Friday, June 13, 2014

31.5 Miles of Teamwork to Honor our Nation's Fallen Heroes

By Mia Mashburn

On June 23, 2013 the Stroller Warriors® of Camp Pendleton joined forces to run a 31.5-mile relay in honor of our nation’s fallen heroes. With an American flag as our baton Stroller Warriors ran from inland Oceanside, California, through Camp Pendleton, finishing at the beautiful historic site of the first known Christian baptism in California, within the gates of Camp Pendleton.

Our journey began long before that special day, and did not end that day either. Our relay is a testament to the value of team, and an affirmation that there is no contribution too small.

It all started when a Camp Pendleton Stroller Warrior made a quick post about an organization named Active Heroes, and their Memory Miles initiative. Memory Miles is a, “National Challenge to remember our fallen heroes and to help Military Families across the Nation … by walking, running, hiking or biking to complete miles in memory of our Nation’s fallen Heroes and to raise funds for military families in need” (  Active Heroes is a tremendous organization intent on, “Connecting and helping America’s military families through physical and mental therapy, home repairs and community outreach, financial assistance and community reintegration to halt the triggering points and stress associated with “hard times” that lead to suicide” (  According to their website, Active Heroes has reached over 1,800 military families. With suicide attempts among veterans reported to be on the rise, the efforts of Active Heroes, to alleviate financial and emotional stressors, are of the utmost importance.

Stroller Warriors could have registered individually and made our own private contributions to Active
Heroes. Being the amazing team Stroller Warriors is, we had different plans. We decided to organize a relay, honoring fallen heroes as we ran, and fundraise as a team to make the biggest contribution we could. Our mission was to reach as many people as possible to raise awareness for this worthy cause and help others’ take time to reflect on the sacrifice of our service members.

As Stroller Warriors reached out to family and friends across the country to help raise funds and awareness for Active Heroes, planning was underway for what felt like a huge logistical undertaking. We
developed a route broken down in to eight legs of varying distances. The shortest leg was two miles, and the longest leg was about 6.5 miles. This allowed for Stroller Warriors of all ability levels to participate. Most of our runners completed multiple legs, some running a half marathon or more.

Relay day was amazing. We saw a strong showing of dedicated military spouses, supporting each other as they escorted the flag through the course. There were many horns honked in support, a few “Oorah’s”, cheering from Oceanside fire fighters, and incredibly
a salute! We had estimated finish times for each leg.
Impressively, we finished within two minutes of our estimated time of 5.5 hours. With runners of all abilities and paces, this was quite a feat! Our relay would not have been possible without the support of our volunteers. We had Stroller Warriors shuttling runners from their finish back to their starting points, hydrating our runners with water bottles covered in motivational messages, cheering, and taking pictures. Our
warrior spouses were out in force as well. We had dads tending to kiddos, shuttling runners to starting points, and cheering for their special stroller warrior as we came in to the finish.

One of the indelible memories of the day was seeing the names of fallen heroes worn by our runners. These brave men and women answered the call for service and gave their lives for their fellow warriors and
our way of life. While we were running I could not help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude, humbled by the bravery of our service members, and heartbreak for our Gold Star families living with the loss of their loved one.  It is imperative that while we remember our fallen heroes, we hold up the loved ones they left behind.

From inception to completion, every part of this effort was the contribution of a Stroller Warrior, friend, and
family member. Compared to the magnitude of the service of those we honored, and the mission of the cause we support, our relay felt like a small moment.  However, as we learned from the efforts of our runners, donors, and volunteers: every
bit counts, and every bit helps. There is no contribution too small.

Our original goal for Active Heroes was $2,000. At the end of our relay, SWCP and supporters blasted the original goal out of the water, raising $3,850 for the cause.  With the closing of our biggest team effort to date, it’s not necessarily the dollar totals that will stay with me forever (in all honesty, I actually had to look up our totals again while writing this).  The main aspect of this effort that has left a permanent impression on my heart is the power and conviction of the military spouse. As military families, we do not have a lot of say in the where’s or the when’s: change of assignments, change of station, deployments, and training. In the face of these challenges, Stroller Warriors
do not recoil. What this relay shows is that Stroller Warriors are proactive and ask, “How can I help?” They focus their efforts on what they can control and how they can contribute. Whether it is a high five on a run, shuttling between relay legs, passing out water, community service, supporting one another through hardship – Stroller Warriors focus on what we CAN accomplish.

To contribute to Active Heroes, please visit their website

~ Mia

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation." President George Washington

Mia Mashburn is a Marine Corps wife, Mother of twin boys, and coordinator for Stroller Warriors® Camp Pendleton. Since their kickoff workout in April of 2012, SWCP has grown to over 800 members and has raised thousands of dollars for charity and members of the military community. To help them meet (and exceed) their fundraising goal for their second team relay on Saturday, June 21 to support the Semper Fi Fund please visit

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I run...therefore I am.

By: Stephanie Geraghty
As you know, we embrace all ability levels with Stroller Warriors. In fact, I think we even get most excited about the members that have never ran a day in their life but want to start their journey with us. As far as I’m concerned, the day they show up to a workout and do run/walk intervals, they are a RUNNER!
But for some reason, that term “runner” is frequently deemed something that must be earned. What are the qualifications? Do you have to run a certain pace? Do you have to run a certain mileage? Do you have to run for several years?  Do you have to run the entire way? Do you have to run a half marathon? Maybe the real runners are only the marathoners?
I don’t recall ever seeing a list of requirements somewhere to call yourself a runner. If you run, even if it’s 1 block, doesn’t that mean you are a runner?

You may be surprised to hear that long distance running never came naturally to me. In high school, I woke up nervous and dreaded the cross country workouts. We typically ran 1 or 2 miles and I thought it might as well be 100. But, I made myself do it, because it was beneficial for basketball and track & field (my "real" sports) and I enjoyed the camaraderie of my team mates. Regardless of our team’s success, it was still a mental struggle for me and I never really felt like I was a distance runner. I saw myself as a jumper, a sprinter, a hurdler, a basketball player. Distance runner? NOPE. I didn’t feel great doing it, nor was I the winner at our meets, so that surely meant I didn’t rate that title.

The funny thing is, the title of this blog, "I run...therefore I am," was on the back of one of our team track shirts.  I should have paid closer attention to the message that our outstanding coaches Nancy Collins, Deb McCarthy, and Frank Nelson were trying to convey to us.  They valued every runner on the team, no matter their ability, no matter their event.  When I reflect back today, so much of how Stroller Warriors operates is because of how they led our team.

Here's an entertaining throwback photo for you,
dating back to 1998! This was was one of my senior
year XC meets. I was always chasing my speedy
counterpart and dear friend Steph (Collins) Harder. 

Years passed and I took up road races as a hobby following college. I set a goal to run a half marathon and followed a training plan carefully to get to race day. At that point, I finally considered myself a distance runner. But why did it take me completing a half marathon to feel like I earned that title?! IT SHOULDN’T HAVE.
Everyone has different talents. Perhaps running is not your first and most natural talent.  Perhaps it's still a new sport to you and you are still learning.  Or maybe you feel awful during most of your runs and assume only the "real" runners feel good.  (Trust me, it hurts for everyone at some point!)  No matter what you believe running is or what it should feel like, if you are out there trying, whether that's running 1 mile a couple times a week, training for a 5K, aiming for a 10K, or maybe even an ultra, you have more than earned your title as a RUNNER.
Here at Camp Lejeune, we have a lot of runners training for the Marine Corps Marathon or the Outer Banks Marathon, both later this year. The weekend mileage is climbing, with most of their long runs now in the double digits. I’ve heard people discuss them and comment on how someday, they want to be like that…a real runner.

Our weekend early morning crew at Camp Lejeune, NC.
All distances, all paces...all RUNNERS.
My response…you already are! Don’t sell yourself short. Training for shorter distances is less time consuming but is still challenging.  We all have a distance that works for us. And we all have our own pace.  Every distance at every pace is a great accomplishment.  It seems to be a natural succession to aim for the longer distances after meeting a goal, which is great!  But there are also alternative ways to improve that should not be overlooked or undervalued.  You can take on more advanced training plans and focus on increasing your speed and endurance for those shorter distances.  Or perhaps take on a new type of race, like a duathlon, aquathon, triathlon, or Tough Mudder to incorporate running with other activities.  All these different goals keep us moving forward and that's all that really matters.

There is no such thing as a real runner.  I run…therefore I am. And that goes for you too, RUNNER.

Stroller Warriors Founder & Camp Lejeune Coordinator

Monday, June 3, 2013

How I Became a Stroller Warrior

Written by Andrew Morris

I couldn't believe it. I had just received the most desirable, magical piece of paper ever thought up by mankind. In my hands, I held my DD214. My End of Active Service orders. I was free. I remember driving off base thinking to myself, “This, right now, is the last time I'll ever wear this uniform. I'll make this drive many more times, but never for the same reasons. Wow.” I was out! FINALLLYYY!
But wait. Now what? Well, I speak Pashto so, let's see what they have for that. Well, looks like all of the jobs seem to be in Augusta, Georgia. That sounds like fun! But dang, Carolyn doesn't get out for a year. I know! I'll just come back every weekend! But dang, she's pregnant. What if I miss Charlie being born? Ugh. After much deliberation we decided that I'd try to find something in Jacksonville. I started off thinking, “This will be easy.” Yeah right. Even with the skills that I had acquired and the education I had, I found nothing worthwhile. I would basically be working to pay for daycare and before and after school care. No thanks.

Andrew in dad mode
Finally, I went to work the overnight shift at a local warehouse store. It started off great. I'd work all night, then head straight home. Carolyn and I would high-five.She'd head off to work and I'd take the kids to school and such. This worked out great until my boss decided to bump up my hours. I was seeing my pregnant wife almost not at all. (Although the bigger she got, she didn't really mind having the bed all to Our family life turned into “Hi, hon...don't forget to 'fill-in-the-blank.' Have a good day! Bye!” <goodbye kiss> Neither of us cared much for it. Then came the final blow. Some far-away general decided that 2D Radio BN should begin 24/hr operations and that the best shift for my wife to work would be the midnight to 8:00 AM shift.  Cool. I didn't like my job much, anyways. Well, at least that problem solved itself. For the next month-ish I ended up busying myself with menial tasks around the house and having greater freedom for whatever the kids might need.

Now back to those new found freedoms and liberties that I mentioned earlier. I had not been forced to run since January, 2011. When I got out, 2012 was more than halfway over. I finally started running on my own in June, 2012. It was pretty atrocious. For someone who had a respectable (read: far from perfect) running time while in the Corps, it was a real shock the first time I went running. But a new realization sprung up within me. The realization that I didn't *have* to run. I didn't have to do anything. Heck, if I wanted one man formations everyday at 0530, I could do it. (I didn't.)  This betrays my (extreme) stubbornness but I realized that now that I didn't have to run, I actually wanted to (for the first time in my life!).

 As I began running, I realized that a crucial aspect that I was missing was camaraderie. That was something that the Corps had plenty of, want it or not. Sometimes camaraderie was chasing you, letting you know that if it caught you, you'd really regret it later. Other times, camaraderie was more welcome, helping you where you needed it, giving you the push that you were too proud to ask for. Now, being in the land of the free, camaraderie had deserted me, leaving me to do what I wanted (including running at a pace far below that of my former “unfree” self)
I began searching out running buddies I asked a few of my friends, former associates, and co-workers of my wife if they were interested in joining me for a run. But an interesting fact about Jacksonville is that the working population of the town already has PT scheduled for them. And for some reason, that seems to be enough. They aren't looking to get up at ridiculous hours or to extend their days any longer. And those very few that did want to do that were already part of a running group, typically made up of their fellow service members..

I had seen the Stroller Warriors stickers and was vaguely aware of the club but I had assumed (without basis) that they weren't as “serious” as what I was looking for. After not having much luck finding anyone else and since I’d soon be toting my own stroller, I looked into it.  First, I realized that they were a lot more serious than I had believed and I got really excited. Second, I realized that they were an exclusively female group. I was pretty surprised by this. I was talking with my friend Evan, also a stay-at-home parent, having just EAS'd from the Corps, and he and I developed these super-great plans to force Stroller Warriors accept male dependents. I mean, what kind of world is this? They just think that discrimination is cool? <insert perceived upper-class titter> Oh, we shall show them! So I jotted down a quick email and sent it off. The next day, I received the following response:

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for contacting us.  Recently, we have been talking about including male spouses in our club.  One of our chapters, has been very successful with making it work.  So, if you are interested we would love to have you join us!  You would be the first male to join SWCL.

Andrew and Charlie at the Run for Cole
So, wait, I was welcome? They would “love to have me?” Was that an exclamation point/mark? Huh. Well, so much for the epic war that I was expecting. Expecting or maybe even hoping for? Hmm...

On January 21st, Charlie was born and I didn't run at all for a few weeks. I somehow had plenty to occupy myself with. Slowly, I started running again, pushing the stroller. I could not believe how hard it was!! Before, I would run fiveish miles with no problem. Now I was dying at two miles. But I kept trying and it slowly got better.

I was so into my own feelings regarding the Stroller Warriors that I wasn't paying attention to my Carolyn's feelings on the issue. She had mentioned before Charlie's birth, she felt that I had too much time on my hands and didn't want me associating with a 'bunch a women' with similar time constraints. After he was born, she was more of the feeling that I'd have my hands full. I'd also brought home a copy of the Military Spouse that Stroller Warriors was featured on and she got excited and (pointing to Stephanie) said, “Oh, I know her! She lives down the street. I've seen her at school with Teddy. We were pregnant at the same time.” Somehow, knowing Stephanie (even this little bit) made her feel as if this group was to be “trusted” and gave her the confidence that this wouldn't “...turn into another episode of Housewives of LA.” (Yes, those are quotatation marks (Is that a real show?).)

Still, I didn't do anything. I'd resigned myself to the boring life of the male military spouse. I had the comfort that, since she was getting out soon (at that point, in September), I wouldn't have too much longer until roles reverted to what they were “supposed to be.” And by “supposed to be”, I've come to realize that this means whatever is easiest and most expected, both for myself and for society-at-large. This has nothing to do with this place called “The Real World.”

In early April, I heard about the Run for Cole from a friend. Seeing as it was on a day that Marines had off, I finally decided join up and to come out for an event. After all, Carolyn would be with me. I'd be safe. Carolyn and I had a great day. There were a lot of spouses, I felt comfortable, and she felt comfortable. It was important for her to actually see the club. I remember her noting things like how the group was bigger than she'd thought, how well setup it seemed, and how the climate was so positive.

For the event, Stephanie had asked if people would be willing to bring out food and snacks. I had volunteered to bring out chocolate chip cookies. After the run, when we were all eating, I heard a lot of (positive) comments on the cookies and people asking who'd made them. Normally, I'd have taken credit, but for some reason, I
The whole family, Andrew, Carolyn,
Teddy, Leo, and Charlie after a family
fun run
didn't. I later mentioned it to Carolyn in a random comment as I was collecting the tray that they were on and she expressed outrage. She (very memorably, to me) said, “Andrew, I've spent eleven years in the Marine Corps, trying to be a woman in a man's world, fighting this exact stereotype.'s PC for a woman to attain to a man's level. But its just as okay and right for a man to attain to a woman's level! You know this! Don't be ashamed of the fact that you are a good cook! Just because the shoe's on the other foot doesn't mean that you should meekly accept the stereotype!”
Those words were the kick-in-the-butt that I needed. I realized that I was the one that a point needed to be made to, not the group. How haughty could I have been! I was no longer trying to “prove a point.” Instead, I was the one in need! Only my pride, insecurity, and uneducated thinking had kept me from the club. I mean, come on, SW was exactly what I was looking for. They had an awesome, fully-functioning, fully-assembled running club and they were welcoming me with open arms. I decided to start coming.

 Did this magically make it all better? No. I'll be honest, the first actual workout that I went to, I still felt out of place and a little awkward. But apparently I was the only one. That day I met a great deal of members, from SW leadership to the rank-and-file members. Although each person was unique, the one thing that all had in common is that they wanted me to feel welcome. This was only the beginning. I thought that I knew what SW was all about, but this was the beginning of my education. As I began attending workouts, I once again felt the camaraderie that I mentioned earlier. But more than just a running camaraderie, I realized this was a way-of-life camaraderie. Regardless of who you were, there was someone there who related to what you were dealing with and had the information that you needed and the willingness to share it. This was not a running club, this was a network of like-minded individuals who also happened to enjoy a good outing on Greenway Trail pushing the kids or waking up at 5:30 AM to go for a ten mile run. Well, “enjoy” might be the wrong word for the latter.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how much I've learned from this club. Yes, I may have been able to gain access to the club (against its
Stephanie and Andrew at the Run for the Warriors

will), but thankfully we never had to find out. The club was too mature for my immaturity. More importantly, I had completely missed the point. Earning “the right” to attend a particular clubs functions would not have earned me any favor, respect, or goodwill. Funny thing about those characteristics is that they are pretty much only gained when one first gives them. Well, heck, I wish I'd have learned this before age 30, but hey, at least you folks were there to do the teaching when I was ready. For the record, you were all pretty nice about it, too. Thank you all!

Andrew Morris is a former marine, military spouse, stay at home dad to Teddy, Leo, and Charlie, and Stroller Warrior. Starting June 11th, he'll also be a full time resident of Illinois and a student at the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign. He and his family will be greatly missed at SWCL but as he says..."Once a Stroller Warrior, Always a Stroller Warrior."

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Old Friend Jitters

By:  Stephanie Geraghty

Race-day jitters. Even though I’ve been competing in athletic events and races for two decades, this questionable old “friend” makes an appearance every time. He visits for my races and even visits me when I'm just a bystander at other people's races. I’ll confess a secret truth…sometimes he even joins me for tough Stroller Warriors runs, track workouts, or PFTs. Heck, just writing about this stuff is making the butterflies flutter right now!  Why in the world have years of experience NOT eliminated this problem?!

Me & Laurie at the 2005 Durango Half Marathon
That's us riding the bus to the start line of our
1st half marathon and feeling NERVOUS!

Here's the simple reason: We know that running is challenging. It’s perfectly normal to be a little nervous when you’re facing something difficult, like a race, and you care about the results. So how do we embrace those nerves and work through them?
Here’s a few tips that help me…
1) BE PREPARED: There’s something about planning my week in advance that helps me feel prepared, and therefore, more at ease. I think about what I will eat. I make lists of what I need to bring and pack my bag. The night before, I lay my gear out neatly and set my alarm twice, to ensure I don’t oversleep. I strive to arrive at the race site plenty early so I'm not stressed about being on time. Preparation does not circumvent unexpected twists but at minimum, you have retained the control that you can and it reassures an uneasy mind.
2)  THINK GOOD THOUGHTS: My high school coaches taught me the importance of positive thinking. Before each race I take some time to VISUALIZE the entire experience with a successful outcome. That includes thinking about waking up and getting ready, lining up at the start, running the race with powerful strides and controlled breathing, and finishing strong, crossing the line with a SMILE. I tell myself “I can do it” and practice positive self-talk. Block out the negative and just focus on the positive. Reflect on all the training you’ve done instead of worrying about any missed workouts, injuries, or illness. Seeing it all unfold in my mind makes the reality of it attainable.
3)  FIND YOUR SECURITY BLANKET: At a young age I was exceedingly superstitious. I insisted on wearing a specific necklace or hair-tie every meet or game. I also told myself that if I found money the day of an event it would be a good day. Regardless that this could not impact my performance, it still made me feel better! I would encourage you to find a small process that comforts you or maybe even a lucky item that you wear. I have worn a Road ID bracelet for nearly every race since 2005. It’s not only for safety, it’s just something that makes me smile and feel secure. I also like to run a 15-minute pre-race shakeout the night prior, usually after dusk. There’s something about the peace of the night that soothes me and gets me in the right mindset for the next morning. Please note that your tradition or lucky charm should not define your race or result in devastation without it! But, on the flipside, I don’t think a small “security blanket” hurts either!
4) UNDERSTAND YOUR PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: I’m going to refrain from graphic detail but this must be addressed! When I’m preparing for competition my body prepares too. I want to reassure you that for most runners, both beginners and experienced, tummy aches, nausea, and frequent bathroom breaks are not uncommon on race day. They usually subside by the start. (Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor so please don’t take this as medical advice! I cannot say for sure whether your own symptoms are typical for you. Always consult a doctor if you are concerned.)
5) TALK TO FELLOW RUNNERS: One of the most enjoyable parts of racing is the camaraderie of fellow runners. Perhaps start the race with a friend at your side or even strive to make a new friend. Chances are the strangers next to you are feeling jitters too. Strike up a conversation and it might result in a new running buddy! Don’t be shy. Reaching out might be the difference to having a great race.

Despite our nerves, being together,
laughing, and having fun
made the nerves much less prominent.
(Love you and miss you, "Crapface"!)
6) REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN: As runners we all have goals in mind when we endure training. Goals are an important factor in maintaining motivation. However, those goals should never supersede having fun! Running and racing is a gift and we should not take it for granted. Some of my best friendships and memories are born out of running and racing, so treasure those moments and don’t let jitters or anything else intercede! If you have to, do a goofy frolic, wear a costume, sing a song, tell a wacky story, or break out in dance. Whatever makes you smile and reminds you that you're living life to the fullest and nothing can bring you down, do it!
I hope these suggestions help you overcome some of your own race-day challenges. After years of being irritated about my nervous nature, I now embrace the inevitable jitters because the extra adrenaline helps me succeed.

Stroller Warriors Founder & Camp Lejeune Coordinator

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Top 10 Reasons (and even more) to Become a Stroller Warrior

Stroller Warriors Okinawa
Number 10: There’s 15 (or so) other people who can watch (or not watch) your kids at races.

Stroller Warriors Fort Belvoir
Number 9:  You can participate in SW’s late night postings on the Facebook page. There’s always a Stroller Warrior awake somewhere!

Number 8:  You run, therefore you can eat cookies!

Number 7:  You can get a cool nickname form your running partners.

Stroller Warriors China Lake
Number 6:  You can participate in a PFT while wearing a bedazzled shirt and pushing your kids. What service member can say that?

Stroller Warriors Paris Island
Number 5:  You can add the term “Warrior” to everything you do...Cycle Warrior, Prayer Warrior, Tri Warrior, Golf Warrior, etc.

Number 4:  TMI is considered appropriate conversation.

Stroller Warriors Fort Leonard Wood
Number 3:  You get to push your kids around while they launch things (or themselves) from your stroller.

Number 2:  You get to run in costume at least once a year.

Stroller Warriors Camp Pendleton
Number 1:  You get to be part of an amazing group of military spouses!!!

Stroller Warriors Pearl Harbor
But seriously…while you might think that running tops the list in reasons to come out and join Stroller Warriors…it is really only one of the reasons. The club is so much bigger than that. Last week Mia Mashburn, chapter coordinator for Stroller Warriors said it best in a statement specific to SWCP but that truly describes ALL Stroller Warriors…
Stroller Warriors Camp Lejeune

Stroller Warriors Camp Pendleton has grown to over 300 members today. Looking back over the past year, and before that at Camp Lejeune, I can't count the number of times I have been amazed by the people who call themselves Stroller Warriors, there are just too many moments to keep track. As a team, SWCP thrives through positivity, support, and motivation. As individuals, YOU warriors face challenges in day to day life as military spouses, and 
Mia, Berenice, and Sarah SWCP
service members. Stroller Warriors brave deployments, moves, loss, illness. You manage a household, being mom and dad through your own heartache - and still manage to get out and support fellow warriors. Whether its a high five, a "BOOM," a meal train, a ride to the doctor, watching kids - you warriors truly come together and support one another. You don't stop at just other stroller warriors either. You give your time, money, and talents to support causes and serve your community. As a runner, I can open up my door and step out and cover some miles. As a Stroller Warrior I get to be a part of something pretty amazing. It wouldn't, and couldn't, be amazing if not for EACH AND EVERY warrior. THANK YOU!

I am awe inspired on a regular basis thanks to you guys. I feel so lucky, and also baffled by how many tremendous people can gather together and create such awesomeness. Again, THANK YOU WARRIORS.”

Stroller Warriors Camp Lejeune PR Event Board
by Elizabeth Harlow
This is such an accurate and colorful description about what  
Stroller Warriors is about. So, if we have a chapter at a military installation near you…join us. You won’t regret it. And if we don’t…consider whether you or someone you know would be interested in starting one.  

To join an active chapter near you, submit a request to one of our chapter pages on Facebook.

Stroller Warriors Camp Lejeune:

Stroller Warriors Camp Pendleton:

Stroller Warriors China Lake:

Stroller Warriors Fort Leonard Wood:

Stroller Warriors New Orleans:

Stroller Warriors Pearl Harbor:

Stroller Warriors Parris Island:

For more information on starting a chapter, or general questions regarding our organization, please email us at

Special thanks to Mia Mashburn for her contribution, inspiration, and total awesomeness.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Unexpected Finish

By: Kate Laing

Runners wake up on race morning full of hope and expectation. They have spent hours envisioning finishing their race. The emotion of all the blood, sweat and tears of that finish is in their mind’s eye. It seems so close they can taste it but, what happens when the finish isn’t what the runner expected? The truth is sometimes races don’t always go the way we hope or expect. Sometimes, factors far beyond our control determine this, yet, we hold these unexpected finishes close to us like a bad dream we can’t shake.

In our rational runner mind we know that the odds of it happening again are low but the fear can over take some. Those runners want to get back on the road and feel the pound of the pavement under their feet. But, the memory holds them back. The good news is those unexpected finishes don’t need to haunt you! They should empower you!  And be considered learning experiences, stories to tell like old Salty Sailors and their sea stories. It should be a badge of honor worn in its own strange way.

I’ve had one — an unexpected finish. The race started with such hope but half way through I felt thirsty and it was HOT !  So much hotter than I was ready for and I became severely dehydrated with heat exhaustion. Totally unexpected! But, now, I use my experience as a guide of how to prepare my body properly for races and listen to my instincts. It’s my story and badge that I share with other runners and not out of shame but triumph! And you too can overcome the emotions of an unexpected finish. Here are some tips on how:

Find your inner motivator. It should be something that makes you feel good like listening to your favorite song or a quick warm up. I like to post on Facebook, “IT’S RACING DAY! IT’S RACING DAY!” to help pump me up.

Envision a successful finish. It might be hard especially if that unexpected finish was recent but envisioning success will help you to be successful. Remember, there are many factors that effect a race outcome and the runner can not always control them.

Know what you can control and let the rest go.  Properly fuel your body! Eat good fueling foods like carbs, drink lots of water and rest! We can’t control things like weather or poorly organized events. So, go with the flow, even laugh at it and let go what you can’t control!

After the unexpected finish find another race and commit to it!  You know the saying, “when you fall off the horse, get back on”? Well??? Don’t let one finish stop you from achieving your goals!  Get back in it with a new race and a new hope!

ALWAYS HAVE FUN!!! Setting personal goals for times and places is great but none of that will matter if you aren’t having fun. Run races with family and friends and ask for a cheering squad at the finish. Racing should be a good time even if the finish isn’t what you hoped for. So, have fun!  There will always be another race to achieve your personal goal.

Unexpected finishes are not the end, they are the beginning!  The beginning of a new you with a mark on your belt of overcoming disappointment with TRIUMPH!  Stronger, smarter and more confident! 

Kate Laing is an experienced runner and the coordinator of Stroller Warriors Pearl Harbor. She is a navy wife and Mom of two boys. You can visit her personal blog at and follow her on twitter @tips_homefront.

To become a member of Stroller Warriors Pearl Harbor visit them on Facebook

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pre-Race Tips

This week Stroller Warriors Camp Lejeune is celebrating the completion of their first 2013 Couch to 5K (C25k) group. In typical celebratory fashion we are holding a graduation 5k race and a half marathon for charity. Donations from the event will benefit Families of SMA.

Since these races help celebrate so many newer runners to both the 5k and the half distance we thought it would be appropriate to share some of our favorite race tips with you. We’ve listed them below.

1. Plan your race day breakfast. DO NOT try anything new. Eat what you typically have before a run. What you eat on race morning should something that you have had several times before a run so you know that it will not upset your stomach. Try to eat about 2-3 hours before race start.  

2. Do not wear anything new for the race. This includes, shirts, shoes, shorts/skirts/capris, etc. Yes, you can pick up your awesome new race shirt on Saturday morning but we suggest that you DO NOT WEAR it for the race. It might rub in weird places or even smell new.  Stick with what you know won’t chaffe or give  you blisters.

3. Plan your outfit before race day. Lay everything out the night before (socks, shoes, hair bands, clothing, gels, etc.). If you already have your race bib, pin it on or secure it to your race belt. If you are wearing your hair in a pony tail, pack an extra hair band in case one breaks. If you plan to bring a hydration system (like a camelback or a hand bottle) prep it the night before and stick it in the fridge. Then, write yourself a note so you don’t leave the house without your H2O (or Gatorade, or whatever). Make sure your gps watch (if you wear one) and your ipod (if you run with music/use it for pacing) are charged and in your bag ready to go!

4. Get a great night’s sleep the night before, the night before the race.  If your race is on a Saturday, get your best night's sleep on Thursday. Most people don’t sleep well the night before because of nervousness, etc. Don't worry! Even if you don’t get 8 hours the night before, as long as you are lying down and resting you will be fine. I know many people who’ve PR’d at a race with minimal sleep.

5. Start carb loading a few days before. For a Saturday 5k start on Thursday, for a ½  or full marathon start the week before. Don’t over-do it, just make sure that you get some good carbohydrates (pasta, potatoes, pretzels, rice, etc.)  in your body for fuel. The more experience you have with racing the easier it will be for you to determine what your body needs. So, if you are running the 5k this week, just plan to have pasta for dinner on Thursday and Friday. Just don’t over-do it on Friday night. You don’t want to feel full on Saturday morning.

6. When dressing for the race, double knot your shoes…make sure they are not too tight or too loose.  You don't want to have to stop mid-race to adjust them.

7. Stop hydrating 30 minutes before the race. Do NOT chug your water 5 seconds before starting! You'll have to pee immediately. Hydrate well in advance so you're not thirsty right before race start. Then, go to the bathroom as close to the race start time as possible. You will probably feel like you have to pee again at the Start anyway…ignore it…it will go away!

8. Read all the instructions on the race organizers site BEFORE the race so you know where you need to go, what time you need to be there, if there are water stations on the route, etc. Most of what you need to know will be  included on the race organizers website.

9. Get to the race about 45 minutes early for smaller races and at least an hour for larger events. If you are picking up your packet that morning plan to get there at least 30 minutes before packet pickup ends. You never know what might happen on race day (traffic, lack of parking, etc.) and you don't want to start the race feeling frazzled because you were late or didn't get the chance to go to the bathroom one last time.

10. Mentally prepare and run your own race. Spend some time visualizing yourself at the starting line, crossing those mile markers, feeling the pain and fighting through it, and eventually crossing the finish line. Others around you may motivate you to push harder, but you still want to run your race so you don't go out too fast or too slow.

11. If you start to doubt yourself, remember why you are doing this! For your health, for charity, etc., no matter what the reason, you will overcome the tough moments and finish! In the words of Ken Chlouber, a co-founder of the Leadville trail 100.  "You are better than you think you are and can do more than you think you can."

12. It's ok to be nervous! Use that as fuel and adrenaline for the race. Just remember to HAVE FUN! Read the signs along the route, thank the crowd and the volunteers, and smile for pictures! You’ve trained and now is your time to enjoy your accomplishment!

A special thanks this week to Leah Schulch,  Sarah Viczorek, Jill Vander Woude, Elizabeth Harlow, Stephanie Geraghty, and Deana Havens, who helped compile this list.

Note: If you'd like to help Stephanie reach her fundraising goal and contribute to Families of SMA, you can visit Stephanie's fundraising page directly at