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Filed under Uncategorized

The Perfect Running ‘Do for Short Hair or Bothersome Bangs

I’m still in the process of growing out the dreaded pixie cut, but my hair is too long in the back for my typical long run ‘do of just pinning the bangs back.  Hair hanging on my neck = unhappy, neck-sweaty Lauren after several miles in the summer sun.

So what’s a girl to do?  I like headbands, but the little whispy pieces that fall out of them in the back drive me insane.  My bangs just need to grow out already!  In the meantime, I did what any social media addict would do.  I Googled like crazy, in search of a solution.  And lucky me… I found it!

Braided bangs!

They stayed in place for 4 miles, and let me tell you, they are not going anywhere.

The shocking part?  Before yesterday, I didn’t know how to french braid or attempt this style.  I turned to the lovely ladies of YouTube for help.  There are many, many hair tutorials that show the process, but I found these two videos to be the most helpful.

To get an idea of how to create the style:

To learn to French braid:

I did not braid the way the girl in the first video does, but used her other tips and suggestions.  I braided as is shown in the second video.  Best of all, it took less than 5 minutes and kept my hair from driving me crazy.  Success!

Spill it. Do you have a favorite running hairstyle?  Do you just throw it back in a ponytail?  Is there a hair accessory you can’t live without on your training days?


Filed under Run, Training

Group Fitness: Yay or Nay?

Lately, I’ve really been getting into a group fitness groove at the gym.  Taking classes is a nice change of pace from my usual constantly-training-for-a-race routine.  (And some of the classes absolutely kill me.  The Thursday night special was Death by Spin Class.  Seriously.)

There are times when a solo workout fits the bill and times when the a class really hits the spot.  When I’m in my peak weeks training for a race, I pound the pavement alone so I can follow my plan and get ready to accomplish my goals.  If I have a huge (or small) dilemma that I want to think about, I set time and training goals aside and just run and think.

This is NOT one of those times.

Right now, when I’m just getting back into my workout groove, it’s the perfect time to try out classes.  I’m not being a super stickler about my schedule, so I am free to experiment.  If I don’t like a class, I just won’t go again.  It’s that simple.

One of the things I love most about attending classes is getting in a good workout without having to think about it.  I just  pick something that sounds close to what I want to do, show up, and do what the instructor says.  Most of the time, I end up leaving completely wiped out.  I think I push myself harder when an instructor is cheerily yelling, “Come on!” and there are lots of other people around.  It inspires me to put it all out there and do my best in a way that I am sometimes not able to do alone.

Best of all, I’ve been meeting my BFF for classes!  It is so much easier to drag myself to class after a long workday when I know I will get to see her smiling face.

Tell me you would not haul your booty to a workout to see this beautiful face. (Please note that this is not exactly what we look like when we workout. But it's close.)

So what about you?  Do you work it out solo or at classes?  With buddies or on your own?  What is your favorite class?

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Filed under Training

Thankful Things Thursday: On Friends, Team Challenge, and Pretty Dresses

Woohoo!  It’s Thankful Things Thursday again.  I look forward to this post all week.  It just makes me happy.

(Thanks, Ali, for letting me blatantly rip you off.)

I had a wonderful time last night at the Team Challenge Illinois Kick-off, but that deserves a post of its own.  So let’s dive right in, shall we?

I’m thankful for my BFF.  We met when we were 10 years old and have been friends ever since.  I’m so glad she lives close to me again so we can haul our butts to the gym together.  When I know she’s going to meet me for a class, I always show up.  I can’t say the same for plans that are only with myself.

I’m thankful for my generous friends and family.  After just a few e-mails and Facebook posts, I’m in awe of all the donations Goose and I have already received.  Our real fundraising letters haven’t even been sent yet!  (Though they were dropped off last night and should be coming to you early next week!)  I am grateful that so many of you see the importance of this cause.  The CCFA is an incredible organization and I’m honored to be fundraising for them.

Team Challenge is the bomb diggity.

I’m thankful for sore, tired muscles.  Barbell Strength class kicked my booty once again this week, and I’m still achy from Tuesday night’s class.  To classy tunes like “Push It,” “Ice Ice Baby,” and “Can’t Touch This,” I shredded my muscles to bits and pieces.  I can’t wait to do it again next week and I really can’t wait to start seeing a little definition in my arms… I hope.

I’m thankful for Google Reader.  I am a total blog junkie and I feel like I’m subscribing to a new one almost daily.  (And updating my Blog Love page every week or so!)  My Google Reader helps me stay on top of the blogs I love, all the while protecting me from the heartbreak of visiting a favorite blog to find it is not updated.

I’m thankful for a few freelance writing opportunities I’ve had lately.  I love the opportunity to grow as a writer, and a little extra cash never hurt.  In fact, I’m thinking of taking that freelance money and using it toward a fancy self-hosted blog.  Be excited for some snazzy changes around these parts.

I’m thankful for the amazing examples I have to teach me about marriage.   I will admit that, although this is very true, I only included it this week so that I could show you this.

My groovy parents. You're welcome.

I am certain that my mom will call me after she sees this post to remind me how in style they were in the 70s.  Whatever, Mom.  You look awesome.  So do Dad and his white tie.

I’m thankful for 90s music on the radio.  I heard Sugar Ray’s “Fly” yesterday and it made my heart happy.  I realize that I can choose to listen to 90s music whenever I want, but there’s something extra special about hearing it on the radio.  I am happy to admit that I busted out some awesome dance moves while singing along (loudly) in my car.

I’m thankful for the new dress that came in the mail yesterday.  I got it on clearance and it fits like a dream.

I’m thankful for early-morning phone calls from friends who know I’m awake at that hour.

I’m thankful for cool summer nights and mornings that reassure me that fall is coming.  Hoodie & jeans weather is my favorite.  It’s the best running weather, and also the best weather, period.

I’m thankful for Goose, who came home after a long day of teaching and coaching… and then picked up around the house.

Okay, tell me.  What are you thankful for today? When you’re finished telling me that, head on over and ask any questions you have about Ulcerative Colitis — write a comment or send an e-mail.  The Q&A will be posted on Friday!


Filed under Thankful Things Thursday

Sixty One Years of Inspiration

Sixty one years.  That’s how long my grandparents have been married.

Sixty one.

That’s why when Katy Widrick asked, “What does inspirational really mean?” I thought of them instantly.

Sure, triathletes and marathoners and Ironmen are inspirational.  But anyone who is or has been married will tell you that sixty one years of marriage is like running a marathon every weekend every single year.  It takes hard work, dedication, and commitment.  Lots of times, you wake up and think, “Why did I sign up for this?”  Sometimes it leaves you exhausted.  There are even times you wonder how you could possibly keep going.  But you do.  And throughout it all, there are amazing moments that make it all worth it.  The ones where you realize that you couldn’t possibly have it any other way.

We'll catch up to them in 58 years. (Photo: Becky Hill Photography)

My grandparents joke that the reason they have lasted so long is “whoever left had to take the kids.”  (They have seven children.)  Having spent years watching them interact, I can tell you with certainty that this is not the case.

I have never seen a more selfless woman than my grandmother.  She dotes on people with affection, kindness, and generosity.  It is all straight from the heart.  She goes out of her way to make sure all of her children and grandchildren know they are loved.  (And all equally, of course.)  I remember sleeping over at their house as a child and mentioning to my grandma that I wanted cereal for breakfast.  When I woke up, every kind of cereal they had was neatly displayed on the kitchen table, bowl and spoon waiting for me beside them.  If doting on her loved ones ever gets old or tiresome, she never lets it show.  My grandmother definitely shows her love through acts of service.

My grandfather is a proud, mostly serious German man.  He values his family and the family name is important to him.  As he ages, I have seen him become more expressive with his emotions.  But as long as I’ve known him, his love for my grandma has been clear.  His eyes light up when she walks into a room.  When he tells the story of how they met, his whole face lights up. His smile is from ear to ear as he animatedly shares that he was so ticked off that my she wasn’t available the first time he asked, and he fully intended to “date her until she was hooked and then drop her like a hot tamale.”  Well played, Grandpa.  Well played.

I will forever be in awe of their solid marriage, and I’m sure I will spend my whole lifetime trying to measure up to it.  (And my parents’ marriage, too!  Thirty three years, people.)  The older I get, the more I appreciate the hard work that they have put into their marriages to make this possible.  Marriage is the most fun I’ve ever had, but it’s also a whole heck of a lot of work.

And man, sixty one years is a long time.

Mom & Dad in their datin' days. Could they be any cuter?

So who do you admire?  Who inspires you?  Do you agree that marriage takes a lot of work?


Filed under Faith, Life

(Not) Back to School

Have you ever made a decision that was so big, so all-consuming at the time you made it, that you assumed it would haunt you for a while?  That you’d second guess and dwell?  I have.

When I left teaching, I was certain that  the first few back to school seasons would be a little rough.

I love back to school time.  I especially love shopping for school supplies.  And oh, Dixon-Ticonderoga Number 2 pencils.  (Seriously, no other pencil compares.  They smell like learning.

Ahhhh. Pencil perfection. (click for source)

Have I scared all of you away yet?

Ahem.  Anyway, with all that school supply love, I adored setting up my classroom.  I loved thinking about how to best arrange the desks, looking for new ways to get organized, and thinking about the coming school year and all the wonderful little people I’d get to meet.  Going to sleep the night before the first day of school was like going to sleep on Christmas Eve.  I was so giddy I could hardly contain myself.

The Book Beach. My lawn chair-tastic reading corner one year.

I loved spending the first days of school with my students.  Organizing materials, getting to know one another, and starting the year with some of my favorite activities.  In fact, I loved all the time I spent with my students.  If I could have just had the 8:30 – 3:30 part of teaching, there’s a good chance I’d still be doing it.

And yet… I don’t feel mournful this time of year.  I feel like I should, sometimes.  I still notice and celebrate the arrival of a new school year, but now it’s because it means Goose goes back to work and I don’t have to look at his peacefully sleeping face while I’m tearing myself out of bed at 5:00 am.

And it means fall is coming soon.  Fall is my favorite.

This is my dad. He picked that apple in the fall. Apple picking is rad. So is fall.

But the angst?  Sadness?  Longing?  They are not here.  Just constant reassurance that I made the right choice.  (Have I mentioned how much I love my job and all the things I’m doing now?)

Tell me about a big decision you made.  Was it more difficult than you thought it’d be?  Easier?


Filed under Life


This is what happens when you pack your workout bag in the dark.

Gosh, look at that face. Tyra would be so proud. I should be a model.

Oh yes that is a light pink Active Band; a red, white, and blue race t-shirt; and black and hot pink bike shorts.  Good thing my cycling shoes are maroon and gray.  I looked super fly in spin class last night.  Good thing I’ve known BFF for 14 years and she’s seen me look worse.  Otherwise she might have pretended not to know me instead of saving me a bike.  But she did save me a bike (kind of, there were like 7 total people in the class) and sit next to me.

I mean, I realize all I was going to do was workout and I didn’t need to look all fancy, but usually I try to at least match my headband to my shirt.

Despite looking like a fool, I managed to get in a 45 minute run and an hour-long spin class.  I abso-freaking-lutely loved the spin instructor.  She was perky and fun without being annoying.  I got a lot sweaty.  I felt happy.  And best of all, no one made fun of my clothes.

What about you?  Do you wear matchy-matchy workout clothes?  Or are you a total mess like me?

(I’ll have the Ulcerative Colitis Q&A post up in the next few days.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you think of questions!)


Filed under Bike, Training

Ulcerative Colitis Q&A

I used to be really shy about answering questions about my Ulcerative Colitis.  I was short, vague, and tried to avoid answering as much as possible. It just made me incredibly uncomfortable to talk about a digestive illness.  Let’s face it.  The symptoms are far from cute and not something you’d typically discuss with people you don’t know well.

Lately, I’ve become much more comfortable — in part due to having six years to adjust to life with UC, and in part because I’ve gotten involved with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  Getting to know others who live with Crohn’s & Colitis has made it so much easier!  Ulcerative Colitis is part of who I am.  So in honor of the new challenge Goose and I are taking on for CCFA, I thought it might be fun to do a Q&A post about UC.

Ally and I are pros at crushing UC & Crohn's.

Of course, I can only answer from my personal experience and knowledge base.  Colitis & Crohn’s effect everyone differently.  But since it’s not something everyone who reads this blog can relate to, it might give you a starting point!

Ask me anything!  Treatment.  Goose’s response.  How it effects my day-to-day life.  Related illness.  Farting.  Whatever you’re wondering, don’t hesitate to ask.  Comment below or send me an e-mail at

What questions do you have about Ulcerative Colitis?  Is there anything that took you a long time to get comfortable talking about?  Do you choose to keep certain big parts of your life hidden?


Filed under Living with Ulcerative Colitis

What Language Do You Speak?

I am fascinated by the concept of The 5 Love Languages.

click for source

The idea behind the book is that there are five main ways to express and understand love.  If you and a loved one understand love in different ways, you may be missing some of the ways they are showing their affection for you!  This applies to romantic relationships as well as friendships and family relationships.

The 5 Love Languages are:

Words of Affirmation
People who speak this language value hearing about how much their loved ones care about them and support their dreams.  They thrive on unsolicited compliments and words of support.

Quality Time
Individuals who speak this language need undivided attention. Nothing says “I love you” like a heartfelt conversation, hike in the woods, or a shared meal.

Receiving Gifts
Despite the way it sounds, this isn’t a greedy love language. People who speak this language value the thoughtfulness and effort that goes into gift giving.

Acts of Service
A person who speaks this love language would love it if you took out the garbage or ran errands without asking.  They love anything you can do to help them out.

Physical Touch
This person is that touchy-feely friend that you have.  The one who hugs hello and goodbye and grabs your arm with excitement.  They need you to be physically present with them.

To read more about the Love Languages, visit the official website.  Although you probably have an idea where you fall, you can take a quiz on the site to determine what language you speak.

Me?  Words of Affirmation.  This is no surprise.  I love to write letters and tell the people I adore how much they mean to me.  One of the most important things I did before the rehearsal dinner when Goose and I got married was write letters to my bridesmaids, parents, in-laws, and Goose.  It meant so much for me to get my thoughts on paper about how important they were to me and what it meant to have them be part of my wedding day.

I’m mushy-gushy.  I’m the friend that will randomly send an e-mail or note to tell someone I adore them.  I’m quite certain I’ve creeped out some bloggers with my overly-emotional “thanks for writing that post” e-mails.  It’s just who I am.


And that’s exactly why those kinds of gestures mean the most to me.  Last summer, Goose spent three weeks in China.  While he was there, I completed my first triathlon, started an internship, and began a new job.  Before he left, Goose left three cards for me.  Each envelope was labeled for the occasion when I needed to read it.  Race Day. Internship. First Day of Work.

It was so special to me that Goose took the time to write me these notes, and I loved reading them!  He even had flowers, with another little note, sent to me the day before the triathlon.  Because I value those kinds of things so much, the notes meant a whole lot to me.  Had he communicated his support in a different way, I may not have understood it in the same way.

Do you think these “languages” have merit? What Love Language do you speak? 


Filed under Faith, Life

Jogging with

Week one of Half Marathon training is in the books!

Check out my snazzy new headband I won on Susan's blog! (

Our long run today was 3 miles.  Because I’m still building back up, 3 miles actually did feel long-ish.  Goose and I headed out at the same time, but the plan was that I’d stick with him as long as possible and then just run my own pace.

Yeah.  Goose is speedier than I thought.  I kept up with him for all of a half mile.

When I made it back to the house, he was waiting there with something special for me!  (Please note that he wasn’t that much faster than me.  He bought it last night.)

A little iPod shuffle!  Last night I was talking about using a running playlist for the first time in a long time.  I found, and I think it’s about the best website that has ever existed.  It sorts songs by beats per minute, which it aligns with a running pace.  For an 11:15 pace, it suggests 137 beats per minute.  Although those are pretty difficult to find, there are some really fun songs at the 11:12 pace!

I am so excited to pick a workout playlist and get running.  I’m hoping it will make me  better at pacing and distract me from the speedy clip I’m hoping my legs will maintain.  (Hush, all you speedy friends, you.  11:12 is a speedy clip for me for 13.1 miles!)

So, tell me. Do you run with music? What do you use to listen to it? What are your favorite workout songs?


Filed under Run, Team Challenge, Training