What’s with all the Shenanigoats?!

It always seems the best stories stem from a change in our original plans.

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Jamie and Max own the “it” thing to do in Nashville right now. With yoga studios all over the city, you’d think there wouldn’t be any room for another. Thankfully these two were able to find their place and breathe life into Shenanigoats Yoga.

What started as a team of two goats with the plan to keep Jamie and Max's 47 acre farm free from overgrowth and brush turned into a sizable herd of Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goat yogis. Max believed that others would love to have the benefit of goat landscaping on their own properties but Jamie waved that idea off as silly. This past April, much to Jamie’s surprise, a request was posted in the Nextdoor app asking for goats for a brush clearing job. Turns out Max was onto something the whole time in believing that this was a need that others had. 

One thing led to the next and friends and strangers requested that they make goat yoga happen here in Nashville.  And I’m so glad they took that chance.

 

Here, Megan loves on a sweet goat during one of the classes in support of St. Jude. Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

Here, Megan loves on a sweet goat during one of the classes in support of St. Jude. Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

For the past three years I have ran with the local country radio station’s team, Team BIG 98 for St. Jude for the Nashville Rock 'n' Roll Half and Full Marathons. Every year the team tries to find more ways to raise money for children fighting cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Last year our team gained a new member, Megan Hogue, who this year became a co-captain of Team BIG 98. And fortunately for us, that meant we would get the chance to benefit from goat yoga for more than just the obvious good feelings that come from playing with goats. 

With a friend coming into town, Megan signed up for Shenanigoats Yoga for something fun to do. Thinking that there was an opportunity for Team BIG 98 to pull in more money for the kids at St. Jude, Megan reached out to see if Jamie wanted to set something up if possible. Within minutes Jamie was eager to find out what she could do to help the cause. The end result was a double header of yoga classes on September 30th with $10 from each ticket being donated to St. Jude.

I had been interested in trying Shenanigoats Yoga since I saw a posting about it on Facebook in June. When my team was holding classes as a fundraiser, I just couldn’t pass it up any longer. My experience was as follows:

I tossed and turned the night before with incessant dreams of goat yoga. I dreamt I showed up to class, unrolled my mat among other yogis, and quickly realized I was at the YMCA when I knew the class was actually being held at the green space near the local café Bongo East. I had accidentally ended up at a non-goat based yoga class and was running late to get across town for Shenanigoats. I’m so glad this was just a dream contrived by my mind that was obviously very excited about goats and yoga.

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I showed up to the noon class on the morning of the 30th and set my mat beside other women I had never met before. We all made friends with one another, and soon I met other girls who were also a part of the Team BIG 98 family.  After some time snuggling goats, the class began.

Our instructor for the class was Brianne Burgoon. She works at TriStar Centennial Medical Center where she is an art therapist. With her Master’s in Art Therapy and Counseling she helps groups through art therapy, yoga, and mindfulness. She also has her RYT-200 through Sanctuary for Yoga. I have taken a handful of yoga classes in the past few years, always feeling that Restorative Yoga best helped me, and following the goat yoga class with Brianne I felt her instruction was fantastic for all levels of yogis. She was an incredible instructor, especially when considering the added and unpredictable element of goats. Our class ranged from young children to middle aged folks, all trying to just find their zen with the perfect combination of the sweet goats and Brianne’s calm and helpful instruction.

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Initially seeing the pictures online, I figured goat yoga would be fun and adorable, but I didn’t realize the intense happiness that it would bring me throughout the class and into the rest of my day as I continued to tell friends and coworkers what I had done that morning. Having a small goat jump onto your back, or lazily sit on your feet extended into the air is a feeling that really can’t be conveyed through anything else but experience. 

Megan gifted this bag to Jamie who saw the perfect use in scooping up one of the little ones. A goat in a tote! Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

Megan gifted this bag to Jamie who saw the perfect use in scooping up one of the little ones. A goat in a tote! Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

Before I left the class I stopped to thank Jamie for putting together such an incredible event, and for helping Team BIG 98 and the kids at St. Jude. That was when she pointed out her friend since fourth grade, Sasha. Sasha is a two time cancer survivor and when she heard about the fundraiser for St. Jude she decided to fly into Nashville from Denver to see it in person. Sitting in the pen doing yoga poses or just loving on the goats, people tend to walk by and take pictures and video or just stand around to watch for a little while. I just assumed Sasha was another person doing just that, when in fact she was so much more. Having never seen the goat yoga sessions in person, it all finally made sense to her to hear the laughter the goats brought to those attending the class. Overall, the classes promote happiness. In the restorative yoga classes I have taken, I always walk away feeling a sense of peace. Following my class with Shenanigoats however, I felt peace and complete bliss for the first time in a while.

Jamie and Sasha showing the peace, love, and happiness that is produced at Shenanigoats. Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

Jamie and Sasha showing the peace, love, and happiness that is produced at Shenanigoats. Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

Celebrity guests at Shenanigoats have included country singer Maren Morris, Dan Smyers from Dan and Shay, and the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo. Shenanigoats has received recognition as the #1 Thing to do in Nashville by the Tennessean, they have been featured on StyleBlueprint Nashville, and were the first Music City Must on Fox5.

Currently in the works is a book based on the greatness brought by Shenanigoats through Turner Publishing titled “Goat Yoga: the Light in Me Honors the Goat in You.”  Pre-orders are now open on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for an October 31st release. If you can’t make the trip to Nashville to experience the fun, bring the fun home to you to enjoy all the wonderful pictures of goats happily doing yoga among their human counterparts.

Some members of Team BIG 98. Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

Some members of Team BIG 98. Photo provided by: @NashvilleMeg

The classes on September 30th ended up raising $500 for the kids at St. Jude and promoted happiness while doing so. For that I am so grateful to Jamie and Max for taking that chance to branch out their business into such a fun and positive thing. Come hang out with their kids (goat pun intended) sometime and experience your own shenanigans at Shenanigoats Yoga. 

 

 

 

If you'd like to join Team BIG 98 in raising money for St. Jude or join our team for the 2018 race series, check out our team page here or contact me with any questions. :)

Surviving Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Marathon & Half

It's no secret that the Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Marathon and Half is a challenge. The weather always seems to be some kind of crazy, Nashville is hilly, and the course is packed with people up until the split for the full and half at mile 11. I've survived two halfs and two fulls on this course over the last four years and here's how...

 

1. Run with friends.

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2015 I ran RnR Nashville as my second full marathon. I trained better than I ever had by joining our local Fleet Feet spring marathon training group. This provided me with weekly advice, a training plan, specials to local products, but best of all, run friends. Some of the most important people in my life I met through this crazy, terrible, wonderful sport. Running with friends during a race like Nashville can take your mind off the struggles (*Bonus if you find friends as hilarious as my friend Rebecca running beside me in the picture above). Make a game plan and know if you want to stick together the whole time, or feel comfortable going your own paces when the need arises. It's understandable if you'd rather race alone, but friends have 100% helped me get through the tough race in Nashville. 

2. Don't go out too fast.  

This advice is often shared for every race everywhere. But Nashville is a  huge  race with 30,000+ runners. Check out this picture I took of the start line in 2014.  

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From one side of Broadway to the other, there is no room for deep breaths because every square inch is taken up by runners.  

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Start out too fast in Nashville, trying to weave in and around runners while enduring the hills and you will for sure take on the various postures of this runner evolution before the end of your race. Give yourself a pre-race pep talk and think about the cadence of your feet to keep you from sprinting the first downtown to Music Row section.

3. Read the signs when you're struggling.  

I've always felt that spectators are my best medicine when things get hard. If I can at least get a small chuckle out of reading a funny sign I'm sure to have a mental turn around. 

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Nashville's course is great in that it maneuvers through many neighborhoods where lots of people can stake out to cheer, spray their garden hoses on runners on hot race days, and remind you that while you're running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, they're drinking all the beer at the finish line. My favorite neighborhood during this race is the 12 South neighborhood. This is where the hills are the most prevalent as you take on multiple in a row, but the crowd is also the best at making you forget it for a minute or two. Shoutout to the folks from Hillcenter Lululemon who cheered us on with a selfie station in 12 South back in 2015.

4. Consider becoming a St. Jude Hero.

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Perhaps the greatest thing I ever did with my running was dedicating all of the time and effort to the kids a St. Jude. At St. Jude no parent ever pays a penny for their child's treatment, not for travel, housing, food, or medical expense. And St. Jude has promised to continue to work this way until no child dies from cancer. If you choose to run as a Hero and raise $100 you earn your race singlet, which means that when you hit a hard spot in your race other Heroes will note you are one of them and cheer you on. I remember the first time I heard a fellow Hero shout to me "way to go Hero!" In a moment of struggle I found the strength I needed to fight through it. However, I get really teary-eyed and feel a lump in my throat whenever a spectator thanks me for what I'm doing in helping these kids. It's a balance. :)

5. Enjoy all the moments. 

Nashville will challenge you. It will reward you. It will frighten you and it will make you feel like a warrior when you cross that finish line. If you can take on the Nashville Half or Full, I believe you can take on any other race (*Barkley Marathons still under consideration for this statement).  Remember to enjoy your surroundings, listen to the music as you run by the stages (who knows, you could be hearing the next Garth Brooks!), thank every volunteer for making the race possible, and wear that shiny medal with pride. Drink plenty of fluids and trust in your training! 

Today's shake out run with Coach Kevin Leathers. Ready to see these same streets packed tomorrow! 

Today's shake out run with Coach Kevin Leathers. Ready to see these same streets packed tomorrow! 

With the expected heat tomorrow in Nashville, be wary of your fluids as well as how your body responds. Slow the pace down and know that just finishing this race is a huge feat. By showing up you're already a success story, and bonus points to you if you raised money for the kids at St. Jude in the process. Enjoy Nashville!

The year I fell in love with running

2016 sucked.

For a lot of people. And for a lot of different reasons. December 3rd, 2016 I ran the St. Jude memphis Marathon for the third year in a row. Somewhere near mile 20 a spectator held a sign that read "F@ck 2016!" to which runners all around me agreed. I don't recall a year that was collectively thought of with a sigh the way it seems 2016 is remembered. And I feel thankful that I'm not alone in the idea that 2016 wasn't the best year ever.

I started 2016 by taking my first full-time, 9-5 day job. I started to struggle with time manage and stopped making time for the things that made me truly happy. I missed the first 10 weeks of my spring marathon training program and tried to jump back in on week 11 - an 18 mile run. I began the training run with the 4 hour group but got left behind after just 5 miles. Around mile 15 I was struggling when the 4:15 group caught up to me. And passed me. Just four months before this, November 2015, I had ran a marathon with a personal best of 4:11:53, and now a training run was causing me to feel I was no longer a runner. DEFEAT.

As a back story, 2015 was a great year for me and running. I became a Marathon Maniac (#12090) by running 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga in October, The Nashville Marathon in November, and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December. Sprinkle in a Ragnar Relay and a Zooma half marathon (another personal best) and you would have the happiest version of myself that has ever existed.

My spring marathon eventually rolled around and I struggled, both with the actual running of the race and with enjoying it. I ran a half marathon a few weeks later and didn't find it as exciting as it once felt. I had high hopes for the Chicago marathon, my 7th marathon, and felt that a sub 4 hour marathon was in my reach with such a flat course. But my motivation was gone and I started to tell my running friends that I was burnt out on running. Chicago, the most incredible experience marathon I've ran, came and went with improper training and a lack in personal best to accompany it. Two months later I ran the St. Jude Marathon and beat my personal worst time by only 13 seconds. I felt like 2016 was the year I gave no importance to training and in return received no reward.

2017, the year I fell in love with running.

This is what I have planned for this year. I want to find the passion I once had for running and remember why I love this crazy sport. Music is also an important aspect of my life and my running. Each week I plan to draw on the building blocks of running - training, workouts, running sessions, gear, fuel, races, and the songs that helped me get through that week of running.

Runnin' Just in Case - Miranda Lambert

I love this song for the place I'm at currently with my running. Between the rhythm of the song that makes my feet want to run, to the line that reminds me that running can help me achieve something that I may not be directly focused on.

"It ain't love that I'm chasing / but I'm runnin' just in case"

Running sucks. I know this. It can be so rewarding, but it can also be so difficult. I run in weather that is too hot, or too cold. I've ran at hours that are too early when I'm so tired, and I've ran too late when I have to speed to beat the setting sun. Sometimes I set out to run three miles and I finish wondering how I ever ran a marathon. But I've also had some great laughs while running alongside my best friends. I've raised thousands of dollars for kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital who are fighting cancer. I'm planning on finding my love of running again this year, and maybe my goals are out of reach, but I'm still runnin' just in case.