Tedy’s Team Group Run – 6 Miles

12 degrees. 16 degrees. 17 degrees. Freakin' cold. All temperatures I saw forecasted for the first Tedy's Team group run of the 2014 Boston Marathon training season.

Ummm ... Yay?

I know I know. I live in Boston. I do this to myself. Yes I know that, but I like to delay the cold weather for as long as possible.

Every charity team conducts their training runs differently.


Tedy's Team has an amazing coach, John Furey, who helps with the long group runs on Saturday morning and also offers any running advice we need. Let me tell you this guy was a HUGE help to me when I saw him at Mile 20 of the Boston Marathon in April and experiencing immense right heel pain. If I didn't see him at Mile 20, get a pep talk and some swedish fish, I'm not sure how the last 10k of the race would have gone.

This year our group runs would start at Joint Ventures Physical Therapy and Fitness in Kenmore Square. It is a great deal since they have an area for us to store gear, a place to stretch, foam rollers to borrow and a place to call base camp after the run. The one benefit of moving where the group runs are being held is the avoidance of the hill on Beacon St. This was only a .3-mile long hill, but it was brutal to see at the end of a 10-,12- or even 18-miler. Now we can avoid that. Yay! Tiny victory. :P

It was GREAT seeing everyone this morning - lots of hugs and smiles.

Special thanks to my teammate Meg and her husband Josh were able to give me a ride in since the T would've taken over an hour on a Saturday morning. We made sure to meet the group in time for the 8am kickoff.

Since I usually train alone, I look forward to these Saturday runs with folks that have become great friends over the last year.

The mileage options for today were 6, 8 or 10 miles and I opted for the 6, which was perfect for today. :)

Meg, Cristina, Nancy and I headed out and it was like no time had passed since our last group run together back in April. We fell right into conversation and it was awesome. Thankfully Facebook has kept us connected since the Marathon.

I was looking to keep the pace light and at Mile 1 my Garmin pinged - 9:00 on the money. Perfect. It was just what I wanted to see. At that point, I flipped the Garmin over so the face was on the inside of my arm and tuned it out.

This run was about the people and the experience.

It was great seeing so many other charity teams taking to the streets of Boston as well. Many familiar faces from the year before.

Having run with Tedy's Team last year, it was great being back on familiar territory. Like coming home.

As we ran, we all chatted about the holidays and the impending snow storm. You know the usual winter topics in New England.

Mile 2: 9:20. Fine by me. As we hit Mile 2, you hit a more pedestrian area with more stopping/starting with street lights. But again, not about pace.

We hit Coolidge Corner and Meg and I were back in stride. We had done a majority of the training runs together last year. She is a faster runner than I am so I enjoyed being pushed by her each week. Plus the conversations were always great.

Mile 3: 8:59. And the turnaround. We hit Coolidge Corner and were ready to make our way back to base camp. For only 1/2 a second I thought about pushing it to the 8 then decided 6 was good. I have another run tomorrow so it is okay. :)

When we turned around we hit a bit of a downhill, which was lovely. Also the turnaround gave a great time for high-fives and waves to other teammates. I love the running community and high-fives.

Tedy's Team is awesome enough to also have a water stop (or more depending on distance) during the run which you can hit multiple times on the down-and-back course we run. So I need to thank John (coach) and Margaret for hanging out there in the freezing weather. We heated up as we ran - they didn't while they stood there. So thanks guys! Can't wait to see you each week. :)

Mile 4: 8:24. Here is where the old groove came back. We got caught up in conversation about the Marathon Bombings and our experiences and the legs did what they wanted. Around this time we met up with our teammate Carly who joined us for the remainder of the run.

Talk of how frozen our body parts were became topic. I just kept thinking about how it will only get colder folks. ;)

Mile 5: 8:00. Hello downhill. You were a glorious addition to Mile 5. I was the only one wearing a Garmin in our group - hey I gotta keep this mileage total accurate - so I was letting the ladies know that we only had a mile left before we could be inside.

It was odd not having the large Beacon St Hill looming in front of us for the final bit of the run, but I can say I didn't miss it one bit. :P We ended up finishing with a final mile of 8:13.

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Not too shabby at all. My foot was sore the whole time, but nothing unbearable. I was hoping for an average pace around 8:45 before getting to the run this morning and was happy with an 8:39. I enjoy running with more skilled runners than I am as it is the push I need. Also, it is easier to push yourself when running with people.

We didn't waste time getting indoors once the run ended. It is nice to have a place to stretch and foam roll after a run. And you can catch up with everyone else to see how their runs went. The great thing about group runs is the range of paces and mileage being OWNED.

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I tried to get a sneaky pic of the room/group. I will get better about taking pics with teammates over the course of the season. I love sharing other people's stories about why they are taking part.

But, in the end, no matter your pace or mileage, we are all there for one reason: charity. Each person is helping to raise awareness for and to fight either Stroke or whatever other cause they are running for. That bonds people together.

Until next week's run...


Week 1 Workouts:

Sunday, December 8: 55 min Zumba class and 3.9 mile run

Monday, December 9: 3 mile run and 47 min Spin class

Tuesday, December 10: 4 mile run

Wednesday, December 11: 5 mile run

Thursday, December 12: 2 mile run

Friday, December 13: 4 mile run

Saturday, December 14: 6 mile group run and gym date with a friend


Looking To Donate

Are you interested in helping to fight Stroke? Please feel free to click on the link HERE to share a donation. Wondering how much? How about $6 in honor of the 6 miles I ran today with Tedy's Team?

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The Dani Ryan Holmes-Kirk 2nd Annual 30th Birthday (Virtual) 5k Run-Walk Ramble

It's here!!!!! That's right folks. My 31st birthday is on Monday, September 16 - which means only one thing!

It's time for:

The Dani Ryan Holmes-Kirk 2nd Annual 30th Birthday (Virtual) 5k Run-Walk Ramble

Yup, folks had so much fun participating in the event last year that I had to bring it back again! Plus, it was my most successful fundraising tool as well.

So let's break it on down here for anyone that wasn't around for it last year or needs a refresher.

Last year I wanted to ring in my 30th year of life in a new and different way since I was entering a new decade with a healthy weight, an obsession with running and a free Sunday morning.

As a result the Birthday 5k was born. You can catch up on all the fun here.

I will pause again as you read the lovely recap from last year's event that took place both in person at my house and virtually around the world.

What is taking place this year you ask?

Well, the entire 5k will be done virtually since I will be out of town during my actual birthday weekend. Again this means anywhere on the Globe. Last year we had participants in the US, Canada and England.

Here are the details.

A virtual run-walk means you do the 5k (3.1 mile) "race" at your leisure during September 16 and September 22. Map out your own route, get your own friends together or jump on the old trusty treadmill. Your call.

I will provide race bibs for you to print out and fix to your shirt (if you want) by the end of the week.

EVERYONE that completes the "race" will receive a Finisher's Medal in the mail from me. YAY! How cool is that? I know one of my favorite parts.

Also, everyone will be entered to receive some pretty sweet raffle prizes that I have available as well. More on that later.

But you may be asking: "Dani How much will this fun cost me?" or "What is my entry fee going to?"

Well, each participant will be making a $25 donation. The proceeds raised will be going towards my $5,000 fundraising goal to represent Tedy's Team in the 2014 Boston Marathon. That's right folks! I'm going back for more.


For those that don't know, I ran the Boston Marathon last year with Tedy's Team.

Tedy asked the American Stroke Association to work with him to create “Tedy’s Team,” a group of runners raising money for the American Stroke Association and training to complete the Boston Marathon® and the Falmouth Road Race.  Their participation supports Tedy Bruschi’s fight against stroke and honors both the survivors and the loved ones lost to America’s No. 4 leading cause of death.

In addition to the dollars being raised, an equally important issue for Tedy’s Team is the increase in awareness of stroke and recognition of its warning signs. Tedy’s Team is striving to reach as many people as possible in its message of recognizing the warning signs and acting appropriate when seeing them — calling 9-1-1 immediately.

I ran in honor of my Stroke Heroes, my grandparents, and will be doing so again this year. Unfortunately last year, my grampa passed away during the training. But, I feel as if he was looking down on me on April 15, 2013 and he helped me cross that Finish line at the right time.

april 15


If you would like to take part in the run or walk:

1) Please register here. (Thank you Racemenu for help with the site) --- Make sure you are providing an accurate mailing address because that is where I will send the medal.

2) You can complete the 3.1 mile-run walk whenever you like from September 16-September 22.

3) Once you complete the race please send me a photo of yourself and your time - dani@weightoffmyshoulders.com



Finisher's Medal

medal logo


Download Your Race Bib Here!

Click to Download Bib in PDF format


If you would like to make a donation to my fundraising goal and do NOT wish to participate in the run-walk (which is absolutely okay), please visit my fundraising page here.

Three Things Thursday

Most of the time my mind wanders from topic to topic and problem to problem and I don't see making an entire blog post about it so I kind of like having the option of doing a little this and that type post. So a Three Things Thursday or a Friday Favorites works for me. PLUS I love alliteration. ;) I am just a dork like that. ***

1) Someone asked me yesterday why I race so much. Well I think the obvious answer would be that I like it. ;) I have grown to love pinning the race bib on my shirt or pant leg, getting in the mix with everyone pre race and just going out there and having fun. I soak up every moment from the start to the finish. Plus, I love a good t-shirt, medal or pint glass.

But really and truly, it keeps me moving. I noticed this summer when I didn't have a big race on the horizon that my training suffered. I took a big break from racing/long distance races from mid May to beginning of August. Apparently I don't work well without a training plan. I think I knew that beforehand. I need someone to just tell me what to do. I think it's why I thrive with training plans. I do not follow them to the letter because you need to adjust due to injuries, life, etc but I love the framework it gives me.

And hey I ended up with 129 miles run in August after capping out at about 80 in each of the previous three months. Thanks  Dopey Challenge training plan.

Now racing is expensive so I have been very lucky this year to be offered some complimentary race entries as well as sponsored race entries (thanks Team Refuel) which has helped me race more than I normally would. I am very fortunate in that regards.

Either way - I think I need to continue to have races on the horizon to keep myself moving, focused and at a healthy weight.


2) I can't wait to get back to Weight Watchers as a meeting member. I miss just weighing in, picking up my weekly, sitting myself in the back row and being inspired. YES I am continuously inspired while leading WW meetings, but it is a whole different game than sitting in the lime green seat as a member.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED going to my weekly WW meetings. I hated when I was on the road and missed one. So you can imagine what it has been like for me since moving to Boston and not attending really any meetings. It hurts. I feel disconnected. I feel like I lose a piece of me.

I've attempted to attend meetings, but I have either been outed as a WW Leader by the person leading the meeting/someone in the room or have had to work the meeting because someone got sick or was running late. I just need to bear down and make the effort to attend a meeting where either 1) no one knows me or 2) I trust the leader to just let me sit there and be a WW member.

I lead anywhere from 11-15 meetings a week and sometimes I just want to take the WW Leader hat off and just be...


3) I think I am going to once again host a 5k - virtual option only - for my birthday this year! Last year I had The 1st Annual 30th Birthday 5k Run-Walk Ramble and it was a HUGE success. I had a blast (it was in person and virtual) and I raised $1,000 to put towards my fundraising goal ($5k) for Tedy's Team and the Boston Marathon.

So I am mulling around with the idea of doing it again - The 2nd Annual 30th Birthday 5k Run-Walk Ramble - where people will sign up online and run-walk a 5k wherever they are September 16-22. You will have a race bib you can print off the computer, you will be entered to win raffle prizes AND you will get a Finisher's Medal ... PLUS your payment will go to my $5k fundraising goal to run The Boston Marathon in 2014 once again with Tedy's Team (raising awareness/money for American Stroke Association).

Would you want to participate? Would $25 be too much for a chance at raffle prize (Heart Rate Monitor, Headphones, Pedometer), a Finisher's Medal AND a donation to charity? Let me know as details are still being worked out! :)

How To Get A Race Crowd On Your Side

I love a good screaming crowd. I mean who doesn't? In the right context. I have equated to running a road race to feeling like a rock star.

I mean there are people there that have NO IDEA who you are, but they are cheering you on and little kids want to high-five you.

Okay they want to high-five most people - yes I have been dissed by an 8-year-old before during a race. It kinda hurt my feelings.

But I digress...

When I normally race, I have one or maybe two people there to cheer me on (except Boston Marathon of course) and they cannot be all places along the course to offer moral support.

(Depending on the course, my dad kicked booty at Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Marathon so I could see him 4 times along the route)

So we need to rely on the other spectators to help push us through to the Finish.

But HOW do you stick out in a crowd of sometimes 20,000 runners?

Here are some of the tips I've picked up along the way that help me get the cheers I need!!

1) If you are on social media, share a pic of your outfit prior to race day. This - for me - results in a "flat Dani" type situation.

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I can't tell you how many blog readers, Twitter followers or even my Weight Watchers members have told me they knew what to look for all because I posted a pic in advance.

2) Put your name in BIG letters on the front of your running singlet or t-shirt.


Also block lettering is much easier for fans to read. You need to make sure it is visible from 10-20 feet away. I mean you aren't running up to the crowd shoving your shirt in their face - hopefully. I don't see that working all that well.

3) Piggybacking off Number 2 - make your charity, twitter handle or blog name LARGE on the FRONT of your shirt.

Many people try to put cute sayings on the back of shirts - that's great, but people don't tend to follow through and watch you pass them. They won't see anything you put on the back of the shirt so put all important info on the front!

4) Write your name or bib number on your arm.

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This can be a risky choice! Why? As you can see above, sunburns happen. Sunburns lead to you having your name permanently on your arm like all summer long. Yeah plan accordingly if you have a summer race and a big fancy event a month or so after.

Also, learn from my mistake - don't write your name in marker then put your armband over it. It just gets messy and ends up getting marker all over everything. Oops! Put your name on the right arm. :P

5) Wear something cute, bright and shiny that will catch the crowd's attention!

Now I have found that different articles of clothing will obviously appeal to different ages and sexes.

This is not meant to be sexist at all - it is just something I've found works for me. ;)

To win over the girls-ladies of the crowd: rock a cute skirt. For me? It is the Sparkle Athletic skirts all the way.


Plus they are fun and are comfortable to wear while running, which is the most important thing - not letting crowd pleasing outfits get in the way of your performance.

For the boys and gentlemen in the crowd, a good pair of knee socks can do the trick. My personal favorite: my Superman socks. They have amazing little capes on the back.


Superhero socks, colorful socks, BEER knee socks ... any of those will work. :)

I had a little boy yell out during one 5k: "Look dad that girl is Superman!" Oh the smile on my face was HUGE!

6) A full costume. 

This is something that I have only tried during this January's Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I dressed up at Jessie from Toy Story and LOVED the "Go Jessie" cheers along the course.

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Again make sure it is something that will not impede your performance in your race.


And sometimes almost all of these tips come together in the perfect storm: my Boston Marathon outfit this past April.

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It was the first race I truly had something that appealed to everyone in the crowd so I felt like those folks carried me through one of the hardest races of my life!!


How do you rally the crowd and capture their energy to pull you through a race?

Tedy’s Team Group Run – 10 Miles

A word to you all - check your training schedules. :P Okay this is really a note to me.

I knew that on Saturday we would be running 10 miles.

But where those 10 miles would be ... I did not know.


On Friday, I ended up running 9.3 miles total (a 6.2 mile in the morning and a 3.1 mile run in the afternoon). I only had the 3 mile run on the schedule, but since I slept through the 6 mile run on tap for Thursday I had to do some make-up work.

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The average speed on both was 8:22. Crazy that both ended up at the same exact pace. Well, I think the torrential downpour helped that happen. The weather was atrocious and it was wicked tough to enjoy either run, but they were done and that was more important.


Now I don't normally run that much the day before a long run, but I needed to get some frustrations out and thought running would be the best way, but it ended up working out to the opposite with the rain, technical difficulties and other such things.

I ended up yelling most of the run - yelling at the rain and wind and my random stuff - and couldn't hear any of my music over the wind/hail that was coming sideways.

But Friday night, I got some sad family news and it all seemed trivial. It reminded me that there was more to life and a good or bad run.

So I got up ready on Saturday morning to enjoy my Tedy's Team 10-mile group run.

Thankfully my teammate Meg and her husband Josh picked me up again and we headed to FitCorp on Beacon Street.

It was in the car that I learned we would actually be running 10 miles on the Boston Marathon course itself including...


Ahhh, I was actually - finally - going to run Heartbreak Hill.

Woo hoo!

I was psyched ... yet also frightened from all the stories! But mostly excited. :)

I had decided to bring some Holiday Cheer to the group run so I broke out some Christmas favorites:

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Thanks Sparkly Soul for adding some sparkle to my run!

We all headed to the train. Instead of running an out and back 10-mile loop we were taking the train to Newton and running the final 10 miles of the Boston Marathon course. :)

Thankfully Meg has run the Boston Marathon with Tedy's Team before so she was giving me the lowdown on Heartbreak Hill as we started running as soon as we got off the train.

We ran a few hundred yards ... and BAM ... there was the start of Heartbreak Hill. :P

I expected it to just be one large hill, but it is actually a series of smaller hills followed by a large hill (which Meg forgot to mention to me ;)). She had just told me about the rolling hills at the beginning.

But it was a great accomplishment to conquer it for the first time.

Heartbreak Hill is at Mile 16 of the marathon. My legs were feeling tired from the previous day's run so I kinda felt like I did at Mile 16 of the Savannah Marathon. :)

Instead of popping in my headphones 2 miles into the 10 mile run, I decided to just enjoy the sights and sounds around me - see what I will be enjoying on April 15.

Plus I was really just so thankful to be healthy, alive and running that I didn't want any technical difficulties messing up my run.

The first 5 miles of the run were new to me so it was wicked nice to just take in the lovely houses of Newton.

And seeing all the other runners and running groups out working on Heartbreak Hill and training.

I even saw a woman who had more Holiday cheer on than I did. ;)

We had water stops 4.6 miles in and 7.3 miles in to the run.

Meg flew in front of me for the final part of Heartbreak Hill so we ended up catching up at the final water stop and running the final 3 miles together.

It was great chatting and getting to know my teammate better.

Then it was time for the final hill of every week - Beacon Street heading up to the Massachusetts State House.


Neither of us were looking forward to it so it was time to dig deep and power through.

I turned to Meg and said "Today this is our marathon."

Yes, overdramatic, but we both needed it.

And it worked.

We both pushed our way up the hill - which is the longest 0.3 miles ever - and finished the run strong.

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That run felt great. It was also the exact same average speed as the previous week's 10-miler.

It's great having FitCorp available after the run to stretch and foam roll! :)

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I also owe a big thanks to my friends at Samuel Adams for giving me one of the 26.2 mugs from earlier this year.

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It will come in handy after these long runs. :)


I can't wait for next week's 12-miler!

If you are interested in making a donation, please feel free to do so here.

I appreciate all the support! :)