Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Best Motivation

If you have ever trained for a marathon, you know how tough the last week before taper can be. You are near the end of the cycle. You have been running high mileage for many weeks. You have been doing big, hard workouts for many weeks and often have your BIGGEST and hardest workouts this week. You are tired. AND, the race is getting close so the butterflies start to flutter... and you are both looking forward to and dreading taper. (Is it just me??) I have two weeks and 3 days until race day, and am just a few runs away from being at taper time. Tallahassee Marathon is on Feb. 8! :)

Yesterday I had what was my hardest workout out this training cycle.  The run was 18 miles total, with 14.5 miles in the middle averaging 7:00 pace. Here is how it went -

2 mile warm up
2 miles at 7:19
800 at 6:40
2 miles at 7:14
800 at 6:31
2 miles at 7:09
800 at 6:27
2 miles at 7:04
800 at 6:23
2 miles at 6:59
800 at 6:19
2 miles at 6:59
1.5 mile cool down
There was NO recovery in this workout... it was run continually (minus one quick potty stop and one quick fueling break) and Ray said the point of the workout was to run the 800m dynamic intervals, changing pace, and "recovering" at marathon pace (or close to it).
I am not going to lie. This one scared me. A lot. But I took it one piece at a time and kept telling myself, "Ok, you can run two miles" and then "ok, you can run half a mile" and just kept repeating until I was done. 
I started this run at 5am and knew that the kids would be up and getting ready for school before I finished (18 miles is a lot for a Wednesday morning!) so I told them I had a REALLY hard workout and to come downstairs and cheer for me. I was sort of kidding when I said it, but sure enough my Solomon (9 years old) came down and started cheering for me like I was playing in the Super Bowl. It was awesome. Then Marcus, Belane, Maggie and Amanda cheered too at different times. They are the best.
Then this morning I headed downstairs at 4:55am for 12 (SLOW) recovery miles and I found this waiting on my treadmill from my two 13 year-olds...
I love my kids so much and it feels really good to have their love, support, and encouragement. I hope that being the crazy mom that gets up so early and runs so much is showing them that it is possible to be a loving, devoted, good mother and to chase your own dreams at the same time. I also hope I am showing them that if you really want something you have to be willing to work for it, and that there is a lot of reward and satisfaction in putting in the work for something you are passionate about.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Feeding the Machine

This is a post I am hesitant to write.

I got two questions in my comments last week asking about how I eat/fuel to run an average of 85 miles a week. 

I hesitate to write about food, diet, etc. because I know that no matter what I write that there will be people who tell me I am doing it all wrong. There will be people who say I should eat more, I should eat less, I should have more of "abc", I should cut out "xyz", I should combine foods differently, I should time my eating differently, etc. etc. etc. People can be extremely "I am right, you are wrong" when it comes to eating and nutrition, and it seems even in the running community lately there have been a whole lot of judgmental posts on how others eat. So it's a topic I am tempted to avoid completely.

So I preface this with... I am not a food expert. I don't pretend to be a food expert. I am someone who has radically changed my lifestyle (especially how and what I eat) and lost 80lbs and have kept it off for over five years now. I have also dealt with SIGNIFICANT GI issues (especially when running), which have improved a lot over the past year.  I have come to eat the way that I do after multiple doctor appointments and tests, lots of small changes, and lots of trial and error, and I continue to try to make tweaks to improve my nutrition.

This is what works for me. I share because maybe something I share will be helpful to someone reading and I am always open to suggestions.

First I need to say that I was NOT blessed with one of those bodies in which I can eat whatever I want and still be lean and fit (even when running 85-95 miles a week). One of the comments on my last post said, "How do you fuel for that many miles? You must be eating all the time." Now I easily COULD eat all the time, but no... I am not. I am a 37 year-old woman (who has had three babies) and I am working really hard to see just how good I can be as a marathoner. Part of that is being healthy, strong, fit, and as lean as possible.

I also will say that I have struggled with this on and off the past few years. I don't talk about it much, but I have worried and stressed a lot about not being thin enough, not being light enough, not being "small" enough and because of that I have cut my calories back too far at times and suffered the consequences for it. I don't have a skinny body type. I have thick, muscular thighs, big calves, and a more "solid" build than many runners, and no matter what I do I can't change that. I "know" that, but the message from many in endurance running is still "the lighter and the leaner the better". So I try to make the body I have as healthy and fit as possible. It is a tight rope walk of not taking in more calories than I need, but making sure I get what I need.  I am asking a lot of my body and I need to fuel it well if I want it to perform well.

The three things we have determined that my body doesn't tolerate well are gluten, dairy, and artificial sweeteners (especially sugar alcohols). So I don't eat them. I don't "cheat" because feeling bad isn't worth it. I get bloated, itchy, heartburn, and GI issues when I have gluten, dairy or artificial sweeteners, so I just don't.  I used to have diet soda here once and awhile as a "treat" but I don't anymore.

I don't count calories every day, but I have in the past and have a good idea of what I am taking in each day and what I need. I like the online calculators that take into account your age, weight, height, activity level, etc. and then give you a recommended daily caloric intake (like this one).
So what do I eat? Here is what I ate today, which was a typical eating day for me. I am a creature of habit and tend to eat the same things (or similar things) regularly.

- Nothing before my run. I fuel with UCAN before I run for runs longer than 12 miles. For shorter runs I don't take anything before (mostly because I start running so early and because my stomach doesn't like any solid food in it when I am running).

- Right after my run I drink a drink made of 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk, a scoop of chocolate UCAN and some water.

- About an hour later I had a banana and some natural peanut butter and strawberry jam on a gluten free flaxseed bun. They sell a brand at my grocery store called "Flax4Life" and they are super yummy and high in protein, fiber, omega 3's, calcium and other good stuff. Peanut butter is my favorite food. :)

- If I have a snack before lunch it is usually some kind of fruit. Today I had an apple with cinnamon. I love pineapple, all berries, grapes, melon, and Honey Crisp apples. Lately I have been cutting up a Honey Crisp apple into tiny pieces, sprinkling it with cinnamon and microwaving it for two minutes. Delish! Carrot sticks and hummus, or a few slices of "fig bread" are other favorite snacks, and if I am out and about I usually have a Picky Bar in my bag if I need a snack.

- Lunch is always my biggest meal of the deal. Most days it is a huge salad with lettuce, cabbage, spinach, carrots, tomato, avocado, sunflower seeds and a protein (grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, or eggs).   Some days (higher mileage days) I have some brown rice with it or a sweet potato. One of my favorite things is to slice up a sweet potato really thin and then bake it on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes or so and then broil it for another 5 minutes or so. The slices get nice and crispy and I just sprinkle with a little bit of salt. So yummy.

- I just eat something small/light for dinner. Today I had some turkey in a gluten free tortilla with some hummus.

I don't eat a lot of sweets or treats, but when I do I love Chex cereal (chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, apple-cinnamon), dark chocolate, peanut butter, all kinds of popcorn (no butter because of the dairy), etc.I also don't eat out a lot, but when I do, my favorites are pad thai and gluten free pizza.

I drink LOTS of water, and I usually drink Crio Bru once or twice a day. Crio Bru is 100% ground cocoa beans and has high antioxidant value, mineral benefits and natural energy. And it's yummy. :)

I also take my EnduroPacks daily, along with a probiotic and iron.

I cook LARGE amounts of typical (but nutritious) family food for Josh and the kids (some of the kids had food allergies when they were younger but none of them have any restrictions now, except for Noah who is 95% tube fed).

This is what works for me. I don't eat perfectly (and some days peanut butter and a spoon win over my best judgement) but I have found that when I eat good foods, avoid the foods that don't agree with me, and don't overeat, I feel my best and run my best, and that is the goal. :)

What is your favorite food?
Do you struggle at all with body image?
What is your best eating/fueling tip?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Good things

I always tell the runners that I coach that they should look back through their training logs and SEE all of their successes. It can be a powerful thing to look back over days, weeks, and months of consistent work...strong speed workouts, long runs, increasing weekly mileage, etc... and realize how much you have done.

The last couple of weeks I have been feeling like things are starting to come together with my training and I wanted to make a list of some of the accomplishments for myself to help build my confidence. Four weeks until the Tallahassee Marathon!

- Last week I did 18 miles, with the middle 20k as "race effort". It had to be on the treadmill which feels 100 times harder to me than running outside, but I managed to do the 20k (12.43 miles) in 84:06 (just under 6:46 pace).

- I have my weight back to where it needs to be. I put on a couple of pounds before Hartford (less than ideal) and then a few more after Hartford when I couldn't run because of the Achilles. Before I knew it my clothes felt tight and I felt icky. I was a good 10lbs over where I should be and really unhappy about it. I dialed my diet back in and have gotten all of that weight off (over the holidays!!!) and am feeling super fit and good again. I am hoping to shave off a couple more pounds before race day to be at an ideal racing weight, but I am fit and strong right now and feeling really good.

- In my strength training, I did FIFTY pushups the other morning... all at once... no breaks... no modifications... great form. 50!!!!!! I remember when 25 seemed impossible so 50 is pretty exciting.

- On Wednesday this week, I survived 8 x 1 mile repeats. On the treadmill. EIGHT. Enough said. The next day I was able to turn around and run a strong 12 miles with the last three miles at goal marathon pace.

- 94 miles ran this week and I am feeling really good. I have averaged just over 85 miles a week for the past 7 weeks. I was looking through my old running journal and found the first time I broke 30 miles in a week and I was SO excited about it. If I only knew. :)

Coach says I tend to underestimate myself, so I am writing this to highlight (for my own good) some of the good things I have accomplished in the past few weeks. I am definitely putting in the work.

"Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don't let anyone limit your dreams." - Donovan Bailey

What is something good you have accomplished recently?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Courage is my word for 2015.

The definition of courage is -

- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty 
- the ability to do something that frightens you
- strength in the face of pain or grief

All of these fit perfectly. 

Some synonyms for courage are bravery, courageousness, pluckiness, valor, intrepidity, nerve, daring, boldness, grit.

I started off 2014 thinking it was going to be a great year (I am eternally optimistic). In the first five weeks of 2014 I bombed a marathon that I had trained really hard for and ended up in a cast for over a month.

The rehab was slow once it came off and it took time to build my strength and mileage, but I was back to running again regularly by mid to late March.

I trained well. I never skipped workouts, I followed Coach Ray's guidance and I got my mileage up nice and high (80+ miles a week) and ran workouts stronger and faster than I ever have.

I ran four races in 2014 (and also the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back). I ran two PR's early on, although neither was super impressive. I ran a 42:xx 10k in May and a 1:31:10 half in July.  I ran a dismal marathon in Pocatello at the end of August where horrible stomach issues and dehydration completely wiped me out and left me barely able to run at all the last eight miles. I hit a new emotional low then in regards to racing... for a day or two I was truly ready to just give up on trying to be a competitive marathoner.  I rebounded emotionally and six weeks later ran the Hartford Marathon. In Hartford I raced decently well in the pouring rain until my Achilles started to hurt around mile 15. I managed to finish in a disappointing 3:25. I could not run at all for a couple of weeks afterwards because the Achilles was so swollen and sore, and it took about six weeks for it to be 100%.

All of this got me to a point where I was crazy frustrated, and no longer could honestly say I loved racing. In fact, I could definitely say that a big part of me was scared to race. I was scared to fail. Scared to put in all that work and not get any payoff. Scared to feel like a disappointment to everyone. Scared to embarrass myself (again) and to feel like a failure.  And I knew that was wrong. I knew that wasn't what this sport was about, it wasn't how I wanted to feel, and it wasn't how I should feel.

2014 was not an easy year for me personally either. There was stress, hurt, and trials in our family. My faith, confidence, and strength were strained in a lot of ways. It can be easy to get tied up in sadness, fear, and worry but that doesn't do you or anyone else any good. See the good in others, and in yourself. Count your blessings. Believe things will get better, and believe that if they don't, that you are strong enough to handle it. Find joy every day. Serve others. Fight doubt. Live with courage. That's my plan. :)

I can not say right now that I am "bigger, better, stronger" thanks to the trials of last year. And I don't know what 2015 will bring.  But I can say that I am resolved to live my life with courage. I can not control what life throws at me or what other people do, but I can control how I handle things and the spirit in which I live.

For awhile I wished I could go back to being the girl I was when I ran my first few marathons. Then I knew nothing but PR's and nothing but success. I was happily naive. But I know that nothing good or big in life comes easily, and that the journey to a big dream or goal is never smooth. And I know that the bumps will make the success that much sweeter. I know the journey is part of the reward. So I am embracing the challenges and setbacks, and even the fear. I am tackling them head on... with courage.

I am now four and a half weeks out from my next marathon. Yes, I am nervous. Yes, there is fear. But there is also courage and strength. I have put in the work. I am healthy and strong. I am ready to turn things around, take a big step forward, punch fear in the nose, and do what I KNOW I can do.

It may seem easier or safer to not set big goals. To back off. But that's not how I want to live. I want to go for it. I want to see how good I can be be. I want to be brave and have courage. 

In 2015 I want a sub 3 marathon. 

I am going to race in Tallahassee with a strong and happy heart. And in 2015 I am going to sign up for more races (long and short) and have the courage to try... to put myself out there... to risk. I am going to find my love of racing and competition again, and be a better runner and person for it.

I believe that embracing courage as my word for 2015 is going to help me in my racing and in all aspects of my life.

Now it's time for bed. I have 16 miles to tackle in the morning, with 8x1 mile repeats in the middle.  :)

Do you have a favorite quote on courage?

Do you have a word for 2015?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


One of my very favorite people is Coach Ray. He has been coaching me for almost a year now and is more than I ever could have hoped for in a coach. We started together in February last year (when I was still in a cast) and he has had a plan for my running every single day since the day the cast came off and I got to start running again in March. He helped me get through rehab and to rebuild my running foundation, and then he helped me build on it.

He has helped me challenge self-doubts and bad habits. He has taught me how to trust the process and believe I can do more than I think. He has helped me to stay in the present AND keep the big picture in mind. He helped me come back from two months of no running at all to putting in over 3,100 miles the rest of the year. He has helped me build good habits and train smarter than I ever have. He has helped my confidence on both the mental and physical side of my training.

Having a coach is invaluable to me. I have someone to get advice from on any aspect of my training and racing. Mileage, workouts, training, fueling, timing my races, injuries, shoes, strength training, nutrition, when to push harder, when to pull back... Ray is always there with what I need and cares about me as a runner and as a person. I don't know what I would do without his daily guidance, support, encouragement, and plans.

Ray, me and my Dad in the rain in Hartford

On the other side, I also love BEING a coach, and getting to give the guidance, support, encouragement, and plans to others. I got a card this Christmas from one of the awesome runners I coach that made me smile so big. It says -

"Erin, Words cannot express the gratitude I feel when I think of my running experiences with you as my coach. Thank you for helping find my best running self. I'm forever grateful!"

Me with N, one of the awesome runners I coach. :)

I think that is the best definition I have heard of what a running coach does. A running coach helps you find your best running self (which I believe is strongly connected to your best SELF). :)

I have a few open spots for new runners, so if you are looking for someone to help you find YOUR best running self, you can send me an email at fullhousemom at g mail dot com

I hope everyone has a very safe and happy New Year's Eve! We are spending it at home with some yummy food, movies, and games. More soon! :)

The Magic Secret

 (I originally wrote this post a few years ago but I have updated it and am sharing again).

Get ready folks... I am going to share with you the Magic Secret to whatever you want to accomplish this year.

This time of year everyone is writing posts on reviewing their past year, setting goals for the new year, and how to make and keep resolutions.

I  have some very real advice for people who want to make changes in 2015 to their life style, who want to lose weight, who want to get faster at running, who are setting a big goal, who want to chase after a dream, or who want to make any big, positive change in their life.

I am not going to make bullet points or give you "ten simple ways" to stick to your goal or resolution.

I am going to be honest with you and give it to you straight.

The only way to make a change that lasts... the only way to lose weight... the only way to get faster... the only way to achieve your goals...the only way to accomplish anything to work hard. Anyone promising anything else is selling something or missing the point.

We live in a society where hard work is often looked at as something bad and something to be avoided at all costs. People decide they want something, then realize it will take a whole lot of work to get it, and then  decide they don't really want it that bad. People decide they are going to lose weight or start running or whatever, and work at it for a few days or a few weeks and then realize that it is HARD and that progress is slow, and they give up.

There is no easy way. There is no magic pill, magic shake, magic cleanse, magic diet, magic training plan, or magic anything else. The magic is the hard work, dedication and heart you are willing to put in, day in and day out. The magic is the time, not just a few days or a few weeks, but extended periods of time, you are willing to stay committed. The magic is what you are willing to invest in yourself, and how bad you want what you say you want. The magic is hard work.

Six years ago this week, I changed my life. Literally.

Six years ago this week, a Wii Fit told me I was obese. Six years ago, I decided I was DONE being obese. I was done feeling sorry for myself. I was done feeling sad and insecure. I was done feeling fat and out of shape and unattractive. I was done feeling weak both mentally and physically. I was done being less than I could and should be. I was done putting myself at the bottom of my own priority list. I was done taking care of everyone but myself. I was done wasting the talents and dreams that my Heavenly Father gave me.

Six years ago, I was 80lbs heavier and I had never run a mile. I had no idea how much weight I would lose or that I was going to become a runner, never mind a marathoner. All I knew is that I was ready for a change, and ready to put in the work.

Every day I had to work hard to make good eating choices. Every day I had to work hard to build new habits to replace years of old (bad) ones. Every day I had to force myself out of bed early. Every day I pushed myself through exercises that made me feel fat, out of shape, and very un-athletic.

Progress was SLOW. I averaged six pounds of weight loss a month. But I did not get discouraged. I did not give up. I found that it felt good to work hard, and even the slow progress fueled my drive.

As the pounds came off and new habits formed, I found that along with the new habits I had new confidence, new strength, new outlooks, renewed happiness, renewed patience, and new dreams.

Now that I have dreamed the dream and set the goal to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials, I remind myself often that the "magic" is daily hard work. It is the 22 milers on the treadmill when the roads are covered in ice, it is the 10x800m repeats alone on a track in the dark before sunrise, it is getting out of bed every morning while the rest of the house sleeps, it is getting all my runs in - no excuses, it is not slacking on my core and strength work, it is not letting negative/hurtful people or setbacks get me down, it is consistent hard work, every single day, every single week, every single month. Consistent hard work.

Six years ago I truly could not run even a single mile at any pace. Now a sub-3 hour marathon in 2015 is the plan, and a stepping stone to a bigger goal and dream. Six years ago today, I wore a size 20 and today I wear a size 2. I don't say this to brag in any way, but to show that hard work and commitment are worth it if you really want something.

Whatever your resolution, goal, dream, or plan is for 2015, do yourself a favor and find the magic to make it happen inside of yourself. Embrace the hard work. Believe in yourself and care about yourself enough to put in the hard work. Remember, it is supposed to be hard. Be willing to put in the work to go after your dreams and to make your reality what you want it to be. That is the secret. That is the magic.

"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." - Vince Lombardi

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." - Colin Powell

"The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work."  - Thomas A. Edison

"Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe." - Gail Devers

"Once you have commitment, you need the discipline and hard work to get you there." - Haile Gebreselassie 

"Hard work keeps the wrinkles out of the mind and spirit." - Helena Rubinstein

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas week recap

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! It has been a bit of a rough week around here with some family stress and a whole lot of illness, BUT, we had a wonderful Christmas Day and are having a really sweet week despite the challenges.

The kids got out of school on Tuesday (after a half day) and I have to say that they have been just the right amount of excited. They have been excited enough to make this all lots of fun, but not so much that they are too hyper and crazy. :)

On Christmas Eve we always read Luke chapter 2 and then The Night Before Christmas before the kids go to bed. This year we had Ryan and Ben read (here is a pic of Ben).

I got up on Christmas morning at 4am to get my 10 miles done before the kids got up for presents and finished just in time. :)  We have the kids take turns and only have one open a present at a time so it is really nice. The kids were very grateful for the things they received and it was a pretty perfect morning. We even got to have my Mom and Dad from New York on FaceTime while presents were being opened. :)

Ryan (almost 17) did not ask for a whole lot so I surprised him with the Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon. He was REALLY excited. My boys have loved Legos since they were little.

And Shorty got lots of fun things but has been super excited over this hat. :)

The highlight of the day for me was getting to talk to Nathan over Skype! He is serving a church mission in Hawaii and we only get to Skype with him on Christmas and Mother's Day. We talked for almost two hours and it was just awesome to hear him and see him. He looks so good and while I miss him like crazy, I am also crazy proud of this kid. Josh and all the other kids got a chance to talk to him and I had a good cry when we said goodbye (but it was worth it!)

Josh's parents and his brother, sister-in-law and nephew all stopped in (and the grandparents got to "see" Nathan which was cool), which was nice, and the day was spent just lounging around, enjoying each other. There was lots of laughter. And lots of food. :)

lots of lounging
lots of food!
Christmas night we all curled up together to watch Guardians of the Galaxy and I saw maybe the first five minutes and then was out cold. I started feeling not very well in the morning, and by lunch time I had lost my voice and was coughing, and by night time I had a fever. I managed to avoid the first TWO rounds of illnesses the kids brought home that have gone through the house the past month, but this one got me good.

 I have been able to keep up my running with a little help from cough drops, ibuprofen, and early bedtimes (and my EnduroPacks which I really think have helped a lot!). A couple of mornings I almost slept in and skipped the run but it was scheduled to be a big week (91 miles) and I really wanted to get them in. I ran on the treadmill so I had the option to quit early on any run if I wasn't feeling good enough. (We got a foot of fresh snow and crazy icy roads so it would have been treadmill runs anyway).

I managed to get all 91 miles done. I still sound like a man when I talk and am coughing some, but I feel better than I did.  I had a rough workout on Tuesday morning (before I realized I was sick) but the rest of the week went surprisingly well. I capped it off today with a 22 miler with the last four miles at 7:04 pace. I was tempted to put it off until I felt 100% but I really wanted to get it done and want to make the most of these last 6 weeks of training.  Here was my Facebook post this morning -

"22 miles on the treadmill. Last 4 miles at 7:04 pace. 91 miles for the week. 6 weeks til race day. Zero excuses."

Holiday weeks don't interrupt my training since "get up super early and get it done before the day starts and anyone needs you" is my normal strategy. :)

And here is my selfie from afterwards when I was laying with my feet up on the wall recovering for a few minutes (while getting licked to death by the puppy and stepped on by Noah). :)

Tired but happy :)
 We don't have any big plans for the rest of the vacation but I have promised kids bowling, movies, sledding, we will have fun for sure.  I hope you are all enjoying this special time of year with your families, that you are staying healthy, and that your running is going well.  More soon! :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winner winner!

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway for a month's supply of vitamins and minerals from Enduropacks.

The lucky winner is KIKI!!!!  Send me an email at fullhousemom at gmail dot com and I will get you your awesome prize!!!! Congrats!! :)

You can read my full review here If you didn't win and you are ready to see what EnduroPacks can do for you and your training, you can shop here and use the code "FULLHOUSEMOM" for 15% off your order. :)