Tuesday Update

I can’t believe July is almost over!  At the beginning of July, James and I moved to KC! We have been busy getting settled into our jobs, routines, and new home.  A couple weeks ago, my parents visited for a couple days, and we at some BBQ, explored the city a little, and caught a Royals game.

First, we went to Oklahoma Joe’s, the original restaurant in a gas station.  We waited in line for about an hour, and it was worth it, but I was starving by the time we got to the front! James and I recently went to Jack Stack BBQ, and we both agree that Oklahoma Joe’s is the winner between the two.  We definitely have lots more BBQ to try though!

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The next day (yes, I’m wearing the same shirt, don’t judge me!), I took Mom and Dad to my new favorite little pizza place, Pie Five Pizza Co.  Capital D – LICIOUS!  It is like a Subway or Chipotle, but for pizza, they make it right in front of you, then it bakes!

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Later, Mom and I ran in the neighborhood.  There are fountains everywhere, and I just love them.  I have ran by this fountain several times, and there is usually a slight misty breeze coming off, which feels amazing.

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We saw the KC Royals play (and lose) to Detroit that night, and it was a lot of fun, even though they lost!  I don’t remember the last time I went to a Royals game, I was a little kid! Mom and Dad got us tickets in Gordo Nation, which was a really fun atmosphere, but unfortunately Alex Gordon didn’t play that night due to an injury. It really a great night spent at the K with my parents, and I hope James and I can go to another game sometime.

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Not too much else has gone on these past few weeks, lots of balcony sitting, lots of exploring the neighborhoods, and lots of hot and hilly and humid runs.  Jasper is acclimating very nicely, he really loves going outside.  He also loves having his windows to watch the birds.

I have officially begun training for my second 1/2 marathon, which will be here in KC in October.  My first 1/2 marathon was this past April, and was also quite the experience, but I can’t wait to do it again, and hopefully do better! Kristen and Mom will come for the race, and all 3 of us will be racing together.  This summer has been really tough for training and consistently running, so I’m sure the race will be very challenging, and I sure have my work cut out for me in these next couple months.  I’m sure I will have a post or two about my training as it continues.

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James’ parents are visiting this weekend, and we will spend some time out in the Legends area, which will be fun! It has been nice that family has visited, makes it feel more like home.  Things still don’t feel 100% real yet, even though this is the 3rd full week (for me) of living here.  I’m not sure when it will completely feel real, maybe another month or so?

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Last minute good news, I received a call today and accepted a new position with the State! I will still be working in the same office, but will travel among the region to prevent and detect Child Care fraud going on in the area.  It will be a great new endeavor, and a new challenge for me.  I am looking forward to starting this new chapter with the State.

I’ve seen lots of school supplies already in stores, I really can’t believe how quickly this year is passing.  How’s your summer been?

Four on the 4th Race Recap

On July 4, I ran the Four on the 4th race in Kansas City.  For the past 3 years, I have ran a race on or around July 4.  In Hays, the Wild West 5k is on the Saturday around the 4th of July.  Since I was not in Hays (OMG I still can’t believe I live in KC now!), I had to find a new race! I ran the Ward Parkway Four (Miler) on the 4th.  It was a blast! A hilly, humid, hot blast, but a BLAST!

For comparison’s sake, I believe last year the Hays 5k had about 300 people running/walking.  In KC this year, I think there were just over 1000.  CRAZY amount of people.  Also, in Hays, the elevation gain is super tiny, and there 2-3 big hills, and a couple smaller hills at the KC race.

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Needless to say, my body is going to acclimate to hills very fast, or I will die.

This race was my second run in KC since I moved last week.  I also ran last night, and have been taking it a little easy, because I didn’t run a lot in June (because of the packing and the move), and I am not used to the severe humidity or hills.  I am glad I did this race, I met a lot of cool people, had a good fun run, and was able to take part in a 4th of July run for the 3rd straight year.

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Things I learned while doing this race:

1.  Fitness is lost FAST.  I skipped a ton of runs in June due to limited time while packing, moving, and traveling back and forth.  I managed to get almost 40 miles in for June, but I was hoping for closer to 100.  I can definitely tell I ran less.

2.  I need to get in some serious hill practice.

3.  I shouldn’t wear my hair in pig tails.  Cute in theory, but a hassle when they stick to my neck.  And they don’t look cute when I’m all sweaty.

4.  I need a flag shirt (sorry Mom, I always hated them growing up, but now I ‘d really like one!)

5.  Runners are family.  I made some sweaty friends while running, and encouragement, even from a stranger, is awesome.  I was really missing my Mom, and running partner, but having such a “family” of runners around made it a little better.

6.  The SEE KC RUN fellas are pretty great, and they take really good race pics, FOR FREE! Who does that? Their website is pretty 1990′s, but the guys are a class act, really cool.

And 7.  I like race bling. =)  Cool medal for finishing the race.

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I’ll see you again next year, Four on the 4th! Thanks Garry Gribbles for putting on a great race! Did you run to celebrate the 4th?

Leawood Gerstners

It’s officially official! James, Jasper, and I are moving to Kansas City!  A while back, James and I decided we wanted to really make a go of trying to relocate.  We’ve lived in Western Kansas for our entire lives, and always have enjoyed visiting KC on long weekends, and we actually rang in the new year 2014 in KC.  We started applying for jobs and looking for places to rent a few months go.  We found an apartment we loved, in a location we loved, and submitted an application!

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We were accepted at the apartment complex in Leawood around the same time that James was offered a position with a really great company in Overland Park.  So begins the packing!  We have a LOT of stuff in our tiny apartment.  Where on earth did it all come from? Boxes and boxes later, we are nearly finished packing, only a few more boxes to go.

We will make our big move at the end of June, and will officially be the Leawood Gerstners. :) Jasper has enjoyed playing in the empty boxes, and with the packing materials.  I think the move will be good for him, he’ll have more room to run around, more windows to look out, and even a balcony to lay on.

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We have made several trips back and forth to KC for job interviews and apartment viewings.  The drive has gotten prettier and prettier as the spring and summer rains have continued.  The move will be a huge change for us, we have lived in the same town for our entire lives, and have both our families within a 10 minute drive.  I am very close with my parents, my mom especially… we run together nearly every day.  It will definitely be an adjustment, but I think it will strengthen our relationship, and I am sure we will still talk multiple times a day.

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2014 is proving to be quite the life-changing year, we know this will be a great change, I just hope it all goes smoothly!  Thank you all for your love and support along the way!

With love,

The Gerstners :)

Catch Up

So much catching up to do! It has been far too long since I have posted.  WHERE HAS MAY GONE?!?  Let’s see what’s happened these past few weeks…

Over Mother’s Day Weekend, Momma and I ran the Komen Race for the Cure 5k.  We were interviewed by the local paper, and our article showed up a couple days later.  The race itself was not a great one for me, I was feeling slow and tired, and Momma definitely had to push me through.  We finished together (which we rarely do during a race), and even held hands over the finish line.

It was one of my favorite races, just for the fact that Mom and I did it together, and without her, I wouldn’t have finished like I did, and would not have had the memory of crossing the line together.

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When the weather was nice a couple weeks ago, James and I took Jasper outside to get some fresh air.  When Jasper was little, we took him outside on his leash quite often.  Since he’s gotten older, we don’t take him out as much, but he still goes out on occasion.  He was on edge, and didn’t want to stay out long.  We also take him out in the car every once in a while, I’m hoping that he’ll continue to tolerate car rides as he grows older.

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The weekend after Mother’s Day, we were invited to my cousin’s high school graduation in Salina. She is my second youngest cousin, and it was nice to see a lot of family I haven’t seen in a while.  The following 4 pictures are from the graduation festivities.  It was a beautiful day, couldn’t have asked for a nicer weekend for a party!  Congrats on being a High School grad, Jennifer! Good luck at KU next year!

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My youngest cousin Ava and me

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Aunt Debi, me, and Momma

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Beautiful Jennifer, Congrats GRAD!

This past weekend was MY BIRTHDAY! I turned 28 on Sunday, and we spent the weekend relaxing, celebrating, and spending time with family.  Most years, my birthday falls right around Memorial Day, and I was happy to have a 4 day birthday weekend this year. James got me some absolutely gorgeous lilies and roses.  He also got me a lovely shopping spree for running stuff (YES)!  With the long weekend, we were able to see my grandparents, my grandpa, James’ parents, my parents, James’ grandma, and James’ aunt and uncle, all in town.  It was really nice to see everyone and have some time to chat and catch up.

I also got a beautiful dish set, an owl candle (I do love my owls), a gift card to get my nails done, and a pretty scarf.  It was a great birthday, couldn’t have asked for a nicer time!  On Sunday, my mom and I were actually running at the exact minute I was born 28 years ago, at 11:33 am.  I know you really wanted to know that, but it was neat to be WITH mom at that special minute, in particular.  Today, I got a package in the mail, my sister Kristen bought me my first Oiselle gear! I got a Thirteen point One shirt.  Thanks sisser!

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Momma, Shay puppy, me, and Daddy

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My awesome Oiselle shirt that Kristen got me for my birthday!

Also over the weekend, my best friend Michelle was in town to see family.  She lives in Alabama, and I only get to see her once or twice a year.  She was able to go to Mom and Dad’s on Monday and we made S’more’s over the fire pit.  It was the best end to the long weekend.  We got to catch up, I got to hear her ca-razy Southern accent, and just BE in the moment.

Miss you already, Bug!

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Mom, Michelle, and me

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A lot is going on this coming month or two as well, James and I are working hard and feverishly on getting all our ducks in a row to move to KC.  Job interviews have started, and more are continuing.  We have found an apartment, and are trying to figure out the timing of everything.  Soon, we will be living in KC.  It is very scary, very exciting, and pretty nerve-wracking.  I do not like not knowing what is going on, or how everything is going to work out.  I know it will be a great opportunity for us in KC, but I will definitely miss “home” and the people here, especially my Mom and Dad.

What will you be doing this summer?

Cinda the Elephant

A week ago, James and I were very lucky, and were able to feed, pet, and get up close and personal with an elephant.

First, let me back up and explain what’s going on.  For Valentine’s Day this year, James gifted me an “Elephant Kiss” from the Sedgwick County Zoo, which means the elephants had paint on the end of their trunks, and “kissed” the canvas, leaving a gorgeous and totally unique art piece.  My aunt, Debi, volunteers at the zoo, and was able to set it up for us to meet the artist herself.

My “Elephant Kiss” print was done by the elephant Cinda.  Cinda is about 42 years old, and has lived at the Sedgwick County Zoo for most of her life.  She and her elephant buddy Stephanie are about the same age, and were both brought from Africa to reside at the zoo.  The zoo-keepers told us that Stephanie is the smaller elephant, but she is the boss, and though Cinda is larger, she is pretty timid.

We got to pet, feel, and feed Stephanie, as Cinda was being weighed (monthly weigh-ins to ensure the elephants aren’t gaining/losing too much!).  Then we got to pose with our “Elephant Kiss” artist, Cinda.  It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I cannot express how excited I was to meet both of the elephants!

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It was amazing to see and feel first hand how gentle and intelligent these great animals were.  We watched their training, which is done daily, to keep their minds sharp and to keep them active.  The keepers said they know about 80 “tricks,” including “dance,” “march,” “sit,” and “salute.”  We only saw a few minutes of training, but the elephants are very smart.

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James feeding Stephanie. Both elephants ate a mixture of potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples.

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Selfie with James, Debi, and me, photo bombed by Cinda the elephant!

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The Artist herself, Cinda the elephant!

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Cinda and me!

The zoo-keepers surprised us and also offered for us to meet and feed BiBi the Rhino! I was nervous at first… a few years ago I was partially sprayed by a rhino at a different zoo (not a fun experience!)  Turns out BiBi was super nice, and gentle, and we fed her a bucket of bananas.

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The entire day was just amazing.  After we fed and met the elephants and rhino, we saw the penguins get fed (it was World Penguin Day), and we saw the orangutans and chimpanzees that Debi volunteers with every week.

I have always loved the zoo, and it was such a unique experience to do something that not everyone can do.  It is a memory I will cherish, and I look forward to taking our children to the zoo someday and hopefully they will share the same love of animals that I do!

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James even bought me a stuffed elephant, and I named her Cinda, of course.

If you ever get a chance to meet an elephant, TAKE IT!! It was a fantastic experience, and I’m so happy I was able to do it with James and Debi.

Have you ever gotten to feed or meet a rare animal?

SPIbelt and FlipBelt Review

Ok Runners,

Everyone knows how difficult it is to run, and carry all your stuff with you. I’ve tried several different running belts and bands, and have finally found the best 2 for me.  I have had a FlipBelt for about 6 months, and have loved it.  I recently decided to order a SPIbelt and give it a try.

SPIbelt and FlipBelt did not pay me for these reviews.  I bought each belt on my own, they were not gifted by either company.  The views here are my own.

SPIbelt is on the left, and FlipBelt is on the right.  Jasper, my lovable fur baby, was very instrumental in helping me lay my belts out to photograph.

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FlipBelt retails at FlipBelt’s website for $28.99.  There are 10 different colors, and 5 different sizes.  The belt does stretch, but is not “one size fits all,” there are size measurements based on your waist or hips.  The belt is essentially a tube that fits around your waist, with openings to stash your items.

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FlipBelt’s best feature is that you can insert your items into the belt via several different slit-type openings, and then flip the whole thing over so your items are “locked” into place, with no openings to slip out. In my experience, the FlipBelt does what it advertises.

I have run with my phone, keys, and chapstick in the belt, and felt the items were very secure.  They did not slip around, never came out, and the belt had a very low profile.  With my shirt pulled down, you cannot even see the belt.  I like that the belt doesn’t stick out or add bulk.  It was very comfortable to wear.  There is a small LEVEL reflective logo on the front, but when flipped over and “locked,” the logo is hidden.  The belt does not hinder my running, and is actually easy to forget you are wearing it.  It is that comfortable.

I feel that over time, my FlipBelt has stretched out some, and tends to slip up toward my waist, though I prefer to wear it down on my hips.  This is my biggest complaint, though it is not enough for me to not use the product.  FlipBelt is machine washable, and is made of non-chafing spandex/lycra.  I have only washed my belt once.  After about 6 months of wear, the belt is still in great shape, no tearing or fading.

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SPIbelt retails at SPIbelt’s website for $19.99.  There are over 20 color options, and even patterned belts, such as camo, red white and blue, or polka dotted.  The belt is “one size fits most,” with an expandable stretchy strap. The belt features an expandable pocket, in which your phone, chapstick, ID, fuel, etc. can fit.  I chose the belt with 2 pockets, because I like to have my phone separate from my keys if possible.

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My favorite part of SPIbelt is that the size can be adjusted to fit tighter.  I chose the belt with 2 pockets (retails for $29.99 on SPIbelt’s website), and after using it a handful of times, couldn’t be happier.  My phone fits nicely in the large pocket.  I put my chapstick and keys in the smaller pocket.  There is room for gels or fuels.

The SPIbelt is hand-washable, though I have not yet washed it.  If the belt begins slipping up (which it has not in the few times I have used it), I can re-adjust it easily.  The profile is also very low, like the FlipBelt.  If I have my shirt over it, it is difficult to tell I have the belt on.

SPIbelt has several options, with dog leashes, arm bands, single and double pockets, and even extra large pockets for medical equipment.  I have not tested the arm bands, and have not liked the arm bands I have used in the past, I prefer the belt, and like that this belt does not ride up.  This belt, too, is easy to forget you have it on, it is very comfortable.

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The FlipBelt may have more room for your items, as there are openings around the entire belt.  However, for the items I carry, which is typically my phone, chapstick and keys, I believe the SPIbelt has plenty of room for me, in a low-profile, easy to use product.

I also like that the SPIbelt has several options, such as single or double pockets, many colors, reflective additions, and different sized pockets, and also is fully size-adjustable.

I anticipate this the SPIbelt will be my go-to belt for running, as I can easily adjust the belt to keep it at my hips, instead of my waist, where I prefer to wear it.  My items stay secure in both belts, and comfort is key in both.  In both belts, I put my phone in a snack size baggie to keep it dry, from sweat or rain.  Each belt also offers a protective plastic encasing for your phone or other items.  The plastic is extra, and does cost more.  I did not purchase the plastic bag for either.

I would gladly recommend either belt to any runner, but if you want your belt tight and non-moving, the SPIbelt may be the better fit, at least for me.

Winner: SPIbelt.  The SPIbelt just has everything I need in a running belt.


It was very windy outside while I made James take pictures for me.  He may or may not have gotten this look a few times while I was trying to keep the hair out of my face and put my belts on.  Thank you, James, for taking pictures!

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Do you use a running belt?

Which belt do you use, or how do you carry your needed items while running?

Wordless Wednesday

Good evening! I’ve been taking so many beautiful flower pictures lately.  Spring is the most gorgeous time of year, so many vibrant colors and amazing blooms.

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I saw this photo on Earth Day, and it is never more applicable than now.  This is our only earth, lets take care of it!

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I discovered Bubble Tea several months ago.  It is my new favorite guilty pleasure!  And Jasmine, the woman who owns the Bubble Tea Cafe in my town, is just the sweetest lady ever!

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My hubby and I celebrated Easter with his family and then with my parents.  It was a nice, relaxing weekend, with gorgeous weather!

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I did intervals tonight… 400m repeats on the track.  There were 30 mile an hour wind gusts.  Not fun.  Not fun at all.  Glad it’s over though!

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Happy Wednesday, I hope everyone is having a good week!

Remembering Boston

I remember I was at work on Marathon Monday, still sore from my first 10k, which was at the Eisenhower Marathons a year ago (see my first half marathon report, from this past weekend!).  I was excited about running, excited about progressing further in my running career, excited that I saw my sister, and had a great weekend.

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Then I heard reports of a bombing, people killed, chaos, scared and brave runners.  I was not very productive the rest of the week, let alone the rest of Monday.  I could not keep myself from reading everything I could get my hands on.

I felt like I had family there, and I did, my running family was there, hurt and scared.  But they were not alone.  I had never felt like I belonged in the running community more than on that day.

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Of course, I bought a shirt, with the funds going to victims and families of Boston.  I wore it with pride, and still do.  That night, I ran a slow, silent couple miles. I cried.  I was angry.  I didn’t understand.  I didn’t understand why people hurt others, why people commit acts of violence, why innocent people are targeted.  That run was one of my hardest.  Not only was I sore from the weekend, but I felt alone, and I felt like nobody was safe, not even in the sport I loved.  But I also fell more in love with running on April 15, 2013.  I belonged, on that day, and today.  I belong to the best community in the world, my running family.

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To those running on Marathon Monday, be love.  To those spectating on Marathon Monday, be love.  To those who have never laced up their shoes before, be love.  To those who can’t run any more, be love.

Run strong, Boston.  I am proud to be a part of this amazing club.