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My Own Kind of Paradise

Enjoy some tunes while reading the latest post!  Was so perfect for this morning’s run.

  Early morning run today with great company, mansions on my right and Tampa Bay on my left, 10 or more dolphins playing in the water with Tampa’s skyline in the background.  PERFECT way to start the day! 

Even with the morning haze it's still beautiful!

It’s been many years since I last ran Bayshore Blvd.  I’ve always loved it, but was surprised at what a nostalgic run it turned into.  Brought me back to the day when my friend Randy and I did the stare down dare and said “If you sign up, I’ll sign up!”  as we both agreed to take on the challenge of running the Disney Half Marathon back in 2003, followed by the Chicago Marathon in ’04.  That was how my running career started.  We mainly ran Bayshore Blvd with the Team In Training group, all those miles all those years ago = Great times!  Also, hard to think that if that chance conversation hadn’t happened there is a pretty good chance we wouldn’t be where we are today with the I Will INSPIRE 5k! 

So, as you could imagine when Catherine invited me to join her on a group run along Bayshore with Run Tampa , I was in.  Also, I wanted to meet Coach Debbie Voiles, she founded Run Tampa and organizes their group runs and training sessions and is a RRCA Certified Running Coach.  Most importantly, I’m very excited that she is going to help coach runners both new and seasoned at our monthly group training session.  Thanks Coach Debbie!! 

We will be making some announcement soon with exact dates and time, so be on the lookout!

Dream Big!


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Operation Helping Hand

I attended the Operation Helping Hand dinner tonight at the James A. Haley VA Hospital with Lt. Col. Ty Edwards.  Operation Helping Hand of Tampa (Op HH) , is a project of the Tampa Chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and has been organized to help the families of the wounded and injured Veterans during their stay in Tampa Bay.  This dinner is to show appreciation to the Veterans and their families for all of their sacrifices that they have made so that we may sleep safely every night.  Tonight was the 84th dinner since they were founded by retired U.S. Navy Capt Robert Silah in May of 2004.

It’s quite humbling to be surrounded by so many Veterans who are injured with their loved ones.  Ty was explaining to me how this war is quite different from Vietnam.  That Veterans of this war are treated much better and how it really does help morale when strangers take a moment to just say “Thank You!”  

I was also lucky to learn of another great program for Injured Veterans, Operation Denali.  If you have not read about this story it its truly amazing.  Here is how their website described what they did:

Enable four Warriors wounded in the Global War on Terrorism to overcome devastating combat injuries and successfully summit 20,320 ft Denali, the highest mountain in North America, symbolizing the strength of our Nation and those who defend it.”

I had to research and find out more about this program once I got home.  Let me tell you, when they said wounded we aren’t talking small wounds.  As the website states this is the story of one:

Matt Nyman
Iraq 2005

“I dream of climbing Denali.  My whole life was the outdoors before my injury.  My goal was to climb Mt. Rainier and this happened before I could do it.  I wanted to follow it with Denali.  When I trained for selection for Special Operations Command, I would run up to base camp at around 10K.  It started at 7K and I would do it with 30 to 60lbs depending.  My whole life I’ve hiked, camped, skied, and just about everything else you can do.   In 2005, I was on a little bird helicopter in Iraq when we crashed.  I was tossed into the rotor.  It cut off my right leg below the knee, cut and crushed my left foot, compound femur fracture, and collapsed lungs. All I have done is dreamed about climbing a big mountain and since I got hurt, it just made me want to do it even more to prove to myself I can overcome anything.  I will do whatever it takes to do this expedition.”

All I can say is “WOW!”

But the highlight of the evening was meeting a very sweet young couple, Eric and Holly.  Valerie Casey, another New Tampa Junior, who has met them before called me over to introduce me to them and tell them about our race.  As soon as I walked over I handed our informational postcard to Holly and said we are organizing a race, I Will INSPIRE.  She looked at it and said “Oh I was a runner before Eric was injured.”  Eric said “Yeah I wish I could do it.  Oh wait, it says here: Run. Walk. Wheel.  I can do it in my wheelchair.”  Holly said “Yes and I could follow along beside you.  Wait, maybe you will have your hand cycle by then.”  Eric said “Yes.  That’s true.  Then I could do it on my new bike.”  They both said they were in for the race.  And this Ladies and Gentlemen is what it’s all about!   I just stood there listening to the exchange speechless,  covered in goosebumps!  

Eric and Holly I can’t wait to see you cross the finish line!

Dream Big!




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Partnering Up!

My first experience with Fit Niche, our local running speacialty store, was last Christmas.  I’d been having some ankle pain with every run and didn’t have a clue what to do about it.  A friend, actually I think it was Catherine, said “Go to Fit Niche in The Shops at Wiregrass.  They’ve replaced my shoes like 10 times trying to help me find a pair that works for me.”  She continued to explain how they have a treadmill that takes video analysis of your stride as you run on it.  Then, they analyze how your foot lands with each step and make shoe recommendations based on this.  In theory running in a shoe with the proper support alleviates the pain.  I was skeptical at first.  I’ve been an Asics girls for 10 years and certainly they weren’t failing me now.

So being the Mom of a 5 and 3-year-old I knew that I couldn’t go with them in tow.  I had visions of them trying to hop on the treadmill with me and this was serious stuff, I needed to focus.  So, I decided to wait for my other half, aka Steve, to get home before heading over, which means I got there late.  So at 8:55 pm, the store closed at 9pm, I came bouncing through the door.  I tried to explain that I knew they closed in 5 mins, but could they please help me.  They recognized that I was talking fast and trying to move quickly through the process, the guilt of walking in at closing time.  So the Sales Associate, Matt said “Slow down.  It’s fine.  We’re not going anywhere.”  Whew, no more guilt!  So they checked out my stride and pronation on the treadmill.  For those new to running, pronation as defined in Runner’s World, my new BFF is:

“When you run or walk, you land on the outside edge of your foot and roll inward. This entirely normal inward rolling is called pronation. For most runners, the pronation stops at a healthy point. However, some runners roll inward too much. This excessive inward rolling is called overpronation. Runners who overpronate should wear motion-control shoes, which contain special foams and devices that are designed to limit overpronation.

So I was told I have neutral pronation with a slightly high arch.  Good to know.  The best news was I could still run in my beloved Asics, I just needed to switch models.  So goodbye Asics 2160′s and hello Asics Nimbus.  I was a little skeptical at first, but I quickly said “Sayonara” to the ankle pain and haven’t looked back.

So you are probably asking yourselves what in the world this has to do with anything.  Well, Catherine and I have noticed that Fit Niche supports a lot of local races.  Most recently they helped out our friend with the Tampa Fire Department, Jace Kohen.  They held the Tampa Firefighter’s Pediatric Burn Unit 5k.  Fit Niche hosted their packet pick up and as a participant of the race I took note at how smooth it was.  We were hoping they would want to partner with us as well.   With a quick phone call I had an appointment with Milton from Fit Niche for the next day. 

I walked in hoping to have a partner for packet pick up and what I walked out with was incredible!  Loads of joint marketing opportunities, sound system for race day, starter pistol, coolers, bibs possibly and loads of race day give aways!  Aside from their assistance, Milton was also so knowledgeable.  Apparently he has done a race or two and helped guide me in the right direction.  Even led me too some fabulous You Tube videos to help with these knee issue I’ve been having.  Fingers crossed it helps! 

The thing that I got most from this meeting is that these guys are in this business with a pure love for running.  They way I was treated my first experience last December and today.  So thank you Fit Niche!!!

So be on the look out for some cool things we are doing together.  First  up on the calendar, a training session to help get folks started on the right foot followed by a group run!  Date to follow very soon!

Dream Big!


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We Have a Course!

Whew!  We did it!

Catherine and I met with Everett from Florida Road Race Management yesterday morning.  I will admit I was a little worried.  I’d driven through Telecom Park a few times trying to find a course to make 3.1 miles.  It wasn’t easy.  Remember we also want this course to be accessible for participants of all abilities to join us, so we had to stay on a flat, smooth surface.   Having Everett there was wonderful with all of his race knowledge and experience.  He guided us to make the BEST course possible and I would say we have done it!  It’s a beautiful course.

Here is where the start will be!

It’s hard to believe this is a business park with all these amazing trees!

The finish line will be just inside of Florida Orthopedic Institute’s parking lot.  Here is where it will be.

Once you cross the finish line you will be by all of the post race festivities, which will be to the right. 

There is a lot of great space here for us to work with, which leads me to the next question.  What would you like to see for the post race festivities?  Besides the usual ice-cold beverages and fruit.  Anything you always thought would be great?  We would love to hear your ideas!  Please share!

Dream Big!


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We’re Getting Certified!

So now that we are official and have permission from all the powers to be, how do we measure 3.1 wonderful miles to make it “Certified”?  Other than jumping into the car, reset the odometer and drive in circles until your course starts and ends at exactly 3.1 miles.  In the race world apparently that doesn’t cut it.  I know, I googled it and found the following on www.racedirector.org: 

“There is no excuse for not getting USATF certification for your race course.  It’s the only way to guarantee the distance is exactly what you advertised.  A car odometer is not a valid measurement, and neither is walking the course yourself with a Jones Counter.”

So car is out and what in the world is a Jones Counter?   Fortunately for me I have Catherine by my side and she’s figured all this out.  After much research, she found that Everett B. McDowell of Florida Road Race Management is the “Go To” guy here in the Tampa Bay area. 

Having a couple of races under our belts we knew that we wanted to have the race chip timed and wanted the course to be measured accurately.  There is nothing more frustrating than really pushing through a race, knowing that you are going at a much faster pace than normal only to find a time that doesn’t reflect it.  I always blame it on a poorly measured course.  That HAS to be the only logical conclusion right?  Couldn’t possibly be that my internal speedometer was off.  At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So Saturday morning we are meeting Everett at Florida Orthopedic Institute to drive through Telecom Park.  Apparently back in the 90′s he measured a course there, but never officially certified it.  I can’t remember if I mentioned it, but no race has ever been done through Telecom Park before, so we can’t just piggy back onto a course someone else created.

I don’t know why, but I’m excited about this.  It’s been mentioned a time or two, but we are as green as green gets and I feel like this is a great connection/relationship for us to make.   We are going to be pros at this race planning business by the end of this…..or just really good at faking it!   

Dream Big!


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Great Day to be INSPIRED!

Yesterday I received very exciting news!  Runner’s World Magazine has chosen our story to feature on their website!  Us?  The two girls who self professed to having no clue as to what they were doing?  The ones who were going on a wing and a prayer, hoping  that others would believe in our journey to inspire.  Wow!  What an honor!

So how did this come to be?  Well for those that have been following our journey, you will recall that Marine Lt. Col. Ty Edwards provided the inspiration for this race.  He unknowingly passed the torch to me when he graciously gave me all of his Triathlon training books.  His hope was to help inspire me to train and compete in a Triathalon as he had done in the past.  Little did he know that it did that and much more.  (For the full story click here.)

About two months ago, I noticed an announcement on Runner’s World’s Facebook page.   They were looking for inspiratinal runners whose lives were forever changed because of 9/11.  It was another “goose bump/reach for the phone and call Catherine moment.”  So, I told her what they were doing and that I couldn’t help but think of Lt. Col. Edwards.  Ultimatley, he was in Afghanistan because of the tragic events of 9/11.  

So I called Anna and Ty and asked to share his story with the world.  I am happy to report that the world has responded.  Okay, maybe not the world, but Runner’s World.  That was corny, huh?  So here we are.  Be on the look out.  It should be live and up on the Runner’s World Website (www.runnersworld.com) late Friday or Monday.  

Dream Big!


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February 18, 2012 – Mark Your Calendars!

I just got off the phone with our contact at Florida Orthopedic Institute and our race date and place is confirmed!  February 18, 2012! 

 I recently read that most races begin and end in this phase and boy do I understand that statement.   It does make it even more meaningful that we broke through that hurdle though!   If it wasn’t so early and I wasn’t alone right at this very second I would have to have a celebratory drink!  Hmmm….let’s put that on the “To Do” List for later!!

Next up..look for us on Active.com and some other race sites very soon to register!  Also, Catherine and I are meeting tomorrow to put together some dates to organize group runs.  We are hoping to include some information you might find useful like getting into the right running shoe, nutrition, speed work, etc.  What are some other things you might be interested in hearing?  In other words what type of event would you be most likely to attend?  Should we have it during happy hour time and end with a cocktail?   I look forward to some feedback! 

Dream Big!


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Inspiring Story


Here is your daily dose of inspiration. I just read that Hector Picard, a Triathlete who suffered a tragic electrical accident is preparing to compete in another Triathlon in NYC.  The I WILL Foundation, our race beneficiary, had a bike modified to specifically meet his needs.  

 I can’t wait to see the impact our race will have on the foundation.  Hopefully we can  help  others  overcome challenges such as this! 

So, for those of you who have mentioned that you  are hoping to pick up the running bug or get back into it.  May this inspire you to lace up! 



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Quick Update


I’ve been putting off updating because we are oh so close to securing the date, but just not yet.  I keep thinking, wait one more day because by the end of today it will be official, but we keep hitting snags.  Nothing major, just everyone is making sure we’ve crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s. 

On to some fun stuff:

I was in NYC last week for 4 days with 3 of my best friends.  We ran the NYC Mini 10k through Central Park.  It is now up there as one of my favorite races.  Even with these two killer hills, (my quads were screaming at me later) we felt great and it was simply beautiful.   

I’ve also had a revelation!  I always train with my Ipod, but on race day I’ve been ditching it.  Well, it all started with Disney Princess Half Marathon in February when it wasn’t working and I thought I would never make it 13.1 glorious miles without it.  I learned that day and every race afterwards that I really take in the race, the scenery, the people around me, etc without it.  I feel like an addict that has overcome an addiction and I’m now out on the other side and see this whole new world.  OK maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.   

We also checked out Third and Long, a little sports bar in the city owned by no other than Mr. Matt Long.  You remember he wrote The Long Run, one of the inspirations for this race.  As my friend Kim pointed out we had to go because it was part of the research for all of this.  Any way we can justify it..LOL!  All I can say is fun place, fun locals and super fun bartenders.  If you are ever out that way, check it out and ask for Danny!

Kim, Ali, Mandy & Jen

So that’s all folks!  Stay tuned for more!

Dream Big!


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