5k Recap, new Mizunos and countdown to NYC marathon!

It’s marathon week again!

This one feels completely different, as I have no time goals and am not nervous about maintaining a certain pace or how my legs will feel.  If these last 3 weeks are any indication, my legs will probably not be too fresh but I’m excited to run an easy pace (likely 8:30- 9:00) and soak up the energy of the city!

Although my legs aren’t fully back to normal yet, I’m excited to throw in some 5ks this fall and do a few weeks of 5k specific training before winter hits hard.


I jumped into a local 5k on Saturday to give me a baseline. It was rough!

I’m happy with my time (20:27) but it felt way too hard from the beginning and never felt good.  I’m looking forward to having some pep in my step at some point.  But with the NYC marathon on Sunday, I’ll need to give myself another two weeks to recover before switching gears to shorter intervals.

The race began on a slight incline.  That is the worst possible way a race can start, in my opinion! I need to ease into the faster pace and when you’re sucking wind from the start it’s disheartening to say the least!

It flattened out for a 6:31 mile but I never felt the bounce in my legs that I normally do.  I basically hung on for dear life until I could cross the finish line.  Mile 2 and 3 were each slightly slower than the mile before, and then the out and back course finished with a slight downhill so I could sprint the final tenth of a mile in (5:43 pace).

Even though I felt so rough, this is probably a good estimate of my fitness right now.  The 5k always feels hard!! My goal is to make race pace feel a little easier and shave a few more seconds off each mile to get under 20 minutes.  I know it will happen eventually, but I didn’t expect it to be such a journey!

I also ran this race (and all of my runs since Steamtown) in my new Mizuno Wave Rider 20s.  I love how light they are.  From Mizuno:

It’s finally here – the 20th iteration of Mizuno’s signature running
shoe. The Wave Rider 20 features softer cushioning and delivers
an exceptionally smooth ride from nearly two decades of
breakthrough engineering. In addition to a redesigned Neutral
Wave plate, the Wave Rider 20 also features “Triple Zone”
engineered mesh in the upper that provides breathability and
flexible movement where it’s needed.

I like to keep two shoes in rotation at all times

How many shoes do you keep in rotation?






Weekly workouts between marathons + Meal Planning

Today marks three weeks since the marathon and the furthest I’ve run is 6 miles.  I honestly cannot fathom why anyone would want to run farther than that.

Isn’t it crazy how quickly our mindset can change? Ha!

I think it’s my body’s way of forcing me to recover well.  I’m still loving sleeping in, working out as I feel like it, and relaxing more than usual.  BUT, I also have the NYC marathon next weekend!

My plan is to take it nice and easy.  I already had the pr marathon I wanted and I’d rather not have another 3 weeks of muscle recovery.  My Steamtown training will be enough to carry me through the miles.

Here’s how my week looked as I started adding more running back in:

Sunday: Met my best childhood friend in PA for a back to back spin and barre class- so much fun!!

Monday: 6 slow early evening miles (no watch, but probably 10 minute pace)

Tuesday: easy 40 minutes spin + 20 minute leg workout

Wednesday: am: met a client for 2 miles walk/run; pm: 5 mile run with 12 x 30 second strides

Thursday: upperbody/core workout + 30 minute easy cycling

Friday: off (other than 3 hours packing up the book fair at my daughter’s school!)

Saturday: 8 miles (3 + 5k + 2)

And then 26.2 next weekend for a victory lap through all five boroughs of NYC! Even though I cannot fathom running that far right now, I’m really excited! And I know the energy of the crowds and adrenaline will carry me through.

Meal planning this week:

Sunday: Steaks on the grill from our grass fed cow (our chest freezer is stuffed with 1/4 cow!!) + brussel sprouts and roasted potato wedges

Monday: (Halloween) Shrimp and broccoli stir fry with brown rice

Tuesday: Chicken Fajita Bowls

Wednesday: Massaged kale salad + BBQ chicken legs

Thursday: Leftovers and/or egg scrambles

Friday: Pasta night (Probably baked ziti)

Saturday: Mama in NYC – more carbing up for race day!

Have you experienced the mindset shifts between weeks where 6 mile runs were your short, easy runs and weeks where that felt like the longest you would ever want to go?!

Are you dressing up for Halloween?

I’m linking up with Ilka and with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!



A better way to train the core

I’m a nutrition consultant at a local fitness studio, and for the last few months I’ve been partnering with two of the head trainers to offer workshops.

The first one we offered was on the core- how do you get the illusive six pack?

Not surprisingly, the room was packed every time! Why is this such a hot topic right now? If we did a workshop on 6 ways to live healthier, longer, I don’t think anyone would come, ha!

I covered the nutrition component (which is estimated to be 70% of the equation).  But I also loved the trainer’s segment and it was shocking how many people are training the core the wrong way.



What’s the problem with traditional core exercises?

Research shows that repeated crunches  can cause damage.  The repeated flexion motion creates a lot of force on the spine and over time can cause damage and lead to larger problems and disc injuries.

You can read more in Skip the Sit ups and the Downside of Sit ups (which also discusses the lack of evidence that sit ups boost your athletic strength at all).

Russian twists

There are also risks associated with the Superman exercise and Russian twists- this article explains the way they break down your spine.

What should you do instead?

Functional core movements are key.  Functional exercises include the whole body as one connected, moving part that mimic movements you need and use in daily life.  Squats are a great example of a functional move.  They mimic the sitting and standing motion that we use daily while also engaging many muscles and core stability.

The core does not need to be isolated to be strengthened.  Movements like squats with a press, walking lunges with a bicep curl, kettle bell swings and push ups work the whole body while keeping the spine and neck neutral to protect the spine.

If you are looking to isolate the core, aim for anti- gravity, anti-twist moves which resist the curl or resist the twist while strengthening the core.

For example:

Start with the plank.  There is no need to hold it as long as possible.  Instead, hold it, squeezing your abs and glutes as hard as you can for ten seconds. Drop and rest and repeat 8-12 times.

Incorporate all sorts of plank variations to keep it interesting such as tapping one foot at a time or hold side planks to work the oblique muscles.

Then build to anti-rotational moves that do not require your torso to twist.

Planks can become an anti-rotational move when you add a shoulder touch with the opposite hand.

Single leg deadlifts, a single arm inverted row or plank with a row are great ways to build in the anti-rotational moves.

Find more anti-rotational moves with images here.

Roll out moves are another excellent way to keep the spine neutral and prevent injury while building a strong core.

Roll out moves can be done on a ball (to begin) or with an ab wheel (more advanced).

More advanced athletes can also use kettle bell swings  to work the core.

Most importantly, these exercises emphasize functional whole body movements over isolating one body part.  This keeps the body in better muscular balance and minimizes risk of injury while still strengthening the core.

Building in these exercises 2-3 times per week can be sufficient.  There is no need to do core work every single day.

Were you aware of the dangers of sit ups or any kind of curing ab move?

Do you perform isolated core exercises or do you prefer full body functional movements?

I’m also linking up with Coach’s Corner with Suz,Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl



2016 Goals Check in

I love love love goals.  I think this is why I live by my to-do list every day.  It’s like each item is one small goal that I get to complete for the day.  Crossing it off in my planner is so satisfying! I’m a paper planner girl for life, despite it making no sense to my husband.

In December, I set my 2016 running goals here.

I only looked back at my 2016 goals once-  in May.  At that point, I had a new ten mile pr but had failed at the half attempt and hadn’t run a 5k or full marathon.

I knew I had pr’s in me this year, but it takes months of training before going after them! And then there is all the recovery time before racing again.

So as of the end of October, I can add one more to the list- my marathon pr.  It’s a big one!

I’m happy to leave it there.  It’s been a solid year of running!

But I also feel like I should be able to get that 5k and half pr before 2016 ends. Is that silly?  I don’t really want to wait to race again until the spring. I feel like I should capitalize on the fitness gains from marathon training.

In fact, I had to hold myself back from registering for a 5k last weekend! It sounded like a good idea but I know my legs aren’t fully recovered yet.

What’s next…

I’m considering a December half before winter sets in, and hopefully one or two shorter races.  There’s a very popular 8k Thanksgiving morning that I’ll likely to again, and hopefully find a local 5k before it gets too cold.

Then I know I’ll likely be running less all winter until it’s time to gear up for spring running.

How are you doing with your 2016 running goals?

Do you have anything else planned for the fall?

I’m linking up with Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia,Patty and Erika. Last week’s topic was fall goals and I wanted to catch up! This week’s was a race you would redo- I’d love to experience Steamtown and my marathon pr all over again from start to finish!!




Meal planning (the easy version) and weekly recap

Hi friends!

I’ve missed the weekly recaps but honestly, there isn’t a whole lot to say right now.  I’ve been walking every day, and got to one Barre class and one spin class.  This morning I’m meeting a friend for back to back Barre and spin- apparently those are the two cross training classes I’m drawn to the most when I’m not running!


I really think it has!

I have eased back in with one 3 mile run, and two 4 mile runs, plus an easy run yesterday with a 5k training group after I shared a nutrition for running presentation.  I may pick up the mileage a bit more this week.

But I do best when I write out a meal plan so I’m back to share the plan for the week.  I recently bought a white board for the kitchen with days of the week and my 6 year old grabs it each weekend to write out the plan for the week.  She’s such a mini me- loving the lists already!


This week is all about as easy as possible.  I’m co-chairing the Scholastic book fair and will be there every day.  My normal dinner prep time will be gone.  So the plan is…

Sunday: In PA, celebrating my nephew’s first birthday

Monday: Crockpot salsa chicken and rice cooker rice for “burrito bowls”

Tuesday: Spaghetti squash (made ahead) and turkey meatballs (frozen)

Wednesday: Grill night: Salmon, potatoes and peppers with side salad

Thursday: Leftovers and/or egg scrambles

Friday: Pizza night (frozen organic crust from Trader Joe’s)

Saturday: Neighborhood Halloween Potluck

The plan is to bake the spaghetti squash today.  Everything else should be dump and heat!


What are your favorite easy, throw together dinners?

What cross training classes are you drawn to when you aren’t running?


weekly Wrapup

I’m linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap…

fitness & food linkup

…and with Ilka and Angela for the Fitness and Food Linkup.




A few surprises the first ten days post marathon

Today marks ten days since the Steamtown marathon.  I thought I’d catch you up a little bit on how I’m recovering, exercising, and what I’ve noticed in this process.

My quads were very sore for the first 2-3 days post race from the hills.  Walking up and down the stairs was slow and tedious.  The girls thought it was hilarious! They would want to race me to the top and laugh hysterically from the top as I was still on step 3 or 4!

By Thursday, I felt normal but I know that all those microscopic tears to the muscles take 3 weeks to fully repair themselves, so I avoiding running the whole first week.  By mid week, I started a lot of easy walking- trips back and forth from school, walks to the park, as well as solo walks to call a friend and stretch my legs for an hour.


Sunday I did 3 slow miles, and Monday morning I did another 3-4 nice and slow with the stroller.  You know what I realized? I did very few low intensity workouts throughout my training – the kind of runs where I don’t even have to breathe through my mouth.  And I’ve missed those!

My plan for the next several weeks is to keep the runs in that low intensity range.  I feel like I could go on forever at those paces- and the bonus is that it doesn’t wipe me out for the day.

Stroller run Friday

I realized how much fatigue I was dealing with on a daily basis with marathon training.  It’s inevitable when you’re getting all the miles in, and with many miles at high intensity.  But during the last ten days, my energy has skyrocketed! I am itching to get out for a walk in the afternoon or evening, and I’m not exhausted while I’m putting the girls to bed.  I’m not even tired at my bedtime.

A few things I’ve had more energy for now with marathon training behind me:

  • the energy to walk everywhere I can
  • more desire to plan social activities and have people over
  • more motivation to cook (and a less crazy appetite making good choices easier!)
  • more creative energy for projects with the girls
  • more late night movies or shows with my husband instead of crashing early

It’s been amazing! My body is definitely thanking me for backing off.  Of course, I don’t know how long that will last… I’m itching to run hard in a short race or track workout at some point.  But this down time is pretty sweet.

Do you appreciate recovery weeks after a big race? Or do you find yourself itching to get back at it?



One of the biggest marathon pacing mistakes you can make

Hi friends!

It’s already been a week since the marathon.  I ventured out on my first easy miles yesterday with a running group, nice and easy ten minute pace miles.  I feel good but will continue to be conservative as I ease back in.  I’ll share more soon about what my recovery weeks have looked like.

One of my friends shared this article last week and it’s a great read! Check out all the graphs and data gathered from the Chicago marathon.


The basic premise is this- the advice you hear about not going out too fast in the marathon is not just a helpful tip.  It is key!

Some interesting facts (based on the Chicago marathon data)…

  • 50% of those who hit the wall ran their fastest 5k in the first segment
  • Fast starters accounted for 1 in 3 Chicago marathoners
  • Over 65% of fast starters were first time marathoners
  • A fast start led to a 33% slow down in the second half
  • 10% of Chicago marathoners ran the first 5k as their slowest and finished an average of 50 minutes faster than those who ran the first 5k as their fastest portion

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Of course, to be smart about your marathon pace you need to know what it is.  Sometimes going out too fast is an honest mistake.  We think best case scenario we can run a certain pace when it may be unrealistic.

How do you know? Tune up races (like a half marathon 4-7 weeks before the race) can be a predictor of your current fitness level, as can consistently nailing tough workouts.  It’s also helpful to have feedback from a coach or someone who knows you and your running journey.

Ultimately, your body can give you the feedback you need on race day and you should adjust your pace accordingly so that the first half feels relatively easy yet you are still challenging yourself to maintain what you are capable of.

Do you get caught up in the adrenaline on race day?

Have you ever learned the hard way about starting too quickly?




What I did differently this marathon cycle (training and recovery)

For my own records and to answer many of the questions I’ve received, I want to share some of the tweaks I’ve made over this training cycle that I believe led to a successful race day.  On Wednesday I shared about the taper and nutrition and today I’m looking at training and recovery.

Ten miles and ten yassos done

Training changes I made

Before I began this cycle, I did a lot of reading.  I reviewed my RRCA coach training, looked through Advanced Marathoning and Run Less, Run Faster also sought out other opinions and advice to determine what fit best for me as an individual.

Running your first marathon is very different from running your fourth, and I knew I could push myself a little harder this time.  Many people love the Hanson’s method but I have always gotten injured when I ran more than 5 times a week and didn’t want to risk it.  Instead, I found myself drawn to Jeff’s articles at Runner’s Connect and ultimately worked with one of their plans.

The big differences from my previous training logs:

  1. More time running race pace– the important “workout” apart from lots of easy miles were the race pace or threshold runs.  There were several speed/interval days built in, but the emphasis was on becoming efficient at race pace.  Even though there were many days when race pace felt hard in training, he was right- my body fell back to that pace in the marathon and it felt relatively easy.
  2. Long runs with a fast finish- McMillian recommends these workouts as well and cautions not to do to many in a cycle as they are really tough and can require a longer recovery.  You can build to 8-12 miles at race pace although in a long run I think the longest I did was 4.  It’s tough after a week of training and an hour or two into a long run! But I know those helped me learn how to run on tired legs and finish the marathon at close to the same paces I started it.
  3. Lots of training in heat and humidity- Ha! This one was not by choice, but your body does become stronger when forced to work through the added stress of humidity or heat.  Since most of my long runs were in tough conditions, running in the cool weather on race day made my paces feel so doable.
  4. Easy on the easy days- It’s true.  Keeping those easy days really easy makes it possible to run higher overall mileage and hit the paces when you need to.  I was also pretty conservative anytime I was afraid I pushed too hard- I had 1-2 weeks where I backed off and ran less even though it wasn’t a scheduled cut back week and my body thanked me for listening.

To be clear, I would not recommend long tempo runs and fast finish long runs for a first or second time marathoner.  The risk of fatigue (and injury) is greater than covering time on your feet.  For beginner marathons, the most important thing is to build a strong aerobic engine (easy runs and building distance).

Beach running

Recovery/Prevention Improvements

Although not directly training related, there were several factors that I know improved my overall fitness and prevented injury this training cycle.

  1. Rolling and stretching- I’m still not great at this and skipped it on more days than I did it, but I definitely did more than I have in past cycles so that counts for something!
  2. Power and core work- I incorporated a lot of training early on in the form on interval strength training that I believe contributed to overall power (strength plus speed) on race day.  This included upper body, lower body and core.  Because there is so much downhill in the race, I am really thankful I worked my quads throughout training as I think it made all the difference between me finishing strong and being one of the many who were sidelined with cramps and muscles seizing up in the final 10k.
  3. Smart supplementing- I’ve become really picky about what vitamins I use and can see a huge difference in my overall health.  I focused especially on getting enough iron through a quality multi, building a healthy gut with a triple-encapsulated probiotic and good Omega 3 fatty acids.  After seeing one client reverse osteoporosis, I added a vitamin combo called Osteomatrix over the last year because of the stress fractures I’ve dealt with in the past and I believe this is the biggest reason I never developed any bone stress this year since it has greatly strengthened my bone density.
  4. Deep Blue rub for sore muscles- I bought this from a friend through Doterra and loved it! I used it several times a week, and always when I felt any unusual soreness.  The essential oil peppermint tingles and gets right to work – I’m all about natural solutions.


Have you found the training that works best for you, or are you often trying new things?

Has your training approach changed from your first race to now?


Taper, Nutrition and Carb Loading for Steamtown marathon

Hi friends! I’m still smiling over here about Sunday’s race– except when I’m slowly making my way up or down the steps- ouch! I thought I might at least do some easy spinning by now but nope, I’m pretty content to take the whole week off.


I’m reflecting this week on what I did differently and/or what I feel like worked well for me in this marathon cycle, and I thought I would start with the taper and nutrition piece.  I’ll follow up with what I did differently in training and recovery on Friday.

Shall we dive right in?


I decided to do the full 3 week taper, so after running my final 20 miler 3 weeks out from the race, I decreased overall mileage during the final 3 weeks.  I ran 13 two weeks out from the marathon and only a little over 6 the weekend before (I was aiming for 10 and had scheduling issues).

By the final week, I dropped all cross training and strength training and cut my runs back drastically as well.  I ran Monday, Wednesday and Friday and felt pretty sluggish all week.  Monday’s run included 6 x 3 minutes at 10k pace (total of 6 miles) and Wednesday I believe I only ran 4 or 5 miles.

It’s such a strange feeling to cut back so drastically after training for months and months! With my physical body resting, my mind wanted to take up the slack and I spent too much mental energy wondering if I did enough.  (Totally normal taper crazies).

I compared notes on past training cycles, I mapped out a best case race day plan, and I worried about weather, fueling and if the sluggish feeling in my legs would go away.

I did nothing on Thursday, ran 3 miles on Friday that felt like running through mud, and did nothing on Saturday.  Some people feel even more sluggish with so much time off, but it ended up working really well for me.  By the time we got to the expo on Saturday, I was turning that extra mental energy into excitement.  It was going to be a good day!  (Half the battle is believing it!) And race morning my legs were fresh and ready to go.



During training: My nutrition focus shifted this past year to paying attention to my protein/fat/carb intake and with the higher emphasis on protein and fats, my carbs were a bit lower than they’ve been in the past. I made an effort to increase them the day before hard workouts or as part of my long run recovery, but I do think my body learned to be more efficient at fat burning during endurance running than it has in the past and relied less on carbs as fuel.

For long runs: Because I’ve covered all of these distances before, I could take things up a notch and ask my body to work harder (not recommended for first time marathoners).  I did most of my long runs with very minimal fuel.  I did take in chews or dried fruit on my 20 milers but not nearly as much as I would on race day.  I did several of my 12-15 milers without fuel and/or in a glycogen depleted state. While this can make the run itself feel harder, it does encourage your body to adapt and get stronger which makes running on race day feel much easier with extra fuel.

Carb loading: Running always feels easier when you are well fueled! I began paying attention to my carbohydrate intake the week before the marathon and made an effort to make carbs 60-70% of my intake the three days leading up to the race.

Two nights before (Friday night) is the meal your body can have ready for use race morning, so we did a traditional pasta dinner.

The day before: Because I had some stomach distress at my last race, I cut cruciferous vegetables and beans and dairy the day before the race.  For example, breakfast was a bagel with scrambled eggs; lunch was a chicken bbq sandwich and leftover pasta from dinner Friday night.  I had a granola bar in the car, and then we went out for sushi (I stuck to vegetarian options) and treated ourselves to Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert.  I avoided “stuffing” myself.  I also included the wheat and processed foods that I often limit because 1) I know from my food sensitivity test that I don’t react negatively to wheat and 2) I wanted simple carbs over complex grains or additional vegetables that might upset my stomach race morning.


White rice… and that’s sweet tempura, nothing fried.  I skipped the wasabi too.

Race morning: Ideally, you should eat 300-500 calories and hydrate at least two hours before the race begins so that your body is mostly finished digesting your food and can turn it’s energy toward the race itself.  I set my alarm and ate at 5:45 am for the 8am race.  I brought along a bagel and added a tbsp or so of peanut butter and ate half a banana.  I drank an electrolyte drink, Performance, as well as water and then tried to stop drinking in the 90 minutes before the race other than a few sips of water.  (I still felt like I had to pee for most of the first 15 miles but ignored it!)

During the race: Although I rarely use gels during training, I knew from past experience that I could stomach the Clif brand chocolate or vanilla gels and packed 3 in my shorts.  I also had a pack of Honey Stinger chews but never needed them.

The key with fueling in the marathon is to start early, before your body rejects fuel and before you feel like you need it (at that point it’s usually too late!)  Sports drinks have a pretty ideal water to carb ratio and can work well alone as fuel but I avoid Gatorade (dyes and artificial ingredients) and did not want to carry my own so I chose gels.  However, the concentration of sugars is much higher in gels and needs to be thinned out with water.  If you skip this step, your stomach can begin to reject the super sweet fuel.


At mile 8, you can see the gel I was still holding and the throw away shirt I tossed to my husband!

Instead of taking one every hour or so, I “nursed” my gels.  I took about half of one at mile 5 and the second half at mile 9 with sips of water at every stop to thin it out.  I started the second gel around mile 13 and slowly worked on it until about mile 18, again with water whenever I could get it.  I didn’t want the 3rd gel, but I pulled it out at mile 21 and nursed it again for a few miles.  I tossed the second half of it around mile 24 and finished the race.

This race reminded me how much sugar you are taking in with gels- a lot! Clif gels have less than many brands, but my stomach had no interest in anything sweet for the rest of the day.  French fries at lunch were a hit!

However, spacing it out like that worked well for me.  I never hit a wall or felt under fueled.  I did notice a bit of an energy spark occasionally from the gel and know it kept my glycogen stores high to finish the race without bonking.

Post race: I have no rules post race except to eat whatever sounds appealing! A lot of food was not so appealing initially but we went to a nearby diner and got burgers, wraps and fries which I happily ate.  Salty foods were most appealing.  I grazed a lot through the afternoon and evening, eating whatever appealed to me.  I don’t remember all of what I ate but popcorn later in the evening hit the spot.  I don’t think I ate any vegetables on Sunday – my stomach was not ready to handle them yet! By Tuesday, I finally started to eat more of a “normal” breakfast, lunch and dinner and actually craved veggies again.  However, desserts and extra treats are part of this entire recovery week!

I hope that was helpful! I had several questions about nutrition and tapering, so if I missed anything that you were looking for, let me know!


What has definitely worked or definitely not worked for you in race day nutrition?

Are you starving after a race, or do you find your appetite is suppressed?

I am linking up with Suzlyfe, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday







Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!

It’s been awhile since I got to write about a race that went exactly the way I hoped but this was that race.

From the daily emails that Steamtown sent with runner info (and humor) to the weather, things were organized and looking good for race day.

So settle in for a full recap, for those of you that want the details.

I took the taper and carb loading seriously.  I was going crazy last week with only a few short runs and was doubting myself but on Saturday all of my worrying switched to excitement.

My parents came to watch the girls so we left Saturday afternoon for the expo, dinner (sushi), dessert (Krispy Kreme!) and an early bedtime.


I woke up Sunday early and ate a bagel with a little peanut butter and half a banana and drank Performance (electrolytes) two hours before the race, plus probably 16 ounces of water.  I feel like I nailed fueling in this race- I felt good from start to finish.

Runners loaded buses in downtown Scranton for the 45 minute drive to the start, at Forest City High School.  The race is small enough that the school allows us to come inside to stay warm.  It was freezing at the top of the hill with the wind, but otherwise perfect temperatures for running.

I checked out the pacers- there was a 3:15 and a 3:25, but no 3:20 pacer.  The 3:15 pacer told me he planned to go out a little fast to bank time in order to make it up the hills at the end, and I knew that probably wasn’t a good strategy for me.  I really wanted to run this smart!

So I ran my own race.  We were off with a cannon!

The first five miles felt awesome: 7:24, 7:30, 7:42, 7:37, 7:29 – I couldn’t believe how good I felt! I focused on keeping it easy and relaxed, and then started looking for hubs who was going to be at mile 8.

7:30, 7:49, 7:44



I knew at this point that it was going to be a good day. Miles 9 and 10: 7:42, 7:35

We passed a ten mile clock (1:16) and I was on track for a big pr.  I kept telling myself to hold back and see how I felt at mile 18.

Miles 11-13: 7:44, 7:39, 7:52-  In retrospect, I kept it a little too easy here and could have done a better job sticking to my 7:39’s but I was mostly running by feel.

The first half has a lot of net downhill which eventually becomes really tough on the quads.  I was happy when it started to even out around mile 12-13.  The flat roads felt good, although I had to kick it up a gear in order to stay consistent.  I started counting down to mile 17, where I would see my husband again.

We ran two miles through a gorgeous trail and the fall colors were so brilliant!

7:35, 7:34, 7:33, 7:45


I woke up early- Making signs is hard!

Mile 17 was a nice mental boost! I loved hearing the personal cheers and seeing hubs with his sign.  And I was still feeling so good!  Mile 18- 7:28


We entered another gravel trail and I focused on breaking the race into two mile chunks.  I knew there were some decent hills coming soon.  Miles 19-20: 7:41, 7:37

At mile 20, I was amazed there were only six miles to go but I was kind of clueless where I was at – my watch died half a mile into the race and I had to restart it and was off the whole race..  I think that was a blessing- I wasn’t stressing at all about not breaking 3:20, I was just so thrilled that my race was going so well!

More than any other marathon I’ve run, I was really in the moment, soaking up the views, the people and enjoying myself.  It flew by!! Except for the final 5 miles, of course.

I held on to pace for 21 and 22 (7:45, 7:34) and then hit some tough hills.  Mile 23 had some tough uphill and mile 24 had over a half mile that was pretty relentless.  I didn’t look at my watch at all, but focused on getting up it as strong as I could- 7:50, 8:35

That split likely would have discouraged me so I’m glad I missed it! With just two miles to go, I repeated all of the words of encouragement you all have left me over the last few days – I imagined Allie running alongside me keeping me moving, I remembered Tina’s words to believe in YOU, I remembered that I can do hard things and two miles is nothing!

Although in a marathon, those last two miles take for.ev.er! Mile 25- 7:48

As we came into the final mile, we could see one last hill looming ahead.  Once I started climbing, it didn’t feel too bad, but as we peaked it, instead of going down it continued to have a slight incline to the end of the mile, brutal! – 8:02


Once over the hill, I tried to push my legs down the final .2 as quickly as I could.  At this point, they were definitely screaming from the downhill at the beginning of the race, but overall, it really wasn’t until the last mile that my body told me it was done running a marathon.


Pain face!

Final push- 7:27 pace

I knew I was not going to break 3:20 but didn’t know how much of a pr I had (previous pr was 3:32:58)… as I got close, I was so thrilled! Final time is 3:23:23- a ten minute pr!


I am really proud of myself for running a smart race and really enjoying it! I wasn’t nearly as focused on my watch as I usually am- I missed half my splits and didn’t care.  I was just so excited to be cruising along at a pace 30 seconds faster than my fastest marathon and feeling so good!


As I met up with family afterwards, I told hubs if this is the last marathon I race for time I will be happy with that.  I know how many things can go wrong (stomach issues, heat, fueling, sluggish legs) and I feel lucky that everything went so smoothly.  Of course, my he wanted to record me saying that because who knows how long that feeling will stick… :)

Thank you all so much for the supportive comments on Instagram and Facebook! I was really encouraged by them and really feel that it helped me run well.

And now to ride this marathon pr high as long as it will let me…while not running this week as I recover.  We’ll see if that works!

Have you had a race where everything clicked and you felt better than expected?

Have you raced more by feel than by your watch?

I’m linking up with Hoho Runs and Miss Sippi Piddlin for the Weekly Wrap!