Entry 24: REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon 2018

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14 weeks ago, on April 28, 2018, I ran my best marathon to date. Crossing the finish line, of my 14th marathon, I was exhausted and elated at the same time. I couldn’t believe that after several attempts, I had finally succeeded in holding the pace I had trained for, a seven-minute-mile average.

The Race That Almost Didn’t Happen

I’ll be honest, the 2018 REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon almost didn’t happen for me. I trained for it, but the Boston Marathon, just 12 days prior to Mt Charleston, with its record rain and cold temps, was such a mental battle that I didn’t have anything left between my ears to get me to the start line of Mt Charleston–well, almost nothing.

I can’t put my finger on what made me get on that plane to Vegas the Friday before my Saturday race, but something did.  Something I am glad I didn’t brush aside, but fed enough to get me there.

The year prior, I had pulled out of Mt Charleston after Boston. Boston 2017 was brutal in a different way than this year. And with Mt Charleston’s refund policy, I could pull out without losing any money so it was almost too simple to just stay home and not put myself under the kind of internal pressure racing requires. But, I went.

Arriving in Vegas

I arrived in Vegas, to heat, heat and more heat. After a FREEZING Boston experience, it was a welcome change, but it did have me worried about my aggressive marathon pace goal.

I was met at the airport by my cousin’s husband, Adam, and some second-cousins who were planning on running the Mt. Charleston Half Marathon. We went immediately to the marathon expo, a mere five minutes away.

We picked up our race bibs and equipment and posed for pictures. They had this goal-time clock you could pose with. They asked me what my goal was for Mt Charleston. I felt sheepish admitting I wanted to get a 3:05 or better.  And although I knew I wasn’t ready to break the coveted 3-hour marathon barrier at this race, it is always out there, like a dangling carrot. It was my out-there goal. And then I had my goal of just getting a PR which would be running faster than 3:13. They convinced me to pose with the clock posting each of my A, B, and C goal-finish times.  I was super self-conscious to do this. I felt like the pictures with the 2:59 goal and the 3:05 goal were “you’re dreaming” goals. I had just come off a marathon two weeks before, and the race the following day was predicted to be hot–which slows race pace. Did I really have the physical stamina to pull off a seven-minute mile for 26.2 miles??? I had never achieved this.  Was it even possible? I had some significant doubts, but I started this body experiment of mine in 2014 and couldn’t deny being a little curious about what I could do if I tried.

Pre-Race Dinner

Following the expo, we went to my cousins’ hotel and hung out before dinner. We spent time chatting and catching up. (My hotel was a good 30 minutes from where they were staying, but they had graciously offered to drop me off there after dinner.)

Being able to dine out at Maggiano’s the night before the race, with family that was also racing the next day, was a definite perk of this race. Knowing I would have family at the finish line cheering me on was encouraging as well.  It was so fun to catch up with them over dinner and be with them.

I took my Maurten water bottle to dinner with me and dutifully sipped on my 320 mix as part of my carb-loading plan with the salad I had ordered.  I didn’t eat at Maggiano’s even though the food there is exquisite.  I have adopted a strict pre-marathon dinner meal of rice and chicken and had already eaten prior to dinner at the hotel.

The drive to the Best Western Plus North Las Vegas was long so I was especially grateful to my cousin and her daughter for taking me. (They had to drive back too!!) Las Vegas traffic is CRAZY.

The hotel we were driving to was chosen by my dear friend, Sharolyn, who was also there from Castle Rock, CO, running the marathon with her sister as a kind of sisters’ girl-trip. It was out there, but it was comfortable and affordable.

My family dropped me off around 8:00 pm and I immediately went in to start my bedtime routine. I had to be up at 3:00 am for our marathon bus-loading window from 3:30 am-4:30 am. Bus-loading was about a 25-minute drive away from our hotel at a Home Depot parking lot.

Preparing for Sleep

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Temporary tattoo from Marathon Expo. They were applying them for free.

The hotel room was comfortable and I went through the motions of preparing my clothing and gear for the next day. It was predicted to be chilly at the start of the race, but steaming at the end so I had warm clothes to donate at the top of Mt. Charleston right before the race.

I pinned my bib to my singlet, laid out my shorts, sports bra, Altra Torin 3.0 running shoes, Boston Marathon 2018 cap, my Apple iPod Nano, my Garmin Vivoactive HR pace watch–made sure it was fully charged after my Boston 2017 experience–charged my BackBeat Plantronics wireless earbuds, and packed my throw clothes–sweatshirt, sweat pants, and gloves.

I prepared my gear bag that I was taking to the top with my 2:59 pace band (gave myself some rest-stop minutes to achieve my 3:05 goal), Base Salt Performance salt vial, my pre-race and post-race recovery Maurten 320 drink, a Clif Bar, my course notes, some Ibuprofen, water and my six nutrition gels I would need for the course.

I was going through the motions, anxious to get to bed, get to the start line and begin the race. Pretty much every marathon eve is the same. There is so much anxiety between the night before and the start of the race. All the moving parts to get you to the start line and the waiting to start. It’s brutal. I just want to skip over all that and start running!

My mental depletion after Boston was still there and all I really wanted was to get this race done and get home! But, I did the best I could to focus on the experience at hand and enjoy it….

Early Up, Early Out

I slept fine, awoke, and did my pre-marathon drill. I took my teaspoon of Mio in water first to get my system moving, then had my Quaker oatmeal. I would save my Maurten drink for the bus. I got dressed, grabbed my gear bag and headed to the Lobby to meet up with Sharolyn and her sister.

The Buses

There were so many buses at the Wal-Mart and Home Depot bus pick-up locations that it was challenging to find our marathon bus. The Wal-Mart buses were for the half-marathoners, and the Home Depot buses for the full marathoners, but the buses just lined the streets and weren’t labeled in any noticeable way. We had chosen to board our bus as close to the end of the loading window (4:30 am) as possible so we could get more sleep and have less time waiting at the top of Mt Charleston in the cold.

We were slightly anxious since 4:30 had arrived and we weren’t on a bus, but eventually boarded the with the rest of the marathoners–a large group–that had also decided to board on the 4:30-side of the boarding window.

The buses were comfortable and had a bathroom on them–yes! We got on and prepared for the 30-minute, dark drive to the top of Mt Charleston.

It is always a little intimidating to drive the distance of the course and take-in just how far we are running.  It always feels very far. I guess because it is!

Prior to leaving for Las Vegas, I had studied the course and watched a REVEL Race Series video, with mile-by mile coaching on how to approach the course. I took notes of the recommendations and hills to help me plan my race strategy. The last 10k of the race was going to be the most grueling. Not only because of the hills and then flatness of the course after coming down Mt Charleston, but also because the heat was going to be a real speed zapper those last six miles of the course.

I tried to visualize what I had learned about the course as we drove over it. Mt Charleston was definitely scenic. I was getting excited to get my feet on the road.

Arriving at the Top

We arrived at the top of a warmer-than-expected Mt Charleston at 7,633 feet of elevation. The road race would take us from the forests of Kyle Canyon on Mt Charleston to Las Vegas, Nevada, on a 2-4 percent downhill slope through the spectacular scenery of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. From start to finish you lose 5,126 feet in elevation. That’s some significant downhill, but my body is built for it. I have learned on other REVEL courses that I handle downhill impacts well.

The warm temperatures of the peak of Mt Charleston were worrisome. That meant it was definitely going to be a warm finish. They were estimating it would be in the low 80s at the finish. It was in the mid-50’s at the start. Perfect temps for starting. The winds were going to be an issue at different parts of the course because they were headwinds, but there was nothing to do but embrace the weather for what it was.  I was thrilled it wasn’t going to be freezing and raining the whole time like Boston had been!

Our bus arrival was slow so we only had like ten minutes before race start once we arrived. We booked it to the bathrooms to get in line so we could go once before getting on the course. I had been drinking my Maurten 320 drink on the bus and was feeling really full. I couldn’t even finish it.

It was time to take my Clif Shot Cherry Chocolate pre-race gel–I take it 15 minutes before start–but my stomach felt so full and, well, “off” really, that I didn’t want to put it in me. I opted on taking half of it on our walk to the porta potties.

The porta potty lines were moving slow and I was starting to get really nervous about missing the start of the race. I really wanted to get in with the 3:05 pace group to help me stay on track for my goal.

Sharolyn and I were a ball of nerves at this point. She was going for a 2019 Boston entry spot with a BQ at Mt Charleston and also felt the stress of the looming start with us still in line for the bathrooms!

I gave her a hug and wished her luck, made it in and out of the porta potty and started jogging to the start line, shedding my “donate layers” as I ran.

The Start Line

Lucky for me, the race didn’t start on time. I was able to weave myself up to the front of the starting pack close to the 3:05 pacer. I felt out-of-place among all the men and again questioned my sanity for thinking I belonged there.  A few women were also sprinkled there among the men and I began wondering who would stay the course.

My stomach still felt too full and unsettled. It was too heavy for a race start and I didn’t like the feeling of it. It was my first time racing with the Maurten and I felt like I just had too many carbs in my system. I was too fueled. There was nothing to do about it, but it was troubling me a bit.

Time to Run

The countdown began and it was time to run. I knew from my course studies that I wanted to keep the first mile easy. One, because my 41-year-old body always takes a mile to get to pace and I didn’t want to burn through too much glycogen right out the gate, and two, because the course climbs the first mile.

I started the course at 6:07 am.

I was feeling sluggish out the gate and surprised when I could no longer see the 3:05 pacer. I kept to my commitment to run “my race” and didn’t panic. About a mile in, my side started to hurt. I could hear the liquid sloshing around inside my stomach with each foot fall. Yuck. I knew that side aches typically resolve if you just keep going and try to breathe regularly so I did this.

After the first mile I found that I was running with the 3:30 pace group. What??? This was not the plan. I needed to start accelerating, but it had to be a steady increase so I wouldn’t ruin my race in the first three miles–yeah, I’ve done that before.

I slowly kept speeding up, to try and make up for my slow first mile.  I kept my eye on my heart rate at regular intervals to make sure it wasn’t climbing. My side was still killing me and I could tell it was affecting my speed. I was cursing my Maurten drink at this point and wondering what to do.

I had read that if you can hear water moving around in your stomach it means you needed more sodium; that the body isn’t absorbing the fluid properly because there isn’t enough salt.  So I reached for my salt vial–the salt vial I had never used before but was counseled to take because of the predicted temps–and attempted to consume some salt while running.  That was an epic fail. I found out (after the fact) that you tip the vial over on your finger and lick off the salt particles to get a few granules. I had attempted to put it to my lips and lick out some granules while still staying at my 6:30 per mile pace. The result was WAAAAY too much salt. I sputtered, spat, and swallowed. Oh, well. There was nothing I could do but hope for the best at this point, but needless to say I was not feeling too optimistic at this point on reaching my goal.

Sometime around mile four my side ache stopped. Maybe the salt helped? I’ll never know, but I was able to continue at my 6:35-6:40 pace and was slowing getting back on track. I hadn’t even passed the 3:15 pace group yet!  I wouldn’t until around mile six.


So, I’m running along and the 3:05 pacer runs by me. What?? I look at him and mention how I had been trying to find him. He had stopped to use the bathroom at the most recent water stop and was running to catch up to the 3:05 group. I followed him and finally landed myself with the 3:05 runners. All male except for one other female by me.

I was meeting my split goals at this point, and keeping my heart in check.  Anytime I saw my heart rate start to climb I would slow a bit until it would steady out and then keep on. My body felt good. I was keeping up with the group. The scenery was beautiful, the grade was perfect. Not too steep, but just enough of a descent that my lungs weren’t dying from the speed I was maintaining. So far, so good.

The 3:05 pacer was funny. He had a cyclist friend biking beside him while he ran. The cyclist was barely peddling, but when he did pedal you knew you were on a climb. There were several rolling sections thrown in there over the course of the race, but nothing terrible. Really, the first 19 miles are pretty dreamy.

One to Drink, One to Drench

Around mile six, I began to take two water cups at aid stations. I would drink one, and then pour the other one on me.  I hadn’t really taken in any water until mile six because my stomach hadn’t been up to it. I had even delayed my first gel. Typically I would take it at mile six but ended up taking it at mile eight. I worried about this, but, again, my stomach was just not happy.

The temperatures were already warm and I just kept on, hoping to stay on pace and make my goal.

And Then There Was One


I look like I peed my shorts, nope, just the result of multiple cup-drenches to bring my temp down.

It is pretty exhilarating to find oneself competing at a level you trained for, hoped for, but weren’t sure you could do. I was 16 miles in and I was keeping pace with the 3:05 pace group.  The men I ran with encouraged me. “Doing good, Timex!” (I seemed to pick up this nickname since I was sporting my Timex Factory Team singlet. I was called “Timex” through the entire course.)


This girl didn’t want me to run beside her, only behind her. Finally, she started to slow and I moved by her. Never saw her again.

After we turned onto the highway at around mile 20, the 3:05 group really started to thin. The girl I had been trying to pass for forever, slowed and I passed her. I was slowing too which was concerning, but I knew I would the last 10k. I just had to make sure I didn’t slow too much.

It was so hot.

It came down to me and the 3:05 pacer in front of me. Everyone from our pre-existing pack was gone. At one point, we pass a guy who had been with us, but who had pulled out to go faster. He cursed loudly when the 3:05 pacer passed him, with a frustrated and drawn-out F-bomb. He must have been trying to qualify for Boston. 3:05 is the time for men ages 18-35. The pacer told him not to quit; that he could still do it. But I could tell as I ran past the guy that he was done.

I think he was surprised to see that I, and I alone, still remained with the pacer. Yeah, I was surprised too!

Delusional at Mile 24


Around mile 24, my legs were starting to feel weak. I really wanted to stop and walk. I was hot, my heart rate was up there and it was all I could do to try to catch the 3:05 pacer who was now about 30 feet in front of me or more. I knew there was still one more hill to crest and then I had a slight downhill to the finish.  If I could just get over this last hill and then take advantage of that slight downhill grade to recover and get me over the finish line.

In my head, I knew my friends and my family were tracking me. They knew exactly where I was on the course. They knew I was just a couple of miles from my goal. Thinking about them cheering me on–somewhere out there–kept my legs turning around.

At some point, either mile 24 or 25, I’m not sure now, I was REALLY fighting stopping and walking for a bit and I suddenly could visualize my friend, Natalie, running right beside me.  It was almost like an apparition it was that real. She was yelling at me–in loving Natalie style–“Don’t you stop!! You can’t walk now. Just keep going! Don’t stop!” She ran with me. I didn’t stop.

Mile 25.5ish

(See me crest the last hill here at: 2:03:32)

Sometime after I crested that last course hill, I started to get some speed back. I had slowed into the 7:30s, but that last stretch I started to feel the finish line. The 3:05 pacer was still off in the distance. I kept trying to catch him, inching myself closer.

I hit a group of rowdy spectators and they saw that I was close to the 3:05 pacer,  and nearing the finish line. “Go Timex!! Pass the Pacer! Pass the Pacer!” The crowd must have felt my goal; must have known that I needed to get in front of the 3:05 pacer to make my goal. I wasn’t looking at my watch anymore, just running as fast I could. Their cheering cheered me and I was able to find some kick. Pass the pacer, Krista. Pass the pacer.

I passed the pacer.

26 miles and the Finish

I hear my family but don’t ever really see them. All six of them were lined up just before the turn for the finish line. I heard them yelling, “Go, Krista! Go!” And it touched my heart. I was giving it all I had at that point. I felt like I was running through mud, but I just kept pushing. The finish line was now in sight. The clock read 3:03 something. What?? 3:03?? But I just passed the 3:05 pacer? I hadn’t known that he was coming in under time.

I passed over the finish line, exhausted with a time of 3:03:37.

I had done it. (See me cross at 2:04:45 below).


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I crossed the finish line, took my medal with glee and immediately sought water. Once I had water and a towel, I worked to stabilize my breathing and approached my family on the other side of the finish line gates. They were so congratulatory and excited for me. It was so wonderful to see them and to have them there when I put down my fastest time ever.

Adam had my stats up and told me my average pace and finish time.  It was definitely a time of celebration.  I needed to keep on moving for a bit because I was feeling light-headed. I excused myself and went to calm my breathing and try to settle my body from the past three hours of rigorous mental, physical and spiritual effort.

I really feel like race directors need to have the finish line and then like a quarter-mile straight stretch where you can jog it out and bring your heart rate down more slowly rather than racing 26.2 miles and then abruptly stopping.  I have to keep moving after until my heart rate has reached its recovery BPM.

I downed some chocolate milk–for recovery reasons only–and returned to the group. I was awash with emotions, but the ruling emotion of the moment was contentment and gratitude. Victory.

We went over to the results table to get my official time card. It was then that I learned I had placed first in my age group and 5th female overall. I was immensely proud of this.  My 41-year-old body had competed with much younger girls/women and a large field of men. I was 40th place total out of both genders.

This was a happy moment.

Looking for Sharolyn and Recovery Time


I retrieved my recovery bag next because I knew I wanted a couple of my items in there. Namely my Ibuprofen and the Maurten recovery drink I had planned on taking. Typically, I cool down so fast at the end of a marathon that I also need extra layers of clothing, but it was sooo hot that I didn’t need any of those. I did want my phone, however. I temporarily left my family and went in search of my recovery bag.

On the way, I took advantage of the Deep Blue stations and had my legs sprayed to ease the muscle soreness that was present already. A youth volunteer met me in route to the gear bag check and offered to go and retrieve my bag for me so I wouldn’t have to walk as far. That was nice! Bag in hand, I returned to the course to be on the lookout for Sharolyn crossing the finish line.

The Las Vegas sun was already so hot even at 9:30 am.  There was no shade to be found. I waited and looked for my friend but never saw her. I decided to check my phone for race results and discovered she had already crossed the finish line with a time of 3:30.  She had qualified for Boston with room to spare! I was so elated for her. I went looking for her and found her near the gear pick up station.  We celebrated together!

I got lots of “congratulations” from strangers that saw me on the course which was fun. I still couldn’t believe it had all come together for me.  Reading through the texts from family and friends post-race brought tears to my eyes. Reading their communications between each other as I raced made me feel so loved! I have awesome friends and family!

Waiting for Sharolyn’s Friend

Although we finished around 9:10, 9:40 am, we remained at the finish line for hours.  Sharolyn’s friend was still on the course.  She was having a really hard time and having to walk almost the entire last 13 miles. The upside of all the waiting time was that we got to take advantage of the Rapid Reboot recovery station they had.  This pneumatic compression technology is supposed to improve blood circulation post-marathon by transferring higher volumes of oxygen-rich blood to muscles as they recover and rebuild. It helps reduce recovery time while curbing delayed-onset muscle soreness and inflammation.  Honestly, I don’t know if the ten minutes I spent in the Reboot system helped or not, but it felt good–and it was in the shade.

When I went to look for Sharolyn,  I got separated from Adam, my cousin Monique and their kids and didn’t get to see them before they left.  I knew they were headed back to their hotel to recover and we planned to try to meet back up later for dinner before my flight that night.

By the time Sharolyn’s friend arrived, we were ready to go.  It was approaching noon, it was even hotter and I just wanted a shower and to get out of my race clothes. It was 1:30 when we arrived back at the hotel, four hours after our marathon had ended. I had missed my 1:00pm check-out time, but luckily they didn’t tack on extra charges. I grabbed my stuff, checked out and headed to Sharolyn’s room down the hall.

Borrowing a Shower

Sharolyn and her sister let me invade on some of their sister time and use their shower since I had to check out of my room. (They were staying an additional night). They let me shower first–so nice!–and I quickly did.  As we calculated how long it was going to take for me to get to the airport for my 6:30pm flight, we realized that we would have just enough time to go to dinner and then hit the airport. Meeting up with my cousin and family by their hotel was going to take too much time. I was sad that I wasn’t going to be able to see them again before I left, but it was just kind of how the cards fell that afternoon.

Holsteins – Best Burger Ever, (Other than New Zealand’s Fergburger)

Sharolyn had done some pre-Vegas sleuthing and learned about a burger place on the Las Vegas Strip called Holsteins. It was near the airport so we decided to venture down there for dinner.

Navigating through all the traffic and madness that is the Las Vegas strip was a little tiring, but we eventually found a parking garage and made it up to the restaurant situated in The Cosmopolitan hotel.

Sharolyn and I shared a pricey $18 burger called the Fun-Ghi. (All beef patty with forest mushrooms, caramelized onion, gruyere cheese, frisee and truffle mayo—DELICIOUS! That salt hit the spot. The strawberry malt shake did the trick as well. Post-marathon food is THE best.

Delayed Flight & a Sketchy Airport

I have to say, I was really happy to leave Las Vegas. The visual pollution, noise, traffic, and slot-machine heavy atmosphere that assails you on every front makes you  feel like a constant passenger of a 2-star amusement park ride. The Mt Charleston course was beautiful, and apart from all that mania, but, yeah, Vegas is just not for me.

I arrived at the airport with just enough time to spare, but my flight was delayed 45 minutes so I got to hangout a little longer than anticipated. I took advantage of the extra time to FaceTime with my family and catch up on responding to texts and congrats from family and friends.

These moments when the race is over, you have completed your goal and you are just waiting to board your flight home are priceless. Your body is full with positive endorphins and life is just, well, good.

Final Thoughts

This marathon will forever be one of my favorites because of who was there and because I finally achieved a big goal I had been chasing. The marathon experience was so positive that now, months later, I have settled into a running contentment I didn’t have before. While breaking the 3-hour marathon barrier would definitely be sweet, I am so happy with what I achieved on that course that I feel peaceful. I’m still running daily, still trying to improve, but something has definitely shifted in me with the sport.

Next up for me is the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon in Fort Collins in September and then the St. George Marathon in October. St. George will be a new course for me and I earned a sub-elite spot and perks from my Mt Charleston finish time so it should be fun. Running it with some Fort Collins friends too which always makes a big difference. We’ll see what I can put down there.

Thanks for reading!

Entry 23: 2018 Boston Marathon

April 21st, 2018

As I’m sitting here in my cozy living room, by the fire, with my feet up, I am contemplating how different I felt crossing the Boston Marathon finish line 5 days ago.  Here I sit warm and relaxed. Clear-headed. But I was anything but warm or clear-headed when I ran down Boylston Street to the finish line a few days ago.

I woke up to snow today. Snow mixed with rain at the end of April. That’s Colorado for you. I had an 8-mile run on my schedule, but one look at that weather, and even though the temperature was like 40 degrees, I just couldn’t muster the willpower to go run outside.  It brings back rather unpleasant memories/sensations from Monday’s race to be in any conditions that are wet, windy and/or cold. Almost like a weird kind of PTSD…. I know, that sounds kind of dramatic, but it was….dramatic. And a little traumatic, if I’m being honest.

Over the last couple days, more and more of the running community that ran Boston this year have been posting their experiences on social media. Everyone has an epic tale to tell. There is this sense of catharsis with these posts. Like you have to share your story to come to terms, mentally, with it.

It was one of the hardest mental battles I have ever fought.  Why? The race-day weather. The starting temps were in the low 30’s with a wind chill around 20 degrees.  Along with those weather challenges we also had headwinds up to 35 mph, and constant, heavy rain. Tough stuff.

I feel this kinship with everyone that was out there on Monday; taking on the elements as they battered our bodies and souls. We were down in the trenches together. Our adversary was the weather and ourselves.

There is definitely something dreamlike, something ethereal to my memory of Boston, but I will try my best to capture, in words, my experience.

This is when I give you the disclaimer that this will, more that likely, be a very long post.  Read on if it interests you; if not, well, thanks for visiting! My running memoir is just that, a memoir.

The Training

So, it is important to note some key players in this year’s Boston story.  My good friend, Brooke Clayton, plays a starring role. Other characters include a vibrant, talented group of Fort Collins runners that traveled to Hopkinton with us by bus this year.  We had the privilege of hanging out with them in the Running Club Athlete Village (more about that later).

The training cycle for Boston had its ups and downs. While I stayed injury – free during this training cycle–except for some minor Plantar Fasciitis–Brooke was hit with Influenza B hard our last month before Boston. She was so sick she couldn’t even run. But, she came back strong about three weeks before Boston, totally Brooke-style.

Sunday, April 15th, Race Eve


We left Fort Collins around 5 am on Sunday to catch our 7:57am departure out of DIA. Emptying our bags of liquids and foods at the TSA screening was comical.  Only a fellow marathoner could understand why we had so much food! Carb-loading was still in full swing AND we had all our in-race nutrition and post-race stuff too!

We boarded our plane without any incident, but then United decided to keep us on the runway for an hour and then add an hour to our flight. That was long. The problem was Boston. Boston was being hit with freezing rain and causing United to reroute and approach from a different direction. To do this, they had to add fuel to the plane to compensate for our extra traveling distance.

We were a little concerned by our delay because we were already landing, without the delay, just three hours before the Boston Expo was ending. Arriving before the end was crucial because we had to pick up our racing bibs in order to be able to run!

We ended up landing at 4:30pm and went directly, by Uber, with our backpacks, to the expo. The expo was pretty deserted by then, but we were able to get our race bibs and spend a little bit of time visiting the different vendor booths and getting a few gifts for family.

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) had set up a free shuttle from the expo to the Back Bay where our hotel was, but finding where to grab the shuttle proved impossible.

When we left the expo, the wind was blowing, a light rain was falling and it was FREEZING. We gave up on finding the shuttle stop and decided to hail an Uber.


The three minutes the Uber app reported it would take our Uber driver to get to us stretched into 15! Brooke sought shelter in a nearby garage and I kept look out. It was a desperate time. We were tired from flying, fatigued from carrying our backpacks/bags around since the airport, we were cold, and filled with anxiety for the race the next day, oh AND hungry!

Finally, the Uber arrived and we jumped in.

The Boston Marriott  Copley Place

We got settled into our hotel room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place and went in search of food. While in Fort Collins, I had done some sleuthing and had found a restaurant near our hotel called SweetGreen that could make a rice, chicken, salad meal to order so that we could get the carb-loading, pre-marathon meal that we desired. Getting to the restaurant was another fun adventure–we took the sky bridge.

The Boston Marriott Copley Place is the sweetest Boston hotel that I have stayed in.  It is connected to the Shops at the Prudential Center by an enclosed sky bridge. This meant we had access to 40 shops and 18 restaurants without having to feel one drop of rain. Since this trip was pretty much non-stop rain (aside from the day we left–of course) the sky bridge access to these incredible stores and restaurants was beyond convenient!

We dined and then Brooke grabbed some pre-race Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the walk back. (Hey, everyone carb-loads in their own way. I could be persuaded to try her method next time!)

We briefly checked out the hotel and discovered a hot tub on one of the levels. Yes! We decided we would definitely need to visit that after the race.

Our First Encounter with Buttonless Elevators

(Side note, we discovered on this trip the existence of elevators with no floor numbers or buttons to call.  I don’t know if you can fully appreciate this scene without being there, but when we first arrived at the hotel with all our stuff, tired hungry and cold, we went to the elevator section and found 6 or so elevators with no buttons to call them. We walked around in a noticeable stupor until Brooke exclaimed, “Krista, what is happening!” She too felt like we must be missing something with the buttonless elevators. We did, eventually see a screen off to the side where you put in your floor number and it assigns you a lettered (ABCDE) elevator to go stand by that will take you to your floor. Once you are on, it stops on that floor. You don’t have any buttons to choose inside or out…#crazy)

Preparing to Race

We arrived back at our room and prepared for the next morning by laying out everything we would need and loading our bag for the bus. My Timex Factory Team jersey had arrived in the nick of time. Luckily, Boston’s late start meant we didn’t have to get up before 5:30am. I ordered an Uber to pick us up at 6:00am to take us to meet our private bus at MIT, and we hit the light.

At this point, we were both feeling pretty nervous because of the weather and because of all the moving parts to get us to the race start. We were both ready to start running and to finish running.

Monday, April 16th, Race Day


Ready to meet our Uber to the bus

Alarms woke us up on time and we prepared for battle. We dressed, I had 8 oz of water with a double-serving of Mio (getting a little caffeine in the system; wakes me up but also helps wake up my intestines which is helpful if you have a few hours to go before a race). We took a quick pre-race pic and left our hotel to look for our Uber.

Anxiety level high.

Intersecting with our Uber was going to be tricky because I wasn’t planning on running with my phone. This hadn’t occurred to me until that morning, but with the Uber already scheduled, there wasn’t much I could do! I took screenshots of the information about the Uber car and driver and texted them to Brooke and we headed down.

Running Down an Uber in the Rain


We are the black dot. That’s our Uber….

We headed downstairs to look for our Uber. We had an arrival window and we weren’t sure if he was there yet. Brooke spotted him a block or so away and we headed toward him as fast as we could in the rain–oatmeal and bag in tow. We were about half way to him–running–and Brooke noticed he was starting to drive away. That would be disastrous!! We had to make it to our private bus on time to get to the start and to get a seat with our friends.

We kept on running while our Uber, luckily, was stopped at a red light. I literally jumped in front of his car to keep him from leaving and we jumped in.

At this point, he had cancelled our trip and was pretty annoyed with us for jumping in his car.  But, seriously, it was raining, we were freezing, and he was our ticket to MIT. He said he had tried calling me several times and I explained I didn’t have my phone. (Eye roll.)

Brooke quickly downloaded the Uber app to her phone and we re-ordered him, promising him a nice tip for sheltering us and taking us anyway.  He really seemed annoyed, but once we got him ordered–and he knew he was getting paid–he turned on the charm.

We breathed a sigh of relief as he started us on our way to MIT, about 15 minutes away.

Duke’s Private Bus

Okay, let me just say right now, that getting a seat on the private bus enabled us to finish the 122nd Boston Marathon. Period. This was such a crucial part of our experience! A BIG shout-out to Terry Grenwelge of Fort Collins for the hook-up and for telling us to meet the buses at 6:30am–we had been planning on getting there later.

Our Uber got us to the private bus right in the nick of time. We were able to hop on board immediately–still raining–and were surprised to see that it was already partially full even at 6:25 am–nearly 45 minutes before we were set to leave! Not long after our arrival, the bus filled. There were supposed to be 4 private buses parked along MIT for scheduled riders, but something happened and the other 3 were delayed. This meant that the other runners that arrived after our bus was full had to wait outside in the wind and rain until the buses arrived! We felt so bad for those runners! Fighting to stay warm was not how you wanted to spend your energy right before a marathon!

So, A Little Bit About These Buses….


Brooke’s Instagram Photo for the Fort Collins Fitness Festival

Running clubs provide comfortable intercity “coach” buses that go directly to Hopkinton from MIT.  In Hopkinton, the buses park in a private lot adjacent to the Athlete’s Village at Hopkinton High School, in a lot set aside by the BAA exclusively for running clubs.  The buses remain in Hopkinton, and available for passengers to use, until after the race begins. There are a limited amount of these buses so getting a seat is pretty awesome. That $35 was well spent.

Not only did the bus keep us sheltered from the rain, but it also had a bathroom on board that I frequented several times. Once we arrived at the village, we had our own private porta-potties, right out the door, so didn’t have to wait in lines or even get more than a couple drops on us.

The bus driver kept the heat going for the entire 3 hours we occupied this bus before race start.  Seriously. Hanging out with our friends from Fort Collins, and meeting new friends on the bus, was such a great way to distract us from the pending, wet challenge ahead of us.

(In years past, before I learned of private buses, I would board a school bus at Boston Common–no bathroom–for the 45-minute, bladder-bursting ride to Hopkinton, then immediately upon entering the village, when you have to depart the buses,  I would hightail it to a porta-potty line. There is one large canopy to shelter under, but other than that, you are just outside until race start. The lines for the porta-potties get really long…. Remember, 30,000 runners run the Boston Marathon.)

Time to Go

We watched our red and white-bibbed friends begin to slowly exit the bus to head for the starting line corrals.  (Although my Tucson Marathon time had earned me a white bib in wave 2, to run with Brooke, I needed to join wave 3–wouldn’t miss running with Brooke for the world! We took advantage of this extra time to prepare and try and pysch ourselves up for what we were about to do.

While on the bus, we were also focusing on fueling ourselves physically.  From the time I entered the bus, I finished my oatmeal, 16 oz of Maurten 320, and a 1/3 of a bagel.

We also took some time to hunt down some discarded grocery bags from our departed friends to secure around our running shoes for the soggy walk to the race start.  (We were prepared to walk in our extra donation shoes we had worn, but then thought it would be a pain to change our shoes standing out in the pelting rain before race start.)

They called our wave and I was still loading all my gels, fixing my music, adjusting my poncho, tying bags over my feet etc. The time to depart had crept up on me and I was behind! I didn’t have my poncho set up and had an unopened space blanket in one hand and hot pockets in the other when I carefully stepped down the bus stairs in my bag-covered shoes. The wind and rain instantly assailed me.  Trying to keep my poncho and space blanket around me was a joke.

We joined the mass of runners walking up to the corrals from the Athlete village and then things started to get real.

Earth, Wind and Water and an Alien Trudge to the Start

Processed with MOLDIV

This was my fourth Boston, but nothing prepared me for the mess that was the Athlete Village. While we sheltered on our warm, cozy buses, thousands of other runners huddled under the massive canopy in the middle of the athlete village field; a field that had turned into a swampy, muddy mess from all the rain! What was usually a field of order, was absolute chaos. The race announcer kept reminding runners that only the blue wave should be headed to start line, but we were seeing yellow bibs everywhere–the wave after our wave.

I started to feel panicky that we were going to miss our wave.  It wouldn’t have been the end of the world; we could have started with yellow, but I didn’t want to stand out in this pelting rain and wind for any longer than necessary.

At this point, we were all walking kind of blind. You wanted to look down to keep the rain out of your eyes, and everyone around you had their silver space blankets wrapped around their heads so it was hard to distinguish between one person and the next. We were a slow-moving, silver mass packed together like a bunch of slimy sardines.

Mud and puddles of water were difficult to dodge as we tried to weave or way into the blue wave and out of all the yellow wave runners that had lined up–prematurely!  I spotted several runners’ shoes that were already soaked and in some cases covered in mud. Brooke’s right shoe had lost its garbage bag and was completely soaked–not the way you wanted to start a marathon. I was worried for her; for us all!

Somewhere in all this weaving, I lost Brooke and our bus friend, Marissa Mercurio, that headed to the start line with us. Not good. I started shouting out Brooke’s name, but couldn’t hear or see her. I had the horrible thought that we would be separated for the entire run, lost in this sea of soggy runners. I finally gave up looking for her, happy she at least had Marissa, and concentrated on not falling down (or getting too muddy) and kept shuffling toward the start line. My hope was that I would reunite again with Brooke in our starting corral as they divided this mass of runners into smaller groups.

Clothes, trash bags, and food lay discarded everywhere in the two villages.  (Usually, runners respectfully leave these items in the trash bins provided, but today, it seemed everyone was in pure survival mode and had just dropped things as they went.)  It was such a mess. I can’t imagine how long it took to clean up!!!!! (26 tons, 50,000 pounds, of clothing were left behind. The good news, the proceeds all go to supporting local children).

Head down, feet forward, rain pelting, wind blowing we all moved forward to the start. Through what could only be described as a miraculous event, I heard my name above the elements and crowds and saw that Brooke and Marissa had found me!! We joyously reunited and continued our forward movement.

Missing the Start

Our delayed departure from the buses, and our extra-long walk to the start line, resulted in us missing our wave start!  This was absolute craziness. We are rushing as best we can to the start line, trying to decide when to shed our final warm layers that are offering us some protection from the rain, and realize we just have to start running! The volunteers aren’t even checking our bibs; they are just telling us to start running to catch our wave!

We quickly stop and shed everything except our ponchos and sweatshirts. I gulp down my gel and we take off.  We not only missed our wave, but the yellow wave is just about to start.  We head over the start line with absolute zero fanfare and join the last stragglers of the blue wave as we begin our very wet, cold journey to Boston.

A Very Different First Few Miles


The one upside to being late to our wave and missing the start is that there is hardly anyone around us when we start. Typically, you are so sandwiched in that you have to run at the pace of the pack. In our case, there was no pack! That was nice, but so weird at the same time. We fought to settle into a pace and to figure out the best way to run with the driving rain.

I learned quickly that my “waterproof” gloves were getting saturated, and Brooke recommended I not use the poncho arm holes and just keep my arms/and hands inside under the poncho the whole run.  This was genius and kept my hands from getting completely soaked.

As I ran, I put the hot pockets into the top of each of my gloves and instantly my hands started to feel better–thank you, Brooke, for the foresight!! My hands stayed warmish a long time because of this factor.

Trying to Enjoy It

Once all my gear was situated, I tried to get my mind to a better place and enjoy what I was doing. We had planned on an easy-pace, under 4-hour-marathon finish since I was racing in the Mt. Charleston Marathon 12 days later. The easy pace allowed me to look around and try and absorb all that we were passing and seeing.

I DID enjoy many parts of running the Boston Marathon in spite of the horrible conditions, but it was a far cry from my other experiences out there.

The number of blind runners–yes, blind–we saw out there taking on the elements inspired us.

The wet roads acted as a constant reflection of the travelers they were carrying. So many beautiful images I wish I could have captured with a camera. . . .

Brooke and I both steeled our minds and were focused on getting this marathon task DONE, so we weren’t talking much. Luckily, we both had good tunes because we needed the distraction. Usually at Boston, it’s the crowds that overpower your ability to converse well. This year it was the rain and wind.

The miles began to tick past and we kept our forward movement, one foot in front of the other.

Gear Issues and Kind Volunteers

Most of the race is pretty foggy in my memory, but I recall all our stops. We stopped so I could shed my sweatshirt when I started to warm up–ha, yeah, that actually happened in the beginning; we stopped when Brooke was ready to shed hers; and we stopped to take gels and water.

I was doing okay taking my gels until Mile 12. At mile 12, I couldn’t get my gel open because my too-cold fingers wouldn’t work. Brooke had to tear it open for me with her teeth!

At mile 18 when we stopped to take our gels, I was struggling to even get the gel out of my pocket. A male volunteer witnessed my futile efforts and offered, sheepishly, to get it out for me! I hitched my hip in his direction and said “PLEASE! And will you open it for me too??” He was more than willing to help me out and then we were on our way again.

I have to say, the spectators and volunteers that were out in this horrible weather  helping the runners were AMAZING. What a thing to do. They made it possible for all of us to continue! Everyone was so encouraging. You could tell that everyone not running was sympathetic to what we were doing. You could feel their hearts. That is something I DO remember.

Dancing on Top of Heartbreak

Despite all the running drudgery and misery, I do, vividly, remember the Newton hills. This section had quite a bit of crowd support, especially as you ascended Heartbreak Hill. The hills felt remarkably easy this time around compared to other Boston Marathons.  (Brooke had me training more hills and that definitely helped.) When we crested the top of Heartbreak I did a little dance–literally–because I was so excited that we were through that and into the last 10k. The hardest part of the race was over….or so I thought. Turns out I may have started celebrating a little too early.

Forget This! The Crucial Mistake of Discarding My Poncho

So, around mile 23, I was done with my cheap-o poncho. Seriously, I hadn’t invested in a nice poncho because I hadn’t planned on running in it. But discarding it never became an option because the rain was so fierce–everyone was running in their ponchos. But my poncho was unique in that it had an off-the-chart annoyance factor. The rain and wind turned it into Saran wrap around my body. It would cling to my wet skin and inhibit a good arm swing while running. Then at other times it would get totally turned around so that the hood was blowing up into my face. It was ridiculous. It was akin to Dr. Strange fighting the desires of his red cloak of levitation–my poncho definitely had a will of its own.

So, at about 3 miles to go, I figured it couldn’t be doing that much for me–other than frustrating me to no end–so I whipped it off my body and spiked it to the ground with triumphant pleasure, much like a professional athlete would a touchdown football.

The immediate use of my full arm swing was euphoric, but then I started to become acutely aware of other sensations. As my body temperature began to plummet, I could hear the cocky cackle of my discarded poncho from its gravel graveyard taunting my foolishness. (Okay, that was dramatic, but seriously, this was not good. Not good at all.)

Mile 24


Olympian, and New York Marathon winner, Shalane Flangan, put what I was feeling at mile 24 perfectly when she described her 2018 Boston Marathon experience:

“Well that was a memorable, horrible, wonderful, epic adventure. I’ve never run in conditions that brutal. Around mile 16 my body decided it was not thriving and instead went into surviving. My mind had to shift from competing to just completing. I’m not sure how I found the finish line. Like many I was experiencing hypothermic symptoms. I’m so proud that I finished and so proud of everyone else who finished. 👊🏼💪🏼🙌🏼 We gave it our all…..and that’s all that’s ever needed. “

At mile 24, I was so cold I was shivering and my teeth were chattering while I was running. This was new. I mean, in 2015, when I ran Boston in the wind and rain, those symptoms didn’t start until I stopped running.

I was so cold that my legs started to feel like they were going to fall out from under me.  Not like glycogen depletion; it wasn’t that.  This wasn’t stiffness. This was simply frozenness.

Brooke’s visor was so saturated it kept falling into her eyes, but her hands were too cold to tighten it. We pulled to the side and a kind volunteer tightened it for her and offered her a Ziplock bag with some dry socks for the finish line. Brooke profusely thanked her and proceeded to put the socks over her frozen hands! Lucky for Brooke, she still had her poncho on, but we were both frozen to the bone.

We kept on.

Mile 25

I can’t remember if was mile 24 or mile 25 but somewhere in there, we almost landed in a med tent with the other 2,500 hypothermic runners that day. Our legs just weren’t working. My vision started to go wonky. But we were so close to the end and we knew that if we stopped at a med tent, chances were we wouldn’t finish.  We kept thinking about the hot tub that awaited us back at the hotel and the desire to just get done overpowered our desire to seek medical assistance.

As we got closer to Boston, and to the coast, it got colder, if that was even possible. But, it did. More humidity. More wind. And then we had the hardest downpour of the whole day as we turned at Hereford. A runner went down right in front of us. Just collapsed. She was quickly attended to so we kept on going. The crowds were thick and loud now and the blue line that marks your path to the finish was now beneath our feet.

We kept on.

Left on Boylston

We took our final left turn on Boylston and could now see the finish line. It was more than a beautiful sight, but felt like a mirage.

I don’t remember the noise of the crowds at this point. I don’t remember the feeling of victory that we were going to finish. I was numb. Physically and mentally.  The finish line didn’t appear to be getting any closer despite the fact that I knew I was moving towards it. It was like an optical illusion, suspended just out of reach.

At some point, the distance between us and the finish line disappeared and we were crossing it.

We did it. We did it. We did it.

My feet floundered a bit after I crossed and I reached out for Brooke and gave her a hug as a brief sob escaped my chest.  Tears clouded my vision, but my body quickly reminded me that there was, simply, no time for this right now. I would have to breakdown later.  We needed to get warm. We needed to get warm right now before our body temperatures fell even further.

Mission Heat Shields

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 9.17.40 AM

At this point, I’m not looking around. I’m not taking in any of it. I have one thought and that is that we need our heat shields (BAA blanket-type, hooded ponchos).

The exit from the Boston Marathon course is a long funnel of blocks with different race-affiliated things at each block or so. The medal tables came first. Then the heat shields. Then the recovery bags with food/water to replenish the spent athletes.

Getting the medal was memorable–we definitely fought for those–but of more immediate need was warmth.  We stopped to pose for a quick pic from a race photographer that Brooke had the foresight to stop for; she knew we would want it at some point. I was shaking violently at this point. The trembling shook my body so hard I felt like I was having seizures. It was like my body was trying to shake some warmth into me.

We arrived at the heat-shields station and you could tell that the volunteer was worried about us. He quickly got the heat shields around us as we fought to catch our bearings. We had our heat shields, but now we needed our hotel. We needed to get out of this driving rain and wind.

We were near a course exit, and decided rather than walk the extra block to get our recovery bags, that we would rather walk the block to the hotel. A race volunteer pointed us where we needed to go and we went.

A Bell Boy, a Heater and a Momentary Breakdown

The walk from the finish line to the hotel was less than a half-mile away, but dodging the people and trying to make our convulsing bodies move, while keeping our teeth from chattering off, made the walk seem endless.

We got more than a few concerned stares as we moved on. We sought shelter in the Westin Hotel lobby when we didn’t see our hotel and quickly asked the bell boy how to get to our hotel. He told us, but demanded that we first stand by their lobby heater before we went another step.

Much like a mother hen would her little chicks, he shuffled us towards a standing, top-venting heater and we willingly obeyed. We felt the warm heat and it was here that my quaking body, and frazzled brain lost it.  I started to weep. I was soooo cold. I was so tired from the last four hours battling the elements. The crying was cathartic, and I just let it out much like you would a breath you had been holding for much too long.

Brooke let me cry, she may have been crying too, I can’t remember, but after a little warming, she kindly urged me away from the heater so we could really do something about our condition at our hotel.

We kept on.

Up an Escalator, Up and Elevator, Down a Hallway, Almost There

Still shaking.  Totally not all there mentally, but we made it up the escalator, and across into our hotel lobby. I don’t remember the ride up the elevator to the 23rd floor or getting into our room. I do remember entering the bathroom and getting all the wet clothes off me. The survivalist that was leading the show told me to turn on the tub and get in; that I didn’t have time to get in my bathing suit and seek out the hot tub some floors away. This seemed sensical, but the tub handle wouldn’t move. I pulled and pushed and yanked and blinked. Was this some trick of my mind? Why couldn’t I get the handle to move? What a sick joke. I discarded that plan and got my bathing suit on.

I grabbed some recovery food from the nightstand that I had left from that morning, grabbed my phone, a water and we headed for the elevators.

Hot Tub Heaven



If I could have cannon-balled into the hot tub, I would have. Spiritually, I think I was, minus all the dramatic flare. It took me about 15 minutes in the water, and then I started to feel my survivalist persona take a backseat in my brain and myself return. The shaking stopped. The combination of blood supply and nutrition from my Clif Bar started to fire my neurons again. What did we just do???

Other racers slowly joined us and much like warriors after a battle, we shared our tales and victories over the course of an hour in the hot tub. The water didn’t feel hot enough, even though I’m sure it was piping. It did the job though.

Usually, I can last 15-20 minutes in a hot tub before I start to feel too hot. Not the case here. I’m not exaggerating that it took me an hour to finally feel like I could get out. So grateful for that hot tub. That was bliss.

Warm Now, Time to Get Clean & Eat

Once we were warm, we were able to communicate with our families, shower and go  for food. (I should mention here that, upon returning to our hotel room, I told Brooke about my issues with the tub handle. As a point for my sanity, she wasn’t able to get it to budge either.  It wasn’t some sort of post-race delirium I was experiencing. We called the front desk and had a guy muscle it into action for us.

Warm, clean and safe, it was at this point in our Boston journey that we were awash with contentment and satisfaction for a fight well fought.

As the day proceeded, the question of the day wasn’t “did you run Boston”, but “did you finish Boston?” People seemed less concerned with finish times, and just awestruck if you were a 2018 Boston Marathon Finisher. I have to admit, I felt kinda like a rockstar, when I answered yes, we ran AND we finished.

Looking back, it all seems more like a dream (or nightmare) then an actual experience. I too am amazed we were able to finish.

Our long stops brought us in at a 3:44:55 finish, (well, 3:44:56 for Brooke because she was taking her poncho off as she was crossing the finish and so we weren’t exactly in sync over the line) but under four hours which was our goal.

Just a Little Traumatized

My favorite place to eat in Boston post race is the Shake Shack. Nothing screams recovery to me like a salty burger and fries chased down with a sweet, strawberry shake. There was a Shake Shack about a half mile from our hotel on Newbury Street; a walk that was primarily rain-free due to our convenient sky bridge and Prudential Center location. About a block of that distance was uncovered. When we exited the Prudential Center and stepped out into the rain to walk the remaining distance, we both froze in our tracks.  We took one look at each other and walked right back inside. I love a good burger after a race, but just a drop of rain, mixed with wind, and the memories of our freezing ordeal just a few hours prior was too much for us.

Brooke had remembered seeing a burger place in the Prudential Center so we easily discarded our Shake Shack dreams and headed to 5 Napkin Burger instead. It was no Shake Shack, but the bleu-cheese-bacon burger and black/white shake I ordered did its job. We shared a table with a runner and her mom from Australia and swapped stories.


Time for Sugar

The nutrition discipline required for pre-marathon racing doesn’t really allow for some of the sweets I often crave, so post-marathon is all about justified indulgence. Even after a shake, we still had room for a florentine cannoli after perusing (and drooling) through Eataly.  Definitely want to try dinner there sometime, but the basement cafe had some great treats too. The cannoli was no Mike’s Pastry, but, yeah, rain? Not having it.

Luckily, my husband had packed some post-marathon Mary’s Mountain Cookies, for me as a surprise in my bag, so I had those to enjoy back at the hotel too since it was too wet outside to go in search of the Boston Cookie Monstah.

After some delightful strolls through the Prudential Center, we headed back to hang out in the lobby of our hotel and wait from some Fort Collins friends.

That’s a Wrap

We returned to our hotel room, prepared our bags for our early airport departure and soaked in the happiness of a goal achieved.  Sleep found me sooner than I thought it would and we were both out like a light.

We left our soggy, mile-heavy shoes as a hotel donation and grabbed a 6:00am Uber to the airport. We were welcomed with an EXTREMELY long security line, but when the TSA agent asked if we had run the marathon, we were quickly given VIP treatment and taken straight to scan our boarding passes and through the x-ray without taking our shoes off OR emptying our suitcases of any liquids etc.  That felt pretty good.

So many people wanted to hear about our experience. It has been fun to share.

Jet Blue Baby

Our travel home was so much smoother than our trip out.  For one, our Jet Blue plane was so posh. We both watched a movie on the way home, rehydrated and relaxed. We landed at 10:30am and still had a drive home, but made it home without a hitch, and in astonishingly good time because Brooke was driving.

Looking Back and Looking Forward


It’s May 6th as I finish this entry–life has been busy.

When I think about the 2018 Boston Marathon, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. It was brutal and I really disliked the run itself. REALLY disliked it.  BUT it will forever be one of my favorite marathons because it was such a fight and we finished. It is one of those Boston Marathons that will be remembered and talked about for years to come because of its brutishness.  It was the coldest in 30 years–some say the coldest EVER–and the first one in 33 years that had been won by an American woman (Desiree Lindon).  It was a race that brought even elite runners to their knees and opened the doors for former unknowns to shine in the 2nd-6th spots.  It was a marathon that stripped you to your core and showed you what you are all about.

We kept on.

We are strong.

Why Did/Do You Do It?

Some might ask, why would you put yourself through that? What drives you? Why didn’t you just stop?? Some mistake it for pride. But they are inexperienced.

It’s not the medal or the label, it’s something far more valuable than that. It’s the journey–beginning, middle and end.

Our experiences shape who we are.  Every struggle I have faced–both those I have signed up for and those I haven’t–have chipped at me and etched me in defining ways.

Life sculpts us, and if we allow for those chipping and etching moments, we begin to discover a more detailed version of ourselves underneath. We are so much more than our outer layer.  We are multifaceted. But excavating those layers that lie beneath the surface of our character, necessitates that we allow for struggle.  We must permit hard things to test us, then give them everything we have at that moment.  The joy of prevailing is hard to top.

The result is, I love more deeply, feel more acutely, see more closely and can give more freely with each iteration of myself that I uncover through adversity.  That’s the gift.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
― Socrates

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.

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 6.58.09 AM

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

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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.

Entry 15: REVEL Canyon City Marathon 2015

2015 REVEL Canyon City Marathon photo of me approaching the finish line.

Rounding the corner to the finish line at the 2015 REVEL Canyon City Marathon, in Azusa, CA.

This time last week I was on a plane headed for sunny Ontario, California, to meet up with family and a Portland-based friend to run the REVEL Canyon City Marathon course. I was able to run this course last year in its inaugural year.  It is my favorite race I have ever run for a few different reasons (see the race entry from last year).

REVEL puts on great races. Since my first marathon last year, 5 of my 7 marathons have been in REVEL-organized races. The courses they offer are fast and scenic and you can’t beat their organization. They didn’t disappoint this year at the Canyon City Marathon.  In fact, they only improved upon last year.  This year the race field was larger, the expo was bigger, and the buses were nicer. Always improving should be one of REVEL’s mottos; they are always looking for ways to better each race/course from year to year. I like this evolving approach they have to the sport.

What follows now is my race recap.  Since this blog is primarily a place for me to house my running stories, it will be filled with details that may or may not interest you, but each detail is meaningful to me. Thanks for reading….

The Night Before

After a very early start for an 8:15 am flight out of Denver, I spent the remainder of my first Ontario day carb loading, keeping my feet up, and chatting with my friend, Annie, and my cousin, Monique at her Chino Hills home. Monique hosted my friends and I the year prior and was gracious enough to do it again.

After visiting the expo and getting our race bibs and swag (love the race singlet they offered this year) we decided to drive the course to help us mentally prepare.  This was both a good and bad idea.  When you drive for 26.2 miles, it really hits you just how far you will be running.  It seems incredibly far. (Probably because it is!)  As we snaked up some of the steeper, curvier pitches toward the top I was feeling really humbled. Here is when my lack of hill training started to make me nervous.  I had to mentally reassure myself that: 1) I had run the course the year before and loved it; and 2) I had run the REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon with its mile drop in elevation without any hill training either and faired fine.

We returned to home base for a 6:00 pm pasta, rice, chicken, vegetable dinner and race prep.  I’ll be honest, after 16 months of constant running/training and 6 marathons, I was filled with anxiety for this race. My training sessions had been revealing tired legs and an annoyed IT band that had found its voice.  The longest run I had done since my marathon was 13 miles.  My heart was ready for this race, but I wasn’t confident that my body was. I wrestled with deferring my entry, or transferring to the half marathon distance.  My biggest fear was injuring myself. But I had made certain goals for the year and I really didn’t want to end my 2015 race season with them incomplete due to my worries and “what ifs.” In the end, I really felt like I could do it, and thought it was definitely worth trying.  I could always pull back once the race started if I was feeling like my body wasn’t going to be able to do it. So I committed, and tried to push my doubts aside.

I had a goal to PR on this course and had Race Smart Pace Bands for 3:10 and 3:14 finish times, but wasn’t sure which goal to pursue.  My race time 8 weeks prior on the REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon course was a 3:19. I was looking to take 5-9 minutes off my PR and I wasn’t sure if I was being realistic. The REVEL Canyon City Marathon course was the course I had most been looking forward to all year. Not just because of the beauty and speed of the course–and all the associated positive memories from the year before–but because this course starts at 5,700 feet in elevation (I train at 5,000) and ends at 600 so my high-altitude training and extra red blood cells oxygenating my muscles would give me an edge over the other races I had run so far.  In the end, I decided to go with the more conservative race goal of 3:14 and I am glad that I did.

Between 8:30 and 9pm, I tried, and failed, to rid my body of some serious pre-race angst.  8 weeks hadn’t been long enough for me to forget how hard marathons are. 8 weeks hadn’t been long enough for me to forget the painful post-race recovery journey. But, 8 weeks had been just long enough to remind me of how much I love to run, how much I love to cross the finish line, and how good it feels to achieve something you’ve worked hard for.  In the end, with warring emotions, I finally succumbed to a deep sleep, waking at 2:45 am to prepare for the day’s events.

Race Day

I had laid out all my clothes/tools the night before the race so the morning was pretty quick and easy. I dressed and consumed my regular pre-marathon breakfast (oatmeal with peanut butter and a bagel) 2 hours before the race start and then Annie and I drove to meet the buses.  There was a little excitement when we accidentally parked in the half marathon parking lot and walked blocks to the front of the bus line only to find we were in the wrong place. We had to use up precious glycogen to jog back to the car and maneuver–quickly–to the marathon lot and onto a bus before they all left. Giving yourself extra time always pays off! We were glad we had given ourselves an extra 30 minutes that morning!

On the bus, I had my two Advocare O2 Gold® pills (to enhance my body’s use of oxygen) and my Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bar an hour from race start. Once we arrived at the top of Azusa Canyon and disembarked the bus, we hit the porta potties for some relief and then continued our preparations.  It was chilly up top, but I had my thrift store throw-away clothes to keep me warm during the 15-minute window between gear bag drop and the race start.  SOO glad I had those, although the space blankets REVEL provides are effective too.

I took some time to talk to the 3:10 pacer and the 3:15 pacer to find out what their course strategies were.  The 3:10 pacer seemed nervous and admitted he was pacing his first race.  My instincts told me I should stick with my 3:14 pace goal.  The 3:15 pacer was sharp and asked me thoughtful questions about my race goals.  He informed me that if I was able to get under 3:15 I would qualify for the New York City marathon.  I hadn’t realized that and he made me want to reach my goal even more after talking to him.

I consumed my Clif Shot Cherry Chocolate energy gel 15 minutes before the race start, parted ways with my friend, and went to the front of the pack to join the 3:15 pace group near the starting line. I would run my own race, but position myself near them to get off to a good start. I felt sort of foolish standing there with the 3:15 pace group. I was surrounded by men. There were a couple girls scattered here and there, but primarily I was surrounded by men. Was I kidding myself that I could do this? I decided it was time to shut the door on my doubts. While I can argue that they may keep me grounded, the ground was not where I planned to be that day; I needed to fly.  My doubts would play no helpful role in my success. I started to tell myself that I belonged there. I had worked and trained for this. It was up to me to go out and do it. No excuses.

7:00 am came and, BOOM! We were off.

My Race

After enduring the marathon taper, my body was ready to run. It needed to run. I took off and had no problem hitting my splits. My body felt strong, my tunes were honed in and doing their job; I was dialed in and ready to go.

45 minutes in and every 45 minutes after I took in a GU Roctane energy gel. These work great for me. The main ingredient in them is Maltodextrin–one of the highest glycemic index carbohydrates available.  Maltodextrin’s low osmolarity and quick absorption rate makes it a great choice for endurance athletes. These gels also pack a generous 125mg of sodium and 55mg of potassium.  I never suffer from cramping of any kind when using these gels. You need to take them with water. I like to take in a cup of water from each aid station I pass. Most aid stations I will quickly walk through so that I don’t spill all of my water. You make up the few seconds easily on the course.  It is worth it to just walk and make sure you get the water in! This way, I don’t have to be weighed down carrying water while I run. All I have on me are my gels and my tunes. Well, and my clothes.

The first 13 miles of this course flew by.  You really have only one, short hill during this segment.  My right IT band was starting to talk to me and I prayed that it would just hum and not yell for the rest of the race.

Miles 15-21 are trying because they are hilly.  Honestly, after all the earlier downhill miles, you are grateful for some uphill terrain to give your muscles a break.  My race was going well at this point. I was meeting all my splits and I felt strong. There would be no hitting the wall today. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t offering up pleas for strength and endurance at every turn–I was–along with practicing my visualization techniques and exercising every form of disassociation available to me.  Marathons are hard, no matter how well you train or how many you do. If you are pushing yourself faster, they are hard every time. You find yourself in this place where you are crossing over from a very physical realm to a very spiritual realm to achieve your goal. You have to find strength from both to succeed.

Around mile 24, the 3:15 pacer passed me. This was really confusing to me.  My pace watch still had me coming in at a 3:14. Was my watch off?? What was going on? Maybe he was bringing in the guy and girl running with him faster so they could make sure to be under 3:15 for a qualifications standard. But part of me got worried that my watch was wrong so I started to chase down the 3:15 pacer like a rabbit chases a dangling carrot on a stick. I wanted to keep my split times and not sabotage the end of my race, but I also wanted to narrow the gap between him and me. He was like 50 yards in front of me. For the remainder of the race I just kept trying to–conservatively–catch up to him.

I started thinking about my kids around this point. I visualized them at the race finish even though I knew they wouldn’t be there today. I visualized their smiling faces and encouraging yells and tears came into my eyes. I visualized the clock and how it would feel to achieve my goal. I only had to stay strong for a couple more miles. . . .

You come around a corner at mile 25 and you see it.  What is that mirage in front of me? It can’t be. Wait, it is.  A hill.  They changed the course from last year and there is a hill at mile 25.  Argh!! No!  That sight really took the wind out of my sails.  My body was feeling the fact that I hadn’t ran a long run past 13 miles in 8 weeks. My heart was working harder. I was working harder, but I was so close.


Post-marathon text from my great friend–and star of this blog–Natalie Brown. She’s the best.

I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my 7:30 pace goal. I kept trying to catch the 3:15 pacer.  Then, I heard the most welcoming sound…crowd noise. I couldn’t see the finish line, but I could hear it. The energy of the crowd was tangible and I fed off it. I let it fill me and it gave my kick a little boost. I was going to do this.  I finally passed the 3:15 pacer and there it was, the finish line.  I started to run as fast as my legs would let me using my arms to power my stride. I could see the clock. I was under 3:14!  So my watch was right. I sprinted to a 3:13:50 finish.  That 3:15 pacer had helped me get under my time goal.  That…that was a great moment.  I qualified for the New York City Marathon and I qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time that the guys in my age group would need to qualify–a secret goal of mine ever since I learned of the HUGE discrepancy between the men/women qualifying standards. (Not that I am a feminist or anything…).  I crossed the line, smiled, and enthusiastically accepted my medal. I did it. I had taken 17 minutes off my time between the Boston Marathon in April and this race in November.

Post Race

So my IT band never started yelling at me during the race–my body’s endocannabinoids, endorphins and opiates did their job–but it definitely started to get louder after the race. I downed a couple cups of gatorade and then went straight for my gear bag to get my 1,000mg dose of potassium via coconut water for recovery.   Then I generously applied Kool N Fit Performance Sports Spray (with camphor and menthol) to my sore, stiffening muscles.  This stuff works immediately to alleviate pain and increase mobility. Love it. A must-have in a marathoner’s gear bag. Then I went to look for my friend who was set to finish about ten minutes after me.

REVEL Canyon City Marathon Finish Line

Annie and I at the finish line celebrating meeting our time goals and a great race!

Annie, actually came in at 3:21, totally obliterating her 3:25 goal and setting a PR/BQ. I wish I had seen her cross the finish line, but it was fun to reunite with her and swap stories about the race.  We both were feeling amazing.

We hung out at the race finish for a little bit and then spent 30, hilarious–though somewhat frustrating–minutes trying to find our Nissan Sentra rental car.  It had been dark in the morning and we had been rushing to catch the bus so neither of us had spent the time noting landmarks that would help us with finding the car after the race.  It probably didn’t help that we had post-marathon foggy brains. So, yeah about 30 minutes, and a hitchhiking trip later, Annie located the car and we headed home for some relaxation! (Worth noting: keyless start cars will not start unless you have your seat belts buckled. We learned this the day before in a comical scene between us and a perplexed roadside assistance phone operator while we were stranded in a Panera parking lot.  Oh the laughs after we terminated that call!!)

Talking to Friends and Family 

My husband had signed up for live text results during my marathon that let him know how I was doing at the half mark, the 20-mile mark and when I had 5k to go. (Another awesome REVEL Race perk.)   I was touched to learn that he was tracking me so studiously (and secretly) during a church youth song practice he was helping out at during my race. He was discreetly passing race updates to my children while they (and 140 other children) practiced.  He was also text-forwarding my results to my good friend and they were discussing me back and forth while I was running. I was moved to hear of their support and to learn of how emotionally invested they were for me.  Friends/children like that carry you in invisible but powerful ways. Every marathon I finish I want to cry when I’m done.  Every one has tested me as I have tested me. Seemingly small gestures from friends and loved ones can mean so much; do so much.

Talking to my excited children is always the highlight of the day.  They are such a large part of why I race. I want them to believe in themselves and to understand that we are the only ones that put limits on our potential. We must not do that.  We believe. We set goals. We endure. We enjoy. We fall, but we rise.  We grow. We find joy.

My 2015 race season is done and I’m looking forward to my 5-week recovery and easing back into my training for Boston in 2016.  Next up will be the Phoenix Half Marathon in February 2016.

Thanks for reading!

My Results

REVEL Canyon City Marathon 2015 Results

2015 REVEL Canyon City Marathon Women’s Results

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.46.48 PM

Results and Timing Points for my 2015 REVEL Canyon City Marathon

My Splits

  1. 7:07
  2. 7:02
  3. 7:06
  4. 6:31
  5. 6:56
  6. 7:12
  7. 7:06
  8. 7:28
  9. 7:06
  10. 6:54
  11. 7:11
  12. 7:06
  13. 7:07
  14. 7:35
  15. 8:08 (hill)
  16. 7:54 (hill)
  17. 8:26 (hill)
  18. 7:46 (hill)
  19. 7:04
  20. 8:16 (hill)
  21. 7:44 (hill)
  22. 7:12
  23. 7:22
  24. 7:40
  25. 7:38 (hill)
  26. 7:30


  1. Pearl Izumi E:Motion Road M3 v2s
  2. Pearl Izumi Team Jersey
  3. Lululemon What the Sport Short
  4. Compression Socks
  5. Garmin Forerunner 220 Pace Watch
  6. Garmin Vivofit
  7. Ipod Shuffle/and buds
  8. Junk Headband
  9. Race Smart Pace Band

Trip Highlight/Must Do

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple, Chino Hills, CA

You MUST take a slight detour and visit this intricately hand-carved Hindu temple in Chino Hills.This private tour was a highlight of my trip. The attention to detail, the awe-inspiring, hand-carved pink sandstone exterior, the ornate materials, the obvious devotion of the Hindu people to their faith and beliefs through the artistry and building of this temple took my breath away. We couldn’t take pictures of the white, Carrara marble interior carvings/structure, but I definitely understand why they asked us to remove our shoes. Truly a wonder and must-see after or before the race. Everything was hand carved in India and shipped over. Talk about dedication to quality. This structure is built to last 1,000 years and has an impressive, state-of-the-art engineered foundation to keep it rock solid regardless of seismic activity. Go see it!


The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple. 15100 Fairfield Ranch Road, Chino Hills, California 91709


Visiting the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple with my friend Annie after the race.


The intricate, hand-carved, pink sandstone of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple.


Entry 14: How Balance Exercises Prevent Serious Injuries

When I first started to train for the Boston Marathon and work on increasing my speed, I suffered from a couple different bouts of tendonitis. The first thing the physical therapist did was check my balance when I was standing on one foot and then the other.  It was pretty comical to see how that simple act was difficult for me. Ask me to do that today and you will see a completely different result.  Ask me when I had tendonitis issues last and I would answer over a year ago. Working on improving my balance has helped me avoid injury and has improved my running performance.

Earlier this year, a study released by Reuters Health made a bold new statement: “Strength training and balance exercises are more likely to help prevent sports injuries than stretching.” While this new evidence does not call into question the importance of stretching when exercising, it places new emphasis on a type of strength training that many are not participating in.  Learning how balance exercises can prevent injury, and what exercises are recommended, can help you avoid serious injuries and enjoy healthy activity levels.

The Importance of Balance

Balance is your capacity to sustain your center of gravity over your base of support. Most don’t spend much time thinking about their balance until their balance is called into question.  But you don’t need to let a good fall or injury awaken you to your body’s unmet needs.  Balance training is an important part of active and non-active lifestyles.  If you are one that hasn’t given much thought to balance training start now.

Attention to balance and strengthening your core lead to improved posture, a decrease in back pain and performance improvement during physical activity.  Furthermore, having a good sense of balance is a crucial skill for avoiding injury.  If you have developed this skill, your mind and body will be able to make the fast adjustments necessary to avoid falling or to reduce damage from the impact of an unpreventable fall.

A 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal  showed that out of 17 clinical trials involving more than 4,300 participants over the age of 60, those that had incorporated balance exercises each day had a 37 percent reduced risk of injuries from falling and a 61 percent lower risk of breaking a bone from falling, in comparison with those who hadn’t attempted the balancing exercises.

The Benefits of Balance Training

Balance training has shown to have the following positive benefits:

  • Accelerated reaction times.This aids in reducing the impact of a fall by causing you to put out an arm or grab something secure.
  • Increased brain activity.Consistent exercise keeps the brain active and alert decreasing your risk for falls.
  • Enhanced coordination.This benefit prevents falls but also can help you react with better agility when you fall.
  • Increased muscle mass.Building muscles provides protection around bones and joints and can help soften a hard fall.
  • Healthier bones.Resistance exercises bolster bone tissue and make bones more able to avoid breaks.

Improved Balance Helps You Avoid Injury

Falling as a child was a common occurrence that rarely resulted in serious injury, but falling as an older adult is another story entirely which often results in broken bones and impaired mobility.  A Harvard Health publication estimates that at least one out of three people over age 65 fall each year.  These falls are often associated with things that affect the sense of balance.  Inner ear disorders which can cause dizziness, neuropathy, deteriorating eyesight, and muscles that don’t respond as quickly as they did years before all affect your sense of balance. Limited mobility can lead to an onslaught of other health struggles that are often difficult to recover from.  These injuries and challenges have psychological consequences as well as the victim begins to doubt their mobility, experiences fears of falling, and develops a growing sense of dependence on others.

Simple Balance Exercises You Can Try

Committing to improve your balance through weekly exercise means taking a big step forward in your current and future wellness.  When beginning, choose simple exercises that don’t rely on individual strength or endurance. Almost any activity can be adjusted to improve your balance.

The following simple exercises are recommended to help improve your balance:

  • Stand on one foot.Stand on one foot for a count of 10 to 20 seconds a few times a day. This is a simple exercise you can do just about anywhere at any time.
  • Stand up with no hand support.  Stand from a seated position without using your hands to balance yourself. Try sitting without using your hands as well.
  • Put your socks on while standing.Try putting your socks on while standing up. Lean against a bed so if you lose your balance, you’ll land on something soft.
  • Walk a line. Practice walking in a straight line–heel to toe, heel to toe.
  • Do one-legged squats.Bend one leg and dip down into a squat while balancing on the other leg. Do this ten times then switch legs.

Make sure and take the time to incorporate balance training into your weekly training workouts–you will be grateful you did!

Entry 13: The Big Cottonwood Marathon 2015

REVEL Shot of me running on the Big Cottonwood Marathon course.

REVEL Shot of me running on the Big Cottonwood Marathon course.

I ran the Big Cottonwood Marathon on September 12th and had such a positive experience. (If you haven’t participated yet in a REVEL race, you really need to search one out and do it!) For those of you who have been following me on this blog, you know that I ran this same course last year with my dear friend, Natalie Brown. Last year’s experience on the course was heartbreaking when my friend missed her goal to BQ by mere seconds.  This year, I was determined to rewrite the story.

Pre-Race Training

Because I had just run a marathon a couple months before, my training for the Big Cottonwood Marathon had been in progress for months.  However, I made three changes for this race: 1) I calculated my ideal racing weight and made the goal to run at it; 2) I altered the way I carb-loaded so that I wouldn’t feel so weighed down on race morning; and 3) I decided to run this marathon faster with the goal to finish the race under 3:20–I thought it would be fun to be able to register for Boston on the first day of registration by being 20 minutes under my 3:40 qualifications standard.

The Night Before

I was really excited to run this marathon for several reasons. The course is fast and scenic–all those fall colors changing are great mood enhancers while you are working your body hard! I also had several friends running this race that came down with me from Colorado. And, as I mentioned before, I REALLY wanted to leave this course with a happier ending than last year.

After carb-loading at the Lindon Pizza Factory with a large group of my family that live in town and my friends, we headed to the expo at the South Town Expo Center in Sandy.

2015 Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Shirt--Love it!

2015 Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Shirt–Love it!

We were really excited with the REVEL race shirts this year and excited to take our gear bags and get checked into our hotel after a long day of driving.

Big Cottonwood Marathon Racing attire

Laying out my race attire and tools the night before the Big Cottonwood marathon.

We stayed in one of the race-affiliated hotels–the Crystal Inn Hotel–and were pleased with our accommodations and the breakfast they provided for us. They also had a bus for us (that we met at 4:30 in the morning to take us to the race start.)  We got our clothing all laid out and hit the sack quickly since we were waking at 3:00 am to eat our breakfast and prepare!

Race Morning

We woke up a little before three and had our breakfast (oatmeal with peanut butter and a bagel.) We walked down to get on the bus and had to part ways with Natalie–she was running the half distance this year because of a knee injury.  I was really sad not to be able to run with Natalie this year, but she is running Boston in April with us and needed to keep that body healthy!!

The Scene on Guardsman Pass at the Big Cottonwood Marathon.

The Scene on Guardsman Pass at the Big Cottonwood Marathon.

Clint and I rode up to the marathon start together and exited the bus into what looked like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  There were bright, white lights illuminating a sea of runners all clad in sliver space blankets sitting under a sky full of stars in the middle of a grove of pine trees. Not to be missed, of course, was the long row of porta potties directly behind all the racers.

REVEL did a great job of taking care of us before the race start.  They had gatorade and water stations, fruit, space blankets, plenty of porta potties, and frequent announcements on what time it was and what was going on and when.

The temperatures that morning on Guardsman Pass weren’t bad–about 50 degrees.  I was prepared for at least ten degrees cooler. I had two space blankets, gloves, my down coat, pants, a top….etc. I was warm. I loathe being cold.

I was surprisingly calm race morning despite my nerves. I had done zero hill training and was a little concerned in how this would work against me in the mile-elevation drop from the beginning of the course at 9700 feet to the end of the course at 4400. I found a place to lay down and just tried to relax and take in the beauty of the stars and the energy around me.

Missing the Start

So, about 30 minutes before race start, you will typically find me cycling through the porta potty line.  Pretty much everyone does this. You get in line, use the facilities, then get back in line because by the time you get to the front again you will need to go again. You have to start a marathon well-hydrated and nerves also play a part. (I don’t stop to use the bathroom once I start the race.) Unfortunately, in one of my cycles through the line, I picked a line where the guy in front of me decided to camp out in the potty and I actually missed the start of the race! This kind of stressed me out.  I was way in the back of the group of racers.  Luckily, I knew that my starting time for the race would be based on my chip time which began when I crossed the start line.  But even with this knowledge, I didn’t want to have a huge discrepancy between my gun time and chip time and confuse my family that was waiting for me at the end who knew my goals. I also didn’t want to risk the chip failing and having to rely on an inaccurate gun time.

Starting at the back of the pack was also challenging because my goal pace for the first mile was a 6:54 and at the back no one was running with this pace in mind. Trying to get around people to run the pace I wanted was extremely challenging.  In hindsight, I really should have just left the porta potty line so I wouldn’t miss the start, but I just had this fear that I would have to use it on the course and lose valuable time….By some miracle, I was able to weave myself out of the pack and kept my first-mile pace goal.

Feeling Strong

Big Cottonwood Marathon

Coming down from Guardsman Pass.

One of the greatest realizations a few miles in, was that my legs felt strong. At this point at my race in July, my legs had not felt strong like this due to illness the day before the race.  Feeling the difference encouraged me and pushed me forward in my race goals.

I had a pace band for 3:21, but I really wanted to go sub 3:20 so I started subtracting 6 seconds off of what my pace band said I needed to run per mile and hoped that my body would keep up with my heart!

I spent time enjoying the course during this half of the race. It was just so beautiful to see fall blooming up in the canyon.

Mile 4

One change this year in the course was Mile 4. To shorten the out-and-back section from miles 20-23, they added a loop up at the top. This loop included a significant hill. I would rather have had a longer out-and-back than a hill at Mile 4, but it all worked out in the end. But, prepare yourself to slow down at Mile 4 so you don’t burn through too much of your reserve in the beginning of the race.

Miles 20-23

Those legs working hard for me!

Those legs working hard for me!

Okay, so since I hadn’t done any hill training, I was actually glad when I saw the mile 18 sign because I knew that we were heading out of the canyon soon and I felt like my body needed a break from all the downhill.  I wasn’t hurting–which I mostly attribute to shedding some pounds before this race–but I could tell I needed to work some different muscles in my legs for a while.

So, I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  This part of the race is challenging. You have just worked your quads over miles of downhill and then you hit some uphill and it will challenge you.  You just have to mentally prepare for it.  My pace band slowed me down in this section and I was glad for it! I banked some time on the downhill sections in the canyon before this section so I could afford to slow down. But, mentally, this part of the race had me worried that I wasn’t going to meet my goal. I had slowed significantly and was mentally having to really push myself to keep on going. I could see the turn ahead of me that signaled I had finished the out-and-back portion of the race and I just kept my eyes fixed on it as best as I could.

Miles 24-26

REVEL race shot of me on the Big Cottonwood Marathon Course

REVEL race shot of me on the Big Cottonwood Marathon Course

Once I hit mile 24, life was good again. This course has the best last two miles of any course I have run (except maybe Boston.) It is just a straight, descending, spectator-filled road all the way down to the finish. The slight downhill helped me get my legs moving back to a competitive speed again and lifted my spirits.  And then, and then I could see the finish line and all I could think about was my family and friends at the finish and how badly I wanted to finish strong and meet my goal.

Big Cottonwood Marathon Picture Approaching the Finish Line. I love this picture from REVEL because if you look closely you can see my family looking on on the right.

Big Cottonwood Marathon Picture by REVEL of me Approaching the Finish Line.

I looked at my pace watch and I was still on track to meet my goal!  Because I started after race start, the finisher’s clock was showing me approaching 3:20 and mentally, even though I knew I was under, I started to sprint.  I couldn’t see or hear my family cheering me, but I saw the video later and they were pushing for me to get under 3:21 because they thought I had missed my 3:20 goal and knew my secondary goal was to get under 3:21. (I love this picture above from REVEL.  That is my dad holding the black umbrella, my sister taking a picture of me, my husband cheering me on and capturing a video of me, friends who had taken time out of their day to come see me run, and my son and daughter leaning over the barrier so they could see the clock. . . .priceless.)

The Finish

Natalie and Clint Brown at the finish line of the Big Cottonwood Marathon. A girl couldn't ask for better friends than these two!

Natalie and Clint Brown at the finish line of the Big Cottonwood Marathon. (A girl couldn’t ask for better friends than these two!)

When I crossed the finish line I was immediately met by my friend Natalie who was there helping Clint who had finished about ten minutes before me (and qualified for Boston for the third time!!). I had to keep my legs moving so I couldn’t stop to talk to her, but welcomed a big hug!

(I really wish that race organizers would have a runway after the finish line so that runners wouldn’t have to cross and then just immediately stop running.  You need an area where you can slowly jog it out or at least walk it out. I really like to keep my legs moving as much as I can immediately after I run.  If I don’t they really like to stiffen up fast.)

Family and Friends who were at the finish line waiting for me.

Family and Friends who were at the finish line waiting for me.

My husband found me and congratulated me and then congratulated me even more when he realized that I had actually turned in a time under 3:20! (I explained to him that I had started late at the top).  He has only been able to be at two of the finish lines of my six marathons so it was really great to see him there.  One of my favorite things about racing is seeing his reaction when I finish–he has a way of making me feel like a superstar. And my kids!  They hang on to me and follow me everywhere I go like I won first place no matter what place I actually received. They are some of my biggest cheerleaders. I hope I am inspiring them to go for their dreams–big and small and to never, ever give up.

My Splits 

11951590_10153028912745841_3670783334506593374_oAfter I saw my family and friends, I headed over to the table to get my official time card. The lady entered my bib number and then said (very dramatically): “Oh, you just missed it! 4th in your age group….” (If you get 1st-3rd in your age group you get an additional medal and sometimes prize money). Honestly though, I was happy with my finish time so I didn’t feel that badly that I didn’t place in the top three. The ladies that were the top three finishers were 3:04, 3:03, and 3:02 times….

Here are what my splits looked like from this race.  You can tell where the hills were!

Mile 1: 6:53
Mile 2: 7:33
Mile 3: 7:13
Mile 4: 8:31
Mile 5: 7:26
Mile 6: 7:14
Mile 7: 7:21
Mile 8: 7:22
Mile 9: 7:31
Mile 10: 7:36
Mile 11: 7:39
Mile 12: 7:39
Mile 13: 7:21
Mile 14: 7:15
Mile 15: 7:17
Mile 16: 7:21
Mile 17: 7:27
Mile 18: 7:24
Mile 19: 7:36
Mile 20: 8:16
Mile 21: 8:27
Mile 22: 8:12
Mile 23: 8:22
Mile 24: 7:53
Mile 25: 7:22
Mile 26: 7:36

Lessons Learned

So a few of my biggest take aways from this race are:

  1. Race weight really does matter. Being about four pounds lighter on this course than I have been on previous courses made this race so much more enjoyable.
  2. Upper body strength pays off.  I really focused on letting my upper body carry my lower body so that I could lessen the impact on my joints. I’ve been working on this in training and on engaging my core and glutes more. It really helps lessen all the work your lower half has to do when your upper body is doing its part.
  3. When you feel strong, go for it. Trust your instincts. I could have been conservative and stuck with my the 3:21 split times on my pace band, but my mind and my heart were telling me that I could give more and I am glad I listened to them.
  4. Never give up.  Even if you start to slow down and you start to think there is no way you are going to achieve your time goals, don’t stop. Just keep doing the best you can. More likely than not, you are on a slight hill that you can’t see but that your body can feel and that is what is slowing you down.  It will pass.  Just keep moving.
  5. Don’t over carb-load before a race.  If you are eating to the point of feeling too full each day, you are overdoing it. Carb-load 2-3 days before, so you can top off the glycogen in your muscles but don’t overdo it!


Right after a marathon I rarely feel like eating, but give me a couple hours and I am ready to go!  We have the tradition of going for burgers and fries as a post-marathon lunch. In-and-Out never tastes so great! So, after an hour or so getting cleaned up at the hotel and checking out, we hit the streets for some burgers and a stop at the Sweet Tooth Fairy for a delicious chocolate chip cookie for later–also a tradition–then I spent the rest of the day with my family, the kids and their cousins.

I refueled that evening at Tucanos Brazilian Grill in Orem, Utah. (I was craving some red meat!) I won’t soon forget this time with my family chatting about life, the race, goals, dreams and basking in all the extra endorphins running through my system.

I love race days. I love the whole day (especially since the lactic acid doesn’t really set in until day 2 for me….) This race day was especially sweet because I got to spend so much of it with my family and because I met my goals.

Thanks, REVEL for another great, professional race! We’ll see you in a few weeks in LA at the Canyon City Marathon!


  1. Pearl Izumi E:Motion Road M3 v2s
  2. Pearl Izumi Team Jersey
  3. Lululemon What the Sport Short
  4. Compression Socks
  5. Garmin Forerunner 220 Pace Watch
  6. Garmin Vivofit
  7. Ipod Shuffle/and buds
  8. Junk Headband
  9. Race Smart Pace Band

In-Race Fueling

  1. 1 hour before: Clif Bar Crunchy Peanut Butter
  2. 1 hour before: Advocare 02 Gold (two capsules)
  3. 15 minutes before: Clif Shot: Chocolate Cherry
  4. 45 minutes in (and every 45 minutes after): Gu Roctane Energy Gel
  5. Water at every aid station. Yes, I stop and walk so that I get all the water down.
  6. Gatorade at aid stations that are at least 30 minutes after I have taken a gel or before I will take another gel.

Entry 12: Finding Your Ideal Racing/Running Weight

Weighing in.

My September 24, 2015, morning weigh-in.

In preparation for the Big Cottonwood Marathon that I ran two weeks ago, I decided to set a goal to try and run at my ideal racing weight. To do this, I first had to determine what my ideal racing weight was.

In a popular article written by running coach, Peyton Hoyal, I learned a couple tips:

  1. I learned that I have a small frame structure.
  2. For my small frame structure, the formula for calculating my ideal racing weight requires that I double my inches (5’4=64 inches) and subtract 5-10 pounds: 64×2=128; 128-10=118, or 128-5=123. *(Note: The formula is the same for medium frames. For large frames: Double the inches, then add 5-10 lbs.)

I have run races at 123 (and higher) and I ran this most recent race at 118 and I can tell you that I felt the difference. I mean, I really felt the difference. 118, definitely was a golden spot for me. In the space of two months, I took 7 minutes off my marathon time and attribute much of that success to shedding some extra pounds.

Being lean and light put less of a burden on my joints keeping me pain-free throughout the Big Cottonwood Marathon and decreased my post-marathon recovery time. It helped me keep my running form intact throughout the race, and improved my overall marathon experience—substantially.

I have recently shed a few more pounds—still within a healthy weight range (110-144) for my height and frame—and feel like I am flying when I do my training runs.   I also don’t find myself tiring as quickly even though I’m running at a faster pace than I usually do.

I KNOW that you don’t have to be a certain frame, or a certain weight to be a great runner or a fast runner. Lighter and leaner just feels better for me.

It is exciting to see some real changes happening from my consistent efforts. Keeping my weight down and losing weight is not easy for me. Believe me, I have to watch what I eat and I track it daily on MyFitnessPal.com, but the results of feeling like I’m running my body vs. my body running me are empowering.

The body experiment continues. . . .

Entry 11: The Aspen Valley Marathon

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The Beginning.

I ran the Aspen Valley Marathon on July 18th, about ten days ago.  I started training for it just after Boston around the beginning of May. From what I had read about the race online it looked like a nice, gradual 20-mile descent followed by a potentially heinous 6 mile out and back. The reviews and pictures portrayed a beautiful run down the Rio Grande Trail from Aspen to Basalt. I figured the last 6 miles would be tough, but overall the race would be beautiful and fast so it wouldn’t matter.

So, I had planned to shoot for a 3:25 time goal on this marathon because in the four other marathons that I have run, I have had too much energy left at the end of the marathon; it just seemed like I had more to give so I decided to increase my speed. I completed the Boston Marathon at a 3:30 with headwinds and rain so I really felt like 3:25 was an attainable goal for Aspen especially with 2.5 months to train.

About midway through my training, I discovered I had been running my strength workouts faster (7:08 per mile pace) than necessary for my goal and as a result, my tempo runs at the 7:47 pace felt too easy. But, I felt good running the 7:08 strength pace so I decided to adjust my marathon goal pace to 7:41. Training at that pace felt challenging but not too challenging and as the weeks went by, I felt ready for the race. I purchased a pace band from FindMyMarathon.com for a 7:39 pace, or a 3:21 finish time, to give me a little bit of wiggle room for water breaks etc. Going into the race my goal was to finish at a 3:25 or faster and if I could somehow pull off the 3:21, great!

The Monday before the race I started carb loading–300 grams per day. (I typically start about 3-4 days before, but felt I should start sooner for this race.) By Friday, I was feeling way too weighed down. Too many carbs. My bowels were moving very slowly. When my system gets slow like that, I really like taking some Magnesium Serene to help get it moving.  It naturally/gently helps lighten my system before a race. Usually. So I took some early Friday morning. Here is where things really started to go wrong.

Independence Pass, Colorado

Independence Pass, Colorado

We started our drive to Aspen and I was hydrating with water and G2 and snacking on carb-rich foods and my stomach was just not happy. It wasn’t hurting, but it was NOT normal. We were stopping regularly to use the bathroom–I was like a jockey before a race if you know what I mean. I was losing everything I was putting in. By the afternoon, I was really worried.  I hadn’t been able to really keep anything in my system all day and had lost a ton of fluids. Not good. The day before a marathon you need your calories and you need your water and electrolytes. Nerves coupled with my dose of magnesium and 32 ounces of G2 had not been a good combination. Lesson learned.  Will NEVER do that again!

Laying out my clothes the night before the race.

Laying out my clothes the night before the race.

I went to bed at a decent hour and slept fine. I awoke at 3:45am excited/nervous, but my stomach was calm. I took my usual, pre-race breakfast–oatmeal with peanut butter and bagel–2 hours before the race start and they stayed down just fine, but I was really worried about how my body would perform given how I had felt the day before. (Luckily, I had started carb loading on Monday so I hoped that my glycogen stores would be full enough to help me perform.)

The Aspen Valley Marathon was the most laid back race that I have experienced thus far. Being a smaller race, the fastest pacer was pacing for a 3:40 finish, so I was on my own.

We started running at 6:00 am.  The sun was bright and it was already 54 degrees so it didn’t feel cold. We started down the cobblestone streets of Aspen’s main shopping district and wound through neighborhoods towards the Rio Grande Trail.  I noticed that there were two girls running my same pace. The rest of the crowd around us were guys. Just two?? Wow, okay, that was a good sign. A podium finish might actually be attainable. However, I decided before the race started that while being in the top three female finishers would be awesome, I would run my race and not try to keep up with the girls running by me/in front of me. One of the girls got a pretty good distance ahead and I let her. Then the next girl pulled in front.

What was concerning at this point–a mile or so in, was that my legs felt weak. Tired. I recognize what tired legs feel like because I have experienced days like that in training. Not good. I hoped that by mile 3 they would wake up, but they still felt weak.  I knew I was going to have a battle ahead of me in this race. Not against these girls, but against myself and my goals. The other disturbing factor was altitude. Even though Aspen is 2,000 feet higher than my training ground in Fort Collins, I thought I would be okay, but I could feel my lungs working harder than usual. The air felt thinner.

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The two girls seen here in this picture with me were with me for the first 14 miles and then dropped off. The girl seen in the front in this picture ended up grabbing the bronze medal for 3rd female finisher.

The two girls and I played leap frog for about 14 miles and then just all of the sudden they were gone. One girl stopped to tie her shoe and I never saw her again. The other girl dropped back a little and I never saw her again. I just kept running my race.  They were so strong for the first half of the race, I was really surprised that I never saw them again.

The next water stops were fun, because people kept shouting to me that I was the first female. “Keep it up!” “Your the first female!” “Go!” This is was fun to hear. I was still doing okay at this point. I was meeting my splits. I wasn’t meeting them perfectly, but my average pace was showing that I was on target for a 3:21 finish with a 7:39 pace average.


My husband grabbed this shot of me coming down the trail around mile 17.

Around mile 17, my husband met me on the trail on his bike. He was excited for me for my first place lead, but I was really having to focus at this point. We didn’t talk. He picked up pretty fast on where I was and just cycled by me in silence.  I didn’t want to sacrifice any oxygen or focus. The Rio Grande Trail reminds me of the Power Trail in Fort Collins. Very rolling terrain. A wide sidewalk path under your feet the whole way pretty much. That was surprising. Where was all that downhill I was expecting?! Some guy passed me around mile 18 and said, “hey, we’re almost there!” and that lifted my spirits substantially for some reason. Thanks, random stranger-racer-guy!

It really is too bad that I wasn’t feeling strong that morning, because I was not enjoying the course or the run at all which is kind of sad.  I mean, the scenery was probably beautiful, but I was so focused on just staying on pace and breathing that I hardly took the time to look around. This is very atypical for me and very different than my other marathons. Usually I am looking around, conversing occasionally with others by me and enjoying the race from the beginning to the end. Not here. No. I couldn’t wait for the race to end. I tried to find the “joy of the run” but just couldn’t that day. And after 2.5 months of training I wasn’t about to let myself just fall into an easy pace. I knew I wouldn’t feel any satisfaction from that at the completion of the race.

My husband hung with me for a few miles and then he split off so he could meet me at the finish.

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A chart showing my goal splits (on the left) and my actual splits on the right).

Somewhere around mile 21 or 22 my race completely fell apart. I hit the wall and I hit it hard. My legs weren’t cramping, but they just refused to turn around as fast as I wanted them to. You can see from this chart image what my splits were for the first 20 miles of the race and then the drastic turn towards the end. The left column are the splits I was trying to meet that were printed on my pace band. The right column shows you what my actual splits were and a little ways down you can also see what my average pace was up to that point. I was still on target for my goal up until about mile 21, but then. . .yeah. The Wall.

Around this point, I was really feeling the heat, and I was just done. I really really wanted to walk.  I haven’t felt this way during a run for more than a year, way back when I was training for my first marathon. I hate that place.  It is not a fun place to find yourself at. But, but at the same time, that place is what keeps me respecting the marathon distance. 26.2 is a respectable distance regardless of how hard you train or how strong you may feel you are when you leave that starting line. There are so many factors to finishing a marathon how you want to.  Every time I have met a course goal I know a little miracle has occurred.

So, for the last 4-5 miles of the race I stopped looking at my pace watch, let that marathon goal time rest and just concentrated on not stopping. I mean, I glanced down a few times to see just how slow I was going, but for the most part the battle in my head was just to keep on going.  I was sure that at any moment I was going to see those girls pass me, which was disappointing, I won’t lie, but I knew I couldn’t go any faster than I was and a win now seemed pretty impossible. But, I also knew any chance I might have at finishing in the top three required that I keep on moving; that I didn’t quit.

Crossing the finish line.  My actual finish time was 3:26:41 a little faster than the posted time here because that clock is for gun time, not chip time.

Crossing the finish line. My actual finish time was 3:26:41 a little faster than the posted time here because that clock is for gun time, not chip time. (The girl right behind me was a half marathon finisher).

When I passed the 25 mile sign, I started to perk up a bit. With every foot fall I knew I was getting that much closer to the finish. Usually, by now you have crowds cheering you on, but there really weren’t any crowds anywhere except at the actual finish for this race. When I rounded the corner and saw the finish line in sight I was pretty excited. I still kept thinking that one of those girls must be right behind me, but I never looked back during the race.  I wanted to make sure I ran my race and mentally I just didn’t want to know how close they were! Crossing the finish line as first female was definitely overshadowed by my desire to just stop running, but it was still very cool to hear them announce that I was the first female marathon finisher.

When I saw my husband it really hit me that I had done it. I had finished the race. I had not quit and by not quitting, I had won. I didn’t meet my time goals, but I really didn’t care. Given how I had felt when I started the race and how difficult the whole race had been for me that day, I was elated with my results. My husband’s face, smile and expression were priceless: “You did it!”

Shortly after hugging my husband, we were met by a guy from the Aspen Times who interviewed me and took my picture.  That was a surreal moment. Several people that had seen me on the course came and congratulated me. It was fun to have a little “star” moment. After downing some water, we headed to the massage tables.

I FaceTimed with some excited children of mine and their grandma. That was the highlight of the morning for me. They were so excited about my accomplishment. My son kept throwing out insane figures for the prize money he thought I had won.  (He had learned the winner of Boston received 150k so he was really grabbing at some high numbers there.) That was a fun moment. Being a winner in their eyes is what it is all about. Being able to be an example of not quitting even in the face of something really difficult was a great take away from that race.


Wearing my gold medal after the awards ceremony.

After my massage, we headed to the food tents.  They had really great looking salads and donuts (?) I never crave sweets after a marathon. Salts, yes, but after 5 Gus I don’t want sugar. No sodium in sight, unfortunately. It usually takes me a few hours before I want to eat anything so I let my husband eat “my” salad. We hung out for a bit under the tents and then they started the award ceremony where I received a gold medal for my first place finish. (I was really happy to see that they weren’t requiring us to bridge the three foot distance from the ground to the top of the stage to meet them for our medals. With sore legs, that would have been comical.  We just walked up to the front of the stage and they leaned down to us to put the medal around our necks.) I was surprised to learn that I had a five-minute lead on the 2nd place female finisher. (She wasn’t one of the girls I had been leap-frogging with in the beginning, but one of those girls placed 3rd.)

Race Results. I placed 17th overall.

Race Results. I placed 17th overall.

After the race, I still had quite a bit of race adrenalin in me and couldn’t sleep even though it had sounded nice after a long hot soak in the hotel tub.  The soreness hadn’t really set in so we decided to get an early dinner and cruise around Aspen.


Truffle fries, salted caramel donuts and ginger ice cream.

IMG_2094 After seeing as much of Aspen as we wanted that day, we returned to the hotel for a long soak in the largest hot tub I have ever seen–which felt heavenly.  We then decided to visit the hotel restaurant even though it was like 9:00pm. (When you eat an early dinner and are low on sodium and sugar, you order truffle fries and salted caramel donuts with ginger ice cream and eat them on your hotel bed.)  I slept pretty well that night.


Hiking near Maroon Bells Lake. That walking stick came in handy on the descent!!


Hiking up towards Crater Lake.

The next morning, I awoke feeling like someone had beaten my legs with a bat. Moving them around seemed to help work out some of the soreness, but I really struggled going down stairs.  It was comical.  A rainy-day Aspen kept our Sunday activities pretty mellow which worked out pretty well for my thrashed legs. When the rain finally subsided, we went up to do some hiking in the renowned Maroon Bells. That was painful at times, but definitely worth it!

IMG_2103I found a copy of the Aspen Times in our hotel lobby and it was pretty fun to see my picture and parts of my interview in there–I snagged a couple copies to take home to my kids. I don’t recall ever saying that I thought the course was flat–because it was anything but that–but whatever. (A link to the article is here.)

Over the past week, my son has been broadcasting my results to pretty much everyone he sees.  It touches my heart to see him so proud of me.

As much as I disliked this race, it taught me so much about the power that is within all of us to succeed regardless of how the outlook may look to us at the time.

I’ll learn from this one, and take what I have learned to the next one in September.

Aspen/Snowmass Favorites:

  • Snowmass: The Stonebridge Inn and The Artisan Restaurant
  • Aspen Main Street
  • The Maroon Bells
  • Restaurants: Bangkok Happy Bowl (Chicken Pad Thai), La Hosteria (Italian), New York Pizza, Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop (macaroons!!)
  • Aspen Art Museum
  • LuLuLemon Aspen
  • Hanging Lake Hike (Glenwood Canyon about 30 minutes away from Aspen/Snowmass. Get there no later than 8:30am for parking.)

Entry 10: The 2015 Boston Marathon: Race Day

Near our hotel this huge Boston Strong flag flew.

Near our hotel this huge Boston Strong flag flew.


Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 8.06.27 PMThe morning of the Boston Marathon, we awoke early, but not as early as we have had to for past marathons since the race didn’t start until 9:30.  Clint was the first one up and moving since he had to catch his bus and hour before I did–he was in corral one, wave one because he is so speedy. (I was in wave 3, corral 3. There were four waves and 8 corrals in all. Your placement in each wave/corral was based on your qualification time–fastest to slowest.)  We were lucky enough to score a mini fridge and a microwave for our room (you have to ask for them in advance) so we used the microwave to warm our oatmeal.

It looked cold and ominous outside, but it hadn’t started to rain yet, so I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would hold off. I wouldn’t have been near as nervous about the race if the predicted weather conditions had been more favorable.  They were predicting rain and a 20 mph head wind.

I continued to prepare for the race, tucking my cell phone in my pocket. (I typically don’t run with my cell phone, but decided to for this race so I could easily get to my family/hotel after or in case of an emergency.)  I found these great Lululemon Shorts that I love for running marathons because of the two deep pockets on the sides of the shorts. They can house gels, a phone, food, a mini water bottle, and they stay put.  My shorts that day had 5 gels–one for 15 minutes before and one for miles 5,10,15, and 20– my cell phone sealed in a ziplock bag, and $20 just in case I needed it.

Bus Drop off for the 2015 Boston Marathon

Bus Drop off for the 2015 Boston Marathon

We said goodbye to Clint, and then it was my turn to start getting ready. Stephen went with me to the subway and to the gear drop off and bus loading area.

Since you drop off your gear bag before you board the bus, I had on my Walmart, juvenile-section sweatshirt and pants to keep me warm until the start of the race.  I had approximately 2 hours to wait outside in the cold. I was allowed one small clear bag–that they give you–which housed my space blanket, my bagel (for two hours before the race), a Clif bar (for an hour before the race) and a bottle of water. I ate my cup of oatmeal and orange juice back at the hotel before we left.

Stephen gave me hug, took this picture and left me at the bus with my little food bag and my juvenile clothes.  I felt just like a little kid on my first day of school.  Sort of.

I boarded the bus and sat by a cool girl a little younger than me with kids the same ages as me. She was going for a 3:40. She told me she paces by monitoring her heart rate–she just tries to keep it constant the whole time. I thought this was an interesting strategy. It takes about 45 minutes (to an hour) to get to Hopkinton so use the porta potty before you board the bus.


Once we arrived at the athlete village, I wrapped my space blanket around me and headed for the porta potty lines. They had tents up and everyone was congregated under them or in the lines for the many porta potties.  They had coffee stands that some athletes were visiting and the general atmosphere was one of excitement.

Waiting at the starting line of my corral right before I started to run.

Waiting at the starting line of my corral right before I started to run.

When it was time for me to line up with my corral/wave, a guy over a loud speaker announced it.  I walked up, flashing my race bib for entrance into the corral.  Everywhere you looked there were volunteers helping out. About every 12 feet there was a volunteer holding a bag for you to deposit your clothing in before the race started. Along the course, but especially in the beginning, there were volunteers with bags.  I wonder how many items of clothing they ended up with that day for donation.

Right before we started to run, it started to rain and didn’t stop for the rest of the day.


The announcer counted down the time we had before the race start and I felt the excitement start to build inside me.  It still seemed so surreal that I was actually running the Boston Marathon.  Then, we were off!

I kept on my arm warmers, sweatshirt, and gloves and just discarded my sweatpants for the race start. I figured as I warmed up, I could shed the other layers on the course–this is allowed and many do it. Once my stuff was wet, I knew it wasn’t helping me so I discarded it.  From what we had read, the best way to run in the rain is with as little as possible on you.  You should let your body heat you.  Wearing wet clothing on top of your skin only makes you colder and weighs you down.

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My 2015 Boston Marathon Pace band from Race Smart Bands.

The first four miles were tricky because there were so many people crowded around me. It was really hard for me to stay at my pace goal for those miles and I basically was not able to.  I would try weaving in and out of people as best as I could when I would see a hole, or running on the edge of the masses, but it was really quite challenging.

I was shocked at how many Bostonians were lining the course despite the rainy conditions. They were everywhere!  And so energetic.  This was the first race that I had run with spectators that lined the entire course.  It was such a rush to hear them cheering the whole way to the finish.  They had noisemakers, signs, candy, and outstretched hands for high fives.  It was really quite an amazing thing to witness.

I had read about the “scream tunnel” at mile thirteen in Wellesley, but I was not prepared for how those screaming women from Wellesley College would affect me. My eyes started to fill with tears.  It really was an amazing thing to see/take part of. Half way there.

Considering the constant rain, it was surprising that I actually never felt cold while I was running.  The most annoying thing was that my earbuds kept falling out because of how wet I was. (Next time I need to wear a headband over them.) Around mile 16 I went to put them back in and noticed I had lost quite a bit of mobility in my fingers–it took forever to get them back in.  That was when I realized I was probably colder than I realized.

Krista Miner Sidwell at Heartbreak Hill at the 2015 Boston Marathon

Sporting my Pearl Izumi Champion Team Jersey while running up Heartbreak Hill at the 2015 Boston Marathon

Just around mile 16 you start to hit the infamous Newton hills and the notorious “Heartbreak Hill.” Because we had biked the course on Friday, I knew what to expect so I wasn’t that nervous. I started looking for my husband and my friend Natalie because they were supposed to be waiting at Heartbreak Hill. There were so many spectators there that I am not surprised that I never saw them and that they never saw me.  As I reached the summit of Heartbreak Hill, and still felt power in my legs, I knew that I wasn’t going to hit the wall today and I let out a big breath. There was much celebration at the top of Heartbreak Hill. It is almost as if you can feel a collective outake of air from all the athletes as the hardest part of the course is behind them. Some started dancing while they were running. Jumping. Smiles were everywhere. And the crowds? The crowds were amazing. 6 miles to go.


I took advantage of taking in gatorade at miles 7, 12, 17, and 23, putting a couple miles between them and when I took my GU Roctanes. I took water in at all the other aid stations. (One little annoyance was that all the mile markers were in kilometers so I had to rely on my watch for which mile I was at or do some quick math. That kind of bugged.)

I always try and space out when I take in gatorade and when I take in a gel to make sure I am not putting too much sugar in my system at once. Doing so can cause the nutrition to not be properly absorbed leading to cramping, bonking and other gastrointestinal issues on the course.  The Boston Marathon course has aid stations on both sides of the road which made it pretty easy to grab something despite the number of people surrounding you the entire race.

The last three or so miles of the race were kind of a blur. I was trying to make up time for the first four miles that I was forced to run slower.  There was also more wind in Boston so I was trying to draft and push against that as best as I could.

IMG_9929I saw the finish line, and started sprinting as fast as I could. I looked down at my watch and it showed my pace at a 6:58. I crossed the finish line with a 3:30:11, right in line with my training pace, but 12 seconds shy of my goal to finish under 3:30. However, I was NOT disappointed.  Given the weather conditions and wind, I felt really good about my performance.


2015 Boston Marathon Finish Line: Zombie Apocolypse

2015 Boston Marathon Finish Line: Zombie Apocalypse

When I crossed the finish line a wave of emotions hit me.  I scanned the crowd looking for my friends and husband and couldn’t see them anywhere. (I found out later that they didn’t realize they had missed me at Heartbreak Hill and when they did, they didn’t have time to get from there–on their bikes–and through all the security at the finish to see me.)

Immediately after I stopped running I started to feel the cold.  My limbs started to stiffen and I started shivering violently. There were so many athletes clogging the finish line area that it took quite some time to get the heat blankets.

Map of the 2015 Boston Marathon Finish Line Area

Map of the 2015 Boston Marathon Finish Line Area

If you click on the graphic below you will see the distances we had to traverse to get our finisher bags, medals, food, heat blankets, and ultimately meet up with family. I don’t think I have ever been so cold. Because of the continuing rain and my pre-hyperthermia state, the finish line really wasn’t as great as it could have been. I didn’t take any pictures, minus the one of all the athletes walking slowly together in their silver heat blankets–it really did look like a scene from the zombie apocalypse. All I could think about was getting warm.

After seeing that the gear bag reclaim area was a half mile away, I called my husband and told him I would meet him at the family meeting area under the sign for “S”. That was a really long walk, but less than trying to make it to the gear bag area with how cold I was. When I got to “S” and didn’t see him, I called him and he said he was trying to get there but would be a while–security was pretty stringent. I told him I was going to look for cover–I was just too cold.  Luckily, I found a cafe open not far from where I was and ducked inside.  A handful of other athletes had done the same. I found an empty place to sit, wrapped myself in my heat blanket and just worked on getting warm.  A stranger offered me a scone and a person next to me used my $20 to buy me some hot chocolate.  That helped sooo much.  I planted myself in that cafe and vowed I wouldn’t leave until I was found and had some warmer clothing.  I waited almost an hour in that cafe.  Good memories though.

The Boston Marathon is like a well-oiled machine after all the years they have been doing it, but they failed that day to be prepared for the thousands of freezing athletes at the race finish.  There just weren’t enough places to go and get warm.  The cafe I was in had to lock its doors when they reached capacity.  It would have been really nice if they had had an area like they did at the athlete village with tents and maybe some heat lamps.

The hardest part of the Boston Marathon experience for me was that period from crossing the finish line until I got to the cafe.

Post Boston Marathon 2015

Wearing all my husband’s extra layers of clothing after completing a rainy Boston Marathon. This picture was taken right after we got back to the hotel.

My husband did eventually find me and he gave me all the extra layers of clothing he had to help me be warm enough to walk for an Uber car that could get me to the hotel. He would take my race bib and go pick up my gear bag and meet me at the hotel later. I was so glad to have his support!

Modern Pastry Boston Creme Pies

The Modern Pastry Boston Creme Pies. Sooo delicious!

We found Clint so he and I shared the Uber car back to the hotel.  Natalie was in the room and had a surprise for us!  She had biked, in the rain, to the Modern Pastry shop to have some post-race goodies for us! Boston Creme Pies we had been admiring for a few days from behind the glass just waiting for when the race was over!

I told Clint to head for the shower first because I wanted to take a long soak in the tub to warm my frozen body and it gave me time to catch up with Natalie about the race–her perspective and mine.  I will never forget sitting on the beds chatting, the room dimly lit with a couple of hotel lamps, darkened by the rain-filled sky outside and just feeling so extraordinarily happy. Such and amazing experience. Such an amazing day.

IMG_0093The 2015 Boston Marathon Finisher's Medal

The 2015 Boston Marathon Finisher’s Medal

It is hard to explain how you feel after you run a marathon, but there really is nothing quite like it. The body feels spent but in the best possible way. The spirit feels filled to overflowing. Anything seems possible. Everything seems clear, sharp and in focus and it lasts pretty much the whole day.

Finishing the Boston Marathon was even more sweet because of the effort it had taken to get there and because of the history surrounding such a legendary race.

Heading for dinner after the 2015  Boston Marathon

Heading for dinner after the 2015 Boston Marathon. Dark hotel corridor, but you can kind of see me. I didn’t choose to wear my finisher medal to dinner but have since learned that athletes are encouraged to wear them post race Monday–that afternoon and evening–and that you if you do you may even earn some “free” stuff while you are out and about. Just don’t wear them Tuesday. I guess that isn’t “proper finisher medal etiquette.”

After Clint exited the bathroom I finally got the long, hot soak I had been dreaming about at the end of the race.  Since Clint and Natalie were ready to go before us, they headed for dinner. After Stephen and I got cleaned up, we joined them to start putting back into our bodies all the calories we had taken out. A member of the Pearl Izumi team had told us that if we really hit the carbs high that night, it would really speed recovery.

Quattro was our dinner of choice for that night and didn’t disappoint.

By that time, we were ready to go put our feet up in the hotel and watch a show. I had a couple of tests that I had to submit online for a Medical Terminology class I was taking that were due that night so, we hit Mike’s Pastry for some treats, headed back to the hotel, and I took my tests while we relaxed with Interstellar.

Cozy, warm, well-fed and content.  We all slept well that night.

Whether or not you ever run the Boston Marathon, I definitely encourage you to at least go watch it; go be in Boston on the day of the marathon.  There is such an amazing, tangible, positive energy that permeates the air. All the Bostonians are on holiday, athletes abound, people from all over the world are seasoning the city with life. The energy in the air seems to connect everyone that it touches and for one brief day you feel like you have stumbled upon a utopia of sorts and have found yourself in a city of friends.

Entry 9: The 2015 Boston Marathon: The Days Before

First Some History

My confirmation of acceptance into the 2015 Boston Marathon.

My confirmation of acceptance into the 2015 Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon. The oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world.  One of the six World Marathon Majors, it is the holy grail of races in the running world.

The course runs through 26 miles of winding roads passing through eight Massachusetts cities: Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and into the center of Boston, where the official finish line is located at Copley Square. 

The Boston Marathon is considered to be one of the more difficult marathon courses because of the Newton hills, the famed Heartbreak hill, and the unpredictable weather conditions. Runners 18 or older from any nation, are permitted to run the Boston Marathon, but unlike most marathons they first have to complete a certified marathon course and meet the qualifying standards approximately 18 months prior to the race day they want to participate in.  Even if you meet the qualifying standards, depending on the field size of the race that year and the number of applicants, you aren’t guaranteed a spot.  In 2015, you had to be a minute and half under your qualifying standard to run the race.

The average number of participants is around 30,000.  500,000 spectators arrive to watch the event.

My Experience at Boston

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I was pretty psyched to receive my Runner Passport. I had been waiting for that Golden Ticket for a year!

This event will forever be one of my favorites on the timeline of my life. I started the Hanson Method, 18 weeks out, to prepare for a 3:30 finish time on the course. Because the race is in April, and I live in Colorado, much of my training had to be done indoors on a treadmill. As the weeks and days grew closer to Boston so did my excitement.

Wednesday, April 15 (5 days before the Boston Marathon)

My younger sister flew in from Utah to help watch my kids. This day was a big preparation day.  My suitcase, a whopping 49 pounds, was filled with food to help me carb load the four days before the race and included my breakfast essentials for the morning of the race.

Thursday, April 16 (4 days before the Boston Marathon)

Welcome to the Boston Marathon from the Boston Marathon Phone App

Welcome to the Boston Marathon from the Boston Marathon Phone App

My husband and I awoke at 4 am to make a 7 am flight out of Denver for Boston. This was also my official first day for carb loading for the marathon. My carry on had so much food in it, but I was prepared! We touched down in Boston and I got a message from my Boston Marathon app welcoming me to the Boston Marathon.  We grabbed a taxi and arrived at the Boston Intercontinental Hotel about 15 minutes later–the Boston Logan Airport is so close. After check in, I did a quick 5 mile recovery run and then we hit Little Italy for dinner at Al Dente and dessert at Mike’s Pastry–the infamous Florentine cannoli. Yum! Shortly after, we met up with Natalie and Clint Brown, who had come in on a later flight and joined them for dinner at Quattro–seriously delicious food. After another stop at Mike’s Pastry for some more cannoli’s, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

The Boston Intercontinental is a very comfortable, very quiet hotel in a great location. I slept so well every night we were there which is very atypical for me at most hotels. It is close to Boston’s charming Little Italy, but also right across the street from the Quincy Market and Faneuil Marketplace–tons of restaurants and shops there. It is also very close to the subway system. (We will stay there again in 2016!)

Friday, April 17 (3 days before the Boston Marathon)

Biking Boston before the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Biking 25 miles of Boston before the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Before arriving in town, we had reserved bikes to tour the city on Friday morning. We awoke to rain and wished we could have cancelled our reservation with Urban AdvenTours–3/4 of a mile from the hotel, but in the end the rain didn’t really affect us that much.  We rode almost 26 miles that day stopping at the Converse headquarters, touring Harvard, Harvard Square, the Harvard Bookstore, eating at Bartley’s (delicious burgers) in Cambridge for lunch, and ultimately biking to the Newton hills–our main purpose for renting the bikes.  We wanted to check out what we were in for on the course. It was a really good thing we did this.  It really helped us to know what to expect. (And it showed me that I really need to work on my cross training–my quads were burning biking up those four hills.)  After the Utah Valley Marathon, I really wasn’t intimidated by the Newton hills. It was reassuring to see that they weren’t very long. (The Utah Valley Marathon has one mile and 2 mile hills.  . . .) We left the Newton hills and biked the rest of the course all the way to the finish line area.  It was fun to see all the preparations for the upcoming race. Boston was transformed from my visit a year earlier.

Biking the finish line at the Boston Marathon the Friday before the event.

Biking the finish line at the Boston Marathon the Friday before the event.

After seriously tiring out my legs biking the city, I worried a little that I may have burned more glycogen than I should have considering I was preparing for a marathon. I silently committed to trying to not exert myself as much the rest of the trip.  No need to run this day–we did all our work on the bikes!

Fenway Park Red Sox game the Friday before the Boston Marathon.

Fenway Park Red Sox game the Friday before the Boston Marathon.

After biking the city we got cleaned up and tried our first experience with an Uber Car–I’ll never go in a Taxi again.  We went to Scoozi for dinner (pizza) and then headed over to Fenway Park to catch a Red Sox vs. Orioles game.  I was so excited for this experience, but the crowd we were sitting by (the drunk girls that spilled beer all over me) and the distance we were from the game just really ruined it for me. We arrived home after the game and I was out the minute my head hit the pillow.

Saturday, April 18, (2 days before the Boston Marathon)

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At the 2015 Boston Marathon Expo with my ‘team.’ (Natalie and Clint Brown, Stephen Sidwell, and myself.

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Getting my race bib. That was pretty exciting.

After a lazy morning, we tried out the subway system to hit the marathon expo and get our bibs, race bags, and other race souvenirs. I knew there would be masses of people, but wow. The expo was exciting and fun, but definitely not something you need to spend too much time at.

2015 Boston Marathon Race Bag Swag

2015 Boston Marathon Race Bag Swag

(Get there earlier on though; they were selling out of the complimentary posters that have all the athletes’ names on them for that year and other stuff.)

After our time at the race expo, we took our rental car up the coast to Salem, and Rockport. Salem wasn’t all that impressive. Rockport didn’t disappoint, although our Roy Moore’s Fish Shack Lobster rolls and clam chowder did. We don’t plan on renting a car when we return in 2016. We are going to spend more time just checking out Boston, but we did enjoy our little jaunt to the coast.

Before we returned to the city, we took advantage of hitting a local Walmart to find some disposable clothes for race day that we could abandon on the course or shortly before. All the clothes in the women’s department were more than I wanted to spend to just throw them away, so we hit the juvenile clearance racks and I scored a sweatshirt and sweatpants for $3 each.  Perfect.

Upon returning from our coastal journey we decided to hit Little Italy again for dinner and man did we score this night!  We stopped at a bread shop called Bricco Pannetteria and had some of the best bread of my life.  It was steaming and warm which was perfect since it was cold and we were starving! We shared a homemade baguette filled with small pieces of melted cheese and prosciutto. Heaven. Then we went for our dinner reservation (I made Open Table reservations before we arrived in Boston) at Nico–my favorite meal of the trip. Stephen and I shared an artichoke and sausage rigatoni and Natalie and Clint had some of the best spaghetti with meatballs I have ever tasted!  Yum. Authentic Italian just can’t be beat. They seated us in a cozy basement which was also very fun. I had no idea the restaurant even had a basement and then presto, there we were.

After dinner, we went back to Mike’s Pastry for more Florentines.  The athletes had descended on the city now and you saw purple marathon jackets everywhere.  The line for Mike’s before dinner stretched out the door and down the street. After dinner, it wasn’t so bad so we went back for more Florentine cannolis. So delicious.

Sunday, April 19, (One day before the Boston Marathon)

The 294 Steps up to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

The 294 Steps up to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

We awoke early, had breakfast (I was really counting my carbs this day) and headed to church. We still had the car so we were able to just drive there.  After church, we were so close to Bunker Hill that we went and checked out the monument and foolishly paid the ticket to climb the 294 steps to the top.  After that, I vowed that for the rest of the day I would get off my feet! And I did.  We went back to the hotel and chilled for the rest of the afternoon until it was time to go to the Pre-Race Dinner that we had tickets to.  While we were relaxing at the hotel, one of the things we did that was seriously a good idea was watching an online video of the Boston Marathon course that had commentary on what to look for and strategy tips.  I am so glad I watched that the night before I raced because we weren’t able to bike the entire course and that helped me visualize it and mentally prepare.

So, attending the Pre-Race Dinner….yeah, that was a seriously BAD idea.  First, it was freezing, and secondly, the line stretched FOREVER to get your food from the assembly line. Seriously, I think we were in line at least 35 minutes and then we had to eat OUTSIDE. In the freezing cold.  And the food was just so so.  I will not ever do that again. Total waste of calories and time. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for an early turn in. Boston Marathon eve had arrived!!

Laying out my clothes the night before the Boston Marathon.

Laying out my clothes the night before the Boston Marathon.

I laid out my clothes and tried to calm my nerves before one of the most anticipated days of my life!

I climbed into bed, and slept fairly well–not as well as the other nights, but I didn’t really expect too. Too much excitement for the next day starting to pulse through my system.

My story continues with my next entry: The 2015 Boston Marathon: Race Day

Entry 8: The Canyon City Marathon

Canyon City Marathon, Azusa, California

Canyon City Marathon, Azusa, California (Photo courtesy of RunRevel.com)

After returning home from the Big Cottonwood Marathon,I visited one of my favorite Marathon race sites, Running in the USA, to look for a good BQ marathon.  Natalie and I are an incredible team and our unlucky pacing choices on the Big Cottonwood Marathon needed to be redeemed. I wanted Natalie to know that she could BQ. I wanted her to get it. I knew she could. Like I said, she is one of the strongest women I have ever met.

Elevation graphic for Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, California

Elevation graphic for Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, California (Courtesy of RunRevel.com)

I happened upon the Canyon City Marathon from this site and everything I read convinced me this was our race. The Canyon City Marathon in 2014 was in its inaugural year. It was a Revel race which made it even more attractive to me. And check out all that downhill. Sea-level downhill.

I talked with Natalie and we decided we were in. Her husband, Clint, also decided to run it. We organized a team with one other member called Team Pizza Chips and Salsa, and committed to training for the next 8 weeks.

I have family that lives near Azusa and they said that we could stay with them.   My cousin was actually planning on running the half marathon so it worked out perfectly.

Natalie Brown and Krista Sidwell at the 2014 Canyon City Marathon Expo.

Natalie Brown and Krista Sidwell at the 2014 Canyon City Marathon Expo.

We flew into LA and after a lot of time spent in traffic we arrived at the small race expo, grabbed our race materials and drove to my cousin’s home in Chino Hills.  She had prepared a delicious carb-heavy dinner and we dined and chatted and then prepared for sleep.

My Feed Your Crazy temporary tattoo race morning.

My Feed Your Crazy temporary tattoo race morning.

We awoke early (3:30 am) and put on our Feed Our Crazy tattoos to show support for our friends’ business and to inspire us as much as their mission inspires us. We downed our pre-race oatmeal and jumped in a car that took us to the buses that were driving athletes up the canyon to the race start.

The drive up to the race start was scenic and beautiful with soft, low-laying clouds. We were ready and at this altitude, also very encouraged by the extra red blood cells that we would have working for us from training at a higher elevation than our LA-based race. We had our pace bands, we had our pace watches and we were rock solid in our strategy for this race.

We were a team to be reckoned with, Natalie and I. We didn’t panic on the hills, we didn’t go too fast on the downhill, we kept our splits and stayed focused.  We even picked up another racer who wanted to pace with us.

The course is so beautiful and our lungs and bodies felt great.

Krista Miner Sidwell and Natalie Brown in the last half mile of the 2014 Canyon City Marathon sprinting for the finish.

Krista Miner Sidwell and Natalie Brown in the last half mile of the 2014 Canyon City Marathon on Palm Dr. headed for the finish.

As we approached the finish line, and I allowed myself to accept that we were going to pull this off, I started to feel an excitement build in me that is hard to describe.  We sprinted across the finish line with a 03:37:27 BQ (8:18 pace).

Natalie Brown crossing the finish line at the Canyon City Marathon in 2014 with her first BQ.

Natalie Brown crossing the finish line at the Canyon City Marathon in 2014 with her first BQ. (I have this picture framed on my desk. It reminds me of what life is all about. Her husband, Clint, is in the foreground of the picture looking on. I’m off to the left, behind her.)

It is hard to put into words the emotions that I felt watching my dear friend achieve her goal. Qualifying for Boston at the Utah Valley Marathon in June earlier that year felt awesome, but this was beyond that.  She was crying in her husband’s arms, who was also crying and I looked on with tears flooding my eyes. Then I got my hug! We did it!

Kool 'n Fit Sport Spray for tired/worked over muscles.

Kool ‘n Fit Sport Spray for tired/worked over muscles.

The post-race facilities at this race were great.  I learned about this great product: Kool ‘N Fit Sport. This stuff really helped our stiffening muscles after all that downhill that our bodies traversed. It is a must-have in my suitcase for post-race recovery now.  But even with the aches and pains, there was nothing bringing us down after our amazing race.

Natalie Brown sporting her BQ shirt after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon, in Azusa, CA.

Natalie Brown sporting her BQ shirt after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon, in Azusa, CA.

So, before the Big Cottonwood Marathon (BCM), I had a shirt made for Natalie that said “Boston Qualifier” on it. I loved the one that I received at the Utah Valley Marathon and knew that they didn’t have that perk at the BCM. I was that confident in her that we were going to make her BQ happen at the BCM. I held onto the shirt, certain that I would need it in the future for her. So, I brought the shirt with me to Canyon City and gave it to her there.  Her reaction to that was great. I love this pic.

Team Pizza Chips and Salsa after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, CA.

Team Pizza Chips and Salsa after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, CA. (From left to right: Frank Ostojic, Clint Brown, Natalie Brown, and Krista Miner Sidwell.)

Natalie’s husband, Clint, also pulled off an impressive 3:03 at the Canyon City Marathon re-qualifying for Boston in 2016. We all qualified and we will all be running it together in 2016.

Recovery meal at Inn and Out in Azusa, CA, after our Canyon City Marathon race.

Recovery meal at In-n-Out in Azusa, CA, after our Canyon City Marathon race.

After getting our fill of the race finisher’s area, we headed back to my cousin’s house to clean up and then went for In-N-Out–one of the funniest meals I have ever witnessed thanks to our two male comedians.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell in Inn and Out heaven after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell in In-N-Out heaven after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

Diddy Riese stop for some well-earned cookies in LA.

Diddy Riese stop for some well-earned cookies in LA.

Some friends told us about a cookie place that we had to visit in LA before we caught our flight home so we braved the traffic mess and made it to Diddy Riese.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

There are so many lessons to be learned from running a race; from running a marathon. There are so many parallels to life. Life tries you.  It reveals you. It humbles you and at times it tears you apart.  Sometimes all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and will yourself not to fall. Not to stop. To just keep going. But every time you rise, every time you place one foot in front of the other, every time you choose to persevere in the face of the unfaceable, you become more. You feel more. And slowly you are able to see how much more you can do and be. You begin to see yourself and all your limitless potential and you begin to see that helping others see themselves too is better than anything else.

Entry 7: Big Cottonwood Marathon

Big Cottonwood Marathon S Curve

Big Cottonwood Marathon S Curve (Photo Courtesy of RunRevel.com)

About three months after the Utah Valley Marathon, I ran the Big Cottonwood Marathon with a dear friend of mine, Natalie Brown, aka rockstar.  Natalie and I started training together that summer and I was so impressed with her strength and drive. Seriously, this woman is amazing.

The Hanson Marathon Method Book

The Hanson Marathon Method Book

We trained using the Hansons Method. This was a new method for me but one that Natalie’s husband, Clint, had had success with. (Another post will be dedicated to talking more about this method, but I am a fan of it.) Training with someone was so much more enjoyable, and since the marathon was in September, this also meant we could do the majority of our training outside–so much more fun than running on the treadmill. Our goal time for this marathon was a 3:40 so Natalie could BQ.

Doubletree Hotel Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Swag

Doubletree Hotel Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Swag

For this race, I flew in from Denver and my husband stayed back with the kids. (Thanks, Stephen!) I stayed one night, (Friday) and then came back on Saturday after the race was over.  I arrived into the SLC airport and was picked up by my hotel’s shuttle–we stayed at the Doubletree Suites in Salt Lake–one of the recommended hotels for this race. (This hotel was great for the race, except it was too far from the finish line. That is the only reason we won’t be staying there for the race this year. ) Upon check in, they gave me a complimentary bag they had put together for marathoners that included race day information and food–see pic.

After getting settled into the hotel, I walked a block to get on the FrontRunner train which took me straight to the expo–it was really slick.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell at the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell at the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The expo was really well-organized.  I hung out there for a couple hours while I waited for Natalie and Clint to drive in from Colorado and then we got our race bags and bibs and headed to the hotel.

2014 Big Cottonwood Race Bag Contents

2014 Big Cottonwood Race Bag Contents

Our race bags for this race were great.  (Revel, in general, puts on really great races. Great expos and race bags, free photos, refundable entries if you need to cancel, organized courses, expansive finisher’s areas with free massages, nice-quality medals and shirts etc.) The mylar blanket, gloves, bracelet, and kodiak oatmeal set this race bag high above your average bag.

After the expo, we grabbed some food at Noodles and Company (Penne Rosa–mild and some flatbread) and then took some time to drive part of the course.  We mainly wanted to study the out-and-back section and from there to the finish line.  The out-and-back looked a little hilly but we were still feeling confident in our preparation for the course.

2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon Kit

2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon Kit

We prepared for bed, laying out all of our items and getting our food ready for our early wake-up call and then hit the pillows.  It is sooo much more fun to be running a race with a friend. We had trained together and had the same goals. We had the same hopes and the same fears. We were in this together.

Unlike the Zermatt hotel, for the Utah Valley Marathon the June prior, this hotel was extremely quiet, and had a microwave. I slept very soundly.

We woke up, prepared, ate our oatmeal and juice, grabbed our bagels and were ready to go downstairs and catch the shuttle.  Race mornings are such a mixture of nerves, excitement, fear and adrenalin.  You always wonder what this race will be like.  Will all the training pay off? Will the weather cooperate? Will it be windy? Will you have to use the bathroom? Will your body perform? Will you pace it correctly? Will you hit the wall? Will you make your goal? Did you carb load enough? Did you get enough water? Will you get sick? Did you eat well the night before? Did your food digest well?  All these questions run through your head. Every marathon is different and this was a completely new course for both of us.

That morning, there was a line of athletes in the hotel lobby all waiting to get on the shuttle. People had come from all over the United States to run.  (One of my favorite parts of racing is meeting and talking to the other participants before and after the race. Everyone has such a different story and history with their running.  Race morning everyone is talkative and friendly.  Everyone is keyed up and excited for what they are about to do.  You don’t know these people, but you know you share a passion for running and a respect for the race. You are all collectively feeling similar emotions and somehow instantly friends.)

After the 30-mile ride from the hotel to the race start we began the routine of cycling through the porta potty line and trying to stay warm. The space blanket helped a ton. You get to a point in all the waiting that all you want to do is start running.  We talked to the different pacers and tried to decide if we wanted to stick with the 3:40 group, or pace a 3:38 ourselves–to give us some cushion.  In the end, we decided to start off with the 3:40 group, but look at our pace bands/watches and decide if we needed to break off from them or not.

So, we started the first of 16 downhill miles through the canyon.  It was beautiful. We had perfect racing conditions. The pacers were going faster than our pace bands recommended and we were a little concerned by this but we were feeling really good so we didn’t worry about it (rookie mistake). A couple miles in we started to worry because they were still going faster than we thought we should be going so we decided to break into our own pace. This is where we–unintentionally–lost our ultimate goal. These few miles at the very beginning that felt so easy, but that would, in the end, mean that we had spent too much too early.  We finished the first half of the marathon at 1:42 (a 7:50 minute-per-mile average).  That should have clued us that we were running too fast, but we felt so good and the course was distractingly beautiful so we weren’t really worried. (Revel also puts signs up all along the course with motivational statements and funny comments.  They are fun to see and look for. This course has no crowd support until about mile 23, but the canyon is breathtaking.)

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell at the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon, Salt Lake City, Utah

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell at the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon, Salt Lake City, Utah

Even at mile 16 we still felt great. It was after mile 16 that we started the out-and-back portion of the race and then things weren’t so great.  The grade on the hills felt much steeper than when we had driven this portion of the race. We started to slow down, but because of all our negative splits in the first 16 miles, we were still okay even easing up on our pace.

What I didn’t know then was that my running partner had hit the wall.  She is so strong, and so tough that I didn’t know that she was hurting.  We had never hit the wall during training practice so I didn’t know that her silence meant she was hurting. I continued to push her and her limits and she was in agony. I felt so badly about that later when she told me where she had been those miles.  I know what the wall feels like and I am still in awe of what she did for 10 miles in the face of it.  (When your glycogen stores are used up, your legs are just done.  You can try and make them work, but the muscles stiffen and they don’t respond like they should. They are dead weight on your body.)

From mile 22 to 26 you have a slight downhill grade.  It was quite a relief to hit it after the long 6-mile out-and back, but even with that we weren’t able to make up the time we had lost.  We saw the pacer go by us with his 3:40 sign and we kept trying to catch him, but just couldn’t make it happen.  However, he was still in sight and I knew that we had started after him.  Our chip time, and my pace watch told me we were still under 3:40. That is when I started to get loud.  Really loud. (Probably really annoying.) I did not want Natalie to give up. We were so close, I knew if we pushed just a little harder she could do it.  Natalie was amazing.  I have never seen such determination.  She was hurting, but she was pushing herself so hard. We crossed the line 40 seconds shy of our goal and finished with a 3:40:40.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell at the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon finish line.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell at the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon finish line.

That was an emotional ending. She deserved to BQ. She definitely had earned it. She had been so close. I was sad for her that she hadn’t gotten her BQ, but at the same time, I was so incredibly happy for what she had just done! What she had accomplished.  In just 18 weeks of training, she had taken more than an hour off her time. She had gone from a 10:28 pace at the Salt Lake Marathon to an 8:25 five months later! Like I said, this lady is a rockstar.

We hit the massage tables, then headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and grab some Inn and Out Burgers and fries.  (It takes me a few hours before I want to eat anything after a race. Water is always great, and I try to at least take in the chocolate milk they offer at the finish line for muscle recovery, but I usually just don’t have an appetite.  Then even when my appetite returns,  the last thing I want is anything sweet for several hours–probably due to all the simple sugars from the gels that I take during the race.  Salty foods are definitely desirable.  I assume that has to do with sodium depletion from sweating.)  A juicy burger and salty fries a few hours after a marathon taste so good.

Natalie and Clint drove me to the airport and I was on my way back home.  It was fun to see so many other marathoners at the airport sporting their racing jerseys.  Like me, they had only flown in for the race and then were headed back to their homes.

All I could think about on the way home was conquering that course in 2015 and what race Natalie and I could do together immediately to leverage all her training and to get her the BQ she earned!

That story continues with the Canyon City Marathon.

Tips/Lessoned Learned

  1. Stay at a race-affiliated hotel close to the finish line. Check the marathon website for hotels they recommend.  Not only will this get you a discount, but they usually also provide you with a shuttle to the race start and a bagged breakfast.  Book early, because they fill up fast! Even if you have family in town you can stay with, if you are traveling with your kids, it is helpful to get a hotel room for the night before the race just for you, you and your spouse/friend/fellow racer. You need a good night’s sleep with no distractions.
  2. Don’t rely on a pacer if you have an aggressive goal. Get a pace band and a reliable pace watch and pace yourself.  Sometimes you get a good pacer and sometimes you don’t.  Talk to the pacers before and ask what their race strategy/splits are.  If they are in line with yours start with them, but if they aren’t staying with the goals you have or with your pace band splits cut them loose.
  3. Don’t bank time.  This is NOT a race you want to bank time on.  They changed the course for 2015, so there is now 18 miles of downhill as opposed to 16. This should help the overall experience because now the out-and-back section will be shorter, BUT you have to be careful not to go too fast on those fast, downhill miles.  It will feel easy at first, but you will pay for it later.  Instead, try and stay at an even pace. Keep your splits even. Conserve in the beginning and if you have more juice after mile 23, then you can pick it up.
  4. Train for downhill. For the first 16 miles of this course you are descending at a 5 percent grade.  If you haven’t trained for that, you are going to feel that during the last 10 miles of the race. You lose about 2800 feet through the course of this marathon. Train for it!
  5. Mentally Prepare for the Out-and-Back. Once you exit the canyon–at about mile 18.25, you will begin a 4.25 mile out-and-back on Wasatch Boulevard to the edge of the Old Mill Golf Course.  They shortened this section of the race this year (starting you higher above Guardsman Pass) but you still have 4.25 miles that you have to run on this hilly, mundane part of the course.  Prepare for this in your training–both physically and mentally with visualization techniques.  Prepare for this when you are running the 18 miles before this section–conserve. Be strategic. This is the hardest part of the course, but definitely conquerable.
  6. Pack your Space Blankets. You wouldn’t think you would need them in September, but up in the canyon at 5:00 am it is cold.
  7. Have Fun!!


  • Shoes: Pearl Izumi H3s (I chose the H3s for this race because of the added heel support since I was going to be running so much downhill terrain.)
  • Clothes: Pearl Izumi singlet, shorts, compression calf sleeves, toe socks–to help prevent blisters.
  • Flip Belt
  • Earbuds and iPod shuffle
  • Garmin Forerunner Pace Watch

Entry 6: The Utah Valley Marathon

Utah Valley Marathon (Photo Courtesy of the Utah Valley Marathon)

Utah Valley Marathon course shot. (Photo Courtesy of the Utah Valley Marathon)

The Utah Valley Marathon is a tremendous course, and a great one for qualifying for Boston. My backstory leading up to this race is speckled with friends and family that supported and inspired me, hours of hard work on the treadmill and in the canyon, issues with peroneal tendonitis and shin splints that sidelined me for a time, and many small victories that kept me moving toward my goal. But first, the people. The people I have in my corner are THE best.

The People

Facebook post after my 20-mile run on the Utah Valley Marathon course.

Facebook post after my 20-mile run on the Utah Valley Marathon course.

A month or so before the race, I had the opportunity to run 20 miles of the course while visiting my family that live nearby.  My brother-in-law, Jarom, and my husband, Stephen, ran a good part of it with me and drove a support vehicle for me for the first half, while my sister-in-law, Michelle, with my kids (she was watching) made a huge banner for us to drive through when we returned congratulating me on finishing 20 miles. Their support meant so much to me. Having the opportunity to run the course before race day helped me visualize what I needed to do and calmed my nerves.

Clint Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell after completing the Utah Valley Marathon and Qualifying for Boston

My good friend’s husband, Clint Brown, and I after running the Utah Valley Marathon and qualifying for Boston.

It was also great that my friend’s husband was also trying to qualify for Boston at this race so we were able to ride up on the bus together, hang out before the race started, talk strategy, and encourage each other. He had completed two marathons not long before Utah Valley and had a wealth of information to share while I was training and leading up to the race. (He and his amazing wife–who you will learn more about in my next post–have been a part of all four of the marathons I have raced. They are pure gold.)

Family finding me out on the trail during a long run.

Family finding me out on the trail during a long run.

I tried to do most of my long runs when the kids were in school, but when this was not an option, my husband, or the gym child care personnel really helped me out. On a few occasions my husband and family came and tracked me down on their bicycles/in the car when I was doing a long run.  Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their encouraging words as I ran made what I was doing that much more enjoyable. My kids were my best cheerleaders!

Krista Miner Sidwell's car decorated by friend when she was attempting to BQ.

My good friend, and fellow Team Pearl Izumi member, decorated my car before my family and I headed out for the Utah Valley Marathon.

I also had great friends who were encouraging me and supporting me throughout my training. Natalie Brown, the superstar that you will learn about in my next post, and wife of the aforementioned Clint above, surprised me the morning we were set off to drive to Utah for the race with a card, 26.2 sticker, and an impressive car deco job. (See image to the left.)

People make all the difference in the world.

Why the Utah Valley Marathon?

Utah Valley Marathon Graphic (Photo courtesy of  http://orangetrailmonkeys.blogspot.com)

Utah Valley Marathon Graphic (Photo courtesy of http://orangetrailmonkeys.blogspot.com)

I picked this marathon for my Boston Qualify (BQ) attempt because the majority of the race is downhill (you drop about 2900 feet over the 26.2 miles) and it had a reputation for being fast. The course runs down a beautiful canyon I visited frequently when I was a student at BYU.

Race Recap

The night before the race, my husband and I stayed at the beautiful Zermatt Resort in Midway, Utah, so that I would have a shorter shuttle ride to the race start. This was a great idea, but had disastrous results.  The hotel was extremely noisy. There were kids running up and down the hallways by where I was trying to sleep.  It was horrible. Stephen tried to (kindly) quiet them twice, but to no real avail. They would retreat into their rooms but the walls were paper thin. They also didn’t have a microwave so warming up my oatmeal for breakfast wasn’t going to happen. (I used the coffee maker to heat it….) The cell phone reception was spotty and overall, it was exactly the opposite of what I was looking for the night before my first marathon. I maybe, maybe got three hours of sleep since I had to be up at around 3:30 am to eat, prepare, and meet the shuttle for the 6:00 am race start time. (I have been told the best place to stay is at the Provo Marriott Hotel near the finish line in Provo.  Soooo wish I had stayed there instead. This hotel is right by the race expo too.  They fill up fast, so book early.)

The morning of the race, the bus drops you off in a corral up in some beautiful farm country right by the race start in Wallsburg. I had to laugh when I saw that they were, quite literally, rounding up all the athletes and putting them in a corral.

I won’t soon forget that dark, cold, June morning.  The moon was out and illuminating the sky with an inspiring brilliance. Everyone who wasn’t in line for a porta potty was staying off of their legs–conserving all energy–chatting quietly together in small groups or listening to music on their shuffles. My friend’s husband was also running the course, but we got separated from each other after the first porta potty stop so I was by myself taking in the scenery and going over my race strategy in my mind; running the course in my mind.


You can follow the marathon training book to the letter and be physically ready to race one, but whether you succeed or fall short of your goal hinges on how much you mentally prepared for your race. I could write a whole blog entry about this–and maybe I will–but don’t neglect this part of your training. I incorporate visualization techniques in my training to prepare for my race and to improve my training sessions. You have to create a mental image of what you want to see happen before you do it, and not just once, but many, many times.  It is also important to know beforehand what you will do if you are faced with different scenarios. It is important to have practiced mental skills in training that help you combat fatigue, anxiousness, sickness, or anything else that may hit you. Beyond, visualization, don’t forget to pack some tools that help distract you when you need to be distracted. Music is a huge tool for me. I handpick songs that move me. The best ones not only move me, but really take me somewhere else entirely. (A suggested tunes section will be forthcoming on this blog).

Okay, back to the race recap….

Heading for the Starting Line

Turning in the gear bag before the race starts is always a dreaded chore for me.  All those articles of clothing keeping me warm are removed and placed in the bag for pick up after the race. Immediately after all my layers were off, the shivering began, but luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long before it was time to run.  (Once I’m running I am oblivious to the cold.) I have since learned that you really should bring a couple of space blankets that you can toss to the side when you start running, but that can keep you warm between the time of turning in the gear bag and starting to run.

When it was about time to start the race, I found the 3:35 pace group, prepared my pace watch and turned on my music.  There is no gun for the start, just more of a “ready, set, go” from a guy and a megaphone. The race conditions were perfect. I settled in with the 3:35 pace group and just committed to staying on their heels through the course.

You hit your first hill–one mile in length–just as you join with the highway around mile 7. I was really glad to have the pacers to get me up that hill.  I would have held back more than they did and in the end I was glad that I went with their strategy and ran it a little faster.

Our group of about 20 was down to just me and one other at mile 18. We hit some wind coming down the canyon and one of the two pacers told me to get behind him so he could block it and I could draft. Like I said, he was awesome. He even offered me swedish fish to suck on at mile 22, but I wasn’t about to incorporate anything–even a swedish fish–that I hadn’t used in training.  You have to be really careful with the GI tract in marathons. I didn’t need to visit a bathroom and lose precious time.

As we passed mile 20, I began to get nervous. I had yet to pass 21 miles without hitting the wall and I knew there was another hill coming, but I pushed out those thoughts and concentrated on picturing myself running across the finish line and meeting me goal. I concentrated on how that would feel.  These mental strategies, coupled with all the carb loading I had done the four days prior to the race, and my Gu Roctanes, seemed to do the trick because I passed mile 22 and didn’t have any race fatigue, cramps, or pains–I felt great.

I stayed completely focused on my pacer’s feet all the way to mile 25. I was so worried that I was going to still, somehow, not be able to complete the race. I had never ran this far in my life. What was my body going to do? But, I continued to feel the same.

Krista Miner Sidwell Utah Valley Marathon run for the finish.

Utah Valley Marathon run for the finish.

Around mile 25, my pacer prodded me to put it all out there and let go.  He had to continue at the 3:35 pace (8:12 per mile), but I didn’t have to.  I could see the finish line at the end of the street. The crowds were finally beginning to appear–no real crowd support before mile 25. I started to feel their energy and I also began to feel the reality of where I was. I was going to pull this off. I started to run as fast I could to the finish. My kids saw me and started to bolt out to me–luckily their uncle stopped that near catastrophe. I ran as fast as I could and over the finish line to a 3:34:08. For my age group I needed a 3:40 to BQ, but I wanted to run Boston in 2015 so I planned for some wiggle room.

Utah Valley Marathon Finish Picture with my kids.

Utah Valley Marathon Finish Line Picture with my kids.

I don’t remember much after crossing the finish line, other than I rang the PR bell, I walked over to what I thought was the water table and was surprised when I tasted chocolate milk in my mouth–not exactly what I was going for right then, but a good recovery drink for my depleted muscles. I remember finding my husband and his big hug and telling me “You did it!” I remember Natalie, giving me a huge hug with tears in her eyes–she had been crying for her husband’s victory but still saved some for me. I remember the cheers from my children and their limbs all wrapped around me–I was like a celebrity to them. It felt great.

June 14, 2014 Facebook Post by Husband Right After I Qualified for Boston

June 14, 2014, Facebook post by husband right after I qualified for Boston. I was so touched when I saw he had posted this and when I read everyone’s responses.

I was still shocked that my legs felt great. I had thought I would feel like death at the end of the race and was enjoying this new territory in my running history. Adrenalin is a powerful thing.

And I was just so relieved/joyous to have met my goal. All that training, planning, preparing, fearing, hoping–I had done it! I had just qualified for the Boston Marathon. I had just ran farther than I ever had in my life. I just ran a marathon!  That was a moment I won’t soon forget.

I took some pics with my friends, my children, and my father and went to find my 10321210_10152195103692887_3818340760119023686_o“Boston Qualifier” t-shirt. Man, did I want to put that on!! (This is the only race that I know of that has a specific finishers shirt for those that BQ that is included in the price of the race.)

It was fun wearing it because I had so many coming up and congratulating me and talking to me about the race.  I was also surprised to have a couple come up to me and thank me for helping them! Unknowingly, they were pacing off me from behind. “I kept my eye on your red hair and cap.”  There is such a strong lesson in that.  You never know who you might be influencing–for good or for bad–with your actions. I hope my ‘running story’ helps my kids see/learn that you can set big goals, give them all you have, and succeed. Failure is only failure if you stop trying.  Failure is part of success.

Course/Race Tips:

  1. Be mindful of the hills.  The course has 3 significant hills to be mindful of. The first one is right after you hit the highway around mile seven.  This hill is about a mile long so you want to pace yourself well.  You don’t want to go too fast and burn through too much of your energy stores, but you don’t want to let yourself lose too much speed either. Try to keep up a consistent effort.  If you are racing for a specific time goal, I would suggest staying with your pace group at least through this hill, and then if you want to break off after that, go for it.  The second hill is around Vivian Park. I want to say this is mile 16. This hill is about 2 miles long.  It isn’t a really steep hill, but it is a consistent climb and you will feel it. The third hill is short, but it comes at a dreaded point in the race for many–mile 20. Once you have cleared this hill, it is a straight shot all the way into Provo. The last six miles have a slight downhill grade to them–just enough to give you the reprieve you will be looking for after the canyon.
  2. Don’t take your GUs on an uphill. Anticipate the hills on this course–7, 16 and 20 and make sure you have your GUs before you hit them. You won’t want to be worrying about taking one in while you are climbing. Best time to take a GU is when you are descending and gravity is taking some of the pressure off of you for a while.
  3. Stay at the Marriott in Provo the night before.  It is close to the expo and great for post race recovery. They book fast so book early. If you have kids, have them bunk somewhere else that night.  You will want to get some good sleep and be able to mentally prepare for your race without distractions, as cute as they may be.
  4. Be prepared for wind. The canyon, especially toward the bottom, can get some pretty good gusts.  If you feel some coming on, don’t panic, find a group you can draft behind.
  5. Take a space blanket. You have about an hour or so before the race starts where you are sitting around waiting.  Luckily, this race has fire pits, so that helps a ton!
  6. Get a pace band.I didn’t use one on this course only because I was new to marathons and didn’t see the need.  But, in my last three races I have used them and they have been essential.  I really like this distributor because they customize the bands for the course profile: Race Smart Pacebands. You can sometimes find these at the race expo, but I would recommend ordering yours a few weeks before so you know you have it.
  7. Hydrate, but don’t over hydrate. Before the race I take in a good amount (16oz) of water 3 hours and 2 hours before, but then I start to pull back. I don’t want to have to stop and use a bathroom on the course.  An hour before the race, I am not really taking in much water other than what I have to take with my first GU.  All the other water I took in the early hours of my morning and in the couple days before the race should have me very hydrated. Then, I do always grab a water cup on the course when they are offered. If you have hydrated well, and also due to nerves, you will find that you have to go to the bathroom pretty much from when you get off the bus until they line you up for the race start.  My tip, get in line for the porta potty and when you are done, get back in line.  The lines move slowly and you don’t want to be racing with a full bladder.
  8. Don’t forget to breathe. Take in your surroundings.  Look around and be part of what you are a part of. Allow yourself enough mental space to really appreciate what your body is doing and what it can do. Feel it fly and when it isn’t feeling it, will it to do so. You are in control. Tell your neurons what you want them to do and where you want them to go. Stay positive. If a negative thought or feeling comes in, be prepared (because you practiced this in training) to immediately eliminate that with something positive.
  9. Have fun.

Favorite Places to Dine:

  • The Pizza Factory (Great breadsticks and a great place to carb load or celebrate after the race).
  • Waffle Love (Great for breakfast or any meal really!) 1796 N 950 W St, Provo, UT 84604

    Waffle Love with the family the day after the race.

    Waffle Love with the family the day after the Utah Valley Marathon.

  • Kneaders (Breakfast and lunch foods).
  • Granny’s (in Heber City. Great for shakes, burgers and fries).


4 Days Before: 300g of carbs per day

Night Before: spaghetti, bread, small salad


2 hours before: 1/2 cup oatmeal; orange juice, bagel, peanut butter

1 hour before: Crunchy Peanut Butter Cliff Bar; Advocare 02 supplement.

During: 15 minutes before race start Gu Roctane with 2oz. water; gu roctanes at miles 3, 7, 11, 15. 19, and 23. Water at every aid station accept the first–too crowded. (I have revised how many GUs I take in now, but this is how many I took then. You have to practice this on your long runs and find out what works for you. Everyone is different).


Shoes: Pearl Izumi M3s

Clothes: Pearl Izumi singlet, shorts, compression calf sleeves, toe socks–to help prevent blisters.

Flip Belt

Earbuds and iPod shuffle

Garmin Forerunner Pace Watch

Entry 5: Team Pearl Izumi

Krista Miner Sidwell sporting her new Pearl Izumi kit.

Wearing my new Pearl Izumi gear shortly after I joined the team.

While training for the Utah Valley Marathon, I learned about Team Pearl Izumi–a community of athletes that were dedicated to fitness/wellness, who pushed themselves together to new heights and achievements, and by so doing, inspired others in the process to do the same. A friend of mine had been selected for the team earlier that year and what she had to say about the team intrigued me.  I went onto the Pearl Izumi website, found a contact email and asked how I could learn more about the team and apply.

Krista Miner Sidwell's Acceptance letter for 2014 Team Pearl Izumi.

Acceptance letter for 2014 Team Pearl Izumi.

The result of these efforts launched me onto a road that has brought me so many positive benefits and interactions. I was selected by the team in early March and have loved being an ambassador of their products and a member of such a unique group of talented athletes. I trained for the Utah Valley Marathon in the Pearl Izumi E: Motion Road N2s and know that it made a big difference in my pre and post race running results. (See

Krista Miner Sidwell logged 425 miles running during 10 weeks of preparation for the Utah Valley Marathon.

425 Miles during 10 weeks of training for the Utah Valley Marathon

shoes in graphic to the left).

After logging 425 miles of runs in 10 weeks of training, it was time to put it all to the test.  I knew I had put in the work to accomplish my goal, but I was concerned because in all my runs above 20 miles, I had hit “the wall.” Mile 22 was especially problematic for me. If that happened to me during my race, my goal of qualifying for Boston at this race would not happen.

My story continues with: The Utah Valley Marathon.

Entry 4: Deciding to Train for Boston

In late 2013, some friends of mine told me they were going to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon. At that time, the fastest I had run a half marathon was a 1:57, or around a 8:50 minute per mile pace, at the Canyonlands Half Marathon, in Moab, Utah.

The energy of my friends for Boston inspired me and I decided I would make a go for it as well.  Back then, I wanted to run two marathons–one to qualify me for Boston, and then Boston and be done. Even with three half-marathons under my belt, I still wouldn’t have called myself a long-distance runner then.

runners_world_bookA friend I knew was using the Runner’s World, Guide to Road Racing,  for her training and recommended that I use it for my training.  I purchased a copy and in early 2014, I started to train for Boston.  I researched Saturday marathons that had some significant downhill figuring I would need as much help as I could get. After lots of time comparing courses, I set my sights on the Utah Valley Marathon course with a 3:35 finishing time or an 8:12 pace per mile.  I knew I had to be under my 3:40 qualifying standard to actually run Boston so I set my sights on 3:35. (I think there was a part of me too that felt that if the qualifying standard for women of 18-35 was 3:35, that even though I was 37, I wanted to get in with that standard.)

Training was hard. I did the majority of it on the treadmill because of intimidating winter weather conditions in Northern Colorado where I live. During those 21 weeks training, I was in the doctor’s office three times for injuries–tendonitis (in both ankles) and shin splints. I ran in foot braces, for a while and even had periods where I couldn’t run at all.

After watching me run and having me in his office three times in a pretty short period, my sports medicine physician told me that my body wasn’t built for marathons. That half marathons were my race and that finishing a marathon, let alone qualifying for Boston, would be very difficult for me without physical therapy. I left his office and silently said to myself, “Watch Me.”

My story continues with my entry: Team Pearl Izumi.