What Made the St. Jude Run So Awesome

Ok…so I have posted multiple times about the St. Jude run in the past week. This post will be the last one, and then I’ll move on to other things, haha.

As you can tell if you’ve read our previous posts (found here and here), we had an amazing time at the St. Jude Peoria Run last weekend. We’ve given you a recap, but I wanted to take a moment to explain why it was such an awesome experience.

1. The people were awesome.
I will admit that I get nervous in situations where I don’t know people well. My friend Amanda was going to have to leave early, which made me nervous. However, I quickly discovered in the morning that there was nothing for me to worry about. St. Jude runners and volunteers are some of the nicest people I have met. One of my strongest memories from the day is when I was struggling a little on my last leg. The group noticed and all held up a little to help me out. It made me feel like a member of the team, not a slow-sky. 🙂

2. The heat doesn’t matter.
In most cases, I hate running in the heat. Typically, though, I will do it anyway. On this day, however, the heat did not matter to me. In fact, I barely noticed it! Yeah, I was hot and sweaty, but the cool stuff of the day made it feel…well, not cool, but not as hot.


3. It gave me an opportunity to run with a bunch of people and not have to worry about beating them.
Races are super fun, but one of my favorite things about them is being among a big community of runners. This run gave me that without having to worry about splits or time.

4. Motorcyclists are cool.
Typically on the road, people will wave or honk. We spent some time next to a breast cancer motorcycle charity ride, and it was so cool to see nearly all of them wave as we supported each other.

5. It reminded me to appreciate all the great things I have.
Running all day to help sick children will really make all of your problems seem small. I am a lucky girl.


6. Last, but not least, it was a reminder of how much good there is in the world.
In this day and age, it is easy to get bogged down in the horrible things that can happen that we always see in the news. This day was a true testament of how many good people there are in the world who are willing to sacrifice their time and money to help others. Very, very cool.

Pick one of the six above and tell us a story of how you have learned it.


The End of the Run was the Awesomest

Yes, I am an English teacher. No, awesomest is not a word. Yes, I used it anyway.

If you read Monday’s post, you heard all about the St. Jude run on Saturday. However, I stopped before I got to what was probably the best part of the day.

The running portion of the day ended (well…almost ended) at around 5:30 when we stopped at a gas station just outside of Peoria to get our yearly St. Jude Run t-shirts. This year’s were red, white, and blue in honor the of upcoming Olympic Games.


Then came the true coolness. All of the runners got together and this point and took the road into Peoria together. We ran a little less than a mile, and, as we approached the Peoria Civic Center, the streets were lined with members of the community to cheer us on. The final stretch was down the street that was lined with all of the other teams from other cities, including St. Louis and Chicago, to cheer us on to the finish. It was so, so cool.

Soon after, the Memphis group, who had been running for about THREE DAYS rolled into town. We cheered and cheered, and then it was time to line up for the parade.

Ashley joined in at this point and was ready to rock and roll.

This portion was a short run into the final celebration, and each team took turns running in together.

Here we are just before our turn to run in. Yes, I know I look pretty rough. At this point, it totally didn’t matter. 🙂

This short run was lined with kids and St. Jude families. We high-fived them as we entered, and there are truly no words to describe just how cool it was. Some of the images from this portion of the day will never leave my memory.

Finally, it was time to celebrate. All the groups were together in the convention center while the telethon proceeded in the center. I have had spaghetti, bread, salad, and cookies on many occasions, but I don’t think they have ever tasted as good as they did on this night. Too bad I didn’t get a picture!

We had a great time catching our breath, chatting with other runners and volunteers, and shopping for St. Jude gear, and, before we knew it, it was time to go home. Before getting in the car, I spotted what had to have been my favorite St. Jude vehicle of the day:

Can’t decide if it reminds me more of Blues Brothers or Ghost Busters…is that weird? : )

Has an amazing day ever made a seemingly ordinary meal kind of extraordinary for you? I will probably never see spaghetti without thinking of this day, haha.

Taking Running to a Whole New Level of Awesome

If you know me, you know that I love to run. Up until now, I didn’t think I could possibly love it any more. I was wrong.

Let’s back up about 6 months. My best friend Amanda, whom I’ve talked about before as the friend who got me in to running, participates in a St. Jude Peoria run every year as a way to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. With a half marathon or two under my belt, she asked if I would be interested in participating. She has had nothing but positive things to say about it, so I thought, why not?

Here is how it works:
-Group/team members raise money to donate to the charity.
-At the starting point of the branch, runners set out with at least 3 on the road at a time to head toward Peoria, Illinois.
-At the end of the run, all of the participating groups meet up at the convention center in Peoria to celebrate and take part in the St. Jude telethon.

The branch of the run that I joined was the LaSalle/Peru branch, which was a 66 mile trek to Peoria.

The day started bright and early at 4:30, so we could leave Amanda’s house at 5 am. The run kicked off at 6:30, and we had an hour drive to the start. Of course, we had to stop for coffee to get us running. 🙂


The run is split into 6 mile legs, which the coordinator also splits in half to keep people from burning out too quickly, especially since ours is a smaller branch of the run. We started with the second leg, which included a massive hill, but a very pretty bridge over the Illinois River. I ran the full six (and saw Ashley collecting donations on the way!) before taking about an hour long rest.


I alternated between 3 mile runs and breaks of various lengths through most of the morning. By far my favorite leg was a beautiful, shady, downhill 3-miler that a nice group of girls did all together. We had a great time chatting and laughing in the beautiful scenery.

After lunch, I was feeling good on one of my legs and decided not to stop. This was TOUGH. Luckily, the driver of the van that followed us down the roads was super supportive and kept updating me on my distance. Amazing people participate in this event; it truly blew me away.

This five-miler took a lot out of me, especially as the heat began to ramp up, so I rested for awhile and got to meet up with Ashley, who was volunteering, before my final leg.


I was slowing down at this point, but my group was amazing and held up with me and motivated me when I needed it.

Finally, we reached Peoria for the culmination of the day, which was nothing short of amazing. This post is getting lengthy, so Ashley and I will work on a continuation for tomorrow.

When all was said and done, I ran 20 miles– more than I have ever run in one day. I love running and racing, but this run was entirely different. Each and every one of those miles was bigger than me and meant to benefit children who need it. No matter how hot or tired I got, I knew I had to keep going, for the pain of a run is nothing compared to what some innocent children have to endure. I ran to end it, and I will run to end it as long as I can. We can only hope that, as cool as this experience was, we can find a cure and not need to run for this reason any more.

Stay tuned for the recap of the best part of the day!

Have you ever done a St. Jude run, or something Iike it?

Simple Things A to Z

As I’ve been blog surfing recently in my time off from work, I stumbled upon several of my favorite blogs, including Tina’s, Janetha’s, and Paige’s, that we’re doing a “Simple Things” survey. It’s always good to stop and appreciate the smaller things, so I thought this would be a good weekend post for the sister and I.

A Appreciation
The smallest expression of appreciation from another person can mean so much, right? Feeling appreciated can make a bad day good again.

B Baby giggles
I have been babysitting one of my best friends’ son once a week this summer. He is just a little too adorable.
(Ashley) A baby giggle is why I am in love with having a profession in Early Childhood Education.

C Coffee
I am typing this before going to the store on a morning that I am out of coffee…so I REALLY appreciate it today! Haha
(Ashley) I don’t like Coffee very much so my “C” will be carefree because sometimes you just have to be!

D Dog noses
Wet, yes, but adorable.
(Ashley) Makes me think of my “niece dog”-Libby


E Eating
We all have to do it… does any one get paranoid about it like I do and not eat past 7pm?

F Friday evenings
There is nothing quite like having two days off freedom ahead of you!

G Grilled cheese
…but only if it’s made correctly. 🙂

H Happiness
What we feel when we run and after a good run.


I Iced coffee
Can you tell I’m really missing it this morning?

J Jimmy Johns
I don’t know why, but a beach club on whole wheat bread makes me a little more happy than it should.

K Karate
(Ashley) I have a very weird ambition to try to learn karate.

L Listening
Sometimes listening is all you really can do in a situation when you don’t know what else to do.

M MapmyRUN
(Ashley) This is a feature I add to my runs that I almost cannot live without.

N Not having to set an alarm
No explanation needed here.

O One
(Ashley) Today is my godsons 1st birthday.

P Photography
(Ashley) I’ve been getting back into my love for it lately.

Q “Quiet” running
Some people refuse to run without music…I find it kind of awesome.

R Running
This is a given word for us at the moment.


S St. Jude
Amy is running in a huge St. Jude Children’s Hospital event next week. I don’t feel confident enough in my running yet, but I’ll still tag along beside her as a volunteer!

T Text messages
I don’t know about you, but when I’m at work and check my phone to see a text waiting for me, I get excited. 🙂

U Update
I really hope you are all liking this update!

V Variation
Who wants to get bored with the same old thing?

W Water
I pretty much love sitting outside by the water on a nice summer night.

X – HELP??

Y Yes!
(Ashley) Totally the word that was running through my head over and over today when I realized I had run for the longest I have ever run at 1 time. It was Fantastic!

Z PiZza
Yeah…I cheated. But is there anything better than a good pizza?

Pick a letter…what simple thing comes to mind?

Ashley’s Running Story

If you have come over from Sisters, Spaces and Stuff you may already know some of this information but if you’re new then the information will be new too!  So here is the story about how I chose to start running. 

June 2012 –  A Saturday morning, Amy mentioned to me that she and a friend of ours were going to go for a run down a trail in our area.  I asked if I could come too and go for a walk while they ran- of course!  So Amy and I got there a little early and did a mile at a quick walking pace, then her and our friend set off running.  Their plan was 20 minutes out-20 minutes back… so I made my plan to walk about 15 then turn around and walk 15 back since I knew they would be running much faster than I could walk, I also didn’t want to lose sight of them…about half way down the trail my legs started to seem as if they weren’t going as fast as my mind and body wanted them to, so I revisited a Couch to 5k app from Rundouble that I had downloaded weeks prior and never got into.  I set a destination for myself and started the app…the friendly little voice said “start walking now” to begin my 5 minute warm up walk and let me tell you those 5 minutes took FOREVER!  I just wanted to run… when said friendly voice said “start running now” I was off and that minute felt great.  Next interval was approaching and so was a dreaded hill but when I heard the magic words I took the hill with stride (haha!) and made it to the top…I ended up back at the “meeting place” before Amy and I literally could not wait to tell her I did it!

The next day:   Amy and I had been doing “sister walks” on Sundays at the park by our houses and the day after I knew I wanted to keep running so I asked Amy if she would be willing to let me slow her down a bit and go for a run with her, she was totally for it and off we went.  Matt (my hubby) was with us on this day too and said the first time he saw us take off on a run he smiled he was now part of both mine AND Amy’s cheering squad. 

No longer just the audience, now I want to be part!

They now have 26 miles of running goodness on them!

 Fast-forward…… I decided my old tennis shoes were not doing the trick, they felt very heavy on my feet the days/runs following my starting days.  By the way, the first few weeks after I began running I would be so excited ALL day long to be able to run that night…the excitement has worn of a little bit at this point but I still do really enjoy going out for a run.So… I made these newbies part of my running wardrobe 

Today- I am still running 3 times a week usually every other day but sometimes I go every day.  If the weather is supposed to be really hot to the point of danger i’ll skip a run but those days I always feel like something is missing.  I have good days and bad as all of us do but I enjoy my runs and that’s what matters most!  I have a little glimmer of hope to run my first 5k at the end of August with a bunch of friends. 

I can’t wait to cross my first finish line!

A Plan of my own


   As most of you know I’m knee deep in this Couch to 5k program to make myself a better runner.  I am still really enjoying my runs and have felt myself becoming more confident and stronger going longer distances quicker than in runs before.  I’ve told myself now that since I’ve gone 3 miles at a time I will never go LESS than that (if no other circumstances interfere like weather, or time restrictions)  It has been over 100 degrees here lately so my runs kind of got put on the back burner, I didn’t want to hurt myself by making the choice to run in weather when there were advisories popping up everywhere.  As soon as the weather broke though, I was back out there.  As I have run more and more I’ve discovered patterns to my routine.  I always start off with a quick walk to warm my legs up and stretch out a little bit before I go, but i’ve noticed since the beginning of this that I ALWAYS want to go fast at the start in the first few intervals and then by the end I can barely force myself to finish up the last few intervals.  This wasn’t acceptable to me but I just couldn’t slow myself down, Amy and I went out on a few runs together too and even she tried to start off a slow starting pace which was hard for me to follow.  

 This past week I noticed that at the beginning I wanted to run until I couldn’t run anymore but by the end I couldn’t go more than 30 seconds (Also not acceptable to me)  therefore I needed to come up with a plan to stop these issues from dragging me down by the end of a run.   Mid stride I came up with my own 30-60-90 plan and I’m going to try it out tonight!  Its pretty self explanatory as I plan to run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, then 60 then 90 and back to 30.  I figure I’ll try this becuase if I start at only 30 then I can hopefully slow myself down and when I’m up to a 90 second interval then I know if its difficult from going too fast that a 30 second intervall following will slow me down. 

I hope this works!  If not its back to the drawing board. 


So what about you?  Does anyone have any tips for starting off too fast and dragging yourself to finish at the end?

Amy’s Running Story

I have been running for a little over two years now. I truly never thought I would call myself a runner, but now, here I am, blogging about it.

It all started with my college roommate, who remains one of my very best friends. When we met, she was on the cross country team. She eventually went on to start the first running club on our campus. Although I didn’t run, she asked me to be the “pr chair” of the club, which basically meant I put together the newsletter.

Running always intimidated me, but I admired runners from a distance. One day, several years after graduating college, I decided I should give it a shot. I looked up the Couch to 5k program. For me, it worked like a charm. In the past, I had a tendency to bite off more than I could chew when it came to running. This program really gave me the opportunity to build confidence gradually.

I took my time, and, six months later, I was ready to run my first 5k.


For me, this was one of my most exciting accomplishments. I was at a point in my life at which I needed a confidence boost, and this definitely did it for me. I was hooked.

In the 6 months that followed, I ran several more 5ks and had a great time.


Soon enough, I decided to take this relationship to the next level. I signed up for a half marathon.

I never expected to do this. But I did. And it was awesome.


Now, running is a huge part of my life.

I have run…

Five 5k’s.


Two half marathons.


In Central Park.


With family.


With friends.


And lots in between! I am looking forward to all the adventures running still has in store for me…including…a marathon?

So, runners…when you look back, how did running start for you?

Summer Bucket List

Welcome to our first post on our new blog! We’re glad you’re here! As we have been blogging for the past year, we have noticed out focus begin to change, mostly to running (although this post isn’t really about running…haha). So, we figured we should change the blog along with it.

Back on the old blog, we started the summer with our Summer Bucket List.

Today, I saw a bunch of blogs’ Summer Bucket List, including Janetha’s and Tina’s (yay for some of my favorite blogs!), on the top nine on the daily buzz healthy living.

So, I figured it would be a good time to do a little recap of our summer bucket list so far.

1. Go fishing.
Hasn’t happened yet. Honestly, it’s been so horribly hot here I don’t know how much fun fishing would be lately,

2. Eat a nice dinner outside.
I’ll admit that this one was my idea. I have eaten a couple dinners outside already, but I’m not quite sure what qualifies them as “nice”. So, the jury is still out on this one.

3. Go to the zoo. Check!
The three of us knocked this one off of our list this past weekend on a trip to Milwaukee. Living in the Chicago suburbs, we have always been visitors of Brookfield Zoo. It’s a good one, but we think Milwaukee County Zoo takes the cake. We got face to face, just about literally, with a tiger and saw some lion cubs rough housing. Too cool.


4. Go to a Milwaukee Brewers game. Check!
Checked this one off this weekend as well! It was a great game, with lots of home runs.



5. Tour at least one brewery. Check!
This one was added to the list by the brother in law, and he now has brewery fever. We went to Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee this weekend and had an awesome time. It is a definite must-stop if you are in the Milwaukee area.


6. Have an official picnic.
This entry was Ashley’s, and we thought we had checked it off at lunch at the zoo this weekend. However, as I look back on the original post, we said no tables allowed. So…back to the drawing board on this one.

7. Read on the beach.
I’ve got a beach date with a friend on Thursday, so this one is soon to be checked off.

8. Run a 5k with at least one friend, preferably more.
The race has been chosen. Starting to recruit people today. Yay!

9. Capture summer in a photograph.
Ashley is working on it. This one likely won’t be finalized until the end of the summer when Ashley picks from her electronic folder if greatness. 🙂

Thanks so much for checking out our first post on our new blog!

Before you leave, we want to hear about you. What have you most recently checked off your summer bucket list?