Run Find Your Happy Pace

finding my happy pace in running and life

Walk to End Alzheimer’s #formom #EndAlz



Last Saturday I participated in my third Walk to End Alzheimer’s in honor of my mother Angela.  Seeing someone you love slip away, wether a parent, grandparent or friend is devastating.  You have a choice as to how you handle your grief.   I choose to walk and bring social awareness to this disease.  Did you know that there are more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s and 2/3 of those suffering from Alzheimers are women?   In addition in 2015 over 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 BILLION hours of unpaid care.  Even if my mother never sees a cure for this disease I know she would be proud of the efforts made by all those who donated in honor of her, and future generations.

So I want to send a HUGE Thank You to those who supported my walk.  From the generosity of family, friends, co-workers and even strangers I was proudly able to walk as not only as a Champion but as a Grand Champion by raising over $1,000.  Blessings to all of you! Please keep my mom, our family and all those affected by Alzheimer’s in your prayers.  Keep the faith and walk on!

Special thanks to InknBurn and The Treadmill for their donations and support!!


Ready to Walk!




Bonus cupcakes after the Walk!!

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Worldwide Alzheimer’s Awareness Day! #ENDALZ #PurpleMemories

For Mom and in honor of Worldwide Alzheimer’s Awareness Day!

Want to join in the fight?  Click here to support my Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  

I will be walking in Monterey, CA on October 8th.


My Mother and I


For a third year I’m walking to help reclaim the future for millions, including my Mom, by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, care and support.
My Mother was diagnosed with early onset in her mid sixties. By 70 she was living in a nursing home. For those who have gone through this you know how devastating it is. For those who haven’t, imagine your mother, the one who always loved and cared for you slowly slipping away. At first it’s just forgetfulness, then its confusion and finally one day she doesn’t even know who YOU, her own child, even is. My mom is now in the advanced stages. For her it all happened very fast. She can no longer walk, feed herself, perform any daily tasks. She talks in a few short words which often do not pertain to the conversation at hand. Our family is crushed and on a mission to find a cure! But we need your help to get there.
Did you know…Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.
Please consider making a donation big or small to help the Alzheimer’s Association advance research into methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s. For the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

Thank you for joining the movement! The end of Alzheimer’s disease starts with you and me!
Darlena 🙂

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Heart Rate Training (HRT) Works! I Ran Slow and Got a PR

As some of you may know I have been know to do a HRT Heart Rate (based) Training.  Read months of running slow…very slow in my aerobic zone.  Following my last half back in November I decided to go back to HRT once again.  After completing another round of purely base HRT I switched to an 80/20 Half Marathon Training plan for my next half marathon.  What is 80/20?  Basically its running 80% of your runs at / below your Max Aerobic Heart Rate Training number.  So yes I did continued to run 80% of my training slow.  The other 20% of it was spent in my anerobic training zone.  As the plan progressed that included things like hill repeats.  This past Sunday I ran the Surfer’s Path Capitola Half Marathon a beautiful course that started and ended at the famous Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The course took us passed several well known surfing spots (thus the name).  As luck would have it the waves were not happening Sunday morning.  Lots of surfers basically just wading in the water 🙁  However the view…still amazing.  But the best part?  I PR’d!  Up until last November I had not PR’d a half marathon in a few YEARS. So yes you can be older AND still get faster 🙂 using HRT, as long as you give it time.


Surfers waiting on some waves.

So how did it go?  

First off I had NO planed goal for this race.  My friend had to pull out earlier in the week so I was going solo and my eating over my birthday weekend and beyond was less than stellar.  I wasn’t expecting anything other than enjoying the views and finishing.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the PR!

My plan: I decided to go with a 2:1 run/walk ratio. I did run the entire first mile just to break up the field of runners a bit and warm up.  I also ran this race by Cadence rather than a pace. Why you may ask?  Well just out of curiosity I did my last tempo run by cadence and it felt pretty good and my time wasnt too shabby.  My cadence goal for running was 180.  I’m very happy to say I nailed it!  My walking cadence was around 124, personally I would like to see this go a bit higher, but that’s my new goal for the next race.

The course:  It wasn’t super hilly, but it wasn’t all flat either. The unfortunate part was that most of the roads had a very noticeable slant to it.  I did my best to stay on the flattest part of the road, however this wasn’t always possible.

My race: After the turn around (it was an out and back) I noticed I started passing people #winning
However by mile 8 I felt a twinge in my right knee.  No,no, no…try to adjust my form, don’t get lazy, don’t slouch!  However by about mile 9 the twinge turned more into pain. IT band related knee pain.
I continued to push through with the walk/ run.  I had IT problems happen to me about 3 years ago during a race and I knew it wasn’t as bad as that time ( I hobbled to the finish line for that one, it was awful) so I figured as long as it didn’t get worse I could continue on.

Finish:  I never looked at the time on my watch during the race. I just kept an eye on my cadence. In fact I didn’t realize I PR’d until I got home later, lol.

Feeling happy that my knee held out and didn't get worse!

Feeling happy that my knee held out and didn’t get worse! InknBurn Run or Die, the perfect shirt choice for the day :)

I like walk run because it helps me keep my HR down (however I don’t wear my Heart Rate Monitor when racing) I run by feel for races and I have to say I felt good during the entire race, knee pain aside.


Santa Cruz Boardwalk


Chillin’ at the beach post race.










So you might be wondering how one gets injured if doing HRT? I am 99% sure my IT band issues are from two things, and 100% sure none of it has to do with my actual HRT training!
1)Too much actual racing too close together
2) Not stretching enough.

I have done 3 “longish” races in less than a month. A nine miler, a double road race (8k followed 30 minutes by a 5k) and now this half. My body isn’t used to doing that much fast pace racing so close together.


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Big Sur Weekend Recap!

Hello everyone!  I’ve been busy with family lately so once again this is a little late here is my recap from my first Big Sur Weekend.

BUT FIRST…one word.  Bart!  If you know running there is no other words necessary.  Except I do have to say and you can quote me:  “Nicest guy ever!”   He acted like he was more excited to meet me than I was to meet him.

Bart and me!!  Swoon! Rabbit ears courtesy of my 8 year old :)

Bart and me!! Swoon!
Rabbit ears courtesy of my 8 year old :)

But on to the races:

First race up:  The By the Bay 3k with my youngest kiddo.  The culmination of weeks of running and training with the Just Run Program at his school and part of the Big Sur Weekend!  It’s always great to spend time doing something you love, but even better to do it with SOMEONE you love 🙂  I’m so proud of this guy!

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My son and I post race

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Proud Mom moment :)

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Next up:  April 24th the Big Sur 9 miler, part of the Big Sur Marathon Weekend.  Running in Big Sur is a huge bucket list item for many runners, I am extremely fortunate to live and work very close to Big Sur.  In fact the finish line of all the Big Sur weekend races end in the parking lot of the CrossRoads in Carmel where I work at The Treadmill.  Although I wasn’t able to register early enough for the marathon, 20 or 10.6 milers (due to family commitments) I was finally able to commit to the 9 miler.  At first I was a tad bummed because a lot of the 9 miler is held inside Point Lobos and not on the marathon course, but man was I elated when I ran the course.  Point Lobos  truly is the crowned jewel of the California State park system.  An absolutely stunning course, honestly the pictures do not do it justice, with part of the course even held on some trail, my new love in California.

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My favorite part was the mile plus run on the trails be the sea :)

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This pic does Point Lobos zero justice. Its stunning in real life


Post Race Roll out courtesy of The Treadmill

Post Race Roll out courtesy of The Treadmill













BONUS:  the final stretch of the 9 miler comes back out onto the marathon part of the course and I happen to get there at the exact time the winner was coming down into the final mile.  I got to cheer him on (as he flew by) which was pretty darn cool!

I would HIGHLY recommend doing ANY of the races included in

The Big Sur Marathon Weekend if you get the chance!  

Well run, breathtaking scenery and great support.


What’s Up? (Long Time, no Blog.) Training, Family and Fun!

Hello everyone!  It’s been a while.  I am way overdue for a post so here it goes.

I have been very busy with family life, working and training.  My daughter’s gymnastics competition season has come to an end.  Did I mention she made Regionals?  Because she rocks!


Proud Mom Moment :)

Proud Mom Moment :)


Basketball season is over, and Boy Scouts is wrapping up for the year.  Meanwhile my oldest is doing Lacrosse.  I have also been volunteering with the Just Run program at my youngest’s school.  And then there was the weekend we took a little trip to Yosemetie for some of this…

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I learned to snowboard…sort of lol

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Lots of awesome hiking in Yosemite












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Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite


See we have been just a tad busy.

But am I running?  Yes I am still running and doing Heart Rate based training.  I moved up from pure base Heart Rate Training to an 80/20 plan about 6 weeks ago in preparation for a few upcoming races.  I had been doing purely base training for about 3 months.  .   Sometimes HRT is easier to do on the treadmill.

HRT just me and my "Treaddie"

HRT just me and my “Treaddie”


I have 3 races and a fun run (so far) in the next 2 months

3k Fun Run with my youngest

9 miler at the Big Sur Marathon Weekend

Double Road Race in Pacific Grove

Capitola Half Marathon

I also switched back to the Maffetone / Keto eating method of High Fat / Low Carb** to become fat adapted, back in January.  And for fun 😉 have added in a weight training program.  So I am a pretty decently “Fat Adapted” running machine.  All in all I am down 10 lbs and have added some much needed muscle.

Last week I did a Virtual Half Marathon + extra with water and no food what so ever. I had some macadamia nuts with me just in case.  (I have a few friends that are doing it and they can do 20+ miles without food)  I did however learn that it’s probably a good idea to put something like Nuun in my water.  I never felt hungry or slow while running but my electrolytes were defiantly off after.  Lesson learned.  Other than that I think I am ready to race.

I have also been enjoying the views around here.  This is our first Spring in Cali and honestly we didn’t have that much of a “winter” so its been pretty fantastic.  Enjoy the views!

17 mile drive

17 mile drive



Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove












Trails in Pebble Beach

Trails in Pebble Beach

17 mile drive

17 mile drive













**Its not as crazy as it sounds, really.  Google Fat Adapted Running.


My First (and Definitely Not My Last) California Trail Race

This weekend I participated in my first trail race out here in California.  I had done only a few back in Virginia so I’m still basically a newbie, however I am pretty sure I am hooked!  I met a bunch of amazing runners out there and just set out to enjoy myself.  No pace or finish expectations.  For me this was all about the experience of trail running with a few added bonuses.  #1 it was a Saturday race which I just love and #2 I got to see some amazing friends set out on some Ultra distance racing adventures.

Hosted by Inside Trail out at the beautiful Fort Ord, the race distances stretched from the 10k to 25k, 50k  and 100K distances.  Being newer to the sport I opted for the 10k which for the most part was held on fire roads with a modest 900 ft elevation gain.  The course was a stunner none the less.  The combination of beautiful weather, lots of rolling hills and plenty of green, due to the recent rains and break in the drought, made for an awesome first trail race.



 Inside Trail provided well-marked trails, along with great aid stations.  In fact I was so pleased that next year I am hoping to at least participate in the 25k.  The volunteers were friendly and I felt great support being a 10k runner as I assume the longer distances felt.  Here are a few more pictures from the day.    I am a bit sore in my hips from the hills but man was it totally worth it!

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View from the run

and up we go….again

and up we go….again


Do you enjoy trail running and racing?  Have you ever tried?

If you haven’t I suggest you do it at least once.  Who knows you might just get hooked!

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Running and Hiking and Just Getting Out There!

Getting through our first “winter” in California hasn’t been too challenging.  Lets just say now I totally get why they say the average temp is 66 year round here.  There were just a few weeks of 30-40’s back in December and now we seem to be staying in the range of mid 40’s for a low and into the 60’s on a regular basis.  The only things keeping me from running outside regularly are family schedules and the fact it still gets dark early.  Otherwise I can totally see why runner’s, and people in general, love this area so much.

I have really buckled down on following a strict heart rate training plan for the last 4 weeks. (I had veered off being quite so strict in Oct-Dec due to my November half)  Most of these recent miles have been spent on the treadmill at night.  In all honesty it hasn’t been too bad.  In fact HRT running done on a treadmill makes it much easier to stay where I need to be.

Here’s a quick snapshot from one of my recent runs.  Not too shabby

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In the meantime the family and I have also continued to enjoy hiking with The Treadmill Trail Head group hikes whenever our schedule allows.  A few weeks ago we were able to visit an extremely popular running and hiking spot out at Garland Ranch Regional Park (click on the name to learn more)  in the Carmel Valley.  These beautiful 4,000+ acres of dog, horse, hiker and runner friendly trails do not disappoint.  Myself, my husband and our boys hiked just a small portion of what this beautiful park has to offer.  When I say small I’m talking 3 hours and that is nothing compared to all the trails offered out there.  Starting off with the main group we later broke off with a smaller group and hiked up to Snively’s Ridge.   I hate to admit it but there may have been a bit of whining on my part because some of the hiking was steep and at times and it seemed the steep would never end.  Note to self: request hiking poles for my birthday.  But as usually the view was totally worth the climb.  Check it out some views from the day.


The much flatter part of our day. The Mesa trail



Loved this moss covered tree.

View from the top. #worthit

View from the top. #worthit


Breathtaking in a totally different way than our hike a few weeks earlier at Brazil Ranch out in Big Sur.   Hiking in this part of the country is so widely assessable that I am grateful for The Treadmill putting all these great adventures together.  I much prefer hiking with a group over solo hiking.  I’m looking forward to my next adventure out here is California.  Stay tuned!




Run, Hike, and Find Your Happy Pace!

How did you welcome 2016?  We had a pretty quiet night at home with family.  I worked early New Year’s morning but the place was hopping with runners from a local Resolution Run.  It was a busy morning but also great fun.  The energy of a new year and exciting new adventures were definitely in the air.

On Saturday the 2nd my husband, two of my kiddos along with a great group of local peeps headed out on a “New Year, New Adventure Run/Hike” with The Treadmill.   We headed out to Brazil Ranch 1,255 acres of rocky shoreline and rolling hillsides off Rt 1 just past the famous Bixby Bridge in Big Sur.

According to my GPS the hike was just over 5 miles up and back.  After a fairly good climb up the mostly dirt path (described as “moderate” in the trail book we own) we were rewarded with rolling trails, dotted with roaming cows and this…


Absolutely gorgeous views of Big Sur.  Worth every single step.  I mean how often are you rewarded with a view like that?!?  And as if that wasn’t spectacular enough we were able to view whales spouting just off the coast.  Simply amazing!  God is quite the artist isn’t he!



Like what you see?  Come Join us!  

The Treadmill is launching a new Trailhead Run/Hike initiative for 2016 and this was just the first hike of the year.

“Trailhead was born out of the desire to promote physical well-being and friendships through running & hiking while encouraging and participating in Environmental Advocacy. A family of runners, hikers, parents, children and friends of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds who cherish friendship, adventure, laughing, running & hiking while being surrounded by breathtaking beauty. We are of all speeds, abilities, ages, goals and experience.”

“Trailhead’s ultimate mission is to celebrate the area we live in, participating in what we love, with the ones we love.” ~ The Treadmill.

My family and I hope to participate in as many hikes as possible and take full advantage of the area while we are in California.  If you are local or will be out in the Big Sur/Carmel/Monterey area and would like more info click here for The Treadmill to be directed to their website for information on hikes and more (coming soon)

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Race Recap: Big Sur Half Marathon On Monterey Bay and a 5k to Boot

Back when I was still living in Virginia I signed up for The Big Sur Half Marathon mainly for two reasons.

  1. To keep myself accountable as far as continuing to run once we moved
  2. Because its one of America’s most beautiful half marathons

Mission completed.  I’m still running and it truly was an absolutely beautiful run.  Here’s my recap of the weekend:


Late Friday night I decided last minute to run the Lighthouse 5k on Saturday morning.  The 5k is part of the Half Marathon weekend and because well why not right?  Back in VA there are plenty of events with multiple races on the same weekend.  Why not make one for myself.  The course is a short walk from my house and my youngest would be there for the annual Cub Scout pancake breakfast.  So bright and early Saturday I made my way down to Lover’s Point and signed up at walk up registration.  I decided to use this flat beautiful course as a shakeout run, nice and easy.  It was a perfect cool sunny morning for a run along the beautiful coast.  In the end I was pleasantly surprised that I completed my shakeout at a pace I use to struggle to complete a 5k at.  Could those training hills be working?  Or did I go too fast and possibly jeopardize my half?  Eeek!  













Saturday Night.

I met up with a few fellow Sub 30 Club friends who came to town for the Half Marathon.  We had dinner in downtown Monterey with some great food and conversation.  It’s funny how runners can just meet up and talk for hours and hours isn’t it?  Awesome peeps!  Highlight of the night, we each got to sign one of the famous Sub 30 Flags.  The flag is being sent all around the country to subbers for good luck and comradery from the main group of almost 4,000 running buddies.  What a great boost for Sunday’s race!


Subbers and I from the Sub 30 Club


Race Day:

I had plan A, plan B and the no fail plan C for Sunday’s half.

  • Plan A – shoot for a new PR of at least one minute
  • Plan B – shoot for an even better PR
  • Plan C – if it doesn’t happen, enjoy the ride!

California has brought me some new running buddies along with lots of hills to train on.  Hills are something that are hard to find in Virginia Beach.  So for the past 4 months I have learned the love/hate relationship of running them.  Oh and Palo Corona, which is more of a mountain really.  But I digress, in my mind if I have been running all these hills then they must have a pay off at some point.  At least I sure hoped so!  Thus my quest for a new PR.

The half itself is run like a well oiled machine.  The folks at BSIM (Big Sur International Marathon) sure know what they are doing.  Everything from packet pick up and the shuttles to/from the race were easy to find and navigate.  Volunteers were plentiful on the course as were water / Gatorade etc.  I even had the joy of having my oldest volunteering on the course!  Getting a hug (and some water) at around mile 8-9 from my son was amazing 🙂  The course has a few uphill climbs, but nothing close to what I have trained on so I did fine.  There was live music and DJ’s along the course, and post race grub was also plentiful.  But the real winner of the race… the views along the course.

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I was blessed to bump into one of my Wednesday night running buddies in he starting corral.  I told her about my hopes to PR, she graciously volunteered herself and her husband to pace me for my goal.  Saki is awesome, and a machine, for real.


Saki and I in the starting corral

And by the way her husband is an awesome pacer!  The two of them had just come off a 10 mile trail run the previous day and were taking it easy for the half (lucky for me!)  Her PR for this course is a 2:01!  So we decided on a plan of staying with the pace group for the first half and then seeing how I felt at the turnaround.  *Except for a quick stop (yes I failed and got in the corral to early and had to pee!! Ughh.)   We stayed with the pacers until just after the turnaround.  side note:  If that port-o-potty stop had cost me my PR I would probably never forgive myself.   After the turnaround (just about mile 7 1/2) we slowly and steadily we made our surge.

Mile 10 is usually my hardest mile, and this half was no different.  I started with my self-doubt.  “I can’t PR, I have to walk blah, blah, blah, etc” Then I started to hear the pacer’s voice from the group we had broken away from.  I may have used a few choice words, which I shall not repeat here, out loud and decided “That’s it!” “I do not want to hear them again!”  Off I went.  Did you know being mad really can make you faster?  I thought about God, my Mom and my I run 4 buddy Logan.  I wanted to do this for all of them and myself.  I kept repeating their names in my head.  Saki paced me until sometime around mile 10 1/2 – 11 and then sent me on my way.  I was in the zone and the last two miles ended up being my fastest miles of the entire race.  I really appreciated Saki more than she can ever know.

I PR’d by almost 3 minutes!  Which for me is huge!  So hooray for hills, I might be getting older but I am also getting a bit faster 🙂  And I have to admit there were also some tears of joy at the end of the race.  And as if it wasn’t already a great day I got to meet the Kara Goucher!  She ran the race and had come in first for the women with a 1:11.  An additional bonus was I actually got to see her on the course.  She is amazing.

Here are some additional pics from the day.  First California Half (and 5k) in the books!



Kara and I…she may be my girl crush


Sub 30 “Dark Side” Flag. Post Race



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What’ s Up @Runfyhp? California Edition

I feel like time is flying by since we arrived in California.  I cannot believe we have been here for over 2 months already!

So what’s up with me?

Family Life:

After arriving in Cali and squaring away the necessities of finding a grocery store, getting our household goods delivered and unpacked, etc. we set out an about to get acquainted with our new surroundings.  There is a lot to do and see here and a ton of outdoor activities.  We found a new church, a Trader Joe’s, and have hit both the Aquarium and Cannery Row.  One of the best features is the location of our new house.  We live close enough to walk to the beach, downtown and church.  We are still missing some back east creature comforts.  OK I’m going to admit upfront that these are clearly “first world problems” but sometimes you become creatures of habit even with the little things.  The kiddos miss Martin’s Potato Bread and Chick-fil-A.  I miss being so close to the commissary and exchange.  Who knew, lol.  The kids started school in early August so their summer was cut a tad short.  They are adjusting well and are involved in sports and other school activities.


Running here is A-MAZE-ING!  The temperature rarely gets out of the 70’s and humidity for the most part is all but nonexistent.  When the temps reach over 80 the locals start to melt.  Most houses and businesses do not have air conditioning so fans have become our new best friends.  There are trails all around me.  I can run out my front door and be on the coastal beach trail in minutes or run to the Monterey Bay Recreation trail in about 2 miles.  God has truly blessed me as far as giving me an absolutely beautiful place to run.  I am starting to adjust to the fact that all is not flat here like Virginia Beach.  In the end its going to really benefit my running.  It took me a while but I think I have finally found a running group that fits into our family schedule.  I would like to make at least one run per week to run with a group.  I have been running solo for way too long.  I appreciate the comroterey, spirit and the push from a group.  I signed up for my first half before we even left Virginia to keep myself accountable and this will help me get my grove back.  I am all signed up for the Big Sur Half Marathon in November.  It will be my first official half in California and I am so looking forward to it.



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Yes I even rejoined the work force and got a part-time job.  Its been a long time since I have done anything other than volunteer work.  God has also lead me to a wonderful company.   I work at a local family owned running store called The Treadmill.  They have been so gracious helping me fit working into our very busy family schedule.  I am learning new things every day and “The Crew” there couldn’t be any more welcoming or inspirational.  Bonus points for Group Fun Runs that the company holds two times each month at Palo Cornona Park up to Inspiration Point.  It’s an awesome training run for my stamina.  I may not ever make that “hill’ (ok its a freakin’ mountain) mine, but I will make it up there a little easier each time.  My husband and I have set that as a goal for ourselves.



Working has led to a greater need to schedule running and working out it general.  So I feel for all of you who work crazy hours and still get it done each week.  Kudos to you all and feel free to send any tips my way 🙂



I am proud to continue my relationship as an Ambassador for Girls Gone Sporty, Fit Approach, Crazy Compression, RoadID and now InkNBurn!  Great positive people, communities and wonderful products.


That’s my update for now.  How is everything in your world?






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