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2015 Goals. Projects. Run.

As another year approaches, it is truly amazing to see how far you have come in the 365 days prior. Some of us conquered and some of us rose to embrace the unexpected. Personally, everything about this past year was unexpected but delightfully welcomed. A new city, a new job, a fun marriage and a healthy (over slobbery) pup. 

What more could anyone ask for in their life? 

So as I reflect and plan for another year, I had to really focus on goals, life projects, family, and running (of course!). 

2015 Goals and Projects

Embrace training and cross that marathon finish line. Life happened and my original race was changed, so now we move on. I hope to end the year at the Dallas Marathon with a marathon medal around my neck. 

Fall in love with the run. I love running but can struggle with training (as we all do). I have my sights set high to look forward to the cold air, shining sun, and rainy roads. I am devoted to the run and hope to complete 2,015 miles in 2015. 

Read a new book each month and share it with the world. 
I have an endless book collection and I have not dove into it in quite sometime. This year I will dedicate more time to enjoying something for myself, plus sharing some books with you all! 

Visit new places at least once a month. Living in a new part of the country has truly inspired new adventures. To continue the trend, I want to spend quality family time discovering a new hiking trail, town, country, or a field of tulips. I hope to share many photos along the way. 

Start saving for that rainy day. I will admit I am horrible with saving money. My hope is to just develop a habit in putting some money away (a little here and there) for emergencies, a dinner out, or flying my mom to come visit us. 

Finally put an end to my credit card debt. Yes, I know this is a normal one. Lucky for me, I have a plan and have been working on it for the past 6 months! With the support of B, every month (for 8 months) I will be able to pay off 1 card! I may or may not be doing a happy dance in my chair as I type this. 

Be purposeful and give back. I know many of us focus on "spring cleaning" or "end of the year spruce", but this year I am taking it one step further. The goal is to take on a part of the house and clean/weed/toss/donate. The exception will be if I don't have anything donation worthy, I will pick a local organization and donate items they may need. 

Tackle a puzzle with the family. All the hoopla of moving, new jobs, crazy stress; B, Bear and I lost focus on our little family unit. Sure, we had meals together, shopped, traveled; but we lost focus on fun/enjoying each other. Solution is add in a puzzle to the mix! A fun family project will keep us sharp, not spending money and a change of pace from running/work/commuting. 

Send birthday love all year long. Last but certainly not least, is sharing the birthday celebrations to all of our family. We may live in Seattle, but none of our family is within 500 miles. I cannot wait to share a little bit of love and happiness to family from California to Connecticut and Texas! Who knows, I may send myself in a box! 

Of course there are some small random things I want to accomplish but the big picture is family, time for myself and my love of running. I am not sure what 2015 holds for my family and our life in Seattle, but I am thrilled at every possibility.

How will you welcome the New Year?

What is one goal (not running related) that you are looking forward to conquering?

Happy 2015 everyone and happy running!


Moving and marvelous beginnings.

It has literally been too long since I jotted down a few thoughts with all my favorite runners! 

I missed you all!

So a quick recap:

B graduated with a Masters. (woot woot)

We drove over 2,000 miles from Illinois to Washington. 

We are now official Seattle folks!

Life has been a little different than expected. Sadly my race schedule changed dramatically, travel is not a huge priority this year (but 2015 is looking good!). 

I am so excited to be near the water (like 100 feet from the Elliott Bay Trail)!

Bear has even come to love city living. 

Cannot wait to share more of our new life here in the PNW!


Running with Soul: Meet Jessica (#19)

How many years have you been running? 
I picked up running sort of casually around 2002 when a friend invited me to try out a gym for a free week trial. I ended up picking up a membership and gradually worked my way from walk/run intervals to running for 30 minutes straight. From there, I just fell in love with running. Nothing beats it really. You have to find that one workout that you really fall in love with, that you can stay with for the rest of your life. Mine is running. I enjoy strength training, yoga, pilates, barre, dancing, and so many other forms of exercise. But, sometimes those all fall away and all I'm left with are my feet on the pavement, and I'm perfectly happy.

Little bit about yourself:
I am a writer and personal trainer from Wisconsin, where I live with my sweet 5-year-old boy and my husband. In Wisconsin, the most fun things we can do are outdoors, and we just love kayaking, camping, hiking, cross country skiing and biking together. Yep, even the little guy has a pair of cross-country skis! I am really passionate about health and fitness. I can't stop reading about it, writing about it, researching it, trying it out, and on and on. Fitness truly is my calling, so that's why I decided to go for it and get my NASM personal training certificate this summer. 

Who or what inspires you to run?
The feeling I get after running is what inspires me to run on most days. Some days I do dedicate runs to people who can't run or are no longer with us. Their bravery and my gratitude for the fact that I am able-bodied gives me the courage to continue. But running to me is sustenance, as much so as food. I can't go too long without it. My body literally has running withdrawals if more than two days pass without a good jog. 

What is your running mantra?
My all-time favorite mantra is "Make it Happen." No one can do any workouts or train for you. If you want results, you have to make them happen. I use this mantra in other areas of my life too. For my business, for my goals, if I want something to happen, I need to make it happen. Sometimes when I'm running though, I like to chant "fast-er, strong-er, far-ther" in my head with each step. It really helps me key in on my cadence and push through with my stamina. I wrote an entire post about mantras, because I believe in them so strongly. Sure you could say they're just head games, but they are powerful enough to push you through tough sessions, focus on your goals, and give you the tunnel vision you need to finish.

What is your favorite running/fitness blog?
Oh goodness, this is hard to narrow down. I love what Tone it Up and Blogilates have done in the fitness community and hope to emulate their savvy fitness empires someday. I also read Erica House's blog regularly and of course the Lean Green Bean. Check them out! I enjoy following Taylor Ryan at Lifting Revolution. Aside from her informative blog, she's built a neat membership site where you can get access to daily workouts and meal plans for a small fee. Fitness Blender is building an amazing workout library on their site.

What has been your most memorable race?
For my very first race ever, I decided to run a Half Marathon. My city created this brand new run one year and I resolved to run the "First Annual" race. Not sure where that resolve came from, but I made a firm decision to run that race. Go big or go home, right? I kept it simple though, no fancy equipment involved. I used an online training plan (I think Hal Higdon's) and followed it as best I could and used running shoes from JCPenney, nothing else really. Oh, I did buy a water bottle waist pouch so I had water for long runs, but that was it. I knew I probably wouldn't finish if I got bogged down in all those details. I'm so glad I chose that half marathon for my first ever race though because my second race was a terrible XC race in sweltering heat and humidity. Had that been my first race, I may not have given racing another chance. 

The Half Marathon was such an amazing experience though. I just soaked up the sound of all those footfalls on the pavement and used all the cheering well-wishers as fuel. My parents and husband met me at some of the mile markers, and knowing they would be around the bend always made me pick up my pace. I don't remember a whole lot about crossing the finish line, but I just remember the feeling of accomplishment when it was done. I had just run 13.1 miles straight! This coming from the girl who practically died during the 1 mile runs in gym class.

What is your dream race? (Besides Boston)
After reading Born to Run, I felt like I wanted to do an ultra. Haha! However, I don't really think that I have the physical or mental stamina to take that on right now. I'd love to do runs in other states, like Hawaii, where I've never been before. Running in new places are more inspiring to me than anything.

What are you currently training for?
I'm actually currently on a training hiatus. I wrote a post about how it's ok to be a runner and not race. I have been perfectly content lately with just running for running's sake, trying to beat my own times every day, and having that time in the early morning to myself. What I'm really trying to do right now is build a personal training business, and I hope to one day add "running coach" to my resume so I can share my love of running with clients. My husband and I always run that same local race as that half marathon I did, only the 5k portion of it, in April. My son even loves to do the kids' run for that same event, so I guess I'm training him for a lifetime of love for running at an early age.

What one piece of running gear can you not live without?
A good sports bra! Ha! But really, I'm quite a minimalist when it comes to equipment. A good pair of shoes and a sufficient running outfit, and I'm set. Shoes are even optional! I've always wanted to try to become a barefoot runner. Although I could live without it if I really had to, I do have to say I've grown to love my Timex heart rate monitor. I know exactly which zone I'm training in and how many calories I'm burning so I never overdo it--or short myself either.

If you could share any words of advice/encouragement to a new runner, what would it be?
If you run, you're a runner! Embrace that. It took a long time for me to consider myself a bona fide runner, and I know a lot of people who say the same thing. And everyone starts at the walk/run (mostly walk) stage. But you are a runner! You will get faster and you will get stronger, and it's really amazing to watch your body do that! The running community is one of the most supportive, encouraging communities out there! The winners stay to cheer on the last ones to cross the finish line and it doesn't even matter where you place, just that you finish and give it your best. When I ran my Half Marathon, I could've just cried from all the support lining the entire 13.1 miles. I couldn't believe that people had so much excitement and support to show from the sidelines. Passersby even high-fived me and encouraged me to keep going. That camaraderie in the running community is really something rare and beautiful. So come on in!

Be sure to follow Jessica on her journey!

A huge thanks to Jessica! 


Running with Soul: Meet Meg (#18)

How many years have you been running?
A little over a year

Little bit about yourself:
I'm really a Disney Princess....okay, maybe not really. But I love Disney and have grown up there, I never knew about their running events until 2012 when I followed the Princess Half results and knew I had to sign up. Prior to running my first half I had only ever run a 5k. I immediately became obsessed. It didn't start out that way though.

You couldn't have paid me to run before Ace. He was the reason I changed my lifestyle. I began running because my boyfriend and I adopted a dog together a lab/pit mix named Ace. I knew he needed to be exercised in order to have a healthy long life. We began walking and worked our way up to a jog and now we are the best running partners. He has changed my life. Not only am I a huge runner now but I'm a pitbull advocate as well. I was just recently accepted as a Pittie Express Messenger through which focus' on getting rid of housing and insurance discrimination of breeds. Family is family, no matter who they are. I also raise money for an amazing organization called Running for Rescues. I am a #sweatpink Ambassador, Bulu Box Ambassador, Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador, and a Hartford Track Club/Sonic Endirance Ambassador. I love meeting new people and getting out into the world.

Who or what inspires you to run?
Me. Everytime I accomplish something I never thought I could it inspires me to push harder to the next goal.

What is your running mantra?
'You got this' I end up saying that in my head during races quite often haha

What is your favorite running/fitness blog?
I really enjoy Karen's blog. I connect really well with her.

What has been your most memorable race?
For the experience and fun both runDisney weekends I have participated in (Princess Half 2013 and Wine and Dine 2013) but for accomplishment I'd have to say the ING Hartford Half Marathon, I signed up last minute aka 2 weeks before. I felt amazing the whole race, was loving the course, followed the right fueling pattern and PR'd by 10 minutes. It was surreal. And in my 'hometown'.

What is your dream race? (Besides Boston)
Marine Corps Marathon- one day!

What one piece of running gear can you not live without?
 Nike sport watch

If you could share any words of advice/encouragement to a new runner, what would it be?
It's all mental, as long as you can believe you can you will. The pain isn't that bad, you don't have that far to go. You can do it.

Follow Meg on her journey! 

Thank you Meg for sharing your story with us all!

Check back every Monday 9 am CST as another runner shares their journey of running with soul!


Running with Soul: Meet Sarah (#17)

How many years have you been running? 
Almost 2 years

Little bit about yourself: 
I am an Army wife, a mother of 3, a special needs mommy, a writer, and a planker. I love coffee. I get up early in the morning just so I can drink coffee in the quiet.

Who or what inspires you to run? 
Honestly, my old self inspires me to keep running. I don't ever want to be that girl again!

What is your running mantra? 
Get to the Start and Get to the Finish

What is your favorite running/fitness blog? 
Yours, of course! :) But I do love to read books about running and nutrition!

What has been your most memorable race? 
The 38th Marine Corps Marathon ~ It was my first full marathon. (2013)

What is your dream race? (Besides Boston) 
The Marine Corps Marathon ~ I ran it, but want to run it better!

What are you currently training for? 
The Eisenhower Half Marathon (Abilene, KS), April 2014

What one piece of running gear can you not live without? 
My VS Pink earbuds! They are perfect and work rain or shine! Best part is that they are hot pink!!!

If you could share any words of advice/encouragement to a new runner, what would it be? 
Be patient. Train conservatively. I have made all but one of my running goals without getting injured and I have enjoyed the run! Get to the Start and Get to the Finish!

Be sure to follow Sarah on her journey!

A huge thanks to Sarah for sharing her story and experiences with us all!

Check back every Monday 9 am CST as another runner shares their journey of running with soul!


Running with Soul: Meet Joanne (#16)

How many years have you been running?
I only started in February 2013 so just about 9 months.

Since I started I've run 9 5K's, a 15K, a 10 Miler, and a half marathon. So that's 60.3 miles, give or take, in races alone. I love a good challenge and doing bigger and better things.

Little bit about yourself: 
I was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. I'm the youngest of 5 children by 15-20 years so I'm more like an only child according to my siblings. I was raised by a mom who has been incredibly supportive of me trying new things.

Currently, I am an attorney in Central Florida. I work as a bar exam tutor and a blogger but I would love to practice Social Media Law or Computer Criminal Law. I recently spoke at the Jacksonville LGBT Conference about bullying and have several other speaking engagements scheduled thanks to my work I do with students. Often, you'll find me on the go. I love helping others and meeting new people. 

And even though I try to pretend to be big and bad, I'm really a nerd who loves comic books, video games, RPG's, and art. 

Who or what inspires you to run? 
I started running after I saw my brother run the 2012 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. He's my oldest brother by 20 years. I watched him run his heart out and finish his first half marathon. Well, since we are siblings, I figured that if he could do it, so could I. 

Well, in December 2012 I started bar exam prep and I needed a way to stay active so it was time to put my money where my mouth is. I signed up for my first 5K and I began running. I ran my first 5K three days before the bar exam with my homemade t-shirt that read "I have spent the last 11 weeks studying for the Florida Bar Exam. What's your excuse?". It probably wasn't the smartest idea because I was woefully unprepared and I hurt for days. But I had made the deal with myself that if I could finish the 5K, then I could pass the bar. 

And I did both.

After the bar exam, I found that running became the one thing I felt like I could control in my life. Even though I've had some really terrible interviews and dealt with different issues with students as well as health problems, I've managed to stay together mentally because of running. It's my time alone where I choose how far I go, how hard I run, and how much I feel I can handle. It's all about me.

So I guess you say that my desire to control something is what inspires me to keep running.

And my desire to keep up with my big brother, Tommy.

What is your running mantra?
I may not be a graceful gazelle, but I am one damn sexy flopping walrus. I'm very proud to be a sexy flopping walrus.

What is your favorite running/fitness blog?
I read a wide variety of blogs. Honestly, I don't have a favorite because I find all blogs full of great stories, tips, tricks, and hope.

Actually, I have a favorite Facebook Group for running which is the Women's Running Community. I usually feel like an outcast no matter what I do, but this group accepted me without question and supports me constantly. It's a huge group with about 7,000 members but I feel a bond with each one and love them to pieces.

What has been your most memorable race?
My most memorable race was the 2013 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon that I ran earlier this month. I write race recap's on one of my many Facebook Running Groups and here's the recap:

Around 6:45PM I made my way down to the buses at the resort to find that there was already a line of racers. Normally, I'm used to seeing people of every shape and size at my races but for some reason these people all looked like experienced runners, skinny and muscley. So I didn't really fit in well. It took awhile to get up the front and all the while my nerves were getting worse.

I said good bye to my mom and boyfriend and got on the bus. Since I was running alone, I took a seat by myself and hoped that I wouldn't be like the nerdy kid I was as a child and would be left to myself. It took a few minutes before someone sat beside me.

When my seat mate sat down she instantly broke the ice when she failed to move her water belt and ended up squirting both of us in the face with her water. It was the runner's equivalent of a fart. We giggled and began talking only to discover that we were both running alone and it was both of our first half marathons and we were both absolutely petrified. It was lovely.

When we got to the starting line the bus dropped us off and we were surprised with a security check. After having my bag torn to shreds and having a metal detection wand stuck in places that normally I only let people enjoy if they've bought me dinner first, I made my way inside. When I got inside, I said goodbye to my new friend who was going to make her way to her corral and headed to bag check.

What a living nightmare. Who provides someone as clumsy as me with clear masking tape that hasn't been pre-pulled? After I spent ten minutes shredding the tape with my nails and cutting my hand on the tape, I just tied a knot in the bag and handed it over to bag check.

I then proceeded to go meet with my pace group. Now, here's the thing, it was my first time with a pace group and my last time with a pace group. I walked over and felt immediately awkward because everyone was socializing and had their backs turned to the rest of the crowds. So I stood around for a few minutes looking like the nerd who wanted to appear to be a cool kid. They took a few pictures which I weaseled my way into. I figured this way I could have a decent race photo for once.

After that we meet with our pace team captains. Captain A-hole was my captain who promptly informed me that he would not be starting in my corral or the one behind mine because then there would be no chance of beating the sweepers (sweepers are the individuals who pull people off of a race course who unable to maintain the course pace which was 16 minutes per mile for this race). This instilled no confidence in me and I was instantly angry because I felt like he was implying that I wouldn't be able to finish the race. Captain A-Hole then told me I had to figure a way to catch up. I promised him I would and then I promised I would beat him. I then stormed off to my corral.

I sat outside the corral and stretched until they let us inside. When I got in I found a lovely piece of curb and got comfy since we had another hour until the first gun went off. In the corrals I chit chatted with people but you could tell everyone was nervous. Turned out that most people in my corral were running a half for the first time which gave me a sense of comfort. But I did watch as people began hopping over the fences, never to return again. 200 people supposedly dropped out of the race before it even began.

When the gun finally went off, my fear was at a breaking point. I began running and had a silent conversation with myself where I made myself a deal: It was going to be ok if I got swept so long as I had fun and lived in the moment. Immediately, the nerves disappeared and I just kept trucking. So here's the mile by mile coverage:

Up to mile 1: I huffed along, watching as others past to see their costumes and outfits while telling myself it was all going to be OK. I got 3/4's of a mile before the gun for the corral behind me went off making me feel like I was going to be OK.

Mile 1: Some lady came running up beside me and told me that I only had 12.1 miles left. I told her that she was wrong; in my head I only had 2.1 miles to go because I was taking this in 5K increments. She looked super confused and pulled back which made me smirk. As I trotted along, I saw runners on the other side of the course running along mile 6. I began cheering for them and telling them to keep running. Many of the runners cheered back and told me I was doing a great job. People running along side me got annoyed at my cheering since it was so early on but I didn't give a damn: I promised myself to have fun and that's what I was doing. One guy even ran across the grass to give me a high five and then ran back to his side of the course to finish. It was pretty epic.

Mile 2: To be obnoxious, I found the woman who told me that I had 12.1 miles left at mile 1 and informed her that now I only had 11.1 miles left. She huffed at me and I ran off, bouncing with my music. I continued cheering for people as I went, telling those who appeared to be struggling to keep it up because there was beer at the end. I had a new fancy light that attached to my visor so I used it when the road got really dark. Like moths to a flame, other runners started to gather around me. I looked at one guy who hadn't liked my cheering and said "Oh, so you like me NOW, huh?" He smiled sheepishly and told me I had a nice light. So I let him run beside me since this was the closest thing to a compliment from another man I had gotten in a long time.

Mile 3: At this point we were closing in on Animal Kingdom. My confidence began to rise. I had run this road during Tower of Terror 10 Miler and I had run Animal Kingdom itself during Expedition Everest Challenge so I felt like I had an advantage. A girl began running next to me who was chanting "I want a burger. I want a burger." I told her we were only 10 miles from a burger. She explained that for training she gave up burgers and beer. I told her I gave up beer but I refused to give up burgers. She laughed and we kept going. Three ladies ran up who had on cool shirts that said "Where's the Finish Wine?" so I complimented them. It creeped them out so they ran faster to which I gave myself a pat on the back for helping people pick up the pace. At the 5K mark, I yelled out to those around me that we were now under 10 miles until the beer. People cheered and we crossed under the over pass into the Animal Kingdom parking lot. We came up on the first water station when I almost ran smack into captain A-Hole, the pace group leader.

"Hey!" I cried out happily. "I can't believe I caught up!"

"That's nice. It's time to run," he said not even looking at me. At the same time my boyfriend called in to see where I was and how I was holding up. I told him I was entering Animal Kingdom, give me 20 minutes and call back. He said OK and hung up.

Now this is the moment I realized I don't like pace groups. A) Because Captain A-Hole kind of ruined them for me with his constant whining and B) I don't run the same pace. They were running a 30/30 run walk pace. I realized as I tried to keep up that I run a run-until-you-feel-like-your-about-to-die-because-your-heart-wants-to-explode-and-your-legs-want-to-mutiny then walk-until-sweet-nirvana-sets-in-and-you-don't-hurt-anymore pace. It probably equates to a 2/1 pace but I like my version better. So I tried for awhile to stay with them because I wasn't sure if I could run this whole thing alone. We got into the park and instantly I had flash backs of Expedition Everest. I hate Animal Kingdom, folks. I hate to admit it but the ground gets to me and I really can't stand the smell. So all I wanted was to be done. Well, that wasn't in Captain A-Hole's plans. He wanted everyone to stop for a potty break. When I had had the conversation with myself in the beginning about having fun I also had the all important potty conversation with myself. I decided that, well, I've peed myself in a race before and it wasn't so bad, plus this was a night race, so I would only use a potty if I had the trots. Plus, I didn't want to get swept because I was too civilized and needed toilet paper. If it was just liquid, I would just use it as lubrication to keep my legs going. So when Captain A-Hole tried to get everyone to have a potty break I disappeared into the crowd and picked up speed.

Mile 4: I don't remember much other than celebrating that I was in single digits left to run. I focused on getting out of Animal Kingdom and away from Captain A-Hole.

Mile 5: The boyfriend calls just as I hit Mile 5. He asks where I am and I said I exited Animal Kingdom. He told me he really did call back in 20 minutes so I made record time for me to get out of that damn park. He started filling me on the race and I told him about what was going on in the course. I come up on the water stop and essentially bath myself in water to cool off. It was glorious. But my knee was hurting, so I got as much Biofreeze from the medical tent as I could and numbed the hell out of my knees. I then get all the way out of the parking lot and back on the main roads while the BF chats away in my ear, giving me comfort that I'm not really running alone.

Mile 6: It felt like the never ending mile. Captain A-Hole catches up. Turns out his lovely group all ditched him except one person. So I just try to blend in (which is hard to do when you're a pudgy red head wearing a bright blue shirt) and keep going. At the 10 K mark, I jumped up and down on the treadle about six times. I wanted to make sure it registered. And I was celebrating. I chugged along making jokes with my boyfriend along the way, confusing everyone around me who thought I was talking to them.

Mile 7: Suddenly, I was really tired. I kept telling my BF "I'm trying; I'm trying." He told me how proud he was and to keep going. I was catching up with a friend of ours running the race who has run multiple halves and typically keeps a 12 minute pace. A big screen in the road announced we were at the halfway point and I just huffed at it. I just wanted to lay down and take a nap. But I kept chugging. We went down an overpass when all of a sudden I saw two green army men who were miked. I was running basically alone at this point so they started yelling at me to pick up the pace, soldier. I straightened up and called out "Hoo-ah!" which got a response of "That's right, soldier! Now, left-right-left-right! We don't leave anyone behind!" That was the second wind I needed. After a quick stop at the medical tent to get more Biofreeze and numb my throbbing hamstrings I was off and running again.

Mile 8: Nothing but road. It had to be the most uneventful, boring mile of the entire race. Up until the food stop. Normally, I use Sports Beans. They are lovely orange flavored jelly beans that speak to my inner and outer fat kid. But for some reason by the time I reached the food stop I could have eaten a slower runner around me. But all they were handing out was Clif shots. It doesn't sound bad but I had never had it before. Nevertheless, I was starving and relatively sure I had enough energy to chase a fellow runner down for a snack. so instead of risking being swept or jail, I opted for a chocolate Clif shot. I'm thinking these things are probably nasty under normal circumstances but at that moment, it was the nectar of the gods. I ate the whole thing and debated asking for more but I didn't want to risk it. Nonetheless, it helped and suddenly I wasn't as tired or as hungry. No one was harmed during this mile.

At the water stop I did my typical bath in a cup of water and rejoice in the coolness. I also proposed to the guy who handed me the water. He turned me down, which was OK. But I appreciated him anyway. Some lady made a comment of "Well, I haven't reached the point of desperation yet to pour water on myself. I KNOW what I'M doing. Besides, I'd only do it with cold water." I just turned on her and said "Any water is cold when you have run 8 miles . And I know what I'm doing too so go to hell." Turned back and kept running. My boyfriend, whose still on the phone, just laughed. I hate mean people during races. Don't judge others who are trying and PS- beating you.

Mile 9: I made it to Hollywood Studios. baby angels were singing in my head. As much as the Tower of Terror 10 Miler sucked for me, I was grateful I ran it because I knew where I was going. I got in the park and suddenly found lots of photographers. In accordance with my private contract with myself, I decided to have fun and posed for each picture because damn it, I want a nice race picture finally. I have attached the results to this post for your entertainment and vote on which I should buy. In front of the hat, I photobombed another runner who was none too pleased but it was damn funny. My photo escapades continued throughout this mile.

Mile 10: Just as I hit Mile 10 I saw Wreck It Ralph who was wrecking cones on the course. Not only was it hilarious but much needed. I found the energy to run for a full 5 minutes which for me is astounding. By this point my BF was yelling in my ear that I had officially PR-ed. He was right; my longest race was 10 miles , anything after 10 was a PR. So it no longer mattered to me if I got swept, which is what I told him. Some British lady near me heard me saying this and told me that no one gets swept after you hit Hollywood Studios, that I could just enjoy the rest of the race. I dove at her and bear hugged her while apologizing for bear hugging her. She said it was OK, she probably needed the human contact too. Just as we finished hugging (while running at the same time, it was impressive) we came on New York Street which was decorated for the Osbourne Spectacle of Lights with over 1 million Christmas lights. It was amazing. So finally I started crying. My BF panicked on the phone asking what happened, why was I crying and I told him the truth: I was more proud of myself in that moment than I had been in many years because in that moment I realized I was going to finish.

So Mile 10 was the emotional mile. I even cried when I saw Darth Vader although I cut the turn too sharp and almost ran into him. I just felt amazing.

Another medical tent and more Biofreeze. Now I ran singing about how Biofreeze was my only true friend and how I love it more than life. I think this is called runner's insanity.

It was towards the end of Hollywood Studios and suddenly I heard the theme song from Captain America . I started running harder hoping they had him hiding somewhere but no such luck. It was awesome anyway because I was wearing my UnderArmour Captain America socks (which are amazing to run in). Then it happened.

I peed myself.

I was so proud I told the runner next to me.

And she told me she just peed too.

We were really proud of ourselves so we ran together out of Holllywood Studios leaving behind our marks.

My BF was proud but slightly disgusted.

Mile 11: I could see Spaceship Earth in the distance. We ran along the river to Epcot. Dozens of spectators lined the path giving high fives, yelling out encouragement, cow bells (there are not enough cow bells in the world), and handing us water bottles. It was amazing. I think it was the best mile of the whole race because the spectators were there to help.

It got a little congested so I walked for a bit but I met the Founder of California Runners who told me for my first half I looked amazing and she was thrilled I was still smiling and making jokes. She walked with me for awhile telling me how proud she was. A total stranger was proud of me. It was awesome.

We made it to Yacht Club when a spectator was cheering saying she'd run with us. I told her challenge accepted and she ran on the race course and we ran full speed down the boardwalk together until she couldn't run anymore. She clapped me on the back and told me to finish strong which was awesome.

Mile 12: Still running strong but my foot started killing me. But that's when I met Peggy Sue. Peggy Sue apparently comes to every runDisney race. She sat in her motorized chair with her sign and offered me Starbursts because she knew we were in need of food. I turned her down saying thanks but told her that I loved her for being there. People like that make running worth while.

I got into Epcot, my foot killing me, and just concentrated on finishing.

I no longer cared about what people thought about me. I posed for pictures, I skipped as I ran, and I yelled at crowds to cheer.

Mile 13: Almost there. I told my boyfriend I hit 13 and I began to really run. I sprinted full speed. I wanted to be done. I wanted my freaking beer. And a nap. Perhaps a shower. But really, I just wanted to stop moving. I ran with everything I had left.

And when I crossed that finish line I Hulk Screamed so loud I scared everyone around me. and I continued to yell as I got my medal and my pictures because I did it. My boyfriend Hulk screamed for me. My mom Hulk screamed. It was like being released from years of imprisonment. It was like being set free. I was a beast.

I AM a beast.

An injured beast with a sprained knee that took 2 days to unlock finally and who is still completely exhausted and too sore to run. But damn, there has been no other feeling like crossing that finish line and letting out that scream.
Everyone should run a half marathon. Anyone can be a beast.

I'm a beast.

So there you have it: my race recap from my first and not to be last half marathon. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved running it.

What is your dream race? (Besides Boston)
I want so badly to run The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. Stephen Siller was a firefighter that abandoned his truck and ran through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel with his gear to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He gave his life that day trying to save others. The race is memory of all those who lost their lives that day. 

I may not be from New York, but I come from a fire family. My uncle was a firefighter, my grandfather died in a fire, my great grandfather drove one of the last fire boats in Philadelphia, and another relative was the first fire matron. There is a special place in my heart for firefighters so, of course, I want to run any race for firefighters.

But I remember September 11th like it was yesterday. I remember watching the Towers fall on TV, my friends devastated because they lost their parents when the Towers came crashing down, being locked in to high school with no way to reach my family to see if they were OK, and knowing that my world would never be the same. I feel like September 11th is not just a day but a day that has driven my path in life. I want to be there with others who feel the same, I want to give back, I want to run for those who can't. I want to remember.

What one piece of running gear can you not live without?

I love, LOVE my Captain America Under Armor Training Socks. They are soft but more importantly, Captain America is the man. I told you I am a nerd.

If you could share any words of advice/encouragement to a new runner, what would it be?

My mom recently got into the race scene and she's 70 years old. She was terrified. But here's what I told her: Don't worry about anyone else. There are runners of every shape, size, weight, hair color, and attitude. But running isn't about everyone around you. It's just you versus the road/trail/whatever you like to run. Don't let anyone else into your head. It's all about you. So don't look back, don't look to the side or down. Look straight on to the road ahead and take it one step at a time. And celebrate each step because it was a step you wouldn't have previously taken.

Just so you know, she finished her first 5K in October and she is now addicted.

Goes to show that you are never too old to get out there and clock some miles.

Oh, and buy moisture-wicking socks are a must. Blisters suck. 

Be sure to follow Joanne on her journey1

Big thanks to Joanne for participating in the series!

Check back each Monday at 9 am CST as another runner shares their journey of running with soul!