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!
    Mal
  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!

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

Getting my mind right

I’m aboard the struggle bus and I’m desperately trying to get off!
We’ve passed my stop! GET ME OFF OF HERE!

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Every run is a struggle. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s 3 miles or 12, inside or out, morning or evening… my legs are heavy, my breathing labored and my heart feels like it’s in a thousand little pieces. I used to love running. I used to look forward to it. I used to run at a much faster pace without feeling like I was going to drop dead. Didn’t I? Those memories seem so distant that I don’t remember.

I went into this training cycle thinking that I would have to let go of past marathon experiences, past paces and times, and focus on the present. Focus on finishing.

Even that seems nearly impossible after this weekend’s terrible 12-miler. I cried at mile 4 and thought, “How will I ever complete another marathon?”

In addition to the running, I’m struggling with keeping my eating in check and losing weight. All of these things go hand-in-hand.

I’ve started incorporating more weight training into my schedule, in hopes that it would make me a stronger runner, tone up a bit and keep me injury free for Grandma’s Marathon in June. I am not totally sure what all I should be doing and have relied on Pinterest workouts  to get me through. This week, however, I had my first workout with a trainer. It was a test run. I officially start next week. I’m hoping that she can help me accomplish my goals and help me be more accountable. She’s a marathon runner too, so she gets me.

All of this comes down to my own mindset. Why am I such a Negative Nancy lately? Or Defeated DeEtta?

Today that changes. I’ve been following the T-Rex Runner’s blog and she’s been killing her races after coming back from injury. She’s also been focusing on the mindset piece and finding her mantra during each race. I’ve started listening to running podcasts on the way home just to get myself motivated to put my shoes on and get outside. The podcasts are working and I’m going to try out a new mantra on tonight’s run outside (because it’s beautiful)!

Stay tuned. My bus stop is near. Changes are coming.

 

 

Freaking Out

On Friday I leave for Washington, D.C with my mom and brother to run my eighth marathon- the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m nervous. Super nervous.

There are a variety of reasons for feeling this way:

a. It’s the first time I’m traveling this far to run a race. I’ve never flown to a race. I really enjoy traveling to see sights, but I don’t enjoy flying.

b. I’m not sure my knee will hold up. I’m about 60% sure that my IT Band won’t flare up during the race and I would HATE to get my first DNF after traveling so far and having my family there to cheer me on. I had IT Band issues during my first marathon but was to stubborn to quit. I probably should have to prevent further damage.

My boyfriend told me, “Athletes get hurt. You have to listen to your body.” I LOVE it when he calls me an athlete! And he’s right…

c. I’m not in the shape I was in for Chicago. That 4:06 time is looking pretty amazing to me right now. I’m not going to come close to that this time. I fear that I’ll be disappointed with my time. In fact, I’m thinking about not wearing my watch and instead run by feel and just enjoy the course and crowd without the added pressure of checking my pace/time.

Despite the early nerves that have me wound so tight, I’m so excited to check out D.C. (again) and this time with my mom and brother.

This is truly the hardest week of training for me. It’s the week that I have to get my mind right and overcome the nerves. When something is bothering me, I run… but not this week. This week is about resting, hydrating and fueling my body.

I’ve put in the miles. I can’t change the way I trained. I just have to do what I can with what I’ve got.

This winter I plan to work on speed so that I’m ready for some PRs in 2016! If you know of anyone (affordable) that can help coach me in KC, please let me know in the comments!