Friday, November 29, 2019

Under Construction: Halloween 2019

Ever since I had my first baby I've done group Halloween costumes with the exception of the Halloween that I was in the hospital after having my oldest child. 

My oldest and I dressed up as Dorothy Gale and the Wicked Witch of the West for Halloween 2009. Then, in 2010, her brother was added to the family and we did a 1950's theme with my daughter and I dressing in poodle skirts and her brother dressed as a greaser. 

Who's the fairest one of all?
The following year it was Snow White, Dopey, and the Evil Queen. That year I made ALL of the costumes by hand where as before I had only made a few things. 

For Halloween 2012, I wanted to save myself some sewing, so I reused my Evil Queen dress and I was Mother Gothel with my daughter dressing as Rapunzel and my son dressing as Flynn Rider, again sewing everything. 

Our costumes were out of this world!
The following year I got remarried and my new husband was a good enough sport to join in on our group costumes. We did a Mario Kart theme that year with Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Rosalina. 2014 was Despicable Me 2 (Gru, Lucy, a yellow minion, and a purple minion). In 2015 I was expecting a baby in October so I needed to have a costume that would be suitable for a baby belly or baby wearing. I strayed from sewing that year and actually made all of our costumes out of papier-mâché. We did a planets theme that even included our candy buckets. My oldest was Venus and carried a Mercury candy bucket. My oldest son was Earth and carried a moon candy bucket. I baby wore my youngest son and was Mars, and my husband was Jupiter. 

You remind me of the babe.
The following year, my youngest was the perfect age to dress as Toby from The Labyrinth. 2016 also happened to be the 30th anniversary of the movie's release, and sadly, David Bowie had died in January of that year. So my toddler became "The Babe with The Power." My daughter dressed as Sarah Williams, my oldest son as the Blue Worm ('Alo!), my husband as Jareth, and I as the Hear No Evil Door Knocker. 

In 2017, we dressed as characters from Big Block Singsong: Clown, Beats, Princess, Robot, and Monkey. It was another year of crafting the costumes. I used cardboard boxes and wrapping paper. If you have a young child and have never watched or listened to Big Block Singsong, I highly recommend it!

A family of block heads.
2018 was a bit harder to pinpoint our theme. While trick-or-treating in 2017, a friend and business owner gave my husband a stocking cap. As we were walking home I jokingly suggested to my husband that he dress as our friend for Halloween 2018. That eventually led to us dressing as "Hometown Heroes" with each of us dressing as someone we knew. Firefighters, a postman, a teacher, and a sewer and drain expert. However, on Halloween morning, my toddler, who was dressing as a fireman that year, declared he wanted to be a construction worker. 

So that brings us to our family theme for 2019 which was determined by a wish my toddler had in 2018. We told our toddler he'd have to wait a year to be a construction worker, and he didn't let us forget it. So once we found out I would be noticeably pregnant for Halloween 2019, it was obvious that we needed to figure out how to incorporate a baby bump into a construction theme. After a few internet searches, I decided that my husband and I would be construction workers carrying signs. His sign would say "Bump Ahead." I debated what mine should say. I saw several examples of pregnancy construction costumes online that said "Under Construction," but ultimately, I decided to have my sign say "Bump," since it coincided with the "Bump Ahead" sign better. I made our signs out of foam board and dowels that I hand painted. We borrowed our construction vests and helmets.

I made my toddler's construction vest despite the fact that we have a vest in our dress up bin. That vest is very well loved and actually has my oldest son's name embroidered on it so that's why I opted to make the toddler a new one. I improved the vest pattern slightly by lining it, mostly since I had more than enough material to do so.

It didn't take me long to decide that his costume was almost too simple, and I opted to turn our wagon into a backhoe loader after finding images online for other wagons turned into construction vehicles. The backhoe loader is made of cardboard and painted with spray paint and acrylic paint, duct tape, hot glue, and foam board and bulletin board border for the wheels. 

Figuring out what to make the older kids was a bit trickier. After several internet searches, I got the idea to make a traffic light costume and a traffic cone costume. I just had to convince my kids to dress up as those things. Constructing the traffic light was pretty easy. A cardboard box painted black with 4 painted tap lights. After having troubles with tap lights last year, I opted to use screws, washers, and nuts to attach the tap lights to the a piece of cardboard. It proved to be a smart decision because we didn't have problems with the lights falling off the costume. I used some craft foam to make the traffic light visors.

The traffic cone costume was by far the most challenging costume I made this year — maybe even ever. I've never really made such a structured costume that didn't involve papier-mâché or cardboard. But, I knew that I wanted the costume to be sewn to keep the costume lightweight. I ended up using a tomato cage for an under structure, and I covered it in roll craft foam. I did my best to make a pattern using paper, and I used that pattern to help cut the foam and the material. Then, for the base of the traffic cone, I used a piece of black EVA foam.

Overall, I'd have to say that I really enjoyed making our costumes this year, and I know that people enjoyed seeing them. People tend to remember us from year to year because our costumes are memorable, and we seem to be the only family in the neighborhood that consistently dresses up together. During our candy travels on that big night, my husband overheard a teenage boy sincerely stating to his friends that he wished his family was like ours. Cue collective "awe" with the Full House theme song trailing in.

Next year's theme has already been decided. My daughter declared that SHE gets to choose the theme as retribution for the fact that I made her a traffic cone this year. Even if I basically forced the idea on her, I know she enjoyed having a unique costume. And I KNOW she enjoyed the attention it garnered at the houses we went to. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Oh, The Places Running Has Taken Me

The feeling of crossing the finish line. I still feel this way.

I ran a marathon. I. Ran. A. Freaking. Marathon. Twenty-six point two miles. Even though half a year has passed, I’m still sort of in disbelief. If you had told me two years ago that I’d be able to call myself a marathoner, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me fifteen years ago, I would’ve tried to have you committed. Sixteen years ago, 2003, I was in Basic Training. I was in really good shape, but I hated running. After I had been in the Army Reserves for a few years, after I had spent a year in Iraq, all of the running endurance I had gained in training had disappeared. The Reserves encourages soldiers to stay physically fit, but it can be difficult for someone who isn’t necessarily motivated to do so. I was a college student at the same time that I was in the Reserves. I was trying to graduate, and as a senior graphic design student I had gallery shows to prepare for. I also had choir concerts to perform in for my music minor. My marriage was falling apart, and I found out I was pregnant. My senior year in college was stressful to the max, but that’s a story for another time. The point is that during my senior year, fitness was anything but a priority. 

Now look at me. I’m still not in “basic training” shape, but I can run farther than I ever imagined. Just this month, I ran the TC One Mile. I took 21.1 seconds off of my time from 2017—I ALMOST broke an eight minute mile. My mind is still having a really hard time comprehending that. 

In November 2018, a little more than a month after the Twin Cities Marathon, I ran a Turkey Trot. It was a 10k. I was 45 seconds shy of running it in an hour. I blame the fact that I stopped less than a quarter mile in so I could tighten my shoelace. Were it not for that I'm sure that I would've broken a one hour time. 

The other thing that happened after TCM is that I started a run streak. My husband had been streaking for months, and I was looking for my next challenge. On October 22, 2018, I started running at least a mile a day. As of this writing, I am 214 days and 449 miles in. I am also "running the year" with my husband. We've teamed up to each run half of 2,019 miles. Our team is currently over 700 miles for the year. 

Running has given me so much since I found a passion for it. It has proven to me that I am so much stronger than I ever thought. It’s shown me that I’m capable of doing amazing things.  It’s also given me opportunities I wouldn’t have imagined. 

At the beginning of 2019, I learned that I was selected to be a Nuun Ambassador. Because of this, I’ve not only had a chance to try new products at a generous discount, but I also get to meet up with other ambassadors in the area for special events. I’ve met some incredible people. And, I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to represent Nuun alongside other Twin Cities Nuun ambassadors. Go to and use code hydratewithus25 for 25% off your purchase through May 29, 2019.

Another big change for me started around the beginning of April. It was prompted by my friend, who is a Zyia Active Independent Representative. She was in the process of trying to grow her team, and she reached out to me, as one of her Zyia Ambassadors, to ask me if I wanted to become a rep myself. My initial reaction was, “No way!” I’ve done direct sales, and I’ve failed miserably. As a stay-at-home mom, I just don’t have the reach I need to be successful at direct sales. I started talking to my husband about my friend asking me if I wanted to sell Zyia. I told him I knew the question was coming from her, but at that point, it just made me roll my eyes. As The Husband and I were talking, I mentioned that my friend has likely been successful at selling Zyia in part because she is also a group fitness instructor. Suddenly it hit me: Why couldn’t *I* become a group fitness instructor?  The conversation shifted. I decided to start asking my friend how she became an instructor. I told her I felt that being an instructor would be step one. 

I contacted my local YMCA and got a trial membership. I attended a few classes and asked the group fitness manager about the requirements for becoming an instructor. I learned everything I needed to know, and I started working on the steps I needed to take. 

I’m still working on my online classes. In fact, I really haven’t even started. The last month of school has been a busy time for my family, and I’ve had a lot of places to be. However, I did decide to become a Zyia rep myself because I got tired of referring people to my friend when they could be buying from me. My husband invested in my Zyia starter kit, which included a few new active wear items of my choice. Now I can share this clothing line that I love and also hopefully earn an income doing so. 

I just had my launch party, and the shopping link is still open. I still need a few orders to reach my goal for the party, and once that goal is reached, I will be drawing a name for one of my customers to get a free item! You can check out my page at

I'm not sure what my future has in store, but my goal is to become certified as a group fitness instructor and eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, become a certified POUND instructor so that I can start teaching POUND classes at the YMCA. I never thought that this would be something I'd do with my life, and it all started with running.

Hey! If you want more Running on Empty, connect with me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Coming Full Circle

It feels as though I have come full circle with my running journey. Before I explain why, though, I should really update you all on what has been happening with my running. 

I feel pretty lazy for not having written more posts since last December, but I don't feel like I need to beat myself up about it. Life happens, as they say. During the first six months of 2018 I kept busy with a variety of different things, not the least of which was running. 

Even in January, I knew that for Thanksgiving this year my family would not be going out of town. I decided that I wanted to run a Turkey Trot, as it was sort of on my wish list for last year, but my family went out of town, and I couldn't find a race local to where we were. The search for such a race this year in Minnesota led me to the Minnesota Run Series. The Minnesota Run Series is a group, or series, if you will, of races all throughout the year. The first race is Goldy's Run in April, and the last race is the Reindeer Run in December. The MN Run Series offers a 4+ challenge that gives any participants in 4 or more races of the 8 race series a special hoodie. Since I knew I was already planning on running the Turkey Trot, I convinced myself, and my husband, that I should run three more races to complete the 4+ challenge. The other races I chose were Goldy's Run, the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon, and the Lake Waconia Half Marathon.

In addition to signing up for the above listed MN Run Series half marathons, I had also tentatively planned on running the Urban Wildland Half Marathon again this year, since it falls on a weekend that my husband already takes vacation from work. I felt that, in addition to a couple of 5k races, my running season would be challenging but not impossible. So early this year, my tentative race schedule was as follows:

April 8—Goldy's 10 mile 
May 6—Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon
May 21—SBMFD Fit2Fight 5k Fun Run
June 2—Lake Waconia Half Marathon 
July 28—Urban Wildland Half Marathon
September 29—Panther Foundation 5K
November 22—Turkey Trot: Saint Paul. 

It was definitely a well-rounded schedule that would hopefully keep my motivation and training on track.

While I did use the treadmill a small amount at the beginning of the year, once I signed up for Goldy's Run, I decided that I should train outside as much as possible, since I was well aware that an April race could bring any sort of weather.

I never ran in any extremely difficult conditions between January and April. Some runs were obviously colder than others. There was one particular run on April 3, during which it was snowing pretty heavily. As I ran throughout my neighborhood, I came across someone walking a dog. The man made a comment about my running in the snow, and I simply told him that weather didn't stop training. In my mind, for some reason, I had this vision of my training being for a marathon. I imagined what it would feel like to cross a finish line after 26.2 miles, and the thought honestly put a little more pep in my step.

A snowy run on April 3, 2018.
Now, I'm not saying that I was anxious to sign up for a marathon after that training run. I simply felt that, someday, likely years away, I would love to experience the feeling of completing 26.2 miles.

Fast forward to June. Folks in the running community likely know about Global Running Day. For those of you who may not have heard of it, it's pretty much exactly what the name implies. It's an annual event held on the first Wednesday of June that celebrates the sport of running. Every year, various running groups hold contests on Global Running Day. I like to enter contests. I tend to win things. This year a company called Motigo asked for runners to post a photo which answered a specific question that asked anything from "What's your favorite race?" to "Miles so far this year." I think I answered the "Miles so far this year" question and submitted it with a photo to their contest on June 6, 2018.

On June 10, I was sitting with my family waiting for fireworks to start for an annual local celebration. I checked my email. I was shocked when I read the following:

Hi there!
Congratulations!! You've won an entry to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
for participating and posting your picture for Global Running Day.

Say what?! I won an entry to a marathon?! An entry that normally costs $150.00?! I really wasn't sure how I felt about it at first. I asked my husband to check his vacation availability the next time he went in to work. When he told me that he had enough vacation, and the vacation calendar was open for October 7, I got really excited. Then I contacted my physical therapist to ask him if a marathon was something I could realistically complete. Once I got the okay from him, and once my husband put his name on the vacation calendar, I officially signed up for the marathon. I had 17 weeks to train. 

One of my biggest deciding factors for signing up, other than the free entry, was that I am currently in the best shape that I have been in since having kids. If there was going to be any year to commit to the time it takes to train for a marathon, this was it. And, my husband agreed. 

So, here we are 17 weeks of training later. I have one more training run before the marathon. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt like I'd come full circle with my running. This is why: I really became hooked on running after I had won an entry to a local 5k.  Now here I am, preparing to run my first marathon on an entry that I won. Very few people can say they were fortunate enough to win a single race entry, let alone two. The only reason I am running the marathon this year is because of the free entry, and the free entry to that 5k in 2016 is one of the main reasons I started running. 

I don't necessarily plan on winning any more race entries in the future. I'm not even sure that I plan on running any more marathons. I guess I'll save that decision until after I finish on Sunday. Until then, I can say that the act of training for a marathon has shown me that I can do anything I set my mind to. And, honestly, I now understand why people pay $150.00 to run 26.2 miles. The experience of the training alone has been worth that price. 

Hey! If you want more Running on Empty, connect with me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

All Hail the Ambassador

Despite the fact that I've been running for more than 2 years, I still consider myself a bit of a newbie. I'm not hip to all of the different brands of activewear, hydration packs, GPS watches, or headphones. I wrote a post last year, Get Into Gear, that talked about the different gear I had at the time and also about my desire to become an ambassador for something. Well, last month my friend and fellow runner started selling Zyia Active. She asked me if I would be interested in becoming an ambassador to help spread the word. Of course, I took her up on the offer. 

Zyia is a fairly new company. They were founded in February 2017 by three women. The company started out primarily geared toward woman, and it largely still is, but in one of their recent "new release Wednesdays," they introduced some men's items. 

I've never been an activewear "snob." I've been content to buy shirts or capris at my local big-box stores. I have remained pretty brand loyal to Champion and C9, but that's only because I do a fair amount of my shopping at Target. I've also bought activewear at Walmart, Kohl's and Dick's Sporting Goods. I've been in a few high-end activewear stores, but only because I had to pick up a race packet. I've looked at the prices on the items in those stores and thought, "No way!" It wasn't until I was introduced to Zyia that I didn't scoff at the price tag. I somehow ended up on a Zyia reps Facebook page and I won a gift card to her shop. I decided to buy a pair of Zyia's Light n Tight Hi-Rise Capris 2. I didn't even wash them once they arrived in the mail—that's how excited I was to try them. I put them on and went for a run. I can honestly say that they are the first pair of capris that I've ever run in that I didn't have to adjust AT ALL! They are made of a 4-way stretch fabric that also offers compression. The Light n Tight Capris 2 have pockets on each leg and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Zyia also has other styles of capris and, as mentioned before, there are new releases every week.

In addition to buying the capris, I decided I needed to get a tank top to match them. I ended up getting one of Zyia's Copper Charged Tanks. As stated on Zyia's website, their Copper Charged collection "incorporates a technology that infuses copper yarn to help block odors during the toughest performance activity through its anti-microbial properties." The tank is super lightweight and breathable, and I don't feel gross in it no matter how much I sweat.

Shortly after my initial Zyia purchase, my friend Christina became an independent Zyia representative.  That was when she offered to provide me an outfit in exchange for my promoting it. Given how much I already liked my Zyia pieces, I had no problem agreeing to Christina's proposal. 

The pieces that I selected were the Gray Track Shorts and the White Twist Tank. The first pair of shorts that Christina sent me ended up being a little small. The Gray Track Shorts are an item that Zyia actually recommends sizing up on. Oops. Christina sent me my new size and they fit like a dream. 

The White Twist Tank is super comfy.  It features an opening in the back to help with ventilation and twisted straps, which are a nice touch to jazz up an otherwise plain white shirt. 

The first time I wore the outfit was for a seven-mile training run. I cannot say enough good things about the shorts. They are the most comfortable shorts I've ever run in. They have a long enough inseam so as to cover my thighs and prevent rubbing, but I also didn't have to adjust or fix the shorts even once during my training run. It was awesome. 

The tank was comfortable. It's made of a heavier material that holds sweat, but I couldn't really feel the dampness of the shirt while I was running. After my training run the tank was soaked, but I didn't have any complaints about it. 

It wasn't until I wore the shorts and tank for a race that I discovered I could say a few more things about them. I wore my Zyia outfit for the RBC Race for the Kids half marathon on August 4, 2018. It was a disgustingly humid day, and it actually rained toward the end of the race. My shorts didn't let me down at all. Surprisingly, they seemed to be dry during the whole run, even though every other part of me was drenched. I might have to get another pair of the shorts, because I love them that much.

The Twist Tank gave me some issues at the half marathon distance. Sometime shortly after mile ten of the race, I noticed I had terrible chafing on the underside of my arm. I've never had an issue with chafing before. The thickness of the shirt and the wetness caused by the humidity and the rain is what I attribute to have been the cause of the problem.

I'm not saying that the Twist Tank from Zyia is a bad shirt. The first time I tried it on I loved it because it was so comfortable. However, it might not be the best shirt for running 13 miles in. I didn't have any issues running 7 miles in it, though. A better option for longer distances would be a tank from their Copper Charged collection that I mentioned earlier. In the future, I think I'll be more inclined to wear my Twist Tank for short runs or cross-training or just for lounging around.

The Track Shorts, on the other hand, might just be the only shorts I wear for races from here on out. Aside from the fact that they are ridiculously comfortable, I also love that there's a small zippered pocket that I can put my keys in. Currently, the Track Shorts come in Gray and Green. But if you can't find something you like on the website now, you only have to wait a week to see some new items. The Zyia operation is a pretty small one, so if you do see something you like you better snatch it up. Items seem to sell out pretty quickly, and there are no guarantees that they will be restocked.

If you have any questions about Zyia, you can check out Christina's Facebook pageInstagram, or independant representative page. Let her know that I sent you, and you'll get 10% off your first order.

Hopefully, there will be more ambassadorships in my future. On the top of my list of companies I want to be an ambassador for are SPIbelt and PRO Compression. But, for now, I'm honored to be a Zyia ambassador.

Hey! If you want more Running on Empty, connect with me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2,017 miles in 2017

I set a personal goal for 2017 to run 35 miles in races. I could've started that goal in May when I turned 35, but I opted to just make it a goal for the calendar year. I actually ended up running 51.42 race miles which included many firsts for me. Though I did not start out the year planning to run a half-marathon, 2017 marked my first one. This year also marked my first mile long race, which I ran faster than I had ever imagined possible. 2017 earned me my first age group placing, too. Between training and racing, I ran a total of 288 miles. I walked about that many miles, too. I actually don't know how many miles I walked, because I was pretty terrible about logging them.  I hope to improve upon that in 2018.

I don't think that this year would've included so many firsts if it weren't for the inspiration I received from the folks participating in Run the Year 2017. I've mentioned Run the Year before, but I never actually wrote a post about it. I figured that now is as good a time as any, since the year is over.

I started running in 2016, and it all pretty much began with my first race. Although, it wasn't until my second race that I really fell in love with it. That year, I set a personal goal to run five 5ks. I trained semi-regularly, because I wanted to avoid injury and make running a regular part of my life.

That same year, one of my friends was posting pictures from races she had run. She had made a personal commitment to run 33 miles, since she celebrated her 33rd birthday that year. To the best of my knowledge, she didn't really train for the races, she just went out and ran them. At some point during the year, I commented on her goal and she mentioned to me that there were people in the world who actually "run the year." I hadn't heard of that concept before and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became.

At the end of 2016, I found myself on the Run the Year 2017 website. I knew that I'd never be able to run 2,017 miles in a year—having three kids and Minnesota's harsh winters would prevent me from meeting that goal. However, the website mentioned that one could count their daily steps. Run the Year had an online tracker that would sync automatically with Fitbit data. Suddenly, the idea of averaging roughly 5.5 miles a day didn't seem so impossible. I'm usually fairly active in the warmer months, but I did a lot of sitting in 2016, especially in the winter. Some days, I was lucky to hit 5,000 steps. It frustrated me because I was gaining weight. I decided to give myself some motivation to keep active, and I signed up for Run the Year on New Year's Eve.

The Run the Year challenge encouraged me to use Wii Fit to freestep while I was watching TV. The challenge helped motivate me to run a half-marathon. The Run the Year challenge helped me go 500 miles farther in 2017 than I did in 2016.

Some Run the Year participants only count dedicated exercise miles. Maybe I'll be able to do that someday. But, for me, counting my daily steps isn't cheating. Walking to my basement to get more paper towels might not be "exercise," but the Run the Year challenge helped encourage me to do things like that more often, instead of convincing my kids to do them for me. I worked for every mile of my 2,017 miles, whether I was completing a race, pacing around my kitchen, or even just putting laundry away. I am proud of my 2,017 miles.

I will be participating in Run the Year 2018. My goal is to complete the challenge before December 31. In fact, I'd love to get 2,100 miles. I'm hoping for a minimum of 300 running miles. Injuries prevented me from hitting 300 running miles this year. Thankfully, 2017 has taught me so much, and I'm looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I'm Lazy And I Know It

In addition to participating in the Run the Year Challenge, in which I am counting all my daily steps, I’m also participating in my city’s fitness challenge. For that challenge, only walking, running, biking, and swimming miles count. Swimming miles are worth four times as much and biking miles are 1/4 as much. Walking and running miles are 1:1. 

July, when I trained for and ran a half-marathon, was a high mileage month. I got 110 miles in. That allowed me to join the city’s 100 Mile club, in which you have to complete 100 miles in six months

My mileage has steadily declined since then: 55 in August (I was in PT for my knees and wasn’t running as much), 39 in September, and 27 in October. I really didn’t do much of anything in October after I ran the Unleash the SHE 10k. I was making Halloween costumes and being lazy. 

Now that I’ve reassessed where I am at in the RTY challenge, I know I need to hit 5.76 miles or more a day to reach 2,017 miles by year’s end. 

I’m still not running at this time, because I need to see the doctor about some pain I’ve been having in my hip. But, I’ve committed to walking every day, as that is the only way I will hit my goals. 

As far as the city fitness challenge, I have until the end of June 2018 to hit 500 miles and until the end of 2018 to hit 1,000 miles. I’m already half way to 500 miles, and with my renewed commitment to exercising, I know I’ll hit 500 by the end of this year. 

I’m a person who needs motivation to get off my butt. If I don’t have a reason to walk or run, I would probably spend all day sitting, either snuggling with my toddler, watching TV, surfing the web, or even sleeping. That is why I joined the RTY challenge. Having more than one challenge that I’m participating in really helps me to stay motivated and committed to exercise, even if there may be some fantastic months and some not-so-fantastic months. 

My biggest personal challenge right now is my lack of strength training. I need to find the motivation to work strength training into my routine. I know it will only bring positive changes, so I’m not sure what my hang-up is other than I’m lazy.

There will always be room for improvement. Every year I get better. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Panther Foundation 5K 2017

Last year was the first year that I ran the Panther Foundation 5K. Who am I kidding? Last year was the first year that I ran any race. But since the Panther 5K is a fundraiser for my school district, after running it last year, I pretty much decided that I would run it every year in the future, as long as I was able. The whole event is fun for my kids, because they love the carnival and the inflatables. Last year, I managed to get a PR. I wasn't planning to get one this year because my training had slowed down considerably after my half-marathon and my subsequent knee pain. In any case, I still wanted to get out and run this 5K to the best of my ability.

The day before this year's Panther 5K was a Walk-a-thon for my daughter's school. I wasn't planning on running any of it (Hello? WALK-a-thon?), but I ended up running and walking almost four miles. I really hoped I wasn't going to regret it.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling pretty good. The weather this year was perfect. There was a light breeze and plenty of sunshine and the temperature was right around 55º at race time. Before the race, I actually got to the point where I regretted my long pants and wished I had worn capris. Oh, well.

My neighbor/running buddy and I ran together. We started off pretty fast, and after we had ran about three-quarters of a mile, we decided we were going to do 3:00/00:45 run/walk intervals. We kept up a pretty great pace doing that—just under 10:00/mile. We seemed to be really far out in front of everyone or really far behind. We weren't entirely sure. We passed a cyclist riding in the opposite direction who said we were the first women she had seen. Now, we KNEW we weren't the first women, because we knew there were people in front of us. However, we were unsure of how many people were in front of us, so the comment from the cyclist was really exciting! 

It wasn't too long after we passed the cyclist that my buddy started having trouble breathing. It wasn't a lung issue, though. She must have had some sort of subluxation in her spine because it was causing her excruciating pain. I tried my best to motivate her and keep encouraging her to push hard, but she probably wanted to punch me in the face. 

We skipped a run interval and started walking a little as my buddy tried to breathe through her back pain. Then, at around 2.5 miles, we saw a couple of women in front of us. A couple of women that, as I recall, we had "leap-frogged" with a few times over the course of the race. I told her that I really wanted to beat those women. She said, "Go for it." 

It's hard to leave a running buddy behind, especially when they are hurting. I felt really selfish taking off without her. Then, at about 2.75 miles, I heard the announcer call out the first place female time as the runner crossed the finish line—27:00. I honestly couldn't even fathom that it was possible that the first female runner had just crossed the finish line. I quickly started trying to figure out how many women were between me and the finish. I knew there weren't many. 

I started getting pretty fatigued, and I wanted to slow down. I had taken off too fast with too much race left. Then, I reached the point in the course that came back onto the track at the high school. There were roughly 250 meters between me and the finish. I dug deep and found a little more speed. 

Holding my 3rd place medal in front of the finish line.

I don't remember for sure, but I think I saw at least one of my kids at track side holding out their hand for a high-five and saying, "Go, Mom!" I crossed the finish line at 30:33. That's only eighteen seconds slower than last year, so I was and am pretty happy with that. Perhaps the more astonishing thing was that right after I crossed the finish, a third place female medal was placed around my neck. My first age group placing!

I looked up the times from the race last year and I learned that NONE of the placing times this year would have placed last year. This year was apparently a much slower race. I have to wonder if it had something to do with the fact that the race was on TC Marathon weekend. Maybe all of the fast runners were participating in a bigger race the next day so they opted to not participate in the Panther 5K this year. Whatever the case, I'm grateful for the opportunity to finish with a medal.

In case you're wondering, my buddy finished fourth or fifth for females. There may have only been one runner who finished between us. That runner placed, too, I think, because she was in the senior age group. But I'm not positive about anything that happened after I finished the race. I was on cloud nine, and I was trying to locate my family.

Overall, I'm incredibly happy with how the race went. The Panther 5K served as a training run for my 10K that I was scheduled to race a couple of weeks later. While I don't expect to be able to place in my age group ever again, it was a very nice surprise. I'm already looking forward to next year. I hope that some year my kids will want to run the race with me, but I don't blame them for wanting to stay and play on the inflatables. I guess we shall see what next year brings.