Adventures Await… Part 2!

Wow, I can’t believe how time just flies. It’s been nothing short of an exciting and crazy start to summer for our family. Let’s just say we have lots of adventures packed in: camping trips, fishing, scouts, football, tennis, baseball, basketball, band, water parks, swimming, friends, fireworks and more!!!


Scout camping fun with my youngest!

In the meantime, I’ve been working on something really HUGE and SCARY but totally EXCITING at the same time. It’s actually completely unrelated to running and health, but I wanted to share my latest endeavors because it has to do in part with my last post about working with kids and finally figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. (and why I’ve been so absent).

Back in March, I had an experience that lit a fire under me (it actually made me so angry and sad at the same time, but I won’t get into it here). The experience opened up my eyes to the state of our current education and the quality of the people who teach our children.

I’m someone who wants to help everyone… I know that’s impossible… but, I know I can be part of the solution! If only I can make a difference for one… or two… maybe a handful of children and their families?!

And so I started talking to my teacher friends; mostly, my Paraprofessional friends.

What’s a Paraprofessional, you ask? It’s a very special someone for many students and parents and teachers.

They are the aides in the classrooms helping the teachers. They are the ones on the sidelines who actually do much of the loving and care-giving, documenting and one-on-one guiding. They reassure students, work with emotions and behaviors across the full spectrum, they monitor in the lunch-room and they teach solutions on the playground, they talk to teachers, parents, administrators and do a ton of work behind the scenes. In my opinion, they don’t get enough credit for the massive amount of work they do for our children who need the most help in the classroom!!!

And so, back in April, I initially applied for my Paraprofesional license! A few days later, I was encouraged to apply as a Substitute Teacher which means I can accept a much broader role as an educator and at the end of May, my request was approved! The last week of school gave me two opportunities to work and I enjoyed it immensely!


Like this just makes me even more of a Sucker!

In the meantime, I also thought about going back to school. It’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I started working with a university whose program I really respected and one that would allow me to do a majority of my studies online during the day while kids are in school and be the soccer mom in the evenings and weekends. In the end, I’ll be able to get my teaching license and master’s degree in special education after 2 years!

There was just one problem!

My undgraduate grades were too low to waive taking the GRE and so I studied my well-rounded tushy off for 4 straight weeks into June!!! I carried this huge notebook and study guide from the library with me everywhere and was constantly quizzing myself on vocabulary, comprehension and math problems. I studied at baseball games, when I woke up, right after lunch, after dinner and into the late nights when I couldn’t sleep, on the airplane, on vacation, and in the car (my hubs was driving).


My family was awesome cheering me on every time I studied. Mr. Dino was there to help, too!

Let’s just say remembering how to do proportions and rate word problems after 20+ years of actually learning how to do them was a huge challenge along with re-learning quadratic equations and geometry even though math used to be my strongest subject! (There was actually a word problem involving and cyclist and runner on a track and I had to figure out how many times the runner would get passed in a certain amount of time… that NEVER happens in real life, does it?! PLEASE!).

Thankfully, my 7th grader and Kahn Academy helped me with most of it!!! #humbled

The first week of June, I drove to the test site and after 4 of the longest mentally challenging hours I’ve had in a very long time, I walked away with the scores I needed!!! HIP-HIP-HOORAY! (I’ve gotten better, but I’ve always strugged with test anxiety so, this felt so great because I was about ready to take the darn thing again 21 days later if I had to).

And, today I officially sent in my official application to start school in the fall (gulp, August). I hope to find out before the end of July, but I’m excited and hopeful right now, so please cross a few fingers and toes for me.


In the meantime, I’m now focusing on my first ‘race’ of the year this weekend. It’s a brand new 5K in my neck of the woods… which happens to conclude with a pancake breakfast! The next official race is in September – The Fox Valley Half-Marathon. I’ll start officially training in about 2 weeks, but for now, I’m kicking it off with new shoes 🙂


The biggest sadness for me this year, though, is missing the Christmas in July 12-hour event I was hoping to join in on. My plantar fasciitis was no joke and I still have to be careful. This was our crew last year and most of them will be back!  I’ll be there as part of the volunteer crew on the back half of their race so I can cheer for them and feed them… and maybe carry them as they limp to their cars, but it won’t be the same as toughing out a longer ultra race with my compadres.


My UBAGE gals! They are a special bunch. And yes, I mean that kind of special, too!!!

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. And this is where I’m hoping to be headed. I plan to still blog and run, so I appreciate you all reading whenever I get a chance to digitally spill my guts to you all.

Here’s to new adventures!!!  Any new ones for you?

Love and xoxo,


How Can A Race Guard Help You?!

First of all, so sorry for being absent for the past month and thank you for still loving me. Love you all!  I think I’ll just try and focus on really short bursts of writing and more pictures than anything right now because I love photography and have lots of fun ideas in my head. Just no time to spit them out.

Last week, I finally got a chance to attend the Race Guards training downtown. It took me almost 2 hours of fighting traffic, er, the parking lot. (I love my phone for providing shortcut alternative routes on the fly! Ya Baby!)20150415_175121

When I arrived, everyone else was stuck in traffic, too, so that made me feel better since I was already 15 minutes late.

Once we got started, Nicole and Tracy were amazing and you could tell they loved being a RaceGuard. They answered a lot of my questions and eased some of my nerves. Even when I had questions after the training, Tracy was very helpful!

Essentially, all newbies are paired up with someone who has been a Race Guard before and has a medical background. While they try to put you with someone who runs your pace, it really doesn’t matter as we often walk with someone, are stopping and starting again… or  we are slowing down to scan a new group of people.

We each carry a hefty medical pack LOADED with helpful items any Boy Scout Mom wishes they could take or already has loaded in the minivan because we always like to be prepared!

Spots, the Dalmation, was kind enough to model for me. Would you believe there’s more stuff on the back side?


Bandages, wraps, salt, water, cell phone, blister packs, sun screen and more! Heck, I may even carry a spare feminine personal product (just ask the women Race Guards!) if the dreadful happens on your half-marathon (definitely an emergency).


The 2Toms products receive rave reviews and are a RaceGuards sponsor.

My first race as a guard will be in about a month at the Chicago Spring Half-Marathon. I’m so glad I’ve been running a lot lately and feel like I could run longer than the race itself because essentially, we end up running extra as we run the course backward from time to time to scan faces and look for someone who might be in distress.

While I’m really excited, I’m also nervous, too. I’ll be brushing up on my CPR and AED skills the few nights before as they told us of a few instances when they administered CPR. It tends to be the people who haven’t necessarily trained like they should have or are not listening to their body.

Runners are not stubborn at all, are we?! Some of you feel it’s more important to crawl across a little line to get an official time and chunk of metal even though your knees are bloody, you have cramps worse than labor pains and you won’t be able to walk for a week.

PLEASE listen to your body. I don’t want to give you CPR or send serious voltage through your body. I will be traumatized for life and we want you to be able to continue with your love of running (so do your loved ones)!!!


That being said, I feel good knowing this organization and group of volunteers are there when help is needed! We’re also there to provide motivation and cheer you along, too. We want you to have your best race!

Here are a few of my fellow newbies you may see out there. If you do, please say, “Hi!” and don’t be afraid to ask us for help.  Race Guards have been asked to participate in 12 races around the Chicagoland area this year… I’ll even be helping in a triathalon or two!


Have you heard of or seen Race Guards on any of your past races?

If you’d like to be a RaceGuard in your area and have any questions, please leave me a comment and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you. The organization is expanding rapidly and race directors are looking for help all across the nation. You can also learn more and apply on their website at

P.S. I have not been paid for any endorsements or recommendations on this blog post. All views are my own.

I’m Spilling The Beans!

Have you ever wanted to do something, but never felt you were qualified to do it?

I can’t tell you how FREAKING excited I am!!! Because I’m almost qualified now. (I just can’t keep it a secret anymore).

You probably don’t remember way back in November/December when I was hoping for some good news regarding a little Christmas present I was hoping to give to myself. Do you?

Well, this story starts almost 3 years ago at my first Hot Chocolate 15K race in Chicago.

IMAG0714It all started at The Bean in Chicago! (oh, the irony!)


Me and my reflection after finishing my second longest run ever in my life. I had just run my first half-marathon a few months earlier.  This was my first cold weather race, too (oh, those shoes are just heinous!).


And here are my friends Sarah (triathelete extrodinaire) and dear Ms. Abby (superwoman) who both helped me get started in running and ran the same race with me! Love these two!

So, when Abby and I went to the race packet pickup the day before (I was so nervous about running in the city… my first time in Chicago), we saw this little booth that piqued my interest.

It said:


“What’s that?”, I wondered. So we went up to the guys at the booth and started chatting with them. They said they were looking for volunteers to help be Race Guards on various Chicagoland races, did we want to do it?! It spoke to my heart immediately. You mean like a LifeGuard in the pool except during a run race? YES!!!

I love helping people and having been in the military, I’ve been somewhat trained for emergency situations, so I think I can handle being a first-responder on the scene (please be a minor emergency… I never like seeing anyone really, really hurt. My mom instinct kicks in, too).

But, here’s the rub. I’d been running less than a year at that point and had very little experience with running, let alone long-distance running. After my first half-marathon I pretty much gave up on the idea of running a marathon… or even the half again. Because it hurt like a M.O.T.H.E.R. RUNNER!

So, I just filed it away for a bit of time. It was sort of put on my Bucket List. And I put the little flyer on my bulletin board (… for 2 years).2015-03-16 17.29.15

Well, since then, I’ve run 4 half-marathons, 2 marathons and a 50K ultramarathon. I think I can run with the guards now. But, I still had a few more things to do.

Back in November, I received my CPR/AED/First Aid certification through the American Red Cross and submitted my application to Race Guards. (fingers majorly crossed… heart flippity floppity! Pleeeease!).

And then I got the email from Tracy inviting me to be a Race Guard. O.M. I SO HAPPY!!!

I’m still waiting to take the Race Guards training course in a couple weeks and I’ll share more about my training once it happens. I think the reason why I wanted to finally share was because today, I scheduled my first race as a Race Guard. (Just pray I haven’t jinxed myself and stay healthy and uninjured).

Chicago Spring Half-Marathon!!!


I have been looking for a great volunteer opportunity that speaks to my heart. Being a Race Guard will allow me to do the two things I love while giving back to a sport that has given me so much! Kind of nice knowing I’ll get to visit The Bean again and run almost the same route where it all started, too.

Do you help the running community in some way, shape or form?

How do you give back?

If you’re curious about being a RaceGuard where you live, visit their website at