14 Lessons From My 14 Marathons

Marathons are my favorite. The distance itself is always challenging, the race day brings excitement, and you get to learn about yourself along the way. A marathon finish line is also never guaranteed and I think that’s why I feel such gratitude every time I cross one. 

I finished my 14th marathon (California International Marathon) a little over a week ago and it had me thinking about each marathon I have run. Each one has taught me it’s own lesson because no marathon is the same. 

Here’s a list of a lesson from each of my 26.2 mile adventures:

1. You are capable of more than you think. (Chicago Marathon 2014)

2. If you have to pee during a marathon, just stop early. Don’t wait until mile 24. (Prairie State Trail Marathon 2015)

3. Running a negative split is a much more enjoyable way to run a marathon. (Naperville Marathon 2015)

4. It takes guts to go for your dream goal. Don’t be afraid to take that risk. (Chicago 2016 – first BQ)

5. Don’t be a hero. Overdoing it got you here, but you get to race, so be grateful for your body. (Rock N Roll Nashville 2017 post-injury)

6. Let the supportive people in your life help you. I wouldn’t have done this without my incredible friends. (Grand Rapids Last Chance BQ 2017)

7. It isn’t just about you. I ran step by step with my friend Cait and was reminded yet again we can be stronger together. (Chicago Marathon 2017)

8. Living a dream you’ve had for a long time cannot be dampened by even the worst weather. (Boston Marathon 2018 – first Boston)

9. Trust yourself. Even when you are not feeling your best, it isn’t necessarily a sentence for a terrible race. (Chicago Marathon 2018)

10. You do this for fun. Remember? It’s fun. Time goals are not always the most important thing. (Boston Marathon 2019)

11. Taking the pressure off helps you run stronger. This was my bonus spring marathon where I had no intentions of going for a PR, but having that in my head actually worked out well for me. Also, FUEL WELL during. (Copenhagen Marathon 2019 – holds my PR of 3:21)

12. It’s like riding a bike? Be grateful for the chance to run. After a 2 year hiatus thanks to the pandemic, I showed up to run the marathon distance again with no goals in mind other than to finish. It just felt so GOOD to be back out there. (Canberra Marathon 2021)

13. Yes running a marathon successfully is because of training, but it’s also a lot of heart. I was undertrained, overtired, and stressed at this start line, but I ran with heart and I enjoyed myself. (Boston Marathon 2021)

14. Marathons are a gift. Treasure them. (California International Marathon 2021)

I could go on and on about each and every one of these marathons, but this is the short version. I didn’t include my finish times for most of them because I don’t think that is all that important here. I wanted to show how you can always learn something from a marathon no matter your pace or if you reached the goal you set for yourself. There really is some magic in the journey. I can’t wait to see what my next marathons have in store for me. I hope yours hold some lessons and some magic for you too. 

Manly to Bondi 50 Miler!

The Idea

I have felt like 2020 is both a year where time is frozen and a year asking me for more. I am constantly torn between wanting to push myself to do so much and wanting to lay on the couch all day. Some days I am motivated, others I am not. But overall, I have been saying yes to some crazy things…like covering 50 miles in one day.

Back in January Kyle and I were out to brunch and he was talking about the new Bondi to Manly path that was officially open. He looked up the distance (roughly 50 miles) and said out loud, “wouldn’t it be cool to do that in one day?” I laughed. Kyle did you just realize you said you want to be an ultra marathoner?! We chatted about it more and decided we would attempt it around June this year.

Well, this year did not go as planned. We dealt with some things in May/June that had both of us hardly sleeping or taking care of ourselves. So, June was out. I had mentioned this to Julia and she said she wanted to join us on the trek and said how about August 1st?

Kyle and I figured sure, why not? We added it to the calendar without a lot of lead time. And I decided I wanted to raise some money for two amazing organizations to make the miles a little more meaningful. We started our GoFundMe on Sunday, planning to fundraise for the 5 days leading up to our trek. (I know this all felt a little last minute. But that’s what I wanted. We had to just go for it and not think about it too much).

I was blown away by the generosity of our friends and family. We raised over $1500 for The Loveland Foundation and the Indigenous Marathon Foundation. It helped us get really excited. We would not want to quit knowing the support we had for this very unofficial event. There wouldn’t be any spectators, no medal, no finish line. We were just going to go out and casually cover an ultra distance.

We knew there would be elevation. Sydney makes it pretty hard to avoid in general. But we did not practice pieces of the course. We kind of wanted to be surprised.

We also decided to do the route in reverse since we live in Bondi and figured it would be better to end at home rather than need to get in a car for a 40 minute drive after that kind of day.

Thankfully Julia’s fiance agreed to drive the three of us out to Manly at 4:30 in the morning. It was time to go for it.


M2B 10

The Day

We arrived in Manly just after 5 a.m. and began our adventure. Headlamps were on and we were in the dark. We had about an hour before the sun started to rise. This area once we were away from the beach was pretty technical, so we were walking.


Manly sunrise
Our plan was to run once the sun was up. Kyle had agreed to run about 10 miles of the distance. After the sun came up we ran for probably a total of 20 minutes and Kyle said, “nope, walking it is.” We had already covered a decent amount of elevation and he knew if he was going to make it all day, he had to walk. And Julia and I weren’t going to leave him behind.

We truly had a beautiful day. Winter in Sydney has actually been my favorite. There’s still a lack of daylight hours, but we were in shorts and perfectly comfortable once the sun came up.

We made a quick stop for coffee after a couple hours. No sitting down or stopping our watches was the only real rule of the day.

There are some markings along the course, but we still had to have a Strava route up for the majority of the day. There are some extra turns required that are not intuitive. The terrain was a mix of trail, gravel, mud, concrete, grass, sand, OCEAN, etc. The mix was kind of hilarious. We couldn’t have imagined covering this path on a rainy day.

We all felt good at the half marathon point (thank goodness). Stopped for another coffee. Kyle did most of the navigating at first with his phone plugged into a power brick. He threw headphones on around mile 20 when he started hurting.

Julia and I felt good. It was truly beautiful. The surroundings were distracting and kept us going. As we made our way to the Harbor Bridge, we saw at least four engagements/weddings – that was cool. And crossing the bridge itself was awesome. Just one of those iconic things when you can see the Sydney Opera House and so much of the city. The stop for ice cream cones after the bridge helped our moods too.


We ate as we went. We all packed some sandwiches, protein bars, pretzels, gels, etc. We tried to just space out the eating and savor our water. Our only planned aid station was around mile 32 where we had two friends waiting for us with Gatorade, snacks and water refills. When we got to them Kyle changed his socks (broke the sitting rule) and we stood and talked with them for about 10 minutes.

We lucked out with bathrooms along the way for most of the route, so after another quick stop, we were off again and feeling refreshed. Kyle had his podcasts on and Julia and I were chatting. We knew he was hurting, but we tried to just keep him moving.

We got to Rose Bay, close to our home, at around mile 37 and Kyle decided to turn in. He was in pain and didn’t want to slow us down any more or risk really injuring himself. So, he turned off. He had never even run a marathon before this day and I was so so proud of him. 38 miles is no joke. He was an ultra marathoner.

M2B 11
Julia and I kept going. The sun was setting now, around 5:15 p.m. And we knew we were in for the hardest few hours yet. We both had been feeling good up until this point, but we couldn’t run anymore either now. Plus in the dark, we didn’t really want to risk falling or getting lost. We kept walking.

After mile 40 the miles were passing SO SLOWLY. Julia wanted me to yell “THIS SUCKS” at the top of my lungs with her and I didn’t because I didn’t have the energy lol. But our feet just hurt so bad at this point.

To distract us, I basically talked for 3 hours about every friend I have ever had. It was nice to reminisce and tell her about so many great people. She took turns with some stories and we tried not to focus on what we were doing. It helped.

Around mile 47 I had my crying breakdown. I thought about everyone who had donated for those last few mile markers, how much I miss them, how difficult this year has been. It all hit me. I told Julia, “I am crying, but I am fine.” We stopped for a hug and then kept moving. She had her crying moment shortly after. WE WERE A MESS. But we never stopped. We didn’t sit. We kept moving.

I was thankful Julia was navigating because I couldn’t even focus at this point. I was hungry, thirsty, tired, sore. So ready to be done.

As we neared the end, our final descent to Bondi, we passed two guys that said, “Woah long walk?” And Julia said, “Yeah we’ve come all the way from Manly.” His face and response were priceless. “…today?” We had a good laugh at that point.

I was so glad I had Julia with me. I definitely would have quit if I had been in the dark on my own.

As we finally got to the beach we saw her partner and Kyle, and slowly cried/hobbled our way to them. There was no finish line, no medal, no post-race party. It was just 9:30 p.m. and we were completely exhausted. But we DID IT! I was in shock. And incredibly proud.

Strava M2B


The After


Julia has already asked me if I want to try again. (Only 7 days after our attempt). Lol. I won’t say never. But I definitely need to forget how my feet felt at hour 16 first. I would like to see what it is like running most of it compared to walking. Less time on my feet would be good. And it truly was beautiful. I might want to try again, but definitely not any time soon.

Thankfully, we all came out okay. Kyle was walking around just fine two days later. Julia was running that week. And after five days of very little movement, I was feeling normal too. I had a slight tendon irritation on the top of my left foot from overuse/all the stairs. But it was healed within a week or so. I took 14 days off from any running and focused on getting lots of sleep. Very grateful no one was hurt!

The Advice

This course is challenging. It is not super clearly marked, so it requires frequent map checking. We took a few wrong turns throughout. If you want to do this, I’d recommend actually practicing parts of the course beforehand so you have a better idea of where you’re going.

Practice more time on feet! If you know you will be walking a lot, I’d suggest adding on a few hours of walking after your training runs. I wish I had done more really long walks in addition to runs.

Have a couple crew spots. With an unofficial event you do not have aid stations. We had one nice friend stop for Gatorade and we looked forward to this all day. It would have been more fun to have a few of these connection points throughout the day!
I really learned a lot. And this adventure did make me fall more in love with ultra adventures, even with how difficult it was.

We are on the leader board: https://www.bonditomanly.com/leaderboard

Not many people can say they have attempted this feat. That’s pretty cool. I made a video of our journey if you want to see more of it, too.

And I look forward to the next crazy adventure we come up with.

Race Recap: Copenhagen Marathon 5.19.19

What a day. I’ll try not to ramble through this blog, but I have lot to say about the Copenhagen Marathon.

I originally signed up for this race in October of 2018, fully knowing I would race Boston and intending to run/walk this in May just to see the city. I asked my coach before registering and he said not racing both was a good plan, but no reason I couldn’t sign up. So, I did.

I haven’t actually written a Boston Marathon recap yet. And to be honest it was a really hard day for me. I gave it all I had, but the heat really got to me. I finished in 3:26:28. 20 seconds lower than my Boston 2018 time. As soon as I got done, I told myself if I felt good in a week, I’d race Copenhagen.

My coach felt the same way. We worked on another 3 weeks of training post-Boston and one week off. My body felt really good. I ran a few more long runs, a couple tempo runs and kept yoga and strength a priority.

The point of traveling to Copenhagen was for a vacation with Kyle. We wanted uninterrupted time together and a chance to experience a new culture. The marathon was not my number one priority.

We flew in on a Thursday. The marathon was Sunday. So, I had a few days to adjust to the time change and relax. I was so relaxed. I hardly thought about the race at all. And I was probably walking too many steps each day leading up to race day, but we wanted to explore.

I was the calmest I had ever been that Saturday before a marathon. It was a good feeling. The race didn’t begin until 9:30 a.m. and we were staying at an Airbnb that was only a 5 minute walk from the start/finish line, so it was EASY. The easiest start to a race I have ever had. I ate breakfast, got dressed, and then Kyle walked with me over to the start.

We hung out by the start wave for a bit. The atmosphere was fun. People seemed relaxed. There weren’t start corrals, but just a few pace signs so you could line up based on your goal time. I got in front of the 3:30 pacer and took it in. The announcer said one minute to go time and everyone around me starting clapping. It was electric. I couldn’t help but laugh. This was the most excited start line group I had ever seen. I knew it was going to be a good day.

We were off.

It was strange for me to not know a single other person running on the course with me, but also kind of fun. It was almost like I was running a “secret” marathon. I barely looked at a course map before hand and that was a good feeling too.

I told myself early on that I was not going to focus on my watch. I had no idea how I would feel only 5 weeks after Boston and even though I had gotten the okay to race it if I felt good, I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself. Plus, the course markers were all in kilometers so it was easier for me not to pay attention. I just ran by feel.

The first 10K zoomed by. I felt like I was moving a little fast, so I tried to dial it back. I did not want to feel so out of energy the last few miles like I did in Boston, so I conserved. Honestly, I think I ran too conservatively, but that’s okay.

There were DJs playing techno on the sidelines and even a a Danish rapper. Spectators would yell things to me that I couldn’t understand, but I was smiling. I hadn’t expected many spectators, but there were SO many. This race only had about 11,000 runners, but I swear there were just as many spectators.

I crossed the half marathon mark in around 1:43. Two minutes slower than what I crossed the first half of Boston in. I looked down at my watch at that point and said, “Okay perfect.” I felt SO good still and I knew that running the first half slower set me up to negative split.

One tough thing about this course was allllll of the turns. So drastically different from Boston. I tried my best to run the tangents, but if there was shade on either side, I picked shade. It was sunny, 65 degrees and rising. I knew shade was important.

Another tough thing: the water cups were plastic. This really surprised me since Copenhagen is so good about not using plastic most places. It was hard to even purchase a plastic water bottle. But yet all fluid cups on the course were hard plastic. Most of the time I got more water up my nose than down my throat. It was uncomfy. Something about the plastic made drinking while running even harder and I wasn’t used to it. And stepping on used cups on the ground was more annoying than when they’re paper. Hoping they change these to paper in the future!

Despite the water struggle, I was cruising. I saw Kyle and Libby a few times later on in the course. Right before 17 was a good spot. They caught me from far away and I was able to give high fives as I ran by. Felt good to see people I knew.

At mile 18 I got excited. Ran a 7:02. So, I pulled back again. I was still afraid I was going to feel terrible toward the end. But I didn’t. I stayed consistent.

I spent each step just soaking it in. I loved the energy of the people around me. (Didn’t love all the cigarette smoke on the sidelines – my one complaint about spectators). It was like I hardly felt like I was running. I was just touring a city, seeing new spots I never had and listening to people I didn’t know. At no point did I say to myself “Dale you’re racing this marathon.” I was just having fun.

As I got closer to the end, I picked it up. It helped that this course was so flat. I was gaining momentum as I went rather than losing it. The difference between how I felt today compared to April was CRAZY. I was hardly breathing hard. My legs felt strong. Sure, I was hot. The sun was brutal again, but I was more prepared. My last three miles were 7:23, 7:18, 6:51. Ran at a 6:19 for the last tenth of a mile. I flew to that finish line.

The crowd around the finish was SO loud. People around me were flying too. I was smiling BIG as I ran that last tenth. I looked down at my watch and saw 3:21:33. A one and a half minute PR. I couldn’t believe it. I ran smart, I enjoyed every mile and I had fun. That’s all I can ask for in a marathon. They are always difficult, but I truly always enjoy the distance. It demands you to step up and respect it. And if you have fun while doing it, it’s a really good day.

I had a really good day.

I rang the PR bell, went to meet Kyle & Libby, and had a beer while we walked back home. Then Kyle told me I had less than an hour to get ready for his “plans” – that’s another story… 🙂

I couldn’t have been more proud of my effort on this day. It was the most fun I have ever had during a marathon and coincidentally the best performance I ever had too. It was also my first international marathon and it makes me want to run marathons all over the world. It was a better experience than I even expected.

Copenhagen was friendly, fast, fun and unforgettable. 5.19.19 was the best day. Can’t recommend this race or this city enough!






Race Recap: Swamp Rabbit Race to Greenville Half Marathon

I raced a half marathon for the first time in over a year on February 23rd, 2019. I’m on a 50 state race quest and I like to use my February birthday as an excuse to travel somewhere new, a bit warmer and run a half marathon. This year I chose Greenville, South Carolina. That meant my race would be the Swamp Rabbit Race to Greenville.

I didn’t know anything about this race, but I knew it would be warmer than Chicago, so I was in. Kyle and I booked our flight and planned to spend three days in SC. I was really excited to race even though it would be on only 7 weeks of training and untapered legs. I didn’t have big expectations, but I knew I would try to run fast. I was excited until the Thursday before we left when Kyle got so sick. I felt bad for him, was worried he wouldn’t be able to go with me and worried I’d get sick too. But he mustered up his strength and we got on our flight Thursday night.

On Friday I went to pick up my race packet. It was very low key and the volunteers were really friendly. An easy, nice packet pick up is one of the reasons I love smaller races. It helps me stay relaxed.

After dinner I set out my race outfit, drank my coconut water and went to bed early. I was calm.

This race is a point to point, so you start pretty far away from the downtown area. It was 43 degrees and drizzling when I got to the start area. Kyle dropped me off and I had 15 minutes to warm up. I covered about 1.50 miles and threw in some strides. I was just trying to focus on the fun I was about to have, not the pace I was going to try to run. My coach had asked me to cover my watch for this race. We’ve chatted about how my watch can hold me back if I see I am running at a faster pace than I think I can sustain. So, I agreed to try. I figured there would at least be clocks on the course.

I went to line up for the National Anthem after my warm up. There weren’t corrals, but I did see a few pacer signs so I went in between the 1:30 and the 1:37. It was a crowded start and once the cannon blew I still had about 10-15 seconds of easing my way through the starting mats. But I was off. My watch was under my sleeve and there it was going to stay.

I found myself right by the 1:30 pacer by mile 1. He told us he would run the first 4 miles a bit slower since they included all the hills, but then he would pick it up. So I decided to stay with him for 4 miles. There were some definite hills in the beginning, but nothing as bad as what I have been training on. I remained confident and followed this guy for 4 miles. And realized I hadn’t seen a time clock, but there had to be one at the half way point at least, right?

Wrong. I had been feeling good. I didn’t know what pace I was running, but I wasn’t as tempted to check as I thought I would be. I focused on how strong my body felt and how I just needed to lock in my pace and stay there. But I think part of me was really expecting a half way clock. When I didn’t see one, my heart sank. But I was over 6 miles in, I thought I was cruising and I wasn’t tired. I took these all as good signs. It didn’t really matter what pace I was running because I felt comfortable and that is what mattered.

I took my GU with water around mile 7. I half expected some stomach cramping, but happy to report it did it’s job and I felt fine. At this point I just had to stare straight ahead and keep moving.

The rain started at about mile 10. It wasn’t super heavy, but definitely more than a drizzle. A spectator with an umbrella and a cute pup shouted to me, “28th woman. Looking strong.” And it was a nice pick me up. The 28th woman was probably running her PR pace, right? It was kind of unreal not to know. But it helped me mentally to just focus on running. No numbers, no clock checks, no watch checks. I was shocked at how good I still felt. And I was only 3 miles from the finish.

Now this had been a straight shot on the Swamp Rabbit trail since mile 4-5. I didn’t expect any turns. And all of a sudden I came to a bridge that required a right turn. And I turned in front of it. It was a dumb move, but I was so focused that I couldn’t stop my forward motion. A volunteer called for me and I got back to the bridge, but it had cost me probably about 10 seconds. Not that I thought it would matter.

I didn’t spend any time beating myself up. I was having a great race, and this wasn’t all about time after all. This was to test my fitness during this Boston Marathon training cycle and based on feel I knew it was a confidence boost.

The last mile I told myself to just “pick it up” – whatever that meant. I wanted to leave it all out there. I could see the finish line from around the corner and I knew I had less than half a mile left. I rounded the turn, sloshed through a huge puddle and made my way to the grass. The last 0.15 stretch to the finish was on muddy grass, but I thankfully didn’t slip. I threw my hands up and tried to smile. I made it.

I looked down and saw the 1:32:05 on my watch. WHAT. That’s a 3+ minute PR from the last time I ran a half. But I was also instantly bummed to have missed NYC Qualification by 5 seconds. Not that looking at my watch would have made a difference, but how was I so close… I met some IG friends after and it was great to hear how everyone’s races went. Found Kyle near the finisher area and saw my official result read 1:32:08. It was what it was. I was still super happy. I looked at my splits and 9 of my miles started with a 6. My last mile was my fastest of the race with a 6:45. I was in a little bit of shock that I had just run this time and felt so good.

I love the half marathon distance. It’s a challenge, but it’s the kind of race I can run in a new state and still have energy to explore post-race. South Carolina was my 13th race state and I’m so happy I chose this as my February adventure. It’s always a good thing to get out of your comfort zone and explore a new space. If you’re looking for a well run, fun race in Greenville – I highly recommend the Swamp Rabbit.

This race was a big personal win for me. It gives me confidence going into my last 6 weeks of training. I am faster than I think and sometimes I just need to trust myself. Covering my watch and running just for my love of running really worked for me. I think I’ll have to try the same thing at my next half (and find myself those missed seconds).

February 23rd, 2019. 1:32:08.

Chicago Marathon 2018 Recap

It’s no secret I love the Chicago Marathon. This race day always ends up being a good race day for me. The city lights up, crowd support is incredible, and I get to see so many of my supportive friends and family members. It feels like a holiday. It’s one of my most favorite days to be a runner and a Chicago resident. And this year did not disappoint.

October, 7 2018 – my fourth Chicago Marathon and my ninth marathon. Regardless of how I was going to perform that day, I was excited to get to run the streets again. I went into this knowing it would be my last Chicago for awhile and I wanted to make the most of it. But that does not mean I was not nervous. I’m always nervous. Marathons are hard!! No matter how many you have run or how fast you run them, they are always hard. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? We don’t run marathons because they’re easy. I love that even though I am getting faster, stronger and smarter when it comes to marathon training, I still feel those start line nerves. I know there will be miles that hurt. I know I will have to be mentally tough. But I get excited to push myself and see how it will go. But let’s talk about this start line.

I “woke up” at 4:50 a.m. on Sunday morning after tossing and turning all night. I never sleep well the night before a big race. I expect it, which is why I try to get really good sleep the few nights leading up to the night before.  I got dressed, drank some water and ate my peanut butter banana toast. I had been a nervous wreck the day before, but race morning I am usually okay. I was ready. I got on the Brown Line with Kyle and headed downtown.

Getting into the start corral was a little crazy. It seemed much more crowded to me in my corral than previous years. I was trying to find Megan and Steph, but it was pretty difficult. After searching for a bit I just put my phone on airplane mode and accepted the fact that this race was going to be entirely on my own. No one I knew directly next to me, no headphones or music in my ears. I was going to just let the support of the strangers running next to me and the spectators on the sidelines carry me through. Someone sang the national anthem. I shed my usual few pre-race tears. And I was ready. I told myself my time did not matter today, but it mattered that I had fun. My goal was to start out at a sustainable, fast pace and see if I could hold it. If I couldn’t, I couldn’t. And with having been sick for the past week and a half and still having difficulty taking a full deep breath, I wasn’t expecting myself to be able to hold it.

But I started.

The first few miles of Chicago are always chaotic. Your GPS will go crazy, it’s crowded, and you have to bob around people. I had to do a lot of weaving this year, which was a little frustrating, but I tried not to waste too much energy on it early on. I went out at 7:55 pace and felt pretty good. My watch beeped to tell me I had run a 5:22 first mile, which was obviously incorrect, but this is why it is SO important to practice your race pace in training. You have to know how it feels. Being too reliant on watches and pace numbers is not a good thing. You have them in training to help teach your body how to feel the pace – and luckily I had this down.

At mile 2.50 I saw my parents. They’re my biggest fans and have not missed a Chicago Marathon of mine. I really can’t say how much their support means to me. Seeing them on the course lights me up. And it helped that they were easy to spot since my Mom always makes cute signs for me.

Around mile 5 I saw Cait, Jenny, Arielle and Kyle. They were going nuts and it made me so happy to see them. I had a little bit of negative self talk happening mile 4-5 about being able to hold my pace for 26.2 miles, but when I saw them I knew I had to try. These women (and Kyle) have helped shape me into the runner I am. We’ve all crushed marathon courses together and even though they weren’t running next to me today, seeing them reminded me how strong we all are and I knew I was going to try to make them proud.

I was feeling pretty good by mile 10. It takes me awhile to find my groove, but 10 was groovy. I loved the course change this year and getting to run farther north early on so that by the time I hit Old Town I was already around mile 11. I saw my crew again even though I wasn’t expecting them there and this started my favorite part of the course. Running down Wells brings tears to my eyes. I think about the hundreds of times I’d run down it to go to a speed workout. All the late night and early morning runs that had gotten me to this point. I think it’s really important to reflect while you’re running a marathon. It is no one day or one week that gets you here. It is months, even years of hard work. Celebrate it.

I saw my parents again after the half marathon mark. I shouted to my Dad, “It’s okay – I feel really good!” And he laughed. He was really worried about me running today after having trouble breathing all week, so I wanted him to know I was okay. I would not have pushed it if my breathing was truly labored while I was running. Thankfully, it wasn’t. And I had run the first 13.1 miles in 1:41:12, right on pace for a PR.

I told myself now was the time to relax. I was running around 7:45 pace comfortably and I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I was gaining energy from the crowd and having fun. Truly. Running marathons are fun for me. I smile so big from the signs, the cheers, the bands, everything. Miles 14-18 are when I really try to enjoy the experience.

When I get to 18 I tell myself the real work starts. So, I pushed the pace. I dropped down to 7:35 and felt pretty good. I was kind of worried I wouldn’t be able to keep it up until 26 though, so around 20 I pulled back a bit. I was still feeling good and was confident I was going to have a strong finish, but I also wanted to conserve as much energy as I could so I would have a final surge.

At mile 21, my legs started feeling tired. That’s totally normal, but I told myself I had to just “hangout” where I was. Just “jog” at 7:45-7:50 pace and I’d get to the finish. As if that’s a jog, but I was trying to convince myself in the moment that it was. Then, I ran into Amanda.

Amanda, (@blackbeanqueen), was running next to me and said, “hey you look familiar.” We follow each other on Instagram, but had never met in real life. Funny how things work out. She was hurting too and we weren’t talking much, but we said we’d stick together for the next few miles. I so appreciated the company. We knew we were hurting, but we were still cruising and it was nice to have the extra little bit of support. We stuck together for about 3 miles and I’m really grateful for that. I started picking it up a bit and she was all about me going ahead, so I went with it. The last 2.50 miles were going to be on my own.

I tried to push my legs a little bit faster and the turnover just didn’t feel like it was there. I wasn’t slowing my pace, but I wasn’t really picking it up either. For a minute at 24 I had the thought, “do I really care if I PR? I could slow down to 9 minute pace and feel way better.” I went back forth for about a minute. The temptation to relax and slow down was there. But I don’t give up easily. It was a silly thought. I literally said to myself out loud, “Dale, you can do this. You’re going to PR.” And that was that. I was going for it. I wasn’t really looking at my watch, but I knew I had to just hold my pace and I would do it.

I had a few other strangers shout “Go Marathoner Dale!” as I ran by, which I loved. The support from you all means so much to me, especially out on a race course. And as I got to mile 25 I saw Jenny and crew again and waved. I yelled, “I’ve got this!” and was 100% confident I did.

That last mile is LONG. It feels like the longest part of the course. You’re tired. You’re ready to be done. But the energy is unreal. I kept telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other. One step at at time.

800 meter mark. This sign always gives me chills. It’s just an 800. One 800 meter rep from a speed workout. I reminded myself I had run my 800s this training cycle at a 3:11 average and one was a piece of cake. (Not ever a piece of cake, but I told myself that anyways and forced a smile).

400 meter mark. SO CLOSE. And this is where you have the little baby hill that worries people. Chicago is as flat as a pancake, so at this point of the race this hill does feel like a hill. But I love hills and I was ready for it. I surged ahead, passed people, and knew that finish line was mine when I turned the corner.

The final sprint. I have no idea how fast I was moving, but it felt FAST. I was giving it all I had until I crossed.

I stepped across that finish line at 3:22:58. A 3+ minute PR and I was elated.

It’s hard for me to even describe the feeling of a marathon finish line, especially when you PR, but it beats most things. I LOVE it. I’m exhausted, but proud of myself. And I love to just take a minute to stand there and take it in before reuniting with my people. Ran into my coach just past the finish line too and he said, “How’d that feel?” Good. Damn good.

The slow walk over to Grant Park feels like miles, but I always enjoy it. Everyone is shuffling along and smiling so big. When I get to the family meet up area I always get hugs, some tears, and high fives. I have such supportive people in my life and I don’t take that for granted. They make this day even better for me.

The Chicago Marathon is a world class marathon. It is well run, well spectated, and FUN. It’s a holiday to me. I gave it all I had this year and it was a better day than I imagined. A little faith in yourself and a lot of hard work goes a long way.

But no matter the outcome, I am grateful for the marathon. It’s an accomplishment that makes you work for it every time and I just keep coming back.

Here’s to the next.

The Boston Marathon Recap: 4.16.18

On April 16th, 2018 I ran my first Boston Marathon.

I knew the day would be epic, but I didn’t anticipate just how historic it would be. When you work to get somewhere for years, you can’t let anything stop you from living out the dream and crossing the finish line. Standing in the start corral with my poncho and pink dish gloves in the pouring rain I felt fearless and unstoppable. That’s the energy I knew I needed to get me through 26.2 brutal miles and I was ready. But let’s back up.

Flying into Boston on Friday I felt like a celebrity. I saved my Boston jacket for that morning before heading to the airport. It hung in my closet for months, but I didn’t so much as try it on. I wanted that moment of feeling done with training and rewarding myself for all my hard work when I got to the airport to head to Boston. Putting it on at 3:15 AM before heading to Ohare made the ridiculously early wake up a little easier. It felt good. I was proud. It was something I had worked toward for years. I couldn’t get the smile off my face. People were probably like “why is this girl so happy at 4am??” But I was. Getting to my gate and seeing multiple other people in their jackets made me feel like we were all in some really cool club. Boarding the plane came with congrats from the flight attendants and a few other passengers. It’s like people knew how much this meant to me. I could barely sit still the whole flight as my body buzzed with excitement.


Saturday was the day I picked up my bib. Jenny and I met up once she landed and headed straight to the Expo. It was overwhelming sure, as most expos are, but I felt like everyone was in the best mood. I smiled at everyone. I didn’t mind the crowd. We paused for photo opps and made the most of it. 15350 was the number – it was mine. This was happening. I kept feeling like I had to pinch myself.


Sunday was fun day (I mean the whole trip was), but this day was all about trying to remain calm. We went on one last shakeout run and it was almost as great of a run as the marathon itself because we ran right into MEB! We were right next to the finish line and he was walking past to take a picture at the memorial from the 2013 bombings. We stopped running and he waved us over to join him for the picture. After we took the picture he pulled us all in with his arms around us and gave us some advice I’ll never forget. He said we were running for those who can’t, the people we lost at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and for ourselves to celebrate our ability to move. We just had to focus on being grateful to be out there and we’d have an amazing race. He said the marathon is always hard, but be grateful for the hard. It was one of those moments where I felt myself hanging on every word trying to imprint it in my brain forever. I couldn’t believe this happened on a little 2.50 mile shakeout run, but it felt like fate. Thanks Meb.  I carried your words with me that next day and always will.


Sunday night after the Red Sox game and dinner with my Boston 365 team I was feeling pretty calm. Kyle went to stay with my family, but I stayed with Steph and Melissa. Jenny hung out with us for awhile – we talked game plan, wake up time, logistics, etc. We knew the weather was going to be horrendous. It was a high of 40 degrees, 40 mph winds, and constant rain. We were ready. We had our ponchos laid out and Jenny had a brilliant idea to go out and buy us dish gloves. She came back with 4 pairs of hot pink rubber gloves that went up to our elbows. I’m not kidding. And these gloves would end of being my life saver. After Jenny left and we were trying to relax/get tired I did get pretty anxious. As excited as I was, I was nervous. It was the Boston freakin’ Marathon after all. I wasn’t all that worried about the weather, but I was afraid the course itself was going to be brutal. I got in my head a little bit, but Melissa and Steph decided to sing musical soundtracks and all was right with the world. I can’t even say how glad I am that I had them to share my first Boston experience with. We talked for awhile and had trouble falling asleep, but it was almost time.

5.15am: alarm goes off.

Despite my panic over not waking up for my alarm, I was wide awake. I didn’t even feel like I slept, but I knew that would be the case. I got up, brushed my teeth, got dressed, grabbed my peanut butter toast and went downstairs to meet Jenny. We were lucky enough to have a meeting place in our hotel for our team and a bus was coming to pick us up right outside the front door.

6:30am: we boarded the buses.

We were able to walk right from the hotel covered circle drive onto our bus. Have I mentioned how amazing the Boston 365 program is? They spoiled us. I was surprisingly calm knowing I was still dry and would be for awhile. It took about an hour to get out to Hopkinton. We parked in a lot just a short walk from the athletes village where we’d stay for the next hour and a half or so. Once we stopped moving, my nerves heightened, but I was thankful to have so many calm, experienced runners around me. We all knew this was going to be rough, but everyone was in good spirits. And maybe the best thing about the bus? The bathroom on board. I could nervous pee as many times as I wanted without having to wait in a line in the rain – game changer. Jenny and I waited as long as we thought we should and then made our way to the outside world. We were excited, but there’s only so long you can sit still and watch people walk past outside the window in the pouring rain and crazy wind. We were ready to just get out there.


~9:45am: getting to the start line.

This part is a blur. The rain was coming down and even though we didn’t have to go far, we weren’t confident in what was happening. We got to the athlete village and found a van to stand behind with our feet under the bumper for another 15-20 minutes before they called our corral. Once they called us, we went over to the influx of people and stood and waited looking for Steph and Melissa. We probably stood there for another 10 minutes, but didn’t see them and felt like we were running out of time. So, we went to the start. Turns out we were at a dead stop for too long because people weren’t walking through the bathroom lines. There was no real way to know what was happening, so we waited as patiently as we could. But once we got up to a volunteer and said, “we’re wave 2 corral 8” and she said, “oh they all already left” – we panicked. So, we started running. We didn’t want to miss the start time of our first Boston Marathon. You know those stress dreams where you wake up late and find yourself sprinting a few miles to the start line (no just me??), well that’s what this felt like. We were RUNNING. We honestly probably ran close to a mile before we got to the start. And we didn’t even stop when the start line was in sight. Jenny helped me rip off my poncho as we crossed over the timing mat and all of a sudden we were running the Boston Marathon.


~10:30am: mile one.

I tried to take some deep breaths and realize what was happening. The start line was a cluster with this weather and it really didn’t feel real. I had to tell myself “this is really happening, I am running the Boston Marathon.” Jenny and I told each other again that we were calm and ready and we’d just stick together as long as we did: no plan. We were going to take this one mile at a time.

10:56am: 5K cross. (7:56 pace)

We were just cruising. We found a groove and we weren’t going to let this crazy weather stop us. To be honest, it was crowded. We found ourselves weaving a lot, but we were trying not to worry about it since there was nothing we could do. My biggest fear for this race was going out too fast. I DID NOT want to crash and burn. And I knew my energy would be up with this late in the day start time and all my anxiety around it. I’m proud of holding a 7:56 pace for the first 5K. It was fast, but not too fast or too slow. It was a perfect start.

12:14pm: half marathon cross. 1:42:52. (7:48 pace)

I’m skipping to the half way mark because the first half was pretty much a blur. The hardest part? Getting out fuel with soaking wet everything. At each water stop Jenny and I grabbed water and figured out where we’d attempt to take fuel. The first time – around mile 6-7 was the most difficult. We held each other’s rubber dish gloves while we were moving and got those little plastic packages open. It was tough.  But that doesn’t mean we weren’t having fun. At around mile 5 Jenny looked over at me and said, “Dale, we’re running the Boston Marathon.” At mile 7, I said, “this is 7 already?!” And each time we stepped over a time mat in lock step we said, “another text!” – thinking of our friends and family getting texts that we were still running together. It was great. I was so thankful for the company. We weren’t focusing on the toughness of it, but rather the epic-ness and I’m proud of us for that. We crossed the half way mark at 1:42:52 and Jenny looked at me and said, “Dale, I think you’re going to PR.” I laughed and said, “we will see” but we did pick up our pace a little and the idea was in my head. Could I? In these conditions??


1:09pm: 20 miles. 2:38:00. (8:00 pace)

To our amazement, Jenny and I were still together at 20 miles. We weren’t looking at our watches or worrying about time, but just trying to take it all in. We’d look out for our spectators, grab water, repeat. The miles FLEW BY. My Garmin never read an 8+ minute mile, but I guess we did slow down a bit before mile 20. The hills started kicking in around mile 17. I didn’t even know where Heartbreak Hill was exactly, but I was bracing myself. We had practiced on the hills out in Barrington for so many Saturdays, we knew we were prepared for this. The first big hill seemed intimidating, but we got to the top after passing a lot of people and I thought to myself “wow that wasn’t bad at all.” I saw my family right after the first one and I couldn’t get the smile off my face after that. I felt worse for them standing out in this weather just to watch me than I did about running in it. They were troopers and I was SO happy to see them on the course.


At some point in this set of miles a volunteer told me Des won. I’m not even sure which mile it was, but I was like “Really?! You’re serious?” I yelled. I was SO happy for her. I’d had that thought for a couple miles of the race picturing her breaking the tape knowing that in this brutal type of day she’d be a top contender. Hearing she had won while being out there was incredible. A huge thank you to that volunteer who told me. She must have known I would want to hear.

But back the to hills. We kept clicking them off one by one. And we kept weaving and passing people. It was such a confidence boost. Yes, the course was hard. And yes, the rain was coming down and the wind was wailing, but we were strong. We didn’t lose steam – we gained it. And that’s where Steph came in.

1:23pm: 35K. 2:51:37. (7:18 pace)

Peep that speed boost. I’ll call it the Steph/Des boost. So, right between mile 20 and 21 I heard someone calling my name. I shook it off at first feeling like I was hearing things (you know mile 20 brain), but I had the urge to turn around and check. Sure enough, it was Steph. She was yelling “Des won! Des won!” And she zoomed by. She was cruising. Jenny looked at me and said, “Should we go? I think I’m gonna go.” And I said go. I wasn’t ready to put it into high speed yet, but wanted her to go catch Steph. I held steady and kept them in sight. They were really only together for a minute and then Jenny kept going. I caught Steph and she said go catch Jenny. She was tuning with her headphones in and looked good, but I listened. I wanted to keep Jenny in my sights, so I picked it up. The pace really felt good. I was almost kicking myself for not picking it up sooner, but I had no idea what to expect with the hills. I didn’t want to lose all my energy by mile 21 after getting beaten down by hill after hill. The good news was I felt better than I had all race. And I told myself I was going to PR. I knew it.


1:49pm: 25.2 miles. 3:18:19. (7:40 pace)

The rain came down harder. I laughed. I really was smiling ear to ear. I tucked in behind tall guys when I could to try and block some wind. I kept an eye out for my family again since they said they would be near mile 25. I saw them from far enough away and was able to run up to them for high fives. I felt good. Their smiles and cheers brought me to tears. I glanced down at my watch for the first time in a while and saw a 3:18 on the clock. The tears came harder. I knew I had a new personal best in me. I was on track and I was running the FREAKIN’ BOSTON MARATHON. It’s hard for me to even put this into words. I didn’t want to waste any energy on crying, but I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t believe how good I still felt and how close I was. I kept my head up, eyes up, feet moving. I wiped my tears (not that it mattered in this rain). And I tossed my rubber gloves to the side. I had less than a mile to go. I had to focus.

1:57pm: finish line. 3:26:08. (7:52 pace)

Right on Hereford. Left on Boylston. I was repeating these words to myself for the last half mile. I knew what was coming even though I had never run this course before. The crowd was huge. The people were screaming and smiling in their ponchos. I was smiling big. And I was cruising. One of my biggest goals for every race I run is to have enough energy left to haul it in once the finish line is in sight. And Boston was no exception. I used the energy from the crowd. I thought about my years of hard work to get here. I thought about the history that had come before me. I used it all to propel me forward and I ran my heart out. That final stretch was my favorite moment and a moment I will never forget. It was just me. At least that’s what it felt like. I was becoming a Boston Marathoner. I stepped across that finish line, smiling, feeling tired and teary eyed, but happy. I was a Boston Marathoner. And I had a run a personal best of 2+ minutes.


6848 overall. 1378 gender. 1177 division.


The tears really came now. I am sure I ugly sobbed. An Instagram friend caught up to me and said she saw my doughnut shoes zoom by her at the end and tried to catch me, but couldn’t. She was so sweet. We congratulated each other and split up. I kept walking and crying. A volunteer put my medal around me and another gave me a hug and said, “You freakin’ did it!!” I ran into Maddie from Instagram too. We took a finisher photo and walked out together. It was so nice to have a friend at that moment. It was like an out of body experience. We parted ways to head back and find our families. I almost made it back myself. My body felt pretty good, tired of course, but I wasn’t limping or anything. I just felt a little lost, so I called Kyle and he found me. We took an escalator down to my family and I cried again. I was so grateful they were all there to celebrate with me. I’d be nothing without my support system and it really meant the world to me to share this experience with them.


I was proud. It was a blur, but an amazing blur. I took in as much as I could and I can honestly say I enjoyed every mile. I kept all negative thoughts out of my head. I never once told myself, “Wow this is miserable.” or “Ugh I don’t know how I will do this for 26.2 miles.” I stayed positive and that made me strong. I was grateful for all my tough training in harsh weather and my ability to focus on the good. Nothing could have stopped me from getting to that finish line. The PR was just icing. I learned just how tough I am that day. And the true power of positive thinking. When things get tough you can push through or bail out, those are your options. I pushed through. I had fun. I became a Boston Marathoner.

Boston, I love you. This race stole my heart, and I will be back to run it year after year for every year I am able. There’s nothing like it.


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.

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.

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.”

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.


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.

Race Recap: Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon & 5K

Race. Beer. Repeat. The theme of my Dublin Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend.

I was lucky enough to run my first Rock ‘n’ Roll remix challenge in another country! It was one of my favorite race weekends to date and I thought I’d share a little bit about why.

Rock ‘n’ Roll races are always a lot of fun. I’ve done a few different ones now, but never in another country. I originally signed up for the half marathon, but as the trip got closer I figured why not run the 5K the day before too? I’m always up for extra bling.

The expo on Friday was low key and easy to get through. I actually paid for the 5K when I went to pick up my packet. Couldn’t make it out without purchasing an extra shirt, but hey I was in vacation mode.

I didn’t have any time expectations for either race. I wasn’t planning on any personal records with the way I had been fueling throughout the trip, but I wanted to at least have a little bit of speed.

Saturday, August 12th – 5K

11 AM start. 55 degrees. No rain. I toed the start line and felt ready to give it a go. The 5K is a tough distance for me because I feel like “wow this is uncomfortable” the entire time. I much prefer the marathon so I can ease into the discomfort, but at least the 5K goes by really quickly. I felt great my first mile. A 7:05. My second mile I started having some pretty bad stomach cramps. I wasn’t nauseous, but I wasn’t feeling great. I slowed down a bit as I hoped it would pass. 7:20. By mile 3 I knew I just had to get to the finish line. The sun was shining and I was warm. I started thinking about how badly I wanted some water and decided to just pick up my pace a little bit. Mile 3 ended up being my fastest at 6:50. I crossed the line and felt proud of my effort. Was it a PR or all I was capable of? No. Was it a great effort? Yes. 21:55. I’m so glad I decided to add this race in!

Sunday, August 13th – Half Marathon

The energy walking over to the half marathon start line was incredible. Everyone had a smile on their face. The corrals were pretty crowded, but I was able to slide into mine about 10 minutes before race start. Music was blasting. People were excited. I didn’t have headphones in. I actually haven’t run with music in a very long time. I feel better racing without it so I can really pay attention to how I’m feeling and take in the atmosphere.

I crossed the start line and settled into a comfortable pace. I wasn’t going to run at my fastest speed, but I wanted to hold a strong pace. My first few miles were all 7:25 and I wanted to ease off a bit. It was such a beautiful place to run and I was seeing parts of the city I’d never seen. We ran from new Dublin, through old Dublin, to Phoenix Park. I slowed to about a 7:40 average and held it.

The weather was in the 50s and we had overcast so it was just about ideal running conditions. I did have one complaint for the day though: the water. Instead of paper cups at the water stops they had plastic water bottles – rows and rows of plastic bottles. I’d guess they were 10 oz. bottles and most people would take two sips and then throw them. Not only did this bother me because of the waste of plastic and lack of recycling, but also because they were so easy to roll your feet on. They were crowding the streets and rolling all over. It seemed like such a hazard to me. I’ve never ran a race with so many plastic bottles before. Not sure how common this is abroad? But at least I was able to have water.

The energy was high the entire race. Everyone around me seemed to be having a good time. The bands along the course were great. Live music really adds something to a race course.

I was suffering some digestive discomfort. I tried to eat a couple Clif Bloks but could only stomach one. I was going to peel off the course to find a bathroom, but I realized I only had a few more miles to go so I should just tough it out. This happens. I’m sure no runner is a stranger to it – but it’s not fun!

I chose to ignore it and focus on the finish line. The end of the course was pretty and had a lot of enthusiastic spectators. I picked up my pace a bit as I cruised through the end of the race.

With the finish line in sight I booked it. Threw my hands up. Smiled. I live for that finish line feeling. I crossed in 1:40:40. A strong time all things considered.

I didn’t just get one medal – I got THREE! My half marathon medal, my remix challenge medal, and a world rocker medal for completely two Rock ‘n’ Roll races in 2017 in different countries. It’s fun to earn so many medals in one weekend.

Post-race area was open and grassy. The band was playing. Beer was served. Really impressed by the way the end of the race was handled!

Kyle finished his 10K just a little before I finished the half due to a little bit of a late start on his end and a lot of weaving for starting so far back, but he had a great time. This was the farthest he’d ever run and he looked happy after. I was pretty proud.

Destination races are always fun, but I love knowing I can count on how well run a Rock ‘n’ Roll race will be. This race weekend just made me want to run all the other races they have! It’ll take me awhile, but it’s a goal I’d love to complete. And I’m always trying to add states to my 50 state goal, so knowing these races are all over will help.

Highly recommend this race weekend!