Grandville, Mich. runner Bari Fitzpatrick with her race bling at this year's Bayshore Half Marathon. She set a new PR at this Memorial Day Weekend race.
Grandville, Mich. runner Bari Fitzpatrick with her race bling at this year’s Bayshore Half Marathon. She set a new PR at this Memorial Day Weekend race.

Bari Fitzpatrick, 42, lives and runs in Grandville, Mich. I “met” her virtually after learning she was running this year’s Bayshore Half Marathon—she snagged a PR at the race, held in Traverse City over Memorial Day weekend. Bari shares her running journey at Live Laugh Run Breathe, a blog she started in 2009 after shedding 50 pounds and embarking on a healthier lifestyle. A public schools speech-language pathologist, Bari has run numerous Michigan races, including the Grand Rapids Marathon and a bunch of half-marathons (13.1 is her favorite race distance). I hope to run with you sometime, Bari—not only do we share an appreciation for running along the shores of our state’s beautiful lakes, we also both love Michigan craft beer.

Memorable Mitten State Run: This is a tough question to answer. Some of my most memorable recent long runs were training runs for the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K. I started running with a training group this year (informally – they have free runs on the weekends but I don’t do any of the mid-week runs). I often would still end up running alone because of pace differences, but there were several runs this season that I ran with friends.  Running with friends after being a solitary runner for so long is fantastic, especially when you are running in a blizzard or some crazy weather like that. I also had a 5-mile training run with my daughter that was pretty memorable for a couple reasons: it was her longest run EVER and the insane amount of complaining on her part. Even with all the complaining, she still managed to run five miles with me and I was so proud of her.

"Badass Michigan runner wearing short sleeves in the snow this winter." Yep. That's how we do it here!
“Badass Michigan runner wearing short sleeves in the snow this winter.” Yep. That’s how we do it here!

Favorite Michigan race: Right now, I’d have to list the Bayshore Half Marathon as my favorite Michigan race. The course is absolutely GORGEOUS and with enough little rolling hills but a net-downhill to make things interesting, it will not kill you. The race was very well organized and there was a surprising amount of spectators on the course considering how remote some of the areas were. I especially liked the guys who set up their own personal aid station stocked with beer and cleverly labeled “Not Water.” There were also cute kids handing out water and oranges at the bottom of their driveways. I set my half PR here, which makes it even more special.

Running in the Great Lakes State: Anywhere I can run next to water is a favorite place to run—along the Grand River in Grand Rapids, along Lake Michigan in St. Joseph where I grew up, or around Reed’s Lake in East Grand Rapids are all pretty awesome.

Favorite race distance: This is easy: 13.1. It’s challenging enough that it requires training, but it doesn’t completely consume your life like marathon training. I’ve run one full and I doubt I will ever run another one.

Your running, in three words: Evolving, speedier, freeing.

Staying Healthy: Keeping my weight in a manageable/normal range is important to me because I want to be a healthy example for my children, and let’s face it, I want my clothes to fit right. I definitely have obstacles because I also really like to eat—and I’m a fan of good, local beers. Every now and then, I’ll go back to tracking when I notice my weight creeping back up. It’s definitely higher than I’d like right now and I’m hoping that mixing up my workouts this summer will help the number on the scale head back down.

What does running mean to you? And what does it mean for your family life? Running is something that I can do for me. It helps me manage stress and gives me a sense of accomplishment. When I was injured last year and couldn’t run, I wasn’t a very fun person to be around. As for my family life, I think my running annoys my kids a bit but they are getting used to waiting to be picked up from school until after I finish a run. I’ve stopped making the family spectate my races because they just get bored. My daughter runs when she wants to and is on the track team at school (in field events—long jump, shot and discus, with the occasional sprint relay).  She is also a diver and was a competitive gymnast. My son is more into the arts – he plays trombone in jazz band and has acted in a play and musical at the high school. His idea of fun is music camp and he goes every summer. This summer, he’s going to take on a hiking trip with his dad and some buddies so he’s starting to do some walking to get ready for his trip.

"My teens being teens [twins Kaylee and David, almost 16] on their phones while Mike and I sample beers at Brewery Ferment >> in Traverse City after Bayshore."
“My teens being teens [twins Kaylee and David, almost 16] on their phones while Mike and I sample beers at Brewery Ferment in Traverse City after Bayshore.”
Upcoming Race Schedule: The rest of this summer is all about racing fun (well, except for a triathlon I’m doing in July—that probably won’t be very fun if I don’t start training for it) and I’m looking forward to relaxing on the pace a bit. I’m running my first relay—the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail 200 in August with a bunch of friends. There’s no pressure on time and I am really looking forward to taking on the relay challenge. I just hope my teammates don’t end up hating the Bari I could become on zero sleep. I’m also running another half marathon at the end of August, the Michigan Wine Trail Half. This race is near where I grew up and I’ve lost count on how many girls we have running it together. Wine and a girl’s weekend, what more can you ask for?

Bari also is on Twitter and Instagram.

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