116 Days and Counting for Emily


I used to hate running. I was skinny and always more of the Yoga/Pilates type. I knew of people in my family who had “bad knees”, so I assumed that genetically speaking, I was doing myself a favor. After gaining 65 lbs in my first pregnancy, however, I changed my mind and bought a jogging stroller. I diligently did the Couch to 5K program and lost all the weight. Soon after, I got pregnant again and continued to run a few times a week. I joined Stroller Strong Moms at 30 weeks pregnant and was so inspired by the other women who were doing the same thing! Following their lead, I signed up for my first 5K race four months after my second baby was born and was overwhelmed by the electricity of the event. There were children running, pregnant women, people pushing strollers, elderly people,  but they all shared a LOVE for running. This was a new world for me and I became addicted that day.


Emily’s last mile in Columbus with fellow Stroller Strong Moms before moving to NY.


I began to sign up for every 5K and mud run I could get my hands on, just to feel that excitement again and again. I realized that I loved how free I felt when I ran. I could leave my screaming children at home and run into the sunset or the rain, sweating my troubles away, and all at once this become my single most effective coping mechanism for life. So when I came across an *article on CNN about Mark Covert, who had been running at least one mile a day for the last 16,075 days, I was absolutely intrigued. On May 6, 2013 I began to do the same thing. Since then, I have run while sick, run with scorpion stings on my toe, run while the rain was pouring so hard I couldn’t see, run on a treadmill in a hotel, through a cemetery, along the river, through the woods, with my children, with my family, with my friends, with people I just met, while drunk, in the pitch-black night with dogs jumping on me, and I have swallowed many bugs. It has only been 116 days and I know now that I will never stop. Sometimes it hurts and it’s almost always hard, but not once have I ever regretted it. 



Emily’s most recent daily mileage post (she recently upped her daily milage to 2 miles a day rather than one!




Runner’s World gives tips on how to enjoy your long runs

Are you struggling with your long runs? If it’s easy to lace up for a quick run, yet you find your long runs daunting, check out this article and it may help you sort out your hang-ups with high mileage. Long runs can be very enjoyable and very beneficial to your races (even 5ks) according to this article in Runners World Magazine. RWM tips on long runs

What is Autism?

What Is Autism?

What Is Autism? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

 Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. With the May 2013 publication of the new DSM-5 diagnostic manual, these autism subtypes will be merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role. Learn more …

How Common Is Autism?

Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

ASD affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Moreover, government autism statistics suggest that prevalence rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years. There is no established explanation for this continuing increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered. Learn more …

What Causes Autism?

Not long ago, the answer to this question would have been “we have no idea.” Research is now delivering the answers. First and foremost, we now know that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.

In the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of nongenetic, or “environmental,” stresses appear to further increase a child’s risk. The clearest evidence of these autism risk factors involves events before and during birth. They include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk.

A growing body of research suggests that a woman can reduce her risk of having a child with autism by taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid and/or eating a diet rich in folic acid (at least 600 mcg a day) during the months before and after conception.  

Increasingly, researchers are looking at the role of the immune system in autism. Autism Speaks is working to increase awareness and investigation of these and other issues, where further research has the potential to improve the lives of those who struggle with autism. Learn more …

What Does It Mean to Be “On the Spectrum”?

 Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.

Autism Speaks: What is Autism 

Fix Your Running Form in 2 Easy Steps


Hey Light Up Columbus fans. Check out this article on how to improve your running form. These two tips (land underneath your body and increase your cadence) will improve your running form which will results in better 5k and 10k times! So start working on these form adjustments and come April, you will be blazing through the Light Up Columbus race course! Check it out! 

Fix Your Running Form in 2 Easy Steps 

Let’s Light Up Columbus!

I am extremely excited to be the race director for “Light Up Columbus!”  This race is near and dear to my heart because my little man, Cody, is autistic.  Not only does Cody love being outside and around music – Cody LOVES glow sticks.  “Light Up Columbus” will combine all of these aspects with a great energy for this amazing event.


Since learning of his diagnosis, I have been through a whirlwind of emotions.  After countless hours of research, I am still unclear about so many aspects of this disability.  I think this is a common feeling for families of autistic children.  There are so many unknowns when it comes to autism – what causes it, what is the best way to “treat” it, will my child talk, will my child be able to live independently…….. and that’s just the first few on my list.  Through our efforts with “Light Up Columbus,” we hope to make a difference in the community.  In order to make this successful, we have joined forces with Uptown Columbus.  It is my goal to bring this community together to gain a better understanding of autism by raising awareness.  I want to show the local autism community that we support them and also make a considerable donation to the leading non-profit Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks does so much to support and educate the community about autism.  Two more things that they strive for are insurance reform and research.  These two missions are vital to the success of our children with the diagnosis.  We need the insurance reform to ensure that these children can receive the therapy that is crucial for them.  We also need research – as a community, we need answers to know why 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism.  With ongoing research, I am hopeful that answers can be found and this disability can be eliminated.


I have hope.  Hope that my Cody man will say “I love you mama” – hope that he can integrate in to the school system – hope that he can overcome the diagnosis that he has been given – hope that I can make a difference.

CKA copy

I want Columbus to share this hope.  I want you to come out in hoards, come out with more glow gear than has ever been seen before.  Please help me to shine hope for those who are struggling with autism.   On April 18, 2014, we are going to LIGHT UP THIS TOWN to make a difference.


Will you come “Light Up Columbus” with me?


Our Very Own 5K/10K

Hello All! My name is Alexa Smith, and I am the owner of Stroller Strong Moms in Columbus and Savannah, Georgia. I started SSM in Columbus in September of 2011. We had just moved to Columbus for the third time, but this time I had two children. I wanted to stay active and use my skills as a fitness coach and I thought to myself, ‘Columbus is such a fitness oriented town, it needs a stroller fitness class’. Using the experience I took with me from being a stroller fitness instructor in Hawaii, I put together plans for my own business called Stroller Strong Moms!
With what started a group of nineteen moms at one park with one instructor (me) at the grand opening class in 2011, has grown to a group of over three hundred moms (past and present) with five instructors and two parks as we come up on the two year mark next month! All of these moms have been dedicated to lead fit and healthy lifestyles! It has been so amazing to watch Stroller Strong Moms instructors and members establish themselves in the community as a group of energetic, hard working, goal oriented, spirited and fit moms; moms who represent at class, at races, and around town in SLAM shirts with a sense of loyalty and pride for what they do. What Stroller Strong Moms have is so special and unique and the camaraderie among SSMs is such an extraordinary thing.
Over the past two years, SSMs have teamed up in and out of class to push each other to reach goals they have set for themselves (5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, Run Across Georgia, triathlons, etc.). With SSMs growing presence in Columbus’ fitness community, we thought our two year mark was just as good a time as any to start organizing our own 5k/10k. As moms, we have always tried to represent at races that benefit families and children. We want our race to do the same. It didn’t take much thought to figure out which program our race should benefit. Because five of our SSM families have children with autism, it was only appropriate to hand over our race proceeds to Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks is an organization that is dedicated to funding the research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The race is set or April 18th, 2014 and our plans are to ‘Light up Columbus’ blue for autism. We are so excited and hopeful that the funds we raise for Autism Speaks can help families get the treatment they need, and give them hope that their children will one day be cured of autism.