In Her Shoes: Jenn Kafka

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


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.  


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?

Currently my only goal is growing our family.


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 ;).


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


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.


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.


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.


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

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Catch up with past interviews here!



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! 
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

I’m Breaking Up With Garmin Selfies

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Picture this:

You finish up an epic, endorphin-filled, long run on a beautiful, warm and sunny morning. You pushed yourself faster and farther than ever before. You crush your goal. You couldn’t do this six months ago. You feel yourself getting faster, tougher, stronger. And you’re soaking in that post-run bliss… nothing can bring you down!


Until it does.

You cool down, stretch out, grab some water and a protein shake, and mindlessly hop on Instagram (oh, what a terrible habit it is!) only to scroll and see that another girl just ran the same distance. Except way, way, WAY faster than you.

Your parade TOTALLY just got rained on, right? 

Suddenly, you’re not proud of your run anymore. You just feel inadequate – again.

Sound familiar? At least, that’s the way it’s been for me before. Countless times, I’ve hopped on social media wanting to share something I’m proud of, only to be instantly crushed when I feel like my best run isn’t good enough. I got caught up in the stats and the times and the splits and was so focused on what everyone else was doing that I couldn’t celebrate how far I’d come on my own running journey.

If you’re in the Instagram fitness + running community, you know it’s amazing. Like me, I bet you’ve made some incredible friendships and found some serious inspiration, encouragement, and really helpful resources in those little squares. When running is such a solitary sport, the online community can bond and connect us to feel like we’re all on the same team.

But you know what else is tucked away in the dark corners of the Instagram game? Self-doubt, insecurity, and comparison.

And I’m breaking up with it.

I’m not breaking up with Instagram – I’m just breaking up with posting Garmin (watch) selfies and my running stats. No more numbers. I might share how many miles I ran or a beautiful shot of a route I enjoyed, but why get caught up in what the watch says? I’ve got nothing against those of you who post Garmin selfies – I love seeing you improve and cheering you on! But I don’t want my running stats to be someone else’s measuring stick. I never want someone to see the numbers behind my run and feel like they are less than.

Because I know I have felt like that before. I’ve felt like my personal accomplishments don’t matter, when I see girls that are qualifying for Boston or the Olympic Trials and I’m over here just trying to build my mileage up without passing out at the top of every hill. I’ve run long and fast tempos, faster than I ever have before, only to hop on the ‘gram and see that someone else’s “easy” day is still two minutes per mile faster than my best effort. That kind of thing can crush your spirits like no other, if you let it.

And alternatively, I’ve had friends say to me that they wish they could run at my pace, or that they’re embarrassed with their pace compared to mine as they start to build their endurance and figure out this whole distance running thing.

Y’all, that’s crazy. My friends are out there running SO MANY MILES – and a picture of my watch and some numbers just diminished their achievement?!

Your best effort is never something to be embarrassed about. Your best effort is just that – your BEST – and that is something to be celebrated!

All of this comparison, ladies, it just ain’t worth it. I don’t want to play anymore.

I’ve posted lots of Garmin selfies over the past couple of years. And I’m so sorry if my numbers ever made you feel like yours aren’t amazing, just like I know I have when I look at other women, crushing their goals.

Hear me loud and clear – if you are a runner, you are amazing. The fact that you are out there, running at all, is a huge accomplishment that can’t be measured. Numbers are just that – silly little numbers. When we get caught up in the stats, we miss out on the joy that drew us to this sport we love in the first place.

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So for now, I’ll keep taking Garmin selfies. But you won’t see them on my blog or Instagram anymore. I might occasionally send them to my mini-group text of real-life running friends – we do that with each other and I love it. But mostly I’ll just store them on my phone, privately, to quietly celebrate my wins and to not let them be dampened by or dampen anyone else’s.

And perhaps most importantly – I want to run, JUST TO RUN! What a novel idea. 🙂 Not to have something to post. Not to prove anything. Not to get likes. Not to impress. Not to measure up.

My mom (best coach I ever had) used to preach this to us during grade school cross country: It does not matter how fast or slow you go – it just matters that you go.

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Keep running, ladies. Keep pushing past your limits and keep finding your new best.

Did you hear that last one? YOUR new best. Not her new best. 😉

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And don’t let those silly numbers get in the way.

San Francisco Getaway: Part 3

Our third and favorite day in San Francisco! We rode 35 miles on our bikes, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, explores Sausalito, saw the Painted Ladies at sunset, and had the best Italian food and doughnuts at midnight.

Sausalito, Marin County (but doesn’t it look a lot like Italy?!)

Baker Beach State Park

“Everywhere you look…” the Painted Ladies @ Alamo Square

Vegan donuts!

Tips for Your Trip:

Bike rentals: Parkwide $35 for 24 hours

Eats: Nob Hill Cafe , Lapperts Ice Cream, Bob’s Donuts

Must-Sees: the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Baker Beach State Park

San Francisco Getaway: Part 2

Day 2 in San Francisco!

If you missed Day 1, you can catch up here.

We kicked off our day in the best way — a big ‘ol breakfast! We went to Taylor Street Coffee Shop, but it was really so much more than a coffee shop — which we quickly realized when there was a line out the door and we waited for 45 minutes. But a long line is a sign of a good meal, and the wait was well worth it! Plus, I got to play with an adorable Spanish-speaking toddler named Salvador next to us in line the whole time, so it was actually a fun wait.

It was a tiny place, but we loved the intimate atmosphere. Chad got the famous Millionaire Bacon (which was $8) and I got the French toast with corn flakes on top. SO GOOD! Man, this whole not eating vegan on vacation thing really has its perks. 🙂

I grabbed some coffee next door at Tilden and we took to the streets for day two of exploring the city. Our first stop: AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Chad LOVES baseball and one of his biggest life goals is to visit every stadium. So of course new city = new MLB stadium to tour!

Situated right on the water, it was gorgeous…but I still think Citizens Bank Park in Philly is way better. 🙂

Next, we took a Lyft across town to the famous Haight-Ashbury area. It was cool, but maybe not for you if you’re with your kids and don’t like being offered mushrooms or “great trips” every two seconds while you’re walking down the street. No, thank you. 🙂

We wandered in the famous Amoeba Records store and grabbed some lunch at Whole Foods.

Vegan BLTA — yes please!

We spent the next few hours walking through Golden Gate Park. It was a pretty walk and there was so much to see — except for views of the Golden Gate Bridge. 🙂 we even saw buffalo in the park!

We ventured all the way down to Ocean Beach. We wanted to visit this beach particularly because it is the same exact name as our beach town! It boasted a gorgeous sunset, and we shared a beer sampler flight at the bar across the street and watched some Olympics while the sun went down.

We made our way back to Haight-Ashbury and went to dinner and the best sangria EVER at Cha Cha Cha, a funky little Cuban restaurant that we both thought was possibly the best meal of the trip! It came highly recommend by both our financial advisor and the street mushroom entrepreneur – and they were both right!

Check back tomorrow for day 3!

San Francisco Getaway: Part 1

Happy Wednesday and happy valentine’s day, dear friends. I hope your week has been a good one so far!

We’re settling back into routine today (work, chores, and commuting, oh my!) after a magical four days in San Francisco. This was our first time exploring NorCal and while it felt like being in a completely different country compared to our southern half of the state, we loved every chilly, sunny second of it!

I wanted to recap our travels for you in case you ever find yourself on your own SF adventure. Over the next three days, SGMG will be bringing you all things San Francisco. I hope you’ll find it fun and useful to follow along! I hope I’ll have you booking your own flights to SF by the end of the week. 🙂

Quick side note: while we’re on the traveling subject — one of my best friends, Gwen, just launched her own blog, Full Life, Full Passport. She is an expert when it comes to executing wanderlust, so please be sure to subscribe to her blog so she can help make your travel dreams come true! Chances are, she’s already been to the places on your bucket list. She has so much knowledge + experience for us to learn from!

Now, back to SF! Let’s kickoff this series by recapping day one in the city.

How We Got There

Even though we weren’t leaving the state, we chose to fly to SF. It’s still crazy to me that you can fly and not leave California! Holy cow, it’s big. I’m used to being from somewhere where it wasn’t abnormal to drive through four states in one day.

The flight was only an hour and fifteen minutes and we scored a great deal on flights for only $49 each back in December. Keep your eyes out for those email sales — we love Southwest! Not to mention, I think they have the best airplane coffee ever. And I’ve tried them all.

But if you prefer, you can drive from SoCal to San Francisco in about 8 hours or so.

Where We Stayed

When we travel, we go full millennial and almost always stay in an AirBNB. It’s always been a fun, positive, and budget-friendly experience for us. We usually opt for places where we have the entire home to ourselves, but since we knew that we’d be out in the city exploring 99% of the time, we decided to save a buck by renting a master bedroom in someone’s home. We stayed at Alice’s roomy, charming apartment in Nob Hill.

It was clean, spacious, and quiet — and the bay windows, fire escapes, and charming brick made me want to live there forever.

Alice was a sweetheart, too; she served us like a hotel would and gave us great recommendations for restaurants. It’s always nice to have the inside scoop from a local. If you find yourself in SF, I’d highly recommend staying with her!

Around Town: Day One

After we landed at the airport and dropped our bags in our room, we changed into our sneakers and set out on foot to wander around the neighborhood.

We walked a few blocks to nearby Chinatown and stumbled upon a Chinese New Year Festival! We enjoyed the live music, lanterns, busy streets, and even saw a Chinese dragon performance.

We walked down to the Fisherman’s Wharf area and enjoyed lunch at Boudin Bakery.

Boudin is famous for its sourdough bread and many of my coworkers suggested that we eat there — and I’m so glad that they told me!

I enjoyed a bread bowl with tomato soup, and Chad had a crab cake sandwich and local Anchor Steam beer. So good!

After lunch, we wandered all around The Embarcadero and Pier 39. It was full of shops, restaurants, and touristy things — but was still really fun and definitely worth seeing, as it offered amazing views of the city, water, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz.

And hey, there’s no shame in doing touristy things — we are tourists, after all. 🙂

Next, we knew we had to indulge in some treats at Ghiradelli Square — luxurious soy latte for me, and a “Crissy Field” sundae for Chad. I tried to be good and resist it, but I definitely had a few bites of his sundae! It was divine.

When you make your way to SF, Ghiradelli is not to be missed!

I eat vegan and plant based 99% of the time at home, but when we travel I give myself a lot of grace and choose to eat vegetarian. This way, we’re able to enjoy a lot more meals together and it takes away the stress of finding a restaurant that works for both of us. It makes traveling so much easier when you’re married to a meat + dairy lover…and I get to try some fun things. 🙂

Then we walked off *some* of our treats by climbing the loooong, steep hills up to Lombard Street for the famous winding street. It smelled like burnt rubber from all of the cars riding their brakes down the massive hill! But it was such a cool and pretty sight.

Later that night, some friends from Delaware (who moved to the bay area to work for Apple) picked us up for dinner. It was great to see familiar faces in a new city! They took us to a hotpot place, Little Sheep. Think “the melting pot” for Asian food — if you love both, this is the place for you. It was a new thing for us, and a fun experience for a group! We’ll definitely be looking to see if San Diego has any hotpot joints.

(Source: Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot)

After dinner, our friends took the time to drive us down Lombard Street, to the Painted Ladies (full house opening credits!), and up to Twin Peaks for spectacular views of the dazzling skyline at night. They were so sweet to be our own private tour guides — thanks, Raisul and Danya!

(Source: Pinterest)

We were in bed by midnight (late for us!) to rest up for a full second day of our vacation! Be sure to check back tomorrow for a recap + travel tips from day two in San Francisco.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Have you been to San Francisco before?

Do you prefer to stay in AirBNBs or hotels when you travel?

Do you stick to a certain diet when you travel, or do you let yourself indulge?

I’m Just Really Happy For My Friend

Go back in time with me for a moment.

Think of your best, oldest, and truestfriend. You know the one.

That one friend that’s known you in all seasons — they’ve known your good, your bad, your ugly. They loved you in bellbottoms and scrunchies, they were a part of your first breakup and your wedding day. And you loved them at their worst, too. But you always saw the best for them. You’ve walked through grief and celebration, heartache and hope, with this friend. Your memories with this friend are as old as you are.

For me, this friend is the Philadelphia Eagles.

This team has been a friend I’ve known in all seasons. A friend that was constant in the midst of change. A friend that I played with and laughed with and argued with and partied with and fought with; a friend that I’d easily make up with again and quickly get over it. A friend that you might be rolling your eyes right now because oh my gosh charlotte, it’s just a football team.

But for me…for all of us…it’s never been just a football team.

It’s the earliest memory I have of my dad.

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It’s making the 40 minute drive from South Jersey to Delaware every other Sunday night, while riding in the passenger seat, listening to Angelo Cataldi recap that night’s drama. Or, if it was a late game — listening to Merrill and Mike call it.

It’s sitting behind the goal post at Veterans Stadium in a backwards hat and glasses, 2002, week 11, watching Donovan McNabb break his ankle and screaming my eleven-year-old head off as he locked in 4 touchdowns and a win against the Cardinals anyway.

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It’s the song I later made up about him while bored in school one day: “Shabby McNabby, he passes so fabby, had a cat, was a tabby…”. Yeah. A real talent. My uncles still tease me.

It’s waking up early on a Sunday morning with grandmom and dad to watch (and let’s be honest, sulk) as that same stadium with my first memories was demolished. I still believe that there’s a 700 level in heaven.

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It’s if I had a nickel for every time I had to hear a “jail in the stadium” joke, even 14 years later. Please. Come up with some new material and don’t you dare mention Santa Claus.

It’s walking out to the parking lot after a loss and finding that our friend’s back windshield was smashed. Angry drunk, or committed tailgater who was committed to going reaaaallly long for that parking lot football toss? It’s still a mystery.

It’s getting to tour the Linc one summer in July, the season before it opened. I think they called it an Open House and my dad and I had so much fun on that trip.

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It’s the nickname Lexi started calling me in 4th grade, “Pinky”, because I loved Todd Pinkston so much. P.S.Where are you now, Todd?!

It’s all of those summers as a kid at training camp, at Lehigh University. It’s waiting all day in the sun for McNabb to come out and then when he offered high fives, I could only reach high enough to smack his elbow. It’s James Thrash signing my program and quickly saying, “God Bless You”, and my ten year-old brain thinking, but I didn’t sneeze.

It’s another training camp when I boldly asked Hank Fraley in the way that little kids don’t care about being polite, “Hank, is it true that you eat six honey buns a day?” 

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“Who told you that?” he said. “Uhhhhh, maybe my dad?” I stammered. It was really my Uncle Mark who told me that. But Hank gave Dad a look. Sorry Dad. Sorry Hank.

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It’s being Brian Westbrook for Halloween. Yes, me. Skinny 13-year-old white girl with braided pigtails and braces. But also, eyeblacks.

It’s Joe and Dad.

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It’s all of the feelings of being a 7th grader and watching your favorite people on the planet go to the super bowl.

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It’s all of the feelings of sitting on your dad’s friend’s dryer in the laundry room, staring at a bag of Beneful and a tile floor, during the fourth quarter of that same super bowl because you can’t bear to watch anymore. It’s asking to stay home from school the next day because you’re too sad to go on. It’s thinking that you might just vomit, too.

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It’s experiencing my first real loss – Grandpop Barron – in a bitter cold January in 5th grade. It’s listening to Eagles talk radio late at night in my bedroom, on my blue boombox, when I couldn’t fall asleep and felt scared in the weeks after his funeral. I just needed something familiar.

It’s terrible photos from the first cellphone you ever had.

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It’s running those looooooonnnnng switchbacks, quads burning, usually singing, rushing to make it to our seats by kickoff. The energy is building and you feel pretty dang happy to be a part of it.


And it’s also receiving the text that my Pop-Pop had died — while I sat in section 221 with Chad and Matt as the Eagles painfully lost to the Seahawks, December 7, 2014. It’s crying the whole way back down 95 South.

It’s running through the tunnel.

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It’s celebrating our Veterans.

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It’s hanging out in the college bedroom of a guy that I liked, watching just about every  away game together that season. We both knew it wasn’t going anywhere, but I could talk football and eat pizza and blow off studying… so that was fine by me.

It’s dating someone else for all the wrong reasons. It’s realizing that I wanted to break up with him the same day that Andy Reid was fired, and somehow always connecting the two together.

It’s being with my friend 4.5 years ago, the week before her wedding, stopping for gas in Rancho Cucamounga, CA. It’s, “wait! before you start driving again, can we watch the Eagles hype video?” It was this one. She was so nice + patient.

It’s all of those awkward stages of stumbling through life and not really knowing who the heck you are or what the heck you’re doing. It’s trying new things and messing up and learning hard lessons and skinning your knees along the way…but faithfully watching the TV every Sunday in the Fall. That old, familiar friend.

And it’s joy, too. It’s not just a football team, but so much joy. 

It’s September, telling my mom about the cute guy from church that I met while the Eagles played the Broncos on the TV in the background.

It’s sitting at a picnic table in FDR Park on an unusually warm November day, eating Wawa hoagies knee-to-knee with that same cute guy from church as he asked me to be his girlfriend, before kickoff against the Redskins. Nick Foles was our QB then, too. And it’s “Hey…I know we’ve only been dating for two hours but…wanna meet my dad at halftime?”

That day was a good day.

And it’s knowing you’ve got an Eagles-watching-partner forever and ever, when he later asks you to be his wife.

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And it’s blissfully attending your first game as newlyweds.

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It’s Take Your Dad To the Linc Day.

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And it’s dad flying all the way across the country for some quality time — but not without our birds, of course.

It’s losing bets to our friends from Dallas.

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It’s joking about naming our first born child Carson. But we’re actually totally serious. Don’t steal our name.

It’s running six miles to the Rocky steps before the Monday night game.

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It’s attending open practice at Franklin Field.

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And it’s still so, so many countless memories with Dad.

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It’s losing my voice singing in section 221.

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It’s that time they tweeted our dog.

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It’s that time we had seriously the best day ever ever ever. A bitter cold December night (the best football watching conditions), Jim’s Steaks, butterflies in our stomach, and deep fried peanut butter + jelly.

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It’s 44-6 and 4th and 26.

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It’s running into the owner in Pike Place Market in Seattle. He was so kind and friendly.

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It’s making friends with Eagles fans – even in the Space Needle.

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And it’s not even going to the game — but just hanging out with them across the street — the next day. It’s hugging everyone, because we’re strangers but we’re all family.

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It’s having the chance to do my best Andy Reid impression. Time’s yours.

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And it’s me absolutely losing my cool over just a football team.

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This is my story of a life spent loving the Philadelphia Eagles. What’s yours?

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Because…this isn’t just a football team. This isn’t just a sport. This is the story of a city, our city, who has faithfully waited and waited and waited and WAITED, alongside our lifelong friend — the one that has been woven through all of our stories, and all of our seasons and childhoods and memories.

We’ve ridden the highest highs and the lowest lows for YEARS. And even when it hurt, even when it was hard — we kept going and kept believing at all costs.

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Even though the road to victory has been a heck of a bumpy one. Even though this Sunday looks a little bit different than what we originally imagined — we never stopped believing that our Sunday would come. Now, it’s right around the corner.

We’re resilient and we’re ready.

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And come what may — I’m just really happy for my friend. My best, oldest, truest friend.

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