unknowingly exposed them?  Or my neighbor who is immunocompromised?

We did everything we were supposed to do and she still got it.

So.  I wanted to share a few things we learned and hopefully stop the spread of whooping cough.

1.  Whooping cough is a VACCINE preventable disease.  Meaning if we ALL get the vaccine, whooping cough starts to go away.

2.  The whooping cough vaccine differs from many other vaccines because it wears off.  So you have to keep getting it.  Small kids get several rounds of the whooping cough shot.  They get it again when they are around 11 or 12 (because it starts to wear off).  And ADULTS NEED TO GET A BOOSTER.  If you haven’t had one in the last 5 years, you’re due for another one.  And if you have any chance of being around a newborn, you NEED to get the booster.

3.  Immunizations are not 100% effective.  Immunity is not “either/or” but more accurately “more or less”.  Meaning you aren’t definitely immune, but the potency will be less if you were to contract the disease.   Vaccine’s are designed to increase your immunity to various diseases.  And again, if everyone vaccinates, the disease starts to go away.

4.  Studies linking autism to vaccine’s need to be looked at with great care.  From my understanding and research, they have no validity and many have been explicitly proved wrong.  But, coming from a friend who has a child on the autism spectrum as well as a child who died from a vaccine preventable disease, she said she’d take an autistic child over putting a child in the ground any day.  

5.  No man is an island.  Meaning the decisions we all make affect all the people around us.  So.  If you choose not to vaccinate your children, that is obviously your choice.  But it DOES affect all the people around you.  If everyone in my community was vaccinated for whooping cough, the disease would essentially leave my community and wouldn’t be an issue.  But because many people are choosing not to vaccinate, the disease lingers.  And when my kids vaccine starts to wear off, she is susceptible to picking up the disease from the community where it still lingers. Relying on everyone else around you to vaccinate so you don’t have to seems a bit unfair to me.  What happens if we ALL stop vaccinating?

6.  Whooping cough does indeed last 100 days.  And it sucks.  BIG TIME.  My daughter literally coughed for at least 100 days.  And it lingered even longer than that when she did anything active.  Like run 10 feet.  She’d burst into coughing fits.  Did I say it sucks?  It does.  Bad.  I can’t even imagine how horrifying it would have been if she were at risk for death.

7.  Whooping cough does NOT ALWAYS HAVE THE WHOOPING SOUND.  My daughter did not whoop when she coughed.  So if you have a persistent cough not associated with asthma or allergies, GET CHECKED.

8.  If you have a newborn, KEEP THEM HOME.  I know it’s SO hard to stay home, but infants can’t get their first whooping cough vaccine until they are 8 weeks old.  If you can keep them home as much as possible until at least then (and even longer if possible), I highly recommend you do.  And don’t feel bad not letting unvaccinated people around your baby.  I asked all the adults in my family go get their whooping cough boosters before they were allowed to hold any of my infants.  I didn’t feel one bit bad about that.

9.  If you have a child between the ages of 9 and 11 and they develop a persistent cough, call your pediatrician.  If they say it’s nothing but your parental intuition tells you otherwise, get them checked just to be sure.

Hopefully some of these things we learned will help others with their decisions to vaccinate.  I realize it’s not an easy decision and it’s REALLY hard to know what information is accurate on the Internet.  I think we all do the best we can with the information we have.


{And please remember that many people will obviously disagree with each other on this subject and think the information they have is truth, but there’s no need to call each other names (you’re stupid, you’re an idiot, you’re a troll, etc. etc.) when we disagree.  Please keep the comments kind.}

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