A good training cycle?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a “good training cycle” lately. I am one week out from the Chicago Marathon. It will be my 4th Chicago Marathon and my 9th full marathon. I have done the training thing a little differently each time and I have learned a lot along the way. Do I feel like this time around was a good one? Yes. I think so.

(Photo: Aaron Ross Stories)

I got a late start to marathon training this time. I usually like to train for 17-18 weeks, but I needed an extra long recovery period after the Boston Marathon, so I didn’t actually start training for Chicago until the second weekend of July. To be honest, feeling behind wasn’t great for me mentally. My first few weeks of training felt awkward, difficult and not very fun. I even thought about withdrawing from the marathon. I don’t like to do things unless I give them my all. That is true for just about everything in my life, but especially marathons. I know it isn’t smart to go into a marathon under trained or feeling unhealthy, so I sat with this decision for a bit. But after a few weeks of slogging it out I started to feel like myself again. Runs started feeling easier and I had some speed back in my legs. So, I decided I was going to run this marathon after all and I was going to give it my all for the next 10 weeks.

The heat was pretty brutal this summer. And I won’t sit here and say that every single run I had from August on was amazing – it wasn’t. But I committed. I got out there when I didn’t want to, I struggled through some tough runs, and I got stronger. My peak week this time was lower mileage than my Boston training cycle. I cut a few tempo runs short. And my monthly mileage totals were a little lower than what I usually do, but I felt good. I felt like I was putting in solid work. I was running injury free and I was happy with my return to the grind.

So, this all got me thinking. What makes a good training cycle? Is it hitting 50+ miles a week? Is it running injury free? Is it not skipping any runs? Is it feeling consistently mentally strong? This answer depends on the person. I’d love to hear what you think. But I wanted to decide if for me, this training cycle was a “good one.”

Despite the late start and the first few weeks of struggle, here was my “good”:

  • I logged a long run every weekend.
  • I shuffled around my schedule to make my training work with my life.
  • I had two of the strongest speed workouts I’ve ever had.
  • I avoided over training.
  • I made it to yoga once a week.
  • I strength trained 1-2x a week.
  • I used running time as friend time when I could.
  • I reminded myself why I love marathon training.

So to me, this was a good training cycle. It wasn’t perfect by any means and I think on paper my Boston training cycle was a little stronger. But I felt good throughout these past couple of months and I am proud of myself for getting back into this sport I love. I juggled some life changes, I kept up my social life, I had a fun summer and I still logged important, happy, fast, slow and therapeutic miles.

I actually think the way I treated my training this time around was the healthiest yet. I worked hard, but I didn’t let it stress me out. I ran because I wanted to run. And I wasn’t taking my ability to train for granted. I logged my easy runs easier than ever and I ran my fast reps faster than ever. I recovered well. I took my nutrition seriously. And I can say tonight that I am truly looking forward to toeing the start line of my 9th marathon next Sunday.

I love the marathon distance. I love that you can’t cheat it. It’s always hard, you’ll have to believe in yourself to get to the finish, but you’ll also see your true strength. Am I going to PR again on Sunday? I don’t know. Am I going to enjoy every step? Yes. I love the Chicago Marathon so much and I am feeling grateful for the chance to run again. I’ll do what I always do – I’ll run the first half with my head and the second half with my heart. No matter what the time on the clock says, I will be proud of another marathon training cycle conquered and another marathon finish line crossed.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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~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.

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~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??

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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.

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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.

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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.

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6848 overall. 1378 gender. 1177 division.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Boston Marathon Training: Week Five to Week Twelve

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK FIVE – 31.31 miles

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

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

WEEK SIX – 30.80 miles

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

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

WEEK SEVEN – 29.93 miles

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

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

WEEK EIGHT – 49.82 miles

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

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

WEEK NINE – 45.55 miles

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

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

WEEK TEN – 21.03 miles

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

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

WEEK ELEVEN – 47.85 miles

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

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

WEEK TWELVE – 36.36 miles

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

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

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

Boston Marathon Training: Week Four

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

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

Here’s what week four looked like!

January 22nd-28th: 37.55 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston Marathon Training: Week Three

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

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

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

Here’s what week three looked like:

January 15th-January 21st: 35.52 miles 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on week four!

Boston Marathon Training: Week One & Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 1st – January 7th: 27.39 miles

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

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

January 8th – January 14th: 35.06 miles

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

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

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

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

Mileage will keep increasing with week 3!

2017 Race & Mileage Recap!

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

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

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

January – 140 miles

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

February – 169.47 miles

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

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

March – 195.81 miles

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

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

April – 56.22 miles

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

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

May – 21.20 miles

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

June – 117.25 miles

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

July – 152.88 miles

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

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

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

August – 172.91 miles

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

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

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

September – 104.57 miles

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

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

October – 66.65 miles

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

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

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

November – 71.80 miles

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

December – 75.80 miles

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

1,344.56 total miles for 2017.

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

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

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

2017 Goals: What Happened

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

Bet you know what it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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