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40 by 40 challenge

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40 by 40 challenge

I am turning 40 this year!

What’s a big birthday without a big project? I needed something that would challenge me, be measurable, but would not make the delicate haystack of my emotions crumble like the foam from the inside of my bathmat after it had been washed one too many times.

The answer: Run 40 half marathon (distances) BETWEEN MY 39th and 40th birthdays!

The only rule I have is the run must be continuous (so no 6 miles in the morning and 7.1 in the evening). Walking, running, racing, intervals are all fair game, but it MUST be a continuous 13.1 recorded by gps.

I am kicking ass at this goal. Let’s recap the first quarter (12/8 – 3/7).

    #1–Kiawah Island Half (appx. 2:28).  Too much to say. This race felt strong and amazing, and this whole weekend was the stuff of which dreams are made.

It was my birthday. I spend the weekend with 18 of my running friends in a giant beach house in South Carolina. I ran a half marathon—which included stopping at the house to use the bathroom and get some candy— in 2:28

  • #2–Sunday morning figure 8 half (2:34).  Why did I think this was slow and steady?  

As you can see, I take visibility very seriously. Spibeams visor (available at, reflective vest, flashing light on the back, and reflective details on my pants.

    #3–5 am run with the Go with the Flowe group. Ran 9.5 miles with a group that generously waited for me to catch up, and, and then finished the last 3.6 miles on the final.


    • #4–Sunday morning run through Old Town (2:38).  This run was forgetable. Not bad, but I must not have been listening to anything amazing because nothing about it sticks in my mind. Usually I can remember exactly what I was listening to when I review the route.  Not here. (Hence no picture)
      #5–MLK Afternoon run (2:36)–Spent the weekend with the family, attempted sledding (until 20 minutes into the expereince, my niece went a little too fast, flipped her sled, and needed stitches in her chin.  She was a champion through the experience.) I HAAAAAAAAAAAATE running in the afternoon, and despite eating pancakes with the family in the morning, still had to make an emergency Starbuck’s stop to get some life-giving bantam bagels.
  • These two kiddos are the best.
    • #6–Windy Sunday morning half (2:48) Listening to Tara Westover’s book Educated.  Some of the descriptions of the abuse she suffered as a child were so real and striking that I felt sick to my stomach.  But I’m glad I had a calm, rainy, cool windy morning to not hurry through the run or hurry through the experience.

    This weather was so perfect for indulging in a good book. It was not really perfect for running. Take speed out of the equation? ALL WEATHER IS PERFECT FOR RUNNING.

    • #7–President’s Day Half.  Slowest one to date, but it was on the heels of leading a spin class.  My legs were TIRED.

    The park is damn pretty, and seeing the sunrise over this pond makes up for the geese that were actively mocking my slow pace.

    8. End of the Trail Half Marathon (2:15)–what a difference a PLAN makes!  This is a specacular, well organized, flat, fast, FUN race. I made a last minute decision to use a training plan I had loaded on my watch: 1 mile WU, 3 miles at moderate pace (10:30), then 1k run/90 second rest intervals.  It worked like a charm—13 minutes faster than the last half I raced, the first time I landed on the 2:15 mark in YEARS, and the whole race felt so good. PLUS! I got to meet a fellow Nuun Ambassador and see a whole bunch of local friends.

    I would not say I “slay”-ed anything, but I am damn proud of what I accomplished. #BeAwesomeToday

      #9–Sunday afternoon half. The husband and I had spend the weekend out of town visiting the kiddos, and that means that this early morning runner had to begin my run (journey on the struggle bus?) at 2 pm with two laps around the Dry Creek Park 10K loop.  Lessons learned–DRINK YOUR DAMN WATER. I started out the run thirsty, and it got so much worse as time went on.  BUT! I had a very smooth recovery and got to have all the Napa Marathon feels wearing the shirt and thinking about everyone who had run that morning!

    Things I am discovering–I am getting less mentally tough when it comes to these runs.  If I am alone, I have no desire to go fast and can find any excuse in the book to walk. I’m still determined to cover the miles, but there is a definite difference between my times running with peer pressure vs. running and not listening to the book.

    Here’s to getting stronger, perhaps faster, and settling into knocking this challenge out of the park.

    MIA. OMG. WTGDHHH (What the Gosh Darn Heck Happened Here). LOL.

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    Holy cow. It has been a long time.

    Just kidding. I still spin and run obsessively.

    I have a big birthday coming up at the end of this year, and I am trying not to feel down about it. MID LIFE CRISIS, Y’ALL. So I’m listing the good. Luckily, it comes as an update on what I’ve done over the last 2 years.

    • I still run a lot. I have run the Napa Valley Marathon (again–did I post a re-cap? Maybe I will. It was a trip); the Two Cities Half (the Clovis one! Tequila at mile 8!); The Kiawah Island Half (best birthday weekend a girl could have imagined); The End of the Trail race (both the 10k in 2018 and the half in 2019); The Santa Rosa Half (I left off with training for the full. That….didn’t happen. Oops.); a bunch of 5ks, 4 milers, 15ks, etc. Plus a LOT of long miles solo with me and my favorite podcasts or books.

    Sometimes I run. Sometimes I fly.

    • I still lead spin classes. Over the last 6 years (SIX YEARS??!?!?) my class profiles have whittled themselves down to about 12 different, really solid profiles that I rotate through with whatever music is speaking to me at the time. Spoiler alert: Not EDM.

    What’s a holiday spin class without a kindergarten style visual aid?

    • I still sew a lot. Do I sew fun things for myself? LOLOLOLOLOL. But I sew beautiful things, beautiful dresses, working with beautiful brides who for some reason believe in me when I tell them it is all going to be ok and they will both look and feel exactly the way they want to look and feel on their big day. And the STORIES!

    So that about covers basic updates. My goal is to write down all those race recaps I’ve been dragging my feet on, get more spinning profiles out there( maybe it will help inspire others in the oh-crap-what-are-we-going-to-do-for-spin-tomorrow rut.), all the amazing stories that come from being the safe person who gets to bond with brides before her big day, recap my current running challenges, and pretend the wider world cares deeply about what I’m doing.

    Will puppy pictures inspire you to check in more?

    But mostly? This a record for me. If my Jesuit education taught me anything, it’s that in reflection we can always find the lessons to lead us forward.

    Want more regular updates? Find me on Instagram or Facebook at spinrunsew.

    Want to see something specific? Comment below and let me know!


    I just bought yet another Now That’s What I Call Music album.  I love them, and I love the random ones that pop up on iTunes for 6.99.

    Last week I managed to pick up Now That’s What I Call Music 52.  It heavily influenced this playlist.  We rocked out to it Wednesday night for a set of all super hills.  I kept telling the class “your quads will thank you!”

    Spoiler alert–mine did not thank me. They were wiped by the end.

    Here you go!  This playlist is 2 rounds–hill, jumps, power hill, tabata.  Repeat.

    Warmup– Starstruck (3Oh!3)
    Fireball (Pitbull)
    Won’t Be Home (Old 97s)
    Run on Chorus–Still Into You (Paramore)

    Hill Block 1–Love Runs Out (One Republic)
    My Prerogative (Britney Spears)
    Am I Wrong? (Nico & Vinz)
    Recovery Jumps–Teenage Dream (Katy Perry)
    Power hill–Turn Down For What (DJ Snake & Lil John)
    Tabata–Wild Wild Love (Workout mix by DJ DMX)

    Recovery–Bang Bang (Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Manaj)

    Hill Block 2–Santa Monica (Everclear)
    We Cn’at Stop (Miley Cyrus)
    PowerHill–Stay the Night (Zedd)
    Tabata–Best Day of My Life (Workoutmix by Dynamix Music)

    Cooldown–Wonderwall (Oasis)
    What a WOnderful World (Nick Cave and the Flaming Lips)

    And a little something worth repeating when the hills get tough:


    Tomorrow kicks off with spin followed by an hour of yoga!  What do you have on tap for your weekend workouts? 

    Happy First Class of 2015!

    First class of the new year–lots of awesome new faces, lots of regulars, and NO MICROPHONE!!  My voice was trashed by the end, especially because my music needs to compete with the Zumba class on the other side of the wall.

    I hope all the new people enjoyed the Kick Off 2015 hit list–it’s an old favorite of mine, and I hope they felt comfortable as a member of the class but able to push themselves to a new, shiny level of fitness.

    Here’s the list!

    • Warmup 1–Bang Bang (Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Manaj)
    • Warmup 2–Shake It (Metro Station)
    • Seated Flat Road–Vida la Vida (Coldplay)
    • Seated/Run on the Chorus–Timber (Pitbull featuring Ke$ha)

    Hill Block

    • Standing Climb–Crazy in Love (Beyonce)
    • Seated Climb–Paparazzi (Lady Gaga)
    • 1 min hard climb into recovery–Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani)
    • Recovery Jumps–Magic (B.O.B.)

    HIIT List!  2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute complete recovery x 5
    BONUS ROUND:  1 minute seated hard climb

    • Birthday (Workout Mix–Blaze)
    • I Gotta Feeling (Laidback Luke Remix)
    • Domino (Myon and Shane Remix)
    • Til The World Ends (Varsity Team Radio Remix)
    • Take It Off (Ke$ha)

    Finishing round

    • Seated climb/run on chorus–Dark Horse (Katy Perry)
    • Hard climb into cool down–We are Young (Fun.)
    • Cool Down–All About That Bass (Megan Trainor)

    To finish it off, I love this quote from one of my favorite websites to visit (


    Have a great day!

    How are we doing?

    Remember when I made goals a few months ago? Time to check in and see how it’s going!
    Actual goals:

    • Up the workout intensity. Go hard or go home
    • Yup!

    • Make a to do list at the beginning of every week. Include the following as it applies.
    • Yup!

    • Eat good meals at home more often–meaning cooking veggies, salads, and fresh foods, not nachos and Manwhich.
    • Meh, somewhat.

    • Try one new recipe a week
    • Nope

    • Join something–a book club, class, or running club. Something that gets me out of the house doing something with new people.
    • YES!!!! VICTORY!!!!

    • Contact one old friend every week just to chat (even on Facebook chat. That counts, right?)
    • Nope

    • Host a party
    • I had the fam over for Christmas! It was great!

    • Get rid of ill fitting clothing or things I don’t wear. This is embarrassing, seeing as I fix ill fitting clothing for a living
    • LOL. Nope.

    • Ignore my phone during work hours. This includes “just checking” my e-mail
    • Nope. Oops.

    • Really celebrate thankful Thursday. I like made up holidays
    • Yup. I’ve also instituted Smug Bastard Mondays, where I review Facebook status updates that hit the trifecta of douchebaggery–a check in, a Instagram photo (preferably of food), and a douche-y update (Nothing like a glass of Pinot after a day of reading Shakespeare to underprivileged blind orphans!)

    • Read one positive book a month. For me, these are usually biographies of people I admire.
    • Yes!!!!

    • Hit my happy number in my savings.
    • it’s been an expensive few months between root canals, weddings, and Christmas. Savings can wait.

    • Finalize all the business paperwork. Blech.
    • I have answers, so somewhat?

    Self improvement goals

    • Stop taking things personally
    • Find that silver lining!
    • Truly work on fostering friendships. I’ve been lonely, but it is truly my fault for not making more of an effort.
    • Stop with the @*$&# internal drama.
    • I did well on these. Except the last one. Drama llama, table for one.

      So what is next for the new year? I have no specific racing goals (just run consistently and for fun); keep the workouts fun and challenging–perhaps it’s time to get certified as a spinning instructor?; and keep my head on straight, alter some dresses, create a presence on Facebook, and enjoy the hell out of it. Whatever it is, I’m sure I’ll anxiously blah blah blah about it here.

      It all boils down to defining what I want, communicating what I need, and cherishing what I love. 2012 has had some very difficult parts, and inevitably 2013 will as well. Even through the bad dark places, the world still looks bright. I hope it always does.

      I hope your year has you as happy, content, and smiley as this :

      Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    Goal time!

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    I’m not very original, but I like clarity.

    Here are a bunch of goals I have for my life with some sparkling commentary on my progress so far.

    1. Have a baby (We have almost a year of failure under our belts on this one. .
    2. See the northern lights (one would think that a girl from NE Wisconsin would have this down)
    3. Go on a cruise.
    4. Get published (technically, I have been published for a paper I wrote for a conference, but I’ll not count that here
    5. Instruct a spin class (I had my chance to us once,and I chickened out. I still regret it)
    6. Foster a dog
    7. Take a wine class
    8. Start a rose garden and keep it alive.
    9. Hit the 5 gallon mark for giving blood.
    10. Make a quilt for charity. (this is a cop out. I’m working on one right now.)
    11. Get another masters.
    12. See a bowl game.
    13. Go to Mile High Stadium
    14. Run a mud run
    15. Hike half dome

    Oh hell. This is hard. I’d like to include run a marathon (did it in 2008), live in a major US city (Philadelphia in 2002), marry my favorite person(2010), go rafting on class iv rapids (2005), camp on the side of the road (2005), live with a lake view (2001), have a really, really kick ass job (1995 – present)

    Well, here are my small summer goals (and by summer, I mean July)
    1. Do 50 pushups every day in July
    2. Make it to the gym/run 5 days a week
    3. Read the devotional e-mail I get every day.
    4. Plan something for our anniversary.
    5. Not avoid my phone.

    Number 5 is a big one. I’ve been avoiding my phone most of the month because I just don’t want to face people asking for my help. I’m so burned out on working with brides, but I find it hard to say no. I’m off work for the next month, and it seems stupid to not take advantage of making easy cash.

    Let the internal conflict continue. At least I have a starting place–more goals to come.