“I kind of just hit this point where I was like, I am not living authentically. What do I even like? I sort of had a relationship with myself but not really. Also, I was kind of battling my own sexuality at the time as well, too. And I just hit this moment where I was like, I can’t do it any more — I can’t live the way that I am living, I am not living for myself, and I don’t feel authentic. And so, I ended up quitting running for a short little bit and then revisited the sport with a different mentality of, how can I enjoy this and still figure out these other areas of life that feel kind of swirly and messy?”
Sammie Bennett, a west Michigan runner and SHE RUNS Grand Rapids race ambassador, grew up playing soccer and started running in 2012. Her first-ever road race? The 25K River Bank Run — a pretty big distance for a newer runner. Sammie and Heather talk about tackling this race (it was Heather’s first-ever race, too), how Sammie went on to race the RBR five times, SHE RUNS Grand Rapids (formerly Gazelle Girl) three times, and various other local races totaling 80+ races over the years. During their conversation, Sammie also is honest about how her relationship with running has changed over the years, and the personal growth she’s experienced in more recent time.
Mental health awareness is incredibly important to Sammie, and her mission is to create an inclusive space for all kinds of runners, so everyone has a safe space to challenge their bodies and minds. As a SHE RUNS Grand Rapids race ambassador, she’s particularly focused on helping create a welcoming, inclusive place for runners of all backgrounds and experience.
“Inclusivity is one of my highest values as a runner myself, and also as helping create space for people to have a place in the running community in Grand Rapids because it can be so intimidating and it can also be a little off-putting when you show up in a community and you’re like, I don’t look like anyone else, I don’t act like anyone else, I don’t run like them, but Iwant to be a runner, or I think I am a runner,” she says. “And it’s like, you know, you put shoes on and you go out for a run, you are a runner and you belong and that is really important for me to help empower people to not necessarily feel deterred because they don’t look or feel or do things like anybody else. But if you are curious about running and you want to run, and a barrier for you is accountability or lack of knowledge or you’re just looking for friendship, there’s a place for everybody in the Grand Rapids running community to do that. And I am really big on trying to create that space for everybody if I can. I am trying. I am trying my best.”
Sammie and Heather also talk about winter running and how signing up for a spring race helps keep us motivated throughout the coldest months in Michigan.
Registration is underway for SHE RUNS Grand Rapids, which takes place April 30, 2023. The all-women’s event includes a half marathon, 10K, and 5K. It starts and finishes in downtown Grand Rapids and features nine neighborhood and business districts on the half course, as well as area highlights including the historical Sixth Street Bridge. The event, now in its 11th year, features a Finish Line Festival, open to participants and the community — this event includes live music, food trucks, and local wines, ciders, and beers. 100% of event proceeds benefit Girls on the Run West Michigan and the YWCA West Central Michigan.
Learn more about SHE RUNS Grand Rapids, sign up for a race, and access downloadable training programs at sherunsgr.com
ALSO SHARED: Race discount code for the 30th anniversary Grand Rapids Public Schools Turkey Trot. Use the code 2022MRG5 for $5 off your registration. Register at GRPS.org/Turkey-Trot
Fall ziplining along Lake Michigan. Yurt camping. September boating. Equestrian shoreline riding. These are just a few of the autumn and early-winter activities shared by Maia Turek, who returns to the show to talk all things state parks and the many ways we can explore the Great Lakes State over the next several months.
Maia, who works for the parks and recreation division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, has lots of updates for us. After gushing over the gorgeous September weather we've been experiencing — Heather shares a stand-up paddling adventure she recently had with two friends while Maia talks about why boating this time of year with her family is so great — they talk about a number of events and activities taking place at state parks through the end of the year. (Heather also shares save-the-date info on the 5th annual Michigan Runner Girl Winter Weekend Getaway in January 2023!) They also share some laughs about leaping salmon and their impressive "hero's journey" come fall.
Covered during this episode:
“I tried not to dwell on it, I tried to learn from it. And I took care of myself. I looked at it as a new beginning, with new opportunities … and I still do after all these years, try to do something positive with it. I tried to take something that was tragic — I couldn’t have any more children — not only for me, but for my family, and we’ve tried to turn it into something more positive and inspirational and helpful for other people.” — Risa Kirschner, who lives in Farmington Hills and who at age 29 and pregnant with her second child learned she had atrial myxoma, a heart tumor.
“I have treasured every single second spent with Alli [her daughter who was 2 years old at the time of her diagnosis], who is a senior at Michigan State University. I don't take a single day or my health for granted and try to live life to the fullest,” Risa says. “I had been given a second chance and wanted to give back to those who made it possible and to help others who might be going through a similar experience.”
During this episode, you’ll meet Risa as well as fellow Epic Heart Heroes Amanda Allen and Aimee Bingham. They all share their unique heart story — Amanda of Rochester Hills, learned she had a heart defect at age 12, and Aimee had an aortic aneurysm and had open heart surgery at age 35. They’re all dedicated to helping raise awareness of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
As the women share during this important conversation, a common misconception is that heart disease is a man’s disease, when in fact almost as many women as men experience it themselves.
Amanda, Risa, and Aimee serve as spokespeople for the American Heart Association and the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K, and represent the Epic Heart Heroes at the Women Run the D Expotique on race weekend and participate in the races on race day. Race weekend is right around the corner — Sept. 17-18, on Belle Isle in Detroit.
Also joining this conversation: Dr. Audrey Wu, a cardiologist at the University of Michigan, an Ann Arbor triathlete/runner and triathlon coach, and mom of 3, as well as race director Eva Solomon, who is behind Epic Races, a race management company in southeast Michigan. The American Home Fitness Women Run the D Half Marathon, 10K & 5K is an Epic Races event.
There's still time to sign up for this race! Use the code MIRunnerGirl102022 to save on your race entry to the Women Run the D Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2023 on Belle Isle in Detroit, Mich. Register here: https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Anywhere/TheAmericanHomeFitnessDetroitWomensHalfMarathonand5K
“When my relationship with food improved and I started to heal I didn’t let go of the running. I noticed that it was crucial to me feeling more relaxed, centered, more in touch with how I actually felt inside my body. I used intuitive eating as part of my recovery from chronic dieting, which is all about listening and honoring and respecting the senses that you get from your body and I was able to use running as a way … it really calmed me, reassured me.”Amelia Sherry, dietitian, mother, runner, recovered chronic dieter.
Like so many women, Amelia Sherry started her first diet in middle school. Unlike many women, she says, she turned her obsession with being as thin and fit as could be into a full-time occupation pursuing a career working as a fitness writer and editor at several leading women’s magazines.
Eventually, she returned to school to earn a graduate degree in public health nutrition and to become a registered dietitian nutritionist — in retrospect, she says, this was another thinly veiled pursuit to figure out optimal ways to control her weight.
“Becoming a mom in 2011 was the wake-up call that triggered me to get a grip on my chaotic and dysfunctional relationship with food for good.”
As a dietitian, Amelia eventually focused in on pediatrics and now holds a clinical position in pediatric endocrinology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC. She’s also the author of the new book, “Diet-proof Your Daughter: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Girls Who Have Happy, Healthy Relationships with Food and Body.” This book will be available this October, but Amelia is offering a free digital copy when you visit her Nourish Her site.
Follow and connect with Heather:
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
The Michigan Runner Girl show returns from its mid-summer break with Heather and her 22-year-old daughter Emma at Emma's new apartment in Grand Rapids, Mich. talking about all things books (they share their top reads this summer), traveling (a visit to Nantucket in July!), and how they're both feeling heading into fall.
They record their conversation the evening before Emma starts her first day of medical school orientation and on her first official weekend in her new place.
Also part of their discussion:
- Their shared (newer) love of small dogs. (Heather reveals big news about a new family member during this portion of the conversation!)
- Why "comfort" books, movies, TV series, and podcasts are so important to Emma (and what a few of those things are)
- The power of writing and journaling (and how Heather is moving closer to writing a book)
- The ways they're both hoping to stay up on their workouts and running in the coming weeks as a new season (in more ways than one) begins for each of them
Be sure to listen all the way through to the end of this episode, when Heather talks about the NEW Michigan Runner Girl Patreon community and how you can support the show AND receive special perks and exclusive content.
“My work, my passion is helping women lose unwanted weight, but from the inside out — by changing their eating behaviors from a place of deep satisfaction and pleasure, instead of focusing on diets, or counting calories, or carbs or anything like that.”
Life coach Lia Pinelli joins Heather on the MRG Show to talk about a lot of things — our relationship with food, how we can shift our mindset about our eating behaviors, finding the form of exercise and movement that speaks to us, and so much more. Lia’s journey includes going from teaching Spanish and serving as a school administrator to helping teenage girls to coaching women. She also talks honestly about her own struggles with food and weight loss.
Despite holding degrees from both Stanford and UC Berkeley, Lia says she was unable to crack the code on her struggle with overeating for decades. No matter how many books read, diets tried, or mindful eating methods subscribed to, she could not resolve her struggle with food and weight.
After becoming a life coach in 2016 she learned about weight loss coaching and was totally skeptical — after all, if it worked she would have tried it already. She decided to give it a go anyway and was blown away by the results. Not only did she lose weight without using willpower or resistance, but she no longer experienced the over-hunger and cravings that had plagued her since childhood.
Weight loss coaching provided the missing link. It not only helped her figure out what to eat, but it addressed her mindset around food and weight. She learned to think differently which led her to eat differently and in a simple, sustainable way. That was 30 pounds ago. Today she is living happily with her family and maintains her naturally weight without counting calories or carbs. She’s on a mission to teach other women how to ditch the diet drama and create the lives they crave, unapologetically.
Connect with Lia: https://liapinellicoaching.com/eatingwithoutfear
Follow and connect with Heather:
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
“When we’re improving ourselves in one area, the rest of us comes along for the ride, as a whole person — physically, emotionally, spiritually … There is a ripple effect. When we start to change habits in one area — I started with a cup of water — and as we continue to build those habits, that ripple effect into every area of life is so significant and we discount the small things that we do every day that truly can be life changing.”
Heathe talks with Stephanie Lueras, owner of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness, a Body Positive ACE Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and international best-selling author and speaker during this latest episode.
After coming to a point in life where she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Stephanie needed some changes. Through small actions and goal setting, Stephanie has lost over 200 pounds through balanced nutrition and movement, without the use of restrictive dieting, commercial weight loss plans, or supplements. She has gained a love of endurance sports, running marathons, and is currently training for Ironman-distance races. She uses this same holistic goal-setting model in working with clients in groups and individually to empower people to break down the everyday barriers that exist so they can achieve what they are working towards for their best personal wellness.
"I’ve found this love of endurance sports, I’ve completely changed my life. I left a toxic career to step into the health and wellness space in helping other people and walking alongside them — to really engage them in what they want to accomplish.”
Connect with Stephanie: https://calendly.com/heartandsolefit/discoveryzoom (This is a direct link to her free consultation, or it can also be found on her website, heartandsolefit.com)
Follow and connect with Heather:
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
“I practice gratitude every single day. I am super grateful for my life. But 10 years ago, I was in a world of pain.”
Jem Fuller has lived a colorful, global life—from barefoot backpacker to corporate leader, fire-dancer and traditional tattooist, kindergarten teacher to motorcycle courier, masseuse and reflexology to labourer and travel consultant. Now his time is as partner and father, coach, facilitator and retreat leader. Jem, who lives on a sheep farm in Australia with his partner Talia, is the author of the recently published book, The Art of Conscious Communication for Thoughtful Men, and can be seen delivering his TEDx talk on YouTube.
Jem recently found a groove with running, which he acknowledged felt “arduous” initially. “I used to force myself to do it for the exercise. Then, for the 'feel-good' afterwards... and only recently — I'm 50 — with some new high-quality runners, I'm actually starting to enjoy the run itself! I never thought I would say that.”
Heather’s conversation with Jem follows a few life updates from her — she shares reflections from this year’s 40th anniversary of the Bayshore Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K over Memorial Day weekend, thoughts on her IRONMAN 70.3 Michigan in September, a girls trip to Grand Rapids, what she’s reading right now, and more.
Heather and Jem talk about searching—and finding—ease and flow in life. It’s been a long and interesting journey for Jem, and he shares honestly and with vulnerability how the path has unfolded for him so far, to include his “midlife awakening.” They talk about:
What it means to take a ‘red-hot crack’ at finding your best life (Heather tells Jem she’s going to have to start using this awesome Aussie phrase)
Radical self-acceptance of the past and present
Abundance as a mindset
Connection with and immersion in nature
Energy as a life force, cross-cultural connection
Quality of relationships: “I believe that relationships are at the core of our quality of life—the quality of your relationships directly correlates to the quality of your life. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, or how big your house is … you know, none of that matters. If your relationships aren’t great, your experiences in life aren’t great.” -Jem
For more (including mentions/links during the episode):
Connect with Jem: https://jemfuller.com
Follow and connect with Heather:
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
Author and health advocate Lynne Bowman, a 76-year-old mom of three and grandmother of two — joins Heather for a conversation about the things we do today — our sleep, eating, and movement — and how they impact our future selves.
Lynne reminds us that life doesn’t end at 60 or 70, as she says, but the quality of our last 25 or 30 years can be all over the place, depending on decisions we make now.
Lynne is a self-described “snarky grandma” who fully acknowledges she doles out cooking tips and health advice despite not owning a restaurant, not being a reality TV star, and not holding a medical degree. Oh, and she doesn’t particularly like to cook. BUT, she is the author of the new book, “Brownies for Breakfast, A Cookbook for Diabetics and the People Who Love Them," which is a cool, fun, beautiful, guidebook for really anybody who wants to eat healthy: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free and sugar-free.
Lynne doesn’t hold anything back and really owns her straightforwardness. She’s passionate about sharing her belief in the enormous power available in resetting our relationship with food, and taking control of our health, strength, mindset and mood. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than thirty years ago, and offers herself as living proof that you can cook, eat, sleep and walk your way out of type 2 diabetes, along with other chronic ailments.
Find Lynne and details of her book, Brownies for Breakfast, here: https://lynnebowman.com/
Find Heather and learn more about the Michigan Runner Girl community here:
Ali and her family, who live in New Hampshire, are making their very first visit to Michigan later this month for the Bayshore races, which are celebrating 40 years in a big way: the marathon, half marathon, 10K, and kids fun run all return in person after a two-year break because of the pandemic, and Ali is not only serving as the finish line race announcer, she’s also hosting a live podcast recording featuring elite athlete and northern Michigan resident Des Linden the Thursday before race day on May 28.
If you’ve been listening to the MRG Show for awhile now, you know how meaningful the Bayshore races are to Heather and her family. These Memorial Day weekend races likely are very special to you as well — the half marathon fills quickly each year, as does the 10K. And the marathon is one for the books — incredibly scenic, flat, 26.2 miles of northern Michigan running at its best. These races attract runners from all across the country and even the world.
If you’re a newer listener and maybe not quite as familiar with the Bayshore races here in Traverse City, you’re going to love this episode just as much as those who have been along for the ride these past nearly 7 years of the MRG show. This conversation with Ali covers not only her involvement in this year’s Bayshore race weekend, but also so much more—how she became a runner while living in New York City, how she met her husband through this sport, her career transition and growing a successful blog and podcast, the passion she has for supporting the Chron's & Colitis Foundation, and in more recent time, the opportunity she’s had to serve as race announcer at both the New York City and Boston marathons.
With more than 500 episodes, 13 million downloads, and 2,500+ five-star ratings on iTunes, the Ali on the Run Show is one of the leading running podcasts in the world. Every week, Ali talks with inspiring people who are doing exciting things on the run and beyond, from the fastest runners in the world (Des! Molly! Aisha! Emma!), to everyone’s favorite running couples (Steph and Ben! Sara and Ryan!), to the runners who make up the middle and back of the pack. As she explains it, on her podcast, every runner is seen and celebrated, and we all get to pick up the pace together.
"When we don’t live in alignment with our core values, that’s when we open up these little cracks for disappointment, for sadness, and—I’ll go so far as to say—for depression and for anxiety. A lot of these negative things do creep into our lives when we’ve lost the focus on all the positives.”
Dai Manuel, an award-winning digital thought leader and author, joins Heather to talk about his journey of finding out who he really is at his core, identifying the life he wanted to live—for himself and for his family—and what it took to make the big changes and connect in meaningful ways with others.
"I was more afraid of not changing than I was of the idea of changing.”
Dai is a Distinguished Toastmaster & TEDx speaker, former partner and Chief Operating Officer of a multi-million dollar retail company, and a sought-after lifestyle mentor and executive performance coach.
Learn more about Dai, his life, and his coaching at http://www.joinwlfm.com/
Today’s conversation is going to motivate you to keep going, with whatever you’re pursuing right now, whether it’s training for a spring or summer race, or simply sticking with your everyday running and exercise routine.
It’s also going to remind you it’s never too late to try something new, to start doing something completely different and even something so outside of your comfort zone.
Pat Butler, at age 72, signed up for her very first triathlon, Tri Goddess Triathlon in southeast Michigan. And 14 years later, Pat is still going strong with completing triathlons — she’s even competed in senior Olympics and has finished half marathons, sometimes with her kids, who are IRONMAN finishers.
Eva Solomon, co-founder of Epic Races, which puts on Tri Goddess Triathlon, joins the conversation, too.
Pat’s 85th birthday is this July and she’ll again be taking part in tri Goddess Triathlon, held on Saturday, June 25th this year.
Pat lives in Saline with her husband. As she shares during our conversation, spending time with her family — enjoying outdoor adventures together like long hikes, swimming, and road races — is very important to her.
**Race discount code is shared during this episode, for Tri Goddess Triathlon**
"I realized I thought I was writing a book about a middle-aged woman who ran a marathon, and what I was actually writing about was a woman trying to save her life."
Nita Sweeney, the award-winning wellness author of the running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, joins Heather to talk about her journey of becoming a runner — and her journey of finding herself. Before she discovered running, Nita was a 49-year-old chronically depressed, occasionally manic, and unable to run for more than 60 seconds at a time. Using exercise, she unearthed an inner strength she didn't know she possessed, and with the help of her canine companion, she found herself on the way to completing her first marathon.
A former lawyer-turned-author, Nita has a new book — Make Every Move a Meditation — that comes out this summer and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. A certified meditation leader, mental health advocate, ultramarathoner, and former assistant to writing practice originator Natalie Goldberg, Nita founded the groups Mind, Mood, and Movement to support well-being through meditation, exercise, and writing practice, and The Writer’s Mind, to share using writing practice to produce publishable work. Nita also publishes the writing resource newsletter, Write Now Columbus. She lives in central Ohio with her husband, Ed, and their yellow Labrador retriever, Scarlet.
You can downtown your free copy of Nita’s eBook Three Ways to Heal Your Mind.
“I think there are models of experiential learning, but not one that gives back to the community. And that was important to me, that they weren’t just growing as business communicators, but that they were growing as people and they were giving back to the community,” says Kristy. “They’re so engaged, they care so much. They’re just good humans and they’re showing that and that’s awesome. They care — they really, really care.”
For Matthew, helping with this race holds special meaning given his connection to Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was involved with the program as a child after his dad passed away.
“A program like Big Brothers Big Sisters helped me stay on track. It’s very easy as a young boy to get into the wrong things at the wrong time, so to speak. And Big Brothers Big Sisters just gave me a place to go where I could actually be myself. I could get mad, I could talk to someone who understood. And they didn’t make me feel bad about it. And I think that is so important and underrated. And we have thousands and thousands of kids around here who need that hope of help. So that’s why I think this is one of the best causes you could choose.”
Learn more about the Big Little Hero Race at biglittleherorace.com
Megan Eddinger is a runner and founder and host of the podcast The No BS Mama. She joins Heather to talk about her mental health journey and the ways being self-aware changes us and our relationships for the better. They talk about noticing our "warning signs" -- the perhaps not-so-healthy ways we cope with everyday stress -- and how shifts in our mindset (and prioritizing sleep and making room for the little, meaningful things in life) can help us feel better and improve our overall well-being.
Megan Eddinger, who lives in Delaware, is a 35-year-old mom of three who married to her high school sweetheart. She first became a mom just two weeks after her 18th birthday and had her last baby at just 23 years old. She was thrown into motherhood before she really had a chance to figure out who she was.
Her life has been everything but traditional and she shares all the ups and downs with raw transparency. Her ultimate goal is to normalize all the parts of motherhood that no one tells you about so that other moms don't feel so alone in their own journeys.
You can learn more about Megan by following her on Instagram. You can also join her free membership for weekly tips and tricks. FInd her podcast The No BS Mama whereever you listen to your podcasts.
Also featured in this episode: race discount codes! If you’re starting to fill your calendar with races, be sure to check out the race discount codes we’ve got at Michigan Runner Girl.com We have race savings for events throughout Michigan, including Rivertown Races in Grand Rapids next month, the North Mitten Half Marathon, 10K & 5K here in northern Michigan over Memorial Day weekend, the Goddess Race Series of events from Epic Races — these include the Ann Arbor Goddess 5K next month, Tri Goddess Tri in June, and Women Run the D Half Marathon, 10K and 5K this fall in Detroit — Tulip Time in Holland this spring, Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon, and 8K this fall, and others. Head over to Michigan Runner Girl.com and click on Races and Events.
"There's a difference between being depleted and empty, and being depleted and full. I am depleted and full all the time. I cannot squeeze anything else out of my day. But when my head hits the pillow, I think 'God, that was amazing.'"
Mel Charbonneau — entrepreneur, writer, runner, mother and inspiration powerhouse who creates spaces for women to own their stories — sits down with Heather to talk about discovering what fills us up, becoming aware of our values and living a life in alignment with them, surrounding ourselves with supportive people who help hold us accountable (what Mel describes as "filling the runway"), and so much more.
"The more work I have done personally and professionally to define my values, and to make decisions based on what those values are to live the kind of life that I want to live — when I started doing that, everything changed in work, in my personal life, how I approach fitness and movement but also how I parent my kids.”
Mel launched Fellow Flowers in 2012 with a collection of colorful flowers to help women honor the reasons why they run. Since then, she has turned the company into a national movement, 30,000-women strong. Through programs such as the goal-setting Declare It Day, Breakthrough & Begin oceanside retreats and Tell Her cards that encourage women to lift one another up, Mel has created a sisterhood of empowerment and support that proves to every woman that she is a story worth telling.
Most recently, Mel launched the Made to Move Women’s Race Series. Made to Move honors not just race day, but each woman’s journey to it, celebrating goals, competitive spirit, community and stories every step of the way. Made to Move actively works to remove barriers that can prevent women from running and to create a welcoming and inclusive experience for all women.
Mel lives in McFarland, Wisconsin, with her husband and three daughters.
This episode will get you thinking about reconnecting with your community, your tribe, your people — however you define community. Heather talks with Eddie Kline, a west Michigan runner, cyclist, husband, and race director, who is overseeing one of his own community’s well-known and popular races: the Tulip Time Run, a 10K, 5K, and kids fun run on Saturday, May 7 — the first day of the weeklong Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan. Eddie shares race details — the event is in-person this year after being entirely virtual last year — and he and Heather also talk about why community races and events like this one are so important to us and how they help us re-connect.
So many of us are craving the opportunity to get back out there, be with others, especially those who share a passion for the outdoors and movement.
Tulip Time Run takes place in Holland, Mich. May 7, 2022. Experience the beauty of Holland as you run through the tulip-lined streets. The Tulip Time Run offers an event for everyone — a 5K, 10K and Kids’ Fun Run. A special MRG listener race discount code is shared during the episode.
Heather also talks about her own plans for an upcoming community race, as well as a recent reconnection moment she shared at a surprising place: the gym.
This episode marks a milestone for the show, too: this is Season One of 2022 — the first time the MRG podcast, since its start in 2015, has released episodes by season and following a particular theme. Season One’s theme is Reconnection. Over the course of the next 8-10 weeks, listeners can expect to hear inspiring stories of people and places in Michigan (and beyond) that explore what it means to reconnect — with ourselves, with nature, with friends and family, with our communities.
This first episode features Maia Turek, a familiar podcast guest, who is known for her vast knowledge of Michigan state parks (she is an innovations and engagement specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources). This time, though, she gets more personal; she bravely shares a wellness journey she’s been on over the past year with Leah Doriot, a certified health coach who has become a great friend of hers. Leah shares her insight, too, as well as her own journey to follow her passion and make a big (and scary) career change during COVID. Together with Heather, the women talk honestly about the challenges of living in a toxic diet culture, particularly for women, the importance of tapping into our inner strength and recognizing and honoring what we want for ourselves, and ultimately recognizing the power that comes when we change our mindset about what it means to be strong, able, and beautiful-just-as-we-are women.
Thanks to the amazing women who joined us for the MRG Winter Weekend Getaway and took part in the LIVE podcast recording — and asked fantastic questions, too! What a weekend it was. (Learn more about this annual event at MichiganRunnerGirl.com. Be sure to sign up for the MRG newsletter to hear about upcoming events, including the 2023 winter weekend.)
In this latest episode featuring Heather and her 21-year-old daughter, Emma, life transitions — facing them, going through them, learning from them — is the focus. And if there’s ever been a time when life changes take center stage, it’s these past couple of years as we’ve all endured so much, personally and professionally, as a result of the pandemic.
Emma shares big news at the start of this episode, and how where she’s at now and what’s ahead is the culmination of a lot of hard work, dedication … and, yes, stress and self-reflection. She shares how she traversed this time of her life and the things she’s learned about herself.
Emma asks some interesting and personal questions of her mom, and Heather responds with stories that touch on becoming a mom, the role of creativity and work along this journey of raising three kids, and the generational differences Emma and Heather are observing as Emma enters her early 20s and begins thinking about her future plans.
They wrap up the show by sharing a letter from a listener, and encourage the comments and feedback to keep on coming. What life transition are you experiencing right now? How are you navigating the ups and downs of this time? How does running and movement help you? We’d love to hear from you. Email your thoughts, or record a voice memo, and send to email@example.com
“At first it was hard because I felt like I was in this snowglobe that had been shaken up. And all of a sudden I had space, and then all the snowflakes were falling around me, and I was like, there’s that thing I ignored for six months, and there’s that thing I don’t want to think about because it stresses me out. But the more I was out there, the more the snowflakes, the glitter, settled and the better I felt. And that, I think, is just a testament to how important it is to make space in this life to think about things, or to process things, to just breathe. Because we don’t get it naturally in our lives. You have to be very intentional about that.”
Paige Lackey returns to the MRG show to talk about her 5-month-long adventure exploring Michigan’s state forest campgrounds — this solo trip took Paige (and her dog Willow) to more than 75 Michigan Department of Natural Resources locations in both the lower and upper peninsulas between April and September. Project Rustic, as it was named, was an effort to collect information for the state’s Recreation Search database.
Paige previously was a guest on the show (episode #213) just before leaving on this trip. During that conversation, she talked about coming up with this idea as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps service member serving with the Michigan DNR, and how it all came to fruition. In this most recent episode, Paige is honest about what it truly was like to travel alone with Willow in an RV, the places she got to see and know, the people she met along the way, the highlights and challenges, and how the experience changed her. Her quote of the summer, she shares during her conversation with Heather: “What will be, will be transformative.”
Heather and Jonny share the Mackinac Island running paths they explored — the 8-mile paved path around the island and the winding trails weaving through its interior — during this special bonus episode. They also talk about the island’s annual races, including one coming up later this month.
On the island for the annual Mackinac Island Policy Conference (see the last episode for all the details of this event, now in its 41st year), Heather and Jonny made sure to break up their conference-going with a couple of runs. Their scenic morning run included a gorgeous sunrise — and lots of wind. Evening miles, meanwhile, took them up a few hills and along a ridge that led to some pretty amazing views of Lake Huron and cool rock formations.
Runmackinac.com has all the race details.
As we all keep moving forward during the pandemic, charting a path to recover, heal, and thrive as a state is critical, say organizers of the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference, which served as a platform to hear from national thought-leaders on the significant issues that Michigan and the nation is facing at this critical time in history. This year’s conference theme — “Reimagining a Healthy Michigan” — highlighted what should be a top priority for the state in 2022, according to conference host Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Heather and Jonny got behind the mics while on Mackinac Island, sharing stories from the recent Mackinac Policy Conference. Now in its 41st year, the event brings together business, government, civic leaders, and members of the media from across the state. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke several times, including a keynote address on the event’s final full day.
Along with plenty of talking and listening and general conference-going (and walking A TON on this beautiful car-free island in Lake Huron, between Mission Pointe Resort where they stayed and the Grand Hotel, where the conference took place), Heather and Jonny of course had to squeeze in a few runs — around the island and on the island’s interior trails, the latter of which was a first for both.
In this episode, recorded from the Grand Hotel, you’ll hear from Gov. Whitmer and learn about recently announced plans to electricity more vehicles, provide charging stations along a designated corridor on the west side of the state, and what the future of mobility for Michiganders will look like (if vehicles can get us to our favorite outdoor places more economically and in more environmentally friendly ways, we’re all for it!). Also, you’ll hear: Heather and Jonny’s conference observations and takeaways; a Detroit man’s passion for the Motor City and how running and staying active shapes his life; and lots more.
The overarching conference conversations were focused around three pillars that will be vital in accomplishing the goal of reimagining a healthy Michigan, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
NEXT UP: An episode focused entirely on running and racing on Mackinac Island. Jonny and Heather share tips and ideas during the episode — recorded on the island — that is dropping next week.
Moving our bodies. Dealing with anxiety. Finding what inspires us. Cultivating and maintaining family relationships. Tending to our mental health.
These are among the topics Heather and her 21-year-old daughter Emma touch on during this decidedly more personal episode. While Heather has had a wide range of discussions with guests over the past 6 years, many of which took us into the minds and hearts of athletes, race directors, and healthy lifestyle experts, Heather and Emma share personal stories and dive deeper into areas of particular interest to them — and to longtime listeners who have shared with Heather over the years that the episodes that explore these kinds of topics and how others lean into movement to help them navigate life are often the most powerful.
Like many businesses and organizations in the past year and half of the pandemic, Michigan Runner Girl was forced to switch gears (no in-person events for awhile meant no race expos or women’s retreats) and reimagine what this community could look like. While we’re all tentatively returning to things we took part in pre-COVID, life of course has forever changed in numerous ways for all of us. What does this mean for MRG? Heather is still thinking this through, though she is excited to keep moving forward and see what unfolds — with the podcast and with the community. What won’t ever change: her hope to keep the conversation going around good health and well-being, staying true to ourselves, running (and all other movement that keeps us looking forward and feeling great), and continually striving to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
We want to hear from YOU! Let us know what you think of this episode and what you’d like to hear more of on the Michigan Runner Girl Show as we move forward. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Let’s keep the conversation going.
Find Heather at michiganrunnergirl.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/michigan-runner-girl, and on Instagram at michiganrunnergirl and michiganrunnergirlshow
Mentioned in this episode:
- Tiny Beautiful Things, a book by Cheryl Strayed
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed
- Tell Me Something True, a podcast with Laura McKowen
- The Man Enough Podcast, with Jamey Heath, Justin Baldoni, and Liz Plank
- Sasha Wolff, founder of Still I Run, a Michigan-based organization focused on defeating the stigma of mental illness
In just under two weeks, a few thousand athletes and their family and friends will travel to the quaint and beautiful Lake Michigan coastal town of Frankfort to take part in IRONMAN 70.3 Michigan — an event that’s had its share of twists and turns over the past year and a half during the pandemic.
You can’t exactly call this 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run on Sunday, Sept. 12 a new event in northern Michigan — the first IRONMAN 70.3 in northern Michigan took place in late August 2019, in Traverse City — though it is inaugural in that it moved from TC to Frankfort, about 45 minutes to the west, on the shores of Lake Michigan. It also has a new date; the Traverse City event took place over Labor Day weekend while the Frankfort event is set for the second weekend in September.
It also happens to be an event that holds a special place in Heather’s heart, being the first (and only, so far) IRONMAN 70.3 she’s taken on. In this episode, Heather talks with race director Joel Gaff about what athletes and spectators can expect to experience during IRONMAN 70.3. Joel shares course information, race weekend highlights, and behind-the-scenes details, including what it’s been like to plan for an in-person IRONMAN during the pandemic.
Heather and Joel also cover how they’re both feeling about their own athletic pursuits lately (Heather shares how she made the tough decision to defer to the 2022 IRONMAN 70.3 Michigan, while Joel talks about getting back on the road and running more after dealing with an injury). Joel, who has two young daughters, also talks about his especially busy summer — he served as race director of another all-new IRONMAN 70.3 in Oregon — and what he’s looking forward to this fall.
At the start of 2021, Janice Davidson took a big leap of faith when she quit her longtime position as the director of recreation at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Mich. to start her own business, North Mitten Events. Eight months later, Janice describes life as full and busy — and better than ever.
“It can be scary for sure, but it feels great. I’m doing what I believe in — things that I feel that are great for our community, both our planet and our people, and I’m really excited to be here,” says Janice, a race director, runner, and mom of two school-age kids who lives on the Betsie River in Benzie County.
Janice returns to the MRG Show to talk about her latest endeavor: bringing back a popular trail run in her beloved area of northern Michigan. The Betsie Valley Trail Run — a half marathon, 10K, 5K and 1-mile fun run — takes place on Sunday, Sept. 19 on the Betsie Valley Trail near Thompsonville. As Heather mentions during the show, she ran the half marathon back in 2010, when it was under different race management. It also happened to be Janice’s very first 13.1, in 2011.
Along with sharing all of the details of this fall’s event — the race course is flat and incredibly scenic — Janice talks about life as a business owner, how things have changed for her in the past several months, and an exciting new role she is taking on this winter (she breaks the official news during this conversation!). She also talks about her love of nature and how important spending time outdoors is to her and her family.
“I think nature helps us in every way. So getting outdoors, absolutely, and remembering that that’s really part of my focus, to help protect our planet and get out there and enjoy it.” there’s so many opportunities in northern Michigan to explore and to just be.”
You’ll also get a special podcast-listener discount code for the Betsie Valley Trail Run. If you’re looking for a fall race, you’re definitely going to want to check out this one. Heather is hoping to be there, too!
Check out the North Mitten Facebook page here.
Learn more about Crystal Mountain and register for the race here.