Category Archives: Goals

{Marathon} Training Tales: Joy is…

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”        Marianne Williamson


Marathon week has swiftly arrived!

This cycle went quickly since it started in late January and left me with about 10 weeks to figure out this whole HR-based, MAF, aerobic training stuff. I’ve dissected more runs and heart-rates and science-y things than all four previous training cycles combined! At one point there was a LOT of information swirling around in my brain.

Now, it’s just time to let it work. To let it go and see what happens. It’s time to remember that I trained for the process, not the medal (not even sure if we get one of those?). I trained this way to try a new approach with a fresh perspective, for the lifestyle that accompanies the choice to attempt a(nother) marathon. To ask some questions, and move in a different direction (or at different speeds, with different HRs n’ such!).

To grab that joy of running…

simple rules

Joy is…going to the track and doing those very specific workouts.

On the track, I feel more dedicated than anywhere else. You have to seek out this exact location and get here to do this exact, specific, run. I’ve never been much of a “track” runner before – for those exact reasons, having to do something so specific and prescribed and boring  – so it stands out to me.

This cycle involved a  few trips to the track for MAF tests, and one final visit yesterday for some pace testing. I got one last lap (400m) to “unload”! And with that, I ran to toe the line of all-out and you-still-have-a-race-to-run and to turn corners with a stupid-silly grin because whoa, this cycle was a good one.

Joy is…the little rush of looking up your schedule for the week.

I put this entirely in someone else’s hands. The only specific requests I had were: “I’d prefer not to train by HR only” and “I like to do long runs on Saturday”.  So, I got half of what I wanted! But some prayers are best left unanswered; if you want different results and experiences, you have to DO something different.

There were no two weeks alike; every time I logged onto Training Peaks with anticipation – what’s next? What do I get to do this week??? The first time I saw “the big mama” I spent the rest of the week excited for Saturday’s adventure.

( If first-marathon-me (circa 2010) read that paragraph
there would be eye-rolling for days. )

Joy is…asking questions, learning about a sport you love.

Joy is…visualizing that Finish Line clock & banner.

Joy is…realizing you’ve stepped so far forward you’re suddenly in Race Week.

With this week comes the good kind of nervous, slowly seeping into the muscle fibers. I wrote to my coach that it’ll come on strong tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday; the anxious-excited that starts to slowly drip adrenaline into my system every single time I think about the starting line, mile 15, or 21 or 25 or 26.1 and THE finish line sight. The running, all over.

It’s the type of nervous that gets you to that mental place you need to be – just enough fear, because it will hurt – without totally derailing the physical+mental readiness. That feeds your legs all of the juice they’ll need to push past their perceived limits. And that flashes your goal time across that mental clock over and over AND OVER, until you just know you’ll chase it no matter what.


Joy is chasing a goal.


Filed under Goals, learning, marathon, new things!, running, training

Once Per Year…

Go somewhere you’ve never been before.


intention vs. habit—-

Eat at a new restaurant; run a new trail; spend a weekend in a new nearby town or relatively far-away city; show your eyes something unique, wherever or whatever it may be.

Break out of your habits, routines and comfort zones.


I wasn’t in marathon-training mode when I planned this trip, and I won’t be while I’m on it either. (It’s cool; Coach-approved n’ all!) Instead, I’ll be roaming around Nairobi, Masai Mara and Amsterdam with a heavy backpack and a light step. I’ll soak in some sunshine, because it’s a wonderfully warm 80* there (and a surprisingly warm 45* in Holland), and try not to taunt any wild animals.

puma pantsYes, I know that pumas are native to the Americas.
“Lion” just doesn’t work here.

These explorations are for running if/when we want to, wandering streets and African deserts, catching up with the best kind of friends, tasting new flavors and forgetting, for whatever amount of time you have, that there are responsibilities waiting for you. They’re not going anywhere –  we are.


Where are you going? Or, where do you plan to go soon?


Filed under about me, Goals, new things!, random, travel

Taking on {marathon} #5 With a First

Last year got a pass – no marathon training, what-so-ever. No thoughts of 26.2, no long runs exceeding what would prepare me for a half (13.1), no plan-B and caving and signing up for a race even though I said 100x that I wouldn’t.

no. No. NO. Rest. Recharge. Go out late on Friday nights and enjoy vacations without any fitness footnotes and run without any focused plan.


Yep. That.

Some people don’t need a full year to do that, and well maybe I didn’t either but damn it felt good. The year effortlessly filled itself with other things that I happily handed my attention to, and that was that.

After a few short races mixed with the RW hat-trick weekend last fall, it was clear that this break had served its purpose. The legs were like, “Yeah we GOT IT. Rested. Recharged! Etc. etc. HOP TO IT!”

Noted, madams.

Spring marathon research began and we decided on something slightly local but slightly far away (mini road-trip!). We found something that is nice and hilly – why not throw in a little challenge? – but that also rewards us with views of (and subsequent drinks from) wine country.

Charlottesville Marathon

Charlottesville Marathon – April 5, 2014

Marathon #5 is booked! What now?

I wanted a different approach to this. I want to learn and not just go through the motions for the 5th time.  Twenty miles is twenty miles is twenty miles. It’s hard and your mind will have a lesson to learn every single time. But what else is there? What workouts have I not tried yet? In what ways have I not pushed myself yet? And, open poll: who will push me to do it?!

I decided to run a different road for the first time,
with a Coach navigating the way.

There are two goals with this*, but first and foremost there is a Finish line
to cross.

Right now I’m 90% through week 1 (one long run to go!) and if you compare the last 5 days of workouts to those of any other training cycle I’ve done? They have but one similarity: I’m running. And, well, if that weren’t the case we’d have some questions needing some answers.

There are a lot of numbers being through around that I have yet to absorb, but hey! I don’t have to! It’s a beautiful thing. The reigns have been handed over and I just go into Training Peaks to record things like “well I was chatting my face off” and “it was a balmy 12*!” and “bad news: I forgot to turn the auto-lap back on”. And then the next day on the calendar tells me what to do & I do it!

Easy peasy? Not so much. I’m not one to brag about how well I stick to training schedules or instructions, because I generally don’t. But that’s part of this challenge and what I’m already loving about it. The comfort zone is expanding and knowledge base is growing and running feet are like, “whatever man, just tell us where to go.” 

I’m enjoying the process, which was the plan.


What do you think about working with a running coach (whether you have or haven’t)?

*More to come. Checking a box soon.


Filed under Goals, marathon, new things!, running, training

From this year (2014), I want…

“There are far better things ahead than any
we leave behind.”

- C.S. Lewis


In a timely update, almost exactly one year later I’m looking at this (2014) calendar of 355 days (to go) and simply thinking WHOA. I know a few things to be solid and true, and those will shape these months in an entirely new-to-me way.

I know that I’ll work harder than I ever have on the run, with a lot of help from a very good friend-turned-coach. I know it will hurt in the best way.

I know that I’ll travel to two continents (and countries) one week from now; my passport will finally have some fresh ink and used-up pages.

I know that there will be big moves that will turn worlds upside down.

I know there will be plenty of unknowns. Delicious ambiguity.

something new

I know that I want to ride the tail of 2013, filling my brain and adventuring and never planning too far ahead and trying a little harder to be a little better.

I want to find comfort in uncertainty. Go with the flow. Embrace the change. Overestimate strengths and say Yes. Why not! Alright fine.

I want to check boxes that have been open for a long time, of things that have patiently waited for me to come around and dig up courage and DO. I want to stare my tendency-to-procrastinate in the face and give her a mouthful. I want her to know that time management is a skill to be, and that will be, honed.

chaos be there soon

I want to use my backpack to roam both foreign streets and trails in national parks. I want to pitch a tent and start a (safe) fire and accept the fact that a bear might eat my food but it’s cool, I’ll survive.

I want to read books that take me to new places in the world – corners that hide in the shadows of big cities and tourist-filled streets and sunny beaches. Places that really represent what it means to open your mind and live a different life.

I want to keep the good people just a (physical or metaphorical) stone’s throw away.

I want to do/indulge anything which elicits this reaction: that scares the hell outta me. Maybe not all of them at once, in this year, but at least keep making a dent in the long list. (Repeat offender.)

I want to get back to chatting with you here in this space, sharing good eats and thoughts and runs and whatever else we might decide to talk about.

I want to listen; to let my brain turn its wheels, and remember to just shut up every now ‘n then so my surroundings can be loud.

listen laughing

I want to remember this:

You’ve only got three choices in life:
give up, give in, or give it ALL you’ve got.


Alright then. ALL in.

What do you want this year?


Filed under about me, challenges, Goals, random

Planning for the Training, Not Just the BQ

I qualified for Boston at the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon. Even though I was “in”, I knew I probably wouldn’t be in. It’s a tight race these days, and the faster you go the more likely you are to get that highly sought-after bib! For 2014, 3:34:04 didn’t quite make the cut, and that’s totally okay. Boston is prestigious, that’s why we strive to be there. If thousands of other females between the ages of 25-34 are faster than me, then they should have their hard-earned bib. Women running marathons these days are nothing if not a quick and determined group of gals!

And if I have to qualify again to be among them in 2015, then so be it.


“The body achieves what the mind believes.”


I can and will run a sub-3:30 marathon.
Declare. Run. Repeat.

A folder has been created in my bookmarks, the search is on! I’m not looking for the perfectly flat course or the best climate or the easiest destination to get to. I am looking for something that doesn’t scream HILLS everywhere or snow in May or require worldly trip (that’s happening on its own, without running).

I’m looking for a race that will check a few boxes, and will get me here:

Boston Finish Line

As the fate of the internets would have it, this research has been interrupted by a few reads that totally changed my mindset. The goal: re-qualify for Boston (2015). Sure, that will fill miles of mind-games and internal monologues next spring.

But, more importantly, the training? That’s a lifestyle. It changes your everyday routine in ways that we, as runners, {eventually} miss when it’s not all-consuming. We change our weekend agendas. We plan ahead for runs, cross-training workouts, meals, rest and sanity-checks. We think about the Finish Line countless times from Day 1 to Race Day, and anxiously await those tapering weeks.

But what about everything in between?


“The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important.”

Hunter S. Thompson


The training is what really challenges you – physical and mental exercises that get you ready for everything that can/will happen from mile 1 to mile 26.2. The training is a way of functioning that (hopefully, all-fingers-crossed) gets you ready for that goal time.

Whether or not that race goes exactly the way you plan? That’s {unfortunately} somewhat unpredictable. But the work you put in to get yourself there can’t be taken away.

Challenge & Change

You will learn the importance of the journey. The journey is the reward.


As the end of this fall marathon season marks the beginning of spring race-planning, just keep these thoughts in mind. Remember that you don’t choose to run a marathon (or any other distance) just so you can show up on race day and pound the pavement for 26+ miles. (Let’s be honest, that’s not always the fun part.) Sure, the goal is to finish, but the motivation is the challenge of getting yourself in shape enough to do so.

The fun is in the miles that lead you up to that startling line, in realizing that yes you can survive 10-20 milers and adjust your schedule to fit in ALL-things-running and dedicate yourself to something and see it through.

Join me: pick a challenge that will change you (whatever that may be), then enjoy the journey that gets you there.


Filed under Goals, marathon, motivation, running