Tuesday, September 30, 2014


In addition to working on myriad of pacing spreadsheets this week (3:38 finish? 3:35? 3:33?),  I also spent some time crafting a spectator spreadsheet for my family so they know where to find me on Sunday along the course.

Did you hear that? MY FAMILY is coming to cheer for me this weekend! And not just at the finish line- but legit driving around to spectate at different spots on the course. I cannot even tell you how happy this makes me. (Although yes, I will try.)

I race a lot. Like, probably one a month, if not more. There comes a point where running another 26.2 seems like it's old news I guess? I hate typing that because finishing a marathon is always a BIG DEAL but I totally understand that it's way less exciting to come cheer for someone the 27th or 28th time they've done something. Not to mention, the times I've asked them to come out and cheer it generally guarantees that race day weather will be miserable for spectating (i.e. 40 degrees and huge gusts of wind at the Soldier Field 10, pouring rain in the woods at the Bewl 15... Sigh.) I joke sometimes that I'm going to need to run a 100-miler to get their attention these days- and I'm only sort of joking. 

It's a good thing that I've always been a solid solo runner. I didn't meet any running buddies until I'd been running for about a year and although I love group runs now, my best workouts and races are definitely when it's just me getting in the zone. I've done many races where I've driven by myself hours to the event not knowing a single soul there, just because it was something I wanted to participate in. Still it puts a little fire in my belly to know that I'll be seeing Jason and the girls (and my good friend Shiow!) along the way on Sunday. Add that to the many friends who have told me they are also planning to volunteer or spectate along the course and I've almost lost count of all the faces I need to look out for this weekend. 

Like I said, I do a lot of races. I'm pretty decent at coaching myself and staying focused when I have a goal on the line. But that doesn't mean that I don't need a little outside encouragement as well from time to time. I forget that I need it sometimes, honestly. But when I do get that extra bit of support from people I love it lifts me up like nothing else.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pins and Needly

One. More. Week. 

Not to be overly dramatic but it's seriously difficult for me to think about anything else right now. I'm trying really hard not to be a broken record on social media about the marathon- which really just means that I lurk and don't post anything at all because IT'S ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT. I'm pretty much insufferable, and going into the final week of taper I'm probably only going to get worse. All of this is familiar territory but this time around I feel like I have so much more riding on this race. (It is not lost on me that these expectations have been created by myself, but they exist nonetheless.) So here I sit scouring the internet for BQ race reports, constructing pace spreadsheets and of course, weather stalking. (Current forecast: 44 degrees at the start, no rain, winds 8mph! Wheeee!)

Meanwhile, I finished another "last" workout- my final double digit run of this training cycle. During the final cooldown mile it dawned on me that there is really nothing left for me to do. All the hard work has already been done and all I have to do is now is rest and wait for the actual day. I thought about this and suddenly I felt like I didn't want that last workout to end. So at 11 1/2 miles into my 12 mile run I stopped and walked the rest of the way home. I guess I just wanted to let everything sink in. Not just the past 14 weeks of this training cycle- but the whole 9 months since I first decided I was going to try for this outrageous goal. It's all coming together now. It's coming together and I'm ready! I'm so ready. Let's go.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Shenanigans and Taper Madness

Well the first week of taper for Lakefront Marathon is in the books. I woke up sick on Monday morning and felt like crap for most of the week. Bluh. I kept telling myself that it was better to be sick now that in 2 weeks. Get it out of the way now, right? Still, it put a wrench in my plans to race the Brewers 10K all out on Saturday. The sicks combined with a hilly course made for a not-so-fun morning for me.  Oh well. I wish I could have had a good race experience ahead of the marathon but I suppose it's more important that my overall training has been on point. Now is the time to trust the process.

Brewers 10K. Don't let my smile fool you.

SUNDAY however was a completely different day. With the help of my friends Deb and Sheila, we organized a "virtual" edition of the Beat the Blerch race, an event happening out in Oregon on the same day that sadly we were unable to attend. Everyone brought snack-y junk food to Sheridan Park and ran/blerched either a 5K, 10K or half marathon. Fun ensued and good times were a-plenty! It was the perfect way to come off of a hard race and just enjoy some easy running with friends. Also snacks. 

The smiles are real this time.

So now we enter week 2 of taper.  Let's keep this train rolling. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Trails

Trail running! Oh how I've missed ye. Sara and I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon last weekend and it only highlighted how much I've missed trail running while training for this stinking elusive marathon BQ. The weather out there at Ottawa Lake was nothing less than perfect on Sunday. It just felt SO GOOD to enjoy being outdoors and not concern myself with any sort of pace. I'm hoping after October I can get a couple of good trail runs in once Lakefront is over and before we descend into the next polar vortex. And then next year... I have some plans. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


If you’ve ever trained for a big race you know that there are both highs and lows. We’re not talking just mild little fluctuations either. There are HIGHS and there are LOWS. Personally, I have some days where my legs seem to float across the earth effortlessly as if was skimming over water. Then there are other days where my body feels so clunky and heavy that I start to question if previous race finishes were actually done by the same person.

Running is so much of a mental sport in addition to being incredibly physically demanding. It can be easy to forget those highs when we’re in the pits of despair. The trick is to know in your heart that even if you had a crappy run, a string of crappy runs, or even weeks of feeling uninspired about running, the pendulum always swings back the other direction eventually.

That was something I wrote at the peak of one of my marathon cycles. I have some pretty good insight sometimes huh? This is peak week for Lakefront Marathon and these words ring especially true right now. Right now I'm on a high, but good lord there have been some lows in this quest to BQ. The first tempo run I set out on back in July I completely bonked and had to bail. (This was after my mega-bonk at Sunburst Marathon so it was really not what I needed at the beginning of my quest to redeem myself.) Then there's been the humidity the past couple of months. I usually love to race a couple half marathons in my build up to running a full. It's a huge confidence builder for me. However this summer the two races I envisioned running fast at were engulfed in 90+% humidity and there was no way I was putting my body through 13.1 miles of race pace in those conditions. I ended up having decent times considering the circumstances, but I was left disappointed that I wasn't able to challenge myself and gauge my fitness level at a race.

But the pendulum doth swing. When I go back over my training log over the past 3 months one thing is clear. I am consistent. I persevere. Those first couple of weeks starting my new training plan were a little spotty hitting the paces but I've stuck with it. I've run my mid-week long runs, nailed my interval workouts and even done a fast finish 20 miler- something I've never attempted in training before. I've run easy on recovery days and all out on speed days. My mileage has climbed higher and higher and this week will top out at 65 miles. I've done my strength training as well as taken care of myself on rest days. I will not look back at these months and see days where I've slacked, days where I could have done better. That blog post I wrote back then finished with this line:

Sometimes it’s the biggest pain in the butt to reach that peak but man, is the view ever nice from the top.

I am looking forward to that view!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I really enjoy training. I feel like I might as well have a horn growing out of my head when I say that to people. So many people love to race, but not necessarily train. Obviously, I love to run races. Race day is my favorite! I love it when all the pieces come together and I can go out and crush a goal. Even if I have a bad race, there's something about seeing that finish line that gives me a rush like nothing else. Good or bad day aside, how do I get to that finish line though? TRAINING.

I've become kind of a training geek lately. I've never been the type of person who has to drag themselves out the door to go run. Even if I'm dreading a particular workout I still look forward to it. I absolutely LOVE a challenge. Something has clicked for me this year though where I'm really enjoying learning everything I can about the process of marathon training. I wrote a little bit about this on Dailymile the other day:

Heading into the final month before taper, I feel like I really understand the process of marathon training now. (Which is strange because I’m working toward #15. Huh.) I’m just really enjoying the ebb and flow of hard training and how my body is reacting to it. I look forward to the tough workouts of tempo runs and fast intervals but I also enjoy the easy pace recovery runs that follow. I imagine I can feel my body adapting with each new workout and on rest days I picture my muscles repairing and rebuilding themselves. It’s fascinating and a bit like magic at times. It makes me wonder where my ceiling is with this whole running thing!

I like that I continue to learn new things with each training cycle. This time I've been really conscious of what I'm supposed to achieve with each workout- whether it's speed, endurance or recovery. I used to just run whatever pace I felt like all the time but I understand now that specificity in training is super important. I like the changes I'm feeling! Even if something goes wrong for me on race day this time around I feel like I've gained a much better understanding of how the process of hard training works. 

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

Everyone begins at the beginning. An ultrarunner who has completed multiple 100-mile races still had to take that first (super slow, painful) step. It can be completely overwhelming to start running when you have no idea what you are doing (and face it- most of us had no idea what we were doing when we started.) Conversely, for someone who’s been running for years, it can be hard to think back to those first steps and remember all the things we did to get to where we are today. One thing we always remember though it how it felt.


It’s a Saturday morning in May. I’ve got my iPod on, a new cute running top, bright white sneakers and some shades. I burst out the front door of my house on a mission: I’M GOING TO RUN. I’m tired of looking on wistfully at all the local runners with their nicely toned legs as they stride down by the lake like gazelles, sweat running down their backs. I’m headed down to the neighborhood park and I’m going to make myself a runner if it kills me. I tear down the street at top speed with a carefully selected Run Playlist pumping through my headphones. This isn’t so bad! I pass other people walking their dogs and I start to feel a little self conscious. Can they tell I’m not “really” a runner? 

Uh-oh, my legs are starting to hurt. I turn the corner and enter the park and my lungs begin to burn. I get a stitch in my side. I look down at my stopwatch to see how much time has passed. 

 A minute and a half. 


I'll never forget how hard it felt when I started. I'll never forget the first time I ran over a mile without stopping. I 'll never forget how even when I was able to run longer, I still hated the first 20 minutes of every single run. Just get to two miles and things will get better.... I'll never forget how I felt down the final stretch of my first 5K, my first marathon, my first sub-4 marathon, my first 50 miler. Running brings new adventures every day but I'll never forget how it started.