Boston Marathon Training: Week Five to Week Twelve

I had every intention of blogging weekly for my Boston Marathon training cycle, but clearly it kind of fell to the bottom of my to-do list. There’s a lot to juggle with training and life. I kept my Believe Training Journal updated each week and shared some photos of it on Instagram, but I do want to play a bit of catch up with this blog post.

So, week five to week twelve. WOAH. I have to start by saying how quickly this training cycle has gone by. I really feel like I just started, but I think that’s a good thing. I had a freak out. I thought I was injured. I took a few days off. I shed a few tears. I got over myself. I chose to trust the process. Marathon training is SUCH a journey. One day you’ll feel like you’re doing everything right and the next you’ll feel like you can’t even run 10 miles – how the hell will you run 26.2 at your goal pace? It’s a struggle. Always is. But it’s a struggle I love and I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

I have been working with a coach for the first time this training cycle, so I never knew what my week would be like. I couldn’t look ahead from February to April and know what mileage I was running on April 2nd. To be honest, that scared me. I am a planner and I do not like not knowing what is coming in the upcoming weeks. I had to adjust and I’ll tell you – it was tough. But I’ve come to like the week by week thing. It’s refreshing and I haven’t been bored or felt like I was logging the same routes and same workouts week after week. The biggest change though? No 20 miler.

Yes, you read that right. I am three weeks away from the Boston Marathon and I have not run a 20 miler. Or an 18 miler. The farthest I have run at one time is 16.35 miles. This still freaks me out. I was always the girl running 2-3 20 milers in a training cycle and still not feeling like it was enough. I loved hitting 20 and mentally knowing I’d only have 6.2 more to go. And I’m still pretty freaked out. My weekly mileage has matched about what I was doing last year, but the long runs have been shorter or split into two days. My coach is a smart guy and I have chosen to trust him. My ‘A goal’ of this training cycle was really just to make it to the start line healthy and injury-free. Straining my Achilles last year devastated me and I knew I had to do whatever I could to prevent that from happening again, so here we are. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I know I have run a marathon before and I will be able to cover the 26.2 miles either way.

Here’s a look at what my weeks have looked like:

WEEK FIVE – 31.31 miles

A race week. I was excited to race a half marathon on Saturday even if it was only on five weeks of training. Mileage wasn’t high during the week in hopes my legs would be fresh. And it worked. I had a new half marathon personal record by over a minute and I felt so strong. It was such a great confidence boost.

  • Monday – 5.10 miles easy
  • Tuesday – 5.0 miles with 10 minute tempos + strength
  • Wednesday – 5.05 miles of speed work
  • Thursday – Hot yoga class
  • Friday – 3.10 miles easy
  • Saturday – 13.10 miles NEW PR 1:35:22 (7:17 pace)
  • Sunday – Rest day

WEEK SIX – 30.80 miles

Recovery week. I was on vacation for the first half of the week, so I was on my feet a lot, but I loved it. Hiking is one of my favorite ways to spend the day and I got in my runs too.

  • Monday – 4.60 miles easy + hiking
  • Tuesday – 5.70 mountain miles + hiking
  • Wednesday – 4.0 miles easy
  • Thursday – 45 minute cycling class
  • Friday – 6.25 miles easy
  • Saturday – 10.25 miles easy
  • Sunday – 75 minute yoga class

WEEK SEVEN – 29.93 miles

Another recovery week. I was pretty consistently building from the start of training, so these two weeks were a reset. I needed the extra recovery coming off my half marathon PR. I had a speed workout back this week and my first hilly long run out in Barrington!

  • Monday – 5.60 miles easy
  • Tuesday – Hot yoga class AM + strength
  • Wednesday – 6.48 miles of speedwork
  • Thursday – Hot yoga class AM + 45 minute cycling class PM
  • Friday – 6.85 miles easy
  • Saturday – 11.0 miles easy – first Barrington run (hills!)
  • Sunday – 75 minute yoga class

WEEK EIGHT – 49.82 miles

Woof. This week kicked my butt. It was a big jump and a tough week personally. I lost a family member this Tuesday after saying goodbye on Sunday. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to hit me. I moved my long run to Sunday since the services were on Saturday and I wanted the time with my family. I did get up and hit all my paces during my 14 miles on Sunday morning, but it was complete with a sobbing break down on one of the recoveries. I am proud of getting all this work in despite what I was dealing with. I thought I was tough and that I should be fine. In hindsight, I wish I had taken Friday-Sunday off. You learn as you go though. I’ve been fortunate not to have dealt with a lot of grief in my life, but when I do – it hits. I think I’ll have to be more upfront with myself in the future because my freak out in Week Ten was really due to me not dealing with things.

  • Monday – 10.06 miles of tempo
  • Tuesday – 4.71 miles easy + strength
  • Wednesday – 10.55 miles of speed work
  • Thursday – Hot yoga class AM + 45 minute cycling class PM
  • Friday – 10.50 miles easy
  • Saturday – Rest day
  • Sunday – 14 miles of tempo AM + 75 minute yoga class

WEEK NINE – 45.55 miles

I still followed my schedule as planned this week. I hit all my paces/mileage. I felt okay. Tuesday was a lot for me with the long run and strength double. I was just really tired. My long run felt good though. I love being out on those hills!

  • Monday – 6.10 miles easy
  • Tuesday – 10.68 miles easy AM + strength
  • Wednesday – 8.51 miles of speed work
  • Thursday – Hot yoga class AM + 45 minute cycling class PM
  • Friday –  5.01 miles easy
  • Saturday – 15.25 miles in Barrington (tempo)
  • Sunday – 75 minute yoga class

WEEK TEN – 21.03 miles

Whoops. This week was the freak out. It had been building and I was ignoring it. I was feeling a lot of pressure about not making it to the Boston Marathon start line. I was coming up on the anniversary of my Achilles strain. I was stressed. I was sad. And I broke. Monday night I struggled to run 1 mile and I ended my night crying in my chiropractor’s office. He told me my pains/feelings of injury were 90% mental. I didn’t really believe him at the time since I literally limped into his office fearing I did something to my Achilles again, but he told me to take a few days off anyways. And to go home and drink some wine and take deep breaths. So, I did. I ran on Thursday and felt perfectly fine. Friday my head won and I took another rest day, but I got it together for Saturday and ran 15 miles without pain. I knew I needed to just stop telling myself I wouldn’t make it to the start line. I wasn’t doing it intentionally, but that is what I was thinking. I needed Week Eleven and a fresh start.

  • Monday – 1.03 miles
  • Tuesday – Rest day
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 5 miles + hot yoga class AM + 45 minute cycling class PM
  • Friday –  Rest day
  • Saturday – 15 miles easy in Barrington
  • Sunday – [solidcore] pilates reformer class

WEEK ELEVEN – 47.85 miles

A new week with a better mindset. I was ready. And I crushed all the miles I was supposed to run including my Yassos 800s test on Wednesday night. My predicted time after 10 800s was 3:18 (my fastest ever) so we will see. I finally felt like myself again and it was so refreshing. It was a good week.

  • Monday – Strength
  • Tuesday – 8 miles easy
  • Wednesday – 4 miles easy AM + 11 miles of speed work PM
  • Thursday – 45 minute cycling class AM + 4.50 miles easy PM
  • Friday – 4.01 miles easy
  • Saturday – 16.35 miles easy
  • Sunday – 75 minute yoga class

WEEK TWELVE – 36.36 miles

This past week was a recovery week and a check in. I felt solid. I took things one day at a time. And I was prepping for a little racing on Sunday at the Shamrock Shuffle. I didn’t think my coach would want me to race on Sunday coming off the long run, but he told me to go for it – so I did. And I wanted to beat Kyle. I finished with a 7:06 average pace and was really happy with it. I’m in the mood to try racing shorter distances not in the midst of marathon training and the day after a long run, but I’m going to save that for later this year. Still felt good to get some speed in my legs!

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – Hot yoga class AM + 5 miles easy PM
  • Wednesday – 8.57 miles of speed work
  • Thursday – Hot yoga class AM + 45 minute cycling class + strength
  • Friday – 6.75 miles easy
  • Saturday – 11.04 miles easy in Barrington
  • Sunday – Shamrock Shuffle 8K 35:19 (7:06 pace) + 75 minute yoga class

Phew. Eight weeks of work filled with lots of emotions. I am an emotional person and I often find myself trying to suppress or ignore that part of me, but it always comes back to bite me. I have teared up on probably a quarter of my runs. I visualize that finish line and I feel this ‘swell’ that is hard to describe. I’m embracing it because it makes me who I am. I can bet you I will be crying across that finish line, but I’m okay with it. I’ll smile too, promise. Boston is emotional for me. It’s cool to see something you’ve worked at for years finally start seeming within reach, but it’s also scary. It comes down to one day. But no matter how I perform on April 16th, I am SO proud of the work I have put in up to this point. From marathon number one to number seven – I learned a lot along the way and I never lost my determined attitude. I knew I would make it to Boston. And I did. I’m going. I get on my plane in 18 days. AND I CANNOT WAIT.

Boston Marathon Training: Week Four

And just like that we’re one month in. Already?! These weeks flew by which is pretty rare for January. I think I was much smarter this January than I was in January 2017. I ran easy more often, didn’t add in too much extra cross training, was intentional about my workouts, and will actually end up having higher mileage even though it doesn’t feel like it.

One of the reasons I love marathon training so much is because it is always a learning process. No training cycle is the same and I take what I learned the last time into the new months ahead. Plus, I’m really liking working with a coach for the first time. It helps me mentally to take the guess work out.

Here’s what week four looked like!

January 22nd-28th: 37.55 miles

Monday is the easy shakeout day. I used to have tempo runs on Monday and liked it, but it felt like a lot for the first run back from a long run. I’m really enjoying just having a relaxed run instead. I usually keep it slower than 8:45 pace and just shakeout my legs. This particular Monday it was five miles on the treadmill.

Tuesday was a double day. I was honestly not looking forward to it, just because it intimidates me. Once I get moving I’m fine, but I have to get there. An hour incline treadmill workout (6.45 miles) followed by an hour of strength training is a lot. Especially when my incline pushes were at 7:36 pace. But I took the treadmill one minute at a time while watching an episode of Gossip Girl and felt like it went by pretty quickly. The strength hour is fun even when I’m tired just because I’m out of my comfort zone. I’m not doing this because I love it, I’m doing it so my body gets stronger and I can stay injury free. But it is a good feeling to hit a new dead lift personal best.

Wednesday = speed. The dark, cold Zoo Lot speed workouts are the best. I wouldn’t want to get out there alone, but once I’m there I love it. This week I had mile repeats – 4 of them. This seemed like a big jump from the previous speed workout, so I was a little anxious, but in a good way. And once I finished the first one I knew I was going to have a great workout. Splits were 7:20, 7:15, 7:10, 7:05. With warm up and cool down I covered 7.50 miles. Plus, I went to a yoga class at lunch so it technically was a double day, but I can do as much yoga as I want. It really helps stretch out my legs! Oh and I got my Boston Marathon jacket in the mail. It was a really good day.

Thursday was cross training and a lot of it. I got a little ambitious since I was working from home which meant I had the chance to take more classes. I ended up taking a cycling class in the morning, a 40 minute strength class at lunch, and an hour long hot yoga class in the evening. My legs were tight but by the end of the yoga class I felt good as new. I love my non-running days almost as much as my running days.

Friday is another easy run for time and I got my butt out of bed before work. 5.40 miles at 8:34 pace in the sunniest weekday morning I’d seen in awhile. The only reason I can’t definitively say winter marathon training is my favorite is because of the lack of daylight, so when I get some I’m extra grateful.

Saturday solo long run of 13.20 miles at 8:17 average pace. I had tempo miles in my long run!! I was really excited. I kept my first hour easy at around 8:45 pace, had a 30 minute tempo around 7:25 pace (4.10 miles), and then a cool down. I really felt strong. The first hour flew by since I was looking forward to the tempo. And once I picked up the speed I was surprised by how much better my legs felt. I like going fast, I really do. I was lucky with a 40 degree sunny day in January and I love the effortless feeling long runs like this.

Sunday I took a Performance Stretch class to treat my body well, but I actually wasn’t feeling very sore at all. I felt worse after Tuesday, but Saturday didn’t beat me up. That’s a good thing. I love to end the week feeling as good as I did when it started.

Week five will bring me a new challenge. Why? I get to race a half marathon for the first time since July. I’m a little nervous, but I am SO excited to getaway for a runcation and spend time someplace warmer. I don’t know if I’m really ready to race after only 5 weeks of training, but it will be a good test of where I’m at. I’m trying not to put any pressure on myself. Either way, I’ll run another 13.1 miles and I’ll have fun doing it.

Boston Marathon Training: Week Three

Week three brought more speed and a little more mileage. My intention for this week was to find my routine, but not look too far ahead. It can be tough to start training again after a few months off and re-figure out how to make regular life and marathon training life happen. I’m always learning.

The weather was much more mild compared to week one and two and I actually snuck in TWO extra daylight runs. I usually run in the dark because it’s dark in the morning before I have to get ready for work and dark when I leave the office. Luckily, I had Monday off so I ran in the sunshine and snow in the afternoon and Friday I made my run happen on my lunch hour so I could get some extra sun time.

I love to run – that isn’t a secret – but I don’t love every single in the dark slow roll or treadmill hour. The sunny, beautiful runs are the ones that light me up. This week reminded me how much happier I am when I spend more time outside soaking up some vitamin D. I hope January keeps up this nice streak.

Here’s what week three looked like:

January 15th-January 21st: 35.52 miles 

Monday was a slow roll. 45 minutes running in zone 2. I kept my pace at 9 minute average and covered 5 miles. Simple, but great. Running in the snow is so much fun for me. And I had time for an extra hour long yoga class before my run that helped stretch me out and make me feel even more grateful for the day. Tuesday was strength and incline workout day. One hour on the treadmill with 10 minute incline intervals at 8:06 pace. This felt pretty tough. I was gassed after the hour and then had an hour of strength with my trainer to get through. I was exhausted by the end, but I still had a great lift and felt really proud of getting it all done.

Wednesday evening speed workouts are officially back. I’m not going crazy yet, but I had a timed interval fartlek style workout with pushes at 7:30 pace and walking recoveries. It was freezing cold, windy, and dark but I got outside. Slow warm up and cool down brought me to 6.68 total miles. These intervals felt dare I say “easy.” I wanted more and I wanted faster, but that’s a good sign. I like ending a workout feeling like I had more to give. I’m trying to be patient while my legs find their speed again.

Thursday cross training double day is a favorite day. 6am hot power yoga and a 7:30pm 45 minute cycling class. I think this combination works really well for me. I like stretching out first thing the morning after my Wednesday evening speed workout and the cycle in the evening helps flush out my legs. And I get to spend time at Studio Three so its obviously a really good day for me. By Friday my legs weren’t feeling as sore and I was able to log another easy 45 minutes at a relaxed pace with what felt like little effort. Another 5.05 miles at 8:55 pace. Just miles in the bank, but I know these type of runs are really important.

Long run Saturday brought me the biggest smile of my week since it was 35 degrees and felt like spring in Chicago. I know it’s really just a tease, but I’ll take it. I had 1 hour and 45 minutes easy on the plan. I ran to Fleet Feet, met Arielle and Steph for 2 miles of their warm up and then did the last 9 miles on my own at a slower pace. I was supposed to keep my average pace above 8:40 and I didn’t do that, but 8:32 is close right?! I was holding myself back the entire time. I wanted to let my legs fly so badly because I was feeling so good, but I restrained. It was tough. But I was so happy to be out there that it didn’t really matter how fast I was going. I wanted to run forever. I stopped for water and a little Gatorade at 5.50 miles and again at 7.50 miles, but otherwise didn’t use any fuel. I like to wait for 13+ mile runs and this one totaled 12.51 miles.

Sunday is my recovery day which means sleeping in, eating well, recapping my week, planning meals for the upcoming week, and going to yoga. I love my 75 minute yoga flow on Sunday evenings. I look forward to it all day and end the weekend feeling refreshed.

Week three was a good one for me because I completed all of my scheduled workouts, recovered well, and still felt like I had gas in the tank. It’s nice to hit another 35 mile week and not feel drained or super sore. I am trusting this plan and feeling grateful I have really learned what it means to take care of myself during marathon training.

I don’t take my ability to train for granted. I love training. I love the workouts, the schedule, the hard efforts, the dedication. I am 12 weeks out from my dream race and I’m ready to keep working hard to be in the best shape I can be at that start line.

Bring on week four!

Boston Marathon Training: Week One & Two

Is it weird that writing “Boston Marathon Training” still gives me chills? I have to keep reminding myself this is the actual marathon I’m training for. It’s unreal and I don’t think I have ever been so excited for a race.

This excitement made me feel SO ready for week one. I felt like I could have jumped into a 40 mile week with two speed workouts. My legs were ready. But I also have anxiety about getting injured during a winter marathon training cycle again. I cannot afford to derail my training or risk not making it to the start line of my dream race, so I decided I shouldn’t follow the exact same plan as I did last year. I’m still training with the Fleet Feet Boston 365 group, but I also got a coach for the first time in my life.

I’m excited to work with someone and have a plan that is so personalized for me. And week one caught me by surprise when I saw so many slow runs, a few run/walks, and no speed work in my TrainingPeaks. To be honest, my excitement faded a little bit. I don’t get excited for 11 minute pace runs on a treadmill. But I told myself he knows best and I needed to ease in.

“Ease in” and “relax” have been my mantras for these first couple of weeks. If my number one goal is to not get injured, then I know I need to be reeled in. And this is exactly why I got a coach.

I also have my PR goal in my head. I am working to improve my time, but that isn’t the number one priority either. I’m learning how to train smarter by figuring out what truly works for me (and I’m hoping that makes me faster).

Here’s what week week one and two looked like:

January 1st – January 7th: 27.39 miles

Monday and Tuesday were both easy paced treadmill runs. (4 miles, 2.50 miles) Chicago has been bitterly cold and dark when I wake up and when I leave work, so running outside on weekdays hasn’t been ideal. Wednesday I had a strength workout with my trainer – no speed workout. I’ve been loving focusing on strength work more in the past few months and I want it to continue throughout Boston training.

Thursday was an 1 hour+ of treadmill run/walking (7.89 miles total) and Friday was an easy 30 minutes (3 miles) on the treadmill after work. Saturday was my first long run back in a balmy 1 degree. I had to get outside after being cooped up all week. I covered 10 miles at 8:33 average pace and felt relaxed. I was a little nervous about the cold, but the miles went by quickly and I was grateful to see the sun. I had a relaxing day after my run and got to bed early as part of my recovery. Sunday is my dedicated recovery day. For week one, I chose to double up on yoga classes: AM & PM. It was my ideal Sunday and the perfect ending to the first week!

January 8th – January 14th: 35.06 miles

Week two was higher mileage with a little speed work thrown in. I liked the looks of week two more than one. Monday was a treadmill incline workout (5.78 miles). I don’t love the treadmill, but it is a nice way to get some extra hill work in. Tuesday I ran an easy 4.50 miles outside before my strength session with my trainer – hit a new deadlift PR which felt really good.

Mid-week I got to bring some speed back to my legs after what felt like forever. I ran 2.5 easy miles on my lunch break Wednesday and my mini tempo workout in the evening (6.78 miles). My tempo pushes were around 7:40 pace and they felt super comfortable. It was just nice to be moving fast again. Thursday was a double cross training day: hot yoga in the morning, 45 minute cycling class in the evening. I brought friends to both and had a great day. I really love yoga and cycling classes almost as much as I love running, so I’m grateful to have scheduled time for both of them.

Friday I had 40 easy minutes on the plan, so I tackled the wind and snow flurries outside for 4.50 miles before heading to a hot yoga class in the evening. I have added in more yoga classes lately and I think it’s part of the reason I have been feeling so relaxed. This was a great way to wind down before another cold cold Saturday long run. I had 1 hour and 30 minutes for Saturday at an easy pace. This meant not running with my friends, which is really hard for me, but I know I made the right decision. And Megan did hang back to run my last 5 miles with me, which was nice. I held an 8:33 average pace and never felt like I was moving very fast. The 6 degrees felt way warmer than the 1 degree from the previous week and it was sunny again, so it was a good run. 11 miles total and another tough winter day successfully completed. Sunday I took a complete rest day. It was my first complete rest day in over two weeks and I felt like I needed it. I like to do yoga on Sunday, but I was signed up for a Monday class too, so I didn’t mind not doing much of anything this day.

I ended week two feeling content and happy with how my body handled the uptick in mileage. I worked harder and covered more ground, but I also didn’t feel very tired or sore like I can during marathon training. I think this plan is going to work for me. I’m trusting the process.

Mileage will keep increasing with week 3!

2017 Race & Mileage Recap!

I actually can’t believe how quickly this year went by. I feel like I blinked in June and now it’s almost January.

2017 brought me a lot of challenges. I learned a lot. I failed. I struggled. I persisted. I earned new PRs. I had fun. This year was really a little bit of everything – high highs and low lows, but that’s life.

This is what 2017 looked like for me in terms of miles and races.

January – 140 miles

My first month of training with Boston 365 and the strongest month of January ever. We were lucky with a mild winter and I was able to do almost all of my runs outside. Having this supportive group was a much more enjoyable way to train through the winter. I built my base for my April marathon and added in a lot of cross training with classes at Studio Three. I started going to yoga at least once a week and found a new love for it. January was for trying new things. Plus I did dry January so I was feeling really good all month. And did I mention new friends?! The strong, fast women I met through Boston 365 turned out to be so much more than running partners. I could go on and on about them, but I have a lot of months to get through. Let’s just say they shaped me into the runner I was this year and I am so so grateful they came into my life when they did.

February – 169.47 miles

Sedona Half Marathon. 1:43:20. 7:53 average pace.

Lots of miles for a 28 day month! I remember how shocked I was to add up this mileage at the end of the month. I had my first race of the year in Sedona, AZ for my birthday weekend. It was so fun to escape to a warmer place and run in altitude for a few days. The race views were incredible. I think I smiled for the entirety of the 13.1 miles. I wasn’t racing to PR, but I was super happy with my time. The course was really, really hilly, but I loved it. If you’re looking for a race in Arizona, this one is definitely worth checking out. It was hard to come back to the reality of cold Chicago, but I knew I had miles to log with my goal April race in mind.

March – 195.81 miles

Get Lucky Half Marathon. 1:38:59. 7:34 average pace.

Highest mileage month I have ever had! I was just short of that 200 mark and I almost added in an extra run to hit it, but I really wasn’t feeling great – so I didn’t. And I ended up straining my Achilles on March 30th. BUT before that happened I hit all my speed workouts, long runs, and had some of the best training runs ever. I loved this month. I ran the Get Lucky Half Marathon in frigid cold with insane winds and was only a few seconds off my PR. I felt good with the higher mileage until about the last week. And that last run where I felt like my Achilles snapped led to a tearful realization that I wouldn’t be having the April I had planned.

April – 56.22 miles

Nashville Rock ‘N Roll Marathon. 3:53:51.

April was marathon month. After 3 of the strongest, toughest training months I had ever had I thought I’d be more than ready to PR at my race, but I started the month with a strained Achilles. I took almost two complete weeks off except for physical therapy. I got laser treatments, I iced constantly, and I saw a massage therapist regularly. I was trying to do anything I could so that I could run my race at the end of the month. It was too heartbreaking for me to think about those months of hard work “going to waste.” I know it was a good learning experience either way, but I still wanted another 26.2 medal after all of it. Luckily, I listened and was patient and got the okay to run my race. I hadn’t run more than 10 miles for about 5 weeks and I was terrified, but I knew I still wanted to try to finish. The race was an absurd 90 degrees in Nashville. I wouldn’t have had my goal race either way – but it actually might have been a good thing because it forced me to take it easy. I ran smart, I made a friend on the course who helped me stay calm, and I focused on the happiness of getting to still run the race. It wasn’t a PR, but I finished and I was able to run without ANY PAIN. I was shocked and elated.

May – 21.20 miles

I finished that April marathon without any pain, but I still wasn’t completely healed. I was advised to get more laser treatments, continue with physical therapy, and take a break from running. I took about 2.5 weeks off and did as I was told. The only runs I did were short and easy. I was serious about getting strong and injury free again. While I didn’t plan on having any months with this low of mileage – I knew I needed it. It was a necessary recovery and reset.

June – 117.25 miles

By June I was ready to train again. I was on the up. I started slow and honestly I was nervous. I was scared of loving marathon training again and having it crush me. April and May were hard. But I knew I had the Chicago Marathon to train for and after being cleared to train again, it was time to try. I ran speed workouts again and joined my friends for long runs. I was smiling more again. I was back to doing what I love.

July – 152.88 miles

Chicago Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon. 1:36:35. 7:22 average pace.

Big Ten 10K. 59:03. 9:31 average pace.

July was the month I raced again for the first time since April. This was big for me since it was my longest break from racing in about 3 years. And what I didn’t know? I was going to set a half marathon PR after about 6 weeks of training. I had no expectations going into the Chicago Rock ‘N Roll half marathon, but I was running with my amazing friends and I wanted to have fun. It was a hot day, but nothing we couldn’t handle (no Nashville). I stuck with Jenny the whole time and we cruised in to a 1:36:35 – a new PR for me by over two minutes. It was a really good day. And then I ran the Big Ten 10K a week later as an easy run. I was out late the night before and I didn’t feel like racing, so I didn’t. It was just an enjoyable morning. Sometimes those races are just as fun! I had a strong month of mileage despite the heat and I still wasn’t dealing with any injuries, so I was proud.

August – 172.91 miles

Dublin Rock ‘N Roll 5K. 21:58. 7:03 average pace.

Dublin Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon. 1:40:42. 7:41 average pace.

I think August was my favorite month of training in 2017. I loved it because it was more about fitting in miles where I could as a way to explore rather than just logging them to log them. I was abroad for about 10 days of this month, but I still got in a lot of miles. And I ran my first international race!! I did the Dublin Rock ‘N Roll remix challenge: a 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. Kyle did the 10K too which was the farthest he had ever run. It was so fun to get to run Ireland together and I couldn’t have picked a better first international race. Exploring on foot is the best. We ran all over Ireland, took in the scenery, met new people, and loved life. It was amazing.

September – 104.57 miles

Grand Rapids Last Chance to BQ Marathon. 3:30:54. 8:03 average pace.

September was the defining month. Was I ready to run another marathon? I knew if I wanted a shot at running Boston in 2018 I needed a slightly faster time and I had to do it in early September. So, I took the leap and signed up for the Grand Rapids Last Chance to BQ last minute. I had the best girls with me who fully supported this crazy idea and came with to cheer me on. I really don’t think I could have run a 3 mile loop over and over again for a full marathon without them. They encouraged me, ran with me, and gave me tough love when I needed it. I didn’t feel great, but I crossed the finish line in 3:30:54. Enough. I did it. This moment was one of my favorite moments of the year. Sometimes when you get crazy ideas, you just have to go for it. I’m so grateful I had the support I did. And I still stayed on track throughout September to run a strong Chicago Marathon.

October – 66.65 miles

Chicago Marathon. 3:28:30. 7:57 average pace.

Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K. 1:12:52. 7:50 average pace.

October was a low mileage month because I took two full weeks off after the Chicago Marathon and I tapered for the first week. Mileage wasn’t the important part of my month. I took all the pressure off myself for the Chicago Marathon since I hit my goal time in September, but it ended up being the best thing I could have done. Since I didn’t feel pressure, I ran strong. I took another 2+ minutes off my personal record. I loved everything about this race day and I felt stronger than I had in September. This race and this month taught me that taking away the pressure can work for me. I then ran the Hot Chocolate 15K at the end of the month for fun too. Two strong races without many other miles in-between, but that’s okay.

November – 71.80 miles

The best thing about November was still being injury free after two strong marathons. I was nervous I would finish Chicago injured again, but I wasn’t. I recovered and eased back into running with more of a focus on strength and cross training. I got a trainer to work on strength. I saw a nutritionist to get blood work done and see how my body was recovering. I was smart – something I hadn’t always been when it came to my training. The miles I did run were just for fun. I didn’t follow a plan, I didn’t race, and I didn’t stress about a lack of running. I needed the off season and I’m glad I ran this month the way I did.

December – 75.80 miles

Final month of the year wrapped up with 75.80 miles today! I’m not running tomorrow, so I can total up my miles now. I definitely did not run as often as I usually do, but that was the point. I went to yoga and cycling more. I took more rest days. I listened to my body and enjoyed another month of low mileage. Sure, I could have run more miles to try and hit my yearly goal of 1400, but in the end I knew it didn’t really matter. I got stronger in a time I really needed to and I feel refreshed. I’m ready to start training again on January 1st and see what 2018 has in store.

1,344.56 total miles for 2017.

This year was huge for my running. I had a new half marathon personal record and new marathon personal records that locked in my spot for Boston 2018 and 2019. I couldn’t ask for more. I struggled with my injury, but I don’t have regrets because of all I learned and how I will treat my training going forward. Running always humbles me, keeps me guessing, and challenges me. I love this sport. I want to keep pushing my limits and seeing how far I can go year after year. Nothing beats this.

If you got to the end of this – thank you. Thank you for your constant support and inspiration! This community is incredible.

For 2018: let’s dream big. Let’s work hard. A lot can happen in a year.

2017 Goals: What Happened

At the end of 2016, I set my goals for the new year. I do this every year, but for 2017 I wrote down one that I’d never written before and still didn’t know if I would really make it happen.

Bet you know what it was.

I wrote down 7 goals last year and I didn’t complete them all. I sort-of completed most, but I’m proud of what I did accomplish. Spoiler: the last one, the big one, the scary one – I get to cross it off.

Here’s what goals I set and what actually happened:

  • Run 1,400 miles
    • Almost completed.
    • I’ll be a little short on my yearly mileage goal. I’m at roughly 1,320 as of today and I won’t be running ~80 miles in the next 5 days – that’s okay. I wanted to run more miles than last year and I like even numbers so I picked 1400. I obviously wasn’t planning on getting injured and taking two months to recover without much running. Either way, I’ll still end up running more miles than 2016 so I’m considering it a win.
  • Eat more mindfully
    • Half completed?
    • There wasn’t an end goal in mind with this goal. It was about forming better eating habits and it’s something I’ll always be working on. I did better this year. I ate more vegetables. I meal prepped. I tried not to eat junk just because it was there (like Kyle eating chips next to me). I was nowhere near perfect and I still have a lot I can improve on, but I did take steps in the right direction.
  • Strength/cross train 2-3x a week 
    • Completed.
    • I was successful in adding in more cross training this year. I almost overdid it – some weeks I probably did. I’m working on finding the right balance, but I did cycle or practice yoga almost every single week this year and I know that was good for me. Practicing yoga more did wonders for me mentally and I want to continue to get to the mat at least once a week in 2018.
  • Add 3 new states to 50 state goal
    • Kind of complete.
    • So, I didn’t add 3 new states. I added 2 new states and a new country. I ran a half marathon in Sedona, AZ in February, a marathon in Nashville, TN in April, and a half marathon in Dublin, Ireland in August. I had no idea I’d complete my first international race in 2017, but I’m so glad I did. It sparked a bug to travel and race even more. I have a lot more states to go, but I’ll aim for 2-3 new ones a year as well as an international race each year. That’s the dream.
  • Stretch and plank every day
    • Did not complete.
    • Every day was an aggressive goal. I was definitely BETTER about stretching and planking this year than I was the year before, but I can still be better. This is another one of those goals that is more about making habits and continuing to improve on them. I was better, but I can always use more stretching and core work in my life. Life gets busy and I sometimes have to hop right in the shower after squeezing in my run and I neglect the stretching – but I’m trying.
  • Take my vitamins
    • Did not complete, but I’m set up for 2018 – that’s progress.
    • So I wrote this down in 2016 without any idea what vitamins I should really be taking. I had a few I thought I should take, but I’ll admit I was great about it in January and then totally let this one fall away. But I wanted to get serious about my nutrition before Boston training, so I saw a nutritionist in October, got tests done, found out what I truly need, and have now been taking 13 pills/supplements a day for four days. I’m set up for a successful, healthier 2018 and I’m determined to stick with this routine and be the strongest version of myself.
  • Run sub 3:32 marathon
    • Crushed it.
    • This goal scared me. I kind of felt like I would never run faster than a 3:33 marathon, but I wanted to try. After running a 3:28:30 at the Chicago Marathon this year I realized I’m capable of a little more than I think. It feels good to have another PR from a summer of hard work. What should I write down for 2018? I’m still thinking. But big goals have to be chased and I’m ready to put in more work. I don’t think I have hit my peak yet.
  • Register for the Boston Marathon 
    • Complete.
    • Yes. Yes yes yes yes. I wrote this down not really thinking my 3:33 would be enough to get me in for 2018. I didn’t know if I would have a faster time in me before mid-September, but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I’d find a way to make this dream happen. If I hadn’t run a last chance to BQ race in early September, I would have had to wait to register for Boston until 2019. I still would have been super proud of this year, but getting to lock in my spot for 2018 was one of the absolute best feelings. Registering for that September race without a full training cycle took guts. I was super anxious and I almost regretted signing up. But I had the best girls with me to support me along the way. I couldn’t have done it without them. One goal I didn’t write down for the year was to “make new friends” or “find supportive women who push me to be better” but this was a bonus. I truly found an amazing support system that I can’t imagine my life without. I’m lucky. They got me to Boston.

A lot happened this year and I wouldn’t exactly call it an amazing year, but in terms of my running it was definitely a success. I didn’t fully complete every goal I set, but I made progress. I learned a lot. I am more in tune with my body, the care I need, and the toughness I can handle. I wouldn’t even take back my injury from this spring because it taught me so much. I would not have come back with my PR in the fall if I didn’t learn from the mistakes I was making. Experiences make us who we are and there is always something to learn. I wouldn’t change any of it really.

I’m ready to work harder, learn more, and push new limits in the new year.

Now I just need to put my 2018 goals to paper.

Keep in mind that if your goals don’t scare you – they aren’t big enough. Sometimes you might just surprise yourself.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon: My First FULL Love

Sometimes I think back to before I became a marathoner and don’t know what I did with all my free time. Now, I really can’t imagine what my life would be like without marathon training. It’s true that training for a marathon will change your life.

Making the decision to run a marathon is never an easy one, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth. When I first signed up for a marathon I was terrified, but it was the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and I knew I had good things in store.

I wanted my first marathon to be memorable (as if it wouldn’t be), but I wanted to run through a city that really meant something to me. Chicago was calling my name.

I was in for October 2014. I was scared. I was excited. I was RUNNING A MARATHON.

Training was tough, there’s no doubt about it. But I knew I wanted to get to that start line with as much confidence in my ability to run 26.2 miles as possible. That’s the thing about the first, you don’t actually know for sure your body is capable of running that far. It’s daunting. But if you’re running Chicago, you can count on amazing crowd support and beautiful views along the way.

I remember a few spots specifically from the first race. I saw my family right past the Board of Trade. I saw good friends at mile 14. I saw my aunt and cousin jumping up and down screaming my name on LaSalle. I was in awe of all the support I had both from people in my life and the supportive strangers.

Chicago fans SHOW UP. There is hardly any part of the course that doesn’t have cheering fans. And trust me, that makes a huge difference.

I felt strong most of the race. I cried at mile 25 when I realized I was about to finish 26.2 miles. I turned my music off and listened to the shouts as I neared the finish line. I cannot even describe the feeling of elation I had as I crossed that line.

The finisher area made it relatively easy to find my family. (I still got a little lost in my daze of confusion that first year). And my Dad had a 312 in hand for me. A Chicago beer for a Chicago finish – nothing beats it.

I knew right then and there that I would not be a one and done marathoner. It was love at first finish.

My time wasn’t particularly impressive. I was proud of it. (4:13:20). But I knew I could do better.

And I knew I would be putting my name in the Chicago Marathon lottery for 2015.

Fast forward: I didn’t get in for 2015. I ran for charity that first year and I wanted to alternate my years for charities, so I was hoping to get in through the lottery. But I didn’t. I was super bummed out, so I found a trail marathon the same October weekend I could train for instead.

I love trail running and shorter races, but long story short – trail marathons aren’t for me. I may go back for an ultra later in life, but the lack of crowd support really affected me in this race.

I missed the Chicago Marathon.

2016: not leaving it up to chance.

I signed up to run for the South Suburban Humane Society team. I love the organization and this was the first year they would have a Chicago Marathon team, so it was a good fit. I was in!

I knew I loved Chicago and I knew I had gotten much faster over the two years since my first Chicago, so I wanted that personal record. Going into this race my personal best was 3:53:33. It was the time to beat.

I remember standing in that start corral next to a friend and looking up at all the buildings around me and feeling so at peace. The calmness I felt was almost unnerving, but I was just so excited to get to run my favorite course a second time.

The early miles always fly by. It’s definitely crowded at first and I realized I probably should have started up a few corrals, but at least the density helped me pace myself.

If you pay attention to the people as you go, you carry their energy. This energy helps me get through the race. The people on the sidelines are just as excited to be there as the runners. I love taking the extra time to take a look around at the wide range of people. It really is one of the reasons I love Chicago so much, both the race and the city. We’re diverse. We’re supportive. The Chicago Marathon is like a giant parade of all the good things in Chicago. I love how everyone comes together to celebrate accomplishments. It’s electric.

I stayed with a friend until about mile 16 that day. We held around an 8:20 average pace, and I had in the back of my head that I would be able to run a Boston Qualifying time. I was definitely behind, but I felt so strong. I looked at her and said, “Should I go for it?” And she said, “Yes, but you need to go now.” So I went. I picked up speed. I fed off the crowd and the smiling volunteers at the water stations. I don’t think I stopped smiling for those 10 remaining miles.

I was close. I hit mile 23 and I knew I had to run sub 8 minute pace for the rest of the race if I was going to finish in under 3:35. Could I do it?? I had to try.

I ran a little faster. And then a little faster than that. I ran up the small (but huge feeling) hill at Columbus and could see the finish line. I had it. I cruised into that finish as the crowds screamed, tears in my eyes, strength in my legs. I crossed in 3:33:53. My first BQ time.

If there was ever a race I was meant to run a huge personal best at, it’s Chicago. The flatness helps immensely. There’s no other day of the year you can run down the middle of the streets for 26.2 miles. That in itself is cool. The race honestly goes by so quickly because there’s so much going on.

So was I done? Nope.

2017: I didn’t even have to enter the lottery. I now had a guaranteed entry time thanks to my performance from the previous year.

My third start line was just as exciting as the previous two. I honestly was pretty nervous after recent events and I was incredibly thankful for the increased security. Chicago was going to keep us safe. I felt more at ease seeing how many people were supporting the safety of the runners and the spectators.

I won’t give you the full 2017 story, but you can read it here if you’re curious.

I had an amazing race. I laughed. I cried. I crossed in 3:28:30, a new personal best and a Boston Qualifying time for 2019. Chicago and I get along.

The Chicago Marathon has taught me I’m always capable of a little more. I have set a new personal best three races in a row. It isn’t luck. I put in the hard work each year, but I also think I learn a little more from the course at each race. I learn where I can lean on the crowds to carry me in. I learn where to look for my friends and family. I learn to follow the blue line so I run the tangents well. I’ll never be an expert, but I love that this race continuously teaches me and humbles me. You just have to take the leap to get to that start line and put one foot in front of the other.

Take that first step and you can change your life.

The Chicago Marathon is a race for the people. A race that brings out thousands of people wanting to better their lives and prove they can do something incredible. The city unites for it. If you’re considering running your first marathon or a major city marathon, I don’t think you can miss out on Chicago. I keep coming back. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll ever get rid of me. It’s love.

They say you never forget your first love, and I think that’s true of your first marathon. I was lucky Chicago was mine.

Want to register for 2018? You still can. Go here.

I’ll see you there.

Tips For Sticking To Your Training While Traveling 

Marathon training while traveling isn’t easy, especially when you’re in an entirely different time zone and your body is craving extra sleep and a normal schedule. I went to Ireland for about 10 days this past August when I was in the heart of my training cycle and I made it work.

I was not perfect and definitely made adjustments as the days went, but I did what I could. It is possible to still get the work in while enjoying your vacation, so I thought  I’d share some tips that worked for me with all of you.

I truly think you can make it work, enjoy your vacation, and still hit your goal time at your race!

  • Get a key workout in before you leave

If you are able to switch around your schedule to get in a key workout BEFORE you leave, you should. I was flying out on a Friday afternoon, so I moved my Saturday long run to Friday morning so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting in 17 miles as soon as I got to Ireland. I obviously wanted to go straight to a pub for a Guinness (and I did – photo below). To make this work I had to start my long run at 4:45 AM since I was still working a half day before my flight. I don’t like getting up this early, but I knew it would be worth it. I had good friends to meet and a sunrise to see. These two things made the early alarm clock worth it. I got my 17 miles in and felt much more at ease about getting on the plane that afternoon. If you have the chance to be flexible and get it done before you leave, I highly recommend it.

Ireland 2

  • Try to find a local race

I knew I would still have to complete one long run on my trip even with moving one up before I left. I could have done this regardless, but I decided to find a race because that would make it more fun. And it just so happened when Kyle had the idea to go on this trip that he knew I’d want to run Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin. I wouldn’t pass up my first chance to run an international race. So, I signed up for the 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. I was at ease about getting my running in from the start of the trip because I knew I had these two races planned. Even if I hadn’t run on any other days during this vacation, I would have these 17 miles and that would keep me on track. Being signed up helped me relax about not necessarily running super high mileage. If you’re planning a major trip during your marathon training, search for local races and sign up. It will hold you accountable!

Ireland 4

  • Be adaptable

If you take away one piece of advice from this post, it should be this one. Learn how to adapt. Be willing to change around your schedule. Skip a run. Have a double workout day if you find one day with less of a hectic schedule. I think not putting pressure on yourself during training can be wonderful thing – always, but especially on vacation. You want to be enjoying yourself, so if you are jet lagged and don’t feel like doing your speed workout, then don’t. It’s okay. Swap a scheduled run for a 3 hour hike. Sleep in. Go to a museum and then run easy miles in the afternoon. Do whatever you feel like doing! Adapt your schedule and you’ll be happier!

Ireland 6

  • Run with a buddy

I was lucky enough to have my favorite travel buddy with me on this trip. He’s not a long distance runner, but he’ll run with me for part of my runs. Last November he ran one mile with me over to the Eiffel Tower and then sat and read while I ran laps around for seven miles. I feel less guilty about squeezing in a run if he’s there enjoying the outdoors too, even if he isn’t running. And to be fair he did run 6 miles with me one night in Ireland because he was so obsessed with the area we were running in (and he’s more into running now). We couldn’t get enough and he agreed this was the most efficient way to see as much as we could that evening. Support is everything! If you’re on a solo trip or with people who think going to the park with you while you run laps sounds crazy, there are still things you can do. On Instagram? Ask if anyone in the area you’re traveling to would want to go for a run. This is a fun way to meet people IRL and you’ll be excited to run. Or you can meet up with a local running group. Look them up ahead of time and pick one or two to check out along your trip. If you add it to your schedule, you’ll be less likely to skip the run.

Ireland 1

  • Ask the locals for the best running spots

At most of the pubs I went to, I asked the bartenders or locals the best parks to check out. I didn’t necessarily say running spots, but they had great suggestions. I went to a few spots I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t asked. It’s a fun way to start up conversations with locals and get excited to lace up and explore.

Paris 1

  • Take advantage of the jetlag

One great thing about traveling abroad is that you’ll naturally wake up earlier in the day once you’re there. I was used to waking up early, so even when I “slept in” on vacation I was naturally waking around 6 AM their time. I used that to my advantage a few mornings and took my energy outside to get my run in. I didn’t feel like I was losing out on sleep or “wasting” vacation time because I was up anyways and might as well have taken advantage of it. It helps!

Ireland 3

  • Use your run as an errand

This is a fun way to get in some miles and save some money. Have an errand you have to run? You can literally run it. Last fall Kyle and I wanted to go to a show in London, so we ran from our hotel to the box office first thing one morning. It was about 2 miles away. We ran there, picked up our tickets, ran home, and didn’t spend any money on transportation. It was an effortless way to log some miles while making great use of our time. If you can plan to run to pick something up, you should. Honestly, it’s economical. And don’t worry if your plan said 6 miles and you only run 4 because it worked out better that way. Like I said before, be as flexible as you can and you’ll have more fun.

London 1

  • Make safety a priority

If you aren’t able to find a running buddy, you should still feel empowered to run and explore, but be cautious. Research the areas you’re staying in and look for parks. This is a great reason to use the locals recommendations because they’ll most likely be populated areas. Don’t run in the dark. Map out your routes ahead of time and send them to a friend or family member. It’s so fun to explore new places and it’s okay to deviate from your route a little bit if you find a new fun space to run along the way, but I think it’s really important to let someone know you’re going out for a run and when you’re back home safe. It might seem a little silly, but doing this at least makes me feel more at ease.

Paris 2

  • Have fun!

I honestly believe the best way to see a new place is to explore on foot. Running in new cities or countries is genuinely fun for me. I can’t imagine vacations without it, so I didn’t really consider it “marathon training.” I ran for fun. I ran to see the sights. I ran to pick things up. I ran to spend time with Kyle. This didn’t feel like training. If you focus on the fun in running and less on the scheduled miles, I think you’ll find it easier to get them in. I didn’t have a successful speed workout on this trip and I was definitely a little under mileage, BUT I still got in most of my runs, enjoyed myself, and had great fall marathons. It’s possible. I love marathon training, but I always say I wouldn’t do it if I felt like it took control of my life and caused me to miss out on living. There’s a balance. I work hard and I have fun. I don’t stress about a few missed runs. And I don’t shy away from a trip that will make me get a little out of my comfort zone. You shouldn’t either! Live. Travel. Run. PR. Drink the beer. Order the pasta. Spend quality time with the people you love most. It helps you get a little more life out of your days.

Ireland 5

We Ran Chicago. Race Recap: Chicago Marathon 2017

October 8th, 2017.

I went into this Chicago Marathon with no real expecations. I wanted to have fun and soak in the energy from the crowd. I wanted to cross the finish line feeling strong. And I wanted to celebrate running my 7th marathon and 3rd Chicago.

I knew it would be tough to run two marathons in one month, especially after running a 3:30:54 at my Last Chance to BQ in Grand Rapids. That’s why I didn’t put any pressure on myself. And guess what? It worked. But I’ll get to that later.

My friend Cait asked me to run with her and I was hesitant at first because I know how hard it is to really stick with someone for a whole marathon and I feared I would hold her back. I knew she wanted to BQ and while I usually have faith in my pacing abilities, I didn’t know how much speed my legs would have in them. I told her yes. I wanted the company. But I also said if I couldn’t hold 8 minute miles that she should ditch me. I really had my doubts.

We took the train together, went to the race resort, made a friend who rebraided Cait’s hair, nervously waited in line to not have to pee for the third time, and then walked to the start line.


We were surprisingly calm. All I wanted was to show I was calm and keep Cait calm even though I was nervous about not being able to have another strong race. We went over our plan, agreed to take the first few miles slower and then try to hold steady 8 minute miles until the end when we’d give it one last surge.


We crossed the start line.

I always have to remind myself not to trust the first mile of any run or any race and today was no different. I really didn’t feel great. My recent memories of miles 24-26.2 at Grand Rapids were fresh in my mind. The last couple miles are always rough, but what good was it going to do thinking about the end at mile one?

My Garmin said we ran a 1:57 first mile. Lol. Obviously not right. I knew my watch would be messed up, but I didn’t think it would be THAT messed up. I was super thankful already to be wearing my 3:30 pace tattoo on my arm.

We cruised along through the first 5K at 8:02 pace. I saw my family around mile 2 and felt a boost of “okay I can do this again.”

Cait had to give me a bit of a pep talk around mile 6 because I wasn’t exactly smiling. I was still nervous. I was honestly nervous about safety. I felt more alert than usual. And I was nervous my legs just weren’t going to make it another 20 miles at our current pace. She told me I was strong. I listened. And I told myself that I just had to make it to the half way point and then I would have a strong second half. One mile at a time.

One of Cait’s friends jumped in some point before the half and was like, “Do you guys know you’re running sub 8 minute miles?” She was super encouraging, but wanted to make sure we knew. I hadn’t really thought we were doing close to 7:50s, but we averaged 7:52 from the 10K mark to the 20K mark.

We felt good. We didn’t talk much. We checked in when we needed to, but really focused on taking in the crowd. Seeing her husband and my boyfriend at mile 12 gave us a much needed boost approaching the second half. I accidentally picked up the pace a bit (or so Cait says) but we felt strong.

We crossed the half marathon mark in 1:44:29 – exactly where we wanted to be. I told her all we had to do was the same exact 1:44:29 again and we’d have our BQ. We could do it.

It was staring to get hotter, but to be honest I didn’t notice much. After running the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 90 degrees, no race really phases me. I guess it was a blessing. 70 degrees felt comfortable.

I took my second GU around mile 14. I had been using chews for years, but recently made the switch to GU instead and found it much easier to get down. We grabbed water from every water stop, but never walked. I know walking through water stops works for a lot of people, but I’m just not into it.

We had it down to grab cups separately, but meet back up once we were outside of the cluster of people. I was honestly pretty impressed with how quickly we fell back into sync each time.

With each new mile I felt stronger and stronger. I knew I would have a better second half. I just had to convince myself I could do it again. We held a 7:56 average pace from the 25K to the 30K mark. At each mile marker I would look at the time on my watch, check my pace tattoo and tell Cait how many seconds we were under the 3:30 goal if we kept up our consistency. Besides the mile markers, I didn’t check my watch. I was SO much better about it during this race than I was during my Grand Rapids race. I knew compulsively checking my watch didn’t do me any good. I learned. And I applied my last race to this race.

Early on we were a few seconds too slow for our 3:30 goal at each mile. Then we were 20 seconds under. Then 40 seconds. By mile 17-18 we were well under a minute under where we needed to be. I didn’t want to get too excited, but I did tell myself at 17 “we have this.”

We had music on us, but wanted to wait until the end to put it to use. We saw Arielle around mile 18, then the boys again, and knew we could ride out that boost for a little bit longer. After mile 20 we decided to tune in. We each took one of Cait’s earbuds so we could listen to the same music and it worked out well.

We hit mile 23 ish and Cait said to me, “I don’t want to get too excited, but can I be happy yet?” I said, “You can be happy at mile 25. Actually mile 26.”

img_4491
We really looked this happy at that point.

Those last few miles are always tough. And we didn’t know what would happen. I was confident in our abilities. I truly thought we had our goal time, but you never want to get cocky. I felt 10 times better at mile 23 today than I did the month before. I didn’t have that aching “ugh my legs cannot move any faster” feeling. I felt like I was flying. We were. And we were almost there.

Mile 24 came quickly. I felt like I blinked and we flew from 23 to 24. (This never happens to me). We weren’t talking. I offered one high five and said we had it. And that was that. We were FOCUSED. So focused.

Mile 25. I felt good. I started to tear up. Marathon number 7 was coming to a close and it was my strongest, happiest race yet. I never hit the wall. I gained confidence as I went. I had Cait’s company. And I knew we were going to lock in our BQ’s for 2019.

At the 800 meter mark I said out loud, “How many times have we run 800 meter repeats? We could do this in our sleep!” The look Cait gave me was hilarious. But she was still smiling and we were still together. We knew we had it.

I closed in on the 400 meter mark and thought I saw Jennifer (@jbirdruns). I lightly tapped her on the arm, smiled, and said “Come on we’ve got this.” I questioned if I should tap her because I didn’t want to mess with her zone and we’ve never met in person, so I didn’t want to freak her out, but I know how nice it can be to have that support in the end. I’m glad I did. We raced in the last little part together and she got herself another BQ. We didn’t hug or catch up in the post-marathon chaos, but next time. It was a cool moment.

3:28:30.

Cait and I looked at each other right past that finish line and bust out crying. Happy tears. Proud tears. Marathoner tears. I was so stinking proud of her. A new 25+ minute personal record and she was so consistent and calm the entire race.

I was crying out of pride for myself too. I set out to run this race for fun and that is exactly what I did. It just so happened to also be a new personal best. I am in love with the Chicago Marathon course. The energy of the crowd and the volunteers helped me run as strong of a race as I did. I was grateful for the extra security, the happiness the city seems to share, and the smiles of runners around me. I truly think I am happiest at that marathon finish line.

We grabbed our beers. Cried some more. Hugged some more. And went to find our friends and family.


Reuniting with people you love after such a big moment is unbeatable. I am incredibly blessed to have the best support system. I cherish seeing my people along the course and after that finish line. My support system helps make me the runner I am.


This Chicago Marathon was my third time running the course, but it was the best one yet. I take in new things each time. And learn from the race that day. This year, I learned I am strong as hell. I am capable. I love the city of Chicago and I love the marathon distance.


I really did not know I had a 7:57 average pace marathon in me when we nervously crossed that start line in the morning, but I knew if I relaxed and focused on having fun, I would run well. And I did.


I could not have asked for a better race. A lot of hard work and a little faith goes a long way.

Thank you, Chicago.

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