Microsoft Team “Rocks It”!- Closing FY18 Strong Together- St. Jude Nashville Marathon

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It was another fine and beautiful morning, Saturday, April 28, 2018, in Nashville as our group of Microsoft runners and their families gathered for the seventh year in a row on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge  on our way to the start line, joining the 30,000 other runners taking part in the event.  This was the culmination of 16+ weeks of training to take on the very hilly courses in Nashville.  Training this year was particularly difficult in that the weather was pretty tough.    In fact, this was probably the toughest year for training of the past 7 years – but also the best weather day for this event ever .  The pictures attached  are just a portion of our team as not everyone made it to the pedestrian bridge prior to the race for our group picture.  Our total number was over 40 participants.

Our group included participants in every event offered (Full Marathon/Half Marathon/5k).   We had Microsoft Employees coming in from all around the US including Redmond WA, Dallas TX, and St. Louis MO.  This was truly a One Microsoft accomplishment including employees from Southeast EOU, the US National Healthcare Organization, One Commercial Partner,  Public Sector (Education, Federal, and SLG), Microsoft Services (Premier and MCS), and the Dynamics Team.

By training over the past 16 weeks – each member of the Microsoft team was Certified “Q4 Fit and Ready” for the challenges  to close out FY18 Strong.  They have built stamina and have displayed the grit necessary to be successful.

The day started out beautiful with the temperature at around 50 degrees increasing to about 70 degrees upon finishing time.  The course seemed to change a bit from the previous year, although the hills were still very prominent throughout the course providing the challenges that we love and always expect in the Nashville marathon!  Definitely a great leg workout!

As always, the course provided us with a tour of the sights of the city starting on Broadway and providing a glimpse of Bridgestone Arena, Music Row, Belmont University and Mansion, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State Capitol and Bicentennial Capitol Mall amongst many other sights. Spectators were up early and excited about supporting us throughout the day.  We truly enjoyed hearing the cheers from the spectators “Go Microsoft” as we would run by and at the finish line.  We took advantage of ALL the offerings we received along the way such as the shots of beer (no better way to keep those carbs going), oranges and bananas!

Race Support:  Great race support as always this year.  Water was available at every mile with Gatorade available at every other mile.   Parking was abundant and free and the race is set up in a way that you can walk to the start line – no shuttles needed!

Best part of all of this is that we as a team engaged our family and friends to drive towards a common goal (outside of work) that ultimately supported  an outstanding  cause – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital .

We thank all those that participated with us this year and we are looking forward to another great run TWO-GETHER in 2019!

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TWO-GETHER Runners

This may sound like a silly question, but I have to ask, “Did You Really Run 26.2 Miles Together?”

This may sound like a silly question but it is one we hear quite often now as we ‘share our story” with others.   I can understand why we are asked this question as first of all running a marathon is not an easy task let alone figuring out how to accomplish this with your spouse (running every mile together). Combine this with the additional challenges couples now face in communicating with each other with the influx and proliferation of technology in our lives.  Now don’t get me wrong, David and I both work for Microsoft and are advocates of technology.   However as we have both experienced throughout our lives technology has its benefits as well as its disadvantages. As technology becomes more ingrained in everything we do it also provides an outlet or an excuse to not engage in conversation where one doesn’t wish to engage or feels uncomfortable engaging. Many times, creating conflict within relationships.

In the past we have both been in situations with each other where we have said, “You’ve been texting with that person for 45 minutes – couldn’t that have been a five minute conversation instead?  Why not just call them?”    Or even more often, noticing that sometimes when we are together as a family – our kids or other family members tend to be looking at their phones more than they are looking at each other or truly engaged in conversation with us. I am sure you have been in many of the same situations that we have as it has become a challenge for everyone and will only become more difficult as technology starts to be integrated more and more in the clothing that we wear as well as in every aspect of our surroundings. Times are changing.

We also found that our time to relax together was continually be interrupted from the buzzing sounds of our phone from text messages from work, family and friends. This is all part of the new 24 x 7 technology world that we are all living in and the expectations that are presented to us given this new connected world.  While we love our work, friends and family we realized that we need to be able to disconnect or break away from the noise that technology brings into our lives and spend more time focusing on each other and our joint goals.  As a matter of fact, we have made the joint decision that we would spend time every day together without interruptions surfacing through the technology around us (putting our phones away at 6:30 PM) each evening.   This has allowed us to engage in great conversations with each other in a relaxed environment with no interruptions. This has not only improved our communication with each other but has allowed us work towards our joint  goals together (ie. training for a marathon, fishing, playing music, etc.).

So what does this have to do with us “Running 26.2 miles together?” In order to even begin to accomplish this feat together there had to be clear communication channels between us to have conversations about setting goals as well as developing a plan together to achieve those goals. We had to block out time together and put our time together as a priority. We still face this challenge today and will continue to face it in the future as we continue running marathons. Marathons require time, planning and training.

David and I have been setting goals together for many years and I truly believe this is what has enabled us to have successful careers, healthy lifestyles and a fulfilling marriage.   When setting goals together we first ask ourselves, “What is our goal together and how does that impact each other individually?” For instance, setting a goal to run a marathon together seems easy. But when you get right down to it is a very difficult process as it is going to impact each of us individually in a different way. Each of us will have to train differently, think differently and adjust to the others needs in order to be successful two-gether.

One example of this was when we ran the  Napa Valley Marathon using the Galloway 5min/1 min method. David felt that  we should run the first three and then start the 5/1 Galloway method.  I  disagreed with him mainly because that is exactly what Galloway suggests not to do! In fact, it is those first three miles that can affect how you may feel at the end of the race. If you run hard the first three miles (only to gain maybe one minute per mile) the damage you may subject your body to may not be recoverable at mile 18 or 19. However, after stepping back and thinking about this from his position, I understand why he said this. We must complete this marathon in 6 hours as this is the time limit set for the marathon.   Given this, there are parts of me that said “Yes, let’s go get the first three done quickly”, as it is hard anyway in the beginning to implement the 5/1 strategy because everyone is running and no one is walking during the first three.   Even though, in my mind, I know that is not the right way to approach this.   I wanted to show my support and not just shut the door on David’s recommendation. Therefore, I chose to accept his strategy during the Napa Valley Marathon- which ultimately was a success (with a few hurdles- Read Napa Valley Marathon Blogpost).  The ability to listen and be open to your spouse’s thoughts and ideas is important even though you feel the way you wish to approach the situation is the right way.

Our differences in running styles- David likes to analyze and thinks differently about the marathon journey then I do. When we are training he is constantly analyzing our times in his head, calculating what our pace is and what time we will come in at based on our current pace. While he can enjoy the scenery and take it all in at the same time, my mind is the exact opposite. I want to enjoy the run and I do not want to be stressed by time.   As his partner I want to understand his concerns and to try and be the supportive. The best way I have found to manage this is to start working this out in my own individual way and then once I have the outcome (good or bad) on how this will impact me I will present to him and we will work together to define our strategy based on our input together. This goes both ways. I can also tell you that while David does these calculations in his head while we are running – he knows that I really don’t operate that way  and I choose not to know the pace/time – so he just keeps it to himself. When I want to know – I ask him and his response is pretty quick.

Typically, my toughest time during a marathon is the beginning (David is very strong in the beginning) as I struggle with getting my heart rate consistent and my breathing down. David is a fast runner and at the beginning is all about moving fast! So his challenge is figuring out from his own individual perspective how he is going to deal with this in his mind (again he is an analyzer and has everything mapped out in his mind) so that he can also be supportive of me while I need to take it slower in the beginning.   My strength typically (not always) comes at the end (every race is different). Don’t ask me why, I have no clue. It is almost like I get a second wind even though my body has pretty much given out. I really think it is because I know we are almost done and I just want to be finished! So at the end when I am feeling good, David is usually the exact opposite. Again, it is about being empathetic and understanding. It is about supporting him as he supported me in the beginning!

Setting the goal is the first step. Once we decide on the goal and strategy and we are both bought into the approach we are going to take together we also know that there are many outside circumstances that definitely could change our entire plan (especially in a marathon).

The biggest success factor to all of this is that we both appreciate each other for who we are. I am glad he is an analyzer as he can keep us on track as long as he keeps the numbers going in his mind. He knows how sharing the numbers while we are running stresses me out and therefore he agrees and promises he will keep this to himself- until I ask him “are we going to make it?” This is a major step in a marriage and if as a couple you can get this far in understanding each other’s strengths/weaknesses and vulnerabilities and nurture them as appropriate then you will have a very strong marriage. It has taken both of us a long time and open communication channels to get to this point.

We try and apply these principles to everything we do; Understanding our vision or goals together; continue to have our own individual integrity yet have an open attitude towards negotiation and resolution towards a common solution; Understanding how these two-gether goals impact each of us individually. Most importantly having the ability to provide encouragement and empathy along the way as we work towards the common goal.  Last but not least: Have FUN together!

This process and cooperation and appreciation for each other takes a lot of work and is sometimes too difficult or time consuming (based on where a couple is at in their marriage-just having kids, etc.) for many couples to even want to tackle . I believe that the experiences we have gone through in our lives as well as the value we place on the remaining time we have together has enabled us to more easily map out our path together allowing us to enjoy the moments together; good or bad.

So the answer to the question above is Yes.   Yes we have ran 26.2 miles together every step of the way, side by side (and many times in costumes)!  At the end we cross the finish line two-gether holding each other’s hands high up in the air.  We are proud.  Emotion takes over many times, especially when we reflect back on  the training and the struggles we went through to prepare for each of the marathons- two-gether (especially Antarctica and The Inca Trail Marathon).

In addition to the seven continents we have run many other marathons this way. It has not always been easy. We have faced so many challenges together.  You can read about these in our book- Two-Gether! ( You can now order an signed hard copy directly through our website)!

We hope that our book will provide guidance and spark a flame that will enable you to enrich your marriage.  If you want to have a conversation with us or just want to reach out because you want excitement in your marriage and you want guidance on where to start, please reach out! We are more than happy to help!

We hope that you have enjoyed this blog entry and it inspires you and your spouse to take the next steps in your journey’s two-gether!

Below is a great article about the benefits of setting Health Goals together as a couple. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/01/20/couples-who-set-health-goals-together-have-more-success-study-suggests/ .

Want a signed copy of our book?- you can purchase a copy here- https://two-gether.net/two-gether/