Category Archives: Races

Lincoln Marathon 2015 Recap

For 18 weeks, I focused on one number: 3:10. Whatever my actual pace was on easy, tempo, and long runs, three hours and ten minutes was always in the back of my mind. I’d targeted that goal twice before, instead running 3:13s both times. Lincoln was going to be my race, the one where I finally broke that barrier.

I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even come close. Unlike the past two races, though, I’m not beating myself up about it. Sometimes, the weather is challenging. Sometimes, race day is not your day. And last Sunday was definitely not my day.

We left home a little after 7:00 on Saturday morning and drove the six-ish hours to Lincoln. Jordan deserves the Husband of the Year award — he’d spent Wednesday through Friday in the mountains with sixth-graders, then got up early Saturday to drive me to Lincoln, got up early again on Sunday to watch me run, and then drove me home. He’s a winner.

photo 1 (11)

Our first stop in Lincoln was the expo. It was really crowded, so we didn’t stay long. Instead, we checked in to our hotel and I went for a short shakeout run, then stretched and Sticked to work out the stiffness from the car ride. We grabbed some pasta from Noodles and Company, then just relaxed in the room and went to sleep early.

I slept surprisingly well for the night before a race, waking up just before my alarm went off at 4, when I ate my bagel with PB, popped some Immodium, then crawled back into bed for a while. Finally, we got up, got ready, and headed to the start line. Lincoln knows how to start a race: there was a huge indoor space to wait in (which wasn’t necessary, since it was already 60 degrees, but it would’ve been really nice in colder weather), and approximately 12 million porta-johns, to which my nervous bladder sent me several times.

Finally, it was time to find my corral and get ready. Lincoln’s corrals are sorted by bib color, which makes it easy to find the right spot. As I lined up, I saw the 3:13 pacer and told J, “I’ve got to beat that guy!” (Spoiler alert: I didn’t).
photo 2 (9)The National Anthem played, the wheelchair racers started, and then — BOOM — we were off!
photo 4 (2)The first few miles ticked along right on pace, but the weather was heating up and getting humid fast. By mile 5, my tank top was already getting soggy, and I was getting nervous, though I was still on pace. By mile 10, the sun came out in full force, I was sweating hard, and my pace started to drop from 7:15s so 7:25s or so. At that point, I knew that my 3:10 goal wasn’t going to be realistic.

Miles 7-12 were mentally challenging, as the half-marathoners were starting their negative splits, and I was getting passed like crazy. Since so many more people run the half, a lot of the spectators were shouting things like, “You’ve got this! Just two more miles!” It made me laugh… and also really tempted me to turn right, toward the finish, at the split. But I knew I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t finish the full, so I turned left, leaving the half crowd behind.

J saw a woman wearing this shirt and took a picture for me. He knows me well.
J saw a woman wearing this shirt and took a picture for me. He knows me well.

The second half of the race had much less shade, and my pace started dropping significantly. I was seeing eights on my watch, which I didn’t like, but if I crossed a certain speed threshold, I’d get lightheaded and nauseous, so the slower, safer speed won. At about mile 15, a little twig wedged itself down into my shoe. I had to stop and take my shoe completely off. I was not thrilled with losing even more time, but there was no way I could run another 11 miles with that thing rubbing my foot.

J caught me shortly after mile 15, and I made a “shoot me now” gesture. The heat and humidity was dragging me down — training through the winter certainly didn’t prepare me for it — and a headwind was blowing to boot, but he cheered me forward.

At this point, my pace was shot, so I simply focused on moving forward, breaking the race into 2.5ish-mile segments — from aid station to aid station. At each stop, I chugged at least two cups of water and often dumped one on my head, too. Several aid stations and friendly spectators also handed out cups of ice, which I’d dump down my bra for a few minutes of sweet relief. I probably should have been drinking Gatorade — I’m sure my electrolytes were way off; my body was gritty with salt by the end — but since I hadn’t trained with it (thanks to that strict diet), I didn’t want to race with it. I’m not sure which was the worse decision — risking it and having it destroy my stomach, or skipping it and getting more and more dehydrated. I did take three Vfuel gels, the last one at mile 17 or so (I think). I carried five, planning to take one every 45 minutes, but after a while, I just couldn’t stomach them in the heat.

I finally hit the turnaround just before mile 20, expecting to get some relief from the wind. Nope — it shifted, too. I thought that shift was all in my head, but several other runners said the same thing. I read an interview with the women’s winner, and she even said so! That made me feel like less of a baby. The last 10k was a slog — I had to stop and walk several times to keep from blacking out, and I continued my chug-dump-ice routine at the aid stations.

At least everyone else was struggling, too, so we cheered each other on as we leapfrogged. One nice guy even offered me water from his Fuel Belt when I was hurting. That’s the best thing about this sport — sure, we’re there to compete, but everyone looks out for one another, and I love the camaraderie.

photo 1 (12)

Finally, I turned the corner into the stadium and toward the finish line, which was at the football field’s 50-yard line. That tunnel seemed to go on for-ev-er, but I really appreciated that the half and full marathon were split all the way to the finish. Dodging walkers at the end of a marathon is rough, so I liked that we had separate paths. I also loved that they announced each marathon finisher over the loudspeaker in the stadium. I felt like big stuff.

When I was finally close enough to see the clock, I saw 3:27, and gave it what little kick was left in my legs.

photo 2 (10)It looks like I’m passing all those chicks, but they’re in the half lane.

The race sent a finisher video, but I’m not smart enough to embed it. If you want to see what a 90%-dead redhead looks like, click here.

Once I crossed the line, I stopped to catch my breath and wait for the world to stop spinning, hobbled back into the shade under the stadium and grabbed some Gatorade and water, then shuffled back out to the stadium turf. I wasn’t sure where J was, and I didn’t think nonrunners were even allowed where I was, but I desperately needed to sit down, as I was pretty dizzy. I eased myself onto the turf, rested my head on my knees, and drank my water and Gatorade. I even managed to choke down some chocolate milk. After a while, I felt okay enough to try to find J… but I couldn’t get up. I had to ask a stranger to help me. Ouch.

Post-race. So much sweat.
Post-race. So much sweat.

I finally found J, and then found the showers (another perk of this race: not having to stink afterward). Then, we found my favorite post-race lunch: a burger, a beer, and sweet potato fries. It was everything I wanted.

My official time was 3:27:14 — my third-slowest marathon, and far slower than the 3:10 I originally hoped for. I was disappointed, sure, but I honestly feel that there’s nothing I could have done differently. I’m not a good heat runner anyway, and I didn’t have any opportunities to train for those conditions, since the last 18 weeks were, you know, winter.

I felt better about my finish when I got the official results e-mail Sunday night: I crossed the start line 133rd overall, 15th woman, and 5th in my age group, and I crossed the finish 130th/16th/6th. So yes, I struggled, but so did everyone else. Later, I read that the men’s winner — who also won last year — ran 10 minutes slower than he did in 2014. So yeah, the conditions were tough. I wasn’t just a wimp.

I was impressed with the race as a whole and would definitely run it again. It was extremely well-organized, and the volunteers and spectators were awesome. I also think it could be a PR course if the weather cooperated — it’s flat, but not painfully so , with just enough little rollers to keep it interesting.

So what’s next? I’m not sure. I’d like to try again for 3:10… sometime, but not this fall. I don’t want to register for another goal race until my stomach stuff is straightened out, and with all our travelling and adventuring this summer, I don’t want to be committed to a hefty training schedule. For now, I’m going to recover, then run for fun and lift a little more weights. And then…. whatever I want, I guess!

Anybody else race this weekend?

How far off is your personal worst time from your personal best?

Any suggestions for what my “next big thing” should be?

Giveaway: Skirt Sports 13er Entry and $125 Gift Card

I’ve always thought that the half marathon was poorly named. I mean, I get that 13.1 is half of 26.2, but calling it a “half” seems to diminish the accomplishment of running 13.1 miles. And it is an accomplishment that should be celebrated.

The awesome ladies at Skirt Sports share my opinion, so they  named their race a Thirteener, because “it’s not half of anything.” I kind of love that.

Know what else I love? Giving stuff away. (Okay, so this is my first blog giveaway, but I already know I’m going to love it. And so will you). Skirt Sports is giving one lucky reader an entry to the 13er (or the 10k or 5k), PLUS a $125 gift certificate!

The race is in Louisville, CO, on June 14, but if you’re not a Coloradoan, don’t despair: there’s also a virtual option, so you can join the Skirt Sports fun wherever you are!

Disclaimer: Skirt Sports also gave me a race entry and gift certificate. And look at the fun things I got!

I'm kind of in love with this top.
I’m kind of in love with this entire outfit.
Fun fact: This top is reversible!
Fun fact: This top is reversible! Awkward pose and face not included.

I’ve never done this race before, but it looks like a ton of fun: a finisher skirt instead of a shirt, cake at the finish, and raffles! I’m excited to participate, and I hope some of my readers will, too!

Ready to enter? Click here to head to a Rafflecopter with several entry options! The giveaway is open until April 30 at 11:59 p.m.


Race Recaps You Should Read

There’s nothing more inspiring than reading a race recap. Whether the racer ran a new PR or ran for fun, recaps are entertaining and always make me want to lace up my shoes and head out the door. Since fall racing season is in full swing, the blogosphere has been full of recaps of all sorts of races. Here are some of my favorites recently:

Rachel ran her first-ever 5k a couple of weeks ago. The girl runs wicked-fast half-marathons but had never tried the short and terrible 5k. Spoiler alert: she killed it.

Laura ran the Great Pumpkin Haul, which is exactly what it sounds like: she carried a 33-pound pumpkin through an obstacle course. She’s studly and the race sounds like a blast.

Christy ran the Shoes and Brews half-marathon. Sounds like the awards and swag were mediocre, but Christy ran a great race, especially for having raced several times recently!

Heather has been racing like a crazy person, but that’s a link to her recap of her tenth marathon. Ten! She’s awesome like that.

And speaking of marathons, Brooke just ran Rock ‘n Roll Denver, which is one of my favorite races ever. She met every one of her goals and ran like a rock star!

Amy ran the half at Rock ‘n Roll. She had a friend in town, and they ran for fun and wore costumes. Sounds like a great time!

I hope you’re as inspired by these recaps as I was! Now, go run!

Did I miss a race recap you’d like to share? Post the link!

What’s your favorite race of all time?

Fall Classic Marathon Recap

First, thanks for all the sweet comments on my last post! They definitely made me feel better about the race. As promised, here’s my recap. It’s wordy. Sorry.

I spent the Friday and Saturday before the race at a conference for work.  Timing was great because the conference was in Loveland (where the race finished), so I didn’t have to stress about getting to packet pick-up on time.  The conference was excellent, and I had lots of professional things to think about, so my mind was occupied with things besides my usual level of pre-race nerves. That was nice.

Packet pick-up was out at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, which is a special place to me because that’s where J and I had our rehearsal dinner. Last year’s floods caused a lot of damage at Sylvan Dale (including wiping out the building in which we had our dinner), so I was happy to see that they were receiving some financial kickback from the race.
photo (3)The view as I left packet pick-up

There was no expo, just bib and shirt pick-up, which was totally fine with me. I grabbed my bib and shirt, asked the (very nice) volunteers a few questions about the shuttle the next morning, and was on my way in just a few minutes.

I headed back into Loveland and checked into the hotel, then went for a walk to loosen up my legs while I waited for Jordan to arrive (he had meetings in Denver at the same time as my conference). When he got there, we grabbed some spaghetti from Noodles and Company, then went back to the hotel to swap conference stories and try to relax. I went to bed super early and, of course, didn’t really sleep.

The alarm went off at 3:45 the next morning. Ouch. I got dressed, ate my bagel, peanut butter, and banana, and threw on my ugly warm-up clothes. Jordan drove me the 15 minutes to meet the buses (he’s a good husband), and soon I was drifting in and out of sleep on the drive up the canyon. Soon, we arrived at the start in front of the famous Stanley Hotel. I waited on the warm bus for as long as possible, then stood in the porta-john line, worrying as the 6 a.m. start drew ever nearer. I needn’t have worried, though: two of the buses got lost, so the race start was delayed.
(This is not my picture. I didn’t want to run with my phone. I stole this picture from here. But this is where we started.)

Finally, the race director said a few words, and then we were off! We started down a steep downhill, but I tried to keep it reeled in, especially since I almost always start races too fast. Mile one ticked by in 7:33, which is right where I wanted it:  about 20 seconds slower than goal pace.

I settled in to my goal pace then and watched the miles tick by. The sun was just coming up in the canyon, reflecting off the rocks and river, and it was beautiful. Two girls were ahead of me, but I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t time to race yet, to just stick to my pace. Before long, I passed one of them, and then the only woman ahead was the one in the red Nebraska singlet… hereafter named “Nebraska” because that’s how I thought of her.

Shortly after mile 10 (I think), I passed Nebraska, but I didn’t let myself get cocky: I knew there was still a LOT of race ahead of me, and I needed to stick to my pace. By mile 15ish (when this picture was taken, I think), I was still feeling good.
Untitled2(Clearly these are the crappy thumbnail pictures sent out by the photographer. But I’m not going to pay a billion dollars for a picture, so you can look through the copyright).

At mile 18ish, I started feeling the need for a bathroom. But Nebraska was still hot on my heels, so like a moron, I didn’t stop. I really thought I could push through. So I just kept going, and for a while, I did feel better.

After 20-some miles of almost exclusively downhill, we hit a series of rolling hills. Going uphill at that point was pure torture, and looking at my splits, you can tell it:
Mile 20: 7:05 (down)
Mile 21: 7:56 (up)
Mile 22: 6:52 (down)
Mile 23: 7:34 (up)

Untitled3(This is my “who put this hill here!” face)

The last aid station was at mile 23, and I fully intended to stop and use the porta-john and just pray that Nebraska wouldn’t pull too far ahead. There was no porta-john at that aid station.This was bad news, but I had no choice but to keep going.

So I had to walk. Late-marathon leg pain is expected. It sucks, but I can push through it. But when the choice is between walking (and losing my PR and taking second instead of first) and soiling myself, I will choose walking every time… even if I wanted to cry when Nebraska passed me. My dismal last splits:
Mile 24: 7:46
Mile 25: 8:19
Mile 26: 9:02

Of course, this was also just about the only place on the course where there were spectators, all yelling at me, “You’re almost there! Just push through!” Ugh.

I finally crossed the finish in 3:13:00 and made a (hobbling) beeline to the bathrooms. And then I cried a little, drank some water, tried to eat some watermelon, and decided that there was nothing I could do, so I should just accept the race I ran. The $400 second-place prize helped soften the blow considerably, too.

photo 1 (4)Aside from the digestive disaster, I’m pretty happy with this race. I did much better at pacing than I ever had before, and I think that I do have that 3:10 in me, if all my systems cooperate. During this training cycle, I sometimes thought that this would be my last marathon, that I was ready to try something new … but now I feel like I need one more chance to redeem myself. Spring marathon suggestions, anyone?

My personal race aside, the Fall Classic is a fantastic marathon, and I highly recommend it. This was its first year, so naturally it had a couple of little glitches (like the bus issue), but overall, it was very well-organized. And it’s tough to beat that gorgeous course. I was a little nervous about running down that narrow canyon road, since the road remained open, but the runners’ area was clearly marked with cones, and police were constantly driving up and down the canyon with their lights flashing to slow down motorists. I never felt remotely unsafe.

My favorite thing about this race is that it 100 percent benefited locals. The entry fees supported flood victims. The aid stations were manned by local high schools’ cross country teams, who earned money for “volunteering.” The medals were created by a local artist, and the food and beer were provided by a local brewery (apparently their hand-made bratwursts were to die for. I wouldn’t know, because bratwursts are the worst. Ha. Pun).
photo 2 (5)So, in a nutshell: stunning mountain course, substantial cash prizes, great organization, all benefiting the local economy. Do this race if you can.

Have you ever had a race foiled by digestive troubles? Tell me your story and make me feel better about myself, please.

What spring marathon should I do?


Chase the Moon Relay Recap

This post is a little wordy. For a quick review of the race itself, scroll to the bottom. 

A few months ago, via Twitter, Logan started trying to convince Amy and me to run this crazy, all-night trail relay called Chase the Moon. Though the thought of running trails at night scared me, I decided that it’s good to do scary things sometimes, so  I agreed to it… especially after we assured one another that none of us were, in fact, serial killers (none of us had met in person at that point). And so, Team Cereal Killers was born. Later, we managed to talk Aimee and Brooke into joining the team, so we moved into the five-person division.

Last Friday night, Team Cereal Killers met for the first time, ready to take on Chase the Moon.
photo 4Logan, Brooke, Amy, me and Aimee. And our cereals, of course.

The race started at 7 p.m., so Jordan and I left home around 3:30, planning to meet the team between 5:30 and 6. As we drove, rain started pouring down. As it rained harder and harder, I got more and more nervous. I never run in the rain… because it hardly ever rains here, and when it does, it passes quickly. This storm was a typical quick-mover, thank goodness, so by the time we all met up, put up Amy’s and Brooke’s tents, and took a group photo, the rain had slowed to sporadic spits. By race time, it wasn’t raining at all. It was, however, humid (to me. Logan, who lives in D.C.,  thought it felt delightful).

I was our team’s first runner, so at 7:00, I lined up at the start to listen to instructions and the National Anthem. And just like that, we were off!
photo2I started WAY too far back, which meant I spent the first mile or so weaving, which is never good (but which I always do, somehow). Eventually, the crowd thinned, and I settled into a comfortable pace. My plan was to run nice and easy, at long run pace, since I was counting my two loops as my usual long run.

And then I hit the first aid station at mile 3.7, and they told me I was the first woman through. That’s when Competitive Cassie came out. I didn’t care that there were still over 11 hours in the race. I was first right now, and I was gonna stay first through the first loop. And this is why I can never do a race as a training run: I am mildly crazy.

I picked up the pace a little (the long downhill stretches helped). Since it was still daylight, I also got to enjoy some gorgeous views of the sun setting on the foothills and the city below. No, I did not take a picture. I was WINNING, remember? Before I knew it, I was back at the start, where I handed off the baton to Aimee, and she took off.

Thanks to Logan for this picture!
Thanks to Logan for this picture!

I changed out of my sweaty clothes, said goodbye to Jordan, and spent the next several hours hanging out at our little camp and getting to know my awesome teammates. Aimee was back before we knew it, finishing her lap in the dark. We realized, as she passed us unrecognized, that identifying our teammates in the dark was nearly impossible. The next few runners on our team came in shouting, “Cereal Killers!” so we’d be ready.  In hindsight, that’s probably not a great thing to shout as you come in off a dark trail in the middle of the night…

Aimee handed off to Logan, who handed off to Amy, who passed the baton to Brooke. I have no pictures of this, because it was dark. All the pictures I attempted looked like nothing. When Brooke got back at around 3:30, it was my turn again, so off I went. I knew my second lap would be much slower than the first because of the whole darkness thing, so I told myself to just take it easy. My Garmin beeped at mile 1: 8:35. Not too bad, I thought.

Then, at mile 1.3, I tripped over a big nothing and fell flat on my face. Awesome. I broke the skin on my knee and filled my water bottle cap with mud, but I wasn’t hurt. I assumed that was the universe telling me to not get cocky, so I slowed down considerably and paid closer attention to my feet. Thankfully, I had no further incidents, and I actually enjoyed running in the dark. It was quiet and peaceful (but there were other runners out there, so I felt safe), and the full moon and city lights below made for some pretty sights (on the rare occasion that I looked up post-fall).

(Another stolen photo, this one from Colorado Runner Magazine)

I finished my loop in the slowest time I’ve ever run ten miles, and my team told me that unless I wanted to run again, we were done. The race directors (and website) had originally said they’d cut the loop down to 10k between 5:30 and 6. Since none of my teammates were up for another 10 miles, they had asked the race directors when the loop would be cut down, planning to wait and run the 10k loop. They were  informed that the course wasn’t being cut down  after all. Since all of us are training for other races and none of us were dumb enough to risk pushing too hard on another 10-mile loop and getting injured, we called it quits after 61.8 miles and 10 hours.

Somehow, even quitting early, we managed to win the women’s five-person division (there were only two other teams in our division), so all of us except Aimee stayed for the awards (she had an hour’s drive home and needed to get there before the lack of sleep caught up with her).
photoThe medals glow in the dark. So do the race shirts. That’s pretty nifty.

In a nutshell…

Like any race, this one had pros and cons, but I think the pros far outweighed the cons. Here’s a quick summary of my opinions on both:


  • The course. It was a pretty course, not at all technical (a major bonus for a night run), and very well-marked. Orange paint, ribbons, signs, and glow sticks marked the way, and anywhere you could possibly get lost, a volunteer was stationed to keep you on the right course. I have the worst sense of direction in the history of directions, and even I had no trouble staying on course. Also, it was cool to look back and see all the little lights from headlamps bobbing along below.
  • The volunteers. These people were amazing. They stayed up all night, too, but I never even saw one yawn. They were peppy, encouraging, and ready to help with anything.
  • The support. Water, Gatorade, and snacks were plentiful — more helpful for the solo runners, I’m sure, but nice for us relayers, too!
  • The solo runners. Seeing people of all ages and sizes running for 12 solid hours was inspiring. The solo race winner (a woman) ran over 70 miles in the 12-hour race. She is amazing.

There were a couple of negatives, but any inaugural race is bound to have some hiccups. I’m sure the race directors will work them out for next year.

  • The washing-machine style loops. Odd-numbered loops were run one direction, and even-numbered loops the opposite. I understand why they did it this way, but it got a little confusing in the wee hours, and I really didn’t like scooting over as I met people in the dark. I was afraid of a twisted ankle. This is not a deal-breaker, though, especially since that’s just my opinion and I’m sure some people liked it.
  • The last-minute distance change. This will be a really easy fix for next year — either they’ll do the cutdown to 10k, or they won’t advertise that they will. It just threw us off because everyone was on training plans and had certain mileage planned, and it was frustrating to have those plans foiled. Again, not a deal-breaker, at least not for me.

Would I do this race again? Maybe. I definitely prefer daytime running — I loved seeing the scenery on my first loop and didn’t love the undivided attention on the trail in front of me on the second. BUT… next year, the race is July 31-August 1. August 1 is my birthday. That means that if I ran three loops, I’d turn 30 while running 30 miles. And that might be too cool to pass up.

Would you do or have you done an all-night run or relay?

Want to be on my team next year and ring in my 30th with me? 

Throwback Thursday: My First Marathon

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a Throwback Thursday post. I made that realization as I was finally categorizing past posts today. Note to bloggers: Categorize as you go. That was a huge pain. 

Anyway, I also realized that I’ve never written about my first marathon, Rock ‘n Roll Seattle in 2010 — the one that infected me with this desire to keep running them. So here’s the story. Enjoy!

I shuffle around the start line in the predawn light, shaking out my legs, straightening my bib, and exchanging nervous smiles and small talk with the other runners. Eighteen weeks of training have gotten me here– eighteen weeks of hard runs and ice baths, of early bedtimes and even earlier alarm clocks, of avoiding refined sugars and alcohol. Eighteen weeks, and it all comes down to this moment. In just a few minutes, the anthem will play and the gun will go off, and I’ll have 26.2 miles to test my training, to see if I have the endurance – mental and physical –for this task.

I don’t have much time to stress, thankfully. Before I know it, the gun has fired and I’m shuffling forward, anxious for the pack to thin so I can find my stride.  The first few miles pass quickly, and soon the sun is high and the spectators are out, ringing cowbells, playing music, and cheering enthusiastically as we run by. I bypass several aid stations, thinking I’ll avoid the crowds and catch a drink at the next one – a mistake, I realize just before mile 10. I’m lightheaded and dizzy, and I have to slow to a walk. At the aid station, I grab and gulp several cups of water; by the time I’m done, I feel like a new woman. I run the next few miles with a silly grin on my face, exchanging high-fives with spectators and jokes with fellow racers.

seattle rnr marathon1

After mile 20, though, I hit the metaphorical wall I’d read about on all the training websites– the wall I’d hoped to avoid. My legs throb, my lungs burn, and I look down to make sure my feet are still attached. I keep pushing, praying that I’ll break through that wall and feel fresh again. Along with not hydrating, I haven’t taken in any nutrition. I promise myself that I’ll avoid that rookie mistake IF I ever run another marathon… which is not looking likely at this point.

If I had known a polar bear was beating me, I would have been even more demoralized.
If I had known a polar bear was beating me, I would have been even more demoralized.

Eventually, I feel a little better, but some sadist of a course-planner threw in a hill at mile 25. My legs refuse to carry me up. Defeated, I slow to a walk. Another runner pulls up alongside me just as I slow. “Don’t walk now!” he urges. “Just top this hill, and you’ll hear the crowd. They’ll carry you to the finish line.” Encouraged, I start running again. Every step hurts and I want to quit, but I can’t stop now. My new friend runs with me for perhaps a quarter mile, adding valuable seconds to his own time to ensure that I’ll make it. I thank him between gasps and urge him to go on. He smiles, wishes me good luck, and disappears over the top of the hill.

Eventually I top the hill, too, and see that he was right. The road to the finish is lined with screaming spectators three-deep, and I can hear the finish-line band blaring. I pass the mile-26 sign, and then the finish line is in sight. The clock says 3:29:13– I’m seconds away from my goal time. My legs scream, but from somewhere deep inside me comes one final kick. I push hard, hearing Jordan’s shouted, “THAT’S MY WIFE!” as I glimpse his grinning face from the corner of my eye.

seattle rnr marathon2


I cross the finish line as the clock flashes 3:30:07. I made it! I slow to a walk—a shuffle, really– and gratefully accept water from a smiling volunteer. Another volunteer slides a medal over my head, and a third directs me to the end of the chute, where my grinning husband envelopes my aching, sweat-soaked body in his arms and tells me how proud he is.

seattle rnr marathon3

I missed the volunteer with space blankets, but I have to sit down. I sink onto the fender of a semi, gulping Cytomax and loosening my shoes, while Jordan stands beside me, swinging my medal and beaming. I’m exhausted, I stink, and every inch of me hurts, but I’m also proud of myself like I have never been before.

I look up at Jordan and grin. “When can I run another?”


Tell me about your first race!

A Year Ago Today: My Boston Story

The Internet is inundated with stories like this today, but since all day I’ve been thinking about all that went on a year ago today, I decided to go ahead and post my story, too. I don’t have any pictures in the post; none of Jordan’s turned out great, and I didn’t pay for the official course photos. The words will just have to speak for themselves.

The Boston Marathon is the most historic and iconic marathon in the U.S. Some runners train for years and years before they make it to Boston.  Others qualify on the first try. But regardless of how they got there, all the runners are proud to be in Boston. On April 15, 2013, I was one of them. Like the other 20,000 people in Hopkinton that morning, I had trained hard to qualify, then trained for 18 weeks in preparation for this day.

As all the other runners and I milled around the fields behind Hopkinton High School, bodies wrapped in trash bags, old space blankets, and ratty sweatpants, nervous energy filled the air. We made small talk– Where are you from? This your first Boston? Your family here to watch? – as we waited anxiously for the storied marathon to begin. Little did we know that this year’s race would end like no Boston had before: in tragedy.

After a couple of long, chilly hours, the call for Wave 1 runners came over the loudspeakers. I shoved my jacket in my gear-check bag, tossed the bag to the volunteers in the baggage-transport school bus, made one last porta-john stop, and walk-jogged the three-quarters of a mile to the starting line. I was late – that last bathroom stop cost me – so I frantically peeled off my throwaway sweatshirt and pants, running to the start line in time to cross with the tail end of my wave. I’d missed the National Anthem, the starting pistol, and the elite start, but now I was here, running the famous Boston course with 26 miles to go.

I came to Boston with only one goal: to soak up the experience. I didn’t care if I set a new personal record; I didn’t want to push myself that hard and miss the one-of-a-kind experience that is the Boston Marathon. Starting the moment I crossed that starting line timing mat in Hopkinton, I ran with a big, goofy grin on my face. Everything started ideally. The weather was perfect – low 50s, mostly cloudy with occasional sun peeking through.  I saw more spectators than I’d seen at any other race – they stood three deep in places. I chuckled at the signs they held (“If a marathon was easy, it’d be called your mom!”), high-fived hundreds of little kids, laughed and refused when a group of college boys offered me a Dixie cup of beer. I went out too fast thanks to all that  energy, but I didn’t care. I had come to have fun, and I was having it.

At the half-way point, I hit the infamous “scream tunnel,” where  the women of Wellesley College line the street, yelling, cheering, getting kisses from every male runner (and some females) who passes. I high-fived a girl holding a “Kiss Me, I’m a Ginger” sign who shouted, “Gingers unite!” when she spotted me. Then, before long, I was at mile 20, where the notorious “Hills of Newton”  were said to begin. I turned to a runner next to me and asked, “When do the Newton Hills start?” He laughed and said, “You’re in ‘em!” My Colorado-trained legs and lungs didn’t even consider most of them hills…until I hit Heartbreak Hill at mile 21. It’s named Heartbreak for a reason: it’s hard. But  screaming spectators packed the sides of the road, and their voices carried me up and over the hill. I hit a few more small-but-painful hills, and then started a glorious downhill stretch toward the finish line on Boylston.

I heard Boylston Street before I saw it, but I still wasn’t prepared for what I saw there. Spectators lined the street five deep, waving signs, cheering, blowing air horns. News cameras hovered over the finish line, projecting images of the finishers on a giant screen for all the spectators to see. I crossed the finish line in 3:24 and change, at about 1:30 p.m., with that same big grin still on my face. Helpful volunteers immediately greeted me. One draped a medal around my neck. One stopped me to make sure that my limp was just the typical post-marathon gimp and I didn’t need medical attention. Another shoved water and Gatorade in my hands, while still another wrapped my shivering shoulders in a space blanket. Along with a few hundred other runners, I shuffled along through the long finishing chute, gathering Clif bars and bananas. I heard my name and turned to see my husband and in-laws, waving and cheering. They’d struggled to get my attention, so the twenty or so people around them joined in the shouting until I finally heard. I waved, indicating that I’d meet them in the Family Reunion Area soon.

The finisher’s area was enormous, far larger than any other I’d seen. Of course, this race was far larger than any I’d run. I eventually found the school bus in which I’d checked my gear in Hopkinton and gratefully yanked out my jacket. Now that I wasn’t running, I was freezing, and the warm fleece was exactly what I needed. Then, I kept moving forward into the alphabetized Family Reunion Area, silently cursing myself for marrying a man whose last name started with “S.” I finally found the “S” sign and began scanning the crowd for Jordan and his family. I searched and searched but didn’t see them, and I wished desperately that I had checked my cell phone in my gear bag. Eventually, I hoisted myself up on a flowerbed (no painless feat, given my post-race soreness) and waited for them to find me. Finally, they did, and after a round of sweaty, shivery hugs, we headed off to catch a train and find some lunch.

At the subway station, I sponged down with WetWipes and changed clothes in the bathroom. Then, we caught a train to another part of town, where a burger and French fries awaited my growling belly. We decided to eat at Cheers, as it was close to where we got off the train and the wait was fairly short. As we waited in the lobby, I exchanged weary nods and smiles with the other Boston Marathon jacket-wearing patrons. Though those runners and I had never met before, we were now part of an exclusive club – a tired, sweaty, but accomplished club.

Finally, the hostess came out and told us we could be seated. She placed us at a table between two big-screen T.V.s, and what we saw on those screens made us drop our menus and stare. “Breaking News: Explosions at Marathon Finish Line” screamed the headline. Flashing lights and sprinting people filled the screen. We could barely hear the commentators, but we gathered that explosions had occurred just minutes earlier – probably while we were on the subway. The reporters weren’t sure yet what the source of the explosions was, nor did they know the extent of the injuries.

We stared at the T.V. in shock. We were just there.

We ordered our burgers, barely taking our eyes off the televisions. I suddenly realized that I needed to call my parents – I wanted them to hear from me that I was okay before they saw the explosions on the news. My phone had no signal in the restaurant, so I stepped outside. Reception there was not much better – practically every phone  in Boston was in use, and the cell towers jammed. After several tries, I managed to get through to my mom. The connection was poor, but before I lost service again, I told her that there had been explosions and that I didn’t know any details, but Jordan, his parents, and I were  safe.

I headed back into the restaurant, where my cheeseburger was waiting, and we all ate as quickly as possible, gazing apprehensively at the televisions all the while. As it turned out, we should have just taken our time: getting a cab back to the hotel was well-nigh impossible. We took refuge in the lobby of a Marriott, where there were clean bathrooms and a Starbuck’s, and the kind concierge there managed to get us a taxi, even though we weren’t her guests and she certainly didn’t have to help us. Finally, hours after I’d finished the race, we arrived back at the hotel. I took a much-needed shower, and Jordan and I spent the next few hours watching the news unfold, clinging to each other, answering the numerous phone calls and text messages that rolled in once the cell towers’ burdens lessened, worrying about whether or not our flight the next morning would be able to leave.

The flight did leave – on time, even – and before long, we were back in Denver, avoiding the vulture-like news crews hovering around the baggage claim.  For the next several days, I watched the news in utter horror, seeing again and again the faces of those killed and the severed limbs of those who survived. My brain played the “what if” game, even though I tried to stop it: What if I’d run slower? What if my limp had been an injury, and I’d spent an hour in the medical tent at the finish line? What if I hadn’t been so cold and hungry, and we had stayed to watch more people finish?  If any of those things had happened, we would have at the very least witnessed the bombings, and my family or I could have been among the dead and maimed.

But we weren’t there. We were safe in the subway, far from the finish, when the bombs went off. And someday, I will go back. Not this year, and maybe not next year, either. But someday, I will once again toe the line in Hopkinton. I’ll once again high-five through Wellesley and dig deep at Heartbreak Hill. And next time, when I make the turn onto Boylston, it will be with mixed emotions. I will mourn those who lost lives and limbs. I will mourn the loss of life – and running–as we knew it. I might even feel some fear. But all those emotions will be overpowered by thankfulness. I’ll be grateful to be there, to be running, to be among people who truly understand. And I will know then, as I know now, that we are stronger than terror.  As runners, as spectators, and as Americans, we will always come back. And nothing will stop us.

Spring Fever 10k Recap and Review

The trouble with spring races in Colorado is that the weather is so stinking unpredictable. It can be 70 degrees and sunny one day and 20 degrees and snowing the next. That was the case last weekend for All-Out Multisport’s Spring Fever 5k, 10k, and half-marathon. Friday was sunny and in the high 40s. Sunday was sunny and in the mid-60s. Saturday, though, was snowy, windy, and in the high 20s/low 30s. Saturday was, of course, race day.

Usually when I race, I make an A, B, and C goal. For this race, though, I had three equally satisfying A goals, a B goal, and no C goals. My A goals were to PR, set a course record, and/or win the race. After studying the elevation chart, I knew the PR was unlikely (my current PR is 40:30, and that was run on an all-downhill course), but the course record (42:57) was in reach. Looking at past winning times, I thought winning was also in reach, but that would clearly depend on who else entered this year.

Since all those goals were dependent on outside factors, my B goal was simply to give all I had to the race. If I crossed the finish line completely spent, knowing I couldn’t have pushed harder, I’d be satisfied.

Since we had a work event in Denver on Friday night, J and I decided to get a hotel room and skip the extra driving. The race started at 9:30 and we were only about 30 minutes away, so we had plenty of time to eat some oatmeal, change outfits several times (that one was just me), and plan out the rest of our day. We arrived at the race around 8:45. I checked in, grabbed my bib, and hustled back to sit in the toasty car for a while (and change …again… into a warmer top). At about 9:05, I reluctantly got out of the car, did a mile warm-up with some quick strides, hit the bathrooms (heated, not porta-johns!), and lined up at the start.

"If I smile, I'll be warmer....right?"
“If I smile, I’ll be warmer….right?”


After what seemed like 8,000 announcements (not really that many. I was just cold), we were off!
image (10)


The first two miles were on a pretty steep downhill, and the wind was at our backs. Here were my splits and my corresponding thoughts:

Mile 1: “Too fast too fast too fast. Can’t slow down. WHAT ARE MY PARENTS DOING HERE?!” (They decided to take a spontaneous trip to see my brother in Denver and cheer me on at the race!) “That girl is getting ahead of me. Don’t let her get too far.” Split: 6:13

Mile 2:  “Let her go. She’s out of your league, and you’ll blow up trying to catch her.” Split: 6:32

During these first two miles, I made  a friend named Matt. As we turned into the wind, we took turns drafting for each other and exchanging concerns about when the uphill would begin.

Yay! Downhill! (That's my new friend in the orange)
Yay! Downhill! (That’s my new friend in the orange, and the winning woman leaving me in her dust.) Photo courtesy of

Mile 3:
 “Found the uphill. Holy steep. And wind in the face. Gross. Lead girl is long gone. Hang on to second.” Split: 7:42

Mile 4: “I remember the elevation chart. It’s back to downhill after this mile. But ouch, seriously.” Split: 7:47

This is where my new friend Matt pulled ahead. There was another runner ahead of us, and Matt said, “Let’s catch him!” I told him to go on; I needed to keep something in reserves for the final uphill near the finish.

Mile 5: “Wheeeeeeee! More downhill! Headwinds while running downhill aren’t nearly as bad as uphill!” Split: 6:14

Mile 5.7: “Whoa. 5k course. Walkers. Strollers. I don’t like this.”

Mile 6: “Pass that guy in tights. Pass him on this little hill.” (Same guy I’d been tailing that Matt passed at Mile 4). Got him! Split: 6:53

Check out that ridiculous face I'm making. (photo courtesy of
Check out that ridiculous face I’m making. (photo courtesy of

Mile 6.01: Ouch. More uphill. Almost there. Push! Push!

MIle 6.2: Oh no, tights man. You will not come from behind now! (I beat him. Just barely.) Split: I don’t know because I didn’t stop my watch until over a minute later. 

MIle 6.21: Gasp. Gag. Don’tbarfdon’tbarfdon’tbarf. Walk it out.

Official Time: 43:00.

I neither PRd nor won. I was three seconds away from the old course record, but that didn’t matter, since the top woman ran sub-40. But I definitely made my “B” goal — I gave it all I had and pushed through on a tough course and a tougher day. So I’m pretty darn satisfied with that.

Overall, I liked this race (aside from the weather, but when you sign up for a March race in Colorado, you know what you’re potentially getting into). But it had some negatives, too. Here’s a quick rundown.


  • Well-organized. The half started about 10 minutes before the 10k, which started about 10 minutes before the 5k, and all the starts went smoothly. Bib pick-up was also very speedy and easy.
  • Indoor restrooms. This was a MAJOR plus on such a frigid day.
  • Gorgeous course. It’s in Golden, which is a beautiful area, and it circles a lake. If the weather was clear, it would have been absolutely stunning.
  • Tons of prizes. In addition to overall and age-group awards (I got a restaurant gift card for the second-place prize), the race had a ton of raffle giveaways — restaurant, massage, and running store gift cards, water bottles, gym memberships. I think they said they had over $7,000 in prizes.
  • A podium. What? Not a big deal? Whatever. I thought it was fun. Not all of us get to stand on podiums regularly.

    The top three popsicles... I mean women runners.
    The top three popsicles… I mean women runners.
  • Lots of aid stations and great volunteers. Seriously, how cool do you have to be to stand out in the freezing cold for a couple of hours, handing out water and shouting encouragement?
  • Cute shirts and medals. Honestly, I think finisher medals for short races are a little silly, but who wouldn’t love this bee?
    image (1) image (2)
  • A great cause. The race raises money for the Parkinson’s Association. Can’t fault that.
  • Free photo downloads. Many races charge obscene prices for the pictures, so getting these for free was pretty cool. Especially since I don’t want to pay for pictures in which I look like I’m simultaneously pooping and dying.


  • Having the 10k and the 5k course share the final 1.5 miles was not fun. It meant that the fast 10k runners came up behind the slow 5kers — people who were just there to walk it with their pals or kids, pushing strollers, etc., or as we got closer to the finish line, run-walkers who would abruptly stop and walk.  Not that there’s a thing wrong with those types of racers (J and I just walked one last weekend); it’s just a pain to bob and weave, especially when your energy is running out. A ton of people also had in headphones, so they couldn’t hear runners coming up behind them, gasping out “scuse me” or “onerleft” (that’s about all the enunciating I could do just then).
  • No hot drinks at the finish. All I wanted was something warm. Of course, if they did have coffee or hot chocolate, it would’ve been an 80-degree day and no one would have wanted it, so I can’t really fault the organizers for that one.

Overall, I enjoyed this race and recommend it. I’d do it or another All-Out Multisport event again … hopefully on a little nicer day.

Once again, I want to give a shout-out to Heather for designing my training plan. The hard, fast workouts definitely gave me the confidence to push through some of the tough spots in the race.

Tell me about a recent race of yours!

What are your tips for racing on tough days/courses?


Awkward Splits for Second Place: Loveland Sweetheart Classic Recap

On Saturday, I ran the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-Mile Race. Going in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve just recently started doing speedwork again, and I didn’t know how the course conditions would be, either. All of last week was frigid — as in, barely above zero — so when I saw that the temperature at start time was 20 degrees and  it was sunny, I got pretty excited.

The race started at 10, and we got there around 9. The start and finish were at a high school, which was nice because we got to stay inside and keep warm until start time. At about 9:30, I did a two-mile warm-up and hit the bathroom, and then it was go time. We lined up, shivered through the National Anthem, and took off.

At the starting line. Brrrrr.
At the starting line. Brrrrr.

I had only a vague plan and goal, as I knew my performance would be largely dependent on how much ice was on the course. I planned to start with a 6:30 mile and pick it up if possible — ideally, each mile faster than the last.

Mile 1 ticked by, right on pace: 6:29. Mile 2 was a smidge downhill, with a tailwind, and not much ice: 6:20. And then, mile 3 came along, with a lot of ice. Mile 3 was along the lake, and the wind over the water (ice) was chilly and in my face. Though my effort stayed pretty even, I ticked off mile 3 in 6:41. Mile 4 was even worse. The course is pretty flat, but most of mile 4 was a slight uphill with a number of icy patches. 6:45 was my pace there.

Photo copyright John C. Giroux. He gave each runner up to three complimentary images. That's pretty cool.
Photo copyright John C. Giroux. He gave each runner up to three complimentary images. That’s pretty cool.

So those are some silly splits, but I don’t feel too bad about them, as their unevenness was due more to conditions than poor pacing on my part (though I probably should have eased up on mile 2). I crossed the line in 26:49 — good enough for second female and first in my age group.

Photo copyright John Giroux. My favorite part of this picture is Jordan in the background.
Photo copyright John Giroux. My favorite part of this picture is Jordan in the background.

The first woman and I compared notes after the race. Both our Garmins registered 4.1 miles, but we agreed that it was probably more that we were dodging ice than that the race was long. Overall, I was happy with my performance — it was right where I expected to be, given the shape I’m in and the course conditions.

I really enjoyed this race and definitely recommend it. I’ve done it before, at its old location, and I liked this location (through neighborhoods and around the lake) much more. The race had some minor organizational snafus, but nothing major. It’s not a huge race (519 runners this year), and all the profits go to local high school cross country teams, so I’m willing to overlook those minor issues.

Right after the race, still trying to breathe.
Right after the race, still trying to breathe.

Also, the age group award medals were adorable, and they came with a $25 gift certificate to Runner’s Roost. Sweet.

photo (32)

I’m excited now to see what my time will be for my goal 10k in a few weeks. Hopefully a few solid weeks of speedwork (and less snow and ice, fingers crossed) will make for a great race!

What’s your favorite race distance?

Throwback Thursday: That Time I Won a Marathon

After I wrote this post and this post, I started to wonder if my readers (both of you) would think that I’m a bit of an idiot. And while that may be true, that’s not the impression that I generally try  to give off, so I decided to change it up and write about something I did that wasn’t stupid. (And, full disclosure here, I wrote this story as an example of a personal narrative for my freshmen last year. It required minimal work to go from “freshman example” to “blog post,” and I’m tired tonight). Don’t worry, I plan to tell you another stupid story next week.

All the photos in this post are from the Estes Park Marathon’s website

Marathon training takes at least eighteen weeks — eighteen weeks of hard workouts, conscientious nutrition, and careful scheduling.The spring of 2012 was the fourth time I had gone through this training cycle, but this time was different. This time, I wasn’t gunning for a personal best or even an age group placement. This time, though I didn’t admit it to anyone but myself, I wanted to win. I had checked the results of 2011’s Estes Park Marathon, and the winning woman had run a 3:30 –seventeen minutes slower than my personal best. I knew that Estes ran ten to twenty minutes longer than the average marathon, so  I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could win.

Training for the June marathon started in February. I despise training in the early spring. I hate the wind, I hate the cold, and I really hate the short days that force me onto the treadmill for long training runs. All that treadmill time had an advantage, though: If I didn’t have access to a treadmill in flat Fort Morgan, preparing for the six-mile climb that starts the Estes Park Marathon, as well as all the smaller-but-steeper hills later in the race, would be close to impossible.

It looks friendlier than it is.

So I trained on the treadmill, and I trained through the bad weather. When I lined up on race day, butterflies fluttered in my stomach, but I hoped I was prepared for victory.

The starting line crowd at Estes was tiny, compared to most other marathons. Not wanting to be too cocky, I eased up near the front of the crowd but avoided toeing the line. As we anxiously waited for race to start, I made small talk with some of the runners around me, bounced up and down, and easily stretched a few times to stay loose.

I am not in this picture, but this is how the starting line looked.

Finally, the gun went off. Every race, no matter how small, starts in a bit of a cluster, but by the time I made it down the first tiny incline and started that six-mile climb, I had managed to find my groove and stick with it. A long string of runners stretched ahead of me, but I didn’t worry yet. I still had 26 miles to make my move. As I climbed that first big hill, I noticed a young woman on a bike ahead of me.  I thought little of it until right around mile three, when a spectator shouted, “You’re the first woman! First woman!”

Holy crap, I thought. That’s the escort cyclist! Not wanting to get over-confident, I smiled at the spectator and said, “There’s still a lot of race to run!”  — as much to remind myself of that as her. But I determined then that no woman would pass me over the next 23 miles.

As we topped that first hill, a hard, hot wind blasted me. I didn’t know it yet, but that wind – sometimes gusting up to 30 miles per hour – would be my constant companion for the rest of the race. I thanked my lucky stars that it was a headwind now, when six miles of downhill stretched ahead of me, so I wasn’t fighting wind and running uphill. The next few miles passed uneventfully. I held my pace steady, enjoyed the stunning scenery, and occasionally chatted with the escort cyclist, smiling to myself every mile when I heard her report on her radio: “Lead female, mile 8.”

Just after the halfway point, as I ran around blissfully flat Lake Estes, I spotted my parents and husband. Jordan brings a cowbell and a poster to every race, but my parents had never spectated before, so their signs surprised me. My dad’s, a bright-colored iteration of an old inside joke (“Use your head!”), made me smile. My mom’s  sign, a joke about porta-potties, made me roll my eyes, as my miniature bladder has long been the butt of family jokes.

As it turned  away from the lake, the course started another substantial climb. By this time, the sun was bearing down, and that hot wind still gusted. At every water stop, I gulped water and dumped a cup or two on my head. Unfortunately, my listening skills started failing around mile 15, and though the volunteer clearly shouted, “Gatorade!,” I grabbed her cup and dumped in on my head. Now exhausted, thirsty, and sticky– but at least slightly cooler– I chugged up the hill.

Oh, I've used this picture before? Right. Credit still goes to the Estes Park Trail Gazette.
Oh, I’ve used this picture before? Right. Credit still goes to the Estes Park Trail Gazette.

By the time I topped that last big hill, my legs constantly screamed at me, and the heat started making me lightheaded. I learned early in the race that I couldn’t stomach gels in the heat, and I’m sure the lack of fuel wasn’t helping anything. I glanced over my shoulder several times to see if another woman was bearing down on me, but the winding mountain roads made seeing far impossible.

I kept plugging away. I feared leading  for 20 miles and then ending up second – or lower.  Despite my determination, though, my pace continued to slow. The hills and heat were taking their toll, and the wind only blew harder. I continued drinking at every aid station, filling my bottle so I could drink between, and dumping water (definitely water) on my head. I started setting little goals for myself – just run to that tree, just back down to the lake.

Finally, I spotted Estes Park High School in the distance, and I knew that the finish line was near. As I approached the school, I wondered how the small incline I ran down at the start of the race had grown into a substantial mountain. As my aching legs stumbled up the incline, I glimpsed the lights of the football field, where the finish line waited.

“How….much….farther?” I gasped to a volunteer, my legs stumbling and begging to walk.

“Just around this corner, then half a lap!” she shouted.

As we turned onto the track, the escort cyclist pulled over. “You’re there! Just finish this lap! Great job!” she screamed. I spotted my family, screaming, jumping, cheering, and I dug deep for a kick, albeit a paltry one on wasted legs.  As I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer shout, “Women’s marathon winner!” (I also heard him shout, “You gotta run across the mat so I know your name!”)

Entirely spent but grinning, I stumbled over to the grass and collapsed. My husband brought me some Gatorade (I drank it this time), and my family surrounded me, repeatedly congratulating me. I sat there in shock: I had just won a marathon.

In the weeks and months following the race, my husband loved to brag about my win, and I always blushed and blew it off. “It was a really, really small race,” I said, over and over. And it’s true – Estes Park is the smallest marathon I’ve ever run. But then, I decided to stop blowing it off. I trained hard. I fought hard. And I won.  Although Estes was small, and although I’ll never win a major marathon, I did win this one. And there’s nothing wrong with being proud of it.

What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?

Do you ever have trouble owning your successes?

Would you run this race? You should. It’s amazing.