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When you blog about ‘your life,’ you’re really only blogging about a tiny sliver of it.  That’s just the nature of blogging.  So occasionally, the perception of my life or how I feel gets a little warped.  Lately, I’ve been complaining a lot about my long runs – both on the blog and in real life.  Half marathon training is hard, no matter how many times you’ve done it, but it’s especially hard when you’re juggling motherhood and running a small business.  I don’t blog all my workouts – again, just a tiny sliver of them – so I suspect that it appears that I suddenly hate running.

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This is so not true.  I can’t even tell you guys how much I LOVE RUNNING… when I’m doing shorter runs.  Hah!  I absolutely live for my mid-week workouts; getting away from my responsibilities for 30 – 50 minutes is so awesome.  I often leave the house feeling a bit jumbley and overloaded and return feeling happy and refreshed.

 

When I first started to run five years ago, I decided to train for a 10K.  6.2 miles seemed impossibly far when I began, but I crossed the finish line with a really respectable time (1:01).  It’s in my personality to always to it ‘to the next level,’ so then I did a 15K.  And eventually a half.  And then a 15-miler.  And after a few years, two marathons.  I cycled a 60-mile ride and then a 100-mile one.  And then I got into triathlons, working my way from a super sprint to an Olympic. 

 

I’m sure not everyone feels like this, but for me, I loved running and racing so much that it seemed logical to always be one upping myself.  It was like I had barely crossed the finish line and was already wondering, “Okay, what’s next?!”  I had so much fun with it!  Sometimes training for longer distances was annoying, but I had the space in my schedule to do it (dude, I had NO IDEA how much free time I had, even when working 50 hours a week… babies change everything).  I ran religiously every week for five-plus years, except when I was injured.  Not because I felt like ‘I had to’ but because I really loved it.

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Then I got pregnant.  After 16 weeks, I was forced to stop running.  I was really sad.  I wanted to be ‘that pregnant runner’ because, again, I really love running.  But my hips did not cooperate, and I was relegated to swimming, which worked out quite well because swimming is actually my favorite sport.  Running is a close second, and I ran more than I ever swam because running is so convenient.  But the actual act of swimming is the best.  I swam and swam and swam – I swam two days before delivery!

 

After Henry’s birth, I was SO excited to get back into running.  When I was cleared to run at 4 weeks, I practically skipped home to lace up my sneakers.  Coming back from gaining 35 pounds and delivering a baby was not easy, but it was fun to rebuild my base and prove to myself that I could do it again, just like I had done it five years ago.  Running is time-efficient and challenging, and my time on the road definitely makes me a better mother.  Because I was so happy to be running again and because I’m so used to thinking that I’m capable of long distances, I readily signed up for a half on January 19.  Henry will be 7 months old.

 

One day, I’d really like to complete a Half Ironman.  I asked a few weeks ago how other parents ‘make it work,’ and whether it’s better to do it now when I only have one young child or put if off until all the kids are in school.  I really teetered for a while, thinking that I should just do it next Fall.  Go big or go home, right?

 

Wrong.  Training for this half marathon has taught me that, at least at this juncture in my life, I do not always need to be doing ‘more.’  I have lots to say on this subject because it definitely extends to other areas of my life, but at least when it relates to running, 13.1 miles is simply too far for me right now.  I barely feel like I’m getting my energy back from the sleepless newborn nights (side note: Henry slept from 7:30 to 6:45 STRAIGHT last night – BLISS!!!!), and I’m beginning to recognize how important it is for me to minimize extraneous stress in order to be happy.  For a few months, I thought the secret was figuring out how to do more of whatever more efficiently, but I see now that the answer is really to do less.  

 

That all being said, I’m really excited to do my half in January.  I’ve put in a great deal of effort with my training and am excited to ‘reap’ the rewards on race day.  But once I’m done, I’m done with long distances for a while.  And that’s okay.  Quality, not quantity, right?  Being active is really important to me.  But at this point in my life, when it comes to my workouts, I’d rather run 10Ks, work on my speed, shape up my muscle tone, and fully enjoy running than stress out over double-digit runs. I’d rather mentally and physically prep for triathlon season (YAY!).  And no – I will not be doing a Half Ironman anytime soon.  I think I was slightly insane to even consider it. 

 

I’m so happy to be running post-pregnancy, but for now, I’m going to stick to the distances that make me the happiest.   I’m a runner because I run.  Not because I cross finish lines or always one-up my mileage, week after week.  Not because I’m particularly fast.  I’m a runner because I love the sport.  And if you put one foot in front of the other, you’re a runner, too.

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After all, it’s not about how far you go, but how light your heart feels after. 

{ 53 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • Hannah December 31, 2012, 9:18 am

    So wonderfully written! I can’t wait to start running, currently there is a foot of snow outside my door, so I figure it’s best to wait until spring so I can get the best experience.

    Reply
  • Kathleen Ojo @ Onward; Inward December 31, 2012, 9:20 am

    I’ve been struggling with the same issue lately! I ran my first half (slooooowly) on December 2nd, when my daughter was only 4 months old. It was a wonderful experience and I had a great race, but now I’m faced with what to do next. Part of me really wants to sign up for some more HMs this winter/spring since I’m already in shape for it. But realistically? My baby has sleep regressed like woah, I’m working 40 hours a week, I’m in grad school… after my last couple long runs, I don’t feel like my body was recovering properly, likely due to lack of sleep and stress. So I’m trying to be okay with stepping back, running for the love of it and not pressuring myself to move onto the next big thing. It’s so hard, to beat back these Type A tendencies ;-) I’m wishing you all the best on your upcoming race! I hope you have a great time!

    Reply
  • Alli December 31, 2012, 9:22 am

    Great post! I too was eager to get back into long distance running after I had my baby. I was up to 11 miles at about the time he was 9 months, but I wasn’t happy. I forced it. I was marathon training when I found out I was pregnant and was up to 18 miles when I was 3 months along so I felt like I wante to finish what I started but my heart wasn’t in it. I focused on strength training with smaller runs sprinkled in there until my heart, mind & body was ready to hit the ground running! I’m happy to say that I’m finally going to do that marathon in 8 weeks. I’m loving the long distance runs now and thanks to strength training (& speed work) I am a faster, stronger runner. My son is just over 2 years old now :) the consistent 12+ hour sleep stretches he has at night & 2-3 hr naps helps for sure! Anyways, all this to say I’m glad you’re following what’s right for you at this time! Xo

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  • elizabeth December 31, 2012, 9:22 am

    I have learned that when I take a couple steps back, slow down and work on the little things like strength that I gain so much more than when I am pushing myself to go long and do lots. I am stronger, fitter (actually) and spend less time stressing over how to fit it all in. Enjoy the last bit of your training! A half ironman will always be there… go live life!

    Reply
  • Sara December 31, 2012, 9:28 am

    “Being active is really important to me. But at this point in my life, when it comes to my workouts, I’d rather run 10Ks, work on my speed, shape up my muscle tone, and fully enjoy running than stress out over double-digit runs. ” –> With all your long run posts I kept thinking “Why not focus on smaller mileages and just run the distances that make you happy?” Glad you came to that conclusion! I signed up for a 10K last year because I felt like I “should” try or it’s something I wanted to try to do. I absolutely hated training for it. I’m much happier going to the gym, using the elliptical, treadmill, weights machines or jogging with my dogs around the block and doing some yoga stretches at home. I had to figure out what worked best for me. I’m almost 20 weeks pregnant and I was hit hard with morning (all day) sickness so I haven’t been doing much of anything except trying to get by, but now that I feel better I look forward to at least walking a lot until the baby is born + yoga stretches :-) Anyway, just wanted to say hi and glad you figured out what makes you happy running-wise! Hopefully you saw Heather Eats Almond Butter’s post about her exercise as of late. I loved that post.

    Reply
    • Caitlin December 31, 2012, 9:29 am

      Congrats on your pregnancy!

      I will go check out that post now!

      Reply
  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed December 31, 2012, 9:30 am

    I love this! My interest in running has kind of tapered off in the past few months… but over the holidays everyone was asking “when’s your next race?!” I feel like a lazy bum or something, even though I’ve been working out… but I need to realize that it doesn’t matter which type of workout I do, as long as I’m doing something :)

    Reply
  • Carol December 31, 2012, 9:35 am

    <3

    Reply
  • Amy Q December 31, 2012, 9:36 am

    Might this be your best post EVER?

    I turned 42 last week and my kids are 13 and 11. I am just NOW focusing in on the fact that I do not always have to be doing “more” (in fact my resolutions included checking in with myself more often to really see what I need). Those of us who are high energy and enjoy doing and going sometimes forget that less is more– and that less can be fun and just what we need.

    Congrats on being so wise so early in this game. I knew there was a reason that I read this and only this blog EVERY day. ;) Happy New Year!

    Reply
  • Jen December 31, 2012, 9:37 am

    Yes please read HEABs post from a few days ago. I think that far too often as we get older we forget that things change and we change. What you did before isn’t necessarily what/who you are now – and that’s okay. I also hope you don’t take this the wrong way – bit I often feel like you write as though you are a hard core athlete but really you are like any average human being trying to make it work. Why not focus on getting faster with short distances and doing increased mileage at your own pace to build endurance! I know I’m going to get killed for saying this but one hour really isn’t that fast of a time for a 10 k. For a young fit woman like you, I’d easily expect at least 50, 55 minutes….you sell yourself far too short Caitlin. I really think you over hype things in your head and perhaps that’s anxiety related (I know trust me its hard to break…)

    Reply
  • Luv What You Do December 31, 2012, 9:45 am

    You should definitely run the distances and races that make you the happiest! I think the hardest thing for me to remember is that will change every year depending on my life, my body, and my job. Some times I have more time and energy for training (I ran my first marathon last year during my bf’s first semester of law school…smart) and other times it is so much harder to get in my training for a triathlon (when we have exciting summer weekends full of travel and not bike rides). I have been thinking a lot about doing a half IM myself and ultimately, the question I ask myself is…do I want to spend all of my weekends next year training? If I do this will I be happy? I am leaning towards No, but think it will be a smart choice to do the races (short tri’s and half marathons) that I like and will have time to train for.

    I always love reading your open and honest posts about running, life, and just being happy. You are inspiring and thought provoking. Happy 2013!

    Reply
  • Irene December 31, 2012, 9:46 am

    You are so beautifully wise beyond your years.

    Reply
  • Katie December 31, 2012, 9:58 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I think its one of your best EVER!

    Reply
  • kalli December 31, 2012, 10:02 am

    i wrote a very similiar post a while back about this same thing. i LOVED running for so long but all of a sudden i did not feel the awe of it any more. i was always trying to go faster, do better, run farther and i realized all of the newness had worn off and now i felt pressured all the time. i too backed off and have just been running for the love of it again. great job girl! and glad henry slept the night :)

    Reply
  • Hope December 31, 2012, 10:07 am

    When I think back to my pre-baby days I wonder what the hell I did with all that free time. Why did I ever complain that I was too busy to do laundry?? I wasn’t too busy to do anything!

    Reply
    • Caitlin December 31, 2012, 10:17 am

      For real.

      Reply
  • Vikki December 31, 2012, 10:13 am

    I have a theory that everybody hates running, they just like the feeling of having run. I mean, I don’t run because I love it. I run because I feel like a million bucks after I’ve run. If I can get over the hump of starting to do it, I’m usually fine.

    Reply
    • Cathleen January 1, 2013, 11:19 am

      There many people who run because they truly love it! The sentiment in your theory seems like the difference between people who run because they enjoy the actual process, and people who run because they feel like they should. I love running. Not being done running, but actually being outside and… running. A lot of the time I get to the end of my run feeling regretful that it’s already over.

      Reply
      • Amber K January 3, 2013, 9:18 pm

        I am baffled (and truly amazed) by your kind!

        Reply
  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 31, 2012, 10:20 am

    Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to start with this Caitlin but I LOVE this post! I spent about 3 months prior to a half marathon this year injured (achilles tendinitis) and when I was finally able to run pain-free, it was SO glorious. Like you said, you leave the house feeling a little overloaded but come back feeling amazingly light and refreshed. I don’t have kids but I can imagine that having a son has definitely made you appreciate the little things, no matter how small. Oh, and your comment about always trying to one-up yourself –> totally hear you on this and you took the words right out of my mouth. I’ve always set really high standards for myself and I know I constantly have that ‘ok, what next’ thought in the back of my mind. Over time though, I’ve learned that if I start to really dislike or dread running, I need to scale it back a bit and be less competitive with myself. Easier said than done though, right? :) Happy (almost) New Year!

    Reply
  • Ashley @ This Is The Place December 31, 2012, 10:36 am

    Hooray happiness!!

    I don’t have kids, but I struggled with the same issue this fall. I ran two full marathons and an ultra this year. And holy cow, am I ever OVER long distances. But then I realized that I don’t have to “one-up” myself via distance. I can work on my speed at 5ks and 10ks (which I’ve never focused on b/c I was so distance-centered). So I am doing no races over 10mi this spring. And I plan to spend a LOT of time at yoga.

    Anyways, my point is that you are not alone. Do what makes you happy. :)

    Reply
  • KaraHadley December 31, 2012, 11:01 am

    I love this! Especially the part about realizing that it’s not about doing more efficiently, but doing less. That’s something I struggle with all the time. And while I fully believe that exercise should be challenging, it should be fun more than anything else. So as long as you’re happy and running, it shouldn’t matter the mileage or the “big goal.”
    You’ll have PLENTY of time to do that half Ironman later in life.

    Reply
  • Tricia December 31, 2012, 11:02 am

    As an average runner myself, I love, love, love this post. I read a bunch of blogs on a daily basis and sometimes I feel like you all live on an alternate universe where you infinite time to train and eat free products you’re given, etc. Back in the real world, it’s not that easy to one up distances, nutrition, goals, etc. Your blog is my favorite because you’re always so real. This post makes me love your blog even more. Good for you. And you don’t have to compete with anyone – even yourself. Henry doesn’t care how fast you are or how far you run :)

    Reply
  • Renee December 31, 2012, 11:10 am

    Wise words! I get so caught up in what’s next or being like someone else—that it’s easy to stop enjoying running. That’s my biggest goal this year is to enjoy the run!

    Reply
  • Julie December 31, 2012, 11:13 am

    You said it, girl! Don’t force something if it isn’t making you happy. I came back to running pretty fiercely after my second baby was born and looking back now (he is now 2), I’m like why was I in such a rush? There is always time to do longer races, distances, etc. but it is much easier to train when you are sleeping every night and your schedule is a little more predictable. My experience has been with both my babies that I didn’t get the predictability and sleep I needed to properly train until they were over one year old. The first year goes by so fast and Henry will change so fast, there will always be time for “more running.”

    Reply
  • anne December 31, 2012, 11:18 am

    This was a great post! Way to go!

    Reply
  • Liz December 31, 2012, 11:25 am

    Great job on this post. While I don’t have any children (yet) I can only imagine the time constraints. I think just the simple act of exercising is important (especially from a mental standpoint) and that it doesn’t matter if it’s a 3 mile run or a 10 mile run. What really matters is how it affects your life. I say good choice to pull back on the high mileage after the race :)

    Reply
  • Kristen L December 31, 2012, 11:48 am

    Glad you have realized this. It can be easy to get caught up in one-upping yourself with any sport when you are competitive. It is always good to take a step back and think about what is important and what makes you happy rather than pushing yourself toward frustration.

    Reply
  • Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin December 31, 2012, 12:12 pm

    I LOVE this! I have only completed one half-marathon and my mind almost immediately after finishing went to, “Okay so now I need to sign up for a full.” When I should’ve been appreciating what I just accomplished! Since then, I have realized that I may not do a full marathon any time soon, or I may do one in the next few years. I am not sure right now, but I’m also okay with that because I don’t run just to say I ran a certain distance. You are so right in what makes you a runner and I need to remember that when I start to feel bad about not always doing “more” when I know I could be.

    Reply
  • Alex @ Raw Recovery December 31, 2012, 12:26 pm

    I love these types of posts, Caitlin, and the last few sentences here are so poetic and beautiful. I think the quality over quantity message is really important. Can’t say enough good things about how good this post made me feel! :)

    Reply
  • lynne @ lgsmash December 31, 2012, 12:27 pm

    i truly feel like this post could have been mine! i am running the same zooma as you and feel exactly the same way – this will be my last half for a while. where you rebuilt your fitness post-baby, i did the same post-knee surgeries. and since i’d run halfs before and found the time to train pretty easily, i figured this one would be the same. SO not the case. my life is very different now than it was when i ran my first halfs and 2 weeks ago, i realized this would be the last half for me for a while. 10ks and maybe even the in between 10k/half distance will be my focus for a while!

    thanks for this timely post! and maybe i’ll see ya on amelia island! :)

    Reply
  • Lisa December 31, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Injuries have taught me that it’s not necessarily about how many miles. I am just happy to be able to RUN. I’ve given up on the idea of running a half marathon. I’m okay with a 5k or 8k!

    Reply
  • Lyn December 31, 2012, 12:44 pm

    I. love. this. post.

    This really spoke to me. I too always struggle with pushing myself to do more, better, faster, etc. I think it does have to do with being Type A. I just finished my 3rd half marathon this fall so I was really struggling with whether or not to sign up for a full. I’m at the point where I know I *could* do it if I really wanted to, but the question was, do I really want to devote all of my weekends to this next spring? Is it really going to make me happy? On the flip side, will life just continue to get more and more complicated, and then eventually I won’t have the time to do one even if I wanted to?

    I still do think about it, but I think I’m settled in my decision to not do it, at least for now. I really liked the last quote of your post the best… I do think that running should make you feel happy, it shouldn’t feel like a job or something that’s eating more time than you want it to.

    Thank you so much for always keeping it real.

    Reply
  • Amy December 31, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Interesting that you followed yesterday’s post with this one. It’s good that you’ve figured some of this out, I think! I’m just curious as to what other types of exercise you do that you don’t blog about? My workouts changed SO much after my son was born and I’m probably in my best shape (physically, not sure about mentally ;) ). It’ll work out!

    Reply
    • Caitlin December 31, 2012, 12:53 pm

      Last week I ran three days, did flow yoga once, and swam once. :)

      Reply
  • amanda @ There Are Two Sides December 31, 2012, 1:12 pm

    I agree that you are a runner if you love to get out and run, at any speed. As a slow runner, it is hard for the faster runners to remember that we train just as hard as they do…we are just a touch slower than they are. After 2+ years of running I am still sitting around a 12:30 minute mile and I am happy that I am able to run at all and I love that I don’t run for the speed, but for the thrill.
    Happy New Year.

    Reply
  • Anne December 31, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I gotta say, I like your blog because : 1-you post a lot 2-I like the relaxed aspect of (how you eat and practice sports) and also how you approach motherhood… I very bored by a lot of “perfect” blogs. I don’t read them anymore…

    Reply
  • Darlene December 31, 2012, 2:26 pm

    What a wonderful, introspective post.

    I couldn’t agree more. After running long distances/marathon-training for years, this year I came to a place in my life where I realized I needed to balance my priorities. I loved my running schedule and for a long time I balanced my life around it, but I have now come to know that I need to allow for other activities into my life (and balance running within this!). And my husband and I haven’t even started a family yet!

    This has been a process for me, as it is hard to break out of the “anything less than 10 km isn’t really a run” mentality, but I am so glad I am where I am. As an aside, I find running smaller distances more frequently does not give me the monster appetite I experienced during marathon training and I am not constantly exhausted. I am fully support women who want to train for consecutive races, but I think there is much to be said to allow running to complement whatever place you are at in your life. Balance is key!

    Reply
  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) December 31, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I am not a runner … but I wish I was. I just can’t make myself enjoy it.

    Happy New Year to you and your gorgeous family!!! All the best in 2013 :-)

    Reply
  • Alexandra December 31, 2012, 3:15 pm

    Well said <3

    Reply
  • Kristen D December 31, 2012, 3:16 pm

    I love this post! I recently completed my 3rd half marathon and start training today for number 4. Everyone keeps asking me when I’ll do a full…. and they’re always shocked when I say “probably never”. They tell me that if I can do 4 halves why not just go for the full? Truth be told, I can very easily see training for a full taking the fun right out of running for me. Every half has been a challenge in it’s own way, and I just can’t fathom doubling it at this point in time. Training for a half is feasible, challenging, and fun for me… why should I run a full just because everyone else thinks I should? I shouldn’t :)

    Reply
    • Lyn December 31, 2012, 3:52 pm

      My thoughts exactly on the whole “you’ve done a half, why not do a full” issue!!

      Reply
  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) December 31, 2012, 4:04 pm

    Do what fulfills you and own it. No need to run distance if it doesn’t work for you or make you happy.

    Reply
  • Marie-Santé December 31, 2012, 4:44 pm

    Oh, Caitlin, I love when you do posts like this! I train for a 10K after a marathon and I must say I liked the diversity. Intervals, fartlek, speed, etc. The focus in marathon was more «get the millage done» and 10K is more «get the speed on!». Also, with less millage to do, I was able to work on my core (my weak area) because I wasn’t as exhausted and I had the time t actually do it.

    Reply
  • Dana December 31, 2012, 4:45 pm

    This was a really inspiring post! I was never into running, because I thought I would always be too slow to enjoy it. Last summer I started walking 10k steps/ day and absolutely loved doing it. Now I’m training for a 5k for the first time (with one of your plans from the HTP book!) and loving how it feels!

    Reply
    • Caitlin December 31, 2012, 6:05 pm

      Yay! Way to go Dana :) Thank you for supporting me!

      Reply
  • Mary December 31, 2012, 6:27 pm

    Smart choice! I did my first half Ironman last year and the training takes a LOT of time. You have to do a long run and a long bike each week. My kids were 15, 12, and 10 when I did mine so a lot more self sufficient. I never would have considered anything like that when they were little. Good for you for keeping up with your workouts at all. Working out should be fun, not a chore. And by the way, your triathlon posts encouraged me to get into triathlons in the first place! I look forward to following HTP in 2013…Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Reply
  • Amber K December 31, 2012, 11:15 pm

    The blog world is such a weird thing. You want to share…without sharing too much. And then you want to connect with people, without bringing out the crazies. I still haven’t figured it out, and you’ve been at this a lot longer than I have! I will quote “just do you, that’s all you can do.” :)

    Reply
  • Kermit January 1, 2013, 12:54 am

    Hi Caitlin, this is my first time posting, I have read for years but never felt so compelled to reply. Your sentence ” For a few months, I thought the secret was figuring out how to do more of whatever more efficiently, but I see now that the answer is really to do less. ” is exactly what has taken me years to work out! So firstly, with fear of sounding condescending… well done on getting to this point in your twenties as it has taken me alot longer! As a 43 year old Aussie Mum of two busy teens, I am constantly squeezing more and more in my day between work, kids sport, my love of running and exercise, time with hubby , healthy meal preparation etc etc Finally over the last few months I have made some subtle shifts and will continue to in 2013. You must read a book called Rushing Woman’s Syndrome by Dr Libby Weaver, it’s about the effects on women’s health by trying to do too much. Anyhow best wishes for a happy New Year all the way from Sunny Australia . P.s just gave my 16 year old daughter your two books for Xmas ( kind of a double present so I can read myself too! ) xx

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 1, 2013, 6:43 am

      :) you are so sweet. Thanks for this comment and thanks for supporting HTP!!!

      Reply
  • Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! January 1, 2013, 6:17 pm

    Thank you for making me feel like a runner. This is one of the first posts about love of running I have read that really hit home. I’ve only been running for a year or so – I’m slow, and not built like a runner at all. I try to do races, but doing a 30 minute 5k was not easy for me. It always makes me really sad when I read about runners who pull ridiculous times, and bust out 8 minute miles like it’s no big deal. It makes me feel like i’m not a *real* runner. But I love the refreshing, stress-relieving feeling of a great run, and thank you for reminding me that nobody can take that from me. I run for me, I’m a runner for me.

    Happy new year, and thank you for your words!

    Reply
  • Lesley January 1, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Great post and one that was so well written! Posts like these really help readers to know you more deeply :)

    Reply
  • Julie January 17, 2013, 4:45 pm

    Good for you, Caitlin! You are so wise.

    Reply

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