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2014 is not about my thighs

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A week ago I found last year's wrap-up and goals blog. And I attempted to write something. And days passed. Concrete goals work for me. I love checklists, numbers, charts, and my sticker workout calendar. I met many many 2013 goals. I ran another marathon, I got the 1:49 HM that I'd been chasing for over 2 years, I completed an Olympic distance triathlon in the small town my mom grew up in. Cousins and aunts cheered my dad and me on. A major fitness highlight of the year.

So why was I struggling to put in print my goals for 2014? That's not like me.

Yesterday I took my kids to an obstacle course at the Y. It was a special event promoting family fitness. My daughter ran right in, but my son needs a little more encouragement. I picked him up and went over to the area where hula hoops were taped to the ground. I held him and jumped around. We giggled and hugged and nose nuzzled. My daughter saw us and chased after us and we all hopped around together some more. Then they both tore off around the gym like young children should.

30 minutes later a man approached me and said he was from the local paper. He took a picture of us and wanted to use it. When he showed me the candid shot, my immediate reactions was, "I look huge!" And as I gave him the spellings of our names with a fake smile on my face, all these ugly, negative thoughts raced through my head.

Is that how I really look in these leggings?! My chest looks huge! Uggg, my thighs are so big.

No. no no no no no. That is not what the picture shows. It shows a happy mother laughing with her healthy children. It is a picture of quality time. It is a picture of fun, physical activity inside when it is -30 degrees outside. I know what my husband would say if he saw it. He'd see the beauty and the joy.

That picture is not about my thighs.

My goal for 2014 is to be kind to myself. Think good things. And maybe that's too abstract and not SMART goal enough. But I know that's OK because the other goals will come. My race calendar is loosely mapped out. Fingers crossed that if Chicago goes with a lottery this year, that we get in. Time goals will be established. Challenges will come. And I'll love it all.

I'll put the stickers on my calendar. I'll over analyze race calculators, I'll make charts and graphs of my training plans. I'll actually do speedwork! I will stick with my ST. And throughout it all, I will see the beauty and happiness and tickle monster crazy mama that my kids and my husband see.

Happy New Year Spark!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OPTIMIST1948 2/22/2014 10:40PM

    There is something to be said for priorities

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HEALTHYLADY12 2/1/2014 11:09AM

    I love how you are not only making yourself healthy but creating this great healthy living lifestyle for your kids. Your inspiring me and your awesome.

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GREGGWEISBROD 1/15/2014 4:21PM

    It's astounding how critical we can be of our own bodies. We could look at pictures of others, and see only beauty and wonderful lines and curves, but then we look at ourselves and we're just so critical. I've seen your pictures that you have here, and it's pretty clear as day, you're stunning, and you haven't a single line or curve that looks out of place - yet it's so hard for us to see that too, hey? Once I had hit close to my goal, and my weight steadied out, I started to see parts that I didn't like again, as if I'd forgotten how much more incredible I looked compared to when I started! But that's just human nature, and the insights you shared here speak directly to what we need to do when those moments creep up on us! Great post, so proud of you for being kind to yourself, and seeing the true beauty of the picture that was taken.

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CUTENHEALTHY 1/5/2014 5:59PM

    You are so hard on yourself! You do not know how amazing you are! I am so impressed that you ran A MARATHON and did an OLYMPIC TRIATHLON! I live in California and it has been a beautiful, balmy 50 degrees here in January so far. I can not even fathom -30!!! The photographer took your picture because you are a stud and a role model! You look awesome!

Comment edited on: 1/5/2014 6:00:07 PM

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RODRIGUEZ41508 1/2/2014 12:40PM

    Keep up the great "Positive" attitude/thoughts and always keep in mind how far you've come :)

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TIGER_LILY_613 1/2/2014 12:12PM

    emoticon emoticon

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BEEAUTIFULDAY 1/2/2014 12:11PM

  I think you look great. And you have really good attitude about fitness and keeping healthy, which will carry on with your kids. This is a really inspiring blog post, thanks for this.

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TINAJANE76 1/2/2014 11:59AM

    Oh yeah, I know how easy it is to turn on that self criticism and I've had many similar moments to what you've described. But, seriously, you look awesome and I'm sure that not only do you look like a happy and healthy mom in that picture, but that you also look beautiful. And just think of how much it will mean to your kids years from now to look back on that picture and see that they had a fun, energetic mom who was able to do so many neat things with them. You're a wonderful, fit role model and it's no wonder the photographer chose yours as the family to capture the spirit of the event! I used to do photography work, so trust me, his choice was intentional!

Comment edited on: 1/2/2014 12:01:16 PM

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NUOVAELLE 1/2/2014 4:15AM

    I love starting the new spark year with super-optimistic and extra-inspiring blogs like this one! Keep on sparking and being the beautiful, crazy mama that your family loves and the wonderful sparker you've always been.
Happy 2014!

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WORTHEYMOM 1/1/2014 1:00PM

    Love love love! Thank you for inspiring us all! I do so much better when I have a plan with charts and written goals! I will make those charts and goals TODAY!

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RUNNERRACHEL 12/31/2013 9:14PM

    emoticon beautifully put! Being kind to ourselves, doing away with negative self talk need to be at the top of our NYE list of resolutions. You have much to be proud of. Celebrate joyfully! LOVE!

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OJIBWEEQUAY 12/31/2013 8:17PM

    LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh speed work. On my goal list! Happy New Year friend emoticon

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MICHSTATE 12/31/2013 6:28PM

    I love this blog!!!! Happy New Year!!!!

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CRYSBROWN1 12/31/2013 5:59PM

    Well put...Happy New Year!!!

I wish you much success and more importantly HAPPINESS!!!

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ROXYZMOM 12/31/2013 5:32PM

    You are such an awesome role model for your children! It's too cool that the photographer saw it and got that shot! Who knows which readers you will inspire??

I can relate to your feelings about the picture - I do the same thing. It must have to do with striving to "be perfect".

At any rate, I love your resolution. Sort of sums all the fitness and healthy eating you do all year up!

Happy New Year!! emoticon

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PINKBEANBOO 12/31/2013 4:14PM

    You have such a good attitude. I'm going to try & let it rub off on me. The pictures I saw of myself taken over Christmas grossed me out : (

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HM #8: the sub 1:50 one

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Reading over my old race recaps helps get me ready for races. It reminds me of what I've learned, how I felt at certain points, what my goals are, etc. This race was a week ago and it's already a little fuzzy.

I read my marathon blog. And the lesson from that was: START SLOW, START SLOW, START SLOW. I read HM #s 6 and 7 and the lessons there were: start slow. And then run fast! You want that sub 1:50. You know you can do it. Get under 1:50!!! I read HM #5 where I was in such a zone and had an incredible run on a very tough course. I visualized myself feeling that way again.

And at the starting line last week, I pictured myself at #5s starting line. I channeled that energy. Get. in. the. zone!

One concern was that I hadn't trained for this race. I was just trusting that coming off a marathon 4 weeks ago was enough. I hadn't run over 6 miles since the marathon. Not ideal training! But, whatever.

This race is almost all downhill (until mile 11). It's known as a speedy and beautiful course. We couldn't have asked for better weather. 40 degrees at the start. The sun was out, leaves were golden and every shade of red imaginable. My personal runner's heaven!

But, another concern was starting with 2 friends and DH. I was worried because I really wanted to run my own race and not try to keep up with anyone else. But then I looked on the bright side, and realized this would force me to start slow because I would have to chat and be aware of my breathing. I was honest and told them my plan. They are all faster than me and agreed to get me off to a good start.

And it worked:
8:04 (This was a huge downhill so easy to run speedy)

By this point we all broke apart. I put my earbuds in and picked it up.
Whoa! Slow down, sister. Too early to go that fast. My goal was 8:05s-8:25s because I figured that would get me the average of 8:19s I needed for a 1:49.

So when mile 5 is 8:03 I really did say aloud, "Seriously! slow down." I reminded myself not to make this same mistake again. I gave myself a little lecture for the entire mile. And was pretty happy with the next Garmin vibration:

And again:

But then there's that delicate balance of slowing down too much, so I had to pick it up a bit.
Around mile 9 I noticed that familiar slump in most runners around me. Head down, shoulders rolled in. My dad calls it the survivor shuffle. Oh, how I know that feeling. Mile 9 is usually a very ugly place for me in a HM. But this time I felt strong and amazing. 8:05! Yes! yes! yes! I felt so good.

And then... this is where the race gets cruel. There is also a 10 mile event. You have to run right by their finish line. And! Then the very few hills on the entire course start here.
Don't slow down anymore, I tell myself. You need another 8:20. But suddenly I feel the fatigue.

The mile 11 marker is half way up a hill. My watched buzzed 8:30
Nooooo! Not again. I knew I was slowing too much and I didn't have all that many seconds to spare. And I was only halfway up a monster hill and I knew there was one more coming.
mile 12 is 8:58

NOOOOOO! I kicked it into high gear. I wanted to finish strong. In August I gave up a little at the end and I refused to feel that way again. I ran as hard and fast as I could. And it hurt. A lot. Most painful 8:12 mile I've ever run.

Turns out 13.1 miles is really far and it's a bad idea to go in with a marathoner's over confidence. I really thought it wouldn't be as hard as it was at the end. Another lesson learned! Respect the distance.

chip time:
ha! Nothing like cutting it close.

A few of my favorite race things: a PR, a fun medal, and chocolate muscle milk!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIFEFOUNDONARUN 11/12/2013 12:10AM

    Wow!!!! What a fabulous job!! I'm so happy for you!!!!!!!!!!!

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 11/9/2013 11:56AM

    yay, yay, yay! You are such an inspiration for realizing your goals and making them happen. I love it! Congrats M!!

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NDFOXEN 11/6/2013 10:59PM

    THAT. IS. AWESOME! You go girl. You totally deserve it!
Ahh... Smiles for YOU!

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PINKBEANBOO 11/5/2013 12:07PM

    Whao, that was close. emoticon
How do you do it? How do you make yourself go faster when you are already drained? You are a machine!

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SWEETNEEY 11/5/2013 8:47AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    you are amazing. that is all. So much to learn from this post.

Comment edited on: 11/4/2013 10:49:46 PM

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CRYSBROWN1 11/4/2013 2:51PM

    Love it!! Amazing PR!

I definitely understand the respect the distance perspective!

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MARGARITTM 11/4/2013 1:12PM

    Nice job on the race - My MO as well is going out TOOO FAST.

Great job I will try to channel FITFOODIE in two weeks in Vegas.

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BUTTERFLY-1976 11/4/2013 12:33PM

    Awesome job!!! Congrats on a sub 1:50

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WORTHEYMOM 11/4/2013 11:45AM

    unreal chica! congrats on reaching your goal! inspiring me to kick it back into gear! cold months are my running months! lol - Great job!

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STRIVER57 11/4/2013 2:34AM


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NUOVAELLE 11/4/2013 2:16AM

    Awesome job!
You never cease to learn and that's one thing I really like about your race blogs.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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STRIVERONE 11/4/2013 12:40AM

    Congratulations! Great going.

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MWWENSIN 11/3/2013 8:54PM

    Great job. It's a hard one to learn that starting slow and finishing fast is the goal. Very hard for me to learn, but it works. Congrats on your PR.

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ROXYZMOM 11/3/2013 6:32PM

    Congratulations! You did totally awesome!

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LISAINMS 11/3/2013 6:30PM

    Congratulations! Glad you had a great race and plenty of kick left to spare that sub 1:50.

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MICHSTATE 11/3/2013 3:33PM

    Good job!!!!!! Your race reports always make me want to go for a run!!!!!! I would like to break 1:50 for a half at some point!!!! My current PR is 1:52. I am planning on training with a personal trainer at my gym to get a sub-4 hour marathon next spring. :-)

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COOP9002 11/3/2013 2:25PM

    Great job!!

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ONMYMEDS 11/3/2013 2:06PM

    Wow, nice job!! Good report.

Oh, how well I know that survivor shuffle.

emoticon emoticon

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LEWILL1982 11/3/2013 1:51PM

    Congratulations! That's awesome! One day, I want to run that fast!

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REDRUNNERMOM713 11/3/2013 1:16PM

    Awesome! I'm so happy for you for hitting your PR! Happy dance!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JOYFULSPIRIT920 11/3/2013 10:06AM

You DID it!!
Woop Woop!!!!

Yay!! I'm so happy for you!
Way to go!!

You inspire me to leave it all out there on race day!

emoticon emoticon

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now what?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I have been in love with racing since I lined up at the start of my first 5K. I don't think I even liked running then. I liked the racing. So I signed up for another race and then another and somewhere in the mix I feel head over heels with running.

My first HM was Monster Dash 2011. I didn't even sign up. I ran the Twin Cities 10 miler in the beginning of the month and then a friend offered me her bib for the end of the month. No real half training plan, no fuel, no idea what pacers were, wore new socks, no app, no Garmin and ran a 1:55. Not bad!

Since then I have learned a ton and raced lots more. My halves range from 1:51 to 2:00. I really really want to get that 1:49. I think I have s good shot next Saturday at this year's Monster Dash. (Last year I was a spectator at the event and really wished I had run. By that time i knew it was a speedy course, almost all downhill!)

The only problem is that I haven't run over 6 miles since the marathon 2 weeks ago. I rested and ran easy the first week. Last week we were supposed to run 8 on Tuesday, but we ran into a dog at a busy intersection and took him home a few blocks away and then had to get going so only managed 6. Worth it! It was a good adventure and we got the dog home safe and sound. But not enough mileage. Yesterday I could've done 10, but went to an apple orchard with kids and friends instead. Obviously, a way better choice. But again, only ran 6.

I know I'll be fine next week. This just all has me thinking. I have never followed a HM training plan. I have raced them during marathon training. I have added in a 10 or a 12 mile run to my normal running schedule a few weeks before a race. Maybe if I really want that 1:49 (or 1:47 if I feel greedy!) I need to actually put in the work and follow a plan. Crazy idea, huh?

I dug out a calendar and printed out Train Like A Mother's Own It plan. Get Lucky HM is 3/15/14. So... training begins end of December??! Not sure I want to commit to that. I am very type A and I like to check things off lists. When I commit to a plan, I am hard on myself when I miss a workout. Not sure that I want to be that intense all winter.

But then I flip flop and think: you need to challenge yourself. You should try out this intense plan now so you know if you can handle it for a full. We're thinking Chicago 2014. Training would start in June.

I gotta put the work in if I want results. But I also don't want to burn out.

This is the ultimate goal after all. But still, my wheels are turning. What would you do?
Train hard?
Take it easy?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NDFOXEN 10/25/2013 7:45PM

    mmm... Burn out? Train hard? Burn out? Train hard? I get what your saying.
Sure- sign up for another marathon again if you want too. I loved reading your post about the experience! Marathons are always a learning experience. If you feel burnt out- try to adjust the run to how you feel. Take a day or two off- 18 week programs are LONG... and hard to stay motivated. Maybe plug in a few 5k's or something just to keep yourself interested and that could be your speedwork for the week...
Have fun planning! :) Or not- the choice is yours :)
Have fun!

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    I never realized until now how I fit half marathons into full marathon plans - it's never a formal half plan for me either. I bet though with training a 1:45 or sub 1:45 is in your cards. I look at my winter training as a way to keep my fitness up for spring halfs and ten milers and to lay a great base for the next fall season - I won't tell you not to put pressure on yourself because I am the same way. It will be fun to encourage each other through winter training - I love running the snow and it's an excuse to buy sweet new gear:)

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RUNNERRACHEL 10/20/2013 12:49PM

    I'm with you--I love races. Fell in love with races at a 5k and have been addicted ever since.

As for your decision--do what works for you. If you have a goal and you want to reach it, it will take some sacrifice. But if running all winter (that does not sound too appealing) is not worth it, train for a race with better weather conditions. You will stay active but you don't want to drive yourself crazy or stress out over perfection. Remember, you don't have to be perfect to be successful. So, think about what it would involve, make your training plan fit you, your goals, your situation, and go for it! It doesn't have to be this month or even this year. Make a plan for you and you will do it.

You are already a success and will continue to succeed. This is your lifestyle now and that will not change.

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LISAINMS 10/20/2013 12:28PM

    I need a race and a plan. At. All. Times. Otherwise, I am winging it and that's no way for a Type A to get around. Some people don't get that. I start with a plan that I download into an Excel file. Then I build around the races I have on my calendar, travel plans and other life events to develop the plan around me and my needs. Every 4th week is a cut-back in volume. It allows me to train as I need to for reaching my goals without overtraining or feeling pressured for missing something. I don't miss anything. Make your training plan work for you!

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MBSHAZZER 10/20/2013 9:23AM

    I'm not a follow a plan kind of person... for some reason, if I think I "have" to do something, I won't want to do it. But if I give myself flexibility to do what I want, I generally end up running just as much if not more. At any rate, give the plan a try for the march half and see how it goes. If you find yourself hating running, you can always bail on the plan and do your own thing. If it works out well, then you know you can use it for Chicago 2014.

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HONEYCAT22000 10/20/2013 8:32AM

    I appreciate that you are always checking in with yourself to push for the next goal in the best way possible. There are days you can feel strong and committed to the challenge ahead, and days you need to extend grace to yourself that you have other priorities. Be kind to yourself!

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JOYFULSPIRIT920 10/20/2013 6:40AM

    I always download a plan & follow it to the best of my ability. Life happens and your running has to make allowances for that. I like the mid-week tempo or fartlek speeds they give.
I think you are experienced enough that you could probably make your own plan.
You've got the mileage down, easy-peasy, its the speed of the race you are working on.
I love that you aren't sitting at a 1:50 looking toward a 1:40. Your goal of 1:49 is so doable.
I've got confidence in you & your mad skills. You'll get it!!

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CRYSBROWN1 10/19/2013 7:43PM

    Comparably training for a HM is less time consuming and all encompassing like a FM so I say go for the HM. I - much like you - need a race to keep me going, keep me motivated and without a plan I kinda putter along half halfheartedly so I think keeping your "eye on the prize" so to speak is a better way to go. However, with that being said, only you know what your upcoming schedule is and with the fam - because I definitely know how that goes entering into the holiday season - I would definitely take the time to assess and go from there...

Whatever you decide, do what is right for you...and although I have to remind myself of this sometimes...these races are not going anywhere! They WILL be there when you are ready so do not stress yourself, you will meet the goals you have set forth.

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PASTAFARIAN 10/19/2013 7:13PM

    That's the problem with training plans one finds on the web. They say nothing about fitting them into your training the rest of the year.

Your concern about burnout is very valid given how you talk about pushing. There are some good books that address this topic. An experienced coach may be your best bet.

As an aside, what's so special about a 1:49? Everyone I know aims for the round numbers (i.e., 1:50) You only see 1:50 pacers, not 1:49 pacers, right?

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LEWILL1982 10/19/2013 4:22PM

    I am not doing very well with a training plan for the Thanksgiving half marathon. I'm up to 5 miles comfortably. I need to get on track, but I would say, do what makes you comfortable. The plan might help you determine your paces to help you get that 1:47. I have a goal to hit 1:59, just don't think it will be this year if I don't start getting my miles in. Do what's realistic for you, if you feel pressured , you might start to feel resentful. Good luck, you'll figure it out.

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stunning finish line photos

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Since Sunday's marathon, I have experienced intense moments of pride. And equally intense moments of disappointment. And that is exactly why I will do it again someday. The range of emotions makes me feel alive.

These pictures capture those feelings better than any words ever could:

I passed the man in the last photo. On the back of his shirt was a sign: 80 years old.

Isn't life beautiful?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CUTENHEALTHY 1/5/2014 6:02PM

    These are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!!

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REDRUNNERMOM713 10/11/2013 10:19AM

    Love these! I feel these emotions just getting through my weekly runs sometimes. Every run should be celebrated! Thanks for sharing.

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HDHAWK 10/10/2013 9:01PM

    Cool pictures! Thanks for sharing!

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    wow, so moving! I especially love the one of the two women leaving on each other.

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BOILHAM 10/10/2013 2:35PM

    Great pictures! Thanks.

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GINGERHAWK 10/10/2013 11:57AM

    Wow, what fantastic photos. Marathoners are an amazing group of dedicated people. I simply don't know how you all do it!

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MBSHAZZER 10/10/2013 9:37AM

    Great photos! Hope you are enjoying your recovery!

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OJIBWEEQUAY 10/9/2013 11:23PM

    bursting!!!!!!!!!!! emoticon

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MNNICE 10/9/2013 8:52PM

    Enjoyed the pictures! I can even imagine running a marathon!

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ROXYZMOM 10/9/2013 7:35PM

    Very cool!

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TWINZMOM7 10/9/2013 7:18PM

  Fantastic!! I'm running my first marathon this Saturday...these bring tears to my eyes!

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GRANDMAPATTYV 10/9/2013 6:19PM

    Great pics!

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AGGIEKBEAR03 10/9/2013 5:12PM

    Such awesome photos...very few people understand the complex emotions that finishing a half or full marathon can cause...this photographer did a beautiful job of capturing some of those! Congrats to you on your finish! AMAZING!

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RJSAMS 10/9/2013 2:40PM

    I love that photostream! What great pics.

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WORTHEYMOM 10/9/2013 2:09PM


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Marathon #2

Monday, October 07, 2013

I have learned a lot about running & racing from Spark blogs. When you read that no race will be like your first marathon; they're right. When they say to start slow; they're right.

My first marathon experience was magical. And I really did soak it in. But how can you tell something is so special while you're living it? Part of me thought marathon #2 would be just as incredible.

And it was. And it wasn't. I woke up Sunday and had a strange feeling. It just didn't feel like race morning. Maybe it's because I was at home and it kinda seemed like any other day.

Staying warm in the metrodome

DH and I were in different corrals so we waited until the last minute to kiss & say goodbye. He turned left to join corral 1 and I went right to #2. It was packed and I was looking around for pacers, but they were already singing the National Anthem and everything just went so quickly. Maybe my first mistake was not lining up in a good spot. My original plan was to start with the 4:15 pacer, but then I found out I wasn't even placed in the same corral as them! Yes, I could've moved myself back to #3. Yes, I could've made sure I was in the very back of #2. I didn't do either of those things. Can you see where this is going?

The first mile is through downtown and the crowd is amazing and you can breathe in the excitement. I was freezing cold and was saying to myself: slow warm-up, slow warm-up. I promised myself that I wouldn't obsessively check my Garmin, I'd only look when it vibrated with mile splits. So I was really happy with mile 1 at 9:28.

Keep calm, enjoy this gorgeous Fall morning. Rain had been predicted all week and the sun was out. Leaves have just started to change. You could not ask for better running weather. I was still a little cold, but warming up. Mile 2 is 8:33. Too fast. I was telling myself to slow down and really thought I was. And then the next few miles are: 8:25, 8:31, and 8:34.

No, no, no. Stick to the plan! Screw the plan! I feel great! The crowds are amazing and now I'm by the lakes and omg! I'm running the flippin Twin Cities Marathon! Something I have dreamed about for as long as I can remember. I was smiling and so happy. And mile 6 is 8:35. crap.

I can't explain it. I knew what I was doing wrong. I knew this course. I knew the back half was much tougher. I knew I was going to pay for this. A spectator yelled something about the 3:45s and I look ahead and see I am right with that pace group. And this teeny part of me thinks: you can do this! you can keep up with them! That is the dark side of my positive, yes-you-can attitude. Over confidence.

Mile 7 is 8:40 and my friend jumps in. "I'm going too fast," is the first thing I say and she says, "OK, let's slow down." So we do. Oh, wait. No we don't. Mile 8 and 9 are 8:36 and 8:34. We're chatting and she's telling me how great I look and sound. No heavy breathing, my heart rate is fine. I really did think I was reigning it in at this point. And then mile 10 is 8:28. And Tara says, "You feel like you're slowing down. Listen to your body, not your watch." And she jumps out to run back to her car and meet me at the finish.

This piece of advice stuck with me "No matter how good you feel on the River Road miles 15-19, do not pick it. There is a lot of race left." At the half, I made a bathroom stop because I knew that would force me to stop and break this crazy pace. I went into a porta and it had some weird lock that I obviously didn't close because some guy opens the door and I happily wave "Hello!" with my pants off. whoops! It happens.

I was happy when I saw the bathroom break mile was 9:58. I got myself into a better rhythm and knew we were approaching River Road, my familiar territory. Mile 15 was 8:54 and I saw my brother and his wife and their kids. I jumped off the path and stretched in front of my 1 year old nephew and said, "Teddy! This is hard!" and everyone laughed. Then my sister in-law jumped back in with me for a bit. Again, I was told how good I looked and that I was talking easily. I still felt good, but my legs were starting to feel the distance. She reminded me to keep my shoulders loose and to use my arms on the hills. "You know these hills! We run these hills!" and she sent me off with such a good feeling.

There are not words for how loved and supported I felt. I am clearly obsessed with mileage and paces, but I also run for the joy. And the way it makes me feel and for the relationships it has helped me develop. My running family is strong and so full of love. Seeing my big brother, the one that I competed with in that 5K three years ago, seeing him cheer for me, just that visual memory, makes me cry. And his wife, Jen, running along with me in her cute puffer vest for those blocks, will always be a highlight of this race.

It's a tough feeling when you've run 15 miles and you're tired and your legs are sore and you still have 11 MILES to go. Oh, and this is where the serious hills start. Damn you River Road! Miles 16 and 17 were 9:16 and 9:18. Right where I wanted to be. I told myself I'd keep this pace and then pick it when we got onto Summit. But then there were those hills again. At the top of the Franklin Bridge I looked in both directions. My favorite view of the Mississippi River. I said my prayer of thanks for health. I am running a marathon.

And it hurts. Of course it hurts! It's a marathon! My dad has told me that mile 20 is the halfway point of a marathon. So when it started to mist at 19, I felt OK. but when the rain hit at 20 and my legs were so sore and tired, I started to really worry. I looked at my watch and I was right under 3 hours. 10K left. All I have to do is run 10 minute miles. I will meet my sub 4 goal.

I run Summit Avenue every Tuesday morning with my running group. I thought this would help me. I figured I'd have some type of muscle memory. Or at least some mental edge. But here's the problem, we don't run Summit after 21 miles. After 21 miles, I hurt so bad.

I could feel the surge of the 4 hour pace group pushing behind me. I really gave it my all and stuck with them as long as I could. The crowds were incredible and I put on a fake smile. The rain picked up and my shoes were soaked. The crowds started to thin. But then I saw my work friends and some hugs perked me up.

This picture does not show how beautiful the mansions on Summit are or the Fall leaves or how many people really were there. I dug in and reminded myself of good form. But it was so so hard at this point. I went out too fast and I was paying dearly for that rookie mistake. And then at about 23.5 I got a side crippling cramp like I have never experienced.

I wanted to walk, but knew that would just mean it would take me longer to get to the finish. Tara saw me and I couldn't even look at her. I was trying so hard not to cry. I knew I was barely moving forward and I just said, "really bad side cramp." She asked when and I said, "right now." I can hear her telling me "You can do anything for 2 miles. oh honey. You can do anything for 2 miles." And I really didn't know if I could.

I jogged on. I heard my other SIL and waved, but didn't go hug her because I was still so focused on forward movement and trying not to cry. But then I saw my whole family way on the other side of the street. Most of them had run the 10 miler earlier in the day and weren't sure if they were going to come back. With all the rain, I assumed they were at home. I made a complete 90 degree turn and ran straight to them. My younger brother was screaming "Mile 25! Mile 25! You've got this!" When I hugged my sister I just started to sob and said "I can't do this." over and over again.

And then I saw my dad laugh. Not in a mean way. In a "I know how much she hurts" way and that made me laugh. With a little push from my sister, I managed to get going again. I knew the sub 4 was out the window. And that was disappointing. But then I saw the capitol and the huge American flag that marks mile 26 and the finish line. I saw another group of friends and ran to high 5 them and smiled like I felt great. I said "ow ow ow" the whole way down the hill after the Cathedral.

And I soaked in the cheers in the finisher's chute. I threw my arms up and pretended I felt great for the cameras. And then I made the longest walk of my life to get a medal and some food. Holy world of pain.

I found DH and sat down next to him and put my head on his chest and cried. I wanted that 3:59 so badly. I was frustrated with myself for running such a stupid race. He let me have a 10 second pity party and then gave me the good news. My phone had died, but his hadn't so he had my official time. 4:03:05 PR!! By 1 minute and 11 seconds

That cute guy? He ran a 3:22!!!

And how can you be disappointed in a PR?! I'm really not. I'm just emotionally spent. It's the marathon. It takes a lot out of you.

I am very sore and proud of myself. It felt good to add this to that:

We spent the day at my parent's house and on the way home we stopped at a gas station. I wanted Gatorade and Hot Tamales :) The check out guy was singing happily to himself and asked asked how I was doing. I thought about not saying anything, but because of his happy attitude I was honest. "I'm good. I ran the marathon this morning." And he went crazy cheering for me in this little gas station. "you WHAT?! That's so awesome!" And I love that that is one of my memories of the day.

Yep, I missed by time goal by a few minutes. But I still placed in the top 1/3 and that was a goal too.
1102 out of 3928 Females (top 28%)
206 out of 721 age group (top 29%)
I'm sure there will be people out there that think I care too much about times. But we're all different and this is what motivates me.

And I am very happy. I ran a marathon.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOYFULSPIRIT920 10/18/2013 8:18AM

    I'm in tears!! Congratulations on you PR that is so awesome!!
I understand the disappointment in not reaching a time goal, but to achieve what you just did is too fantastic to not go apeBleep over!!
You ROCK!!
You have so much to be proud of. What an incredible group of friends & family you have. You are blessed!!

Revel in this... it is a VICTORY!!

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REDRUNNERMOM713 10/11/2013 10:36AM

    So sorry you were in so much pain during the last part of your race, but what great memories you have and I love how much support you get. How blessed! Way to go girl! Congrats!

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CAROLCRC 10/11/2013 8:09AM

    Envious of your great family support! Cherish it!

Congrats on a solid race - maybe not as you planned, but a solid effort. And don't worry - most of us obsess about our times whether we are willing to admit it or not.

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MAGGIE805 10/10/2013 9:26PM

    Congratulations!!! emoticon emoticon

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MWWENSIN 10/10/2013 7:28PM

    Congrats. Even though you had some cramps you kept going! It is hard to do negative splits for 26 miles. The longest I've done is 14 but am training for my first marathon in January.

Sounds like you had lots of support. Remember always smile for the camera even when you're in pain. It won't know the difference!

Great job'

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LEWILL1982 10/10/2013 3:43PM

    Wow! That's amazing, I know some people who ran Twin Cities last weekend. So impressive and inspring and motivational! I'm all about my times too. Can't wait to go run with my group tonight, I'll be thinking about your race on my 5 mile loop, lol.

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BOILHAM 10/10/2013 2:47PM

    What a nice race report. You beat your previous time, and that's great! And what a good time, 4:03 is just terrific! Congratulations! Next time, sub 4!!

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ONMYMEDS 10/9/2013 6:55PM


Great race, wonderful race report. What a terrific support system you have. Outstanding job!!

And, you still have a goal to shoot for. Next time.


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RJSAMS 10/9/2013 2:45PM

    Way to go! What an awesome story and congrats on the PR!

I ran the 10 mile, kind of at the last second--a friend couldn't run due to an injury, so I used her bib. It was a blast but not an easy course. Great job!!

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RUNNER4LIFE08 10/9/2013 2:30PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

You finished strong and ran a great marathon! Way to go on the PR!!!! Something to be very proud of!

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LISAINMS 10/8/2013 5:07PM

    Girl you kept the wheels ON and that's all that matters in the end! Congrats on a shiny new PR!! You are so fortunate to have a big supportive group of family and friends along the course to give you boosts when you really need them.

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RAINEMARIE214 10/8/2013 2:44PM

    What a fantastic race report! You wrote it so well!

Congrats on your new PR! You really pushed through!

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PINKBEANBOO 10/8/2013 12:52PM

    How cool is that!?! Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!
I don't know how you are able to push yourself through those hard runs but some how you pull it off - every stinkin' time! You are one awesome dude.

And screw what anyone else thinks. We all run for our own reasons. You are awesome!

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AMSTERDAMAND125 10/8/2013 10:06AM

    Great work -- you inspire me!!!!

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MBSHAZZER 10/8/2013 9:46AM

    Congrats!! Great race report! A bad race is only bad if you don't learn from what you did wrong, and it sounds like you now know! :D Your time was awesome, despite everything and the reality is, your time is only important to YOU! That time is someone's ridiculously impossible dream time, and it's also someone else's horrible, wheels-fell-off time. So cherish your PR because it's YOURS and ENJOY your recovery!

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GINGERHAWK 10/8/2013 9:43AM

    WOW, WOW, WOW! What an awesome PR. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience. I actually got a little misty myself reading this. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!

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OJIBWEEQUAY 10/7/2013 10:07PM

    LOVE this blog!! YAY PR!! Next marathon you know where to tweak(not twrerk emoticon ! You ran 2 marathons!!!!!!!!!!!! Your family is the best!!! emoticon

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MYLADY4 10/7/2013 8:08PM

    What a great story and I was thinking of you all day and was hoping that the rain would stay away, too bad it did not. I agree with everyone else, you have a great, great family.

Should think about running in the EC marathon in May, pretty nice :)

Comment edited on: 10/7/2013 8:09:10 PM

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GRANDMAPATTYV 10/7/2013 7:16PM

    OMG You did a Fantastic job!!!! And Girlfriend it was the TCM!!!!! The TCM - I really don't think there's another marathon out there that's as beautiful or friendly as ours!!
You tried to slow down... no worries you got a PR!!! and on our hills!! Loved the blog!

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CRYSBROWN1 10/7/2013 4:18PM

    CONGRATULATIONS!! And a PR, woooHOOO! I totally understand the feeling of setting the goal but having a near miss - and we are not supposed to care but of course we do - but you are almost there and you will do it again and finishing a marathon is an amazing experience no matter what!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 10/7/2013 3:34PM

    Great report and a great race1 OK, maybe not a real smart race, but now you know that you can push to the finish no matter what. Congratulations on the PR and being one super tough woman.
BTW, I care about times too. Nothing wrong with that.

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NUOVAELLE 10/7/2013 3:09PM

    There's nothing wrong with caring about times! You're a runner, what could you care about? The healthiest form of competition is the one towards ourselves. It can only make you better than you already are!
One more race, one more PR, one more medal, dozens of priceless moments and unforgettable feelings and times of bonding with your family! Blogs like this, stories like yours, runners like you always make me wish I could love running. And being able to generate such feelings in other people is a blessing.
emoticon emoticon

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MICHSTATE 10/7/2013 2:24PM

    Awesome job!!!!!
I have yet to beat the 4 hour mark either!!! (But you are a lot closer!!) ;-)

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NDFOXEN 10/7/2013 2:06PM

    That's awesome! Loved this blog- I'm very proud of you! Whoo hoo!
I've done 21 marathons now- and each one WILL get easier and easier. I have NO DOUBT you will break that 4 hr. barrier. Mentally they will get better: Here's my favorite tip: when you hit mile 16 and still feeling decent- start counting fingers. Ten fingers- then by the time you get to mile 25 you have only one finger left. Anyone can run one finger left.
Also- huge help that i've found: try succeed tablets (salt tabs). They have really helped me and my running friends out in the marathon for cramping- huge help for me.
Your quote about not worring about time- heck- you've put in so much time and effort training for the thing- how can a person not think about time!?!! Great accomplishment! ROCKSTAR!
ooh- one last tip- make each training run have a negative split. In the end- you'll get stronger. That tip helped me with races of all distance levels.
RUN ON! :)

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ASHLING9 10/7/2013 1:47PM

  I literally had tears in my eyes reading this! I'm training for my first mile which is 19 days away. Training for a marathon was a major lifestyle change for me and certainly an emotional roller coaster. I officially paid for my marathon today and it's given me even more motivation to go out a run today!

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COOP9002 10/7/2013 1:11PM

    Awesome accomplishment. Thanks for sharing your story.

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 10/7/2013 12:53PM

    I had tear in my eyes reading this. I cannot imagine running a marathon, and I really can't imagine the emotion that goes with it. It's so awesome that you PR'd this race. Congratulations!

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WORTHEYMOM 10/7/2013 12:51PM

    Inspiring! Those little things make all of the difference. I am in awe just thinking about being able to run 26 point freaking 2 miles lady! congrats and enjoy your relaxing day!

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ELISAJANE57 10/7/2013 12:36PM

    You are amazing! I love reading your race blogs! You are an inspiration to me and maybe I will run a marathon too someday because of people like you. Congrats on your PR! I'm obsessed with timing myself and how fast I run my miles. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GETFIT2LIVE 10/7/2013 12:36PM

    You did AMAZING--maybe you missed your goal by a bit, always disappointing with that, but you PR'd and did incredible. And what a great family you have! Way to go!

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CARADAWN 10/7/2013 11:49AM

    Congrats on completing your second marathon! I understand the love / hate relaionship with running pace and times. It's hard not to care even though everyone says you shouldn't - they call it a race for a reason! But, your time is still AMAZING and you hit a PR! Congrats again and hope you are having a great revcovery.

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    I am so proud of you! Your time on a hilly marathon is amazing. Your paces are near perfect to me - you ran a 9:18 up a dang hill! And then ran more hills! Talk about bada@@.
I cannot wait to see what next year is going to be like on a flat course. And also, top 28% at Twin Cities is impressive every which way.
And you two seriously are the cutest couple (congrats to him too!)- you two look a little too nice for people who just ran a marathon. Where's the crazy hair?
Look at those impressive medals - "always earned, never given!" And is it time for a new medal rack present? Looks pretty nice and full to me! :D

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KELLIEBEAN 10/7/2013 11:01AM

    What a great read! I cried reading about when you hugged your sister and your brother was yelling "25 miles". You have a great family!


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