when my brother ran the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

Maybe it’s the energy of 20,000 plus people. Maybe it’s the memory of participating in the past. Maybe it’s the rush of knowing someone is accomplishing something epic. Whatever it is, I know one thing — you can’t beat race morning. That fact remained true this past Sunday at the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My brother signed up to run the full marathon again this year and I enthusiastically agreed to follow him along Cleveland’s West side.

Two years ago, Drew ran his first half marathon in 1:46:36. Last year, he ran his first full marathon, finishing in 3:51:29 — truly an  amazing time for his first 26.2-er. Going in to this year’s race, knowing the weather situation and how the last few weeks of his training went, Drew was hoping to match his time from last year — even though his original stretch goal was something closer to that 3:30-3:45 range. But with high humidity and warm temperatures, Drew knew he had to be smart and pace himself. And knowing the history of wonky knees in our family, I agreed with his plan.

My race crewing plan for 2015 remained the same from 2014: meet up with Drew every seven miles with Powerade and extra energy chews. Since the race course changed slightly, I hunkered down at Mile 7 near the corner of W. 58th and Lorain.

I have to admit — my interest in race crewing is for many (selfish even!) reasons, those being the many people I have the honor of cheering on along the course including @WestParkRunner who was pacing the 3:25 marathon group…

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Ryan in the middle wearing the blue tank and holding the pacing sign.

…Drew’s friend (and weight loss success story!) Ian (@andersiw on IG)…

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…and fellow Cleveland bloggers Jessica and Pam at mile 14, at the corner of Lake and Nicholson (near West 117th-ish).

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As for Drew, this is pretty much how he looked at each of those mile markers I met him at that morning:

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Looking strong, smile on his face — and ready for some Powerade. The entire race, Drew was pacing way faster than planned. Once I saw him at mile seven, I knew he was going to blow his previous personal best out of the water — so we had to stay on the move at a quick pace ourselves! After seeing Drew at mile 21 (here in this picture), Hans, my mom and I buzzed along East on I-90, overshooting downtown by getting off at Superior, then cutting back through Public Square to get to our tip top secret parking spots. (Sorry, not sharing — gotta protect my spot for 2016!)

We got downtown with just enough time to see Drew run down and to the finish line, finishing the race in 3:36:56 — a 14 and a half minute PR from last year’s Cleveland Marathon. Nice work, bro! Sweaty and tremendously tired, he even obliged me for a few family pics to commemorate the morning.
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LONG STORY SHORT: He may be younger, but I find myself always looking up to my little brother – figuratively & literally.

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Drew sets realistic goals, and then chases the heck out of them until he can say he’s accomplished them. He recognizes when things aren’t going as planned, and then adjusts as needed. But most importantly, he knows to not take life too seriously and to enjoy the ride. Bro, I love ya and I’m proud to be your big sister — marathon medal or not.

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event recap: 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

As I continue to let go of my event planning days, I’m  enjoying being a guest, attendee and participant at local functions again. No longer do I walk into a room and ask “I wonder where they rented their linens from” or “I hope there’s enough space for that restaurant vendor in that corner”. It’s hard to turn off the event-logistics monkey mind!

But in an attending the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis here in Cleveland this past weekend, I would find myself with my biggest post-event-planning-career challenge to date. But as I planned this race in 2012 and in 2013 as a former employee of the organization, I knew it would be easy to fall into the fun.

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 {Grady’s excitement just could not be reigned in.}

Our team — Team Grinch Paws — came together in full force: my husband, my brother, my friends and I joined together on Sunday, December 14th at Legacy Village. We of course started with a pre-race Starbucks pit stop.

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I was so happy that Jen from WhyCLE? and her family signed up to walk the one-mile Family Fun Run option. Baby J seemed to love every moment of his first 5K experience. He’ll be running the full 3.1 miles in no time!

As the rest of our team ventured out for the full 5K, Grady and I made up our own two mile version of the course. Grady’s excitement for the day had us power walking at a good clip! As we went along, it was a joy to come across friendly faces, even crossing paths with the event photographer, Orville from Orville McEachron Photography:

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{Photo ℅ Orville McEachron Photography — check out all 400+ of the race photos over at his Facebook page.}

Confession: In planning this event twice, Sunday was the first time I actually walked the course. (We drove it several times each year, don’t worry.) I know understand what the runners meant by this being a more challenging 5K than others in the Northeast Ohio area — there are a few rolling hills through the old TRW campus that make for a good hike!

LONG STORY SHORT: Team Grinch Paws did wonderfully at this year’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis! My brother Drew finished second in his age group with a 20:15 — such a speed demon!  Lisa — @lisasands1 over on the Twitter — rocked her first 5K after taking time to train this Fall.  My non-runner husband Hans “enjoyed” his last minute decision to run the 3.1 miles. (We’re working on our post-run stretch routine for next year!)

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As for Grady and I, we walked our two mile course in a little over a half an hour, making time to stop and say hi to some old friends and work colleagues along the way. It felt great to be out in the brisk December air supporting an important cause working towards eliminating a disease that effects more than 1.3 million Northeastern Ohioans. Supporting a local non-profit, getting in some exercise and having a highly enjoyable time? What a great start to our Sunday!

Want to donate to the Arthritis Foundation? You can click over to our team page and still give through this month. Thank you in advance!

Want to stay in the know for 2015?  Keep up to date with all the CLE Jingle Bell Run/Walk happenings by following its Twitter handle at @JingleBellCLE.

Disclosure: I am a former employee of the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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on the mat: Prana Shakti ParaYoga Master Training at Flying Dog Ranch

Following my Instagram last week got you another round of vegetarian meals, yoga mats and training manuals shots. It could only mean one thing: I was off at another ParaYoga master yoga training session — this one in Carbondale, Colorado.

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My yoga-teaching partner-in-crime, Kevin (pictured in the last photo in the collage above), joined me for another adventure out West. I had never spent much time in the state (other than a layover at the Denver airport), but I can now say that Colorado didn’t disappoint.

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 Our rental outfitted with our own ranch and horses. Best homeaway.com property ever.

So while we enjoyed all that the valley near Aspen had to offer, we had work to do. The 5-day “Prana Shakti” Intensive lead by ParaYoga’s founder, master teacher Rod Stryker, was just as stimulating, inspiring and educational as the other sessions I’ve experienced. (He is the same teacher who lead The Four Desires immersion we attended in Cincinnatti in September 2013 and the Tantra Shakti master training we attended in California this April.)

The intensive description from the ParaYoga website: “Prana is the force of life. In yoga it is everything essential. Without its grace, transformation would literally be impossible. The science of Prana (Prana Vidya) is the knowledge of awakening the fullest potential of yoga and life.“ 

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The time spent at the Flying Dog Ranch (pictured above – from my IG) were more than just a “yoga retreat” even though it might sound like one: every morning started off with some sort of grounding practice (meditation and/or chanting mostly), followed by a lecture then an extended practice with asana, pranayama (breath work) and meditation.  Our lunch break — which was catered by Rod’s wife’s catering company — was filled with some of the best vegetarian meals a yogi could hope for, plus plenty of opportunity to connect with the rest of the ParaYoga community members (something I greatly appreciated and felt a tad bit lacking during our visit to Berkeley this spring). We’d then come back for another four or so hours of lectures, group work and more practices for the afternoon. As you could imagine, there was a lot of information to soak in.

Five days and thirty pages of handwritten notes later, I put away my notebook (vowing to bring my MacBook next time), considering all the lessons of what this practice of yoga, tantra and ancient teachings meant for me at this time in my life.

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As you can imagine, it’s hard to figure out which of those many lessons to start with after completing a training like this. You want to come home and implement everything immediately. That awesome sun salutation variation you learned during a kundalini practice. The various ways to manipulate the breath to help move energy. How you can take your rekindled excitement for your own personal practice back to Cleveland with you.  

But to start, the lesson from this training that will be easiest to implement/recommit to was that thought follows energy and energy follows thought.  That would be a #whatyoubelieveyoucreate FTW.  Change your thinking. Change your world. It’s that simple. But first, let me start with Northeastern Ohio. Watch out, Cleveland — I’m coming for ya…

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