Greetings from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am going to take you on a running tour of this great city. The Minneapolis-St Paul area was just named the Fittest Large Metro in the US by the American College of Sports Medicine. I am not surprised, people love to get outside and enjoy the parks, lakes and biking/running/walking trails.
I am proud to call myself a runner, a marathon runner to be exact. I am currently training for my 5th marathon. I am not the fastest runner, nor the slowest. I am just me. It’s good to have goals, but I’ve come to realize just getting outside, getting exercise, enjoying nature, breathing fresh air into my lungs and doing my best is an accomplishment. So whether you are running 1 mile, 10 miles or 100 miles….just do it, do your best and hopefully finish with a smile on your face.
Stop 1- Lake Calhoun. They don’t call Minnesota the Land of 10,000 Lakes for nothing. Smack in the middle of Minneapolis are a chain of lakes. These lakes are the Mecca for runners in Minneapolis. Beautiful & peaceful, but buzzing with people & city life at the same time. I chose Lake Calhoun, my favorite lake to thank my favorite people—my hubby of 10 years, Matt & my munchkins Taylor (age 8) and Gavin (age 5)
Lake Calhoun is exactly 3.14 miles around, a perfect 5K. Early in our engaged and married life, Matt & I would walk around this lake hand in hand & talk about our future. We pushed Baby Taylor in a stroller around this lake many times. Then we pushed Baby Gavin and Toddler Taylor. Many happy memories for me. It also reminds me of how far I’ve come as a runner. At one point when Taylor was a baby, Matt and I made a bet whether or not I could run around the lake without stopping. (3.14 miles!) I did it, but I was seriously huffing and puffing & sore afterwards. The fact that I am now a marathon runner makes me smile. I couldn’t be a marathon runner without the support of Matt. He holds down the fort at home while I do my long (and longer!) runs. Matt, Taylor and Gavin are my biggest cheerleaders and supporters.
Stop 2—Thomas Lowry Park. From Lake Calhoun, I zigzagged my way thru the historic Lowry Hill and Kenwood neighborhoods—home to grand houses from the early 1900’s. I ended up at Thomas Lowry Park–a small park with brick paths, beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers and a cascading water pool. I stopped here to thank my younger sisters, Melissa & Allie. The park is lovely and thoughtful, just like them. Melissa used to live a stone’s throw away from this park. After 7 years in Minneapolis, she recently moved to Southern California with her husband, Kevin. I miss them terribly, but the distance might have made us closer. Our conversations are more meaningful, are visits are more cherished and our daily texts keep us updated on everything. Maybe one day she’ll move back, but after visiting Orange County, I think California might have stolen her. My other sister Allie just graduated from Iowa State, as Melissa and I did. I admire Allie for marching to the beat of her own drum. She is comfortable just being who she is, rather than someone who others might want her to be. She always lands on her feet and with some soul searching; I see a bright future ahead.
Stop 3—The Sculpture Gardens. Right outside downtown Minneapolis is the Walker Art Museum, home to the outdoor (and free) Sculpture Gardens. A trip to the Minnie-Apple isn’t complete without a picture next to the Spoonbridge and Cherry Sculpture. This sculpture is fun and makes me smile, just like my running friends, Kristin & Ellen. I met Kristin in 2008 when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, my first marathon. She was training for Twin Cities Marathon and we instantly hit it off. She encouraged me to join her running group thru Lifetime Fitness and the rest is history. We are a group of moms (ok, and one token guy—Hi, Larry!) who do more than just run together. We share advice, share running tips, share funny stories, share sad stories, laugh, complain, encourage each other, motivate each other & truly care about each other. I met Ellen quickly after joining and we became fast friends as well. Thank you Kristin and Ellen for being great friends, and for always waiting for me, even when I am slow. J
Stop 4—Basilica of St Mary. Outside of downtown stands a grand church, actually not just a church, a Basilica. I stop here to thank my parents, Mike and Deb Murphy. They taught me to be kind, loving, generous, and honest, to enjoy the humor in life, to do your best, put family first, to have a Christian heart & to say I LOVE YOU. They have obviously done so much for me, but now that I have kids of my own, I thank them from the bottom of my heart for being such loving grandparents. They live 5 hours away but truly make a huge effort to be a part of the kids’ lives. They are creating wonderful grandparent/grandchildren memories to last a lifetime.
Stop 5- Minneapolis Skyline/bridge over 94. I thought this was a fun place to thank all my friends in Minnesota, old and new. Some friends I’ve known for many years, fellow Iowa Staters who moved here as well. Some friends are new friends I’ve met thru my kids. Either way, you’ve made me love living in Minnesota. For the longest time, I was homesick for Iowa (I know, I am a dork) But thru all these wonderful people, I truly call Minnesota HOME now. When traveling out of state, if someone asks me “where are you from?” In the past I would have said “Iowa, but I live in Minnesota”. Now I just say “Minnesota”
Stop 6- Lakewood Cemetery. I make my way down Hennepin Avenue back to almost where I started, by Lake Calhoun. You might think Lakewood Cemetery is a funny place to stop. To me, it is not. On April 27, 2003 I went into preterm labor and our baby boy, Logan Matthew was born at 22 weeks. He was born alive, was 1 pound and 12 inches. He lived for 1 hour. He is buried at this cemetery which is literally right across from Lake Calhoun. I want to thank my best girl friends from my hometown, Atlantic, Iowa–Kylie and CoraLynn. They are truly life long friends. We’ve shared in all the wonderful things life has to offer… & in life’s sadness as well, all three of us have buried someone who died too young. Thru thick and thin, they have always been there for me. Thank you BFF’s.
This is also a good place to talk about my charity, The March of Dimes. Their mission is the give ALL babies a healthy start in life. We raised money and walked in their charity walk 5 years in a row. We walked in memory of our first born, Logan. We also walked to celebrate our healthy children, Taylor and Gavin. I would encourage everyone to support this worthwhile cause…and to give your kids and extra tight hug tonight.
Lastly, I want to share my running mantra with you. ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13) When I need to dig deep, I think of this verse. To me it means; I am healthy, I am strong, I am determined, beauty and blessings surround me every day. I have much to be thankful for.
Amanda Muhlbauer is a busy mom is 2 wonderful kiddos- Taylor and Gavin. When she isn’t driving them to soccer, teeball, basketball, ice skating, dance class or swimming, she is running, doing yoga or shopping at Target.