Stitch Fix #8 | The Do-Over

A few weeks ago I received my first 0/5 box, although a few of you commented that I should keep either the dress or the jeans. In the end one of your comments that said 'if it doesn't bring you joy, send it back,' really hit home for me. I just didn't LOVE any of it so I had to return it, even though losing the $25 styling fee was annoying to me. 

Customer service emailed saying they were sorry the last box missed the mark, and they were looking forward to getting it right the next time. I emailed back and forth with one of their reps, she adjusted my profile with additional notes (skinny jeans only if they have a lot of stretch, size down on knit tops to avoid the boxy effect, etc.) This was great, but I also asked if they would waive the $25 styling fee that I lost. I said I'd be more likely to do another box right away if they could waive it and they agreed, which goes to show that it never hurts to ask!

I took Erinn's advice and told my stylist (who I love and requested to keep!) that my style can be described as a 'preppy, Lauren Conrad, California' vibe. Which is hilarious since I'm in Wisconsin, the polar opposite of California. But causal, comfortable, put-together....those are my style goals. I pinned a few new things on my Pinterest board and definitely wanted a green vest and a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans without holes. 

Kelley sent me a very personalize note, as always, and really dug into my profile more than I had done myself. She likes to read these posts, so 'Hi, Kelley!'. 

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1. Cut From the Kloth Kate Boyfriend Jeans | $88

Cut From the Kloth Kate Boyfriend Jean | $88
I just realized that I pinned these exact jeans on Pinterest! And I really do love them----I love them so much that I have a pair nearly identical to this wash and style that I'll show you in a few more pictures. I styled these with a basic black tee, long necklace, and my pink Converse sneakers. Very 'me'. ;) Also, photoshoot took place in our bedroom instead of family room since our queen air mattress was taking up space by the mirror downstairs. Love having Memaw and mom visit and will gladly move my super important fashion show out of the way!
Cut From the Kloth Kate Boyfriend Jean | $88
So yes, great fit and wash, and for being a 'boyfriend' cut they aren't exactly baggy. But they aren't horribly tight and uncomfortable, either. Great amount of stretch and I like the roll at the bottom, unrolled they were pretty short for me. I wore them for a few more outfits during my very fancy photo shoot and thought I'd probably keep them.
Cut From the Kloth Kate Boyfriend Jean | $88
But in the end, they are just too similar to the other jeans I have from Loft. Right??
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Verdict: Returned

2. Paradigma Vidal Henley Blouse | $58

Paradigma Vidal Henley Blouse | $58


I love me a Stitch Fix henley top, nice and flowy, they usually have button up sleeves, and a fun print is a bonus. I know that I love these tops because I have about four from SF in my closet right now. Enter this top:
Paradigma Vidal Henley Blouse | $58
Nice length, flowy, pretty floral print. I could keep the sleeves down or button them up, and I like them buttoned and shorter, personally.
Paradigma Vidal Henley Blouse | $58
I had this set aside to 'keep' but when I tried it on once more, both Nate and my mom said it looked pretty wide at the bottom. And actually, the side seams appear to angle out away from my body as they get closer to the bottom of the shirt---sort of like a trapezoid. I am all for loose fitting tops but this seemed just a little off for me. Very picky moment, for sure, but I think if I'm on the fence about something I really should NOT buy it. Must love it to keep it, right?

Verdict: returned

3. Tinsel Odensay Cargo Vest | $88
Tinsel Odensay Cargo Vest | $88
Squeeee, she found me a green vest! Oh no, it has a furry lining and collar. But wait!! Trying it on made me a big fan, yet again.

Tinsel Odensay Cargo Vest | $88

Kelley told me to pair it with the boyfriend jeans and the henley top, so I obeyed. Really love it all together so much. Then I removed the collar and liked it even more. Then I paired it with a denim top, black leggings, and my brown booties. YES.
Tinsel Odensay Cargo Vest | $88

It's a keeper and I've already worn it to Truman's soccer game, no collar. But perhaps for the cooler months the fuzzy collar will make it a little more versatile. I don't know but I really love it---score a point for pinning something, receiving it, and actually liking it!
Tinsel Odensay Cargo Vest | $88
Verdict: Kept and love it.

4. Liverpool Colleen Straight Leg Jean | $78

Liverpool Colleen Straight Leg Jean | $78
Kelley said these dark gray jeans are very hot right now, replacing the dark denim look with a more modern vibe. They are called straight leg but seemed almost boot cut to me, probably because most of my jeans are pretty fitted at the bottom.
Liverpool Colleen Straight Leg Jean | $78
I paired them with a SF scarf, a simple gray tee shirt, and my bronze Yosi Samra flats---a brand that SF does carry but I bought them way before my SF days. The jeans look pretty good, I think, but just didn't make me excited. I guess I don't mind the 'straight leg' that is more of a boot cut, but I think they'd be cuter as a skinny jean. Good stretch, fun color, but pass.

Verdict: Returned

5. Loveappella Malbec Elbow Patch Knit Top | $58
Loveappella Malbec Elbow Patch Knit Top | $58
Teeth clenched emoji because of the length. I know I need to move away from every.single.shirt being long but this basically shows my stomach. Especially when I lift an arm to take the picture. Oh, and those are the Loft jeans I think are a lot like the Kut From Kloth. I guess more whiskers but whatever. Love the elbow patches and stripes and baseball tees in general are a big yes for me. But this one?
Loveappella Malbec Elbow Patch Knit Top | $58
Weird sleeve length and not a fan of the bottom being a little tighter and really short (for me). Also, my mirror is disgustingly dirty.
Loveappella Malbec Elbow Patch Knit Top | $58
Verdict: returned

So, this box ended up being a 1/5 for me, which seems bad but it was actually really great! The overall style was spot-on for me and I am admitting to being quite picky with these items. Probably would have kept everything except for the baseball tee if I wasn't in a 'must be obsessed with it or send it back' mood. So a 4/5 turned into a 1/5 but that is seriously fine by me---I think the goal for each box is to keep one or two items, and that's a win. It doesn't need to be a 5/5 to be successful for me and is definitely easier on the budget this way.

Think I did it right??

As always, you can find my referral link here if you're curious about Stitch Fix and want to feed my addiction with more fixes. Thanks to those that already have!

Stitch Fix #7 | Transition to Fall

I haven't received a fix since April, and that box was a home run by my stylist Kelley. I had referral credits to use (thank you, blog readers!) and decided once the temps cooled down, I could use a few new Fall pieces in my closet. I didn't give a ton of guidance to Kelly, but said I'd love a pair of white jeans (not very fall-like, I know), I don't want any sweaters or wintery-things just yet, and I'd like to focus on everyday casual style.

My seventh fix arrived on the same day as my half-marathon, and because I had already peeked at my five items online, I didn't even un-box them for a few days. The horror! I felt very 'meh' after looking at my shipped items and unfortunately, I feel just as 'meh' after trying them on in person.

Stitch Fix #7

Kelley's note was super personalized and she read my blog to see that we're knee deep in back-to-school mode. She tried to keep things effortless and fun for me to wear when walking the kids to/from school, attending school functions, date nights, etc.

1. Loveappella Whitnee Knit Dress | $68
Loveappella Whitnee Knit Dress | $68
Okay, a knit dress in fall colors? Cool. I like elbow patches just as much as the next blogger, but this just seems less than impressive on me.
Loveappella Whitnee Knit Dress | $68

Nice colors, stripes rule, etc etc but I don't know---I just don't think I will wear a long sleeve dress in a casual setting. Especially because the skirt feels pretty snug! I thought about pairing it with gray leggings but got too hot to deal with it anymore. It's really not special enough in general and definitely not for nearly $70.

Truman and Cecelia took turns taking pictures for me in this post, btw. They are obviously pros by now. Tried and true selfies in the mirror were somehow quite rusty for me this day!
Loveappella Whitnee Knit Dress | $68
Verdict: Returning


2. Papermoon Phel Suede Detail Knit Top | $44
Papermoon Phel Suede Detail Knit Top | $44
This one just looked boxy when I peeked at the style card online. It's a nice, stretchy material and has some suede detail at the shoulders. But? Meh.
Papermoon Phel Suede Detail Knit Top | $44
Not feeling it. I think three-quarter sleeves on me are fine and a nice cop out to deal with the arm length issue, but this just didn't float my boat at all. I could probably find something similar at a chain retail store, and yes---it would probably shrink, but this one doesn't seem to fit that well to begin with anyway!

Verdict: Returning

3. Skies are Blue Lawler Two Pocket Top | $58
Skies are Blue Lawler Two Pocket Top | $58
I was pretty excited about this one at first because I do love plaid tops and thought the contrasting plaid on the neckline was cool. But in person, it's really thin and kind of itchy. Not terribly long, and the sleeves have to be rolled to be appropriate length.
Skies are Blue Lawler Two Pocket Top | $58
Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me? When you roll up sleeves that have buttons at the cuff, how in the world are you supposed to keep them buttoned together? This shirt was sent with the wrists buttoned up but already rolled up inside the yoke-thing. I could not get the buttoned up sleeve over my forearm (?) so I had to unbutton it and then roll it up higher, hoping the sleeve would stay together somehow and not flop open. Does this make sense? Anyway, this isn't my favorite because a $60 price tag means it needs to be thick and fit like a glove.
Skies are Blue Lawler Two Pocket Top | $58
Verdict: Returning


4. Market & Spruce Cosimo Lace Up Tunic | $68
Market & Spruce Cosimo Lace Up Tunic | $68
First thought: Robin Hood with the lace up neckline.
Market & Spruce Cosimo Lace Up Tunic | $68
I do love navy all of a sudden and anything with the word 'tunic' makes me happy (although this is decidedly NOT tunic-like on me, go figure). I wanted to hate this top for the laces, but the material is actually really flowy but not sheer and the length is perfection. It's three quarter length for the sleeves and also has a button, so I guess I could make them even shorter, like to my elbow? I didn't even try that part, so I wouldn't know.
Market & Spruce Cosimo Lace Up Tunic | $68
My only pair of booties that I love are also very 'Robin Hood' with an ankle cuff. You'll see them with this shirt in the next part of this post, but I just don't think I can pull off this look from head to toe. I couldn't wear it with dark jeans or I'd be one giant navy silhouette, and I am lacking in lighter wash jeans. Also: the price is killing me. And I'm not sure that lace up tops are even trendy right now, but I guess I trust Stitch Fix on this one.

Verdict: Very likely returning


5. Liverpool Adele Skinny Jean | $88
Liverpool Adele Skinny Jean | $88
They didn't have any white jeans for me because I'm constantly a season or three late with trends, but they did have these 'rich dark purple' jeans that are very hot for Autumn (says Kelley). I thought colored jeans were out a few years ago but what do I know?
Market & Spruce Cosimo Lace Up Tunic | $68
So Kelley told me to pair the jeans with the top and my floral scarf from the last fix, along with booties. ROBIN HOOD!!!! But I do kind of like the entire outfit together, I suppose. I actually like the top with the scarf since it covers up the iffy laces.
Liverpool Adele Skinny Jean | $88
These jeans were difficult to photograph as my professional photographers grew restless after about five shots. They are tighter than tight, giving 'Skinny Jeans' a new meaning. Kelley says they have a 'rear enhancing design' for the butt, so I *had* to take a picture of my backside in these guys. I suppose it does look pretty awesome and not so 'mom-flat', but still. They aren't ultra stretchy, they are quite tight, and the color is pretty but not exactly timeless. I'm trying to picture what kinds of tops would work with these plum jeans, assuming I don't keep the navy top.
Liverpool Adele Skinny Jean | $88

Verdict: probably sending back

Thoughts? I have to check out ASAP and kind of want to send it all back, but I hate to lose the $25 styling fee. Anyway, here is my referral link if you are curious to try this service for yourself.

Half Marathon Number Eight | Brewers Mini Marathon

Yesterday I completed my eighth half-marathon, and earned myself a PR on a course that was hilly, and wet from rain. Today I am sore and am controlled-falling down stairs, but I'm reflective on this accomplishment and want to blog the beast of thoughts in my head.

I haven't run in two half marathons in a single year since before kids, but coming off the last race in June, I knew I wanted to continue training into the fall for another go at the 13.1. For most of the summer, I trained alone and stuck to a fairly rigid schedule of 4-5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, leaving the house at 5:45 am or earlier. Then on Saturdays I'd do my long runs around 6:00 am and worked up from six miles to my longest of eleven miles the weekend before the race. I was used to the Tues, Thurs, Sat schedule from the training in the Spring, although the start times kept getting earlier and earlier with Nate's work schedule starting earlier during the week.

I downloaded a bunch of fun running music (i.e. lots of early 2000s pop and rap!) and hit the pavement by myself many times, but also occasionally with a friend or two. I found myself running faster and faster during these training runs, and started feeling stronger and less horrible after a run. My previous comfortable pace was right around 9:00 min/mile and all of my half marathons have been clocked right around the 2 hour mark. But I found myself averaging 8:45 min/miles and even sometimes 8:30 min/miles for 8, 9, and even 11 mile runs. This was huge! This was scary. This meant I could potentially pull a PR for the half as long as the stars aligned with weather, my GI system, and my mental stamina. I'd done the training and I knew it was time to push myself to run my fastest 13.1 miles yet. I was nervous, but excited, on Friday night before the race.

At the Expo with my helpers:
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Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:15 am and did my usual pre-long run routine: half of a cup of coffee, a whole English muffin with PBJ, and water. I got dressed, stretched a little, pinned my race bib to my tank top, and started to feel the butterflies in my stomach. What if I had to make numerous port-potty stops during the race? My GI system had been iffy during a portion of my long training runs, for no other reason than to frustrate me. What if it was thundering and lightening and they cancelled the race? What if I just mentally freaked out at the need to push and focus on pace, and what if I bonked?

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My friend, Cathy and her husband Nick picked me up at 6:20 for the race that began at 7:15. We made it to the Brewers baseball stadium in plenty of time for a porta-potty stop and some selfies.
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Technically we were supposed to be in different corrals to start but we cheated and all three of us lined up in 'H', which was right at the 1:55 pace group. Going into this race, my personal best time was 1:57:23 and that was in 2015. I ran the Brewers mini marathon in 2013 and clocked 2:00:06, then promptly threw up in the parking lot afterward, because I was sick with a fever when I did that nonsense. I knew I would beat my old time at this race, and was pretty sure I could PR past the 1:57 mark, too. I my heart I really wanted to be 1:55 and knew because I ran my eleven miles at an 8:32 pace, that I could maybe inch towards the 1:51 mark if I really pushed myself. I did not take into account the mega-hills on this course because I blocked them from my memory. I sort of started remembering them when the murmur of the crowd mentioned 'crazy hills' at the start line. But even so, my first goal was to PR and second goal was to be less than 1:55.

The gun went off and the rain started right on cue, just enough to coat our skin with a wet mist but nothing major. We held an 8:40 pace for the first four miles and then I decided to push it a little bit, fearing that I'd go out way too fast and then crash at the end. I left Nick and Cathy at mile four and watched my Garmin to keep my pace closer to 8:20s, which felt super hard. The hills started coming, the rain got a little harder, and then it pretty much stopped.

By mile seven I started feeling a little panicked at this fast pace. I didn't have my headphones with me because I've never listened to music during a race. I think it's best to 'take in your surroundings' and let the other runners and spectators entertain you, but I've always had a running partner during races to keep me chatting away, too. This time I was alone and sort of bored, and over-thinking things beyond reason. Gah, six more miles at this pace? Is my heart beating out of my chest? I mean, my stomach feels awesome and my legs are good, but my mind is just freaking out a little bit.

At mile eight I pulled back to an 8:30 pace, just feeling really over the constant checking of my Garmin. I wanted to play music, because I did have my phone strapped to my arm, but without headphones I wasn't sure if other runners would appreciate my love for techno and 2000s rap. Also I didn't want to stop and hunt for my Spotify music app while I ran, so I trudged on without music and with too much mental talk in my head.

This race had a TON of aide stations, with a total of ten throughout the race. I think it was the first time that I didn't stop at every single water station, instead going for every-other station. I found two girls running together right ahead of me with a strong pace and decided to follow them the rest of the way. I wouldn't let them get too far ahead of me before I pushed harder to keep up. I envied their camaraderie and their headphones for music and vowed that next time I'd have my own headphones if I didn't have a running partner for the whole 13.1 miles.

Mile nine: I found myself running along side a military man carrying a flag on a pole (heavy!), and another guy ran up next to him and started talking. They were both military, one from Green Bay and one from D.C. The flag carrier was running in another half marathon the very next day, and the D.C. guy said he was just along for the ride on this race, with his wife 'at least ten minutes ahead of us'. I started talking to them, too, craving a distraction from my own thoughts in my tired brain. We didn't talk too long but it was just what I needed to get over a hump, because I knew that mile ten boasted two large hills.

One of the girls I was following had bolt for the porta-potty at the next aide station, and I saw her sternly tell her friend 'you keep going!'. So now I was following another lone ranger as we headed up the massive hill at mile ten. We hit another one right after that and my lungs were burning. I noticed my pace slowed to around 9:00 min/mile at the top of those hills and decided now was the time to plow forward, as the 1:55 pacer yelled out 'the rest is downhill, the hardest part is over!' I was pretty sure he was lying but knew I had to keep going anyway, and I hoped that he was going a little faster than his predicted pace because he was literally breathing down my neck. All of a sudden Nick sprinted past me at this point, saying Cathy set him free, and he was going for it! I asked him if she was okay, but he didn't hear me, and then I tried to keep up with him for about ten seconds before I realized there was no way in hell. He later told me he ran those last three miles at a 7:10 pace. HA! Nope.

I had two GPS trackers going on this day--one with my Garmin on my wrist, and one with Map My Run app talking to me on my phone. The app was on crack and was seriously calling out mile markers at least 0.25 before I'd actually hit them, which was such a false sense of excitement. Nothing like saying 'you've hit eleven miles at this amazing pace' when in reality, I still had a quarter of a mile to go and my pace was not nearly that fast, since it wasn't calculating my distance correctly. My Garmin did seem to be spot on, though, and I probably should have just turned off my phone at this point but didn't want to even expend the energy to go there.

Mile eleven came during a straight away, then we hit mile twelve and I could see the stadium. The glorious, glorious stadium. This entire time I was keeping my eyes out for Nate and the kids, because he was considering taking Truman and CC in the Burley on his bike to see me at various places. But I had told him that if it was raining, he shouldn't get them out in the rain and it would be fine to just see them at the finish line. He also told me that Truman really wanted to see me inside of the stadium, when we run by the dug outs right before mile 13. Since I didn't see them at mile twelve, I was pretty sure I'd see them in the stadium but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high.

We entered the stadium and I felt like I was sprinting at this point. Less than a mile to go and I knew I had to empty all of my energy into the last leg of the race. Sure enough, as I entered the stadium and started running on the dirt by the dug outs, I saw Nate first in the stands! Then I saw Truman, Cecelia, Porter, Tony and Lois next to him. I was so excited to see my crew and they were all smiles and waves, so how could I not get amped up with my cheering section in full effect? Porter had the sweetest half smile/half sad face on----like he was happy to see me but also confused about why I couldn't stop and hold him for a bit. I rounded the corner and passed my family, feeling like my legs might actually go numb from sprinting. But as I exited the stadium, I heard the finish line and knew 'this is it, almost done now.'

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I saw the 13 mile marker, turned the corner, and saw the glorious finish line. I was sprinting and probably grunting and praying that my legs didn't just get tangled up underneath me. The main clock read 1:54:30 and I was guessing that I started about 30 seconds after the gun. I tried to remember to smile as I crossed the finish line, hit the stop button on my Garmin, and felt the immense relief of being FINISHED with a hard race!

I got a bottle of water, my medal, and then heard Nate yell, 'Julia!' directly to my right. I went over and suddenly felt extreme happiness and not as tired and I thought I'd be, just seeing their faces again. I got kisses from Nate and the kids and we talked briefly. 'How do you feel? What was your time?', Nate asked. 'I'm tired and I don't know,' I replied, as I handed him my phone and tried to figure out my Garmin. 'I think a little less than 1:54,' I told him and then we high-fived, before I went down the gauntlet to get all of my post-race food.

Although I wasn't super impressed with the expo before the race, the numerous aide stations during the race and the post-race food were both amazing! I got plantain chips, popcorn, Clif bars, Kind bars, bananas, both chocolate and vanilla protein drinks, string cheese, and more! I am not joking when I say that Porter ate 75% of this stuff within the first five minutes of us reuniting outside of the race gates. He was starving and is figuring out that watching half marathons means lots of food at the end! I am never very hungry after finishing a run and this time I just forced myself to drink water. Boring, I know, but at least the kids were happy!

We were all hanging out and talking, CC and Truman were really proud of me and kept hugging me, and Porter was in the double BOB just munching away. I got our family picture and then we noticed a man with a huge camera aiming it kind of towards us. He kept getting closer and then passed us, moving towards the stadium. I turned around and saw a guy proposing to his girlfriend right behind us!! She had just finished the race and he was wearing street clothes, he was down on one knee and she was crying with her hands at her mouth. I could not believe what I was seeing, such an awesome and emotional moment---I'm guessing the dude with the big camera was a hired photographer, and we noticed some of their family around them, too. Ah, what a day!!

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The proposal aftermath!
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Porter:
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Next we hit up the playground, after failing to get a picture with Bernie Brewer because he went back inside of the stadium. Nick and Cathy met us at the playground. Cathy did well at a 2:04 finish time, and Nick's first half marathon time was 1:50. As we were chatting at the playground it started to pour, so we scattered about and gave a few more high-fives before parting ways. Tony, Lois, Nate, the kids and I ran to the van...or, more accurately, I hobbled. We headed home where I showered, did one errand with CC, we ate lunch, and then Porter and I both took 2.5 hour long naps while Nate and the big kids attended a birthday party. Yes, two-and-a-half hours! It was almost as amazing as my shower that day.

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My official time for this race was 1:53:51, which is an 8:42 pace for the 13.1 miles. I really felt like I was going faster than this pace for the race, but I'm pretty sure the hills were more than my 8:30 pace could handle. I know that during the race I kept telling myself, 'No regrets, you are truly going as fast as you can without overdoing it. No regrets. This is the fastest race you can possibly run right now!' So I'm going with that mentality, because it really was such a great race. I found out what it means to push myself and care about my pace. I found out what it means to PR by three-and-a-half minutes. I beat my previous Brewers half race time by almost seven minutes!

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Ha, I wish my pace was that amazing! Definitely did not run 13.70 miles, Map My Run :(
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Pretty good official stats! I've definitely never been 27th for my age group!
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I am officially much faster now than I was before I birthed three children. This fact is something that has me thinking a lot about what our bodies can do. We, as women, are so incredibly strong. We are powerful and determined. We grow tiny humans inside of our bodies, birth them into this world, sustain them and raise them. We take care of our families and we take care of ourselves. We do SO MUCH as women, as moms, and wives, and we often don't give ourselves enough credit. We doubt ourselves, we beat ourselves up for perceived failures, we often feel like we are spread too thin and we absolutely deplete ourselves when we try to do.it.all. And yet, we really can do anything we set our minds to do, can't we? I'm feeling very #GirlPower right now, in case you can't tell.

Running used to be something I did to stay in shape during college. I was never a long distance runner in high school, because I had basketball and volleyball practices and games to keep me active. Then college came and I ran to burn some calories and cancel out the late night partying that happened after studying my face off. After college I kept running pretty casually and we ran our first half marathon in 2005, at a 10:00 min/mile pace.

Then came our kids and running took a back seat to motherhood for awhile. Slowly but surely, I started to see running for what it is right now in my life: a coping mechanism. A stress reliever. A way to take charge of my time and myself, to feel accomplished and more in control of a sometimes chaotic and and very loud life. It calms me, it sets my day off in a positive light, and it allows me to be a better, more patient mother. As I age, I fully realize how blessed I am to have this capable, healthy, imperfect body of mine. I can run when others cannot. That right there is reason enough for me to continue as a Mother Runner.

Faster now than I was before my children came along, I can tell you with all certainty that I love running. Or at least, I love the feeling of accomplishment after a run. I'm sure many of you can relate.  :)




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