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!

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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

In Her Shoes: Jenn Kafka

It’s time for another interview with another amazing lady! Meet ultrarunner Jenn.

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I have been following Jenn for a while now and am in awe of her endurance. Not to mention, I LOVE seeing photos of her adorable baby boy! I know you’ll enjoy hearing her heart and learning about her life on and off the trails today. 

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

Hi there! I’m Jenn and I’m living life in Aubrey, Texas. I’m a 28-year-old stay at home mama to our son Kaden who is our world. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know what I mean because I’m basically obsessed. Goodbye running pictures and hello to way too many baby pictures but I just can’t stop! My husband and I were both born and raised in sunny Southern California, but I spent a good few years living in Oregon. We really love living in in Texas. It’s the friendliest, hottest, most flat place I’ve ever been but we feel right at home here.  

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What’s a typical day like in your shoes?

A typical day for me is not all that exciting I’m sure. Our son wakes up bright and early at 6 AM, and he’s an energetic 8-month-old. I try to drink my coffee and get some breakfast in me while he crawls all over me and drags every favorite toy into my lap. He naps around 8:30 AM and then we suit up and go for a run with our dog. I try to get out of the house at least once or twice a week especially as he’s getting older.

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It can be so easy to get sucked into the baby schedule of nursing, eating solids, playtime, and nap time that days and weeks pass by and I haven’t gotten out of the house outside of a daily run and a weekly grocery store trip. We play and clean and he takes a few more naps and then I cook some dinner at 5pm and start our bedtime routine. See? Nothing too exciting but it’s everything to me and I enjoy the simple day to day mom life.

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

I first began running when I was 17, so a good 10 or 11 years ago. After graduating from high school I got my license, packed up my car, and drove 16 hours straight to Oregon. I had a friend who set me up with a place to stay at her sister’s house. I had one week to find a place while they let me crash on their couch. I found some random girl on Craiglist who had a room for rent in her two-bedroom apartment up on the hill near Spencer’s Butte in Eugene, Oregon. I didn’t know a single person and it was pretty lonely so after job searching every day I started going for a run. I’d run up the Butte every single day rain or shine. Then I began to run into town and back, taking all the trails along the Willamette River and the dirt track trails through the suburbs back up the hill. Running was my companion and escape when I felt alone and scared and when I doubted myself. Could I really start a life all by myself in a new place with no plans? I joined not one, but THREE local running groups to meet other like-minded people and fell in love with life in Oregon and of course with running too.

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What are your proudest running moments?

Hmm, well full disclaimer I am NOT a fast runner but I can run distance. I’d have to say my proudest running moment was running my first 50k, the Leona Divide 50k/50M by Keira Henninger in SoCal. It was not only my first Ultra Marathon, but also where I met my husband for the first time at the finish line and it was the race that led me on a path to be saved by Christ. What could ever beat that right?? Second to that would be the Cuyumaca 100k in the San Diego mountains because I just had so much fun.

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Do you have a favorite race distance, and why?

My favorite running distance is the 50 Miler. I love Ultra Marathons but I also really love early bed times and warm coffee with breakfast in my PJ’s as the sun rises. Not to mention I hate bugs and can’t see at night so the 100 miler which involves running through the night is not an interest of mine. I love that in a 50k or 50 M race you get to meet new people, play in the mountains or trails and eat tons of food at aid stations all while making it in time to drink a beer at the finish line and be in bed by 9pm. My kind of party!

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Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?

Currently my only goal is growing our family.

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My husband Matt and I got married a year and a half ago, and we’re really focused on saving money for our future and growing a big family, God willing. As far as running goes its still a huge part of our lives. I feel like all we do is take turns running and watching Kaden or go on family runs together with our baby and dog. I run 30 miles, 5 runs a week and my longest is 12 miles. I’d love to sprinkle some half marathons in there, and hopefully do a full marathon at some point but for now I’m just focused on nursing our boy and running for fun when I can. At first it was difficult to not compare my running to other new or recent post-partum moms because I initially wanted to jump right into training but I really had to step back and just enjoy exactly where I’m at right now. I’m prone to mastitis infections and have had mastitis five times in my 8.5 months of nursing so far so I’ve scaled back and try not to run too long. The marathon is calling my name as soon as I can though ;).

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

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:12

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And of course, Isaiah 40:31, But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

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

Just start somewhere. Also, maybe try out a running group! I found when I first started, that the runs I did with others flew by and I wasn’t so caught up in the difficulty. Once I got out of my head and talked with people it began to feel fun and the miles flew by! Now anytime my husband and I move we find a local running group and it helps us meet new people and make friends too.

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What running products/gadgets do you swear by?

I’m super simple and usually just run with a water bottle and a Lara Bar and maybe some Nuun in my bottle if I’m running long. Total mom life-I can’t run without my amazing Thule jogging stroller so Kaden can accompany me too! He does all my midweek runs with me in the stroller.

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

Apart from running I’m also an avid reader. If you have any good book recommendations please share with me! I enjoy cooking homemade vegan meals for my family, I love hiking and being outdoors and meeting new people. I love a good glass of red wine at night. That’s about it ☺.

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

I am so very thankful for finding my faith in God and that I’m saved by the grace of Jesus. I’m thankful for finding the love of my life and having our sweet boy. Although my day to day isn’t all that exciting to most people it really is a dream come true for me. I wouldn’t trade these simple days for anything. We don’t have a lot of things but yet it feels like I have everything. Thanks for letting me share a peak into my glamorous mom life Charlotte! I love reading your In Her Shoes blogs and I’m always so inspired by all the runners you interview. I’m shocked and flattered anyone would want to see what my running and daily life is like and I hope it inspires someone or is relatable for any other first-time mamas.

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To keep up with Jenn, follow her on Instagram: @jennkafkaruns

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In Her Shoes: Katie Shepherd

The In Her Shoes interview series is back! We’re all about ladies cheering on other ladies. Meet one of my favorites to follow – Katie Shepherd! She is so sweet and she has a special place in my heart as she was one of the first women to wear one of my SGMG tanks when I took the leap with the business. Since then, she has been a source of encouragement to me and is a godly woman that I admire. She is strong and fierce and funny, and you’ll love getting to know her today! 
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Welcome to In Her Shoes, Katie! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. For anyone who might not know you, please give a brief introduction of who you are outside of your running life. 
My name is Katie Shepherd, I am 38 years old and live in Leakesville, Mississippi. I have been married to my husband, Christopher for almost 15 years. We have three children: Aubrynn (14), Addyson (11), and Cayne (7). I’ve been a stay at home mother since Cayne has been born, but I taught fitness classes three days a week for 2016-2017 school year. I had an abdominal partial hysterectomy August 18, 2017 which kept me from returning back to teaching my class. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior March 11, 2001. It’s important for my husband and I to raise our children in a Christian home. God first, marriage, kids, then career, hobbies.
What’s a typical day like in your shoes? 
My mornings are a little chaotic since we got our new white lab puppy three weeks ago. I used to start my day with coffee and writing in my prayer journal. I make lunches for the kids and get them ready for school. If it’s a running day, I run then do all my chores. I’ve been training since I was released to run after my surgery which was the end of September. Some days, I go to the gym and lift weights/crosstrain. Sunday’s-Wednesday’s we are able to eat dinner as a family. My husband owns a restaurant open Thursday-Saturday so those nights it’s me and the kids. I hate to admit, we mostly eat out those nights for dinner or I make something simple. 
How long have you been running, and what made you get started?
I’ve been running for 5 years. I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse at age 23. That was also the year I got married and had my first baby. MVP is a minor heart problem, but comes with some scary symptoms: chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, low blood pressure, and anxiety. I think it’s normal to have anxiety when your heart races or gets out of rhythm. I’ve struggled with it since my diagnosis. My main issues are palpitations and chest pain. Over the years my cardiologist said doing some sort of cardio exercise would help with the symptoms. That was one reason I finally started to run. I started when my youngest baby was almost 2 years old. I could not get the last 10 pounds of baby weight off and one of my fitness class teacher’s suggested running. In February 2013, I found a flier for the “Hippity Hop for your Heart 5k” and decided I would use the Couch to 5k program to train for it. I will never forget “Day 1” of the C25k program. My heart got out of rhythm and my chest started hurting when I tried to run for one minute. I went back to my car after only 15 minutes it scared me so badly. The next day, I tried again and made it the full 30 minutes of the workout. Week 5 I ran for 20 minutes straight and couldn’t believe it. I had never been a runner. I played soccer in high school and never could run the 2 miles required for tryouts. I had to run and walk and remember how miserable I was. Who knew I would find a new passion at age 33 after having three kids?
What was your proudest running moment?
When I became a marathoner. I ran the St. Jude Country Music Marathon in Nashville aka the RNR Nashville Marathon (they changed the name after I ran it and I missed out on the marathon jacket) April 25, 2015. I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon in 2014 and raised over $11,000 with my team for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I raised $1000 on my own for the hospital when I ran Nashville. It was important for me to run for this cause and it helped me make it through a tough race. I trained too hard and ended up injured. I taped my knee up for the marathon and finished in 5:49:45, barely making the 6 hour cut off. My two daughters crossed the finish line with me. By far, my favorite moment ever. 
Do you have a favorite race distance?
I love half marathons because I feel like I’ve accomplished something huge every time I cross the finish line. I am stronger at short distance and can run faster. I am a slow distance runner lol!
My Family at the St. Jude Half Marathon December 2, 2017. My third time to run this half and as a St. Jude Hero
Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?
Yes, I have been training for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon coming up March 18! It has taken me three years to fully commit and train for another marathon! I’m so excited because I made it all the way through my training and remained injury free! I did miss a few long runs and I made it to 18 instead of 20 miles for my last big training run. I feel very prepared this time around because I only made it 17 miles for my first marathon plus I was hurting. 
[]I took this after my 18 mile run. When you make it this far, you ugly cry. God gets all the glory!
Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that inspires you to keep going?
I draw strength from the Lord during my long training runs. Isaiah 40:31 is my favorite Scripture “For those who hope (trust) in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 
What’s your advice to someone who wants to start running?
 I would definitely recommend using a Couch to 5k program. It worked for me! I would also tell them to not compare themselves with other people or worry about their pace. I will never forget someone telling me I look like I should be a fast runner because I’m a small person. I told someone today that everyone is different and we are not all supposed to be able to run the same pace as others. I can’t run 8 minute miles and probably never will be able to. I think social media can make people feel defeated before they even try because they see so many who are fast and it can be discouraging. Whether you run 7 minute miles or 12, you are still lapping everyone on the couch! 
I just ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon Sunday, February 25 2018 in probably around 3 hours!
What running products and gadgets do you swear by?
I started out with just using a running app on my phone. I like Garmin but really enjoying my Apple Watch because it has a wrist based HR monitor. I wear Procompression Socks and Brooks Glycerin 15’s since they discontinued my ASICS I had been wearing for two years. 
What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from running?
Spending time with my husband and kids. I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like, but hoping to have a girls trip with my bestie this summer. I was a worship leader for 7 years before my surgery. We recently left that church and had to start over. We go to a much smaller church now in our community. We moved to Leakesville over a year ago and even though we are just one county away from where I pretty much grew up, I don’t have many friends. It gets lonely sometimes, but mostly people here tend to stick with their families which I do love. I just miss girl time and adult conversation so much sometimes. Being a mother of three is hard. I would love to start a Bible Study here at my home, but waiting for God’s direction. 
Just for fun – what are three things that you’re grateful for?
My relationship with Jesus. I sure do miss my morning fellowship and quiet time since we’ve had the new puppy, but I know He understands. I am thankful for my marriage. My husband is so supportive of me. He is not a runner, but he sees how it makes me happy. 
15 years is a long time to be married in the world we live in. It hasn’t been easy but so worth it. I do not have much of a relationship with my own father which makes me appreciate the father my husband is to our kids. He always says “I love you,” and he hugs and kisses me and them. My father was not like that at all. I’m so thankful for each of my children, Aubrynn, Addy, and Cayne and the relationship I have with each of them. Being a mother has been my greatest reward in life, but it has not been easy either. I just pray they each follow the Lord and will know the plans He has for them. 
Thank you, Katie, and have a great marathon next weekend! Follow along with Katie’s running journey: @katieshepherd03