Friday, March 6, 2015

Never stop dating

When you have been with someone for a long period of time, it is so easy to take things for granted.  It’s easy to be complacent with where you are in your relationship.  The day to day takes over and one day you realize that you haven’t communicated with your spouse other than through email, texting and notes on the table because you feel like you are going 100 miles an hour and can’t find the brake.    You wouldn’t plant flowers in your garden in spring and water them sporadically expecting them to grow would you? Put the time and effort into your relationship and big things will happen.  I have some ideas so you can continue to date your spouse/significant other.  I’m not talking about just going out to dinner but doing things to stay connected, continue to fall in love, and respect each other.  


I’ve heard studies talk about how unplugging before bed can help with sleep and productivity.  Why not take the last hour or two before bed once the kids are sleeping to unplug and connect with one another?  When’s the last time you talked to your spouse?  I mean really talked to them.  No phones. No distractions.  No talking about kids.  This can help put the focus on your relationship but also have a positive impact in other aspects of your life.  

Leave love notes

When my husband and I started dating almost 17 years ago, I was in college and he was living in Two Rivers and worked second shift full time.  We generally only saw each other on weekends for a bit before he went to work.  We would talk on the phone but my favorite time was checking email at about 10:30pm.  He was generally home from work at that time and I could usually count on an email from him.  Some of that slipped off through the years but from time to time leave a note in their car telling you how much you love them, ask them out on a date, or tell them how much you appreciate them.  I don’t always remember to do this as often as I should but it sure makes my husband feel appreciated when he finds one of my little notes.  

Go on dates

Take time to do something with your spouse.  You may think, “we don’t have money for that” or “we don’t have anyone to watch the kids”.  These dates don’t have to be grand or elaborate.  We have had a date at the beach and packed some fruit, wine, and cheese and just sat on blankets watching the sunset.  It was time for just us.  If you have younger kids and don’t have someone to watch the kids, have a picnic in the living room when the kids go to bed.  Set up some candles, play some music, and talk to one another.  Rent a movie the two of you are interested in.  Sit outside on the patio or deck, look at the stars and hold hands.  When my husband worked second shift and his weekends off came around every three months we had to get creative.   Yes, we sometimes have more elaborate dates where we may spend a weekend away with each other but usually it's something simple like coffee. 

Do the unexpected

It is always nice to do something your spouse or significant other isn’t expecting.  I know my husband likes cookies. From time to time when I am at the store, I will pick up his favorite cookie for a little treat.  I may even run through Starbucks while running errands to have an iced tea waiting for him when he comes home on his lunch break.  I might even be as simple as making lunch for him on a Saturday afternoon so he can eat a warm meal instead of a sandwich.  

None of these ideas have to take a ton of time or effort.  It’s about making the other person feel special, wanted and appreciated.  Little gestures can have a big impact.  I challenge you to do something for your spouse this week and spend one hour getting to know one another all over again.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Seroogy's Valentine 15k

I normally don't run winter races but my company was one of the race sponsors so figured I would give this race a go. The day started out at 4:30 am when my hubby's alarm went off for the day. I decided to get up with him and ate a sandwich with him while he ate his breakfast.  It was nice to leisurely get myself ready for a race. 

I made the drive to De Pere and arrived at about 7:30 am. I tried to stay warm before the gun went off and was a bit worried about the outcome of the race. I don't do well running in the cold. Usually I find myself becoming too chilled in cold temps and I typically do my running indoors if the temp is below 30. 

The gun went off and was crossing the start line in no time. We made our way down Broadway for about a half to three quarters of a mile. This is a beautiful stretch as there are old, large, and grand homes with views of the water. I normally see these houses from the backside as I run on the Fox River trail.  I often find myself daydreaming of living in one of these homes. Soon we made our turn into the St. Norbert Abbey. I've never been trough here before but it was beautiful and best of all so peaceful. The stretch through here was winding and we excited on Webster and headed toward Ridgeway. 

At Ridgeway the 15k went left and the 5k went right back towards the finish. All of a sudden we were passing the 3 mile mark. I was cruising along at a comfortable pace and was feeling good. My headphones were plugged into my phone and they were tucked into my jacket but I hadn't felt the need to listento my music. Shortly after that the lead runner was headed back in. That was some impressive speed. 

We headed out on East River Drive towards Green Isle park. I hadn't been in this area so it was a nice tour of the De Pere area. I was still running at a comfortable pace and saw a friend from work and John's cousin in passing. We ran through Green Isle Park which was another pleasant and peaceful stretch.  As we headed the opposite direction on East River Drive, an older gentleman started talking to me.  We ran and chatted for about a mile. During that mile I forgot about pace or my grumbling stomach. I didn't let my mind register that I was headed back to the finish. While I never got his name, he helped me out this stretch of the race. Normally, I would start walking because I listened to my mind doubting I could run the rest of the race. 

Shortly after the 7 mile mark, my new friend and I parted ways as I was running a bit faster than him. My hands were getting really warm at this point because I was worried I would get too cold if I took the gloves off. I felt myself slowing down a bit. This was ok because I was still running. No walk breaks yet. The 8 mile mark was in sight. I knew that I was going to finish this race without a walk break. We made the final turn towards the finish line and I pushed it into high gear. I was going to finish this race strong. My garmin beeped at the 9 mile mark. I was almost there. The finish line was in sight. I could see the clock and realized that I was going to do better than I expected. I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch and realized I ran the last .30 miles at a 9:30 pace. That was a nice surprise. As I made my way through the finish chute I was handed my chocolate melt away bar. All races should provide chocolate as recovery food. 

This was a fun race. I challenged myself and ran the entire distance with zero walk breaks.  I didn't let self dobut interfere with my ability to finish this race. I was confident and that made all the difference in my ability to run strong.  It was also a reminder of why I want to live in De Pere. It's a beautiful community with great people. This is the one place that truly feels like home to me. I'm looking forward to the 2015 race season as it is going to be a great year. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The mind is a powerful thing

I spend a lot of time thinking on my commute and I’ve been thinking about the power words and thoughts have on our success.  While much of this is in regards to my running successes and failures, it definitely applies to other areas of life.  I still can’t help but think of my last marathon as a failure and I know I need to shift that thinking.  I strongly believe that this thinking is going to sabotage my future efforts.  I am committing to changing my thinking from “maybe, I can” to “I will” going forward


The words “I don’t know if I can do this” came out of my mouth more times than I can count in the days leading up to my marathon.  This wasn’t my first marathon and I had a lot of people in my corner.  My husband is my biggest fan and hasn’t stopped believing in me.  He reassured me countless times.  My kids tell anyone that will listen that their mom runs marathons.  Clearly they think I am awesome.   My parents continue to be amazed at what I am capable of.  I had multiple messages from my running coach telling me I was ready and that I was going to do amazing.  So, with all that support, why did I doubt my abilities? Was I afraid to succeed? Was I too afraid to fail that I played it too safe?


As I look back on my marathon experience at Disney, I realized that I sabotaged my experience to some extent.  When my right leg started acting up and I realized there was no possible way I could come sub 6 hours, I didn’t try as hard.  I still had a chance at a PR but I stopped pushing.  Yes, I was in pain but nothing so terrible that I couldn’t push through.  I let negative thoughts creep in.  I let doubt get the best of me.  I let myself walk when running felt better.  Even though the running pace wasn’t significantly faster, continuing to run the rest of the race may have changed my attitude. 


I have said many times that I ran a slow race.  I have thought to myself this race was a failure.  Even when I called myself slow, my youngest daughter said to me, “but mom, you finished and

isn’t that what matters?  I have trouble running a mile but you did 26.2.  That’s pretty amazing.”   How could I think I was a failure when my kids saw me as a success?  What they saw was their mom taking on a huge challenge, pushing through even though it got tough and showing them that hard work matters.  I was setting an example for my children.  Calling myself slow and a failure was not the attitude or approach to take.  Sure, it didn’t go the way I expected, but it was still a finish. 


I have said this many times since that day.  I am not finished with the marathon.  I have a lot to learn and prove to myself.  I am capable of more than I let myself think.  My next marathon is June 14th and two weeks later I am going to take on my first ultra.  I am challenging myself to stop with the negative talk and believe in myself.  There may be hiccups along the way but I will treat these as opportunities to learn rather than a sign that I will not meet my goal.  I challenge all of you to start looking at challenges as opportunities rather than failures.  The mind is a powerful muscle, train it like you would your body. 





Sunday, January 18, 2015

Spectating RunDisney

Normally, I am the runner and my family is my loyal cheering crew. I had the opportunity this trip to be a spectator. My kids did the Mickey Mile and my hubby the 10k. I have to say, being a soectator is very different but I had so much fun. 

Race number one was on Thursday. We visited the race expo and then made our way to the staging area. I pinned race bib on the kids and we waited for the start. Parents were allowed to run with kids but my kids didn't want me to run with them. That is until about 15 minutes before the race. They were on their own as I wasn't dressed for it and running in jeans just wasn't going to work. My hubby headed to Champion stadium to catch the kids as they ran around the warm up track and I headed to the track and field complex to see them finish. I anxiously waited to see them make their way onto the track. My camera was in hand to catch their finishing stretch. 

Sean hit the track first and I cheered him on. He was trying to pick up speed to finish strong. Shortly after, Kenzie made her way into the track. She picked up her pace when she saw me. Next was Izzie. She was waking and I could tell she was struggling. I cheered for her very loudly and she started running again. I cut across the field so I could see her finish. They all did a great job. John had made it back to the finish in time to see her finish.  I made my way over to the finish area to get the kids. Safety is important at these races. Kids are kept in an area until a parent arrives and a ticket matching their race bib is presented. 

Race 2 had an early start. I was up at 3:30 am to get ready and have the kids on the bus by 4:45 am. We made the walk to the start area and tried our best to see John but there were too many people in front of us. As soon as everyone from corral C was on their way, we walked to the finish stands to cheer him on. We all had stadium blankets which was good since it was a bit chilly that morning. Compared to where we live it wasn't too terrible. One of the officers who checked my bags before we were allowed in welcomed me to the making of Frozen 2. I would gladly take 40 degrees all winter if I had the choice. 

Shortly after we arrived at the finish area the first runner was approaching the finish. I was amazed at his speed. We clapped and cheered the runners finishing. It wasn't even 6:30 am so it was still dark out. I was tracking John's phone so I could see where he was and I could be ready for photos. He said he was going to have a blinking light on so I figured he should be easy to spot. Soon, I saw him making his way but he had no blinker. Good thing I saw him and I tried my best to get photos. Since it was dark it was hard for the camera to respond quick enough. He did an awesome job that morning and I really enjoyed being able to see him have his moment. 

I really enjoyed those two days of spectating. I realized it is not as easy as it looks when rushing from spot to spot and trying to capture the perfect photo. I am grateful for the running around my family does to cheer me on. As a runner, it is nice to be able to cheer other runners on as well. I look forward to the next time my family runs so I can cheer them on. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Walt Disney World Marathon recap

My journey to marathoner started in April of 2014 when I registered for the Walt Disney World Marathon and Chicago in the same week.  I thought I might be slightly crazy for running a marathon in October and another in January but I really wanted to run both and being accepted in the lottery for Chicago seemed like a sign.  I had initially said I was going to run one marathon and retire.  After that first marathon I knew I wasn’t through with the marathon.
We arrived at Disney the Tuesday before the marathon so we had time for fun and relaxation before race day.  We made our way to the expo on Wednesday first thing as the kids were participating in the Mickey Mile on Thursday and John was participating in the 10k on Friday.  We had fast passes for Anna and Elsa later that day at the Magic Kingdom so we were on a tight timeline.  Bibs and shirts were in hand and on the way back to the busses, I picked up my Minnie Mouse visor to complete my race day ensemble.  When we returned to the hotel that evening after the park, I realized I forgot my handheld water bottle at home.  When we headed to the kids races the next day, I picked another one up and had a quick chat with Jeff Galloway before heading over to the start line of the Mickey Mile.  
Marathon morning started off with a 2:30am wake up call.  While, it was extraordinarily early, I hadn’t been able to sleep so it was a relief to get up and get on with the day.  My family was getting up at 4 since they didn’t need to be on the busses as early that morning.  My race day supplies were out and ready and by 3am I was headed to the pick up location at the front of the hotel.  Within a short period of time we arrived at Epcot and I made my way to the race retreat.  I was able to grab a banana and bagel with peanut butter and do some browsing on social media before the start.  The cool thing about the race retreat is there were character appearances so I had the opportunity to meet the gang from Toy Story.  I also had the ability to use the bathrooms before heading to the corrals without waiting in a 20 minute line.  Granted they were portable toilets but it was better than nothing. 

At 5am, we were told we had to make our way to the corrals.  The race started at 5:35 am and the corrals were a good 20 minute walk from the race retreat.  By that point in the morning I had probably already put on 1.5 to 2 miles on these legs.  I wish I could have stayed in the tent a bit longer because I knew my corral wasn’t going to start until close to 6:30am.  The fun thing about these races is that each corral is sent off with fireworks.  I noticed early on that the song played for each corral corresponded with the letter of the corral.  Corral F had Fancy.  I have to admit I was dancing around while waiting for our send off.  I may have looked silly but this race was about having fun. 
Shortly before 6:30, our corral was off.  I decided to approach this race cautiously.  In Chicago, I got swept up in the moment and ran my heart out those first few miles and it really got me at the end.  I ran that first mile conservatively.  It was above goal pace but I was ok with that since I knew that it would leave me with energy at the end.  It felt like that first mile flew by as we made our way towards the Magic Kingdom.  Mile 2 felt comfortable and I was right at goal pace with that mile.  I was feeling good and running by feel.  I had my music but I left my headphones out so I tune into my breathing and the sound of my feet hitting the ground.  Before I knew it I saw the 3 mile mark and we were headed into the gates of the Magic Kingdom.  I knew from running Princess last year that it was a good 2.5 miles until we were actually in the park.  Right after mile 4, we hit the Ticket and Transportation Center and I needed to use the restroom.  There were real bathrooms here and I waited in line for almost 10 minutes.  I was annoyed with this but the line wasn’t much longer her than for the portable toilets.  I was back on my way and this was a nice stretch because there were plenty of spectators there cheering us on. 
At around mile 5, we were somewhere in Magic Kingdom in the service areas.  The Magic Kingdom is my favorite park and offers one of the best experiences in the race.  I also knew this was the first time I was going to see my family.  We made our way through the service gate and we were in the park and I knew the right hand turn onto Main Street USA was coming up.  The Christmas decorations were still up in the park and the spectators were lined up like we were the afternoon parade.  It was amazing.  As we approached Cinderella’s castle, we made the right hand turn towards Tommorrowland.  We ran through Tomorrowland, past the speedway, the teacups and were headed to my second favorite part in the race:  Cinderella’s Castle.  As we approached the castle, I could see Anna, Elsa and Kristoff in the balcony welcoming us.  There was artificial snow in the air, I waved to our friends from Arendale and I made my way through the castle.  There were photographers at the exit who captured some great shots of me.  

The next section of the race had us going past The Grand Floridian and towards the Walt Disney World Speedway.  There were not as many spectators on this part of the route.  It was a peaceful and I was staying pretty steady with my pace here.  Somewhere around mile 7 or 8 we hit the speedway.  The ramp into the speedway was wicked.  Very steep decline which leveled out and then the steep incline onto the speedway.  There were cars parked on the track and owners close by cheering the runners on.  This was the first time I had ever seen a race track first hand so it was interesting.  That mile stretch on the track was pretty boring though. 
After we left the speedway, we were making our way to Animal Kingdom.  We took a rustic looking road to the park.  There were virtually no spectators along this stretch but there was entertainment and fluids along the way.  We made our way into Animal Kingdom through what appeared to be service roads for cast members.   There were animals along with their handlers on the course for photo ops.  This was a neat touch.  There was a handler with a turtle and he was quite popular for pictures.  Many people were pretending to race the turtle for their photos.  We entered the park and went past Expedition Everest.  Many runners were taking the opportunity to take a break from their running and take a ride.  I had a very specific time goal and I knew I could meet it if I pushed myself in the second half so I didn’t stop for a ride.  After all this is why I started out conservatively.  I knew my family was going to be here to cheer me on so I was looking for them and finally I rounded a corner and I saw them.  My son handed me pretzels, I hugged my oldest and gave my hubby a quick kiss before I was on my way.  I was about to hit the halfway mark after we left the park.  I was about 10 minutes off pace and this was as a result of that bathroom stop around mile 4.  
Shortly after the halfway mark, my right leg seized up and I had pain in my foot.  It didn’t feel too bad while I was running, but walking made it pretty uncomfortable.  I stopped somewhere around mile 14.5 to massage my leg to loosen it up a bit.  This helped for a little bit.  Based on the fact that this act made things feel better I decided to keep pushing on.  We were headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at this point.  It was somewhere around mile 17 that we were headed into the complex.  On my way in, I could see other runners on their way out.  There was a jumbo screen and an announcer cheering people on as they exited the race.  The announcer stated they were at mile 20.4.  I did the math in my head and I realized this stretch of the race was going to be long.  I had to use the restroom again right before mile 18.  There were some real bathrooms on the course and I waited a good 10-12 minutes before it was my turn.  I knew I couldn’t wait and it would probably be my last stop before the finish.  I continued on and right around mile 18, I broke down in tears. It was a good thing I had sunglasses on.  I knew at this point in the race with the  bathroom stops and the pain in my leg that I had to switch my approach from a PR to just finishing the race.  I had worked really hard this training cycle and had I kept my pace and shorter bathroom stops, I would have come close to a 40 minute PR from Chicago.  I was so disappointed in myself.  I knew I had two choices though:  to be miserable and drop out or swallow my pride and finish this damn race.  I wasn’t a quitter so I pulled myself together and continued on.  Part of this race has you running on the warm up track of Champion Stadium.  I believe in signs.  As we made the turn into the stadium, I knew my decision to swallow my pride and just finish was the right decision.  At that moment, I heard the Notre Dame victory march.  This is frequently played by my husband and as I was waiting in the corral that morning, he sent me a text message that said “Play like a champion today”.  Yep, that was the sign I needed.  I liked running around the baseball diamond.  It is a fun experience and I tried to do it with a smile on my face.  I was going to fake it until I made it that day. 
We headed out of the complex and I finally hit the 20 mile marker.  It was just a 10k at this point.  Not that a 10k is easy or a short distance, but was short in comparison to what I had already accomplished.  I knew that we were going to be headed into two more parks before I hit the finish line.  We were making our way towards Hollywood Studios and entered the park around mile 22.  At mile 22.5 some kind volunteers were handing out candy.  I had a Hershey’s miniature and took a moment to text my husband that I was less than 4 miles away so he could plan for my arrival.  He texted me back that he would have a lemon-lime powerade and a coke waiting for me when I crossed the finish line.  I don’t drink either of these regularly but I do after a marathon.  
We made our way out of Hollywood Studios and were headed to the Boradwalk area.  I had never been over there before and it was a nice surprise.  It was beautiful, peaceful and there were spectators!  This is exactly what I needed to get through these next few miles.  I chatted with people along the way to distract myself from the pain in my foot.  I knew we would be hitting Epcot soon which meant I was almost there. 
We came into Epcot through a back service entrance where some fairy looking lady greeted us.  I have no idea who she was but she said when we hit France we only had a little over a mile to go.  Woo hoo! This was also the last water stop and the volunteers made sure we all knew so we could properly hydrate.  The sun was shining pretty bright at this point and it was getting pretty warm.  Much of the race had been under cloud cover and occasional showers. After passing the 25 mile marker, I texted my husband to let him know that I was a little more than a mile out.  There were plenty of spectators along this portion of the race as the park was open for the day.  There were runners stopping in Germany to get some beer for the last mile.  I am sure they forgot to grab water at that last aid station. I didn’t have any cash on me otherwise I may have stopped for one too.  Where else can you have a beer while running the last mile of a marathon? I was nearing Spaceship Earth and I knew that meant the park exit was shortly after that.  I made my way past Spaceship Earth and rounded the corner to see the mile 26 marker along with the gospel choir.  I lost it again.  I knew I was going to finish.  Distance running is very emotional for me and this race was no different.  I went through so many emotions this race and had conquered a pretty amazing challenge that day.  I had a few more turns and the finish was mine.  I could hear the music and then the announcer.  I could see the finish line and the stands were filled with spectators.  I tried to look for my hubby but there were too many people for me to see him.  Even though my body was hurting, I crossed that finish line strong.

I made my way through the finish chute to get my medal.  As I was approaching a volunteer to get my medal, I saw this woman just sobbing.  I patted her on the back and congratulated her on a job well done because I know that feeling.  The marathon finish is raw and very real.  I approached the volunteer and she put the medal around my neck.  At that moment I broke down and told her I wanted a hug.  She was so sweet and hugged me and let me cry on her shoulder for a moment.  I am so very thankful for that volunteer.  I stopped for my photos and made my way back to the race retreat to meet up with my family.  My hubby met me, rose in hand, shortly before I made it to the race retreat and gave me a hug.  Yes, I cried some more. 
When I got in the tent, I grabbed my gear bag and made my way to the kids.  I sat down and had my son take my socks and shoes off because my feet were on fire.  Luckily I had my flip flops in my bag.  While they aren’t the most supportive, it was just what I needed at that moment.  My feet were hurting so bad in my running shoes in that last mile that I contemplated for a moment, taking the shoes off and running in just my socks.  I decided against it but I seriously considered it.  I ate some food and we made our way back to the bus for the hotel.  I waddled my way there and it felt like a good half mile from that tent to the bus.
This was a really fun race. There was a lot of on course entertainment to break up the boring stretches and plenty of spectators.  The volunteers were great as were the other runners.  While the marathon distance is tough, I am glad that I decided to do this marathon just three short months after Chicago.  I am most definitely not done with the marathon.  I will be running my next marathon in June.  If you ever consider running just one marathon, Walt Disney World is one of the best out there.  I will be seeing a sports medicine doctor about my foot so I can knock marathon number 3 out of the park!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 - The year of awesome

I tend to do a lot of reflecting as I near a big race. It usually happens after a meltdown moment and I had mine today. I was supposed to do my 14 miles yesterday and I listened to my hubby when he said there is no way I was attempting it. I woke up feeling sick and really rundown. I figured it wouldn't hurt to push it out until tomorrow in favor of quality. I headed out this morning and it was definitely cooler than it had been. I decided to go out 2.5 miles from the house and come back to warm up a bit and refuel. It became apparent about a mile from my house on the first leg I was still sick and I was calling the run at 5 miles. My body was getting colder and colder and I couldn't get warm. While I was disappointed in myself, I knew this was the right decision to ensure I was ready for Disney. Thankfully my coach helped to reassure me that this was not the end of the world and it would be ok. As I lay in bed resting, I am thinking how 2015 is shaping up to be even more amazing than 2014. 

2014 was pretty amazing but I have some pretty lofty goals for myself in 2015. From a running perspective, my plan is to run a total of five full marathons, a 50k, at least two half marathons, and a half Ironman.  A year ago, I would have laughed at that list saying there is no way I can accomplish this. The truth is that I certainly can accomplish this. 2015 is going to be a year of focusing on quality runs that help me get to a 2:15 half marathon. I know it will be tough but with the right training, I will meet this goal. It is going to require me being ok with being uncomfortable but I didn't get where I currently am by staying in my comfort zone. 

From a business perspective, I plan on growing my beachbody business. I truly believe in helping others reach their goals. I had people in my corner supporting me on my journey and now it's my time. It's great when a hobby and a passion collide. 

From a family perspective, I plan to be more present for my kids. While I am there for their activities it gets tough with my daily commute to work. This year tough decisions will be made to get rid of that commute. People may not understand but we will work on things as a family. And just to set the record straight, no one is splitting up and I'm not quitting my job. 

2015 has the potential for growth for me personally and professionally. I am going to search for these opportunities and embrace them rather than run the other way. I want my kids to see what is possible when you push yourself outside your comfort zone. To a great 2015. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons learned

I am a little more than 2 weeks out from my second marathon.  This round of training has been much different than my first round of marathon training.  I am by no means an expert in running or marathoning, but I have learned some valuable lessons in these last two rounds of training.  


Lesson 1:  injuries happen

Injuries are not just reserved for elite runners cranking out mile after mile each week.  They happen to all of us at some point in our running lives.  This round has been much easier on my body than the last round but I did have some bumps in the road along the way.  Listen to your body, don’t try to cram in missed training, and let yourself heal.  It can be hard when an injury takes you out for a few days but don’t rush back into it or you could do more damage to your body.


Lesson 2:  Stop comparing

I spent much of 2014 comparing my times to others and letting myself be discouraged that I wasn’t faster.  In reality, I should have been celebrating the PR’s I was nailing, the distances I was covering, and the miles my legs were taking me.  I couldn’t see those as victories because I wasn’t what most people consider “fast”.  I am now embracing my times and recognizing them for what they are:  strength, improvement, and growth.

Lesson 3:  Understand the struggles

Fueling has always been an issue for me.  I struggle with when to fuel, what to fuel with, and how much I really need.  Some of it has to do with things other runners have told me.  That goes back to lesson 2.  Stop worrying about others and do what works for you.  I struggled in Chicago because I lost some of my gel packs along the course.  I became desperate at the end and took every scrap of food I could find along the course from the bananas volunteers were handing out to pretzels being handed out by spectators.  I also resorted to drinking Gatorade which I stay away from in races because it causes major bloating.  I should have learned this as I went into last Friday’s 20 miler but I was stubborn.  I have one more long run before the marathon and this will be focused on covering the distance with the proper fueling.  I will fuel even if I am feeling good because if I push too far without it, there is no recovering from that and the last part of the run will suffer. 

Lesson 4:  Carbs are my friend

I am a runner that needs carbs.  I have tried restricting but realized my long runs suffered.  Some people have told me it isn’t necessary for running but I have found that for me they are.  I now fuel up on healthy carbs leading up to my long runs and it has made the difference.  What works for me may not work for others and that’s ok but I need to perfect my strategy to get results. 

Lesson 5:  Ask for help

When training for a marathon, it can be easy to be overwhelmed with training, work and family.  I found this was happening to me as I headed into peak training weeks.  Finally I had to ask for help and give myself permission to forget about things that didn’t really matter.  So, this year my hubby wrapped ALL the Christmas presents, I shopped online and I skipped the Christmas cards.  I started to feel guilty but I realized that it’s ok not to get to everything and Christmas will still happen as planned. 

Lesson 6:  Use the right training plan

It is super easy to find a plan in a book or on the internet and use it to run a race.  It can lead you to a successful finish in many cases.  In my case, a one size fits all approach didn’t work for me.  I tried a plan and it was geared at someone faster than I was.  I became burned out, tired and by the time I reached the start line I was over trained which led to a finish but one I fought hard for.  This time around I hired a running coach who developed a plan just for me based on my capabilities and paces.  It has made all the difference in the world for me.  I have found myself running distances more easily and being able to hold a more consistent pace.  I am hoping this is an indicator of a positive outcome for marathon number 2. 

Lesson 7:  Running is mental

The body is capable of amazing things.  It is often your head telling you to give up not your body.  Once I finished that first marathon, I find it easier to push through my training runs.  In fact, most of the time when running outdoors, I leave the music and running apps behind.  I run based on feel and have found that approach has allowed me to push myself when necessary and also when to hold back. 

I am sure this list will evolve as I continue to run more marathons because my love for distance running isn’t ending anytime soon.  I am a lifelong runner and am looking forward to my next adventures.