Upward Spiral: The 24 Hour Endurance Run/Walk to Bring Awareness to Mental Illness

This past weekend many of us Fifth Third Road Warriors participated in a special event to help bring awareness to bullying and depression. Held at the Allegan County Fieldhouse, the event began on Friday February 19th at 3pm and went for 24 hours.

I did not show up to the event until approximately 8pm on Friday. When I walked in there was music, food, drinks and a fabulously decorated fieldhouse. Colorful signs and posters promoting positivity and positive thinking. Areas for the younger kids to color, write and create. And there was even a photographer to take pics of those participating who provide their own personal positive words to those around them. And, of course, there were those walking and running and laying it all down for a great cause.

This was the second year for this event. And while there were not a ton of people there while I was there……the fact that there was a 24 hour option to come, create, move, smile, laugh and meet great people was wonderful. And while not all of our Road Warrior team was able to attend (the plague is going around many households), those of us that could attend spread ourselves out to represent as long as we could.


So a big THANK YOU to Adele Garcia, who owns this amazing idea and event, for opening even more people up to the power of actions and words and the strength of positivity! Next year, I will be there again!


Much Love! Keep Running!


Winter Running: You Must Prepare Your Mind, Not Just Your Body

Living in Michigan one gets to experience the entire spectrum of weather. Rain, sun, snow, ice, blizzard, deep freeze, tornados, thunder, lightening, wind……you get the gist. So being a runner in Michigan, especially a novice newbie such as myself, can be a little daunting. And given that this is the first real winter that I have actually participated in running outside, I have come to learn a lot.

  • It is dark at like, 3pm…..BE SEEN!!! Vests, flashies, blinkies, invest!
  • Even if you are a visible running Christmas tree, some people in cars do not care, and will not give you any extra space in the road.
  • Prepare your gear! Make sure you have everything you need, and room to place things that you may have needed at the beginning of the run, but not necessarily at the end.
  • Make sure you have a charged way of communication! It is just plain smart to have a phone, or some other way of contacting someone if you have issues…..or get kidnapped, even!
  • WEAR ID!!! RoadID is a great, inexpensive way to have identification on you in case you become unconscious. They have a ton of options for wrists, shoes, your FitBit, even your dog. INVEST IN ONE! (or something like it).

So, once you are all ready to go (and may even feel like Randy from “A Christmas Story” when he is bundles to go to school) make sure you THINK about what you are going to do. Here is what I mean……Don’t get too caught up in a “great run” mentality when the elements have one (or more) up on you. Unless you live in a “non-winter” area, OR live in places like Holland, Michigan where they have “snow melt” sidewalks, running in even a half inch of snow that has been walked through by the entire city (and their pets) is much like running in frozen sand. Believe me, the calf workout in half an inch of snow is still quite phenomenal, but if you are looking at a training run where you need to maintain time……it probably will not happen, especially if you have not trained in it on a regular basis.

So just let your mind release some strict training concerns. Don’t get down on yourself if you have been able to easily run a mile without stopping, but in snow it is more like a half mile before you need a break. It is still going to better your runs that you are able to do on clear roads. It will only make you stronger. And strength, well, in the end that is what we all have!


Much Love! Keep Running!

Why I Am A Fifth Third Riverbank Run Road Warrior!


So, we gotta write these biographies about ourselves for the Road Warrior program. I can’t help but think that sometimes I tend to write like an infomercial. But, eh, it’s mine so it is what it is 🙂

I began my journey to fitness after being released to begin a regular exercise program post bariatric surgery in July of 2014. While I loved swimming, I did not have free access to a pool. I did, however, have dogs that needed more exercise. So off to my local Gazelle Sports (SHOUT OUT!!!!!) for a good sports bra (always have a good sports bra, ladies!). I got to talking with one of the sales associates and was introduced to their running groups. Luckily, one had just started. I showed up at my first evening run with horrible shoes and cotton shorts (but hey, I had that good sports bra), and ran…..a little. I was introduced to some great people. Fun people. I realized that I was not one that had many friends, just a few close ones. However, before I knew it, I had a ton of friends. Running friends. I got good shoes, good running technical clothing and just continued to show up for training runs. I ran my first 5K six weeks after I began running. I didn’t run the whole time, I still don’t, but I crossed the finish line and never looked back.

Since I have started running I have become well versed in so many things, and I continue to learn from running and those around me every day. Support, inspiration, stories, lives, all so amazing. I also suffer from Severe Depressive Disorder and Moderate Anxiety Disorder and have learned that running is an excellent way to help fight off my symptoms that try to pop up every now and again. I have lost over 125 pounds since my surgery and have learned to coordinate weight training, yoga, swimming and cycling in with my running. After participating in more than 25 5k races since I started running, I will be participating in my first 10k at the Fifth Third Riverbank Run (thanks to some fellow Road Warriors who upped the ante). And to my shocking surprise I have registered for the sprint distance of the Grand Rapids Triathlon in July.

My goal as a 2016 Fifth Third Riverbank Run Road Warrior is to show those who think that they cannot, that they in fact can. You can. You can run around the block. You can run a mile. You can set your sights on something that you want and go for it to attain it in every way possible. Will it happen quickly? Absolutely not. Will it come to you easily? Absolutely not. You will need to work for it. But if you want it badly enough, you will get it. And know that you are not alone. And know you do not need to be alone in your journey. There are other people out there who will join you. Who will support you. Who will push you more than you ever thought you could go. And guess what? They will also be there for you to celebrate you. And to celebrate your accomplishment. And then, they will help you set your sights on what is next. Because there will be a next. And next will be even better.


Much Love! Keep Running!

Community Charity Run #1: True North Community Services

So as part of being a 2016 Fifth Third Riverbank Run Road Warrior, the Road Warriors are required to partner with one of 6 charities (2 Road Warriors per charity) to raise awareness and money. Last weekend we had our first Charity Community Run which invites the public to a free seminar discussing the Riverbank Run as well as the charity featured for that month. We had a nice turnout of people who are new to running and who are veteran runners. And the Road Warriors who spoke about their charity did amazing.

True North Community Services is a Michigan based non-profit organization that helps to provide opportunities to Michigan youth who may need assistance in becoming the best part of their own and their community’s future. Times are tough, but that does not mean that people and organizations can’t help provide for local families and their children. Assistance with family and developmental support such as Family Camp and Family Literacy Nights which bring families together, they assist in increasing family togetherness and engagement involving the family as a whole.

Diversity and cultural awareness is also part of their programming. In many rural areas, culture and diversity can be limited. And when resources are also limited, that can make social engagement even more difficult. As we all know, funding for art and music programs across the United States are being decreased all the time. TrueNorth assists in offering programs such as these so children and families can experience these amazing learning opportunities.

And children and families are not the only groups TrueNorth focuses on. Housing assistance and homeless prevention is also part of their community involvement. TureNorth understands the importance of helping those who live in poverty and need assistance. Whether it be assistance with paying for the heating bill, assistance with food or even health and medical needs for older adults, TrueNorth Community Services is there for those in the community that need the care they may not be able to get elsewhere.

Thanks so much to the members of TrueNorth Community Services for supporting the Fifth Third Riverbank Run. And thank you to Mandy Kitchen and Sarah Bender for being the 2016 Fifth Third Riverbank Run Road Warriors for TrueNorth Community Services.


Make sure to check out TrueNorth Community Services to see what they offer and how you can help!


Much Love! Keep Running!