Building A Strong Base

November 3, 2019

T-169 days (from Sunday, November 3rd) until the Boston Marathon. That seems so far away, but I’ve already started fundraising and a little bit of training!

Since I have not been running much on a weekly basis (maybe 2-5 miles if I’m being honest), I knew I needed to start doing a little bit of base building before the official TNT training plan starts on November 4th. So I made up my own little training plan! The last three weeks looked something like this…

Monday – 1/2 to 1 mile warm-up run then my co-ed Volleyball league game 

Tuesday – Alchemy Class 

Wednesday – Off 

Thursday – Alchemy Class 

Friday – 2 mile run 

Saturday – Alchemy Class

Sunday – 3ish mile “long” run

Alchemy classes were what got me back into working out this past spring. The class formats are based on a combination of yoga, strength training, conditioning with more yoga at the end…all the types of workouts I love! I was drawn to how supportive and encouraging the coaches were, the music during classes and how I was able to zone everything else out and just focus on being in the studio and pushing myself. (If you’re in the Minneapolis area and want to give it a try, let me know, I’ll glady go with you!) 

Alchemy’s tag line – Pursue Your Legend

In all my prior training blocks, strength training is something I’ve always cut out or skipped due to time constraints, even though it is so good for runners to strength train to help prevent injuries! One of my goals going into this training cyle is to make sure I’m keeping up with strength training, and I think making sure I get to Alchemy classes regularly will help! So, what better way to make sure I do this then to start now! 

I was a little nervous about how I was going to feel getting outside and running again, but I was pleasantly surprised how good it felt! Yes, the first few runs were tough…I was sucking wind, my legs felt heavy, I wanted to stop and walk and my brain kept thinking about how “out of shape” I was. But, something clicked over the last week or two and now my runs feel much better! Breathing isn’t as hard, my legs feel strong (hills are still hard…I think they always will be), and I’ve been really pleasantly surprised at how I feel afterwards! My calves have been a bit cranky, which I am not happy about this early in my training, but I’m trying to look at it as a reminder that I also need to be foam rolling and “pre-habbing.” Good thing we have at least 3 foam rollers in our house! 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I actually need to get out and get my run in! 

P.S. Thank you to everyone that has supported my Team in Training fundraising efforts so far! I am blown away by your generosity. Please visit my TNT page here for more information on why I’m running the Boston Marathon and to help support me and patients battling leukemia and lymphoma.

This past Sunday Jason and I joined over 10,000 people to run one of my favorite races; the Twin Cities 10 Mile, a.k.a. The Shortcut to the Capital. The 10 mile takes place the same day as the Twin Cities Marathon and uses part of the same course as the marathon…just 16 miles shorter!

TC 10 Mile Course Map

The 10 mile is such a popular race that you have to enter a lottery, then hope your name is dawn to get a bib. We’ve been lucky enough to have run the 10 mile 3 times before. But even with the lottery, I would recommend this race hands down! Here’s why:

  • The Course! It’s challenging (check that elevation gain) but beautiful. You get to see downtown Minneapolis, the Mississippi River, stately historic homes on tree lined streets, downtown St. Paul, the Cathedral of St. Paul and the capitol building.
  • The specators. I swear the town shuts down during marathon weekend. Even at 7am when the 10 mile starts, there are people out in their front yards cheering for the runners.
  • The finish line views. You come to the top of a hill, the Cathedral on your left, the capitol building in front of you, a giant American flag hanging over the road between two fire trucks, people lining both sides of the course cheering you on (plus it’s downhill, I love a good downhill). Every time I run this course I start choking up at the top of this hill.
  • It’s so organized! Twin Cities in Motion does a wonderful job putting on the 10 mile and the Marathon. The food after the run and the swag are usually pretty awesome too.

I will admit, I was woefully under trained this time around. We had only run a 6 mile long run about a month before the race. I’ve been fitting in short runs maybe 1-2 times a week, and working out at Alchemy (more on that later but if you’re curious now – 2-3 times a week, so I did not have much of a base.

Let me be real about why though; it has been really hard for me to want to run this past year. I was just coming off a long training block chasing a 5k PR when we found out we were pregnant for the first time. We actually found out we were pregnant the day after the 10 mile last year, so this year’s race was a little bittersweet for me. I knew I wanted to stay active during my pregnancy, so after some guidance from my doctor I cut back on my mileage and pace, did more yoga and focused on strength training. But after our first miscarriage I lost all my motivation, stopped caring and really started to experience the first signs of anxiety and depression. I knew working out again would help me feel better but it was just easier to stay in bed for longer, or crash on the couch at the end of the day. I signed up for the 10 mile lottery when it opened, but thought there was no way I’d get in 3 years in a row. When I did get the news that I had a bib for the race, I kinda looked forward to having some structure and schedule again. But it took a lot of energy to get me out the door on a run. I think I did not want to give my mind the time or free space to think. To remember what we had lost, or worry about something happening to me on a run. I hated running alone. If I couldn’t go with someone or take one of our dogs, I’d skip it, out of fear something would happen to me and no one would be able to help. On warm sunny days over the summer, I tried a few runs on my own, but stayed on busy streets, or would only go when Jason was home. I’m still struggling with the motivation to get out the door these days, especially now that it’s dark in the morning and getting darker earlier in the evenings. But, if you haven’t experienced it yet, the running community is a welcoming, supportive one and if it were not for the encouragement of my running friends and Jason, I don’t know how I would have gotten to the start line on Sunday.

So I’m sure you’re wondering…how’d the race go? Mentally I was so worried about the last 4 miles. From the time the gun went off all I could think about was possibly crashing at mile 6 and having to drop out. Somehow Jason picked up on this and was great at pointing out all the funny signs, or really dressed up and passionate spectators, like the older gentleman wearing a kilt around mile 4 who was dancing the best old man dance ever! As long as we were talking back and forth, it helped keep my mind off of the anxiety I had about finishing. Also, if you ever run the 10 mile or the marathon, TC Running Company puts on the best cheer zone at mile 8/24 hands down! You can hear their music for blocks in every direction.

Remember how I said the finish is one of my favorites? All those people, the cathedral, the volunteers, the giant American flag and the sight of the finish line? Yeah, I started crying again this year, but not because I was overwhelmed by the crowd and finally getting to the finish. This year was different. As I got to the top of the hill, the bells of the cathedral started ringing. I don’t know why (it wasn’t the top of an hour) but as soon as I heard the bells the tears started. I immediately thought of the two babies we had lost, but not in mourning. Rather like they were behind ringing the bells as a welcome back to running and in celebration of me finishing this race.

I somehow held it together and made it to the finish line. Even thought it wasn’t a PR, and I had to stop and walk a few times, I’m proud of this finish. I got back out there and it feels like running and I may be getting back together again.

Two weekends ago my 15 weeks of half-marathon training finally paid off! I completed my second Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco and I could not be happier with how it went.

This will always be one of my favorite races. Not only is it put on by Nike (I love their stuff), but it’s in San Francisco (one of my favorite cities) and it helps benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I first heard about it a few years ago, and it was easy to motivate me to train and run 13.1 miles! At the finish line you are greeted by San Francisco’s finest firemen dressed sharply in tuxedos, and instead of handing you a finishers medal, they hand you a custom Tiffany & Co. sterling sliver necklace!

The race is so popular Nike actually limits the number of people that can participate. So, there are two ways you can sign up. 1) Join Team in Training and fundraise for LLS or 2) Enter the lottery and hope your name is picked to be one of the 30,000 people that are running. When I ran in 2011, I entered the lottery by myself and luckily got picked! My mom and I made a long weekend out of it and had a blast. After telling a few of my girlfriends and fellow runners about it, they got excited and were interesting in trying to get in for 2012. We signed up as a team, and sadly, did not get picked. So we decided to give it another try this year, signed up as a team again called the MinneSNOWta Sexy Striders, and anxiously waited for mid-June when Nike was conducting the lottery. The nice part about signing up as a team, if someone on the team is picked, the entire team gets in! We hoped that would help our chances. A few of us were texting back and forth the day of the lottery, checking to see if anyone had gotten the e-mail that said we were in. One of the girls got her email that morning and we all knew we were going to San Fran in October!

Nike put together a pretty neat app which included information about the race, the course map, and a training program depending on how you wanted to do (finish or Personal Record (PR.)) Since I ran it before, I decided I wanted to PR and beat my time from 2011 of 2:28. I’m not going to lie, those 15 weeks of training got tough. There were plenty of early Saturday or Sunday morning long training runs, waking up at 5am to get my run in for the day, and days my legs were dead tired. It was addicting in a way though, checking to see what my workout was for the next day, and seeing if my time improved over my last run. I actually started to get faster and I’m a believer in tempo runs now, they are not just pointless intervals like I used to think.

My mom was probably just as excited as I was about getting into the run, so we planned a girls weekend. My mom and sister both flew into San Fran and we met up at the airport a couple of days before the run. We checked out the expo to get my race packet, try out some free food and score some free samples from Paul Mitchell and Neutrogena. Nike also puts the names of all the runners on display at their San Fran store, so we had to stop and take a pic. The atmosphere was so energetic it was contagious. Everyone was excited to be there and ready for the race.

At the NWM Expo 2013

At the NWM Expo 2013

Since the race was on Sunday, we spent Saturday doing a little sightseeing. Not too much walking was my only rule. So we checked out the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building, did a little shopping and met up with the rest of the team who flew in for dinner that night.

Spending time at the Ferry Building and Farmer's Market

Spending time at the Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market

Sunday, race day! Of course I was nervous, I get nervous before every race! A few of us met up at the start line and actually stuck together for most of the race. Let me tell you, running with people you know and chatting makes it go by so much quicker and is much more fun! I used to think I would rather run alone, just me and my thoughts, but chatting and encouraging each other throughout the course made it much easier! Now I know everyone thinks if you’re running in San Francisco you’re running up the steep hills. Not true! The first 5 miles or so is flat, you run through downtown and along the Embarcadero. These miles went by quickly and at mile 5 we thought that we could totally take on a full marathon some day.  Miles 6-10 you’re up in the Presidio, so yeah it’s hilly in there, but mile 10 makes it all worth it when you hang a left and see the beach and ocean just open up in front of you. We kept joking about how the hills were nothing compared to the hills on the trails we ran at home.  Miles 11-13 you run through Golden Gate Park and take in all the scenery. I kind of hit my wall around mile 11 thinking that I still had 2 more miles to go and how tired I was getting. But, a few of the girls were nearby and actually picked up the pace a little. They helped me get over the wall and find the energy to kick it into the finish.  I love the entire route because you get to see San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and be right by the ocean. It’s challenging, but definitely worth it.

2013 NWM Course Map

2013 NWM Course Map

I finished in 2:17, 11 minutes faster than my previous time and that is now my new PR! I was so happy with my time and felt great! My legs were tired, and I was thirsty but I earned that finisher’s t-shirt and necklace! Of course we had to take a picture with the handsome fireman too.



My mom and my sister were a fantastic cheering section! They made their own t-shirts to wear and signs to hold up on the course. We saw them around mile 4 and again at the finish line. I was so glad they were both able to come out and cheer me on! It was a fun girls weekend. After the race and a hot shower, I wanted one thing, a gigantic Ghirardelli ice cream sundae!

At the finish line with my awesome cheering section

At the finish line with my awesome cheering section!

We all flew back home on Monday, and my mom was already asking where my next destination race will be. So I’m taking suggestions! Let me know if you’ve done a destination race that you really enjoyed. So far the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, the Honolulu Marathon and Athens Marathon are on the list!