In Her Shoes: Amanda Ghent

Hello friends, and thank you for reading an interview with this week’s featured runner, Amanda Ghent! It’s been a joy to follow her running journey on the web for what has felt like forever! I really enjoyed getting to ask her these fun questions – and I hope you’ll have as much fun reading her story as I did!

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Welcome to In Her Shoes, Amanda! For those who might not already know you, please say hi!

Thank you so much for having me be a part of story sharing with Stay Great My Girl friends! For those that may not know me, or follow me on any of the social platforms (IG: amandaghent or The Running Señora WordPress blog are my busiest outlets)…my name is Amanda. I am a sinner, saved by God’s grace, with the privilege to reflect the love of Christ in my everyday. I’m a wife for almost 12 years, mother to two daughters (7 & 6), a preschool teacher, violin playing instructor, and Spanish speaking lover of avocados and bananas (of which I’ve recently discovered cause me some horrible health side effects😭).  I’m also a self-proclaimed professional recreational runner. I live in my hometown in SC in the only house we’ve ever owned since marriage and I’m a sucker for fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and a good cup of coffee. One day, just maybe, our family will live in a foreign country…and if I got to pick, it would be Honduras!

What’s a typical day like in your shoes?

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Most days start at 4:15 am – I’m able to spend the first chunk of my morning reading Scripture, whatever passage tags along with the devotions on the First5 app (a ministry by the Proverbs31 folks that I HIGHLY recommend for anyone, but specifically women who need a guided walk through studying scripture and applying it to their everyday!). By 4:40 I’m up and dressed, ready to meet my teacher running friends for some miles, followed by strength training. By 6:30, it’s go-time. I get my girls to school, then head to the preschool for the morning with my sweet babies 6 months-5 yrs old! I seriously have the best job and the joy of teaching Spanish, science, and leading Chapel each week and love all 120+ children I get to see on a regular basis. I’m also thankful for an hour of “free time” before I get my girls from school, do the afterschool/Park/homework thing and head to swim team practice for the night. I’ve also gotten down prepping dinner and having it ready within 10-15 minutes after we get back home! 🙌🏼 Somehow, our days go by so quickly, but we get much accomplished and have fun doing it!!  I LOVE sleep more than TV, girls nights, or food/drink. So being in bed between 8-9 pm is not uncommon!

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How long have you been running? How did you get started?

So, the first time I ran (when I became a runner) was in Spring 2000. I was a senior in college and on the recovery side of an intense eating disorder. I was just beginning to find a healthier relationship with food and exercise, and I realized that Running was so much more enjoyable than walking (what I had been doing excessively during the ED). I felt so accomplished after running just 2-3 miles and so much more energized. And that made me WANT to fuel my body to do it again the next day.  I ran for the years that followed here and there 2-4 days a week but no “serious training.” Running helped me cope with lots of life during that season: stressful job, relationships, my mother’s illness and death (brain cancer), and infertility. When i finally got pregnant, I took a break from exercising regularly (2010) up until my youngest turned 4 (2016). I can probably count on two hands how many times I ran between that season. But since May 2016, I’ve been nonstop with training: first for a triathlon, then half marathons, a full marathon and more half marathons. And it just keeps getting better!!

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What are some of your proudest running moments?

One of the proudest running moments I have is crossing the finish line at my first (and currently only) full marathon. That training cycle introduced commitment, grit, determination, scheduling, and sadly injury for me and it took everything I had to complete miles 21-26 on race day. But for the last .2, I washed away my wallow, forgot the pain, and trotted across the finish line. Emotion swelled in-I’ll never forget it! You only become a marathoner for the first time once. And while it wasn’t the race I dreamed up, it was still a spectacular moment!
One other time my husband decided to join a race at the last minute. And because he was so overly zealous about running with the lead pack of guys, he crashed at mile 3 of 4.93….so I beat him across the finish line. VICTORY! And will remember that moment for forever! 🙂 maybe, just maybe, I’ll cross another finish line and beat him! Haha.
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What are you most proud of, not running related?
Some of my prouder moments without running shoes on: making it to the end of each day; road tripping to MS (10 hr drive) with a 3 and 2 yr old; living for a semester in a foreign country and walking away speaking like a native; conducting my college symphony upon graduating; learning to bake a pound cake; and acquiring a taste for black coffee (when only powdered creamer is available 😵).
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What running goals are you currently chasing?
I’ve been doing a lot of distance running over the last year. Since March of 2017, I’ve been training for 13.1-26.2 miles. But I always feel the desire to go faster. So this summer, I’m speed training. Not for specific races in mind, though I have several lined up. I just want to show up, work hard, and go faster. Ideally, I’ll work on the 5k distance. I’ve always wanted a sub22, and since that’s already come and I feel like I have more room to grow, I’ll be shooting for that sub21 by the end of October. It’s quite possible I’ll get back on the marathon train and have a late fall marathon (goal would be closer to a BQ…but realistically, just finish without the injuries this time!). Who knows?!  One thing I do know-this year has already been a super fun year of training!
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Any non-running goals?
As for non-running goals, I’ve got the desire to play in our local bigshot symphony. I played with them right out of college for some shows but haven’t been able to get back in. My techniques and skills have dwindled some, but I’ve had a few private lessons and hopefully will make it back in the orchestra soon!
What is the hardest running-related lesson you’ve learned?
As runners, we make ourselves vulnerable to injury, pain, burnout, pride, ridicule, celebration, camaraderie, and joy. It’s who we are. We work hard, harder than our bodies can keep up sometime, and we become obnoxious (guilty🙋🏻‍♀️) and obsessed with something that we LOVE to do. Not everyone will agree, understand, or rejoice with you.
BUT, we also have the ability to motivate, encourage, and inspire others who just want to be better than yesterday. Sometimes that vulnerability can cause a chasm between others, but it can also bring about movement (physically and metaphorically) in the greatest sphere of influence (the social platforms). To me, it’s worth sharing what I love to do so much so that it may be a catalyst for someone else to feel the freedom and joy of living out their dream with such passion.
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What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a runner, but feels intimidated?
Just start. Go. While a good supportive pair of shoes and comfortable clothes would be ideal, you really need NOTHING to start, just the desire to begin. For some that means running to the mailbox and walking back home, maybe once, maybe 10 times for days or weeks.  Or maybe it looks completely different. But just deciding to get out the door is the first step. Don’t pay attention to a distance or a pace. Do what feels right to you. The idea isn’t to feel like you’re going to die, but also know that it won’t be easy.  Remember, you can do hard things. And from there, you just keep building!!
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What role does your faith play in your running?

I could run without my faith.

I could probably train without my faith.

I bet I could even make progression, little by little, without my faith.

But without my faith, I am certain I’d lose all perseverance, perspective, and the purpose in my training and running. I wouldn’t be able to see the big picture, “trust the process,” or even view each workout/run/race a success even if it didn’t meet goal paces, the right distance, or a PR. It is only by the grace of God that I have breath and strength every day to move forward.  And for that, I’m extremely grateful. I actually GET to do something that I love to do!! But because of knowing the hope I have in Jesus, my running is not the end all/be all of life. It’s a beautiful passion that God has given me to see lived out for His glory.

But as much as my faith is used in running, it’s really broader than that: running lessons=life lessons.

The days that are hard, I always remember perseverance is key: give yourself grace and keep moving forward. The moments where I am humbled, I remember to keep things in perspective: there is a lesson to learn, I have to see the joy in the simple things, and I need to be generous and share that grace with others. I’m not a finish line success story, and I’m certainly not a daily human success story! I’m just a gal, who falls down, but has the courage to get back up again, puts one foot in front of the other, and gives praise to the One who sees me there. No one is going to steal that joy!

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What are three things that you’re grateful for?

I am especially thankful that God created me to enjoy the beach…or He created the beach for me to enjoy. Either way, the sand and waves and salty air give my heart all the feels!
I’m grateful for passions, desires, and the means to fulfill them. I firmly believe God places them in our hearts and allows us to pour ourselves into them for His glory. For me, that list seems quite long, but I’m so thankful for gifts of music, activity, creation, and writing!
I’m grateful for the spirit of conviction, for without it I’d be a hot mess!! I used to always wonder what that “little voice” was when I felt tugged in one way or another, and as I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to understand that it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me in the way I ought to go! What a gift is it to have this wisdom instruct us!!!
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Thanks for inspiring us, Amanda!
To keep up with Amanda, follow her on Instagram: @amandaghent
Check out her interview (episode #63) on the Rambling Runner Podcast!

Click here to recommend someone who has a story to share!

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In Her Shoes: Meridith (@runningwithcadence)

Happy Friday! I’ve got a special treat for you today – an interview with one of my favorite ultrarunners + supermamas, Meridith.

You might know her around the interwebs as @RunningWithCadence (a fun play on a running term AND her adorable daughter’s name)! I’ve been following Meridith’s running journey for two years now and her strength and dedication to training is nothing short of amazing. She balances motherhood, marriage, career, and getting in lots of miles (and of course, Maggie miles!) each week with grace and a big smile. Let’s read more about her and find out how she does it!

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Not always in running clothes! ☺ December 2017 with the family. Photo credit: Fine Afternoon Photography

Welcome, Meridith! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. 

Hi! Thanks so much for reaching out to get to know me a little better! I love this running community and the friends who I’ve met through running.

I’ve been married for 8 years to a pretty incredible person. Jon makes me a better person, and he supports my passions way better than I could have ever dreamed. He’s also a pretty amazing daddy to our 2.5 year old. We have another baby girl due in September, so we’ll be a sea of pink (including Maggie the golden retriever) with my husband as our trusty leader.

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My favorite training buddies

I’m super close to my family, and I get to work with my dad in our family’s business. My sister has four kiddos, so it’s always a party when we get together. God has been a central part of my life, and I’m thankful that I was raised to know Him as a loving Father through all stages of my life. I’ve found that worshiping God through my legs and appreciating the gift of running has been a big part of growing my relationship with Him.

What’s a typical day like in your shoes?

I’m a working momma, but I recently changed my schedule to be MWF in the office. This has been the best change for our family, and I’m so thankful for my Tuesdays and Thursdays with Cadence, our daughter.  It’s also a huge blessing to be able to stay plugged in at my family’s business while I work with my dad and amazing co-workers.

Whether it’s a work day or a Cadence day, I like to wake up and finish my run first thing. I run a lot of weekdays on the treadmill, but I also love running with the stroller or solo runs outside. Whatever gets the job done! Cadence is a great little workout buddy, so most of the time, I can manage to get in whatever I want with the help of Cadence and my husband. I do weights three times a week, so most of the time, I’ll use our home gym on Tuesdays or Thursdays while Cadence plays. Outside of training, we try to fit in as much playground time, library time, and snuggle time as we can!

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Cadence has taught me that you can still train as a momma. She’s the best little training partner, and I enjoy everything more with her by my side.

 

My commute in the evenings on MWF can be 30-60 minutes, so at night, we pretty much just have time to walk the dog, eat dinner, and enjoy Cadence before bed.  

How long have you been running, and what made you get started?

I have been into fitness for as long as I can remember, but I really started running in 2013 when I signed up for my first marathon. It took me several years to figure out training (instead of just going out for a run at random distances on random days—ha!). I really got the bug in 2014 when I attempted a BQ (got it on my 4th marathon) and also learned about trail running. Then we got pregnant with Cadence in January of 2015, and I REALLY learned to appreciate running by running through pregnancy. I came back postpartum as a faster runner, and I started to apply smarter training methods to be a better and healthier runner.

What are your proudest running moments?

I ran my first (and only) 100 mile race one year after having Cadence. It was a great race (2nd female), but most of all, I was surrounded by my family and friends crewing me and supporting me in this goal. It was a really special time for me, and I felt so loved through the process. I was still breastfeeding Cadence, so I had to pump throughout the race. Our bodies are incredible things! I also saw my husband’s support as he helped make it possible to train for a goal like this. There are lots of ways to be romantic, but one of the most romantic things my husband can do for me is to support me in my passions like he does.

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Around mile 50 of the Yeti 100 in 2016 with my sweet crew members. My parents also crewed, which was a really special treat. Cadence turned one year old the day before.

Do you have a favorite race distance, and why?

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My favorite person – after the 2017 San Francisco Marathon

Right now, I’ve got to say the road marathon. I love trails, but in this stage of life, roads are easier to train with family life. I’ve run some really fun and fast marathons lately, and I want to see how fast I can get. The time commitment for the marathon is a good fit for my life right now.

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Awards for the Georgia Silver Comet marathon October 2017 with my number one cheerleaders.  1st place female and PR of 2:57.

 

 

Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?

Baby due in September! Right now I am just trying to enjoy fitness and keep us all healthy. I’d love to run through this pregnancy, but I know that every week is a blessing. I hope to run a fast(er) marathon postpartum and another 100 mile race.

Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that inspires you?

For every goal race, I like to pick a verse to focus on during training and especially for a race. My verse for my 100 mile race was:

Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

It was so special to be running under the starry sky and thinking about how God named one of those stars for me. In 2017, I created a training cycle journal (4 months) so that I could incorporate my faith more into my training. I have found that I train so much better when my focus is on my Creator, not on my efforts. I am currently working on an annual training journal. Hoping to have it available for others to use by the end of the year!

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Middle of the night with my awesome pacers for the Yeti 100. Katie and husband Jon paced me for the last 34 miles of the race.  

What’s your advice to someone who wants to start running?

Enjoy the process! Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all of the information out there. There are so many different methods of training, and all of them can be effective in their own right. Consistency is the most important element, but don’t be afraid to throw in some cross training on days when things aren’t feeling 100%. I’m also a big fan of strength training!  

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3rd place at the San Francisco marathon in July 2017. Such a fun race, and no expectations except to survive the hills! Lots of wine tasting as a reward.

What running products/gadgets do you swear by?

I love my milestone pod! It is a foot pod with a really handy app that will tell you tons of metrics about the run. I also really love it because it keeps a running log for all of my runs, so even treadmill miles get logged.

What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from running?

I love spending time with my family, preferably outdoors! We love to hike and take walks with our golden retriever. It’s the best way to connect and talk, and Cadence loves to be outside. My husband and I are also big readers. I get most of my reading done on the treadmill, but I also always have a book by the bed with a back-up handy as soon as I finish the last page.

 

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We love to be outside, even if we aren’t running!


 

Just for fun – what are three things that you’re grateful for?

Oh so many blessings to pick from!

  1. A healthy pregnancy (22 weeks as of May 15th)! We miscarried in December, and it’s made me so aware of what a miracle this process is.
  2. A husband who supports my passions. When I told Jon that I wanted to train for another ultramarathon last spring, he said he was totally up for that as long as we travel somewhere fun. We ended up all flying to Oregon, and Jon crewed me for 100k while babywearing our 18 month old. True love!
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This hunk is my hero! He wore Cadence all over Oregon to crew me for Gorge 100k in April 2017. True love!

3. Running friends! Running wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding if I didn’t have my friends to share the experience with. Running is such a special bond, and it tends to connect all of our other stages and phases of life.

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Running friends make it all so much more rewarding! Stroller running fun in Hilton Head with Sara May 2018.
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Running with one of my trail friends, Sam, at the 2016 Yeti 100.

 

Thank you for letting us see what it’s like to run a mile in your shoes, Meridith! Wishing you a healthy pregnancy and many happy summer miles!

Check out previous In Her Shoes interviews with strong, inspiring women.

In Her Shoes: Virjinia from With Purpose and Kindness

Hey friends – hope you’re having a great week! Today I’ve got another interview for you with a fabulous runner, blogger, and friend. Not to be all Train here, but…Meet Virjinia!

Welcome! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. 

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My name is Virjinia and I live in Houston, TX with my husband and our spunky pitbull. When I’m not running, I’m a project engineer for a construction company that specializes in protective coatings. I come from a big Hispanic background and I LOVE to cook while I sing and dance in the kitchen. This lead to me auditioning for my church worship team on a whim and I’m currently in training to be on the of the principal
singers. I’m also a HUGE science nerd and you can find me watching YouTube videos in my spare time and reading weird science books about topics like quantum mechanics as “light reading”.

What’s a typical day like in your shoes?
I’m an early riser so my days usually begin anywhere between 4:30-5:30AM. I attribute this to my marathon training and it just stuck! I’ll head out for a run or the gym and I like to be done and eating breakfast by 6:30AM. After that I do my usual routine of bible study and getting reading. Thankfully I have a short commute so I am at my desk by 8:30-9AM. Depending on my training, I’ll opt for an afternoon workout around 5 or 6PM before dinner. Lights out is usually 9PM because of my early mornings! Depending
on the day of the week, I’ll have bible study and worship team practice sprinkled in there too so I do stay busy. So thankful for Google Calendars!

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How long have you been running, and what made you get started?
This is pretty funny because I was in an ROTC program in college so I HAD to run. However, I hated it and made every excuse to not do it. I wasn’t bad at it, I just didn’t like it. After college, I began to gain weight since I had a desk job and basically stopped working out altogether. It wasn’t until the fall of 2014 that I finally said enough was enough and dedicated myself to my health. Running was the easiest thing for me to
start with. It was hard at first but I slowly began getting into my groove. It became a thing I HAD to do because it made me feel good.

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What are your proudest running moments?
Running a marathon for sure! That’s my latest accomplishment because there was MONTHS of work that lead up to it. Learning that my body can handle it and actually making it across the finish line was amazing. My husband was there for me during every long run so it was just so amazing running into his arms afterwards and crying like a baby!

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My first half marathon experience was the same way. It was in that moment that I was hooked. I got butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. I remember knowing that it was going to take a lot of work to do it but I was so ready. That’s when running became like a drug to me. As soon as I finished that race, I wanted more!

Why do you think that weight lifting is so important?
Coming into running, I never cared for weight lifting. I learned the hard way and this lead to injuries. After speaking with my chiropractor, it turns out that a past car accident had its lingering effects. This meant that I REALLY hard to work on muscle balances and making sure that certain muscle groups were not over correcting.

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Weight lifting for runners is a big help because it keeps your core strong. Keeping your core engaged and strengthening your legs really helps your running mechanics fall into place. I’m a huge believer in building strength from head to toe so I think it’s complimentary to any stage of fitness you’re in!

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Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?
It’s always scary to type these out because then you have to commit! I’m really focusing on one marathon this year: the Chicago Marathon in October. I want to PR and finish the marathon in 4:30. This will only be my second marathon but I think that I am stronger this time around and I can push for speed this time!

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Why did you start With Purpose and Kindness?
There’s so much negativity in this world and I want to be a small hope of love and kindness for something. Everyone is in different parts of their fitness journey and you never truly know what someone is dealing with on a personal level. I started With Purpose and Kindness as a place for people to learning about different parts of running and health and fitness in a positive and encouraging environment! I want to be everyone
else’s cheerleading because I get all the goosebumps seeing my friends accomplish their goals!

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What’s your advice to someone who wants to change their lifestyle and start working out consistently?
Start small! It truly takes time to create a lasting change so patience is part of the equation too. I would recommend starting with walks and slowly graduating to small weights and different forms of cardio. Also, find something you LOVE doing and stick to that. You’re more likely to stick to something if it’s something you enjoy doing!

What fitness products do you swear by?
I just upgraded to the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and I LOVE it! I enjoy having a tracker all day to really keep me accountable and not just sitting for hours on end. It’s also great for tracking my runs and my gym sessions. My Peloton bike is also a staple because it helps me with endurance training. While it’s not a substitute for running, it’s a big compliment and has helped me knock off time in my races!

What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from fitness and staying healthy?
God is a HUGE part of my life and I think that spreads into all portions of my life. I love to volunteer and help at community events held by my church. It’s so amazing to see people’s eyes light up when you give them basic care supplies and food. As someone who’s been on the other side, I truly believe in giving back. I’m also known as the “listener” of the group since I love to grab a coffee and just listen to people’s life
stories!

Just for fun – what are three things that you’re grateful for?
I am extremely grateful for a husband who encourages me when I get crazy ideas to sign up for marathons or try out new things. He’s willing to give up sleep just to ride his bike alongside me during long runs and puts up with my requests for Instagram photos!

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I am grateful for all the awesome friends I’ve made online and in real life through this crazy running community! It’s so awesome how one sport can unite so many different people from different backgrounds!
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story with people in hopes that they will be motivated or encouraged with my testimony. Whether it’s in fitness or in ministry, if I can help one person then my job is done!

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Follow Virjinia on her Instagram and Blog.

Read past interviews with other inspiring women!

Friday Five: Catching Up

Happy Friday!

I haven’t been blogging as much lately. I’ve also taken the whole month of April off from Instagram. This intentional time off has been a challenge, but refreshing!

I’ve been loving this “break”, but I look forward to jumping back into SGMG full swing in May. And I’ve got some new fun things coming to the shop this summer that I’m anxious to share with you!

In the meantime, I thought I’d pop in for a quick Friday Five and share some of what’s been happening in our little corner of the world this April… and some things that I’m loving in the running community. It was Boston week, after all!

Friday Five: Catching Up

1. Daaaaang, Des!

What a joy it was to watch Desi Linden FINALLY win the 2018 Boston Marathon (in crazy brutal conditions) on Monday! First American woman to win in 35 years! This photo of her gutting it out in the “pain cave” will serve as my inspiration for the rest of my marathon training cycle. She is such a fighter!

I love Des’ no-BS, believe-in-herself attitude. She has such a positive mindset. I’ve listened to many podcasts with her this week (they were all recorded while she was training for Boston) and I was so impressed with how genuine she is and her “nose to the grindstone” work ethic. What’s more, she is from San Diego and loves coffee and whiskey! She seems to have the balance thing perfectly figured out and I love that she lets herself have fun and indulge while training her butt off. I think it’s official — I’ve got a new hero, folks.

And her HUSBAND. Can we just talk about how precious he was watching her sprint to the finish?! I love his excitement!

2. FINALLY Sub-2!

Man, has this been a long time coming. I finally got an official chip time sub-2 hours half marathon!

I have attempted this for my past five half-marathons. Last time, I was 36 seconds over 2 hours! At times, I felt very frustrated and discouraged while chasing this goal – many people get sub-2 at their first half marathons and it’s no big deal for them. But for me, it never came easily – and it didn’t happen until my 10th half-marathon this past Saturday at the San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon, when everything just clicked and came together! It was a beautiful course and I look forward to returning next year with new goals.

And my talented running buddy Ali designed the race shirts! Making this PR even sweeter.

But perhaps the best part of the PR was treating myself to this ice cream that I’d been craving for weeks!

3. Bikes, Brews, and Buds!

This month we also enjoyed an epic, 7 hour adventure with some friends. We biked together all over downtown and made stops at five different bars/restaurants. It was a blast!

4. Juice, Juice, Baby

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the juicer I bought for $15 from Offer Up. I’ve been making big batches every week and love having healthy, refreshing options on hand!

Juices can have a LOT of hidden sugar. Even though it’s natural, it can still be too much. I’ve been focused on creating healthier recipes that are tasty and nutritious without all of the unnecessary sugars from fruits. I’ve been enjoying this blend lately!

  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Granny Smith apple (the lowest sugar of any apple!)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Dash of ginger

5. Who the heck is Sarah Sellers? She’s got an amazing story!

The Nurse Who Took a Very Different Route to Second Place in the Boston Marathon

and

Listen to Lindsey Hein’s interview with Sarah.

What have you been up to this April? Wishing you a fun, adventurous weekend!

Friday Five: Reasons to Watch the Boston Marathon

Happy Friday! Better yet – happy Friday before Marathon Monday!

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That’s right – runners’ Christmas is just around the corner! The 122nd Boston Marathon kicks off at 8:50 a.m. (EST) on Monday April 16, 2018.

Even though I have never qualified – the Boston Marathon means so much to me. It holds a special place in my heart, because the first time I watched it was 2013. I had just gone through a few tough things in my personal life just weeks before and was feeling a little lost and down. I remember sitting on my dorm room bed on Marathon Monday, glued to my laptop, watching the runners who had worked their butts off to get there, absolutely in love with the sport I had abandoned and knowing that I desperately needed to get back into running (I had run XC in high school but fell out of it as college and other priorities took over). Later that day, the bombings happened. The next week, I asked my mom to sign up for a half-marathon with me.

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That summer, I visited the memorial and will always remember the flowers, running shoes, stuffed animals, and candles left on Boylston Street. I stood in front of the Marathon Sports store and imagined being a spectator that day. I wasn’t a Bostonian, I wasn’t a marathoner, and I hadn’t even run more than 3 miles in the past 4 years – but the Boston Marathon grabbed my heart in 2013. I was grieving the tragedy of the bombings and simultaneously was drawn to the beauty and mystique of the marathon. I wondered – could I ever do something like that? The rest is history and though I have a long road (and, ahem, 50 minutes to shave off) ahead, I dream of making it to Boston someday. You could say I like to dream BIG. 🙂

All sappiness aside – I LOVE the Boston Marathon! It has become one of my favorite days of the year. I have watched it every year since 2013 and have been fortunate to either take the day off of work to watch, or have had really kind bosses who let me stream it on my computer all day long. This year I am lucky enough to have the day off to celebrate and can’t wait to follow the elites, San Diego Track Club pals, and friends who will be toeing the line in Hopkinton. They have worked incredibly hard to make it to Boston and I will be cheering loud and proud from San Diego!

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Whether you’re a runner or not, we can all be inspired by the Boston Marathon. If you’ve never watched it before, I highly encourage you to change that this Monday morning!

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1. History! Boston is the world’s oldest marathon, and considered to be one of the most prestigious. It began in 1897, just one year after the Olympic marathon debuted in 1896. There are so many traditions tied to the Boston Marathon, and it’s also where Katherine Switzer paved the way for all of us and became the first woman to complete the marathon in 1967 – while fighting off tackles from a male race official who tried to stop her!

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2. The competition. Every year, the Boston Marathon attracts the best runners in the world. They are phenomenal athletes and it’s so rare to see them all together, competing against one another in one race. They are truly beautiful to watch! This year’s field is the best I’ve seen in recent years. There is going to be some tough competition for both the men and women and I’m excited to see which Americans come out on top. And there are some REALLY great women this year!

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I look forward to cheering for a solid finish for Sara Hall, her first time at Boston, just because I adore her heart and look up to her. It will be exciting to watch Jordan Hasay again – but I hope she isn’t first American woman because she’s still young and has so much time to shine and win throughout her career – I would love for some of the other, older elite women to have a better day!

 

I’m also excited to watch SD local Meb Keflezighi run. This is his first marathon being “retired” and he is running on Team MR8 – in honor of Martin Richard, the little boy who was killed during the bombings five years ago.

3. Shalane’s last shot. Above all, I’ll be rooting for Shalane Flanagan to win Boston. She won the New York City Marathon in November 2017 but being a Massachusetts native, I would love to see her end her professional career by breaking the tape in Boston.

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Plus – I LOVE that she is a foster mom to two teen girls. She is a great role model for girls and young women in the sport and I would love to see her on the top of the podium this year.

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4. Seeing hard work pay off. It is an amazing accomplishment to qualify for the Boston Marathon. To give some perspective, only 12% of marathon finishers are fast enough to go to Boston. The average marathon finish time for women 18-35 in 2018 was 4:47, and to qualify for Boston, women ages 18-35 must run a 3:35 or better. And because the Boston Marathon is so popular, even 3:35 won’t get you in these days – you actually have to run somewhere around 3:30 (8:00 min/mile) since you are competing with so many people for not very many spots, and they take the fastest times until the spots are full. The Boston qualifying standards are tough to meet, and it comes easily for a very small percentage of runners.

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The tens of thousands of runners you see on race day have made many sacrifices to be there – early training runs in the dark, dialing in their nutrition, countless speed work around the track, weight loss, balancing training with work/family, overcoming mental illness, insecurities, doubts – the list is endless. What I love about Boston is knowing that every single runner we see on TV had a unique story and their own challenges to get to the starting line – but they all shared the same dream. It is incredibly uplifting to watch them and to celebrate their hard work!

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5. Inspiration! After watching the Boston Marathon, you’ll no doubt want to go run a mile, or 26.2 — and you’ll find the courage to actually do that hard thing you’ve been dreaming about, whatever it may be. The Boston Marathon is a beautiful display of the human spirit and will encourage you to get out the door, get intentional, and do something big with your life!

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How to Watch the Boston Marathon:

  1. If you’re a west coaster like me, set your alarm clock EARLY and get the coffee pot ready! The elite women’s race starts at 6:30 a.m., Pacific Time.
  2. Stream the race on the Boston Athletic Association site.
  3. Snuggle up with your dog, blanket, cup of coffee, be inspired, and cheer!

 

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In the Comments:

  1. Who are you rooting for to win the women’s race?
  2. Have you run Boston, BQ’ed, or are you dreaming of a BQ?

Marathon Training Playlist

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Happy Monday!

Monday is my favorite day of the week – and it always has been! To me, it signifies a clean slate, a fresh start, new goals, and new chances. Viewing it in this light helps me to fight against the dreaded “case of the Mondays” and instead, I just get excited!

If you’re feeling a little sluggish or unmotivated this morning (hey, no judgment – we all have those days!), I’ve got you covered with a motivational marathon training playlist. It’s sure to bring joy and pep to your workout, commute, or chores around the house. It’s full of songs that I’ve been enjoying over the past couple of months on this marathon training cycle. These songs pick me up and pump me up like no other – and they range across many genres. It’s an eclectic mix, but a fun one. 🙂

Download the playlist here.

Have a wonderful Monday and stay great, my friends!

In the comments:

  • Do you train or race with music?
  • What’s your favorite pump-up song?
  • Do you love or hate Mondays?

In Her Shoes: Catalina Drouillard

Hey y’all,
(Saying that because we have another Texan on the blog today!) I’m so excited to introduce you to my sweet friend Catalina.
I was lucky enough to meet Catalina on Maui last December. And in just four quick miles together, she brought me so much sunshine, wisdom, and encouragement! We could relate on so many levels – we both love running, Jesus, try to eat as plant-based as possible…and we both moved across the country with our husbands to live by the beach! I just knew I had to include her in the In Her Shoes series that so that you, too, could soak up her goodness and hear more about her beautifully intentional life. Let’s dive right in and meet Catalina!
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Hey, Catalina! I am so glad to be featuring the beautiful soul that you are on SGMG today. For those who don’t already follow you – say hello! 🙂
Charlotte, thank you so much for interviewing me, this is so cool!
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The Drouillard Ohana
Well, where do I start? I’m a 30 year old native Texan who moved to Maui with her husband and dog in January of 2017. My husband and I are both hairdressers and were looking for a change of pace in our lives during our engagement. We knew we could work anywhere with our profession and during our honeymoon we fell completely in love with Hawai’i. One year later we stepped out in faith and uprooted our entire lives after 29 years of never living outside of the greater Houston area. God has been so good to us and we have been successful in building our clientele, made incredible friends, and found our church home.
What’s a typical day like in your shoes?
Normally I wake up and freak out over how beautiful it is outside. Really, it hasn’t hit me after 14 months that this is my home. Most mornings I start with a run, except for Wednesday, I run with our running club in the evening. Saturdays & Sundays I meet up with my friends in our local running community just before dawn and run long. If I’m not running I’ll walk the dog to the beach or over to the farmers market for our package free produce and tofu. I love to drink a cup of hot tea while I get ready for the day and water all of my plants. Three days a week I work in a beautiful salon, other days I do on location bridal hair around the island, and on my time off I’ve been volunteering at Leilani Farm Sanctuary. Every time I leave my house it looks like I’m moving out, I’ve got all of my tools and usually a suitcase sized cooler of food. Food is important, I’m always hungry! So the first thing I do when I get home is cook dinner and then I finally get to relax with my husband before we go to sleep and I do it all over again!
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One of my favorite ladies of Leilani Farm Sanctuary.
How long have you been running? What made you get started?
Oh man, I ran my very first full mile my senior year of high school around the track, I felt like a champion! I ran off and on (mostly off) until July of 2013. That month I started hitting the treadmill at our apartment fitness center and began to play games as I call it. I would start with 2 miles. Then I would get comfortable with that distance and try to beat my time. Then I would add a quarter of a mile and do the same thing. We got our dog in January of 2013 so around this time she and I were going on long walks and that made me get back into running outside. In August of 2013 I ran my very first race, a free local 5k, and something happened. I knew I wanted to do this distance running thing so I immediately registered for a half marathon that was taking place in 12 weeks. My goal for that half marathon was a sub 2 and I made it in 1:56:23 and to say that I was hooked is a complete understatement! 5,000+ miles later I still tell people that a free 5k changed my life.
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Terrible photo but I keep it to remember that very first 5k. August 2013
What are your proudest running moments?
It’s hard not to include your first marathon finish! January 2015 I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon for the first time and oh my goodness was it incredible! For being a girl who never, ever played a sport I trained for and finished a marathon, that moment was unbelievable.
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Finishing my first marathon – January 2015
The following year I decided that I wanted to be an Ultramarathoner by the time I turned 29 so I trained for a couple of months and on May 3rd, 2016 I ran 50k (31miles) around Memorial Park & the Buffalo Bayou trail in Houston. It makes me proud because it wasn’t a race. There was no crowd, no shirt or medal, no fanfare, just me and a goal that I smashed! I was SO incredibly happy the entire time. Because it wasn’t a race I had no pressure, I would do whatever it took to stay in motion for 31 miles and I ended up running the distance in 5:09. Yeah, pretty proud of that one.
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Most recently I guided a runner who came from NYC with Achilles International to run the Maui Marathon. My runner Allan has a traumatic brain injury and to be beside him for 26.2 miles as he finished another race was so incredible. His teammates who also came out for the race all ran shorter distances so they were waiting at the finish line calling his name as we came in to the finisher’s shoot. I have never shed more tears or felt that accomplished when crossing a finish line. That race was a gift.
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Guiding an athlete with a traumatic brain injury for the Maui Marathon. October 2017
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Pushing for Ainsley’s Angels during the Stomp Out Hunger 5k. October 2017
Why did you adopt a plant-based diet? Has it benefited your running at all?
Oh wow, that is a long story! Growing up I never liked milk and I didn’t want to eat meat but it wasn’t really an option in my house. When I went to college I finally switched to a vegetarian diet. I learned a lot about veganism along the way and after 10 years I decided to give up the animal products all together. I actually made the switch 2 months before running that 50k and I’ll tell you the change was very noticeable. My recovery was much faster, I actually made fun of myself because the only thing sore was my arms from pumping them while running. Hahaha. The benefits of a plant based diet are incredible. My stomach doesn’t get upset, my skin cleared up, my cheeks are less round and I think that was the dairy, I have more energy and just overall feel really great. I will say that I am not a perfect vegan or 100% plant based. My wonderful husband will never even consider himself vegetarian but he eats mostly vegan food with me so we have a bit of a compromise going on. There is no meat or fish in our house so sometimes I will eat something that has eggs or cheese with him. While I would much rather be 1 million percent vegan I still feel like we are treating our bodies better and making an impact by both of us not eating animals. 
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Running the notorious Road to Hana during the Hana relay. September 2017
What goals are you currently running after?
I’m currently working on building a stronger clientele base in the salon. Same for my husband, I would love for him to be busier in the salon so he can quit Whole Foods and we can play more!
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Running the trails in Makawao Forest.
As for running I am currently training for a 50k in Makawao Forest. It’s in Upcountry Maui so I’ll be facing hills at elevation on technical trails. Lord, it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that is why I can’t wait!
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote or mantra?
I’ve written Isaiah 40:31 on my hand for most of my long races.
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
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My hardest miles to date, running at about 7000 feet.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to become a runner?
Just start. Start walking, maybe run a quarter mile at a time. Tell yourself you’ll run for 3 minutes, anything! The reason I love running is that anyone can do it anywhere. It is such a personal sport the it doesn’t matter how fast or how far you go, you just lace up and do it. You don’t have to race to be a runner either. If you are intimidated by races or can’t spend the money on registration fees please do not let that deter you. My ultra is not “official” but I certainly claim it! Set a goal for yourself and find accountability if you need it.
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Sunday morning long run with my running ohana.
Social media can be wonderful for that or join your local running community. I have found new reasons to run by connecting with the runners around me. Oh and don’t forget to be proud of every accomplishment and to celebrate every milestone, that will keep you going.
What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from running?
Eating good vegan food. Grocery shopping package & plastic, buying bulk bin items in my own glass jars (really, it’s like a high when I create no waste). Spending time with friends. Being outside. A good yoga session. Making my guests feel wonderful about their hair. Plants. My dog. Everything is my favorite thing!
Just for fun…what are three things that you’re grateful for?
Today? The grace of God, my health, and my husband who is my very best friend.
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Living the dream. Mahalo ke Akua (Thanks be to God.)
See, I knew you would love her! Isn’t she the best?
To keep with Catalina, see her awesome hair work, and be inspired by her plant-based recipes and waste-free habits, follow her on Instagram: @catalinadrouillard