What I’m Listening To

Sometimes music gets old. Which, is why I’ve started listening to audio books and podcasts more frequently.

This summer I’ve finished FIVE books, thanks to the Audible app. That’s about four more than I’ve read listened to in the past five years! I’ve started listening to books being read to me while on my commute to work and while I run. I rarely have time make time to sit down and read. It’s just not important to me in the grand scheme of all other things on my list. Sometimes, I need to think about something other than how hard a run is, so an audio book is a great way to let my mind wonder.

Below you’ll find a list of the books I’ve read this summer with how I rated them. All five I finished, were great! One or two that I started, I couldn’t finish, either because the voice reading was annoying or because I wasn’t into it. I learned you can listen to a sample of the voice reading before you purchase, so now I do that. Below the book list, you’ll find some of my favorite podcasts too!

Summer books I listened to: 
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda: 4.5 stars
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena: 5 stars
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware: 4 stars
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: 5 stars (Super intense and heavy)
The Breakdown: 4.5 stars

My favorite podcasts: 

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Human Race is my ALL-TIME FAV. This is storytelling at it’s finest. This is my go-to on my commute after work when I’m trying to motivate myself to run when I get home after a long day. Some of my favorite recent episodes are:

Ali on the Run Show: Ali Feller is a writer and editor in NYC. She shares her own journey of running and has guests talk about marathon training, yoga, mental health and wellness.

Wrongful Conviction: Another favorite! And not at all running related but IT’S SO GOOD. This podcast features men and women who have been convicted for crimes they didn’t commit- some of them had even been sentenced to death. I’m often left thinking “HOW did this happen!?”

So, tell me, what are some of your favorite things to listen to while on the run?

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My summer in a nutshell

A lot has happened the summer and I haven’t blogged in a while…. (These are in no particular order.)

  1. Started a running club.
    On 4th of July weekend, I launched the Ottawa Running Club to bring together runners in my community. I have met lots of new people and it’s been a positive experience so far. Every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning we meet at the local rec center. I map an out-and-back route, post the map to our Facebook group, mark each turn with orange flags and set up two water stops along the way.  I set that course for 6 miles on Wednesdays and 8 miles on Sundays, but runners can go at their own pace and turn around at any point. Some days there’s only 2 of us and some days there are 11, and that’s okay.
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  2. Celebrated my goddaughter’s 1st birthday! 
    Miss Maisie had an awesome birthday celebration full of love, laughter, and cake! I loved visiting the Springer family and getting some quality time with my cousin/ friend, Jessie. Jess, I never know if I should introduce you as my friend, or my cousin! I often say friend, because you can’t choose your family, but I choose to have you as my friend! 🙂 Love you and your precious family!
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  3. Spent 10 glorious days at my all-time most favorite event: The Iowa State Fair.
    I took my vacation to go to the Fair, spend time with family and friends, and work at a merchandise store for the Blue Ribbon Foundation. I even got to take miss Maleigh (another Springer kid) with me for a day and show her everything I love about the event. She says that she’s now “a fair-lover for life.” Mission accomplished!
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  4. Got to see my friend & college roommie get married. 
    My mom and I took a girls trip to Normal, Illinois to see Emily get married. It was a beautiful weekend and so good to see her so happy. I was also able to reconnect with some Wartburg College friends.
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  5. Witnessed my parents being inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame. 
    My parents were recognized at the Adair County Fair and the induction into the 4-H Hall of Fame took place at the state fair. They have supported Iowa youth in so many ways and it was awesome to see family and friends come together to support and thank them.
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  6. Sent my (little) brother off to college.
    How is that possible!? Hank is only 2 weeks into his time at Iowa State University and so far, life is good. I’m proud of him and I look forward to watching him continue to grow and learn.
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  7. Spent some quality time with our nephew, Kayden.
    Baseball games, ice cream stops, and the Flint Hills Rodeo. We always have a good time with him!
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  8. Trained 75+ people in Hands-Only CPR.
    I had the opportunity to go to 41-Action News and train their employees as part of their partnership with the American Heart Association. It was a super neat event, and something I’ve been trying to accomplish for a couple years now. I feel confident that the Kansas City community just gained 75 life-savers. Pretty cool!
  9. Was diagnosed with IBS.
    TMI, I know. BUT, I finally found some answers to the stomach issues that I’ve had for the past 2 years. I’m on medication and a probiotic that helps me manage things. Running with IBS brings on a whole new set of challenges. That’s a blog post for another day…
  10. Celebrated 7 years with the love of my life. 
    Okay, so this hasn’t actually happened yet, but it will, in 12 days. We went on our first date nearly 7 years ago, and shared our first kiss at the Ol’ Marais Car Show, right on Main Street in front of God an everyone. (Shhh… don’t tell him I told you that!) In October, we got married just a couple blocks down from that first kiss location.
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    So it’s been a good summer… I’m sorry I’ve been slacking with the blog posts! More to come!

The Ottawa Running Club

Almost a year ago I moved back to Ottawa, Kansas, leaving behind a great running community in Missouri. I’ve missed to camaraderie and friends that pushed me to go faster and further. I’ve seen numerous people out running the trails in Ottawa and often dreamed of starting a group in my new community.

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It wasn’t until I was struggling during my last training cycle that I began thinking more seriously about starting a running club. In fact, my mom suggested that I start focusing less on myself and more on others. YES! I knew in that moment what I had to do.

Two weeks ago, I started the Ottawa Running Club. We meet every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening at the local Rec Center. I map out an out-and-back course (6 miles during the week & 8 miles on weekends, for now) and set up flags at each turn, provide two water stops- along with Kleenex, sunscreen, and band-aids and throughout the summer, I bring chilled washcloths for a post-run refresher.

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The turn out has been good. We’ve had anywhere from 3 (108 degrees yesterday) to 11 participants. For a smaller community, I’ve been pleased with the numbers, but see it growing this fall. I hope to continue to tailor this group to new, beginner runners.

In addition, I met with the county health department yesterday and look forward to working with them on an upcoming event to encourage activity in our area!

Did Not Start

Grandma’s Marathon is a week away and I’ve decided that I won’t be running marathon #10, at least not right now. About 4 weeks ago, I started having severe back pain. I couldn’t run, couldn’t sit and could hardly move without hurting. For three weeks, I’d run every once-in-a-while just to be sure it still hurt and was only walking and doing some minor strength training. I began thinking that I’d suffer from chronic back pain forever. I’ve seen two different chiropractors, but going back to my original chiropractor (the one I went to before I moved away) was the best decision I’ve made. After 3 adjustments, I started feeling better and today I’m almost at 100%.

I’m back to running short distances because even though I’m currently pain-free, I’m paranoid about hurting myself again, and with so many weeks off, I’m way out of shape. I’ve done some nice 3-milers and I’m hoping to go a bit further in the near future. I’m certainly not marathon-ready.

The week before a marathon is hard, mentally. By this point you’ve tapered and are running just enough miles to keep loose. You’re going crazy hardly running at all and you start second guessing your training. You’re preparing your body though food and water for the long run and you’re mentally visualizing the course and the finish line.

I’m a week out from a marathon that I’m not going to start. This is the first race ever that I’ve signed up for and won’t be finishing….or even toeing the start line. It’s tough. I can’t help but have second thoughts, think I could have done things differently wonder if I’d be able to finish, or if I’ll ever be able to finish another marathon.

Running has been hard for the past year. I’m slower and I’ve become too embarrassed to run with a group. I used to run with friends every Wednesday and Saturday but lately it’s hard to want to run with anyone. I can’t keep up and I often end up alone anyway, so what’s the point?

The point is that if everyone felt that way, there probably wouldn’t be running clubs. Which, brings me to my next adventure. There’s something magical about a running group. The comradery, the passion, inspiration and encouragement is amazing.

Last weekend I volunteered at the Sunday Runday North tent and saw some of my former group members. It reminded me how important a group is, no matter what training cycle or life cycle you’re in. Sometimes you have more time to train and you run PRs… other times, you run for pleasure or stress relief with no time goals and sometimes, you fall off the wagon and dream of getting back into it. As with life, your running story takes shape around what’s currently happening and you just have to brace yourself for the rollercoaster ride.

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I’m excited to start a running club in the town that I now reside. I’ve seen people out running and I’ve missed that group atmosphere. I’ll be arranging a group Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, where I’ll map out a course, and provide water. I don’t know how it will go over or how many will come but I want people to know that they have a consistent person who will be there to cheer them on. I’m excited to be  a part of someone’s first 5k or their 100th marathon. This group will be for all skill levels. Most of all, I’m excited to take the focus off of myself, and help someone reach their goals.

New goal and focus on the horizon

Running has been my stress relief, saving grace, way to meet people and my alone time. It’s pushed me way beyond physical and mental limits. But right now, it’s just plain hard.

Over the past year, I’ve been in a slump and feel like I’m back at square one- those days that I just started running. I started training for Grandma’s Marathon and while it’s been tough, my only goal has been to finish each long run and get as many weekly training runs in as possible with a busy work schedule.

This weekend, I set out to run 20 miles, the pivotal run of any marathon training program. At mile 5, I knew I couldn’t go much further. I felt like I was literally dragging my left leg. I called it a day and decided that I’d try again on Sunday. I hurt.

Saturday afternoon I went to visit my massage therapist, Carrie. Her advice was to not run. I know that if I plan to race on June 17, not running is not an option. The muscles in my butt are hard and over stretched- no knots this time. Carrie said she’s only seen this one other time in another client. I left physically feeling a bit better but mentally, I was wrecked. I feel like I’m going to have to make a decision on whether or not I’m going to continue to try to run Grandma’s Marathon, and I’m dreading that decision, so I’m putting it off for now.

Sunday I knew that once again that I wasn’t going to be able to get 20 miles in, but thought I’d venture out for an easy 6 and see how I felt. Long story short, the pain got the best of me and I called my husband after 4 miles and asked him to come pick me up.

I rested Monday and Tuesday and today I went back to my new chiropractor. He confirmed that the muscles in my butt are super inflamed and adjusted my pelvis, back, neck, and ankles. He gave me the go ahead to run, but suggested I wait on strength training until after the race.

When I got home tonight, I hit the treadmill and struggled through 3 miles. Three, very rough, miles. My butt feels a lot better after the chiro appointment, but still pretty sore. I’m currently sitting on an ice pack.

If I only had one word to describe this training cycle, I would say “discouraging.” I almost gave up on training several weeks ago. My mom asked me to stick it out for a few more weeks and to get a few more long runs in and then decide. It’s not quite what I was hoping her to say, but I appreciate her extra push. Especially when I reached my 16 and 18 mile runs. She had another piece of advice that I took seriously.

She told me that she could tell that I was really getting down on myself and instead of focusing on my own goals, maybe I should consider helping others reach theirs. It’s been in the back of my mind to start a running club in my small town, but it wasn’t until she said this that I really took it to heart and knew it was time.

I’m currently laying the ground work to start the Ottawa Running Club in July. The group will meet at the local Rec Center on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I’m really excited to help others run their first 5K or their 100th marathon. I see lots of runners out and about in Ottawa, but no running group currently exists. I miss running with friends and think this might just be something that re-ignites my love for running. I believe in doing things that energizes and not drains you. I believe that with my career, volunteer opportunities, relationships and hobbies. Right now, running for myself is draining, but thinking about the future of the Ottawa Running Club excites and energizes me! If you’re in the Ottawa, Kansas area, please come join me!
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In the meantime, I’ll keep alternating heat and ice on my buttocks and try to figure out what I’m going to do about the marathon… Stay tuned!

Life Lessons Learned Through Running

 

17883568_980669793948_6695138771332670788_nHere is the speech I gave to Wartburg College graduating communications students as the keynote address at their scholarship dinner.

What an exciting time for each of you! I am honored to be with you tonight and hope that the experiences I share with you can provide with some insight as you embark on a new journey.

I had the privilege of viewing some of your exceptional work today and I can truly say that many companies and communities are going to improve because of your hard work, creativity and passion.

How many of you aren’t sure what’s next for you? When I graduated from Wartburg, I didn’t have a job lined up. It wasn’t only terrifying for myself, but also my parents! I was lucky enough, however, to have a summer internship with the Iowa 4-H Foundation at Iowa State University and they allowed me to stay on staff until I had a full-time gig.

That October, I got an offer to be the communications specialist with the Kansas Corn Growers Association. Only a few problems…. 1. I didn’t know anything about agriculture. Of course, growing up in a small Iowa town it wasn’t completely foreign. 2. It was in Kansas, and 3. IT WAS IN KANSAS.

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made to pack up and move to a small out-of-state town where I knew no one and had never even lived on my own. I decided that I would use the opportunity to start fresh. No one knew me and I could be whomever I wanted.

Despite that, I spent the first 3 months crying myself to sleep and feeling very lonely. My job was going okay but it wasn’t something I loved or planned to do forever. I planned on putting in my time and eventually move back to Iowa. I never stopped looking for my next job.

In the process of finding myself, I took up running. I had never ran a 5k and I decided to train for my first ever race. I couldn’t even run a mile when I decided to take on this challenge but I would walk and run after work and got better acquainted with the town I was living in by exploring new streets, paths and trails.

One night after a hot and humid summer evening run, I neared my apartment complex where one of my neighbors was on her deck with some friends. She yelled at me and asked if I’d like to come over for a beer. I was drenched in my own sweat, didn’t know anyone and a beer sounded pretty awesome, so I went. Just a month later, she introduced me to a hardworking, Kansas cowboy. That man became my husband six months ago.

Things happen for a reason. Have courage and take a leap of faith.

I continued to run and started to train for my first 10k race, put on by a local running group. I would go out after work and run 3-5 miles alone but 6 miles seemed impossible. I had no idea if I’d be able to run the 10k I signed up for. You can only do so much by yourself, and sometimes you need support from others.

I wasn’t feeling confident about my running abilities, but I saw that the local running group got together for runs on Saturday mornings. Once again, I took a leap of faith and decided to check it out. I had never run with anyone and I had no idea how far they went, but I was just hoping to meet someone new. That morning, there were only two other women showed up. They asked if 7 miles sounded okay. I picked my jaw up off the ground and said that I’d attempt to keep up (only because I was afraid I’d get lost). In my mind, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I had never ran past 5 miles. I kept up with the ladies and really enjoyed listening to their conversation. I was too out of breath to speak, so I just listened. Those same ladies talked me into training for my first half marathon, and a few months later, my first marathon. Since then, I’ve ran 9 marathons across the United States and continued a deep-rooted friendship with the women who started this crazy journey.

When you set out to run 26.2 miles, people question your sanity. It takes a lot of mental toughness to get your body to the finish line. Life is hard, but it’s also rewarding in ways beyond comprehension. There are times in your life that you’re going to have to work harder than you ever knew possible. Some days your only goal will be putting one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward. It takes courage to step outside your comfort zone.

In the midst of working hard and reaching your career goals, it’s important to also find work/life balance. Don’t forget to take care of YOU. You can’t pour from an empty glass. To be productive at work, you must be happy and fulfilled at home. What does that look like for you? Volunteering in your community? Taking cooking classes? Trying cycling Don’t ever stop learning.

To meet people and feel like a part of my Kansas community, I reached out to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. I had participated in several service trips during my time at Wartburg, so Habitat felt like a natural fit. They eventually asked me to serve on their board of directors. I used my graphic design and social media talents to help them, and I made friendships and learned new skills along the way.

Find ways to fuel your passion outside of your 9-5. It is your job to find fulfillment in your life- it’s not up to anyone else. It was through my volunteer work with Habitat, that years later led me to my current position.

A small business owner saw my social media work for Habitat and asked if I would be their social media consultant in my free time. The owner’s college friend, worked for the American Heart Association as the Regional Vice President of Communications. That woman is now my boss and I serve as the communications director for the Kansas City market. Believe your advisor when he or she tells you- “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” As many times as Bill told me that, I wasn’t so convinced at the time. Now, I know.

About a month ago, during a phone conversation with my mom, she asked if I had my dream job. I had never really thought of it that way. BUT, for the first time in my career, I’m 100% happy.

I love the people I work with. I have a fantastic supervisor. I get to meet heart disease and stroke survivors that inspire me daily. I interact with heart surgeons and cardiologist who thank ME for the work that I do. And I can go home at night feeling like I’ve made a difference.

I have finally found all the pieces of the puzzle- the things that the light my passion and make me feel fulfilled. Find joy in the journey. Through the love for my husband and family, my career, volunteer work, and running… my life feels complete. I’m in the right place at the right time. But it’s important to never become complacent. Life evolves and changes and you must learn change with it.

My hope for each of you is that you find your passion and fuel it. Everything else will fall into place.

Team Beef Runner: Ranchers Affected by Wildfires

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, as it’s something that’s been weighing heavy on my heart.

Just a month ago, a wildfire spread across Kansas, burning 650,000 acres (that’s like 650,000 football fields). Kansas wasn’t alone. The fast-moving wildfires burned through nearly 2 million acres  of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, which devastated ranches and left thousands of cattle, livestock, and wildlife dead.

When ranchers could return to their pastures, carcasses of dead cattle were everywhere. But that’s not all. Ranchers then had to load their rifles. Many had to shoot their herds because they were so badly burned that there was no chance of recovery. My husband told me of a man who had to kill 150 of his cows one by one and could do nothing but cry. It’s heartbreaking. One rancher reported his total losses to be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million. The wind-driven wildfires across Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle killed seven people and devoured homes, miles of fences and as much as 80 percent of some families’ cattle herds.

People have sent fencing supplies, hay and groups have gone to the area to assist. This weekend, I saw three semi-loads of hay going down the interstate with American flags pinned up along with signs that said “Make Kansas Great Again.”

If you’re wondering how you can help with the fire relief efforts in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas click here. For $44.50, you can supply a bag of milk replacer for calves that have lost their mothers in the wildfire. If you’re inclined to donate a bag, Ashland Feed and Seed can take your credit card order over the phone by calling (620) 635-2856.

My hope is that you’ll join me in rallying behind our ranchers that provide food for our tables.  

More:
Wichita Eagle: Cattle lost in wildfires
KC Star: Kansas sets wildfire record
R
anchers call wildfires “Our hurricane Katrina”
L
ivestock losses mount after wildfires