Monday, October 24, 2016

My Year-Round Fitness Training Program

training plan, workout routine, workout program, strength training program, marathon training program, running and strength program, fitness plan for marathoners

Note: This is my CURRENT on AND off-season workout plan until otherwise posted. Regardless of whether I'm training for a race or not, this is the plan is that works best for me year-round!

Every morning—like clockwork—I begin my day with a workout. I can probably count on two hands the times I have missed a workout in the last three years. It's just something I love and it is not only a way to stay physically fit, but it is mental reset, too. I found a workout routine and groove that worked for me and my ever-changing schedule in March, 2015 and have stuck with something similar ever since—adapting as I go.

Since my normal "current training plan" posts are often lengthy and come with a lot of written details, I thought I'd explain the routine I'm currently following in a video! Watch the video and check out any accompanying links/details below!

Here's a daily breakdown of this workout plan:

training plan, workout routine, workout program, strength training program, marathon training program, running and strength program, fitness plan for marathoners

Here are the links for the specific training plans, which I've combined into my one master workout routine:
  • Running/Cardio:
    • Hal Higdon Marathon 3
      • I like this plan (in general) because it's a 3-day per week running plan. I can't run more than that or my knees start to ache and I don't recover as fast. Really though, when I say I "follow" this plan, all I truly follow is the Saturday/Sunday long run distances (if I'm actually training for a race). Otherwise, I just use Sundays as my long-run day with no specific distance.
    • Hal Higdon Half Marathon Advanced
      • I use the Tuesday/Thursday speed and tempo runs from this plan. Targeting speed training in this manner has helped me take my marathon time down to a 3:00:35. SPEED WORK IS ESSENTIAL, whether you're training for a long or short race.
      • In fact, when people in the Air Force reach out for what to do to decrease their PT test time, I direct them toward this method of speed and interval training. It's a game changer, folks.
      • (Also, cardio intervals and repeats are also really good methods to help burn excess body fat!).
  • Strength Training:
    • Mike Matthews Thinner Leaner Stronger
      • I have followed Mike's blog & podcast for about a year and have incorporated his TLS 5-day strength split from his book into my routine (he also has three and four day splits, depending on your preferences). My goal with adding TLS into my plan was not necessarily to get thinner or leaner—it was to get stronger, faster, and to help gain/maintain the muscle that I tend to run off when I get into my heavy marathon training. Needless to say, this program has helped me get my butt and curves back in all the right places.
      • Ladies, lifting heavy weight does not make you bulky! In fact, it leans you out, tones you up, and depending on your eating—can literally help you achieve any body type you desire.
  • HIIT:
    • Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides (1.0 and 2.0)
      • I have gone through the entire program (12-weeks of 1.0 and 12-weeks of 2.0) twice for a total of 48-weeks. I do 1.0, then 2.0, begin 1.0 again and then do 2.0 again, cycling through its entirety each time I restart it. I love this program and feel like no other HIIT or high intensity intervals do as much for my body as this does. I burn fat, I trim down, and I get surprisingly stronger and faster by implementing this plan into my schedule. I love that the entire workout is only 28-minutes—it keeps me motivated and is easy to incorporate with the other elements of my master plan.
      • And seriously, I never had abs until I started this. It's not all this program—it's healthy eating, too—but man... the two of them together? Unbeatable.
If you'd like an even more specific breakdown of each of these training plans, check out my last "current workout plan" post where I detail it all to a T!

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments below. Remember—I'm not a certified personal trainer or dietitian, so I can't give specific advice, but I'm happy to answer questions based on my own personal experience.

As always—Train Hard. Run Fast!

Follow my fitness journey here: Instagram @auniesauce │ Garmin Connect │ myfitnesspal

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Monday, October 17, 2016

A Career Change

Full-Time Air National Guard, Idaho Air National Guard, Air Guard Traditional, Air Force Lieutenant

When I enlisted in the Idaho Air National Guard in November 2013, I never anticipated the direction my life would take me in the next few years. In that short three-year timeframe, I've gone from an enlisted Airman First Class Personnelist to a commissioned Second Lieutenant Operations Officer. And recently, life has thrown me yet another curve ball that I'd be just crazy not to take a swing at.

As of October 2016, I am officially a (temporary) full-time Air National Guardsman. I no longer am employed as a Wellness Coordinator by our local Boise hospital. This is a huge decision for me (and Daniel!) and one that—while I didn't look forward to ending my career at the hospital—is a step in a direction that I feel like God is leading me toward right now.

I am so grateful for the new opportunity I am being given with the Air Guard, and though it is temporary for the moment, I intend to make the most of this experience, pursuing either a permanent full-time career or seeking to return to the hospital after this temporary appointment—whichever is right when that time comes.

Over the past six years, I've worked with the most amazing colleagues at the hospital across three different departments. In each venture I've taken, they've had my back. They were all especially supportive of me when I joined the Air National Guard, and they have given me ceaseless encouragement every step of the way. I couldn't have done it without them. My time at the hospital provided me with opportunities for continued education, community involvement, professional development, and ultimately a spirit of volunteerism which has lead me to the service I'm dedicating to our state and country with my new position.

It was with a heavy heart—yet hopeful outlook for the future—that I made the recent career change, pursuing the opportunity with the military in a full-time capacity. Again, I never anticipated that joining the Air Guard would lead me to this avenue, though I will now fulfill my military duties to the best of my ability and with steadfast enthusiasm.

This new change of pace—a rapid one so it may seem—is exactly the speed that God has me traveling at the moment. I can't wait to see where He takes me next.

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Freakin' Fast Marathon 2016

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World

Last year, I thought that running two marathons in six days was a good idea (the City of Trees Marathon followed by the Freakin' Fast Marathon). I may have gotten a new marathon personal record (PR) of 3:06:58 with my second race, but man I was sore for WEEKS! One would like to think I’d have learned my lesson—two marathons in a week is not a good idea!

But, FOR SOME REASON, when I realized a week before the Freakin' Fast Marathon that it again fell just seven days after the marathon I’d been training all year for (the Air Force Marathon) I—in a moment of insanity and just three days prior to the race—signed up to run it. Good heavens, I was doing it again.

To be fair, I actually signed up for the FF Marathon on a “why not” whim, not actually knowing if my legs would be recovered enough to run it. It made my family super anxious because they knew that I have a tendency to overdo things and they were nervous that I was running myself straight into an injury. My knees had really bothered me during the Air Force Marathon, and the last thing I needed with everything I have in store for this next year was some sort of strain, tear, sprain, etc. I told them that I wouldn’t do the race unless I felt like my legs and knees were healed enough to be able to do it… but we all know me and of course they ended up “being recovered” enough for me to do it. Because what’s a little knee pain, right? Sure, it was probably not the smartest decision, but that’s neither here nor there.

The day before the race, I decided I was going to do it as I took a big bite of my very own pizza. I don’t normally carb-load for races, but as I devoured slice after slice I just knew it… “I was going to do that marathon tomorrow.

The next morning, I caught the bus up the hill at 5:30 am, loading up with all the other crazies who were braving the morning chill to get their marathon kicks on the fastest course in the world. Most of the runners who attempt the Freakin’ Fast Marathon are not from Idaho. They fly/drive over in an attempt to get their best PR or a Boston qualifying (BQ) time. We chatted and discussed the race on the 60-minute ascent up Bogus Basin, our local ski hill, anticipating the grueling hours ahead. When we got to the top, we warmed ourselves on the buses before we moseyed to the start line just prior to the 7:20 am start.

In true Idaho fashion, the race kicked off with the honking of the race directors’ car horn. (Sidenote: Wayne and Christie of Final Kick Events always do an amazing job of putting on races, and that’s why I love doing this race so much!) And just like that, “BEEEEPPPPPP!” and we were off… 95 of us jetting down the Bogus Basin ski hill for yet another downhill and freakin’ fast marathon.

They don’t call the FF Marathon the fastest in the world for nothing. Before you know it, your average 7:00-7:15/mile marathon goal pace quickly drops to 6:20/mile and there’s nothing you can do about it. Your legs just fly down that hill. Shortly after beginning, I was passed at mile four by the gal who ended up winning 1st place female and 2nd place overall. She was smokin’ it, and I cheered her as she passed. From mile four through mile 25, the only people I saw on the course were aid station volunteers. I was a bit ahead of the main pack along with several others who were far enough in front of me to be out of sight, and it was just me on the open road for 21 miles.

While my legs were turning over a pace of about 6:30/mile (and kept wanting to go faster), I kept trying to slow myself down, aiming for a time closer to 6:50/mile in an attempt to try to get a sub-3-hour marathon without injuring myself. I am pretty sure I could have maintained a faster mile pace on the 20-mile downhill portion of the race, but all the worries of my family were in the back of my mind and I figured that finishing injury free—even if it was slower than my goal time of 3:00:00—was certainly worth not risking any long-term damage. So slow down I did.

I sipped Gatorade and water at almost every aid station, downing a root beer flavored Gu at mile nine. I also grabbed a vanilla Gu for mile 18, but didn’t end up taking it—thinking I’d be okay—which was mistake number one of many. (Sidenote: if you’re a marathoner, no matter how much you think you won’t need that Gatorade, water or Gu several miles down the road—DRINK/EAT/TAKE IT ANYWAY. When the exhaustion hits you and it’s too late to down some fuel, it’s better to be safe than sorry!).

I took each winding turn as it came, overlooking the city of Boise and snaking down the foothills one step at a time. It was such a peaceful, beautiful, sunny, warm day. I prayed the whole way, asking that God would protect my knees, feet, hamstrings and calves, all of which were starting to ping me around mile 17, which was where we hit our only uphill portion of the course. I took it head on, telling myself it would be over soon—which it was after about a mile—and settled back in to the downhill stride. I had trouble picking back up my 6:40/mile pace at that point though, settling in closer to 7:00/mile. I still felt good, but my legs were just tired.

Two miles later, I hit the last six miles of the course—the flat stretch—and it took everything I had to maintain any sort of pace. After going pretty much entirely downhill (and a steep downhill) for 20-miles, a flat road feels like you’re trying to pick up and move blocks for legs. I somehow managed to swing my arms enough to keep myself moving, mustering between 7:20-7:40/mile for my last six—but it just wasn’t going to be fast enough. With 1.5-miles left to go on the course and only about nine minutes left until I hit 3:00:00, I knew I wasn’t going to come in sub-three. I can run a 9:00 1.5-mile, but that’s when I’m fresh at my Air Force PT Test… not after running 25-miles already, you know? I was bummed that I was going to miss my goal, but I was determined to finish strong.

As I came around the finish, I saw my mother-in-law jumping up and down and screaming my name, “Aunie! Aunie! Aunie! Run my little cheetah, run! Way to go Aunie Girl!” She and the race director, Christie, were both cheering me on so I picked up my pace as I ran past the 26-mile marker. I heard Daniel’s family rooting for me and saw Daniel standing at the finish—a huge smile on his face. I crossed the line at 3:00:35, just thirty-five darned seconds slower than my goal time, but a new PR and a killer race to boot. I was just so happy—I had finished it!

We celebrated with hugs and photos (and a bagel, cookie, an apple, etc.) and chatted up the other crazies as they finished the race. See more photos from the race below, as I feel like I need to end this recap now because it’s surely turning into one of my longest posts to date. Ah, race recaps… so many details, you just can’t leave any out!

See the rest of the photos from the race below:

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
All of us crazies up at the top of the hill, ready to run our little hearts out down the Bogus Basin hill.

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
And we're off! The dude in the red was the overall winner, and the gal next to me was the overall female winner. They were speedy!

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
I'm clearly excited to be running... I was anticipating the pain I knew would set in about 20-miles later!

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
Awesome and huge medals waiting for us at the finish.

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
Coming across the finish at 3:00:35! The race director ran up to me and was like, "Come on, Annelise! 35 seconds... really?" He knew how badly I wanted to be sub-3!

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
All smiles at the finish. So glad it was over, and happy to PR by over 6-minutes!

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
I ended up finishing in 3:00:35 as the 2nd place overall female and 5th place overall. What an awesome crowd of runners we had!

Freakin' Fast Marathon, Boise Idaho Marathon, Marathon PR, Fastest Marathon in the World
So grateful for Daniel's amazing family who came out to support me and cheer me through the finish. Thank you, guys! That meant so much to me to have you there! 

All in all, I may not have achieved my sub-3-hour marathon goal, but gosh—I came pretty darn close! As a matter of fact, had I gone just a smidge faster and shaved 1.5-seconds off each mile, I would have finished at my goal time. Oh well—hindsight, right? When all was said and done, I ended up finishing as the 2nd overall female, 5th overall finisher, and set a new personal record for myself by 6:23. I’d say that’s a worthy race, indeed. In fact, in the last year, I’ve qualified for Boston four times over. Maybe one of these days I’ll stop getting scheduled for military trainings so I can actually go run that marathoner’s dream of a race… just maybe.

I’m also happy to report that while I’m still not quite able to run at all nor walk normally yet due to the unwavering soreness in my legs, I did finish the race injury free. I can’t say I’d ever advise running two full marathons within a week of each other, but for the last two years I’ve PR’d and had even faster recovery times with both of my second races. Again, I’m not saying it’s a good idea… but I wouldn’t rule it out for myself in the future, either. I may be crazy, but man, I just love running!

Thanks to Wayne & Christie with Final Kick Events for the great race, and thank you to Daniel and his family for coming out to support me at the finish! Every single person who has cheered and encouraged me along the way has made an impact, and I’m so grateful for each and every one of you!

Monday, October 3, 2016

UPDATED Friar Tuck: No-Heat Curls

beachy waves, curl your hair without heat, no-heat curls, easy hair tutorials, curly hair, friar tuck hairstyle

Three years ago--how has it been that long already?--I filmed my "Curl Your Hair Without Heat" video. Thanks to a shout-out by Ashton Kutcher, that video went viral (for like a week--not like news-breaking viral) and I enjoyed three-seconds of pseudo-YouTube-fame.

Fast forward three years and after many haircuts, modifications, tips, tricks and hairstyles later, I bring you a new-and-improved version of the infamous "Friar Tuck." (If you remember, that's what my husband calls it because it's so incredibly flattering... ha!). All jokes aside, this super-easy hairstyle gets the job done and gets me out the door with all-day bouncy, beachy curls.

Watch the video & try it for yourself!

  • My hair is fine and holds curl well.
  • Your hair MUST be completely dry.
  • If you do this style for overnight curls, try wrapping a silk scarf on your head so it doesn't fall out.
  • I use the Goody Ouchless Fabric Headwraps (any color works!)

/ / Like this video? Subscribe to my channel on YouTube! If you try the Friar Tuck, tweet or instagram me a photo with the hashtag #auniefriartuck.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Air Force Marathon & MAJCOM Challenge 2016

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,

"Running for the MAJCOM, 
running for the MAJCOM,
running for the MAJCOM, 

I chanted that phrase over and over in my head every four steps as I slogged along the muggy and rolling course of the Air Force Marathon this past weekend. First four steps, "Running for the MAJCOM..." four more steps... "Running for the MAJCOM," four more steps, "Running for the MAJCOM..." and finally, "HOOAH! HOOAH!" What felt like an eternity was really just a little over three hours--and what seemed like my worst race ever really wasn't that bad after all. In fact, for 35th place overall out of 2045 runners, 2nd overall military female and 4th overall female with a time of 3:22:26... shoot, I'll take it!

As you may have already concluded, this post is my "race day recap" of the 2016 Air Force Marathon. I competed in the Air Force Half Marathon last year, and I was thrilled to be invited back for another go at the course... but this time the full marathon. Last year, I ran several half marathons and two back-to-back full marathons so I was eager to again test out my legs on another race to see what they could do. Unlike last year (the year of the races with 9 races total), this was only my second race this year. I wasn't able to sign up and train for as many races due to being gone at Officer Training School, so I feel like I've literally been training for this race all year long (I followed this plan + strength training 5x/week). Needless to say, I was ready for it (read: ready for it to be over!).

I've mentioned this over and over, but I'd like to state again that it is such an honor for me to represent the 124th Fighter Wing - Idaho Air National Guard, the Air National Guard, and the State of Idaho when I do these races. I can't reiterate enough how much I truly love running for a cause that's greater than myself. It makes all of the endless hours and miles of training worth it. Anyway, I just wanted that to be super clear... I love what I do and that I get to do it on behalf of an amazing organization!

So let's kick off this recap, shall we? 

I flew out to Dayton, Ohio on Thursday. Last year, I flew in on Friday and it all felt pretty rushed with everything we had to do, so this time around I was hoping that coming in late Thursday would at least give me an entire day to chill--mentally and physically--prior to the race. It was a good choice! I ended up taking my very first Uber ride ever to the hotel and got a night of super-restful sleep.

I woke up Friday morning and went for a light jog around the hotel, stopping to pick up a couple groceries before heading back and lifting arms for a little bit. I didn't want to do anything heavy... just wanted to get the blood flowing. I met up with the team at the Expo later that afternoon, and we all exchanged introductions and picked up our bibs. I was really excited about our team. Half of us were returning participants from last year's team and the other half was filled with fresh faces. Everyone seemed very competitive--I knew it was going to be a good team!

We all gathered for the pasta dinner that evening, loading up on our pre-race carbs, enjoying one-too-many desserts, and enjoying a guest presentation from 3-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi (say that three times fast!). My favorite part of the pasta dinner was meeting long-time online pen pal and fellow blogger, Erin from Aim High Erin. See more about our long-overdue meeting below!

After the pasta dinner, I returned to my room to ready my things for the next day. I had some pre-race jitters but did my best to stay calm and tried to tuck in early. I was up the next morning at 4:00 am, making my standard oatmeal breakfast before the buses picked us up to head to the event.

The buses--by the way--were about an hour and a half late picking us up, so much so that the race start time was pushed back by 30 minutes. Talk about a hasty start! We had enough time once we arrived at the race to drop our bags, tie our shoes, go to the bathroom (and fast!), take a quick team photo and run to the start line before the race began. It was no joke! The good news is that I didn't have much time to sit around and get nervous! Before I knew it, I was off and running and there was no turning back.

My strategy for the race was to not go out too quickly. I often go out faster than my race pace and tend to get burned out toward the end... so I did not want to do that this time! I imagined that I wanted to finish around 3:15:00, so I knew that my first several miles needed to be 7:27 or slower. I ended up managing an average of 7:17 for the first 11 or so and felt really good... until that moment when I didn't feel so really good. If you've done a marathon, you know that point in time. From miles 11-20, my time just slowly started inching slower by about 5-seconds per mile, until I was at the point where I was unable to maintain a sub-7-minute mile. I felt particularly challenged when the 3:15 pacer ran past me around mile 21 and seemed like he was just on a roll... I knew there was no way I could stick with him. And that darned mile 24... it gets me every time! It was on that dreaded mile 24 when the girl who won 1st place military female passed me. I cheered her as she passed and told myself, "Just finish the race... the place doesn't matter. JUST FINISH!"

And just finish I did. It took all my strength to muster out those last couple miles, but the cheering crowd and anticipation of the finish that I remembered from the year before was helping me eke it out and finish strong. I came across the finish at 3:22:26, 7-minutes slower than my goal time--but a strong finish nevertheless. I high-fived our public affairs guy and gave the Chief who organizes our team the biggest, sweatiest hug. I was the last runner from our team to finish (the half marathoners finished about an hour before the full runners), and it was like our entire team sighed the biggest, "Aaahhhhhhhhhhhh," of relief--we had done it.

In case you're wondering, the course is a challenging one. It's filled with rolling hills--the ones that take you by surprise--and the humidity in Ohio can sometimes just be unbearable. By the end of the race, it was about 85 degrees, 75% humidity, and as though we had been rained on or I had jumped in a pool... my uniform was flinging sweat with every stride, it was suctioned to my body--absolutely soaked--and my shoes were sloshing with every step. Boy, was I glad to be done!

After the race and awards (which two of our team members won--see below!), some of us gathered for some delicious post-race grub (I'm talking the creamiest, fattiest, post-race-no-guilt-felt-what-so-ever kind of grub), followed by "buckets of froyo" with my blog-buddy Erin. It was the end to a truly wonderful weekend.

See photos of the Air Force Marathon weekend below... captions under each tell the story!

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
Our 2016 Air National Guard MAJCOM Challenge Team at the pre-race pasta dinner. Four of us ran the full marathon (me, the guy in the red shirt, and the two in the back upper left) and the rest ran the half. The only people not pictured are our fearless leader, Chief, and this year's honorary runner, a half marathon alternate.

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
Enjoying the amazing pasta dinner.

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
It was absolutely surreal and so incredible to finally hug and meet Erin Carpenter from Aim High Erin in person for the first time. Three years ago, when considering joining the Air National Guard, I googled and found Erin's blog. I reached out to her and we have been friends ever since. She helped me virtually pack for Basic Training, she wrote me a letter while I was at BMT, I have watched her little baby grow into a three-year-old, we each encouraged each other as we both commissioned and became officers, we have since both mentored new and prospective Airmen through both of our blogs and social media outlets, we literally have followed parallel career paths in the Air Force (me Air Guard, her Reserves), and--at the Air Force Marathon Pasta Dinner--we met. FINALLY. Saturday, we both pinned on our bibs and ran the full 26.2 miles of the Air Force Marathon, me with the Air Guard team and her with her dad for her very first full marathon. 

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
Race day! Checking out the finisher medal hardware.

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
The team was suited up and ready to go. Our blue uniforms and black shorts were sharp. (Neon is a must, next year, Chief!).

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
Left: our guys getting ready for the half marathon (which started 30 minutes after the full). Right: praying before the full marathon. I always pray before and during my race... it fuels me and keeps me going more than any Gu gel pack or Gatorade!

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
And they're off... the men and women of the Air Force Half Marathon were on their way. I had been running for about 40-minutes by this time.

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
Coming in to the finish at the end of the full marathon. My time was officially clocked at a 3:22:26. I finished as the 2nd place overall female and 4th place overall female. Oddly enough, I was also I was bib #35 and came in 35th place overall out of 2042 marathon runners. Imagine that! I may not have won a trophy this time, but finishing my race and feeling strong at the end was better than any award. The trip in itself is the reward!

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
Giving our Chief, the master coordinator for the whole Air Guard team, a giant, sweaty hug at the end. He ran the half and had an excellent time and was waiting for me as I crossed the finish. We did it!

Air Force Marathon, MAJCOM Challenge, Air National Guard Marathon Team,
The final team picture after the race. Do you see the two trophies my teammates are boasting? One of our female half marathoners, Emily, won 1st place overall female in the half, and one of our male racers won 1st place military male in the half marathon. All four of our full marathoners came in the top 20 of our race, and five of our six half marathoners finished in the top 25 in their race. Congratulations to everyone and the great races that were run by all!

Overall, wow... what a race. What a course! Everyone says it's hard, but until you're out there in the sweltering heat, the thick and humid air, and climbing the rolling hills that aren't-really-hills-but-when-you're-on-mile-21-and-it-sure-feels-like-a-hill kind of hill... that's when you find out what you're made of.

Running with the Air National Guard team for the MAJCOM Challenge makes me push myself that much more. It's not just ME who I'm running for... it's my team of 10 service members from across the nation, the Chief who tirelessly organizes us, the race coordinator who takes such good care of our team, my base supporting me back in my home state of Idaho, my amazing husband and family who have to put up with endless hours of training, and every single other person who has given me a high five or word of encouragement along the way. I'd like to call it grit. And marathons... they give you that grit. They make you strong. Fierce. A warrior. And they also make you very, very sore. So here's to the 20th annual Air Force Marathon. I may not have had my best race, but I had a race nonetheless and an experience of a lifetime. In fact, I also may not have won any awards or trophies this time around, but this race wasn't about that. It was about the team, the honor to represent my state and Air Guard unit, and just making it across the finish. And I did it. HOOAH!

PS> Air Force Public Affairs published our team's story in an article... read it here! I'll also update this blog post when the MAJCOM Challenge results are officially posted. Cross your fingers... we just may have won it... you never know!