Girls on the Run Fall 5K & Why I’m A Coach

Posted by on Nov 15, 2015 | 0 comments


This Saturday was the Girls on the Run of Franklin County fall 5K, which is the event that my small-but-mighty team of eight little ladies trained for the past 10 weeks. The girls showed up on a chilly morning in downtown at Columbus Commons bundled in coats, scarves and gloves, which were quickly shed as the sun came out and the start time neared.

Girls on the Run Capital University team fall 2015

For a few of them, this was their first 5K, and they were nervous.

“Are you ready for this?” I asked the first girl to arrive at our meeting spot, among 1,400+ girls from the 60+ other Girls on the Run sites in Columbus. This particular girl had been brimming with confidence all season and never hesitated to speak her mind. “I think so,” she replied, uncharacteristically quietly.

The rest of her team showed up, all sporting the multi-colored tutus we’d made by tying cloth onto a pink ribbon on Thursday at practice. She perked up, and the collective nervousness among the group seemed to lift, especially when I brought out the selfie stick.

Girls on the Run Fall 5K group selfie

This marked my fifth season as a Head Coach with Girls on the Run here in Columbus, and I can’t say enough good things about my experience. The organization represents a cause that is near-and-dear to my heart: Empowering young girls in 3rd through 8th grade to be healthy, joyful and confident, through running. It’s held twice a week for 10 weeks at sites held at schools, community centers, apartment complexes or, in my case, university campuses.

Last week, we asked the girls if they were running the 5K with a parent/adult or wanted to run with one of the coaches. My friend Michelle and I are head coaches at Capital and deliver the curriculum, but there are also awesome ladies who volunteer with us as assistant coaches and running buddies.

The 8-year-old who asked to run with me has been my buddy this season. She’s in third grade- the youngest in our group- and incredibly smart. During one of the first practice runs, she told me about a series of scary stories she was writing. She also really wants a kitten, who she’s thinking she’ll name Lulu. I was the kid who filled dozens of wire-bound notebooks with stories and adored cats. Instant bond. 

This was the evening we ran 1.3 miles, and she was so excited to go home and tell her mom about it.

Capital University Girls on the Run team fall 2015

This was her first 5K. “Actually, it’s my second,” she corrected me. We did do a practice 5K, which she rocked. As we lined up at the Start, she and her teammates bounced up and down in their poofy tutus to warm up, laughing at their silly shadows and leading us in chants of “Girls on the Run is so much fun!” Then, off we went.

Girls on the Run 5K start line

She kept a steady pace and talked to me the entire 3.1 miles about music, the series about warrior cats she’s writing and her family, who was her loudest fan club through the run. The massive smile on her face never faded for that 37 minutes. Upon seeing the Finish Line, she mustered up that last bit of energy and sprinted through it, proudly accepting her medal.

Lydia is why I coach at Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run 5K with Lydia

All of the girls leave an impact, but there have been a few that stand out and will leave their mark for years to come. As adults, we get so wrapped up in our busy, complicated lives that it’s so refreshing to spend time with young girls for 1.5 hours twice a week, who are just starting to find out who they are.

If you’ve never been to a Girls on the Run 5K, all I can say is GO! The events are completely non-competitive, and the positive energy in the air is contagious. All of the girls wear the same color shirt, which changes each season, and are dressed up in tutus, capes and colorful socks and shoes. Girls can get their faces painted for free and their hair “happied” (sprayed with temporary color and glitter). Girls on the Run is a national organization, so these events are held all over the country in the spring and fall.

Girls on the Run 5K

I wish I’d had Girls on the Run growing up. Even at that young age, girls are going through so much emotionally. Having a place where they can talk about the tough stuff, like gossip, bullying, peer pressure and negative self-talk, but then also learn to process emotions and have fun while exercising is something I can 100 percent stand behind- and practice in my own life!

Girls on the Run Fall 2015 making tutus

Not only are the girls an inspiration, but the ladies behind-the-scened of the 5K are, too. I’ve also served as a Marketing Chair for the 5K the past three seasons, and it’s been amazing to work with a team of smart, strong, grounded women. We often joke that there needs to be a Women on the Run because the lessons in the Girls on the Run curriculum applies so much to our lives, too.

GOTR committee

Helping out through PR and marketing also gives me the opportunity to spread the word about a cause I care about and use my skills to give back. In the spring, my Capital University site was featured in Fit Columbus, and the girls were so excited to “be in a real magazine!”

And, just as the girls make friends, the coaches do, too. Team Capital University is pretty cool, if I do say so myself.Girls on the Run Capital University Coaches

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5 Cold-Weather Cardio Workouts You Can Do Almost Anywhere

Posted by on Mar 7, 2015 | 0 comments

5 Cold-Weather Cardio Workouts You Can Do Almost Anywhere []Greetings from Ohio, where, although it’s March, there are still zero signs of spring.

Honestly, whenever I’ve mustered up the courage to look at the 10-day forecast lately, it’s been like opening up that letter you’ve been anticipating but are afraid to open for fear of what may be inside. At this point, the mid-30s sound like summer.

Also, to the marketers of Groupon, Travelzoo, Hilton, ZOZI and more… I see right through you, taunting me with email subject lines about Caribbean vacations and Hawaiian getaways, but that has not kept me from investigating.  I may hit that especially desperate point yet.

February was not my favorite month. In fact, it was about this time last year that I signed up for FitCamp, after weeks of frigid temperatures and ice kept me from taking more than a few steps, much less running, outside. One year later, I’m happy I turned that low point into a high one because FitCamp definitely gets me up and moving, even on the coldest of cold mornings.

That being said, I don’t rely on FitCamp for all of my cardio. Sure, sometimes the flights of stairs seem endless (sorry, throbbing legs), and the workouts burn a ton of calories- usually close to at least 500 per 50-minute class- but it’s a full-body workout, and each class differs on how much cardio we do, especially in the winter, when options, even there, are limited.

When it’s above 30 degrees, I usually run the mile to and from class to get my cardio fix, but that has only happened about once in the past month. I’ll also run in the evenings after work a few days a week to relax and de-stress, and I’ll fit in longer runs on weekends- all when it’s not miserable outside.

But, Mother Nature has been messing with my routine, so I’ve had to get creative. May these 5 ideas for getting your cardio on when it’s freezing outside inspire those of you who are going a bit stir crazy to get up and get moving before spring comes (if it ever does).

1. Spinning. I spin year-round to mix up up my cardio routine, and it’s been awesome cross-training for running. It’s also low-impact, so a good option for people like me, who don’t have especially good knees or ankles. But, I especially appreciate my indoor spinning classes this time of year. I know spinning can be intimidating. A small room full of bikes you don’t know how to set up, packed with hard-core, sweaty people in Spandex- that’s enough to make anyone run for the safety of the ellyptical. But, not so fast!

Try spinning a few times, and chances are you’ll be hooked. I say that because the first few, you WILL be out of breath, possibly kind of confused about resistance and RPM, likely sore and still intimidated by your tight-clothed classmates. But, keep at it, and you’ll be in for the long haul. I’ve been spinning consistently for going on five years, and I look forward to every class. I also like that it’s always my workout- I control how fast I want to go, how much resistance to add and basically how hard I want to work. Being in a class is definitely motivation to work harder, but you can work up to it, or adjust depending on the day.

2. Interval training. I love HIIT (high intensity interval training), where you go really hard at one exercise for a set, short amount of time, rest, and then go at it (or a different exercise) again before another rest. We do a lot of those kinds of workouts at FitCamp. I especially like the tabata form of HIIT, which consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises, with rests, usually of the same length, between each round.

HIIT burns a lot of calories and is great for blasting fat. Also, for people who have short attention spans, like myself, it keeps you engaged and challenged through the whole workout. There are lots of free apps with interval timers, too, so you can workout basically anywhere; I use one called Interval Timer on my iPhone and iPad that lets me create and save different routines. sNOw excuses, right?hiit

I love HIIT for strength training, but it’s also very effective for cardio. Fact: I absolutely loathe the treadmill. To those who train for marathons on that moving path to nowhere, I give you serious props, but it bores me to tears, even with a rocking playlist or attached TV. But, when Mother Nature pulls a fast one and times are tough, I’ll jump on the treadmill, or occasionally the elliptical, and do some intervals. I bump up the speed for 2o seconds, then jump to the sides and rest for 10, and repeat eight times. It only takes four minutes per set (I usually do 2-3), but it gets your heart thumping and is excellent for burning fat. Try my latest favorite routine.

HIIT The Winter Blues 20-Minute Tabata for Treadmill Haters []

Or,  I’ll do rounds of burpees, squat or lunge jumps or jumping jacks at home, which was especially handy on recent mornings when it was too icy to make it to 6 a.m. FitCamp.

3. Running outside. I’m a huge baby when it comes to the cold, so clearly I not going to claim to be one of those hard-core runners who will go out in sub-zero temperatures and snow, outfitted with spikes on their shoes and a face mask. But, as long as there’s not ice and it’s in the 20s, I’ll venture out. I’m so glad I invested in good gloves, a headband, wool socks, thick running tights and sweat-wicking tops, and I highly recommend doing so to anyone who enjoys running. Just getting some fresh air and feeling the sunshine, whatever the temperature, is worth it!columbus

4. Stairs. We run a ton of stairs in bootcamp during the winter, since class is held in a large office building, and outside is not an option. It’s not uncommon to be ordered to sprint to the top of the six flights at least a few times each class, and, let me tell you, those hamstrings are screaming the next day. When combined with other strength and cardio sets, like tabata or intervals, stairs are especially a doozy. I’ll often combine stair running into my workouts at the gym, or even sprint up the stairs in my apartment building. So find and indoor stairwell, and start climbing. I recommend suicides, if you really want to push it. I did them this morning and am feeling it.Do-Anywhere Stair Suicides [] 5. Winter sports. I went skiing and tubing a few weeks ago at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania. It had been a few years since I hit the slopes, so it took me a little bit to get my ski legs back. Once I did, it was so much fun, and I forgot what fun AND a good workout skiing is. Definitely was a bit sore the next day. We also went tubing, which didn’t require quite as much effort, but I was still sweating hauling my big tube around. My point here: Stop cursing winter for a second, and just get out there and embrace the snow once in a while. It’s not quite as easy to get out and ski here in the Midwest as it is elsewhere, but find a way to get out there and play. It wipes those winter blues away.tubing at seven springs

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2015 Goals & Resolutions

Posted by on Jan 6, 2015 | 0 comments

GOAdding another year to the books and the kicking of a new one always gets me thinking about the highlights and lowlights of the past year and then, of course, what’s to come. I have rarely made solid resolutions per say but instead more of what I’d consider to be “guiding themes.” You know, overarching ideas to inspire and keep handy during the upcoming 365 days.  I’d compare it to a focus on strategy vs. tactics, but there I go using PR terms.

Last year, I gave myself permission to just go all-in and embrace the happy. I knew what made me happy going into it, but I usually do some major over-analyzing, weigh the options and play a fierce game of personal tug-of-war before I pull the happy trigger.

Guess what? 2014 was a pretty fantastic year. I was sitting on the plane to D.C. a week ago eating peanuts when that realization sunk in. Maybe that’s because I was on the way to my favorite U.S. city, where I both started and ended 2014. Actually, in the same U St. area apartment, with many of the same fabulous friends. That in itself is amazing, right?

Last year, I pushed myself to travel places I’d always wanted to go, head out of town for a weekend on a whim, book plane tickets last-minute and not stress over spending a few extra dollar bills to treat myself to a memorable experience, or a little upgrade or a glass of better wine. I bought a ticket to Alaska within less than a month of leaving and had the adventure of a lifetime. Decided in mid-December that D.C. for New Year’s sounded like fun. Didn’t skimp on going to concerts. Spent quite a few weekends with my best girlfriends here and there.

Did some serious damage to that bucket list, too. Grand Canyon? Check that, rode a bike on the rim. Kentucky Derby? Headed off to the races at Chuchill Downs while still jet-lagged from Arizona. See Mt. McKinley? Heck yes, The Great One was out in full force. Witness a salmon run? Yeah, waded into the stream with the fishes. Meet President Obama? Well, I came mighty close when he was within a few feet at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning ceremony at the White House in November.

Not to mention, I started a new job, which has been a whirlwind- in a good way. Read: My tales from the trail (or the barn?), amassed while gallivanting around the state with the gobblers and helping them meet the press in Washington.

Oh, and I checked myself into bootcamp, where I got in really good shape.

Yes, I did a lot of things last year.

But there’s always more to be done.

Oh, so how about it’s January 6, and I already crossed two resolutions off my list. 1. Cancel cable. 2. Pump it up to 15-pound weights in FitCamp. I’m experiencing the somewhat painful affects as I write: HGTV not streaming, and I can barely lift my arms.

Things get worse before they get better, right? Anyway. Moving on.

I want to continue building on that simple goal of happiness but just zero in a bit on a few areas with the dawn of 2015.

So, I have a pretty good idea of what makes me happy. Namely, family, good friends, fitness, traveling and professional challenges. While there are places that I love, I’m still exploring where exactly I’m happy. I have some ideas, but the hunt for that, my friends, is a quest I’ve challenged myself to embark upon this year. Stay tuned.

Making good investments. That’s across the board; in time, people and money. It’s easy to get too invested, or disproportionately allocate resources, whether it’s in a relationship, at work/play or financially. A good friend once told me to think of my brain as an apartment building and not simply focus on one room; spread out. That comparison can be applied to this whole idea of smart investing. As the saying goes: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” I lock myself in a room all too often. Also, sometimes, tell the brain to stuff it and follow your heart.

It’s time to accept the fact that I can’t do everything, or be everything to everyone. It’s true that 2014 was a full, fantastic year. It was also jam-packed and I wore myself ragged. I’ve realized that whole “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mantra is a load of you-know-what and may work in your early 20s but quickly loses appeal upon easing into the latter half. I committed myself to so many great causes and organizations that have been fulfilling and inspirational. I’ve realized, however, it’s time to focus my limited time and energy. I’d rather do a couple things really well than feel like I’m spread too thin to do more than a mediocre job.

In many of the articles I’ve read recently about Millennials, my generation is characterized as liking instant gratification. Well, hate to say it, but they’re onto something there. I hate to wait for anything. Two-day Amazon Prime shipping seems like an eternity when I decide I want something. I was born impatient, so taking a chill pill definitely not something that comes naturally, but it’s a work in progress. Deep breaths. Good things come to those who wait. I guess.

I have an ongoing list of additional goals more related to my job and travels. Also, a few more “resolution” type things. Send birthday cards by snail mail (gasp!). Save money. Read more books. Blog twice a month (clearly, I’ve been a huge slacker. But, the fall was a giant blur).

But, it’s those themes that I’m looking forward to exploring and using to influence my thinking and decisions this year.

What are your resolutions?

Happy 2015!

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