Tag Archives: family

Ringing in the new year…

We spent the end of December enjoying our time with family and friends, including the Zencka family. The three boys came home for Christmas, so mom, Susan, hired us to capture their family.


Good looking boys and cute pups. What could be better? πŸ™‚
Our celebrations for New Year’s Eve were in the Twin Cities with some of our college Delta Omicron friends. We started with dinner to celebrate Amanda’s birthday…

It was a rowdy party!

We actually woke up pretty early on January 1st, and we headed over to the Mall of America to see my brother and sister-in-law and the kiddos!

We took Teeny to Build-A-Bear for her birthday, and I soaked up the snuggles.


We started 2015 full of hope, planning new things, and needing a nap!

Miles this year: 60

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A December mix…

As soon as I got home from that trip, I geared up for a busy week. I volunteered my services to the Central Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra Program for their inaugural concert. The kids were wonderful, and I loved seeing the college students bonding with the kids within their sections.



We also took a little time to capture a photo for our Christmas card. πŸ™‚

We had a week or so with this crazy fog, so we took full advantage of that. πŸ™‚ Abbie was a trooper for the shoot!



Christmas was a kind of a blur. We were lucky enough to have seven family Christmas celebrations! Since I’m late in blogging about it, I’m going to skip telling you about all the driving and wrapping and cooking, and sum it up in that we are really lucky and feel blessed to have our family and friends.
Oh, but I will share a couple pictures from my travels…
The Chicago Chamber Choir concert, that I attended with my Aunt Colleen and Steve, and my great aunt Eileen…



A run along the lakeshore…



An awesome Christmas morning run with my loves, crazy warm weather, caterpillars (in DECEMBER!), core work with Abbie as my med ball, and Christmas pancakes…





What it means to be a seasonally decorated Packer fan…

Long lost friends from London…

Amanda’s birthday in Minneapolis…

And pretty typical cold weather returned.

That’s all for now, friends. πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 45

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Oregon + Washington

It was a cold, dark morning, and it had been snowing all night. I needed to leave my house at 1:00 in order to get to Milwaukee in time to make my 5:45 flight. I bundled up in a long flannel shirt of Brian’s, a pair of leggings, and a cozy scarf.
Unfortunately, the roads were terrible at 1:00. We’d had freezing rain prior to the snow, and the snow plows hadn’t gone through yet. I left at 1:00, and arrived at the airport at 5:00, a bundle of nerves. I parked and anxiously waited for the shuttle to take me to the terminal, where I sprinted to the counter to check my luggage. I checked in for my flight at 5:14, one minute before the deadline, and the kind lady behind the Southwest counter informed me that they couldn’t guarantee my luggage would make the plane, but that I might make it if I hurried. Luckily, the security lines were short, and I made it just in time for B boarding. The flight was only half full, so I had a lot of space to stretch out and nap on the first half of my trip.
The flights themselves were uneventful, and before I knew it, I had landed in Seattle. I know I’m in for a good trip when there are fish in the floor of the airport. (That was my giveaway in Reno, too!)

I picked up my rental car, met Rosendo and Debbie for a quick lunch by the airport, then headed down to Oregon.

It had rained a ton in the week prior to my trip, and the rivers were all running pretty high. I was nervous about fishing by myself in high water when I don’t know the streams, so I opted to hike, instead.
I started with a trail run, but eventually did some climbing and found myself somewhere amazing…







Spencer Butte park in Eugene, OR. Awesome. It was crazy windy up on top, and the entire experience took my breath away. I found a guy up there, doing yoga on a flat part of a huge boulder. He was awesome, we chatted, and he took those pictures of me.
It was so beautiful in that area that I came back later without my running gear so I could take some non-iPhone photos. πŸ˜‰



I was lucky enough to stay with my friend, Kyle, when I was out there, and his new pup, Sawyer.

Isn’t she a sweetie? We went out for dinner the evening I was down there, and I called up my friend, Shannon. I knew she lived somewhere near Corvallis or Eugene, and I knew it was short notice, but I wanted to see if she was around. Sure enough…

Reunited! πŸ™‚ it was great to catch up with you, Shan.
The next day, I made the drive up to Tacoma to meet with Rochelle- a TU staffer who I worked with extensively to create the STREAM girls program. We had lunch, then laughed and read through some Girl Scout materials to update our program. πŸ™‚

Tacoma was awesome- it was a little university-culture-meets-water-culture.


I made it up to Seattle in time for dinner with Ro, my TU friend Debbie, and her husband. I don’t have a good picture of us to share, but we had a great time catching up! πŸ™‚ ❀ you, Debbie. Thanks for all the awesome work you do for TU and all the support you've given me!
Ro and I got ready for our fishing adventure for the next couple days, complete with a trip to bass pro shops to get a fishing license.

I loved that huge aquarium!
So. A couple things. I caught some giant steelhead. I’ve never caught one before! This was also my first time (since being a little girl, bluegill fishing with my grammie and Grampie) fishing with anything other than a fly rod. I had to learn a new skill!


I caught fish. Ro caught fish.

I caught a BIG fish.

It turns out that I don’t like killing the fish. Our guide did it for me, but I just didn’t like that part. Don’t judge, but I shed a tear when the first one died. Being hatchery fish, and fishing near the hatchery, I know these guys were probably going to die anyway, but I still didn’t like it.
It was a good lesson to learn, though- I guess I prefer wild fish and putting them back. I don’t know how I will reconcile that preference with my taste for fish, but I’ll work it out… I brought home four steelhead worth of fish filets. It was delicious. Food for the long Wisconsin winter! πŸ˜‰







We stayed in an awesome fish-themed cabin run by a sweet elderly couple. After a long, cold, windy, rainy day in the boat, all I wanted was a hot shower. Too bad that a big storm came through and knocked out our power. What an adventure! No power for a day and a half, big fish, and life lessons. It was almost too good to be true.
Rosendo was an incredible host- he showed me a good time and we laughed a lot! Thanks for everything, Ro. πŸ™‚
We headed back to Seattle for my last night, and I met up with my aunt, Mary Pat, and my cousin, Rory. We had dinner and talked for hours!
Mary Pat took me to see the Christmas Ships at the park near their house- it was amazing! We walked down to the beach (kids were making sand angels instead of snow angels!), waited for these lit-up ships to float by, and they had a choir aboard, singing Christmas carols!

The whole thing felt very Seattle. Thank you for the fun, dear Seattle family! πŸ™‚
I was anxious to return home, so I was relieved when returning my rental car was a piece of cake, and my flights were uneventful. Before I knew it, Milwaukee Int’l Airport was welcoming me home with live music. Hooray!

I made it to Wisconsin in the early afternoon, and headed straight up to Manitowoc to celebrate the baby shower of my college friend, Mo. Our Delta Omicron family was there, and we had a wonderful time!

I love you, friends. ❀





I met Brian at the shower, and we drove home together. He was a safe driver, and held my hand while I slept soundly in the car on the way home. ❀
Thanks for reading, friends. I'm always looking for an adventure!

Miles this year: 35


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Singing + playing in the snow

I was offered the opportunity to sing with the Central Wisconsin Master Chorale.


We sang Bach’s Magnificat and a few other beautiful Christmas pieces in a three-concert series.

I had a busy concert weekend, including a shoot with these cuties.

Katrina and Jed brought their new puppy, Stitch, out to play with us in the snow for their Christmas photo session.



Brian makes the best model for me to test my settings on. ❀

This was also the weekend of the Frostbite- a 5- and 10- mile race here in town. Winter weather is always unpredictable here in Wisconsin, but this year was beautiful. Brian ran with me, so we did the five mile race, and we had a great time!

It’s a partial out-and-back course that basically loops around our neighborhood. I’ve run parts of the course hundreds of times. We finished this year in 45:41, then came home for lunch and hot coffee. πŸ™‚
Sunday morning, I had brunch at the Wooden Chair with my cousins…

Love these girls.
Right after brunch, I sang in our last chorale concert, then skipped over to shoot the CWSO concert- specifically, the blue guitar.

Luthier John Currier, of Currier Guitars, designed and built this beauty. The DC jazz sextet Chaise Lounge came to Wisconsin to debut a commissioned Christmas concert. It was a treat for my ears and my lens. Wonderful work, John, and thanks for the tunes, Chaise Lounge!








I left at intermission and sped home to finish packing- my flight to the Pacific Northwest left at 5 am Monday. That adventure is next- a storm, a couple monster steelhead, and a couple reunions. πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 35

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I love Thanksgiving. It’s the one time of year that I transform my home into a gourmet restaurant, bake beautiful pastries, and use chargers.



I had an ear infection, so I was feeling less than stellar, though I was on antibiotics and the good cough syrup. I was in no condition to run the turkey trot, though, so I was bummed. I moped around the house all morning, and was making breakfast when the runners ran right past my kitchen window. I focused on trying to relax, though we both worked all morning to clean the house and prepare it for dinner. I’d just finished hanging our rugs outside and mopping the floors, so we hopped in the shower. I came out, threw on leggings and a dress, and I heard a knock at the door. Brian was in the shower, so I answered, and it was my mother-in-law, an hour early! The floor was still wet and I was definitely not ready to receive. We made it work, though- and it was a very natural celebration. Natural is code for no-makeup-no-hair-no-nice-outfit, but casual can be good. I was so frazzled from starting the day like that, and I forgot to take a picture of the finished table! 😦 major bummer. Picture a big white tablecloth, gold chargers, white servingware, and glass candleholders with cranberries and white candles. Oh, and white cloth napkins. The food went over very well- Brian helped me with the turkey, and we had Grandma’s stuffing, Mom’s mashed potatoes, creamed corn, maple roasted Brussels sprouts, homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, Jean’s squash bake, a green salad, fresh rolls, and of course, my pie. I went with individual pies this year, and served them with cinnamon honey ice cream. Delicious! I also took my annual thanksgiving photo with Grampie…

I went shopping on Black Friday with Amy, per our tradition, and then headed over to the country to celebrate Thanksgiving with my inlaws. Saturday was with the Oberstadts, and I scored the best recipe for heavenly hash. Once I try it out, I’ll post it for you πŸ™‚
I baked Saturday night for Thanksgiving with Brian’s brothers and their families. My famous pumpkin pie!


We went to bed early so I could rest- my ear infection was bothering me, and I was hoping to run the Noodleini. That story is up next! πŸ™‚

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A Chicago trip + Amy’s bluegrassy visit

My Madison TU friend, Amy, was up in Wausau for work, so we met up here in Point for dinner and an impromptu bluegrass concert. The Fox Theatre needs a lot of work to be reopened, so we went to their fundraiser featuring some local bluegrass folks. It was held in the fine arts center on campus, where I spent thousands of hours. I love that place! We danced a ton and drank local beer. Best weeknight surprise yet!


Thanks for coming, Amy! It was great to catch up with you. πŸ™‚
Lydia and I braved the fresh snow for a great run in Waupaca.




I came home, warmed up, and packed my bags for a couple days in Chicago. The running there was much warmer… There were still leaves blowing around!







My aunt, Maureen, and I went to a turkey raffle with her friends. It was a hoot!


We stopped for Chicago dogs at Gene & Jude’s. No ketchup allowed.

There were a couple guys eating on their tailgate who had a bottle of contraband ketchup that they shared for our fries. These folks don’t mess around! πŸ™‚ I was so garlicky that it was coming out my pores while running the next day.
We came back to Maureen’s, and I was just finishing up work on my last wedding gallery of the season. I was almost ready to hunker down for the night, but my cousin Max, his beautiful girlfriend, Ashley, and their friend, Joe, came over. They convinced me to go out. I rarely regret going out, so Maureen loaned me a sweater dress and we rallied. We finished the night at a whiskey bar (my favorite!) and the girls were deemed shuffleboard champions after an obviously long winning streak.

On Sunday, we celebrated cousin Michael’s birthday, Blackhawks style, and I got to see my aunts and uncles, including my great aunt Eileen. She’s 91 and sharp as a tack!


I stopped to visit my dad on the way home, and started the week of Thanksgiving preparation!
As always, thanks for reading, friends.

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I shot a rifle + our country trip for Lily’s baptism + Tiffany’s moving

I’ve known this pretty woman since first grade.

We went to elementary school together in the Gifted and Talented program at Riverside, and survived junior high school together, and thrived (though we made bad fashion choices) in Songspinners together at DCE High School. We even lived in dorms next to each other in college at UW-SP, and she helped me get my job at Starbucks. She met a super cute boy while serving coffee, and in a fairytale-esque story, they fell in love and got married. They just recently got a place in Carlsbad, CA, so they are moving far from home to the sunny West coast. I love it. They had a going away party in Appleton, so Brian and I headed over. We even found my friend (and birthday twin!), Ryan.


Congratulations, Clarks! We’re excited for you πŸ™‚
We paired that trip with the sweet baptism of our niece, Lily, and stayed at my mother-in-law’s country house. For these purposes, I define “country” as being surrounded by corn fields on three sides. πŸ™‚
Abbie and I went for a run while Brian sighted in his new rifle.



Brian was hard at work…

I took a shower, stretched out with Abbie, and came out to check on Brian. He’d left two bullets for me. I’ve never shot a rifle before, so he showed me all the parts. I liked the lever action, I felt like I was in a cowboy movie! He gave me ear protection, I lined everything up, and sloooooowwwwwwwly squeezed the trigger. The bullet fired. I screamed. It was loud! I hit the very edge of the target.

I didn’t want to do it again, but Brian convinced me to.
I lined it up. Shot the gun. Muffled my scream.
The middle is pretty good, right?

I think I look good with a gun.

Too bad I have pretty much no interest in killing an animal, though I’m really rethinking the food that I choose and why. This article that my friend, Kyle, shared with me is a good read- The Meat Eater Revolution.
I spent the rest of the day curled up on my mother-in-law’s couch, working on photos. It was a pretty relaxing and productive afternoon, and we cooked a beautiful dinner for the boys.
Sunday morning was the baptism. Lily is too sweet, and we just love her.





Brian is Lily’s godfather, so he had a little responsibility…



What an awesome weekend. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading, friends!

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Happy New Year + trying to catch up

My regular readers will certainly recognize that I’m a little behind. As we all cozy in for our below zero wind chills here in Wisconsin, fall portraits feel like they were taken an eternity ago. Thanks for bearing with me as I try to catch up. Go easy on me for the photo-heavy posts for the next week or so as I bring us up to date πŸ™‚
When I left you last, I was writing about my new tattoo and spending my fall days with families. I also started a very part-time office gig…

…when I was in my walking boot last year, I started physical therapy on my foot at Point Forward. I love that place. They think I have a fun personality and a good work ethic I’m crazy, so they asked me if I’d be available and willing to train in their scheduling/insurance/reception position, so I could fill in when their normal awesome scheduler was going to be gone to Mexico on vacation. I underestimated the things I’d need to learn, including HIPAA and individual insurance company policies. In any event, after the training, they asked if I’d be willing to help them out when things get busy, and that started in October. I only spend four or five hours hours total a week there, on Monday and Wednesday, and it gives me no excuse for skipping my workouts, since the clinic is inside of my health club. πŸ™‚ I’m learning more about the human body than I ever thought I would! I love helping out over there, and it hasn’t been too hard to schedule work around those hours.
I’ve still been running like crazy- Carmel and Lydia and I met up at Iverson since we hadn’t been there in a while.



I went to a special yoga class for breast cancer survivors, and dedicated my practice to my best friend’s mom, Marilyn. ❀

I met my mom and her fiancΓ©, Bill, up at Rib Mountain for their engagement portraits. We had such a wonderful time, and seeing my mom smile with love is just too adorable.





We spent Halloween with our friends in Madison. Brian pondered his list of mustache-y costumes and finally decided on cowboy. I took advantage of my Cheesehead beliefs and went as a mousetrap.



Thanks for hosting us, Amanda and Andy! We had to run off the next day to shoot the Leave a Legacy fundraiser for Trinity Lutheran school. We set up our gear and took photos of couples that look like this…

We donated a portion of the proceeds back to the school, and had a lot of fun being our own light testers. πŸ™‚ yay for a self-timed portrait!
My Stratus and I have reached a big milestone in our adventures…

Oh boy, I hope my car makes it through another year!
Carmel and I ran with pups…


…and I’ll leave you with a very fun photo shoot at Bull Falls.

I really love working with beer and breweries. πŸ™‚ such gorgeous subjects!
Bull Falls recently finished a big expansion. The street sign in the middle of their new facility is where the road used to run through.








It always makes me so happy to see local small businesses growing and expanding! #buylocal

Thanks for reading, friends!

My total 2014 mileage was 597.2. Starting 2015 goals now! πŸ™‚

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My new tattoo + cute families

I started the week with a trip to Wausau for my eighth tally mark. For my new-ish readers, I get a new tally Mark to commemorate each marathon.




I also had the pleasure to work with two families. I met the Blaubach family up on Rib Mountain for their fall family shoot.













I’ve known this beautiful momma, Becki, since we were in kindergarten. It’s so sweet to watch her be a busy mom to her three kids!

My next family was local- so I met them over at the very popular Iverson Park.

This was a combination family portrait session and mini senior session. Miguel is such a handsome young man!






Thanks for the opportunity to work with you, Blaubach and Zarazua families!
I love my job. ❀
I went to lunch at Emy J's and ran into this beautiful woman.

What a surprise! Hi, Katie!
I was sufficiently creeped out when I got my voter report card…

…I know that this is all public information, but it still feels weird.
I will leave you with a shameless photo of Abbie looking like a walrus. ❀

As always, thanks for reading, friends!

Miles this year: 518.1


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Chicago Marathon 2014: a race recap

Are you ready to share in my crazy adventure?
We made it to my aunt Maureen’s beautiful Chicago home at 3:00 in the morning, and tried to go to sleep. I did end up getting about three hours of sleep, then I had to get up and get ready to run.
I set out my bib ahead of time, and at Robert’s suggestion, put my name on it.

That was awesome. It resulted in hundreds of strangers cheering for me by name.
I was proud that I’d kept everything organized, so race morning was a breeze. It took me about fifteen minutes to get dressed, and we headed out, with a quick stop at Starbucks for a hot cup of coffee. I drank that, and fueled with one of my favorite treats- Rice Krispie treats made with chex instead. Extra bonus if there is sprinkles… And since I made these, they were covered in rainbow sprinkle magic.

We’d anticipated some traffic, but tried to make a plan for a good spot for Brian to drop me off. I was chilly, so I wanted to stay in the warm car as long as possible. As we neared the place to drop me off, the map looked a little disheartening.

After waiting in the car as long as I felt comfortable (I didn’t want to miss the start!), I got out and started walking. It was a little confusing, as runners were literally walking every direction. Normally, I can just follow everyone else. I relied on my GPS, and eventually I found these angels!

They directed me through to security, where I was scanned with the magic wand.

I started out near this guy, who was the pacer for the 4:30 group, and he was running his 100th marathon! How cool. πŸ™‚ Way to go, Jerry!

Brian wins the award for most awesome support team at every race, but he came to my rescue this morning by picking up an emergency blanket for me to use to keep warm while waiting for the race to start, and surprising me with it when I got out of the car!

While I waited for the race to start, with a few thousand of my closest friends, this was the view in front…

…and behind me.

I met this super cute girl who was running her first marathon. How cool! I did my best to encourage her, and I offered to share my emergency stash of Skittles, if she needed them.

After about a half hour, I finally crossed the start line!

I tried to take pictures as often as I could, but to be totally honest, I was just enjoying the course! I loved running along the Magnificent Mile. When I was growing up, I watched Oprah religiously, and that’s the only reason I knew what the Magnificent Mile was. πŸ™‚ As I ran, I cried a lot… almost every time someone called my name! Putting my name on my bib was a great idea. I high fived a ton of spectators, and thanked every volunteer and policeman.
Wrigleyville was awesome- I’ve run through that neighborhood frequently- almost every time I visit my Chicago family.
Before I knew it, I found myself in Boystown.


Brian popped up to cheer me on, and caught me mid-stride! I was SO excited to see him. ❀


I can’t remember where these Taiko drummers were…

I loved all the music in the different neighborhoods.
I made it to the halfway point, still wearing my signature smile!

In most of the half and full marathons that I’ve run, there is one guy who runs the whole thing carrying a full size American flag. This race was no exception!

I stuck with that guy for a while, as the crowds were all chanting, “USA! USA!”
Somewhere around mile 20, we went through Pilsen, a big Latino community. The crowds were huge, and there was a lot of fun music playing. I danced my way through that neighborhood!

About this time, I noticed my right arm was stinging pretty terribly. I thought I’d managed to cover my entire body in Body Glide to prevent chafing, but I’d forgotten the inside of my right arm, by my tricep. After, oh… 40,000 steps, and 40,000 times that I’d rubbed my arm in the seam of my shirt, my arm was screaming for help. Luckily, just in time for the festivities of Chinatown (and keeping with the red is lucky theme)…

DOCTORS! I ran up to them, and said, “I need help.” They were so awesome. I was still smiling, so they knew I wasn’t seriously hurt, but I couldn’t see the bottom of my arm and they were the ones with the magical Vasoline, so they helped me and rubbed it on my arm. Good as new! Thanks, guys. πŸ™‚ They were a lifesaver!
There were a few corners with cameras and big screens, so we could see ourselves coming around the corner.

Once I got closer to the finish and entered the Prairie District, I started crying all over again.

I started my princess wave to the crowd about a mile from the finish, and Brian had snuck his way into the spectator crowd around mile 26!

If you look closely, you can see me, in my orange skirt, just to the left of that sign, waving! πŸ™‚

The security was really ramped up after the bombings in Boston, so general spectators weren’t allowed at the start and finish lines. We had spectators until about 26.1, though, which is where I stopped for my final race selfie… πŸ™‚

…before running the through the finish chute.

I cried. A lot. Of course!
A few yards past the finish, our first stop was these kind people who gave me my medal.

They were so sweet, and they offered to take my picture!

Next stop? Bananarama.

Mountains of bananas, with a castle of banana boxes built behind the tables. I can’t even imagine how many bananas they brought in!
Third (and most important) stop: beer.

I had been crying for quite some time, so she gave me two beers. I told her that I wasn’t hurt, I was happy… but she insisted I take two, anyway. πŸ™‚
I hobbled over to the finish area, and I had planned to make my way directly to the massage tent. Big races often have a massage tent with massage students, and it is like a little slice of very painful heaven. I was sort of surprised at how far we had to talk after the finish line to see our families, and the icing on top of the cake was the SET OF STAIRS that we had to walk down. It was only about 8 steps, but we all stared at each other as if this was some kind of cruel mirage. I didn’t take a picture, I was too busy holding my beer, banana, and trying not to topple over while waddling down. I went straight to the massage tent, and waited in line for a few minutes, when Brian found me! He surprised me with roses, and I was so excited. πŸ™‚ I gave him my beer while I spent fifteen minutes being stretched and massaged. I walked out of that tent a new woman!


We walked a few blocks to the L…

…those stairs. Ouch.

Brian, in his infinite wisdom, parked right by an L stop in Wrigleyville, and next to a Starbucks. πŸ™‚ Cold runner + hot coffee = VERY HAPPY HEIDI!

When we got back to Maureen’s house, I took the most amazing hot shower, changed into cozy clothes, and enjoyed some serious Chicago pizza with my cousins. Oh… and champagne. Lots of champagne.




It was an incredible race. I’ve never smiled so much during a marathon! πŸ™‚
One of the things that made this race experience unique for me was the spectators. At most races, there are normal spectators, who half-heartedly clap while very busily looking for their friend/spouse/child who is running. Here, in Chicago, the spectators were people who live here. People who came out to cheer just because they can. πŸ™‚ The neighborhoods all seemed to have their own identifying flair and they welcomed us all with open arms! Of course, individual runners had their own little cheering squads, and since there were so many countries represented along the athletes, the spectators were speaking and holding signs in different languages!
I ended up placing 27,563rd, coming in at 4:54:49. It was definitely not my fastest, but my happiest race, and running without headphones was a great challenge.
Thank you all so much for supporting me and cheering for me from afar!


Miles this year: 507.1

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