Entry 22: The Tucson Marathon


I ran my first marathon in June of 2014. I thought then that I would run that marathon, qualify for Boston (fingers crossed), run Boston and be done with marathoning. 12 marathons later, I find myself still running, still reaching for bigger goals, still trying to discover my potential in the sport and amazed at what my body has let me accomplish thus far.

Marathon number 12 led me to the desert region of dusty Arizona. Why Tucson? Well, I’ll tell ya….

Why Tucson

In July of 2017, I ran the Desert News Marathon.  It was the first marathon where I achieved my race time goal after two significant marathon fails where I hit the wall on the course and came in well over my desired time goal.

The Desert News Marathon not only encouraged me to keep on working at my goal to get faster, but restored my faith in my ability to still improve in the sport despite injury and advancing age.

I shopped around, mainly using a website called FindMyMarathon.com, to find a Fall or Winter marathon that I could get excited about.  Most Fall marathons were too soon after Desert News to run safely. Finding a winter marathon can be tricky because of weather across the United States that time of year, but Tucson had ideal temps and pretty good stats/reviews to back it up.

The real deciding factor was learning that my long-time friend, Annie Ballard, who lived in Phoenix near Tucson, had signed up for the marathon and was planning on running it.  (We have run two previous marathons together; she inspires me to no end!) Annie’s proximity to Tucson made marathon logistics that much easier.

The prospect of running another marathon with her sealed the deal!

The Training

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A little elf send-off the night before I left for Tucson.

I have found over the past few years, since I started running marathons, that a race on the horizon helps hone my goals and keep me testing my current abilities. However, this training cycle was a rough one for me. I found myself lacking drive and floundering with what goals were attainable. I also found myself questioning whether or not I wanted to continue pursuing the sport on a competitive level. I dreaded more runs than I looked forward to and couldn’t find that inner fire to push me past the pain/discomfort to the results I desired. Or, in this case, didn’t desire enough. My mental game was off. But, once I started, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw in the towel. I had to see the training through.

Body-wise, I had a pretty smooth training cycle. Other than some occasional lower back pain, I was injury free. Considering that I threw in three 20-milers and a few 60+ mile weeks, my body demonstrated that it has, in fact, made some significant progress in adapting to longer and more intense running distances.

Sidenote: I switched from my Altra Torins to the Brook Ghost 10s for this training cycle to try something new and they did the job just fine. Honestly, Altras are still my favorite, but I have to acknowledge that I didn’t have to use KT Tape during this training cycle and my body seemed better supported by the Brooks shoes than the Altras.  My Altras still feel more comfortable to me, but perhaps their zero-drop feature doesn’t work as well for my body and injury history?? Hard to say….

Carb-loading and Tapering

The weeks leading up to my race, I was still logging 50-60 miles and not feeling like I was really tapering.  So, I abandoned my training plan the last week and reduced my miles, significantly, to try and give my body time to repair and prepare for Tucson (as seen in the Strava graphic below):

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The week leading up to the marathon you are both reducing your miles and increasing your carbohydrates (carb-loading) which can leave you feeling really weighed down. Tapering and carb-loading are my least favorite parts of marathon training (other than the hour before race start). That said, over the years how I carb-load has evolved to a system that I feel works for me.

The three days before my marathon are my carb-loading days.  I rely heavily on the MyFitnessPal app to hit my goal of 300 grams of carbs per day without overdoing it on the calorie end.

I avoid heavy pastas and breads and rely more on the carbs found in vegetables, rice and fruit while making sure I get lean protein as well.  (If my stomach could handle sweet potatoes, they would be on the list, but I have a food sensitivity to them.)

I also started using a product called CarboPro after my aforementioned friend, Annie, recommended it. CarboPro is great because you still benefit from complex carbohydrates, but without the feeling of heaviness they often pack. (It was a great recovery tool too. I packed a Ziplock bag of it in my gear bag and added it to my water right after I finished the race to help boost my muscle recovery).

Anxiety, Anxiety, Anxiety

The week, days and hours leading up to my marathon departure date were anxiety-filled days. Despite all the hours and weeks of training, I wasn’t sure I would make it to Tucson.

I was a bundle of nerves whenever I contemplated running the marathon. Literally, the night before I was still “do I stay, or do I go; do I stay or do I go….” Again, I wanted to see my training to its end; to finish what I started, but I was NOT excited about testing myself.  My body may have been primed and ready to go, but my mind wasn’t. So much of marathon success is mental. The fact that my love for the sport was waning wasn’t helping me have the mental grit that I knew I would need out on the course.

My 2016 New York Marathon fail and 2017 Boston Marathon fail were still to fresh in my mind. After experiencing what it is like to hit the wall during a marathon—after all those weeks of training—I also was struggling under the weight of possible failure yet again.

Honestly, I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what was causing all my anxiety. At some crucial point, I remembered the quote “what would you do if you could not fail” and when I applied that to my upcoming marathon it became clear that I was, in fact, very afraid of failing. Most of why I didn’t want to go was wrapped up in that.

Once I realized that; once I realized it wasn’t just that I was going to miss my family, or that I would get behind in my work responsibilities or neglect other demands of a busy time of year–examples of the excuses I was leaning on during my debates with myself—once I realized I really was just afraid of failure, I knew I had to go.

Fear of failure was not a worthy reason for me to pull out; to not attempt. I hadn’t put in 18 weeks of training to not go and test myself and my progress.

The Expo

After reuniting with Annie at the Phoenix airport, we headed to the marathon expo in Tucson. It was about a 2-hour drive so we had time to catch up and enjoy the beautiful Arizona scenery.  The expo was held at the host hotel where we were staying the night, The Hilton El Conquistador. Considering the smaller size of the race, I was really impressed with the quality and organization of the expo. They had some great vendors and Whole Foods had a table where you could grab a paper bag and make your own trail mix— very clever!

The Hilton Conquistador is a very impressive resort.  Settled in a rugged mountain range, it was decked with cacti, palm trees and exquisitely manicured lawns by refreshing pools. Inside, they had a life-size gingerbread house—the real deal; all made with food goods—that was big enough to walk inside! That was magical!

Race Evening

Our evening was spent preparing for the race and visiting/catching up with one another.  With a 4 am alarm on the horizon, our goal was to be in bed around 8pm.

I have adopted Annie’s pre-marathon meal of white rice and some protein. Nothing exciting, but it does the job!! We ate and went to bed!

Race Morning

Neither of us slept very well despite the comfort of our room, but readied ourselves for our 5:15am bus rendezvous. Poor Annie wasn’t feeling well and was nursing a hip and hamstring injury but was still going to go out and give the course her best. Her grit, determination and resilience were inspiring in the face of the looming 3-hour physical and mental battle we were about to enter.

The Race Start

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An image of race start provided by Action Media.

I must say that of my 11 marathons before Tucson, not many stacked up to the organization of this race.

We met the buses outside the hotel at 5:15 am. We were welcomed by the site of not school buses, but coach buses equipped with bathrooms! The bus ride to the race start was comfortable AND, drumroll, we were allowed to stay on the buses as long as we wanted at race start. This was great because it meant we could stay warm on the buses and conserve the energy normally spent trying to stay warm during the hour before race start.

High-elevation-influenced temperatures before sunrise are no joke. (The temperature at race start was a chilly 28 degrees–not bad once you start running and descend, but when you are just sitting, pretty brutal.)

They also had plenty of porta-potties so we never had to wait in line–another unheard of component to this race compared to others.  They also provided food, water and gatorade at the top of the course for those that needed it.

We chatted on the bus for the hour before start and prepared for the race. About eight minutes before race start, we decided it was time to leave the comfort of the heated buses and head for the the starting line.

These moments, right before race start, standing at the starting line, getting ready to embark on a 26.2 mile journey into the unknown, are both exhilarating and terrifying. I can remember each of my 12 race starts vividly. This race start was framed by a beautiful sunrise and rugged mountain peaks.

Strategy dictated that we position ourselves toward the front to avoid getting clogged with runners of slower speeds. (The beginning of the race is always somewhat congested until the pack spreads out.)  If you get caught behind pace at the beginning, it can adversely affect your speed goals for that first mile. We analyzed the field, counted the number of women with us and estimated how many would remain a few miles in.

I kept my sweatshirt on and my fleece blanket wrapped around my lower body to stay warm. I took my pre-race gel (CLIF SHOT Energy Gel: Cherry Chocolate), hooked up my earbuds and made sure they were working and ready to go. I turned my pace watch on so it could begin to search for the GPS signals it would need for accuracy. I checked my course-specific pace band I ordered from FindMyMarathon.com to see what pace I should keep my first mile at and then waited for the countdown to begin.

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These minutes before race start are the longest of the race.  We stand, shoulder to shoulder, trying to conserve energy but still stay warm.  All are wracked with a similar nervous energy to get the race underway.  Hopes are high, fears are higher, but when the gun sounds and you start to move the anxiety starts to fade and grit, training and determination take over.

The countdown from ten begins, I throw my thrift-store sweatshirt and blanket to the side for donation and prepare for what’s before us.

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1….The gun goes off, and so do we!

On the Course

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Graphic provided by official Tucson Marathon site.

The Tucson Marathon Course has a total ascent of 369.41 feet and has a maximum elevation of 4,810.66 feet. The course begins with racers running downhill. The first couple miles felt pretty effortless because of this downhill factor (and due to all the adrenalin coursing through my system.)

I had chosen a “very conservative start” option because I wanted to prevent burning through too much energy at the front end while my body warmed up–a mistake I have made in the past AND learned from!

Those first few miles are very telling.  You can judge pretty early on how your race is going to go based on how you feel those first three miles. My body was feeling good, my heart rate was staying pretty steady so I was encouraged.

Early on in the race, Annie started having some problems keeping her heart rate down and just feeling good in general and encouraged me to go ahead; to stay on pace.  We knew this was a possibility based on how she had been feeling, but I was still sad to not have her by my side.

She and I would reunite several times during the race for bouts together–she is SO strong and fast–but the majority of the race I ran alone. Well, not alone, there were several hundred others running as well, but no one I knew. 🙂

At the 10k timing strip, someone dropped a water cup in my path and I had to hurdle it not to trip over it. This hurdling maneuver just happened to launch me over the 10k pad that marks that you have crossed it when you land on it.

When I realized I hadn’t put my foot on it I started to panic. I knew that races were really cracking down on cheaters and that one way they are cracking down is making sure that the marathon participant has cleared all the mile check points. I considered turning around and running back, but luckily a sage woman running by me, eased my worries by saying that the chip in my bib would log that I had been there, not the track pad beneath my feet. That was good news!!

The Biosphere

One of the really cool landmarks of interest on the Tucson Marathon course is the Biosphere. “The Biosphere is an Earth system science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona, owned by the University of Arizona. It operates as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. It is a 3.14-acre structure originally built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. It remains the largest closed system ever created”[2]” (Wikipedia.org).

While this research facility is undoubtedly cool, the run up to the facility and back was not something I was looking forward to on this course. You leave the main highway and begin a 2.5 mile ascent to the Biosphere around mile 10.  I knew the long climb would mess with my split averages because I was going to have to ascend about a minute-per mile slower (in some spots 2-minutes per mile slower) to not burn myself out this early in the race.

Racers that have summited this section pass you on the their way back down to the highway, so I took the opportunity to count how many women were in front of me. I counted 12. 12 women were in front of me about halfway through the race. I would see how many of them I could catch and pass over the next 13 miles.

I was SO happy when I reached the top, around mile 12, and started back down to the highway.  The hardest part of the race was over. (Other than the hill at mile 24 that was coming up).

Once I hit mile 14, I knew I was in good shape for the next nine miles. This nine-mile stretch had a slight downhill grade to it. Perfect.

Miles 24 – Finish

I was feeling good at the end of the race, but did see a noticeable inability to keep my pace-band splits after mile 20. My goal to stay at a 7:20 per mile was easing into 7:35 or slower, but I just kept on moving as fast as I could. The uphill, rolling section of the last part of the course is not ideal. Most courses I  have ran, except for NYC, mercifully descend on the last couple miles or are flat at least. Not Tucson.

My Strava Splits According to My Pace Watch

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I kept my cadence average at 188 which was great, but something definitely started to slow me down there at the end. I need to figure that out.

Since we had driven the course the day before, when I reached the point where I knew I had one, 400 meter section, a right turn, another 200 meter section and then the finish line I started going into an all-out sprint.

I had stopped really paying attention to my pace band at this point since the last couple miles I was off pace. I was turning my legs over as quickly as I could for where I was in the race.  I really had no idea what my time was other than I knew I was around my goal.

When I rounded the corner and could view the clock, I saw that if I kicked it up a notch, I would come in under 3:17. I didn’t know I had another level of speed to kick up to, but surprisingly found it and dashed across the finish line strong and happy.  It felt great to grab that medal at the end.


My Race Results

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After crossing the finish line, my eyes quickly filled with tears–something that pretty much happens after every marathon.  It is inexplicably emotional. There is such a release after 16-18 weeks of training, 3+ hours of running and plotting and then being done.  What made that moment even sweeter was finishing strong and meeting my goal.

While it wasn’t my pace band projected time of 3:15, I was VERY happy with my 3:16:45. The course had been challenging, and I had had a great race. AND an added bonus was that I had not only qualified for the 2019 Boston Marathon, but also the NYC marathon (if I desired to run it again).

My finish time placed me as 5th woman overall.  At some point I had managed to pass eight of the 12 women I had counted at the halfway mark.  I also placed second in my age group so I received an award made by a local artisan:

Finish Line Fun

My first order of business after crossing the finish line was to get some recovery fluids into my system. I was quickly met by a young, eager volunteer who went and retrieved my gear bag for me! That was really nice. As mentioned earlier, I took my recovery drink –and a couple of Advil to head off the pending inflammation–and put on my warm clothes, discarding what I could into my race bag. My body temperature drops quickly after I stop running so I always put on extra layers after if they are readily available.

Once I had some recovery fluids in me, and my jacket on, I went back to the finish line to look for Annie. Given her struggle on the course, I didn’t think she had crossed yet, but was surprised (and NOT surprised) to see she had.

Despite her sickness and injuries she had still put down a 3:23:55!! Her PR is a 3:04 so she is obviously capable of faster times, but I was immensely impressed with what she accomplished in the face of real physical challenges. Rockstar.

After the Race

The Tucson Marathon also had a pretty impressive spread of recovery food options. Fruit, peanut butter, nutella, and pbj sandwiches, coconut water, fruit, etc.  I only wished they had had chocolate milk; my stomach doesn’t really tolerate anything else post race.

I tried to put down a peanut butter and flatbread sandwich, but could only swallow one bite.  My Latex Fruit Syndrome doesn’t allow me to have bananas so there wasn’t much for me, but Annie found several things she could recover with.

We claimed our age-group awards (she placed in hers as well) and we boarded the bus they provided back to our hotel.

A Couple Hours at the Spa

The race host hotel, the El Conquistador Resort by Hilton , really was top notch. We were (initially) a little annoyed that they didn’t have a late check-out option, which forced us to check out that morning before we boarded the buses. However, they gave us the option to use their spa for our post-race needs. The spa was perfect. We were able to shower and get cleaned up in a luxurious environment followed by some relaxation poolside.

Tucson Weather in Dec: Perfect for Winter Marathon

It was a little chilly at the start, but I found that I quickly warmed to a comfortable temperature. I chose to run in shorts, a singlet, arm sleeves, and a headband. I thought I would throw my arm sleeves to the side once I warmed up, but found I was comfortable with them through the entirety of the race. Race temperature after descending the first couple miles was around 50–which is perfect for racing. At the race conclusion, it was about 65. Not bad at all. Luckily, although some stronger winds had been predicted,  the wind didn’t feel stronger than about 5 mph throughout the race.)

Marathon Strategy

I gauge my speed highly on what my heart is doing. I frequently look at my Garmin Vivoactive Heart Rate pace watch to make sure it isn’t climbing to quickly and to keep it out of the 170s. Ideal heart rate for me is low 160s when I’m racing a marathon. The last 5k, I let it creep into the 170s, but not earlier or I will hit the wall.

I use my pace band to have goal paces throughout, and check my mile-splits average to make sure I am on track for my goal-finish time.

Tucson was tricky because the course is much hillier than you would think with all that net downhill you end up with over the course. Having to slow down to keep my heart happy on the uphills meant I had to speed up on the downhills or flatter sections to stay on pace.

I always walk the water stops too. I’m trying to make those stops quicker, but if I try running through them, I end up spilling most of the water I am trying to drink out of my cup while I bounce around.

I don’t like to run with water so rely totally on the water stations on the course. I do carry my own gels though. Gu Roctanes are my go-to marathon gels. I take them at miles 5, 10, 15, 20 and sometimes 25; often I will just go for gatorade at mile 25 since I am so close to the finish.


Despite all my pre-race anxiety for Tucson, I am extremely glad that I faced those fears and raced. The outcome and experience were immensely positive.

The freedom to move my body how I like, as fast as I like, as long as I like, etc., is a freedom that I don’t take for granted. Hopefully, if I train smart, it will be a freedom that I can enjoy for another 40+ years.

Next Up

2018 will have me experiencing some new courses and some old. I will return to Boston for the 4th consecutive year with my training pal and friend, Brooke Clayton.  Annie is planning to be on the course as well!

The plan for that race is to treat it like a long training run, at about an 8-minute per mile pace. The reason for this being that two weeks after Boston, I am signed up for the REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon in Nevada.  It is much closer to Boston than I would like, but I have been wanting to race this marathon for a while now and am not ready to eliminate Boston from my annual racing schedule.

Thanks for reading!

Entry 21: The Deseret News Marathon


One of My Favorite Marathon Experiences

A couple months ago, on July 24, 2017, I completed my eleventh marathon. Reflecting on this marathon experience still makes me smile. There was beauty. There was struggle. But neither could have existed without the other.  We went in with a plan and after 18 weeks of effort–and 3 hours and 27 minutes on the course–we achieved it.

For me, this was an especially meaningful race. I had failed to achieve two marathon goals prior to it and was really needing a “win” so to speak.  Wanting to run the Boston Marathon course for my 4th consecutive year in 2018, it was especially important to me to put down a Boston Qualifying (BQ) finish time to secure my spot. I had come close in the two marathons prior, but had missed a BQ by extremely close margins both times (largely due to technical issues, improper training, and overestimating the pace I could sustain for that distance.) I’ll explain more about that later.

A Historical Race, A Historical Course

The Deseret News Classic is billed as the oldest marathon west of the Continental Divide and the oldest road race in Utah. The full marathon starts at 7,900 feet to a finish at 4,400 ft. The marathon course follows the path Mormon pioneers took when they first settled the valley.

The Deseret News Classic takes place on July 24th, Pioneer Day, every year in downtown Salt Lake City. The Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and 5k routes all join the Days of 47 Parade route where runners will be greeted by over 100,000 cheering Utahns! Running along the parade route is one of the most fun and unique aspects of the Deseret News Classic. All of the races finish at the same location on the north side of Liberty Park. Once you cross the finish line, enjoy the post race festivities and join your friends and family watching the parade come in! Utahrunning.com

So, Why the Desert News Marathon?

I chose to run the Desert News Marathon for a few different reasons. The first reason was because my good friend and training partner, Brooke Clayton, invited me to run it with her; I knew that would be fun! The second reason was because I still didn’t have my BQ for September’s Boston Marathon registration and wanted that.  And the final reason was because the course ran through an area I group up in.  Ages one-eight, I spent in the foothills of Salt Lake City.

Returning to Where I Grew Up

The Deseret News Marathon course runs down a canyon I frequented in my youth and in my college years when I attended Brigham Young University.  The marathon course goes right by an LDS chapel that I attended in those early childhood years. It also runs a block away from the elementary school I attended back then.  The race runs all around areas that I have associations with dating back more than 30 years!

The Desert News Marathon was also an extremely convenient race for me to attend. I have lots of family that live nearby to visit and stay with and the drive over from Fort Collins, Colorado, is easy.

Find My Marathon Course Research

Find My Marathon (FMM) also ranked the Deseret News Marathon as a good course for qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Its Course Score of 100.11 ranked it as the 32nd fastest marathon course in the U.S., and the 4th fastest course in Utah.  Because the course has some nice hills, and because of high temps/humidity levels in late July, the FMM gave the course a PR Score of 98.74. This PR Score ranks it as the 166th fastest marathon in the U.S. and the 4th fastest in Utah. In other words, this wasn’t going to be my easiest marathon, but it wouldn’t be my hardest either!

The Path of My Ancestors

This course was meaningful to me in other ways too.  I had many ancestors that traveled west to find religious refuge. The fact that the marathon course follows the route the pioneers–my ancestors–crossed when they first entered the valley was meaningful to me–especially to be able to do it on Pioneer Day! Poetic indeed.

Deseret News Marathon Course Information

I don’t like to go into any marathon without some serious research. Map My Run provides a good map of the route and some kind soul even created a YouTube video of the course.  Both references are helpful as you work on your individual race strategy.

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The Deseret News Marathon begins at the top of Big Mountain above Emigration Canyon, descending a 3,200 foot total elevation drop. This hill, mentioned in the graphic above, is something to prepare for, but not fear.  Run it at an equal effort to how you run the rest of the course and you won’t burn out at the beginning of the race.  I was really afraid of this hill going into the marathon, but it ended up being much more manageable than I had anticipated.

The rolling nature of this mostly downhill course offered good recovery options for your lungs and muscles as you traversed the length of the course.

Definitely do you hill training, and try and simulate a 2.5 mile climb, with a 3-4 percent grade, to help you ease right through the major hill on the course.

Where We Stayed

The Salt Lake city Marriott University Park offered great accommodations for runners the night before the event and houses the expo adding to its convenience factor. The hotel was extremely comfortable and offered easy access to Rice-Eccles Stadium where you meet the buses the next morning.

My marathon piggy-backed a trip I  had planned to San Francisco. I flew back to Denver on Saturday morning, then, a couple hours later, jumped in my car with my kids and drove to Little America, Wyoming.  (I was too tired to drive the entire distance to Salt Lake, and was extremely glad we chose to stop at the Little America Hotel for the night.  (I had one of the best night’s of sleep ever at this hotel!) Slept in as long as my body would let me, and then we drove the rest of the way into Salt Lake on Sunday.  A good night’s sleep, and staying of my feet for most of Sunday were great helps for my race on Monday.

After spending some time with my family in Highland, Utah, I left my kids in the care of my awesome sister and drove the 45 minutes to Salt Lake to prepare for my marathon.

The Night Before

So, I started carb loading for this marathon on Thursday before the race.  I used Carbo-Pro to help me reach my daily carb goals–in addition to other carb-heavy foods–which was something I hadn’t used before that I feel helped me load my muscles without getting that super heavy feeling. I also carb loaded the night before the race with white rice and some protein. This was a new approach for me. I typically go for pasta or pizza. I think the rice option was a better choice for my GI tract and stomach on race day. I try to complete my last meal 12 hours before race start so my body has ample time to absorb the nutrients my muscles need, and so my stomach isn’t bogged down on race day!

Laid out my clothes and went to bed early!

Race Day

Awoke early and had my instant oatmeal breakfast in the room. No microwave so I just mixed it with hot water. I also had a half a bagel and some peanut butter–my typical pre-marathon breakfast.

Marathon buses pick up runners from Rice-Eccles Stadium between 3:30 am – 3:45 am to shuttle runners to the start line location. We drove my car to the parking lot–about a mile and half away–and met the buses about 3:45. We didn’t want to get there any earlier than we needed! Buses transport you to the top of Big Mountain. You can’t drive yourself. They close the roads and only allow the buses up.  Don’t drink too much water before boarding the bus since you have about a 30-minute trip up the canyon!

Important Pre-Race Tip

Waiting at the top, and for the first mile or so after race start, it is really dark. I had read about this factor before the race on a race review. I purchased the Swift-Clip Cap light by Amphipod to give me light so I wouldn’t trip all over myself on the way down the canyon (see it on my cap in first pic in post).  It was also extremely helpful for being able to see in the porta potties at the top.  DO plan on bringing some sort of light to help you–you won’t regret it!

We brought throw-away clothes and donation blankets to the top to stay warm pre-race, but it was warm enough we didn’t really need them.  I would still take them again, because you never know.  Shivering for an hour pre-race is NOT fun.

On the Course

Because of the elevation drop at the beginning of the race, you will be tempted to run really fast. Be careful with that. You can burn out your legs in the first few miles if you aren’t careful.  I always use a pace band during my marathon to help me stay on track. FindMyMarathon.com has course-specific pace bands that are great for keeping an even effort and planning your strategy.

We actually ended up negative splitting pretty much every mile of this course so I ended two minutes ahead of schedule at the finish.  I was a little worried about this early on in the race–that we would regret “banking time,”–but in the end, it worked out!


We chatted back and forth over the course of the marathon which was such a nice change to my usual solo marathons. We also picked up a couple of new friends that ran along with us for the first half.

Brooke had some family in the area and they had positioned themselves at different points along the course. This was so fun! Especially since none of my family was able to be there that day.  Around mile 21, her sister had bags of ice for us! It was warm at this point so the ice was welcomed! Knowing we only had 5 miles left was exciting! I was encouraged because we had passed the “wall” and I was still feeling strong.  My two marathons prior to this I was dying at this point, so taking inventory and feeling strong here was an awesome point for me during this race.


A little over a mile to go! This picture was taken by Brooke’s husband a little before we turned onto the parade route. We were starting to see more people out and about at this point.

Around mile 23 or 24 we hit another hill which was not a welcome sight this late in the race, but luckily it wasn’t very long.  This area of Salt Lake is so pretty with all the lush trees and victorian architecture. We were also starting to see more race spectators and people which was fun.

Surprisingly, the parade route–which was lined with thousands of people–was super quiet.  The parade hadn’t started yet, so you would think the spectators would have been entertained by the runners coming by, but they were pretty absorbed in other things, which is understandable since they came to watch a parade not a race.  There were a couple groups of people that were cheering racers on, but the majority of the spectators were oblivious to the inner fight that was going on in each of those runners running down that strip towards the finish line.

At this point in the course I was feeling really great. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t feeling the distance, I totally was, and I knew I needed to keep my legs moving or they would stiffen up and slow down.  But, it was looking like I was going to accomplish my goal so I was feeling pretty happy.

About a mile or so from the finish, I broke off from Brooke.  Since we were two minutes ahead of schedule, she was on track to meet her 3:29 goal, but was slowing down and her rhythm was no longer matching mine. With my glycogen stores near empty, I felt I needed to keep on pace to avoid cramping or other issues.  We had discussed beforehand what we would do if one of us slowed down, but it was hard to break off from my running partner.  We were (are) an amazing team!

Running towards the finish line, my tunes beating out a rhythm in my ears and seeing all the people out celebrating the holiday was such happy moment for me in this race.  Even with the quieter crowds than I anticipated, I was so happy to being finishing strong and fast.

I was a little disheartened when I passed 26.2 miles on my watch and still didn’t see the finish line! My watch clocked the course at 26.4 miles. (You wouldn’t think that extra .20 miles would matter that much, but at that point, believe me, it does!) But, once I crossed the finish line, this factor was history. I had done it! I was elated. Brooke came across a couple minutes later meeting her 3:29 goal and earning first place in her age group! She did amazingly well, especially when she started to feel knee pain in the later part of the race. I was so inspired by her ability to run through that pain and to her goal!!

My Results


I was really happy with my results of this marathon.  We had a plan, we stuck to it and we achieved. I earned 2nd in my age group, and 5th overall for my gender. This graphic below also has an Age Grade time.  This is something that I learned about recently and that you rarely see reported with the race results. Age grading is a formula for putting all race participants on a level playing field, regardless of age or gender. It compares your race times to older and younger runners, as well as those of the opposite sex. My age grade time for this course was a 3:17:48.

After the race, there are shuttle buses at the finish line area at Liberty Park to transport runners back to their vehicles at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Since Brooke’s family was there, we hitched a ride with them back to the stadium.  It was so great having them there!  It was fun to celebrate our accomplishment with them.

Sore But Blissful



Post-race I was feeling a little dizzy so I sat down and drank gatorade and tried to help my body stabilize. Walking was–as always–slow going until the carbs start to hit the system.  (If you are new to marathoning, take this tip:  you may not feel like eating at the end of the race, but if you want to be able to recover more quickly–and walk relatively normally–you need to get some carbs into you as soon as you can after you finish. Believe me, it makes a world of difference in how you feel following the race. )

No awards ceremony at this race, but they mailed both of us our additional medals a week later. The medals are really nice quality (see medal picture up above).

Lessons Learned

This race was a great learning opportunity.  It was great to see that post my serious calf injury in February of 2016, I could still finish the marathon distance at a respectable pace.  It further validated my theory that I needed to run more outside, incorporate more hill training, and that I am not yet able to sustain the 7:15 per mile paces over the marathon distance that I thought I could.  I really think that was a huge reason I failed to meet my goal finish times at the two marathons before and hitting the wall. While I can sustain those faster paces over shorter distances, my body is not able to over 26….yet.

I would totally recommend this marathon to anyone looking for a new marathon to challenge themselves with.  Do your homework, do your training, lock-in your mindset and go for it!


Entry 20: Boston Marathon 2017

2017 Boston Marathon Runner's Passport

Why I Ran

Choosing to return to the Boston Marathon for the third consecutive time was not something I was sure about. As a matter of fact, even after registering, I didn’t choose to race it until a few weeks before the race.  Not because the Boston Marathon isn’t fantastic and awe-inspiring; of the 11 marathons I have ran, it is still my favorite. But, I was flirting with a different marathon that was two weeks after Boston, and I didn’t feel I could do them both well that closely spaced.  However, the idea of missing out on the Boston Marathon didn’t sit well with me.  It is such a fun event to be a part of. I also had a score to settle with the course.  The year before, I ran it injured with a grueling 5-hour marathon finish time–a full 90 minutes slower than the first time I ran the course.  I didn’t want to exit the marathon that way.

I was also lured by the idea of running the course with two of my friends who had qualified and who planned to be there (Sharolyn Lindsey and Annie Ballard).  Sharolyn was running it for the first time and I was excited to share in that with her! These ladies are golden!

Pre-Race Details

I contacted Annie and mentioned that I was more seriously considering running Boston. She encouraged me and even offered me to bunk up with her at her AirBnB.

My plan was to fly in on Sunday, hit the expo, go to sleep, run the marathon on Monday and head home that evening.  I didn’t need to sight-see. And, I didn’t want my race to keep me away from my family nor be a huge expense. I booked my flight with Southwest points, gave up my spot in the REVEL Mt. Charleston Marathon I was planning on running a couple weeks after Boston and committed myself to the 2017 Boston Marathon.

A Struggling Mindset

Injured in February of 2016 with a gastrocnemius calf tear and deep vein thrombosis blood clot, I worked hard to rehabilitate.  Some things healed, some things still haven’t from that bitter winter. The cold temps and the convenience of an in-home gym (given an increase in the number of hours I was writing a day for work) had me doing 95 percent of my training on my treadmill.  It was an arduous process recovering, but eventually I was maintaining a 6:30 per mile pace and feeling ready to really give breaking the 3-hour marathon a go.

My experience at the New York Marathon the November before–hitting the wall for the first time in a race–shook my foundation and my faith in my abilities and training. Shaking that was tricky.

After months of rehabilitation efforts, working on getting faster and constantly striving toward my marathon goals I was also feeling a little burnt out. I wasn’t finding the same joy I had found in running before. Reaching my running goals was starting to feel more like something I was driven to do for all the wrong reasons; it had lost its fun. I had lost my fire.  Going into the Boston Marathon, my head just really wasn’t in it, but I was driven, almost mechanically, forward.

Coming Into Town Later

The decision to fly in the day before the race was a good one.  The last two marathons I had come into Boston with too much time before the race; I was on my feet too much, I wasn’t able to carb-load the way I wanted, and I was thinking too much about the race.  Back at home, I saw posts of racers in Boston touring and enjoying the pre-race fun, but was SO glad I could be apart from the stress that that causes before the marathon. If you do want to sight see, do it AFTER the race!

The Marathon Expo

Arriving in Boston on marathon eve, alone, was a little surreal. I took an Uber to church and met up with my friends. Following that, we hit the expo.  The expo only had a few hours left when I arrived, but the only real drawback of that was that some of the sizes for clothing I wanted for myself/children were gone and all the commemorative unicorns they put out each year were gone. (My daughter likes those). I was excited to be with my friends at the expo; I was beginning to feel the marathon energy and pre-race excitement.  Getting my bib is always an exciting highlight.  Being in Wave 2, Corral 1 was something I was proud of!

My Race Goals

After New York, I knew that  breaking the 3-hour mark was not going to happen for me at Boston in 2017.  My goal turned to trying to beat my 3:13 marathon PR. My goal was to leave the course feeling like I had redeemed myself from my performance at Boston the year before and from my horrendous experience on the New York Marathon course 5 months earlier.  Anything had to be faster than running injured the year before at Boston!

Race Prep

I made a reservation on Open Table before I left Colorado so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a good, carb-heavy meal the night before the race. (My first year I attended the official Boston Marathon race dinner, but was left feeling like the line was waaay too long to wait in for food that wasn’t worth it. My friends and I went to one of my favorites in North End and made sure we didn’t leave that part of town before securing some Florentine Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry–thank you Annie–to take home to our families.

Next stop, the AirBnB!

An AirBnB Nightmare

So, my first experience with AirBnB turned out to be a disaster.  My sweet friend and I found ourselves in a smoky, dimly-lit accommodation hosted by a woman we had come to learn was anything but forthright.  The ethnicity of the host really made no difference to me–why should it??–but apparently she thought it would.  She advertised the room as belonging to a young, white, blue-collar couple, but we later learned, after she refused to talk to us or see us–and from the Black Lives Matter poster in the closet–that she was of African-American descent.  Perhaps she felt that her race would affect her popularity on AirBnB?? Don’t know…. Sad.  Her dishonesty, coupled with arriving to find the studio apartment door unlocked AND her dodging meeting/talking with us, started to make us feel a bit unsettled about the whole arrangement.

We couldn’t find the promised air mattress and when we did uncover it we couldn’t find sheets to cover all its dust.  It was also like 5 feet long….Worried that it may not retain its form through the night, and the lack of sheets and cleanliness, Annie–being the amazing friend she is–demanded I share the queen bed with her.

We prepared for our early morning.

I tossed and turned all night.  The smoky room was irritating my lungs, and the stuffiness of the room couldn’t be helped since we were on the ground floor and opening a window felt a little too precarious in this unknown area of Boston. I had weird dreams all night of our nameless, faceless host opening the front door and coming in during my sleep! Worried I would disturb Annie’s sleep, I tried not to make a sound, or move too much but it was a rough night.

A Crucial Error

A poor-night’s sleep in a questionable accommodation wasn’t the only thing that was getting my race day off on the wrong foot. Before entering a bed I sincerely hoped was free of bed bugs, I discovered that I had left my pace watch charger in Colorado and my watch was in desperate need of a charge.  At 8pm in the evening, there was nothing to be done about the missing charger; I would just have to see how long the battery would last. Sigh.

The Athlete Village

One of the highlights of this trip was being reunited with Mike and Sharolyn Lindsey who had traveled with Stephen and I to New Zealand a few weeks prior to Boston.  (I just love this couple!) Having Mike there was so helpful too! They had a rental car and he drove us where we needed to go. I was so grateful to see their car show up at the AirBnB that morning. He gave Sharolyn and I a ride to the buses for the athlete village and I said goodbye to the AirBnB for the day. The shady actions of our host made me wonder if my things would still be there when I returned later that day after the marathon. . . .

The ride to the village, and our time in the village, was another highlight of the event.  Annie left early that morning on foot because she had qualified for the first wave–no small feat–and needed to meet the buses earlier.  We met up with her briefly in the village so I could give her the keys to our AirBnB studio, and then she was off.

I was feeling REALLY nervous about my pace watch surviving, and the heat of the day since it was already really warm, but, mostly, I was just excited to get the race underway.

Sharolyn and I were in the same wave, but different corrals.  Since I was going to try and accomplish a PR, we said our goodbyes and I went to join the other racers in corral 1. Everyone that had qualified for wave 2 corral 1 were really fast runners so it was fun to rub shoulders with them and chat while we waited for our turn to cross the starting line.

Running the Course

Early on, I felt that my body was tired. My heart-rate spiked early with my 7:20ish pace. I worried about what that would mean for the later part of my race, but just kept pushing. I worked to stay on pace and still enjoy the experience.  That course is so scenic and so full of energy. The crowd is so encouraging and fun. I was having a pretty good time on the course until about mile 12.

Around mile 13 I started to notice that I didn’t have as much umph. By the time I hit the Newton Hills at mile 16, I knew I was going to have to readjust my goals. I let my body slow down to an 8-mile pace and just kept moving.

At mile 19, my watch died.  This was really unfortunate because I really needed it. I had hit the wall and was needing all the help I could find to finish this race with even a B or C race goal.  At the very least, re-qualifying at the Boston Marathon was something I wanted to achieve!

I walked through all the water stops, but kept on moving. The wall left my body stiff and reluctant to grant me any of my former speed. I couldn’t even guess what pace I was running. My lungs heaved. The heat was strong, the sun merciless.  My mental strength was flickering out and I found myself feeling very similarly to how I had felt on the New York Marathon course in November.

I was frustrated,  hating the race, cursing the reason for running marathons in the first place and just wanting to be home. I think I was deciding to retire from marathon running at that point. . . . After months of working towards a faster race time, I had failed. I couldn’t get my mindset where it needed to be.  I couldn’t find the light; the strength; the will.  But, but I kept on going as fast as my body/mind would let me. I kept on working, all the way to the end. I knew I would at least have that. I wouldn’t quit. I would finish the race. I would give it all I was a capable to give it that day.

My Splits Until My Watch Died at Mile 19



Some Comic Relief

Aborigine at Boston

Sometime right before my first sighting of the infamous CITGO sign, I noticed larger-than-average crowd noise soon followed by watching what appeared to be a near-naked, barefoot aborigine passing me on the course. Clad only in a g-string loin cloth, this dark-maned physique cruised by me at a pretty decent clip!  You see lots of things on the streets of the Boston Marathon, but this was the best of the day. He made me laugh right when I really needed to laugh.

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston Street

When I saw the blue stripe under my feet indicating that I was a mile from the finish line, I found some kick. I actually felt like I took Boylston Street at a pretty good clip.  The extra umph I had that last mile revealed that I could have been running faster. Had I had a working pace watch, I have no doubt that even though I had hit the wall, I would have re-qualified for Boston.  As it was, I crossed the 121st Boston Marathon finish line at a 3:46:34, 1 minute and 34 seconds too late to BQ.

Oh My Hips

Not exactly in the best frame of mind when I crossed the finish line, I also developed a keen awareness to the soreness in my hips and feet.  I was a slow-moving mess.  I usually feel pretty good when I finish a marathon. Not so that day!

I retrieved my phone from my pocket and saw a text from Annie.

Annie Ballard at the 2017 Boston Marathon finish line!

Annie Ballard at the 2017 Boston Marathon finish line! (We have a picture together somewhere out there–not at the race finish but at the park later–but I can’t find that pic!)

She had finished in an amazing 3:15 time despite a hamstring injury and had booked it to our AirBnB because our host had contacted her–while she was running the course–informing her that we needed to check out. Annie explained to her–while running–that we wouldn’t return until after the race; that she was running the course right then.  The host, who had apparently forgotten this important detail of her guests itinerary demanded that we return and hung up.  Annie returned after the race in haste and tried to grab a quick shower before I got back. She  was interrupted by the host entering the studio apartment and telling her to get her/our stuff and get out. Seriously.

Changing in the Park

So, I’m shuffling towards the marathon exit streets, talking to Annie on the phone and she is telling me that she (and her sister and husband that had come to the race finish) had gotten all our things and that they were waiting for me at a park about a block away from the cursed Brownstone we had spent a shady night in.  I should have been able to walk there–it was just a little over a mile–but my hips were so sore that every step was excruciating. My brain wasn’t working. I hadn’t grabbed a recovery bag at the end of the race, just a failing heat shield and I was wandering lost.  I decided to call an Uber and tried to find a street outlet from the masses and street closures that the Uber could reach me from.  This required more pitiful, snail-pace walking, but I finally found a corner to wait at. The first Uber couldn’t get to me and cancelled after I had been left waiting–on my aching feet–for 15 minutes.  The second Uber got to me and I wanted to cry. I forced my limbs to bend and got in his car.  It took us 25 minutes to get to the park because of all the people and traffic even though it was only like a mile away.

When I finally got to the park, I was in bad shape. And I was freezing. I needed to get out of my wet clothing, but there was no where to change so I rummaged through my bags–in the park–and found some clothes to put over my sweat-soggy race clothes. The time it had taken me to get to the park had seriously encroached on the time we had before we needed to be at the airport for our flight.  We called an Uber and went straight from the park to the airport.

Washing My Hair in an Airport Bathroom

We arrived at the airport with considerable time, so we found a family restroom and went in and locked the door.  We stayed in there for like 45 minutes while I tried to recover, change, and make sense of myself and my situation.  Annie clued into my lack of mental awareness and demanded I drink her recovery drink that she had received at the finish line. Once I got that in me, I got out of my wet clothes as she helped me wash my hair in the bathroom sink with her shampoo. This sweet, angel friend washed my hair for me while I gripped the sink and tried to stay upright. After the calories started to restore my system, and my temperature started to rise from shedding my wet layers, I began to feel less convalescent.

I will never forget that airport-beauty-salon scene. By the time we emerged, I actually felt pretty refreshed and was moving at a normal speed again.  (Recovery drink success!) We hit the security line and then hunted down some airport carbs before our non-stop flight to Denver.

A Sad Flight

Annie and I weren’t able to sit by each other on the plane, so I plopped myself between two strangers and tried to make myself comfortable for the 4.5 hour flight. Lucky for me, my post-race soreness really isn’t bad the day of the marathon–it peaks about two days out–but, my limbs still rebelled at the idea of being in one position for so long.

I pulled out the surprise chocolate chip cookies my husband had hid for me in my bag–my number one craving after a salty cheeseburger post-marathon–and let my mind sort itself.

That was a sad flight.

I couldn’t help the tears from brimming in my eyes.  All those months of effort to hit the wall.  The disappointment I felt was just overwhelming. I could find no real satisfaction from any of my efforts that day.  I was going to need some serious time away from marathoning to try and recapture my fire for it. I was being too hard on myself–for sure–but, I am wired to work hard, perform and achieve. I don’t take anything less very well. Never have. I know, I know, lighten up already. Don’t take things so seriously….I know. Major character flaw identified.

Lessons Learned

One of the biggest lessons I learned from this marathon was that you have to train on the type of terrain you race on.  All that treadmill running/training didn’t prepare my body for the speeds I was attempting on the course. My body may have been able to sustain those speeds on a 1 percent grade, predictable incline/surface (treadmill) but the muscles you develop from running on changing, turning, self-propelled surfaces are crucial for 26.2 miles of sustained effort. Hitting the wall was just inevitable.

Secondly, I will, quite possibly, never forget my pace watch charger ever again.  That error really messed up my final 10k of the race and cost me a BQ.

Thirdly, for the 2018 Boston Marathon I have already booked a room right at the finish line at a reputable hotel–no AirBnBs for me again pre-race.

And, finally, regardless of how fast or slow you run a marathon; regardless of whether or not you take that flight back feeling victorious or defeated, the fact that you finished has added something to you that wasn’t there before. This is true in so many facets of our lives.  Challenge yourself. Test yourself. Do your best. Don’t quit. Every experience in our lives–the good and the bad–shape us and prepare us for all the bumps and slides along the course of life.  I didn’t give up. I finished the race. I learned and left the course with plenty of knowledge/experience to apply to my next life event.

I will be returning to the Boston Marathon course in 2018 for my fourth consecutive year. How I got there again is outlined in a post to come: The Deseret News Classic Marathon.

Entry 19: 2017 Canyonlands Half Marathon

2017 Canyonlands Half Marathon Awards Ceremony

Receiving my 2017 Canyonlands Half Marathon 1st Place Female Masters Award.

Running the CanyonLands Half Marathon (Moab Half) for the 4th Time

The Canyonlands Half Marathon (CHM), USATF Certified course and I have a long-standing relationship. I have ran it four times, only missing out on it in 2016 due to injury. It is one of my favorite races because it is held in one of my favorite places–Moab, Utah! It is fun to see the progress I have made with my race pace over the years:

  • 2013 – 8:50 pace avg (1:55:55)
  • 2014 – 8:06 pace avg (1:46:07)
  • 2015 – 7:34 pace avg (1:39:10)
  • 2017 – 7:18 pace avg (1:35:44)

My return to the course in 2017 piggybacked our annual family trip to Moab. Both my husband and I had been working on improving our speed and were excited to return to the course.

Moab, Utah

Cycling along the race course with our kids.

Pre-Race Fun

This year, the race was at the end of the kids’ spring break so we did all of our playing before. The downside of this approach to a race is you: 1) have the race hanging over you the whole trip; 2) feel like you have to restrict your steps/activity to conserve race glycogen; and 3) you feel more restricted in your dietary choices.  Not the optimal way to run a race, but family time trumps racing!

As far as destination races go, Moab, Utah, ranks right up there with the best of them! Our traditions always include biking, swimming at the rec center, visiting our favorite food joints, sliding Sand Hill outside of Arches National Park, and hiking in and around Arches National Park. The Fiery Furnace (permit required) hike is always a MUST DO on our list.

Click on image to enlarge.

Race Day

Race day started with an early morning hotel breakfast and bus ride up the canyon to the starting line.  The absolute worst part of this race is the freezing wait and the late, 10:00 am start time.  You board the buses at 7:30 am, which makes for a long wait after your 11-mile transport up scenic highway 128. This year, I failed to pack my space blankets and froze during the 90-minute wait up in the windy, shady canyon.  But, even with the teeth-chattering cold that was shattering my body, I was excited to test my pace on this course.

I stayed in my extra clothes for as long as I could until it was time to check our gear bags then I stripped off those crucial layers and prepared to find my pace group. As I was adjusting my Ipod Nano and wireless earphones, I was very disgruntled to learn that my earphones had decided to not work.  After two months training with this new tech, I had never had any problems, but, of course, three minutes before race start, they decide not to work. I had checked the battery power that morning before leaving the hotel and they were set for 6 hours of performance after being fully charged that night. As the race director counted down the seconds to race start I gave up my attempts to force them into action and stuffed them in my pocket just as the gun went off. Racing 13.2 miles without tunes was not cool. I will forever have a spare set of non-wireless headphones in my gear bag just in case from now on!

The Race Was On

This video clip offered by the Canyonlands Half Marathon organizers can give you a little idea of the race start.

I was totally off rhythm during the first part of the race. I was frustrated that my earphones weren’t working and was struggling with a pace watch that was clocking me going much slower than I actually was.  (GPS issues in the canyon). Because most of my training that winter had been on the treadmill, I struggled with knowing what my pace was “by feel.” This challenge, coupled with a skewed pace watch output, caused me to run my first few miles too fast, clocking my first mile at 6:40–much faster than my goal first mile time.  Expending too much glycogen in the first few miles of a race can kill your race.  Sigh.  Subsequently, the race felt like a fight from the get-go.  Training on a treadmill just doesn’t transfer well to the road.  The speeds I was capable of on the treadmill didn’t sync up with my road performance on this rolling course.  You have to log time training on the type of surface/conditions you plan to race on. End of story.  I knew this, but thought the impact it would have on my overall race would be marginal. Ha! No.  I fought to stay strong even though I was running in the red zone of my heart rate for pretty much the entire race.

Knowing I had kids and family waiting for me at the end of the race drove me forward. My kids don’t get to see me race as much as I wish they could so when they are there I feel especially driven to do well! Much of why I run is for them; to teach them to work for goals and always do their best.

Approaching the finish line was exciting as I knew I was almost to the end and could use the last of my reserves–which wasn’t much, truth be told.  I didn’t know where I was in the pack or just how many women were in front of me, but I knew I had put it all out there and had given the course everything I could that morning. I heard my family before I saw them and that was THE sweetest part of the race. Sweeter than crossing the finish line and sweeter than my moments on the stage later. Hearing my children and extended family cheering me on, and being reunited with them after a long haul, was worth the pain and struggles on the course that day!

My Results

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 7.28.28 AM

Surprisingly, my finish time earned me a first place ranking for my division–First Female Master.  Overall, I was 14th for my gender which–at the age of 40–I’ll take with a smile! The majority of the women in front of me were in their twenties.  . . . I’m determined to keep the aging process at bay as long as I can!

My 1:35:44 time also qualified me for the New York City Marathon if I want to run it again.


My splits were:

  • 6:40
  • 6:57
  • 7:05
  • 7:07
  • 7:26
  • 7:21
  • 7:22
  • 7:26
  • 7:08
  • 7:31
  • 7:26
  • 7:32
  • 7:28

Avg: 7:18

You can totally see how I burned myself out in the beginning of this race and it showed as the race progressed.  Totally started slowing down!

Family at Canyonlands Half Marathon Finish Line

My finish line crew! My husband, my 3 children, 4 nieces and 1 nephew, two sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law!

I raided the recovery tents for water, electrolytes and glycogen-restoring foods and then we returned to the course to look for my husband.  Stephen finished strong and made his goal to come in under 2 hours!  He finished with an admirable 1:54, 8:46 per mile pace.

Following his finish we camped out to wait for the official results and discovered I had earned first place in my division and would be honored at the awards ceremony.  That was an exciting race result for me since I had my family with me to celebrate with me!

The Awards Ceremony

My son and daughter both captured footage on their phones of the awards ceremony. They both caught different parts of the ceremony so I will include both of them. Here is the first:



I love the backpack they gave me for my award. It is hard to read the text in this picture but it says: Canyonlands Half Marathon: Sheri Haymore Award Female Master 1st Place 2017. (Apparently, 12 years ago on this course, Sheri Haymore, a 40-year-old mom of four, collapsed a half mile before the finish line and died so her girls present this award to the first place female master each year. Made me tear up receiving this award from her children!

Post-Race Celebrations

After you get done with a race, regardless of how you finish, there is a tangible weight lifted of your spirit and body.  All the unknowns you carry before a race are gone. Hopefully, goals have been achieved and you can finally just unwind and relax from a season of hard effort!

Being the foodie that I am, I love the extra guilt-free calories that are afforded me on race day to replenish what I have lost.  We definitely feasted at Miguel’s Baja Grill that night–my favorite restaurant in town!

Miguel's Baja Grill Moab, Utah

Santo Rosalia Enchilada at Miguel’s Baja Grill in Moab!

 Places to See/Things to Do in Moab

  • Arches National Park – Fiery Furnace Hike (get permit right when you get in town because there are limited permits and they go fast!)
  • Sled Giant Sand Hill (in front of Arches National Park Visitor Center entrance) Bring plastic sleds (discs). If you use Sandboard was you can go faster. You have to do a few runs with the sled to make a track and then you will fly!
  • Milt’s Stop and Eat (Burgers and Shakes!)
  • Jailhouse Cafe (Breakfast)
  • Corona Arch Hike
  • Cycling: 1)Colorado River Trail; 2) paved path from out of town into town; 3) Bar M Trail; 4) Countless others, but these listed are good with kids.
  • Lions Park Playground
  • Arches Thai Restaurant (Huge portions. Plan on sharing)
  • Moab Rec Center Swimming (Slide, diving board, zero-entry area, fountains)
  • Sweet Cravings Bistro (for sweets and to-go lunch food/sandwiches)
  • Rock and Fossil Shop
  • Dinosaur Museum and Park
  • Miguel’s Baja Grill
  • Paradox Pizza – Delicious garlic knots!; Order pizza by the slice.
  • MOYO Frozen Yogurt
  • Quesadilla Mobilla for Lunch (closes at 5pm)
  • Love Muffin (6:30am-1pm)

Until next time, Moab! Adieu!

Entry 17: Breckenridge Half Marathon


In preparation for running  the NYC Marathon in November of 2016, I decided I would do a warm-up half a couple months before to try my running equipment/routine out and to see how my training was going for me. I decided to run the Breckenridge Half Marathon because it was being held in a city I love that is just a couple hours from my home, and because I knew the fall scenery would be spectacular. Since the race starts at 11, 481 feet above sea level, and stays at 9600 feet above sea level for the majority of the race, I knew this wasn’t going to be a race that I could plan to achieve a PR at. The half is just part of the action here; there is also a full marathon–America’s Highest Road Marathon–and a 1/4 marathon option. All races start up on Boreas Pass Road and finish on Breckenridge Main Street.

September 17, 2016 – The Race

I must say, for this race only being in its second year, it was done quite well.  The small field was appealing and also helped with the superb roll-out of this event. Vertical Runner Breckenridge–the premier running store in the area–helps sponsor and host this amazing event. The half starts at 8:15 am and shuttle vans take runners to the start up Boreas Pass.

Running through beautiful Summit County Colorado in September is hard to beat. Fall colors abound! The majority of this race is on a paved rec path with generous downhill at the start and then steady rolling hills for the remainder of the race.

It was 36 degrees at race start and topped off at 46 degrees by the finish, so I had to dress appropriately for that temperature, but with the sun out and shining, it really didn’t cause me any problems. (The highs for us that weekend were in the low 60s.)

My Experience


To view video, click image or here.

I loved the small-town feel and charm of this scenic course, but be warned that you will feel the elevation! Even with regularly training at 5200 feet above sea level, doubling that really makes a noticeable difference! I felt like I was running up a hill constantly, even on flat terrain because of the elevation component.  That being said, I was still able to run about a 7:45 average pace and achieve a top-finishing time–but I fought for it! Especially over the last 4.5 miles of the course which are a slow ascending paved trail to the finish.


Having my kids and husband find me on the course and run with me through the finish were beautiful highlights of this experience.  I run/compete for them; to teach them to do their best at whatever they choose to pursue, so having them there to see me finish and be on the podium, was really great.


Depending on your goals, this race could be for you! Even though I loved landing on the podium,  it took significant work to get there because of the elevation.  If I was to return to this race, I would run it at a fun, comfortable pace rather than try and race it. That component took away from the experience for me. So, if you are looking to put your racing skills to the test, this may not be the course for you. If you are looking for a fun, beautiful, well-organized unique race in a gorgeous setting to just get out and enjoy running–it is definitely for you!

Race Results


2nd Female with a time of 1:42: 17; 5th overall. I loved the wood medal that I received at the finish, the delicious food they provided at the Vertical Runner store after the race, and the unique wood trophy I was awarded for my finish time.


The Lodging


The Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge is the host hotel, and offers discount rates for race participants.  This hotel was SOOO fun! Our family had a blast trying out their row of outdoor hot tubs, swimming in their heated pool that is half outside, half inside, and playing mini golf in the basement of the hotel. They also have a fun arcade in the basement that awards tickets and prize machine the kids can use to trade tickets for trinkets.


Post-race relaxing! (I did get in and swim too!)


Breckenridge and Nearby Frisco

Breckenridge has no shortage of things to do, so it is a perfect place for a family-race-weekend.  Biking, hiking, exploring main street, riding the gondola are all recommended! Nearby Frisco is also one of my favorite Colorado towns. Peppino’s Pizza in Frisco is a great place for a pre-race, carb-loading meal the night before (try their garlic knots!) We also love getting ice-cream/treats at historic Foote’s Rest Sweet Shoppe on Main Street in Frisco. We often bike around Dillon Reservoir in Frisco. It is a beautiful, paved path with picturesque bridges and landscapes. Main Street in Frisco is also charming! Summit County in the Fall is hard to beat!

Entry 18: New York Marathon


Crossing the finish line for the 2016 New Your City Marathon!–The 2016 NYC Marathon was the World’s Largest Marathon in History!

40th Anniversary of the New York City Marathon and I ran it in my 40th year. Poetic, don’t you think? So, when thinking about what to headline this post with, I thought the following would be appropriate:



Know the course and train for the course. I mean, that’s a no-brainer, right? But, yeah, totally didn’t incorporate hill training in my marathon training and it hurt me big time. There is a reason the New York City Marathon is not advertised as a fast marathon. It isn’t. It is a hard, grueling, hilly course.  Prepare for it and it is possible to have negative splits. Don’t prepare for it and you will, most likely, crash.


Yes, I did. Everyone knows this is NOT something you should do. Running in new shoes is a no-no. But the week before the marathon, I started developing shin splints–a sign, for me, that my shoes have reached the end of their lifespan. From my research, I read that it would be better to run in a new shoe, identical to the shoe you have been training in, rather than try and run a marathon in a shoe that is done. So, I purchased a brand new pair of my beloved HOKA Bondi 4.0s and tried to get as much running in them as I could during the last week of my taper. I should have been tracking my miles in my shoes better during training to avoid this. (The lifespan of shoes is usually between 300-350 miles). Or, I also read, that you should buy a new pair of the shoes you want to run your marathon in, run 50 miles in them to break them in, then box them up until race day. May try that next time around.


The three days leading up to race day I had logged 34 miles on my feet and then threw in 4 hours on bikes–11 miles–the afternoon before the race. If you have a time goal, do your sightseeing AFTER the race. Come in a couple of days before the race–even just one day before if you can swing it–then sight see after.  While I knew that would have been a better way to safeguard my vital muscle glycogen stores, I didn’t want to be in NYC with my son on election day and after. I figured, regardless of who won, there would be unhappy people and it could get dangerous. And it did. So, there really was no way for us to avoid putting the sightseeing at the front end of the race this year since the NYC Marathon was just a couple days before election day….

AND–this is a BIG ‘AND’–my top priority for my trip to NYC was to make some solid, beautiful, educational, foundational, AMAZING memories with my son and husband.  I wanted to show him the NYC I have grown from and grown to love from my visits. So, when I look back on my marathon outcome, it was definitely a 3-star-out-of-10 experience for me compared to everything else we did.  But, we had SO MUCH FUN in NYC, that I can’t look back on how we spent our pre-marathon days and hours with any real regret. I knew I was risking my race glycogen stores traipsing all over the city, but it was a risk I was willing to take. No regrets.


  1. Try and get on a color course that goes over the Verrazano bridge, not under. One, it is prettier; 2) your GPS won’t have as many issues–hopefully–and 3) the pacers are up there!! I really wanted to run with the 3:05 pacer, but the courses don’t intersect until mile 8! My race was already destroyed by then.
  2. GPS goes haywire ESPECIALLY if you are on the green course on Verrazano Bridge (which I was under the bridge on this course and GPS was crazy.) GPS also struggles in congested areas like: Queensboro, First/Fifth Ave, and Central Park.
  3. The bus ride from the ferry to Fort Wadsworth (athletes village) is like 45 minutes.  If you don’t get a seat–which I didn’t–sit down in the aisle. Don’t stand the whole time-like I did.
  4. Force yourself to conserve in the first half of the marathon or you WILL die in the second half.
  5. Do train hills!!!!  There are five,long, steep hilly bridges on this course! And undulating terrain throughout.
  6. Don’t go too fast on the Verrazano Bridge–it can–and will-kill your race in the first mile.  The first mile is a 3% grade hill for 8/10 of a mile. Hold back on the 3.4 % decent for the mile down the bridge. Go too fast on that one and you’re a goner too. The first two miles should feel annoyingly easy. THIS IS WHERE I KILLED MY RACE.
  7. The race starts at mile 17. Get to mile 17 as if you haven’t started the race yet and you are good. Mile 16 has a mile-long 3.4% grade uphill. Oh, man, why didn’t I train hills!!
  8. Miles 20-23 in Bronx/Harlem are hilly!  These are “the wall” miles and you will need to dig deep because of the hills.
  9. Mile 24…The ninja hill at 5th Ave.  This is a mile-long 2.5% uphill.
  10. Mile 25-26 are all undulating hills, people.  Again, why didn’t I do hill training? There is a 3.3% grade hill for a half mile up Central Park South. You will feel it.
  11. The race ends on an uphill. Yes, I’m serious. A 5.5% grade uphill. It isn’t incredibly long, but seriously, right at the end!!
  12. screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-11-26-59-amAFTER the finish line, you will then walk for about 30-45 minutes. I’m not kidding.  (Check out the map graph above. See where it says finish line? See the teal line that merges with the green line that loops around to the red exit sign on 73rd? All of Central Park West was unaccessible until it intersected with 58th. My hotel was on 54th. I had to go all the way around.) Security is tight and they don’t let any family in, or any racers out, for blocks from the finish line. They do warn you in your race packet that it will take you approximately 30 minutes to get from the finish line to the exit. This was accurate. Herds of racers are all limping their way down Central Park West trying to exit the course. I think it was another mile (or more???) just walking to the exit from the finish line. Then when you finally do exit, you have to weave through all the family waiting for people and find out how to get where you need to go because they close so many streets! I had planned to walk straight through Columbus Circle by Trump Tower to get to my hotel, but had to walk several detour streets before I got to the hotel.
  13. Unlike some other races I have run, race etiquette is to wear your medal on Monday–on Medal Monday. I saw many racers wearing it on race day, but apparently, just Monday is the standard ritual for New York.
  14. Don’t rent bikes outside of Central Park and bike over to it. CRAZY you WILL die. It was a miracle we didn’t. Get your bikes right there in the park. And DON’T bike the park the day before the race thinking it will “keep you off your feet.” The park is super hilly. Sigh. Burned waay too much muscle glycogen the day before the race.


  1. Train hard. Check. I did this.
  2. Get good sleep the night before. Lay out all your gear. Get a race-specific pace band. I like racesmartpacebands.com.
  3. When you know it is going to be a windy race, don’t panic. It was a VERY windy race. Beautiful, sunny weather, with temps in the high 50s–perfect–but incredibly windy. Especially on the bridges.
  4. Do take an Uber to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. Do plan on leaving at 5:15 am from your hotel if you have 6:00am ferry departure. DO get on the earliest ferry you can. Don’t miss your wave trying to get on a ferry while the Staten Island Ferry terminal gets crowded.  Do your waiting in the village at Ft. Wadsworth. Subways are delayed that morning and crowded. Pay the $25 and take an Uber. So worth it.
  5. Do go to the bathroom before you exit the ferry. The lines at the bus stop after the ferry are crazy long.
  6. Do bring tons of clothes. They have donation bins all the way up to race start. I had fleece pants, arm warmers, a sweatshirt, beanie, gloves and a winter coat on that I found at goodwill before I left Fort Collins. I needed them all.  Before I lined up for the race, I discarded them all in the donation bin, but kept my space blanket. I only ditched my space blanket 1 minute before race start. I was glad. You warm up quick after you start running up the Verrazano Bridge.
  7. Do take the ferry–so pretty and relaxing and lots of bathrooms on board to use.
  8. Do bring a couple of space blankets for waiting for the bus after the ferry and for waiting at Fort Wadsworth.
  9. Do hit the New York City Marathon Pavillion on Monday after the race to get your NY Times edition with your name printed in it, to see the wall with your name on it and checkout the finisher gear.  Be prepared that if you want to do the medal engraving, the line is gargantuan. We skipped that part. I’ll engrave it at home.
  10. Do opt for the New York City Marathon race poncho at the end vs. using the gear check.  The race poncho is super nice. Flannel lined, heavyweight material, velcro enclosure. It kept me warm while I walked for 45 minutes after the race and while I walked to my hotel.
  11. 14917050_10153920132695841_3798568194990590423_o

    Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k with my Son and Husband (taking pic)

    Do run the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k with family.  This is a great shake out run and SOOO unique to run down empty New York Streets!!

  12. Plan on hours at the EXPO. Best I have ever attended. SOOO awesome and the Javits Convention Center, with all its glass roofing is spectacular.
  13. Do get a pair of the New York City Marathon Special Edition shoes. Just keep in mind that ASICS–HUGE race sponsor–is NOT the only shoe company that makes them! I bought my ASICS then saw a cooler shoe made by ALTRA for the marathon, but ASICS wouldn’t let me return the shoes–even when only 10 minutes had passed since I bought them. They won’t tell you that “all sales are final.” It prints on your receipt AFTER you make your purchase, but they won’t tell you. . . until you try and return something.
  14. Do use the Subway as much as possible. The city is so crowded that Uber takes 2-3x the amount of time to get around. (Accept at 5am on race morning. Streets were empty.) Buy an Unlimited MetroCard when you arrive in the city.  That $31.00 up front will get you far!
  15. Do get a hotel close to the finish line. It is worth the cost. You won’t be driving anywhere after the marathon – streets are all closed near the finish line. Subways are delayed and overcrowded. We loved staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Central Park. It was less than a mile from the finish line so we just walked there after the race.

My son taking a very well-timed selfie with me when I went by at the 25th mile in Central Park.

MY SPLITS – A Race Unraveling

Start Time:  9:52 am:  Green Wave, Corral 1 Wave A: –Goal: 3:07 finish; 7:10 pace. Trained for a 6:59 mile pace.  . . .

  • 1Mile: 8:40 (GPS tracking me totally wrong. Reporting 12-minute mile pace.)
  • 2M: 6:50
  • 3M: 7:10       (5k: 7:13 min/mile pace: Legs feeling weak. Knew I was in trouble.)
  • 4M: 7:17
  • 5M: 7:12
  • 6M: 7:22
  • 7M: 7:02
  • 8M: 7:26
  • 9M: 7:34
  • 10M: 7:25
  • 11M: 7:57
  • 12M: 7:32
  • 13M: 8:03 (Half Marathon: 1:37:23: 7:26 min/mile pace avg.)
  • 14M: 8:02
  • 15M: 9:16 (started to not feel well. stopped and walked through aid station. Decided to let go of time goal and just try to enjoy the marathon. stopped using watch at this point. ran just on what felt good.)
  • 16M: 8:15
  • 17M: 8:57
  • 18M: 9:11 (stopped and walked through aid station)
  • 19M: 8:53 (felt sick. stopped taking gels)
  • 20M: 9:22
  • 21M: 10:26 (felt sick; bathroom stop. first time I have ever stopped to use the bathroom on a course….)
  • 22M: 10:40
  • 23M: 11:51  (stopped to walk)
  • 24M: 11:49 (stopped to walk. started to think marathons are crazy; that I should never run another one. 🙂 Took my one earbud out and ditched all music. Nothing was going to help me at this point. And it was really loud.)
  • 25M: 10:00 (remembered running this mile with my son. made me smile. short time later see my son and husband! “We love you!” Made my race!)
  • 26M: 9:11 (bottoms of my feet hurt. new symptom for me. rest of the body felt fine, just tight/stiff. Glycogen at zero).

FINISH Time: 1:39 pm

3:46: 56 marathon time (8:40 min/mile avg). 



  1. I may be comfortable with 7-minute miles on flat terrain, but my body is NOT comfortable with 7-minute miles on 2, 3, or 5 percent grades. Time to start training hills and if I do run on a treadmill, I will ALWAYS have it on an incline now. Let’s face it. Most courses are NOT going to be flat. Granted, they may not have as many challenging uphills as the New York City Marathon, but training on flat terrain really isn’t helping you out.
  2. Reserve your glycogen and get those carbs in. I failed to do both and I paid for it. Early.



I met a really friendly woman who was waiting for an Uber at the same hotel that I was race morning. (Heather Kiersznowski from Connecticut.) She and I hung out on the ferry and bus ride and parted ways when she headed to the blue village and I to the green village. Really enjoyed getting to know her.

Because of my predicted race finish time and my race qualifying time of 3:13, I was in the first wave, first corral of the green course. It felt really great going into that corral. I was one among a handful of women. Felt like a rockstar. Everyone looked super fast. I really thought I was going to be able to compete with this crew. With different pre-race preparation and some hill training, I think I could have. Fun to hang out with them. So many foreigners!!

So many porta-potties!  So many, in fact, my longest wait in line was like three minutes–unheard of. Seriously, New York runs an amazingly organized event. I was really impressed.

They filled huge trucks full of sand to barricade off streets to the finish line–so no one could potentially try to ram their way through. (Pic by Stephen S.)


When we finally reached the hotel, after the race, and we went up to the room, housekeeping was cleaning it. Seriously. I had to wait in the hallway–on my feet–for another 10 minutes. It was kind of funny actually. Three cleaning women all scrambled in when they saw me and worked together to get it finished fast.

My husband and son were great.  They went and got me “recovery” treats and had them waiting for me in the room. Baked by Melissa cupcakes and macaroons. Yes! I showered and they patiently chilled in the hotel waiting for me and then we headed to Shake Shack so I could get my sodium fix! Delicious.

I will never forget being in NYC with my boys! Priceless.


Did I mention that the weather was PERFECT while we were there? 5 days of sunshine, no rain, and the only windy day was on the day of the marathon. Temps were in the mid to low 60s. Perfect.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-27-56-pmNEW YORK CITY MARATHON RECOVERY SURPRISE

One of the most astonishing pieces of body-experiment information for me was how my body felt post-New York City Marathon vs. the other eight I have run. I had virtually no soreness. Never had to walk down stairs backwards, never had any of the usual 7-day challenges. My body was recovered and ready to run again after day 2. I can only assume this is because I ran the latter part of the marathon so slowly? Or the other theory is that this race didn’t have the aggressive downhill that so many of my other races that I have run have. But, even Boston leaves me super sore and it doesn’t have aggressive downhill so I am chalking it up to having run a slower race.  . . ?


Although there is a part of me that wants to return to the New York City Marathon to conquer all the areas that I failed during this race, once was enough for me. I don’t have any plans to return. It’s a stressful marathon. Lots of moving parts to get you to the starting line. Long wait for the start.  A really torturous walk from the finish line to the exit and back to your hotel.


Redefining the runner’s high at 1250 feet  – on top of the Empire State Building after the race.

And, as cool as it was to run from Staten Island to Manhattan–to see the amazing distance I traversed from the roof of the Empire State Building–I really didn’t enjoy all the hills and the 5 bridges you have to climb an descend.  Was it an epic experience that I am glad I did? Yes. I will NEVER forget the feeling of walking down Central Park West and seeing my son and husband standing near Columbus Circle waiting for me. With my NYC poncho wrapped around me keeping me warm, and my medal dangling around my neck, I did feel victorious. I had to surrender to the pain each footstep issued me (new shoes..arrgh), but I felt honored to be among the other finishers as we flooded the streets; streets that had been barricaded and closed just for us. We shut down Manhattan! So many strangers congratulated me during my mile trek back to the hotel. So many smiles. So much positive energy.  Even without the endorphins chemically lifting my soul, it would have been hard not to feel high and happy. Finishing a marathon–regardless of how you do it–always feels good when you are done.

I went to bed that night with my Garmin Vivoactive HR telling me my feet had gone 34.9 miles. It was a VERY full day.

Next up. . .Canyonlands Half Marathon in March 2017, Boston Marathon in April, Deseret News Classic Marathon in July, FORTitude 10K in September, and maaaybe the St. George Marathon in October.  


  • Pepolino (Not in Little Italy: 218 W. Broadway) Excellent homemade pasta and sauces. Get the signature ricotta cheesecake. AMAZING!
  • Bryant Park. Play ping pong if you get the chance. Stroll through the shops, people watch, and if you brought ice skates, skip the $20 rental and hop on the ice!
  • WOOPS! Macaroons (Bryant Park)
  • Hilton Garden Inn Central Park – cookies everyday, and GREAT location.
  • The Metal Shop (Bryant Park)
  • Cafe Habana in Soho (best street corn ever. and try the pork)
  • Shake Shack.
  • Crown Tour Statue of Liberty – Awesome.
  • Blue Man Group at the Astor Theater. So funny. (I was highlighted as a 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist for Synchronized swimming and asked to show some moves. So funny. I played along well, I thought.) 
  • Serendipity 33 (Frozen Hot Chocolates!)
  • Times Square  Picture taking in the hallway of mirrors art installation “The Beginning of the End” by Cuban artist, Rachel Valdés Camejo. (There until Nov. 21.) The art installation was super cool.  Other recommendations….Times Square is great for people watching, but always great to leave in my opinion.
  • Carnegie Deli – Pastrami Sandwiches and Cheesecake. (HUUUGE portions).
  • Magnolia Bakery (Banana Bread Pudding)
  • 9/11 Museum. Plan on at least 3 hours (Seeing this with my son–his first time, my second, was such an amazing experience.)
  • Baked by Melissa – miniature cupcakes are SOOO good.
  • Bike Central Park – Beautiful. Bring Bike lock to stop along the way at places. Eat a crepe from a vender.
  • Maison Kayser Bakery (Ham and Cheese Croissants and their cookies are scrumptious),
  • Bike the Brooklyn Bridge; buy art from a bridge/street artist; eat at Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. Get ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
  • Empire State Building – 86th floor Observatory.
  • Lemon Scones at Irving Farm Coffee Roasters.  (At the Fulton Center.) Delicious.
  • Angelina’s New York Style Pizza


Entry 16 – Boston Marathon 2016

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147 Days Late, But Here.

I find it fitting to start this entry on the same day that I registered for the 2017 Boston Marathon. What can I say. Life has been busy. My race recap may be 147 days overdue, but better late than never, as they say.

The road to this marathon was incredibly rocky. On February 17, a couple months out from race day, I tore my gastrocnemius tendon (in my calf) while I was playing tennis. This was a particularly unwelcome event because my marathon training was going extremely well.  I was running between 60-70 miles a week and my body felt good–no aches or pains.  I had just put down a 16-mile, medium long run at a 7:14 mile pace a couple days before and I had finished a strong 8-mile tempo run at a 6:40 pace a couple days before that.  Breaking that 3-hour marathon time was beginning to look less like a pipe dream, and more like a possibility.

Earlier that month, I was diagnosed with skin cancer. We were able to remove all of it and it hadn’t spread but it was a stressful start to 2016 for me.  My spirit was a little tattered, to say the least, from recent life events and challenges. So, the leg injury was, well, yeah.

My calf injury left me swollen, immobile, uncomfortable, sedentary and, yes, totally deflated. It took several days of some pretty classic self-pity sessions, but somehow–with, some divine intervention–I  traversed through the quagmire of my negative thoughts, sadness, and emotions and came out with a renewed outlook and a determination to heal quickly and still make it to Boston.


Faith and Healing

So, some people mock religion. God. Faith. Unseen forces. They don’t believe in all that. I am not one of those people.  And while I am not immune to doubt, nor have I been spared from heartache or times when I question the purpose of life, trials and this wild ride we are on, I do believe that this life is more–and for more–than we realize. That there is purpose. That there are unexplainable things that logically don’t add up.  And while I am very logical, I also believe in the illogical; the things that don’t seem rational or aligned with what we think we “know.” I have been astounded by events in my life–especially in recent years–that have happened by seemingly invisible hands and means.  This recovery process I went through was plastered with evidence that we are not alone and that faith can heal. I put in the work, but what got me to Boston, and across the finish line, was so much more than me.


My Injury – Instagram Diary

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So, I don’t feel like this post would be complete without spending some time talking about the challenges this injury brought me! Talk about feeling my 40th birthday approaching–this injury made me feel like my whole body was falling apart! Here are my Instagram messages over that period. I thought I would post them here, because, they reflect exactly where I was those many weeks ago:

2.17.16 (Ok, this one is actually a Facebook entry.)

So… I was going for a ball in my tennis class today and moved in some abnormal way that caused me to tear a muscle or tendon in my left calf. Pretty excruciating injury and haven’t been able to walk since it happened.

I have WONDERFUL friends–and classmates–that rushed to my side providing me care (ice bags, phone calls to my husband and orthopedists, getting me pain medication, driving crutches to the gym, picking up my kids, driving me to the doctor, driving my car home from the gym, cleaning my kitchen, making me dinner, bringing me flowers, cards….Seriously. I’m so touched. THANK YOU, dear friends.

The doctor said I either tore my plantaris muscle (healing time a couple days) or my gastrocsoleus tendon–healing time 3-8 weeks depending on the severity of the tear. Going to MRI it Monday if the pain doesn’t subside. No surgery so that’s good and I may be able to still run Boston….(Praying that it is the Plantaris muscle!!! ) I’m supposed to keep using the crutches either way, and see what the next couple days reveal….Hard day. Pretty Bummed I have to lose my marathon training momentum and be benched for a time. But, so comforted by friends. So grateful for them!!!

The diagnosis could have been soooo much worse so I’m grateful it isn’t what it could have been, but still seriously praying that it is my Plantaris muscle….


One of these is not like the other….My calf swelling from my tendon tear (?) follows gravity giving me a pronounced cankle. Waiting for an MRI to find out what I did to myself in tennis last week. Note to self: when you are in the middle of intense marathon training DO NOT dabble in other sports!

After several days of feeling sorry for myself and bemoaning my situation, I got up this morning at 5:30 with renewed determination to try and have a positive outlook; do what I COULD do. Attempted to bike on the bike trainer….After a comical scene figuring out how to mount it with my injured leg, I discovered I can’t bend my injured calf enough for a full rotation, soooo that is out. I turned then to weights. Spent 40 minutes with upper body hand weights, knee push ups and core work. Will continue strength training and my diet efforts to shed some pounds and try and acclimate to this no-running period as much as I can!#runner #injured #marathoner#bostonmarathon2016 #endureandenjoy#projectgetlean

2.22.16 (Later that day)

Very swollen left foot.

The day after my injury. My foot of my injured leg was so swollen. This is what made the doctor think I could have a blood clot.

What. A. Day.
Two generous friends helped taxi me to and from my doctor’s appointment for an MRI today for my calf injury. Unfortunately, there was a disconnect between my doctor and his nurse so I wasn’t in the books for one. He evaluated my leg and was concerned by all of the swelling. He felt impressed to have me go to the hospital to get an ultrasound to see if I had a blood clot. After a very thorough ultrasound they discovered I have a blood clot in the peroneal vein of my left (injured) calf. After a very long day, I’m home now with a prescription for some blood thinners to take for the next three months and instructions to ‘take it easy.’ Life is never dull. Never dull. Grateful for a great doc who followed his gut and who continues to show me he is in my corner! Big shout out to @sparklingfitgirl for arriving at my home tonight with a hot bowl of soup, warm roll, big hug, and a smile when my exhausted body, literally, could go no further! And to her husband @lclint76 for being at the clinic to wheelchair me to my car. And @notsoidlehands for taking and feeding my children while I was at the hospital. And the texts and calls and offers to help from so many. Angels. All of you! Feeling loved. Grateful.


So the doc said he doesn’t want me up and moving for 3 to 5 days while my blood thinner (Xarelto–a whopping $450 per bottle every month!) starts to do its job with my blood clot. I will continue to take this blood thinner until mid June. . . .So I went on YouTube and found some upper body/core seated dumbbell exercises I could do to keep myself moving this morning while still ‘taking it easy.’ Felt great to do something! I’m encouraged to see that my foot/calf are beginning to look normal again, even though they don’t feel normal yet. Nice to see the swelling is being kept at bay if I keep my foot up. Also helps with the discomfort even though it’s hard to go from running 70 miles a week to sitting all day…. A lesson in patience!

I’m really grateful that my employment as a writer for LocalGiant is a remote position so that I have that to keep me busy while I sit! At least I can still feel productive on one level! #runner #injured #marathoner#bostonmarathon2016 #projectgetlean#patience #dowhatyoucan#seateddumbbellexercises


So…It’s been two weeks on crutches, and 336 hours since I ran last, BUT, Amazingly, I haven’t gone crazy yet. Making some progress with calf recovery. I’m off the couch today with 9-days worth of blood thinner in me for my clot, and pain free. Not swelling like I was so that’s encouraging too. But my injured leg has definitely atrophied–my favorite jeans here are loose in one leg and fitted in the other–and my lower calf mobility is pretty nonexistent. Working to teach that leg how to walk again. Working to stand (not from sitting…not yet) on both feet with my weight evenly distributed. Each day brings a new challenge, but it’s definitely not dull. Any little improvement makes my day. One shuffle closer to recovery.

My clean eating/calorie tracking coupled with the exertions of crutching around and upper-body work with hand weights have helped me lose 6 pounds. (I’m not going to think about how much of that weight is lost muscle mass. Not right now anyway.) But, at least getting my eating back on track, and getting leaner have been good results of this ordeal.

Finally going to have my MRI on Friday and find out what I did in there.
If you haven’t seen the film, “The Martian” you should. That film continues to inspire me. There’s a great lesson in it, well, there are several great lessons in it, but my favorite quote and theme of the movie is from Matt Damon’s character, Mark Watney: “At some point, everything’s going to go south on you…everything is going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem…and you solve the next one…and the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?” #solveit #endureandenjoy#marathoner #runner #injured#dowhatyoucan #projectgetlean #patience#bostonmarathon2016 #themartian#lifelessons


Posing with my friend and her son after they commandeered a walker for me.

Posing with my friend and her son after they commandeered a walker for me.

That friend….that drops everything to run get you a walker (😂) before the medical supply store closes to help relieve the burden you have been putting on your good knee–hang in there, knee!– while the other leg has been healing!! Everyone needs a friend like that. Golden. Love ya, Natalie! (And Colten!)


Day 18….For those that are interested….MRI results came back today showing a (healing) gastrocnemius tendon tear in my left calf. (Who knew tennis could be so dangerous!!) Doc thinks 6ish more weeks until I’m healed, but I can start PT now and work towards walking without my crutches…. Blood thinner until June so no dry needling. We were so hoping it was the Plantaris muscle–quicker healing time. Still absorbing the news.


Up at 5 this morning to exercise. Far from my marathon training routine, but right now this takes about as much concentration as a good tempo run! 2 sets of ankle rotations, ankle pumps, light calf stretching then 40 minutes of this with my crutches. By the end I was ready to try it without them. I still wobble and toddle like a child learning how to walk, but my physical therapist really helped yesterday–so grateful for her! Boston isn’t looking too promising so I’m setting my sights on NYC in November! #progress#gastrocnemiustear #recovery#injuredmarathoner #nycmarathon2016


Today’s rehabilitation work out: 30 minutes on the bike-no resistance; 30 minutes shoeless walking on the treadmill to work on lengthening my scar tissue/calf muscles and strengthening my weakened foot/ankle muscles. I can only walk about 1 mph and that is if I’m holding onto the treadmill rails. Without the treadmill rails I can only walk about .5 mph because my balance still hasn’t returned. (But, hey, I’m walking!!) It is amazing to me how much concentration is required with each step. Sometimes if I roll my foot too much or step a certain way I’ll get a shooting pain so I have to concentrate and be very careful with each step. It is hard work! I’m definitely developing some more mental muscles too! It is difficult to find the balance between stretching the scar tissue appropriately so it heals right and not overdoing it and reinjuring!! So far, it feels like I’m moving in a forward direction. Today I definitely felt stronger. Really, I felt like I turned a corner on Saturday. Something in my injured leg just felt more solid. Sturdy. Maybe that means that the vascular restructuring that was occurring due to my clot has finished most of its work. Honestly, it is just great to be up and moving again. I’m not getting any real cardiovascular benefits right now, but spiritual and mental benefits definitely!! #gastrocnemiustear#injuredmarathoner #progress #runner#nycmarathon2016


My leg may be lame but my tape isn’t! (My doctor gave my PT the go ahead to start taping my calf. We have to handle my rehabilitation with care due to my clot.) Love my PT even though she did tell me that I have to wait 2 to 3 more weeks for aggressive rehabilitation due to my DVT. Hey, at least the crutches are starting to gather dust and the couch is getting its regular form back! #progress#gastrocnemiustear #injuredmarathoner#runner #nycmarathon2016


Received my bib and corral assignment this morning….From bib number 18,384 in 2015 to 9,321 in 2016. Wave 2, corral 2. Body willing, I’ll make my goal Wave 1 in 2017 to make up for missing out this year! #whatmighthavebeen#bostonmarathon2016 #injuredmarathoner#runner


I think my kids think I’ve gone crazy, but I’m just seriously joyous/giddy that I can walk with even weight distribution and a proper ankle roll today! The freedom of this simple, but recently very complex act, is exhilarating!

I went to the gym this morning–first time in 5 weeks–and did the upright cycle for 30 minutes, then the elliptical for 30 minutes–another first, then a half-mile walk at 2 mph. Progress! Definite progress. Thank you, body! #runner #injuredmarathoner#gastrocnemiustear #nycmarathon2016#bostonmarathon2016


Progress. Goal is to jog without the handrails by the end of the week. I don’t have any pain, but I’m just nervous to go too hard too fast. Just easing back into things and seeing what my body is ready to do. My heart is ready to take off, my mind is more cautious.#injuredmarathoner #recovery#gastrocnemiustear #runner#pearlizumirun #nycmarathon2016#bostonmarathon2016 #progress#onestepatatime


I am THE best air drummer EVER when this song (The Funeral by Band of Horses) is playing. Just ask my eight-year-old who enjoyed my theatrics this morning while I was spinning in the bike trainer and singing like I’m a performer 😉 (ha)! Love that song. Love spinning my legs. It is the only thing I can do fast–safely–right now. But, I’m going to get there. Closer every day. My body may be injured but my spirit has been emboldened from this experience. I’m grateful for that positive outcome. More determined than ever to reach my goals. Take that, Gastrocnemius tear deterrent!! Respect for anyone that suffers from chronic pain or a permanent injury. So grateful my physical setbacks are temporary. Taking the lessons they taught me with me and moving forward! Sub-three, I’m coming for you! #onestepatatime#recovery #determined #goals#myrunningjourney #progress#injuredmarathoner #runner#nycmarathon2016 #bostonmarathon2016


Goal achieved! Jogging without using the handrails for support. Started my morning with a long warm-up of 50 minutes spinning on the bike. Once my muscles were warm moved to treadmill for a 3-mile workout. I alternated walking and jogging at half mile intervals. 3.5 walking speed, 4mph jogging speed. Avg. heart rate when jogging was 127. Calf feels great. Hamstring and ankles feel tight. Being careful, but trying to help this scar tissue/soft-tissue remodeling phase give me the muscle length and range of motion I need for my normal activities so I can avoid reinjury when I return to them more fully. Really wish I could foam roll or massage but that’s not allowed with my clot….#onestepatatime #recovery#progress #runner #injuredmarathoner#gastrocnemiustear #bostonmarathon2016#nycmarathon2016


6 weeks since my injury. This morning I warmed up on the bike for 25 mins then did a 5-mile jog at a 10:55 pace. My heart rate average was 160. I felt like I could go faster and further but, waiting for the green light to start running again from my doc. (I meet with him Friday.) I’m so curious to find out what level of fitness remains from this interruption in my training. Thank goodness for muscle memory. Feels great to get some miles under my feet even if I’m going 4 mins slower per mile right now than I was in February. Thankful.#recovery #painfree#injuredmarathoner #gastrocnemiustear#running #bostonmarathon2016#nycmarathon2016 #goals #progress#bodyexperiment


Got my Boston 5k bib yesterday!! This I know I can do with my post-injury fitness. My husband,@singletracksid is going to run it too and our two friends: @sparklingfitgirl and@lclint76! The course crosses the Boston Marathon finish line too so that’s cool! It is the Saturday before the Marathon. We leave two weeks from today!#excited#boston5k #running


Getting my potassium (O.N.E. coconut water) and BCAAs (IdealLean) this morning (along with 21g of Quest protein) after 50 minutes on the cycle followed by a 400m walking treadmill warm-up, 5 miles jogging at a 9:30 per min pace, and a 400m walking cool down. Heart rate peaked at 172, but stayed under 170 for most of the five miles–high 160s. Crazy that it can get that high at that pace! I have a ways to go, but progress. No pain so that’s good. Slowly adjusting my speed to determine where my fitness level is right now and what my leg/body can handle safely. Forcing myself to jog every other day right now although I’d rather go every day! #recovery #injuredmarathoner#6weekspostinjury #gastrocnemiustear#onestepatatime #runner


Climbing back. 8 miles @8:57 pace. #runner #running#injuredmarathoner #7weekspost#gastrocnemiustear #bodyexperiment#bostonmarathon2016 #nycmarathon2016


Newest challenge in my 8-week, post-gastrocnemius-tear recovery process is some peripheral neuropathy in my foot caused by nerve compression/adhesion to my scar tissue in my calf that’s affecting my foot (we think). The symptoms vary from random shooting pains, tissue inflammation, swelling, tingling and numbness in my toes. My foot got really mad at me on Saturday after a run so I’ve been doing cycling and elliptical workouts since. After an excruciating foot massage with my PT yesterday, and another MRI, I am awaiting my results which I should receive at 1pm at my follow-up with my doctor. We leave for Boston tomorrow.#onestepatatime #notgivingup#injuredmarathoner #runner #recovery#gastrocnemiustear #bostonmarathon2016#nycmarathon2016


To Run or Not to Run

So, about this time, before we leave for Boston, I’m still struggling with my new challenge of some peripheral neuropathy in my foot.  Calf tendon feels good. Heart feels good, but my foot hurts after a few miles of running.  This does NOT look good.  I really wanted to TRY running the Boston Marathon if I could, but I also didn’t want to get re-injured.  I had an MRI done of my foot and had it examined by a podiatrist.  After we determined that there was no stress fracture, he felt I could attempt the marathon and suggested a cortisone injection at the nerve root that was causing me problems to help me get through the marathon without pain.  This was distressing for me.  While I didn’t want to have pain/numbness/dysfunction while I ran, I also was VERY nervous to do anything to that nerve. I was worried about side effects, irreversible damage, making things worse….etc. In the end, after talking with another podiatrist for a second opinion, my orthopedist and my physical therapist, we decided getting the injection was a good idea.

I endured one of the most painful things of my life – a nerve massage by my physical therapist a couple days prior to my injections.  Seriously, it was excruciating. I hope I never have to endure something like that again.  The injections weren’t that fun either. He gave me like 12 right where the nerve was inflamed. But, after I completed the injections, I got the green light to TRY and run the marathon from the physical therapist, orthopedist and two podiatrists that were involved in my care.  This was an awesome moment, but I was still unsure what my race day would be like – if I would be boarding a bus at an aid station and dropping out, or if I would be able to complete the whole thing.  So, after two months of bi-weekly physical therapy from my dear friends at C.O.R.E. PT in Fort Collins, they taped my foot/calf with KT tape, and sent me on my way.


The Why

I should probably pause here and add some key information.  The why. Why was I going through all this trouble just to be able to run the Boston Marathon again? What was the point?  The point was, I had a goal. I had a goal that I had started pursuing in 2014 with my friend Natalie Brown to run the race with her.  We had a goal. She qualified for the race in Canyon City with me in 2015 after months of hard work together.  I wanted to be in Boston with her in 2016. I wanted to celebrate the culmination of all our effort, all of our runs together all of that dreaming by running that marathon with her.  And beyond that, I just don’t like anything to rob me of my freedom to do what I want when I want–not if I have any say in it.  If something knocks me down, you better believe that I am doing everything I can to get back up.

Life will test us again and again. And again.  It is in those moments when we are fighting back from a fall that we “become.” It is those moments that mold and shape our character and determine how far we will rise the next time we fall.

We all fall. We all fail. But the choice to rise is on us. The power to rise is within all of us.


A Shout Out to Family & Friends

Okay, back to the story.

The fact that I got the endorsement to run Boston from these 4 health professionals involved in my care was nothing short of miraculous if you look at where I started. I still remember crutching into physical therapy that first day and my physical therapist tenderly telling me that the chances of me being ready for Boston 5 weeks later did NOT look good.  (My blood clot made everything more challenging too. They couldn’t do any aggressive therapy–even massage–because they didn’t want to dislodge the clot or cause internal bleeding from my thinned out blood. Blood thinner doesn’t exactly accelerate healing.  The first week or so I really felt the effects of it. It didn’t help that I was so fearful of all the many side effects that accompanied the drug.)  My physical therapist’s targeted treatment efforts coupled with my stubbornness and diet and rehabilitation efforts brought results! So much time logged practicing walking, so much anxiety over my good knee that was compensating for my bad leg. So much fear in the simple act of standing. It felt really good to finally be on the other side of this injury.

There is always a silver lining to be found. My family really stepped it up during my injury. There was so much I couldn’t do for myself. Going up and down stairs was just too much of a task so my room for two months was the guest room on the main floor. My daughter, Afton, was on standby on her phone and would check-in on me at night and in the morning, bolting downstairs if I needed anything.  Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes to stand. I would have to wait for the blood to reach my extremities–slowed by the clot–and the pain/sensation of that was not pleasant. Then I would have to muster the courage to rise from sitting which was always tricky.  The pain was one thing, but my problems with balance made me fearful that I would fall or injure something else! Those were challenging times!! My family was there every step of the way.  They cooked for me, cleaned for me, helped me stand, gave me encouragement to stand when I was afraid to, helped me walk, helped me shop–they were amazing.  We all grew closer through their service to me.  Friends brought me meals. . . .So much love and care. I will never forget it.


2016 Boston 5K –4.16.16

(Click on an image to enlarge)

So, fast forward a couple days from my injections and you will find me in Boston getting some short 5k runs in.  My first 5k run – a fun run around Boston and our hotel organized by my husband and friends  – was NOT encouraging. I could run at a pretty decent clip – 8:30 miles – but my foot was still starting to bother me even with the cortisone in place.  I had to pull out from our run 3 miles in and walk back to the hotel.

We hit the race expo – always a fun highlight of our trip – and I was still unsure about the outcome of my race, but was determined to try.  I got to meet Olympian, and former Boston Marathon winner, Meb Keflezighi, and he signed my race bib with: “Krista, Congrats! Best wishes! Run to Win!” I loved that. “Run to Win.”

The Boston 5K was So. Much. Fun. I will do that again.  My foot, miraculously, did better. Maybe the medicine had had time to work a little longer on the inflammation in my foot? We were walking 10 plus miles around each day sight-seeing and I didn’t have problems walking. But, running was different story. The 5K was just solid fun.  No pace goals. No stress. AND I had the added, very cool benefit of being able to run it with my husband and friends all together.  That never happens.  Great, beautiful morning. Great, beautiful memories.


Places to Visit/General Gluttony Tips

We were carb-loading and visiting some pretty amazing places along the way. Recommendations/Highlights:

  • Boston LDS Temple
  • Mike’s Pastry – Florentine Cannoli
  • Durgin Park at Faneuil Marketplace (clam chowder)
  • Cheers Restaurant (Original Set Seating at Beacon Hill)
  • Take in the authentic Russian Matryoshka stand at Faneuil Market
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Cookie Monstah Cookie Truck–Track this down and LOAD UP
  • Minute Man National Historical Site
  • Stroll or bike ride on Commonwealth Avenue
  • The Shake Shack – Newbury Street
  • Shopping on Newbury Street
  • Boston Public Park
  • Boston Museum of Fine Arts
  • Chinatown -skip the Winsor Dim Sum Cafe. Blah
  • Flour Bakery–for sure
  • Ristorante Saraceno in North End (best spaghetti ever!)
  • Kane’s Donut-Creme Brûlée and Chocolate Glazed deliciousness. Great day-after race replenishment
  • Boston Harbor cruise
  • Modern Pastry -Boston Cream Pie Cupcake
  • Paul Revere House
  • Freedom Trail
  • Sam LaGrassa (Pastrami Sandwich Heaven)!


The 2016 Boston Marathon

The night before the Boston Marathon is always so exhilarating. We laid out all our clothes, pinned our bibs, charged our devices, got our pre-race throw-away clothes, grabbed our in-race nutrition, earbuds, sunglasses, headbands, water, space blankets, socks, shoes, and Race Smart Pace Bands – love them!  I made sure I had my breakfast items ready for the morning, set three alarms, put in my ear plugs and attempted sleep. Some marathons I succeed in getting some sleep, but this one had me all in knots.  I wasn’t sure what kind of game plan to follow. Typically, I put my race smart pace band on and just stick to the splits I need per mile to reach my goal. But for this race, I had no time goal. My goal was to finish.  If I could finish, before they closed the race, at 8 weeks post gastrocnemius calf tear with my foot neuropathy issues, AND WITHOUT new injuries…if I could just finish with all that on board it would be a miracle. Finishing was the goal.

My plan was to go ahead and start in the second wave that I had qualified for with my 3:13 time in LA that November prior.  This was a tricky decision because I really wanted to run the course with my friend, Natalie, who was in a different wave then me; a later wave.  The risk with starting 45 minutes later – with her wave – was that I might not have enough time to finish the race.  I honestly didn’t know if I was going to have to walk miles of this race!  Additionally, I knew that Natalie would jeopardize her race goals if she ran with me because I would have to stop and possibly walk much of the course and she would never leave me!

Natalie and I got up together, prepared together, and my husband escorted us to the busses!  We rode up to the village together and hung out, mainly rotating through the porta-potty lines until it was time for me to split from her to line up in my race corral.  (It was already warm at the race start so that was a little nerve-racking. Heat is never fun to run in.) And then I was off!  I was in one of the faster waves in one of the early corrals, so I positioned myself at the back.  I started out at about a 9-minute mile pace.


If you look at my results image above, you can see that at the half, I was averaging about a 9:08 minute pace–not too shabby considering I couldn’t feel each foot strike on my injured leg/foot and had to concentrate on my form and weight distribution with every step. I was feeling pretty good actually until mile 16 and then you will see that I start to slow down.  At this point, my calf started to ache.  This scared me because I did NOT want to re-injure that recently healed tendon!! So I started to do a run a mile, walk a minute race strategy.  It was a grueling way to finish the last ten miles of the course, but, BUT, it was faster than walking!! And safer than continuing to run without resting the calf some.

Every time I stopped to walk my minute recovery someone in the crowd would offer me something–water, food or words of encouragement.  I wished I could tell them what was going on. I wished I could tell them I was running injured.  Part of me wished I could tell them that I averaged a 7:19 pace at my last marathon, not his 11-minute mile I was showcasing now.  I wished they knew just how much what I was doing meant to me.  I was determined to finish. I was determined to return to this race that I loved. To this distance.  I was determined to share this experience with my friend Natalie! We had fought hard to get here together! Little did these onlookers know what I was feeling with each step and how far I had come in 8 weeks time.  I still didn’t know at miles 16, 17, 23…if I was going to make it.  I knew my heart wouldn’t give up, but I also knew that if my calf pain escalated I would withdraw.  Finishing was NOT worth re-injury to me!  Lots of prayers that day on that course.

Despite the challenging aspects of the run with my numb foot and my aching calf, it was such a joy to be on the course.  I LOVE that marathon.  It is lined with spectators the whole way who are rooting for you and cheering for you–the WHOLE way.  There is such a feeling of positive energy everywhere. It’s indescribable really.  Cresting Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 was such a beautiful moment.  It was a hot day for the marathon, but I don’t remember heat being an issue for me I was so distracted with everything else going on!


The Final Mile – My Angel

Facebook post from my friend, Natalie Brown, after we ran the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Facebook post from my friend, Natalie Brown, after we ran the 2016 Boston Marathon.

So, I’m “running” along and catch a good glimpse of the infamous CITGO sign and know that I have about a mile to go.  I’m slowing down even more since I have now been on the course for almost 2 hours longer than my marathon the November prior.  But, I’m starting to let real hope in.  I’m so close. The odds of finishing are definitely in my favor. So, I’m shuffling along and suddenly I feel a hand grab mine. I turn and it is my friend, Natalie! I thought she had passed me long before and that I had missed her in the 30,000 people that were on the course that day.  The fact that we intersected was the perfect bookend to a beautiful story. My angel friend grabbed my hand and ran the last part of the race with me!


4.18.2016 – Facebook Post Right After Finishing

Miracles do happen!!

Since February I’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, torn my Gastrocnemius tendon, developed a DVT (blood clot) in my calf, learned to walk again, learned to run again and faced dorsal nerve (perineal nerve) damage/issues in my left foot. I faced pain and fear but I have looked them square in the eye. I have not turned my back. I’ve gotten knocked down again and again just as I’ve gotten back up. But I did get back up.

Will power is our superpower.

The only way to get back in it, is to get back in it. It may have not been my fastest time, but, nonetheless, it was definitely a personal record for me. When doubts came, I held onto the promise I had received eight weeks prior that I would still be able to run this race. Best Coach ever. I did my part, He made up the rest. He carried me and sent my angel friend Natalie Muirhead Brownat mile 25!

They say the marathon is a metaphor for life. I. Will. Not. Concede.