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The Turning Point: Eric's Blog

Sometimes you don’t realize what the important moments are in your life until you are looking back on them years later. They come to you cloaked in seeming insignificance, so as to happen without making much of a sound. They slide right through your day without fanfare, giving no cause for pause or reason to ponder their meaning. This happened to me on the first Sunday in May of my freshman year of college. I woke up late in the morning and was rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I pulled back the curtains from the large picture window in the living room. What I saw outside would change my life. But first, I have to tell you how I got there.

I started running in high school. As a kid in small town Nebraska, sports were everything. There were just over 40 kids in my class, and nearly everyone participated in sports. Of course, since we’re talking about Nebraska, where everyone in the state bleeds Husker red, the sport of choice for most boys was football. Having not yet hit my growth spurt, standing 5’3” tall, and weighing about the same as most large dogs, I knew football was out of the question. So I joined the cross country team.

I wasn’t bad at running, but, since I was only doing it because I felt like I needed to in order to fit in, I didn’t put much effort into it. Therefore, I wasn’t exactly great at it either. I mean, I did all the workouts, there just wasn’t any heart in it. Unfortunately for Coach Nielsen, that meant to fit in with the team, I was going to be the joker. I was constantly goofing off and complaining about the workouts. Whether it was hill repeats or an easy two miles the day before a race, you could be sure that I was complaining about it.

The summer after my senior year, I didn’t run at all, which wasn’t that unusual. Since my heart wasn’t in it, I usually didn’t run much during the summers anyway. When fall came around I felt the slight pull of running calling me back. This was the time that we would usually begin training, and my body was used to it. However, I decided that since I was now balancing college classes and working part time, I’d need to take time to “adjust to the college lifestyle,” whatever that meant. For me, it meant I wouldn’t be running so I could spend more time hanging out and exploring my new freedom with my new friends.

Fast-forward a fall and a spring semester, and there I am, dragging myself out of bed late in the morning on the first Sunday in May. How do I know the day? Because the Lincoln Marathon is always the first Sunday in May, and that’s what I saw going right by my house when I pulled the shades apart. Now, since I was getting up so late, it wasn’t the leaders speeding by my house. In fact, it wasn’t even the middle-of-the-packers jogging by. Who I saw were the people near the back. These are the people who had made a commitment to finish the marathon come hell or high water. People pushing through injuries. People who would be out there almost twice as long as the winner. I distinctly remember seeing an old man with a knee brace on kind of doing a shuffle-jog. These people had already run roughly 20 miles on worn-out bodies, and here I was just moments ago thinking about how dreadful it was to pull myself out of bed.

It was that moment when I decided to start running again. I had no desire to train for the marathon. No, at that moment I still thought that was a thing only a crazy person would do. But I told myself I would start running again. And I did. I started out with pretty low mileage. But, I would soon come to room with Kyle, a member of the University of Nebraska Cross Country and Track teams. At some point he convinced me to come do some of their “easy” 5 mile runs with them in the morning (actual practice was in the afternoon). It took everything I had to just stay with the group that first morning, but I kept coming back. Soon I could keep up. After a while I could chat with them. On a whim, I signed up for a 5k and ran faster than I ever did in high school. It turns out that with running, you get out of it what you put in to it, and with a little hard work, I found out I could be a pretty decent runner.

Between then and now I’ve raced everything from the 5k to marathons (yes, plural). Along the way, I’ve enjoyed numerous sunrises, great runs with great friends, the strange mixture of exhaustion and satisfaction you get from a hard workout, and the exhilaration of racing. I’ve met most of my best friends through running. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with running.


*Eric Mellow is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles Team*


by Mark Spewak

Running with a Fight: Mark's Blog

Often as runners I think we forget how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to participate in this sport. It’s easy to get hung up on the past and very easy to stress about the future.  I have been a runner since I was 12 years old.  I started the sport for a simple reason.  My older brother was a runner and I was sick of being a chubby and out of shape football player.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I was becoming addicted.  For instance, I can remember when I first started my goal was to run 2 miles every day.  The plan was for me to PR every day. I went from a 17 minute 2 mile to a 12:15 two mile in just a year. Achieving that mark didn’t happen overnight. 

In high school I joined the Cross Country team. Although I had improved in middle school, I began feeling content. It showed in my freshman year Cross Country and Track seasons. I spent most of the year running slower times than in middle school. I had too many excuses. I needed a kick in the butt. My sophomore year of high school started off no differently.  I hadn’t improved or trained too much in the off season.  I tried to dwell on the fact I wasn’t getting any better but in the back of my mind I knew I would be a fraud if I complained about that.

Then I started to see myself changing.  I noticed the success of my teammates. I was getting my runs in every day but wasn’t working at their level.  I had the identity of a runner amongst my peers but I didn’t live up to those standards when it counted. During my sophomore year winter I decided I was going to work as hard as I could at the sport. I decided to implement a new attitude. “I will no longer say. I will let my training speak for my races.”

When senior year rolled around I stood with my teammates on the top of podium for the 2010 Missouri Class 3 State Cross Country Championships. I was our third man and truly felt for once I had achieved something real in our sport. That day nothing else mattered but my teammates, family, and friends. In retrospect, I felt too content.

After my senior year, I was offered a spot on the Rider University Cross Country and Track team. Their coach took a chance on me. I had grade problems, I wasn’t the most decorated recruit, and I certainly could have been a distraction. It only took one year for me to prove to all those people those accusations were true.  I ended up red shirting my Cross Country and Track and Field seasons. I failed to meet the team and school’s academic requirements and my failing attitude was for sure a distraction for my peers around me.

It was sad to think just a year before I had earned myself a state title with my teammates.  A year later I was starting to become the out of shape older version of my 12 year old self. Hitting rock bottom in the April of 2012 made me realize I wasn’t done yet. I can chase down new goals and I can prove people wrong. I always had a hard work ethic but now it was being questioned by not only others but myself.

Two years later and now I am able to truly reflect on what has happened in this short amount of time. Last summer I was able to run a 2:53 debut marathon and if it wasn’t for me forgetting my timing chip I would have qualified for the Boston Marathon at 20 years old. Yes, there are many runners out there that are much faster than me and I know I’ll never be the best.  However, I have learned two valuable things in the last two years. The first is patience. I now run 80 miles a week but it took me 2 years to hit that mark consistently. The second is to love the sport. Don’t run the miles and put yourself through the hell unless you truly find a thrill from it.

It’s only been two years since my crash in New Jersey. I am still young and understand that probably wasn’t the only time my running career will taste a piece of the bottom of the rock. I just know this time around if it does happen again I’ll do what I do best… I’ll get up and fight because this is a long term relationship and my love for sport will never die.


*Mark Spewak is the owner/founder of More Miles More Smiles*


by Mark Spewak


In honor of March being one of our busier months, we are offering free shipping to all of our customers if you use the discount code ISHIPFREE at check out! Shop away! :)

by Mark Spewak

Sara Hahn Story

This month we feature Sara Hahn! Sara is a senior in college at Truman State University. She has been a runner since she was 15 years old.  Sara competed in Cross Country and Track in high school.  Although she doesn't compete on the collegiate level that hasn't stopped her from racing in college. Last spring she ran her first marathon and plans to run another! Sara's story is unlike any other. Read her interview here to learn more about her true motivation for the sport! 


MS: What got you into distance running?

SH: My mom is a distance runner, and I wanted to tag along with her while she ran through forest park with my Australian Shepherd, Caramel.


MS: Who were some people who influenced your high school running?

SH: My coaches, Coach Strayhorn and Coach Levine, were a huge influence on my high school running career. They were wonderful encouragers during practices and at meets! My team was the most major influence on my high school running. Such a great group of girls to hang out with always made me excited for practice, and some of my best memories from high school involve cross-country.


MS: What were some of the reasons you continued to run after high school?

SH: Running for me is a stress reliever and way to relax. It’s something I really enjoy doing, not for the competition, but for the feeling of pushing myself to new limits and to feel healthy and happy.


MS: What is the proudest moment of your running career thus far?

SH: My proudest moment thus far was running the Go! St. Louis marathon last year.


MS: What made you want to jump to that distance?

SH: I wanted to run that distance because I wanted to challenge myself. The most I had run until last year was a half marathon, and I felt that I could do the full if I really wanted to. I think that so much of running is mental; if you tell yourself you can do it, you can!


MS: Although you don't compete on the collegiate level, do you recommend the route you took to anyone else?

SH: I would definitely recommend running after college. If you are a competitive person, you may want to join the team, but as a person who runs for enjoyment and pleasure, I have found that running on my own time gives me a feeling of satisfaction. I have found it nice to run on my own time when I have a busy schedule filled with classes and other organizations on campus.


MS: How much of an influence does your Grandmother have on your running career today?

SH: My Grandma Pat has a huge influence on my running career. She is one of the most important people in my life and has always encouraged me to challenge myself and to do good for others. When she had both her legs amputated due to type 1 diabetes, it made me think about how much I appreciate using my legs to run almost every day and sometimes take this for granted. I really admire my grandmother’s positive attitude toward her amputation and use her as a role model for many aspects of life in addition to running. She has taught me that being a nice and positive person will really help you achieve many goals in life.


MS: Can you tell us a little more about her foundation and how you are incorporating your story into the training for your next marathon?

SH: I decided to create a donation page to the American Diabetes Association in honor of my grandmother and was able to raise over $500 toward diabetes research through this fundraising. I thought it would be nice to do something for others who have dealt with diabetes and to raise money in hopes that others would not have to deal with amputations. One of my best friends, Kelly, is a runner and also has diabetes, and I know that I wanted to make sure she will be safe in the future and will have a good running career ahead, because I know she loves to run a lot, too.


MS: Do you have any goals for the  Go. St. Louis Marathon?

SH: Well, I was going to try and beat my time from last year- but due to the weather conditions this winter, I just want to finish without stopping! I also just want to have fun, which I’m sure won’t be too hard!


Rapid fire!

Coffee before or after you run?

I don’t like coffee! I do love those Mio drink enhancers with a little caffeine and try and squirt a little into my waterbottle before I run.


Favorite post run meal?

Salmon sushi!


Do you listen to music while you run?

Yes! I love my little iPod shuffle. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Nelly and Lorde. Music is a great motivator!




by Mark Spewak

Tony's Poor Man's Diet

In need of a different diet? Tony shares with us his healthy and affordable mean plan when he's in training! 


Poor Man’s Diet (HOT Meals)


  • Eggs and salsa w/ tortilla or toast (egg burrito/taco or sandwich)

  • Pop Tarts (toasted if you like)

  • oatmeal (w/ banana, berries, honey, PB, brown sugar, maple syrup)


  • Toast bread and make a PBJ

  • Toast bread and make a (meat) and cheese sandwich

  • Grilled Cheese sandwich

  • Eggs and salsa w/ tortilla or toast (egg burrito/taco or sandwich)

  • Get frozen chicken patties or burritos to heat up and eat

  • Leftover Dinner


  • Pasta w/ meat and sauce

  • Stir Fry

  • Burritos

  • Frozen Pizza


  • SMALL bag of chips

  • Granola Bars

  • Fruit (banana, berries, apple, pineapple)

  • Veggies (carrots, broccoli, peppers) (use ranch if desired)

  • Trail Mix (don’t just pick out the M’s)

  • Chips and salsa

  • Crackers/Pretzels w/ cheese

  • Yogurt


*Tony Wang is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*


by Mark Spewak

Life of a Runner: Megan's Blog

I will be the first to admit that I was a shorts, tank top, and sunglasses, fair weather runner.  Then I realized that I am an average runner.  If I want to get to Boston, I have to be above average.  That means being consistent, train year round, no matter the conditions.

Boy did I pick a good time to start running year round.  Getting out the door to get my run in during the Polar Vortex has not been easy.  Luckily, in St. Louis, there is the spring training team, two winter series, Monday night group runs, and the Wednesday night run with the Happy Running Family to keep me on track. 

The spring training team is hosted by Big River Running Company on Sunday mornings at various locations around the St. Louis area for 12 weeks starting in mid-January to prepare runners for the GO! St. Louis Marathon weekend.  Only one meeting has been cancelled due to icy roads.

One winter racing series is hosted by the St. Louis Track Club called the Frostbite Series, held at Forest Park, with a long and short courses for each race, as well as a long-sleeve series tech shirt. 

The other is hosted by Missouri Running Company called the Winter Park Series, held at Queeny Park, Tower Grove Park, Forest Park, Creve Coeur Park, and Carondelet Park, different shirts as well as different distances ranging from 3 to 5 miles for each race. 

Each series has five races on alternating Saturday mornings.  That’s ten weeks of races!  And despite the active winter weather, only one of those ten races was cancelled due to icy roads.

On the weekends, knowing that the other runners are also dreading getting out of their nice warm beds, dark and early to brave the cold, helps motivate me to show up too! 

During the week, it’s a little easier since you’ve already braved the cold to get to work.  Just make sure you pack your gear, keep it warm, and don’t go home until your run is over.  Otherwise, you might find yourself wrapped up in a blanket on the couch without any miles for the day.

Monday night group runs are held year round at Big River Running Company at each one of their four different locations:  South City, University City, West County, and O’Fallon.   Only one week was cancelled due to icy roads and frigid temps.  Post run, there is usually a group eager to grab dinner and drinks at a restaurant nearby.  I can’t think of a better way to end a Monday!

On Wednesday nights, you can find the Happy Running Family in the Visitor’s Center at Forest Park ready to get their 6 miles in regardless of the conditions.

This winter, I have learned so much about runners and their willingness to avoid treadmills at all costs.  If you can think of an excuse, there is a solution.  There are tights, gloves, jackets, turtlenecks, winter caps, face masks, YakTrax, etc. to keep you warm and give you traction so that you can get your miles in outside.  Coming to the realization that “everyone else is doing it” has helped me get out there and do it too!


*Megan is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*


by Mark Spewak

Daniel's Miles of Smiles

I ran.  Given my circumstances, running was my only athletic option.  I was always just a scrawny kid.  But I joined cross country my freshman year when everything was different for me and people seemed further apart.  I had no idea what I was getting into!  I was amazingly average so I ran a 20:10 PR in the 5k my first year.  But I looked up to our varsity team and wanted to be where they were so badly.  So I kept running.  I ran through XC season, I ran in the winter, I ran during track, and I ran all summer.  I ran so much that I began to get the hang of it despite my athletic shortcomings.  I was surprised to see my personal record from freshman year cross country drop by almost two minutes, and I was firmly set in our varsity team.  And then I kept running.  Then, junior year taught me what pain really was.  My personal and family problems made my running a chore.  I couldn’t run up to my ability because my mind was blocking my path and that physically hurt me.  

One day during the middle of my junior year cross country season our coach had us run 400 repeats with a jogging rest.  It began to rain before us higher mileage runners on the team finished.  We ran through the piercing wind and rain on the track.  After the workout my coach took me aside and told me to run to the middle school down the road.  I obliged and met him on the soccer field.  I looked pitiful.  My legs were covered in mud and my clothes were soaked.  He looked at me and told me to do the entire workout again on the muddy soccer field.  So I ran the workout again.  And the rain didn’t stop.  The rest of the guys on varsity were watching me run around and around and I felt like an idiot.  But I made sure that every single repeat hurt and I prayed to god that the next would hurt more.  When I finished I walked up to my coach, he asked me if I thought I was done and I said no.  He decided to give me a tempo run after the double workout, and he decided to run it with me.  We started at tempo pace, just under six minute mile pace.  The more I ran the better I felt.  Before long we were racing through the streets with our feet slapping the water on the ground.  I felt like I could do anything when before I felt powerless.  I ran 14 miles at varying workout paces that afternoon and I was so happy I could’ve cried.  That day was something to hold on to whenever I felt like I had nothing.  The next week I ran my 5k PR: a personal success of 17:15.  I’ll remember that day more than any of my personal records, any medals, any triumphant wins or painful losses, and I’ll be able to smile.


*Daniel is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*


by Mark Spewak

My Life As a Runner: Mandy's Blog

I began running when I was thirteen years old, not because I thought it would be fun but because I was desperate for a change. I was going into high school and I felt way too young to be overweight, but I was. "I don't really know how I got here", I remember thinking, "but I hate it". I was never an athlete. I was an artsy kid, a thinker, and I was clumsy. Too clumsy to enjoy any sport that required coordination. Up until this point, my athletic career had consisted of me playing right field on the church softball team. I liked it alright. I could sit out there and search for four leaf clovers.  Most of the time I was removed from the action. Every once in a while a ball would come my way. I would awkwardly retrieve it and throw it to the pitcher (because that's what the coach told me to do) and it was in these moments that I was reminded, once again, just how terribly unathletic I was. A lifetime of these situations led me to the conclusion that anything physical was simply not for me. I spent my entire middle school existence abiding by that principle and avoiding an active lifestyle at all costs.

On the verge of high school I was beginning to realize that this philosophy wasn't pointing me in the direction that I wanted to go. I was 25 lbs overweight. I was the butt of a lot of fat jokes (middle schoolers can be so cruel). Simple things like rollerblading to a friends house or riding my bike to the park were no fun because of how out of shape I was. I decided I needed a change. Well, I'm sure you all know, change is a real bitch. It makes you feel uncomfortable; physically, and emotionally. It forces you to do things that you are bad at, and it's SLOW. I would say that those were the feelings that characterized the beginning of my life as a runner. I didn't look cool when I ran. I looked red faced and jiggly. I certainly didn't feel cool. After years of being sedentary, I wasn't used to my heart beating in my brain, or my lungs burning, or my legs feeling like Jello. From start to finish, I hated it. I didn't run because I felt capable and strong and in control. I ran because I secretly hoped that if I kept at it long enough, maybe, just maybe, I would have one of those runs that the skinny, fast people talk about; a “Chariots of Fire”, wind in my face, sand in my back kick kind of a run. My first season as a cross country runner, I never broke 30 minutes in a 5k. I spent most of my time on the bus ride to the race praying that I wouldn't be last. "Please just let there be one girl, just one, who finishes after me." Change is slow, painfully so, but it does happen. Eventually I got faster. I wasn't running varsity but I was solidly middle of the pack and that fear of being last across the finish line no longer haunted me. I put my miles in during the off season, and every once in a while I had a run that felt alright, almost comfortable. I always chuckle to myself when people talk to me about running and they say things like, "I wish I was one of those people who liked to run." Or "I wish I could just go out and run and be comfortable like you"....ahhh if they only knew.


23 years later, I have way more runs that I really savor. I hit the trail, and my problems start to dissolve. I notice the way the sun filters through the branches or the way spring slowly seeps up the trees from the forest floor. somehow I become more grateful for the things that I have instead of discontented with the things that I don't. I feel small when I'm in the woods and my smallness gives me peace. "You're not as important as you think you are," I say to myself. "The world will go on regardless of how much you screw things up". Occasionally I have a run that's brutal from start to finish. My legs tie up, my breathing is ragged, every step feels like a battle. But its different now because I know that during those long hard miles, my body and my mind are learning; how to be strong and focused, how to make possible what feels impossible. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time; that's how change happens. That's how the slow, overweight, out of shape middle schooler becomes a lifelong runner.  


*Mandy is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team*


by Mark Spewak

It's like Family: Brandon's Blog

There is so much more to a run than just lacing up and stepping out the door. It’s the sights you see, the goals you accomplish, the people who are along for the run. We can all agree the running community is one of the greatest, most powerful things we have ever experienced. There is just something about meeting a new runner, passing by a runner, anything! Runners are one of the friendliest people you will ever meet and are always there to lend a helping hand. If you don’t have a group, or partner you run with I highly suggest finding someone to push you and hold you accountable. Many local running stores will host social runs, these are great to be a part of. Connecting with the running community is amazing!

I have my connections through high school cross country and track. AKA My second family. I love these guys to death. Never have I meet a more dedicated, hard working, passionate group of guys. Maybe I’m a little bias, but these guys are family. I know I can always rely on them for motivation and that extra push on days when I’m not quite feeling it. Everything from our long runs, to grueling workouts, to Friday night team dinners, to the excitement of racing with the boys is pure joy. They are my best friends and they are the reason I am here today. Without them I would not be the type of runner I am today. So often when you run alone it’s easy to lose pace and sight of the goal. That’s not possible with my team, when you fall they are there to pick you up. My best friends and greatest memories have been made with my team. Sure we have our ups and down as a team, but in the end I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to call my teammates and my family.

The support and love from my team is unbelievable, not even kidding during our meets it’s of the norm to look up and see a group of kids dressed in a cow, clown, hotdog, bacon and eggs M&M costumes and so much more running from spot to spot on the course, making pyramids of people, chanting our names as we race on. Talk about a little extra push! Then comes Districts and that means 1 thing…Knight-Hawks. It is becoming a tradition at Francis Howell North for the top 7 athletes, those running at districts, to shave a mow hawk in their heads the Thursday before Districts to show off to the entire school and everyone at the meet that they are proud to be a Knight and deserve to be racing the next Saturday. You get to keep your great new hair-do until your season is finished, even more motivation to move on and race the next week.

All of this may come off a little crazy to others, but to me and my team it’s the great thing I could ever ask for. Without my team, my family, I am nothing, with them I am everything. The running community is absolutely amazing, the group of people you run with may not be as odd ay my team I have, but I still highly suggest finding someone or a group to run with. Who knows they could end up becoming your best friend and your reason to continuing running forward. Thank you FHN XC and Track. Happy running!



*Brandon is an intern for the More Miles More Smiles Team*


by Mark Spewak


We have some exciting news! This Wednesday we will be launching our second product! The kicker is this product will benefit a non profit organization named LIFE. More Miles More Smiles is not only devoted to inspiring the every day runner/walker but also focused on supporting as many charities and organizations as possible.

For those of you who are not familiar with LIFE, please read their mission statement below. 

Life's Mission Statement: The Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric (L.I.F.E.) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to cancer survivorship by providing assistance to cancer patients in need, scholarship programs, and donating to cancer research laboratories. We will help draw awareness and contribute towards finding more effective treatments, and one day, a cure.

To learn more about LIFE, please visit their website


Please stay tuned for the launch of this mysterious product on Wednesday! 


(Photo Credit Mike McLean)

by Mark Spewak