Friday, August 30, 2013

Biking: An Open Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

I'd like to introduce myself.  My name is Bari and I'm a (poor) cyclist - as evidenced by my 2nd tip-over of the season today - and (sometimes) triathlete.  I ride a road bike that I happen to be physically attached to via my shoes.  I'm not super fast, I usually average around 14 or 15 miles per hour with top speeds around 20 mph, but that's fast enough to cause serious damage when I crash into your child who isn't paying attention as they bike in front of/next to/around me.  I can't simply stop on a dime and jump out of the way.

First the good - all of your children out biking today were wearing helmets. Great job, parents!! Now, I can't say the same for you.  I think (this is a guess and we know I suck at math so it's probably way off) that only about 20% of you were wearing helmets.  Just so you know, your brain isn't any safer than theirs.  In fact, you are farther from the ground, will fall harder, and are less likely to recover from a serious brain injury than they are.  Put your brain in a bucket, too.  Set a good example for your children and you might even be around to see them grow up.

That's if I don't accidentally kill one of them first.

During approximately 7 miles of my 14 mile ride today, I had at least 4 children try to kill me.  Or themselves.  Most likely themselves because if I sent all 150 pounds of me and bike into your 4 year old at 15 mph, I might end up with a couple broken bones but your child is going to to be killed.  Just saying.

Do your kids a favor and PLEASE teach them to be aware of other people around them when they are biking.  All of these kids (with the exception of the kid learning to ride while his dad roller bladed right behind him) were far enough away from you that you couldn't have warned them to stay to the side.  This also includes that little 4 year old on her tricycle.  I had 2 (probably 7 or 8 year old) boys riding toward me while watching the side of the trail as opposed to where they were going.  When they saw me they both turned TOWARDS ME. WTF???? I hope your kid uses that f-bomb I yelled as I swerved out of their way and you can explain to him why I said it.  These two were definitely old enough to understand the rules of the road.  Seriously.  The 4 year old is another story.  She had no clue what she was doing and turned around directly in front of me.  Thankfully I sorta know how preschoolers think and was unclipped and slowing down, but I still only missed her by literally about 6 inches.  The final boy - the one learning to ride with his dad - at least dad was trying to keep him to the side, but holding onto the back of his shirt did nothing when I said "passing" and he turned in the direction of my voice.

Bottom line...we ALL need to share the trails.  This means teaching your kids to be safe and courteous to other riders.  This also means I need to be aware and expect your children to ride like idiots.  Otherwise, someone is going to get seriously hurt.

Signed,

A pissed off cyclist/triathlete who would not like the guilt of killing one of your children and is ready to hang up her bike because it's just not worth it

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 3 randoms

After a very rough first 2 days back to work this week, I felt I needed to find some good (besides the fact I have the next 5 days off before I have to work again).

Here goes:



My trail - I had a great 8 mile ride this morning to shake out the cobwebs and the legs. (Yes, I took this while going about 16 mph).


My great, new YMX by Yellowman top. Perfect for the ride this morning - even though it's long sleeve it's so light that it isn't hot. Plus, it just looks cool.



Most important thanks - Dad is being discharged from rehab today and going home from the hospital. He's been in for almost a month after 2 back surgeries and is very happy (albeit nervous too) about going home. Prayers please that the doctors figure out some better pain management because while his mobility is better his pain is not.

What are you thankful for today?

ps - don't for get I have a giveaway going on for a great 8x10 canvas print.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Michigan Wine Trail Half Marathon #racereport

Since the Michigan Wine Trail Half Marathon was the culmination of a girl's weekend, this race report is going to be a bit different.  I also posted a review of the race itself over at Michigan Runner Girl so if you want a bit more information about the actual race after reading my experience (logistics, etc) go check out my guest post there (I believe it is also posting today).

I signed up for the Michigan Wine Trail Half Marathon when one of my runner girlfriends suggested we all head down to my old stomping grounds for a wine weekend and run the half for fun.  It sounded like a great way to end my summer so I said, "sure!"  I didn't anticipate being injured and very undertrained.  Sometimes that happens when you run 5 halfs, a tri, a 200 mile relay and a 25k in less than 8 months. In any case, I knew I wasn't injured enough to back out of the race so I still went and I'm glad I did.

Our girl's weekend ended up growing to include over 20 women, team shirts (we are West Michigan WINEers) and even some "training runs" where we'd meet around town, run, and then practice drinking wine.  I got to meet an incredible group of ladies who I now consider friends and running partners.  Several of us met Friday night down in St. Joseph, MI (which is where I grew up).  We had a great dinner at RyeBelle's and then hit Silver Beach Pizza and The Buck for drinks. The sunset from the bluff was pretty spectacular.
Saturday consisted of more wine-ing and dine-ing, plus packet pick up and some chilling on the beach for the sunset.  We visited 3 wineries on Saturday - the tasting room for White Pine Winery, Baroda Founders Wine Cellar, and Gravity.

Gravity Winery was - hands down - my favorite winery of the weekend.  It was new to me and the pairings of cheese with white and chocolate with reds was brilliant.

Finishing the evening with a trip down to Silver Beach to watch the sunset made for an almost perfect day.  I know I appreciate the beauty of Southwestern Lower Michigan so much more now as an adult than I ever did when I was living there.  
Race day started like most others - an early rise, some coffee and a little breakfast.  We made it to the race about 30 minutes before the start and there were huge lines for the only 6 or 8 port-a-potties.  The race ended up with a delay because there were still so many people in line. We got a group shot of the West Michigan WINErs and then lined up. Finally, we took off around 7:45.  I was worried about how my Achilles was going to fare on all the hills. (We'd driven the course on Saturday so I knew what to expect. Not sure that this helped me because I obsessed about it all night long.)  

This is a certified course and it really was beautiful.  We passed 6 wineries during the run, as well as countless orchards and farms.  The spacing of the aide stations was not great and I'm glad I was carrying water.  I must've looked bad at mile 8.5 (Gravity Winery) because my friend working that station looked a tad concerned.  The police support was great and the icy towels at mile 10 and fire hoses at mile 11 were a welcome break from the heat.
You can see from the Garmin shot below how hilly the course was.  It took my ankle a good 3 miles to warm up and because we waited so long to start, I had to pee by the time I got to the johns just past mile 3.  My Garmin data proves how much time I wasted here but there is no way I could've held it the entire race.  My ankle felt great for most of the run but my hip and knee were taking a beating.  I ran the downhills but walked a lot of the uphills.  I stopped and took lots of pictures (obviously) and had another break just past mile 10 when I came upon a group of my teammates where one needed some medical help - she's fine now.  I didn't really have a time goal considering I was running this race undertrained and injured.  I wanted to be under 2:30 and after driving the course thought 2:45 was more realistic. As you can see, I split the difference and finished in 2:35:35, about an 11:53 pace.  As is my usual M.O., my last mile was my fastest (9:53) and I had a great kick at the end, even on the grass (8:52 pace!).  I finished 32nd out of 43 in my age group and 331 out of 428 finishers.  I have no idea how I compared to all the women because the searchable results didn't break it down and frankly at this point I really don't care.  This wasn't my worst half, but it also wasn't near what I'm capable of if I'm trained and healthy (my PR that I set in May is 2:07).  The main goal for this race was to finish smiling and no more injured than when I started and I accomplished those goals.  At least until I found out there were no medals.

Crossing the finish line and then finding out they ran out of medals about 30 minutes before really sucked.  I'll be honest - I was extremely pissed off, and not just for me but for the other 320 people who didn't get medals.  At least they had enough wine glasses and a good amount of alcohol if you like wine.  That helped soften the blow to this little bling whore's ego. The race director was very gracious and apologetic about the snafus (the other box of medals didn't get packed in the van) and he is mailing out medals to anyone who did not receive one.  We hung out in the finisher tent and had some beer (until it ran out) and wine.  Then we headed back over to Gravity for lunch and more wine tasting.  As is the nature with runners, at Gravity after the race, my friends and I met last year's Master's winner (his name is Brian but he goes by "Yoda Jedimaster" and he ran the race in green face paint), as well as several of his buddies.  They were very nice and sat with us at lunch.  We talked races, running shoes, kids and families.  Brian ended up giving me his medal since he's tight with the director and would get another when he got home.  So incredibly sweet and it helped brighten what was otherwise kind of a disappointing race.  I hope no races ever run out of medals again, but if one does, maybe I'll have the opportunity to pay it forward and give my medal to someone who didn't get one.  I ended the evening with a trip out to the Chalets where the majority of the girls were staying.  Overall, it turned out to be a very nice weekend.

Immediately after the race, I was 100% certain I would never run it again.  The start was unorganized, the course was incredibly hard, and not receiving a medal as I finished what was a very hard earned 13.1 really pissed me off.  But after talking to Brad, the race director, after a lot of the crowds went home I think I've changed my mind.  I'd love to see what I could do on this course if I was trained for it.  I really enjoy running hills because they break up the race and I think in a lot of ways give your legs a break because so many different muscle groups are in use.

What are your thoughts?  Does this sound like a race you'd enjoy?  Have you ever planned a girl's weekend around a race?  Ever have a race run out of bling?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Motivation Monday: The Journey

This week marks the beginning of the latest couch to 5k virtual training program over at the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. Myself, along with my partner in crime Lisa, will be providing encouragement, advice and coaching for the next 9 weeks through our Facebook group. As of this morning, nearly 250 men and women have signed up and a number of them have already checked in with their first runs! Some of them are former runners who are coming back after a break or injury but the vast majority are brand new to running and in many cases, fitness programs in general.



I'm so proud of these men and women who have taken the first step on this journey. The camaraderie and encouragement within the group already is pretty astounding.


If you ever thought you'd like to become a runner, it's not too late. Head over to our Facebook group and get signed up. If you are looking for a great virtual (meaning you can run it anywhere you'd like) 5k or 10k, we have one of those too. Our c25k program will wrap up with the Ghostly Gallop 5k/10k on Oct 29th. You can find more info here.


Are you already a runner? Do you have any advice for my new group of runners? Have you started on this journey and gotten sidelined?

*totally unrelated, but I have a great giveaway going on until Sept 9th for an 8x10 canvas print.  You can find it here.*


Friday, August 23, 2013

Easy Canvas Prints: review and #giveaway

Canvas
Photo on Canvas

I'm super excited to share this product with you!  A while back, I was asked if I'd like to review a canvas print from Easy Canvas Prints.  The timing was perfect because I wanted a new picture of my twins (they were turning 16) and M and D had just gotten back from a hiking trip up north.  I had lots of pictures to choose from. I might have a problem with the number of pictures just sitting in my phone.

The process is super easy.  You just upload your picture to their website (they can even do Instagrams), select the options you want, and in about 2 weeks (it was actually faster than this for mine) you get a beautiful print nice enough to hang on the wall or display however you like.  I think my prints turned out beautifully.  The camping picture has black around the edge of the frame while the one of the twins has the edges of the photo around the sides (they are wrapped canvases).  It was nice to have this option because the picture of all the guys was too close to the edge to wrap. The only thing I didn't think to do was add a stand (the print comes with hooks for hanging).  I thought the picture would stay upright on its own but it really doesn't.  Right now they are propped up in the bookcase.
Photo really doesn't do the canvases justice. 

Want to win one of your own?  Just enter the required info into rafflecopter (you can enter multiple times!) and you may be the lucky owner of your own 8x10 canvas!  The contest will run from 8/23/13 to 9/6/13 and is open to residents of North America. I am not responsible for shipping of your prize or anything like that - all will come from Easy Canvas Prints.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*fine print* I was provided with 2 canvases for review but the opinions are all my own.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Easy Canvas Prints also recommends the following (I have not seen these products myself).

Bumper Sticker Maker
Vinyl Banners custom shirts
Custom T-Shirts

What summer memory would you like to put on a canvas?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday: getaways and a winner!

I love vacations.  Being able to spend some time recharging is important to me.  For my birthday last week, I bought myself a little getaway. I unplugged (for the most part) and spent a few days relaxing and exploring. I even went on a short run.

Where did I go? To the Happiest Place on Earth of course!




Where else would a Disney fan go on vacation? That last picture is from the new (started last November I think) Celebrate the Magic show where they projected images onto Cinderella Castle while music played. I was mesmerized and may have even shed a tear or two. (Google it and you can find videos of the show. It's a must see.) I'm a huge fan of the fireworks but this show might be a new favorite.

And now onto the little giveaway I mentioned last week!



Congrats, Erin!!  I have a few little running goodies to send out to you.

Do you have a "Happiest Place on Earth" where you like to go and unwind?

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Weigh-In Wednesday: facing the music

I think it's been 6 or 7 weeks since I posted a weigh-in, probably because I've been so frustrated with the number. I'd set a goal for myself to be back in the 130s by my birthday.  Well, my birthday was last week and I was 145. I didn't even come close. Yesterday I was 146. Today I was 147.4, which doesn't surprise me since I was on vacation last week and had tacos for dinner last night. (Seriously, Taco Tuesday really should not precede Weigh-in Wednesday.)

I've been bouncing around the mid-140s all freaking summer.


If this was a roller coaster ride it would seriously rock. Sadly, it looks more like the half marathon course I'll be hobbling through on Sunday. (If you're curious about the hobbling go here.)

Starting Weight (11-28-12): 153.6
Last week: 145.0
This week: 147.4
Change: up 2.4
Total change: down 6.2

That "Total Change" line had gotten to over 10 pounds down and now it's just plain disappointing. I'm hoping that once school starts again I can be more structured. I'm even still toying with the idea of Paleo or Whole30 but I'm afraid of the backlash from my family and I'm afraid it will be like when I was vegetarian for a year and I hardly ate anything but still gained weight and was cooking separate meals all the time. Yes, I have a few friends who follow paleo but they don't have picky teens who will make their mother's life miserable if they don't like what's for dinner. Asking them to feed themselves isn't fair either, especially when they are in tons if activities and honors classes. They barely have time to sleep much less make their own dinners.

I know this is just rambling so I'm going to stop now.

Hope you all are enjoying the last couple weeks of summer.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Training Tuesday: when you can't say "no"

I've said it before and I'll say it again. My name is Bari and I'm a bling whore. Now, there's nothing wrong with running for bling. It's really quite rewarding to cross that finish line and have someone hang a shiny medal around your neck.

But what happens when that bling love goes too far? Signing up for too many races in a season puts you at greater risk for injury.

I've become the poster child for this little phenomenon.

Last winter, I decided the Bayshore Half Marathon would be my goal race for the year. I would train to run a 2:15 and knock 12 minutes off my half PR - a very good goal coming off of the stress reaction that put me in a boot during the previous spring.

Then I found some other races, not short races mind you, but other half marathons and a 25k. I told myself I would run each of them "as a training run". That "my schedule says 10 miles so I might as well run 13.1" and "hey look, I have 14 on the schedule so I might as well run 15.5 and earn some bling." Then, I didn't exactly stop racing after Bayshore either.  I PR'd the crap out of a 10k and 8k, plus finished my first 200 mile relay this summer.  *insert head smack here*

I learned something very important about myself this year. I am incapable of running a race as a training run. There. I said it. I cannot NOT race. My first half marathon "training run"?  I ran a 2:10.  I completely crushed my goal race time nearly 8 weeks before my goal race. I am too competitive (even though I'm not fast enough to have any hope of placing much less winning). I see people and I want to turn them to road kill. I see numbers on my Garmin and I want to smash them. I want to set PR after PR after PR.

Now I'm doing this:


Yes, that would be a taped up foot because my heel/achilles are PISSED and an ice bath because my hip and knee are also fraked up.  I have a half marathon scheduled this Sunday that I signed up for as part of a big girls weekend.  I knew this was only 2 weeks after the relay but I couldn't say "no".

I'll be honest.  I'm dreading the running aspect of the race.  I'm nursing aches and pains that wouldn't have developed if I was training properly.  Sh*t is hurting that has never hurt before.  The course is hilly and that's going to aggravate the injuries I already have.  I'm completely undertrained to run 13.1 miles because I'm pushing the limits on some potentially serious injuries and haven't taken enough time off between races to heal up.  I'm telling myself that my pace doesn't matter and I'm only running this for fun...but we can see how THAT usually goes for me.

So, please let this be a lesson to all of you.  Don't be like me and think you can race every two weeks for months on end because you want to fill up your medal hanger.  Don't tell yourself "it's only a training run" when you know you're going to go out and try to crush it.  Stick to your training plan and listen to your body.  Take time off between races.  I'm going to try very hard to follow my own advice from now on.  No more long races in the middle of training cycles.  If I want to race something, I'll look for a nice 5k or 10k. I want to be a runner for life, not just a runner for 2013.   I want the same for all of you.

So tell me, have you ever found yourself in this situation?  Do you have as much trouble as I do NOT racing during a race?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Motivation Monday: Forrest Gump

Sometimes it's just plain hard to get up and run (or whatever your workout of choice is) in the morning.  Forrest had the right idea.  He just ran.


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thankful Thursday: More Birthdays

Several years ago, I made a commitment to improve my health. I now start my birthday day in the same way every year.



This morning I got up and brought in 43 with a 4.3 mile run. I pushed myself and sweated my ass off. By deciding to follow a relatively healthy lifestyle I've help to ensure many more birthdays to come.

It may be my birthday, but I want to give one of you a present. Comment how you will make the next year a healthier one and I'll pick one of the comments by random and send out a little something to say "thank you" for all the love & support you've given me this year.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Old School Blogging - The Fridge Edition

I haven't participated in one of these Old School Blogging memes in awhile but saw this on Jaime and Brooke's blogs this week. They are joining in with Elaine at The Miss Elaine-ous Life.

This month Elaine is asking us to show off our refrigerators. Mine is downright embarrassing so I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. (Note to self - clean off the fridge ASAP!)

One side with lots of race stickers and other junk.
More crap on the front. This is really awful! Our family calendar, some pictures, concert tickets to see Hunter Hayes (I know you're jealous), and magnets from Disney.
The top cracks me up.  I have a cookie jar addiction and somehow we ended up with this Dough Boy truck to go with my Dough Boy jar.  No clue about the race car. Since I'm so short, that cupboard is completely nonfunctional anyway.  I think it might contain wine glasses but I'm not really sure.
So there you have it,  a picture into the disaster that is my kitchen.  Sadly, the rest of it looks about as bad as the fridge.

*runs off to start cleaning*

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Fred Relay: a #racereport

Where does one begin to recap one of the best adventures ever? How do you describe the feeling of pride and elation when you realize you and 9 of your running buddies just ran 200 miles in 33 hours and 29 minutes - a 9:53 average pace? Is it possible to convey how I still haven't processed running 17.7 miles in under 24 hours, slightly broken, on poor nutrition and little sleep?

I don't think I really can, but I'll do my best.

Bottom line? Stop Looking At My Caboose 2 kicked some serious ass last weekend! I am so proud to have been included in this group and in crossing that finish line 33 1/2 hours after I started us off as runner number 1 at 6:30 Friday morning.

I'd say we look pretty dang happy!

Stop Looking At My Caboose 2
I should back up a bit though. This adventure actually started several months ago when my friend Jenn suggested I join their relay team. Me? Run a relay? Live in a van for two days? After thinking for about 5 minutes I decided to go for it. We had enough runners interested to make 2 teams so our captains did much of the planning together and we had a few fun meetings to go over the details.

Thursday night, we decorated my van and took part in a little carb loading.

Jen decorating while Mike and Andi play Tetris
Isn't she pretty?
I drove home that night (with my van all pimped out) into one of the most beautiful sunsets ever. I took this as a very positive sign!


At the butt crack of dawn, I met my team at the start and at 6:30 I set off on my first leg - 4.3 miles which I finished in 41:39 (9:41 pace).

That's me in the orange Newtons and black hat.
It was awesome to run with Tim for a bit (he was a part of SLAMC1). The 5 of us who started chatted a bit and then the tall guy in grey who was running the first 3 legs & the girl in yellow took off. I kept the girl in my sights but never caught her. No worries. I got to the end of my leg, smacked Jenn's ass & she was off! We decided ass slaps would be more fun than a baton :)
We were having a great time hanging out and getting to each exchange point. We cheered for everyone. We rang cow bells.  After van 2 took over, Mike, Glenn, Jenn, Andi and I got some breakfast (lunch for me since it was around 11 am) and then headed back out to cheer some more for van 2 and the other teams.

Glenn getting ready for his leg with Jenn in the background.
Mike giving Glenn a good smack.
We made it to the Reed City, where I would take over again, a few hours before my next run. I tried to lay down and rest but I never really slept.  I did some foam rolling and cheered other teams coming in.

About 71 miles down, 129 to go!
At 4:51 pm, it was my turn to run again. There was a big difference between running at 6:30 am and almost 5 pm. SUN and HEAT. This 7.1 mile run (an out and back section) was brutal. I encountered loose dogs and a snake - 2 of my biggest running fears - during this leg.  I also ran out of water 4.8 miles in and did a lot of walking on the way back. The only things keeping me going were texts encouraging me, the breeze that kicked up, a bit of shade, and high 5s from runners heading out on that leg. I finished my 7.1 in 1:12:29 (a 10:16 pace) which blows my mind since I walked so much in the 5th mile! My teammates quickly got me Gatorade & put water bottles on my neck to cool me down and before long I was back to my chipper self. Even though the route was insanely hot, it was also beautiful.


Several legs (or "spurs" for this race since it was railroad themed) of the 200 mile course were 2-track, gravel and grass. Thankfully I didn't have any of those spurs.  I'm not sure how I would've handled running on anything other than pavement.

Glenn, Jenn, Andi and Mike
Night began to fall and we got our safety gear ready. Jenn finished our second stint just before 11 pm by running around Lake Cadillac.  The relay was half way done!

I can only imagine how gorgeous this park and lake must be in the daytime.
We went in search of dinner & beer, then headed back to Reed City where I would take over again sometime before dawn. I started my 3rd spur at 4:44 am after attempting a couple hours sleep in the van. I have to say, this was by far my favorite leg to run. The number of stars in the sky was simple astounding. I wanted to take my lights off and just stare at the sky, but instead I just ran and watched Orion rise over my left shoulder. The first couple miles were SLOW from being cramped up in the van and having already run 11 1/2 miles, but I managed to chase a girl down & I got my first road kill 4 miles into my 3rd run by hitting a 9:35 pace! I could hear water running somewhere too & the run was so peaceful. Just my music, the sounds of the night and a few other runners blinking head and behind me.  I finished my 6.34 mile run in 1:04:49 - a 10:13 pace. I handed off to Jenn again and Glenn got a couple pics for me.

Paris, MI isn't nearly as glamorous as Paris, France, but boy was I happy to be there!
Give this girl a beer!
I was one very happy little runner to get that beer before 6 am! It took me a few hours before I realized I had run 17.7 miles across 3 runs in under 24 hours at a 10:06 average pace!  I'm still trying to

The sun finally came up and Glenn took over, then Andi ran her last leg. Andi slapped Mike on the ass to send him off on his final run and off he was - that dude is crazy fast! After running over 12 miles on his last leg (Mike did 2 back to back), van 2 took over again and SLAMC2 van 1 was DONE!
Mike coming in hot!
We drove down to cheer on van 2 a bit more and then headed back to Comstock Park and the finish line.  We might have celebrated with more beers and a Bloody Mary while we waited for van 2 to finish.  But that's just how we roll.

Getting to run across the finish line with my team was such a thrill. I still can't believe we ran how much we did and managed to come in 7 seconds per mile faster than predicted (that's 23 minutes over the course of the race!).  I even amazes me how close to pace we all stayed!
SLAMC2 and SLAMC1 at the finish!
I can't wait to run this race again next year - or maybe another relay.  I thought I would hate this experience but I really loved it.  Having such a great team and supportive van mates made this adventure truly special.


How about you?  Are you ready to run a relay?  Want to add me to your team?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Motivation Monday: Fred Relay Teaser

I'm still recovering and trying to process what my team mates and I accomplished during the amazing adventure that was the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail 200 Mile Relay. I promise a full recap but here are a few teaser pics. What doesn't kill you really does make you stronger!









I'm blogging over at Shrinkingjeans today also about running a relay. Go visit!

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