Monthly Archives: August 2016

Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 8 & 9

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I’m really behind again – but for a good reason! I’ve been having a lot of fun and enjoying my last few weeks of summer vacation. This post will recap both week 8 and 9. I’m also nearly through week 10. Oops! Week 8 was a glorious cutback week and week 9 was spent in beautiful, amazing Oregon visiting family. So much to catch up on, including two races! Here are all the details.

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.


  • Monday: Yoga. I have really been enjoying doing yoga on my rest days. I just do it at home, and I’ve been liking this Youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene. She has a Yoga for Runner’s playlist, but I especially like this 30 minute practice that hits all my tight spots!
  • Tuesday: Easy Run – 4.3 miles @ 8:48. Tuesdays are usually a speedwork day for me, but since this was a cutback week and I had a 10 mile race on Sunday I had to just do easy runs all week. However, I still met up with the Moms Run This Town ladies for Track Tuesday. Once we said hello and chatted for a bit I headed out to a nearby neighborhood to get my miles in. Everyone in the group dedicated their miles to one of our member’s sister, who passed away and would have been turning 43. I ran 4.3 miles for her ❤


  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 6 miles @ 8:19. So much for keeping all my runs easy this week! My “easy” 6 mile run turned into a hard, hot, humid, hilly, too fast run with my friend Steve who as always, slowed way down for me. If I didn’t have him pushing me and keeping my mind off the weather I would have probably cut it short and slowed way down. Running buddies are the best!!! But really… is it fall yet?


  • Thursday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 8:59 + Upper Fix. On this day I did a quick early morning run before my mommy duties resumed. I don’t love back-to-back runs (legs felt soooo heavy) but my youngest was with his dad overnight and the oldest is at the beach. I have to make the most of the time I have to myself, even if that means two runs less than 12 hours apart. It does make me want to do a Ragnar race though. Good thing one is already in the works for 2017! Later on in the day I did upper fix while the baby was napping.


  • Friday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:37 + Lower Fix. I think my waffles had something magical in them this morning because I felt really good on this run! Kyler and I ran our favorite loop which is mostly by the water. It’s weird how different it feels to push a single stroller and without 35 pounds of threenager! I was only planning to run 3 miles but he fell asleep and I felt good so I went 1 more then walked some. 4 miles at an average pace of 8:37 and each mile was faster than the last. Later on I did Lower Fix for strength training.


  • Saturday: Rest. I normally run on both weekend days, but I took a rest day because I had a 10 mile race on Sunday. Later on in the day I realized any chance of a PR was going to be non-existent, so taking a rest day wasn’t really necessary, but oh well! The forecast showed that it was going to be very hot when it started at 7:15 (80s-90s) so I changed my race plan. Rather than kill myself in the brutal heat and humidity I decided to take it easier and stick with my friends.
  • Sunday: Hartwood 10 Miler @ 10:13. A full recap of this race is coming, but it was SO HOT! I loaded up on sunscreen and body glide, put on my shorts and sports bra and bared my mommy body and runners tan to the world. This was super out of my comfort zone but luckily I had an awesome group of friends who joined the Sports Bra Squad with me and we decided to all run together and just have fun. We ran, we walked, we stuck together, we sweat buckets, and we had so much fun! This was definitely not the day to “race” for me, but I’m glad I made the best of it and made some awesome memories instead. I ran the entire race with 2 friends and we finished at an average pace of around 10:13/mile. And then we celebrated! My 4th Hartwood 10 Miler is in the books.

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Week 8 Totals

  • Run: 27.3 (4 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Yoga


  • Monday: Easy Run – 5 miles @ 11:39. A few hours after running the Hartwood 10 Miler on Sunday I hopped on a plane to Bend, Oregon. I went to visit my sister who recently moved out here, along with other family members. I absolutely LOVE Oregon. It’s my favorite place to run because it’s beautiful with cooler temperatures and low humidity. It just makes me so happy! After arriving late on Sunday night I let myself sleep in a bit on Monday. Once I finally got up my sister and I did a 5 mile walk/run. We had a little trail, a little road and gorgeous scenery. While we were out we even ran into Lauren Fleshman who lives here! She is a recently retired elite runner, creator of Picky Bars and my beloved Believe training journal! She slowed down to say hi as she passed us, and my sister and I totally geeked out. We love her!


  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 2 mile WU, 1 minute on/1 minute off (2 miles), 2 mile CD (6 total @ 8:21 average). On Tuesday morning I started the day with a 6 mile run right after sunrise (at 6:47 AM, Garmin was still on east coast time). The track in Bend was closed for repairs so I did modified “speedwork” instead. After warming up for 2 miles I did 1 minute hard/1 minute easy for two miles, then cooled down for two more. Elevation of 4000 feet and hills made it feel harder than it should have been, but the scenery and the cool weather helped a ton! My “fast” minutes were run at around 6:35-6:45 pace, so I was happy with that!  A little later my sister and I went on a hike around a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of some mountains.


  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:27 + 2 hours of standup paddle boarding. I wanted to show how much humidity plays a part in summer running in Virginia. It was 75° in Oregon when I ran without a single cloud in the sky, but no humidity. As you can see in the picture, my clothes were totally dry after 4 miles and I only broke a little sweat. It’s so strange! In Virginia where it’s been 75-100% humidity everyday lately my clothes are soaked within a mile! Breathing felt a bit easier on this day, but I did feel tired more quickly since we were at higher altitude. At the end of my run I saw two ospreys in a big nest by my aunt’s house! Later that afternoon I went out for two hours of standup paddle boarding with my sister. It was my first time, and it was so much fun! I felt unstable and shaky for the first 30 minutes or so (I have really bad balance thanks to years of ear infections growing up), but started feeling more comfortable after that. We went against the current first which was hard but an awesome challenge. Before we turned around to head back we hopped off to swim. Such an amazing experience with my sister. I definitely felt the effects of that workout later. So many beautiful sights and fun things to do in Oregon! I love it.



  • Thursday: Twilight 5K – 3.1 miles @ 7:15 + 2 WU miles @ 8:35 + Yoga. I went into this race with no expectations and didn’t take it very seriously. I even drank a beer before! But I ended up doing better than I thought I would, and won 2nd place in my age group. Not a PR but I’ll take it! Maybe I should drink before all of my races? I always do better when I have no expectations. This felt hard because it was in the evening and 85 degrees. The air up here is so dry that it hurt my throat when I was breathing heavily. But I somehow pulled out tempo pace which is what I wanted. Woo hoo!! I was happy! Earlier in the day I did my favorite 30 minute yoga video that I linked above.


  • Friday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:03. Just a nice little morning run on a new-to-me trail by my aunt’s house. It was interrupted at the halfway point by a FaceTime call from my boys, which made me super happy!


  • Saturday: Long Run – 18 miles @ 8:35. I was nervous for this long run. 18 miles is a long way to go in an environment that my body wasn’t entirely used to yet. But it ended up being amazing and I couldn’t believe how comfortable it felt. My pace stayed steady at around 8:30-8:35/mile and I didn’t need to make any stops. I felt strong both physically and mentally for the entire run, and I also just felt so happy and lucky to be able to run like this. I love it so much!


  • Sunday: Rest. I had a full day of travel starting with leaving for the airport at 4:45 AM and arrived back at home at 7:30 PM. Needless to say, I knew this would be a rest day, especially because the next day I went back to work full-time. Ahh!!

Week 9 Totals

  • Run: 41.1 miles, all in beautiful Oregon!
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Yoga, Paddleboarding, Hiking

My successes during these weeks were getting all my runs in, both in the heat and terrible humidity in Virginia during week 8 and while on vacation during week 9. The last few weeks have been amazing for my confidence and I’m enjoying riding that high right now! My challenges during these weeks were just acclimating my body to all the different types of weather/environmental changes that were happening and trying to run through it all. This challenge has actually been harder to manage right now during week 10, but I’ll talk about that more in that training update post.

My thought of the week is one that I love not only for running but for life. I have a lot of fear in all areas of my life that tries to creep up on me and take over. I’m working on pushing that away and trying to focus on the positive. Not easy when there is a lot of unknown ahead of me, but this quote really helps me stay hopeful and optimistic for whatever lies ahead in my future! Maybe even a BQ 🙂


Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time 🙂

My Best (and Worst) Race Experiences

I ran my very first 5K in 2006. Since then, I have run a total of 80 (!) races, from the 1 mile “fun run” distance to the marathon. I’ve participated in some really great races that have been amazing experiences, and some that had… quite a bit of room for improvement, to put it nicely 🙂 Some of these races have been small, local races and some have been huge, big-name events – but regardless of size, in my opinion, a quality race experience comes down to good planning and organization as well as a feeling of community and support. When I think about my best and most memorable race experiences, many come to mind, but I wanted to focus on two for this post.

I ran the Purple Stride 5K in May 2014. It is difficult for me to write or talk about this race without getting emotional because it was extremely special to me. My friends and family participated in this race in memory of my mom, on the 10 year anniversary of her death. The entire event in Wilmington, Delaware including our team, Strides for Staci, raised over $100,000 for pancreatic cancer research. It was an amazing day and a perfect way to celebrate my mom’s life.


This race wasn’t about finishing times (although my sister did get a new PR!). It was about community, support, remembrance, and hope for the future. Highlights included running the entire race with my sister, getting to see people I didn’t get to see very often since moving away to Virginia, laughing and sharing stories with the friends and family I grew up with, seeing purple everywhere (my mom’s favorite color), a beautiful course that was mostly by the water, and a fun celebration/after party. Looking back at the photos of this race and seeing everyone’s big smiles makes me feel so happy. This was an event that I will never forget.


My other most memorable race was the Myrtle Beach Marathon this past March. I have participated in both the half marathon (in 2013 and 2015) and full marathon (1 DNF in 2014 and one completed full in 2016- linked above), and I really appreciated the race organizer’s attention to details when it comes to this race. The course is well-planned and the amount of runners is perfect, not too many that it is overcrowded but not too little so you don’t feel alone. There are spectators and entertainment throughout. It starts right on time. It offers pace groups to keep you on track. It has an awesome after-party and great swag (shirts, blankets, medals, and more!). It’s just an overall awesome race that I have loved being a part of over the years.


This past year’s race was extra special to me for many reasons. Every single detail came together and I ran the strongest race of my life, both physically and mentally. Even at only 9 months postpartum after baby #2, I beat all of my goals by a landslide and scored myself a 13 MINUTE PR! But beyond my finish time, this was more than “just” a race to me. I didn’t say it outright at the time, but I ran this marathon a little over a week after I found out some extremely shocking news that tore my family and marriage apart. I almost didn’t run the race at all, but decided to go for it at the last minute. I was angry, heartbroken, overwhelmed and confused, and this race reminded me that I am strong and can do hard things. I needed that in order to move forward into my new life as a single mom of two young boys. I think about this race all the time when I need a boost of confidence in myself. All of these things made it one of my most memorable races by far.


Other memorable race experiences:  The New York City Marathon (2010) – I ran with the charity Team for Kids, which was amazing!, The Air Force Marathon (2011), Hartwood 10 Miler (2013-2016), Lower Potomac River Marathon (2014)


The New York City Marathon Finish Line

I try to find the good in things most of the time, but with that being said, there is one race experience that still stands out in my mind as the “worst,” even 5 years later! I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in National Harbor, Maryland back in December 2011. My full recap is linked above, but thinking back to that race still gives me anxiety and makes me feel cold! LOL. Aspects of this race that I didn’t enjoy were that it was way too crowded for the roads the race took place on, it was not well organized and logistics were poor (it started an hour and twenty minutes late in freezing temperatures because of this), and more that you can read about in my full recap. However, I have heard from others that over the years this race series has worked to improve some of these things, so that’s always a positive thing!

Hot Chocolate 15K – I was not happy!

I’ve been an RRCA certified running coach since 2014, and one of the additional certifications the RRCA offers is a race director certification program. One of my long-term goals is to obtain this certification and put on a local race of my own! How awesome would that be? I’ve used Eventbrite to register for many races, including January’s Charleston Half Marathon which benefitted the Youth Endowment for the Arts. Their service to promote and sell tickets helps support local event creation and would be an awesome tool to use if I ever wanted to create my own running event.

Here is what would be important to me in my planning in order to provide people with a great race experience and have it stand out!

  • Easy logistics (parking, packet pick-up, registration, etc.).
  • Starts on time.
  • More than enough bathrooms!!! <- important!
  • Well planned course manned with enough volunteers, water, fuel if necessary, etc.
  • An appropriate amount of participants, not too little and not too many.
  • Entertainment, including good spectator support and music along the course and before and after the race as well.
  • Fun and family friendly post-race experience.
  • Stroller-friendly if possible. As a mom who runs with a double stroller regularly it’s hard to find stroller-friendly races these days. I think it’s due to liability issues and the types of courses the races take place on, but I know this would be a HUGE plus for many people!
  • A pacing/running buddy option, where people can connect with others who may want to run the same pace or have similar goals. I’d also like for people to be able to register as a team to show support for each other or for a specific group/cause.
  • Tied to a good cause. I like to know I’m running for something bigger than myself to support something in my local community that is important to me. It feels good to know that your registration fee is going towards something good.

What factors make or break a race experience for you? What is your best/most memorable race? How about the worst? What would you make sure to prioritize if you were putting on your own race?

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 7

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OH how I needed this week! Week 7 of Chicago Marathon Training was amazing, confidence boosting, and just overall awesome. Here are all the details!

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  • Monday: Rest. I had hoped to get in some yoga but it didn’t happen. Instead I met my friend at an amazing park right by the water and we let our kids play, then went for a 1.5 mile walk on the trails! It was a beautiful morning!


  • Tuesday: Speedwork – Ladder Intervals: 400 (1:35), 800 (3:17), 1200 (5:05), 800 (3:21), 400 (1:37) + 2.5 miles @ 8:40 (7 total). What a day! I had to go into work for a few hours, so I sent the kids to daycare and did a quick track workout first. I got there way later than I wanted to because the threenager was acting crazy. Once I started I realized that I was too under fueled to do my full workout, since I had eaten early thinking I’d start earlier. Plus I ran out of time and had to shower and head to work for a meeting. I still did ladder intervals, but I only went up to 1200m rather than 1600m, and then went back down. I was able to hit my first three splits within my goal ranges but faded fast after that due to the lack of fuel and the bright sun coming out. I was disappointed that I couldn’t complete the full workout, so after work I headed out for 2.5 more to make up the mileage. 7 total for the day. You can see in my face how I felt about the constant 90 degree, 100% humidity summer weather we’ve been having here in Virginia. So over it! I went home and had a beer after that 🙂


  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:01 + Yoga. The boys stayed overnight with their dad the night before, which meant I could get out for a run before sunrise! Yes! It felt especially good after a solid night of sleep too. I also managed to get my yoga in that I missed on Monday later on while the boys were napping.


  • Thursday: Long Run – 17 miles @ 8:35. When life gives you lemons… use them to fuel you! I didn’t expect to have to do my long run on a random Thursday morning, but I made it happen due to some issues that came up at the last minute. No excuses necessary, and I’m proud to say I KILLED IT. This pace felt easy, even on hills.  My last two miles were my fastest at 8:04 and 8:07! It was also a beautifully cooler morning with less humidity than there has been lately. I was so proud after this run!


  • Friday: Easy Run – 2 miles @ 9:29 + Upper Fix. On this day I just did a quick and easy two mile treadmill run after the boys went to bed, followed by Upper Fix (super exciting Friday night!). I’m so happy I’ve been able to strength train consistently twice a week for 7 weeks now, and I’m really feeling and seeing the benefits of that!


  • Saturday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:30 (with double stroller) + Lower Fix. I headed out on Saturday morning with the boys in the stroller hoping to run into my friends who were out doing their 14 mile long run. I ended up catching them at the end and chasing them down a big hill. I love that I can go out for a run and see friendly faces. It makes me so happy! Afterwards I played with the boys at the playground, then did Lower Fix when they napped. Whew! Sweaty day!


  • Sunday: Tempo Run – 1 easy, 5 @ 7:24 average pace, 1 easy. Because of the scheduling issues with my long run my plan got all messed up this week. I ended up needing to do my tempo run on Sunday morning, and I am so thankful to my friend Dina for babysitting for me so that I could get it done. Those who know me know that I’m stubborn and have a hard time asking for and accepting help. The last 8 months have taught me that it is so necessary and important. This tempo run was amazing. I felt super strong AND got progressively faster with each mile. It felt exactly like it should – about a 6/7 on a scale of 1-10. Perfectly challenging. Running is pretty much the only aspect of my life that I feel confident about right now and I’m so thankful that I have it, along with my Moms Run This Town friends. The group is about so much more than running. It’s about friendship and support and helping each other through life. I truly love being a part of it!


Week 7 Totals

  • Run: 39 miles (3 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, yoga, walking, stretching, foam rolling

My successes this week were definitely my long run and my tempo run.  This has been a great week for my marathon confidence. It took a while for me to realize because of the brutal heat and humidity, but I think this tough summer training is definitely paying off! My body and overall tightness are also feeling a lot better thanks to lots of stretching, rolling, and TLC. Just need to stay on top of it now!

My challenges this week were just all of the scheduling issues. Between switching the kids back and forth and plans that the kids’ dad had, I had to be flexible and creative with how I fit things in this week. Lots of switching around, asking for help from daycare and friends, and working out while the kids slept. I’m proud that I made my full week of training happen without any excuses!

My thought of the week is actually a video. During some of my runs this week I really tried to focus on some of the tips I learned from Run, Selfie, Repeat‘s interview with a sports psychologist. I worked on trying to stay present in the moment and keep my focus positive and on feeling strong, choosing not to “suffer” through it. I tried my best to relax and get out of my own way mentally. It really is amazing what kind of impact the mental side of running has on our physical abilities.

Week 8 is going to be a cutback week, which I am very ready and excited for. It is going to end with one of my favorite local races – the Hartwood 10 Miler. This is the 4th year in a row that I’m running. Last year I ran without a watch since I was 3 months postpartum, but this year I’m hoping to break the PR I set there in 2014. We will see!

Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time 🙂

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 6

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Week 6 of training, check! It was another difficult week thanks to more crazy summer weather, but I made it through with some modifications. Here are all the details!

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.

  • Monday: Rest. I had hoped to get in some yoga but it just didn’t happen.
  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 3 x 800 (3:17, 3:18, 3:19) + 2 x 400 (1:34, 1:37) + Yoga. After last week’s awesome track workout, this one was a little disappointing. This heat wave just won’t quit! But after a LONG day full of threenager drama I wasn’t going to let high temps keep me from Track Tuesday. I knew that I’d most likely have to adjust what was on my training plan since the temperature felt like triple digits, but I wanted to give it a shot. Originally I had 6 x 800 @ 3:17 planned. I warmed up for 1.5 miles and was soaked with sweat immediately. I decided I’d do as many 800s as I could then switch to 400s. I managed three of those @ 3:17, 3:18 & 3:19, but after the second one I started needing to take a break to rest along with my 400 meter recovery lap. After that I did two more 400s @ 1:34 and 1:37 and decided I was done with the fast intervals after that. I felt like I was suffocating in my shirt and like my face was going to explode. I took off my shirt halfway through and it helped a TON. I am not someone who ever runs in just a sports bra thanks to what I call my “mommy body,” especially not in front of a big crowd of people. But it was necessary, and I decided to embrace and and become part of Run, Selfie, Repeat‘s Sports Bra Squad! I finished my run with another 1.5 easy miles. The time on my Garmin doesn’t include the multiple breaks I took throughout the run, but I’m proud of myself for my efforts. I also squeezed in the yoga that I missed on Monday, and it felt awesome!


  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:55 + Upper Fix + 2 mile walk. I LOVE when I literally “run” into friends! My friend Heather was exactly who I needed to see after running up a huge hill in my neighborhood. It put a huge smile on my face that was very much needed! The beautiful sunset and sky did too. I was thankful to be able to get in a night run (which I really love!) since the boys were with their dad overnight. 4 easy miles + Upper Fix for strength + 2 mile walk with the boys in the morning, done!


  • Thursday: Tempo Run – 1 easy, 4 @ 7:42 average pace, 2 easy. I’m going to go ahead and call this run a win because I managed to pull out one more tempo mile than last week in tough conditions, and on tired legs from my late run the night before. I ended up running 1 mile easy, 4 within my tempo pace range, and finished with 2 more easy miles. Originally I was going for 5 tempo miles, but I was okay with modifying this one because of the heat and ridiculous humidity (see sweat dripping in photo below). 7 miles total and got to see the sunrise! So happy I finally got to run in the 5 AM hour again on a weekday.  I missed it so much!


  • Friday: Easy Run – 2 miles @ 9:30 + Lower Fix. I needed a little recovery run after yesterday’s tempo so I hopped on the treadmill in the morning while the little boy napped and the big boy played. Then I probably negated the benefits of the “recovery” run by doing Lower Fix. Ouch!


  • Saturday: Long Run – 16 miles @ 8:46. What a great morning! I ran 10 early morning miles with two friends and then 6 more solo. These amazing women have already earned their BQs and I loved running with them, hearing their stories and sharing training advice. Plus, my friend Melissa (who I’m going to Chicago with!) has pretty amazing running photography skills! This was one of those runs where I felt great and like I could have kept going, even despite the hills (almost 800 feet of elevation gain!), heat and humidity.


  • Sunday: Recovery Run – 3 miles @ 9:05. The boys were with their dad for the weekend, so I was able to enjoy a solid night of sleep and wake up without an alarm. Winning! Once I got myself up I headed out for 3 easy recovery miles.


Week 6 Totals

  • Run: 38 miles (0 miles w/ double stroller – had the kids less this week because of the custody schedule)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, yoga, walking, stretching, foam rolling

My successes this week were doing the best I possibly could given the weather conditions, and listening to my body. I haven’t always been the best at that. I used to stick to whatever my plan said no matter what, even if it meant pushing too hard or hurting myself. Lots of experience has taught me how to modify and adapt when needed without feeling bad about it.

My challenges this week were my tight legs again. I’m really trying my best to stay on top of it by stretching, foam rolling, etc. It is definitely happening more in my right leg than my left. I may need to get it looked into further soon if it starts impacting my running. My goals for the upcoming week are to once again, give myself some grace when it comes to the weather and scheduling (since this will be my “on” week with the kids). I also plan to continue with my meal planning, strength and flexibility routines that I’ve been trying to be consistent with since the beginning of my training. Very proud of that!

My thought of the week. This is the truth! I love my tribe of supportive, positive and inspirational people.


Week 7 looks like another hot one, so will see how it goes. I just need to trust the process and believe that running in these conditions will only make me stronger for my fall races!

Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time 🙂