Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back to business

First, congrats to everyone who raced today! Big Sur and Eugene marathons were this morning, as well as a couple of others. It was perfect weather and lots of PR's were set. We are sending up lots of cheers from Wyoming for you!

Next - did anyone else watch the Penn Relays on TV yesterday?? I watched with the little kids because Josh was gone coaching at a track meet all day and the big kids weren't home. There were so many incredible races and the U.S. teams dominated over and over. I was so inspired by Leo Manzano, Maggie Vessey, and others (Carmelita Jeter is a rockstar!) I love running and I can not WAIT to watch the Olympics this summer.

It has been almost two weeks since the Boston Marathon, and I have six weeks now until the Utah Valley Marathon. After two weeks of very easy, no schedule, low-intensity running, I am very carefully/gradually start adding back in some intensity and building my mileage. We are being very cautious to make sure that I don't do too much too soon, but I am feeling really good.

One of the things that I have learned as a runner is how important it is to find what works for you. You can read every book and every blog, and talk to every other runner out there, but you still won't know what works for you until you figure it out by trial and error.

I know runners who can eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich two minutes before they walk out the door for a run and can eat all sorts of things during their runs, and I know runners (myself included!) that can't eat any solid food for hours before a run without having major GI issues.

There are many elite runners who run 120+ miles a week at their peak training, and there are runners who race competitively peaking at 50 miles a week. If I tried to run 120 miles a week right now I would surely end up over-trained and injured, and if I only ran 50 I wouldn't be training to the best of my ability. Every runner has to find their own training mileage "sweet spot".

Recovery is like that too. I know runners who regularly run several (fast!) marathons a month with very minimal recovery (or taper) and never are injured, and I know runners who take weeks or longer completely off from running after a marathon. Everyone is different.

I am lucky that I do recover from tough training runs and from races quickly, and yet I want to be able to train hard and race even harder for years to come, so I very much want/need to avoid injury and over-training.

After my fall marathons last year and after the Goofy challenge in January, I found that taking a two week break from training after the race and doing whatever I felt like worked very well for me. I still ran, but I did not have a training plan so I could go by how I felt. I kept the mileage low, I ran without a Garmin or watch, and I avoided intensity. I just ran for fun.

This is what I have done since Boston as well. The training break has been good for my body, my soul, and my mind. I have run with friends, I have run with my running club, I have run with Josh, and I have run alone. I have run with music and without my Garmin. I paid no attention to my pace. It has all been fun, stress-free, worry-free running. It is rejuvenating! After the first couple of days the little bit of post-race soreness/stiffness was gone, and after a few more days, the overall tired feeling I had was gone too. 

As has been the case in the past, the last few days of this break, my body has been itching to run faster. My legs are ready/wanting to "go" again, and my brain is getting bored with running easy and for fun every day. I have been good and have waited, but physically and mentally I am ready to get back to training.

This week will be a transition week and I will be carefully monitoring how I feel as I start adding miles and adding back in some intensity.

This morning the plan was 7 miles with a one warm up, five miles @ 7:30 pace and one mile cool down, with 5x100m strides at the end. My splits were 8:27, 7:24, 7:18, 7:21, 7:26, 7:21, 8:18. It felt good to run a little faster and the strides were fun.

So, I am slowly getting back at my training and feeling good and excited about what is ahead.

What are you training for? Happy Sunday!

“The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you.” – Unknown

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t”. – Unknown

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food and fuel

Thanks so much for all of your kind and supportive comments on my last post. I have made a lot of wonderful connections in the running community through this blog and am grateful for so many of you (and it has been really fun to "meet" a lot of new people these last few weeks). I love being able to inspire, support, and help others, and I am answering all of the emails and questions in the comments I am getting.

One of the questions I have gotten a bunch of times in comments and in emails is what kinds of foods I eat.

*Disclosure - This is not a "food blog" and I am not an impressive cook. If you are looking for awe-inspiring dishes and recipes with beautiful pics of food, this is not the place, and you are probably going to be disappointed. I keep things pretty basic and simple. Also, I am not a vegetarian or a vegan. I eat gluten but I do have to avoid dairy. *

 If you saw how I ate four years ago and how I eat today, you wouldn't even believe I was the same person. Four years ago I ate a lot of junk. A LOT of junk. I ate chips, cookies, snacks, ice cream, take-out, fried foods, sweets, etc. etc. I drank diet soda all day long... can after can after can. I ate three meals, and snacks, and often ate at night in front of the TV when the kids were in bed. I ate almost no fruits or vegetables ever, almost everything I ate was processed, and I was taking in way, way too many calories (and wasn't exercising at all). I ate when I was hungry and when I wasn't. I ate when I was bored. I ate when I was lonely. I ate because food tastes good. If you had asked me to rate how important nutrition was to me on a scale of 1 to 100, it would probably have been a 3.

I wasn't able to change all of those bad habits overnight. It was a long, gradual process. At first I cut out soda. Within two weeks, the headaches I had been having disappeared. I started planning meals and paying attention to calories. I started choosing healthy, natural foods as often as possible. I stopped eating after 7pm. I paid attention to portion sizes, and made sure to eat when I was hungry and stop eating when I was full. I started chewing gum so I wouldn't pick off of the kids' plates when I was feeding them. I made sure to always have healthy things in the house to eat. I started looking at food as fuel for my body.

The more important my running has become to me and the more I have seen myself as an athlete, the more I have tried to eat like an athlete.

Now I eat a lot of whole grains. I eat tons of fruits and vegetables. I eat carbs like oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, rice, bread, etc.  I eat a lot of eggs, and have fish and chicken fairly often. I don't eat a lot of pork or red meat, although every once and awhile I love a good burger. I drink a LOT of water all day long, and almost never drink anything else. I do have sweets now and then, although I keep them limited.

I am a grazer. I am much happier eating little bits all day long than I am having big meals (with the exception of breakfast. I love/need a big breakfast). I eat a decent amount of food and need to make sure I take in enough (healthy) calories with all the miles that I run so my body has the energy it needs.

I am far from perfect in how I eat, and again, nothing here is very exciting, but it works for me, and I am always trying to improve.

Here is what I ate yesterday, which was a pretty typical day. I usually have a big salad at some point during the day (with an egg or two and some salsa on top) but didn't yesterday, and beans and rice, potatoes and pasta are frequent eats for me too.

I don't eat in the morning before I run, but every day after my run I drink a glass of light chocolate soy milk for recovery and then after I stretch and roll I have my bowl of "loaded oatmeal". I make a big bowl of oatmeal (plain whole grain rolled oats) and then add a banana, strawberries, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips. Sometimes I change up the fruit a little bit, but usually that is what I put in it. It's so yummy! Josh says it isn't oatmeal anymore by the time I am done with it and it is enough breakfast for two people, but I love it. It's my favorite meal of the day.

For a snack yesterday I had a pear and some raisins. I didn't take a picture. You know what they look like. :)

For lunch I had a turkey sandwich. I put turkey, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and hummus on whole grain wheat bread.  I ate a full tomato and half of a cucumber, although they didn't all make it on to the sandwich.

An hour or two after my sandwich I ate a bowl of sweet potato. I slice up a large sweet potato, and then bake the pieces on a cookie sheet in the oven on 375. I was impatient yesterday so I ate them when they were still a little mushy and not as crunchy as they usually get. They taste great just plain, although a pinch of cinnamon-sugar is good on them too. :)

For an afternoon snack I had some plain baby carrots and celery sticks.  You know what they look like. :)

For dinner I had pancakes. We do pancakes for dinner a lot with all sorts of toppings. Last night I had whole wheat pancakes with Adam's all natural crunchy peanut butter, a sliced banana, and some Kodiak berry syrup (all natural blackberry syrup).

And that is pretty much how I eat. :)

What's your favorite meal of the day?

What are some of your favorite meals?

Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Three years

Three years ago today I went for a run.

It was not a long run (barely two miles).

It was not a fast run (probably took me about 27 minutes).

It certainly was not an impressive run (and there was lots of walking, and lots of huffing and puffing).

But it was the most important run I ever went on, because it was the FIRST run I ever went on.

Three years ago today I had lost about 25 pounds in four months, at the beginning of my journey to get healthy and take care of myself. I was sick and tired of work out videos and the Wii Fit, and on a whim decided to head outside and try to go for a run. I had never gone on a run before - I had never run in school or for recreation. But I thought that I surely could make it around the two-mile loop from my house. I was wrong. I was humbled. I was exhausted. I was HOOKED. I was determined.

I went back out the next day. And the day after that. I was set on making it around that two mile loop, running the whole way. Running was HARD. My body was crazy sore. I was still overweight and I was slow. And yet I loved it. I loved heading out the door early in the morning and being on my own and free. I loved the feeling of running down the road. I loved the challenge. I loved the feeling I had after a run. Something inside me clicked.

I kept at it. Pretty soon I found that I could run that two mile loop without walking. So I decided to try and run three miles. I signed up for a 5k. I finished in 32 minutes and found that I LOVED racing. I pushed myself to be faster. I ate better. I lost more weight. I read lots of books about running.  I bought real running shoes. I kept going out and running day after day, and kept pushing myself to go further and faster.

Three years ago -
if you had told me that I would run eight marathons in less than 3 year's time...
if you told me that I would qualify for Boston in half of those marathons...
if you told me I would run seven days a week, have 85+ mile weeks and 300+ mile months...
if you told me I would lose over 75lbs...
if you told me I would consider myself an athlete...
if you told me I would be sponsored by Brooks...
if you told me I would have a goal of running in the Olympic Marathon Trials...
if you told me I would be in Runner's World magazine...
if you told me I would run fast...
if you told me I would organize a running club...
if you told me I would be an active member in the online running community...
if you told me I would meet all kinds of amazing and inspiring runners (and friends)...
if you told me I would be the one giving advice and encouragement to lots of beginners...
if you told me I would believe in myself as a person and a runner...

I never would have believed any of it. Three years ago I was an overweight girl that couldn't even run a mile at once. And yet I did all of those things listed above and many more in three short years.

And that is a large part of why, even though I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to be able to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, I am feeling confident. I have shown myself that with determination, commitment, consistency, effort, dedication, heart, faith, and lots of hard work, I can achieve a lot in three years.

Three years ago today, I became a runner.

Bring on the next three years. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Footwear and fillings

I have been getting lots of comments and emails with questions lately about my training, my nutrition, my fueling, etc. etc. I will be answering these in some upcoming posts. If you have a question, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer all of them.

Katie O. (who is very observant!) noticed that I was wearing my blue/black Brooks PureFlows (detailed review on my most favorite shoes here) in my pre-race Boston Marathon photos, but that in my official race photos I am wearing white and purple shoes, and she asked what was up with the shoe change.

The white/purple shoes I am wearing in my official Boston Marathon photos are also Brooks PureFlows. They come in three awesome colors now (see them all here). I always have at least three pairs of PureFlows in rotation as they are the only running shoes I wear now. I put on an old pair of black/blue PureFlows before I left my hotel room last Monday morning (it is crazy to me that it was over a week ago already!) and I had my purple/white racing shoes in my gear bag.

I didn't put on my race shoes until it was close to race time, since runners have a lot of walking/waiting around and a lot of time in a grass field before the Boston Marathon starts. The grass was definitely NOT wet last Monday, but it still was a good plan. So I wore my old pair of shoes until just before I headed out to the corrals, and then I lubed up my feet and put on fresh socks and my race pair of Brooks PureFlows (that were perfectly broken in with about 50 miles on them) and put my old pair in my gear bag.

I also always have a pair of my favorite flip-flops in my gear bag to put on when I am done. It feels amazing to me to take off my running shoes at the end of a race and slip on my favorite Reef flip flops.

I am enjoying a week of short/easy miles (nothing over 10 miles yet and no intensity), although I started back up my core/strength training again yesterday after a week of half strength two weeks before Boston, and then a week off before and a week off after race day. This morning I ran eight miles and it was blissful. My legs felt great and it was a fun run.

I am feeling great overall except for a tooth ache that has gotten progressively worse over the last two weeks. (Note - toothaches don't magically go away on their own no matter how much you wish them to). I am going in today for an emergency root canal/filling/crown. Should be super fun, and I am in denial about what it will all cost. Stupid teeth.

Today my Marcus is eight years old! Josh and I were in the room when he was born eight years ago and I was the first person to hold him. I love this kid. :)

I hope you all have a great day. More soon. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's never too late

I have two highly inspiring stories to share with you.

I came across an article in the New York Times Sports section about Kathy Martin several weeks ago and have read it through a couple of times now. She is such an inspiration! Kathy is 60 years old, and is setting national and world records at multiple distances on the track. Even better, she did not go for her first run until she was 30 years old. And much like my own experience, her first run was NOT easy, and it took time, effort, and consistent work to make progress. I love this quote from the story about her first run with her husband.

"Ten minutes into the trot, she lay down exhausted in the middle of Clark Drive in East Northport. “Get up or a car is going to hit you,” her husband said. And when she caught her breath, she answered, “I hope it does.”"

and later in the article - "She wondered: If I cannot run a mile at 30, will I even be able to walk one at 60?"

If you would like to read the full article in the NY Times about her amazing story, you can find it here.  It's a really good read!

And for some more inspiration, you need to take five minutes and watch this beautiful video.

Roger (who didn't start running until he was 47 and was very overweight) ran in the 2009 Boston Marathon, and has run 12 marathons since, continuing to run for his niece Julia (who is still alive) and raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Amazing! If you didn't, watch the video!

Both of this stories are such beautiful examples of how it is NEVER TOO LATE to change your life. It is never too late to get healthy. It is never too late to chase after your dreams. It is never too late to try something new. It is never too late to find a new talent. It is never too late to find new greatness in yourself.

Two quotes that go perfectly with these stories - 

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012


This morning I had a GREAT run! I organized a group run for the running club I started, and I had 3 mile, 6 mile and 10 mile routes planned. The weather was beautiful (40 degrees and bright sunshine) and we had a decent turnout. I ran the 10 mile route and my legs felt so, so good. It was just a happy run all the way around.

Seven weeks from today I will be running the Utah Valley Marathon. I had registered for this race before I ran Boston and was excited for it, but now I am even more excited to have this race coming up. I will have one more week of recovery, than four weeks of serious training, then a two-week taper. I am calling it my redemption race.

I (of course) have been thinking a lot about the Boston Marathon. It seems strange that it was only five days ago. I have had a lot of emotions about the race, but have been trying to be objective too. I decided to make a list of things that I did right in training for Boston and in running Boston, and a list of things I could have done better. (Much of this is for myself, to help me moving forward, although maybe it will help some of you reading too).

Things I did right training for Boston -

- Mileage. I really think I found my sweet spot with mileage. I had two months of over 300 miles and three weeks of over 85 miles. I did all of that and stayed free from injury and never felt burnt out or worn out, and had plenty of energy for the rest of life (as long as that "life" happened before 9pm). I think all of those miles truly helped me to become stronger, faster, and better overall as a runner. I do think that since I handled 85 miles in a week so well that I could push this higher in the future. If I do, it will be slowly and carefully (which is how I have built my mileage from the beginning).

- Training. Overall I am really happy with the training I did leading up to Boston. Looking back there are a few things I would change/do differently, but overall I think that I had a good mix of easy runs, speed work, tempo runs, long runs, and some very challenging workouts. I was super consistent - I literally did not miss a single training run. I enjoyed the training and had fun with it, and stayed motivated.

- Taper. This is the first time I went into a race feeling like I had tapered perfectly for me.  In the past I have felt like I have over-tapered and under-tapered. I think that for me, a two-week taper with significantly decreased mileage but continued intensity was perfect. Multiple runs with marathon pace miles in them also were a confidence booster. I went into Boston feeling rested but fresh, and my body and legs felt strong and ready to run.

- Nutrition. I think I did a really good job eating/fueling throughout my training. I did not gain any weight, and did even lose a couple of pounds, while still always feeling like I had plenty of energy. I have really been focusing on putting good and healthy foods into my body and I can feel the difference.

- I ran a lot of hills. If you are running a flat race then you can get away with avoiding hills in your training, but if you are running Boston or another hilly course, then to be prepared you really need to incorporate hills into your training. I ran a lot of uphills and downhills (especially when I was tired) and I think that helped a lot.

- Rest. With my early daily wake up time (usually 4:15am) I don't get tons of hours of sleep at night (usually six hours) but I have been doing a good job of finding time to lay down during the day and put my legs up regularly. Since I work on a lap top, sometimes I even work from the couch, and I am usually laying down with the big kids in our front room (once the little kids are in bed) each night by 8pm or so.  I have been really trying to take care of my body, and getting enough rest is important.

- Balance. Training is a big part of my life, but I never felt like my running took up too much time in my day, or too much of my energy or anything else. I don't feel like Josh or the kids ever lacked any of my time and attention because of my training. I feel like I was able to keep things pretty well balanced. :)

- Avoiding injury. I did my strength and core training routines religiously. I did some dynamic warm-up moves before every run, and stretched and used my foam roller or "stick" after every run. I took ice baths after my long runs and I really tried to listen to my body and give it the TLC it needs running all these miles. I got to Boston as fit and healthy as I possibly could have.

Things I did right running the Boston Marathon -

- I got seven hours of sleep the night before and good nights of sleep for most of the week before.

- I was in a great place mentally on race morning. I didn't panic about the heat. I woke up Monday morning very calm and relaxed. I knew it was going to be hot. I knew it was likely going to be a tough day. But I did not stress out. I did not get worried or worked up. I did not get upset. I did not get over-excited or emotional about being at the Boston Marathon. I really was in a great mindset. On race morning, even at the starting line, I was happy, relaxed, calm, confident, and resolved to do the best I could with the conditions I had.

- I did not go out too fast. It would have been very easy to take off down the hills of those first four miles. Many people did (and many with the line of thought that it was best to go as fast as you could while it was downhill and it was "cooler"). At times I felt myself starting to get too fast, and I pulled the pace back and stayed right at my goal pace.

- I hydrated/fueled well. I drank my Hammer Perpetuem, water and Gatorade. Despite a very sick stomach, high temps, and the blazing sun, I did not dehydrate, I did not get any leg cramps, and I took in adequate calories.

- I stayed as cool as possible. I took advantage of every water stop, every hose, every sprinkler, every kid with a water gun, every spectator offering water (or anything wet/cold). Water went over my head, on the back of neck, and down my front as often as possible. The sponge (and bags of ice) Rick gave me helped a lot too. The cooling effect never lasted long, but I think it really helped prevent overheating/heat stroke.

- I didn't quit. Somewhere in the third (or fourth? or fifth?) portapotty, a part of me wanted to just say "oh screw it" and quit. It was miserable, I felt horrible, and my goal was long gone. But I am not a quitter. And I kept fighting and never gave up.

- I maintained my form. Despite being incredibly hot, tired, and worn out, (as witnessed by friends, coach, family, and photos) I never lost my fore-foot strike, I continued to pick my feet up (no shuffle), and I was able to maintain my form pretty dang well.

Things I could have done better -

- I should have had a cold bottle of Perpetuem waiting for me with someone on the course. I didn't, because I didn't think I would need it. I did need it, and I ended up drinking Gatorade out of necessity, and that added to my stomach issues. I should have planned a little better and had that ready just in case.

- More sunblock. More Aquafor/Bodyglide. Enough said.

- I should have thought more positive thoughts when things got tough. It was difficult to not feel discouraged and to not think negatively (or about how hard it was) when I felt so sick and people were suffering and going down all around, but I should have used a mantra and some positive self-talk to fight that. I am sure that would have helped some.

- I should have pushed myself harder. The big blinking road signs along the course said, "Slow Your Pace. Walk. High Heat Advisory." I know that realistically I had to slow my pace and adjust my goals under the conditions and that everyone's times were slower, but I hate to make excuses, and I do think that I could have done better. Do I think I could have run sub 3:15 in Boston on Monday in those temps? No. But being honest, I do think I could have done better than I did. I let myself walk too long several times, I quit looking at my Garmin, and I feel like I sort of fell apart in the sun. I usually pride myself on my mental strength, and I don't think I was as strong as I should have been or pushed as hard as I could have.

(And please, I am not writing this so everyone will comment and tell me I did a great job or was tough or anything like that). Writing is how I best process my feelings/emotions/thoughts and this is me processing honestly. 

I was feeling very disappointed and discouraged at first, but I realized that that will not help me moving forward. (Plus, I am an optimist and happy person and never stay "down" for long). I want to learn from the experience, so I can continue doing/repeat the things that I did well, and improve on the things that I could have done better. I did learn that despite what I thought previously, I am NOT a wimp in the heat, and I CAN run a marathon in even the most miserable of temperatures. :)

I know this is not an easy sport and that there will be setbacks and tough races, and I want those experiences to make me a stronger, tougher, and better runner/marathoner, physically and mentally.  I know I am in shape right now to run a sub 3:15 marathon. I know that I am mentally strong. I know that I will continue to improve with hard work, dedication, and the love and support of Josh and my family and friends. I know that I am capable of achieving my goals and dreams. I know that it won't be easy. I know that the Boston Marathon 2012 will be an experience that I learn and grow from, and I am so grateful for it.

I am very, very grateful for the wonderful trip that I had, all of the incredible experiences I had, the time I had with people I love, the amazing people that I met and spent time with, and the race that challenged me in new ways and ultimately will make me a better and stronger runner.

This morning's run was a fresh start. I let go of the last bit of disappointment and discouragement, and am moving forward with confidence, strength, joy, gratitude, determination, and optimism.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Things not to say to marathoners

It has been great to be home and this morning I am feeling pretty caught up on laundry, mail, work, and life in general.

I have been taking my recovery seriously as I can feel that my body is tired. Running in those conditions definitely took a lot out of me. My legs feel pretty good though. I am trying to find time during the day to rest more than usual, am eating good foods (besides one post-marathon meal, I don't really like to eat any differently after a marathon than I usually do), and am doing lots of stretching, using my "stick", etc. Josh gave my legs a great rub down last night too which was amazing.

I have been running every day but am keeping the mileage short and very slow paced. This morning I got to run with my friend/neighbor Jenny which was super fun, and I am hoping we'll be doing that more often. I have played around with different recovery strategies and for me, running slow and easy leaves me feeling better (and I recover faster) than taking time completely off.  This morning I could even feel a little zip coming back to my legs, although I won't be testing that out for a while yet.

Two links for you -

- For those that wanted to see the Runner's World article online, they just let me know that it is available online and sent me the link. It doesn't have all the pictures, but you can see the story here.

- For those that want to see me looking incredibly hot and tired, you can see my Boston race pictures here. I won't be spending the $85 to order them and Brightroom threatened to take "legal action against me" when I posted proofs on my blog after Disney so I won't be posting proofs on my blog anymore (even though Brightroom was NOT the photographer for Boston). So if you want to see my race pics, you can follow that link. Most of the pics are from late in the race (at least after mile 16) because I don't have my hand-held bottle anymore. The two where my  hands are up and I am smiling must be when I saw a friend or my Dad. :)

Now for a little fun. (And please note that I do write this with a smile on my face and all in good fun. As I said, the spectators in Boston were OVER THE TOP amazing and truly were lifesavers on Monday. I am forever grateful to the wonderful people who lined the course and supported us runners).

I was chatting with my Dad after the Boston Marathon and we decided that there are definitely some things that race spectators need to NOT say to marathoners. We also both agreed that many race spectators cheering on runners will  LIE TO YOU.

If you go to spectate a marathon, here are some things to never say to or yell at (even in the spirit of "cheering") to a marathoner.

- You are almost there! Unless the finish line is in sight and you are in the final mile, DO NOT tell a marathoner that they are "almost there". I had a guy yell that at me with over EIGHT miles to go.  When you have run 18 miles and have over 8 miles to go, you are not almost there. I had someone yell that at mile 23, and in that heat and with the way my body felt, three miles was still a looooooong way.  If you know me, you know I am probably the least violent person that God has ever put on this earth, but I really wanted to punch that guy. (The heat makes me cranky). :)

When I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon last year there was a guy with a sign at mile 2 that said, "You are so NOT almost there". At least he was being honest. And it was early enough on in the race that we all still had a sense of humor. :)

- It is all downhill from here! At the top of Heartbreak, everyone was yelling that it was "all downhill" now. They lied! Not even a mile later there was another (small) uphill and there were several more along the way. There were no more big uphills and it was mostly downhill, but it definitely wasn't ALL downhill. One lady running near me even yelled out in despair when we were approaching a small climb, "They said it was all downhill to the finish!" Josh worked an aid station once at a 25k trail race and was at the top of a four mile downhill stretch to the finish. Even though it was downhill it was one of the toughest stretches because everyone's legs were tired and the downhill was difficult. When he ran it the next year he hated himself for telling people it was "all downhill" the year before.

- Run faster! It's a race. It's a long race. You have to figure that most runners are out there giving it their all, and running as fast as they can/should. It's not like we are going to say, "Oh!! I should run faster? Ok! I hadn't thought of that." :)  I especially loved the guy who was yelling this while sitting in a chair, drinking a cold beer.

My favorite cheers were the ones that said things like, "You look great!" "Good form!" "Keep it up!" "You got this!" "Go Brooks!" "Go #11697!" Those helped a lot. And of course the cheers from people you know are THE BEST.

How about you? What are things you think should be added to the list to never yell at a marathoner? What kind of cheers do you like to hear when you are racing?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Boston Marathon recap

I am sitting on the plane on the way home from Boston. I am not good at sitting still! I know I will be busy once I get home so this is the perfect opportunity to write this race report. I know that it is going to be emotional writing about yesterday, but I want to get it down while it is still fresh in my memory (although there are a lot of fuzzy parts!)

(Lots of pictures and the recap of the first part of my trip are all in this post here). 

I woke up on marathon morning feeling remarkably calm and relaxed. I got to sleep until a little after 5am (and got 7 full hours of sleep!) I took a shower and got dressed and ready, and took my time packing my gear bag and a bag for my dad to carry for me. I got a wonderful email from Josh and got a text from Jennifer that helped me feel even better. My Dad snapped a couple of pictures quickly, we made a plan on where he would be when during the race and where we would meet up afterwards, and then I was on my way!

I really was feeling good, and excited but calm. I had decided that the weather would be what it would be, I would do the best I could, and enjoy as much of the experience as I could. I knew that freaking out or stressing out would not help anything and I wanted to soak in and enjoy my first Boston Marathon. I also wanted to keep a positive attitude (which I did).

Rick picked me up at 7am.  We drove out to Hopkington, and in a cool twist, we ended up right behind the police-escorted motorcade of the elite athletes. Pretty cool!

We parked and got on a school bus for a short ride in to Hopkinton, and after a short walk we were in the Athlete's Village.

I was trying to ignore how hot it was just sitting on the grass two hours before we were to even start running. I am always, always cold, and I didn't even need any warm ups or throwaways. Any last hopes that the weathermen were wrong went out the window. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was HOT.

I waited on a LONG portapotty line, and then I lubed up with Aquafor and sunscreen, mixed up my Perpetuem, changed into my racing shoes, and was ready to roll.  I headed down towards the corrals. I got down there and we had to stand and wait until the first wave was gone. We were standing in the sun (there was no shade) and it was HOT. After about 30 minutes they filed us into the corrals, and again, we were standing around in the hot sun. I was already feeling overheated and we hadn't even started to run yet!

I was right at the front of Wave 2 Corral 3, and right on time (10:20am) we were off! I knew the first four miles were going to be crowded and steep downhill, and my goal was just not to go out too fast. I was pleasantly surprised to find that although it was crowded, it was not difficult to run at the pace I wanted and that things thinned out to a comfortable level of "congestion" within the first mile or so (totally different from my NY experience).

My legs felt good, but it didn't take long for me to feel hot, and to realize how difficult a day it was going to be.  As we passed mile three and the sun was beating down, I remember truly wondering if I was going to be able to run another 23+ miles in that sun and those temperatures. It is not good to be doubting at mile three of a marathon!!

Splits for the first four miles were -
7:30, 7:19, 7:17, 7:12

I have never walked in a marathon, but I realized quickly that the only way to survive was to stay as cool as possible. So I started walking through the aid stations. At each one I got two waters (one went over the head, one went down the front) and then I got a third water to sip. I drink Hammer Perpetuem, and that only lasted me until Mile 16 and then it was gone! (It usually lasts me until mile 23 or 24). Because of running out of my drink I had to start taking Gatorade on the course, which only added to my stomach problems.

Splits for miles 5-8 were -
7:36, 7:34, 7:16, 7:30

It was right around mile 9 that things started to get rough. My stomach started to feel SICK, and my head started to get fuzzy.  Rick had given me some Hammer Endurolytes to take every three miles. I took them at mile 3 and miles 6, but I looked down at my Garmin at mile 9.2 and honestly could NOT remember if I had taken the Enduroytes less than a quarter of a mile earlier! And taking them involved unzipping my handheld pouch, opening a container, and swallowing two pills. (I do think the Endurolytes helped).

I also honestly could not have told you how many portapotties I ended up in before looking at my Garmin splits, even though I normally could tell you the exact mileage I stopped at and for how many minutes/seconds. My mind got very fuzzy!

Splits for miles 9-12 were -
8:46 (first pit stop), 7:38, 8:00, 8:53 (second pit stop)

Running past the girls at Wellesley was as cool of an experience as everyone tells you. Oh the screaming! :)

At the half-way point I was still pretty happy with how I was running and the potential for a decent time (and a PR), although I could feel that the sun and the close to 90 degree temps were taking it's toll on me.

Splits for miles 13-16 were -
7:46, 7:42, 8:28 (quick pitstop), 7:37

I kept telling myself "just get to mile 15 in good shape", because that is what Coach Rick had told me to do, and that was where he was waiting for me. I knew seeing him, and hearing his voice and getting a quick pep talk would be a big boost. Sure enough, right at mile 15 I saw him standing on the course looking for me, and he quickly spotted me and jumped in. I tried to soak up his energy and positive words.

I have to say that it was the people along the course that really saved the day. There were so many spectators out with water, ice, cold washcloths, sponges, wet paper-towels, hoses, water guns, buckets, sprinklers, etc. The fire departments had some fire hydrants open and some "hydration tunnels" set up you could run through. I ran past every drop of water I was able to. Coach Rick had given me a sponge that I kept tucked in my top, and I used that to squeeze water on my neck as often as I could too. I was SOAKED. I was more wet than I was when I ran Top of Utah Marathon in the pouring rain/hail. My feet were sloshing in my shoes and my shorts kept sliding down because they were so wet/heavy. But being wet and cooling off (even if it only lasted a short time) was the only way for me to survive and keep running.

The Newton Hills actually weren't as bad as I expected. In different weather conditions I think I would have really ran this section of the course well. I am a decent hill runner and I really loved the Boston course.

Splits for miles 17-20 were -
8:19, 9:20 (pit stop), 8:11, 8:17

At this point part of my brain was saying that we were definitely going to finish and was very relieved and happy about that, and part of my brain was wondering how on earth we were going to run another 6+ miles. My stomach was just so so sick and my body felt so weak. There was no relief from the sun - I felt like I was baking - and it was just pretty dang miserable. Brutal. Brutal is the right word. It didn't help that so very many people were walking, being carted off, falling down, throwing up, going in to the medical tents, etc. It felt like a war zone at times. 

Some fun things that happened during the race -
- I had two different people recognize me from the Runner's World article while I was running
- I had THREE friends in the crowd recognize me and get my attention
- For about half a mile people kept cheering for "Wyoming!" and I kept thinking, "how the heck do they know I am from Wyoming?" I even looked down a few times to see if I was somehow wearing something I had forgotten about. After a bit I realized that a man running next to me was wearing a Wyoming shirt. There were only 23 runners in the race from Wyoming. What are the chances I would end up running right with one of them?
- My new favorite marathon sign, "You aren't Crazy, We are just Lazy!"

I found myself walking longer through/after each aid station trying to cool myself down, get fluids in slowly, and settle my heart rate a bit. I hated walking (and it was very hard to start running again each time I walked an aid station). I felt like I was quitting and giving up. I felt wimpy. I knew I had to do it, but I hated it. I had stopped looking at my Garmin because I knew it would just make me feel discouraged, but by the course clocks I knew roughly what my time would be by about this point and I  knew a PR wasn't happening. I did realize that a BQ was still possible if I held it together and didn't fall apart any further, and so I made that my goal.

21-26.2 were -
11:36 (pit stop, had to wait to get in), 8:00, 8:28, 9:43, 8:48, 8:50 and an average 7:01 pace for the final .2 (or .57 on the Garmin)

I saw that Citgo sign and knew I was getting close. I kept telling myself "two miles left" and picturing where I would be on my road to home and how easy of a distance that was. I kept telling myself I would be done running in less than 20 minutes. I knew my Dad would be right around mile 26, and I let that thought pull me in. I kept thinking about still being about to BQ in Boston, and let that push me.

I turned onto Hereford street, and heard my Dad yell loud and clear! I was so happy to see him and hear him (and I was so happy he was standing in the shade. I had been worrying about him being out in the crazy hot sun, especially since I was taking longer than hoped/planned). He didn't have an easy time spectating though. He watched one runner go down right in front of him and saw lots of people being carted off by EMT's, so of course he was very worried. He also did a lot of walking. Hearing him cheer for me was a big boost. He was great!

I made that final turn on to Boylston St., and really tried to soak in the crowds, the finish line getting closer and closer, the fact that I was finishing (and was BQ'ing), and the fact that I had survived and done it, when it was so terribly hard and it had seemed almost impossible at times during the course.

I crossed the finish line and my final stats were -
Time - 3:37:48
Overall - 4184/21554 finishers (top 19% overall)
In Gender - 729/8966 women (top 8% of women)
In 18-39 age group - 592/4580(top 13% of age group)

As I walked through the finish area I got water, the heat sheet, medal, and a snack bag, and we got funneled out toward the street where the family reunion area was. There were people in bad shape everywhere, and there was even a line of wheelchairs waiting to get in to the medical tent. I was grateful I was feeling ok physically (very exhausted, but ok).

As I started walking towards the Westin Hotel where I was going to meet my Dad, I let myself have a good cry. I knew that no one would want me to feel disappointed and I don't like crying around people, so I kept my sunglasses on and just cried while I walked.  To be honest, I was feeling disappointed, and I was frustrated and doubting myself and my abilities. I felt like I had taken a big step backward instead of forward.

I got close to the Westin and pulled myself together. I looked around out front and there were lots of other people, but not my Dad. I borrowed a phone and sent him a text to tell him I was going in to the hotel, and just before I did I noticed a family face. It was Merhawi Keflezighi, Meb's brother! I knew him from running on Meb's charity team last year in NY, as he is Meb's agent (and he is one of the nicest people you could ever know). I called out his name and he turned around, and surprisingly he recognized me immediately. We started talking and I realized that there was someone standing off to the side waiting for us to stop talking. I looked up to be polite and realized it was Meb! He recognized me as well and I gave him a big hug and congratulated him on his Olympics Trial win and wished him luck at the Olympics. I told him all the kids were routing for him when the race was on TV (except for Shorty, who loves Ryan Hall). :)

Meb asked about Josh, the kids, and my Dad and it was just a really nice moment. My one regret about the expo was that I hadn't gotten to say hi to Meb, so it was such a neat twist of fate to run in to him and Merhawi.

I went in to the Westin and got a round of applause when I went in to the suite for Rick's runners. My Dad found me and we headed upstairs to one of the two hotel rooms that they had set up for runners to use to shower. It was a beautiful room and it was heavenly to get out of my damp uniform, take a shower, and put on clean, dry clothes.

My body was the worst it has ever been after a race! I was sunburned in quite a few place (despite putting on a TON of spf50 sport sunblock), my feet were like raisins from being soaked for so long (although miraculously I didn't have any blisters) and the Aquafor was no match for the heat/water because I chafed like I have never chafed before. (And chafing hasn't ever been an issue for me). The shower was pretty painful! The worst sunburned area I have is my right hand. It is puffy and swollen today even. Ouch!

I talked to Josh and Pam quickly and got some texts and Facebook messages from Jennifer. If you didn't see this post of hers, you need to go see it. That is the kind of friend she is! On top of that, she was texting with Josh throughout the race. I am not sure who was keeping who calm (or who was getting who more excited???) but they both had a lot of fun. :)

ALL of the Facebook messages, blog comments, emails, etc. were so very uplifting and mean more than I can say. THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to say something. I am very, very grateful for all the kind words and encouragement and very humbled by the outpouring of support.

When all the runners had made it in, the suite had cleared, and everyone was packing up and leaving, my Dad and I said good-bye and went to dinner.   I had a burger and fries and then some fabulous bread pudding (my favorite treat). Since I hadn't eaten before the race and had just had some fruit and pretzels afterwards, I was STARVING.

This is the bread pudding. Yes, it was ridiculously big. Pam loves to get a "happy picture" of me eating something good after a race, hence the extra big smile ;)
After that we were back at the hotel and I talked to Josh and Pam again, we watched the news, and then it was off to bed.

I actually slept really well, and was pleasantly surprised when I got out of bed feeling pretty good this morning and not nearly as stiff as I usually am. I went for a short, slow, easy, three mile run and felt better and better as the run went on. It always hurts me to take a deep breath the night/morning after a marathon and after I go for a short, easy run that disappears. My body feels very tired overall, but nothing specific hurts (besides the sunburn!) and my legs feel pretty dang good.

I enjoyed a slow morning with my Dad, we went and had some delicious Ethiopian food (and ate way too much), and then he dropped me off at the airport.

It was an incredible weekend and experience. I love the city of Boston and I love the Boston Marathon. I am hooked! The time spent with my Dad and Pam was wonderful and uplifting. Meeting so many inspiring runners was a very special experience. Seeing Amanda and Robin was great! And, I got Ethiopian food and bread pudding. :) Next year I want to do it all over again, and bring Josh. :)

So how am I feeling now? I know that the conditions were brutal. I know that everyone's times were slower than they hoped and that everyone had to adjust their strategies/goals. I know that my time was decent considering the temps and that just finishing yesterday was an accomplishment. I am not going to feel disappointed anymore, and I am not going to feel discouraged. I had worried about letting a lot of people down, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I can't help but wonder if I could have pushed myself harder, stopped less, walked less, and done better, but I guess I will never know. I did learn a lot yesterday, and can now say I have run a marathon in just about every weather extreme possible! I will certainly never forget my first Boston Marathon and look very forward to running it again and again.

I am going to take what I learned in Boston and add it to the training I have done and the training I will do and keep moving forward. I have just under 8 weeks until the Utah Valley Marathon. :)

Congratulations to ALL of the runners in Boston yesterday. I was amazed at the spirit, heart, and determination I saw in all of the runners out there.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boston Brutal!

Just a quick note before I get some much much needed sleep -

The race was brutal! I finished in 3:37:48, which is well off of my goal of sub 3:15, but I realized pretty quickly in to the race that it was going to be a matter of surviving and finishing, and not PR'ing. I did race as hard and fast as I could, but my body was not a fan of the 88+ degree temps and I just wasn't able to run the pace I wanted. I had to stop and be sick five or six times (can't remember exactly - my brain got very fuzzy!) and I walked the aid stations, which I don't usually do, so I could get three cups of water at each stop (one to dump over my head, one to dump down my front and one to sip).

I am happy that I finished (and at times I had some doubts) and I am happy that I was able to requalify for Boston in Boston. There will be more races and opportunities to make progress.

Coach Rick jumped in and ran with me for a few minutes at mile 15, and I saw my Dad at mile 26 (both of which helped a lot!) I also had a few different friends pick me out along the course and cheer (loved it!) and a few people recognize me from the Runner's World magazine (embarrassing!). I wore my Brooks uniform and got lots of "Go Brooks!" cheers which was fun. 

I did love the course and the whole Boston experience. It's a wonderful race (and would be much more so in temps that were 30-40 degrees cooler!)

Thanks so much to all of you who sent emails, comments, etc. of support and encouragement. They all mean a great deal to me. I am looking forward to a morning with my Dad and then heading home to be with Josh and the kids again. I miss them all terribly and am glad my next race is one that is close to home and they will all get to be there.

Full race report coming soon. :)

Good night - from a very tired, very sunburned (despite putting on a ton of sunblock) runner

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Picture recap

I arrived in Boston on time on Friday afternoon and found my parents waiting for me in the baggage claim area.

It always feels so good to be with them! We drove to our hotel, got checked in and settled and I ate some DELICIOUS New York bagels (thanks Daddy!) We went for a walk around Boston Common and the area by our hotel, and then I went back to the hotel to rest and my parents went out for dinner. I have definitely felt like the parent while we have been here as I eat early, have been to bed early and get up early, while they go out every night, stay up late, and sleep in. :)

On Saturday morning Coach Rick picked me up at 9am. We went over to the track at MIT so I could run for him. I was a little nervous since I have never had anyone watch me run or evaluate my form, and of course I wanted to make a good impression.

Coach Rick told me told me to run two laps nice and easy, and he was going to count my steps, watch my form, etc. I got in to a groove quickly and easily, but as I finished the first lap, Rick stopped me. Before I really had a chance to wonder why, he was telling me all sorts of great things. He told me my form was great, my cadence and foot strike were right on, he was impressed with my overall fitness, etc.  I got some big smiles and high fives (and felt great) and then was on my way for some more laps. His enthusiasm and excitement were definitely uplifting.

After a couple more slow laps, Rick asked me to pick up the pace gradually. Again he stopped me, and this time he told me that I looked even better "at speed".  I did a few more laps, and then he asked me to run at marathon pace for a few laps. He said my form didn't change over time, even at speed, and that that was great. I did a couple of slower laps again, and then we walked a couple of laps together to talk.

Basically Rick said that there is a tweak or two we will make over time, but that he felt I had "all the tools" to achieve the things I want to achieve if I put the work in.

We headed over to the expo to get my number, packet, and to see all there was to see. We beat the big crowds since we were there early. I am not a big shopper but it is fun to see all the products, booths, runners, etc.

I did get to see my buddy Bart at the Runner's World booth. He promptly whipped out a copy of the May issue and showed the people standing around that I was in the magazine. I told him I just wanted to say hi and get a hug, not get embarrassed. :) We talked for a little bit and got the mandatory picture. Bart is a great guy!

We left the expo to head back to the hotel, and I spotted my parents walking, so we pulled over and picked them up.

Dad, Pam and I had a nice lunch, and then we got some pictures at the finish line (although I did not get a picture on it and I didn't get any closer to it than this. I don't want to cross that finish line until it counts!)

We walked back to the hotel and rested for awhile, and then met up for dinner with friends of my parents, and my friend, the wonderful Miss Zippy! Dinner was fun, but afterwards when the rest of the group was going out for drinks, Amanda and I each headed back to our hotels for early bedtimes.

We aren't the most exciting party-ers, but we clean up nice!

This morning was an early start, and I left the hotel for a short run at 5:45am. I ran three miles around Boston Common, and found a nice flat, quiet stretch in the park to do my strides. I got back to the hotel, showered, and packed a breakfast, and then Coach Rick picked me up at 7:15.  He took me for a tour of the course, which was super helpful. We drove up to Hopkinton and walked around and got some pictures at the starting area.

Rick knows the course inside and out, and it was really great and helpful to see the course and get so much insight. I definitely feel more confident after seeing the course and knowing what to expect.

We stopped along the course and I got a photo with the Johnny Kelley statue. I love it!

It was exciting to see the Citgo sign and the final turns on to Hereford and Boylston...I can only imagine how exciting it will be to see them tomorrow!

I had a yummy lunch with my parents at a restaurant near the hotel. Pam has to work tomorrow so we (very sadly) had to say good-bye to her.

Me with my Dad

Me with Pam
Shortly after Pam left, we met up with my fellow Brooks runner and sweet friend Robin! I had spent time with her at Disney and was excited to see her again. Here we are. :)

Robin is so much fun!
And since visiting with Robin and her family, my Dad and I have been relaxing in our hotel room. I am going to finish getting things ready for the morning, and then get some sleep.

Good night world! Tomorrow is Boston Marathon Day!

The night before

There are some things we have control over in life, and some things we have no control at all over.

The weather is one of those things that we just have no control over.

I have trained for 12+ weeks to run a sub 3:15 marathon. I am in shape to do it. I am here in Boston, ready to race.

And it is supposed to be close to 90 degrees tomorrow, during race time.

The B.A.A. has sent out multiple emails to runners. If you haven't heard, they have taken the unprecedented step of offering a deferment option, allowing runners that don't cross the starting line tomorrow to be in the race for next year without having to requalify. The last email recommends that runners who did not run the qualifying time (such as charity runners), runners who have any medical conditions, runners who are not acclimated to high temperatures for running, runners who are undertrained, and runners who have not run a full marathon before, should not run tomorrow.

They are saying for those that do run tomorrow that it should not be considered a race, and that runners should slow their pace significantly, take walk breaks, etc. etc. etc.

Of course I am still running. But it sounds like the chances of this being a big PR race are slim. Coach Rick is advising that I scale back my expectations and run by feel. We drove the entire race course this morning and he gave me a ton of great insight on how to run the course. I think it was very very helpful to see the course in advance and have the mental edge of knowing what to expect.

(I will write a full recap of my time and experiences here, but I just have to say that Rick has been completely amazing. I knew he was wonderful before we met in person, but he is even more wonderful than I had expected. It has been a blessing to get to know him and spend time with him.)

My number one goal tomorrow is now to finish safely. I am going to push myself, but do so smartly, and will listen to my body. I will not go out too fast or too hard. I will run the very best race I can under the given conditions. I don't really know what to expect, but as I always do, I will give it my all.

My number again if you want to track me is 11697. I very likely will not be running the time/pace I originally hoped, but we will see what race day brings.

I appreciate all the cheers, prayers, and COOL thoughts you can send my way.

More soon! I am off to rest up, and in the morning, I am running in the Boston Marathon!!!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Boston Bound!

What a morning!

I rolled out of bed at 2:30am, was out the door for my easy paced five-mile run at 3:20am, was back in the door at 4:01am, was in the shower at 4:26am and was loaded in the van and on the road at 5:37am. And in there, Noah woke up throwing up and with a leaking feeding pump, so there was some serious (unplanned) clean up to do.  (Noah is ok - he just catches every SINGLE germ in the universe, and since he can't swallow well, even a small cold and a little congestion gives him a very hard time and he does a lot of coughing/choking/gagging/throwing up).

Josh and Noah  drove me to the airport (and Noah did great the whole way. Yay!)  and the rest of the kids went to school as usual. We were cutting it close getting to the airport in time so I didn't get a very good "goodbye" with Josh. I miss him like crazy already and so wish he was coming with me this weekend. Here is a pic he snapped as I jumped out of the van this morning -

 Now I am settled in my seat on the flight to Boston.

Funny thing - I walked on to the plane and within 30 seconds a guy pointed me out and recognized me from the Runner's World article. I didn't expect that at all. Crazy!

Anyway - 

If you are running Boston or paying any attention to the news surrounding the Boston Marathon, you have heard that as of right now, they are predicting that it is going to be HOT on Monday. Temps in the 80's hot. 50 degrees warmer than anything I have run in for months and months and months hot.

Being honest, a warm day is the worst possible scenario for me. I have always been a "heat wimp", with running and just in general. Give me the cold. Give me the snow. Give me rain. I got my first sub 3:30 marathon in freezing rain and hail. I can handle cold and wet. But sun and heat? No thanks!

BUT, I am feeling calm about it. I am not getting over-stressed. I am not forfeiting my goals. I will control the things I can control, not freak out about the things I can't control, and will run the best race I can run under the conditions I have on Monday. I think the fact that I am staying calm and confident despite the current weather forecast says a lot about how far I have come with my mental game and my ability to believe in myself.

I have set my goal for this race to run a sub 3:15. I know some runners don't like to say what their goals are or put them "out there" because they worry about looking bad or feeling bad if everyone knows their goal and then they don't make it. I don't feel that way. I am happy to say what my goal is, and I like to aim high proudly, no matter the outcome. If I set a goal and make it, then great! (And I savor it for a short period of time and then quickly set a new goal).

If I set a goal and don't make it, then I just keep going after it until I achieve it. I don't think there is any shame in that, and I hope that I am setting a good example for my kids. I hope they always set big goals, keep going after them until they reach them, and aren't deterred if they don't reach them the first (or second, or third, etc.) try. I love this quote -

"You have not failed until you quit trying."- Gordon B. Hinckley

There are never any guarantees on race day, but I am in shape and very ready to run a 3:15 or better. I did not miss a single day of this training period to injury, illness, excuses, or anything else. I ran a ton of miles. I had several 85 mile weeks and loved them. I hit every SINGLE workout goal. I didn't miss a mile of a long run. I hit all of my paces on long runs, tempo runs, track workouts, etc. I ran a lot of hills. I put in all of the work. I did not cut any corners. Best of all, my body feels awesome right now. I'll be darned if I am going to let some freakishly warm weather throw that all out the window. :)

So my plan is to go out on Monday morning and get my sub 3:15.

If the heat is all that they are saying it might be and my body doesn't handle it well and I don't hit my goal, I will run the best race I can run under the conditions and be proud of doing that. I will let myself be disappointed for a bit, and then I will look ahead to achieving my goal in my next race (the Utah Valley Marathon on June 9).

That said, I have a really good feeling about this race, no matter what the weathermen are saying. Josh told me that "I have it in me" and that is the thought (and his voice) I am going to hold on to if the going gets rough. I am ready. :)

Now I just have to make it through a few more hours of this flight (I am SO not a fan of sitting still), and then I get to see my parents, see friends, and experience all that is the Boston Marathon weekend. Yay!

And of course, all of the above said, I will be sending up prayers for an unexpected cold front to move in to the Boston area for Monday. :)

If you want to track me during the marathon my number is -


More soon from Boston!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who I run for

When I cross that starting line in Hopkinton on Monday and start my 26.2 mile journey to Boston, I will be running for a lot of reasons, and for a lot of people.

I will be running for Josh. I know he loves me no matter what, but I always want to impress him. He will be in my heart the entire way (as he is always is, especially so when we are apart) and I know he will be following my splits from home and cheering me on. I will carry his love with me and use it as fuel, and I will reconnect with him as I always do as quickly as possible once I cross that finish line. I will run for him because he is my biggest cheerleader, and because he wants to "see me fly".

I will be running for my kids. I will be running to show them that it is good and important to work hard and chase your dreams, and that hard work is rewarding. I will be running to show them that women can be good, loving, and devoted moms and wives, and can also have their own personal passions and goals. I will be running HARD because Amanda (front and center in the black and blue dress) has demanded (as usual) that I beat all the boys. :)

I will be running for my Noah. Yesterday he took 5-8 steps all on his own several times, after standing up all by himself, without holding on to anything. This is the baby we were told would likely never sit up on his own, or even hold up his own head. Every day he shows me what love, determination, persistence, and faith can do. We witness miracles with him every day.

I will be running for my parents. They were at my first, second, and third marathons, even though those all happened within four months and involved travel on their part. They spoiled me during our stay in NY for the NYC marathon and cheered me on all along the course with Josh. They always text me right before and right after my races if they aren't there. They give me endless, unconditional love and support in all that I do, and to Josh and the kids. (I can't wait to see them!)

I will be running for Jennifer. Although we met through the blog and she lives on the East Coast, she is an amazing friend to me. She sent me the most fun "get pumped up for Boston" CD mix, and a card and poem that made me cry (and are definitely coming to Boston with me!) And of course a few weeks ago she sent me my most awesome Boston Marathon jacket! She is always there to encourage me, support me, make me laugh, let me whine, or anything else I need, and her friendship is priceless to me. I know she won't be able to get anything done at work until I cross that finish line, so I will have to just be quick about it. :)

I will be running for Brooks! I am so excited and grateful to be sponsored by the most amazing company. I have already met some super cool people and gotten some wonderful opportunities thanks to Brooks, and I am honored to represent them when I race (and will definitely "Run Happy" and be rocking my PureFlows in Boston). I will be wearing my uniform with pride!

I will be running for all of my other family members and friends that have shown me support, encouragement, and love. I will be running for all of the great people I have connected with through this blog, the Runner's World article, my running club, etc. I have gotten so much inspiration from other runners who have shared their stories with me, and to those of you who comment regularly and/or have emailed me, I truly, truly appreciate it.

I will be running for all of the people out there who are just starting out on their running journey or are struggling. I will be running to show you that you CAN find the time to get your running in, you CAN lose weight, you CAN change your self-image, you CAN get faster, and you CAN achieve much, much more than you think you can.

And finally, I will be running for me. I will be racing because I love it. I will be running to celebrate over 75lbs lost, and an athlete found inside myself. I will be running to honor the fact that in less than three years I will have gone from not being able to run even two miles, to (hopefully!) running a sub 3:15 Boston Marathon. I will be running to show myself that I am strong, I am fast, I am capable, I am tough, I am determined, I am brave, and I am faithful. I will be running to celebrate the results of a whole lot of hard work and training. I will be running to get one step closer to my ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials. I will be running because I believe it is a gift that God my Heavenly Father has given to me and wants me to use to the best of my abilities. I will be running to show myself that I can achieve my goals and dreams. I will be running because it is a part of who I am and what I love to do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The Boston Marathon is in SIX DAYS.

I am leaving my house on Friday morning at 5:30am (which is in just THREE DAYS).

So yes - there is a lot of excitement around here.

Here are some details.

Running is going well, and not to jinx anything, I think I am feeling as ready as I could feel. We pulled the miles back these last two weeks by quite a bit, but are still keeping a decent amount of intensity. In the past for other races, I have felt like I have over-tapered so I am hoping this is the right combination for me.

Today I ran 10 miles. I ran the first mile as a warm up (8:28), and then the plan was to do five miles at goal marathon pace of 7:15 (7:15, 7:13, 7:03, 7:05, 7:05) and then two miles at 7:00 pace (6:58 and 6:44) and then two cool down miles (7:56 and 8:18). Some of those miles were on a slight downhill grade and two had decent uphill grades. I ran a lot by feel and didn't check my Garmin obsessively. The paces came easily and I feel super good. It was a really fun run.

My goal for Boston is to run a sub 3:15. That will be taking (at least) 13 minutes off of my current PR. I know that Boston isn't an easy race or an easy course, but I have put the work in, I have done a lot of hill running, and I think I am ready for a big PR. My plan is to run a 7:15 or so average pace (which would be a 3:10), knowing that I will likely lose a few minutes for a pit stop or two (although I would love it if I didn't and have been working on my stomach/GI issues). I am pretty much planning to not go out too fast, keep an average 7:15 pace, and kick some serious Newton Hills butt. I definitely will be giving it my all.

Physically, emotionally, and mentally, I am ready to RACE.

I have to leave here by 5:30am on Friday to get to the Salt Lake City airport by 8:30am, and then I get in to Boston around 4:20pm. My parents are driving up from Long Island on Friday and we are staying together at a hotel. I can't wait to see them and get some quality time with them. It is so hard to live so far away from them.

Monday is race day!! I start running at 10:20am (or shortly thereafter) and hopefully will be done by 1:35 or so. :) Then I will be celebrating with my Dad and I don't leave Boston until Tuesday (late afternoon).

There are some other runners/bloggers I am hoping to meet, and a couple I have met in the past that I am looking very forward to seeing again (Amanda and Robin especially!!!)

I am mostly organized and packed, although there is always lots for me to do before going away and leaving Josh and the kids, even just for a long weekend. I will miss them something awful. It's hard being away.

Six days!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Work, hurt, and luck

First off, I had a great track workout this morning. I did 7 miles total, with a two mile warm up, some strides, 5x800m repeats in 2:52, 2:52, 2:51, 2:52, and 2:51 (5:45-5:47 average pace) with two minute jog intervals, and then a 1.5 mile cool-down. It was a tough workout (I definitely pushed myself hard), but I enjoy the track, and I was really happy to be so consistent, especially since I didn't look at the Garmin for the last two intervals and just went on feel.  I still get excited to maintain a pace that starts with the number 5, even if it is just for half-mile repeats.

Since the kids are on Spring Break I got to start a little later than usual and the sun was even up, and a couple of friends and neighbors were at the track too, which was fun. It was COLD though and for my first couple of warm-up laps my teeth were even chattering. (By the end of the workout I was shedding layers though). 

I love the feeling of finishing a tough track workout and going over my splits on my Garmin and seeing that I nailed it!

It was a good enough workout that when I shared my splits I got a stream of "wow's" out of Josh and a happy phone call from Coach Rick, so that made me feel even better about it. 

I leave for Boston a week from tomorrow!  

Moving on -  

I get a lot of emails from runners asking for all kinds of advice. I am certainly not an expert, but I am happy to offer as much help, support, and encouragement that I can to anyone who asks.

Many of the questions I get are from runners who are just starting out, or runners who have been at it for awhile but want to get faster or run further distances. 

Do you want to know the secret to becoming a better runner? To being able to run further distances and faster paces no matter where you are at now or what your goals are? The secret is that there is no secret. You have to work at it. You have to get out there and run regularly.  You have to slowly, smartly, and safely build your mileage. You have to be consistent. You have to do the work.

Speed doesn't come magically. It comes from running faster.

To make progress in running, when things get comfortable, you have to push yourself. When a pace is comfortable or a distance becomes easy to finish, then it's time to push yourself further and faster.  You have to be willing to make yourself uncomfortable and to not give up when it hurts. (I am not talking about the kind of hurt that comes with an injury, but the kind of hurt you feel when you are really pushing your body). It's human instinct to want to stop doing something that makes us feel uncomfortable and to pull back, and you have to push past that.

Every once and a while someone will tell me that I am "lucky" that I am fast. I am here to tell you that luck has very little to do with it. I have worked really, really, really hard to get to where I am at, and plan to work even harder to get to where I want to go.

Three years ago I physically could not run two consecutive miles at any pace. When I started running with a local group of moms, I was the slow one. I was the heavy one. I was the newest runner. I could not keep up.

In May 2009 I ran a 5k. I finished in 32:02 and felt like I was king of the world. In September 2010, I ran my first half marathon in 2:04:50 and was thrilled and excited with my progress. In December 2010 I ran my first full marathon in 4:15:50 and couldn't have been happier. Less than nine months later I ran my first BQ marathon in 3:32:15. I have continued to get faster from there, and have every intention to get myself to the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016.

I have run almost every day and put the miles in, no excuses. I didn't quit when the mornings got dark and the snow started falling. I have steadily built my mileage. I have done lots of reading and research on running. training, and marathoning. I have worked hard and pushed myself continually to get faster. I have been dedicated to and consistent with my core/strength training to be strong overall and fight injuries. I take my recovery seriously. And I do all that day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out. And I love it. :)

So that's my secret to improving as a runner (and probably at most things in life). Work hard, be consistent, be determined, push yourself, be willing to hurt, and keep at it. Of course a little luck never hurts, and neither does help and advice from other runners, support and encouragement from those you love and who love you, and finding a great coach. :)


"All things are difficult before they are easy." - Thomas Fuller

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

"Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price." - Vince Lombardi

"I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it." - Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I had just a short, slow, and easy six miler this morning, and I am down to "half strength" core/strength workouts now that taper has started. It was cold, but the sun was shining and I got to run with Josh this morning (since we have big kids home thanks to spring break) and it always makes me super happy to get out and run with him by my side. It's a perfect way to start the day.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Before I get into the "meat" of this post, I need to say that I have had an awesome couple of days of running. On Saturday I had a 10 mile tempo run. I did a three mile warm up, then five tempo miles without any rest intervals, and then a two mile cool down. The tempo miles were  at 6:49, 6:49, 6:47, 6:28 and 6:24. It was a really FUN run and it felt great to run faster. I easily could have run a few more tempo miles or picked up the pace on these, so that was a good feeling and it was a confidence boosting run.

Then this morning I had my last long run of this training cycle. I did 17 miles and finished with a 7:42 average pace for the run. It was 22 degrees and windier than I would have liked, but I was really happy to maintain the pace I wanted despite the wind and running a hilly route. It was another run that the pace came easily and I felt really good and strong the whole way - another confidence boosting run.

Let taper begin! Two weeks until Boston. :)

Now for the "meat" of the post.

I have had two commenters recently ask, "How do you see running affecting your passion about adoption, international development, orphans, etc. I initially came to your blog because that is what you wrote a lot about. It seems like as you get more passionate about running, that stuff isn't as important?"

The short answer is that running hasn't affected my passion about adoption, international development, orphans, etc. at all.  This is my running blog. I started this blog to have a place to journal and write about my running, and to connect with other runners. I share small parts of other aspects of my life and other passions, but if you are looking for me writing about adoption and orphan issues, you won't find much of that here.  (Every once and a while I do. If you haven't read my post "Limits", I ask you to. I originally posted it here and then it was reposted on the Rainbowkids adoption magazine).

Several years ago I did have a very active family blog. I shared a great deal about my family, and also used the blog as a way to advocate for adoption (especially HIV+ and special needs adoptions) and used it as a way to educate others. At the time, there was literally almost no information at all available online (or anywhere else) about adopting HIV+ children and there was a huge need. Now there are countless websites, blogs, and other sources of information. I decided that I wanted more privacy for my family and have made that blog private, and now mostly use it to share more personal things with family and friends (although I have not been writing on it much lately).

At that time I felt that writing was the best way I could advocate and "do good" in the areas of adoption, etc. Now with my work I am doing different things that I think/hope are doing just as much good.

My other passions have not changed because of my running. I still work in international adoption. I still spend hours a day advocating, educating, fundraising, and being submerged in adoption, international development, orphan issues, etc. It can all be very emotionally draining, but it is what I do because I am very passionate about it and because I very much want to do good things with my life and make the world a better place in whatever small ways that I can.  Running hasn't changed any of that.

Running is my release of the emotional stress of my job, of raising 12 kids, and of everything else life brings. Running is what I do to care for myself. Running, and chasing after (literally!) my running goals and dreams is the part of my life that I have carved out for me. And because of that I have more of myself to give to my husband, my children, my job, and my other passions.

For a long time all I did was give, give, give. I gave to Josh. I gave to the kids. I gave to my job. I gave much time and energy to advocating. I got burnt out emotionally. I was unhealthy physically. There was no balance. I still give, give, give (and do so happily), but I found a balance.

I don't regret what I give to others, and I don't regret my running, which is what I give to myself.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

Running is definitely one of my passions now, as is being healthy and fit, and trying to inspire and help others to achieve that for themselves since I know how amazing it feels to do that. I enjoy writing about it and want to have a written account of my journey. I answer many messages a week from people asking for advice, help, and guidance with running, eating, etc.  and do so happily. I try to encourage and inspire others through our local running group. I also have found ways to combine my passions, and have run to raise money for orphans, adoption, and children living in impoverished conditions.

This is my running blog. Most of what I write about here will be about my running. Running is very important to me and is a big part of my life, but my life has much more to it than running.

I have many passions, many loves, and many blessings in a very full, rewarding, and happy life.