Leader of the Pack: Sara Roach

Let’s take a trip in the wayback machine, back to my childhood in southeastern Wisconsin, where rooting for the Green Bay Packers was as common as breathing. Settle in while I summarize my athletic accomplishments prior to 2013:

Yup.

Yup.

You might say that I was a bookish girl who couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be a hardcore band geek or a drama-club geek, so she dabbled in both. But athletics were not part of the equation. At all. Marching with the band in a parade was the extent of my physical movement in high school, unless you count working out to “Hooked on Aerobics” on PBS in the comfort of my bedroom (which I don’t).

Watching out for measure splits, not mile splits.

Watching out for measure splits, not mile splits.

In college, I majored in journalism and minored in late-night pizza runs, so there was no athletic activity there, either, although I did hit the StairMaster or the occasional aerobics class just for weight-loss purposes. It was the same story in law school, as well as in my mid-20s career-building phase; I would hit the gym for brief periods if my clothes started to get a little tight or I wanted to look good in my wedding dress. But a fitness lifestyle? Fuhgeddaboudit.

My early 30’s were a blur of pregnancy and motherhood in the Chicago suburbs, working a full-time job and trying to remain upright due to sleep deprivation. There was also a period of depression and anxiety while I was pregnant with my second child. I should have been running during this period, but I wasn’t.

I did make a pilgrimage with my Dad to Lambeau Field in 2007, in honor of Brett Favre's final season as a Packer. I look forward to my return trip for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon!

I did make a pilgrimage with my Dad to Lambeau Field in 2007, in honor of Brett Favre’s final season as a Packer. I look forward to my return trip for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon!

Fast-forward to May 2012. I had gained weight with my third pregnancy in 2009, as one does, but I had added on substantially to that poundage total following my son’s birth. I was now a stay-at-home mom and I was doing the supermom thing extremely well, but my physical health was taking a back seat and I did not feel comfortable with my body. After seeing pictures of myself with my children on Mother’s Day, I decided to step on a scale for the first time in years. I weighed 197 pounds on my 5’3″ frame. It was like someone flipped a switch.

One of the Mother's Day photos that sparked a running journey.

One of the Mother’s Day photos that sparked a running journey.

A few days later, after the kids went to bed, I announced that I was going to go downstairs and walk on our basement treadmill.  I hadn’t done that in a while, but my husband said “Okay” and didn’t think much of it. I went back downstairs the next night, and the next. I started going further and faster, and began to mix in little sprints while holding onto the handrails. By early 2013, I had lost about 60 pounds through exercise and cleaning up my diet, and my self-esteem had increased exponentially. I was mostly running rather than walking on the treadmill by this time, as I realized I could spend less time exercising for the same calorie burn (brilliant deduction, eh?). But when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred in April 2013, I was saddened, but it did not affect me like it did most runners; I didn’t yet consider myself a part of that world.

And then my treadmill broke. Cue the panic! I didn’t want to let my newfound fitness slip away, so I knew I had to do something. I had seen people post on Facebook using MapMyRun, so I downloaded that app onto my phone, scrounged up a pair of headphones and hit up my neighborhood trail. Down in my basement, I wasn’t sure how far I was running, since my old treadmill did not reliably keep track of those things. But on the trail that spring day, I did 5 miles and felt like I could have done more.  Lo and behold, another switch was flipped.

My Facebook status update from May 5, 2013.

My Facebook status update from May 5, 2013.

I finished my first 5K in 29:30 on May 19, 2013 — just over a year after I began walking for fitness. I remember thinking that 3.1 miles was too short. A 10K followed a few weeks later, and I quickly signed up for my first half-marathon. I trained all summer long for the Chicago Half Marathon, and finished in 2:06:46. Pre-dawn workouts and weekend long runs became part of the domestic fabric. My running was the “new normal,” and my family adjusted to this with a mixture of admiration and incredulousness.

6 sara

Finishing the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon — one of the top five proudest moments of my life.

My new favorite pastime became setting audacious (for me) running goals and meeting them: Go sub-2-hours in the half marathon (I did that a few weeks after my first half). Set another PR in the half marathon (I did that two months later). Train for and finish my first marathon (I finished the Wisconsin Marathon in May 2014 in 4:02:57). And finally, the granddaddy of them all: Qualify for the Boston Marathon (done at the 2014 Chicago Marathon in 3:38:09).

Photos from my 2014 year in running.

Photos from my 2014 year in running.

Is the next step an ultra? Maybe someday, but for now, the marathon is my jam. I still have tons to learn about the distance, and many more races on my bucket list. I am knocking one of those races — the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon — off my list in just a few short weeks. I’m still trying to chip away at my race-distance PRs, but my focus has shifted from a laser-focus on the clock to embracing the running culture. Through my social media outlets, I have been able to connect with many runners whose friendships I treasure, and I love meeting more people whenever and however I can. I sincerely hope that my experience as a “Leader of the Pack” will allow me to add many new folks to my tribe. You don’t even have to be from Wisconsin to win my friendship (although it does help…); you just have to love making forward progress. I came to this running party later in life, but I’m here to stay!

The Mom on the Run,
Sara Roach

Leaders of the Pack: Adam Marin

Some people run for pure enjoyment. Some people run as a mood enhancer. Some people run to be able to eat cookies. And some of us run to lose weight and get in shape. I fall under the last category, or at least I used to.

Just over 1 year ago, I weighed 320 (or more, I stopped getting on a scale) pounds. The picture below is me on March 8, 2014. To say I was overweight, was to put it mildly. I grew up always being on the heavy side. I always wore husky pants and was always heavier than most all of my friends. It bothered me at times, and at times I was more alright with it (probably more than I should have been).

adam marin before

It was after the picture above was taken and I looked at it, I realized how disgusted I was with myself and decided I needed to make a change and get really serious about losing weight.

In the past I had tried all kinds of weight loss programs. I did Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and tried just going to the gym random times and not really doing any kind of program. As you can guess, they all failed miserably! Weight Watchers worked a couple times for a bit, but as soons as I stopped I would gain back twice what I lost. I ended up giving up after a month or two each time because it was just not working for me. I vowed to myself, that this time would need to be different.

I looked around at my options and most were too expensive or not structured enough. I really needed something that told me what to eat, how much of it and when. I found a book by Ian K. Smith called Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds, Lose It Faster! I used the book for two cycles of 4 weeks each to kick start my weight loss and to help me figure out how to eat a bit better and when and what to eat. The book also had a bit of a workout schedule such as do 40 minutes of cardio today. That is the part that may have changed my life.

At first, being as big as I was, I really took to the elliptical machine. It was good low impact cardio workout that would burn a lot of calories and I didn’t mind doing it. As I started to lose weight and started feeling like my cardio was getting better, I found that I needed something else to really take my workouts to the next level and give me a little variety.

Now my wife and I started this process at the same time and she had been doing some treadmill running and kept telling me I should try it. I have never been a runner. I played soccer from age 5 up through high school, but was not interested or good at any kind of distance running. I resisted her attempts to get me to run, but finally gave in one day. It was TOUGH!

I literally could not run for much more than 30 seconds at a time. I struggled, but kept with it. As my weight kept going down and my cardio improved, the running got easier. It wasn’t long before I was running, doing the elliptical and the stair climber plus some weight lifting every workout. The weight started coming off even faster, and I became more and more interested in the running part of my workouts.

I was so excited one day when I actually ran the whole distance of a 5K with no walking breaks. It took me just under 44 minutes to complete it, but I think from that moment on, I was hooked. Was the time great? No. A little slower and I would be walking, but that didn’t matter. I had done something I never thought possible. I kept running and doing my other workouts and my times started to improve.

It was also around this time that my wife finally talked me into running outside. Being heavy, I was very self conscious about running where people might see me in public. Now that my weight was down and I could run more consistently, I was alright with running outside…early in the morning…when less people were around. We ran outside a few times and I told her that if I could get my 5K time down under 33 minutes, I would consider doing a 5K event.

A few weeks later, I was running near my house, and my 5K time was 32:58. My first thought was, “Crap, I am going to have to actually do a 5K event.” I decided to look at it as an opportunity to prove to myself that all my hard work was paying off and I was bettering myself. I completed my first 5K (The Scheels Paperfest 5K in July 2014) in 32:12. I was hooked! I had just run a PR (personal record) and on a tough hilly course. I was no where near the top of the results but it didn’t matter. I had run faster than I ever did before. It was at this point that my running turned from just a way to eat more calories, to a competition with myself. I knew I would never be an elite runner. I doubt I will ever even be a great runner, but I can try and be better than the runner I was yesterday. And for me that is enough. I thrive on competition and running is one of those things where you can compete with yourself to be the best you can be.

I kept running and using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to track my calorie intake. One year to the day, on March 8, 2015, I weighed in at 185 pounds. I had lost 135 pounds over the course of one year through a lot of exercise (mostly running) and counting calories. Below is a picture my wife took on that morning.

adam marin now

So why do I run? Well, these days it isn’t about just getting in shape. It is about competing with myself and trying to be the best I can be. Will I win the half marathon? No way! Does it matter? No way! I am running for me. I am running for my wife (who I really owe for getting me to do it in the first place). I am running to be able to live long enough to see my kids get married and have kids of their own. Whatever reason you are running, and whatever speed you run at, good for you! Good for you for putting it out there and challenging yourself to complete something. Whether it is the 5K, half marathon, full marathon, or relay event, good for you! Good for all of us!

Leaders of the Pack: Jenny Leiterman

If you would have asked me four years ago if I would ever in my life consider participating in a half marathon I would have thrown my head back and laughed hysterically. A half marathon? What are you nuts?? I’m lucky if I can run five consecutive minutes, you want me to run 13.1 miles. You have a strange sense of humor. It took me about another year before I looked in the mirror one day and realized that if I didn’t do something to take care of me, I wasn’t gonna be around. Heart disease is prevalent on both sides of my family, and I knew that if I didn’t stop making excuses and start making an effort to get into shape and make better choices I was going to be in big trouble.

So I started slowly making changes to my diet and incorporating a fitness routine into my schedule. As I lost weight I was game to start trying new things, and the one thing I always wanted to do was to be a runner. I had always wanted to participate in a race, but was extremely self conscious because I was by no means any where close to being a runner. But I set a goal for myself to complete a 5k, and not just complete it but run the entire race. I had done some training for it and as my stamina increased so did my confidence. Race day finally came and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but let me tell you this…it was AWESOME! Yes I was able to run the entire race, and faster than I expected but I was addicted to the atmosphere. Everyone is cheering you on no matter how fast your pace is or if they even know you. Seeing all different ages and levels participate together was the neatest thing for me, because I was no longer self conscious about how fast I was going, or how well I did because you just enjoyed the moment and the camaraderie.

After I finished my first 5k, I was ready to set my sights higher…..next up a 10k! Double or nothing as I double my distance and realize this is going to take some planning and an actual training schedule. The beginning of training was great, I can tackle these walk/run intervals no problem, but as the running increased and walking decreased I really had to focus on pacing myself and not letting the distance get to me. The first time I ran 5 miles without a break was the day that it really sunk in for me…I am a runner! The day of the 10k was hectic to say the least. I arrived just as they were getting ready to start the race….oh no…I’m late, I’m late, I’m late….I kept thinking to myself. I ran as fast as I could to get to my starting corral which was slowly moving towards the starting line and was mildly freaking out on the inside…how did I not give myself enough time to get here….way to go Jenny…smooth move……

Well I got a good 5 minute warm up run in before I made it to the start line haha. By the time I finished my first 10k I was beat from the “minor” freak out I had as I arrived, and from all of the built up nerves and adrenaline of completing my first 10k, but even though I was tired I was excited to sign up for another one. I couldn’t wait to continue to run more races.

So at the beginning of this year after running more 5 and 10K races I decided to do a half marathon. I thought I can run 6.2 miles, running 13.1 can’t be that bad right? Always the optimist lol. After I made the decision to run, it was time to pick the race I was going to complete this fete at. As someone who has grown up in the area the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon has always intrigued me, because I’ve known others who have participated and I thought it was the coolest thing that we had a marathon race in Green Bay. And now that I live fairly close to the marathon course I thought it was neat to see the runners going through. So that’s all it took for me to decide that this first timer was going to make her debut at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon! And the fact that I get to finish by running through Lambeau is pretty darn sweet too! (Big Packer Fan Over Here)

So that’s my running story….okay..okay..it was a pretty condensed version but you get it, right? I am so excited to be able to participate in my first half marathon, and who knows I may become inspired to attempt a full marathon next year :)

Happy Training to my fellow runners!

The First Timer,

Jenny :)

Officially Becoming a Runner

2013 (749) - CopyBack in the day, I was never a runner. I hated it. I never ran the mile in gym class, and my husband used to say I ran like Phoebe from “Friends.”  That all changed 2 years ago.

I was outside playing with my 2 young daughters, running around the yard. I couldn’t even make it around the house (and we live in a small house!) I was completely out of breath and my face was all red. At that point I realized “holy crap, I am out of shape!” It really started bothering me, and after talking with some friends and family, I decided to begin the couch to 5K program. I didn’t care about training, or racing, or any of that. I just wanted to be able to run and not feel like I was going to die!

I went online and researched the program. I came up with a training schedule and printed it out.  Next, I signed up for a local 5K run that was happening in 11 weeks – shortly after I would be finished with the Couch to 5K. Then I started running. I didn’t have a smart phone, so I would write the run/walk times on my hand with a sharpie, I soon learned pen came off with my sweaty palms, and timed my sessions using a regular old watch.  I didn’t really have “running” shoes or clothes, but my favorite old t-shirt and tennis shoes worked just fine. I ran this way for a few weeks, feeling accomplished and proud of myself at each milestone. One day my husband let me use his phone, so I could try running with music. Yep, the next day I went out and bought my first smart phone! Then my girlfriend told me I should really get new running shoes, and I bought those too. Then I discovered “performance” running clothing, and bought a bunch of that too.  WOW – all these conveniences really did make a difference. And I was officially becoming a runner!  I’ll never forget, at one point my dad looked at me and said “you aren’t going to become one of those crazy people that run half-marathons and stuff?  Are you??”

I finished that first 5K I had signed up for.  My family came to cheer me on with posters and cow bells.  I was so proud of myself, and cried the entire last ½ mile.  I didn’t care about my time; all I cared about was that I ran the entire thing without stopping.2013 (741)

Now that my mission was accomplished, I stopped running; for about a week.  Then I realized that I actually missed it, and that I NEEDED it!  That was it.  I was hooked.   Now, here I am training for my first half-marathon.  I’m still not sure I’ll be able to accomplish it.  But I’m trying.  And again, I don’t care about my pace or overall time – I just want to finish it.  And sitting here writing about it makes me cry just thinking about the feeling I’ll get when I cross that finish line.  With the words from my dad in the back of my head, I just want to say “Yes dad, I’m becoming one of those crazy runners that do half-marathons and stuff.”

The Journey Continues…

I’m a 54 male and started running 3 years ago. At the time, my life was pretty hectic. I was working on my master’s degree while working a full time job. As the stress levels increased, I found myself at the neighborhood bar a little more often than before. After one particularly ragged morning from a hard night of drinking, I decided I needed to find some other outlet to manage the pressure. A friend recommended that I try a little running.

Like a lot of people, running had a negative connotation for me. As a youngster in team sports, it was often used as punishment for not working hard enough in practice. Often times when I ran distances to get in shape for sports activities, I would develop shin splints. In general, it was at the bottom of my list of fun physical activities. However, I thought I would give it one more try.

Upon recommendations from a few friends, I looked into the C25K method to start running. It prescribed a very gradual increase in time and distance as well as alternating walking and running. After reading several articles on possible causes of shin splints, I also worked on changing my running stride from a long heel-striking stride to a short mid-foot stride. Most of my running was done on a treadmill at the gym. Surprisingly, after 3 months I had not developed shin splints and I could easily run 3 miles without feeling gassed – cool!

When I first started running I had no serious aspirations to compete in races. At most, I thought I would do an occasional 5K once or twice a year. My first 5K was a Color Run. No timing, pretty low key and no pressure. I had a fun time and felt a sense of accomplishment and thought maybe with a little more work and dedication I could work up to a 10K. I ran my first 10K three months later, finished second in my age group and I was hooked.

I ran five 10Ks the following year. I learned a lot that year. Some races went very well and a few I struggled in. Going out too fast, managing effort vs pace, nutrition and fueling, recovery and sleep and many other factors that go into a race and race preparation. Crazy how something as simple as running can be so challenging!

I finished my master’s degree at the end of 2013 and that opened up more time in 2014 for my new favorite hobby – running! I increased my weekly mileage and competed in 2 half marathons as well as a handful of 10Ks. I also got connected with a great running group through a friend of a friend. We meet Saturday mornings and do long runs together. Many of the group members have run half and full marathons and are a wealth of knowledge. It’s also quite social and makes the long runs go by quickly. The support and encouragement that we provide each other is invaluable.

After my second half marathon, I decided I wanted to further test my limits and race in a marathon. I had heard good things about the Green Bay marathon, so I and 3 other friends from my running group signed up for it. We have been training for it since January. The most challenging part for me has been managing fuel on the 15-20 mile long runs. I bonked during one of these runs and it was not a pleasant experience. I’ve found I need to focus on higher carb loading a few days before the run as well as take in more gels during the run. Good to discover this during training instead of race day! My goals for this first marathon are simple:
1) Finish the race
2) Run the entire distance
Anything else I achieve is icing on the cake. Looking forward to this race and hoping for a great experience!

Regards,
Eric Strennen

Giving Time

Today after work I headed to the gym to take on 4 miles on the treadmill. Miles on the treadmill can be hard on motivation. About 20 minutes into my run when I hadn’t completed two miles yet my thoughts started to move to frustration and I remember thinking “Gosh this takes so much time!” It wasn’t enough to make me stop, in fact it actually made me increase my speed a bit to make it go faster but regardless, I had to shift my thoughts away from how much time this was taking from me.

Is it really fair to say that running is taking so much time? Isn’t the truth that I am choosing to give my time to running. Just as I have chosen over the years to give my time to the couch, or TV, or any number of other habits that have led to my oversized, non-runner butt!

I think when you allow something to be taken from you, it puts you into the mindset that you don’t control what just happened. In this situation I control everything about my run. I control my energy, my motivation, my attitude, my work ethic, and my thoughts. I make a choice to push harder or go easy, to run 4 miles instead of 3. I chose to give my time to this run, to this training, and to the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.

The reality is that running, especially marathon training requires a lot of time. And I anticipate there being days during this training period where I will find it difficult to give my time, or when I will feel guilty for giving my time to running and not giving it to other areas of my life. I know that there will be people who may think that giving so much time to something that is not my family is selfish. And to be honest I feel that way sometime. After all it is not just the time of the run, it is the prep, the recovery, the research, the money, and it can go on and on.

I find myself asking…..
Am I selfish for wanting to have a sense of accomplishment like I have never felt?
Am I selfish for allowing myself to have time to improve my health and self-confidence?
Am I selfish for relying on others to watch my kids while I do long weekend runs?
Am I selfish for spending money on training gear?
Am I selfish for talking about running and training?
Am I selfish for thinking about running and training all the time?
Am I selfish for……..

If I ask myself these questions (and others) I am bound to get different answers every day. I have to accept that while this is a primarily a physical challenge and journey, that for me it is also going to be very emotional and full of mental challenges and choices to make. I have to trust myself and accept the choices I make.

Today I chose to give some of my time to running, and I feel good about that!

-Diane Hausler

New Year’s Resolutions

I have always been great at setting New Year’s Resolutions. Like many people I wait for it to be my golden ticket to try to do something new or improve my life in some way. Like millions of others I would set a goal to lose weight, exercise more and eat right. I would spend weeks planning down to the detail, creating meal plans and scheduling time for workouts. Planning is my strength!

I am with millions of others who quickly abandon these “resolutions” within months, weeks, or even days after the New Year hits. This is nothing new. How many times have you or someone you know said, I will start my diet next week, or next month. I will start after……There is always a reason. There is always something to wait for. The reality is that New Year’s Day or Monday or the next…is not a magic day. It is just another day. So what is it that makes waiting for that day more powerful? There really is nothing. The sun rises and sets the same today as the next. We get the same amount of hours, and the same opportunity to make choices.

What if the day that we are waiting for never comes? In fact we have no guarantee that any day will ever come. Tomorrow is not a guarantee! Our next birthday is not a guarantee. Our next New Year is not a guarantee. This continues to become clear to me as I see people struggle through loss, tragedy, and illness. They didn’t know what day would change their life forever, none of us do. So I ask you and I ask myself what are you waiting for?

When I decided I was going to do a marathon people would ask me why. I thought about it a lot, reflected on the “why” sometimes I couldn’t really explain it myself. The conclusion that I came to was because I could. Today I could train; I could try a little harder. I didn’t want to sit on the sideline anymore and watch. I wanted to take advantage of this life I have.

I have an incredibly blessed and full life for which I am so grateful for. I am surrounded by supportive family and friends. I have work that is fulfilling and helps me provide for our family. I am healthy, and have healthy children. There isn’t a single thing keeping me from doing whatever I want and right now I want to run a marathon.

So this year I did not make a resolution. Resolutions don’t work for me. The only way to make a change is to change what you do! What I know works for me is completing a registration. I have registered and completed a 2 mile race, 4: 5K races, 2: 1/2 marathons, 1: Warrior Dash and 1: Tough Mudder. I now know what it feels like to complete something that I started. The sense of accomplishment keeps me wondering, “Can I do more?” The truth is I can and I will!

-Diane Hausler


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