Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded. (author unknown)

There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.  –Edith Wharton, Vesalius in Zante

My training, fundraising, and half-marathon have come to an end. I have learned so much from this experience and I can honestly tell you that every minute of my hard work was completely worth it. I am feeling quite lost right now that this is all over!

Things I have learned from this journey:

1. My body is capable of doing things I never thought possible.

2. Training for a big race makes all the difference. As opposed to not training, or training half-way.

3. Support comes in many forms… some people are there for you in every way, some come through in one way, and some people not at all.

4. People really do “shart” themselves during races. No, I did not. But I did witness a woman in white sweatpants who must have had this unfortunate experience.

5. Losing toenails is a badge of honor. Or that’s what I tell myself.

6. Seeing a cancer survivor on mile 10 of the race can make me bawl, as well as put a new bounce in my steps that can carry me to the finish.

7. People you have never met in real life can become some of your best friends. When you do meet in real life, it will be like you have known each other forever.

8. Don’t drink a full bottle of water right before the race start time.

9. Race porta-potties are NAAAAASTY!

10. Pre-race poops are a significant event and you must cheer for your teammates as they try to have theirs.

11. Puffy paint is not a good idea for race singlets.

12. Cambered freeways do not make a good running surface. Especially for miles and miles.

13. I am almost a real runner when I am going downhill.

14. Skull candy earbuds don’t work in my ears. Or maybe I just don’t get how they are supposed to work?

15. Music can make or break you.

16. Fish tacos are one of my favorite things EVER. So are blue-cheese nachos.

17. Hope that you get through training and race day with no injuries, but expect that you will get them.

18. I will get my heavy, gushy period right before race day.

19. The support of camaraderie of Team in Training is unlike anything else. Seriously.

20. Tattoos on the lower, inner ankle/foot hurt like fuck. Not joking. I thought Kirsten was just being a wuss. Then it was my turn.

21. Race medals are awesome and I totally think I could become addicted to getting them.

22. My thunder thighs will never be okay to run in shorts. CHUB.RUB.

23. Buy a giant bottle of ibuprofen before starting training for any long race.

24. People who run full marathons are INSANE! But I may try it out myself one day. I’m crazy like that.

25. Coach Joe and Julie rock.

26. My running has inspired my children to become more active and healthy.

27. I felt love from all over the world on race day. It made all the difference to be able to look at Twitter and see everyone rooting me on as I was climbing those hills! (thank you.)

28. Finishing is everything. How fast you finish is not.

Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead

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To Schefield and Back.

Sunday was my LAST double-digit run before race day, can you believe it?? It was also the FIRST double-digit run that I had nice weather for!

First mile: Tough. This workout was coming after a night where I had several beers and not much sleep. The lack of sleep was not due to my beers, but rather to a MOUSE party in my bed at my Dad’s house where we were staying. Yeah. I slept on the little loveseat. Can you say uncomfortable?

Miles 1-3: Fabulous. For the first time, I think I had 13-minute miles! (Yes, that is good for me.) This was my path through my Dad’s land. It was awesome.

Mile 3: Crap. A river runs through it.

Jump, Lissa, JUMP! (It was wider than it looks in the photo. I swear.)

Duck, Lissa, DUCK!

Miles 4-5: Uneventful. Back on the dirt road.

Mile 5:  Those bitch-ass cows. I put on my brave face, but then they start to look angry at me. I call my Dad. No answer. I call my husband. No answer. Shit. I barely escape alive.

Mile 6.5: Out of drinking water. Thirsty. Tired.

Mile 7-8: Schefield, ND. I don’t think it’s really a town anymore. They even took the green sign with the town name down. Population -5.

Mile 8.5: Hubby redeems himself as he and the kids bring me water and sunblock. Unfortunately, the sunblock was a tad bit late and I have some SWEET tan/burn lines.

Mile 11: Nancy and my Dad drive by and cheer me on.

Mile 11.8: I reach the bunkhouse. Damn, I really want that lemonade Nancy brought me. Instead, I yell for my husband to follow me on the 4-wheeler and head back down the road.

12 miles! Woot! Collapse onto the 4-wheeler and get a ride back to the bunkhouse.

Hot stuff, no? HAH!

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3 Hours, with Photos.

We are deep into our 1/2 marathon training right now, and this weekend’s long run called for a nice, leisurely 12 MILES! Sounds like a great time, no?

On Saturday, I drove to Dickinson for the big fundraier Erin, Kelly, and I have been planning. More on that later… we worked until the bar closed and stayed after to help clean up. Which amounts to about 4 hours of sleep for me. I don’t do well on a lack of sleep.

I had planned to get this long run out of the way first thing in the morning. Didn’t happen. It was after noon by the time I finally got the guts to suit up in my workout clothes which, by the way, were not cold-weather clothes. Why did I need cold-weather clothes, you ask? It was FORTY degrees, with 25 mph winds! FREEZING!

My iPod touch does NOT work right when it’s this chilly out – I discovered this when I did my 10-miler a few weeks ago. I really hate it. Does anyone else have this problem? It skips, jumps, and basically just does whatever the hell it wants.

On to the actual run.  With horrible, crappy BlackBerry photos.

Mile 1 Lesson:  Running on a highway, during or after rain, is not fun. You have two choices… Get hit by the tire spray or book it to the ditch every time you see an automobile approaching.

Mile 1-2: Foot starts hurting. (It’s been plaguing me since last Monday)

Mile 2 Lesson:  Do not  bend over to re-tie your shoes while wearing a fuel belt equipped with water bottles. Think soaking wet.

Mile 3.15: My favorite place on Earth.

Miles 4-5: Foot feels fine, start to feel more into it.

Mile 5: Alert! Alert! Cows. Ordinarily, this would not be cause for alarm. But trust me, when you are out in the middle-of-nowhere, by yourself, and they are barreling down a pasture at you, looking like they will not stop at the fence, it is terrifying. I came to a complete halt. Called my Dad. I have seen him get chased by some bitch cows in my lifetime. I know what can happen. He laughed at me and told me I would be fine, not to make eye contact, and that if they DID jump the fence, to run to the other side and get behind the fence post. At my pace?? Are you kidding me? I made him stay on the phone with me until I safely passed, then turned around to take this photo (and tweet, of course):

Mile 6-8: Pretty uneventful, except for the fact that it was so, so windy and bitterly cold. And my iPod kept fucking up. I really, really wanted to be done.

Mile 8-9 Lesson: While listening to “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze, I actually Run Like the Wind. But only if I’m going downhill.

Mile 9.5: Almost pissing myself knowing that I had to pass by The Cows again. They were laying down… until they caught wind of me, then they were on their feet and screaming at me. This was way, WAY less scary when they weren’t flying down the pasture at me. I made eye contact and laughed in their faces. Not really.

Mile 10: Ow. Intense pain in my foot bone again. Contemplated stopping and calling my sweeper van. Instead, text Dad and confirmed our pre-planned meeting place, a.k.a. The Barn, and tell him to bring water and nosewipe.

Mile 10.88: Arrive at The Barn. Shit. That’s not 12 miles. Keep going. Horses decide to keep me company and run alongside.

Mile 11.2:  End of road. Turn around. See sweeper van arriving at The Barn. Twins run down the road to finish with me.

Mile 11.54:  Arrive at The Barn. Again. Close enough for me. 2:59:19.

The After-Party:

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Showing off the Skills

Erin, Kelly, & I will be showing off our sweet bartending skills at the Evil Olive in Dickinson tomorrow night! Come out and cheer us on, it’s all for a good cause! We are training for a 1/2 marathon and raising lots of money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while we do it!

Can’t make it? Don’t live near by? You can still support us by clicking here to donate!

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It was all wrong, but it’s alright.


I’ve been doing this running thing. Sort of. I am making progress and doing better than I thought I would be, considering it was only last summer that I was barely exercising and in so much pain because of my herniated discs in my back.

With all this training, comes a lot of issues. Like toenails. Mine are black and blue and I am guessing they will soon fall off. Ew. Training requires a lot of planning. You may think that you just put your shoes on and go… but, oh no. That would be too easy.

Hydration. It’s easy to go without water on the shorter 3-4 mile runs, but when it gets to be longer, I need fluids. Carrying a water bottles sucks and makes me feel unbalanced. I have an old fuel-belt thing that I bought years ago and never used… only it won’t fit around my hips and it annoys the shit out of me having it around my waist. I tried Erin’s clip-on water bottle thing, only it pulled down on my pants and splashed water on my legs. Ended up ditching it at a sign about two miles into my 10-mile run. Propel is not my friend. Chocolate milk is my best friend.

Weather. One day it’s sunny and perfect, the next it’s blizzarding. Or the wind is blowing 50 mph like today. Saturday was freezing. My iPod touch wouldn’t work right. My nose was running. I was so cold I thought I may have peed myself a little. I ran back to my house after 4.5 miles to check. The verdict is still out on that one.

Food before, after, and during runs. I could read and read on this subject and STILL not know what the hell to do. I tried the Gu gel approach last weekend. The texture tends to activate my gag reflex. The taste leaves much to be desired. Maybe it’s an acquired taste?

Clothing. I only have one bra that I like to wear while running. The rest seem to let the girls go wild. I’m trying to avoid injuries, so I had to breakdown and order a few new ones today. I am also experiencing some rubbage under my armpits, so I have placed an order for Body Glide. Doesn’t that sound fun? And pockets… a must have, because I have to bring tissue for my runny nose, my phone in case I die, somewhere to put my iPod, store the Gu, the gloves, the barettes, and everything else I might need in my 2.5 hours of running.

Who knew??

P.S. I did 10 miles on Saturday and am living to tell about it.
P.P.S. I’m $1200 away from my fundraising goal. Want to help?
P.P.P.S. Erin, Kelly, and I are having a fundraiser at the Evil Olive on the night of April 24th. It will be fun, I promise! Come visit us!

Ignore the swollen sausage hands.

My new shirt:

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I’ve been training hard for this little 1/2 marathon in June. Training hard and fundraising hard. I haven’t decided which part is more difficult yet.

I have learned that it takes thick skin to ask people for donations for a cause. I try not to take things personally, but sometimes my feelings get hurt anyway.

I have learned that donations come from surprising places. My largest donation has come from a friend that I have never met, all the way from Belgium! I’ve had donations from high school friends that I haven’t seen in 14 years. Even a donation from Australia. So many donations from my Sisters. I get teary every time. I tell myself not to take offense that some of the people closest to me haven’t offered a word of encouragement.

I have learned that the greatest obstacle keeping me from running is me. I talk myself out of it and tell myself that I can’t go on any longer. So I don’t. Why do I do that? I proved to myself that I CAN do it. I just had to go all the way to Baltimore and have 3 friends-I-had-never-met-before with me. And today, I saw progress in my (barely)running.

I have learned that everyone has a story worth telling.

I have learned that there are amazing people who will go ABOVE and BEYOND for a worthwhile cause.

I have learned that the right song playing on my iPod can make or break me. Dolly can save me in my weakest moment.

I have learned that supportive people can make all the difference. I’m fortunate to have many of them in my life.

The training is hard. The fundraising is hard. But I’m doing it, and it’s SO worth it. 

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Did somebody say PARTY??

 Team Shrinking Jeans Bash

For the next 2 weeks over at the Sisterhood, we are having a Team Shrinking Jeans Bash! What is this Bash I speak of, you might be asking? It’s a HUGE party with door prizes and an awesome Grand Prize of $400 cash! Yes, cash!

What is Team Shrinking Jeans anyway? Well, a group of 16 Sisters and one Brother are training to run the San Diego Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training Program (TNT). Through TNT, Team Shrinking Jeans will be training for the race AND raising $48,900 for LLS. Isn’t that amazing?

You can read more about our amazing team here, and find out why each of us is doing this here.

How can you join the Bash? Simple! Donate to Team Shrinking Jeans through our secure online team fundraising page. For every $5 you donate, you’ll be entered to win one of over 30 fabulous door prizes. If you donate $25, not only will you get 5 chances to win door prizes, but you’ll also be entered to win the granddaddy of all prizes: CASH!

Did you know?

  • Every 4 minutes one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
  • An estimated 139,860 people in the United States will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2009. New cases of leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma account for 9.5 percent of the 1,479,350 new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States this year*.
  • Overall incidence rates per 100,000 population for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are almost identical for data reported in 2008 and 2009 [(leukemia 12.2, 2009 vs.12.3, 2008); (NHL, 19.5, each year); (Hodgkin lymphoma, 2.8, each year); (myeloma, 5.6, each year)].
  • Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will cause the deaths of an estimated 53,240 people in the United States this year. These blood cancers will account for nearly 9.5 percent of the deaths from cancer in 2009 based on the 562,340 total cancer-related deaths.
  • Every ten minutes, someone dies from a blood cancer. This statistic represents nearly 146 people each day, or more than six people every hour. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20. In general, the likelihood of dying from most types of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma decreased from 1996 to 2005 (the most recent data available).

*Facts and statistics from Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma Facts 2009-2010, June 2009.

Those are some pretty eye-opening statistics, huh?

So head on over and join in the Bash! Check out the fabulous prizes, click on over and donate, and be sure to check in everyday for Happy Hour!

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In My Head

*First off, my heart is with Beth, Brian, and their family today, as it marks two years since they lost their precious twin boys, James and Jake. This is one remarkable family, I can’t even begin to tell you just how amazing they are. Sending my love.

*Secondly, this also happens to be the day my best friend was born. Happy birthday, Megan! I love you so much and hope this year is WONDERFUL for you. You deserve it.


**I am now a contributor for WellnessDaily, a site where you can find oodles of information pertaining to exercise, weight loss, nutrition, and balance. Go check it out! They are also having a promotion right now and giving away a year’s worth of Jennie-O products and a one-year gym membership (valued at $1250)!

**My friend, Thea, is celebrating 3 years of blogging today and is giving away money. YES! MONEY! Click here to enter!

**I am going to Baltimore for Fitbloggin’ in a few weeks! I am so excited! I used Priceline.com to name a price for a plane ticket and got it cheap, but unfortunately, I will get there late Friday and leave early Sunday. Not much time to hang out, but I can’t wait to meet everyone, nonetheless.

**The twins have their first-ever wrestling tournament tonight. They have practiced a total of 4 days, so it should be pretty interesting. Overheard while we were driving yesterday, “We need to go work out when we get home!” And they did. Yes, they use my home gym more than I do.

**I’m only $170 away from reaching my halfway point in fundraising for my Team in Training adventure! Help a girl out? As a team, we have already raised more than $11,000!

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On Kicking Off…

This weekend marks the kick-off of the Virtual Team In Training summer season. We had our first conference call yesterday and heard from our coach, Joe English.  We also start our 1/2 marathon training, which this week consists of three “run” days totaling approximately 8.5 miles and 2 cross-training/weights days, but will only get longer and tougher from here on out. I am really hoping we have a short winter and a nice, warm spring filled with sunshine. (A girl can dream, right?)

I am nervous, but I am also super-excited and am already looking forward to our race weekend in San Diego in June!

Remember these two cuties? Peyton and Ezra are both my personal honorees, two adorable little kids battling the nastiness of leukemia.

I am going to continue to celebrate my 31st birthday this entire year because I am convinced it will be one of the BEST YEARS EVER, so for every 10 donations ($31+) to my personal fundraising goal, I will have a drawing from those who donated and give away a $50 gift card to Amazon, Target, or one of my new faves, The Healthy Pantry (winner’s choice).

HUGE thanks to those who already donated:

Thea Rudland
Steph Enos, for the beautiful jewelry that I will be selling to raise money!
Erin Pirkl
Christy Mensi
Becki Barnhart
Mindi Parker
Nancy Collins
Beth Fletcher
Dale Ann & Danny Hoyt
Brooke Fradd
Les Pirkl
Summer Lang
Hope Hamby
Melissa Faris
Karena Ohlsson
Jared Barnhart
Anita McGurran

Why donate?

The need is critical: An estimated 912,938 people in the United States are living with, or are in remission from, leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or
myeloma. Every four minutes, someone new is diagnosed with blood cancer. Every 10 minutes, someone dies.

Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children under the age of
20. Lymphomas are the most common blood cancers and incidence increases with age.
The survival rate for myeloma is only 37.1 percent.

**So, if  you can spare a few extra bucks (100% tax deductible), please donate. Heck, even ONE dollar will make me happy. Those dollars add up.
Donate with a credit card at my secure fundraising page

Or you can send me a check made payable to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Shoot me an email at melissa@shrinkingjeans.net and I will give you my mailing info. 

Businesses – The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans has HUGE advertising opportunities for you. Want to see what we are offering you in exchange for your donation? Email me for a copy of our media kit. 

Thank you. So, so much.

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The best birthday present.

January 11th marks my 31st birthday. Thirty wasn’t the greatest year, so I have decided to make 31 the best year yet.  As most of you know, some friends and I have a little website called The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans, where we write about all things healthy and fit. This year, we decided to challenge ourselves and formed a national team with Team in Training to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each one of us has committed to raising $2900 and will begin our 1/2 marathon training on January 30th! We will train, train, and TRAIN until June 6th when we will all fly to San Diego for the Rock n’ Roll Half!
Why put myself through this torture? I want to push myself and see what I am capable of. I did this in 2007 and found it to be one of the most rewarding gifts in my life to date. I raised over $2500 to aid in the fight against cancer. I wanted to make it bigger and better this time around. I know that my 13.1 miles will be NOTHING compared to what my honorees have gone through!
What am I asking of you? Instead of showering me with the diamonds, camera lenses, and luxury items I know you were planning on buying me, I am asking you to instead, donate $31 to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Team in Training page. It’s easy AND tax-deductible. If you would rather send me a check made payable to the LLS, let me know and I will give you my contact info.
EXTRA INCENTIVE (giveaway!):  If I receive ten or more donations of $31+ up on or before January 15th, I will donate a $50 gift card to Amazon or Target (your choice) and will randomly select a winner from all eligible donations!
I am running in honor of these two beautiful children:
**Meet 2-year-old Ezra.
The weekend before May 22, 2009, Ezra was bitten by a spider and had several bites on his leg. After he began limping, his parents were concerned that the spider had been venomous. They took Ezra to the doctor, where the doctor said to monitor him and ordered a precautionary x-ray because of the limp.
That is when their world turned upside down.
The radiologist noticed abnormal markings, which can be indicative of leukemia. They were referred to the oncologist, who looked Ezra over and didn’t see any telltale signs of leukemia. Blood was drawn to rule leukemia out.
The Mancusos received a phone call from the ER later that night and were told to bring Ezra in for more labs. When the results came back, Ezra was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Luckily, it was caught pretty early on (thanks to the spider!).

Ezra will receive three years of chemotherapy treatment. Most children recover completely from this cancer, and go on to live a normal cancer free life.

A quote from Ezra’s mother:  “Prior to Ezra’s diagnosis my husband and I always talked about how there was something special to Ezra. There is a light in Ezra , that not every child encompasses. His light is infectious and can put a person at ease, make them laugh, or make them cry. He is a sweet old soul, who is knowledgeable beyond his years. He is a fighter.”

He is a little fighter, indeed! 

Ezra is now in the long-term maintenance phase of his chemotherapy where he will receive chemo every day in the form of a pill, steroids 5 days a month, spinal taps every 12 weeks, and Vincristine once a month. 

In his spare time, Ezra enjoys Thomas the train, rice cakes, his big brother, and running!

**Meet Peyton

In June of 2006, Peyton and her brother and sister were suffering from a summer virus. They took a trip to the pediatrician and were told that it would probably just go away on it’s own. Peyton started running a low-grade fever and they were told again that it would work itself out. After 3 weeks of this, Peyton began waking up at night screaming in pain. Being only 2 1/2, she couldn’t really describe the pain, only that it HURT! They made yet another trip to the pediatrician, who ordered labs and blood work.

July 13th, the Mayhews got the call. THE call. The one that changed everything. The one that no parent EVER wants to get. It was the doctor’s office and it was suspected that Peyton may have leukemia. She was referred to an oncologist for further evaluation.

Peyton was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She was also diagnosed CNS (Central Nervous System) positive because high amounts of leukemia was found in her spinal fluid. She would be considered a high risk case for relapse and her treatment would be longer and harder than the average leukemia case.

You can read about Peyton’s treatment here.

She is one tough cookie!

Peyton just celebrated her 6th birthday in December and has been “off-treatment” for over a year now!

Peyton loves drawing and painting, dressing up (in MANY outfits a day), school, dancing, Littlest Pet shops, and Legos!


When I cross that finish line in June, I will be thinking of these two little fighters. They are the real heroes. 

–If you would like to join our Team, contact me (melissa@shrinkingjeans.net) and I will get you the information you need.

–If you are unable to donate, please help spread the word by emailing, tweeting, and blogging about the cause. Thank you!

–Also, a HUGE THANK-YOU to Karena, for her very generous donation this morning. xoxo

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