Megan BAMR OTM April 2019: Meghan Vanasek, Durham, North Carolina

My Running Story: I’m a trained dancer who started lessons at age 6. My instructors had always advised us not to run as it tightens the muscles that a dancers needs to remain flexible. So…I never really ran for exercise.

Now that I’ve had 4 babies, my flexibility and alignment are not what they once were anyway. So I thought “Why not? I’m just going to start running.” I made friends with several women who run long distances. I loathed running that first mile. Even though I’ve always been in pretty good shape, running was HARD at first since I wasn’t used to it. My shins and calves would get so tight I’d have to stop every couple minutes to stretch. After a few 5ks, I decided to sign up for my first Half this March and became Another Mother Runner! The Half Marathon program is going great! I’m currently up to 7 miles this week and I feel great! 6 more weeks to go and I feel confident I’ll be ready for the Half Marathon!

My Training Plan: Half Marathon; my first Half was on March 17 (Spoiler: she crushed it! Read on…)

Best workout: I love the Circuit Run. It breaks up the run and it’s fun to figure out where to do the exercises (on a bench, steps, etc.).

Hardest workout: Hills…

Gear you can’t live without:Bluetooth headphones. I don’t know why I didn’t have them sooner. Game changer!

Goal for this Challenge: To complete the Half Marathon in under 2:15.

(Post-race update from Meghan: I trained for the 13.1 Run/Walk. In my training I was running 14:2. With the anticipation of adrenaline, I planned to run 3 miles and walk 2-3 minutes. But no one around me was stopping to walk! I felt great, so at 3 miles I kept going. At 5 miles, my knee started to ache and then burn, but I was afraid if I stopped to walk, I wouldn’t be able to run again. And it was the only thing bothering me. Lungs still felt great, legs felt fine otherwise…so I kept running…the entire half marathon! Finished in 2:02.)

When I run, I feel: Amazed…I never thought I would ever be running so far! .

Heather BAMR OTM February 2019: Heather Edmunds Reed, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

My Running Story: All of my childhood, I dreaded the Presidential Fitness Test week in gym because we had to run “The Mile.” I was always slow, hated the discomfort of it, and the whole experience only seemed to highlight my status as a non-Sporty Spice. (Where are my Spice Girls fans?! #90sgirl)

In my late and early 30s I gave birth to my three boys which provided me the transformational experience of seeing my body as strong and able. I was fortunate to achieve all natural births with two of my sons, one of which was a planned delivery at home with the assistance of a midwife, and succeeded in breastfeeding them all! This body was suddenly able to do hard, painful, and uncomfortable and succeed!

Because of my mindset shifting, when one of my mom friends casually asked if wanted to run a 10K with her I said YES, I can do that! We had 4 months to train and we succeeded at running all 6.2 miles at the Mankato, MN race in October 2016! After all that work, I vowed never to let myself lose the work I’d put in and I’ve been running ever since.

In the summer of 2017 I ran two half marathons and after all that training, a Facebook ad caught my eye…Stride in the School Year. It sounded fun, relaxed compared to a training cycle, and most importantly a way to keep me going. Another Mother Runner found me (YAY!) and it’s been the most supportive and motivating community in my running journey!! Wanting to honor my body and hoping to make running a part of my life for many decades to come, I tried out TLAM heart rate training plans and I’ve been following them ever since! Nearly 1.5 years into heart rate training, I’m convinced of its value and I’m eager to see where it can take me!

My Training Plan: RUNNING by HEART RATE HALF-MARATHON: Level 1. I chose this plan for a few reasons. Since I’ve loved the heart rate training plans so far, I was eager to learn more about heart rate training with our new coaches Liz and Jennifer. It will be great learn from their years of experience! Additionally, I wanted to stay involved in the new heart rate training approach to help fulfill my role as 2019 BAMRbassador!! It is such an honor it is to be chosen to help cultivate and cheer on new BAMRs to the AMR community. What better way to do that by meeting new BAMRs in a training group? Finally, I will be attending the AMR Eau Claire retreat in May and running the half there! This is the perfect plan to prepare me for that race.

Best workout: Drills! I love the amount of thinking you have to do during drills and how Coach Liz explains that they are important to building efficiency in movement, therefore helping us with speed!

Hardest workout: The Heart Rate Test!! AHH! I get anxious the day before and of the test AND it is HARD! But, after it’s done, I feel tough!.

Gear you can’t live without: Junk Big Bang Lite headbands. I use them in the summer to deal with sweat. I use them in the winter to deal with cold ears.

Goal for this Challenge: Eau Claire Half Marathon with the AMR Eau Claire Retreat!!

When I run, I feel: Challenged, in all the good ways. Challenged to be mindful of my body in the world. Challenged to push myself on harder days. Challenged to honor my work by truly running easy on easy days.

Jackie Kahuna November 2018: Jackie Kanuha, San Diego, CA

Number of years you’ve been a runner: Six years. 2018 is my first year trying a Tri!

TLAM Club Challenge: TRI Like a Mother 70.3. (Half Ironman! –ed.)

Best workout: Week 15: a practice triathlon including a  30-minute swim, 90-minute ride, and a 30-minute run. Cool, crisp water in Mission Bay, ride around the bay and Fiesta Island, and easy 30-minute run. This workout felt like all the pieces are coming together. I think I have finally figured out how to drink on the bike, woohoo!

Hardest workout: Week 16: 4-hour ride. The goal of the day was to cover the full bike distance of the event, 56 miles. I picked a flat, long route that I have done many times but not for 4 hours or that distance. I started the day excited to see what distance I could cover but it turned into a very tough ride and I still don’t know why. I fueled well before and during the ride, started in a great mental state and felt prepared for the day. I worked my way through some dark mental places and physical aches and paid but got it done.

Gear you can’t live without: Silly, but my alarm clock. Mom of 2, wife, full-time employee – workouts are done before work or don’t get done. Did I mention my work schedule has me in the office at 6am?

Goal for this Challenge: Ironman 70.3 Indian Well La Quinta

When I run, I feel: I feel like I can do anything. There is no better feeling than getting a hard workout done while the rest of the world is sleeping.

Catherine Brown October 2018: Catherine Brown, St. Louis, MO

Number of years you’ve been a runner: I can’t believe this … but it’s well over 20 years!

TLAM Club Challenge: I am currently training with the Heart Rate Disney Dopey Challenge…I know it’s cray cray to choose to do something likes this. but I am a new empty nester (I have two boys now in college) so when a friend asked if I was up for doing Dopey I thought, “Why Not?” This would sound totally normal if I had not declared back in the spring after running Boston that I was going to hang up the marathon distance. I am still trying to convince my husband that I am “not really” training for a marathon. 🤣🤣🤣

Best workout: I love the midweek runs (45 or 60 min) that have pick ups in them. Just being able to focus on time vs number of miles is very freeing.

Hardest workout: I find the Burn Engine Run (BER) to be the most challenging. I struggle physically and mentally to run at a pace to keep my heart rate under that pesky 130.

Gear you can’t live without: I prefer to run in capris or tights, especially styles that have side pockets on the thigh.

Goal for this Challenge: Disney Dopey Challenge (5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon over 4 days)

When I run, I feel: Powerful, yes, but mostly grateful after losing two close friends to cancer in the past 12 months. I am grateful that at 47 years old I still have the ability to challenge myself physically and mentally. I hopefully will never take that for granted.

August/September 2018: Amy Wilson, Berlin, NH 

My running story: I ran track in high school, and over the years I have run here and there just to stay fit. I have a love for being outside and and going for runs is one way I could enjoy being outside whether being on the trails or road. I entered my first road race 3 years ago and now I just can’t stop.

TLAM Club Challenge: I entered Heart Rate Bag of Speed to get ready for a fast 10k.

Best workout: My best workout is the Halfsies. I love being able to pick up the pace for a half-mile, take a one-minute break, and then go get after it again.

Hardest workout: The hardest workout is Go Time because the side planks with hip raises are so hard.

Gear you can’t live without: My favorite piece of gear is my Garmin watch. I am such a numbers junkie and it’s perfect for pre-programming my workouts.

Goal for this Challenge: To get a PR for the 10k. It’s my first 10k so all I have to do is cross the finish line and I’m winning. When I run, I feel: Strong and alive.

July 2018: Kirsten Jett, Amarillo, TX 

My running story: I ran in high school and college and then continued to run 5k and 10k races for fun and health. After my first child, I stopped running because everything hurt too much. I also had postpartum depression. Depression was not new to me. I suffered pretty badly in high school and college, so I knew I needed help and medication. Thankfully, we got that under control for several years. When my firstborn was 10 I had gained weight and depression came back full force. I wanted to try to lose weight and I figured the kiddos were old enough to leave alone for about 20 minutes so I could try running again. It was so hard! But I kept at it, mostly because I am stubborn. I found a cute yellow covered book, Run Like A Mother, and it really helped me make running a lifestyle. What I came to realize over time was that the more I ran the better I felt. I ran a 5k, then a 10k, then a half-marathon, then I was getting faster. I was inspired to run a marathon. I ran my first and made pretty much all the rookie mistakes. For my second marathon I had a goal of a BQ. I used the Train Like A Mother “Own It” plan in the orange book. It worked! I got my BQ (though still not fast enough for the cut-off) and I was thrilled. Our family moved to Amarillo and I discovered trail running in Palo Duro Canyon. It was so much harder but so much more fulfilling! I love being on the trails and I feel so free and alive. I ran a 50K in Palo Duro Canyon in the fall of 2016, and a 50k in Monument Valley in March 2017. It was after that race that I wasn’t feeling myself. I thought I needed more recovery, but it was more than that. I was experiencing debilitating fatigue, weird rashes and achy joints. Lots of doctor visits and lab work revealed another autoimmune disease. I already had Hashimoto’s and now I discovered I have Lupus. It’s been a hard way back, but I have a great doctor and treatment plan. I still have to be really careful with how much I can push myself, but I am learning and back to running and training.

TLAM Club Challenge: I am in the Ultra Challenge 50 Mile Plan because I am stubborn, because I want to prove that I am more than Lupus, because I like to run a lot, and because running makes me a better version of myself. Also, I need to have a solid plan and guidance to meet the challenge of this new distance for me. Coach Stephanie has been a huge help already and her plan is working wonderfully so far.

Best workout: Hill Workout from week 4. It felt so hard while I was doing it but I felt like a true BAMR when I finished!

Hardest workout: Strength training. All of it. Because I never do strength training, it has been a mental struggle as well as physical struggle!! Now that I am in week 8, I am definitely noticing that it is helping and I am getting stronger. It is paying off. I still don’t like it.

 Gear you can’t live without: Zensah compression sleeves and arm sleeves. I need the arm sleeves because with Lupus I am super sensitive to the sun. I love all the fun leg sleeves they make and the hugs they give my legs.

Goal for this Challenge: Palo Duro Trail Run 50 Mile in Texas. When I run, I feel: At peace. At home. Free.

June 2018: Tarah Hall, Cheyenne, WY 

My running story: Growing up, I hated running unless I was kicking a soccer ball. Then I started dating a runner in college. He encouraged me to enter a 5k, and I finished dead last, so much so that they had taken the course markers down and I didn’t take the correct route back and no one could find me. Fast forward a couple of years to when I was a member of AmeriCorps NCCC and running was a part of our PT. I found a group of people to run with. Running became fun! I entered a couple of 5ks. I challenged myself to a half marathon, then a marathon. I met my husband through running. Now, 12 years later I have continued to run and use it as my method of exploring new places and of challenging myself. Running is my release and my me time.

TLAM Club Challenge: Stride into Summer. I am currently six weeks postpartum and I saw this challenge as a way to ease myself back into running.

Best workout: Fresh Lime and Legs Run – because it challenged me!

Hardest workout: Fresh Lime and Legs Run –again, because it was a challenge!

 Gear you can’t live without: Bolder Bands.

Goal for this Challenge: To get back into a running routine. When I run, I feel: Free!

May 2018: Kristen Genet, Blaine, MN 

My running story: I wanted to start running in 2007, after I lost my mom at a young age (she was 67 and I was 33).  She had Type 2 diabetes and MS, and she never exercised – and I also picked up some pretty atrocious eating habits from her, which I’ve been working hard to unlearn. However, I had two small kids, had put on some weight as a result (it happens to the best of us), and my knees were bad: Running was not yet in the cards. I started with losing the weight and strengthening some important muscles (thank you biking, swimming, and elliptical!), then a roller coaster combination of losing my Dad to Alzheimer’s Disease and birthing kid number three set me back to square one. But I had reason and resolve – and I’m pathologically goal driven – so, with the help and company of my teenage niece, I trained for and finished my first race on my youngest daughter’s 6-month birthday in June 2009. (A sprint triathlon: Go big or go home, right?!) It was hard. I really kind of hated running at that point, but I loved the time I spent and connection I developed with my niece, and I got seriously hooked on those endorphins. I never looked back. Since then, I’ve run half marathons and marathons with my niece (and another niece, a nephew, and my brother), and gloriously entangled myself with the most amazing tribe of mother runners in our local Moms on the Run group (that I’ve also been coaching for since 2011).  I definitely don’t hate running anymore; quite the opposite, actually. The rest is history. I’ve run several 5ks and 10ks – although not that many; I’m built for endurance, not speed. I’ve lost track of how many half marathons I’ve run, and I’ve got eight marathons under my belt and a couple more on my calendar this summer. I really enjoy pounding the pavement with running buddies, but I absolutely love the moving meditation of trail running.  I’ve discovered that training and running brings out the best in me. I have met and surrounded myself with the most wonderful people and and have the absolute best BRFs. I’ve discovered strength and determination that I didn’t know I had a few years ago. I love a good challenge and lofty goal, and I love helping others see their inner strength and work towards achieving their goals, too. This is a lifestyle change that’s been more than 10 years in the making, and although there has been some pain, it has stuck and there’s also overwhelming joy in this journey of mine.

TLAM Club Challenge: 26.2 Crush It (and then transitioning into Ultra Challenge for the rest of the summer/fall).  I’m training for my 3rd  BQ attempt. I’m just going to keep after that goal until I get it, and I’m really hoping what they say about the 3rd time being the charm applies in my case.  I’ve done a couple TLAM challenges before, and the training plans are solid – and the mother runner community is the bomb. I needed a plan and a support group. (The more strong and positive women I can surround myself with, the better, I figure!)

Best workout: My favorite workouts are the ones that put race pace miles in the middle of a warm up and cool down.  I love the feeling of locking in the pace I need on race day and spending that time visualizing what it’s going to feel like on the course that day.

Hardest workout: The LOOOONG runs…20 miles is a long way, no matter how you slice it.  However: It’s hard, yes, but, despite feeling like those longest runs make me feel so weak, they also make me feel strong and capable.  Those 20s are the hardest workouts, but they’re also ones that I feel great about – especially when they’re done!

 Gear you can’t live without: Sunglasses.  Absolutely essential.

Goal for this Challenge: Grandma’s Marathon: Two Harbors to Duluth, MN on June 16, 2018. When I run, I feel: ALIVE.

Rachel Vogel with frame April 2018: Rachel Vogel, Ponchatoula, LA 

My running story: Back in 2012 I was killing time on Pinterest (possibly at work) and stumbled across a blog entry about the Princess Half Marathon. Running through Disney World dressed like a princess AND getting a sparkly tiara medal for finishing? SOLD. But I literally couldn’t run to the end of my block, so luckily I discovered the Galloway method and the C25k app. I finished C25k on my 30th birthday (2013) and ran Princess the following year (2014). I’ve completed several other half marathons and shorter distance races since then, and completed my first marathon last February.

TLAM Club Challenge: Heart Rate 101, yay! To be quite honest, training for and finishing that full last year totally crushed me. I was dealing with a lot of personal stuff at the time and pushing myself to complete training was tough, and finishing the race in the Louisiana heat was even tougher. After that, I just lost my desire to run and the longer I stayed away the more I wanted to stay away because I knew I was ‘losing’ my strength. I signed up for HR101 to build my base back and hopefully find my love of running again.

Best workout: LOOPS! I love feeling the burn in my hips and knowing that it’s making me a stronger runner.

Hardest workout: “Easy Effort” in general is a struggle for me. My instinct is to push myself to the limit on every run, so this is definitely a shift for me. Gear you can’t live without: Ooooooh this is a hard one because I’m a gear junky!! Being the practical (and boring!) person that I am, I’m going to say sturdy hair ties! I can’t imagine running without my Garmin or music, but I wouldn’t even step out the door if I couldn’t pull my hair up. Ya’ll, heat and humidity in southern Louisiana is no joke. Goal for this Challenge: To spark my love of running (again) and push myself for a PR. I haven’t seen one in awhile so I’ll take one in any distance. (Except for 26.2, I think I’ll be content with never seeing that distance again. Maybe…) When I run, I feel: Stronger than I thought. (It’s also the BAMR tee that I bought for myself after finishing my first half marathon.)

Shelley Seymour with Frame

March 2018: Shelley Seymour, Erving, MA 

My running story: I was the anti-runner growing up. My brother was super speedy, and I didn’t have any natural talent, so I believed it was a hopeless pursuit. I was a swimmer through middle school; we didn’t have a high school team, so I started keeping stats for different teams. My only participation in sports was from the sidelines with my nose in a book. I was always an active person, but I never considered myself an athlete.

In 2008, a good friend and I volunteered as swim angels for a Danskin triathlon, and I was amazed at all the women of different ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. It was a truly life changing experience for me, and I decided I would complete the same Sprint Triathlon the next year as my 30th birthday present to myself. I had never run a continuous mile and hadn’t been on a bike in fifteen years, so it was a challenge to say the least. I fell in love with the sport, completing my first three sprint triathlons in 2009. Running was my weakest link, but I always made it through. I also ran my first 10k and then a Half Marathon in the fall of 2009, which prompted a friend and me to sign up for a Half Ironman in 2010.

I kept training for triathlons until my daughter was born in early 2014, when cycling and swimming became pretty difficult to schedule. After a long winter at home with a newborn, I felt as if I was losing a part of myself and my sanity without work or exercise. I had remembered seeing a sticker that read “Badass Mother Runner” at a triathlon when I was pregnant.  Unfortunately, I remembered it because a friend had said she was going to get it for me, but I’d “never been much of a runner”. It was hurtful, but it also inspired me to prove that idea wrong and was memorable enough that AMR stuck in my brain. I googled AMR, probably while nursing in the middle of the night, and downloaded the first book to my iPad. I started following the blog and read the second book.

I started by walking hills with the jog stroller until our daughter was big enough for me to run (run, walk, stop change diaper, stop give bottle, stop etc…) pushing the stroller. In 2015, I saw the Stride into the Holidays program on the AMR blog and joined it (and…gulp…Facebook to participate). I started listening to the podcast–my first ever–soon after and signed up for the TLAM 13.1 program that winter.  I loved the fun, inspiring, and empowering interactions on the FB page and of course really bought into the fancy pants.

During the spring of 2016, my husband and I came to the difficult decision that we would not try for a second baby.  Planning to be pregnant that summer, I instead felt really lost and without a goal or purpose, so I took on the TLAM marathon challenge. I met an incredible group of BAMRs through the challenge, some of whom have stuck around in an alumni group and become a really important and powerful part of my life, running and otherwise. In 2017, I trained in TLAM groups for a Half Marathon in the spring, a Half Ironman in the summer, and the Philly Marathon in the fall. I am aiming for Half Marathon this spring, an Olympic Triathlon this summer, and a Marathon in the fall, and will be training with TLAM for all.

TLAM Club Challenge: I’m in the Traditional 13.1 Challenge and hoping to PR this spring.

Best workout: I have honestly come to love the long runs. I never thought I’d say that, but I love the time to be in my own head or listen to a good book or podcast. Just the idea of accepting running and easy in the same sentence is kind of amazing to me. Hardest workout: Pacing for tempo runs, especially as they get longer, is still tough for me. I don’t really do well by feel but also know I shouldn’t be staring at the GPS. Gear you can’t live without: Right now, it’s my jog stroller. There’s no way I’d get any of the shorter weekend runs or lots of summer runs in without it. When I finally accepted that I GET to run with my daughter instead of HAVE to push the stroller, I got a whole new appreciation for what we can accomplish together.  She is my BRF and was the only person I ran with in all of 2017, so I feel as if that’s super special for us to share.  Besides, once she’s no longer strapped in and eating snacks, she may never run with me again! Goal for this Challenge: I’m training for the Western Mass Mother’s Day Half Marathon. The race raises money to support local cancer patients, and this will be my third year running it in my dad’s memory. When I run, I feel: Empowered.