Princesses, Planks and 4am

Just as Princess Merida professes in Brave, I truly believe we all have to create our own destiny, not wait for it to knock on our door. I have had a string of awesome opportunities (some mentioned in my recent blog post) in the past few weeks… all centered around these same basic principles: fitness, friends, family, fun.  Although it sometimes seems that I am being pulled in a million different directions, it truly is just one direction.  Whether it is a single client or friend, a class full of people, a virtual group, or my family – helping people discover their drive, move their bodies, feel good and share that feeling is what I love to do and what I do best.

16998167_10211593332724050_8337108618579068431_nAbout a week ago I had a “magical” day at Disney with my oldest daughter, Grace.  No, it wasn’t in Cinderella’s castle sipping tea – it involved getting a 11 year old tween out of bed at 4am and waiting for the start of the Disney Princess 5K in EPCOT with 1000s of our closest friends.  This idea started last summer when Grace decided to make a Bucket List board – she cut out pictures from magazines and printed out things from online that she wanted to do by the end of the summer.  We did a few of her ideas, kept us busy in the summer, mostly involving getting ice cream and going to the park.  However, one thing she wanted to do was a Disney 5K.  It got me thinking if we were going to do a Disney race, we should make it a fundraising effort.  One organization that I am passionate about is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  I’ve gotten to know more about this organization over the past two years, as my efforts a “Recess Mom” have ramped up.  (More to come in future blogs about the lack of recess and our efforts to restore it for elementary students in Florida…)  The Alliance for a Healthier Generation aims to create healthy changes that build upon one another and create a system, a nation, that makes the healthy choice the easy choice.  They provide in-school and community programming, research and support to aid in creating healthy environments everywhere that children learn, live & play.  We were happy to raise over $1000 and awareness about this awesome organization.

This blog is all about how “It’s Not Supposed to be Easy”.  The idea came from a combination of my experiences as a fitness trainer and my experiences as a mom.  16939418_10211550701378293_5881711709402689338_nEspecially now that I am the mom of two tweens, 9 and 11 year old girls, the drama has stepped up and EVERY task just seems impossible to them.  I feel it is my duty to instill in them the values that YES – tasks may seem hard, challenging, even impossible… but you must push through this uncomfortable period and figure out a way to the other side.  Homework may be hard, relationships with new friends may be challenging, waking up at 4am to do a 5K may seem impossible – but let’s put it in perspective.  We can do this, let’s put one foot in front of the other and get it done.  So, that’s what we did that fateful Friday morning of the Disney Princess 5K.  We got out the door and to the start line of the race.  Now, I loosely call this a race – it was an untimed 50 minute jaunt through EPCOT complete with plenty of picture stops along the way.  I was so glad that we could do this together, just the two of us.  Plus we knocked an item off her Bucket List, which she mentioned several times throughout the day 🙂  With three kiddos at three different developmental stages, it is tough to really tune into what they are saying and needing from me each day.  It was a great day to connect and enjoy time with each other.


My first 13.1 – the Women’s Running Half in November 2010

The rest of the day after the 5K was also magical and fun – and included another amazing opportunity.  I found out in early February of this year that I was chosen to be a Skirt Sports Pro Ambassador, and was so excited!  Skirt Sports is an awesome company which introduced the running skirt to the market over 10 years ago.  The founder of Skirt Sports, Nicole DeBoom, is actually a childhood hero of mine – she grew up in the same town as I did, Downers Grove, IL.  She was a few years older than me, but I knew her from her name being up on the swimming record boards and her pictures and awards in the high school trophy cases.  In a town that did not necessarily have a swimming legacy, she was the local phenom.  Flash forward to 2010 when I became the local team leader for a running group in St Petersburg, FL called IRunMommies and I was able to meet Nicole.  Our IRunMommies uniforms were custom made for us by Skirt Sports, and this was my first “run in” with the brand.  Nicole was in town that year with the company for the Women’s Running Half Marathon Expo and I was excited just to say hi and that I was also from Downers Grove.  She was so genuine and kind, a true Midwestern gal 🙂  I couldn’t help but fall in love with Skirt Sports, and I recruited all my mommy runner friends to learn to love to run in SKIRT as well!


Another flash forward to 2017, a few years of running under my belt (in Skirt Sports, of 16939508_1895643830716558_5952122831447664567_ncourse!), added another baby to the mix, sold my fitness business after ten years – and what was next?  The opportunity came about to apply for the Ambassador program and I jumped on that chance.  After I made the cut, Skirt Sports announced a new #REALwomenmove Challenge launching this year.  It would include free training plans, exclusive product lines, video support, partner discounts, and a supportive Facebook group.  Sounds like it fits right in with my “fitness, friends, family, fun” mantra!  I reached out to Nicole, and she was looking for a fitness expert to submit weekly Facebook Live videos.  Done and done.

Grace was my (begrudged) videographer for a fun & fast five minute fit tip at noon on the day of that Disney Princess 5K.  We enjoyed the morning walking around Disney Springs, Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 12.49.43 PMhad a quick lunch at Planet Hollywood and grabbed a shady spot perfect for planks.  I wanted to share my video here, but since the #REALwomenmove Challenge is a private Facebook group, the gods of Facebook won’t let me share.  Here is a screenshot so you can see me in all my barefoot fitness glory, of course in Skirt Sports Lotta Breeze Capris!  The Challenge group is a FREE group, you just need to click HERE to go to the Skirt Sports website and a link will be emailed to you.  I hope you will join us and, of course, check out a quick workout with me each Friday – but also gain a supportive group of women from all over the country training for everything from a 5K to an Olympic distance triathlon.

This was a quick weekend full of challenges, not taking the easy way out, inspiring others and FUN.  I’m looking forward to my next Friday Five Minute Fit Tip, I hope you will join our group of 800+ women and give me suggestions for what exercises you would like me to incorporate.

Have you done a race or fitness inspired event with your family?  Was it something you wanted to do or something the kids wanted to do?  How do you make fitness a priority for your family?


Friend Feature Friday – Janna Angell


Janna at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2/17 – she achieved a PR!

I’m so excited to feature a great friend and someone I admire as a mom, as an athlete and as a business owner – Janna Angell.  I first met Janna in 2014, when she an her husband, Cody, had recently moved to St Petersburg with their young daughter.  Janna came to a few of my Baby Boot Camp classes, just before I took a short break to have baby Audrey.  I was so impressed with Cody and Janna’s business concept and passion for their new store, St Pete Running Company.  In the past three years, we have partnered together on multiple events and training programs – from bra fitting events, to fitness challenges, to kids race_cupcake_circle_largetriathlon clinics.  Each and every time a friend comes back to me after visiting SPRC, they are so very impressed with the level of customer service and the friendliness of the employees.  They truly have a love for not only running, but also a love for sharing their passion & inviting others to join their community.  Saturday, March 4th is their featured
annual event, the Race for the Cupcake 5K.  This race is on Pass-A-Grille Beach and features a kids fun run as well.  This is just one of the many ways the Janna and her staff at SPRC foster relationships with customers and build a fun, active community of runners.

1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you. How did this point in your life shape who you are today?  “I have always loved to travel. When my husband suggested moving to Australia, I thought this sounded like a wonderful idea. I was very excited about getting there. Packing up our house in America, leaving my family and pet cat – I was very excited during the whole process- until I was in Australia. Once there the reality of it all hit me – I was thousands of miles away from my family, friends and the life that I loved. Plus the culture shock of being in a new country. I had a hard time finding a job, making friends, and getting adjusted to the new country. Even though I was in a beautiful country, with some of the best beaches and parks I had ever seen – I sat in our apartment sad and crying. I cried a lot and wondered why I thought this was a good idea. I also became angry with my husband for making me move from my comfort zone. I felt lonely, angry and lost. My life was not what I thought it would be, and every day was hard for me. It took me several months to get out of my slump.

I started forcing myself to do something small every day that I liked – reading a book, cooking, baking cookies, riding my bike. We would even take late night walks to McDonald’s (yes, McDonald’s) to eat American food, we never ate at McDonald’s before we moved there and we don’t eat at McDonald’s since moving back – but while there it helped reminded me of home. I spent a lot of time by myself, as I didn’t have a job and my husband was at work all day. So I continued to do something every day for myself, something every day to put a smile on my face. Some days it would be something small like drinking a coke, walking to my husband’s work to join him for lunch, going to church on a Tuesday morning or it might have been going for a long bike ride. I had to mentally start being happy (again) before I could start to enjoy Australia or before I started to make friends – which both of these did happen.”

17094066_1202219343159987_949200844_n2. What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?  “I came to appreciate Australia, the beauty of the country and the time there and I did start to make friends. I started being a substitute teacher. I also got into triathlons while in Australia (as I had a lot of spare time), which helped give me a purpose. I completed my first half Ironman (70.3miles). I continued to set small running and biking goals – which gave me a mission and a purpose. We began to travel around Western Australia, we went swimming with Whale Sharks, watched Cricket games. Met friends who continue to be our best friends (and we miss every day). I feel like this time while was a hard time in my life, it really helped me to learn about what makes me happy, help me to be more thankful for small things in my life. And it helped my relationship with my husband to grow, as he was my only family and my only friend for many months.

We have since moved back from Australia, after the birth of our first daughter in 2012. I 17122102_1202219856493269_1157275446_owas so excited to move back! We now live in St Petersburg, Florida. Where we opened a running specialty store, St Pete Running Company. Where we have tried to build not just a running store, but a running community and our family. I get to work with my husband every day of my life which is a blessing, and also very hard some days. We now have our own family – with two beautiful kids.  I continue to do one thing a day to make myself happy (some days it might just be to take a shower without any interruptions).”

3. What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017? What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?  “In 2017 I want to complain less. Lately I have found myself complaining about things a lot more. I am trying to take time to reflect upon the things that I am thankful for. I try once a day to make a mental list of ten things that day that I am thankful for, even if it is the same things everyday. I want to take the time and remind myself that I have great things in my life.

My running goal in 2017/maybe even 2018 – is to run a 5k in the low 23 minute range or to break 23 minutes (which is a big goal as I have never broke 24 minutes). I have been a runner since high school, but it has always been a bit of a love/hate relationship. For the first time in my life I am loving to run! Maybe because it is time to myself away from family, business, social media. It is just time to myself. I know this goal will not be an easy one but it’s not supposed to be easy.”1501753_278869818931121_1459646453_n.jpg

4. What is your name and occupation? Where can we find out more information about you? (Website, blog, social media)  Janna Angell- Mother, Wife and owner of St Pete Running Company –


Have you ever moved to a new location without any friends or family nearby?  How did you cope?  Did you learn a new skill or pick up a new passion from this experience?

My Blog-spiration

So it just occurred to me that THIS WEEK is my five year anniversary of running the Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 Marathon in St Pete.  It is actually an memory that sparked my interest in putting together this blog.  It was (and still is) my PR race  – my first and only time going sub 2-hour in the 13.1 mile distance.  As I recall all of the variables that went into this race and the eventual outcome, and it really was a culmination of not taking the easy way out.  Perseverance, discipline, quite frankly – just sucking it up and making it happen.

Those memories motivated me to share my story, along with the stories and insights of my friends along the way, in the form of this blog.  A few weeks ago when I was dabbling with WordPress in efforts to get this put together I Google searched “2012 Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon St Pete Pier” to see if I could find a great shot for my cover pic.  I stumbled upon a blog called Wendy Dot NYC, and she had a race recap posted from that very race with an amazing pic I loved.  I found Wendy on Facebook and asked if I could use her pic, and she agreed!  The picture has special meaning because it is taken during that 2012 RnR race, and the fact that is has our dearly departed St Pete Pier in the background.  The Pier was torn down recently, much to the despair of many local runners who relished their daily or weekly Pier loops.

It was official, the inspiration for my blog was set and it was time to move forward.  Somehow it slipped my mind that that very race was right around this time of year… and then “TimeHop” pic started popping up on Facebook reminded me that yes in fact, that race was five years ago this week.

fullsizerender-13  fullsizerender-10

That race was intense and crazy – my parents were in town at the time and my dad agreed to drive me and a few friends to the race at some super early time of 5am or something.  He has always been an awesome morning person, my “alarm clock” in high school getting up for all those dark & early swim practices.  I was so lucky to have him there for the race, it was nice to have a simple drop off at the start line and not have to fight for a parking spot. That day was insanely COLD.  Definitely ALL CAPS COLD.  We are Florida people – yes I was born & raised in the Chicago area, but even five years ago I had acclimated to the sunny lifestyle.  I remember the temp being right about 39 degrees in the car on the way to the race.  Now, there would be no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that I would go out for a run any other day if it were that cold.  I’m a self proclaimed wimp, it’s true.  But it was a race.  My friends were there, I put in the training & I paid the money.  So it was a done deal, it was going to happen.

I had been talking to a friend, Brian Zaun, briefly before the race about meeting up.  I saw him post that he was going to do the race on Facebook, we met up in the corral before the start and we both disclosed to each other that we wanted to do our first sub 2-hour.  It was on!  Brian was my advisor for the AmeriCorps program called Athletes in Service to America that I participated in right after college.  It was the program that brought me down to St Petersburg from the snowy Midwest.  Brian is a great guy and was a role model for me, we hadn’t stayed super close although we lived in the same town.   It wasn’t going to be easy, but we had each other.  I had never run with Brian, never trained with him, but it was so awesome to catch up and push each other.  He was also a former collegiate athlete, so we both had that inner drive that tends to kick in when the going gets tough.  I loved running through the neighborhoods of St Pete with an old friend by my side.


I learned early on that I am definitely the type of swimmer, runner, exerciser, athlete… that HAS to be with someone or in a group to be productive.  I will talk myself right out of a workout or just not push myself if I am flying solo.  So this clandestine meet up with Brian was awesome.  We kept each other accountable.  What I loved most about the race was seeing SO MANY friends through the streets of St Pete, both running and cheering.  It was definitely a group effort.  So, 13.1 long miles later – Brian and I both accomplished our goals.  I do recall that he sped up and left me in the dust near the end of the race.  No problem, I stayed the course and still made it under the 2-hour buzzer by a few minutes.  It was such a feeling of accomplishment, and also a feeling that my toes & feet were frozen through and through.  It was still freezing out, but to this day I attribute those chilly temps to being able to push through and achieve a PR.  There are so many factors that go into the “perfect race” – temperature, sleep, food, hydration, friends, shoes… but it all boils down to one of my favorite quips to spout off to anyone who will listen – MIND OVER MATTER.

fullsizerender-11 fullsizerender-12

Of course, I haven’t been able to touch that time since, and I have just realized that it is exactly five years later.  In my defense, I have had an extra baby in that time (bringing the total up to three beautiful girls)… but the youngest is now almost three, so there are officially no excuses.  I’ve had time to reflect on what works, what doesn’t work, what my motivation is, what my goals are, and the fact that ok – this won’t be easy.  Even though I was there at one point, it’s time to put on the big girl panties and get there again.

I truly run for myself, and for the feeling of accomplishing something I never thought possible.  Lately, I have been training without worrying about my mileage or times.  I just run to have fun.  At this point I am not signed up for any races, I have been enjoying the company of my Saturday morning runs and have even been getting faster and running longer despite my lack of a specific training plan.

Oh, and I also run for Flo Rida singing shirtless on the St Pete waterfront in the freezing cold temps!  Yes – that’s him at the post-race concert, it was a Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon after all!  

What motivates you to achieve a goal you have on your list?  Are you trying to get back to something you did pre-baby?  Are you trying something brand new?