Winter Running Fixes

It’s no secret that training through a Chicago winter is tough. But if I’m being honest, winter is my favorite season to train in. I just think you have to be prepared.

1. Have people to meet.

I am way more likely to get up early on a cold Saturday morning if I’m going to meet friends. It’s so easy to cancel on yourself. You can just roll over, hit snooze, and say you’ll run later. In the summer I always want to go early to beat the heat, but that isn’t an issue in the winter. So, having a group or a few friends to meet is way more motivating.

2. Be flexible

If ice is bad on Saturday, run on Sunday. If you know a snowstorm will hit at the weekend, maybe run longer during the week. Weather is unpredictable during Chicago winters, but I try my best to plan my schedule so I can run safely and outdoors. I am not a treadmill person, so I’ll do whatever it takes to be outside. Most of the time, this requires me to be flexible.

3. Have the right gear.

I’ll expand more on this later, but having warm gear makes a huge difference for winter running. I swear by a wool base layer, fleece tights, wool socks, and proper shoes. You’ll want to keep your feet as comfortable as possible. When my feet are cold, my whole body is cold.

I’ve been running in the new Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2s recently and can attest that they fit wool socks nicely and do a good job of keeping my feet warm. Since they’re so light to start, they don’t feel as weighed down by snow or rain. Finding the right shoes is crucial for being a happy runner anytime of year.

4. Make your goals prominent.

I try to put motivation on my refrigerator so I see it every day. I write out my time goals, my goal race and put something up from the race itself. It motivates me to get outside when I see that in the morning before I go face the cold.

5. Sign up for a couple fun races.

I think a warm weather destination race is a great escape from winter. I usually go somewhere for a fun race in February for my birthday and I look forward to it through all my December/January training. I think I’m more motivated when I have a fun race in the future. Try it!

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

You remember that phrase “what you don’t know, won’t hurt you” ? I was getting ready for bed tonight and this popped into my head. I don’t agree with it. I think what you don’t know can hurt you.

And that’s coming from someone who struggles with anxiety. I can’t fall asleep most nights because I’m thinking of the 19184719 things that could happen the next day. Things I worry about, things that probably won’t happen. But it’s crazy to me how fast your situation can change – for better or worse.

I think there is a fine line between oversharing and sharing enough of the human side of yourself on Instagram. I try not to overshare. But I also think there’s something to be said for sharing real things that other people might be going through as a way to find authentic connection through a platform.

I’m not going to get into all the details of my personal health problems right now. The truth is, I still don’t have any answers yet. And I don’t really want to talk about the “what.” I want to talk about the “why.” Why fearing the unknown can feel as bad as having bad answers. Why not knowing what’s wrong can eat at me all day long, even when it shouldn’t.

I try to put things into perspective each day. I personally know so many people facing tough challenges. Life beats people up, good people who don’t deserve it. I feel other people’s feelings and I forever wish there was a button I could hit to take pain away from people I love. But there isn’t. And the more I think about it the more I think not knowing what the future holds is one of the scariest things.

I get the whole “just try not to worry about the future” idea. Relax. Be here. It sounds easy enough. But really, who can do that? I know I’m a worrier, but is there seriously anyone out there that never worries or has a negative thought or fear about the future? It’s hard for me to not think the worst. When I feel chest pain, I think heart problem. And then my anxiety makes it worse. I know this. But not having a concrete answer makes me crazy.

It’s not that I would want a whole life timeline, or to know exactly what would happen to me every day, but sometimes I wish answers were more clear.

This is rambl-y and doesn’t really have a point. Word vomit from a phone screen when I was too worked up to drift off to sleep. But sometimes I think words & feelings are worth sharing.

Basically, I think my point is, not knowing what’s next or not knowing what’s wrong can be exhausting. And if you’re just hanging in there, that’s okay.

I have to hang on to the idea that everything will be okay. For me, for you, for anyone who needs to hear it. Hang in there.

Miles in Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2s

Post marathon time for me means less mileage and time to reset. I take a look at what worked and what new things I want to try. Usually, trying new shoes is something I’m most excited about.

What I’m running in right now: the new Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2.

Mizunos are new to me. It’s my first time running in the brand, but I’m excited to share what I think of this pair.

Here’s what they look like:

Cute, right? I was really happy when I opened the box. I haven’t had a black pair of running shoes in a long time and I love how easily they match with everything. They’re knit, so they’re breathable. I slipped them on and noticed how comfortable they were immediately.

I’ve been walking in these guys a lot lately too, in addition to running. I wear running clothes a lot of the time, so I’m happy these shoes go well with my outfits and offer my feet the support they need. No shame in my walk to work running shoe game. I always told my Dad I’d never become that woman, but here I am. Comfort over everything most days. And then if I want to run home? I’m ready! I’ve been doing that more and more lately and I like being ready to go at any time.

So let’s talk motion. Mizuno is focusing on “Fit In Motion” with these. Meaning they know your foot changes shape when pounding the pavement and they want these shoes to be comfortable at all times. The shoes almost feel like socks because of how easily they slide on and how snug they are on my feet. There’s plenty of support, but they’re also light and responsive. When my feet swell a bit after some miles, the shoe responds. They don’t feel too tight or restrictive.

I like trying new things, but they don’t always work out. This new pair of shoes was a nice surprise. I’ve got a lot of miles to put in on these and I’m excited for where they’ll take me.

The Boston Dream

The Boston Dream: To Conquer the Original.

I decided I would one day run the Boston Marathon before I had ever run a marathon. I had run some half marathons and I knew I really enjoyed running, but the marathon was a distant dream for me. 26.2 miles? At a sub 8 minute pace? Crazy.

In August of 2014 I went to Boston for the first time as an anniversary trip and one morning I decided to lace up and run to the finish line. I stopped when I got there and kind of just stared at it. It’s weird to feel like paint on concrete is emotional, but I was overcome with emotion standing there. I stood for a few minutes, decided I was going to cross it for real one day, and jogged home. I bought a Boston Strong shirt and I wrote down in a notebook: “I am going to be a Boston Marathoner.”

I wrote it down, so I had to make it happen, right?

I ran my first full marathon in October of 2014. I didn’t train with a group, I didn’t do a lot of speed workouts, and I didn’t think a BQ would be attainable any time soon. When I said I would cross the Boston Marathon finish line some day, I meant it – but I didn’t say how long it would take. Who knew. I figured I might have to wait until I was in my 40s or 50s. I finished that first marathon with a 4:13:20. I was so proud. And I thought, I’m faster than that.

Fall of 2015: the trail marathon. I had what I would call my worst marathon in terms of how I felt. I was under fueling pretty consistently, I bonked, I cried, I in all honesty did not enjoy it. But I crossed the finish line in a 3:53:33. A 20 minute PR when I was feeling horrible. Part of me doubted that I could ever run faster than that, but the little Boston dream in my head made me want to try again.

Fall of 2016: I joined a running group. I started taking speed work and eating well seriously. I started eating to fuel my runs rather than eating for what I thought would make me look a certain way. I gave into my appetite. Because marathon training makes me HUNGRY. It should. And you should eat to fuel your goals. I still had a similar attitude throughout this training cycle as I had in the past. I didn’t know that I would have a stronger race, but I knew I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to smile. I needed a new marathon experience where I felt good. And that’s what Chicago 2016 was for me. I ran strong. I had energy left for the last 6 miles. Arielle ran up to me at mile 24 and said, “Dale are you going to Boston?” I screamed in her face (and had to apologize profusely later), but it was kind of an out of body experience. Her words stuck with me for those last few miles and I thought, this is it. Yes. I am getting my BQ. I kicked it into high gear. I tapped into that dreamer in me who knew I was capable. I had a negative split. I flew for the last few miles. And I crossed that finish line with a 3:33:53 (yes flipped those exact numbers for another 20 minute PR)! The best part? I felt amazing and I was smiling. I had my first Boston qualifying time (sub 3:35 for my age group).

Now, the timing with Chicago Marathon means you can’t apply for Boston until the following fall. I was proud of my time, but I knew it would be hard to wait a year to apply and risk not actually getting in. I toyed with this decision for a long time, but I knew I had earned my spot at Boston 2018. I wanted it. So, I didn’t want to risk not getting in with my 3:33 since Boston takes the fastest people first if they have too many applicants.

After a shorter training cycle in the summer of 2017 I decided to race a last chance to BQ in Grand Rapids in September – the weekend before applications for Boston 2018 opened. This marathon is a flat loop course designed specifically for people trying to BQ. I think it’s mentally more difficult than a major marathon, but at least you can kind of zone out and just go round and round. I had an incredible support system there that day that helped me get to that finish line. I hurt at the end. I kept frantically checking my watch thinking I had lost my goal time. But I had Steph next to me for the entire race and she said, “Dale if you look at your damn watch one more time I’m taking it and throwing it.” So I stopped looking. Sometimes you have to ignore your brain and all your control freak tendencies and just have a little faith. We turned the corner and saw Arielle and Jenny jumping up and down screaming at me to run faster. They hopped in with about a tenth of a mile to go and we all crossed that finish line together in 3:30:54. I can’t even say how grateful I was for them that day. I needed the extra support. And I knew I had it. I was going to Boston 2018.

Sure, I still had to wait to apply and get confirmation of acceptance. And those days waiting for that email were filled with anxiety and doubt. What if everyone was even faster that year? What if I didn’t do enough? But I had to wait. I had done all I could. Years and years of work for a dream I carried with me every day came down to an email.

I was sitting in a meeting with my phone in my lap, when I saw the notification. I discreetly opened it under the table and saw it: “Congratulations! This is to notify you that your entry into the 122nd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2018 has been accepted.”

I had chills.

I teared up immediately and had to remain calm hoping no one noticed. I waited until the meeting was over, went back to my desk and did a happy dance. It was the best email I have ever received. I was going.

With the pressure off, I was still planning to run the Chicago Marathon a few weeks later for fun. I had no time goal since I’d already locked in my spot. But the beautiful thing? Running without pressure is amazing. I stuck with Cait the whole time and crossed that finish line with a 3:28:30. Another 2+ minute PR and a BQ for 2019. It was unreal.

For me, this training cycle has been all about staying healthy. I know not putting pressure on myself works for me. It’s easier said than done, but that is what I have been focusing on this winter. After all this work I didn’t want to do anything stupid and hurt myself before I got to the start line. I have an incredible team behind me who have helped me stay healthy and become a stronger version of myself. I have so many people supporting me and rooting for me who have made this journey all the more worth it.

I get to run the Boston Marathon one week from today. I could type that over and over and it still won’t feel real. I’m having “pinch me” moments every day. I know I earned this spot. I worked so hard to earn it. It wasn’t luck and it wasn’t a fluke. I consistently worked hard and dedicated myself to this dream for the past three and a half years because I knew I was capable. You have to believe in yourself because if you don’t, who else will? It starts with you. In 2014, little inexperienced half marathoner me had no real reason to believe she would qualify for Boston, but it was a dream I wanted to work toward.

So I did.

And at this time next week I will be a Boston Marathoner and that is pretty freaking cool.

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.

Dear Future Marathoner Me

So, why did you sign up to run 26.2 miles? 

I’ll bet you’re scared thinking about having to run just 14 miles. Or 17. Or 20. You’ve never run more than 13.1, so why do you think you can do this?

You know you like a challenge. You know you can accomplish a goal if you put in the work. You know you love that half marathon finish line feeling, so the marathon has to be even better. You know that it won’t be easy and not everyone can do it, but good things come from hard things. 

I know you’re going to have a few freak outs. You’re going to question why you signed up. You’re going to regret staying in on some Friday nights as a 21 year old. You’re going to doubt you’ll ever be able to run for 4 hours. But guess what? It’s worth it. And here’s some advice to help you get there. 

Take it one day at a time 

THIS is probably the most valuable thing I learned. If you start looking at your September mileage and your 40+ mile week in week one, you’re going to feel a little intimidated. Just look at the week you’re in. You can look ahead to your upcoming long run, but don’t start thinking ahead to the 20 miler. Run the miles you should today. And do the same tomorrow. Take it one day at a time. 

Don’t be scared 

You’re allowed to feel a little nervous. This is new. This is a challenge. But do not be fearful. What are you really scared of? Scared you’ll run farther than ever before? Scared you’ll like it? Or scared you won’t? Fear can be hindering and I promise there’s really nothing to be afraid of. 

Celebrate every new distance personal best 

I want you to be proud of every single long run. Be proud of each new “farthest run” your Garmin chimes in to show you. Getting to that marathon start line isn’t about one huge run or one great week of training. It’s about a collection of efforts day in and day out for months at a time. That takes dedication. And you deserve to celebrate every hour of hard work you put in. Treat yourself to that post-run latte. Go buy a new running outfit when you reach over 13 miles. Celebrate yourself. 

Get enough sleep

If you want to have the energy to run for hours you’re going to need to be well rested. I get it – you’re 21 and feel like you can sleep when you’re dead, but sleep is more important than you think. Sleep helps your muscles recover. You need it. Some days will be harder than others, but try to prioritize sleep as much as you do the actual runs – it’s all part of training. 

Set an attainable goal

You don’t know how you will feel at mile 20. You don’t know if you’ll hit the wall.  And you’ve never run a marathon before so why set a time goal? I strongly believe that the only goal for a first marathon should be to finish feeling good. I get that you could estimate a finishing time based on your half marathon time, but this is a very different distance. Finishing should be the goal. There shouldn’t be any disappointment in your finishing time. We can talk time goals after you’re on your second full training cycle. 

Find your jams

You’re going to have some quiet solo runs, so you’ll want something motivating playing in your ears. For long runs, check out Rich Roll’s podcast. Time will fly by listening to inspiring stories. For speed workouts? Find your pump up songs. And anything you find that gives you the feels. The “I want this playing as I cross the finish line” thing? Start adding those songs to your race playlist. I know you won’t forget Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine, Stronger by Kelly Clarkson, or Schoolin’ Life by Beyoncé. 

Eat enough

This one is tough, but try. Don’t think about calories in/calories out. If you burn 1500+ calories in a run, you need to refuel your body. And not with junk. Don’t get home, eat some pretzels and think that’s enough. Don’t skip a meal just because you know you’ll be drinking that night. Your body is working hard to achieve a goal for you, so help it out. Treat it well. Fuel up with substantial meals – that includes the night before your long run. Put some effort into your meal. If you feel lightheaded while running, think about why. You can’t expect to run for hours on an empty stomach. Have some toast before you head out. Bring your Clif Bloks to eat every 30 minutes throughout your run. You might not think you need them, but you do. And you’ll need to get your stomach used to them. It’s okay to not have this all down your first time around, but you love what your body can accomplish, so treat it with respect. And here’s a spoiler: by marathon three you’ll have no shame in your post-run breakfast game. 

Don’t skip your cross training 

I know you love to run and that’s all you make time for, but trust me on this: you need to cross train. Bike occasionally. Try yoga. Do your hip exercises. Lift some weights. Skimping on this area will catch up to you. So, be smart. You’ll help prevent injuries if you dedicate some time to some other exercises besides running. 

Focus on hydration 

This sounds a little silly, but you should practice your water intake. With half marathon training you haven’t needed that much water – an occasional stop at a water fountain wasn’t a big deal. But with marathon training, you’ll want to carry water on you. Get a water belt. Drink before you’re thirsty. Get your body used to taking in fluids while you’re moving. This is a crucial part of a marathon. And if you really want to look like a pro? Get some paper cups and practice drinking out of them while doing a slow jog (maybe somewhere without a lot of visibility since people will probably judge you). Drinking out of a cup while moving really does take some practice. Bend it and take small sips. Yes, some will end up on you, but that isn’t the worst thing. One little practice session and I’ll bet people won’t peg you for a first timer. 

Find your support system 

Guess what? When you tell people you’re training for a marathon, they might think you’re a little crazy. You’ll get a lot of responses like “Oh wow I can’t even run one mile” or “Be careful you don’t want to destroy your knees.” Everyone has their own opinion and that’s okay, but you’ll want to surround yourself with people who support you, even if they don’t get it. You’ll want your friends to be willing to stay in with you some Friday nights or for your boyfriend to show up at 5 AM to watch your race. You’ll feel more motivated if you have supportive people to vent to. Positive, supportive people matter more than you know. You won’t be the runner you are without their support. And don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and join a team later on. Supportive people who understand your crazy love of running are the best kind of friends (and you’re going to find some absolutely amazing ones). 

Dedicate each mile to a person

When it comes to race day you’ll appreciate having some distractions. Take in the crowd. Feel grateful for every step you’re taking. And think about what it took to get you there. The week before the marathon I want you to think about everyone that played a part in your journey. Take out a piece of paper and label it 1-26. Write down the name of a person that helped you get to where you are for each number. Memorize it. And while you’re running that specific mile: dedicate it to them. Thank them. Think of them. It will help the race fly by. How cool is it that you have that many supportive people in your life? You’re lucky. And that last 0.2? That’s for you. 

Trust your training 

Through all of this I want you to have faith in yourself. Trust your body. Trust your hard work. You will be able to do this. You work hard for months so you can be prepared come race day. You’ll be prepared. Try to remain relaxed through training and trust the plan. Not every run will go how you want it to. Not every week will be perfect. You might miss a few days of training. You might skip a long run. THAT IS OKAY. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Marathon training is a learning process (that never changes whether it’s your first or your tenth). So, learn. Learn what works. Learn what doesn’t. But always always trust in yourself. You have to. 

Right now you do not know how much of an impact this journey and this race will have on you. I know you’re thinking you’ll be a one and done kind of girl. You think you can cross 26.2 miles off your bucket list and move on. It’s okay to think that way. It’s okay if that’s what you decide. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: you’re a marathoner at heart. This is your distance. You and marathons have a lot ahead of you. New personal bests, new destinations, new lessons learned. No marathon is the same. No training cycle is the same. So remember that as you work through your first one. You and the marathon? You’re about to have a lifelong relationship. 

I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life. 

“Why do you run marathons?”

I was standing in Starbucks yesterday morning when a coworker asked me in all seriousness: “Why do you run marathons? Why put yourself through that instead of just running half marathons or shorter distances?”

I was actually speechless for a minute because I haven’t been asked that question in a long time and I realized I had quite the answer. She honestly wanted to know, so I told her. And of course I consultated by squad group text to see what they had to say and we all had similar answers. So, I thought I’d share with you all. 

This is why I run marathons:

  • The marathon demands respect.

My favorite thing about the marathon distance is that you can’t fake your training. You have to put in work if you want to cross that finish line feeling good. You can’t just run once or twice a week and hope for the best. If you want to have a strong race for 26.2 miles then you have to put in weeks and weeks of hard work and lots of miles. But the great thing? If you respect the marathon distance, it respects you. 

  • Early peaceful training mornings.

Few things beat peaceful morning runs along the lake. When my 5:30 AM alarm goes off I don’t always want to lace up and go, but once I’m out there breathing in the fresh air and watching the sunrise I’m happy. These morning runs add up and make the marathon seem more attainable with each one. It’s “me time” that lets me focus on improvement and my goals. I miss them when I’m not training. It really is my favorite way to start the day. 

  • Not everyone can.

I don’t take my health for granted. I train to improve my fitness and do something great with my health. Not everyone has this option. I run for those who can’t. I run for those who used to be able to, but no longer can. I run for those who wish they could commit to the training. I truly run to get more out of my life and I know so many people can’t run marathons and some day I might not be able to either, but that time is not now and I will continue to improve and love the distance for as long as I can. 

  • The running community.

I have always loved the running community. Starting a running Instagram did so much for my daily motivation and the sense of not feeling along in my marathon journey. Fleet Feet Racing Team brought me friends to do speed workouts with and this winter the Boston 365 group brought me friends to do long runs with. These girls get me more than most people in my life. We know we’re all a little crazy, but we get the crazy. We push each other. We motivate each other. And we have so much fun while working so hard. I loved every single early morning with these women and our race weekend was a blast. It’s amazing to find a group of people that understand and support you. I am so incredibly grateful for the friendships this past training cycle brought me. 

  • The finish line feeling.

The finish line of a marathon is unlike any other distance. Yes I do love half marathons and testing my speed at 5Ks, but the finish line just isn’t the same for me. Having just run for hours and hours and putting 18 weeks of hard work to the test culminates with a finish line and the emotions I feel there are so real. The elation. The surprise. The happiness. Conquering 26.2 miles never gets any easier, but that finish line feeling is never any less amazing. 

I know I will continue to love running no matter what distances I run, but the marathon distance is my true love. I love to work toward improving my marathon time. I want to get to Boston. I enjoy all the miles along the way. I am a marathoner because it helps me get the most out of my days and I will continue to run them for as long as I can. Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment. 

Camp BKB with CLIF! 

I made the goal to say “yes” more this year. Yes to new experiences. Yes to adventure. Yes to getting out of my comfort zone. 

I am the most comfortable when I’m running. I’m active in a lot of ways, but running is definitely my thing. Who says I can’t find some new favorites? Rock climbing intimidates me because I’m not a natural, but I always have the most fun when I try new things. 

Camp BKB with CLIF this past Friday gave me the chance to explore and “climb a different way.” It’s not always about the direct path. Sometimes it seems to be the easy route, but do you really get the most out of taking the easy route? I don’t. Life is definitely not linear which is why I don’t approach things that way. Climbing is fun because it’s challenging and you always have the option to go your own way. The goal is the same: reach the top. But no one tells you exactly how to get there. 

It was so much fun for me to spend a Friday night surrounded by people who want to challenge themselves, but still have fun. Fun is key. I still need more practice to get really comfortable with climbing, but I know I get a little better each time. 

The timing of this event was perfect (nicely done CLIF) because it was Earth Day on April 22nd and we talked a lot about sustainability. My favorite part of the night was the storytelling from adventurers who truly appreciate the outdoors and the planet we live on. 

I am so grateful for trail running and beautiful forests. I would be devastated if I lost the opportunities to go explore nature. Our planet is the only one we have and we need to take care of it. A major takeaway for me from one of the stories was the phrase “We all live here.” There are many different ways to take it, but I like the idea of it talking about our planet. We all find happiness here, go on adventures here, find new interests here. We should all work together to take care of our home. One way we can take care of our planet is to support companies or brands with sustainability values. 

CLIF is a favorite brand of mine because of what they stand for (and their great products of course). They want everyone to “Think like a tree.” Their approach to sustainability can be summed up in those four words. From field to final product everything is eco-friendly – you can’t beat that! CLIF is working to “Sustain Our Planet” and we can help. Little actions add up to big ones. 

How can you help sustain our planet? It’s okay to start small. Recycle your wrappers. Walk or bike to work instead of driving. Start a garden. Anything you can do to show our planet some love! 

Thankful to have CLIF helping to keep our planet sustainable and for feeding my adventures. 

My Best Training Cycle Yet Thanks To My Run Group

It’s amazing to me how far you can come as a runner in just a few months. This is my fourth time going through a marathon training cycle, but the first one I’ve had a group for my long runs. Joining Fleet Feet’s Boston 365 program was the best decision I’ve made this year. 

I’ve always had running buddies. My friend Lex got me into running when we got to college and I started out doing all my runs with her. She got me through my first 20 miler and inspired me to run my first marathon. I couldn’t have done it without her and it made me realize how much a support system helps. 

The last couple marathon training cycles I trained alone for a majority of the time. I’m used to it. I usually raced alone and I like my own company. I still do. But when I moved to Chicago last February I wanted to meet some new people and find some running buddies, so I joined Fleet Feet Racing Team. 

I’ve been with the team on Wednesday nights doing speed workouts for over a year now and I can’t say enough how much it has helped with my overall speed. And I met girls and formed friendships that were just so much fun. Speed workouts are wayyy less fun alone. 

I heard about the Boston 365 group and was intrigued because I wanted to test out training for a marathon in the winter. Arielle (who I met through racing team) and I had one glass of wine when we met up in December and decided to both sign up for the Nashville Marathon and train with the Boston group. And we’re glad we did. 

I didn’t know what we’d find with the group, but here’s what I did:


Right off the bat everyone I met was inspiring. Everyone has a past, a story, a goal for the future. Whether it was running related or not, I felt myself wanting to chase new goals just from meeting new people. 


You know when you meet a group of people that just get you? They too know how hard it is to go out on a Friday night and pretend you’re having so much fun when all you’re thinking about is your 6 AM alarm and how you should be at home drinking water. We joke about it, but it honestly helps so much to have people that understand you and have the same problems. 


Some days you just don’t feel like running, but when you have a constant group text going about who is running when (and how far), you find yourself wanting to get out the door. Having running buddies to hang out with while getting the miles in makes such a difference. 


The stories shared during our runs are priceless. I find myself cracking up every week. Or when we’re done running and attempting to change and function like real adults but just can’t get it together. These women are funny and it makes all this training that much more fun.  


I didn’t have as high of hopes going into this as I should have. I had no idea I could run 20 miles at 8:06 average pace on crazy hills. I didn’t know my race pace would really become 7:50-8:00 average. But good things are happening. I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard without this group. And the fact that we are all this fast and are chasing down Boston has given me the confidence I needed. We can do this. 


You bond when you spend 5 hours together every Saturday, running hills, sharing problems, giving advice. There’s something great about having uninterrupted time. I’ve called it “our Barrigton world.” We leave the real world for a bit to do what we love. Nothing beats it. Strangers have turned into friends. Friends who support me and encourage a weekly brunch habit. What more could I want??

I know this training cycle isn’t even over yet, but I already know it has been my best one and I have a really good feeling about this marathon. I’ve never run an entire marathon with anyone by my side, let alone women I’ve actually trained for months with. I’m confident in all of us and really think we can stick together and have fun while running our goal pace. Fingers crossed. 

So, if you’re thinking about joining a running group, I say go for it. Get out of your comfort zone. Make some friends. Push your training. I hope you’re as lucky as I am and find a group that offers you so much more than just people to run next to on Saturday mornings. I hope you find inspiration, understanding, motivation, laughter, confidence, and friendship. 

And to my new found badass friends, thank you. 

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