Run Find Your Happy Pace

finding my happy pace in running and life

5 Things I’ve Learned Including Pre-Run Warm Up and Stretch.

A few cool things I learned from having an injury. Yes I said cool things, about an injury. It doesn’t have to be all bad.  Ok it’s not great but let’s make lemonade out of lemons shall we.  🍋😁🍋

  1. Cross Training.
  2. Strength
  3. Pre-run Warm Up
  4. Post Run Stretch
  5. Yoga

So let’s start from the top.

Cross training. After becoming injured I realized I had not been doing enough of it. 😔 It’s all great to run run and run some more, but your body needs variety.  Cross training will not only help keep your endurance up, it will help you become a stronger more agile athlete.  For me spinning was the perfect fit. It didn’t aggravate my injury, and I was able to keep my endurance up while I recovered.  I had to spend more time on the bike that I would on the run, but it was worth it! Find something that works for you! 👍🏻

Strength.  💪🏻 Again running is great but there were a lot of muscles that I wasnt putting into play. As those weakened, injury started to rear it’s ugly head. Now I do strength training twice a week, both upper and lower body, and on one run day I also include things like lunges and squats.

Pre-run warm up. OK so this may be something a lot of us don’t think about. A little warm up and a little light stretching before a run.  Stretching pre-run is light and short or as I like to say quick and sweet. No long held static stretches here. Check out my Pre-run warm up on my Facebook page (click here) and BONUS that 1st mile doesn’t feel quite so terrible after a good warm up !  Trust me and you can thank me later. 👍🏻😁

Post run stretch. It’s sooooo important! I know a lot of times we are just rushing to get a run in and get off to do everything else we need to do with our day. But even just five minutes of basic stretching will benefit you so much.  So “Just Do It”!


Yoga.  🙃 Not everyone’s favorite I know. But I found a love for yoga.  OK maybe not exactly a love but a very strong like. My hips and hamstrings  are extremely tight. Doing yoga 1 to 2 times a week concentrating on these areas has helped tremendously. Aaptiv has some great yoga classes but you can always search for YouTube videos (yoga for runners) there’s plenty out there.


My hope is this has got you thinking about what your weekly routine looks like. Maybe you can use a little more of these types of workouts to enhance your running life?

Do you have suggestions or something that you love to do? Feel free to share it below!

And don’t forget to run find your happy pace! 


10k Trail Mardi Gras Run 4 Beads

Trails, trails, trails!  I love trails 🙂  And if you have never been to Smithfield, Virginia or Windsor Castle park its a real treat.

If you’re looking for a small mid winter trail race this is a great one! Smithfield is a beautiful old-fashioned kind of town. The 10k course loops through the slightly hilly dirt packed trails of Windsor Castle Park. Most of the race is on the dirt trails with a small portion of paved trail. It was a cold one this year (27 degrees) for Virginia but the scenery of the trails and the trees blocking some of the wind made for a wonderful run. The 10 AM start also let is warm up from the chilly teens earlier in the morning. I was a little concerned about staying on course since the race has some crossing loops, but the volunteers were great about keeping you on the right track. There was one water table, which you pass twice due to the loops.

The run is timed the old-fashioned way with rip off tags you hand in at the end. Yes there are still such races!  No timing mats or anything of that sort here. If your plan is to place and go out fast, you need to start at the front of the pack. Everyone’s time starts when the horn goes off.

This year there was also a 5k fun color run which started at 11 AM.  No one I know participated but they looked like they were having a good time.

Packet pick up was the day before (Friday). No type of expo or anything like a bigger race, which wasn’t expected.

Swag includes a t-shirt and a free beer/soda at the end of the race. If you wait around for the “party” after the 5k fun color run finishes up (at noon) You are given one ticket for one free beer / soda.

SWAG etc:

There is NO BLING at this race.  Other than the few plastic bead necklaces we got in our bag.  So if bling is your thing your out of luck.  Also NO FREE FOOD whatsoever unless you bring cash, no banana, bars nada.  There was a Barbecue truck and a Chik-Fil-A food truck with food for purchase. The t-shirt is nice and colorful, long-sleeved but it is cotton

The trails and scenery made up for the lack of swag for me.  There are hills, nothing steep, but rolling hills throughout the trails.  So much more interesting that a flat road.  Parking is literally right by the start line so no issues there.

Showers were available at the local YMCA if you finish the 10k and have time to head over there for a shower and a change of clothes before the noon party and awards. I guess that would all depend on how fast you finish.  We chose to skip that and head out to town for lunch.

Smithfield is lovely and has an lovely step back in time type of feel to it. Nice shops, restaurants and bakery are a short drive from the park.

Pre-race "Wear all the clothes" because its cold selfie!

Pre-race “Wear all the clothes” because its cold selfie!


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Who’s Excited to be a Skirt Sports Ambassador? This Girl!

(I am writing this post as a Skirt Sports Ambassador. Please note if you use my discount code, I do get incentives from the company.)

I have news and I am so excited!  Like really excited! Can you tell?



I am now a proud 2018 Ambassador for Skirt Sports!  Over the past few weeks I have gotten and inside look at the excitement, motivation and support that is the true heart behind the company.  Its been awesome.  I’ve heard from so many interesting and motivational ladies from all over.

And the ambassador logo, LOVE IT!!:

“Real Women” “Real Bodies” “Real Inspiration”

I mean how fantastic is that!!  I hope to be sharing lots of great, real and inspirational stories with you throughout the year!


Want to join in the excitement?

Feel free to use my code 479Kolp for 15% off!  



Manchester Road Race – A Connecticut Turkey Day Tradition

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In preparation to Gobble till you Wobble!
This was my second time running the Manchester Road Race. I grew up in CT but have lived out-of-state for the last 8 years. My family still lives up there and my brother has run the race for years so when I get a chance to join him I do.

The race draws a HUGE crowd for such a short race. This year there were over 12,000 (the cap is 15,000) yes that’s 12,000 NOT 1,200. With a untraditional distance of 4.748 miles ?? (yea I have no idea either?)  The course is lined with people from start to finish. Its like the fun of a well run half marathon all rolled into less than 5 miles. As far as I know none of the entertainment is set up by the race itself, the town of Manchester has just embraced this race as it has grown from year to year. From free shots at mile 2 ish, to bands, to the ever classic theme from “Rocky” blasted over loud speakers, this race is just plain fun. Costumes aren’t necessary but are plentiful on the course. For those who are familiar with the race keep an eye out for “Safety Man” I don’t know the story behind it but everyone knows him 🙂 He is a “the” race day celebrity. Walkers are also encouraged to participate but asked to place themselves in the back of the race.

Note to those who want to know about the course. There is a loooong steady hill so if  you’re not used to that you might have to train for it or plan to walk some of it. There is also prize money for the queen and king of the hill. The bright side is there is also a nice downhill right after.

If you do want to take the race seriously you must submit a qualifying time to be seeded in a corral. The frontrunners do compete for cash prizes so if that’s your thing you just have to plan accordingly.

FYI: There is NO expo, NO medals and NO aid stations. At the end of the race they do hand out bottles of water and a commemorative program.

There are t-shirts but you must BUY them on-line prior to the race. That is the reason for the one star for swag. They are nice technical shirts but not included in your race fee.

If your nearby and looking to “Earn your turkey” this is a really fun race to kick off the day!

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Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2017

So if you’ve been following along I have been suffering from bursitis in my hip since mid September.  I decided to defer my October Half Marathon in hopes of giving myself some healing time before the Disney Wine & Dine Half in early November.  Disney doesn’t let you defer and everything was all paid for WAY earlier in the year.

I did A LOT of spinning to keep up my endurance, and just as much if not more stretching, strengthening and rolling to try to get this problem under control.  I also saw my doctor less than a week before the race.  (it took me 2 1/2 weeks to get an appointment) and she confirmed the bursitis.  However since it was already on the upswing she gave me the go head for the race with the promise of not overdoing it and resting after.

This trip had a few firsts for me.

  1. It was my first ever solo trip on an airplane (which was a huge deal for me since I am normally not a great flyer)
  2. My first Wine & Dine
  3. Completing it would earn me my first ever Disney Coast to Coast Medal, and just in time now that the California races have been put on hiatus.

I am happy to say I was able to complete all the above 🙂  And I finished the half with a respectable time, even with a few photo stops.  I used the Galloway method to help with the “not overdo it” part. Sometimes I use the method sometimes I don’t.  It’s all good!  I am a pretty happy girl!  Disney is always a good time and they have a generous cut off even if I needed to walk some or all of the race.

Speaking of Jeff Galloway……


The man!

Jeff is super nice and we had a fun chat about The Treadmill, the running store I used to work in when I lived in California.


Pre-race morning. LETS DO THIS!

I was so impressed that Spinning, rather than running, really was a great way to keep up my endurance.  I have never had that much  “lack of actual running” leading up to a race.  I was happy with how good I felt.  Sometimes you need to do what you can, with what you have to keep reaching for a goal.  I was blessed that spinning did not aggravate my injury.

I need to give a shout out to Aaptiv and specifically Coach Ben Green for helping me stay as prepared as I could for this race.  #TeamAaptiv

BTW: if your interested in trying Aaptiv click on the Aaptiv link on the upper right of my page for a FREE 30 days. I am an ambassador BUT I AM NOT compensated in any way by Aaptiv.  I just really love it.


I knew I wanted to enjoy the unique on course magic that Disney always has.  But even if I had to walk 13.1 miles I needed to be prepared.  I wanted to be ready for anything.  Admittedly I can never really drop my competitive streak completely, so my goal was to finish faster than my first half marathon even with the picture stops.  Happy to say I did that.

If you have never done a Disney race it really is a unique and fun experience.  Expensive yes, but worth it if your into Disney and have time to plan and save for it.


Chef Mickey and my doppelgänger Minnie

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Wine & Dine and Coast to Coast Medal




















And what better way for me to celebrate than with

a Minnie Themed Strawberry Cupcake 🙂

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Have you ever done a Disney race?  

Which one was your favorite?

And last but certainly not least whats a race without some Sub 30 Love?!  Can’t wait to see a lot of you in April for The Dark Side!!  Thanks for the race day love too! #sub30fam #sub30love

Nothing like being hours and hours from home and still having friends wherever you go!




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Sometimes You Do What You Can..Not What You Want

When your injured should you stop running?  Asking for a “friend”

So I have an injury.  Yup it sucks.  It’s my hip. Bursitis and a small hip strain.  Its been weeks since it happened, and its been almost a month since I have run any true long miles. And every time it felt better I would try again…too soon. Forward one step, back 3.  Sigh.

So for weeks I have been strengthening and stretching and trying agin.  Thank goodness the bursitis seems to be gone! But not the hip strain.  So I continued to make the mistake of trying to run again too early.  OK so I can’t run, I’ll try run/walk.  Nope.  For weeks I have been doing my best to make lemons into lemonade.  And I have, well sort of.  I was still trying to run.  I was smart and deferred my half last weekend until 2018.  Then finally a few days ago I had my breakdown.  You know the kind when you really don’t want to admit you need to stop running but you finally do.  It was unpleasant. I was unpleasant.  There “may” have been some tears.  But I knew I had to force myself to stop running. Reality meet Darlena…Darlena meet with reality and deal with it.

But you know what?  That night after my meltdown I was lying in bed and thought “You really need to put on your big girl pants and deal with this.”  And three things came to my mind:

1) I will not let this define me (I am a child of God first and he loves me whether I can run right now or not)

2)  I will not let it control my mood (there are a lot worse things that could happen)

3) Lets do everything I can do instead of focusing on what I can’t (or at least shouldn’t be) doing.

So the next morning I reached out to a Coach for some advice on how to keep up my endurance, as best I can, while resting my hip.  Lucky for me spinning does NOT bother it.  I have been spinning when I wasn’t attempting to run.  I just needed some advice on how much/ how often.  If I had a pool I would use that too but I don’t 🙁

That morning I put on my cutest Skirt Sports Skirt and my Team Tough Chik tank. Took a spin class.  Continued my hip strength exercises (I have been doing them for a month already) and stretched.   Now that’s how you make lemonade from lemons people!


I also received great feedback from a Coach on how often and long I need to ride in order to try to keep up my endurance as best I can.  I am also to keep up my strength & stretch work.  I am registered for Disney Wine & Dine Half in November even if I have to walk it.  We will see but even if I do 13,1 miles is still a far walk!

So today I did a 2 hour ride.  Sorry no pic, but lets just say it was pretty sweaty!  Thanks to the **Aaptiv app I was able to modify a few classes to keep them in my aerobic zone to simulate a LSD run.  2 Hours is no joke but I am glad I did it AND my hip feels fine 🙂

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So here’s is to doing what you can even if its not 100% what you want.  And in the end I am going to have some killer buns from all this bike work.  🙂  Wish me luck!

BTW: if your interested in trying Aaptiv I can give you a free 30 days just click on the Aaptiv Link on the upper right of my page. I am an ambassador BUT I AM NOT compensated in any way by Aaptiv.  I just really love it.


Freedom Run Recap and Hip Recovery

Short update.  On 9/9/17 I participated in a local race in my new town.  The Freedom Run 9.11 miler.  There was also a 5k race and a 1 mile kids run.

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The race was small but nice.  The weather was fantastic and much, much better than all that rain in New Hampshire for the Covered Bridges Half the weekend before.

Located on the paved trail of the Dismal Swamp Canal (believe me it is much nicer than the name makes it sound)  less than 200 of us headed out for a beautiful run in remembrance of those who lost their lives or were someway affected by the tragedy of 9/11.

I signed up the day before because I figured it was so close I might as well participate.  Since I had just run a half the week before I decided to make it more of a training run with a nice steady slightly increasing pace.  This usually leads me to end up running alone.  Sometimes I really think I have an odd pace, because even in big races I seem to end up alone or with just a few runners around.  Lucky for me I have no problem running solo.  In my opinion it looked like a lot of runners were headed out too fast at the beginning of the race.  I have always been more of a “start slow and let them go” kind of mentality.  If I get too caught up in the fast pace of a start line I suffer at the end.

The course was an out and back loop and sure enough right before and after the turn around I stared passing people who probably headed out too fast.  Slowly but surely I passed at least a half-dozen or more runners.  With each one I eyed the next person ahead of me.  I made my way to the finish line with a respectable time. Plenty of food and drinks awaited.  Buffalo Wild Wings, YNot pizza, chocolate milk, beer, water etc.  Gotta say that was a pretty good spread for a smaller local race!

Everyone who finished received a nice commemorative medal.



To my astonishment I found out later that day that I had placed 3rd in my age group!  That’s a first!  Small race but hey I’ll take it, it’s all about who shows up that day right?  The only downside is they didn’t do any AG awards at all.  In fact only the #1 man and woman in each race received an award.  Oh well.  At least my family was excited for me!! 🙂

About a week later I started having some hip problems.  I had hip bursitis about 7 years ago and this felt just like that.  So I did no running for just over a week.  I also started Active Release Therapy with a local licensed massage therapist.  Come to find out I have a tight hip, IT band and calf.  Yikes!   Still working on loosening things up but started back with some short runs.  Needless to say this is gonna put a dent in my next half in early October.  We will see how it goes.


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Handle It, Move It and Get Ready to Run It! Plus a review of Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Long time not write.  Seriously its been since May???  How did that happen you say?  Because life people, life happens. Sometimes you need to prioritize. For me family comes first always!  Sometimes you put down the blogger hat and strap on that Mom hat a little tighter and handle when the poo hits the fan.  Sometimes you have to fall on your knees and pray (pretty sure I should do that way more often)  And oh yes that whole moving thing yea that happened too.  Because when we move we don’t mess around.  I moved from Cali back to the east coast with three kids, 2 cats and, oh thank God, my Dad to help me drive.
 We are pretty much settled in. Honestly I have just started ignoring the boxes in the “dinning room” that are still sitting there at least for the moment. For the most part those boxes are not mine so I cannot really do anything with them anyway.  The plan is to not move again any time soon. (fingers crossed)  Maybe that is wishful thinking but I like this little happy place of ignorant bliss for now.  🙂  Don’t judge me.
 Any who, now that I am back on the East Coast and finally re-adjusting to the humidity / dew point that was practically nonexistent in Cali.  I am ready to race.  I signed up for most of my upcoming races before leaving Cali. Gotta keep the motivation going. If you don’t a move will take over your life and next thing you know you haven’t run in weeks or even months.  I did well not letting that happen when we moved to Cali and have been doing great with this move too. So my first official race back east was this weekend in Swanzey, New Hampshire.   Check it out:
One of the 4 Covered Bridges on the course.

One of the 4 Covered Bridges on the course.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon (also known as Elijah’s Race) Swanzey, NH.

If you’re looking for a small New England Race this is for you! Classic New England town, beautiful scenery.  The course runs through (literally) not 1 but 4 covered bridges.  There is also about a mile of beautiful trail along the route.  Sigh, brings back the thoughts of all the lovely trails in California so I was stoked to run them.  You will also find rolling hills along a good portion of the course.  Pretty typical for the North East.  They weren’t steep but there were quite a few so if you ever run this race be prepared for them.   The weather was wet!  Like start to finish wet, rained the entire race.  A first for me and yes I realize how lucky I have been.  The saving grace was that the temps were in the 50’s and not lower.  Lower temps would have just been miserable!  The only time I got cold was after I finished and stopped running.  Brr.

So here is the good:

1) the 4 covered bridges are absolutely beautiful and you literally run right through them.

2) It’s a small race, there were less than 200 runners.

3) Beautiful country views. Lots of trees, Inns, some horses, donkeys and cows too.

4) About a mile or so of some lovely trails.  I like trails a lot so this is a good thing for me 🙂

5) The race is extremely easy to get to, packet pick up is day of the race and is at the local high school.

6) Great water stops manned by the local high school and scouts. They dressed up as characters and were very encouraging.  Star Wars, pirates, fairy’s and minions to name a few.

7) Free photos…always a bonus!

8) BBQ after the race. Hamburgers, watermelon, corn. Since it rained the entire morning the burgers were rather cold and blah. I’m pretty sure they did the best they could and if the weather was better we would have enjoyed it more.  Although I am not sure I would have eaten the corn anyway after running that far, but maybe that is just me.

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Corn poop, lol. Maybe corn isn’t the best post run food?

The Not-So-Good:

1) NO port-o-poties on the course, none what-so-ever.  And nobody mentioned that to us before we got to the start line. So make sure you go before you walk to the start. I do fine with that but I know some people don’t so beware.

2) The town DOES NOT close ANY of the course to traffic. It’s not an extremely busy town BUT since its small race you do have to keep an eye out for cars since there is a chance you may not be running with a group. There are some cones along some of the busier sections but between the rain and the cars it was a concern.

3) The course has a lot of bends and turns which made it hard to see oncoming traffic and for cars to see you. If found myself switching from side to side depending on how far ahead I could see. Also since it rained, the entire race, I had to give myself a bigger safety buffer.

4) If you’re in it for the bling….this probably isn’t the race for you. You do get a medal but this years was a stock medal with a sticker on the front. Its cute but its nothing to fancy if that’s your thing.

Would I recommend it? Yes, Swanzey is a beautiful New England town and the views don’t disappoint. Just be sure to check the Not-So-Good section to see if its right for you 🙂


Headed into one of the bridges. You can see the traffic ahead too.


Trails at the beginning of the race. Sorry its blurry didn’t stop running for the pic.


Free photo 🙂 That’s me, I couldn’t run through the middle because of the truck that was oncoming.


Finished! It rained the entire time but I did it!

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Bucket List – Big Sur with my Sur-Ogate Sisters

What was the biggest of my bucket list items in California?  Run Big Sur.

And I had three (actually four) wonderful ladies help me make that happen.  I was excited to get a relay team together. The Sur-Ogate sisters, originally Molly, Sharon, Staci and I.  Not only did these ladies agree to run with me, they generously let me pick what most say is the most beautiful part of the course.  Relay leg 3.  Sadly Molly got hurt about a week out from the race but we were fortunate enough to be able to sub in another speedy Runner and Tri-Athlete, Ashley to take her spot.

Leg 3 treks from Little Sur River Bridge to Garapatta Bridge.  Leg 3 also includes Hurricane Point, a 2 mile steady climb with just a little elevation 😉 , and rolling terrain thereafter.

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I have no idea how far into the climb we were but it was a beautiful one.

The most intimidating part for me was waiting at the exchange area which was just before Hurricane Point. Anticipating that climb while waiting for my turn to run.  I will tell you it was TOTALLY worth it.  The beauty of Big Sur with the bonus of getting to run over the famous Bixby Bridge made the miles fly by!


Sharon started leg 3 with me and was nice to snap this pic for me before I headed up Hurricane Point.


After a few “hills”, including Hurricane Point, we got a nice glimpse of Bixby Bridge before getting to run over it!


Big Sur beauty at its finest. The ocean here is honestly such a beautiful contrast of blues and greens.

After my (totally flat) race in January I knew I had to seriously put hills into my training plan on a much more regular basis than I ever have before.  Minimum of one hill run a week. Not only did I not want to not die heading up Hurricane Point, but I also wanted to prove to myself I could do it.  Coming from Virginia Beach, VA or as I like to say the “pancake flat lands” California hills have been a growing experience for me.  I used both local hills around my house and, specifically the “DJ Run those Hills” class on my Aaptiv App.  I am very happy to say its paid off!  I wasn’t able to speed up the hills but I managed them just fine and actually enjoyed them.  Along with some generous downhills I even managed a PR for my 10k distance (say what?!?) during my 7.2 miles.  Crazy considering I stopped to take pictures too!


Had to stop and take some pictures!

If you ever have the chance to participate in any of the Big Sur Marathon Weekend races, but specifically any that follow all or some of the Marathon course, I would HIGHLY recommend it!  I have run in some beautiful places but Big Sur is just breathtaking!

With the help of my speedy cohorts Sharon (Rungry Runner) Ashley “The Rocket” (All Things Tri Gal 1) and Staci (Carmel Food Tours) we placed a respectable 15 out of 48 teams in the Open Female Division.  Not. Too. Shabby.

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Sharon (Rungy Runner) and I after my leg of the relay.


Ashley, Myself and Sharon. We missed Staci at the end because we had to wait for our relay busses.

The weather was absolutely fantastic and as usual Big Sur International Marathon put on a very well-organized race.

So thank you Sharon, Ashley, Staci and Molly for helping me put another BIG check on my running checklist.  I will miss you all.

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Life is Short, Buy the Shoes…..for Someone in Need! #WearAPair2017

You know the old saying:


Well how about we all do one better?

 Buy the shoes for a child in need!  Oh yeah.

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Did you know?

“Over 2 billion people suffer from soil-transmitted diseases and parasites. They live in areas that do not have adequate sanitation. They struggle with proper hygiene. They do not have the right clothing, resources, or healthcare. And being sick = struggling. Kids miss school, can’t help their families, suffer with pain. Many of these diseases and parasites get into the body because people don’t have shoes.”

“There are over 300 million children who do not have shoes. And countless more with shoes that do not fit. Sometimes they receive donations of shoes, but these are kids. Their feet grow. And they outgrow donated shoes within a year. Right back where they started.” ~ TheShoesThat Grow.Org

So what can we do?

My co-workers and I at The Treadmill in Carmel, CA. are partnering up with The Shoe That Grows (a 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Nampa, Idaho) to help get shoes to children in need. And not just any shoe! The Shoe That Grows are adjustable and expandable.  The shoes literally grow up to 5 sizes!!  So not only do the kiddos get new shoes they get shoes that will last them YEARS!!

 Help us by donating or learning more!

The first week of April 2017 is #WearAPair2017 week.  At The Treadmill we are wearing, talking and sharing The Shoe That Grows online and in person to help spread the word about this fantastic shoe.  Local?  Come on down and check out the shoes in person.  We are open Sunday – Friday 10-6 and 9-6 on Saturday.

Monetary donations are being accepted both in store and

on-line through our fundraising page:

The Treadmill Team!  

(click here to visit to our fundraising page)

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To learn more about The Shoe That Grows click here for information and videos.

To learn more about The Shoe That Grows click here

for information and videos.

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